Monthly Archives: October 2014

Interesting session yesterday

After last week’s termination conversation, my anxiety was through the roof about yesterday’s session. I don’t do well with the loss of significant people, and TL has become a significant person in my life. She kinda brought it into perspective a bit yesterday though (and it made me feel a bit better about it). She asked why I wouldn’t expect to miss someone I’ve seen weekly for 4 months, and been relatively emotionally intimate with… I don’t think I explained the magnitude of the emotions I feel around this loss, but I guess I feel a bit better about the thought of missing her.
She still didn’t give me a definite time frame for the ending, but she explained the process a bit better. She said she wants me to have more control over the situation, and that she’s not on any specific restriction on ending at the agency, so I really do have more control over it than I would if she were simply ending her hours. I guess she’s slowly transitioning to another job that offers more hours from one agency (instead of her current multiple jobs), but it’s not forcing her to leave completely. It sounds like she will be offering a few of her clients more flexibility around ending.

We also talked about how I was taking things. I was able to admit that I threw up huge walls, and that I wasn’t sure what the point was in trying to tackle other stuff in therapy if I had to end soon anyway. I know part of my trouble with endings lately comes from the association I have with talking about some of the stuff from the past, and never getting beyond a certain point in dealing with it. I think the walls I put up helped me be able to admit so much to TL yesterday. Had I not had so many defenses up, I think I would have gotten lost in the overwhelming emotion around the topics we covered… it’s interesting how sometimes shutting off the emotions is actually more freeing than letting them out (at least it can be if you don’t know how to keep them in check)…

I did forget to point out to her that I don’t think she got my messages though. I had left her one specifically asking her to shred the journal entries I had given her to read last week. She clearly didn’t get it (or chose to ignore it) because she brought them out to go over later in the session. I don’t really mind because part of me had hoped she’d ignore my request. It really is all stuff I need to talk about, I’m just hesitant to talk about it with someone that’s not going to be able to follow up on it again later… Anyway, we kinda addressed it, but I was also really adept at getting her off onto a related tangent so I didn’t need to confirm exactly what we were talking about (I had left it vague in the journals, though I think she may have pieced things together)… we ended up talking shop for a good portion of the session (I swear, it really did connect to the journal stuff. We were trying to figure out what prompted the change in self-harm association and we were trying to narrow it down in time. It happened to change right around the time I went back for my masters, so we talked about that a bit)… Anyway, I didn’t end up having to tell her too much about the shameful parts of the journal… there was also a point when we were talking about something unrelated to much else, but I was hit with a very intense body memory. I couldn’t talk about it though beyond acknowledging that I was very uncomfortable.  I kinda feel bad because I think I startled her. We were talking and suddenly I jumped in my chair because it felt like someone was caressing my side. When she asked what happened, it felt really wrong to talk about it, so I didn’t say anything. I also really just wanted the feeling to stop…  we moved on to other things. I did call her and leave a message on my way home though. I hoped that saying out loud what happened and why I couldn’t talk about it in the moment would lessen the impact of it for the rest of the week. We’ll see if it actually helps (so far the feeling has only come back a few times in the last 18 hours)…

I’m again torn between really wanting to address this stuff in therapy, and wondering what the point of it all is if I’ll only get to talk about it once before moving on to a new therapist. I really wish I had the money to switch agencies (TL mentioned the name of the agency she is moving to, and I might be able to follow her if only I could afford the rates they charge – 10 times what I pay monthly now). I wish I could afford a therapist that I could stick with until I move :/ maybe I’ll ask TL if I could follow her to the new agency, and then figure out how to pay for it all. She totally deserves to get paid for her work, and I really don’t want to switch clinicians again…


Quotes

Scars remind us where we’ve been, they don’t have to dictate where we’re going. – David Rossi, Criminal Minds

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness but of power. They are messengers of overwhelming grief and of unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving (Criminal Minds)


falling into the stereotypes (some of my internal processing)

I’m trying to figure something out, sorry if this post doesn’t make much sense…

Since TL mentioned termination last week, I’ve gone back and forth between putting up huge walls, and desperately wanting to talk to her again. As tomorrow’s appointment gets closer, I find myself having that regular anticipation of talking to her and happy to be seeing her because she represents a safe place and has been a relatively safe person to talk to until now. At the same time though, I’m wondering if tomorrow should be the last session because termination sucks and I don’t want to draw it out. Then I’m again bouncing back to ignoring that she brought up termination at all.

I’m confusing myself and not explaining that well… I think I’m stuck between pushing her away and denial of the termination conversation… :/

I want to go see her because she represents a safer person. I want to talk about what this all brought up, but at the same time I feel like trust has been lost and it’s no longer ok to look to her for support with anything beyond logistics of possibly being hooked up with a new therapist. I don’t know how to straighten that out in my head. Not sure how to proceed… I think my hesitation with looking to her for more support comes from knowing that it’s opening myself up again to that horrid feeling of loss and being lost. I don’t like it, I don’t want it. It’s overwhelming and (again) way out of proportion for the relationship. I have so much trouble with changes like this. I really don’t know how to handle it, and I have not been able to address it in therapy yet with any meaningful results (even after so many therapists and so many attempts at tackling all the issues)…

TL wasn’t clear on what exactly the time-frame is. She refused to answer when I asked how long she had left, and she again asked me how long I thought therapy should take… I don’t know for sure if she meant she was leaving next month, or within the next six months. I’m assuming she meant the next month because she had given one month as a reference point twice when asking how much longer I thought therapy should take.

