Tag Archive | freedom

Chasing my dreams

I don’t recognize my life these days. I am in constant amazement, along with the constant stress.

I am now working full time, getting up each morning and trudging through an 8 hr work day. I somehow managed to find another work from job, and even one with some flex hours built in. I am amazed by this.

I am most amazed that I am functioning this well. I can’t have bad days any more, no time for it. I have to go and go and push through it. Instead of bad days, I have bad hours. I get back to work barely recovered, working on the edge of . . . not sure what the edge is, but it is there. I can feel it.

I survived a trial period, a series of tests from my employer to see if I was good enough.

The tests involved:

  • putting me in awkward situations with my coworkers to see if I could handle it gracefully – I did.
  • Assigning so many tasks with quick deadlines at once to see how I juggle and prioritize, how I ask for help, how I delegate, and how I handle stress. I did drop a few balls, but I managed to pick them all back up soon enough. I figured out how to break down tasks and assign out parts others could do, leaving the big stuff for me. I figured out how to lower my standards. I had to let go of perfection, and push out things that were ‘good enough’. I can’t tell you how long I hesitated to push send on some of those emails, knowing the attachment contained way less than my best work. But each one has been received positively and deemed good enough for now.
  • Assigning me tasks so far out of my comfort zone that I had to say ‘I don’t know’ hundreds of time each day and scramble about searching for someone who did know the answer. I am used to being the expert. I am used to others coming to me. It was humbling and exhausting to know nothing.
  • Balancing team work and supervision – this company has no clear lines of authority, no org chart or hierarchy, no job descriptions. In short – it’s a hot mess. A sticky, tricky, mess. A company that has grown so quickly, that people have been filling in the holes in the dam for months, and only recently ran out of fingers to stick in the holes. Everyone is confused and stressed, frustrated and overwhelmed.
  • The N coworker I wrote about has been given to me to get her on board with us, or decide if she needs thrown off the train. I am doing my best to work with her, but will have no trouble pushing her out if she refuses every rope I throw to her.

I passed all of those tests, somehow, it is all a blur. I got an amazing promotion and raise, enough to truly make a difference for my family. Enough that we can pay off some debts and medical bills, make needed repairs, enjoy some summer fun with little mini-vacations, and even start dreaming and saving for the future. A bigger house? it could be possible someday. Things that we weren’t able to consider could open up to us.

All I have to do is refrain from losing my mind. That’s all. no pressure, right?

Wrong. I have never felt so much pressure. I have had more stress symptoms the past month than in the past several years. Headaches, general anxiety, short of breath, full-blown panic attacks (I forgot how terrible those are, haven’t had those since I left my last full time job) tummy troubles of heartburn and IBS, nightmares, panic attacks waking me from sleep, trouble focusing my eyes (I went to the eye dr to adjust my glasses before realizing this was my stress level) and a super high heart rate. I had to stop going to curves until I visit my cardiologist next week. I haven’t had my mitral valve checked in over 6 years and I’m supposed to get an echo yearly, and I think the anxiety is aggravating my condition in a chicken or the egg way.

But I also had this drive to push through all of this, telling myself that this really sucks, acknowledging my discomfort, but also telling myself I am strong and can get through it. Because, if I get through it, and I’m able to keep this job, the benefits to my family will be huge. I want to do this for them. I want to do it for me too.

I hate many parts of my job, but as it develops and I get more comfy, I am not hating it so much. In fact, I am loving the thrill of it. I love crossing items off my list, even though that list is a mile long. I love making quick decisions about how to handle tricky situations. I love making my move and waiting for others to make theirs. It is seeming like a game now, like my favorites, like SimCity or diner dash where I have to think and do and move endlessly and can barely keep up.

I told my therapist how I am have this sick enjoyment of the chaos and mess  – and she said of course you do. It feels like home. This company is running like a dysfunctional family and I feel like the savior, the peace-keeper. The only difference is that I don’t feel helpless this time. I feel powerful and I’m thinking more clearly than I can remember ever thinking before. The fog is gone. I can clearly see what everyone is up to, I understand the motives, I know who is messing up and who is trying to hide it. I listen to my instincts, those alarms I have in my head about liars, and it is serving me well to investigate issues and manage people well. I think it is so far anyway.

