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Running, running

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Running, running to catch a star
She needs to go, go so far
away
from there and here
she is
Blindly leaping, crazed, and dazed
Idiots they are amazed
by her
They are running, running to catch a lie
stick a needle in your eye
promises broken, again she cries
screaming silently, can’t you hear
from there and here
she is
Running, running to catch a thief
A stolen life, eternal grief
lost
before being found
Her shooting star, was shot down
nearly lifeless to the ground
Running, running, to catch release
She needs to find that life can cease
to chase her
from there and here
She is
Blindly leaping, abused and bruised
lost and confused
seeking
only
peace

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Learning to Trust…Myself

Trust is Hard. But that’s okay because hard is a marvelous improvement on impossible.

At some point I stopped listening to myself and what I need or want. Did I ever listen? Actually maybe not. I was never permitted to create my own identity as a child. I never went through the finding myself stage as an adolescent. I believe I am doing that now. Teenage angst at age 40, yeah, that’s exactly what I need. Yay.

I am noticing that in the midst of this angst, once in a while I notice little sparks of wonderfulness. These sparks are so startling and so powerful they stop me in my tracks and fuel me for days. What was that? Why did it happen? How can I make it happen again? Is it possible I can feel good one day? Is it okay to hope? Is it safe to dream yet?

After some of these sparks, I noticed a difference in myself. It’s tough to put this in words because it is only a hazy sort of feeling. But I noticed something more solid inside of me. Less dead? Less empty? Something instead of nothing. When you have perpetual nothing, believe me a spark of something almost knocks you over.

I recall caring about stuff, having dreams and motivation, being driven towards goals and achieving, hell overachieving – but I don’t think those were my goals or dreams. Not entirely anyway. I’m still unraveling. It’s not such a painful process at the moment, only a slow one. Like walking through deep water with my eyes closed. Slow going and once in a while I feel something new. Mostly I just keep trudging along because I don’t know what else to do.

But when I feel this new something, I have less doubts in myself. I used to feel confident in my choices and decisions. I used to walk around with a fierce internal driving force, yes a quietly burning one, but still there it was driving me towards my future that I planned. This new confidence, although fleeting, is making small ripples of change. I’ve been stuck for years now, without a plan, unemployed, waiting, healing, recovering. I’m hopeful these glimpses, these sparks of strength and confidence will keep coming, and will help me to learn to trust myself, my judgment and my decisions. Feeling like every decision you ever made has been wrong tends to undermine your own trust, a major component in PTSD. So I’ve been working quite hard to go back and look at those decisions with compassion, understand I did the best I could with the tools I had available at the time, and that truthfully, there is no way of knowing if past decisions were bad, maybe they would have had different outcomes but not necessarily better outcomes.

 

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I was fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of one of these handsome fellows perched in a tree the other morning after I dropped the kids off at school. I was unable to capture my own photo sadly, so I’ve borrowed one here to show you. We have a decent population of peregrine falcons and their bright white chests always catch my attention if their size didn’t. These birds are huge, majestic, strong, fast, and beautiful. They tend to sit just like this with their wings out a bit, I imagine ready for flight in an instant.

Why am I telling about this bird? Because of how I feel when I see one. I feel alive. Instant tingles of joy spread through my body. I feel lucky. I feel stronger, like his strength is on loan to me. I feel like we did something right, well, after we screwed up and nearly killed them all unintentionally with that whole DDT nightmare. These birds almost disappeared, due to humans, but humans saved them and now they choose to live in my trees and grace me with their presence.

I guess these birds remind me that we can change the world, or at least make an impact. Our actions do matter. We can wipe out species or bring them back. We can lift up and support people or cut them down and trample them. We can choose to ignore our problems or we can work on improving the situation. Change takes time, but when it works, it works beautifully.

