SO FUCKED UP

The day before Christmas and I’m pretty fucked up. It’s a good thing the kids are with their father. On Monday I had a very traumatic dentist appointment that culminated in him using a probe to take a complete picture of my mouth. It was not unlike one of the times I was raped and had two men try to use my mouth at the same time. By the time Thursday came around with my therapist I was a wreck. So we did some unplanned EMDR. Just knee tapping, so it didn’t feel as intense. But damn, does it mess me up.

And Young One wants to do some scarification on my ankle. A butterfly. We’re arguing about whether that constitutes self-harm or not. I say yes, she says no. My therapist did not respond to my email Thursday, which surprised me. But it’s her prerogative. I have to respect her time out of the office.

Dad is now home until next week, which sucks. I am always stressed out when he’s home. Giving me a hard time about my weight, my hair, my clothes. Though to be honest, since I moved back home this time he seems to have let a lot go. But that feeling of being judged is still there.

And for some reason, I have purchased tickets to a New Year’s Eve party, with a roaring twenties theme. I purchased a silly panama hat, a bow tie, suspenders, and arm bands. The kit also came with a fake cigar and stick on moustaches. I hope it will be fun and not stressful. I need to buy a white shirt and a pair of black pants, as the black pants I have are ladies’, and my long sleeve white shirt is too small. And of course, the big kicker. Benzos before I go to stay calm, or have a social drink or two with my friends. I have a week to decide. I’ll probably bring them and decide there.

And I’m not wanting to shower or change. My hair is gross. I smell, and I’m isolating. Thursday I’m taking my friend shopping for a new phone, so I’ll pick up a dress shirt and pants while I’m out with her. And I’ll have to shower for that. So that means it will be a whole week without showering if I don’t shower tomorrow. Which I should do. But I dread getting in the shower. It’s an all glass enclosure that has no frosting. And I’m only coming out of my shut down from Thursday’s therapy session. Which is great. I’m doing it with just the support of my friends. Attending that group for sexual assault survivors was one of the best things I ever did. I have two really good friends out of it.

One of which I’m seeing on Friday. Hopefully the other one can come, but her husband has been being an asshole lately, so I’m not sure. She is starting to see how emotionally abusive/manipulative he is, but I have to tread lightly. She knows I’ll be here for her, whatever she decides. As she is there for me.

MED COMPLIANCE

At night, the monsters come out. Since my dentist appointment last week, I’ve been having dreams of disembodied hands. Creepy and unsettling. I wake up in a cold sweat, and don’t want to go back to sleep. So I stay up and read. Or listen to books on Audible. I’m acquiring a collection of un-listened to books that will rival my to be read stack of paper books. But that’s ok. Somethings to look forward to.

Am struggling with med compliance again. I’m tired of feeling flat and numb, and blame it on the Abilify. I’ve been reading up on it, and apparently it’s a common side effect. Right away she was concerned that I was still taking them. She was genuinely concerned that I would quit it cold turkey. Given my history, I would have to say that her questioning me is warranted. I started at 2mg, and now I’m up to 20. That’s a big dose. Especially since the last p-doc I saw stated that I don’t even have bi-polar. I understand that I might need a mood stabilizer, as anti-depressants alone never work properly. I do question, however, the need for an atypical anti-psychotic. At such a high dose. The last p-doc I saw was just a consult, but she said I could see her in a year if I wanted to discuss a med change. So I need to call the hospital and find out if I can make an appointment through them, or if I need to go through my doctor. My therapist is all about getting it done. I hem and hawed and will be doing it in the new year. I may bite the bullet and call this week, so it’s not hanging over my head. But I hate talking on the phone. I have real anxiety about it. So much so that even my therapist only contacts me via email. Even if it’s the day of an appointment, she knows I’m on my email, but if I don’t recognize the number, I won’t answer the phone. I’m so glad she’s willing to work with my limitations and foibles, without making them a focus or a big deal.

I have a feeling, since last week we didn’t really touch on anything big, as I’ve been pretty stable, we’re going to do some EMDR on Thursday. Just in time to do three weeks before she takes her two weeks off over Christmas. She is also planning on taking a week off in the middle of January. I’m just glad she’s not taking all three weeks off at the same time. Three weeks is a long time when you’re used to weekly sessions. She asked me how I’m feeling about the two weeks off. I replied, “Besides feeling abandoned?” Then I laughed and told her I was joking. “You’ll be holding seminars on how to yank your therapists chain.” I have mixed feelings about starting EMDR again. I’m scared of how it’s going to go now that I’m having visual flashbacks. My flashbacks have always been somatic, meaning feelings only. Recently, I’ve been having some pretty severe visuals. Not just feeling his hands around my neck, but seeing them. His cold, cold eyes. The collapse when I tried to stand up and he grabbed me by the neck and threw me back on the bed. Instead of just feelings of dread and sensations, I’m full on remembering. Which sucks.

