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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.

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Letting go of Guilt – Telling my truth

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Guilt is heavy and can squash us. I carry so much of it for a multitude of reasons, many that are not my guilt to carry. I have been carrying this guilt that I was unable to visit my mom while she was sick, before she passed away. I wanted to. I tried so unfathomably hard. If you don’t understand, then you don’t you understand how one tries and fails at seeing someone. But I did. I didn’t have enough time to work through the anxiety, the deep dark hole of depression I was in at that time.

This is so humiliating to describe how I existed after my release from the psych ward. I was completely agoraphobic. I had complete and total social anxiety. I did not speak to anyone other than my husband and children and some days even that was difficult and I barely made eye contact with them. I did not make phone calls, could not call the pharmacy or order a pizza. I did not answer phone calls, texts, or God forbid, knocks at the door. I hid while panic flooded me. The panic that would rise in me was overwhelming at the very thought of any human interaction and I went numb, disappeared into myself. The world was terrifying to me.

I was alone. I was broken. I could not think or function. Light and sound hurt me. I spent my time in a darkened, quiet room unable to concentrate. Not really living. Partially from the severe migraines, partially from the terrible pain in my back and leg, partially from the severe anxiety and depression from PTSD and a total nervous breakdown. I generally did not move. I remember this, sort of, it is blurry though, like that year was a nightmare, not my real life.

I was in that state when my brother texted about my mom’s surgery and cancer. At first it did not sink in. I did not know what to do. I froze. I wanted to move, to act, to call her, to drive up there, but I was stuck. I had not spoken to her in so long, maybe over a year at that point and it all seemed impossible.

I finally was able to tell all of this to my oldest brother. I went to his house for the first time in years. They accepted me and understood. They did not hate me or think I was a horrible person. They could see my pain and let me cry –  many times. I was given kleenex and ice water and allowed to talk.

That may have been enough to let go of some guilt, but there was more.

My brother deemed me strong enough to fill me in on some of the story I missed while I was mentally away. He tried to contest my dad’s will on my behalf, saying it was cruel and that my pain and suffering was costing me all these medical bills and that I deserved some of his estate. He said that he contacted the lawyers and that I would have had a case. He said he wrote letters detailing what he knew about the abuse, my pain and suffering, and my medical costs to the lawyers and my dad’s siblings, the other heirs.

The lawyer told him I would have a case if others were willing to support me as well. If my mom and other brother and my husband were willing to support me.

If.

Yeah well they would not submit statements to the lawyer on my behalf. They all said no.

So I took that part in and he added another level. He said he could have built my case without that based on the police report or records from when I accused him and moved out when I was 16. My brother checked the records and did some digging and could not find anything. He asked my mom what year that would have been and she told him she never filed anything, she never pressed charges.

My head was spinning at that point as I tried to recall being 16, being interviewed by child protective services. I guess it stopped there, nothing criminal, nothing public.

Then there was more. Another punch in the gut.

My mom and other brother said they never believed me. It wasn’t that bad. My mom and other brother had actually supported my dad all these years in telling everyone I was a liar and a troublemaker. I always felt that…I always felt that in my heart but to hear this as fact was something else.

She never pressed charges. I always thought there was at least a ding on his record, some little bit of my voice saying what happened. I had no idea. I am betrayed by her all over again, that she would not stand up for me – ever, not then, not a year ago.

I have never cared about money or attention. But oh my god does this hurt. That this other brother got over $50,000 reward money for protecting a pedophile, and I think he thinks he has done the right thing, because mom told him I was lying. Why should he believe me? Well why shouldn’t he? Why would I tell these horrible stories, what benefit has it brought to me? It does not get me attention when I am isolated in my dark, quiet room. It does not get me fame, glory, money, or anything that anyone would desire. It is difficult to get angry with him when he was a victim in my messed up twisted up family too. It really just makes me sad. It is so effed up.

So my oldest brother wants me to speak up now and I am going to. I don’t think it will get me any money, but I feel it is time to insert my own voice and detail the abuse I endured from this ‘generous’ man. My brother is going to help me write a letter to that lawyer stating that I have been so disabled and dysfunctional that this is the first time I have been able to contact him since I received the will. I want to notify the other heirs, my other brother, my aunts and uncles, that I stand firm on my ‘story’ because it is my truth and it has devastated me, and nearly taken my life several times. I thought it was better not to bother anyone. Now I’m thinking they all need some bothering.

