Tag Archives: stories

Conversations with myself

In group on Thursday, we talked about things we do before going to sleep; what’s helpful, what’s not, and other things that keep us awake.

One woman brought up replaying instances where she needed to stand up for herself, times she wished she had handled things differently, or practicing for upcoming conversations she would have that might be uncomfortable.

That topic brought up something that I’ve been [doing? experiencing?…] in the last several months, and I’m not quite sure what to make of it, though I haven’t given it too much thought till I was reminded of it in group: dialogues that start as rehashing experiences, but that divert into more of something along the lines of listening to a tv show playing in the background.

I start out in control and participating in the dialogue, but somewhere along the way, it becomes something I simply listen to. It’s not necessarily related to the topic or experience I was rehashing in my head originally, thought branches off from there. I would say it’s me falling into dreamland, but my eyes are open half the time, and I’m still doing my bedtime routine…

It kinda reminds me of the time I’d get into a zone, and just write fiction. It’s really similar to the feeling of disconnect from the stories I’d put to paper, and it’s definitely not memories or current events… I similarly forget the details and most of the topics once out of “the zone”. I’m guessing if I’d written it down, it would be one of those things I reread over and over again as if it were new to me at each reading…

It’s such a weird experience, and not weird at the same time.

I’ve been trying to figure out if it’s hallucinations, or dreams, or something else. Sometimes I worry it might be hallucinations, which would be really scary, coz that would mean there’s something wrong. I have no history of non-drug-induced hallucinations, so them starting this late in the game means problems… And then I feel like I might be developing some hypochondriac tendencies, coz none of the testing this far has revealed anything, which means there can’t be anything actually wrong or they would have found it by now… Right?

Someone please convince my brain to stop messing with me…


To Dr. C

Dr C,

Talking to A Monday brought stuff up, but I’m not totally sure what. There’s a lot of the past floating around, and I’m finding myself really easily startled and frightened…

My head was literally spinning today, it triggered vertigo somehow.

There’s body stuff I’m feeling, and… I don’t even know what else. My heart races over nothing. I feel shaky, like I haven’t eaten in days, but in reality, I’ve been stuffing my face. I wanted to cut; to destroy my body; to pulverized it and stab it and shred it and break it and burn it… and by my body, I mean my pelvic area, where the feelings are creeping in again.

I wish we hadn’t talked about body. The kid really wanted to reach out, but my mouth was glued shut. I wasn’t sure how to speak about it without just screaming… so I kept quiet.

Only now the things I didn’t say are finding other ways to be noticed.

I really wish you were here coz I could talk to you about it, but you are still away through Monday… I don’t feel comfortable bugging A about it. There would be too much to explain… she kept saying she didn’t know my history; she hadn’t read what you gave her. Part of me wished she had. That way I wouldn’t have to figure out how to cram an explanation into the session and still have time to address what was happening in the moment… or just skip it all together because I couldn’t condense it that far.

I can feel the anxiety rising again. There are memories and fantasies and fears all happening in my body at the same time. It feels like I’m throwing imaginary scenarios in to drown out whatever is trying to surface. Imaginary stuff that I create in my head is much easier to control (and tolerate) than the stuff that actually happened (maybe? They’re memories, right? They’re valid? Or maybe even those are all stories?…).

I want to do that body drawing stuff she mentioned because it feels like something the kid could use to communicate. He still needs a translator, but maybe that would help? He seems connected to the idea…

I want to try some more kid techniques sometimes. Maybe the stuff that’s stuck would become unstuck? The kid that talked to De while I colored really likes that idea too. She wants to do more of that. She liked talking… I think she told the boy, because he keeps peeking around the corner wanting to try it…

There’s really not these others inside, but it just feels like there are others there, and I just don’t have a better way to describe the feeling.

SJ’s gone. I miss her. She was the most brave about talking. She was the face of the other kids. I dunno where she went. The boy misses her too, and the other girl and little blue monster all miss her. She was both 7 and 70. She was protective, but little, but also… I dunno. A container for the other kids? Now that she isn’t here, the others have to speak for themselves? Maybe she split into them when she ran off? She was older when she left though. She felt… I dunno. She wasn’t really older, but now the memory of her feels older? Does that even make sense? She left as a kid, maybe 5 or 7, but now the memory of her leaving feels like a young adult having moved away from home to get on with her own life. She pops by to say hi every once in a while, mostly to the kids, but she’s moved on with her life… like the babysitter going off to college or something.

I know these are all constructs of my head to order and make sense of things (and to keep safe), but it feels so separate. It kinda feels like other people who maybe speak a foreign language, or are extended family, or something… I dunno.

