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Resigned

What is this new feeling I have lately? It seems to be a new flavor, a mixture of several. I’m feeling calmer, not exactly at peace, but not so turbulent either. The sadness is still there, a deep underlying sadness that I’m sure will always be there. I have less anger.  I have less ambition and determination, less fight in me. I think this is a good transformation, or if not good as I don’t like weighing in with good and bad, lets say a necessary transformation, though it feels odd.

I think perhaps my spirit is finally broken, tamed, like a wild horse, I have been broken. Even more, I’m the wild horse forced to live out its days on a carousel. carousel-1703273_1920.jpgI am resigned to live my new life, accepting the constraints of the saddle and bridle and staying within the limits set upon me. I’ve been trying to be free for far too long. I don’t need freedom to do good. There is much I can do from here and it will have to be enough. I can be grateful to keep moving, if only in circles.

I searched for words for this feeling and I read the synonyms for resigned, I feel this is exactly where I am right now. Look at this list…tame, agreeable, long-suffering, stoical, patient, tolerant, gentle, quiet, ready…I could describe how each of these words fits me.

resigned

A few days ago this feeling settled in and said hello. I’ll describe that day here, because it has taken me several days to say hello back.

I can’t rely on my memory any more. When smartphones first came out I ridiculed people for spending so much money on a device. Now I can’t live without mine, as it truly thinks for me, reminding me all day long about what I’m supposed to be doing. So I check it as usual and see kiddo has a baseball game. No problem. No other conflicts. I know I may have to drive him, so I plan my time so that I am rested.

When he gets home from school I look again and see it is an away game at a ballpark I am unfamiliar with..and I map it and see it will take nearly an hour to get there. I remain calm as I tell kiddo we have to leave very soon. He asks for his uniform. Crap. I forgot to wash it. All my checking on the game and calendar nothing jogged my memory for this detail. So I add “wash baseball uniform” to my calendar so I don’t forget again and he has to wear it dirty for this game, luckily he didn’t do much sliding it didn’t look terrible.

I throw away my feeling of failure, no time for that. I feel calm again. Kiddo needs a snack. Make him a sandwich to eat in the car, except I forgot to go shopping, used up the bread this morning. Crap. quickly slice some cheese and grab pretzels. That feeling in my stomach again, like I should be doing better, but I have to ignore that. I make coffee while he gets dressed.

Out in the car my phone wont let me get the address for the gps. We are already late. I can’t think clearly. I call hubby from the driveway for the address. I enter it the address and pull out while it it loading. But then I can’t see the screen on my phone. I hand the phone to kiddo and ask him to adjust the brightness, I had it turned way down and couldn’t see it in the sun. He didn’t know how. What? How does he not know this, its just just his kindle, but I have no time to feel irritated. At the next red light I adjust the phone myself and see the gps is still not loaded. I know I have to get on the highway but I have no idea where to go after that. Anxiety is rising. Breathe. Its okay. I pull over and really look at my phone. I notice the cellular data is turned off…oh yeah, I did that at his last game when I was playing a game on my phone and didn’t want to use data. Crap. That has been off for 3 days.

I turn data back on and my phone blows up with all the queued MMS texts that could not come through. Crap. All that missed info – yup, thats why I didn’t know his last practice was a different time, and so much from school, but no time now to feel stupid. GPS is loading finally so I get back on the road. I don’t look at the clock. We are late, I already know we are late, and the clock won’t change that and I don’t want to feel nervous while driving. Kiddo is chatting about his school day. I can barely understand him, my head is racing and I have to focus on driving, but I say “uh-huh” a few times.

We make it off the highway, and into these terrible, but beautiful, twisty turny hilly roads. I’m getting motion sick and driving slower than the speed limit. Crap. We are so late and I can’t even drive full speed. We go through forest lined roads, past green mucky ponds, further into the valley. We make it to the ballpark, and can’t find his team, there are several fields and games. We spot his uniform color and I see the closest parking lot is full, so I continue on. We got there. Sigh of relief. He grabs his gear and heads to the field. I stay in the car.

