Wake Me Up

When I get scared or angry or even sad, I freeze. I dissociate or depersonalize (derealization?) or simply become so numb to all emotions and experiences that the void of emotion creates a suffocating darkness. Then, I retreat. I isolate and ruminate, seek out silence to soothe my fears and calm my emotions. This may sound counter-productive to some, but this process is beneficial for me as a highly sensitive introvert. The time I take to retreat allows me the space to re-balance my energy and find peace of mind again. Nature hikes, meditation, yoga, and creativity, all give me that space.

I sincerely believe that every aspect of life is directly affected by our spiritual well-being. We are after all a spiritual being of light (energy) taking on the material manifestation of the physical body (matter), having a “physical” experience (life). Looking at it from this perspective, it only makes sense that we would need to take time and space to re-energize. What exactly do you call sleep if not a period of rest or restoration and relaxation? Meditation has helped me immensely to tame my troubled mind into blissful slumber, yet I’ll admit that hypervigilance has made sleep much more difficult for several months, now.

I had most of this post written out prior to the events of the weekend. With Saturday morning’s argument still on my mind, today’s edit makes this a much lengthier post than I intended. Consider it a “mind dump.”

I can understand why KR is so angry all the time. I can, but his refusal to take responsibility for his own actions and behavior that influence our relationship is the caveat that prevents me from trusting him completely and may very well be the deciding factor that ends our relationship once and for all. Unfortunately, I’ve considered this possibility for the last 3 years. It was the driving force that sent me back to counseling.

In all three long-term relationships I’ve been a part of as an adult, I haven’t given up on those relationships without a fight. I’m loyal. However, at some point, even I have to admit defeat when the relationship becomes too toxic to warrant saving. KR and I are at that point. Our paths are diverging. He’s on a path of self-destruction and entitlement — one that demands more of me than I have to give. He refuses to acknowledge the beauty in life or the spiritual connection that is quite literally fueled by our emotions and our physical existence for such a brief moment in time. He would rather avoid emotion altogether until it’s at a breaking point and avoid self-reflection to a point of blind denial.

KR wants me to change who I am to suit his needs, never mind my own. His perspective is that he has been the one to make all of the sacrifices while creating a “stress free” environment for me to work through my issues. He can’t even see that his behavior and attitude are precisely what cause me so much stress and discomfort. KR’s behavior has only become increasingly hostile and aggressive despite my very best attempts to defuse the situation and be emotionally supportive. I fully recognize, understand, and admit my personal responsibility for my own behavior and reaction to triggers where I struggle to cope.

I fail to see how to compromise in our current situation. Maybe that’s my own blind spot, but our differences seem too great to reach a mutual balance.

My experience described in the first paragraph is becoming increasingly apparent, like awakening from a nightmare only to drift off asleep again. So much of the time I feel like I’m coasting through life, watching a movie rather than living my life. Too often I’m triggered into this state, triggered out of this state, then, triggered back again without any awareness of how I got there. Or, maybe, I’m triggered deeper into this state rather than out of it. I’m struggling to remember a time when I didn’t feel lost in the fog. The vague awareness of events beyond my control and even life’s mundane day-to-day complexity only seems to fuel the hazy mist.

Other than brief moments of clarity when I’m either jolted back into the present moment through intense emotion (like Saturday’s argument) or curious awe (mindful hiking), I’m not so sure I have any control over this at all. I’m not even sure if I could learn to “be” any other way. This has been my experience of life since early childhood. I learned by age 5 that the only acceptable way to approach emotion was through independent suffering — unless it’s joy or happiness, then, by all means, share away.

It’s like layers and layers of emotional distress compartmentalized my brain as if by changing the channel on a TV. I know it’s a coping mechanism, but I don’t know how to recognize the moment it happens or how to bring myself back to being fully “awake” — if ever there was a time I was.

