Oh. I guess that makes more sense…

Dr C managed to piece together for me that today’s flashbacks were probably related to a duckboy anniversary i never really paid attention to: he stalked me at my college freshman year right around thanksgiving… i knew it was an event in our relationship, but i never really thought that it would cause ripples so far forward.  she hypothesized that, since it was finally the last interaction with him, it stuck with me. 

I guess it makes sense then that today’s flashback involved him… 

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Flashbacks (**trigger**) 

I was laying in bed, trying to avoid waking up, when a memory of duckboy hit me out of nowhere. 

**trigger** I could feel his hand holding my wrists above my head. I could feel his crushing weight on top of my body. I could feel his fumbling hand. I could feel his slimey, sloppy kiss, his grinding body… and everything else he did that time. **trigger**

It was all condensed into about a minute or less, but my body is still tingling. There are still echos of the memory…

He used to insist it wasn’t sexual because we had our clothes on. I only resisted so many times before giving in. It was always easier to get it over with than to try to squirm away from under his almost 300lb frame…

For the longest time (we’re talking almost 20 years), I was adamant on only calling it “very insistent”. Whomever was hearing it tried to rephrase it as assault, and I would correct them. I refused to put that label on what he did (partially for his sake, partially for mine)… I had flashbacks at the time, but I wouldn’t remember them after they passed (or even understand that I had one). It wasn’t until my long bout of hospitalizations, where medical records contained notes of me crying and trying to explain the memories, that I finally realized something more than just the memories of my parents fighting was bothering me… Dr C was the first person who heard me admit that what duckboy did might have been rape. I was still terrified to tell her any details, but at the same time, I started desperately trying to write down what I remembered in the flashbacks while they were happening. I knew if I didn’t write in the moment, I’d forget it again as soon as it faded. 

The first time I wrote it out, I was journaling on my phone. It was the early days of smartphones though, before apps saved what you were doing should you be interrupted. A call buzzed in and erased everything I had tried to write down… I took that as a sign that no one needed to know the details. I also switched to trying to capture it on paper. I was anxious someone would find it, read it, and know the things I had done, but i really wanted to be able to read whatever it was I kept remembering and forgetting… It was maybe a year later before I tried to bring up the content of my flashbacks again in treatment. 

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I was hoping writing about the flashback this morning would help it fade faster (it sometimes works that way), but I’m still feeling echos of memories. I guess my body wants to make me listen. Stuff had been stirring all week, but none of it had been this explicit; there were no real defined cognitive memories, just body sensations. Now, even the echos have snippets of whole memories attached to them… I guess its good group was cancelled and I was able to get individual instead. I don’t want to have to keep sitting with this all weekend. 


Authenticity (of expression) 

Authenticity of expression is something I struggle with often. I’m constantly worried about what people may think, and the consequences of their opinions. 

This is especially true of my art. While it’s often the most authentic expression of self I’m able to reveal, I worry a lot that people will change their opinion of me based on what they see. I worry they will hate me, and deem me less worthy than even I deem myself. Sometimes I’m able to get past that in my art journals, but lately, even that has been censored. 

I feel stuck around being unable to express what needs to be expressed in any authentic manner. I find myself replacing the reality of what I want to create, with a “rainbows & butterflies” edit. I’m stumbling in therapy and focusing on the same, safe methods of expression; the ugly, scary stuff is replaced with a unicorn sticker…

There’s so much “icky” stuff floating around in my head, but I go silent when it comes time to talk about it. There’s a buffer between my brain and my mouth, and my brain and my hands. Things leave my brain one way, but get “prettied up” before they have a chance to be expressed. 

This piece wasn’t supposed to look so peaceful and serene… it was supposed to represent the struggles around trauma. It was supposed to express the loneliness and alone-ness of experiencing flashbacks and memories no one else knows are even there. It was supposed to be more graphic… but in the last minute, I froze, and changed the “gore” to “pretty” and ” socially acceptable”… 

Lately, no matter what I do, no matter my intentions at the start, everything gets censored for the comfort of everyone else. That all just leaves me feeling more alone and distant than before I started. 

I want to be able to convey what it feels like to constantly remember the physical sensations of things long past. I want to express the hopelessness and fear and loneliness and frustration and betrayal… but I end up stuffing it down and covering it up. 

It’s a betrayal of a different kind; a betrayal of my inner voice… it’s really frustrating. 


Sleepless

I’m not tired. I thought I would be… I started a new-ish job today. The anxiety from that alone should have exhausted me… sadly, it did quite the opposite. I’m not tired at all. 

