Archives for the month of: October, 2016

Halloween is next Monday.  I’m not sure I can post on Sunday, not with so many memories of why the time around Halloween scares so much flowing through my mind right now.

The holiday itself is not the problem.  The events and experiences that happened on and around Halloween are.

Instead, I’m writing early.  And I’m sharing something that scares me in ways that I have a hard time describing.  Like the title says, I’m talking about my physical body and the changes it is going through right now as the internal damage heals.

If this is too triggering, please stop reading.  If not, continue.

Read the rest of this entry »

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One of the hardest parts about living and interacting with the outside world is being able to regulate my emotions when I dissociate.  Many times, anger triggers dissociation and switching.  Then an alter comes out to deal with the situation.  Once over, that alter retreats, and I or one of the other “in-charge” alters comes back with no clue what just happened.

That’s scary.  It feels out of control.  The memories of what happened don’t always come back right away.  Used to be those alters wouldn’t share what happened for weeks, months, years, even decades.  Now, they share within hours or days.  But the sharing comes as nightmares or daydreams out of context of when/where/how anything happened.  Like living in 2 realities.

The past few days, I’ve been working on an exercise to write down what I am doing, thinking, and feeling whenever I feel even a little anger.  Only problem is that I have not felt any anger this week.  I felt sad, scared, and upset.  I felt guilt and shame too.

Now I have to wonder if maybe one of these emotions is the real trigger.  And then everything else gets expressed as anger.

Maybe someday, this will stop.  And then I will feel more confident interacting and socializing with people.  I will remember what happens when my boundaries get crossed and why people are treating me a certain way.  I will remember why they feel the right to treat me that way and why I feel the need to be wary of them even though being polite is a must.

Finally, maybe this will help with some of the feelings of shame and guilt that come with the periods of not remembering.

Thanks for reading today’s ramble.

Not much to say today.  I am still sick and practicing self-care.  What seems counter-intuitive is sometimes the best self-care of all.

For me, that means taking time to rest & sleep.  Movie and TV (streaming) marathons with my alters.  Forgoing active hobbies for passive ones.  Eating less, hydrating as needed.  Lying down instead of sitting or walking around.

Being careful who I speak with and what I say helps too.  And with that introduction, I bring to you today’s affirmation.

No matter your intentions or the words you speak, the other person will only hear and remember what she or he wants to hear and remember.

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My name is Darkness.  I am between 6 and 10 years old.  My name comes from holding some of the darkest memories and feelings in our system.  It was my job to protect the other parts from the monsters by creating walls between them and reality – aka a darkness that veiled the scary truth.  I was and still am a protector – strong and independent and capable.  I didn’t think that I needed any help; in fact asking for help was considered a weakness back then.

It wasn’t until the adults started going to therapy that I realized help is not a weakness.  Offering help feels good and lessens the feelings of guilt and shame for not being able to protect everyone all the time.  But accepting help?  Admitting I couldn’t handle all of the memories, feelings, and triggers by myself?  Admitting that I couldn’t do everything, protect everyone, prevent the others from remembering, maintain the dark veil?  That I refused to believe for a long time.

Because what would I do?  How could I be a useful part of the system if I wasn’t protecting everyone and myself from the scary memories?  How would I cope with the voices and the pain that came from lifting the darkness?  Who would want to help a monster like me?  One who lived in perpetual darkness reliving what the monsters did to our mind and body?

No, I didn’t believe anyone would offer to help me unless that offer was a trick of some kind.  I didn’t believe I deserved to be helped either.  So I ignored the offers.  And I denied needing anyone’s help.

Until the day, or was it evening, that I got caught in a trap that stuck me in the past and couldn’t get out on my own.

A whole group of alters (different ages and genders) came to find me.  They told me I could get out of this easily.  All I had to do was accept their offer of help.  I didn’t believe them at first.  I fought them.  I insulted them.  I hurt them.  I fought myself.  I insulted myself.  I hurt myself.  I pushed them away.  I hid from them.