I have my protocols. Babette Rothschild has saved my sleep. Her “8 Keys To Safe Trauma Recovery” has provided some very solid protocols on dealing with flashbacks and nightmares. So much so that I wrote them down for easy access at night. And I’ve passed them onto friends. They’ve been so helpful. I recommend that book to everyone I know with a trauma history that impacts their daily lives. Even if only sometimes.

YOUNG ONE

As most people who have done trauma work, my therapist and I do extensive parts of self work. I find this awkward and, at times, makes me feel crazy. Yet there is no denying the fact that I do, indeed, have different parts of self. The twins, Young One and Angry Dude, two sides of the same facet, one with the anger turned outward, and one with the anger turned inward. I had a bit of an epiphany regarding that this week, when I wrote Young One a letter. I don’t cry easily at all, but this brought tears to my eyes:

Young One. I know you’ve been neglected. More than neglected. Blamed. Held responsible. Mistakenly so. I can see that now. With all that was going on in our life, how could you ever have had the ability to say No?

I wasn’t your fault. Vera and I have talked a lot about being groomed.

GROOMED: PREPARE OR TRAIN (SOMEONE) FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR ACTIVITY

As far as dad was concerned, we were to be obedient and obey him without question. Lessons we didn’t learn easily and rebuffed at every opportunity. Oh but Young One, the fear of the consequences of disobedience was very real. It didn’t stop us, though, did it. Incorrigible. Defiant. Even when we knew it meant bruises coming our way. Not that it mattered. There were enough times the “discipline” wasn’t even understood.

DISCIPLINE: 1) THE PRACTICE OF TRAINING PEOPLE TO OBEY RULES OR A CODE OF CONDUCT OR BEHAVIOUR USING PUNISHMENT TO CORRECT DISOBEDIENCE.

Harsh, cruel discipline disguised as love. We never were very disciplined, were we? Do you remember a time we never feared dad’s wrath? Discipline, in and of itself, isn’t bad. We need discipline every day. It was the punishment, the abuse, that led to so much fear. The arbitrary rules, with the over the top consequences. Groomed to fear displeasing. Groomed to associate the lash with love. Oh Young One, did we ever stand a chance with Michael? How often were we “disciplined”, not even for breaking some rule or other, but simply because he didn’t like/was unhappy with our behaviour?

Conflict led to abuse-even if it was just a back hand across the face. Or, if not physical, than emotional and mental. Oh Young One, I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to understand just how groomed and conditioned we were.

CONDITIONED: TRAIN OR ACCUSTOM (SOMEONE OR SOMETHING) TO BEHAVE IN A CERTAIN WAY OR ACCEPT CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES.

Conditioned to accept abuse as a consequence of conflict. Conditioned to accept abuse as a demonstration of love. Michael was the first. There was so much we could have done had we not been so conflict avoidant. Our first. Vera likened it to an emotional marriage. And the honeyed words after.

Oh Young One, so naive. So empty. Made us believe it was our fault. That we deserved it. That we wanted it. Natural consequences for coming home with his wife. One thing to disobey father, another to disobey this stranger, standing over us, naked and torn.

Oh Young One, we were so lost. So starved for affection. And Michael provided that. Brilliantly. The kind words with the abuse. A perfect fucking storm.

And the perfect rationale: DISCIPLINE = LOVE DISCIPLINE = ABUSE ERGO LOVE = ABUSE

Oh Young One. I finally understand. Today, as an adult, even in a safe environment where there is trust, NO is still not an option. If NO is not an option today, how the hell could it have been an option for us back then?

Young One, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for failing you and then blaming you. I’m trying to make it right.

ONE ROUGH WEEK

It’s been a while since I’ve written. So much has happened. We almost lost my mom after her cancer surgery. She had two blood clots, one on each lung. And no one wants to tell me anything. I talked to my mom in the morning, and she was coming home the next day. An hour later I talk to my aunt and find out mom’s staying for a few more days. When my dad and my sister come home, I talk to her. Find out what’s going on. Also that my dad has a leaky liver, that’s why he quit drinking. My sister tells me that no one wants to tell me anything because they’re afraid of setting me off. Which means setting my anxiety and depression off. Like I have no coping mechanisms. It’s so frustrating. Mom could have died, and no one wants me to know. Sigh. It’s better to know where I stand, I guess, so I know to ask more direct questions.

Moms surgery was also the anniversary of my most recent sexual assault. The struggle not to self harm was so very very real. And then I found some sharps. Tucked into the staple box in my art kit. My world reeled. Fortunately, I have some very good friends who were able to talk me down from it. Three different text conversations with three very different foci, but all with the same outcome: I stayed safe. Something even my safety contract couldn’t guarantee.