KR hates that I’m like this, doesn’t understand it at all, refuses to accept me for who I am and how I cope with life. His resentment is a little too obvious even in this dazed awareness. These past few months have been difficult. Anytime my mental health declines, I stop expressing myself to others. My natural inclination to retreat and lick my wounds, so to speak, prevents me from seeking help from others. I’m at a point of resignation. My own fatalistic attitude these days provokes a sense of helplessness that steals my confidence on a good day, let alone after (at least) 5 months of despairing depression.

KR’s attitude for the last few months, my inability to meet his expectations, the pressure I feel to “change” who I am and how I relate to others despite painstakingly doing my very best to be good enough, let alone the recent obvious triggers of the election, the Gatlinburg wildfires, and this argument with KR — all of this interferes with my ability to accomplish anything other than surviving.

What I need from him is patience. What I need is his compassion. What I need is KR’s understanding that I am coping to the best of my ability and don’t always have enough energy left-over at the end of the day to help him cope with his seemingly miserable life. I’m doing the best I can just like KR is. I’m sorry I cannot fulfill his every sexual need and desire; but sometimes, a lot of the time, I need extra space and time to soothe the broken parts of me.

Reflecting on these past 3 years, as my current counselor prepares to relocate, ending our time spent working together, I’m struck with the opportunity to start over again. I don’t say “opportunity” lightly. Worry and fear are facing early life abandonment issues while sadness and disappointment are mourning the loss. And anger, well, anger isn’t even available at this time. She’s off pouting in the “quiet space” of my brain — a beautiful, picturesque scene of my creation that maybe I’ll explain in a future post.

Getting back to my counselor’s departure, I realized during our last session, I immediately avoided what he told me and changed the subject entirely. After realizing what I’d done (this so rarely happens), I managed to bring the conversation back to him leaving. He explained more and scheduled my next appointment with a new counselor; but right before I left, he told me, “You’re going to be fine. I know this. All the many personalities in your head know this.”

I shut down — I mean really shut down. I didn’t even have the presence of mind to say, “Goodbye,” or to thank him for his time spent working with me.

Why do I do this?

This particular instance was partly triggered by the prospect of a major change in counseling and losing a trusted counselor, but also that phrase, “All the many personalities in your head.” With great care and conscious effort, I’ve avoided referring to the complex parts of myself as “personalities.” Despite internal arguments to honestly explore the depth of compartmentalization that separates traumatized parts from functional parts of me, prior counseling experiences taught me to guard the language I use to describe my experience with mindful diligence, i.e. don’t draw too much attention to my fractured psyche or its influence over my life except in its most abstract form.

I regret not saying, “Goodbye,” or “Thank you.” It would be a good opportunity to practice closure if I were to ask for one more appointment with him. I’ve had very little of that in my life. Too often I either run away when a counselor gets too close or the counselor gives up out of frustration. After 8 counselors, you’d think I would have figured this out sooner.

My case manager did, however, text me to let me know I could continue seeing my counselor at the facility where he’s relocating (in nearby McMinnville) which is roughly the same distance away from me as the facility where I receive treatment now. I hadn’t thought of that possibility.

Why does it seem like all roads are leading me to McMinnville these days?

Starting last year, every time I tried to drive to Savage Gulf Natural Area or Stone Door to go hiking, I got lost and ended up in McMinnville. This happened at least the first 3 or 4 times I went to either place, either getting lost on the way there or lost on the way home. Recently I discovered a yoga center in McMinnville that I visited for the first time on January 7th. More on this in a future post as it was a spiritually significant find for me. Not meaning to sound too hokey or New Age-y, this visit to the Isha Institute inspired a renewed “hope” that I haven’t felt since I lived in Hawaii. And then, finally, my counselor relocating to McMinnville.

Coincidental, synchronistic, or causal connection? Whichever way I look at it, I most certainly cannot deny that the Universe is trying to get my attention.

At this point, though, I worry indecision will leave me paralyzed in fear of making the wrong choice or unable to make a conscious choice at all, which too often is the case. I’ve given the matter of choice in how I respond, choice in how I behave, and choice in which emotions to feed a great deal of thought and come to realize and recognize the importance of me taking back my “choice” in determining the healthiest manner I can possibly cope.