Why do I stay in the car? So many reasons, where to start.

  1. my limp. Okay so this place is full of steep hills and slippery gravel. I did not want to attempt that steep hill and the only other way that was not so steep was about a quarter mile away and through the grass fields, still difficult. Even with my walking stick and new knee brace, these distances look like miles and miles to me, it is just so difficult to walk across. And I feel stupid, like everyone must see me coming.
  2. neuro issues. It was hot out and no shady places to sit even if I did manage to get myself down there, so I stay in car with AC running, my meds make me dangerously heat intolerant on top of the struggles I have to self regulate due to nerve damage. Sitting in full sun also triggers migraines
  3. my limp and social issues. no places to sit at all, I would have to carry my own chair which would be very difficult on the already difficult terrain. If I had ever spoken to the other parents, yes I’m sure one of them would carry a chair for me, but then I feel like I would be stuck sitting with that person and forced to be social. I can barely manage my own life I don’t want to hear about theirs, it is too much, never knowing what people might share or ask me.
  4. anxiety. If I managed to get myself down there and find a place to sit, I didn’t see any place to be quiet. Some of his games I can put a chair at the end of the line of parents off by myself enough that I feel I have my own space. But here with so many games going on at once, cars and people constantly coming and going, There was no way to position myself safely, I’d be jumpy and startled the entire time, and I can’t do that – I have to drive back home
  5. mental fatigue. I can’t pay attention to the game. Sorry kiddo, I’m proud of you for working hard, but baseball is dreadfully boring and I have no clue what is happening even when I do try to focus it makes no sense and my mind wanders. I usually bring my camera when I sit near the game but in my car I can close my eyes, read a little, play a game on my phone. And they last for hours, too exhausting to pay attention that long to anything. So I try to watch for when its his turn at bat and a few key plays when I hear the crowd get excited, otherwise I reserve my energy for the return drive

Thats about it I think, though I think I jumbled them up a bit even though I tried to organize it in a nice numbered list, hope it makes sense.

I’m just trying to illustrate how this simple task of getting my kid to his game is not simple for me. I can barely do it. I try to be grateful that I can still do it, at least be useful and get him where he needs to be. But it is difficult to watch the other healthy parents, hooting and hollering, running down that gravel covered hill like its nothing, carrying chairs and coolers, sitting and chatting with their friends, they seem to really enjoy the experience. I don’t know this, of course. I’m only giving my observations and they seem to enjoy the game and the social time with the other parents. I’m not a part of that world. I live in a different one. Am I jealous of the other parents? In some ways, yes that is likely what I am feeling. Anger that my life is so difficult. But I can’t stay there long or it festers. Acknowledge and keep moving because life does not slow down for me.

My life is often surreal. Like I’m in slow motion or everyone else is on fast forward. They walk and talk and think faster than I can. I am no longer trying to keep up.

I am resigned.

I rolled in it. So what

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I wrote about my bad mood and bad attitude yesterday. It felt a little like I was rolling around in the mud, getting good and covered, feeling it ooze out between my toes, clump up in my hair, even crunch down on some grit in my molars once in a while.

I think that bad mood needed validation because I feel so much better today even though absolutely nothing else has changed.

But I’m generally not allowed to gripe, moan, complain, vent, or bitch. I’m supposed to roll with the punches and keep on smiling. Usually I can. But lately it has been getting harder to smile and I wasn’t sure why. The thing is, these punches, they actually knock me out, flat into the mud. Each time I drag myself back up and keep limping along. But for a little while, I’m going to stay down here and roll around in this mud. Stop hiding.

I can’t exactly go on strike, but I can lighten my load a little while I stay here and make mudpies. I’m supposed to go to an awards banquet tonight. I’ve been so worried how to handle it, how to smile for that long, how to pay attention and get out of conversation I don’t want to be in…screw it. No one needs me to eat chicken tonight. My husband can go without me while I make mud angels.