It is so hard to articulate exactly what goes through my mind when the urge strikes. Relentless begging for release. But release from what exactly? Too many feelings? Not enough feelings? Release from memory, from thought? From the too too much. It all gets to be too much. Existing. Being. Living. Breathing. Feeling trapped in a mind that is malfunctioning. Emotions hi-jacked all the time. Never being 100% present in my own life. That’s the hardest part, I’m coming to realize. The fact that I zone out all the time. I don’t know if I’m zoning out more, or if I’m just more aware of how often I do. Vera, my therapist, says it’s fine tuned to happen so often, and that I’m just starting to notice. So I take her word for it. She’s the expert on all things dissociative and traumatic. And, more importantly, I trust her and what she says. It’s been a long time since I could trust someone so implicitly to always do what they honestly believe is in my best interest.

STAYING PRESENT; PROGRESS

I wrote a little while ago about needing extensive dental work. My dentist pulled two broken teeth, and had made arrangements to pull 7 more. Then fillings, then partial dentures. Last week I went in to get two teeth pulled. He decided then to pull all seven. Plus three more. Two for the aesthetics when I get my partials. To have his hands in my mouth for that length of time was brutal. I was, however, able to stay mostly present, much to the surprise and delight of my therapist. “How did you accomplish this?” It seems weird but I managed by focussing on the tools in my mouth. It kept it real, that there was nothing sexual or abusive about what he was doing, despite the vey real trauma being done to my mouth. It helped me to focus on the fact that it was a medical procedure happening. And it helped keep me from dissociating. Now if she had asked about this week with the pain and my refusal to take pain killers if I can do without, the answer would have been very different. Which is fine, I’ll take my victories where I can, no matter how small they seem.

This week I finally got the stitches out and was upgraded to soft food from liquid and purees. I was already eating soft food. And not so soft foods. Just cutting things up very tiny and chewing very carefully. And now I sound like Sylvester the Cat from Looney Tunes. My kids are trying to be supportive, but it’s hard not to laugh. I get it. I laugh with them. My friends, well, half of them pretend nothing is different and the other half are total assholes. Which is about right. What is most surprising to me is the amount of pain the inside of my ears are in. The nerves are all so very inter-twined. No tinnitus, but just a dull ache in the very depths of my ear canal.

Because of the amount of wrenching, my neck has been very sore. My therapist recommended something called Salonpas. It’s a topical analgesic patch from Japan. Salicylate, menthol, and camphor, it warms your skin as it penetrates. And it smells very good. We are working at me feeling more connected with my body; that I do exist below the neck. Because of the amount of abuse I have endured, I have a hard time touching myself. I was very proud of myself this week that I have been able to put hand cream on my hands. But that’s not enough. I wake up in a tight ball every day, with my feet cramped from being balled up. So now, every night at bedtime, I need to rub hand cream onto my feet. I have no idea how I’m going to accomplish this. But I told her I’d give it my best shot. I also really need to get back into doing my meditation app every night with the body scan. Kind of help release it. And I really need to get back into Qi Gong again. So much more I could be doing for my mental and physical health, but no motivation whatsoever. I’m giving myself until my teeth are healed and I’m not in any more pain from them, and really getting into it.

I’m committing to my physical health as I have committed to my mental health.

NO THERAPY TOMORROW

Tomorrow I should be going to see my therapist. But she’s in Europe somewhere, rejuvenating her spirit. We had an honest discussion last week about my abandonment issues. How I don’t feel abandoned, but Squirrel does. Squirrel is my inner child. It was hard to vocalize. I know I said last week I’d lie about it, but what good does lying to your therapist do? I never have, and I don’t plan on starting.

One of the sweetest things she said was, “…and I want to come back.” Something Squirrel needed to hear. It’s easy to say she’s gone before, she always comes back, but it was nice to hear her say she wants to. Not just that she will. She also wants me to email her every week. The hour I would spend with her on Thursday, I am to compose and send an email. She won’t respond, but she will get them. She is so selfless. But it fills that hour up with retrospection, which is half of what therapy seems to be anyway. Guided introspection.

It’s a tough time of year for her to leave me. I big bad anniversary is coming up, and I’m already starting to suffer from it. And I have a shit ton of dental work about to be performed on me next week, which is always nerve wracking. I never understood why the dentist was always a difficult thing for me. I’ve never known a harsh or cruel dentist. When I had everything blocked out, I could even fall asleep while he was cleaning my teeth. Now, not so much. Vera brought to my attention the number of oral sexual assaults I’ve suffered, going back to my cousin at age 6. So it makes sense that someones hands in my mouth would be triggering. And she’s not going to be around to help me through the first one. What I’m hoping is that as I have them done, it’ll get easier. What I’m scared of is it getting worse. Nine teeth pulled, a bunch of fillings, and then partial dentures. He’s not pulling the teeth all at once, either. He said over three visits. Ugh. But I know it needs to be done. The ones that need to be pulled are starting to break, leaving sharp little roots at the gum line. I can’t avoid it or put it off any longer. I’m going to have a toothless smile for a while, so no smiling for me. Not that I smile all that much to begin with. The big fight will be staying present during the appointment. Not shutting down.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

ABANDONMENT ISSUES

It’s the eve of my last therapy session for three weeks while my therapist takes a well deserved vacation. After tomorrow, I will not see until the first week of October. My last sexual assault occurred the end of October three years ago, and I still start having issues around this time of year. Tonight I even coloured my nails as a distraction attempt. So she’s going to know tomorrow that I had a rough night tonight. And she’s going to think it’s partly because of her, and, honestly, I don’t know right now.

