Tag Archives: hospitalization

It feels weird; like part of me is still living back in the space that had me hospitalized so often. I get these little glimpses of remembering being in the hospital, and it feels so real in that flash of a moment. The other times, it feels like I’m living in both times at once, only I’m separated from the past by this frosted window. I know the gist of what’s happening, and I can kinda feel it, but it’s distant and away at the same time. It’s almost like knowing and faintly hearing someone watch a movie in the next room; I can hear it, I know the movie enough to mostly know what’s happening moment to moment, but it’s still something I’m not directly experiencing in the moment. The flashes of memory are like walking through the room for a moment and catching parts of it as I pass the tv. I’m not totally paying attention, but I notice it…

Yeah… kinda like that…

I’ve been remembering the various hospitalizations since Wednesday when Dr C brought up the drawing I left with her a few weeks ago… it’s not all restricted to the content of the drawing; its just all of the experiences mashed together. It’s not linear. It doesn’t really make linear sense, but it’s all memories of those times…

L had an unusually late chemo today, and there were a few times I really had to work to ground myself. I kept panicking that I was there because I was locked up, not because I was supporting L through chemo… being the only ones in the room, and it having gotten dark intensified the fears.

Psych hospitalizations are really dehumanizing. It didn’t matter that you likely already feel like crap; the process and experience make it all that much worse…

I dunno…

I hate when all of this comes up when I can’t actually process it for several days. I don’t know what to do with it. It pulls me in, even when I don’t want it to. I know I’ve been distant and spacey a lot today. I’ve been having a lot of trouble seperating from the memories. My brain is living in both times at once, and it’s distracting (even if I feel like I’m mostly in the present, it’s difficult to concentrate when the past is so “there” but indecipherable…).

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“50 shades” controversy, & the lasting effects of childhood trauma

So, after first writing this up almost a month ago, I have yet to put more effort into it. I had contacted a few people claiming to be connected to the BDSM community in an effort to get “honest” perspectives. Publically, they strongly supported the notion that the community is respectful and vigilant of “safety”. Privately however, some denounced the community as seedy and very unsafe. I was warned to “stay far away” from anything even remotely having to do with BDSM, including looking further into the different aspects of it. The few people I know personally and trust, and who also have some experience with the community express otherwise: that their experiences have been safe and respectful… This has me confused. I am more apt to believe the people I know in real life, so I guess I will go with that… Continue reading


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

…and there is no real “no.”

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

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

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


The appropriateness of tears

I was journaling to De, and the topic of crying snuck its way in.  I don’t remember if I have talked about it here yet.  It’s not an easy thing for me (crying).  There has to be a really damn good reason to cry “legit” tears (not the ones that seem to spill uncontrollably from my eyes at random commercials or sappy stories, but tears that are backed by deeper emotion, tears that actually mean something or are connected to something).  It’s never appropriate in front of another human being.

Crying was not accepted growing up.  It was never soothed, only discouraged (and in some cases punished).  The only exception to this was when K died; then it was ok to legitimately cry (though only up until the funeral and burial in my recollection).  It wasn’t ok to cry for T though, “because he wasn’t real family” (G hated T and refused to consider him a relative because he “wasn’t blood”… I think love makes a family, not genetic material.  I will never consider Bitch family though she is my father’s biological sister).  T married K.  He was kind to her (mostly), and to us.  He will always be family to me and I have a right to cry when I miss him… But I digress. G never allowed crying.  Mom looks down on it also, though she was more consoling about it than G ever was.  Regardless, crying was like a sick day: hell froze over before it was allowed (or the school kicked us out because we were contagious).

Despite new learning and a cognitive understanding of the benefits of crying, I still have a lot of trouble allowing myself to cry in front of anyone else. That rarely happens.  It has taken me over a decade to learn to talk myself into crying when I need it, not just when it falls under the “ok” column set by my early experiences.  I have to have a drawn-out conversation with myself to convince that gate-keeper to let the tears fall.  Sometimes I can’t convince her to let go, but a few times every few years, I can actually manage to cry as an emotional release.  Most of the time, blood had taken the place of tears… I haven’t cut in months, but I haven’t cried either (except maybe twice in the ER or the hospital).  Tears tumble forth at stupid sappy stories, or emotional moments in movies, but there’s nothing really behind them.  It’s not a full-fledged cry, but just leaking eyes.  I wish I could bring myself to release through crying more often.  I think it might do me some good, but the keys needed to open that gate are stashed away somewhere “safe” from my prying.

