Archives for the month of: November, 2016

At least three times every year, I think about what life would be like if I got a companion, a pet cat or dog.  And each time, I get flashbacks to all of my “failures” in trying to care for myself and a pet.  Money is a big factor.  Nutrition, grooming, and physical activity are also factors.  I’ve convinced myself that I can’t successfully adopt a pet because of my limitations in being able to do basic cleaning, exercise, and home care for myself let alone another living being dependent on my being able to clean a litter box, clean up messes, prepare food, play with, leave alone for self-play, take on walks, and so on.

But the truth is I am scared.  As much as I want to have a companion, I am afraid I won’t be able to properly care for him or her.  Then the companion will die/disappear/get sick or injured because of my inadequacy and inferiority.  I won’t be able to keep my companion safe or trust my companion in my space unsupervised or discipline said companion without causing harm or getting physically hurt by the animal.  I don’t trust myself or the lessons I’ve learned about being a caretaker to do this alone.

And who would be willing to guide and teach me and be patient with the questions I have the fears that manifest when I have someone or something new in my environment that is out of my control?  And who can help both of us learn to trust the other when the dogs and cats can sense when I switch personalities.  And the switch scares most dogs and cats I come into contact with.  Personal experience talking there.

These thoughts and fears come up now because my Christmas wish has been the same for the last 20 years or so: to have someone or something in my life who loves me unconditionally, a companion to watch movies with, cuddle with, play with, and just be around sharing space while also being independent enough to understand and require alone time.  A cat or a dog sounds great right?

But right now, as much as I want a companion, I want to learn to sew and start graduate school more.  A busy lifestyle and a companion plus dealing with recovery issues make life very complicated.

I hope that someday my parts and I will feel very comfortable with each other and our self as a whole so that we can have at least one companion.  No one is ready for human roommates now (or maybe ever), so this would be the compromise.

Thanks for reading.

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Yesterday was difficult.  I had to work hard to concentrate on finishing work and projects for the week while my mind swirled with memories and feelings.

Today was difficult because I talked with my cousin about future plans.  Plans that recalled memories and experiences that were hidden for a long time.  Memories and experiences I would have thought were hallucinations or nightmares or deja vu before I started therapy with a trauma specialist.

Now, I’m trying to reconcile that secret life with my other life, the one I lived in broad daylight, and my current life.  The nerd, the warrior, the woman who is both.  The “good girl”, the “rebel”, the woman who defies labels.  The fighter/the runner.  The raging monster who hurts people/the defender who can’t stand to see herself or others crushed under the pain of being put down all the time.

A good girl doesn’t do drugs, smoke, drink while underage, have sex without a commitment, listen to certain kinds of music, steal, etc.  I don’t and never have stolen anything.  As for the rest, it wasn’t voluntary.  But I did all of those things before I hit puberty.  Does that make me a bad girl?  Or a rebel?  And does choosing not to smoke or use drugs or have sex anymore once I could make my own choices make me a born-again virgin or good girl?  Does being able to fight make me tough?  Does being a pacifist make me a coward?  Does having a temper make me a monster?  Does not having control over my body make me weak?  Am I crazy because I feel so conflicted?

I want my body back.  My body wants me back.  All parts of me want to be physically active again.  We want to be able to fight in the daylight and use our nerd skills in the shadows.  And combine everything to combat the darkness threatening to pull us under.  I want to stop using food to hurt myself.  I want to stop using people to hurt myself.  I want to start exploring my true likes and dislikes.  I want to finish my projects so that my obligations are fulfilled and I can move on.

More than anything else, I want my secret life to shine in the light, unhidden and acknowledged with pride instead of shame.  My parts and I, we did what was necessary to survive.  We accomplished incredible feats together.  And those parts of me deserve the acceptance, respect, honor, compassion, trust, and welcoming that was refused to them before.  What they did kept us alive; taught us skills we needed to get through high school and college; helped us stay on track when the depression and suicidal thoughts tried to get us killed; and cut through the bullshit of family pressure and denial to keep us safe as adults.

