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Dental work update

My dental surgery (officially called dental rehabilitation) went well.  Mouth and lips are still swollen and a little sore, but nothing terrible.  I’ve only had to take 2 pain pills between Monday and Tuesday.  The most important thing is taking my antibiotics and following the mouth cleaning instructions.

I’m really happy this happened in May.  Too many of my past medical and dental traumatic experiences occurred between March and May.  The body memories and flashbacks increase and everything goes haywire.  If you visit often, you might have noticed this.

By June, I’m back in crisis care mode – trying to come out of the black hole and “fix” the damage from the last few months.  One thing that always flares up is my book addiction.

Yes, I admit it.  I am addicted to reading and purchasing books.  If I could, I’d have a whole room in my house dedicated to my collection.  As it happens, I recently switched to an electronic book library because of all the moves.  Hopefully, my next one will be the last for a while.  Then I can bring my paper books home where they belong.

So what does all of this have to do with re-defining the past?

Simple.

The goal is to substitute negative experiences with positive ones.  This dental surgery went really well.  All of us in the system cooperated.  No one woke up in the middle of the surgery.  No one has gotten really sick or nauseous from the medication.  Other than the swollen lips and jaw, I look relatively normal and feel pretty good.

The landscape inside my mouth has changed.  It feels good and right to have the bits and pieces (i.e. teeth) that were causing trouble finally gone.  And maybe, just maybe, all of us will be able to “start fresh” with dental hygiene.  No more loss of teeth.  No more cavities.  Actually have a healthy mouth and be able to brush/floss/rinse with mouth wash without flashbacks and body memories.

That’s the goal.

And the care routine the dentist has me on brings me one step closer to creating a routine that doesn’t feel like an addiction or a habit.  Instead, it becomes part of my self care regimen.

Yes, I’m playing with semantics (word meaning) here, but sometimes the minor differences mean a lot.  “Regimen” has positive associations for me.  “Routine” or “habit” have negative associations.

So how else do I cope with the body memories and flashbacks?  Especially when I refuse to self-harm anymore and nothing else is working?

I book binge.

Buy books.  Purge books from personal collection.  Borrow books from library.

And read.

Read lots of books whenever I have a moment of free time.  Spend weekends reading – eating, drinking, sleeping optional – and reading.

I speed read certain types of books.  Others take more time until I learn the author’s rhythm.  Or the professional/academic writing style.  Then I can read it faster.

How is Book Binge different from Reading?

Reading for pleasure and education as a hobby is great.  It’s relaxing and distracting and fun.  I get caught up in the world building and the characters, but I can stop at a reasonable time and sleep.

Reading as an obsession or compulsion to relieve anxiety – not so great.  I worry about buying/borrowing the book.  I worry about starting the book.  I can’t wait to finish and skip to the end; then go back and read the rest of the book (sometimes).  I can’t stop reading even when I’m tired and have to work.

Buying books from favorite authors to re-read when I have the money – great use of my discretionary funds.

Buying books from a variety of authors I like, but don’t love, and may never read again to relieve anxiety – not so great and puts me in debt I can’t afford or crowds an overcrowded apartment.

Conclusion

I’m hoping this dental procedure helps re-define a really bad month of flashbacks and body memories by giving me something good to think about and work with when the darkness feels overwhelming.

And maybe by working on this routine, I will feel less compelled to hide inside books.  I will be able to do something besides immerse myself in fantasy worlds created by amazing authors.

And when nothing in my library or the public library holds my attention (I’ve read or re-read the books too many times in the recent past), I can find something else to do besides buy books and finish them in the same day.  Luckily, Amazon.com has an excellent return policy.

How do you re-define your past so it doesn’t affect the present so much?

Thanks for reading

There are times when I feel so sick that I can’t bring myself to eat.

It’s not that I don’t want to eat.  Or that the alters don’t want to eat.  Solid foods are just plain unappealing and hard to digest.  Drinking my food is an option. Soup usually does the trick.  Something savory and a little sour helps clear many things up.  Other times a smoothie or juice with pulp does the trick.