I have a LOT of trouble with loss. She knows this, so I don’t know if she’s trying to ease into the termination conversation, or if we are just trying to tackle the loss issue. The thing is, my thinking went immediately to “f-this. she’s leaving so why bother dragging it out. no more talking, no more trusting. I’m done”. I know this is a cognitive leap, and that I’m throwing up walls without really knowing exactly what’s going on. Sometimes I can recognize this and think more rationally about it. Other times the emotions take over and I’m totally lost. I think that’s playing a huge role in the back-and-forth I have about wanting to talk to her about this more, and wanting to run away. I’m recognizing the diagnoses and history this all plays into/off-of.

I just can’t consistently figure it all out though. I don’t know how to be ok with it. I am not sure I want to take down any of the walls to open myself up to talking about this just to find out that I am right and she is leaving next month. My head goes SO dark if I try to let myself feel anything more or not take this total detachment right now. I don’t want to land back in the hospital. I don’t want to be the stereotype of my diagnoses, but at the same time, I’m finding I’m nothing but that stereotype…

Years ago, my records indicated I was hopeless and will struggle with this forever. As much as I hate the thought of that, I’m afraid they may be right. I think I live in a fantasy world that I can move out of this behavior when this stuff isn’t actively triggering me, but as soon as it’s triggered, I don’t know how else to react. I’m ashamed by it and frustrated beyond belief that I can’t seem to figure this out once and for all. I wish I could find a therapist that I could stick with, and that was consistent with the “you’re not hopeless” stance so they could remind me once in a while, but the way I fall back into all this every time loss comes up I doubt that will ever happen. It’s really crappy. I don’t want to be hopeless, but I think they are right. I think I really am. If I can’t learn to navigate losses, how the hell can I learn anything else? I think some things are just too broken to fix…


When it rains…

It feels like suddenly everything is flying out of control. I feel like I’ve already lost TL, saving money seems impossible, and now one of the dogs will need minor surgery to fix a bleed in her ear (which could have been prevented if I could find something that reliably gets rid of these damn fleas, but nothing is working anymore. I’ve gone the chemical route, the naturopathic route, combined both and still no reliable results). I don’t have the money for the surgery. I don’t have the money for the professional-grade pesticides that may or may not work on the fleas. I don’t have a way to make more money at the moment)…
It feels like absolutely everything is destabilizing, and I have nothing to grab on to. The depression is kicking my ass and making it virtually impossible to accomplish anything. I’ve kicked distraction into high gear: I have music on 24/7, I have the TV running all day (while I have one headphone in my ear), I have art projects going and games going and text conversations going and I’m on the Internet reading… all this at the same time so I don’t have much brain power left for thinking myself into a giant pit (that’s a pleasure left for nighttime when I can’t sleep. I’m down to only 2 or 3 distractions at night, so my brain takes that and runs with it).
I don’t feel like I have anyone to reach out to. L is stressing herself. TL is no longer an option. M is stressing… and, well, that’s the extent of the people I would feel comfortable confiding in. So I’m left feeling very needy, but very alone.
The tears flow a bit easier at night (pretty much every night since TL brought up termination), but they burst out on the way to get a Cone of Shame for the dog tonight (so she wouldn’t make her ear worse). I’m not sure how to handle all this. I hadn’t dealt with the loss of De yet. I don’t know how to add on processing this next loss. I know she hasn’t set a date, and I don’t know for sure when she’s leaving, but my walls have gone up with her; she’s as good as already gone to me right now. I’m not sure how to trust her with more vulnerability. We hadn’t actually addressed much of anything yet, and now there’s this huge sense of loss again. I don’t know why I bother anymore. I don’t know why I keep setting myself up for these losses. I know they always disproportionately suck (at least in the last few years). I know the endings will come sooner rather than later because I see students. It feels like I’m just torturing myself. I don’t know why I keep doing it. I need to figure out how to deal with one loss, forget about a continuous string of them… (and come March we will likely lose the house because we can’t afford back taxes). It’s just too overwhelming and too heavy. I need to stop. The only losses I can control at the moment are the losses associated with each new therapist. As shitty as it is to be without support, it’s less painful than going through this every few months. I feel as if my heart is being ripped out. We don’t get to talking much about the transference, so the loss of a safe space is compounded by feeling also like the loss of a parent… it’s just too much. I don’t want to do it anymore.


Tonight’s art journal

Not much, but didn’t want to keep the writing on these pages visible. Don’t even remember what it was anymore, just know it was pretty vulnerable so I covered over it (left was written yesterday, right was written just before I colored over it).
Also, inspiration can come from literally anything. The spiral is directly inspired by a piece of hair that had fallen into the bathroom floor this morning… the faceless woman is just… faceless. I couldn’t get the features right, so I didn’t do them (correction, I scratched them off and colored over it so you can’t really see the mess-ups). Both done in oil pastel and set with fixative. I missed them. I don’t use oil pastels nearly often enough.