I would really like that to include a more conscious and efficient use of my time.

 

Broken

Broken

“What the hell is wrong with me? I feel like I’m going insane.”

Her words spoke to each of us, all locked within her pain.

Broken heart.

Broken dreams.

Shattered soul.

Silenced screams.

Stuck in limbo, time’s meaning lost,

Eternity couldn’t pay the cost.

Lost deep inside where nothing’s real,

Detached and numb, nothing to feel.

Without warning, a momentary lapse,

Jerked into consciousness, falling prey to traps.

The ever-present danger is all around.

Quiet, now, don’t make a sound.

Panic manifests in gasps for breath.

What is this crazy dance with death?

Racing heart.

Weak knees.

Mind gone blank.

Stop.

Freeze!

No time to delineate,

Everything fades in that dreamlike state.

Soothe her fears,

Calm her tears,

Just make sure she perseveres.


 

I had another lengthy post written out for today; but in the end, the Critic won out. I left that post on private. My apologies, but I worry about sharing too much negativity here. No sense in “beating a dead horse with a stick.” I’m attempting to push through this creative block by writing poetry. Sometimes, that works. This poem describes what dissociation feels like to me. 

I also want to share two songs I’m kind of stuck on right now:

Disturbed — The Sound of Silence < Probably one of the best covers of this song I have ever heard!

AWOLNATION – Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf) < This one — just because I love it, and my “Bad Wolf” is craving attention. (Good luck deciphering that.)

Rain, Rain, Go Away

I’m stuck in a creative block. I haven’t drawn or painted anything since December. I have no motivation to play the piano. Writing has been particularly difficult. I have little to say, my thoughts a jumbled mess. The Critic steals my words. I’ve taken a few photos, but even photography isn’t bringing me the pleasure it once did. Creatively, I feel uninspired to create and disconnected from the parts of myself who express themselves in these ways. They’re distracted, with what? I don’t know.

Exhaustion is kicking my ass. I’m sleeping far more hours than I need to be, waking up much later in the afternoon than I mean to, often after sleeping 10 hours. I’m struggling to make myself get out of bed at a reasonable hour. Mentally, I feel blank. When I Googled “feeling blank,” it brought up “emptiness.” That’s not right. I don’t feel empty — except of energy.

I mean literally blank, like looking at a blank sheet of paper, nothing going on upstairs kind of blank. Maybe I’m dissociative. I’ve experienced this type of detachment plenty of times throughout my life, but I usually don’t recognize it while I’m in it. Usually, it’s afterward that I look back and think, “Oh, I spaced out for a while there, didn’t I?” These days, it’s measured more in moments or hours. Years ago, I could survive that way for weeks or months at a time, functioning at minimum capacity through a foggy, dreamlike state.

Why now, though?

There’s nothing particularly horrible going on. In fact, things between KR and me have been pretty good. He’s been in good spirits and much more relaxed lately. So have I. I’m still sober — on day 54 this time around. I can’t think of any trigger dates in the month of February that would warrant this level of detachment and emotional numbness. My son’s birthday is coming up. That’s not for another week or so, and I’ve been feeling this way off and on for more than a couple of months.

I keep wondering will these episodes of whatever this is never end? Maybe it’s just hormones. Maybe it’s just who I am. Maybe it’s the usual depression I fall into every winter. Maybe it’s this nasty weather — cold weather, grey skies, rain, snow, more rain, torrential rain, drizzly rain — when will this rain stop?! I anxiously await spring’s arrival. This really does feel like a never-ending cycle. Maybe that’s all the explanation for it I’ll ever get.

Upcoming Anniversaries and Echoes

I’m learning that I literally have to take the time I need to do just about anything, not just the hobbies I enjoy, but also chores and errands. I mean really force myself into whatever I need or want to get done. This is so difficult when fighting depression (and anxiety and the weirdness that is dissociation that runs rampant this time of year for me). It would be so much easier to simply stay in bed, sleep a while longer, rest my weary mind. I’m so tired so much of the time, regardless of how much sleep I actually get. Coming out of the winter “blahs,” I’m struggling to reset my system and to find that “happy place” where spring usually takes me.