I also have an out, if needed. I will do this for a while, give it my best. I said I would stay 1 year, and if things don’t approve, if my body is not handling the stress, if everything is still a hot mess, then I will move on with this experience under my belt and never look back. But my bank account will have thanked me, and I will know that some things can’t be fixed, some people can’t be changed. I will know when to walk away and will not blame myself for it. (not completely anyway, jeez this is me we’re talking about)

So I am going back to check my emails and work on a project today, when I could have today off. I am choosing to get caught up, choosing to have a bigger paycheck, and choosing to give myself the gift of crossing something off my list.

Tonight we will go to a festival and watch fireworks and I will leave work behind and out of mind. Tonight will be about glow sticks, cotton candy, funnel cakes, kids crafts, good music on stage, and fireworks in the air. As the booms fill my chest I will remember that I am strong, and I am free. America lets us be free, and I will celebrate my freedom from a tortured soul. I won’t waste my freedom any longer, I have too many dreams to chase.

 

Life After Rehab – Biography of My Schizophrenic Brother, Part 5

Eventually, one day, my brother was deemed to be rehabilitated and my family was supposedly all supportive and not dysfunctional now, so he was sent back home with us. The weeks in rehab passed with little outstanding events to recall, except for the one day my brother started a fire in his room.

I was home with Mom when they called, so I finally got to go beyond the buzzed locked doors and see the room where my brother had been living all these weeks. When we entered his room, he was just reclining on his bed, arms behind his head, staring at the ceiling, like this was the most carefree peaceful vacation spot. He looked up at us, said his usual, “Hey” and looked back up at the ceiling, like we were interrupting the show. The counselor showed us a dark spot on the wall near the electrical outlet, and said Mom had to pay for the damages, then looked at my brother, and said thankfully no one was hurt.

Mom went out into the hall to talk with the counselor, leaving me alone with my brother. I was staring at the scorched mark on the wall when he said, “I just wanted a cig. It was late and I couldn’t wait until morning smoke time, so I lit one here” I remember him laughing as he told me the story. “It was cool, the spark grew so big, guess I used too much paper this time, but it was cool, like a fireball – Fooomp!” He smiled and laughed and called himself stupid, but in a gentle way. I asked him how, feeling proud of him. He said he used a pencil, that lead is conductive to electricity and usually just sparks a bit, not a big Foomp like this time. Then he laughed again, “At least I still have my eyebrows – I jumped back real quick.” I laughed with him. Wow it was so great to hear him laugh. Was he all better now? And it felt great to hear his secret for starting fires, like he was  so cool like MacGyver and also a bit like we were partners in crime. We got to take him home that day – a few days early, I think they didn’t want any more fires.  And he had convinced them all he was better, with his gentle joking and good attitude.

It was beyond tough for him to return to school with his new reputation. Everyone knew where he had been, or thought they knew, and rumors had spread of all kinds of things. He was getting through it, day by day, until something happened at school. Our high school had a courtyard where the teachers and older students went out to smoke (Remember when that was allowed?). Every year, A Mama Duck would nest in the bushes out there, and parade her little ducklings past all the classrooms. My brother told me about them, and even took me there once after school to see the newly hatched babies. He was so gentle, and showed me how to stay back and stay quiet to not scare them. We brought them some bread and just enjoyed the cute little show in silence.

Mama Duck-1395

Mama Duck-1395 (Photo credit: MSMcCarthy Photography)

The next day after school, my brother was distressed. I didn’t know what was wrong, but he was just sitting and rocking on his bed, this terrible look on his face. He saw me, and just said, “No matter what they say, I didn’t do it. I’d never. I couldn’t.” And then he took off out of the room, got in his car and left. I had no idea what was wrong. Until the phone rang, and I overheard my Mom speaking to someone, she had to go into the school, but no, she didn’t know where my brother was right now.