I’m applying this to my own recovery and trying to be more patient with myself, and to celebrate improvements no matter how small. This helps to build trust in myself that I can care for me, and that I’ll stop hurting me. When you self-harm, self-sabotage, and self-punish you see yourself as an enemy too. I hope this makes sense because I rewrote three times and I still think it may be out of sequence somewhat, but its the best I can do with it. I’m trying to show how my thinking is changing, that I’m starting feel alive in fleeting moments, which leads to new self care behaviors (like establishing and protecting my boundaries, eating healthier, getting social support, making friends, better hygiene, etc), which builds trust in myself and stops the self loathing cycle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reasonable Expectations from your Partner

Before I start this topic, a quick update may be in order for anyone that has noticed my absence. Feel free to skip this part if you only want the subject matter I planned to write about. I am fine. Relatively. I graduated my trauma recovery program, err, rather, we mutually decided to end it due to several factors. I was working on exposure therapy and we went through several key events, but I could never work through them all, there is simply too many, thousands, 10 thousands actually for my entire childhood. We decided to end before the holidays to reduce my stress at that time so I could enjoy it more with my family. We decided not to continue in the new year to reduce my medical bills that I already cannot pay and need to dodge bill collectors calling me. My credit rating is tanking.

We decided to end it to give me a break. That is also why I was not blogging. I needed some time to stop thinking about my traumas and let some of the open wounds heal.

I was not completely unsupported in this time. I have still been using 7cups.com and amazingly enough, I have found an online friend that I chat with daily that understands my history and is both strong enough and empathic enough to listen to me. I am truly grateful.

Today I want to talk about some reasonable expectations from your partner if you have been abused. I have found some other sites that seem to expect more than I have from mine. This one was great https://sworddancewarrior.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/primer-for-partners-of-sexual-abuse-survivors/

I read through that one together with hubby, explaining the parts that didn’t quite fit with me and what really did. What I loved about this was the idea of the safety list. I’ve included an excerpt below.

“6) How do we have the best sex possible with my survivor partner?

Make a written ‘safe sex’ list and stick to it. In this context safe means ‘no or low abuse triggers’.  The survivor can make a list of things that are sure fire abuse triggers and things you can do that have no abuse gunk attached to them. These will be unique to each survivor. Group the list by level of safety. Green light items are things that never trigger flashbacks. Red light things will pretty much always trigger flashbacks. Yellow light things might be possible from time to time but the survivor should initiate them.

If there is a sexual act or practice on the red light list that you really really like, give up all hope of ever doing this thing with your survivor partner. She or he might give in and do it, but it will do serious harm to your relationship if she does, and will set you back a lot.”

I extended this idea to all triggers, not just the sexual ones. I created a red light list of things that will always trigger me, make feel unsafe, cause a flashback, cause me to dissociate, or large amount of panic. This list is not really that long and is incredibly specific. I explained each item to hubby even though it was traumatic for me to do so. Most of them he knew already, somewhat, but we had never categorized and gone into this level of detail before. Some things I even modeled or demonstrated for him to be extra clear even though I thought my heart might explode as I pretended to be my abuser.

So why, please tell me why, hubby still does things on the red list? Here is what he says. “Oh, I forgot”
“I thought it was okay like this”
“I wasn’t thinking about that”
“You seemed fine”

I don’t think all rules are meant to be broken. Some are funny when they are.

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Okay. He is human. He is bound to make a mistake or forget. Yes? or NO? I’m not sure. I mean there are other red list behavior items in his life if he thinks about it.  I’m not the only one that has created rules for him. He doesn’t break many rules. He doesn’t walk around naked. He doesn’t swear at his boss. He doesn’t bring home every puppy he sees. He does have a memory and impulse control. So why can’t he remember these few things that are important to me and my recovery? I have explained that once triggered, it can take me hours, sometimes days to get over it. I have explained all of the triggers and my feelings multiple times over the years.

And yet this morning he does it again before he leaves for work. Leaving me here alone to deal with it. Yes I told him. And he said he was sorry, and acted all confused. I don’t understand his confusion. I don’t know what to do.

Am I being unreasonable in my expectation? Is he correct that he shouldn’t have to remember? Or should it be on him now to periodically review the list we wrote out together to make sure he is being supportive and not adding more trauma to me?

I understand it is my responsibility to heal. I have been working very hard in therapy and completing worksheets and excruciating homework. I understand he is not responsible for my reactions or what happened to me. But I feel like if he told me “I don’t like when you do this” even if no trauma were associated with it, I would never do “this” again.

So I’m here again, where I need to try to understand. To forgive him. To rebuild trust. To feel safe in my world.

 

 

Do you hear what I hear?

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Hearing voices. Auditory hallucinations. That means I am crazy, right? That I have finally lost it, gone over to the land of no return, no more reality for me?