Only thing is, I don’t the texture or flavor of many pre-made soups and smoothies.  Nor do I appreciate the cost per drink/soup or the ingredients in the most commonly available options.   They have a hard time meeting my personal requirements

  • Pleases my senses: taste/smell/texture
  • Ingredients
  • Cost per item (I am frugal)
  • Ease of access (delivery, grocery stores, pick up, storage, make it myself?)

So I started creating my own recipes for homemade drinks, soups, and smoothies.  They are nutritionally dense, tasty, smell good, easy to make with a few key tools, and require easy to find ingredients.

Today, I thought I’d share some of my favorite recipes with options:

Basic Green Smoothie:

Ingredients

  • High powered blender with or without a smoothie option
  • 8 ounces of water, milk, or non-dairy milk (almond is my favorite)
  • 1 handful (or more) of leafy green vegetables – spinach and lettuce do not add to or change the flavor of your smoothie
  • 1 Apple cut into chunks (size depends on power of your blender)
  • 1/2 of a 10 oz bag of frozen mixed berries
  • 4 ounces (approx 1/4 container) of silken tofu

 

Cooking Instructions:

  • Add ingredients to the blender in this order: liquids, cut fresh fruit, leafy green vegetables, ground/powdered ingredients & seeds, frozen fruit or ice.
  • Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides or push down ingredients between blending as needed
  • If the blender gets too full, start blending the liquids and fruit first.  Then slowly add in the rest of the ingredients until fully mixed.
  • Makes between 1-2 (up to 3) servings

Extra Info:

  • Optional ingredients: 1 tsp of ground flaxseed, chia seeds, sesame seeds, etc. for extra vitamins/minerals/fiber
  • Alternative ingredients A: add banana, avocado, yogurt, or ice to thicken the smoothie.  Or add less liquids
  • Alternative ingredients B: can substitute any apples and mixed berries for any fruits.  Can substitute almond milk for any other liquids.
  • Alternative ingredients C: I don’t recommend meat or eggs for protein.  Whey and soy proteins have a weird aftertaste.  I’m not vegan or vegetarian, but there are affordable, neutral tasting protein powders that work great in smoothies

Rice porridge aka congee in a slow cooker:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of white rice
  • 8 – 12 cups of liquid (vegetable-based or meat-based broth)
  • 2 stalks of green onions chopped fine
  • 1 lb of marinated protein (seafood, fish, chicken, pork, tofu, etc.) chopped or diced into medium-sized pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon of grated or sliced fresh ginger (or 1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger)
  • Add ins: sesame seeds, peanuts or other nuts, mushrooms, sliced vegetables, salt to taste

Cooking Instructions:

  • Add the rice, broth, meat/protein, ginger, & half of the green onions to the slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Rice will look like a thick soup and take on color of broth.
  • Ladle the soup into individual serving bowls.  Add sesame seeds, mushrooms, vegetables, and fresh green onions on top and serve.

Extra Info:

  • I prefer to mix everything together and then eat, but it’s a personal preference.
  • some people cook the meat, fish, or other protein separately and add in just before serving**
  • I am lazy and often throw everything into the slow cooker at the same time.  It tastes just as good, but veggies tend to lose their crispness and meat can taste overcooked.***

Hot flavored water (makes individual servings):

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz mug or larger
  • Water of choice (I use tap)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of Honey (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice or 1/4 wedge of fresh lemon
  • Frozen or fresh fruit of choice (I tend to use frozen berries, mango, cherries, or pineapple)

Cooking Instructions:

  • Add honey or lemon to cup
  • Add frozen fruit to cup (fill 1/4 of cup max.)
  • Boil 6-8 ounces of water
    • Electric kettle needs a minimum of 2 cups
    • Boil water on stove top and pour into cup
  • Pour hot water into the cup and mix with honey/lemon/fruit.  Let cool down and enjoy
  • Pour water in cup and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes.  Or use the beverage option.  Take out and mix honey/lemon juice/fruit with water.

