Monthly Archives: September 2014

Responsibility and guilt

There’s a memory of happenings that I feel totally responsible for and guilty over (well, ok, there’s a bunch, but one in particular I can’t seem to get out of my head right now). It’s an easy one to see and know that I should not be feeling guilty over it. It’s relatively easy to see I had zero say and zero participation in. It’s something I witnessed. It’s something I had no clue at the time was traumatic for the other person. It’s something I know I only realized how awful it was in hindsight, as an adult. Yet I can’t shake the guilt over it. I feel incredibly sad over it. I feel like I should have had the (adult) presence of mind to stop, to protest, to voice concern over, but I was little. I think back on it and think I must have known it was wrong on some level. I want to think that I knew I should have stopped it and told the adults why they were wrong. But in reality, I couldn’t have had much say, even if I had the knowledge (which I highly doubt I did because it’s not developmentally appropriate for that age). While I was lead to believe I had power I truly didn’t have for so much of my life, I couldn’t have known better at the time. The culture was that fear and aversion are the best teachers; they bring the best results. The voice in my head says I should have known better because I knew personally that those are horrid ways of learning (even if I couldn’t think of it in those terms at the time,  I knew that pain was unpleasant, and pain there was worse). I should have known… but how could I have? I was not one of the 3+ adults in the situation. I wasn’t even 6 yet. How could a kid, even armed with the knowledge that pain is a traumatizing teaching tool, have more say over a situation than the adults?
So I stood by and watched. I didn’t understand the implications at the time. I understand it in hindsight, and only with my adult learning, so why can’t I shake the guilt? Why do I still feel responsible? No matter how many times I tell myself it wasn’t my fault, I can’t help but feel horrible for standing by and simply watching. I had no control over the situation. I had no influence. It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t my fault, but I can’t shake feeling like I should have done something.
I know it has to do with earlier teaching that I should have more power. I know it’s because my mere presence was expected to stop other abuse, but ultimately didn’t. I know that wasn’t a fair expectation. I can hear De and Dr. C telling me it wasn’t my fault, that it was an expectation no one should place on a child. I can even picture TL saying the same thing if I told her all this. I can hear my professional self understanding this and saying it to the clients I worked with, but for some reason I can’t swallow it for myself. I can’t shake the guilt…
the guilt doesn’t feel as bad around the things that happened to me because others are always worth more. I was expected to protect this other person in other situations though (even as a kid), so the expectation is there around this all that much more (I was expected to have power I didn’t have, and I was expected to be protector). And I failed. It was an unfair expectation, but I failed. Over and over again in life, I failed. Maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s the combination of compounded failures and the unreal expectations that makes this harder to leave behind. That, and that failure to protect myself was ok because others were always worth more than myself. Sacrificing myself, my wellbeing and safety, was ok and expected for the safety of others… and I failed miserably at it…

How do I get the emotions to match the intellectual knowledge that the guilt isn’t mine to bear? How do I get the feeling of failure to abate? How can I let go of the responsibility?

Random stupid question

Do you really have to love yourself before you can truly love others?
I resent it when I’m told that I can’t love others if I don’t love myself, because I don’t feel like I love myself, but I can certainly feel genuine and deep love for others. It’s invalidating to hear that statement when I know I deeply care for and love many people…


Imagine dragons – demons

Love this song. Specifically the chorus. Fits me.
Don’t get too close, they bite.

(Emphasis added)


When the days are cold
And the cards all fold
And the saints we see
Are all made of gold

When your dreams all fail
And the ones we hail
Are the worst of all
And the blood’s run stale

I wanna hide the truth
I wanna shelter you

But with the beast inside
There’s nowhere we can hide

No matter what we breed
We still are made of greed
This is my kingdom come
This is my kingdom come

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide

It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

At the curtain’s call
It’s the last of all
When the lights fade out
All the sinners crawl

So they dug your grave
And the masquerade
Will come calling out
At the mess you made

Don’t wanna let you down
But I am hell bound

Though this is all for you
Don’t wanna hide the truth

No matter what we breed
We still are made of greed
This is my kingdom come
This is my kingdom come

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

They say it’s what you make
I say it’s up to fate
It’s woven in my soul

I need to let you go

Your eyes, they shine so bright
I wanna save that light
I can’t escape this now

Unless you show me how

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide



Can’t shake this image, and a feeling of terror followed by intense sadness… can’t place it either. Not sure where it fits or what it fits with… trying not to write a story over it. Trying to let it be. Not really liking where is going… kinda left TL a message about it. We’ll see where this goes by Saturday.

Messing around

I want to sell my art, so I’m trying to make more stuff, stuff that I would be ok selling, and that people might buy. To that end, I thought I’d play with some inks. I’ve had some of them for almost 15 years without using them often, so I don’t really know how to use them (Windsor-Newton drawing ink set). Others I picked up 2 weeks ago, so definitely don’t know how to use those (Liquitex acrylic inks). I think it came out ok though, at least the flower (cut it off the page with the butterfly, so will need to mat & frame it to look like anything)… I definitely need to practice more, but it is fun. It’s kinda like the markers in terms of getting the color I want by layering. I hadn’t realized that till this play session. Now that I have a better idea of how to work them, I may be playing more often…



I think that went ok

TL had gotten the message I left, and we tried to talk about it. I managed to shut down and not really be able to communicate much, but I had the stuff I had written to her printed out and she read that. I was pretty checked-out most of the time. I do remember though that she summarized that a lot of it had to do with not feeling heard. I hadn’t really thought much about it all in those terms, but it clicked when she said it. Most of it does really have to to do with feeling like I’m unable to effectively communicate with others… I really don’t remember what else she said, or what I said, but we agreed to spend all of next session on the stuff in my art journal. She said she didn’t want to insult me last week by getting her interpretations wrong about it, so she didn’t want to keep guessing at the time. I on the other hand, couldn’t get past my walls to be able to speak about any of it and would have been happy for any interpretation she attempted. Now that that’s cleared up, hopefully next week will be a bit more productive on that front. I will try to tell her what it’s about, but if I can’t, she is ok telling me what she thinks it means, and I am ok correcting her as best I can when needed.