But today… today was more of a sense of urgency, that feeling of desperation — almost like the extreme anxiety that leads to a panic attack, but also an apprehensiveness or helplessness that I can’t explain. There’s really no reason for me to be feeling this way. My life is fairly stable at this time. KR and I are getting along well. Financially, we’re making the bills just fine. Yet, this pervasive feeling is so overwhelming, I can only conclude it is an echo of my past. As I drift in and out of conscious awareness, displaced emotions, numbness, and flat-out dissociation, I don’t know what to do with any of it.

It’s times like these that I need someone who truly understands to talk to; but it’s also times like these that I cannot make myself reach out for help.

Does anyone else experience this? What do you do?

My Story – Part 9 (Relationships with Family)

Continued from My Story – Part 8 (The Relationship with My Son)

I grew up believing that it was unacceptable to express sadness, hurt, disappointment, frustration, or anger toward anyone or anything that provoked these emotions in me. For that reason alone, resentment built to an intolerable level that fueled my “running away from home” at the age of 19 when I married so young. I was never great at communicating with my family. None of us were. From an early age, I often felt as though I lived in a house of complete strangers who occasionally interacted. Sure, we watched TV together, ate dinner together every night, took trips together, and occasionally had fun as a family; but I often felt like something was missing.

It was like that emotional bond that’s supposed to be there between family members had simply been severed or nonexistent to begin with. No words could really explain it. No matter how hard I tried to make my family proud of me, it just never seemed to be enough. This felt like an impossible task after 1998. I felt like a colossal disappointment after that. I often felt like I did as a child, helpless to stand up for myself against an indifferent family whose expectations were completely contradictory to my own. It took years of therapy and a lot of distancing for me to realize that I’m not here to please my family. I have to make my life count for me.

As I discussed earlier, when I left Tullahoma in 2005, the feelings of rejection and invalidation I experienced at that time strained the relationships with my mother and sister. This was during a period in my life that I was struggling immensely, financially and emotionally. I asked to come home to stay, to live, if for no other reason than to have the emotional support of my family, but also to be closer to my son so that I could be involved in his life. I was told ”no” by both my mother and sister. Mom said she didn’t have the room for me and my sister simply said that I should stay where I was and work out my own problems. I felt rejected, abandoned — an abandonment that I felt so often growing up.

If you could ask anyone in my family, immediate or extended, they would probably tell you that I was an emotional child who demanded nothing less than to be left alone (little has changed in that respect). I remember on more than one occasion either a cousin or my sister would intrude on my “alone time” and bear the brunt of an almost cat-like attack, all claws and screams of rage followed by no less than 15 minutes of bawling my eyes out. These types of meltdowns early in life resulted in my exasperated mother silencing me often with the phrase, “Dry it up!” Nevertheless, by at least mid-way through kindergarten I had learned to control these fits of rage through self-soothing or completely dissociating from my emotions.

Dissociation, of course, is a less than ideal way to handle emotions; however, for the immature mind of a child, it allowed me to cope with emotions and situations that felt completely overwhelming and out of control. To this day, I couldn’t tell you why I so often felt overwhelmed or out of control, just that I did. In most cases, my emotional outbursts as a child were simply too difficult for anyone in my family to process or manage much of the time which left me feeling ignored — abandoned — and fueled resentment that I had no idea how to process myself — a vicious cycle.

The rejection of my pleas for help in 2005 triggered these same feelings and a response that I recognize now as all too familiar, reciprocating rejection. It resulted in me staying out of my mother’s and sister’s lives for the majority of 4 years, only speaking to Mom occasionally by phone. Emails between my sister and me in 2007 were harsh and bitter which strengthened the divide between us. She expressed her own resentment in emails, stating that I was never around when she needed help with either our mother or our father before he died and how stressed she had been that she had to do everything herself while caring for her own family and working a full-time job.

