TV Therapy

At the first of this month, I had the flu — a vicious, stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks-for-a-week-flu. After making its way through the school system in our area last month, this flu found its way into the workplace. Several people passed it around where KR works which meant that he inevitably brought it home to me. I’m still coping with that lingering exhaustion and annoying cough, but I finally feel human again.

Since I wasn’t up for anything else, I began binge-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix. Although it seems familiar, I don’t remember ever having watched it when it was on TV, probably because it started during a time period when I didn’t even own a TV, let alone watch TV.

First, let me say, I love this show! Great cast — the chemistry between all of the characters flows so well from the very first episode that I can see why it stayed on-air for 7 seasons, simply fantastic acting by everyone involved in its production. As is so often the case when I find a TV show I actually like, I can’t get enough. The theme song is perpetually stuck in my ever-obsessing brain, trying to work out the nuanced chord shifts so I can learn to play it on the piano.

Last night, I got to Season 2: Episode 21, “Lorelai’s Graduation Day.” The last 5 minutes of that episode was an incredibly emotional exchange between the daughter, Rory, and her mother, Lorelai, after Rory missed Lorelai’s college graduation ceremony as a result of impulsively skipping school to visit Jess in New York. Alexis Bledel’s (Rory) convincing performance was so emotional for me, in fact, that it triggered a flashback and moved me to tears.

Bizarre how something so seemingly random and unrelated like a TV show can trigger emotion in this way and cause memories to flood back into awareness.

It triggered how felt in April ’98 — all the emotions of guilt and shame and disappointment in myself for hurting and disappointing my husband and family as a result of my own inexplicably impulsive behavior for which I still, to this day, struggle to find a rational explanation. That emotional pain is still so fresh and raw as the day it happened. It triggered the memories of trying to explain to other people what happened when I, myself, didn’t understand. It triggered the self-deprecating memories of how I admonished myself for being so irresponsible.

Despite the unexpected trigger in last night’s episode and everything it brought up for me, I made the connection quickly — in that moment. I was able to identify a triggering moment, able to recognize I was having a flashback, in the moment it was happening. For the past 19 years, a triggered moment meant a varying amount of dissociated awareness, an inability to remain present. Depending on what the trigger was, it was only later — after hours or days or weeks or sometimes, even months later — that I could connect something triggered me and left me reeling in overwhelmed emotion or completely numb.

Last night, I remained present. I recognized I was having a flashback. I identified the trigger immediately. And I self-soothed by allowing myself to cry and “feel” the emotion while reminding myself, “This is just an echo of your past. You already survived it. Everything is okay.”

This was a first.

For me, this is huge.

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.

 

I’m not giving up and neither should you.

I, quite seriously, feel like I’m losing my mind. I’m back to questioning whether I’m alive or dead. Nothing feels real, so I’m going with the latter. What if I’m the only person who knows we’re all dead and trying to work out our past life’s traumas? All of this talk of moving on is meant to push us into the next life — reincarnate to try again in a never-ending cycle of life and death.

I’m really struggling right now.

I feel like I don’t belong here, like an alien stranded on some strange — very disturbing — planet that’s about to veer off course into its sun. Half the population is creating hell while the other half of us are simply trying to connect the dots, prove there’s a better way to deal with suffering. Progress based in love and compassion is our only way forward. Hate and exclusion moves us backward to repeat past mistakes over and over again. Everything seems so black and white, good or evil, positive or negative. Polar opposites. The balance is teetering on the brink of destruction and each side keeps rocking the boat.

Chaos is winning.

I feel lost. I feel like nothing more than an observer, silenced by overwhelm, suffocating from too many triggers, buried alive under so much hate. I’m “out of my mind.” I feel like I’m experiencing all of this out of my body, lost and untethered, with no desire to bother coming back. Content to watch the world crash and burn, taking my soul with it, I mourn for our planet as much as myself as even she has lost the will to live.

The rape of our planet’s resources is the perfect metaphor for the crushing disappointment in humanity to defend and honor the female population.

What chance do women have in a barbaric patriarchy that treats us like objects to be used for their sick and twisted amusement?