I understand she needs her time off. She’s a trauma therapist, so she deals with horrible horrible scenarios every day. But part of me still feels abandoned. Which is a very vulnerable feeling. I hate feeling vulnerable. Absolutely hate it. And if she asks me, I’ll lie. Because I know I’m not being abandoned. She’ll come back relaxed and refreshed and ready to dig back in. And maybe by then I’ll be holding myself together better and we’ll be able to start EMDR again.

We haven’t done EMDR in months because I’m so fragile. I suffer from major depersonalization and I zone out a frequent amount. As my hourly mindfulness checks have shown me, more often than anyone realized. Yes. Hourly mindfulness checks. I have a timer set to go off every hour. When it goes off, I ground myself, take a sip of water, and notice something I can hear. There are many, many times the alarm gently brings me out of the zoned state I’m in. Years and years ago, I used to come to in a totally different place than I “zoned out” in. The worst time was when I was at my friend Josh’s house, and next thing I know I’m down by the lake, in a city twenty minutes away from his house, down a busy highway.

Fortunately, those days are gone. Hopefully for good. Every day I feel a little stronger, a little more together. Eventually, we will start the EMDR again. Sooner, rather than later, if all goes well.

STAYING PRESENT

It’s been a difficult couple of days.  Completely lost it with my therapist yesterday.  I had such an overwhelming somatic flashback that I couldn’t speak.  For at least 30 minutes, if not longer.  I know this is approximate, as my appointment was supposed to finish at 2:00 and I didn’t get out of there until 2:40.  It was as though my young self hijacked my being and was so lost she couldn’t speak.  Couldn’t articulate how lost and hurt and sad she was.  I’m still struggling with my words over 24 hours later.  And with connection.  I feel completely detached from everything and everyone.  I do feel some relief that the kids are at their dad’s this week, so I don’t have to fake feeling anything but numb.

This disconnect is disconcerting.  Touch is nigh impossible to feel.  And when I do feel it, it feels weird.  As though there’s a barrier between my skin and the rest of the world.  My homework this week is to stay present and connected:  when I hug a friend, let myself feel the hug.  To stop living from the neck up, as my therapist says.  Easier said than done, my friend.  Easier said than done.

My Feldenkrais practitioner, Fariya, taught me to gently rub my fingers in a corkscrew motion.  This helps in grounding.  Fingers are very ennervated, so they are very sensitive.  But it feels… odd… to me.  Touching myself in any way is foreign.  I am an alien nation unto myself.  Vera, my therapist, aims to change that.  So much to work on, she says.  Even after the trauma stuff is sorted out, there’s my borderline eating disorder, my gender/body issues, my self-hatred.  As we work on the trauma, the other pieces will slowly fall into place, but I believe they are going to need to be addressed individually, once stability has been achieved.  If.  No, when.  Positive thinking is a must.  It’s so hard to, today.  Today, I even went out and bought a pack of smokes.  Something I haven’t done since Christmas.

Today feels like a day to stay in bed and wish for death to come upon me.  Instead, I am out at my friend’s cafe, eating poutine.  Reaching out.  Keeping safe where I am loved.  Not isolating.  Which is all I want to do.  Vera would be proud.

GUILTY

A child on trial
Her torn innocence
On the stand

Ashamed and degraded
Her sins laid bare
For all to see

Being needy
Her greatest crime
Wanting to be loved

And she believed
His honeyed words
Even as violated her

A child on trial
Herself The Judge
The Jury, The Executioner

SISTERHOOD

A year ago I attended a twelve week group for survivors of sexual assault. I was hesitant to go, as my experience with groups wasn’t very positive. With a lot of encouragement from my therapist and best friend, I decided to give it a shot. I am very glad I did. A year later, and I have a group of women I now consider to be my sisters. Bonded in a way I never imagined possible. A group of women I can share both my highs and my lows with, and everything in between. An amazing group of women who are supportive, loving, and quick to both laugh and cry with you.

It goes beyond our shared traumas. We are able to share the common, everyday things, the small tragedies and the big joys. And the seemingly small thing of being understood. Unless you’ve been a situation where your whole world is shattered, you never appreciate the comfort in sharing that trauma with people who have suffered in ways similar to you. We’ve all experienced different things, and suffered differently, but we all have been broken. The Japanese have an ancient art of mending broken pottery with gold, silver, or platinum. Kintsugi. They are the gold in my healing cracks.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BORDERLINE?