One thing I didn’t quite put together when starting with her is that they generally do therapy only for about 3 months then reevaluate, and often refer out. I guess we were supposed to be done by those standards, and here I am just getting started. Oops. o_O

I think we also talked about the concept of being overwhelmed. She wanted to know what it was like, what it felt like, but I don’t think I was able to put words to it. My head kept going blank and I couldn’t think of anything to say. I know at some point during that conversation we switched topics because of how overwhelmed I felt in the moment. She had asked how I feel about Likert scales: did I like them? Did I hate them? (apparently, some of her clients have really strong feelings one way or another about them). I don’t feel strongly about them either way, but if she finds them helpful, then I’m fine using them. That’s how she figured we should change the topic: I rated my feelings of being overwhelmed at a 9 out of 10… I suppose in reality it was maybe only a 7 or 8 since I wasn’t totally dissociated, but at the time it felt really high. Though maybe I’d rate complete dissociation at a 10 or higher? I’ve been known to rate myself off the scale when things get really bad because my presentation doesn’t always match how bad I’m feeling inside. Like that Ani DiFranco song Studying Stones, “using all of my will/to keep really still/still, even on the inside/…I’ve cut all of the pertinent wires/so my eyes can’t make that connection/I am holding my breath/I am feigning my death” (full lyrics at the end of this post), I’ve mastered stillness… it also describes dissociation pretty well, and that disconnect that has become second nature over the years. I have become the queen of understatement when it comes to emotions within myself, so others often have a really difficult time reading me. The only way I know to give any indication of how intense things are is to rate emotions off the scale when they are incredibly intense. It’s a crappy way to communicate, but I have not learned how to safely let the masks down to show even a hint of what’s going on inside…

I left feeling compelled to apologize over and over again to her; for voicing my needs, for being difficult, for not being able to trust her yet, for existing… I didn’t really know all of that was behind the apologies at the time I left session, but I was able to point out that I felt compelled to apologize to her at least for communicating about the transference and everything that was in the journal entry she read. She said I didn’t need to apologize for anything. I hope some day I can take that to heart.

:deep breath: here’s to waiting another week to get further. It’s all so painfully slow. :/ (Though this week was the first week in about a month(?) where I feel ok after having left. I don’t feel any pressing need to explain something further at this point, it’s just waiting to get to the stuff that she already knows about. I was checked-out leaving, but not in a bad way. I think I was just processing the session, trying to integrate what I consciously remember with the stuff I can’t pinpoint off the top of my head. ).

And now those lyrics I promised:

“Studying Stones” by Ani DiFranco

I am out here studying stones
Trying to learn to be less alive
Using all of my will
To keep very still
Still even on the inside
I’ve cut all of the pertinent wires
So my eyes can’t make that connection
I am holding my breath
I am feigning my death
When I’m looking in your direction
‘Course numb is an old hat
Old as my oldest memories
See that one’s my mother
And that one’s my father
And that one in the hat, that’s me
It’s a skill I’d hoped to abandon
When I got out on the open road
But any more pent-up emotion
And I think I’m gonna explode
There’s never been an endeavor so strange
As trying to slow the blood in my veins
To keep my face blank
As a stone that just sank
Until not a ripple remains
I am high above the tree line
Sitting cross-legged on the ground
When all of the forbidden fruit has fallen and rotted
That’s when I’m gonna come down’Course numb is an old hat
Old as my oldest memories
See that one’s my mother
And that one’s my father
And that one in the hat, that’s me
It’s a skill I’d hoped to abandon
When I got out on the open road
But any more pent-up emotion
And I think I’m gonna explode

Therapy in T-4 hours 5 minutes

And I haven’t slept well. Insomnia kicking in again this past week, though not as bad as it could be. 4 hours is still double what my average is when things get really bad.

I’m anxious about session. I brought up the concept of this negative transference via message, and now I want to run from it (and TL). I keep thinking she is mad at me and disapproving. I don’t know how to shake the feeling. I’m pretty sure it’s all related to the past, but knowing that isn’t helping ease it. I just want it to be 10 am already. I want to face this and see if I can figure out if it’s as bad as I fear… at the same time, I want to run and hide. I’m desperately seeking this safe place that doesn’t end up feeling safe because of the triggers. Then I spend the next week trying to get over all the stuff brought up but not adequately addressed in the hour…

I don’t know how to effectively do this right now. I don’t like the “getting to know you” phase, and I like it even less when it drags on for months.

The Scarlet Label (Borderline Personality Disorder)

for later reading

Everything Matters

borderlineBy Brent Potter PhD

The diagnosis Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) strikes fear and loathing in the hearts of most mental health providers. It is unquestionably one of the most stigmatizing and overused diagnoses in existence. Often diagnosing someone with this label is a clinical punch in the gut to the client and also a means of communicating warning to other clinicians. It is the 21st century version of the scarlet letter.

In Borderline Personality Disorder: New Perspectives on a Stigmatizing and Overused Diagnosis, Jacqueline Simon Gunn and I outline the history of attitudes about the (perceived) feminine gone awry. We show that current diagnostic conceptions do not bespeak a psychiatric disease of chemically imbalanced brain organs, but are the logical outcome of long-standing attitudes about women through history. We do not deny that there are patterns of experience typical of emotional chaos and we demonstrate that men too suffer…

View original post 844 more words

Sorry I’m not very active right now.