This election and its aftermath left me in a state of shock and dismay. To say I’m disappointed in its outcome would be the understatement of the year. I find myself fighting dissociation, that familiar numb disconnect fueled by a desperation to survive the suicidal ideation triggered by the events of the past few weeks. I’ve had nightmares for at least the last 3 nights in a row. The flashbacks are intense, invasive and graphic memories causing severe panic. KR, trying to be helpful, took me to buy pepper spray. It was a sweet gesture; but knowing my freeze response when I feel threatened, I would never get the chance to use it.

In response to a comment someone left on a link I shared on Facebook, I wrote:

As a direct result of Trump’s language throughout his campaign and that leaked video, every time I see that man’s face come across my news feed or hear another ignorant thing he says, I feel triggered. I know, that’s *my* problem to deal with; and I’m coping to the best of my ability. However, I associate Trump’s face with every man who ever sexually harassed me, with every man who ever sexually assaulted me (grabbed or otherwise touched me inappropriately), and with the men who raped me.

THAT is what Trump represents for me. Half of the voters in this country validated his words and actions JUST by voting for him. I accept the fact that Trump won this election, but acceptance does NOT mean I have to tolerate his hate speech. Acceptance does NOT mean I condone his behavior or validate his twisted beliefs. Acceptance is NOT approval.

What I’m feeling isn’t “fear.” It’s disgust — not just for Trump but also for the 47% of Americans who voted for him, who condone the behavior of a bully and sexual predator. Disgust and contempt.

And that is what all of this boils down to. I’m not usually so open about my private struggles under my “real” identity. I was taught from an early age not to burden others with my problems, especially not family; but this election sparked an unbridled rage within me to speak out that I’ve never felt before. I broke down after writing that response.

I called RAINN’s support line for, ya know, support. I was transferred to an organization out of Murfreesboro, TN. I told the woman who answered, “I think I need to talk to someone.” She seemed annoyed when I gave my reason for calling. I immediately regretted having reached out to a total stranger for help. I thought, “I must be wasting her time over an issue that took place over 18 years ago.” I felt weak for allowing the political climate to trigger such a strong response within me. She took my name and phone number and said someone would call me back.

I’m still waiting 4 days later to “talk” to someone.

could have called any other crisis line; but I chose RAINN because I thought, “They’re trained specifically to deal with issues of this nature.” Right?

I never wanted to be a part of Trump’s reality, but I am. I have been for a long time. Men, who think they can grab a woman’s private parts because… they can? Consent means nothing to a sexual predator. It was bad enough that someone running for our highest office here in the US bragged about this type of behavior, but for that same man to actually become President of the United States?!

It’s not just a slap in the face to anyone victimized in this way. It’s like being sexually assaulted and raped all over again.

No. I’m not okay.

A lot of women are struggling today with these same emotions and triggers as a result of this election. Know that you’re not alone. I know from experience, too often it feels that way. I’m still searching for the emotional support and connection to people who understand what I’ve been through, but…

I’m not giving up and neither should you.

Getting Through Another Anniversary Date

I have to write about this before I minimize and rationalize it away. I slipped over the weekend. Friday night, I had 3 shots of Tequila — several hours apart from each other, not enough to get drunk — but nonetheless, a slip. I know what the triggers were.

April is full of trigger dates — rape #1 – April 11/12; my dad’s death – April 14; the child’s birthday, who I gave up for adoption – April 27. Also, I could include the suicide attempt on April 12, 1998, as it was the most serious attempt I ever made, and the period of homelessness from April 17, 2005 through May 1, 2005 after the move to Tullahoma, TN. There’s just a lot to process in the month of April, a whole lot.

In addition to the trigger dates, a good friend of mine gave birth to a baby girl last week. She and her husband are mine and KR’s closest friends. That’s saying a lot considering I don’t easily trust enough to make lasting relationships/friendships. I spent most of Friday shopping for a gift for the new baby. I struggle a lot with my inability to parent my own children. That reason, alone, is a source of great pain and loss — as well as guilt and shame.

Most days, I avoid the children’s sections of department stores like the plague; yet on Friday, I was determined to do something special for my friend to commemorate the new addition to their family. All I can say about this experience of gift shopping is that it left me with a crippling indecisiveness that bordered on insanity, walking the aisles of the department store for more than a few hours. Seriously — hours. However, I am glad I got through it. Gift giving truly is as much for the giver as it is for the receiver.