That’s what I thought the first time it happened. I was terrified. I was scared to tell anyone. I wasn’t sure what really happened. Maybe it didn’t really happen. Maybe I was just thinking something, I didn’t really hear something.

But then it happened again. And again. And umm okay I thought about telling my husband and psychiatrist. This was about 15 years, before I was diagnosed with PTSD. With my brother’s history of schizophrenia, we were all sure that I was starting some psychosis. I was put on anti-psychotics. The meds did not make the voices stop, they made me sick, anxious, and caused visual hallucinations. The doctor said that was impossible and was simply my psychosis advancing. I was given more meds to try. I played along for a while, until some combination of the meds and my situation made me give in to suicidal urges. My suicidal ideation became a concrete plan and I made the first of several attempts that year. The only times I have ever attempted suicide I have been heavily medicated. Otherwise, I only have this ideation, this distant aching thought that I wish to be nonexistent, which is VERY different from looking up lethal dosages.

Anyway, back on topic, I realized I have not talked here about AH – Auditory Hallucinations and that they can be part of PTSD. I wanted to share my experience and some of the research I found. Here are some links to read more about AH with PTSD.

http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/hearing-voices.html

“In the past, when someone uttered the phrase ‘I hear voices in my head’ the immediate assumption was that they had a mental illness such as schizophrenia or psychosis. These days however, we are more attuned to the nature of auditory hallucinations and understand that it is a complex subject that has many different causes. There is also far more support and understanding for those who experience voices, hopefully showing that they are not alone.

The experience of hearing voices differs from person to person. Some people hear the sound through their ears, just as if someone is speaking. Others hear the voice from inside their head. There may be one voice or several. The voices can be encouraging and supportive or malevolent and intimidating. You may recognise the voice as someone in your life – or it may be an entirely new voice.

Some people believe they can hear other people’s thoughts, while others may feel threatened by their voices. In some cases, the voices try to tell people what to do which can be incredibly frightening for the listener.

The important thing to remember is that admitting that you hear voices in your head is not an admission of insanity – it is an important starting point to help you regain control.”

http://blogs.plos.org/mindthebrain/2013/04/24/hearing-voices-ptsd-and-auditory-hallucinations/

Among combat veterans with PTSD, 30-40% report auditory hallucinations (AH). AH are more frequent in combat veterans with chronic PTSD and it has been suggested that this may reflect a distinct subtype of PTSD that may be under recognized for two reasons: first, patients are reluctant to report AH and, second, more emphasis has, traditionally, been placed on the intrusive images associated with PTSD and less on intrusive auditory hallucinations.

It is important to recognize that such patients do not have the overt changes in affect or bizarre delusions characteristic of other psychoses e.g. schizophrenia.  AH in PTSD appears to be seen more in veterans with higher combat exposure and more intense PTSD symptoms and who report more severe symptoms of hyperarousal. The AH are typically: ego-dystonic; contribute to an increases sense of isolation and shame; associated with feelings of lack of controllability; consist of combat-related themes and guilt; non bizarre; not associated with thought disorders and, overall, more refractory to treatment interventions.

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/842449_2

“Auditory hallucinations are present in several nonpsychotic disorders, as well as a proportion of the ‘normal’ population.[23] Auditory hallucinations in PTSD may be chance occurrences, which are perceived as threatening, secondary to the heightened arousal state of PTSD. Misdiagnosis is likely to persist without a longitudinal approach and understanding of the underlying biological basis for the illness and its later course, as the clinical presentation is difficult to differentiate on a cross-sectional basis. Symptoms such as hallucinations have been shown to be clinically indistinguishable in adolescents with PTSD or a psychotic disorder.[24]”

http://www.med.upenn.edu/ctsa/ptsd_symptoms.html

“Rare cases of PTSD may involve auditory hallucinations and paranoid ideation. Individuals who experience auditory hallucinations may experience tinnitus, a constant ringing in one’s ears, or they may hear a voice or set of voices that are not physically present. Individuals who are experiencing paranoid ideation are highly guarded and constantly suspicious of being harmed and harassed by those around them. When the trauma involves violent death, symptoms of both complicated grief and PTSD may be present.”