Extra Info:

  • Microwave option A:  Add honey or lemon or both and water to cup; microwave on high for 2-3 minutes; take out and mix
  • Microwave option B:  Add frozen fruit and water to cup; microwave on high for 3-4 minutes; take out and mix
  • For multiple servings: Bring water (best to use 4 cups min.) to a boil in medium-sized pot.  Add ingredients to taste.  Bring back to a boil, stirring lightly, until water changes color or flavors mix.  Turn off heat and pour into mugs.
    • If you prefer a drink without pulp, separate liquid from pulp using a strainer.
    • The pulp is great in smoothies, fruit bread, muffins, etc.

 

I hope the recipes, if you try them, bring you as much comfort as they do me.

 

Thanks for reading.

Dear Mom,

I love you.  I hate you.  I feel sorry for you, for me, and for all we didn’t have as a mother and daughter.  Sometimes I think I miss you.  Other times I feel shame that I don’t miss you.

But I’m happy we are not in each other’s lives anymore.  I needed to find myself.  And you needed to do the same.  Me in your life just brought back stuff you didn’t want to deal with.  You in my life kept me from finding my confidence and truly living.

But you also did something I didn’t fully appreciate until after I moved out of state and started remembering my childhood.  You left me with monsters – pedophiles, rapists, cults, drug traffickers and dealers – when you didn’t want me around.  The monsters paid you and compensated you with other perks that made you happy once in a while.

But those monsters also raised me into the woman I am now.  They taught me life skills and survival skills.  They taught me how to protect myself and identify lies as they are told to me.  Most important, they taught me how to survive anything with intelligence, patience, and resilience.

Living with you, taking care of you from childhood into adulthood taught me other important skills.  Not all of them good or bad, but extremely useful in dealing with the bullies, pushy relatives, and generally mean people.  If you hadn’t been so abusive and neglectful, if you hadn’t told lies that convinced others to treat me like a lying pariah for most of my life, and if you hadn’t tried to control me by destroying my sense of self, I might not have learned how to be independent and self-reliant.

So maybe I am a suspicious and skeptical person when it comes to trusting people.  Maybe I keep most everyone at a distance and only let in so many people at a time.  And maybe I lack confidence in socializing and communicating because I spent so much of my life quiet and silent.

But I am the woman I am today because of you.  I am smart, strong, resilient, caring, empathetic, creative, confident, sometimes rebellious, assertive, respectful of others, and able to stick to my values.  You taught me to fight for what I believe in and speak up even when I’m going to get in trouble.  Sometimes honesty and persistence turn people away.  And plain speaking can make other people uncomfortable.

All of that is okay as long as I stick to being me instead of pretending to be something or someone I’m not.  In trying to make me your creation, you taught me how to preserve my sense of self even when times were darkest.  In turning everyone against me, you taught me that I didn’t need other people (or their approval) to be happy and fulfilled.

So thanks for being the mom you were.  I love you sometimes.  I hate you other times.  And I wish you can find the happiness you’ve been searching for someday.

Love,

Your daughter

Today is my brother’s birthday.  Yesterday was a blood relative’s birthday.  Over the weekend was another relative’s birthday.  This weekend is Mother’s day.  Next week is two more family birthdays.

The memories are strong this week.  So are the physical symptoms that come with my PTSD.  Strange how my alters and I experience our physical changes both together and separately.

Yesterday, I realized that crying makes me sneeze and look like I’m having an allergy attack.  My nose drips constantly, and I’m always sneezing or cleaning up.  My eyes get red and itch, but hardly any tears come out.  The headaches and muscle aches get worse.  It makes me feel sick to my stomach and scared because I don’t know how to make it stop.

And that happens because my alters are crying, not me.  And they weren’t allowed to cry as children or teens.  But they were allowed to sneeze and look like they had allergy attacks.  So I sneezed and so on all day yesterday and a few times earlier in the week.

It’s been so long since I truly cried that I forgot the physical sensations associated with crying – pressure around my nose and eyes, drippy noes, red/swollen eyes, feeling clogged up, having to mouth breathe, and constant sneezing – since I obviously am not lady-like when I cry.  And neither are my alters.