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And this is an artist trading card I did for an Alice in Wonderland swap (convinced a friend to sign up for the swap just because I wanted to do it but didn’t want to register at the site). My original idea had been a paper cutting, but it wasn’t working out correctly so I ended up with this. The rabbit is based off one of my favorite childhood stories: the velveteen rabbit. I had a stuffed toy version that had the same shape, but I lost him a decade ago…

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Another transition on the horizon

So, TL reminded me that she was leaving the agency eventually. She asked how long I thought therapy should take with one therapist. I didn’t have an answer for her. She reminded me that the agency generally worked with people for 3 months then reassessed, and that I had been there longer than 3 months. She again asked how long I generally expected to stay with one therapist. She seemed to be thinking a month more, as she gave that as a reference point before asking if I thought I would need longer or shorter.

My initial interpretation was that she will be leaving the agency by the new year. A friend suggested that it may just be supervisor pressure to switch up her caseload because of a waiting list they likely have.

I’m not good with change or loss. Granted I expected to only be seeing TL for about 6 weeks before I planned to move, but I didn’t want to have to change again before the move (something I had specifically mentioned both before and during the intake). Now though, that move looks like it is postponed indefinitely…

I had a bit of liquid courage and was able to leave TL a message. I told her I had hoped to find someone that could see me through till I moved, but I understood that, since it was now an open-ended time frame, she would likely not be the person to see me through that. I reminded her trust is really difficult for me, and I asked if she could help me find someone who could provide more consistent support until I finally moved… I also may have admitted that the only reason I was telling her that was because I was tipsy (file that under things you probably should leave out of a voicemail to your therapist…).

Anyway. I again asked her to shred the reading material I had given her before I left. There’s no sense in getting started with it (or revealing any of that to her) if I will not be continuing to work with her. Too vulnerable… I’m also contemplating simply not returning to therapy at all anymore. Financially, I can’t afford a more consistent therapist (aka: not a student), and emotionally I can’t keep switching, so I should just give up till I can get back to Dr C… it’s not the smartest move with all the rampant triggers here, but it may just be the only self-preserving move I can make.

I was very tempted to cancel on TL when I left her the messages. It’s too raw. But I also know I would regret not at least saying goodbye in person, so I guess I’ll just go next week with the intention of not returning anymore after that. I know I asked TL to help me get hooked up with a more consistent source of support, but I don’t want to have to open myself up to that again. Losses are way too hard…

It’s weird, I was just thinking yesterday that so far this thing with TL was going ok, and maybe she proved my theory wrong of people letting you down just as soon as you got around to trusting them (be it leaving, or a betrayal of trust, or whatever). Guess I jinxed it right then…

There’s really been only a handful of people that hadn’t fallen into the “let me down” category (L being one)… To the rest, thanks for proving my need for distance and walls correct.


Art journal prompt: mess up a page when you like how it’s going

I was turned on to a set of journal prompts by the teacher of the workshops. I read through them (there are 10 in this set, only about 4 are actual prompts, the rest describe her process, so a good starting point for journal)…
Anyway, this particular prompt was to start a page, then when you were liking how it was going, mess it up. Paint over it, smear it, do something totally different than what you started liking… it didn’t mayer if you hated it or loved it in the end, but it’s supposed to get you in touch with the discomfort of changing something you are happy with.

I had kinda liked where the original page was going (distress stains and embossing), but I figured I’d take the risk and “mess it up”. I have to say I like the end result way better than the direction it started in. I’m finding as much as I like the concept of the the words in the pack I purchased, they just don’t have the words I’m really looking for. I guess that could go along with the “limit yourself” prompt from the set of 10 I mentioned, but… I’m finding I’m simply using them for implying words more than the actual ones on them. Anyway, I’m distracted.

It was a fun prompt. “The places you will go when the years start to flow”.
Guess I wish I could cry and get the release from the tears. Hoping the healing kicks in again whenever that happens…

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walls. walls as far as the eye can see…

Since last session with TL, I have slapped a lot of walls into place. High ones, thick ones, insulated ones. So much so, that I don’t even really remember what I was all so worried about the last few weeks. I know there were “flashbacks” and that I thought they were disturbing, but I have no connection to them right now. They feel about as real to me as stories someone would have told me and I am simply remembering vague details of the telling. Whatever murky waters I was drowning in before are now far, far away. It’s as if I was caught in a rip current last week, but now have moved off into the desert in the mountains somewhere and the struggles at the beach were just something someone told me about. I don’t even feel a connection to whomever did the telling, as if it were a stranger on the bus just jabbering away at no one and everyone…

It’s funny how the brain works. You hit a point where it simply shuts off and all connection to that other stuff is lost. A breaker was tripped and now there’s no current connecting anything… It’s a weird feeling. And one that makes it very difficult to reliably and effectively address the issues that I know are there.

It works the same when I get overwhelmed by things. I lose any sight of balance or competence. This peace is as foreign to me then as the chaos is now…

I see TL again tomorrow morning. I suppose I should print out what I had written right after last session. Maybe reading that to her will help spark a connection to it. I certainly don’t want to get overwhelmed again by it. but I do want to be able to address it…


Where secrets live (it’s about the journey, not the destination)

Didn’t really have a direction for this piece when I started other than wanting to try some techniques I’d seen in a tutorial the other day (I spent the better portion of a morning watching various YouTube art journal tutorials. There are still several more I would like to try, but I have to figure out how to MacGyver some supplies because I just can’t afford to go out and buy them).

This piece wasn’t working out as nicely as it had for the YouTuber that posted the tutorial, but I was able to make it my own.