Someone had stomped the ducklings. With their feet. Cruelly, and disgustingly stomped and smashed the entire fuzzy little family. The Mama Duck was going berzerk, that’s how the Principal even noticed. And someone had blamed my brother for this horrible deed, saying they see him out here often, and well you know his past. Everyone easily believed that “the druggie” did this. I knew he didn’t. But I think that was the final straw for my brother. He stopped trying to fit in, like it was pointless if everyone thought he was so terrible.

He got back into drugs. He started a car radio theft ring – they busted him with 5 in his locker at school. He sold them to buy the drugs. He was locked up a few more times, sometimes my parents let him stay in jail overnight – to teach him a lesson. He got really thin and pale, and his green eyes no longer sparkled. He stopped looking at me, or anyone else. He left our world, no longer able to cope. If he was home, he was alone in his room , door locked, and his electric guitar screaming out what he himself was unable to express. He still went to school, off and on, but only took Home Ec – 4 sections of it – his senior year, just to get enough credits to graduate. His graduation was not a huge celebration like our oldest brother’s, more like a ‘Thank God you actually did it’ dinner, at a Mexican restaurant, of course, so he could get his tacos. And the only reason he stuck it out and finished high school, was so he could follow his dreams of being a rock star. He knew he would get a better job in California with a high school diploma. He left us just days after graduation. Just got in his car with his guitar, a duffel bag, and a dream, and he left our small town where everyone had labeled him a murderous, loser druggie, and believe me – he did not look back.

I was in Middle School then, when he left. I was 11. My parents were planning to get a divorce. My Dad was scheming to get me to live with him, to convince me Mom hated me still, and to make me sign those custody papers. My mom put a twin bed in their bedroom and slept there next to dad in the big bed now. She started going to college, in preparation for the divorce. My dad had that all planned out too, gave her 2 years to live there with us, get an associate’s degree and learn to support herself. My scoliosis was advancing, the brace was not working, and my doctors were discussing surgical options. And now 2 of my brothers were gone, one in college and one in CA. My other brother was now in high school and drifted away from me, too busy with his friends and girlfriend to talk to me any more. I hated it at home, and did everything possible to avoid going there. I rode my bike everywhere, to the mall, to the library, to the park, to my friend’s house. Sometimes I just rode with no destination, just to feel like I was moving, and stuck in my own personal hell.

It was weeks – yes freaking weeks! – before my brother called us from California. If my parents worried about him, they sure did not show it. In fact they seemed relieved that he was gone, that they were no longer responsible for this failure. My Dad made it clear he would not support any losers in his house once we were 18. The call was long distance from a pay phone, so it was brief. He was OK, had a nice apartment with his band mates, and sold his car for a motorcycle. He had a job delivering pizza, and had lined up a few gigs for the band. He had slept in his car or on the beach the first few weeks until they found a place to live. He said the tacos were amazing in CA! He sounded – happy.

That made me happy, but I missed him. And I was jealous, so extremely jealous – he was free. He got out of this house. That’s when I became even more determined to be a perfect student, get a scholarship, and go to an amazing college. I wanted out. I wanted to prove myself to the world, show everyone I wasn’t a stupid worthless girl like my Dad said. I wanted to be famous and the best at something, win awards for my writing and poetry, cure cancer, be the first asthmatic female basketball MVP, design rockets, and maybe even create world peace too, ya know, in my free time.

The House of my Dreams Was NOT My Dream House

historic houses

historic houses (Photo credit: Akhenaton06)

Sleeping has always meant dreaming for me. I can’t recall any night without dreaming, vivid, powerful dreams. Or terrifying nightmares.

Does dreaming make me more creative? Or does being more creative make me prone to wild dreams? Not sure, but there is some research being done here. (Why do I call myself creative? I write stories, blogs, poetry, I paint, draw, woodburn, I dance, I play instruments, I have a constant flow of annoying thoughts and daydreams that never ever stop)

http://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20030627/creative-people-remember-more-dreams

Excerpt: 

When researchers looked at personality traits that contributed to dream recall, they found people who were prone to absorption, imaginativeness, daydreaming, and fantasizing were most likely to remember their dreams.