But why the tears?  My therapist and I are working on ways to express anger and other feelings in healthy ways.  And people often tell me that crying can relieve pressure/tension and have many different meanings.  Tears are not weakness either.  So maybe everyone needed an outlet and couldn’t think of anything else to express all of the anger, fear, shame, hurt, guilt, and sadness of the memories.

Either way, the tears opened up a path for my alters to finally confront the worst memories and feelings that tear us up during the month of May.

I thought they all had to do with my parents, my brother, my relatives and how they treated me.  But it’s more than that:

  • Senior prom/prom queen nomination
    • I didn’t want to go, didn’t understand why my mother and brother forced me to go, didn’t understand why suddenly so many classmates who tolerated and ignored me now hated me, until yesterday.  Why was I nominated for prom queen?  I wasn’t popular.  I didn’t have the best GPA.  I didn’t participate in many school activities.  Maybe someday the reasons will come back.
  • High School graduation
  • College graduation
  • The end of 2 cults
  • The end of a combined pedophile/human trafficking porn ring
  • Injuries and “secret” ER visits to get treated, but not completely fixed
  • The secret life changing into something positive, but still a secret because hardly legal or legitimate
  • Seemingly conscious choices in the “public” life that were not
  • Finally understanding why my body hurts so much in so many places and potentially how to fix the related problems

Downside – I’m really tired and kind of distracted.  My alters are also distracted and feeling scared.  Scared equals angry.  Angry means an unstable temper no matter who is in charge.

And an unstable temper creates more feelings of fear that turns into feelings of anger.

I feel like this anger is different from other anger that we’ve experienced.  With this anger surfacing, the vault opens more.  Memories show up.  Feelings flow through us.  We alters can connect with each other more.

So while I/we are so upset and scared about the instability of these feelings right now, most of us are also happy about the change.  It means all of us are moving forward again.  And we can look back without the pain of shame and guilt distorting our perspective to find a more objective understanding of the past.

So while my brother tried his hardest to make me feel useless, crazy, invisible, and worthless before I left home, I still wish him a happy birthday.  Same for my other relatives – the ones who I miss so much my heart hurts and the ones I alternately love and hate.

Thanks for reading

 

This is NOT a series of part 1, etc. in order.  Like other categories I will share posts as they come to me.

DISCLAIMER: What you read here is my personal experience – as an individual, as a system of alter personalities, and as separate alter personalities.  There are my and my alters’ thoughts, impressions, and experiences about how anger affects our mind, spirit and body.  This IS NOT from a perspective of a therapist, counselor, or other professional who has helped in the past.   Any information I share here is based on what I learned from them, but the words, thoughts, feelings, etc. ARE MY PERSPECTIVE AND OPINION.

Besides shame, anger has been a major force in my life.  It causes me to go into rages sometimes.  Rages where I don’t remember anything that happened until my mind clears and I am grounded in my body again.  Rags where people (including me) get hurt.

It’s one of the main reasons I fear physical contact and normal social interactions with others.  Before therapy, and not even until the last 2-3 years, I thought I was a monster who abused other people when they made me angry – it was like my evil twin broke free once my mind overloaded.

But only 2 emotions trigger this kind of rage: fear and protectiveness (aka survival instinct)

As an adult whose been in therapy for more than 10 years, I can cope with and express anger in safe and healthy ways.  So can the adult alters who participated in this journey with me.

But the others can’t, not yet.  This is what happens in order

  • Issue number 1: any feelings of present anger trigger past anger.
  • Issue number 2: past anger can overwhelm, trigger, and throw me into a flashback so that I am not reacting to the present anymore
  • Issue number 3: I can’t always tell when Issue number 2 occurs
  • Issue number 4: If the anger is strong enough, it sets off my survival instincts or fear response – freeze/flight/fight/faint
  • Issue number 5: Once issue number 4 happens: I dissociate and whoever is best able to handle the threat takes over
  • Issue number 6: I still struggle with finding a healthy way to express anger so that the other issues don’t happen.