They always found me.  They protected themselves without hurting me.  They offered compassion.  They stayed down in the pit with me and never, not once, left.

It felt like days, but was only hours – that last battle.  I was so tired.  I gave in and accepted their help.  As soon as I opened up to the offer, the trap disappeared.  No one was stuck anymore.  We climbed out of the pit and made our way home.  It was kind of embarrassing that the girl alters were stronger and faster than me fora long time as I recovered.

Boys are supposed to be stronger than girls.  Smarter and faster too.  But that’s a lie too.  Maybe boys are physically stronger because of the differences in body shapes.  But not stronger or smarter or faster in the other ways that count.  Anyone can be strong and fast and smart; it has to do with the individual not the gender.

Sometimes I forget that I”m part of a system who loves and accepts me as I am.  Sometimes I forget how important I am to the system; without me we wouldn’t be the AlterXpressions system (a unique, independent woman) and able to do so much.  And without them, I wouldn’t be able to learn, grow, and do my job as part of the system that makes up the woman we are.

A woman with masculine and feminine characteristics who is learning to embrace all parts of herself as I learn to accept myself and my part in our system.

Thanks for reading.

I caught my first cold of the season and spent the last two weeks trying to take care of myself.

Between that and cramps, last week felt like an emotional roller coaster.  And the triggers kept piling on themselves.  The voices, the negative self talk, the memory fragments deisgned to shame me into self-harm or reckless behavior, and the pressure of feeling sick without knowing if I was sick or experiencing body memories made for a tiring week.

Emotion regulation is something I struggle with a lot.  When my temper is loosed or my internal defense mechanisms get triggered, the words and tone of voice coming out of my mouth are harsh, blunt, honest, to-the-point, and designed to bring the indiviual’s weakest points or insecurities in his or her face.  The tone of voice deep, loud, and commanding – aka harsh and bitchy to some – and does not take prisoners.

I don’t always remember what I say to people – usually this kind of reaction triggers a switch in alter personalities – in the moment.  But I find out afterwards in dreams and dissociative moments.  I also know this happened by the way people react to me afterwards.  With coldness – silent treatment or the cold shoulder or chilly politness – and insulting rudeness whenever I try to talk to them or they have to talk to me.  And they rale the anger out in smeaky passive-agressive ways like saying one thing and doing something else, spreading nasty rumors, making promises and not keeping them, lying, and trying to blame me for all of it.

That is some of what I have been remembering this past week.

On the flip side, I have also been remembering what my third therapist taught me about these moments:

1) I have a right to feel angry and express myself with assertive/ non-aggressive tone and language that is honest without being mean or insulting.

2) The language I used (my alters recounted my words and sometimes the other individual’s words too) was not inappropriate for the situation.  My tone was not as modulated as I would have liked, but it was not aggressive either.

3) My body language does get confusing because I automatically go into a protective stance that can read as agressive to others.  Plus my aura and energy spikes so I appear larger and stonger than my physical presence suggests.

4) I was taught to hold everything in and then trapped or baited into losing my temper/raging by my abusers as proof to everyone else how mean and unstable I was.  They shamed me and taught me I was uncontrolled and dangerous and abusive and scary for no reason so I couldn’t ever be angry. I couldn’t control the feelings or the words or the violence that came with getting angry for a long time.  And people used it against me because of the obvious guilt and shame every loss induced.

5) I am not the type of person who deliberately is mean or insulting to others.  That comes out as a defensice mechanism to protect myself.  However, I am perceptive and learned how to read people at an early age – survival skill.  That skill comes into play when I lose my temper and put one or more persons in their place.

6) I am not responsible for how other people act or react towards me, but I am responsible for how I act or react to myself and others.  That said, I do step up and try to make amends if I am wrong.