I called child protective services to get my records of my accusation and interview, and basically hit a dead end there. They could not guarantee the record still exists after 24 years, and if it does, since no criminal charges were made and nothing in the court system to make it public record, I would need a subpoena to release the file that may have been destroyed. I don’t think I will be pursuing this. A quest for truth is one thing, but spending my money on a wild goose chase seems silly.

But I do feel ready to do something more. I figure my parents are gone now. I am safe to speak up publicly, and my brother already started it for me. I am so grateful to him. He also lost his inheritance, as punishment for sticking up for me. Because in my world, the good, the kind, the ones who tell the truth are stepped on and spit on and ridiculed and hated.

As hurtful as all of this information was to learn, it has lifted some of my guilt and grief, validating me for where I was and how I got to be in such a state. I know I tried and that has to be good enough. Knowing that I tried so hard for all of them. Knowing that I loved all of them. And now knowing that even when I begged them for help and thought they did the right thing, they did not. Of course not. How stupid of me. That story would have gone public. How shameful. How could mom deny it if she pressed charges? Much better to say her daughter was insane. It actually makes sense now, for the type of counseling I received when I was 16. I bet mom told them I was a liar and needed ‘help’. I never got counseling for the trauma, help with processing, only stress management and relaxation and it was so patronizing.

It all makes sense now.

Of course I am still grieving her loss, but somehow knowing mom never believed me and would not speak up for me has lessened my pain. I was torturing myself thinking I was horrible to stop speaking to her, horrible to not make it up to see her before she died. I don’t feel so horrible now. I can see the events with more compassion as they actually happened and know I was struggling and doing the best I could. And that my best never intentionally was trying to hurt anyone, which I cannot say about her actions. She knew her actions were hurtful and chose to do them anyway. I think I understand why…but that is for another post.

Sadly, Hubby was also not willing to stand up for me last year when my brother asked for his help. I am still processing this information. I confronted him about and it was not a pretty conversation. I asked why he refused to talk to my brother? He said he didn’t want to cause me ore stress. I said how would him talking to my brother cause me stress? I think he didn’t want to cause himself stress, that he was avoiding the situation, that he didn’t want to deal with it. Like with so much of my illness, it is easier to pretend I am fine, and not sitting alone in my room with suicidal thoughts. It is easier to take no action or yell at me for being frustrating than it is to comfort me, offer a strong shoulder to lean on.

I am feeling like he turned his back on me when I needed him the most, when the darkness was swallowing me up, when I believed I was unlovable, that he was fine with my public shaming and felt no need to stand up for me when I had no ability to do it myself. This is no longer a man I feel good about. I have asked him for an in house separation, to leave me alone, give  me peace while I work through all of this. He has not even been acting as a friend to me, let alone a husband. Although sad, this distance has made me feel stronger. If I am released from obligation to keep trying to be a good wife, to fix a broken relationship day after day, maybe I can use my teeny bit of energy I muster up for each day more wisely.

 

The cost of healing part 1

Healing costs more than money, and I have been paying the price for years. But somehow this year seems to be costing me the most.

Let’s talk about money first, because it is easier.

I had a full ride scholarship for biomedical engineering to an elite college, $50,000 a year. I worked so hard to get myself there and had big dreams. That was the time PTSD first hit me, when I left home. The migraines became daily, I became suicidal, unable to sleep or think, nightmares, social anxiety, startling easily. My confidence vanished. Every skill I used to get myself there – poof – gone. By the end of the first year I was forced to withdraw, lost my scholarship, lost my dreams, my hopes, forced to change to a less expensive school and a major I did not want. I was forced to take out student loans for the entire amount, well I thought I was forced, I did not clearly understand what I signing with Sallie Mae at the time. They said sign here and you can go to school, so I did.

I did not care much any more, I felt empty, but I kept going.

The migraines and depression were a constant battle but I graduated with honors, easily got hired. But the stress was building. My new marriage was sad and distant and lonely. I had no friends. I was not challenged in my job, only by the social anxiety and panic attacks. I became suicidal again and was forced to resign.

At that point we had bought a house based on my income. Losing it suddenly was devastating. We could no longer afford two cars, cable, eating out. We also lost my insurance. The psych visits and meds were staggering. We kept adding to our credit cards for groceries, meds, doctors, even getting advances for the mortgage. Until we couldn’t.

Hubby convinced me to cash out my 401K that I had been paying into since I was 16. All my hard work, all that planning working in government jobs and we had to flush it away at age 25. I still regret that, especially since the following year we declared bankruptcy anyway.

