Tag Archive | support

How to Socialize an Adult

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I’d go out much more often if the world was full of bubbles. Something to think about.

Okay but the world isn’t full of bubbles. And I’m not 4, so its not socially acceptable for me to blow bubbles everywhere I go. Socially acceptable – Yuck – I hate that.

See, I was not properly socialized when I was little. I was not exactly raised by wolves, no, I think wolves would have done a better job.

So what is an adult to do, when she finds herself in her forties, wow, yes, forties now, and completely alone? I have never learned to make friends, not really, not the kind that lasts or that will be helpful and supportive. I have only learned to blend in, hang out, be a part of a group. When I start actually getting to know people, or letting them know me…stuff goes all wonkers.

So a quick recap, thanks to neuropsych dude, I know I have never felt safe, and I have these rules and alarm bells for how I operate to keep myself safe. Even though I may not need to be so strict now, these rules and bells are hard wired, they formed in my brain to help me grow up. Am I doomed to always be alone because of them?

I have been taking first steps at genuine friendships. Face to face was way to scary, so I have been using a variety of online friendship apps. I find that behind the safety of my phone or computer, and the delay of texting, I can calm down those alarm bells and proceed further with people than I can in real life. In real life, I shut down or run away, not great friend making skills.

I’ve been using friendship apps that have a no flirting, no dating policy. I’m actually finding genuine people this way, instead of the multitude of creeps I was finding online at the other sites, even when I would say I’m not interested, BAM an unsavory pic sent to my text. No thanks, goodbye.

I’m starting to believe there are good people out there, but so far I have not found any near enough to me to meet for coffee or whatever. But I am patient, and building skills. And more important, people are reaching out to me with kindness, showering me with it. They check in on me, encourage me, and also get me to do some tough thinking to help me get unstuck. One is helping me to find my spark, my words, get me to start writing and painting again. They are becoming…true friends? wow.

I am so grateful.

Maybe I can do this

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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.

 

 

I was Heard, now I am Listening

7cups.com is an amazing website if you have never heard of it please check it out. It is a wonderful online community all about listening to people in need. It is not a crisis hotline. It is more about those times when you feel desperately alone, confused, and just need to talk it out with someone other then the twisted up voices in your own head.

I have two accounts there. I have joined as a member, where I can connect to listeners, enter chatrooms, and follow my growth path and self help guides with topics like mindfulness, stress relief, anxiety and depression support. My other account, I recently trained as a listener. I had to take some training, a test, and now I can be on the helping end for others in need.

I love it.

Depending on my day and state of mind, it depends on which account I use to log in. Do I need help now? Or can I listen to and help others now?

I love that it is clearly defined in these roles, that one is there to receive support, and one gives support and empathy. The listener is not a therapist and clearly says so. The listener is trained not to give advice, only to use active listening to guide a member through an issue and offer empathy and understanding, a human connection, a shoulder to lean on.

Here is my home page if you are curious:

You can see my progress on my listener growth path, the chat area, the prompts trending for twitter like questions in the forums about anything and everything…and also notice that 16 people are currently waiting for a listener. I have been online when that number was 42 and I do my best to talk to a few at a time but it can be difficult. You can see more listeners are needed.

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Some examples of when I logged in as a member in need:

  • After a big argument with Hubby
  • Feeling anxious to get out of the house
  • After triggering therapy homework
  • Grieving for my mom
  • Before I need to do something that scares me and I need confidence

Some examples of topics I have listened to from other members:

  • Concerned boyfried might be cheating
  • Anxious about upcoming divorce
  • Lacking confidence to apply to college
  • No support from parents
  • Feeling more depressed, afraid to go to doctor
  • Social anxiety, trouble speaking up

I wish I could be more clear headed to log in and listen all day every day. But I know I can’t. But when I do, it is a great feeling to connect with someone right when they need someone. Unlike being a therapist, this is more like being a friend, so I am not responsible for their growth although I do encourage it and can refer them to online therapists there as well if I feel the situation is over my head.

When was the last time you felt truly heard? That you spoke and the other person listened – for the purpose of listening? It does not happen to me in real life. I can tell you that, not without paying a therapist.

I do have to warn you, that many listeners can appear robotic in their responses. I see. I understand. Tell me more. And they don’t add much to it. That experience is not so great and you get to leave feedback about it and choose someone else next time, or end the chat at any time. I am still learning, and it is valuable to work through the ‘certifications’ they offer on different topics, like family stress, eating disorders, self harm, and so much more.