I picked up “purple” distress paint yesterday (woohoo for 50% off coupons and the honoring of competitor coupons). I thought it would be more purple… it’s really mauve. Oh well, live and learn. Anyway, I picked it up and got to work on the base coat. I still have to learn how to work with it better, because I wanted a different background texture but it dried too fast in some spots and way slow in others. I also have to figure out how these distress stains work with the paints. The stains come out super dark on paper, but not so much when used over the paints (should have remembered they have a “resist” effect on the stains). It’s ok though, because the stain I used muted the horrifically bright background.

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It took a bunch of digging around, but I finally landed on a decent silhouette from which to create a mask (reverse of a stencil) for the figure on the right. [Useful tip: those plastic page dividers work well for stencil-making. I would suggest ones that are slightly thicker than the ones I snagged from the dollar store though, because these are pretty floppy and flexible. Just trace or draw out your design and cut with an XActo knife]… I started by tracing around the mask with charcoal, but it didn’t stand out enough. I tried to fill with gesso, but then disliked how light it was. Finally I covered it in black paint (ahh… so much better!). By then though, I had gone outside of my lines quite a bit and it looked like the black sludge creature from the first season of ST:TN that killed Tasha Yar… yes, I’m a huge Trek geek, but that wasn’t the look I was going for. I put the mask back into place and decided to try to give the woman a “glow” (or in this case, a shadow?). I painted over the edges of the mask with am antiqued bronze color. I kinda wanted her to look like she was draining light rather than emitting it (like a black hole). Again I lost the definition of the figure, so once the paint was dry I outlined her in white charcoal. She kinda ended up with a glow, but it reminded me of backlighting, so it worked.

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I added the drips and spats. I added more washi tape (new-found appreciation for the stuff), and then I added the words. I was limited by what was on the stickers I have. It took me about 40 minutes to settle on the ones I did use, but then I ended up disliking what it said, so I covered over it. First I tried writing other words over the stickers, but I didn’t like those either. Finally, I settled on ink drops to totally obliterate the words while keeping the boxes… I kept the words inside the silhouette, but had written over them as well, then removed the writing. You can still see both the original words and my own if you look at them hard enough.

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Much playing, tweaking, and waiting-for-things-to-dry later, I ended up with this. I try to be lighter in both color and content sometimes, but it’s just not me. I also found I really am not feeling this mauve color much. I’m sure L will end up being the one to use it more than I do… branching out in my art just doesn’t work with me when it involves stepping out of my color-pallet comfort zone. Oh well.

Aside: I think I write so much about the process for these journal pages not only to remind myself it’s often a frustrating and imperfect process, but to show that, while pieces don’t always turn out the way you want, they can still end up decent. One of my biggest challenges is dropping the notion of needing “perfection” from my work. I tend to have a picture in my head that I want to create. I’m slowly becoming ok with the result being different from that picture. One of the things that the woman who teaches the journal workshops always reminds us is to just keep going. Even if you think it’s ugly, just keep adding and tweaking. Eventually you will love the result… it’s more about the process anyway.

Most artists (people) don’t admit the blunders and frustrations of the process (life), they simply show the (happy) end result. Art (life) is rarely that neat and tidy. There are lots of bumps and dips and spins along the way. Projects (goals) start out one way and end up totally different sometimes. That’s just how it goes. We need to remember that. And that it’s ok…


That immediate shut-down response when religion is involved

Religion (specifically Catholicism or anything remotely close to it) and the mention of any “god” or “higher power” triggers an immediate shut-down & “shut-out” response in me. I stop listening, and twangs of panic tease my brain and my chest… I’m not quite sure what to attribute it to. It’s not like I was ever physical abused by clergy or in the name of religion, but there have been less overt abuses over the years…

At a time when I sought help from a guidance counselor after a particularly disturbing night at home, I was offered to “pray about it” instead of any concrete assistance. I was told that if I prayed and “let god”, then the dangerous situation would be resolved (for perspective, I went to catholic school nearly all my life). Needless to say, my request for immediate human intervention was not honored and the situation continued to get worse. No amount of pleading to any deity helped. It was explained to me that I was either not paying hard enough, being “tested” in my faith, or that “god” was punishing me for some horrific wrongdoing committed by my soul…

Later, when trying to explain some disturbing ptsd symptoms to someone in mental health (in a non-religious, locked hospital setting), I was again told that I needed to turn to god. I was assured that if I prayed, this imaginary being would “take [my] pain and make [me] whole again”. When I asked not to be harassed about religion, this worker insisted that I was being punished for my disbelief. She said that my lack of “faith” was the reason for all my troubles. She insisted that I will continue to be “punished” until my “faith” returns. I attempted to walk away from her, but she continued to follow me while reciting prayers and asking her god to “heal [my] godless heart”. There was no place I could go to get away from her, as it was a locked unit. It was also late at night, so my only options were the hallways or my room. She didn’t relent until I screamed at her and one of the night nurses to stop (this night nurse had joined the tech in her prayer”) in front of the nurses station, waking other patients and the night supervisor… so much for feeling safe there any longer. I didn’t sleep the rest of the night. If they were so insistent that I was being punished for wrongdoing, what guaranteed they wouldn’t continue the punishment? (I was going ever deeper into a flashback at the time)…

While those are not the only instances of neglect or emotional abuse in the name of religion, they are the ones that stand out to me the most. Others were more subtle. There is the ever-present “your going to hell” from random haters if they figure out I am gay (which isn’t too difficult to figure out, as I’m quite open about it). There’s the well-meaning “god only gives you as much as you can handle” or “this is just a test of (insert appropriate: your faith, your soul, what you can handle…)” or my favorite: “everything happens for a reason”. The problem with all those is the inherent invalidation and dismissal. While there are times I just want to hear that “everything will be ok”, I generally just want someone to understand that things suck immensely.  I want them to listen to what I have to say without feeling the need to either fix it or minimize it… sadly, both religion and social convention push for both minimizing and fixing.