I’ve been thinking about diagnoses and what they mean to the one receiving them. Usually they come with a sense of relief: I’m not crazy. These symptoms do mean something. But what happens when the diagnosis means you are crazy? What does that mean? I’ve been fighting the BPD diagnosis for years. Never had a therapist agree with it, though I’ve received the diagnosis from more than one psychiatrist. Recently there has been a movement in the trauma treatment community to change it to Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My current therapist, who is a gift sent from wherever such things come from, explained it to me in a way that made me feel a lot better. It’s not that I’m not fixable, which is the prevailing feeling among most old school practitioners; it’s just that my brain needs a different way of fixing it. I’ll never be neuro-typical. But I can learn to adapt and rearrange the way I process information.

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD; also known as complex trauma disorder) is a psychological disorder that can develop in response to prolonged, repeated experience of interpersonal trauma in a context in which the individual has little or no chance of escape. (wikipedia) The resulting symptoms closely mirror that of BPD. The key difference between BPD and C-PTSD is that symptoms of BPD stem from an inconsistent self-concept and C-PTSD symptoms are provoked by external triggers. The inconsistent self-concept happens as a direct result of the early childhood trauma or ongoing trauma with no escape. Combine the two, you end up with a very fractured sense of self. Typical therapies for BPD used are DBT (Dialectic Behaviour Therapy) and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), neither of which address the underlying trauma.

I grew up always afraid of my father. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t. That’s how early the abuse started. He was never physically violent to my mother, but he was very much emotionally and verbally abusive. In typical abuser fashion, he never started until after they were married and she was “trapped” with a baby. My therapist explained to me that babies can pick up what’s going on around them, so if my mother was anxious, sad, or afraid, I would’ve understood something was wrong. When asked why she stayed, she recently told me she couldn’t admit to her mother that her mother was right. So her pride ruined my life. Well, my life up to this point. I’m taking charge of it now, and learning to say no to the shit I don’t have to put up with.

Add to the mix a cousin who taught me things no six year old should ever be aware of, a very abusive relationship at a young age with a much older man, and a more recent sexual assault, is it any wonder that my sense of self is fractured? I’m now learning that I matter, that what I want and feel are valid. Novel concepts to be learning at 45. I wish I had the confidence of my young sons. They know they’re important, they understand body autonomy, and while they may not yet know what it is, they live their lives with a purpose.

I long for the day when I can live beyond the day to day, minute to minute, second to second it takes to survive sometimes. But everyday I’m getting stronger. A solid therapist with strong boundaries is key. I’m very fortunate to have found one. She holds the space while I try to feel whatever emotions are coming up. She holds it without judgement and without forcing it. Which is what someone who has suffered much trauma needs. I am doing EMDR, (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) along with a combination of other modalities. I take a mood stabilizer to boost the effect of my anti-depressant, and I take an alpha blocker, which helps prevent the nightmares. Being taught coping mechanisms (Babette Rothschilde is an amazing source for this), I can even manage my panic attacks and flashbacks. I’m in a stable relationship, I’m a pretty decent parent, and a damn good friend. None of which should be possible if I was truly only suffering from BPD.

So what does the diagnosis mean to the one receiving it? In my case, nothing at all. It bothered me at first, and if I had received it years ago, before I started working with my current therapist, it might have destroyed me; taking away any hope of ever getting better. Now, it’s a label that might help my disability claim, but that’s all it is. It doesn’t define who I am as a person. It changes nothing. My trauma work is the most important thing I can do for myself, and in doing it, I will free myself from the bindings of a difficult diagnosis with a less than helpful prognosis.

A BLACKNESS DARK

In the dark
Defenses are thin
The monsters howl
Begging to be let in

The rain falls down
A staccato beat on the roof
Echoing the tears in my heart
That will not fall

Access denied
Feeling aloof
To the pain in my soul
A blackness dark
Coats my very existence

The monsters wail
Begging to be fed
Promising light after the blood
To slumber in the post pain haze

I know the truth
Of their existence
Never sated, always begging for more
The cravings deep

Alone in the night
With the monsters in my head
In my heart
In my soul
Filling the cracks with blood
In the place of tears

ONCE, LONG AGO

I’ve written about the past abusive relationship I was in from 15 to 17. How he trained me to be his play toy. A lesson I learned so well I had no sense of self worth outside of my body as an offering. One of the ways I process my shit is by writing. This is painful to read; trust me, it was painful to write.