I find myself feeling guilty because I cannot seem to concentrate enough to read and respond to other people lately. I get a few spurts of energy that allows me to be “productive” in that respect, but most of the time I feel unable to formulate a coherent response. Even with L, I find myself lacking in ability to pay attention and come up with anything resembling understanding of what she has just said. It’s frustrating. I don’t like to feel so disconnected.

The few times I can attend enough to know what’s being said, I can’t come up with a response. The best I can muster lately is to send hugs, love, or a “like” to acknowledge that I have read the blog or post. It leaves me feeling like I am only taking, but not giving anything. I want to apologize for that. Sorry for not being more attentive and involved.

The week is dragging by. My head feels like molasses. Saturday’s session is not coming fast enough, though I am sure it will slip away through my fingers faster than I can blink once it’s here… I have to remember to print out the journal entries I want to give to TL to read.

the concept of neediness

I’m feeling very “needy” today. I crave interaction and talking about some of this stuff. I desperately want to talk to TL and address the transference piece because it’s making such a huge impact on things. And I want to talk to her about it today; right now

The flip side of all this is the judgement that goes along with my neediness. I see it in all the negative light that’s been cast on the concept by everyone ever. I’ve got the dialogue in my head repeating every negative judgement I have ever heard about it playing loud and clear in my brain: immature, too much trouble, you should know how to get through all this on your own, never grew up, never learned to do things on her own, bothersome, troublesome, frustrating, pain in the ass… It plays in the voices of people I have known, and the random voices of people I have heard speak of neediness in negative terms. It plays in TL’s voice (though she has never said anything even hinting at it being negative)…

So what’s the balance? When is neediness ok? and when is it too much? (and no, I don’t have any proposed answers to this right now, just raising the questions) As I’m told (and as I can intellectually gather), everyone has needs. They range from physical to emotional, but everyone has them. So how do we determine that a need is invalid or inappropriate? The clinician side of me would offer up support around anything a client found pressing (within the limitations of my expertise). I would be ok with calls about fears or worries or symptoms until we worked out an appropriately healthy way to deal with them. But the kid side of me worries about becoming annoying. I worry that my very “kid” needs would be inappropriate and unwelcome. Despite TL having reiterated that I can call simply to “vent” on her voicemail, I can’t bring myself to do it around this. I feel like it would be pushing the limits of her tolerance, and she would revoke the privilege… Of course, I can’t know this for certain if I don’t ask about it, but I figure I can ask next session. In the mean time, I am left struggling with it…

Now that I have recognized these needs as “kid” needs, what do I do with them? How do I handle them? The judgement of them being “inappropriate” is still very loud in my head, which makes me feel bad about even having them (I’m not a kid after all). But I don’t know how to suppress them or quiet them or deal with them.  I don’t know how to make them go away so they don’t interfere with life. Not only do the needs now feel “wrong” to have, but I feel wrong for having them. It feels like I’m intrinsically flawed, and that it can never be “fixed”. I’m back to feeling defective and unworthy at the core. I should know how to deal with this stuff myself, I should know how to handle my own needs, I shouldn’t have needs in the first place

On an intellectual level, I can see the flaw in that line of thinking. It doesn’t penetrate to the emotional level though. I can’t seem to talk myself out of feeling so wrong at my core. I should be able to, but it’s too deep and I can’t do it on my own… which comes back to being needy and having needs that I can’t fulfill myself at the moment, but I also don’t feel right asking for help in handling. It’s a nice little Catch 22…

To the World & On the Outside – Final

I finished this today…

I wanted to keep the tissue paper with words visible, so I did the left side in charcoal and crayon. Turns out it also works for the concept of not having “the full-color photo” when you only see what someone presents to the world. You have to see the darkness as well as the light to be able to see the real picture. Seeing just what’s presented to the world is lacking in substance…

2014 100-Theme Challenge #46 & #47 (WIP)

I’ve been trying to catch up on my theme challenges lately. I also saw (again) the art therapy prompt to make a mask representing what you show to the world, and what goes on inside (similar to last year’s “inside-out box”). I liked the idea of the duality, but didn’t want to do an actual mask. I decided instead to do a single piece with a face split down the middle (combining two of the 2014 theme challenges: #46 – to the world & #47 – on the inside).

wpid-20140920_232157.jpgI tried to sketch out the basics first. I kinda like the way the right side came out (the “inside”), though I still need to work on my color-shading skills and painting skills in general for faces. I can get more inanimate objects painted well, but facial features elude me… Anyway, I wanted to make the inside kinda gross and zombie-ish, because it’s how I feel most of the time (and pretty much always like that deep-down). I would have prefered a more realistic look to it, but I’m going to say it’s ok because my painting skills have never been on par with my drawing skills (back when I could draw better). I added the words around the image to convey more specifically my inner dialogue… Needless to say, my self-esteem is below pond-scum most of the time (though with my continued practice of art, it’s growing a bit at least around my artwork).

to the world; on the inside IP)I wasn’t sure what to do with the left side. I thought of trying a painting of a happy face with a happy, confident, and calming image in the silhouette and then marker in the features, but I couldn’t decide on an image I wanted to use that would convey all the stuff I project.  I remembered I had found some cool “inspirational” tissue paper on clearance at the store the other day and had yet to find an art application for it. I tried that for the bg of the “outside” half of the face. I forgot tissue paper gets pretty transparent when glued, so the words are sadly not easily read (had to use multiple layers and over-lapping pieces). I have yet to decide how to do the rest fo the face… There will be positive words around that head, ones that represent all the stuff I display to the world so they don’t see what’s really there.