My listener name in there is MysticRhythms. I debated posting this or not. I figure whoever actually reads this blog and then chooses to find me to chat with me in 7cups there, well fine with me. It is another anonymous platform, so if it helps that you know my history here to talk to me there, all the better. I may be uploading a new profile pic soon, as I selected one of theirs to get started.

I have not been using my member account much since I became a listener. Instead I go in and chat with other listeners in the hangout area or get another certification, or lurk in a member chat area. Sometimes just reading the other chats, just being in the room is enough to calm me down and see other people exist in the world and get me up out of my dark spot.

People helping people. for free. because we want to. because we can. How cool is this?

You can’t force an uneasy mind

When anxiety takes hold, or even anxiety’s precursor of overthinking, the mind is in a dangerous system overload. A talented pilot can recognize the danger signs and possibly pull up out of the death spiral before stalling out and nosediving. But even the most talented cannot be forced through the anxiety, forced to overcome the fear, to get over it, or snap out of it.

Pulling yourself up out of the grips of anxiety takes awareness, self compassion, and plenty of practice. The earlier you catch it, the easier it is to apply the brakes. At some point, it is a lost cause and all you can do is wait it out and breathe. 

The worst thing that can happen to an anxious person, is the addition of more stress by expressing frustration, disappointment, even anger. Yelling and asking the anxious person to rush, to do what they fear, will escalate the anxiety and cause further delay. An anxious person already feels like a freak and would love some gentle, quiet support, some sympathy and understanding, someone next to them so they aren’t so alone.

We feel so alone, so often, and we hate it.

Surgery story, part 6

Saturday morning I woke up feeling hungry, actually hungry, stomach growling and everything. My liquid breakfast was not satisfying at all. The beef broth was gross, plain chicken broth I can handle but this stuff was vile.

When the doctor came in I asked to be advanced to real food, maybe some fruit? He was concerned I had not had a bowel movement yet and I countered logically that I have had no solid food yet…I mean I’m good but I can’t make something out of nothing.

PT guy came for me and we walked to the end of the hall by the nurses station, then he gave me a ride in the wheelchair to the PT room. I remembered a room like this from being 12, various ramps, bars, steps, platforms, even half a car for practicing. He took me to the steps, tied a safety belt up around my armpits, and asked me to walk up the stairs. First I tried it using both railings, then with only one side like I have at home. I felt it pull in my hips and back, but my legs felt strong. I got to the top much more easily than I thought I would be able. Down was even easier. I may have audibly woohooed here, as he gave me a puzzled look. I explained i couldn’t do this easily before surgery, that my leg was much stronger now. I did it twice and started to get tired so we stopped.

He didn’t wheel me back to my room, only back to my hallway. He asked me to walk the rest of the way. I was already tired but he said we needed to build up my stamina. So I did it. Slowly. I think some molasses covered snails passed me actually. But I did it. Woohoo for stamina.

Back in my room an aide came in to help get me cleaned up and changed into a fresh gown. Her idea of helping was different from mine though. She put everything in the bathroom, walked me there and left. I told her I couldn’t bend or reach my legs or back and could she help? Her response was that she had a horrible headache, about to explode, and had to go sit down. So I got back in bed half clean with what I could reach by myself and I would ask hubby to help me when he got in later.

I was disappointed when lunch was more broth and jello. I asked the nurse if the orders were changed? She said not yet, but she saw drs notes that he was going to. I said OK. But then i told her how hungry i was and that i was dying for some fruit. She came back in with a few fruit cups hidden in her pocket. I could have kissed her! She smiled and said Shhhh like it was a big secret and I smiled back before digging into the best tasting pears of my life.

Then I heard a familiar voice, my son. Hubby had brought my kids to visit. They looked scared at first, I tried to let them know I was ok. My youngest got in bed with me, I put a pillow on my belly so he didn’t bump my incision. He liked putting my bed up and down. They brought me flowers, a stuffed bear, candy, and a duck figurine. My middle guy didn’t make eye contact with me, he was struggling. My daughter was chattering away telling me about her week.

Then a helicopter flew near, my room was next to the landing pad. And my youngest seriously must have had his own flashback or something like it. He says, that’s like the one I rode in…I can’t feel my legs…I can’t see…

I yelled to hubby to catch him before he hit the ground and he just made it. He nearly passed out, was all in a cold sweat. We gave him ginger ale and turned on the TV. Hmmm. Guess little guy remembers his icu trip to the special childrens hospital in the helicopter about 2 years ago when he was only 5. And seeing his mom in pain and inflated and all bruised everywhere was bad enough without the helicopter reminder. Poor little guy. He was OK though.