But I digress. My main theme in writing this was to express how completely and pervasiveness this impacts my life. Any mention of religion and I’m at once hyper-vigilant and tuned-out. Any positive message or insight there may be in the message is lost to the panic reaction. I block anything on my Facebook that even remotely hints at religion. If someone posts too much about their religion, I un-follow them. The minute any professional tries to bring even “spirituality” into the mix, I lose all trust in them…
It’s like that meme floating around the Internet: “religion is like a penis. We all know many have it, but there’s no need to go flaunting it.”


Little lies…

You ever flat-out lie to your therapist? I just did, and I think she knew I was lying. It’s not a huge lie, but I didn’t feel like crying, so when she asked how things were just a few ago, I told her they were alright… like I said, didn’t feel like crying. She didn’t sound like she believed me, but she didn’t push it.
On the plus side, my confusion over scheduling this weekend got me the opportunity to grab an earlier appointment for tomorrow instead of Saturday. That means on Saturday I can help out at a reptile event if they still need the hands (I desperately need the distraction)…

I also have figured out I need a Sugar Momma (or Daddy) to pay for my tattoos… need. more. now. (And the ones I really want are all going to be several hundred dollars each – rainforest sleeve on my right arm to cover scaring, space or koi sleeve on the left because I like balance, touch-ups on all current ink, with cover-ups for at least 2, grover squishing a heart on my left ribcage, Kermit and Gonzo on my feet, the back piece I have in mind, Dotty on the right ribcage, the cover-up of the scars on my leg, a traditional black panther on the back of my left leg, a traditional tiger on the back of the right… the list goes on, but I won’t bore you with it. However, I will take applications for the position of Sugar Momma (or Daddy), lol.


More art journaling

Kinda drowning, so hey, why not do more art?

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The writing is lyrics to Fall From Grace by Sarah McLachlan (b-side to Full of Grace)…

It started as a journal entry, but I didn’t want the writing in this book, so I covered it with a drawing of eyes. Then I added background with my water-soluble crayons and washed everything over with water. I tried to draw a skull, but failed miserably, so I painted over it. I thought the black blob looked like half a heart, so I added the other half. I thought it needed more, so I painted the heart over with bronze, which re-wet the black. I added the ink drops, but it still needed more. I added more watercolor crayon. Still plain. Dug around Sarah songs till I found the one with the right emotion behind it. I’m frustrated that I can’t find the actual song in my library, because I know I had it at one point (along with I Will Not Forget You, which I love but also cannot find)… Anyway. Lyrics were added. I tried to highlight the lyrics that conveyed today’s emotions, but that didn’t work out so well. Wiped off the watercolors and sealed one last time with matte medium. :shrugs: I know you don’t care about the process, but I didn’t want to explain all the emotion in the piece, so you got process instead.

I’m spent. And so tired. And TL’s voice mail is still full. And it’s only Wednesday (aka: Saturday is still far away)… the flashbacks and their implications have taken a huge toll on me. I’m trying to keep my head above water, but it’s hard… wasted money we don’t have on something that made me feel better, but now I just feel guilty about it (and yet I want more because it was an incredible high, not simply the release I get from other stuff… no, not substances).

I feel like crying, but the tears would somehow mean that I’m accepting the flashbacks as true and accurate. I’m not sure I’m ready to do that just yet. I really wish I could talk to TL. I feel so small over this; so vulnerable and shaken… and I’m so tired…

Fall From Grace by Sarah McLachlan

the winter here’s cold, and bitter
it’s chilled us to the bone
i haven’t seen the sun for weeks
too long too far from home
i feel just like i’m sinking
and I claw for solid ground
i’m pulled down by the undertow
i never thought I can feel so low
but oh darkness I feel like letting go

but all of the strength all of the courage
couldn’t lift me from this place
i know I can love you much better than this
i fall from grace
fall from grace

it’s better this way, I said
having seen this place before
where everything we say and do
hurts us all the more

its just that we stayed, too long
in the same old sickly skin
i’m pulled down by the undertow
i never thought I can feel so low
but oh darkness I feel like letting go

but all of the strength
all of the courage
couldn’t lift me from this place
together we crumble and stumble and fall
i fall from grace
fall from grace

i know I can love you much better than this
so it’s better this way


Trying to distract

I’ve really been struggling with flashbacks the last 3 or so days. Yesterday was really bad. Today I’m exhausted but they are still dancing at the periphery of my awareness. I feel like, if I let my guard down for a moment, they will burst through.

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In hopes of giving my brain other stuff to focus on, I thought I’d try drawing again. I have not done much realistic sketching for quite a while, and I’ve done even less with portraits. I feel like that part of my brain has been sleeping, and now it’s pissed I’m making it work: I have a headache from forcing the gears to turn…

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Anyway, I’ve been drawing and erasing for about 2 hours on this. The expression is wrong, and it’s frustrating. He doesn’t look as harsh in the reference pic but I can’t seem to get the eyes and mouth correct for the softer, lighter look.