I think if I embrace this dank muddy place I’m in, instead of trying to hide from it, I’ll be much better off. Besides. Mud can be really great. Think hot springs and mud masks. Mud wrestling? Well…not my thing but hey some people like it. Adobe houses. Clay pottery. Yeah. I’m just going to stay here in my deep dark pit and see what happens if I stare at it directly.

Opposite of Lonely

I don’t often feel lonely, not the way I hear others describe it. I looked it up in a dictionary and thesaurus, and curiously, could not find an opposite for lonely that makes sense to me.

Lonely is defined as the one of the most terrible things in the world: Sad because one has no friends or company, isolated, alone, lonesome, friendless, with no one to turn to, forsaken, abandoned, rejected, unloved, unwanted, outcast, deserted, uninhabited, unfrequented, unpopulated, desolate, isolated, remote, out of the way, secluded, off the beaten track/path, in the back of beyond, godforsaken; in

the middle of nowhere.

Opposite? Populous. Crowded.

I do have a longing for meaningful connections in my life. Love and acceptance from people you can trust. I have a deep, dark, pain, an emptiness much greater than loneliness, because I know it will never be filled. I’ve looked into the depths of this chasm, and it is seemingly bottomless. It seems I’m safe as long as I only glance at it, no jumping in.

For me, acquaintance people are nearly always a nuisance, a stressor. Hell even the current people in my life that are supposed to be loving, supportive, combat loneliness, like my husband and in-laws cause stress and conflict. My kids are the only people I enjoy time with, and even then after a bit , I still feel crowded, smothered, like I can’t think or breathe. When I am alone, I feel peaceful. When I am with others, the tolerance clock starts clicking and I have limited time before I bolt, hide, isolate myself and recover from the constant scrutiny, questions, confusion, misunderstandings, obligations, words…so many endless words attacking my system.

It wears me out to nod, smile, be polite, figure out how to respond, sense danger, protect myself. Talking is my least favorite activity. I’d rather go to the dentist than have to chitchat with some random person. Is it my turn to talk? What did they just say? Are they lying right now? What time is it? Is that a TV show they’re talking about? Is this something I’m supposed to know snd recall or are they telling me something new? Ugh. Too stressful

Add multiple people and this feeling is exponentially heightened, to being the opposite of lonely, I get a strong need to be alone, to escape.

I’m not heartless. I do wish all these people well. I just don’t want to hear about it, sorry. Most things people tell me I can’t do anything about and I feel uncomfortable having to express sympathy or advice. Most people I start diagnosing their personality disorders, recognize cognitive distortions popping up, and of course I must remain silent. People don’t want to know this. They don’t actually want to change their own behavior or think about their thoughts. And they would be insulted or embarrassed, even though they are the one oversharing to me. It is only socially acceptable to offer support like, oh you poor thing that sounds difficult for you. They just want to hear it sucks, for validation.

I’ve found when I interact online, I can control the pace and intensity and don’t get overwhelmed. Each time I venture out to a real life Meetup, it is not a positive experience.

I’m not sure that’s bad or unhealthy. At this point in my life, if I feel satisfied by this level of connection, than maybe I need to stop trying to force myself into a more social, extroverted role just because I’m supposed to be lonely this way.

I’ve been reading “Quiet” by Susan Cain and embracing my introverted self. I don’t think I need fixed. When I socialize it is to complete a task, or because others want me there. I get nothing but stress from most gatherings otherwise.