When KR returned home from work with his usual Friday night bottle of Tequila, I didn’t think twice about it. I took a shot to settle my nerves and calm my incredibly noisy mind. I didn’t even get a buzz because I spaced the 3 shots out over several hours. Quite honestly, I hate the taste of Tequila, probably the one saving grace that stopped me from drinking more than I did. I’ve been fighting the urge to go out and buy a bottle of Jack Daniels ever since.

I’ve resisted.

Sobriety is a bear of an opponent, especially when you have voices in your head telling you things like, “A few drinks won’t hurt anything.”

Or, “You’re not really an addict. Look at how long you can go without using anything. If you were truly an addict, you wouldn’t be able to resist having a drink every time it’s in the house.”

Or, “Complete abstinence from alcohol is as unrealistic a goal as any other form of abstinence. How is complete abstinence any different from other forms of ‘black and white’ or ‘all or nothing’ thinking? It’s a contradiction in psychology to say one form of exaggeration is okay while another is a cognitive distortion. How can that possibly work?”

So, I made it 100 days this time before I gave in to those voices. It doesn’t surprise me that I would, especially not at this time of year. I refuse to feel guilty about a slip. At first, I was a little disappointed in myself; but I know that I am doing the best I can, given my circumstances and life history. I struggle enough with self-blame not to tack on anymore over something I consider trivial compared to past experiences.

I didn’t cry when I held my friend’s baby for the first time over the weekend. I was worried I might, but I didn’t. All of the emotion was there, just below the surface while I gazed at that beautiful little face. I held onto my tears until I reached the safety of my home, crying myself to sleep that night.

That loss hurts every bit as much today as it did 17 years ago.

Where I’ve Been…

My last post was quite a bit darker than I would normally care to share. I thought about doing a little damage control by rewriting it or completely removing it, but that post is an accurate description of how I was feeling at the time. The following week of July 12th through 18th is difficult for me to describe. None of my usual distraction methods or self-soothing practices were making a difference. The panic/fear I felt escalated to a point of feeling so out of control that I didn’t think I could trust my judgment. I was suicidal and paranoid. I went back to the crisis stabilization unit (CSU) Thursday, July 16th, and allowed them to admit me for 5 days.

I’m glad I did. Regardless of anything I’ve said in the past, I do feel a certain amount of safety and trust in the facility where I chose to get treatment. Trust is not so easily secured in my mind, so even the slightest amount of trust is something for me to celebrate.

Thankfully, medication wasn’t forced. That’s a huge relief. An attempt at a bedtime anxiety med was made; but after only one night’s dose and an incredibly groggy day followed, I needed no other reminder of what “my medicated days” were like. Medication causes me more anxiety than it helps. Period.

Like last time, this visit to CSU was a chance to STOP, catch my breath, and calm down a bit — something I was struggling to accomplish (incapable of accomplishing) at home. As it was an impulsive decision to drive myself to CSU that day, I didn’t discuss it with KR first. I feared his reaction, knowing his disapproval of mental health services, let alone being hospitalized. I left him a note telling him where I had gone and called him from CSU the following Saturday to “gauge” his reaction. As I predicted, he was angry, telling me that this, me going to CSU, was the reason he couldn’t talk to me about anything because I choose to run away.

During that phone call, I found myself apologizing again and again. I couldn’t hold back the tears as he reprimanded me for not dealing with my problems. Me crying only seemed to infuriate him more. It didn’t take long for KR’s criticisms of mental health services and me, in general, to turn to the topic of sex and how his “needs” are not being met. As I sat listening to this all too familiar tirade, while on a telephone at a crisis stabilization unit, my only thoughts were, “It’s always about sex. It’s always about sex. IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT SEX!!” I couldn’t defend myself. All I could do was cry and apologize. After I finally managed to get off of the phone, using the excuse that we were limited to brief phone calls (he had already kept me on the phone for more than 15 minutes), I recounted as much of the conversation as I could remember to the med nurse who offered an ear and gently encouraged me to talk through my panicked sobbing. I kept repeating (keep repeating even now), “It’s always about sex,” like some kind of screwed up mantra, because honestly, I feel like sex is all KR cares about — whether or not he is getting laid.