One of the few things I remember from my childhood is a recurring nightmare.  I would be crying, and Skeletor would yell at me to stop.  He would tell me that if I didn’t stop right then, he would kill me.  He would grab me and physically threaten until the dream me stopped crying… I think the dream me, conditioned by Skeletor, is the gate-keeper to allowing the adult me to cry.  She’s terrified though, and repeats Skeletor’s words over and over again even when I try to tell her it’s ok to cry.

The other fear of crying comes from the fear of being overwhelmed by it.  If I start to cry, will I ever be able to stop?  I’m reminded of one day in 2007 when I cried hysterically for about 8 hours straight.  I would stop only long enough to catch my breath for a few seconds, then the choking sobs would start again.  I remember calling 211 because I hoped talking to someone would help me stop.  They sent out an ambulance without telling me and I was hospitalized (I cried hysterically the whole time until they drugged me up enough to put me to sleep for a few hours before they admitted me upstairs)… Kinda shitty experience.  Similar in “turn-off” factor as the Skeletor dream.

Anyway, I’m not really sure what the purpose of this post is… We all learn different things growing up (many of us learn really warped stuff), and it tends to affect us into adulthood even when we try our best to shake the lessons.  I look forward to the day that I can cry “as needed” without having to go through a 30 minute back-and-forth with the old tapes.


The choice to be a patient

lots of things I can relate to in this, and I really like the way some of it is said (I do not think English is a first language for the writer, but they get their point across well).

“for me it felt humiliating to be hospitalized. It was almost impossible to keep my dignity in those periods of time. Sometimes I did not even feel human anymore. We had to ask for everything, the medicine (we had to stay in a line to receive them), the food, going out and getting back to the ward. It felt really degrading when all the power was taken off from me. One can say, maybe I was not able to take care of myself anymore. But many times, I felt that what I wanted to say was not heard at all. Of course, in those periods of time I could not express myself so well. That is true. But when people are not willing to listen, talking becomes extremely difficult. Maybe it is dangerous to say, but I think psychiatry felt for me like the environment I lived in as a child. Neglect, silence and disrespect”

” I begged to be heard and for guidance to get out of trauma land. This was not honoured at all. Therapists and psychiatrists thought what was right for me. Many times they said that I had to stabilize, but it meant literally loads of sedative medication, and nobody asked me what had happened to me in my childhood.”

Mirrorgirl

I have just been on two course-days about dissociation, and was happy when I discovered a news-letter from ESTD (I am a member now). There I found the following post about how hard it is to become a patient dealing with abuse. I have so much respect for people who want to live a better life after abuse, since this is no easy task. I hope this can be a reminder of just that

Nina

By Esther Veerman

THE CHOICE TO BE A PATIENT

Being a therapist for patients with chronic childhood abuse and neglect needs a conscious choice. Not a lot of colleagues will do the same, and sometimes it is quite a lonely voyage that one starts to make. Becoming a patient with a history of chronic childhood abuse and neglect demands a conscious choice as well. It is not logical to start exploring the traumatic past, once…

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thinking

I have found a few resources on life with mental health issues without meds since I have chosen to stop taking those prescribed to me, and refuse to return to them for anything more than the occasional PRN (as needed).  I feel lucky that I have a family that supports my decision (backed by my continued over-all improvement).  I know that even if doctors or the courts were to try to force me into it, my family would stand up and fight for my right to refuse any treatment I disagree with… Some people don’t have that support.