that crappy kind of transference, not the kind that gives you warm-fuzzies…

I just want to cry. It was so triggering today, but not in the usual way. It triggered lots of emotional flashbacks, but only towards the end of the session, and they fully hit only after I left. We talked about how I had been really flat this week (not excited or sad about anything, just emotionless). TL was concerned, but I did my best to express how there was nothing behind the flatness this time (at least not in the moment that I was talking to her). She tried to have me see the “gains” from this week’s lack of emotion. I couldn’t seem to comprehend any of it as a “gain”, just a break. I think that frustrates the hell out of her. She’s insisting it’s a gain, and I’m here trying to tell her things will fall apart again (because they always have). She spent a good deal of time trying to convince me that worrying about things falling apart will make them happen. She says I make it happen with my train of thought. I didn’t know how to explain that I am just going off of past history. Every break from the heaviness is shortly (or rarely: long-ly) followed by a crash. I’d much rather cover what to keep an eye out for, and what to do when it happens, then to think this is finally the time I recover fully with no back-sliding.

I’ve figured out her pushing with the things she does reminds me a lot of my childhood, and I respond to her like I would my parents (mostly G – get defensive, feel invalidated, feel unheard, want to run but fear the consequences of doing so…). This seems to be triggered every single session. I don’t quite know how to address it or what to do about it. I’m hoping she has an effective way of dealing with this transference. With De, it was all the positive stuff that was being felt (and causing the hurt at the loss). With TL, it’s all the negative stuff. It’s preventing a feeling of safety in therapy, which is something I need in order to be able to continue with it effectively.

So I’m here wanting to cry my eyes out, wanting to talk to her again in hopes that I could leave feeling better rather than worse, and I have a week to wait. I know by then I will lose touch with all this. The walls will go back up and I will be as baffled by today’s emotions next week as I was about last week’s emotions today. She says she’s ok with me not knowing how to explain it on the spot, but then she seems incredulous that I truly don’t know or don’t have connection to it if I’m not in the same emotional space. I’m really good at compartmentalizing. The walls go up and that’s it. Sometimes I get a sense of what’s going on in the background, other times there’s nothing. This week, there was nothing I had access to. Now the access is back. And it sucks. 😦

art journal progress, new coupons, and more paper cranes!

Been playing a lot with art of late. I tried out 3 image-transfer techniques. I did some more therapy coupons, and I added to the crane invasion yet again.

wpid-20140918_160109.jpgFirst up, the image transfers. I used generic materials that I had at home already, no need to buy their products or anything… I tried the packing tape technique first (she’s quite a bit more anal than I was… I like the imperfections, bubbles, and wrinkles).  1. Put overlapping pieces of packing tape directly on the image/words you want to transfer. 2. Soak in/with water untill the paper is saturated. 3. Rub off the paper fiber, this may take a bit of working at it to get it all off, but it can be done. the image will remain on the tape, and in theory, the tape will remain sticky (mine did not so I “glued” it down using acrylic gel medium. you could also probably use modge podge or any more flexible glue that dries clear). 4. Apply the tape with the image to your desired background. Keep in mind the image will be somewhat translucent, so you will be able to see the background underneath it.

I wanted to do more with the piece, so I sanded the tape slightly to give it “tooth” for anything I may choose to put over it (there were some words I wanted to cover up). I then gesso’d the spot I wanted to cover. I thought this was a good opportunity to test out the gesso image transfer method. I made sure to apply enough gesso so that it would stay wet as I applied the image (face into the gesso) I wanted transferred. I smoothed it out and applied pressure to make sure all of the image stuck to the gesso. I waited until the gesso was (almost) completely dry (should have been more patient, but… well, I wanted to keep working), then saturated the paper. Once the paper was sufficiently soaked, I rubbed off the pulp. The image transferred really well, and just as vivid as the original photo because the gesso gives an opaque white bg. Had I been patient and waited for the gesso to try completely before removing the paper pulp, I should not have the “holes” in my image where I wiped away the gesso base as well as the paper pulp. oops! That’s ok though, because it goes with the feel of the rest of the piece.

wpid-20140917_095321.jpgI really liked the results of the gesso image transfer, so I decided to do a layered version. I needed a clear medium for transfer so that the bottom later could be seen. I think I had heard mention fo using gel medium to do transfers. I have a bunch of the stuff, so I decided to try that. I made sure to gesso the journal pages with at least 2 layers before applying the thicker coat of gesso for the transfer. Had I been more careful here (more layers, letting it dry completely), I would not have ended up with large chunks of the image missing. Anyway, I applied the background image (picture I found on the web) with the gesso transfer technique, and managed to rip my pages as I rubbed off damp gesso with the paper pulp (lack of patience on my part).

wpid-img_20140918_101340.jpgI covered over that with two layers of gloss gel medium (needed to make sure I covered the exposed paper and make it all more water-resistant again). I then did the same technique as the gesso transfer, only using the gel to grab the ink off the image… For this layer, I wanted some writing. I copy-pasted lyrics to some songs I like into a word document, formatted the way I wanted them to appear, then saved a screenshot of the text. I took it into a photo editing program (Sketchbook Pro), and flipped the image so the text printed out backwards (it will end up the mirror image of it once transferred onto the gel or gesso). I smoothed the image onto the thicker wet gel medium layer and set aside to dry. I was determined to do it without ripping the base layer or more of my page this time. Once it was completely dry, I soaked and peeled the paper. I purposefully left some imperfections in the transfer (bubbles, brush marks in the gel, uneven gel layer) all to give a more worn/grunged-up look to it.


wpid-picsart_1411093792890.jpgI finished it off with some painting… De would note here that the blanketed girl showed up again. She’s in a lot of places… The dog is also a recurring character (both from a shadow-puppetry piece I never really finished) and is based on the puppy (his silhouette makes for easy-to-interpret art). I decided to keep this piece monochromatic. I don’t think it would have had the same feel with color… Anyway, I figured this worked for the 2014 100-Theme Challenge #14 – Heaviness.