I watched the Netflix series “Atypical” which was fantastic. I’m not an expert on autism to know if they portrayed this accurately at all. It was entertaining, but also I indentified strongly with his social struggles. I don’t think I’m autistic. But I do think I’m atypical and that my brain can’t be changed much at this point. I don’t connect and form bonds or relationships like most others do. I’m highly sensitive, tuned into emotions, which is the autistic difference. My hyperactive neurons though gives me high scores on tests for autism, overwhelmed by sensory input, can’t look people in the eye, don’t make friends, can’t work in groups, hate loud noises and bright lights, take things too literally at times, repetitive soothing behaviors, trouble following conversation, it goes on and on. Fascinating really. So it seems that autism may be caused by too many neural connections, a lack of pruning, is one theory. I’ve read similar theories for anxiety and PTSD, our connections stay strong reinforcing past memories to keep us vigilant and safe.

This is me rambling and I hope not being stupid or offensive with these curious thoughts. I only look for similarities to figure out the puzzle of me. I don’t claim to be right, ever.

Social Seasons

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It is my social springtime. I know the world is still fully frozen outside here. We had another 8 inches of snow dumped on us last us. Another snow day with kids home from school. More days in brutal skin killing negative temps. But that doesn’t matter. It is my social springtime and time to come out of this self enforced cave.

I know myself well enough to know that I retreat into a deep dark winter of my soul each year. Winter is a perfect way to describe it, as I freeze up, and freeze everyone out. I hibernate. I withdraw so far inside myself that I can no longer be a social being. Not that I’m a party animal now…but this is extreme even for me. I slow down all emails and texting and blogging and chatting online in the fall, usually ceasing completely mid December. I rarely do phone calls anyway, but forget it during this time period, not going to happen. I look at a ringing phone like a torture device if I acknowledge it exists at all. Meetings at school? No. Talk to cashiers? No. Eye contact? No. Snuggle time? No. I shut down completely and become an empty shell going through the motions of life.

Somehow I survive this way. get through the holidays, and begin waking up around the end of January and start doing some clean up. Do I have any friends left? I start reading old unanswered texts and emails. I start replying and responding. Some people are angry. Some people don’t understand. Actually most don’t understand. I’ve lost many connections with otherwise good people that could not handle my radio silence. (It’s been a month girl and I’m supposed to just start talking to you again now? Its too weird, too rude, I thought you were angry with me, what did I do wrong…I’ve heard it all)

I’ve managed to find a few online friends that accept this quality in me. They are still there when I return, and I’m so relieved. The others…I add to my pile of casualties. It hurts, but I have to let them go.

I will never understand how a switch seems to flip deep inside me that I either need to speak to someone NOW or the loneliness will swallow me whole – or – I want nothing to do with humanity and I isolate myself as far away as possible with no feelings of loneliness, only relief when left alone. This is partially a form of seasonal depression, but more likely triggered by PTSD with too many emotions to handle regarding holidays and memories of that season. But If I can’t fully understand this switch, I certainly can’t expect others to understand it. I have accepted it though, and I am grateful for those in my life that have accepted it also.

Those friends have not my blog. I have chosen to keep the nitty gritty details private for my new friends. It is simply too much for anyone to handle. I do tell them vague bits, that I was abused and enough to be authentic, but not enough to overwhelm and frighten them away. I think I finally found the balance that works to form connections and start feeling human. So yay for that.

I’d still give my left kidney to have a real life friend to meet in person some day…but I’ll be patient. The universe will provide that once its ready I suppose. Or maybe I don’t get one in this lifetime. I’ve accepted, well come on, sorta accepted, that may be my truth.

Anyone else notice ebbs and flows where you can’t socialize at all or where you need people desperately? I’m curious

Accept or Fight

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When another doctor tells you that what you want is not possible and you need to accept that and set more realistic goals for yourself, do you do it or do you keep fighting for what you want?

I have seen a team of neurologists and neuropsychologists now.  They are all singing a similar tune. That I am different. That I have to accept that I cannot return to the previous version of me that I recall before the brain injuries. (I’m not sure if I have discussed the extent of my brain injuries here, I haven’t wanted to talk much about it and writing was so difficult before. But I have some serious cognitive dysfunction, memory gaps, processing delays, visual lags and disturbances, sensory overload….it goes on.) That skills like creativity, and certain personality changes, once altered, do not heal and come back, at least not identical to what they once were. I may be able to enhance what I have, but I will never be who I used to be.