Last week, July 19th through 25th, was tense. After I returned home on the 20th, I half expected KR to kick me out; but he simply ignored me for the most part. Other than casual conversation about the garden, work, the video game he’s playing, or the latest depressing factoid going around on Facebook, we didn’t have any “meaningful” conversations. He’s still sleeping on the couch, refusing to touch me or show any form of affection. Finally, yesterday morning after KR woke up, I asked him, “Are we ever going to talk?” He agreed that we needed to; so we discussed several of the issues we’ve been having for a little over an hour, prior to him leaving for work.

Other than the common theme of sex (seriously, he’s got a one-track mind and obsesses over it), we did manage to talk about a couple of other things. For the past month, I felt like I was being punished for no other reason than being who I am. I kept asking myself, “What did I do to deserve this silence, lack of affection, and coldness?” This treatment triggered a lot of the same emotions and reactions in me as so much of the childhood confusion I experienced from my family when they did the exact same thing. That same thought, “I must deserve this,” continually filtered through my mind and thoughts. How is it possible to feel so lonely, so alone, around someone you love, who says he loves you? I have cried more in the past month than I think I have in the past 10 years. The pain is excruciating.

I told KR that I felt like I was being punished for something, but I didn’t know what. His response was, “This past month I’ve been basically… you. This past month I have been you. Doing the bare minimum to keep going.” I broke down in tears, sobbing, apologizing profusely to him because I never meant to make KR feel the way I’ve felt for the past month. And the truth is, I don’t even realize I’m doing that; but he’s right. I get stuck on auto-pilot, coasting through life, hoping for a few moments of happiness along the way. Otherwise, I’m merely surviving because I don’t know how else to “be.”

Even though I think I’ve put forth every effort in my available resources to work through many of my fears and insecurities, nothing has helped, according to KR. He sees everything I do on a daily basis as trivial and insignificant. I clean the house. I take care of the cats. I take care of all the finances — writing out monthly checks, making sure all the bills are paid, keeping a budget, and keeping track of everything we spend money on. I do all of the shopping, sometimes having to go to as many as 3 to 5 different stores just to find everything he wants or needs. I run all of the household errands. I keep up with my appointments. I do all the laundry. I run the garbage off in the trunk of my car rather than bother him to take it off in his truck. I help out with the yard work. I’ve even been cooking more to try to lighten his load some.

All of this while still trying to run 2 blogs, practice my photography and drawing skills to keep them up to par, get a few minutes of piano time in, journal daily, research topics of interest and read, practice self-care whenever I’m feeling overly anxious and triggered, and if I’m lucky, go for a much-needed hike every once in a while.

Long story, short and what I told KR — I don’t feel appreciated. I don’t feel any appreciation for all of the efforts that I do put in. I don’t feel like anything I actually do makes a difference because I constantly feel criticized. After bringing up this issue and adding how much I crave even the smallest amount of appreciation, just a simple thank you, or a hug — right there, with the mention of a hug, he stopped me, interrupted me, saying, “I’m afraid to touch you anymore,” without so much as an acknowledgment of what I was telling him I needed.

It’s the last 5 or so minutes of this conversation — which I’m choosing not to write out — that has me most upset, triggered, and wondering if perhaps, it is time to let this relationship go, not only for my own sanity but for KR’s as well. I’m not sure if two emotionally unhealthy people can have a healthy relationship. I’m not convinced that KR even wants to work any of this out. Maybe it’s too late. Maybe too much damage has been done. Or maybe these are echoes of my past that I’m projecting onto this relationship. The fact is, I don’t know; and I don’t know what else to do. Neither KR nor I know how to fix this.


 

In an attempt to figure out exactly when all of this began, the obvious answer is KR’s meltdown a month ago triggered the current wave of panic, anxiety, helplessness, and despair. But this has been going on for years. Losing SSDI most certainly threw me for a loop. Reapplying for SSDI is literally reliving that experience all over again — all of the uncertainties, the insecurities, the stress of having no financial means to support myself, feeling like a burden, not only to KR but to society as a whole, and the pressure to get over the traumas I lived through yet struggle every single day to process and recover from. The upcoming hearing date precisely one week prior to the anniversary of one of those traumas is just icing on the cake.

Excuse me while I have a complete nervous break down!


A few helpful links about PTSD:

Until this last visit to CSU, I don’t think I quite understood the impact that PTSD has had on my life or in my relationships. Prior to now, I thought, “I’ve already talked about that, dealt with it.” I had no idea that this shit would continue to affect my life so adversely, possibly for the rest of my life. Yeah, I’m becoming a bit bitter. If I ever get in touch with my anger, I’m going to ask her, “Where in the hell have you been?!

