Monthly Archives: March 2014

it’s all in my head

it is.  it’s ALL in my head, I just don’t always know how to access it.

There was a weird instance last week or the week before.  I refered to myself as “we”… not sure I’ve ever done that, because I don’t really remember clearly whether I have or have not in any real sense.  I was attempting to talk myself out of a negative thought pattern, and it just slipped “out” (all internal dialogue, so there really is no “out” in terms of it being voiced, but thoughts in my head).  I argued that “we [couldn’t] keep doing this to ourself.”  It was weird and it caught me off guard.  I back-tracked and shook it off.  I corrected my language to reflect the singular.  There is no real plural, just aspects that I don’t always connect to at any given time.  It’s all me though…

I know one time Dr C had wondered if SJ was someone else, but concluded that it was just easier for me to care about someone other than myself so I separate out that inner child.  Before SJ, there was no inner child, so I guess that’s progress right?  I still panic at the thought of a little “me”.  I don’t know why that is so uncomfortable.  If I try to see SJ as myself, I want to cry and shake and scream in terror.  There is no little me, just SJ.  And she is whomever she is.  I’m trying not to look too deep into any of that… She holds things I only have ideas about, and *we* are ok with that.  If I were to take all that on myself, I think I would crumble.  She is a container of all that I can’t look at, like a trunk, only in the form of a walking (talking?) child… It sounds weird, but it works…


Emotional flashbacks

Session with De today went pretty well. We talked about the legal definition of assault and rape. We compared notes and she validated my hesitation to discuss anything about Duckboy for the last 17 years. We discussed the power dynamics of relationships. We talked about how that can effect whether a person leaves; whether they fight back.  Things were going good.  I was able to see things both intellectually and emotionally without it overwhelming me. I recognized the negative thoughts and she helped refute them (or start to). Then something changed. I started drifting away. De noticed and asked about it. I suddenly wasn’t able to talk to her about anything.  I couldn’t tell her what was going on because I couldn’t figure out in myself what was happening. Emotional memories sometimes overtake me and I have no idea until long after… De helped me ground a bit.  She asked about my recent art. I wanted to show her, but I wasn’t in a place to explain it, so I just handed her the book. She looked through things and asked about them.  Some were easier to talk about than others, but it worked to help ground me (at least long enough to be able to walk out of the building. I was shaking inside and was surprised I didn’t bump into every wall on the way out). I got in the car and blasted my music. The air from the open windows and the loud noise helped me ground more.  I wasn’t ready to be home yet though, so I asked L if she’d go to the beach with me.

It was a nice change from the house.  The winds were strong so the seas were choppy.  It was sunny but pleasant. Birds were out in force. I have a “slight”obsession with birds and birds in flight. I brought my camera (the good one, not just the phone. I’ll have to add those pics later because I’m posting from my phone) and was able to get some decent shots. There was a pelican that was particularly bold. He sat still as I took pictures about a foot away from his face. He tolerated me for a good 5 minutes before he flew off.

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Because of the rough seas, there were also several man-o-war washed up on shore.  I normally see blue ones, but these ones had purplish pink on them also. I had to stifle the urge to play with them (I’m sure the sting would not have been all that painful, especially with the head-space I occupied earlier in the day)… regardless, they were really pretty.

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There was a rather large flock of birds I have never seen before. They kept their faces to the wind even when resting. They had relatively large beaks (long) for birds their size. I also had trouble finding their eyes. They were pretty cool when they took off (sadly that pic is only on the computer)… but here’s a pic of them chilling on the beach all facing the wind.

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and finally, some pictures from the “real” camera (Canon Rebel xTi with kit lens)


Updated “no words” and adding #53 Turmoil

I worked some more on the painting.  I think this is a bit closer to what I want the feel of the painting to be:

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And then I did this several days ago. It’s also a work in progress, but I have not figured out what else I want to do with it. It started as just an eye doodle, and grew from there… (2014 100 Theme Challenge #53: Turmoil).

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Deferred loss means relief for now

I am totally relieved because J will still see us next week, then work something out to try to see us every other week in the evenings while L and I figure out this move stuff. She jokingly said it’s contingent on the move happening as planned, but she said she will look into it and see how her new schedule works. I’m so happy that we will at least have her support for another week, if not throughout the move process. I am a bit mixed about it though because I had started to come to terms with the loss. That’s fine.  I will deal with it again as it happens. The support means more to me then does getting the loss over with to stifle the hurt. It’s kinda like with the dog: being able to have more time with Twiggy means more to me than getting the hurt of losing her over with.
We did give J the bracelet today though, and she seemed to really like it. She suggested that we try to sell them.  I told her our audience was limited, but I would love to make some sales. We jokingly told her to tell her friends. I know it’s a confidentiality thing with her, but it would be nice to get more sales. I think I may look into opening an etsy shop for art and jewelry, but I would need to work hard on more inventory.
Things are looking up. I think me being a mess will be postponed for a while, and I hope to deal with it better when it does come… I’m so relieved.