I understood that my sister was stressed and feeling overwhelmed with everything. I know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed as that feeling has been a constant throughout my life. It’s most certainly not pleasant. She at the very least had most of Mom’s brothers and sisters there to help out and all of her friends to help her cope, as well as her husband and his family. For much of my adult life, I felt completely alone in my struggle to survive; but at the time of these emails, I had one person, KR, who I felt I could trust, count on — and no one else. When you’ve been kicked enough times by people you care about, trust in people no longer comes naturally. I needed her to understand that I had my own stuff to deal with and take care of. I felt like she completely disregarded anything that was going on in my life, considered my struggles insignificant and trivial to her own.

My sister once told me, “I feel like you feel like everyone owes you for something.” At the time I told her that no one owed me a god damned thing and that I didn’t expect anything from anyone else. I didn’t. I knew I was on my own and had been for more quite some time. Maybe I was wrong, though. Now, I feel like I am “owed” certain things. I deserve validation for my emotions. I’m justified in the expectation of compassion and understanding for my experiences. I’m entitled to respect for my boundaries. And I have the right of dignity to live my life any way I see fit without the added pressure of being someone I’m not. These concepts are hard for me to grasp, but I want to have enough self-respect to know when not to sacrifice my own well being for that of others. (Let me clarify here by saying: I don’t expect these things; but I feel I and every other living creature on this planet deserve these things in order to transcend spiritually and live in a civilized society.)

After those emails, we didn’t speak at all until around mid-July 2009 when, out of the blue, my sister called to tell me our mother was in the hospital. A week after that phone call, she called again demanding that I come home to take care of Mom while she recuperated (by this point, I no longer saw East Tennessee as my home; it hadn’t been “home” for more than 17 years).

My best guess is that agoraphobia began taking control of my life as early as May or June 2008. I rarely if ever left our apartment at all, sometimes for a couple of months at a time.

My mother has a lot of health issues from heart problems to Type II diabetes; but this hospitalization was due to bacteria in her stomach causing problems. Since I didn’t own a car at the time, I had to take a bus from Nashville to Knoxville where my sister picked me up. I stayed with Mom after she was released from the hospital for 2 weeks. Traveling in this way as well as the visit itself was stressful; but I felt that I handled it well despite the severe anxiety I felt.

It was a challenge to push the thoughts and memories out of my mind of comments family members said to me during my divorce and after the rapes and throughout my pregnancy with the child I gave up for adoption, let alone the hurt from 2005. Many of these comments made by family members were some of the worst I heard and only confirmed my childhood beliefs that I was worthless and bad. During that visit in 2009, both Mom and my sister simply ignored that they rejected my calls for help in 2005. Typical.

After Mom said she was feeling better, I became antsy to return home, back to Nashville. I stayed as long as I felt I could. The weekend that I decided to come home she was doing well or so I thought. The following Monday she had a doctor’s appointment to have blood work done. Apparently, she took all of her medications on an empty stomach and became violently ill as a result. One of the nurses fussed at her about driving in that condition; so my mother took it to mean that she could no longer drive.

Prior to me leaving from that visit with Mom, my sister began pressuring me to drop my life in Nashville with KR to move in with Mom permanently. I refused. My sister blatantly came out and said that Mom wanted me to move in with her to take care of her. I couldn’t even begin to express how badly this terrified me. I wasn’t even able to take care of myself. I would have NEVER given up my children had I thought I was emotionally stable enough and capable of caring for another person in the way she was asking of me. It made me angry that they would even ask this of me considering they had very little to no involvement in my adult life.

What about KR and my life with him? The fact that KR was unemployed at the time and we were under a great amount of financial stress as a result didn’t help matters any, either. My mother can be horribly judgmental when it comes to whomever I’m dating (or married to as in the case of my ex-husband); so it felt like she was trying to manipulate me into doing what she wanted by insulting not only KR, but me as well. I’m pretty sure KR was struggling with depression during the time he was out of work (though, I doubt he would admit it). I wanted to be there to emotionally support this man, who I loved with all my heart, who supported me emotionally when I needed it most — when NO ONE else would give me that emotional support that I so desperately needed.