 “There is a fundamental continuity between how people experience the world during the day and at night,” says researcher David Watson, a professor of psychology at the University of Iowa, in a news release. “People who are prone to daydreaming and fantasy have less of a barrier between states of sleep and wakefulness and seem to more easily pass between them.”

 

What do these dreams mean? Or why do I have them? And what does it mean that I no longer have the same recurrent dreams? Is it a sign of mental healing?

For years, so many years, I have had the same terrifying dream of being trapped in a huge house with an unseen scary presence. Floors would drop out unexpectedly, stairs would turn into slides, and all the doors are locked. I roam the hallways, trying every door to find safety or escape. Around every corner, is a new hallway, a new gruesome sight in an endless and expanding floorplan. If I pass a mirror, I am not alive in the mirror, but some twisted and disgusting creature full of holes. I hear evil laughter and usually wake up screaming.

I have not had this dream in the past few months. I have instead been dreaming of lovely houses, and exploring endless and expanding floor plans, but nothing is scary. The doors are all unlocked. I see my actual self in the mirrors. I am not alone – My family is with me, and often my children lead the way and call for me excitedly “Mom, you have to see THIS room” and I follow their happy voices and find yet another amazing, beautiful room full of solid, stately architecture. A mix of Victorian, Craftsman, some Celtic knots and even some LOTR Elvish beauty along with  Modern styles. Yes, I have complex tastes, apparently. Every room is rich in detail, from hand carved woodwork, to molded plasterwork, hand made Tiffany style stained glass windows and light fixtures, and hand chiseled stone fireplaces. Everything is beautiful. And then Hubby says we might be able to afford it. Do I like it? And I am full of hope.

I think my brain is actually changing. I think I am no longer stuck in my mental prison. I think I have more hope than fears. Wow.

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More info about house dreams. I don’t believe in all dream interpretation, or follow it as totally accurate, but I do think there is something to it here.

 

http://dreamhawk.com/dream-encyclopedia/the-house-in-your-dream/

The House In Your Dream

When you dream of a house, you are meeting a hugely important and many sided representation of yourself. It is both many faceted and multidimensional.

If this is an old house and you gain entrance to new areas, you need to ask yourself what influences from the past – perhaps the long past – are emerging in you at the moment.

Is the house well built or weak in some areas. If weak what areas and what can you gather from that? If it is well built, does it reflect any particular skills or strengths you have and does your personality and inner life reflect those skills or lack of them?

Any weakness in the house may represent difficulties you are facing – and of course strengths are signs of your ability to cope with life. Does this link in any way with either your health, or the condition of your inner or outer life? What is it saying about you?

In the dream how are you relating to the house? Are you arriving, leaving, repairing it, pulling it down, exploring it? Whatever you are doing, or in whatever way you are relating to the house, what does that suggest about what you are doing to your body, your personality, or your way of life? For instance if leaving, are you leaving a way of life behind? If renovating, what attitudes or part of you are you changing?

I Solemnly Swear Never to Endanger Humanity by Parallel Parking

I intended this post to be Part 2 of the Ghosts of Therapists Past. But as I continued that story, it really just became about my Senior Year of high school doubling as a freshman year in college, the year in between therapists. And then it really became the struggles of how I learned to drive with a handicap in my Juior year.  So I changed the title a few times – These words are the ones that wanted to come out today. Sometimes we have to write the story that wants to be told.

My Senior year of High School was therapy free. I thought I was fine, and had put all my troubles behind me. I focused my attention on being perfect and getting into college. I left High School and attended a community college full time through a state funded program. I got permission to overload my courses and take an extra class each semester to cram more in, free college credits I was thinking. I had decided I was going to be an engineer, something fabulous and impressive in the medical field, so I added volunteering at our local hospital to my schedule. (How I hated that! I started in pediatrics and it broke my heart to see sick kids. I tried cardiology, and it broke my spirit to see naked old men – they have no modesty left)