I liked the way it all worked, and much prefer the gesso or gel methods to the tape method, though the tape gives a cool transparent look to the image…

wpid-20140919_211058.jpgwpid-20140919_211136.jpgI was having so much fun with the image transfers, I decided to try it on some of the coupons. I think they turned out better (practice makes perfect when you are trying to get just the right imperfect look to the piece). I also had tried my hand at stamp carving (I had supplies on hand from L, who was big into the letterboxing thing a few years ago. They would carve their own stamps). I used the new peanuts stamp on a few of the coupons. I also just painted a few of them. Over-all, I had a lot fo fun trying out new things for the past week! (remind me to extol the virtues of gelatos some day… for right now, I’m too tired to explain them. Faber-Castell makes them, you can look up more info if you are too curious to wait – which honestly, may be a better choice as I fear I may forget to come back to them)

wpid-wp-1411184192029.jpegFinally, some updated pics on the crane invasion. There are now 315 (I can’t add this late and shorted myself by 10 when I made up the pic)

asking to slow things down & therapy coupons!

I was able to leave TL a message earlier today asking her if we could slow down a bit. I was able to express that I am really triggered and overwhelmed between sessions, and that it is making me question returning each week… :gulp!:

I am in the process of trying to come up with a new list of things to talk about for this week’s session. Closer to session time, I will leave her another message asking if she could help remind me to address the list (I forgot to ask her in the above message, and I don’t want to go over-board with the message thing just yet. I’m sure I will get there eventually, but for now I am exercising self-control)…

On another note, an online friend and I have agreed to exchange “therapy coupons”. They are aimed at helping make sessions go a bit easier, or at helping us address difficult things. I had sent mine out last week, and this week I got the ones my friend sent. I LOVE them!!!!

wpid-20140915_171445.jpgShe made me: 1) An Ounce of Patience (lol, for when I will be trying TL’s last nerve!), 2) One moment of Inspiration (therapeutic or otherwise), 3) Courage for Two (that 20 seconds of insane courage to start on something difficult to address), 4) A Daring Intervention (accepting an unusual or uncomfortable intervention that TL may suggest, within reason), & 5) One Free Trespass (to help when talking about difficult, shameful, scary, embarrassing, hurtful, or otherwise “inaccessible” topics).

wpid-wp-1410839089008.jpegThese are the ones I made her: 1) A Moment of Inspiration, 2) A Daring Intervention, 3) An Ounce of Patience, 4) Courage for Two.

Most of them are meant to be re-used multiple times (some have restrictions around use, but the user can modify that if they choose… though my friend disagrees on that point. I just don’t want to have to throw the ones I was given out because they are way too cool to be disposable). I’m definitely taking the ones I got in to show TL on Saturday.

a fear of reaching out

So, last session TL offered that I can call and leave her voice messages if there’s ever anything I want to pass along to her between sessions, or even just to “vent or whatever”.  As much as this is a huge relief (I think it was offered without me asking, though I am not totally sure anymore), the thought of actually leaving her a message about something scares me. This weekend I had wanted to tell her I was unsure about continuing therapy, but that I definitely need to slow down on stuff. I think the fact that I am asking for something that may make her angry (I totally recognize this is a triggered thing from the past) is making me balk. I also worry that she will find my messages annoying and rescind the offer as fast as it materialized (again, likely triggered from the past, as when I told her my worry, she said the offer still stands and that she maintains that she will not necessarily respond to the message, but will listen to it and we can talk about it the next session)… I still can’t shake the fear around leaving her a message. :/

I dunno. I will probably make an attempt later today… o_O

Triggering all the “shoulds”

I’m not sure why I’m continuing therapy at this time. Yesterday’s session was again really triggering, but this time add on all the “shoulds” it brought up…
I know… I know I should be doing so many things differently, and I should be able to deal more effectively with all this, and I should know how to ground, and I should be better at recognizing the past vs the present and I should be able to do this on my own. I know this. But it doesn’t make anything any easier or more effective… it just reminds me again of how much I’m failing at life, how I frustrate the hell out of everyone with my lack of progress, and how I’ll never be good enough at anything for anyone.

I keep thinking I need to walk away from therapy, but at the same time the thought of not having even that illusion of support frightens me. I can’t do this alone, but I can’t do it with what I have either :/

I feel like trying to contain all that is triggered in therapy is like trying to contain a spill in a bucket full of cracks and holes. As soon as something gets put back, something else flows (oozes or gushes or spills or bursts) out through one of the weak spots… it’s futile.