But another part of me felt guilty because I felt like I was being selfish and unreasonable for even considering my own life. I felt even more guilt when Mom had a mild stroke a month later in September 2009. I couldn’t have prevented that from happening even had I been there, but the shame I felt was intense. Every time I talked to my mother for the next couple of months, the pressure built as she continued to use guilt in an attempt to manipulate me. She expressed animosity which led me to believe that she felt that if I hadn’t left when I did, she would have never had the stroke.

This was one of those situations where I totally don’t get how psychologists say, “No one can make you feel a certain way. You choose to feel that way.” If I had any choice in whether or not to feel guilty about these events, I wouldn’t have because I knew the stroke wasn’t my fault; but, nevertheless, I still felt guilty. Maybe this was just an example of cognitive dissonance. Whatever it was, it was crazy-making!

A couple of weeks after Mom’s stroke, my sister called to give me an update. Again, the hospital was preparing to release Mom, and my sister was demanding that I be there by Friday or Saturday to stay with Mom for at least the next two or three weeks. I flew into a panic trying to explain to her our situation and how I was feeling about everything. I don’t do well with short-notice. I need time to mentally prepare for a trip. The previous trip pushed my limits way too hard. Financially, my life was a mess at the time; and emotionally, I was a wreck.

My sister said, “I don’t want to hear your sob story!” She ranted on about how stressed she was dealing with Mom’s care, working full-time, caring for her kids and husband. Too late. I was already triggered. I didn’t hear much after that because I pretty much lost it and hung up on her before I screamed every obscenity I could possibly think of at the defenseless phone. I’m sure my upstairs neighbors must have wondered if I had lost my mind or something. My heart was racing. I could literally hear my heart beating in my head, and I was shaking all over. It took me the better part of an hour to calm down with KR’s help.

It was at that point in October 2009 that I decided I’d had enough. Once again, I stopped speaking to my sister after that volatile conversation over the phone; and I began limiting my phone conversations with my mother as well. I chose not to go to Mom’s at that time. I didn’t return there for about a year, not until October 2010 when I finally decided to introduce my mother and son to KR for the first time. We drove to East Tennessee for that day only, had an early dinner with them, and drove back home that night.

Since October 2010, I’ve made it back to Mom’s house a total of 8 times. That’s not a lot considering I live less than 3 hours away. I haven’t been to my sister’s house in many years, probably not since Daddy died in 2004. The issues with my mother’s health are of great concern to me. I worry about her living alone, especially with her being on dialysis now. The worst part is that my mother expressed concerns that she is a “burden.” I don’t EVER want my mother to feel that way. I dearly love Mom, and only want what’s best for her.

I realized quite some time ago that I cannot expect my family of origin to completely understand me, my thoughts, my life, or a lot of what I’ve experienced since I left home at 19. They don’t even know the half of it. I would be too ashamed to tell them much of what I’ve experienced or even thought about (part of the reason for anonymity here on this blog). Maybe it’s too much to expect my family to be emotionally supportive. After all, expectations lead to disappointment; and as my dad so wisely once told me as a little girl — my expectations were always so high that it’s no wonder disappointment followed me wherever I went.

Above all else, I remind myself daily that each and every person on this planet — my family members included — are simply trying to survive in the best ways they know how. It’s not my place to judge or criticize anyone else, just as it’s no one else’s place to judge or criticize me.

Everyone struggles in this life. No one is more worthy or less honorable than another. There’s no reward or punishment in the end other than what we create for ourselves.

To be continued….