These are the consequences of my denial and repression over t he years:

  • physical illness – the digestive issues, the sinus pressure, the pain in my body, the tiredness from having to cope with so much going on inside
  • Emotional Stress – anger denied layers feelings of fear, shame, guilt, rage, and confusion over the memories, distorting them and making the recovery slower
  • Emotional Stress – anger repressed comes out as resentment, envy, frustration, jealousy, depression, and the urge to self-harm
  • Spiritual Stress – questioning myself as a good person, questioning my values, questioning my purpose in life, questioning whether or not I deserve to be alive
  • Physical Stress – my immune system suffers, my mobility suffers, my stamina suffers so  that useful activities can’t be accomplished

My alters and I are learning how to let go of and ride the feelings of anger as they come.  But even that learning curve is exhausting.  One alter thought maybe our guests could relate, so we are sharing some of our experiences, trials, and errors here with the hope that the information helps someone else too.

Thanks for reading

andywarhol109768

Wednesday passed in a blur.  I felt so tired that I fell asleep early.  And most of the day was full of distractions.  I didn’t have time to look for a quote or affirmation that suited this post until today.  That’s what happens with a major schedule change.

Many people have negative beliefs about change.  They think change is too hard to accomplish or not worth doing.  Or maybe people can’t change.

Another common belief is that others need to change, but not the individual asking others to change.  Or that people can change other people.

What I’ve learned:

  • Change happens.
  • Change is hard – the realization; the acceptance; the choices; the consequences
  • People can’t change other people, not permanently and not without causing serious harm.
  • People can and do change themselves.  They have to want to change in order for the changes to stick.
  • Influence, persuasion, and coercion are not the same as change.
  • If someone mentions dogs, horses, or trained circus animals,  I will tell you this: dogs change, follow and obey because they want to please their humans; horses are the same; trained circus animals in the past changed or obeyed to avoid pain and punishment.  It’s a choice – change for a positive or negative reason
  • Change is inevitable – sometimes people recognize it, but most times no one really notices until some experience forces awareness.
  • I’d rather be in control of my life, it’s changes, and the direction I choose to follow
  • Recovery is all about change – internal and external for the individual on the path

Surviving at any cost means changing and adapting to the circumstances of life.  It means making choices and following through on them; then living with the consequences later.  The consequences can be what triggers a mental health issue.  Like when I think of all of the mean, negative things I had to say and do to other people, people I cared about, as a child/teen/young adult I feel incredible shame and guilt.

But then I step back and ask myself if I would change anything.  Or if being kind and nice and positive then would have helped me survive?  And the answer is: no, I wouldn’t change my past words and actions.  Being positive or kind or nice back then wouldn’t have helped me or anyone else around me.

People who hate change or won’t/can’t accept it will cause people who are changing a lot of trouble.  Relationships will get stronger, may crumble, or something else?  Many of mine crumbled and died.  Others got stronger.  And new relationships were forged.  I found a family and real friends – not something I could ever have or cherish if I had stayed on the other path.

How do you feel about change?  Do you fight it?  Do you accept it?  Do you struggle in a different way?

All I know is that recovery and resilience get easier if you can embrace, not just accept, change and make change work for you instead of against you.

Thanks for reading.

 

Spring triggers

End of April brings out my “allergies” and many head colds.  My sleeping patterns and eating habits change too.  Beginning of May equals many family birthdays and Mother’s Day combined with Memorial Day and end of spring semester in college.  Dissociation is common.  Nightmares get worse.  The usual stuff.

Here, though, the sun rises around 7:00 AM and sets around 8:00 PM.  I can sleep late on weekends and still have plenty of time to go out for a walk in the sun.  Taking the trash and recycling out feels like less of a chore and more of a task on my to-do list.  With the weather in the high 40s or 50s (Fahrenheit), my big window can stay open while my loft remains warm and cozy.  Love fresh air.