As for my own experiences, mainly I have a deep man’s voice that I hear. It is loud and startling. I usually hear it to my left, causing me to turn my head and look for the person who might have said something, but of course no one is there. It is so loud that I am startled, often I jump or gasp in reaction. The voice says horrible things to me. I don’t think the voice is my father’s voice, it sounds much deeper and raspier to me-like a demon radio announcer. It does however say things to me similar to what my father would have said – similar – but not exactly. So this voice is not exactly a flashback. I do have those too, reliving experiences, and this is different. This voice I hear I don’t leave reality, I am still in the current time, there is no visual component either. I will doing ANYTHING and this voice can intrude.

Like yesterday I was walking down the hallway and noticed my dog sleeping sweetly in my son’s room. I felt warm and smiled as I walked by on my way to the bathroom. Then I heard this deep voice, booming, almost like through a PA announcing “She is going to die”. Instantly I am filled with sadness and fear for my dog, dreading her death. She is in good health. No one is going to hurt her. I know this. So is this voice a remnant of my father hurting my past pets? I don’t think he ever actually said those exact words to me. I generated that, not remembered that.

Other times I will be talking to Hubby, about nothing in particular, and I will hear the voice say “You are a fool, stupid slut, no one loves you” or “He hates you, its a trick” or “why do you keep trying?”

Again, these voices I hear are similar to messages I received as a child, but not exact memories. So I think it is related to PTSD. Is it psychosis? Well…I do hear voices from nonexistent people. Is it a form of schizo-blahblah whatever disorder? No one knows. But it seems related.

All I know, is it sucks big time. It is getting more difficult to manage, not easier. Meds do not help, and I have tried them all. This is seriously debilitating, and makes it impossible to have relationships and be around people since I am in constant battle with the voices in my head. It is exhausting to keep saying “shut up, they do love me, I am worth it, I am safe, no one is tricking me here, go away”. I used to shut off the voices instantly – like talk to the hand. But this new therapy program wanted me to listen to them, to sit with the feelings, to explore the thoughts. Okay, great, so I have done that, and now I hear them more than ever and feel everything the voices want me to feel. Is this supposed to be better? I am not sure how long this stage is supposed to last. No one has an answer for me on this. I am supposed to keep using my cpt tools and working through it without losing my mind completely, which I actually do fear will happen one day. The mental exhaustion of sorting through all of this is too much sometimes. That’s when I choose to zone out and mindlessly watch TV for hours on end.

So I have been paying more attention and I think I hear other sounds too, not just the voice – like squeals, cries, wind, footsteps, scrapes, other creepy there might be someone in your house horror movie kind of sounds. That might be the hypervigilance producing something for me, since I am always on guard, once in a while it gives me something to hear. Research thinks these sounds and AH are related to dissociating and flashbacks somehow but the mechanisms are not entirely understood in our amazingly complex brains. I think I used to listen so carefully for signs of danger, and now I generate sounds of danger similar to memories.

I am resisting a slew of snarky comments, about how fun this condition is for me. You get it. But I am curious if anyone else hears stuff too. Don’t worry, you can tell me, I won’t tell anyone, and I won’t think you are crazy, or at least not any crazier than I am. I would like to know how anyone copes, manages, handles it, other than simply waiting for it to go away.

Sometimes I don’t hate myself

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Here and there I experience moments of peace, freedom from self loathing. I am trying to make more of these moments appear in my life, if I can.

These moments come either when I am alone, or with my kids. Never with anyone else. Okay. Good starting point. It doesn’t always happen though. So what else is going on?

These moments come when I am not trying to change myself. When I am living. Doing something, like playing a video game and laughing with the kids, taking a hike and snapping photos, watching clouds transform into shapes and colors, feeling the hot water of a shower on my back, blowing bubbles and watch them float or splat, petting the soft fur of my dog, lifting weights feeling my muscles strain. I have brief mindful moments when I take in the world and I do not think about it. No analysis. No paranoia. No decisions, judging, evaluating, scanning for danger, making sure I am saying the right things. Just live and breathe, watch and experience.

These moments come when I am not trying to be perfect. I often am being childish. I make a rude or inappropriate joke or comment. I eat too much candy. I do the dishes later. I forget about something on my to do list. I make a mistake. AND my brain does not attack me and say I am a horrible person and need to die.

This is new.