I was reading a blog on the coercive and abusive nature of the psychiatric industry here in the US.  While I experienced some of that living up north, I see more of it down here.  When I had sought help last week in the form of a brief inpatient stay, I was told by the psychiatrist that “people can’t be in the hospital without meds!”  I agreed to let him prescribe something for sleep and something for anxiety (though he only wrote the sleep script, and I refused it 2 out of the 4 nights I was there).  Meds can have a time and a place, as I really needed something to help with the flashbacks Saturday night after they had restricted all my other coping skills while there (I was unable to talk to anyone without being blamed or preached at, I was not allowed to watch TV as they had “closed” the day room for the night, I could not call my wife before they closed the day room because I could not make a long-distance outgoing call, and no one was willing to make it for me, I had no access to music, I was not allowed to draw or write because it was “too late”… that left my option at: continue to escalate my discomfort with the flashbacks or take something to knock me out… I opted for the meds.  I’m pretty sure they do this on purpose to keep people reaching for the pills).  I watched more than one patient get drugged to the hilt because they were agitated or annoying (one man was on 100mg of Haldol shots every 4 hours because he was mischievous (just to give you an idea of how much that is, the guy was similar build to me, but if I were to take 5mg pill of Haldol, I would be out for 3 days… they gave him 20x’s that every 4 hours), but really, what do you expect us to do when you only provide entertainment/engagement for max 4 hours out of a day.  There is 1 TV for 18 people, and if you don’t happen to like what’s on when someone else picks the channel, you are stuck being bored).  There are 3 phones, but you can’t really call out (and how much time can one person spend on the phone anyway, especially when 17 other people are also trying to communicate with people).  Access to books, art supplies, music, and supportive others is severely limited.   Staff are short-tempered because they are burnt out and working with limited resources… So yeah, they medicate people to shut them up.  It’s easier to deal with a unit full of drooling, asleep patients than it is to try to provide even brief therapy.   Psychiatrists admit that most meds do not take full effect for several weeks, but they discharge patients after a few days of “stabilization”… So how are those meds really helpful at that point?

Once again, I’m saying our mental health system needs an over-haul. I think we need more focus on therapy and providing social supports for people.  We need less focus on lining pharmaceutical companies’ pockets with cash.  We need to listen to people.  We need to hear their stories and help them work through whatever it is that is causing this pain.  Meds can be used primarily as short-term interventions, but ultimately leave it up to the patient to decide.  I hate when a provider asks “Do you think the benefits out-weigh the side-effects?”  because they never want to hear “no”.  They only say that to make us feel like we have a choice, and are choosing to feel better by taking meds.  The truth is, most of the side-effects are not less hazardous or annoying even when weighed against the “benefits.”  Is feeling numb or drugged or insatiably hungry all the time really better than feeling waves of incredible depression?  To this day, I maintain that I have more control over myself and my impulses without medication.  The years since coming off them have proven that.  I no longer move to OD or attempt before I ask for more support.  I can think clearly through problems, and easier identify poor lines of thinking (even if I don’t necessarily work to change them at the time).   The few times I have taken even sleep or anxiety meds this past year, I have found my mood is exponentially more labile and uncontrolled.  I get irritable and lash out without a thought to the consequences of my actions.  A few days after having taken my pill, I find I blow up without provocation.  Once the meds have been processed from my system, I am back to my “normal” self – able to control my temper, which I had never had a problem with before starting meds. That processing time by the way, it’s much longer than they tell you.  Doctors will say many of the meds leave your system in a few days after stopping.  The truth for me is that they affect me much longer.  Trazodone, when used for sleep, is supposed to wear off within a day (according to numerous psychiatrists and a few of my therapists).  It takes my body up to a week to get rid of the effects of having taken it only once.  The longer I take it, the longer the effects last in my system.  The last “regular” med I took caused my body to withdraw from it for months even though I had only taken the med for about 3 weeks.  The over-all expected effect may wear off faster, but the side-effects and withdrawals can last much longer than they tell people.