A new pillow

Pillows have been a burden for many years.  Between chemical sensitivities and night sweats, I have yet to find a pillow that lasts more than a year or two.  Even the wool-filled ones from the last few years flattened out and stopped being supportive.  It’s hard to get comfortable and stay asleep, especially when the night sweats manifest.

But this weekend I found a new alternative.  There’s a local store that specializes in chemical free, natural & home furniture and bedding.   Last night, I slept easier and longer than I have in a while.  Not exactly nightmare free, but also not a night filled with bad dreams and sweat waking me up.  I hope investing in a new pillow continues to help with my sleep hygiene.

Knitting

Knitting is something I and my alters enjoy, but can also be triggering.  It’s also physically intensive and can be calming with repetitive action.  But this weekend, I feel happy, calm, proud, and accomplished.  My first infinity scarf is almost finished.  My arms and shoulders got some decent exercise, and no triggering this time.  It was a great distraction from my other discomfort and worry because still not feeling hungry or eating like I’m supposed to.

Walking – exercise & moving meditation

After some self massage and lying down meditation this morning, I felt good enough to do some apartment cleaning.  Picked up trash, collected recycling, and did some vacuuming.  Still have some laundry sorting to do, but that can wait a bit longer.  By treating these tasks as a moving meditation, I calmed down enough to go outside for a short walk and get a real meal at the grocery store.

That gave me a chance to check out new store products, eat outside, and enjoy the fresh air while thinking about what kinds of food and drinks to put together this week.  Being outside felt good and helped me feel better about myself.  Getting out the door isn’t easy this time of year, so any advantage to help me leave the building is welcome.

Conclusion

Sometimes changing seasons can affect mood and triggers.  Many people ask me if lack of sunlight or changing seasons increases my chance of depression.  The short answer is no.  The long answer is, not depression but my anxiety and hyper-vigilance get triggered.  I start to fear going outside and interacting with the world while also feeling angry with myself because I want to be outside enjoying the spring weather.

These coping strategies are hit or miss, but ones I love to put into practice as often as possible.  My young alter personalities enjoy the knitting as much as the teens and adults.  The moving meditation helps all of us relax and connect mind/body/spirit while also getting chores done.  Replaces scary or negative experiences with positive ones.  Finally, anything that helps us all sleep better is worth saving up the money to purchase and use.

I and my alters hope these examples might help you find a way to cope with unexpected triggers or seasonal changes too.

Thanks for reading.

INTRODUCTION

Today I am reminded that failure is more about perception and beliefs than reality.  In the same way mistakes are learning opportunities, failure also offers chances to learn and improve for “next time”.  Because there will always be a “next time”.

Since I made the decision to move and then followed up by moving, I’ve experienced many mistakes and failures.  Shame has been a companion as I tried and failed to become part of interesting groups or clubs.  Sadness came from an application that got denied.  Anger and frustration from being railroaded/blocked/ignored by people while trying to achieve goals and objectives.

PROCESSING INFORMATION (coping strategy)

My previous therapist used to ask me what I learned from each experience.  And then we talked through or “processed” my thoughts and feelings.  It was during the “processing” part that my imagination and problem-solving skills engaged.  We discussed options:

  • next steps
  • what didn’t work and why
  • what did work and why
  • and (most important) how could I change my words and actions to achieve the goal?

SHAME & SHAME RESILIENCE

And one night when the shame of past experiences overwhelmed me, I called the hotline asking for help.  I didn’t want to give in to self-harm or OCD compulsions to put myself in reckless, dangerous situations.  The pressure inside kept building up squeezing my chest and head until I couldn’t think or feel.  And the hotline volunteer talked to me about shame.  About resilience.  About research into coping strategies and something called “Shame Resilience”.

The counselor offered a TED Talk by Brene Brown as a coping strategy.  I was so moved by the TED Talk that I followed the link to her other TED Talks.  Then looked her up online and found her books.  My goal was to learn more about her knowledge and perspective of shame.  But then I started reading her book.  The topics sparked connections in my brain.  But it was the opening quote that pulled the connections together.