These moments come with acceptance. I have accepted my current state of being – my weaknesses, my tendency to forget, my difficulty learning and processing, my auditory troubles, my daily flashbacks and slips into dissociative states, my irrational fears and panic attacks, my obsessive unbalanced thoughts. I have accepted that this is me right now. My kids accept ME too. They call me demented – but with a hug and a smile. They love my quirks. Maybe I can too??

I have made some BIG decisions to change my life. I am no longer going to desperately try to change ME. Instead I am going to accept me and accommodate me. I am no longer putting on a fake smile. The people closest to me don’t like ME. They like submissive, complacent me. And ya know what? I hate her. But I don’t hate ME.

This is really important I think. I have built a life, surrounded myself with people that never accepted ME. I have decided I am no longer obligated to be a part of their lives.

The in-house separation with Hubby is going really well. The space and distance is exactly what I needed to start healing and feeling stronger. I am no longer triggered and traumatized daily. I am getting some rest and peace here. With our separation, I have told him that I will not be going to any get-togethers at the in-laws’ houses for the holidays. He can take the kids without me as if we were truly separated.

I cannot tell you the overwhelming relief this decision has given me. Freedom from the chaos. Instead of my stress getting worse each day, I am getting more relaxed as the holidays approach.

I have accepted that I hate parties. I am going to stop forcing myself to attend them. I don’t need a label as to why. If you want to call it social anxiety, PTSD issues, attachment disorder, paranoia, whatever it doesn’t matter. I suffer when around people. Especially Hubby and the inlaws. I suffer for days before and after social events. I hate talking to people. I hate listening to people. I hate trying to fit in – because I don’t. I hate pretending to like things, pretending to agree with them. I also hate conflict and disagreeing so that doesn’t work well either. I hate analyzing motives, interpreting body language, making sure I am not being rude, making sure I am safe. It is exhausting. Not one second is ever fun.

I used to drink to get through social events. A few shots of whiskey before we leave. A few more while we are there and wine with dinner. Maybe add a benadryl or a sleeping pill to take the edge off.

I don’t do that anymore.

I won’t hurt myself any more. I won’t keep going to therapy to try to change the fact that I am not a social person. I have one more session to wrap up my program and then I am done with therapy. This is ME. I prefer being alone. I do not get lonely when I am alone. I am only lonely when I go to parties and see how different I am. I start feeling bad, like a freak, watching everyone else enjoy themselves, laughing and chatting. Why can’t I do that?

I don’t know why. But I don’t care anymore. It is no longer a goal of mine. I have accepted that I have different social requirements and I am going to stop trying to change and force myself to fit into a convenient mold that everyone else wants for me but I have never actually wanted.

This decision may hurt some people. They may think I am being selfish. I say good. About damn time I figured out how to do that. If the people actually NEEDED me, I would be there in a second to help. No one will die or even suffer because I am not eating turkey at their dinner table. Perspective is needed.

What about my kids? Won’t they be confused? No. They accept me too. I have explained to them this past year a bit about my troubles. That parties make me nervous and sick, cause headaches, too much stress, no fun for me. I am here for them all the other times. They can go to a party and come home and tell me about it. Instead of us going together, and me hiding, recovering, sick for the next several days. I am a better mom this way. By being kind to myself, accepting what works for me, and stop chasing normal.

I hate normal. But sometimes I don’t hate ME. And that is the key to everything. That is how I am going to get through this. I just know it now. I keep picturing a future where I might not hate ME. Is it possible?

Disorganized Thoughts

One of the most troubling problems I face daily  is the jumbled swirl of disorganized thoughts in my sorry excuse for a brain. I know, be nice to myself. But I have to use my back button more then I can type to fix these errors because when I re read it -it makes no sense. Words are misspelled, out of order, and simply not the correct word for the context. Some of this is due to me thinking about so many topics at once. I have always done this, but used to be able to dip into the swirling loveliness, pull out what I needed, focus on that a bit, and move on. I seem to have lost my shield and now all the intrusive thoughts are mixed in and attacking the swirling overlapping thoughts, like a traffic jam of the future with 3-d flying cars everywhere.