That’s when we decided to start a family. No job, me sick, no money. Such idiots. It is amazing we are all still here really. But I had my reasons.

I healed enough to work part time and hubby got a new job, where he is now finally making a decent average income. When we both worked it was okay. On only his income we struggle and cannot pay every bill each month, we have to pick which ones to delay, slow pay, or skip a month.

I tried working full time. I am not sure if that was my mistake, or that I worked with a horrible CEO, or that it was bad timing too with AF’s death. For a year or so we had more money than we needed. It was amazing. We paid off every credit card and started making repairs around the house with new windows and such. But I crashed. The migraines returned, but with an evil twist, hemiplegic this time. I became suicidal again due to the anti seizure meds given to me to control the migraines. I was hospitalized, in a psych ward for two weeks. I was given ECT treatments and more meds than I can recall. It was horrible. I still haven’t written much about it here, might be ready to do that soon.

My hospital and medical bills are staggering, even with insurance I owe about $500 a month to various locations. My pharmacy bill is about $200 a month.

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Today is pay day. Before his pay came in, we had $48 left. Nothing in savings. A credit card maxxed out. No wiggle room. The stress of this hurts my stomach. And it all feels like my fault.

I need to work. I want to work. But I can’t yet. I am not well. Most of the time I sit and stare at the wall, or I turn on the tv and stare at that so it feels better to stare at something that makes sense to be staring at, but I don’t absorb what is happening. I have tried taking tests for jobs and I can’t pass them. I get confused, I can’t remember, I make mistakes. I am not well.

Money may not buy happiness but it does provide security and options and lower stress levels. I hate that creditors call me a dozen times a day. I would love to pay them. I am an honorable person. But I cannot pay them all, I have to choose. So I choose water, electricity, food, meds, school fees, lunch money…please be patient I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

Part of the reason for this post is venting as usual, but part of this is to raise awareness. People don’t know how hard we work and what daily life is like. I hate money. I hate that we need money and that we need things. But we do.

We have never gone on a real vacation. We have saved up and gone to amusement parks for a day. We do not have nice new clothes, we shop at goodwill and walmart for the kids and most of my clothes are at least 10 years old, some even older. We all have 1 pair of shoes for each season. I have 1 purse. We eats lots of plain rice and potatoes and noodles. We do not go out to restaurants or movies or skating or skiing or golfing or whatever else might be fun because it costs money. We do free things at the library, parks, museums.

We do not qualify for welfare or free lunches for kids or food stamps or food cupboards. Our income is too high. But they do not look at our bills, that there is nothing left.

So kiddo says his knee hurts, he can barely walk. I take him in for an xray, they say not broken, likely a sprain, keep it iced and wrapped and gave him a note for no gym or recess. Dr calls me back and says they reviewed the xray report and kiddo needs an ortho specialist, there is some sort of bony growth abnormality.

I thanked her, made the call, and hung up and cried. I freaked out. Then I cried some more.

I don’t want to think about what might be wrong with his knee, does he need surgery? my poor baby is only 8. I have to be strong for him and I am so not feeling strong. Trying not to pre-worry but that isn’t going well today.

And then the money. I have not yet paid for that xray and I had to make more appointments that I know I can’t pay for. What choice do I have? He needs this. I’ll pay them eventually, or I won’t and the debt collector will call me for this too. I will do my best.

This life is effing expensive, and really effing hard.

Preparing for triggers

Tommorrow will be a day full of unavoidable triggers. And other stresses too. I am taking my daughter to the back specialist. Upon my insistence, I asked pediatrician for an xray. She has mild scoliosis.

Breathe. It is mild. It may stay mild. 

Because I want the best for her, I am taking her to the same place I went. Recently and as a child. But now we get to go to the pediatric office, the actual same place I went. Even better, better for her, worse for flashback potential, her Dr is the the son of my Dr back then. Same name, same floor. I lost it a few months ago when I had to go to the same building for radiology. 

I have to keep myself grounded and present. My daughter may see a full blown panic attack or flashback for the first time. But I have to be there for her. It would have been better for me to choose a different dr, but not best for her.

So I can do this. Somehow I can do it. I already feel sick, a migraine. Nightmares for days have kept me from resting. I am so tired.

Then other stresses combined as usual to make this week even harder to manage. And yet I must. More later on the other stresses, too much to write now

Stop it, I’m not attacking or controlling you, just talk to me

 

 

Yesterday started and ended ok. I told hubby I was thinking about getting our backyard picnic shelter cleaned up and work on my agoraphobia by starting to feel safe in my own yard. I said I’d like to work on this as my project this summer, something to do while I’m outside to keep myself busy and reduce my fear.