Radio Wars

Tonight, I find myself sitting here relishing heavenly silence — well, other than the clock ticking, the occasional passing vehicle, or one of the cats crunching food. My hypersensitivity will be the death of me. Actually, I’ve sat here for the better part of an hour. Doing nothing, just lost in thought, trying to process my day and the strong emotions that had me contemplating going out to buy a bottle of vodka (Yes, I refrained). I awakened much earlier this morning than I would have liked due to neighborhood dogs barking and loud, blaring music coming from outside. Even though I got 7.5 hours of sleep last night, I still woke up feeling tired, cranky, and like I haven’t slept in days. The previous night, I only got 5 hours sleep because I struggled to get to sleep. I awoke after only 5 hours sleep on Sunday, too, due to the disturbance of my neighbor yelling at her kids at the top of her lungs and slamming the door.

For the past two days in a row, I have had to endure loud country music for most of the day, provided by the neighbors. Even my case manager exclaimed, “That would drive me crazy,” when she stopped by yesterday for our appointment. After KR left for work this morning, I used exercise to take out my frustrations, 30 minutes of cardio and about 15 minutes of yoga. That calmed my nerves until the kids got home from school. By late afternoon today, the ball bouncing off the side of the house had my nerves shot with hands shaking. Somehow, after drinking a cup of hot tea and listening to Linkin Park and Metallica to drown out the neighbor nonsense while drawing, I managed to escape into my own mind, leaving everything else behind. Who says you can’t purposefully dissociate? It works. And at this point, I’ll take it. This is probably the reason I enjoy meditation so much. They’re virtually the same thing, except when I can’t control it or stop it from happening. Then… I just feel kind of… lost.

I think I need to get out of the house tomorrow.

Arguing With Myself…

No, that’s not crazy at all….

Therapy a couple of days ago was apparently overwhelming, but I’m not sure why. I’m sitting here trying to remember exactly what we discussed. However, I’m having great difficulty in doing so. Usually, I try to write it all out as soon as I get home for this very reason; but I simply didn’t have time that day. I should have tried writing yesterday, but I had an appointment with my case manager and ended up not really in the mood to write. I procrastinated. I avoided. And today, it just doesn’t seem to be there.

I remember sitting in the lobby. I remember the lady sitting next to me who was very talkative because she and I talked until we were both called back, almost simultaneously. I remember walking down the hallway and taking my usual seat in my therapist’s office while he held the door open in the hall for the lady and the person she was seeing. When he came in his office, he asked how I was doing. I can’t remember my answer. Now… it’s like looking through a thick fog and hearing a muddled conversation from far away…. Pianos…? Nothing.

You completely shut down. Your whole demeanor changed.” My therapist said close to the end of our session. It’s the ONLY thing I remember with clarity. What the hell were we talking about?! Why can’t I remember? What observation did he make that I completely missed? This is positively frustrating and happens often enough, not just in therapy, that it makes me feel freakin’ nuts!

Memory is such a strange thing. When I look back over my life, some parts are vividly captured while others feel foggy, more distant, or completely gone, like in the example above. I realized this was the case for me fairly early on which is one of the reasons why I began journaling with such devotion in 1995. I wanted to write down all the things I did remember from my childhood, teen years, and early adulthood (and the rest of my life), fearing that I might forget these memories as well. While that’s never been the case (I still remember most of these same memories now with as much clarity as I did in my teens), I’m still puzzled by the blank spots.

Over the years, throughout many different therapists, I heard such words as dissociation, depersonalization, and derealization. I know the topic of dissociation came up at least 5 times —

  1. in ’95 with my original therapist;
  2. in ’97 or ’98 with that therapist; and my ex-husband observed this type of behavior in me as well;
  3. at some point while in therapy during the period of time I was in a relationship with PI; and even PI made comments about this behavior;
  4. Hospitalization #8 in ’05 where I only vaguely remember discussing with my doctor in the hospital the topic of dissociation;
  5. and I’m pretty sure it also came up with the first therapist I had in ’07 even though I only saw her briefly.

Even KR has commented on my lack of “presence” at times. I suppose those closest to me have the best vantage point.

I struggle to accept the inner workings of my mind. Regardless of that part of me that refuses to accept, that threatens my very existence should I speak out, I feel I must in order to get back to where I felt contentment, to recover a life that has meaning.

Words escape me, as the battle for control wages on.