And now that I’ve reconciled with one side of my family, the other side is hopeful that I might reconcile with them too.  But the relationships between me and each side of my family is different.  My experiences with them are different.  I am still so mad at some of my aunts, uncles, and cousins that I honestly don’t think I can speak with them again without letting the hurt loose on them.  I forgave those people when I forgave myself years ago.  I understand why they said and did what they said and did back then.  But I don’t want that in my life now either.

And there’s no guarantee that walking back into the fire will  have a different outcome.  That those family members have changed their opinions of me and will treat me differently.  Or that they are trustworthy to keep my secrets.

And that is the origin of my trust issues.  I am suspicious of everyone except the few people who have proven themselves to me.  Letting people in is difficult.  Balancing my need for solitude and privacy with socializing and valuing connections with people gives me a headache too.

So I am conflicted.  I am confused.  I am grieving.  And I feel so much that sometimes I go numb.  And when the dam bursts, my feelings explode.  And there are consequences to that too.

What happens next is anyone’s guess.  Thanks for your patience and for reading my post.

I wanted to share a story about how recovering memories and reconciling a secret or hidden life with the open/or unhidden one affects all of us in the system, but cannot today.

A lot happened over the weekend, and I/we are still processing everything.  I have a lot of decisions that could negatively effect safety, recovery, and life balance by mid-December.  And everyone in the system requires time to process the information, think about our choices, share an opinion, participate in the discussion, and help make the final decisions.

My goal is to write a post for Wednesday and Sunday coming up, but please bear with me if that does not come to pass.  Right now, self-care and being kind to myself takes priority over almost everything except work and taking care of basic needs (food, bills, etc.)

Thanks for reading and understanding.

Sorry I am late.  Yesterday was rough, and I spent most of it working on self-care.

Acceptance Commitment Therapy or ACT is new to me.  What is so hard about ACT?  Doing the opposite of what I’ve learned to cope with feelings.  There’s more to it, but my learning curve is just starting.

Instead, I’m going to provide a link to a reputable source: Good Therapy (www.goodtherapy.org) and let you discover the information on your own.

Beyond that, I’m finding a lot of comfort in gratitude practice lately.  One thing I am most grateful for is the guests who visit here and inspire me to keep on going.

Thanks for reading

In other posts I’ve talked about how difficult watching my body change is for everyone in the system.  Every part of me (including my body as it is an alter personality) struggles with the sensations that signal memories, trauma, illness, or healing as body parts change in:
texture (firm/soft/squishy/hard/bumpy/smooth), size (grow/shrink/expand/contract), color (red/pale/yellow/green/blotchy/tan/normal), and shape.

Right now, my biggest concerns are related to physical pain, recovering memories that trigger changes in my body, coping with both memories and pain, and understanding how to improve my lifestyle (diet and exercise and self-care) to accommodate these changes.

  • Four months into my new home, and I’ve had to face some hard facts:
  • Internal healing means my body mass is shifting even if I’m not actually gaining or losing weight
  • I’m doing slightly more exercise than I used to and using different muscle groups because of the layout in my new apartment.
  • More and different exercise means more calories burned and clothes fitting differently
  • The weather here is milder, but still cool in autumn.  More clouds, less sun equal vitamin D supplements and maybe others too to help with fatigue and other deficiency-related issues.
  • The spinal pain, abdominal pain, persistent cold that won’t go away, bloating around my middle and other odd places, and sinus pressure are all related to my current food choices and lowered levels of activity.

How did I learn this?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) including acupuncture and gua sha (type of massage) treatments with a student and supervising practitioner who have been helping me pinpoint where and how the pain manifests to find a root cause.

In TCM terminology, I have a persistent dampness and some heat causing circulation problems with my qi.  That means:

  • I’m having trouble digesting food and getting nutrition
  • I’m having trouble eliminating toxins in my body
  • This is causing sinus pressure, swelling, fatigue, lack of appetite, headaches, stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, mucus/phlegm buildup and so on.
  • It’s also causing the swelling around my spine and abdominal area to increase/decrease depending on what I eat, how much, and when.
  • Acupressure (massaging points related to those problems), dietary changes, and moving around more along with my regular acupuncture treatments will help in the long term
  • The process is slow

Why this is triggering

When I started nutrition therapy, I was eating mostly vegetarian/vegan style because meat products (chicken, beef, eggs, etc.) were too difficult to digest and made me feel sick/not hungry, etc.  But I wasn’t getting enough nutrients at the time.  And I was mostly making this decision from anxiety.  Eating food my family enjoyed triggered lots of anxiety and made eating/digesting food that much harder.