We were just about to head outside together to assess the shelter together when a text from my oldest brother came. (Cue Dun-dun-dun)

My brother for unknown reasons asked if I had received my $10 inheritance check from AF’s Will yet, informed me that my middle brother with schizophrenia had moved in with my youngest brother (instead of living alone now that mom passed), and reminded me that he wanted me to come to a family picnic soon.

I could hardly breathe. That was a lot in one little text. I handed my phone to Hubby so he could read it and I headed upstairs for a moment, because, well, I had to run away from that phone so I could breathe. With some distance I did some rescue breathing, in through my nose for 4, out through my mouth like I am blowing out candles. Then I did some grounding, pushing my feet into the floor, my hands into the wall, feeling the pressure and texture, using mindfulness. I ran cool water on my wrists.

I came back down in a few minutes and Hubby was standing by the back door, asking if I was ready to go out now. I looked for my phone, he had set it down on the table. I said something like, I don’t think I can go, and felt so sad and misunderstood as I sat at the table. He sighed loudly, showing his impatience and frustration and he says, “I thought we were going out to work on the shelter?”

“Didn’t you read that text?”

“Yeah…but I thought we were going to go outside.” He comes in finally and sits at the other side of the table from me.

“But I’m going to have to respond, and this has already affected me, so maybe if I do that now it might be better. Don’t you think? Don’t you have any opinions about what he texted?”

He actually got up then to check the mail and called from the other room, “There’s no check here”

My jaw dropped. As if that was the important part of this. Couldn’t he see I was shaking and scared earlier? That I had been triggered, forced to think of AF’s horrible will, my being unlovable and only worth $10. That I was worried about My brother’s kids now …those kids need stability…but it looks like that will never happen and since that brother won’t speak to me, I don’t even get to express my opinions. And the picnic? Yes it was nice to be asked…but oh man the anxiety that produced to think of such an event. I’m not ready for that. My head was spinning. How do I let my brother know I am open to him but he needs to back off a little? I didn’t want to hurt his feelings and hurt our delicate relationship.

Hubby sat back down impatiently, still saying nothing while I stared at the text. He keeps tapping his feet and making huffy sighing noises.

“Don’t you have any thoughts or opinions about this? Any reaction at all? Any guidance on how to respond, or am I just bothering you?” I’m getting annoyed that I have to keep asking for a reaction.

“What??? Of course I have thoughts, I didn’t know you wanted them right now, I thought we were going outside, so I’m just waiting. I didn’t know you wanted to respond right away or that you wanted help with it. I don’t think your brother living there will be good for those kids or for him. I don’t know what else you want”

Now I sigh. I’m so sick of him acting confused all of the time. Nothing was confusing here. Why do I have to beg him to talk to me and see I’m upset? Why can’t he see that this would be an upsetting text for anyone, not just for me? I would have accepted nearly ANY form of comfort, support or connection. ANY reaction. What I’m having trouble accepting, again and again, is his confusion, frustration, and impatience. I really just needed a friend. I had managed the trigger and anxiety myself.

I responded to my brother, explaining I had not received a stupid check, that I thought my brothers living together was a bad idea for all concerned but I hoped it works out, and that with my back pain and extreme anxiety I was not yet ready for a picnic, and that I was back in counseling 2 days a week though. That’s when my brother responded with the lovely and amazing “take time to heal”. His response came much later and made me all warm and fuzzy, erasing some of the hurt dealt by hubby.

I attempted to explain to Hubby why this was a high distress moment. I reminded him about what I was working on in counseling, my distress list, and I said he never asked to read it….

That caused him to blow up before I could finish my sentence. I was going to say..so he doesn’t know that texts from my brother are very high on the list because they instantly trigger me, sending me back to a childhood world of memories and chaos (which I’m thinking ‘duh’ shouldn’t that be obvious). Instead he started ranting how was he supposed to know I wanted him to read the list, it’s just one more thing he screwed up this week…that was not what I was saying at all and I’m getting angry that he is making this about him. Then he said, “show me your list now then, we are already here talking, I can read it now since we are apparently not going outside” He didn’t say the word stupid, but it felt like he said show  me your stupid list and let’s get this over with….