Sadly, the mental health system is coercive in more ways than simply pushing meds.  In FL, you can be Baker Acted for simply “appearing to have a mental health problem”.  This means that a person can be held in a locked psychiatric facility for up to 72 hours while professionals decide if you actually are a danger to yourself or others.  Many times, they will medicate first, and make the decisions later.  If you refuse meds, you are considered “resistant to treatment” or “non-compliant” and can be deemed “problematic”.  Those labels will then increase your chances of being held longer.   The doctor at my most recent hospitalization made it clear that if I chose to refuse even the prescription of medication, I would be held under the Baker Act until I “accepted the help.”  Prior to my voluntary hospitalizations in SFL, I was involuntarily hospitalized several times (a few without merit, but since the psychiatrist was not on the DBT bandwagon, she deemed me a danger to myself and I was hospitalized for 7 days.  Had she bothered to look into the DBT goals, she would have realized that I had accomplished a lot that weekend and not actually been a danger to myself because I held things in check).  I was also threatened with being forced into ECT treatment after I refused to undergo the procedure voluntarily.  The doctor bullied me and threatened me (while I was involuntarily hospitalized under his care) for 5 days before he could not find other psychiatrists to concede I was incapable of making my own decisions.  Had I not felt as strongly, and not been as educated about my current condition and the uses of ECT, I would likely have given into his tactics just to shut him up (I guess being terrified of my dad for all those years, then learning to stand up to him, helped me stand up to this jerk).  There were times during his tirades that made me wonder about his own sanity.  When asked to provide studies and evidence that proved ECT was effective in treating addictions, or actually recommended for abuse/child sexual abuse trauma survivors, he told me it was my responsibility to look that up myself (please keep in mind he knew I had no access to journals, the internet, or any research information while on this locked unit, but still felt I should be the one looking it up).  It made me wonder if there was any evidence at all to back his claims.  I asked my family to look it up for me, and then I continued my search once out of the hospital.  I have yet to find any articles (peer-reviewed case studies or scientific research) proving that he was correct.  I had found several articles saying that ECT was in fact contraindicated for abuse survivors, but not a single one saying it was more help than hurt.  I had to fight this battle against a “professional”.

I think a huge problem today is that we, as providers, have fallen into a rut with our available treatments.  Money talks, and no insurance company is willing to pay for novel treatments.  There are very few funding sources for research into any new treatments, and large-scale studies need funding.  Students and researchers need to live after all.  They need to support themselves, their families, and their work.  They need people to take risks in backing the trial-and-error needed to come up with viable alternative solutions.

My idea for a competent and flexible treatment center is ever-evolving.  The more I learn about treatments that don’t work, the more I wish I had the knowledge, funding, and resources to provide options to others (and myself).  I know I need to work on my own stuff before I can initiate such an under-taking, but I don’t have the funds to find and hire people I think could actually help me.  Ideally, I would want a safe place to intensively work through all the crap in my head.  I want that safe place to allow me to utilize my known positive coping skills, but also help me develop new ones.  I want to have the option of talking about, communicating about, and sorting through everything that comes up when we open the topic of my traumas.  I want to be able to do that daily, or even several times a day.  I want to be able to take a break from it for a few days if it gets overwhelming, and not be deemed “stable enough” to be discharged.  I want to be able to have someone gently guide me back to dealing with things after a break.  I want to be able to face my triggers and work on coming through them safely on my own, but I also want to know there’s support there if I can’t accomplish that.  I want access to music and my social network.  I want access to my animals.  I want to be able to get out into nature (on my own or with someone else, depending on the situation).  I want to be allowed to cry, and learn that I can safely do that in front of another person.  I want to have people challenge me to get through things without resorting to self harm, OD, suicide, or PRN medications, but I also want them to support me if I do slip up and cut or need to take something for anxiety.  I want to have access to art therapy, music therapy, “alternative” therapies (basically anything that is not the western medical model), meditation, and holistic options.  There are places out there that offer much of this, but don’t accept insurance or payment plans.  That limits their treatment to the independently wealthy… and even then they limit what you can listen to, read, watch, or get support with…  If you happen to disagree with a “core” part of their philosophy, you might as well not show.  The place that looked best on paper had two major draw-backs: 1) it was self-pay only and very expensive ($16,000/wk and you are expected to stay a minimum of 4 weeks), and 2) you could only engage in recovery-oriented activities.  No music outside of meditation chants, no reading if it wasn’t directly related to recovery and treatment, and no TV or movies.  I’m a big proponent of diving head-on into your recovery, but every now and then your brain needs a break.  Even if I end up triggered or craving, it helps in the long run.  After all, I want to know how to handle those triggers once I leave the program.  Totally cutting me off from anything that may or may not cause a bump in my road to recovery only serves to disadvantage me once I leave the padded safety of the treatment center… but it’s a moot point anyway, I could never afford the place…