Flashbacks stated up again this weekend. They had been sporadic and mild in the last several weeks, but they intensified Sunday. They’ve been pretty much omnipresent since then. They are not very intense most of the time, but they are back to being there 99% of the time. 

Talked about it with Dr C, and we think it might be linked to feeling stupid and ashamed (as a result of a dumb interaction with strangers earlier in the weekend). Its probably all combining with other stressors to make me more vulnerable to them again. 

Speaking of stressors and vulnerability, my need to clean things properly will probably be tested a lot with this new position. It took me a lot of restraint to not go along behind the woman showing me the clean-up procedures and clean the room properly. I only seem to have 2 modes for cleaning: 1) do nothing, or 2) do everything meticulously and repeatedly until it feels right… this job will challenge that. 


Flashbacks from unlikely triggers…

Financially, things have been rough with L’s medical leave. Friends of ours’ very generously set up a donation campaign. It’s been doing really well. We are getting closer and closer to the goal set (enough to cover 1 month’s rent, car payment, phone bill, gas for the car, and a few other things that wouldn’t be covered by my money).  It’s really awesome, and I’m really grateful; we both are. We are blown away by the generosity of not only friends & family, but also compete strangers. 

On the flip side of that, it’s been triggering. I had to turn off the notifications for new donations… I had a slight meltdown earlier today because all I could think was that I  would owe so many people. It wasn’t after it subsided that I realized it was a flashback… I knew the obvious body memories were flashbacks, but I didn’t really connect the emotion or line-of-thinking to it. 

Dr C happened to have some availability to text between appointments.  She was patient enough to listen to my panicked rambles and try to help me calm down. L probably would have done the same if I had given her the opportunity, but I didn’t know how to let her in… maybe if I were in a different headspace, I could have explained it all to her, but in the moment, I didn’t know what to say… she tolerated my bottled panic, and accepted me being useless for most of the day… I dunno why she puts up with me, but I’m grateful. 

Anyway, so yeah. Getting donations seems to be a trigger. Having to ask for help is a trigger… I feel worthless and like a fraud. I mean, if I were a real, functioning adult, I would be able to at least work more to help us out when L has legit reasons not to be at work… my rational brain knows these donations don’t come with strings attached, but holy shit, is my inner kid ever terrified… 😓


So… I’m not really around right now (“thanks captain obvious!”), but I wanted to put something down so I can come back to it later, when I have energy and emotional space for it. 

I was telling Dr C how I didn’t feel like I had a right to be sad that my boss is transferring. I explained it along the lines of not having a right to be attached to her in any way, as well as having been taught that emotional intimacy equates to sexual intimacy, and that my expressing to my boss that I was sad she was leaving might be taken the wrong way… not because I think she thinks that way, or that I think that way, but because G thinks that way. It is what he warned us against, and what he was always going on about when anyone at all showed even casual friendship towards him. My adult brain knows that’s a skewed line of thinking, but the emotional, kid part of me can’t seem to step away from it…

Anyway, I explained that to her…

Her response; “Wow. G really did a number on you to have you believe you are both incredibly worthless, and also irresistible all at the same time…”

It’s not the first time I’ve explained something to a therapist only to have them be awed by the level of dysfunction he lives in… TM commented on the extent of his grooming. Dr C has commented on his ideals on more than one occasion. De & TL commented on the general dysfunction of our family dynamic, and the level of domestic violence I grew up thinking was “normal”…

How did I get so old without realizing any of this stuff before it’s pointed out to me? Or maybe; how can I continually & repeatedly dissociate the reality of my childhood so completely? 

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Weighted blanket; good for chemo too!

So, chemo is causing L a lot of pain. It seems that no one thing really helps. She’s taking her pain meds, using a heat pad, and we’ve figured out that weight seems to help, so I finally caved to buy the materials needed to make a weighted blanket… I would have preferred to order one already made, but they are way out of our budget. 

I bought the plastic poly-fill beads online,  20lbs for $30. I’m going to head to the store this week to get either fabric or two blankets for the shell. Our niece’s is going to try to put it together for us. Sadly, it won’t me done till the beginning of September (shipping the beads is what’s holding things up), but at least we will finally have one we both can share. 

In the mean time, we are borrowing heavy quilts from friends, and using a 20lb sack of rice for weight… there’s also the heat pad and several types of pain meds. 

I feel helpless. I wish I could do more for her…