Once, long ago

You told me that you loved me

Worshipped my body

With mouth and lash

Taught me that I existed

For others pleasures

Not my own

Though my body responded

Once, long ago

You claimed me as your own

Red marks on my body

Leather collar around my neck

You sold me

Watched as I was used

The ultimate symbol

Of your ownership

Once, long ago

I believed you

As you stripped me

Of clothing and will

Broken to

Your base desires

Years later

Still offering my body

Lost in a sea

Of misplaced desire

Seeking solace

For something that should never

Have been missing

HOLDING MY OWN

How good it feels to be away from the edge of The Pit. Despite being mostly housebound due to inclement weather, I have been feeling pretty good. Maybe because I haven’t had to be social. Who knows. I’m enjoying it while it lasts. Can’t help but wonder, though, if this is a shift toward hypomania. the pdoc I saw didn’t see a bipolar diagnosis. Borderline Personality Disorder, Complex PTSD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and, finally, Persistent Depressive Disorder. She said there is a lot of overlap with BP and BPD, so sometimes it’s hard to get a clear diagnosis.

A new year always brings with it some reflection. I’m not the type to make new years resolutions,; my goals change as I grow and change. And I wanted to take the time to give thanks to the woman who led me through the darkness to the light. I wrote a poem for her, and gave it to her just before we broke for the holidays. She never said anything about it, so I should probably not be embarrassed by it. I thought I’d share it with you.

A ship with a broken compass

Tossed on the waves

Hither and yon

Sinking slowly

Trying to find my way

By a North Star

Lost in a sky

Of darkness and despair

The clouds thick

Ever present

Blotting out the light

Along came a guide

Showed me how to mend

That broken compass

To fight my way

Back to the light

Behind the clouds

The siren song

Is still loud at times

But I have a gift

A toolkit

Cobbled together

Patiently guided

With grace and skill

To heal the wounded

Children within

ECSTASY HAS ITS PRICE

Strapped down

Unable to move

Unable to see

You taught me

To love the lash

Pain and Pleasure

Two sides

Of the same coin

The red welts belie

The soft coos of love

You whisper in my ear

Ecstasy always

Had its price

WHO AM I

Numb

An emotional lockdown
Fearful
That once the walls crumble
There will be no relief

Sorrow
Runs deep
Permeates my very essence

If I allow myself to feel
The full depths
Would I ever recover

Fear of getting “better”
Of never getting “better”

I’m not sure I could bear
That this is the way
It will always be

Yearning
For a family that doesn’t exist

For what worth have i
If I’m rejected by those
Who share my blood

That nameless ache
Undefinable
Intangible
Pervasive

Both physically
And in my pysche
A part of me

Steadfast
True

Who am I?

IF ONLY

It’s been a long time since I posted anything. Life has been dark and I have been in a state of broken disrepair, unable to write.

Tonight it appears the dam is cracking and I can write about the childhood that broke me.

IF ONLY

If my presence offends you
I can only beg forgiveness
And apologize for my sins

However slight

The pain
The tears
Never knowing
What might set you off

If only

If only I was quieter
If only
If only I was more docile
If only
If only I was the daughter you wanted

Not the one you received

Not wanted
Unplanned
A mistake
I don’t ever remember

Not knowing this

Shut up
I don’t want to hear it
You know why

Heartbroken

Alone in my room
Snot and tears
Mingling on the
Flowered bed spread

No succour
A pariah
Hours alone

Today you wonder why
I need so much
Time by myself
You trained me

Isolated me

Self reliant
To not need
To not feel

To not cry

WAY TOO FAST

Pulled down by the undertow
Staring up at the sun
Unattainable
Sinking fast

Tired of the fight
Can’t keep my head above the water
Current moving down
Way too fast

The salt on my cheeks
Can’t look up up
Overwhelmed by the tide
Way too fast

Drowning in my tears
Can’t breathe
Can’t see beyond the blood

Life drags by
Way too fast

SHAME AND SELF LOATHING

I’ve been struggling with the facts that I stayed in a very abusive relationship with a much older man when I was 15.  I stayed until he ended it shortly before my 18th birthday because, as he put it, I got too old.  Despite the reassurances of my amazing therapist, Vera, I somehow still feel responsible for staying. Over the holidays, my young teenage self was badly triggered and I spent a solid two weeks,  at least, battling the urge to self harm.  Angry Dude (another part of me that has separated from the rest) has been bubbling up with rage and the two have been feeding off of each other. I finally let Angry Dude out, with some careful boundaries.  NO SELF-HARM!!!  Instead, he did some writing.  Harsh, angry words at me for going back again and again.  Here is his story:

IDIOT

You went back

Again and again
Knowing full well
What was in store

IDIOT

You hungered for 
His small mercies
Carfully played
After he used you

Good Girl
My Slut

Positive reinforcement
Being claimed
Being wanted

IDIOT

Was it enough
Was it worth it
The fist in the hair

The violent sex

The beatings
Was it worth it

Going back
Again and again

IDIOT

Not strong enough
To walk away
Though given ample
Opportunity

IDIOT

You let him do things 
No one should endure
Just for his approval

Those damning words
That get me every time

Good GIrl
My Slut

IDIOT

How could you not see
The end
How could you think 
It would last forever

IDIOT

Did you really think 
He wanted YOU? 