Rape. The gift that just keeps on giving!

 

 

 

 

Depression kicked my ass today. I came close to calling the crisis call-line, but I couldn’t make myself punch in the numbers. It worries me that I can’t always reach out for help when I know I need to talk to someone. I keep reminding myself to wait it out. Even a tsunami has to retreat sometime. Nothing is that bad. The trigger was from the past, not the present. Yesterday was a trigger date. I suppose it’s understandable that my first son’s birthday triggers such a feeling of loss in me. KR will be home from work soon. It’s easier to pretend everything is okay when he’s around to distract me. Why am I struggling so much to distract myself lately?

My Story – Part 13 (Chaos Reviewed)

Continued from My Story – Part 12

I spent the last few years putting together a timeline of my life experiences and the last year writing out My Story here in order to make sense of everything that happened in my life and in an attempt to process the emotions attached to each event. I analyzed my inability to keep a job and maintain a stable lifestyle to the point of obsession. I struggled the entire 5 years that I received Social Security benefits to justify my need for them. I questioned the validity of my illness and berated myself for not trying harder. As the stigma of mental illnesses became a talking point for political bureaucracy, the voices of so many people commenting on social media and articles about the misuse of social services ran through my mind, saying things like, “Why can’t you just keep a job?” Or, “You need to try harder.” Or, “You’re just lazy.” It’s very difficult not to take things like this personally when I’ve struggled with mental illness for the majority of my adult life and heard friends, family members, and even professionals in the mental health field say those exact same things to me. The hopelessness of realizing that my life is somehow worth less because I haven’t figured out how to live in a world of chaos is devastating.

As more and more people spoke out about the traumatic consequences of having experienced rape and sexual assault, it became clear to me that the sickening display of public ignorance surrounding these tragedies is most certainly a contributing factor for the “rape culture” in which we live. The lack of compassion and victim blaming that occur in our society should give each of us reason to pause and question how our morals are serving us or if they are at all. It is with profound sadness and intense anger that I struggle to understand a callous society that feels so alien to me. A society that re-victimizes those who have already experienced horrible victimization through the criminal acts of rape and sexual assault by shaming victims when they are most vulnerable rather than placing that shame and blame where it belongs — on those who committed the crime of rape.

The effects of constant chaos in my life continued for years — one thing after another after another. I never knew what I was feeling because there wasn’t time to reflect. Much of the time everything felt so unreal that time no longer had meaning. I simply had TOO much life to process in TOO short of a time! In the years after I was raped, I had numerous other encounters of a sexual nature that tested my strength to survive. Maybe it was my naivety or maybe it was just plain stupidity on my part, but I was easily taken advantage of. For some reason, I have a knack for getting myself into situations that have serious detrimental effects on my emotional well-being and my ability to function as others do.

All types of relationships are extremely difficult for me, whether it’s family, peers, or intimate relationships. There’s a point of contention where most people would say that I don’t put forth the effort in which to “maintain relationships.” While I acknowledge some truth in this statement, I would also point out that most, if not all, people struggle with exactly the same thing. Out of sight, out of mind takes on a very literal meaning for me when so many people I was once close to told me to basically “buck up and get over it” during some of the most traumatic experiences of my life.

I’m like a feral animal who’s been kicked one too many times.

Trust most certainly does not come easy for me. It was for this reason that seeking therapy this last time was so terrifying. It took every ounce of courage I had in me to seek out help. I continue to reject the notion that psychiatric medication is necessary in the treatment of severe mental illnesses. I acknowledge that these medications might prove beneficial to some people, even life-saving as some would say; but for me, they were completely worthless, often more damaging than helpful. Therefore, I will continue to refuse medication. I did, however, accept therapy and case management. I still remain leery of therapy which, perhaps, hinders any progress as a result. Therapy is a slow process, one that I question relentlessly. I’m still not convinced that it “helps.” Or maybe I just haven’t found the “right” therapist for me.