7) Often the people who call me harsh and bitchy are the ones who have crossed my boundaries more than once and did not listen the first, second, or many times I respectfully and politely let them know and reset the boundary.  They don’t like hearing what I have to say or that I won’t take responsibilty for their part in what happened along with my part.  Nor are they happy I caught them in lies, broken promises, and acts of trying to manipulate me.  So they blame me, project on me, and treat me poorly to try and shame me into obeying their rules instead of sticking to my boundaries.

It’s a conundrum because I still don’t really understand the difference between friendly polite and friendly crossing boundaries well.  Small talk is difficult and my opinions, when I give them, are strong.  I also am not very subtle or smooth; I am blunt in my speech.  And I don’t take insults well; in fact I tend to turn them around on the givers and piss them off.

But even know all of this, using emotion regulation coping techniques, realizing that I did not do or say anything shameful, mean, or insulting does not stop me from being triggered and sxperiencing the backlash that comes from expressing my anger and frustration and sadness.

When I get sick, my emotions are all over the place.  My alters get scared.  Do I have to take medicine?  Will I have to go to the doctor?  Am I safe?  How will I tale care of myself?  How will I sleep and rest with everything on my to-do list?  How can I still get everything done to acoid punishment?  Am I really sick or just being lazy like my mom?

And I start to lose control over my emotions and how they are expressed or communicated to others.  That scares all of me because it’s when I am most vulnerable to getting into emotionally dangerous situations.

In spite of all of this, I have discovered that people in my new city tend to have very good or very bad boundaries.  And interacting with them is teaching me a lot.  Especially the people who judge me at face value and then get pissed off because I politely disarm their veiled insults amd condescending attitude by sharing facts and more detailed information to counter their assumptions.  Only one time did that not happen; and I made my point by staring her down and politely refusing to make any purchases or sign up for store promotions.  All I can say is that I will not be going back their to shop.

Thanks for reading tonight’s rant about struggling with emotional distress and emotion regulation. 

Hello,

After a relaxing weekend, I’d like to share a new-to-me resource from Tara Brach.  Her name might or might not have been mentioned before, but I can’t remember.  I really enjoyed her first book about incorporating Buddhist philosophy and meditation practices into coping strategies and techniques without practicing or following Buddhism.  She has many free resources on her website and Facebook feed that I view and look into with my current therapist/counselor.

One practice that caught my eye recently is the acronym RAIN

R = recognize
A = allow
I = investigate
N = non-identification (my therapist uses nurture)

The acronym is a process that helps me learn to identify and cope with any emotions I feel in the moment.  From there, I can learn to step back and accept them without feeling so overwhelmed or wanting to escape from them (good/bad/indifferent I always want to escape in some way).

In our last meeting, my new therapist walked me through the exercise a couple times so that I understood how the process worked.  To be honest, I struggled with it in session and kept forgetting what the acronym meant outside.  One of us would almost get it right.  Then another would try.  Finally, we searched “Tara Brach” and “RAIN” online to get the words right.

Monday and yesterday, I was overwhelmed with feelings.  Probably was not a good idea for me to go to knitting or allow a friend to come over on a holiday when I knew there was a lot of potential for emotional triggers.  But I did it.  And got triggered.  Using the RAIN method helped everyone in our system stay focused during the work day in spite of this sleepy, floating sensation (depression or insomnia) that permeated my mind.

But, instead of the depression and/or insomnia, the alters in trouble figured out the trigger.  Then we all worked together to understand how the trigger (and the sensations it brought up) affected us as individuals and as a whole.  Because we all felt it.  And we all were affected by it.

If you want to learn more about RAIN, I’d recommend starting with this link and then checking out the free audio and video resources on the website.

Thanks for reading.

Dear Readers,

My birthday is on Friday.  I’m turning 34 and excited for that to happen.  As part of my celebration, I’m taking the weekend off from my computer (except to pay bills or anything like that) and giving myself a break from as many mobile devices as possible.

The next post will go up on Wednesday, October 12, 2016.  Not sure about the timing yet, but it will happen before midnight Pacific time.