Claimed
He said

Your heart
Your body
Your mind
Mine

IDIOT

To be so naive

The beatings
The gang rapes
The timeouts in the closet

IDIOT

There was nothing you
Wouldn’t do for him
Nothing you wouldn’t
Let him do

Your innocence
Your dignity

You gave it all up
For what? 

A gentle touch
A kind word
Thrown like a bone
To a starving dog

IDIOT

You lost so much
Of yourself
Unable to find
Your true self
Given all up for
A gentle word
A false sense of belonging

IDIOT

How could you not see
What he was doing to you
Using you
Corrupting you
Defiling you

IDIOT

How could you believe 
How could you keep
Going back
For more
And more

IDIOT

Now you’re broken
Beyond repair

Vera can’t help fix
The shattered
Remnants
Of your destroyed
Soul

IDIOT

ALL ALONE

I met him when I was 15.  His wife brought me home to “meet” him.  He took my innocence and made me his. Shared me with his friends. Trained me to do his bidding, to serve unflinching.  Scars I’m still trying to heal.  Thanks for coming on the journey to healing with me. 

You take my hand
I’m all alone

You caress my body
I’m all alone

A crowd of strangers 
I’m all alone

Touching me
I’m all alone

Entering me
I’m all alone

Your words try to comfort me
I’m all alone

Empty words of love

I’m all alone

INTO THE DARKNESS

The lengths that I would go through
Begging on my knees
Not to go
Go into the darkness
Into the past

The broken girl
Fractured and shattered
Oh so many hurts 

Overflowing
Into my today

No brakes
Flying through
The memories

Terrified

Overwhelmed

Wanting to hide
Begging on my knees
Not to go

THE RAIN

I feel the rain
Cold against my skin
A counterpoint to the tears
Rolling down my cheeks

Thunder crashes
In the skies above
Echoing the tumult 
In my heart

Lightning jaggéd
Against the sky
Bright flashes of pain
Reverberating 

Through,my soul

THE AIR

I’ve recently started EMDR for my PTSD. And it is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Going back into the memory while tracking your therapists hand movements. And the fact that those memories that you have tried so hard to bottle up now run rampant through your brain. Through your waking hours. Through the few hours of respite you get a night. And the worse time of all, that gap between wakefulness and unconsciousness.

Laying in bed
Your ghost beside me
Sucking the air
Out of the room

I remember your hands
Your body

Taking what you wanted
Not what I gave

Memory
Continues to suck
All the air
Out of the room

I couldn’t breathe then
I can’t breathe now

Here alone
Laying in bed

Violating me
Over and over again
Sucking the air
Out of the room

Tears I couldn’t shed then
Pour now down my cheeks
Torment and despair

Sucking the air
Out of the room

ALONE IN THE LIGHT

Alone in the night
Lights out
In the dark
A silent scream
As you touch me

Alone in the night
You haunt my waking hours
My sleepless nights

Can’t breathe as your body
Crushes mine

Alone in the night
Unshed tears

I can’t turn you off
Or make you disappear

Alone in the light

I feel you
Smell you
I can’t escape

What you’ve done to me

INTO THE LIGHT

My therapist has been assigning me art homework over the past few months as a different way to approach my healing from assorted traumas. This week I have to create a supportive greeting card to send to myself. The homework requires a letter or poem identifying the losses from said trauma and offering strength and support. I, obviously, opted to a write a poem. Let me know what you think. If it is supportive.

Cruel hands
Cruel heart

Laid waste your innocence
Your tender soul

The days are dark
The nights darker still

The light shall rise again
To dry your tears

Come take my hand
I’ll hold you through
The black storm raging
And come together

Into the light

DISUNITED 

Fractured pieces
Of my mind
Litter my soul

Remnants
Of a whole woman
Who never had
The chance to be
One

Disunified
Each hiding
In its own hole
Stuck in a past
Too terrible
For words

Unable to
Leave the shadows
And unite
The fractured pieces
Of my soul

VULNERABLE

I haven’t blogged about the experiences that led to my developing PTSD and, very likely, my bipolar. I find putting words to the experience nigh impossible.  It seems easier to use poetry to express my pain, my experiences.  This was not an easy write, and will be an even harder read. 