Clock ticking… nearby traffic… dog barking… children squealing and yelling…

As I’ve said before, when I very first began therapy back in 1994, I questioned my childhood relentlessly. Again, it wasn’t that my childhood was particularly bad. On the contrary, I have many happy memories. There’s just these persistent, damnable blank spots that I can’t recall and the same questions that still surround them that caused me to question my childhood in the first place in ’94/’95.

My son wasn’t even a year old yet, and I was struggling with being a new parent. I was feeling anger and resentment towards CF (my ex-husband) and sometimes, towards my son, resulting in occasional explosive outbursts. I felt like a horrible person (bad wife/bad mother) for this. Perhaps, I was subconsciously remembering my own mother’s treatment and the coldness of her attitude which exhibited itself in the anger that I was feeling at that time. I don’t know. I can’t explain it.

Other than remembering little to nothing prior to starting kindergarten at age 5 (more than likely the result of infantile amnesia, which is typically normal), the most significant blank spot is my fourth grade year of elementary school. It’s a perpetual void of information whereas third and fifth grades are fluent streams of memories, complete with friendships, what I learned those years, and even some emotions. Fourth grade is an anomaly, and I don’t know why. There are others (throughout my life), but none that bother me so much as fourth grade.

And I’m not really sure why it bothers me so much, then or now.

I keep telling myself it’s pointless to dwell on such things. However, my intuition tells me there’s something there that needs to be addressed, dealt with. The thing is, how do I access what seemingly is not there? Given the controversy over false memory syndrome (FMS), I’m hesitant to acknowledge this time period at all. My concerns about FMS subsequently led to my terminating therapy with that first therapist, partly because I doubted her assessment and partly because I doubted myself.

It could also be that I simply had this fantasy in my mind of what my childhood was like, a fantasy comparable to Little House on the Prairie. This therapist challenged that fantasy, and I couldn’t face it. I’ll restate here what I wrote in Part 2 of My Story:

At my worst, I felt neglected some of the time; but there was no history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse that I could recall. However, in the course of therapy, my therapist concluded that I had been sexually molested at an early age due to memory gaps, problems with dissociating, anger and shame issues, and whatever other reasons she gave at the time, even though I had/have absolutely NO memory of anything like this ever happening (I have discussed this with no one since that time, not in all of the remaining years of therapy I received). Shortly after she reached this conclusion, my therapist had me attend a women’s group for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. I continued therapy and attended the group briefly, for only a few weeks, before I quit going to both altogether because I questioned the validity of her assumption.

In addition to what I stated there, I would only add that the memory gaps and other issues weren’t the sole reason for that first therapist’s conclusion. While I don’t have any memory of actual abuse, I do have memories of some of my childhood behaviors that I really can’t bring myself to discuss, behaviors that as a child I found particularly shameful. And that’s just it, this same shame that prevents me from discussing these behaviors was there long before I was ever raped in my adult years. It’s shame that steals my words.

In all of the remaining years of therapy I received, I adamantly denied any history of sexual abuse; but there was always this small part of me that wondered, “Could something have happened?” Because I have remained “stuck” for so long in my life, that question grows louder and louder; and I don’t know what to do with it. I know it’s possible to repress traumatic memories, but wouldn’t there be at least a flash of something if something had indeed happened? Should something resurface, how would I even trust that these were true memories? If I was sexually abused, wouldn’t I need to remember it in order to heal from it? If I was not, how do I stop obsessing over these questions? I have to wonder, “Do I need therapy for the original therapy?”

I’ve had probably half a dozen or more therapists since that first therapist, none of whom spent much time discussing my childhood at great lengths with me, not like that first one. It seems that over the last 19 years, therapy has changed quite a lot in that respect. Maybe, that’s just another sign of a deteriorating mental health system. Therapists no longer have the luxury of time on their side, rather they have to rely on quick-fix methods to get clients in and out of treatment.

In my case, when I can’t even remember what we’ve discussed, I can’t help but feel that I am wasting my therapist’s time.

And the arguing inside my head really needs to STOP.