I’m putting it down for now to avoid ripping it to shreds. It doesn’t help that I still want to cry hysterically over the stupid flashbacks. Part of me wants to reach out to TL, but her voice mail is full. I also have no idea what I would say to her. I could tell her about the flashbacks and how overwhelming they are, but that would only lead her to ask if I need to go to the ER. She misses that middle-ground of sometimes just needing to feel supported in this. The stuff we talked about the last two weeks is relatively new to me. The contents of the flashbacks are that new stuff, and I’m not sure how to handle them. It’s also not something I’m comfortable talking to anyone else about. I’m not sure they are accurate as memories. They are very disturbing, and they would be met with extreme prejudice… I wish TL had more availability… 😦


Assignments from t might make my head explode

TL unintentionally gave me an assignment (2 actually) that are kinda impossible not to do, yet they go against every fiber of my being (in a good way).
The first one came about when we were talking about my need to please people and always do what is asked. She said she would be really excited of I came in next week and told her that I didn’t do the assignment and didn’t care that I didn’t do it… I told her not to hold her breath. I could tell her I didn’t do it, but I would be profusely apologetic for not having done it. (This belief causes a lot of anxiety when I don’t follow through on anything and everything I’m told to do and is something she wants me to work on changing, yet I’m not sure I want to change it just now because of the anxiety involved).
The second came about as a way to get me to start changing the core belief that I am always to blame for everything. She wants me to notice (and track when I notice) that I am reacting to something by taking all the blame. My problem is that I don’t want to change this belief right now. It’s useful in the moment, and I’m not ready to give it up without a huge amount of anxiety…
So in my attempt to avoid anxiety, I have to pretty much change both core beliefs to be able to cater to them both. Does that even make sense?
Overall, it’s causing lots of anxiety just thinking about it.

More anxiety is stemming from having asked TL to look into something as I was leaving, and now feeling like I really don’t want her to look into it. My problem is that I can’t leave her vm to cancel her search (if she had not yet found the info) because her vm is full. I can’t tell her about the anxiety. I can’t ask her not to look up that info. I have to just sit with the anxiety and hope I can talk myself down from it, plus there’s the whole other week to wait to address all this plus the stuff that I hadn’t addressed today because we got sidetracked sorta processing last week’s session.
This week is going to suck…


Dreams

(Disclaimer: this is purely my theory and experience and is not based on anything I recall learning around dream work. Take it all with a grain of salt. Unless I cite it, it’s purely my opinion)
What is it about dreams and nightmares that can con us into believing that they are fact?
Several weeks ago, a man killed his girlfriend because he dreamt she was cheating on him. He had no other evidence, but he believed his dream and killed her later that day.
Recently, I’ve spoken to two people who expressed deep disappointments with relationships based on dream content. Some were ready to alter the relationship solely based on the dream (which happened to be contradicted by real events, but for some reason the dream held more weight).
While I agree dreams can be very powerful (and nightmares more so), I believe they are just am alternate way to process thoughts, emotions,  and events. They are purely a construct of our brains. When we dream of a person we experience as caring and loving in life doing uncaring things in the dream, it’s often a manifestation of our fears around that person becoming uncaring. It does not mean they actually did or would do those uncaring things.  Yes, there are times we are not consciously able to put together cues around a situation and we may dream of a scenario that allows things to finally fall into understanding, but that again is simply something our brain came up with to help get to a point of conscious understanding…
I wish I could remember any of my own dreams at the moment. I know I’ve had many that took me a hot second to realize were simply dreams, but then I was able to get something out of them. I know there are many recurring nightmares… Oh, ok.  Take the Jurassic Park nightmare I had often as a kid. T-rex would be loose in our area, and I would try to hide. No matter where I went, he always found me. He would pass by others, break buildings, get under or around things, and intimately find me. It didn’t matter that I stayed really still and quiet, that I hid deep in a basement or under piles of rubble that I could just barely squeeze under, he always found me and would go to eat me (I always woke up just before he bit down). Any family or friends that were with me at the beginning of the dream would scatter and I would always end up alone…
As a kid, this nightmare terrified me (ok, let me be honest, it still does on the rare occasions I have it as an adult). The people I cared about and the people who supposedly cared about me always left me behind to fend for myself and ultimately be eaten. If I were to take this dream as a real abandonment and act on it accordingly, I would be totally alone in life. A more accurate interpretation of the dream would be that it depicts a fearful situation in which I felt alone. My kid brain couldn’t really make sense of the fear i felt at the times my parents would fight and my dad would lash out at everyone and everything, then come find me in his fury either for his own comfort (he was still angry and needed to continue venting that anger and try to find an ally, though I was terrified of him and did not want that role), or to be able to continue his rage on someone (had I dared try to defend whomever he was raging at, or to beg him to stop, he would then need to put me in my place). It came up with a way to express that fear in the form of something easier to talk about:a huge, scary dinosaur. I wouldn’t get in trouble for talking to “outsiders” about how scary it was when T-Rex came to eat me, but I would get in lots of trouble for mentioning that anything at home was less-than-prefect.
The dreams of Skeletor threatening to kill me if I cried when I was hurt or if I tools anyone of being hurt was my kid brain’s way of expressing the fear around the abusive situations and the mandate that they remain secret…

Or brains are really good at both hiding things from us, and at telling us things in ways we will understand. They’re effective at communicating in alternate ways. They come up with elaborate analogies and stories to either get us to realize something, or to give us a safe way to express things we cannot otherwise communicate… but what allows some of us to blur the understanding that a dream is just our construct, and turn it into reality?