I may never be able to do what I used to do.

Every time I think of this as a fleeting thought, the tears return.

Another esteemed doctor told me this again yesterday. They are well educated, at a great hospital, known for their expertise, and my gut trusts them. However, there is also something in me that is screaming they are wrong. Doctors once told me I may never walk again, that my weakened leg would never regain muscle tone. Well look who is out there attempting to jog. So I don’t accept “never” as a final diagnosis. I feel like I’m still in here, just slowed down.

He recommended I either apply for disability or try to work with a vocational counselor, but he doesn’t think I can keep up with the pace and demands of a job. That was harsh, but possibly true. I may be overestimating my stamina at this point because I want to be better.

He said that I am still traumatized, understandably, and that for me, the trauma never stopped. 40 years of trauma. He said that would be enough to break anyone. But add all my medical issues and it was like adding gasoline to a fire. And then on top of that, a stressful marital relationship, he says it was a cascade of events and none of them were good for brain health.

We talked about my social support network, and I said I’m all alone, completely. I have a few online friends and my counselor. We talked about how I isolate myself and why. I told him about how I have low tolerance for people, no matter how much I try, I can’t enjoy being with them, or think they aren’t good people when they make fun of others, are greedy, I catch them lying or cheating, etc. I said I try to turn down my moral standards but I can’t. He said something I never heard before. He said of course you can’t. You have never felt safe in your life. As soon as someone says or does something that makes them have any possibility of being a bad person, you go into self protection mode and either stop talking, leave the room, or hide or whichever other skills you have learned to avoid conflict and being noticed. This is to keep yourself safe. It makes perfect sense and is your core belief stronger than all others. Safety comes first.

My jaw dropped, and I felt angry a bit, kind of embarrassed, and I wanted to say he was wrong, to fight that, but as it sunk in, and so many social interactions spanning 40 years flashed across my mind. Holy crap. He is right.

Here I was thinking I was over my trauma and it didn’t matter any more. That I was an introvert and yeah maybe I was wired differently, or maybe on the aspberger spectrum, or maybe just get annoyed with small talk and petty people. But no. Every social decision ever has come down to safety.

He said the right trauma based psychologist may be able to assist me with that component and he would help me to locate one near me to work with. He said I can’t live the rest of my life alone, or I will continue to deterioriate.

I don’t know. I feel like I’ve tried. I feel like the people that accepted me never accepted the real me and when I do reveal the real me people run for the hills, unable to handle me. So maybe someone can help me find this tightrope skill of balance of how to build a relationship that I feel safe in, connected to the other person in a real way, without overwhelming the other person with my intensity.

I think figuring that out will help me in any job I may come to have in the future, whether I go through the disabled workers board or get one on my own.

I do know that I want to be a part of the world and connected to people, to good genuine people, and I just don’t know how.

I do know I’m not ready to give up and get on disability and never work again. I think I still have something to offer. I’m still smart in some ways, just really slow, and get tired out quickly. I’m hopeful the new migraine meds will start helping with some of that too. I’m hopeful that my family is done adding trauma to my life and I can finally move ahead on my own. My parents are gone, my brothers aren’t speaking to me. The hole hurts, but an empty hole is a dull ache, not like the tortuous pain of constant flaming daggers tossed at you.

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

Unbalanced Thoughts

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Neurotypicals will never understand  the complicated thought process someone like me must endure. My brain is different (understatement) so how I perceive and react to the world is different. I suppose I am lucky enough to be self aware of my differences so I know how to appear normal when I need to, but let me tell you, this process of monitoring unbalanced thoughts and correcting them is exhausting.