I didn’t want to ask my parents for money, so I had two jobs – one at the library and one making pizzas. (I started working at age 15 with a fake birth certificate my Dad made for me so I could stop costing him so much money and actually be useful) Well 3 jobs if you count the odd babysitting jobs here and there too. I gave myself $2 a day for food. I had more, but I wanted to save my money for college, and to limit my calories. I didn’t know it, but I was basically anorexic then. I would pack one piece of fruit in my backpack for breakfast, and then buy a taco from Taco Bell, or a baked potato from Wendy’s for lunch. I only drank water.  In between meals, my main fuel was actually Tums. (I had my first stomach ulcer that year, and self-treated it with a few Tums each hour before giving in and seeing a doctor the summer before college.) Mom usually had something at home for dinner to make for myself or reheat. I left each morning about 5am, and returned home each evening about 11pm. This schedule allowed me to do all my homework on campus, go to work, and volunteer, and also allowed me to avoid seeing or speaking to my Mom – pretty much ever. Sometimes she would be sitting in a chair waiting for me to come home, and say something like “wow, you’re out late tonight” And I would say “Yup” and go get ready for bed.

But I need to back up and describe how I got myself this freedom. To have my own schedule I needed my own car.

While I still lived with my Dad, I saved up and bought an old car from my Dad’s mother and paid my own gas and insurance, and nearly daily repairs for that lemon. Ironically it was actually yellow, though theshade was more banana milkshake than lemon colored. That car leaked from every orifice and I had a jug of water for the radiator, quarts of oil, tranny fluid, and power steering fluid that I topped off every time I started it – but that’s how I met my handy Hubby (and a few other guys that wanted to rescue a pretty girl and impress me with their car knowledge, but don’t tell Hubby that), so no hard feelings. OK, that’s not true. Lots of hard feelings. How did my parents think it was OK to let their girl drive something so unreliable? One night, after an evening class, I headed home from campus about 10pm and my car died in the middle of the parkway. I coasted it in to a parking spot and walked home, alone, in the snow. Made it home about midnight or so, and Mom just said “You’re home late” and I just said “Yup”. I got up extra early the next day to walk to my car – I brought extra water and oil. The battery had died, and I managed to flag someone for a jumpstart. I was terrified to be late for class, but made it just in time. All the walking, especially in the cold, caused my leg great pain to be dragged that far past the fatigue point. I didn’t worry about the pain though, pain was a constant in my life. I worried that the twitches from irritating the nerve would cause me attention. I did my best to hide my flaw. I never asked for help or complained, just handled whatever life threw at me.

I also have some hard feelings about acquiring that car. I never thought much of it at the time, but with my new eyes, I see how terribly I was treated. So I need to back up again and explain. Nothing like telling a story in reverse. (Bear with me – I have no idea where these memories are coming from today – best to just let them out)

My spinal injury in 7th grade had left my right leg weak and withered and slow. I could walk, but with a slow pace, and with extreme effort and concentration I could step on my left leg firmly to painfully drag my right along. I could not drive a regular car with my right foot. They put a restriction on my learner’s permit, that I could only drive with a left-foot pedal. My dad did not believe this was true, and made me try, for hours on hours, when I still lived with him at age 15 to make my noodly leg push the pedals. Back then I had no spatial awareness of my leg, the disconnected nerves made my brain think my leg was missing when I was not looking at it. So to watch the road, and not my foot, was just impossible and it slid right off and would get wedged under the pedals, requiring my hands to pull it back out. He put a full glass of water on the dash of his car, and said I could drive his car if I didn’t spill any water. A drop always spilled as soon I touched the gear shifter to reverse, and he would laugh, saying he didn’t know why “we even let women learn to drive at all”. Then he would get cold and furious and told me I wasn’t trying hard enough and I just wanted to be difficult and special. He seemed to think that I dragged my leg around for all the great attention. Yes, Dad, I loved being called a freak and laughed at by cruel adolescents.

English: Dual controls for student driver cars...