feeling raw & needy

The relief from yesterday’s session is now accompanied by feeling emotionally raw. I want to cry my eyes out (and I’m sure it would help), but I can’t seem to do it. It feels like tears should be flowing freely but they are just not there. Really glad I see TL again on Saturday, though I am not sure how to express all of this to her. I don’t want to not process this stuff, but I also don’t want to have to hold it alone for another week if we do more on Saturday. I wish I knew how to hold on to some of that sense of support throughout the week. I suppose I could call and leave a voice mail (or just listen to the greeting). There’s hesitancy around that though. I fear becoming too needy and annoying. I fear relying on it too much. I fear hitting her “point of frustration” with it. She didn’t offer it again this week. The worried/anxious part of me interprets that to mean that she is rescinding the offer. Intellectually, I think she may just not want to be over-stating the permission, but I think I need that over-statement on an emotional level. I need to know it’s ok to be “bothersome” (by my definition). I need to know it’s ok to need. When I get stuck in this raw, little kid space, I have a hard time being ok with being either.


Heavy session

So, met with TL today. I was super anxious going in because of all the stuff that had come up in the past week and more specifically, this morning. I knew I needed to address it, but I still wanted to cover the art journal. Luckily, some of the journal stuff overlapped.
We talked about more s.a. stuff. I can definitely tell TL doesn’t have that much experience with it, but she was still really good about it. She asked if it was ok to talk about, or if it made things worse. For me, while it makes things worse in the moment, it’s also really healing. It was a relief to not be carrying it alone again. Don’t get me wrong, it was incredibly uncomfortable and triggering to talk about, but I walked out feeling relief. There’s something in the telling that takes some of the power away. It was a similar experience with De the times I was able to talk more in-depth about things.
TL was also really good about allowing me to question some memories and simply hold them as questions. She didn’t do her normal challenging (except on one thing, but she let up fairly easily as I explained my reasoning. She was ok with me letting the challenge simply sink in, and not having to acknowledge any truth to it right then and there)…
We didn’t cover more than the two body memory pictures, but that’s ok. It was a lot to cover.
I think I still need to ask her how she feels about covering this stuff and about possibly going into more details. I don’t want to break her like I broke De…


Memories suck

So tired of waking to memories… was trying to sleep a bit more this morning, and just as I was drifting off, my brain threw a new one at me. It jolted me right up.
I want to say I’m glad I have TL this morning, but there’s so much that needs addressing, I’m not sure how helpful it will be…


Saturday’s session rescheduled to Tuesday

my phone sucks sometimes and I missed both of TL’s calls on Saturday morning. She was out sick, and wanted to reschedule. I didn’t get the messages till I was almost there. I drove around for quite a bit, totally aimlessly, but knowing I didn’t want to go back home quite yet. When I first listened to her second message, I thought I heard extreme annoyance and anger in her voice. I thought she was pissed that I was being annoying by not responding to her first message from 30 minutes earlier. I left her a message apologizing for missing her call, and acknowledging the reschedule for later in the week. I then spent the next 45 minutes feeling like shit “for pissing TL off”… I ended up going for coffee at Panera, and tried to doodle and relax a bit. When I got back into the car again, I decided to listen to her message again (I know I tend to read anger into situations where there is none). It was weird hearing the message out of that panicked state. This time around (nearly 90 minutes later), I heard absolutely no annoyance in her voice. If anything, she expressed feeling bad for cancelling last-minute… I breathed a bit easier, and made a mental note to try to talk to her about that on Tuesday. I want to figure out how to be able to do some “reality checks” around when I think someone is angry with me for “fucking up”…

Anyway, I wound up at the beach eventually. It was a gorgeous day and it helped me forget the horrid week for a while. Sadly, as soon as I started home again, the flashbacks started again… I tried to get the same relief from the beach again today, but I couldn’t settle my head long enough to get any benefit from it. Today is day 6 of the body memories that just won’t give up. I’m getting really tired of the struggle. I may ask TL about seeing the ARNP, as the only things that get rid of the body memories at this point are PRN meds that knock me out, or cutting… Clearly I need to go with the PRN’s… :/ The stress of the memories coupled with not having the appointment yesterday, and health worries for L today has me wanting to cry. I can’t actually cry, but the feeling of needing to is there… I really hope TL feels better by Tuesday, and I hope she has a magic wand handy.


that social awkwardness

So, this isn’t something I talk about too often, but figured I might try. I’m ridiculously socially awkward 99.9% of the time, and it’s not all about the anxiety (though there is a ton of that too). I’m talking about the socially awkward that comes from so many years of dissociation and depersonalization/derealization.

I’ve been called vain and stuck up so much of my life by others. I’m actually quite the opposite, but it’s difficult to describe as a kid that you are not staring at yourself in the mirror out of admiration (no one that age would get it anyway). It’s about being fascinated that there’s a body associated with whatever non-corporeal being you would describe me as. It’s about not knowing what to say, so saying nothing at all. It’s about fearing that what you say will be laughed at, or worse yet, many people will realize you exist… it’s all about both a lack of understanding, and being misunderstood.