What?? I’m thinking, are you serious hubby? You want me to share something that intimate with you while you are barking at me? But fear creeps in, I’m starting to feel unsafe with him now. Not in a dangerous way, but emotionally unsafe, too vulnerable, he is being too harsh and hurtful I can’t possibly open myself up to him. His hand is out to me as he demands I give him the list. I’m angry too, but I can’t be. I’m in personal conflict, a bit like a short circuit, and I need to get away. I can’t show him my anger. My stuck points say I’m not allowed to be angry and the fear grows. The voice in my head says I’m now unlovable and bothering him. I’m unimportant and a silly girl. I need to get away.

I refuse and mumble something about it not being a good time for it, let’s do it later. He looks visibly relieved. I get up and head to the kitchen. He asks if I’m coming outside. I say no, I’m going to wash the dishes. He goes outside by himself. I feel very, very sad and alone – again, but also relieved that he goes outside and this conflict is over and I’m alone and safe now. Alone is both good and bad.

Hubby cleans out the shelter by himself. OH! He did a nice job, but he clearly missed the point that I wanted a project to do myself. He was so proud to do it for me so I had a place to sit, I just smiled and said it looked great. What he did in two hours likely would have taken me most of the week, but I would have accomplished it myself, been outside the entire time, and it would have made me stronger. I guess I’ll have to think of something else to work on.

Later that afternoon in couples counseling, He said he felt controlled by me earlier, that he was only cleaning the shelter because I asked him to, and then all of a sudden I changed the plan and wanted to talk instead and he never knows what I want and it can change in an instant.

What?? I was internally fuming. Is that really how he saw it? I didn’t even want him to clean it, I wanted to do it myself. And I didn’t change the plan, I didn’t ask my brother to text, that just happened. Sometimes life happens and we need to react. Does he blame me for this?

The counselor had his own agenda for us and would not let us go into this topic, so my anger was building for him too. I felt like my time was being wasted. We spent an hour on a topic we didn’t need instead of this issue we obviously needed help with. I started to lose it by the end of the session, unable to hold it in any longer. I asked the counselor what is reasonable to expect of Hubby in any given moment, because we seem to have very different ideas. He said we could explore that next week.

In the hall after the session, Hubby asked if I was ok and put his arm around me. I pushed it off, and said “no…are you kidding me? now you ask me? No I’m not ok. And now you can’t comfort me, not when you are the one I’m mad at. I needed that from you earlier, not now. Why don’t you know these things? Anyone would know that.”

I snarled then. Something in me let go. I was no longer afraid to be angry there outside the counselor’s room. I told him “I am afraid my expectations are too high for you and that you seem incapable of changing, that you have no empathy or emotional intelligence whatsoever, that you can’t respond with a basic human connection and emotion in real time, that I tell you day after day and you still don’t understand, and that I’m tired of being so endlessly gentle and understanding with you, tired of coaching you on what to say and do, how to react or respond, tired of waiting and hoping that one day you will be there for me when I never get any response at all and I’m tired of feeling invisible or like I don’t matter, or I’m a bother to deal with.”

Ouch – I know. But I was really feeling that way. All of these lessons and counseling and I can go to him and something like this text can happen right in front of him or I say my anxiety is at an 8, and he simply walks away from me, not a word, no reaction, leaves me alone to deal with it myself. He does not check on me or support me in any way. And it isn’t that he doesn’t know how. He really should have a clue by now. We have a binder full of skills, statements, breathing exercises, mindfulness, etc and have practiced together in counseling. So I keep thinking he will be there when I need him, but he is only available 1 hour a week during counseling. At home nothing has changed, he is still distant, aloof, avoidant, oblivious – and I don’t know why. It is really starting to hurt, so I blew up.

His response was “So I’m just an A$$hole and our marriage is $hit”

What?? I didn’t call you that. I didn’t say that. At all. I said I don’t understand why you continue to not respond to me, that we have no connection, that I feel all alone, and I am getting worried that it will never change.

I tried explaining to him how it feels to constantly be ignored.  I keep waiting for him to come to me. Show an interest. Want to talk to me. Want to work on it. We are supposed to spend 20 minutes every day working on  exercises from couples counseling. He won’t do it. I keep wondering why he even goes to counseling at all if he won’t put any effort in at home. I’m trying so hard to continue to be patient, but this week I ran out. I reached my limit and I exploded. No more Mrs nice girl. Sorry honey.

It’s not me – it’s you.