My driving instructor had to be brave and ride in my handi-cap adjusted car – no dual controls for him (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My dad was pissed, and was not going to be driving his gimp around forever, so he made some calls for me and found a place that sold handicap equipment for cars. I remember how irritated my Dad was that he had to deal with this. He told me that pedal would cost $600 and that he’d have to drive to the next state to get it. Not sure how much of that was true now, since I still use a left pedal and get it quite easily. It turns out I am not the only annoying gimp in the world that wants to drive. (dark humor there, sorry, to avoid getting angry) So I saved my money, the $600 plus gas money for him to drive so far for it. I even took him out to dinner that week to repay him for his kindness in wasting a day for me. I realize now he probably was just avoiding shipping costs and purposefully adding to my guilt. But it sure worked then. So then I had this pedal, one step closer to every teenage dream of freedom and driving. But Dad would not have that thing installed in his car, no way would he have a reminder of my weakness in his own car, and no way would he allow them to drill holes in his floor to do it.  A few more months of saving and I had a car. I called the driving school that all my friends were going to, and was denied. They did not have instructors certified to work with handicapped students. Sigh. Lots more calls and I found one that would take me, for twice as much money as the others, since I was obviously a liability.

And then came the driving exam. I passed the course, but only had driving time with my pedal with my instructor. My Dad would not drive in my car with me to practice, as he did not accept that I needed that “handi-crap” pedal (he had so many terms of endearment for my impairment) and would only help me if I was willing to do it the right way. He put a full glass of water on the dash of his car, and said I could drive his car if I didn’t spill any water. A drop always spilled as soon I touched the gear shifter to reverse, and he would laugh, saying he didn’t know why “we even let women learn to drive at all”.  I think I did that twice before giving up on him. So I took the exam with just a few hours experience with my pedal. The left-foot pedal is mounted on the left of the brake pedal with a bar that extends across the floor and attaches to the actual accelerator. I needed a specially certified exam proctor as well, and had to wait for one to be available. My test went fairly well, though I did bump each cone during the maneuverability portion, having never attempted this before. The proctor passed me anyway, but made me promise I would ever attempt to parallel park. I promised – and actually have held that promise to this day. I will walk several blocks just to avoid a parallel parking situation. Humanity is safe from that one threat at least.

Blogging May be Bad for My Filter

Since I started blogging, I have found it is easier to know my own thoughts, and to share my own thoughts, both in writing and in speaking. I am also finding this is not necessarily a good thing at all times.

I am getting so used to speaking my mind, voicing my thoughts, that I have turned off that filter that used to keep everything inside. This sounds good at first, but I need that filter when speaking to: employees I am training, my supervisor, other parents, and anyone else that does not know me as well as hubby and WordPress.

I apologized – again – to my supervisor for overspeaking at a meeting. I brought up some facts, just for the sake of discussion, but it was received as negative towards the company and possibly could reduce team morale by reducing their confidence in the accuracy of what we were discussing. Yes, I meant to keep that vague.

Even a year ago, I still carefully phrased, rephrased, and mentally practiced EVERYTHING before I said it. People always thought I was quiet and thoughtful, not that I was internally obsessed with not interrupting them, not bothering them, and making sure my words were perfect before releasing them. But now, the words flow out as quickly as the thoughts are formed. Great for blogging – not so great in team meetings in a company full of political drama. :-/

I think part of the problem here, is that it feels SO GOOD to speak my mind, to not have secrets, to just be me – that I throw caution to the wind and get it all out.  But I need to be careful with my new power, or it will come back to bite me. I think I need to put the filter back in place, just in a diminished form as it used to be.

But then, I had an interesting thought, (and because I’m blogging, it gets to come out) about why I have this need to be heard in meetings now? Am I trying to make sure they know I have ideas? Do I feel more important when they listen to me? Do I care about the end product so much to take these risks? Are the quiet people sitting on top of ideas they are too afraid to speak about, or am I the only one with ideas? Lots of questions here, and no way to answer them. I still feel like a social foreigner, so I must analyze my behavior and compare it to everyone else’s at every meeting. Why? What is the fear here?