Trepidation around tomorrow’s session

This week has been awful. I’ve been triggered incessantly and having a really difficult time dealing with it. Tomorrow is my appointment with TL, and I don’t know what to expect. I have stuff I want to tell her relating to last week, but I’m not sure how much depth I want to go into. There are the body memories, and the actual memories that go with them. There’s the stuff that was triggered by talk of the different sides, there’s the neediness, and there’s the fear of trusting her with so little connection. I keep wondering if I should continue therapy since I can’t seem to keep trauma work out of sessions right now. But I also am not sure I could just quit… it’s really difficult opening up the trauma stuff then having to close it as fast as it was opened. I know I need more support around that work if I choose to go there, but she is unable to provide that. I just don’t know how to not open that stuff up again when we talk; it’s so intertwined in absolutely everything in my head (especially down here). So the question becomes, do I try to continue therapy workout touching the trauma work? Do I try to do the trauma work and hope I can cope on my own with whatever comes up? Or do I attempt to quit therapy and see what happens? (That last one scares me a lot. I’d have to have other supports in place if that were to happen, as well as a specific end date for living here)…

So I have a ton of stuff to cover in a short hour tomorrow. I’m not sure what to address first. Maybe the conversation around additional supports needs to happen again… definitely need to have the conversation about how to maintain connection and trust from session to session. I have most everything written down, I just have I get to it. I also desperately want her to look at the rest of my art journal. I don’t think the hour will be enough to get to everything I need to address :/

just want to cry

Flashbacks are returning hard. Got really triggered in therapy last time and I can’t seem to pull out of it. I want to bawl my eyes out, but there’s no place to do that; no safe person to do it with… the flashbacks bring more complete memories, and they are unrelenting. I’ve been rehearsing my mantra that is supposed to remind me I’m in the here and now, not the past. The words are starting to blend together and not make sense because I’ve said them so often recently.
Every little thing makes me jump again. I thought that it had finally calmed down a few weeks ago, but it’s back. None of my usual coping skills are helping. I hate this so much. I just want to be able to get through the days without feeling so terrified and alone…

I keep going back to wanting to run from therapy because it’s so triggering. Maybe if there were more resources during the down-time, or I had more in-person support around what we talk about, I wouldn’t feel so lost. But there’s nothing else. Nothing that TL can offer or suggest. Nothing I can afford in terms of additional supports. And I just want to isolate from everyone and everything 😦

Is it Saturday yet? Does it really matter anyway when the hour flies by so fast leaving me feeling raw and triggered? My neediness is through the roof today, but it’s very specific: I don’t want to have to talk. I just want to sit and feel supported. I want that closeness without the pressure of being “on”… I want to be understood and have all this figuratively held for me so I am not so alone in it. I don’t know how to do that with what I have in the moment. I can’t talk about what was triggered with anyone close to me because I need to still process it first with someone objective (translate that to: safe & non-judgemental & relatively unaffected).

The a/c was fixed yesterday, so I moved my art supplies back out of the bedroom, but I don’t want to sit out there to do anything. I like my little cave at the moment, even though mom is shopping and the house is empty. Feeling very vulnerable, so the tighter space is welcomed. The comfort of the bed and the dogs and the music through the speakers helps… Fuck, really miss De right now. SJ is very much here and very much out and very much missing her comforts and safety…

On creativity

I’ve had many an argument with people about creativity, and whether or not they are “creative”. This editorial is a nice back-up to my argument that everyone is creative in their own way, they just need to foster it. (To tie this in to mental health, you were very creative in your strategies to deal with your symptoms before you “knew” what you should or should not be doing. While you may not have ended up with the healthiest coping skills, you ended up with something that helped you survive but that you were not outright taught. This is creativity)…

Get out there! Be creative with art or technology or fashion or writing or games or play or building or whatever, but give your creative side an outlet.

Much love to you all. (And let me know what you create!)

the misunderstood shark

So, I had done the bg to this piece a few days ago. I didn’t know where to go with it, so I asked for ideas. Someone suggested a shark. I really liked the idea.

Originally, I wanted that stereotypical great white with its mouth open ready to chomp down. I thought it worked well as a metaphor for trauma and PTSD (lurking in the dark, ready to pounce as soon as you let your guard down, ready to leave you bloodied and fighting for your life…).  I couldn’t find a satisfactory reference photo though, so I picked a tamer-looking black tip reef shark.

10494756_10152709871029892_465310054786958476_nI over-did the painting in trying to get it “just right”. I ended up with a worried shark who looks a bit deformed. At first I was disappointed that I lost the metaphor I was going for (no way anyone would think my pathetically worried shark was menacing in any way, shape, or form), but then someone asked about it, and another metaphor came to me: symptoms can seem like one thing, but end up being something else; they are misunderstood much like Mr. Worried Sharkey-pants. At first you see him thinking; “eek! a shark. run! help!” but then you look closer and you see the worry on his face. You notice the missing top rows of teeth, you see his fins are small and in the wrong spots… you catch on that he’s really just looking to figure things out, to get where he’s going. He’s not the scary monster the media makes him out to be… he’s just scared.

I’ve found more and more that my body memories are a lot like that. They start as one thing, they trigger that panic reaction. But if I sit with them, if I look at what they are presenting, I realize there’s more to it: The actual memories come up. They give me something to process in therapy. They allow me to work towards moving on… ok, yes, there’s still that freak-out and the fear. And the “moving on” part is incredibly difficult, but it happens. Take my last therapy session for example. It triggered something way deep. I freaked out. It qued up the neediness and the panic reactions. But it also allowed me to access some things that I had not consciously thought about yet. It brought to light some things that are slowly coalescing into memories. It’s releasing all that pent-up fear and hurt… So it’s not at all what I thought when I first felt the stirrings of a trigger. It’s giving me stuff to work on with TL (like I really needed more??)…


“Your shadow side has its own beauty, even if that’s hard to see at times.”

someone on a forum said this and I think I like it… so I’m passing it on.

today’s session was a fail…

I had really wanted to talk to TL about the stuff I had given her to read last week, but I froze when she asked about it. Terror took over and I couldn’t do anything. The stuff I wanted to say got lost on its way from my brain to my mouth. She made a good effort at getting me to loosen up and speak, but I could not get out of my own way. I really need to figure out how to get past that roadblock in my head.