Most people fit into the social spectrum somewhere that makes sense. Most people have issues, fears, crap from their childhood and past relationships that hold them back from reaching their full potential. Most people are still free to have their own thoughts – I can tell this in a variety of ways but a simple one is by response time in social interactions.

I lack spontaneity. I analyze my own thoughts and behaviors as they happen, like pressing the internal instant replay button, as well as those of the people around me. I am not free to have a thought pop in my mind and let random words escape my mouth. Why? Because most initial thoughts are not actually my own. It is not my own voice I hear inside of me and are often so unbalanced I would sound insane and frighten or insult people.

And no, please read my post about hearing voices, I am not schizophrenic, although I do get auditory flashbacks, I have a firm grip on reality and that is not what I am talking about here. But when I listen to myself, it usually isn’t me right away, as my core beliefs come first and I have to battle to let my own voice come through. My brainwashing, my conditioning, was so severe, so complete in my childhood that my first thoughts are filtered through something that I must work carefully to remove.

Some of these are stuck points, some are cognitive distortions, some are the perpetual sick and twisted darkness within me. I was raised by a sadistic pedophilic psychopath and a narcissist. I have accepted that this has touched every neuron in my head. How could it not? Some people have said that simply watching a creepy movie like Silence of the Lambs got in their heads forever. Imagine being raised by someone like that. I will never have the freedom to simply let my thoughts go by unexamined for flaws and distortions.

I am an introvert, it is undeniably true. I may also be on the autistic/asperger spectrum if you need a way to understand how my behavior might appear. I’m trying to explain how it feels, and what it looks like inside my head. I’m trying to say, please be patient with those quiet people, they may need more time to think than you during a conversation. If you jump topics, speak too quickly, and get impatient or demand a response, it is very stressful. I probably won’t give you much if any eye contact. You will think I am shy or nervous or rude. Or weird.

Mostly I don’t care. Except I don’t want to bother anyone or hurt anyone, so I’m very careful not to offend or do the wrong thing. I’d rather leave or avoid a conversation than try to form the right response like that, its not worth it to me. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, so I need to go through all of my responses to make sure I am being polite, make sure I didn’t miss your  meaning, maybe you were joking, maybe you referenced something in the news I need to form an opinion about, maybe I need to remove my depression filter so I don’t frighten you, maybe I need to remind my face how to smile. All of this takes time and energy, and I’ll do it if you are important to me. Otherwise, shhhh. Don’t make me talk to you if I don’t have to. Better yet, don’t make listen to you. Get to the point efficiently and don’t play games. I hate being confused.

Everything in my head is telling me that you are lying. Most people are lying about something, it just isn’t important, because it is a slight exaggeration, but I can still discern this and so my alarm bells get triggered for feeling unsafe and I have to pause and figure out why you are lying and what your motives are.

Or I feel invisible. Maybe I am actually trying to get noticed, to speak up finally to people that don’t know I exist, and my tiny voice is inaudible, and my powers of being invisible are impossible to turn off, and the cliques in town are to rude and impenetrable so I stop trying and go home to write an email. Feeling invisible is both a power and a trigger for feeling worthless.

Or maybe I’m fighting the darkness. Depression has its grips on me and everything seems pointless. That’s a tough one. I have to filter every thought and word on those days because literally I want to die, or at least stop fighting, and have lost hope, and everything is so hard, I’m so tired, everyone is so stupid. I use all or nothing thinking, I jump to the worst conclusions, I assume everything is my fault on those days. I struggle to follow simple conversations, I can’t keep up. I feel stupid and slow and want to hide. I know I have to toss out the garbage thoughts and find the ones that sound like me – buried, and tired to core- but me.

I may never have naturally balanced thoughts spontaneously. I may get better with all this monitoring and practice. Impossible to say. But I do know I want this sculpture in my yard.  Or tattooed on my … something. I found this pic on Pixabay like I do all my images, apparently this is in Copenhagen and I love it.

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.