Daily Archives: July 22, 2013


One of my huge stressors from Friday had been that one of my lizards in an outdoor enclosure escaped.  Well, today I found her on the wall about 4 feet from where the cage used to be (it’s now inside in case of any more escapes). I am SO relieved to have found her! Most geckos have a pretty small range, and will often sick close to a favorite tree or cave.  I’m glad she did not venture far, since the patio is open. I was sure she would have been lost forever if she wandered out into the trees.  So happy she’s *home*


She did not share in my elation.  She dropped half her tail trying to escape. She also latched on to my hand and did not let go for over 7 minutes.  I finally remembered she hates being misted, and that made her let go. Tokays are larger geckos (she was 12″ with full tail) and can bite quite hard if they choose to. They are also nervous and will often bite when handled until they get used to being picked up.  I never worked with the girls to get them hand tame.  Maybe I need to think about it now 😉

How we remeber, and how we forget: Trauma, denial and dissociation

interesting read.


How We Remember and How We Forget: Trauma, Denial, and Dissociation

I “forgot” a good part of my life.  I “forgot” the 3-6 months I spent in foster care, the events that led up to it, and the intense grief of being returned to a biological family I felt no connection to.  I “forgot” being trafficked for sex by my own father.  I “forgot” being placed in a freezer, tied to a wall in the dark in the garage like an animal, and forced to hang myself.

For a long time, I “forgot” about appointments, bills, and things I had done and said within the last 24 hours.  Sometimes, I still do.

I know a lot about forgetting.

Since then, I’ve been working at remembering.  I know a lot about that too.

A diagram of a neuron.

We remember information, experiences…

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a topic for family therapy

I’m realizing that, as difficult as it is to make the decision to go inpatient at any given time, it is made infinitely more difficult by the attitudes of those around me.

I dread going inpatient.  I fear being put in a position that affords me so little control once again.  I don’t take the decision lightly.  It makes me anxious and fearful.  It makes me feel guilty for stepping out on responsibilities… Then I get there and others question the decision (generally made by myself and my therapist).  They wonder why I can’t do it on my own, why their help is not enough to get me through the day… They tell me they manage, why can’t I?  I’m told they miss me, and they wished I was home.  I am told how frustrating it is to have all responsibility dumped onto them.  My own doubts and fears are underscored by their doubts and unintentional guilt.  I know they mean well, and it is not done out of malice.  I know I don’t communicate effectively with most people, least of all about my demons, so I should not expect them to understand the gravity of the decision.  I try to explain how uncomfortable being inpatient makes me.  I try to communicate how hopeless I feel about survival on the outside.  And I cringe every time I hear “I miss you” or “what can I do to help?” (though this last one has been answered time and again, but they dislike the answer, so they keep asking hoping some day the answer will change to “exactly what you are doing”).

I would prefer to hear things along the lines of

  • I love you
  • This is the best decision right now (I know you are doing the best you can)
  • I’ll still be here when you get out
  • You’ll get through this
  • I’ll support you through this
  • What do you need from me while you are there?

Please don’t be mad at me for not answering the phone, or not being able to talk much during a visit, or being too drugged to connect too well, or sleeping the whole day through, or crying… Please don’t tell me how upset you are that I have left you to take care of all the animals yourself, and how frustrating that is.  I know.  I feel bad about it every time.  I’m sorry you have local supports.  I’m sorry I’m not able to be your support right now.  I’m sorry I can;t just get over everything.  I’m sorry I can’t simply push it out of my head.  I’m sorry the emotions effect me all the time.  I’m sorry I don’t know how to handle all this.  I’m sorry I’m too weak in character to be able to pull through it unscathed (or at least too weak to be in denial about the effects of it all).  I’m sorry I seem to have a different take on it all.  I’m sorry I refuse to deal with things your way (it’s just not best for me, even if it inwardly works miracles for you – though I highly doubt it).  I’m sorry…

If I choose to go inpatient, it is because I can no longer fight with any measure of reliability.  The demons are so close, that I may give in.  If I choose to go inpatient, it is because I have battled the self-harm thoughts and suicidal urges as long as I possibly could.  They are now so overwhelming and loud that I do not think I can resist it any more.  I am afraid I may actually act on it, or lose the strength to actively not act on it all. The depression is so overwhelming and the pain is just too much to sit through any longer.  If I choose to go inpatient, it is because you will loose me if I don’t.