I often re-visit some really awkward social situations in my head, wishing I had the opportunity to correct the misunderstanding. The one that bothers me the most lately occurred with De in that month we were terminating. I don’t even really remember what happened exactly, but I noticed I was staring at her leg only after she shifted in her seat and adjusted her skirt. Most people would probably interpret the starting as a lustful thing, and she would be (was anyway?) rightfully uncomfortable. The thing is, I was more fascinated that someone had legs without scars on them, and that maybe my leg would have looked like that had I never decided to cut there… I felt bad at the time when I realized I had made her uncomfortable, but wasn’t sure how to explain my fascination with a “clean” leg, one that looked normal and that the person was not ashamed of (I get extremely easily flustered in social situations also). It probably would have been easier to do with her than with the average person, but I caught myself up in being embarrassed at my staring (something I know to be a faux-pas, yet find myself doing way too often). I could have told her then that I was in awe of the fact that her leg did not have scars where mine were so obvious. I could have apologized for making her uncomfortable, but I didn’t know how. So I’m left wishing I could explain it to her so she doesn’t think of me as such an utter creep. :/

I often find myself “zoned-out” in awkward directions also (as if I am staring at someone but I’m really lost in thought). It happened at the beach today. My towel positioning happened to be aligned with a row of sun-bathers. I got lost in thought in their general direction (had we been closer together, they would have noticed the glazed-over look to my eyes and the lack of focus). One of the women shifted and glared at me. Her sudden movement caught my eye and I happened to look in time to catch her glare. I wanted to apologize for making her uncomfortable, but again, we were far away, and I had no clue how to explain myself…

I feel like I should probably address this at some point in therapy, but no one has seemed to know what to do with it beyond hearing my description of it. Even Dr. C (who was likely the most experienced therapist I have ever worked with) only took in the information and moved on. I want to actually do something about it. I want to stop being so awed at having a reflection. I want to stop being so awkward around others. I want to be “normal” at least in the social arena so I can stop making others uncomfortable, but I just don’t know how. Yeah, when the stress is less and the symptoms are not as intense, I have a better connection to the concept of myself. But at times like now, when I’m almost always dissociating to some degree, and my stress is sky-high, I don’t know how to be human. I walk into the bathroom and look at myself in the mirror, studying how I look because it doesn’t look familiar to me. I’m surprised that the reflection is supposed to be what I look like… I don’t really have a good picture of myself in my head, even with all the staring I do. I’m still caught off-guard when I catch a glimpse of myself in a reflection. I don’t look “right”. I should be younger. I should be thinner. I should be a different color. I should have different colored eyes and hair… I should be different. I’m not exactly sure what I should look like, but it’s not the “me” I see in the reflection. Or I shouldn’t look like anything at all, because I don’t connect to a physical form, more like just a ghost floating around.

:sigh: How do you match things up when you don’t actually exist? (ok, so clearly I exist because I’m typing this, but I guess I mean that this part of my head doesn’t feel like it should have a physical form, or that the physical form is really, really wrong).


My head may explode

I’m not sure what triggered it, but I’m finding that is not relenting. I developed a headache sometime during the art journal workshop and it’s been getting worse. I tried tea, more water, Aleve, sleeping with the pillow over my head… it’s to the point where I can’t sleep from the pain. I’ve turned off the music (first time in about 3 weeks it’s been silent here). I’ve turned out the lights. I was hoping sleep would help. I was wrong. Every little noise is grating and loud. Every bit of light burns my eyes. Every movement hurts as if my brain has detached from my spine and goes crashing a great speeds into my skull. I don’t get migraines, so I wouldn’t know if this is what one feels like, but the intensity and relentlessness makes me think it might be. :/
Whatever it is, I’d appreciate it stopping. I’m tired and stressing. Sleep would be welcome… here’s hoping that simply whining about it will get it to go away so I can sleep again. Wish me luck.


Doodle-A-Day challenge

Found this floating through a few of the art therapy pages on fb, so I’m gonna throw it out to you all as well. Let’s do a #DoodleADay. I know, starting a day late, but better late than never (or as my old supervisor used to say; “you are not late as long as you arrive”)
http://www.arttherapist.ca/art-therapy/doodle-a-day-challenge/
The goal is to do one doodle every day for the month of October. Doesn’t matter what you do, as long as its completed each day. Feel free to post here in the comments. 🙂


Waking up can be hard to do…

I woke this morning to a very specific body memory. I couldn’t place it right away. It was physically uncomfortable, and initially emotionally uncomfortable. Once I started thinking about how it felt and what it felt like though, the emotional discomfort faded. It took me about 20 minutes, but I was able to place it as a “safe” memory.

This happens more often than I’d like. It’s probably related to dreams I don’t remember (though there are plenty I do remember). Some mornings it’s an ok body memory, like it was this morning. Other times it’s the kind I never want to remember. Both throw me off for hours though. The body sensations linger long after I can pin them to specific memories, but they definitely stay longer if I can’t…

So yeah, waking up can be hard. Here’s hoping that’s the worst of it for the day (Though I did set up my coffee and sit here waiting for it to brew for about 15 minutes before I realized I forgot to turn it on. That may just be the worst thing that happens today regardless of what else goes on because coffee is the most important beverage in the morning ;)).


Fix You by Coldplay

One of my latest obsessions in music. Every now and then I put it on continuous repeat… (though I have to admit this is not what I was expecting from the video…)

“Fix You”

When you try your best, but you don’t succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can’t sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above or down below
When you’re too in love to let it go
But if you never try you’ll never know
Just what you’re worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face
And I…

Tears stream down your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
Tears stream down your face
And I…

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you