Connections that helped me understand why I kept going, kept trying, kept living in spite of the shame and the doubters working so hard to make me stop.

THE QUOTE FROM “Man in the Arena”

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LIFE LESSONS

I’d rather try and fail; apply and be deniedlive and make mistakes than stand aside and watch the world move around me.  How will I know if I can do something unless I try?  Life is an experiment.  Success or failure, each one is a chance to learn.

So maybe this time I failed or was denied acceptance into a program/group/etc.  That only means I’m not ready yet.  There is more to learn and experience.  And next time I will succeed.

Which next time?  Maybe the second, maybe the fifth – doesn’t matter as long as I keep on trying.

Failure really isn’t failure if I learn something same way mistakes are opportunities to learn (Thanks Mrs. O from 7th grade math)

If I did everything possible to succeed and failed because of circumstances beyond my control, is that failure or success?

CONCLUSION

I chose the “Man in the Arena” quote because it reminded me to live full throttle and not listen to the critics in the stands.  What do they know about living in the arena?

I hope this inspires you all to live full throttle too.

Thanks for reading.

 

Nightmares are terrible experiences to work through at any time.  When you have alter personalities and switch in your sleep, the lack of awareness can cause problems.  By lack of awareness I mean not realizing when I am: shouting, screaming, crying, talking, kicking, punching, thumping, and so on while I am paralyzed (locked inside my body).  Usually my noise happens when I’m having a dream that involves anger and fighting.  All that means the neighbors get annoyed.  They start making noise.  And no one in the system is sure who or when or how the issue was resolved.

And yes, I’m having nightmares.  Or maybe reliving experiences as I sleep?  Or maybe I’m asleep and my alters are awake having flashbacks?  So confusing, yet so real.

As I told the admissions council during my second interview, some part of me is always awake.  I never truly sleep.  But I do get lots of rest.  And lately, my wireless headphones have been a blessing.  I can block out the construction, the neighbors, the cars, the wind when windows are open and get some rest.

Downside is that I can’t exactly hear when my neighbors bang on the door or the wall to get me to quiet down with the headphones on.  And when the neighbors do bang and shout, I’m not sure it’s me or someone else they want to quiet down.  Or if the new neighbors are moving furniture/drunk and walking into things, etc.

But I also have new neighbors.  They happen to be younger and louder than the others.  Also chattier and with chatty guests who visit at all hours.  And some like to smoke in the building even though that’s against the rules.  So any or all of this could be happening while I’m trying to sleep.

And whoever’s in charge at the time will take care of these issues.  So far, no complaints from the property manager about noise or other issues.  But the banging and music do startle awake and make some alters tense up.  To be honest, I’m not sure if any of us actually get out of bed to talk with the neighbors at night or just stay in bed hoping it will stop.  And I am kind of afraid of what could happen if one of us does try to chat with the loud neighbor.

As for basic coping strategies, here is this week’s list:

  • Airing out the apartment – warm enough to keep windows open a few days last week
  • Feeling comfortable (not to cold or hot) in bed
  • Gratitude affirmations
  • Deep breathing and meditation
  • Self massage and use of acupressure points
  • Letting the memories flow – aka alters share memories, experiences, thoughts, and feelings with everyone else
  • Listening to music
  • Listening to favorite nature sounds
  • Re-reading old favorites and some new books
  • Staying inside
  • Sleeping when I can; resting when I can’t; eating when I feel hungry
  • Letting myself be

It’s the downside to apartment living, especially micro-apartment living.  Small spaces crowded next to each other; soundproof that isn’t truly soundproof; and a basic lack of privacy from having neighbors so close.  Too bad I can’t afford my own house on a quiet street with very few neighbors and lots of beautiful trees.

But now that my secret life isn’t so secret anymore and we aren’t expending so much energy living two lives, maybe this lack of energy and need for solitude will lessen.  I’ve actually spent more time outside my apartment and interacting with people in the last two weeks than I did for the last 3 months.  And as much as I liked it (all parts in the system really enjoyed it), spending time chatting with people and in crowds really drained my energy.  So now we’re all back to figuring out how to refill the well.