Holding my breath

Today will be our last session with J. I’m not looking forward to it (neither is L). The week has been emotional hell. One of the dogs is pretty sick. Yesterday she fell from the bed and popped some joints out of place. The vet was moving them around and they seemed to go back into place because she was able to walk much better after the exam. It was really scary for a few hours though, because she kept falling over and walking in circles. She is doing much better today. I hope it keeps up.

The whole J thing… Ugh. I just don’t know. I had wanted to write her a thank you letter or something, but the words are not coming. The walls are up, so the feelings have been quarantined. I know I’ll regret it if I don’t say a proper goodbye though (I always do). Inside I’m heartbroken for so many reasons. I’ve locked it away. I don’t know exactly how to access it anymore to make this goodbye meaningful. It sucks. Can I crawl back into bed for the rest of the week (…month, year, life…)?


when we are taught that “no” means “yes” but “yes” also means “yes”… (TRIGGER WARNING)

…and there is no real “no.”

A friend posted this blog link on facebook tonight.  I had wanted to see Divergent anyway, but now I want to read the book before seeing the movie (I tend to find they skimp on messages in movies).  It got me thinking; not only are movies and tv glorifying sexual violence, but we are trained that being “hard to get” is a turn on, and no never actually means no.  This is more pronounced with people who grow up in chaotic and abusive situations.  