My sis in law arrived soon to take the kids to her house for the night. We planned the timing so their visit with me would be brief, for them, and for me too.

Then I heard another familiar voice. My oldest brother was there. I was somewhat surprised he had come, especially since  earlier today was mom’s actual funeral. Hubby said he brought his whole family, so I decided to visit with them out in the hallway, not enough space in my tiny room.

I was shocked that walking was getting easy, that I had already recovered from PT earlier. I stood and walked and chatted with my brother, his wife and several of his kids until I got too tired and shaky. I felt special and loved. He said the funeral went well and he was so pleased my surgery went so well I was up and walking.

When I got back in bed, I realized I may have overdone it. Ok definitely had overdone it. My back went into spasms. That wonderful nurse saw this and brought me a giant sack of ice nearly as big as me, asked me to roll to my side,  and lean against the ice like giant frozen body pillow. The ice helped in a few minutes and I fell asleep. I woke up soon, feeling very cold, but much better. I asked hubby to move the ice and I was thrilled to see dinner had come, with mashed potatoes! Real food! Nothing tasted great, but with my numb tongue and growing hunger it didn’t matter much. My belly needed food. I still didn’t eat much, I felt full right away, but it was a satisfied feeling.

I slept well that night, in between the poking and prodding of course, and the constant calls from my roommate. She was 79, often not entirely lucid, quite loud, quite demanding. She would ask for nonsensical items with the call button and whoever answered was always polite and always sent someone to check on her.

The next day my sis in law came to visit, the one that went to my mom’s memorial. She brought more flowers.

I didn’t have so many visitors or support during my surgery when I was 12. I was alone for nearly all of it. AF stopped by most evenings after work. Mom only came once when my brother drove her, too afraid to drive to the big city. So for 2 weeks, I was alone there. Alone for all of the tests and PT for a newly paralyzed girl. I don’t remember being afraid or lonely. Abused kids aren’t entitled to feel that. So I didn’t. But I feel it now. I look at my kids, and can’t imagine ever leaving them alone. So I feel now what I couldn’t then, and I understand the depth of my pain and PTSD. I’m ready to care for this woman, that as a child was uncared for. I’m no longer ashamed of the girl within. I understand her, and want to help her.

I’m Fine, You dont have to help me

I have given up. on him, not me.

After over 20 years together, I find it unbelievable and inexcusable that Hubby is still so clueless about me. I have never felt more misunderstood

I need to stop giving him the power to emotionally torture me. I don’t think he does it intentionally. I don’t think he is cruel. I actually think he has been trying to help and understand but he is so far wrong each and every time even though I spend literally hours explaining with examples until I am exhausted.

He has no empathy. He just can’t see something from someone else’s point of view.

He’s never had depression, or panic or phobias. he doesn’t get it, how hard this, how hard I’m trying to recover from the suicide attempts in April. That life is really fragile for me right now, and nothing is easy that may seem easy to him.

I asked for his help, no I begged him. I said I am stuck inside my head. I am stuck inside this house. I haven’t walked my dogs in nearly a year. I haven’t had fun in …. years. Its been so long that I’ve been declining I really don’t know when I lost the ability to feel joy. I asked him to try to encourage and include me in outings instead of assuming I don’t want to go. I tried explaining that although I do avoid everything, I actually long to be included and feel like I belong and like I matter to people.

I have this binder from my group that I keep asking him to go through with me, so he can learn what I learned, for himself, and to help me, to help us. I keep waiting for the ‘right time’ to do this activity. He’s always tired from work, or resting its a weekend, or playing with the kids, or doing all the household chores and tasks that I havent been doing. I get it, he’s a busy guy trying to fill in for me. And I’m asking for more. I’m asking for emotional support as I learn to rewire my brain, do the hard dbt steps, rejoin the living. I’m asking him not to yell at me when I tell him I’m scared or worried or upset.

I’m asking him to be the strong one. And I’ve never asked this before. I’ve never admitted my weakness before. I’ve never said I am scared when you touch me. I’ve never said I cry all alone. I’ve never said I stand there paralyzed with fear. I’ve never said how many times a day I wish for death to find me.

I know this is hard. This really f*cking hard. But I can’t mess around anymore. I need to do this NOW. I can’t wait for you to help me. I can’t wait for you to see and understand me, and figure out how to help. Maybe one day you’ll be that person, but for now you aren’t.