Thanks for reading

 

Have you ever been triggered so badly that the feelings overwhelmed and broke through internal barriers?

That happened about 2 weeks ago.  

I lay down to sleep one night and flashed back to 1998.  The flashback lasted for hours.  It covered many years between 1998 and 2012.

And each memory was of a fight – a physical fight between my younger self and one or more other people.  Then I started to remember names and places.  And suddenly even living on the other side of the country didn’t feel safe.  I felt scared and out of control.

The experiences got distorted by feelings and body pain.  What feelings?  What pain?

The feelings: anger, shame, fear, confusion, grief

The pain: head, face, neck, abdomen, low back, hips

I felt so angry for days.  It built and built inside me.  Nothing I tried, nothing my alters tried, none of the typical and atypical strategies helped.  So I followed the plan my counselor and I put together in session.  I called the hotline first.  Then texted her with updates.  She called me; we talked.

The goal: focus on feelings first; then process the memories & thoughts.

One week ago:

The memories came back as dreams and nightmares.  I probably annoyed my neighbors by talking in my sleep and yelling/screaming/thumping the walls – explains why I avoid them right now.  It’s why I prefer not to have close neighbors, but that’s impossible in this apartment.

I started to realize the anger combined with body pain (treatments have been working to address chronic sinus, digestion, etc. issues) opened up a gate for the memories to get through.  The physical pain got worse and kind of triggering.  I kept getting confused about past and present.

But I also had to go out and take care of errands.  It helped that people I’m friendly with were on the route.

The feelings: numb, hurt, sad, shame, confusion, then numb again

The body pain: moved from head to back to abdomen to private areas to back again

The goal: get through one more week while counselor is away

This week:

My counselor is back; we had our session on Saturday.  Easter was Sunday.  The numbness wore off, and I realized that the back pain was masking something else.  My body was experiencing mild versions of panic attack symptoms.  The nausea was back.  And I lost my appetite between Thursday and Sunday.

The feelings: relief, happiness, empowered, anger, shame, grief

The body pain: sinuses, eyes, ears, scalp, back of the head, neck.

The goal: minimize the face pain, cope with the body memories around my legs/hips/abdomen, accept and embrace the inner monster that is not a monster.

What is the empowering part?

My inner monster is not a monster.

She is the part of me trained in martial arts and other forms of hand-to-hand combat, knife fighting, etc.

He is the part of me who learned acrobatics and submissions in order to take down grown people high or drunk or better armed and much stronger with an adolescent girl’s body.

They are the plant parts who processed the drugs and alcohol so fast through a child’s and adolescent’s body that she got sick instead of addicted.

They are my alter personalities – the parts of me who kept the secrets; learned how to read people; taught themselves to lie; pretended to be a fly on the wall; created vaults for the secret life experiences to hide in; protected classmates, cousins, and others close in age from being sucked in; and used physical force to protect the self from monsters and bullies.

Conclusion

Before these memories came back, I thought I was an out-of-control monster who physically hurt others for no reason.  I thought my temper and rage took over and were unjustified.  And I backed away from everyone – to the point of avoiding all physical contact with living beings – so ensure my safety and the safety of everyone around me.

Now, I know that I’m not a monster.  That those fragmented nightmare/dream stories of me fighting gang members, women, men, teen bullies, my sibling, my parents, and so many others were real.  That all of those seeming impossible take downs, submissions, and movie-like fight scenes in my head really did happen.  We did that with our body up until the year before moving.

And then those parts of me faded back inside to safety bringing the memories with them and leaving me feeling out of control again.

Now, I hope these parts will continue to share those memories and realize they are accepted, respected, cherished members of our system.  They belong in the present with the rest of us.  They deserve to heal and make choices with us and feel proud of their accomplishments too.  Most important, I hope they stop feeling ashamed of the things they said and did to protect and help everyone survive.

With their permission, I will be sharing more about self-defense, martial arts, and fighting for protection as healthy forms of exercise, self-esteem building, etc.

Thanks for reading