I’m also really struggling to maintain any connection and trust between sessions. I had meant to bring that up today too, but I got distracted by my fear. It’s just too difficult to have to build up to being able to speak, then realizing I only have about 5 minutes left. It takes me nearly the whole session to feel comfortable enough to open up. I need to figure out how to carry any trust and comfort from one session to the next. I used to write in a private blog to De, but that’s not an option. Most of the suggestions I had gotten from others are not options, which is why I had meant to bring it up with TL today. I was hoping we could come up with something that works within the framework in which we work… I had actually had stuff written down to cover today, but I never looked at it. I really wanted to start with the stuff I had given her to read, but that became so overwhelming it took over everything in me…

I did end up going to the beach after though. It was nice and stormy and quiet. There were only a few dozen people out there (tourist season has not yet started), so it was easy to find a spot away from others. One of the lifeguards decided to surf on his break. I spent some time watching him do his thing. Then a woman and 3 boys came by and they played in the water. It was a good choice to go. On the way to and from the beach, I turned up the music and the bass in the car. I have found that the vibration of the bass helps calm me down. It vibrates the emotion out of me. It doesn’t work outside of the car (or back in the day, the club) because I need the whole-body experience of the bass moving through all of me… Guess I need to specifically add that to my list of coping skills, as it’s a good counter to any impulsiveness I may be feeling. something about it triggers the same kind of release…

Anyway, gotta wait another week to try again with TL. I hate it, because so much builds up and piles on to all the stuff that didn’t get addressed the week before, it becomes overwhelming. Getting through the week is really difficult, then the session is a let-down in terms of what I need to cover, and then I have another week to wait for another try. I really miss the availability of writing to De, or coming in extra. It made the connection last a bit better…


I want to bawl my eyes out tonight. I’m not sure why. Part of it is probably that I am over-tired, yet I can’t sleep. If I take benadryl at this point, I won’t make it to my appointment with TL in the morning. Of course, if I can’t stay awake for it, then it will be useless.

So many little frustrations piling up. Hopelessness creeping back in again. The peace never lasts… :/

One of the dogs is sick. I hope it’s nothing major. I realized he had a temp when he slept between my legs during my nap; his body temp was burning my legs. I should have realized something was up when he was all clingy these last few days. Earlier today he tried to cuddle up on his grandma’s lap (all the dogs know better than to try to sit on her). I guess he wanted someone to make him feel better… I gave him some kid aspirin and covered half his create in case he is cold at night. He seems to be more comfortable sleeping tonight (not shifting or complaining as much as last night). I really hope it’s nothing major. We definitely can’t afford vet bills any time soon. I feel really bad though when the kids are sick. They are like little human kids who just want you to make them feel better. Maybe I’ll make him some chicken soup tomorrow.


I don’t know why waiting for Saturday seems so difficult. It’s just one more day, but it feels like forever. And I always end up feeling like that hour is not enough. It’s always too short. I always crave that connection, but it fizzles as the week progresses. I find it hard to connect again, it takes too long to build up to being able to talk, then the hour is up and I’ve not tackled anything. I’m left needing to talk again. It sucks.  I wish she had more availability. I wish I could either do a longer session, or go more often. But it’s not going to happen :/

I hate needing so much. I hate that I need to look to someone else for emotional safety and for comfort. I used to get along ok without it, but since I’ve gotten a taste of it, I don’t want to go without. The safety is a huge thing. I don’t completely feel it with TL yet, but I get glimpses of it. It’s almost more painful that way. I’m reminded what it’s like, then I lose it for most of the week… I don’t know how to carry it through. I don’t know how to hold that connection. With De, I could write and she would see it before we met again. I don’t have that with TL. I don’t have anything with her. Relationship- and trust-building sucks. I don’t think it would be so difficult if I didn’t feel so lost in life. But I have no job, no purpose (even though I try to create meaning and purpose in my days), no one “comfortable” to hang out with… I don’t have the drive to get out to do things I think I would enjoy like the beach or the everglades. I would probably at least enjoy the moment if I could go do those things, but getting there is the hard part. It’s not the logistics, it’s the talking myself into going. The little voice in my head gives me a million excuses not to go, most of which involve my lack of energy and the difficulty of motivating. I can barely drag myself to the things I have to do. I don’t have the motivation for anything else. I was seriously thinking about not going to yesterday’s workshop (is expensive, it’s far), but I had already paid for it the day before and I didn’t want to lose the cash. I always have fun once there, it’s just getting there that’s difficult… and maybe being there is a bit intimidating because she makes very astute “art therapist” connections sometimes (she works in the foster care system in her day job. We talked shop for a while the first class I went to, and I’m gathering she has some AT certification and/or training). Sometimes it’s a bit vulnerable, but it’s also kinda nice to have parts of me “seen” and still accepted by total strangers.

Anyway, I’m rambling. Sorry. One of those days with only about 2 hours of sleep the night before, and it always lowers my emotional veil a bit.

Art journal workshop tonight

Tonight’s art journal workshop was neat. We used distress inks and stains (Tim Holtz line) with gesso’d stencils,  washi tape, and cut-out butterflies to make a some-what post-apocalyptic design. Mine was the darkest of the class (really? You’re surprised by this?).


A friend online wanted a tutorial, so I thought I’d play some more tonight… only I figured out quite belated that I did not have 1) a stencil to use & 2) any distress inks (oops!). So, I improvised.
I made a spider web stencil out of cardstock (not recommended: rips easily and melts when wet by the gesso). I also used water soluble wax crayons instead of the cool inks (it would have come out better with the inks).

*First step, paint a thin layer of gesso on your entire paper*

Anyway, after making the stencil, I placed it where I wanted it and gesso’d over it to create a raised pattern. I did this in 2 corners. (I dried the gesso completely so the pattern of the stencil remains raised).