Since then, I’ve become adventurous about food again.  I’ve faced and conquered many of my food-related fears and enjoy trying new foods.  My alters have also faced many food fears and learned to enjoy eating, cooking, shopping, and preparing food.  The cleaning and storage parts are still difficult, but that’s another topic for a different post.  Part of that facing fear was eating different kinds of meat and dairy products again.

Another part was recognizing my cravings and urges to eat or not eat certain foods as triggers and anxiety reactions to hurt/punish myself instead of nourish myself.  And as the memories come back, I’ve been indulging in those foods while ignoring how they make me feel – sick, tired, heavy, low energy.  But eating the food reminds me of happy  times with my uncle and father’s side of the family.

But lately, I’ve been frustrated about my food choices.  Not interested in eating anything really.  Not interested in cooking either.

So when the practitioner told me she could see and feel the physical symptoms of dampness in my body, I decided it was time to make some changes along with regular treatments.  I’m going to try eating more plant based/whole foods style.  When I get a craving for chocolate or dairy or meat, I will pay extra to buy and use one of the substitutes instead.  Instead of buying pre-made juices and hot chocolate, I will experiment with making my own from spices and herbs that are beneficial and can be easily included in those drinks with a blender.

And when I feel like eating a meat product or dairy and my body is feeling healthy again, I will eat a little bit and see what happens next.  If I feel okay still, I will continue to add small amounts.  If I feel bad, I will continue to make alternative choices.

So what do you think?  Is this a good trial?

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

This post IS NOT about judgement or defending my choices.  It’s about the complexity of a dilemma that comes every four years in this country.

Every four years, I face a dilemma.  Do I register to vote or not?  And if I register, do I vote or not?

Since I turned 18, I’ve voted 3-4 times in my life.  Election years always happened during times I was moving from one county to another and had to register again.  Or the voting booths were in locations I couldn’t get to without a car.

When I joined the address confidentiality program in 2014, I was told not to register my new address with the USPS or register to vote.

Not because they didn’t want me to vote or be able to get mail delivered to my home.

Because both registrations put my information on public record.  An official public record that can be accessed by anyone in the US or other foreign country by computer or a specific set of forms; shared or sold to other people for direct mail marketing and other purposes; and leaves me vulnerable to being found by the people I’m hiding from.

Yes, I said it.  I am hiding from my parents, my brother, my mother’s side of the family, people from that community I was raised with/went to school with, and many of the other predators/abusers in my past who I don’t remember or recognize, but who remember and recognize me.

Yes, I changed my name.  Yes, I joined a program that kept them from finding my address and location before.  That didn’t stop former classmates from high school and college from recognizing me and harassing me.  That didn’t stop my cousins and their friends from trying to verbally abuse me in public.  That didn’t stop my brother’s friends from doing all of the above before I moved.

I left the address confidentiality program when I moved across the country.  I did not register my new address with the USPS because this apartment is a “starter” place – i.e. not sure if I’m staying or not for the long term.

I planned on registering to vote.  I filled out the form and sealed it.  But then I stopped before applying the stamp.  And I hid the registration.

Because I got scared.  And I didn’t like any of the candidates.

In some of my Facebook and other groups, I nominally supported Hillary Clinton.  That came because I could not intentionally support a man who promotes and condones racism and abuse of any kind.

As I followed the campaign (sort of), the flashbacks got worse.  The fears increased.  My body reacted negatively to any thought of sending in that voter registration.

I couldn’t do it.

So here’s my dilemma: Do I be a responsible American citizen and vote?  Or do I keep myself safe and protected by not putting my name and information on public record?

And 4 years from now, I will face this moment again.  New candidates, same kind of attitudes.  Will I register or not?  I guess that depends on how safe I feel because self care is more important to me than upholding a country’s ideals right now.

Thanks for reading.