And they shift and change over time. I guess it’s me shifting and changing things as my understanding does the same. Sometimes they make sense as they were, other times the narrative needs to change to compensate for discrepancies. I guess it makes total sense if you look at it all as constructs of my head to help navigate life… they change with my understanding and head-space.

I’m really glad you will be back next week. I hope the trip was fun. I’m really glad you are back (and I was really relieved when I saw you post stuff on ig)…

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, …”

I like this. we are so often told to be mindful of the moment, but remain silent in our pain. It’s in our pain that we need to speak out and have someone share it. I even struggle with this in therapy lately. De isn’t big on talking about what’s eating me, just how to cope with it. Sometimes that’s helpful, but a lot of the time I need to be able to give voice to what’s inside. It took me so long to be able to talk about things, then I get a therapist who focuses on the distractions and coping skills without much energy devoted to just being in the moment of the struggle. I know she has helped me learn some invaluable skills, but at the same time, I feel more alone than I ever have much of the time. My family does not hold a culture of speaking about what bothers you. L tries, but I resist much of the time. It’s so easy to fall back into pushing things away. We need to pay more attention to opening ourselves, to feeling and being less alone in our hurt…

I Dont Want To Talk About It

wolf-howl-silhouette1 “…but by making the darkness conscious.” I went to my Men’s meeting the other morning.   As usual it was an interesting place to be.   One of my issues with AA is the unwillingness to making the darkness conscious at the meeting level.   My wonderful friends who are suffering from the effects of PTSD and other “mental health,” issues express confusion that when they are in meetings and they struggling, most of the other people in the rooms are speaking of gratitude, acceptance and/or tolerance.  They ask me and I question also whether the people speaking of gratitude etc. aren’t just “imagining figures of light,”  because they can’t/won’t deal with the darkness that they carry.

When I am struggling, and much of the time my depression makes me feel like I am searching for a life raft in the middle of this sea of hopelessness, I have a hard time with…

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Follow – up to “Sometimes telling is worse”

The telling may suck, but damn does it feel good to not be carrying that all by myself!
I had that extra session with De this afternoon. She had read my post to her before I got there (at least the first part where I told her I wanted to read it out loud to her and asked her not to let me chicken out on it). I tried my best to stall for time so I didn’t have to read it, but she kept encouraging me to.  After a few false starts, I was able to find my voice.  I started off quickly stumbling over the words, but I was able to get through it.  There were parts where my voice got quiet and cracked a few times, but I read it all to her.  As she pointed out, I did not throw up all over myself, I did not die, I didn’t have a panic attack or pass out… I was still there and she was still there. She did not change her opinion of me.  She told me that i did good.  She said it took a lot of courage to finally say (I had prefaced the whole thing by saying that I had never spoken much of that out loud, and no one knew those details).  As difficult as it was to actually give voice to what i had written and as vulnerable & small as I felt after I said it, a few hours later i feel really good.  A huge weight had lifted. I still think I want to cry at moments, but it’s more tears of relief than fear or sadness.

She was able to normalize some of what I talked about. That helped a lot also… we covered emotional safety, and she validated some of the realizations I had about stuff that gets triggered when the past comes up. In the end, we didn’t cover everything she wanted to cover, but I was able to get out what I needed to say. After all these years of therapy, I was finally able to speak some of my secrets, and it felt really good in the end. I think feeling safe with De being an assault specialist helped that happen, but I also think I had to get to a place where I could actually speak about it. It’s been long enough that I have carried the details of the events by myself.  It was nice to be able to share the burden, and I feel really lucky that De allowed me look to her for that support.

One thing I wanted to write about here that De also thought was pretty cool: one time I was with Duckboy, I was screaming at him in my head to stop, and my mom called right then asking if I was ok. I lied to her and said yes. De asked me how that made me feel (to have a connection like that with my mom), and i wasn’t sure how to answer.  It was really cool.  And I feel like I have put up too many walls to have that still… it’s cool tho.

We also talked about negative self – talk, and how some of that may change with the processing of things… there was other stuff that I wanted to note, but I have suddenly forgotten it.  Oh, she reassured me that I wasn’t crossing boundaries. I had been doing good with trying other coping skills before reaching out, and I was reaching out appropriately… I showed her some of my recent art, and she reiterated that she wants me to do something for sexual assault awareness month in April… I’m totally flattered, but also kinda skeptical about producing something that random people will see (I don’t have that much faith in my skills). I guess I should just take her approval as all the justification needed and do something.  I dunno.  We’ll see…
There was more, but it’s gone again.  Oh well.