I then rubbed a black stamp ink pad all over the place trying to start a background. I added some gray on top of it. Then I stared for a while (couldn’t figure out what I was going to use instead of the distress ink).

I dug out my water color crayons. I colored in heavily across the background with no real plan in mind, just adding colors in chunks. I rubbed the crayon in with my finger instead of using water yet at this point.

I stamped on some bats and embossed them. I stared some more, not liking the page yet. I rubbed more black ink over everything.

Hmm, still needs work…

I used water and a paint brush to get the color close to the drawings… I messed up and painted over a line into the drawing (oops!) So I just went with it. I ended up painting over both characters with a light wash of the watercolor. I also added lots of water to the top edge of the pages to facilitate dripping… i dried everything on the page at this point. getting closer to “finished”.

It still needed more, so I found some lyrics that fit the message of the image. I tried writing them in with pen. I hated the way it looked, so I wiped it off with a baby wipe (if caught early enough, it can clean stuff off a non-porous surface, which is why I should recommend putting a thin layer of gesso on the entire page before you begin. Should probably mention that sooner huh?).

I decided to try stamping on the lyrics, which I liked much better. Then I dried everything again and closed the book so I could try to get some sleep (didn’t work)…

Anyway, here’s the picture version of the tutorial:


Please show off your work in the comments if you try this. I would love to see what others come up with!

Middle of the night ramblings

I can’t sleep. Keep getting restless. Today was kinda rough. PMS combined with a handful of disappointments and stressors had me cranky and on the verge of tears all day…I had expected to be getting a new phone today, but not as expensive as it ended up being. I was going to keep my old phone once I found out that the quote I had gotten earlier in the week was inaccurate, but it got stuck trying to factory reset then overheated. Ended up with the new phone, but spent double what I had expected to spend on it.

Earlier, had some issues with the bank and a check I was told I could deposit through the atm. Turns out I should have gone to a teller. The check was pulled, as were the funds. I got an overdraft fee (have to talk to them about that) because the check was pulled. Also, the a/c will have to wait another 2 weeks now it seems (all related to the check)…

I spent the day running errands. Then got home and dealt with the frustration of the learning curve for the new phone when trying to set it up again the way I like it. I realized I didn’t know the pw’s to much, so a good 3 hours was spent trying to recover accounts. I think I have it set up acceptably for the time being. We will see what I’ve forgotten as I try to use it and find stuff missing. On the plus side, the camera on this new phone is much better than the old one!
Took this pic tonight:



I really miss De again lately. Not quite sure why (meaning I’m not sure what triggered the sudden flood of emotion over it as things had been a bit easier the past 2 weeks). I miss having that safe space. I miss the comfort of her office. I miss that I already had trust built up. I miss her availability… it’s difficult to get to know and trust TL. Being restricted to once a week at the time of the appointment is hard. Switching rooms also throws me off. We have 3 rooms we bounce between, but I can’t get comfortable with the switching. I also lose much of the connection that built during session as the week progresses. I had given her some more vulnerable stuff to read as I left last week and now I don’t want to go back (but I do at the same time). I’m very much worried about judgements. I know she said that’s not her style, but I can’t seem to believe that. The negative voice in my head says she’s going to judge me anyway. It tells me that this bit of information pushes me into the “too broken” category. It whispers that she’s going to throw up her hands and run away hard and fast. It says I am too far gone with everything, and this will prove to her that all those other providers were correct: I’m totally hopeless.

I’m glad I was able to get most of my music onto this phone. I would be lost without my playlist tonight.

Just because

Tonight’s clouds. Heavily edited. Just because.


(Kinda looks like a UFO)…

It’s out, ok? (WIP)

Something I have been half-heartedly working on for the past 2 or 3 days (clearly not much progress going on here with it). It’s a take off on the piece I did for De for Sexual Assault Awareness Month back in April… the same characters, but different moments. The girl on the left is still unable to talk, but she’s more shy while also more protective of herself. The girl on the right is a bit more… frustrated? stalled? unsure? lost? I’m not quite sure what emotion, but maybe all of the above? Taking her heart out to examine it and hoping no one ruins it on her (though it is quite useless inside since its broken, so maybe it doesn’t matter much if someone were to break it further. Maybe she just wants someone else to see it and say it’s acceptable “as is”… or better yet, maybe someone can help her fix it?).
Anyway, half-hearted effort for a stupid piece…


Saturday’s therapy session – fear of judgement

The session was spent talking a lot about fear of judgement. We talked a bit about where it stems from, and TL tried to assure me she would not judge me negatively for anything I said. She also tried to assure me that her reactions were genuine, and that she did not say one thing in the therapy room only to say something else behind closed doors.

I kinda introduced the level of compartmentalization in my head, but I did not bring up any specifics. We talked a bit about walls, and my inability to connect to anything if I am not currently in the corresponding emotional state. At the end of session, I gave her a print out of a blog I had written to De about this around the same time last year describing SJ and the other aspects of my head.  I did not want to be around when she read it, so I asked that she read it before next week. She glanced at it briefly, and that caused some panic, so I quickly started talking to pull her attention away from what I handed to her.  Now there’s a measure of urgency in wanting to talk it over with her. Next Saturday is a long way away.

I wonder if all of this is playing into the weird anxiety symptoms I have been having lately… probably is. Hopefully next week this will all dissipate.

She had wanted me to write about the session, but I can’t think of any way to meaningfully process it. I was so wrapped up in the anxiety over explaining things to her that I didn’t take in too much on a conscious level. I guess she will have to be ok with that. I hope next week’s session goes well…