So yeah, we need to seriously re-think mental health care in this country.  Everyone is different.  Everyone responds differently to treatments, so let’s start catering to individuals… I just wish I had the resources and the voice to start the process.


Jealousy and ::gasp!:: sex!

The topic of jealousy was addressed in couple’s therapy last week.  We talked about my lack of jealousy in intimate relationships.  It has a lot to do with how I see that reaction/set of emotions: as anger (and I have a huge aversion to anger).  Its not only that though.  It’s that I feel that jealousy is useless.  It causes a whole bunch of issues if it’s unfounded (which it often is), so I don’t expend much energy on it in relationships in the first place.  Yes, I’ll admit to jealousy of people who seem to have it together, of people who can keep their lives on track, or people who can make it through a day without thinking that the world would be better off if they just ceased to exist.  That I’m jealous of… but of someone choosing to leave me in a relationship?  No.  I’m difficult to live with, depressed, selfish, needy, lazy, and take way more than I give.  And this is not just my poor self-esteem.  This is the truth of the moment.  And it’s a truth I am not sure I am ready to change right now, not because I don’t care, but because I have not given myself permission to be any of these things until relatively recently in my life.  My history has consisted of doing nothing but giving to others and bending over backwards to please others even when I had nothing to give and was completely spent.  I have a history of ignoring my own needs and desires in order to make others happy (or keep them appeased).  So in the last 7 or so years (more so in the last 3), I have swung to the other extreme.  I take time for myself.  I throw little-kid tantrums to to get my needs met.  I am utterly selfish most of the time… and I feel incredibly guilty about it.  I’m at constant war with my “training” from my childhood, and the new information I’m given on a daily basis.  I have yet to find a happy medium.

The whole topic came about surrounding the concept of L’s crush on J.  J asked if I was jealous of L’s energy being put into someone else (or the concept of someone else).  I asserted that jealousy (at least the anger portion of it) was not something I ever really felt in any relationship.  It’s not that the relationship means so little, or that I feel so secure in the relationship that I have no reason to feel jealous.  It’s that I don’t feel I deserve to fight for it.  If someone chooses to move on from me, who am I to stop them?  I wasn’t worth the relationship in the first place.  I’ll be sad about it, but I don’t feel myself worth sticking around for.  J brought up a good point though.  She said that L was the one “disadvantaged” at the start of the relationship because she was the one pursuing me.  I was standoff-ish and non-committal (I had just come out of a 5-year relationship and my ex had been the one to get me the subscription to Match.com.  I did not yet feel ready to jump back into something serious, so I dated other people for the first 6 months I knew L).  She also brought up that a wandering eye in a relationship can often mean some needs are going unmet (to that I say: Duh! I’m still surprised that L has chosen to stay in this relationship, as it seems to be me doing all the taking while I battle my demons.  I would hate being in a relationship with myself…).  Jealousy is supposed to help signal that something is going unmet, and supposed to motivate me to work to meet those needs…  The thing is, I feel incapable at this time of meeting some of those needs.   How do you make emotional space for something you battle another aspect of daily?  How do you balance caring for others and caring for yourself if your needs happen to be on opposite ends of the spectrum.