I have identified a large amount of paranoia also. Not sure when mistrust crosses the line into paranoia but I think I have. I did something dangerous to my health and found and fell in love with a new, well actually old but new to me tv show called Perception about a neuroscientist with schizophrenia that assisted FBI. I obsessively watched all 3 seasons last week. Hey I don’t sleep much so whatever. But watching him as a paranoid schizophrenic made me think of some of my own thoughts and actions. Hmm.

OKay. So my brother has schizophrenia. I am always worried that I might actually have it too and no one knows. That my flashbacks are really hallucinations. I wrote about it before at least being related on a spectrum if not the same thing.

I have had delusions before. I have crashed hard when reality hit me. Not going into that right now. I didn’t lose my touch on reality completely but I definitely held onto some fantasy or magical thinking type things for many many years. Not sure they are totally gone.

I hear horrible voices all of the time. These have been explained to me as my own inner critic, my own inner negative tape running, or as flashbacks. I am not always sure about this, but never wanting to appear ‘crazy’ or an unfit mother I accept those explanations.

But I do worry. I obsess. I distort reality? Don’t we all to some extent? So how much is acceptable? Am I within tolerable limits?

So once in a while I take screener tests to see how I am doing. I find them difficult to answer though, each one is “well it depends . . . ”

Anyhow I found a site with several personality disorder screener tests. They are of course not meant to be used as diagnosis, but as a tool, a speaking point to use with a therapist or doctor. Take the tests yourself here at PDCHAT if you want. I have no idea how accurate these are, so take with a grain a salt too I suppose.

But here are my results:

Your Antisocial Test Results.40%

Your Avoidant Test Results.98.3%

Your Borderline Test Results.51.7%

Your Dependent Test Results.53.3%

Your Histrionic Test Results.36.7%

Your Narcissism Test Results.31.7%

Your Obsessive-Compulsive Test Results.86.7%

Your Paranoid Test Results.95%

Your Schizoid Test Results.86.7%

Your Schizotypal Test Results.76.7%

So that was fun and likely did not prove anything at all, except that I avoid most social interactions, mistrust most people, have control issues…wait what were the PTSD areas? safety, trust, control, power, intimacy…yes this sounds about right. Except PTSD might not explain why I get angry and clench my teeth when hubby does not put the coffee scoop back in the ‘right’ place and grounds get on the table. Or my racing heart, avoidance, fear of germs, not using water fountains, touching doorknobs, hearing people cough around me can cause me to move or even leave a waiting room. My disorganized, intrusive thoughts may not all be trauma related, but some OCD. Or my sadness when someone does not ‘hear’ me and I feel invisible and give up, hiding in my room.

I feel intense anger, and it scares me. I hate people sometimes for slight mistakes. I control myself though. I don’t yell, rarely raise my voice above a whisper actually, and retreat to another room until the anger subsides. It is scarier when I am angry with myself, that is when I really hear the voices.

I made a parenting mistake last night. Not a big one, but one that made youngest kiddo cry because I said something without thinking it through, and it was not fair. I was already struggling because the other kiddo kept invading my space, touching me, singing loudly near me, and was not stopping when I asked her to stop. I tried telling hubby and he made no response, no help at all as usual, I was on my own. So while triggered, I had to made kiddo 1 show respect, which always puts me in a dark place, and then was harsh to kiddo 2 because I wanted to rush dinner prep and hide. All this while hubby was in the room on the couch, ignoring all of us. He always says he is there for me, but he never is. Another trigger. I am spiraling. I make it through dinner quickly and retreat to my room. Kiddo 2 is still crying but I thought hubby could handle it. He comes up in just moments and announces he is getting a bath. ??? Seriously? I ask him why he needs it right now, and he says something about a heat rash bothering him. So ok. I am on my own again. I have to get my crap together and help kiddo calm down. But I am shaking. I am thinking dark thoughts. I am afraid to scream or hit him or over punish if I go down like this. So I turn up my tv, really loud so I can’t hear him crying downstairs. I start counting and breathing. I put hubby out of my mind. I think grounding lists and then I think of sweet thoughts and helpful phrases. Then I head downstairs where my 8 year old is now red faced and hyperventilating he is so upset. I get him an ice pack to hold and ask him to breathe slowly with me. I ask the others why he is screaming since he is unable to talk yet. First it is because we were out of soup for dinner. But then, as I suspected, it was because I made him stop playing his game abruptly to come to dinner. I am usually more respectful of their time. I apologized – however – I said his behavior now was completely inappropriate and that while it is okay to be upset, angry, sad, etc, it is not okay to scream as loud as possible and carry on like that. I said I would help him calm down, but if he chose to continue screaming instead I would have to ground him. Please understand, he was not simply crying or whimpering, this was a manipulative tactic gone too far out of his control now. I have seen him at funerals, and in fights with his brother. This was not authentic. I do not punish authentic displays of emotions, but I do punish attempts at manipulation and temper tantrums from a third grader that would have three year old going – dude, what was that? So we made it through. But it drained me of everything I had in me. I went directly to bed, hating hubby for being an a$$ that abandons us all when he doesn’t like our emotions. I feel bad for needing a moment to myself. I wonder how hubby feels completely avoiding all of us. I wonder how his personality tests would turn out, but he would never take them.