If I’m forced inpatient, it is because I gave up the fight and chose dangerous coping mechanisms.  If I’m forced to go, it’s because I either was too desperate to end the chaos of the moment that I took all my pills, or I just wanted to end it all finally.  I prefer to choose to go inpatient (when I am capable of making that decision), and fight for another day.  But honestly, sometimes I lose that fight.

Sometimes I no longer care, and I don’t tell anyone that I don’t care, because they will force me to care… That’s a dangerous space to be in because everything looks fine on the outside (or at least I try my hardest to make it look ok), but the inside is bleak.  I lose all barriers to acting on the suicidal thinking.  I obsess about ways to kill myself that will be successful.  And when I’m in that space, if I find something I think will be lethal, I will make the attempt with little hesitation.  For the most part, no one will know I’m in that space (a perversion of the self-preservation instinct which compels me to protect myself by protecting my decision to end the pain).  I will generally struggle with this for days or weeks before I either act on it, or I break my own code of silence and let it slip to my therapist that I am that desperate…  this is what happened Friday.  I could barely speak at a whisper as I divulged to my therapist that, while he shouldn’t really be worried about me, he should.  I explained to him that I would take my life if I could find something I was sure would be lethal before anyone could stop me or “save” me.  I had been thinking like that for the past 2 weeks, and come very close to an attempt once or twice (foiled by my own fears of failure).  So going to the ER on Friday was a necessity.  It was anxiety-provoking for many reasons.  And it was incredibly difficult to sit there and try not to fall apart while I waited for the psychiatrist to show up.  Sometimes the wait is a good thing.  Sometimes the wait makes the hopelessness amplify itself.  Other times however, the wait allows for defenses to spring into place.  It gives the walls time to go back up, and the disconnect to take effect.  Then, even if I voice the disconnect and the contents of the other side of the wall, it is not taken seriously because the disconnect is so complete.

I suppose it’s good that the wall is there.  I hope it doesn’t crumble any time soon, because I have more time to wait before any benefits are granted.  I can’t afford to give up now.  It would not be fair to the others in my life.

1 word, 1 million hidden meanings

You thought the English language was complicated?  I think the language of trauma survivors is far more complicated than that…

In a previous post, I wrote about “whatever” in terms of how I had used it growing up: truly an un-opinionated statement of “whatever is best for you.”  Recently (well, ok, the last 15 years or so), that word had taken on a whole host of new meanings – all dictated by the emotion of the situation.

My wife often gets frustrated with me when I say “whatever” in response to a situation or conversation.  She interprets it much in the stereotypical “women-speak” used to dismiss the topic of conversation and agree to disagree.  She takes offense to it because she has understood it to mean that the fight is not worth my time, nor is her opinion.  While I cannot say I have never used “whatever” in that capacity, it’s very rare.  More likely, “whatever” is a genuine lack of opinion, or it’s an acceptance of the situation as it stands (“it is what it is”).  It can mean that I don’t know enough about the argument points, or that I don’t want to fight.  It rarely means that I do not care for your opinion and wish to dismiss it…

But I guess that’s difficult to swallow when you have not grown up learning to bend to the wishes of others.  Some books describe it as having a chameleon personality, but I know a fair amount about chameleons, and wish to dispel the myth that they change to blend with their backgrounds perfectly. They change coloration based on mood, hunger states, arousal, and heat.  But I will save the full herpetology lesson for another post…  Anyway.  I can see how someone who has only ever known how to actually express themselves, and learned the cultural definition of something, can have a difficult time integrating a wider understanding.  I’m not saying people are stupid, far from that. I’m saying that just as I have difficulties breaking from the lessons of my past, others can have that same problem when it comes to understanding different perspectives from that which is the only thing they have always known.