When I was discussing the concept of rape with a co-worker many years ago (she was working towards licensure as a therapist and in the process of completing her PsyD), she defined rape and assault as needing a decisive “no” with physical resistance.  At the time, I had not mentioned my experiences with Duckboy to anyone except my own therapist, but even to her only in the most vague terms.  I was taken aback by this friend’s rigid and adamant definition.  I tried to gently give “other” scenarios (my own experiences without divulging that it was myself I was speaking about, but hypothetical subtleties in situations), but she refuted it all.  She said if the woman was truly not wanting any contact, she would fight back and scream “no” until her voice was hoarse if she had to… “what if she says no, but he doesn’t pay attention? …what if she was trained to refuse once, but if he pushed the idea, she had to go along with it? …what if he laughed her “no” off and continued what he was aiming for? … what if he said she was leading him on, so had to do it? what if she was scared because he was so much bigger and stronger? what if he could hold both of her hands in his one and pin them above her head? what if the “no” caught in her throat as she was trying to say it but all that escaped was tears and shaking her head? What if…” To all this, her reply was that it did not meet the definition of rape, and was barely teetering towards assault.  That conversation was had early in my acceptance of what had happened (there’s something about being in a situation that makes it feel normal, especially when you have always been taught to go along with whatever the stronger/louder/older person says without argument).  Prior to this conversation, I had started talking to JF about what had happened with Duckboy, but this conversation had me ashamed for feeling that any of it was something that should not have happened.  I started telling JF that it wasn’t anything wrong; that Duckboy had just been “a little forceful about the sexual stuff, but it was ok…”  I think she had tried to get to the truth of it all, but I was too ashamed.  It was not only not ok to fight back, but it was not ok to be disturbed by any of it if I hadn’t fought tooth and nail to get away.  If he had no scars or bruises, I was consenting… I think it’s at about this time that the cutting had moved to my legs.  I don’t really remember doing it, but I do remember having the gyn ask what the words on my legs were (and later JF asking about them because I had flat-out denied the existence of the cuts that were most certainly visible to the gyn).  The gyn thought she read “slut” and “whore”, but she wasn’t sure about it so JF wanted to talk about it.  I told her I wasn’t sure what they said, and that I didn’t remember writing them (I honestly did not remember it. I think that was one of the many times I had “checked-out” and cut myself only to wake in the morning to new cuts)… I remember telling JF that I didn’t really know why that would even cross my mind.  When she asked if it related to Duckboy, I reiterated that he never did anything wrong; he was just a little forceful… I stopped talking about it shortly after that.  Words appeared in blood on my legs, but I refused to talk about it.  I was lost in the shame of feeling wronged when I “obviously” wasn’t. I started OD’ing on pills to help drown out my head (though only once was I “caught” and sent to the ER. One other time I was sent to the ER because the nurse thought I meant I had taken that many pills only 2 hours ago, not 14 hours ago), and to help ease the dissonance between what I felt, and what “society” (or at least a handful of “friends”) said was right or wrong.  Mind you, my therapist, the nurse I trusted, and the gyn all colluded on the idea that what they understood had happened was indeed “wrong”, but for some reason I didn’t listen to their opinions… I didn’t address any of the assault or abuse stuff again for almost 15 years, but it crept back to my awareness regularly in the form of body memories and flashbacks.  I remember the times I would close my eyes and “just get it over with” when a friend asked for “benefits” even though that was all purely consensual.  He attributed it all to my coming out later that year.  I never told him about Duckboy.  For years, I was adamant that what went on with Duckboy was all in my head in terms of “appropriateness.”  Even when the flashbacks interfered with my relationships (apparently I went pale and stopped breathing for a few seconds the first time my ex pulled out a realistic dildo. She had offered to stop, but I recovered my bearings and did my best to ignore the flashbacks taking over enough to convince her there was nothing wrong), I refused to acknowledge the damage done by Duckboy.  It was only after the millionth recommendation from the millionth hospital social worker that I sought sexual assault counseling this past summer.  Even when the body memories caused me to cut severely in an effort to rid myself of them, I refused to acknowledge a history of assault.  When asked about it, I attributed it to the body memories, but refused to give details or call it anything other than him being forceful.  There were the body memories that came before Duckboy, but I had no actual memories to pair them with, so they “didn’t count.”  You can’t really work on something you don’t remember except on a physical and emotional level… at least, I have no idea how to do it, and I thought it was all in my head (ok, so it is, but in a different way).  I know the basics of the situation from second-hand stories of what went on, but at the same time, my involvement is constantly denied after the first admission of occurrence.  I was too young to really remember, so I only have the stories they told me about it.  I know the guy served time for it.  I know he assaulted more than one kid at the parties. I know I was told I stopped going to bed when the other kids went because I would throw a tantrum at the parties.  It was before my brother was born, so I can assume I was younger than one and a half.  The only reason I even know anything happened was that I was told to alert my parents if the guy ever tried to contact me (after he was released… I might have been 12 or 14).  But all I have of that time are distorted nightmares and vague body memories. The stuff with Duckboy isn’t too concrete, but I remember more than I do of the earlier stuff.  I have explicit memories of what he did, and fears connected to specific events.  I react strongly and violently when touched without expecting it, especially by someone I don’t know and trust.  I have scared family friends with my reactions when they were only trying to be genuinely, harmlessly playful (things that are harmless to someone who has never been violated turn into assaults for someone with a history).  Triggers are rampant in medical settings because of the nature of medical exams.  Even when I trust my doctor, dissociation is almost inevitable.  I have yet to figure out if it’s more helpful to be alone with her, or have my wife there.  It gets confusing and full of flashbacks either way.  Speaking of doctors, I’m surprised more gyn’s are not more sensitive to assault histories.  I think they are almost as uncomfortable addressing the possibility of abuse (past or present) as we are divulging it.  It took me years to find Dr. F.  Before her, no one asked about any specifics beyond the existence of an assault history.  Dr. F actually sat down and talked before having me strip for the first time.  She checks in regularly and is always asking what helps to make it all easier.  I have not yet made any effort to find a gyn here because it’s so difficult to find someone that’s willing to take time and space to make things feel safe… Even at the hospital, when the doctors knew there was a history and those triggers had led me to the hospital, simply labeled me as “resistant” and “defiant” when I insisted on a female doctor for any exams.  There was more than one occasion when I was not given a choice to refuse the exam or ask for a female doctor. There were several “unwarranted” exams that I was not able to refuse.  Then they wondered why I “left” during the exam. They deemed me a danger to myself for dissociating in a very uncomfortable, vulnerable, and triggering situation… They replayed the old scenarios in new ways.  You would think that with a greater push for awareness and understanding of assault situations (and trauma in general) that they would work harder to keep from triggering people and re-victimizing them.  There’s still a lot of growth that needs to happen in that field…

Anyway, what was my original point?  Oh, the thoughts on the rape scene in Divergent… well, I guess I addressed it.  I’m glad that our kids are now being taught more often that “no” means no, and not a veiled “yes”.  I’m glad that we are educating everyone on the concept of respecting boundaries.  I’m glad that society is changing, albeit slowly.  It gives me hope that one day my future kids will know that they don’t have to do anything that feels so wrong. I will never tell kids not to fight for their right to refuse to do anything.  I will make sure they know they can always look to my wife and I for support around anything… and I will forever be vigilant for signs of abuse with the people I care about. No one deserves to be hurt.


escaping the asylum mentality – Rufus May

Interesting.

recovery network: Toronto

In an article in Occupied Times Rufus May announces his plans to leave the NHS [National Health Service] in  UK where he attempted, for  eighteen years working as a clinical psychologist to bring change to services from the inside – by “infiltrating with  loving kindness”. In that time, he says he has seen many pockets of change for the good but does not see that things have gotten better overall.

Rufus is now chooing to work “promoting more emancipatory approaches”.

These days the asylum is less noticeable as bricks and mortar establishments on the edge of town than it is recognizable as shared mentality of attitudes and fears, of forms of segregation and control, that range from the subtle and invisible to the often heavy-handed use of medications.

Rufus outlines some of his ideas for what we will need to change beyond simply changing mental health systems if we are…

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