I know there is a fear, but I can’t figure it out. It feels great to speak my mind during the meeting, and I hear my own voice going on and steering discussions, and I feel a bit high – I mean I really enjoy that. But then, as soon as the meeting is over, I feel afraid, unsure of what I just said, and request feedback from my supervisor, and apologize for talking too much. So what if I talk too much. I know lots of people that talk too much. Why do I think that is so bad and unacceptable behavior for myself?

I’m playing therapist here and digging deeper. I used to be scolded harshly for speaking whenever my mom was speaking to a friend, in person, or on the phone. I would sometimes wait hours for permission to speak up. She never beat me, but her anger and shame at me interrupting her was very powerful. (light bulb) I remember one time, around age 5 perhaps, actually messing my pants because it took so long to ask her to go to a bathroom. I just stood there next to her, while she would raise the finger indicating “1 minute-not now” and tried to without that natural urge. I never told her, just hoped no one could smell it, threw away the soiled undies back at home to hide my imperfection and avoid a lecture on how expensive new undies are, or how hard she works to clean our laundry. I know we all do this to our kids, but my own kids feel safe enough to say very loudly “But mom I have to go to potty NOW!” and then I take care of their needs. My mom would continue to ignore, give us angry looks, and scold us later for being rude. Even though I could hear her important grown up discussion was about the Cosby Show episode she saw the night before. I guess I can see how his jokes and amazing sweaters were more important than anything I might need, right? (I’m not as bitter as I sound there. Well, maybe I am. I guess I’m not in a place of total forgiveness to my parents yet. Every time I think I am, these hurt, bitter feelings come up when I reminisce)

My mom must have my bad manners made her look like a bad mom, so she enforced strict rules so we appeared as perfect angels to her friends. (narcissistic?) So, another reason I have always been crippled in any type of discussion, always waiting for my turn, for others to ask me to speak. I don’t naturally know how to join in.

So I think these meetings, when my supervisor asks for our thoughts, I feel freedom to speak, and then feel fear for taking up too much time, and shame if I say anything wrong and embarrass our team. Hmmm. And I think apologizing right away serves two purposes, clears my guilty conscience, and also allows me to own my mistake. This is huge. I have never had the ability to say , wow, I messed up, I will be more careful next time. And now I can.

So is this a good thing or not? Should I put the filter back on for work, or continue to voice my concerns? I don’t think I’m saying anything detrimental, or that will cause anger, just questioning best practices and answering questions asked by management, and I fear I may come across as a “know-it-all” and lose credibility if I’m not quiet sometimes. Need to find the balance there perhaps. They should not ask questions if they don’t want answers. (“The truth – You can’t handle the truth!”) Just tricky now that my team has been downsized from 25 to 5, our meetings are much more interactive now.

Celebrating my own freedom

English: A height diagram of the six tallest t...

The six tallest towers in the world  – Nope, Mine was much taller (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been a prisoner far too long. A prisoner of my parents’ abuse. A prisoner of my own dark thoughts. A prisoner in my own tallest tower.

Today I am celebrating my own freedom, from myself, from the lonely tower.

I am celebrating because I am a strong woman, and I’m allowed to be a strong woman in this country.

I am celebrating because I am making healthy choices for myself, and can walk around with my head held high. And can accept the smiles of my family, friends and strangers, as they see me. They actually see me.

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For the first time EVER in my life, I am making long term goals. Like picturing myself as old and wrinkled (but still vivacious and gorgeous) and enjoying a life I made for myself, a life I shared with my husband, kids, and friends.

I used to be hidden away, locked in the tallest tower, protecting my heart from pain by never letting it love or hope or dream. Life was dull, dreary, and meaningless.

After many years of therapy, and healing, and some really super-duper hard work, (understatement yes, but this post is not about the hard work) I saw a glimmer of light off in the distance, and I had to get out of my walls of solitude to investigate. That glimmer, was the love my husband has had for me all these years. I never believed in it, never felt it. But the more I came to believe that I was worthy of it, the more I wanted it – no, NEEDED it.