Fear keeps me awake.  Anxiety disturbs my thinking processes/cognitive ability.  Adrenaline gives an energy boost until the crash.

But anger???  Anger does two things:

  1. In the moment, I feel like I could take on a legion of warriors and win.  Energy is swirling around me and adding strength to my muscles.  Not so much aggression (although it looks like that to most outsiders) as battle-readiness
  2. After that, or if the anger lasts a long time, I feel exhausted.  Instead of waking up ready to take on the day, eating or doing chores, or enjoying myself with people and hobbies, I feel sleepy.  And if I don’t listen and sleep, I start to feel sleep deprivation even though I am not sleep deprived.

Why talk about it now?  Because I don’t want to feel tired when I am this angry.  I want to find a safe way to let it out so that my body/mind/spirit can feel some relief.  I want to listen and attend to the needs of my physical self through exercise, and yes, a punching bag or some kind of activity that involves self-defense/fighting.

Growing up, I didn’t like sparring, but I also didn’t fear it.  Sparring taught me a lot and helped me feel confident I could protect myself.  Not until the teachers and classmates started criticizing and humiliating me on purpose did I start to fear classes.  And when the flashbacks started in college, I couldn’t stop the rage from taking over and making me more aggressive during sparring and practice sessions.  Something that did not go over well with my teacher, younger brother, friends, or other classmates.

Eventually, I got so scared of hurting someone that I stopped all together.  When you can’t tell what’s real and what’s not, it’s hard to feel in control and able to spar without hurting someone.  And when everyone around you is talking about you behind your back and watching you like you’re going to “lose it” and hurt someone, you just want to get out and leave.  Or at least, we felt that way.

I want to not be afraid of going into the “zone” of rage and dissociation whenever I feel angry or scared.  I’d like those parts of me to come out into the light and be an active part of our system.  I am proud of them.  The other parts in our system are proud of them.  We want to feel what they feel when they defend us.  We want to participate in learning self-defense and protection.  We want them to be able to use our body and experience the endorphins and happiness that comes from physical activity too.

But enough of that for now.  I am tired.  My parts are tired.  Yesterday at therapy was intense.  And the self care we did after our morning session was even more tiring.  So a nap is in order for now.  Then following up on our new routine and some more self-care to get ready for work tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

This is (for me) a short post.  500 words or less including these sentences.

Any kind of abuse makes trust difficult.  Being surrounded by people not your age during childhood and adolescence makes connecting with peers difficult.  Being abused by teens and adults makes connecting with older people difficult.  Being bullied by peers and younger people makes socializing and putting myself “out there” difficult.

Can you see the connections?

When I moved to the new city, I planned on making acquaintances – people to chat with and talk to in every day life – but not friends for the first year or so.  Socializing is not high on my list of priorities.

Safety, solitude, learning the city and how people here interact are my priorities.
Someday, I plan to make friends, go out more, socialize and interact.
Someday, I will go out more and stay home less.
Someday, I will feel confident about interacting with people.

But not today.  And not tomorrow.

The few friends I have, the few people I do know here are wonderful people.  They have established routines and friendships and social circles.  Through them, I meet a variety of people and opportunities to participate in events that would not have been on my radar even a month ago.

So why reflect on this now?

The topic of friends and “knowing” people came up recently in a conversation.  I call 1 person friend here and have met members of her family; people I am slowly including in my circle.  These people I go out with and socialize with a few times a month.  The other person lives here part time, so we will meet up when she gets back.

I guess I didn’t expect the person who told me to invite “my other friends” to the public event to be surprised when I said that I only know him and his wife.  It’s been about 3 or 4 months since I moved here.  But he was surprised.  And I didn’t feel like explaining my lack of friends at the time.

Before anything else, though, I want to feel safe and comfortable in my neighborhood.  I want to feel like I belong and am part of the community before opening myself up.  But, most important, I want to be able to walk outside, talk with a variety of different people, and pass by people without feeling the prickles of dissociative anxiety coming on.

I still feel scared right now.  The memories come fast and furious.  Too many new things all at once.  And a schedule that’s not a schedule.

So, routine first.  Socializing next.  Then, maybe, friendships later.

Thanks for reading.