Then this morning another defensive reaction from him, lashing out at me. We move our mattress last night and find the bed frame is full of fleas! We’ve been battling fleas for a few months now. We vacuum and spray. This morning we spend a few minutes talking about fleas and what else we need to do to get this under control. Boring informational talk.

He then has to go to work. I say, “Aww, I didn’t want to spend our morning talking about fleas”

He blows up and yells, “Sorry for ruining your morning” and storms out of the room

I was shocked, like he had hit me. WTF?

Appropriate responses he could have had:

“No, me either, stupid fleas” (common enemy)

“No, I’d rather spend it in bed with you” (flirty)

“Really? I love talking about fleas” (sarcastic)

“Yes too bad I have to go to work now” (understanding)

I told him that was a horrible thing to say and that he needs to control himself and stop lashing out at me. I’m not attacking him or saying mean things. When he says things like “So I’m an A-hole then, or I’ve ruined your morning” it devastates me, particularly in the middle of a calm, dull conversation to get a defensive reaction out of nowhere.. I do not call him names or put him down. I can’t predict what he will take as an attack, and I can’t live like this, the environment is too volatile here. He needs to get it figured out and fast. I no longer accept that it is my fault.

Then last night I log into a site called Relate To That, an online support group I joined, and another member actually posted a quote that seemed as if he was listening to me outside my car, and that he understood everything I was trying to say to hubby. I’m going to share that in the next post so that I can see it separately from this one, but please read it too so you can see how amazingly connected the universe was to me yesterday, even if Hubby was not.

 

SUDS, no soap just distress

I delivered my homework to my counselor feeling pretty darn good about my efforts from my previous post. She looks it over, and says great now we can start the next step of defining these further.

Whatcha mean further? I thought we were done with these three categories?

She tells me about SUDS, the Subjective Units of Distress Scale. She wants me to go back through my list and rate each situation with a number between 0-100 for how much anxiety and distress I would experience if I attempted to complete the task.

100? All of the other scales usually go to 10 being the worst. I wondered why this one was different. I asked her for some benchmarks to help me rate, and she said I needed to determine those, thats the subjective part. Ummm, ok, sure, but what does anxiety or distress of 100 look or feel like? Is that a panic attack, or a trip to the E.R. or getting dizzy and leaving an event…

She said yes. It is whatever you say it is.

Fine. I will create my own scale. I may need to adjust this as I keep working to give myself better clues. I have been avoiding some fear causing situations so long that I am not in tune with how I feel exactly.

100-worst anxiety ever felt, my head and heart may explode, better back up everyone
90-extremely uncomfortable, cannot tolerate, dizzy, cannot breathe, choking, need to leave NOW
80-very uncomfortable, cannot speak, swirling thoughts, senses heightened, want to hide or get to my safe zone
70-uncomfortable, starting to sweat, dry mouth, might be able to push through it
60-struggling but can manage, no physical signs, ugly thoughts that i can control
50-moderate distress but is manageable with breathing, blood pressure may raise
40-mild stress with no interference, muscles tense, jaw tight
30-very mild stress, not bothered or hindered
20-extremely mild stress
10-no stress, not relaxed
0-completely relaxed, life is good, brain is good

Consumed by fear

When did I begin to fear my world more than live in it? I don’t actually know for certain.

I just tried to take a walk outside, around the block in my quiet little town.

The further I got from home, the tighter my skin and muscles felt, the harder it was to keep my breathing slow. We made it down our street to the main street and  I jumped with every passing car as if it were gunshots. The wind in the trees sounded ominous even though it was actually a quiet breeze.

Everything in me wanted to go home. I could hear, see, feel, smell everything a million times too strong. Hypervigilance.

I was wishing hubby would make some conversation to distract me. I was struggling to keep myself grounded.

Then a dog jumped and barked. I screamed. A bloody murder scream. All the tension in me rose up and turned into full panic. I was done. I froze in my tracks. I needed to go home.

Hubby was actually clueless somehow, said something about how peaceful the evening was and he was enjoying the walk. I could barely talk, but said my anxiety was at an 8. Hubby said ohh, wow, he didn’t know, sorry we could be so different.

Again I was wishing hubby would help me. Help me focus, ground, breathe. We walked back home in silence and he says he needs a bath. Which means I’m left to recover alone. And get the kids in bed myself. I was tired from the panic, but also feeling foolish. I did not know I was so afraid to simply go outside. I was fine shopping and at the doctors, so I didn’t know I was afraid to walk on my sidewalk.

I will add this to my list for individual therapy goals, as well as discuss it during couples counseling tomorrow.