So I climbed down my tower, slowly, step by step. Then  I opened the door. I tentatively took a step outside, and the light nearly blinded me by its power, so I stayed there in the doorway for a bit, unsure if my next step would be forwards or backwards. But the next step was not up to me. My husband was there at the door, and as soon as it opened, he reached in and pulled me out. (Tears in my eyes writing this) And then he held me. Just held me there, at the edge. He knew not to pull me any further, that I needed to stay close to the tower or I would run away. (He is such a smart man, this hubby of mine) And every day we have been walking away from that tower, together, hand in hand, step by step.

Well last night, I looked behind me for the first time in months, expecting to see my tower waiting for me with the door wide open. But I did not see it. It seems that the door not only closed when I wasn’t looking, but I have come so far from that blasted lonely tower that I can not even find it any more. I can not imagine a life on my own any more. I am free now.

I have plans with friends so often now, that it no longer feels strange to say “my friends”. Of course I have friends, everyone has friends – yes well, up until a year or so ago, I did not have any at all. No one to talk to except my mom, my young kids, and emails with my boss. I barely spoke to hubby. And all those talks with my mom,  well, we now know she is not a friend.

I have plans with my husband and kids, plans I look forward to. Day trips, vacations, even family movie or game nights. It is not me and them, or me and him, or just me – it is US!

I have plans for my career, to achieve a position with more hours, benefits, and add to the financial security of my family.

I have plans to fix up my house, both for me to enjoy right now, but with the goal of selling it, so we can find one that has enough space for the family that has outgrown it.  This tiny house was fine for a young married couple, but is now bursting at the seams.

I have plans to show my husband I love him, and be the wife he always knew I was.

I have plans to establish healthy boundaries in all of my relationships, to respect all involved.

I have plans to nurture my children, as well as support them into becoming whatever they may have plans for.

I have plans to grow old with my husband and visit grandchildren. (more tears)

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NONE of these plans include hiding. NONE of these plans include me locking myself away.

No wonder I can longer see that tower.

 

No more nightmares

My abuser was particularly cowardly. I see this now. But he will never know what his sickness and cowardice did to affect my overall health – forever.

My father would wait for me to fall asleep, then come in to my room, most nights if not every night, then molest me. I would wake up with the impression of someone hovering over me. He usually stopped whatever he was doing once I was awake and moved away from him. And would then caress my arms and hair and “shhhh” me back to sleep. He was gentle. Always gentle. I think that made it worse, as it was so confusing for me. He never hurt me, meaning he never caused pain when he touched me, so what could be wrong?

He later told me, when I was in my twenties, that he fell in love with me when I was a baby (so I assume the abuse started before I can actually remember which is age 3), and only acted out of love. (Come back after I vomit)

But I would lay there after he left my room and returned to my mom in their bed. She either never knew he left, or assumed he got up to pee, never ever imagined what he was up to.

Anyways, these nightly visits had their toll on me. I started bedwetting. I had acid reflux in first grade. I would try to stay up all night to catch him entering my room. I had nightmares. Terrible nightmares. The bedwetting continued off/on up through middle school. The acid reflux was finally diagnosed and treated as an ulcer when I was 16. Until then, I ate Tums like candy. Bought it myself with my own money. I never told my mom, I never told my mom anything, I was told she hated me and had learned to stay out of her way.

But the nightmares, they continued until about age 30, about 5 years ago. I was still working through therapy, trying different antidepressants, sleeping pills. Interesting thing about zoloft, it can cause extra vivid dreams. When you suffer from nightmares, adding zoloft it like adding HD 3-D widescreen. I thought I would have a heart attack from the intensity. But then my daughter turned 3, the age I can first remember my abuse. The sight of her would make me shake with fear, vomit, and feel like I was being crushed or strangled. Yup – PTSD.

Seeing my beautiful innocent daughter made me finally understand that I was beautiful and innocent at age 3. It finally cleared me from the guilt I had forever. It gave me strength and new direction in therapy. I never cried so much. I cried for the little girl within me, the one who had her childhood stolen away. And amazingly, after all that crying, the nightmares eased up, and then disappeared. I felt powerful – a little – that I could finally defeat that monster in my soul.