What a dirty word
Vulnerable is

Vulnerable

A six year old
Vulnerable to physical abuse
Masquerading as love

Vulnerable

A broken six year old
Vulnerable to sexyal assault
Thinking its love

Vulnerable

A shattered six year old
Learning how to build walls

Vulnerable

Ten years old
Shutting down
Rejection just too hard

Vulnerable

Innocence smashed
Sense of self immolated

Vulnerability disappears
Becomes
Responsibility

Responsibility for
Failure
Inadequacy

Responsibility

Becomes internalized
Absorbed
Owned

How could thise walls
Ever hold
So young, too young

Vulnerable

A fifteen year old
Aching for something intangible

Vulnerable

To repeat the past
Two years a play toy

Shut down
Turn it all off
Live a facade

Smile
Behind the
Pain

The Inherent Dichotomy of Co-Morbidity

It’s a crazy thing, to be hypomanic and still be suffering the effects of C-PTSD. Complex or chronic post traumatic stress disorder. Mixed with cyclothemic bipolar renders all states crazy. I’m currently on my way out of months of depression, a few days in a mixed state, into full blown hypomania. Yet the Darkness is never far away. I can be flying high, enjoying the state, working on my novel, writing poetry, even basically things like cleaning, which, by the way, are much more fun when you’re manic. Everyday tasks are almost a joy, since I’m so scattered I’m not even sure what I’m doing. (Like using a glue stick instead of lip balm, but I digress, that’s a story for another day). Where was I, oh ya, even in the midst of joy, where the sun is shining, (well, it’s raining and gray, but it’s shining in my heart for once) and I can smile. When Bang! Out of the great blue yonder comes a flashback. When I’m depressed, they drop me even deeper into the Pit, down into the Abyss of suicidal despair. In a mixed or hypo/manic state, they leave me edgy, restless, ill-at-ease, frightened. Which transmutes into Irritability. Hyper and irritable. Sucks. And leaves me feeling

Broken

Haunted eyes
Hollow and empty
Of naught but fear

Another sleepless night
Or dreams filled with terror
The power you still have
Over me
So many years later

Remnants return
Out of nothing
And your hands
Your cologne
The weight of your body
Memory returns

Physical

Emotional

Love is earned
Only through pain
Subservience

Lessons I learned
So very well
Shaped the core
Of who I am

Broken

Tarnished

And yet a small crumb of solace, the suicidal ideation is at bay, and while being edgy and restless isn’t great, it is infinitely better than being outright suicidal and knowing you can never act on that desire because you don’t want your kids as fucked up as you are.

So have a great weekend all, and play safe.

Bi-Polar, C-PTSD, and Me

Are we our diagnoses, are they us, or is there some sort of medium where we can be us, certainly shaped by our illness(es) but not defined by them.  My diagnoses came late in life, after being treated, inaccurately (and thus with a resounding lack of success for almost 20 years), for major depressive disorder.  I recently found an old book of poetry I had written back in high school, and one of the poems from when I was 16 could have been written by me, today, in a hypomanic phase.  I prefer phase to state, it seems less foreboding and permanent.

I used to pride myself on the fact that my past may have shaped me, but it didn’t define me.  Someday I might share with you the rough history that is mine, but not today.  Suffice it to say that my therapist used the term “very horrific” to describe my legacy.  Unfortunately, I have had to accept that fact that it did do more than shape me, it did, indeed, define me and the numerous ways I see myself.

But that’s ok.  Language evolves.  Definitions change.  And the me that is today, defined by my experiences, does not have to be the me of tomorrow.  I can learn to make better choices, do things differently.  And when the siren’s songs come, I can make choices toward the future, as opposed to reacting from the past.

Mindfulness, being aware of what you’re doing and WHY you’re reacting a certain way, helps to create new habits, new understandings, and new approaches.  Am I there?  Not even close.  Do I believe?  Yeah, today I do. It’s damn hard, but somehow, some way, I will find the strength to overcome.  I have to.

The alternative is untenable.

Breathe In

The past week I’ve been living in flashback hell. And not really coping well.  Three therapy appointments in one week and I’m finally breathing.

I find it interesting how breathing is the key to everything regarding recovery. Breathing and mindfulness.  And with the techniques and tools I’ve been taught,  I’m learning how to manage and stay present.  Drifting has been a huge problem for me this week   I’m hoping to be able to bring it back on more this week.

Breathe in
Against the tightness
Breath in
Against the rising tide

The Black fog’s
Tendrils reaching deep
Breathe in
Against the panic

Shallow
Breathing so shallow
Like a scared squirrel
Heart racing against hands
That cradle
But feel like traps

Lightheaded
Fear keeps the breath rapid
Respiration without depth
Unsafe the only thought
Breathe in
Against the urge to run

Abject terror
At nothing
Breathe in
Against the need to self destruct

The stars beckon
Come fly between
Soar up into space
Become one with the cosmos

Breathe in
Against the desire
To escape and never come back

Breathe in
Against the waters siren call
Breathe in
Against the invitation to sink
Embraced by the blanket of
Seaweed and foam

Breathe in
Against the ne’er-ending pain
Breathe in
Against the desire to give up
Breathe in
Against the exhaustion

Breathe in
The knowledge of your battles
Breathe in
Acceptance of how far you’ve come
Breathe in
And  continue the fight

Breathe in
You’ve made it through so much
Breathe in
The aftermath can’t kill you
Breathe in
Don’t let the aftermath kill you