And now comes up the topic of sex… This is a tough one for me.  I am torn between the teaching/learning that sex is a taboo topic, and society’s push to sexualize just about everything.  I’m embarrassed by it, and my struggles with it.  In a culture where sex is freely bragged about, all over TV, and “expected”  once you hit a certain age, I am hindered by the shame brought on from abuse.  Don’t get me wrong, it can be incredibly wonderful (especially with a partner to whom you are connected).  But it can also be scary as sin.  I have a history of molestation and rape… and the memories have come back with a vengeance since I moved back “home”… I don’t talk about it much.  I talk around it, but not about it.  It has always effected me, but it became a much larger obstacle in this environment.  I’m back in the same place where a lot of it happened.  I’m back in the same neighborhood, the same house, the same room… The memories and flashbacks came much harder and more often when we first moved back here, but they still linger.  I have put up walls around myself to stay out of that head-space.  I try my best not to think of any of it, but that means I avoid it with my wife also (talk about frustrating on her end).  The act of having sex still very much triggers me. I get lost in the memories, and I suddenly can’t tell if I’m with my wife, or with Duckboy. Time warps. I’m at once very young and 16 and 34. My body confuses the physical sensations. My head launches into the past… The use of names during sex creeps me out, but I’m not quite sure why (that may go back to me having trouble associating with my name at times).  I try my hand at changing the associations sometimes, but it’s difficult to do and does not always work.  So how do I explain it to my wife without making her feel unloved and unwanted?  I’m not sure… which leads to resentments and unmet needs.  It leads to her desperately searching for a way to get those needs met within the bounds of our relationship (toys are wonderful inventions)…  And it leads to a lot of fights.  Neither of us likes to make the other feel bad, so we walk on eggshells in our fighting.  We simply don’t talk much.  We distance ourselves and cry and feel abandoned… I hate it.  I wish I could change this about myself.  I wish I could be ok with having sex all the times it comes up.  I wish I could take those horrible memories and wipe them from my head.  I wish I didn’t confuse her touch with the memory of his… I wish I could be normal!  And I wish society did not place such emphasis on sex and sexualized behavior.  I’m glad we can talk about it more openly, but at the same time, we are barred from talking about the scarier side of everything, the uncomfortable stuff, and the issues surrounding any negative experiences.  Victims are still very stigmatized, and perpetrators are still somewhat exulted…

So I started working with De back in late August.  She is a therapist at the local sexual assault crisis counseling center.  Only, as much as I want to focus on the assaults and getting over the associations I have with sex, all the other stuff also crowds the exits and we are again left doing crisis stabilization instead of any meaningful trauma work.  I don’t know how to change that…  On Friday, De had mentioned trying a to start processing the traumas that I have experienced.  I had desperately wanted to jump into everything and start right there, but my fears got the best of me. While I want to share the details of the past, I wish that no one else would ever have to experience it or hear it. And I worry that, in the telling, I will come to the realization that my reactions are over-blown, I will be invalidated in my pain (It really wasn’t that bad. Others have had it worse. You call that trauma? You’re just a whiney little child! <–all things I have heard in the past at one time or another). Also, I have a history of falling apart completely when facing my past.  I have always lost complete control and become a huge liability.  I tried telling her this, but I am not very good at expressing things a lot of the time (and people seem to have a difficult time grasping the extent of my decompensation unless they witness it for themselves.  It's such a huge departure from my presentation when I'm "together" that it's difficult to imagine).  I tried to tell her that I am willing to try it as long as we can guarantee it can be done safely, but that my fears make me believe that I should do it while inpatient.  I came off sounding like I did not want to try it, which is completely wrong.  I want nothing more than to tackle all of this once and for all… but I'm terrified.  I don't trust myself.  I don't want to put my wife through that level of "crazy" again.  I don't want to cause De to resent ever having taken me on as a client.  I don't want people to think less of me (I have a desperate desire to be liked while still feeling completely unworthy of that positive association).

My fear of falling comes not only from my past, but also from the ever-present thoughts of suicide that haunt the back of my head.  Even if I don't have an active plan or desire to kill myself, the thoughts are always there.  To have that so close, and to think of tackling trauma issues outpatient (which can be incredibly triggering) is very scary… but then why am I seeing De?

(in proof-reading this post, I find I have not touched on what it was that I originally wanted to say, but I also have lost whatever that was… humpf.)