Thanks for understanding!

AlterXpressions

The more I live in the present and focus on working through recovery, the more I remember my past.  The memories are being unlocked as I learn to work through the pain in my body.

Less pain = more memories recovered

Less pain = more crying and grieving before the letting go process moves on

More pain = less memories and more confusion

More pain = less awareness of my feelings and instincts

Do I want less pain?  Yes.  Do I want to remember what is locked up in my body?  Not really.

Today, after about 3 weeks of acupuncture with the new student and 3 sessions with my new counselor in between sessions with the old one, I can finally put some of the pieces of my childhood and adolescence together.  The recurring dreams that turn into nightmares really did happen.  And those people I remember fighting, they were real friends who became targets for  the monsters controlling my life.  In protecting them, I lost their friendship too.

And other people who could have made decent friends, I had already mastered the art of pushing people away by then.  And it wasn’t safe either way.  No matter where I went, there was always someone who recognized me and spread the rumors behind my back.  Or told someone in my family what I was doing.  And then the harassment (not of me, but of the people who were kind to me) began.  They thought I knew.  But I didn’t.  And instead of talking to me about it, they kicked me out of their lives and avoided me.

Living a double life is not fun.  Being drugged into not remembering that other life completely sucks.  And when the truth hits, the sensation is overwhelming.  The tears fall until no one wants to cry any more.  The movie reels start.  And suddenly, I can see my friends and any family members involved as they were back when we were children.  I hear their voices.  And the memories come flooding back.

The big difference here is that no one tries to stop the flood.  We all sit back in our comfy chairs and watch the memories go by.  From our safe bubble, the memories surround us.  But they don’t hurt us anymore.  Our bubble can float to the surface, bounce from wave to wave, and coast along the flow of movement instead of being drowned.

And the memories tell me that I can’t trust anyone.  I can’t make friends because those friends might be targeted as employees(sex trafficking), members (of the cult), or clients (for drugs and other illegal stuff).  Or they and their families will have to suffer being harassed and stalked and manipulated by my parents and the other people who owned me.

So yea, I and my alters, we all feel kind of sad and depressed today.  People often wonder why I don’t pursue leadership jobs and more social activities.  How can I tell them why that kind of job doesn’t work for me?  That I am afraid to be noticed because the monsters will hurt me again?  Or hurt the people around me.  How can I tell them that I survived by staying below the radar instead of taking charge and being more independent?  How can I say that I am ashamed of my intelligence and skills so have a hard time displaying them in public and around strangers who might not actually be strangers?

Thanks for reading.

A couple weeks ago, I went to the dentist for the first time in over 10 years.  I was so scared that I shook on my way to the dentist’s office.  It turned out to be a very pleasant interaction.  I left feeling excited and hopeful for the first time in a long time.  I even bought a new tooth brush.

Well, I did not start brushing right away.  That felt like too much at first.  All I and my alters wanted was to relax and cope with the backlash and triggers of going to a dentist before anything else.  But Monday brought a surprise, and the brushing began again.  This time with a new toothbrush head (we all really love the type with disposable toothbrush heads instead of having to buy a new toothbrush every few months) and the recommended toothpaste.

The dentist suggested starting with 1x a day brushing and see how that works.  She also said be very gentle and brush downwards over the surfaces to remove plaque; nothing else for now.

Today is the 7th day in a row that we have brushed our teeth 1x a day without serious side effects or an increase in symptoms.

I still can’t look at my teeth.  Neither can the alters.  Nor can any of us watch the brushing take place.  We set everything up and  then brush with eyes closed.  Not until the toothbrush is out of our mouth and we are ready to spit/rinse do our eyes open.  And only because no one wants to miss the sink and clean up the mess.

This accomplishment has led to many other small steps being completed since the last post.  And has helped counterbalance the negative experience from last Wednesday.

What small steps can you celebrate?

Thanks for reading!