This gave me some things to think about, a different perspective as I wrap up my trauma recovery program. I have learned a great deal from this counselor, but I am stuck now, and feeling worse than ever. I am ready to take a break. I want to go into the stressful holidays without looking into my past. In fact, I am not sure I ever want to look back again, not at the level of detail this counselor asked of me. I still don’t see the point of it, to drudge it all up. I think exposure therapy might help people that had avoided thinking about their abuse, but that wasn’t me, I wrote about it all the time. So all this is doing is making these memories more intense, not helping them to fade.

I am not well. I don’t know or care with label gets applied. I don’t expect to ever be well, not on the same scale as other people. I will find something tolerable for me. I have not yet found that. Still resting. Still searching.

I scream everyday

I am not a thrill seeker, not an adrenaline junkie. I have too much adrenaline in me at all times. It never settles down. My body and brain are always on high alert. Nothing I do can change that, it seems.

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I scream everyday. I don’t mean I raise my voice and yell or lose my temper. No that isn’t. I speak in barely audible tones actually. I mean I scream. The scream of someone who is startled, frightened, sent into panic.

My kids are used to this response and are careful not to sneak up on me, but it doesn’t matter, no one can be careful enough. I am still going to jump and scream about something.

Generally it is when my back is turned and someone says something I don’t expect behind me. That will get a short AHHH, my heart racing, I nearly fall over, brace myself on the counter or wall or chair or whatever is near. I can’t see for a second as I recover, then when I see it is my dog, or kid we all laugh it off. I have learned to laugh, although honestly I don’t find it funny. The fear I feel is real. I laugh so the other person doesn’t feel badly and take my condition too seriously.

If someone unexpectedly touches me, my reaction is even stronger. I scream a bigger, longer, louder scream almost like a howl AAAOOOOHHHHH and I move, run, duck, lash out or some other defensive move. I have hit Hubby – good thing I am not strong. I have pushed the kids away, thankfully never hit them, as I retreat. I have hurt myself, bad scrapes and bruises, as I retreat so quickly. I have bumped into objects, like walls, chairs, railings, bedframes, whatever is between me and the scary thing that touched me. I have lost my balance and fallen too.

I don’t feel like I am anxious or near panic before these events happen. There is not time to breathe and prevent this reaction, they are over so quickly. Like when someone jumps out and says BOO or a snake suddenly crosses your path. You react. I do this all day long, every day, in my own house. I can’t remember not doing this.

But here is something interesting. I remember my mom doing this.

I remember my mom being jumpy. Screaming at silly things, startling if you walked into the room, even if you didn’t say anything. I remember my brothers picking on her, actually playing tricks to make her scream, like bringing in tree branches and saying “look mom, a snake!” I never thought those tricks were funny. I was always careful to be quiet and say “Hey Ma” as I came near so as not to sneak up on her. I hated when she screamed.

But I never thought much about this, about these memories of her until now. I am now of course thinking that she also had PTSD, when she was the age I am now. That she was worn out and frazzled by her abusive husband and whatever else happened to her that I don’t even know about.

I’m also thinking, I wonder if this can have a genetic component. Because not everyone gets PTSD. Some people can endure torture and recover without flashbacks and nervous breakdowns and excessive startle responses. Maybe our nerves were already wired to be sensitive. Maybe I would have always had migraines and ulcers and a high stress body but the repeated traumas put us in full blown PTSD. I don’t know. No one knows. Just some thoughts I had.