10:40pm – I remembered that I also told her about the flashbacks that cause so much confusion (where I get lost in them and can’t tell if I’m in the present having a flashback or in the past wishing I was out of the situations I was in)… I was having trouble explaining it to her, because she kept on the idea of pulling in grounding techniques.  I wasn’t sure how to explain that those “confusions” come suddenly and completely.  I often don’t suspect it until it’s overwhelming and I don’t think to ground from it (too lost in the confusion).  I know I could ask L for help (we have discussed me asking her who she is and other reality checks, but I have yet to make use of that… mostly it’s because I get so confused as to time and place, I don’t want to seem really dissociated if it is in fact the past… it reminds me a lot of the movie The Matrix for some reason).  I used to dissociate a lot growing up, and some of it involved imagining a future away from the current situation.  When these flashbacks come now, I have trouble knowing if I’m just imagining a better future, or I’m having a flashback.  It’s very weird and disconcerting. That’s how I should have explained it to De, but I could not quite wrap my brain around that concept in her office today.

reflections on the state of the world (or at least my head)

I was re-reading my post from yesterday (the one on si just being “right”) and I realized that my take on why T’s have always been taken aback by the statement “it just feels .right.” may have missed an important piece.  In my training, and in my work with kids in the state system, I vowed to myself to never let their stories become common-place to me.  I vowed to hold abuse as horrific.  I told myself I would never become desensitized to suffering… While I can maintain that with my clients, I have found I have become desensitized to my own struggles.  Things that should cause revulsion, fear, or (in the least) alarm now barely serve as a blip on my internal radar.  It has long-ago become common-place and “old news.”  Things that should make me cry out against injustice have become reflex reactions I myself have adopted.  Things that turn my stomach when a client reveals it barely register in my conscious mind half the time.  I have taken over the role of my own abuser.  In the same breath that I express torment from having experienced it from someone else, I do it to myself.

When does that switch happen?  When does someone go from fear and revulsion to acceptance and self-infliction? How does that happen?  Even when away from the abuse or trauma, how does it suddenly translate to being ok when done by your own hand (or voice)?  Why is it that I can look at a client and feel sad for the things they must have had to endure to get to this same space, but hold none of that compassion for myself?  There is no awe at the thought of slicing my own flesh to relieve emotional pain.  There is no sorrow felt for the child in me who learned that physical pain can cease to register.  There is no gut-reaction to my own story, it’s simply a story.

I feel more for characters in fiction than I do for myself.  While I may be swept up by emotion elicited by the unbidden memories, I have learned to steel myself against the re-telling.   I have learned to separate myself from that same emotion to make it through the days and nights.  When I no longer separate myself is when it gets scary again.  The only thing is, it’s not scary because of anything I may do to myself, it’s scary because I may be lost in that emotion forever (and even though I know better, it always feels like it will go on forever whenever it hits).

See, I know the emotion is there.  I know the disgust and anger is there, but I can’t ever access it from this “outside” vantage point.  The professional part of me never has direct connection to the emotional part.  When I think hard about it, I know I feel something otherwise the depression and the self-injury and the self-medication would not come.  If I didn’t feel anything about it, I would not be haunted by the PTSD.   I would not need therapy.  So I know I feel something, sometimes, but I can’t empathize with my own emotional self when I’m not in the midst of it all.

Ugh! Clinical detachment can come in very handy when working with clients, but it just messes things up when I’m trying to work with myself.  Some days I wish the walls were not so big and thick and ever-present.  I wish I could be aware of the good amidst the bad and vise versa.  I write this blog to be able to remember what it all feels like, but if I’m not in that space, it’s like reading a poorly-written story.  I can’t access the emotions of the characters.   I’m let in to their surface thoughts, but the feelings behind it elude me.  And if I’m reading the more “professional” side while emotional, it all feels foreign.  It rings about as familiar as something a stranger may say to me.  I know I wrote it.  I know at the time I felt connected to it, but that connection is lost when I’m on the other side.  It’s frustrating!

Right now, if someone were to tell me my story as their own, I would feel saddened and angered and motivated to help them out.  When I realize it’s my own story however, it all melts away and the little voice in my head whispers “all is as it should be” …more defenses to help me make it through the days.  It opens the door to the feelings.  As soon as I’m to that side, the door slams shut behind me and I’m trapped until my brain makes the switch once again.

Some days I wonder if any of it really happened at all.  Some days I fear I’m just really really pathetic and made it all up to give myself something to pass the time… After all, people have different accounts of some of it, everyone’s memory is different…

I wish I had made it all up.  I wish I was just a really good liar… I wish this was all a nightmare that I mistakened for reality, and in actuality I am living a happy life.  I will wake up any moment and this will all fade quickly.  I’ll realize that my life with my wife is the truth, and the “memories” of the past are all just bad dreams… a girl can dream can’t she?