Now, I doubt I will ever know because I simply don’t have it in me to start over with yet another new therapist. After a year and 4 months, my therapist and I parted ways, rather abruptly this past week. I’m still trying to process this sudden end, so I’m not really sure what I should say about it. I think my defenses went up when my therapist commented on the fact that a lot of my issues are financial in nature; so I should get a job, something I’ve heard so many times from so many people. If only it was that easy. I could have been a real smart-ass and said, “Well, nah-fuckin’-duh!” But I didn’t. Honestly, I’m not really sure what my response was other than maybe stunned silence. I simply don’t remember.

He asked a simple question, “What are your goals for this year?” I couldn’t answer. I have no idea. I really wanted to scream at him (but didn’t). If I could answer questions like that, maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t have sought therapy to begin with! Then, he asked what my goals for therapy are. Yeah, same reaction — complete shut down. All I remember is the argument going on in my brain for me to SHUT UP! when I tried to fill the awkward silence by voicing my concerns again that therapy is a waste of time. And before I knew it, he was handing me his business card, telling me to email him when, for all intents and purposes, I was ready to actually “talk.” He literally said, “The ball’s in your court.” As if this, my life, is some sort of petty, manipulative game.

If the ball is in my court, I choose NOT to play the fucking game!!! Perhaps, by simply making that statement or writing about any of this publicly is indeed “playing the game;” but I take a very literal approach to my life, no-nonsense. I hate drama in real life. It feels like a waste of time. Drama is for television and fiction novels at best, just as games are for people who feel competition is a necessary part of life. The two go hand in hand and are part of the illusion that creates suffering.

I’m left wondering, “What the hell is wrong with me?!” The same question that has plagued me since early childhood.

I took his card. I left in silence without saying a word. I was livid; but more so, I was hurt. As I drove home in my car, I cried the tears triggered by a deep sorrow — despair that I may never heal, despair that I’m left to face it all alone yet again. One of my favorite parks in the area was on the way home; so I decided to stop at the last-minute to go for a walk and try to clear my mind. Nature walks typically quiet my thoughts to a more manageable level. Considering it was only 33° that day and I was wearing dress shoes rather than my usual hiking shoes, it may not have been the best idea; but I needed to test a theory.

Safely back home, I cried more. I vented to KR when he got home from work. I vented to my case manager the next day. The thought occurred to me that I should quit case management as well, but that small part of me whispered, “No, not yet.” Maybe my case manager is right. Maybe I would benefit more from a life coach rather than a therapist, but part of me feels that too much from my past still affects my conscious mind and interferes with my ability to move forward. I don’t know how to process any faster. I can only grow from that which I understand, at the pace my brain allows me.

The echoes of my past are as jumbled a mess as ripples on a lake, as hard to decipher as a nightmare in heavy sleep.

I’m convinced that depression is a grieving process — stuck grief. Most people don’t give themselves enough time to grieve losses, myself included. When we push away that grief by carrying on as always, it prolongs the grief. Having lost a lot in my life, I wonder if I will ever properly process all of the emotions that I fight to this day, particularly when the emotions themselves trigger such a strong flight response that I simply check-out for a while. It’s usually when I’m most stressed and depressed that I end up isolating myself the most. The majority of the time, I just want to be left alone. Solitude has been my one saving grace. However, it has its price as well. I meant for therapy to be my “reality check,” to assist me in coming to terms with my chaotic past. Sometimes, I need help in gauging what is rational and what is irrational. The anxiety that I feel daily as a result of this constant second-guessing is equally chaotic and overwhelming. Is it really too much to ask for one person who is willing to help me remain grounded, to help me recognize what so often I cannot — that I’m slipping too far down the rabbit hole?

I don’t know what the future holds or if I will ever be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle, let alone successfully maintain employment. The only conclusion I have made from all of this self-reflection and introspection is that I am flat-out exhausted. My life is a minute-by-minute struggle on a daily basis to keep my head above water. I’m tired of bottling everything up. I’m tired of having no one to talk to about this incredibly difficult time in my life. I’m tired of feeling worthless. I’m tired of second-guessing everything I say.

And most of all, I’m tired of remaining silent.

This is my chance to tell my side of the story.


~ Finitoque ~

This is where I will end My Story (for now, maybe). It’s seems only fitting to end it where therapy ends. I apologize for the length and redundancy in parts. For those of you who remained loyal in reading My Story and those who stopped by for a briefer glimpse into my crazy world, my bizarre reality —

I thank you sincerely and wish you all the best.