So my emotional safety will not be placed in your hands. When you ask how I am, my answer will be “Fine” back to how you’re used to it being for the past 20 years. I will self soothe and go to others for support. My emotions are not for you.

I waited for the right time to be convenient for you to help me.

You chose to help your friend, who lives an hour away, to fix his lawn mower, instead of working with me.

Your abrupt change in plans devastated me and left me at home crying, feeling like a failure, and as important as a piece of sh*t. And then I got angry. I’m usually afraid to confront you with thoughts like those, but I did. I texted that to you, and didn’t hear acknowledgement until nearly 12 hours later, right before bedtime when its too late to talk about it. Thank you for the “I’m Sorry”. But you need to know what a dreadful day I had waiting for it. This type of distress sends me to the ghost land, where I disassociate and can barely stay present no matter what I do. The fury boils underneath my skin but I can barely move it makes me sick. Especially when you try to sit next to me, I say yes, waiting for you to say something, but can only take for so long before I have to run out of the room. I’m afraid of you, I resent you, and I need you all at once. This is too confusing and familiar for my brain thats trying to get healthy.

You’re not a bad man, but you’re not always a good one. Not for me. I swear my hair could be on fire and you would have no idea what was bothering me. So good news, you’re officially off the hook. Stop trying. Leave me alone. I’m Fine. I’ll ask someone else to help me.

Maybe your bad behavior is a blessing, the final push I need to reach out of my isolation….

Acceptance, waiting for wisdom

I built a wall several weeks ago between NM and myself and asked Hubby to be the messenger. But yesterday I wanted to shoot the messenger.

Last month, when I checked myself into the psych ward, I was in such a terrible dark place, full of fear and reliving past trauma with each breath that I needed protection everything in my world, including her constant bombardment of guilt embedded and otherwise triggering words. I wasn’t strong enough to push her back so I asked Hubby to get the emails and phone calls and let her and my brothers know where I was and that I was unable to have any contact with family of origin. I put it out of my mind and felt protected.

Mother’s Day made me a little twitchy, but I maintained the peace and ceasefire by not writing, sending gifts or cards or calling her. If you don’t understand how sending or not sending a simple card can be problematic, then you don’t have a narcissistic mother.

Yesterday I was in good spirits, playing a computer game (in the rare moment I was not dizzy) and keeping up with kids and Hubby talking about their days. It was all fine. Then Hubby says “Oh hey, you’re Aunt died” while barely looking up at me and went back to setting up a text account on his phone.

KAPOW! I couldn’t breathe. I felt nauseous. Lost. Confused. Afraid.

I waited for him to finish talking to kiddo with my heart racing and said, “Umm did you just tell me my aunt died? Just like that? in a very cold manner like it doesn’t matter?” He gave me that typical confused look, and said “yes you’re aunt died, your mom sent me a message. I wasn’t being cold, just telling you what your mom said”

The initial blow softened, and I felt sad, hurt, disappointed and alone. Thoughts started racing and swirling. Hubby was focused on his phone and obviously didn’t think this news was supposed to be any different than saying we were out of peanut butter. I was not close to this aunt any more, but I did love her. I left the room to take inventory of my thoughts and feelings.

I am the only person on the planet that can comfort me. I have no support, not when I really need it. No one is safe or emotionally available for me when I do reach out, so I am back to reaching deep down within. That used to bother me, but I have accepted it now. And when I leave the room to comfort myself – I no longer feel alone. I only feel alone when I’m in the room with others that I feel I can’t connect to. One of the big topics of my inpatient therapy was Radical Acceptance, a theory from Marsha Linehan. I’ve been trying to change things that I can’t change. You’d think with that damned serenity prayer embedded in my brain I would know better. Well, still waiting for God to grant me the wisdom I guess. All of this would be easier if I believed in God of course, but I don’t. I don’t know how.

This aunt that passed was the last remaining sister of my Mom. She had severe dementia for the last decade or so. I wish I could be there to support my mom, but I can’t. I don’t have enough in me to have day-to-day contact with mom, an actual tragedy means she would suck everything out of me. I want to give my mom a hug and comfort her. I want to have a family that would make that simple gesture possible. But I don’t. I want to have a Hubby that understands this is tough news for anyone to hear, and that his reaction is abnormal, not mine. But I don’t.

So today I have some tears for my aunt, though with her age and condition this is the type of death that brings more relief than sadness. I also shed some tears, again, for my family that isn’t a family.

Ending with my positive for today, my own Mother’s Day was sweet and uneventful. Lots of love with my own kiddos.