some ramblings…

I don’t get it.  I just don’t get where my head goes and why.  I can be perfectly fine, then not, then fine again…

Also, my throat burns from all the bleach I used for the reptile stuff today.  I hate the stuff, but it’s one of the only cleaners that’s both affordable and effective.  I think there is one strain of bacteria common in reptiles that it does not kill, but ammonia will take care of that one (and luckily I have not encountered it).  I wish I could afford the vet-grade stuff, but it’s almost $100 for a 1 gallon bottle.  It’s super-concentrated, but I still don;t have the cash to shell out even for the smaller $40 one (I want to say it’s 16oz)… So I make do with bleach diluted in water… and sometimes cleaning a ton of stuff with it burns my nose, mouth, and throat… I hate it, because the smell stays with me for a long time.

I watched a thriller just now… pretty decent, but got my heart going a million miles a minute.  I should have picked something lighter before bed.  I lost interest during parts of it, but there are very few movies I can walk away from… this one was not one of them, not because it was excellent, but because I needed a resolution.   I should not have picked that movie to start with, forget about watched it all the way through.  Now I don’t have the patience to watch anything else that may clear my head… dumbass.

The cats are sleeping here with me, so peaceful.  They did not watch the movie with me, so they have nothing to worry their little head about except when mom will feed them again in the a.m. or when they can convince someone to let them outside for the morning… I wish that was all I worried about (ok, they worry about being chased and attacked by my little dog, but we are working on that).

I bought a new CD today, and I want to listen to it, but there is no CD player in the house, and I have yet to rip it to the computer so I can upload it to my ipod… grrr.  It would be great to listen to tonight so I can get the movie out of my head.

Last week in couple’s therapy, J gave us the task to communicate honestly about how we are feeling each night.  She suggested if we can’t do it face to face (it’s hard for me to talk to people while looking at them), we could do it back to back… We missed it on Friday and Saturday nights, but L wanted to do it today.  Is it bad that I resent that homework?  I don;t want to talk about how I’m feeling, because if I talk about it, it becomes more real.  Right now, it’s something in the back of my head.  So we talked about relatively mundane things; things that won’t stir the pot too much… it’s stirring in the background, but I don;t necessarily want to bring that all to the fore-front of my brain.  No one wants to hear it anyway.  They get hurt or offended or upset or angry… and I feel guilty for opening my mouth.  I don’t like letting others in on all this (unless I pay you to listen to me, and you are a “removed” professional).  I don’t like burdening others with myself.  I try not to do it often, even when asked.  Most people are just trying to be polite or pc when asking.  I know L is genuine, and mom too, but most others are not.  And clinicians might be genuine because it’s their job… but most human beings on the planet don’t want to know the drivel of monotony from the general population.  They are wrapped up in their own drama (real or created) and that takes precedence.  Take my former bff’s mother… She called today.  I have not seen or spoken to her in more than a decade.  But being back here, I think she thought talking to me would be a thread of connection to her daughter.  C dropped off the face of the earth about 15 years ago… I haven’t spoken to her or heard from her since I pissed her off… but her mother hoped I had.  She spoke and spoke about her life and spilled all that has happened recently, but had no real desire to listen to what I had to say.  She said her piece and then wrapped up the conversation.  The few things she did ask about were turned and related to her somehow… I wonder, do I do that too?  Do I invalidate others as much as I feel I get it from people?  I really don’t mean to.  I think we are all drowning in our own mud, and too busy trying to find solid ground to see that others are stuck with us – different puddle, same bog.  I hope I don;t ignore my friends and family, but something tells me I might be doing just that.  Maybe I need to take stock of my actions and be more open to listening to what others are trying to say… Maybe that’ what J’s communication exercise is supposed to reveal?