Thursday, November 05, 2009

I hate men...

...and women who feel they have to exert aggressive, asshole behavior like men.

I went to Dr. B and slumped down onto the couch, silent. Dr. B grabbed her yellow pad and pen, settled into her chair, and asked me how I was feeling. I hate men, I told her. I was feeling poisonous anger toward men, not one or two, but all men. She jotted this down, I think. Maybe she wrote down that I looked like a crumbled, depressed woman with bleeding eyeballs. It wasn't my most attractive day.

I'm not surprised with all that you've learned in the past several months. It's not unusual for someone with your past history with men to feel this way. And with your daughter's revelations, your son's flashbacks, and your mother's confession, it's no wonder at all. Yeah, no surprise at all!

But the LOML? He's different, isn't he? I stumbled with my answer. I was angry. I wanted to include him in my blanket hatred of all men. I mean he's made me very angry very many times. Dr. B looked into me, are you sure? You have described him as a very different man than those that have been in your life. Quietly, I admitted that yes, he was different.

But then I went off on a tangent about how he's been unavailable, blah blah blah. Yes, she reminded me that he was working through his own traumas and sometimes in relationships when both parties are feeling low, the relationship can be difficult to maintain and both suffer. Well, that's the truth! I felt like crying. Usually relationships have an ebb and flow and the partners find a way to take care of each other through those troubling times.

Okay, I don't hate all men. There's at least one I don't hate. Maybe hate is too strong of an emotion to attach to all men. But there are definitely several men I could hate. The rest just irritate the life right out of me. I must be careful.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One hell of a legacy

It is disconcerting to know that I passed on a legacy of trauma to my children. Dr. B suggested tonight that we do a genogram to come to a better understanding of the emotional trauma and abuse in my family.

I'm wasn't exactly sure what a genogram was so I googled it. Here's what I found:

A genogram (pronounced: jen-uh-gram) is a graphic representation of a family tree that displays detailed data on relationships among individuals. It goes beyond a traditional family tree by allowing the user to analyze hereditary patterns and psychological factors that punctuate relationships. Genograms allow a therapist and his patient to quickly identify and understand various patterns in the patient's family history which may have had an influence on the patient's current state of mind. The genogram maps out relationships and traits that may otherwise be missed on a pedigree chart.

I suppose that could definitely include emotional relationships and trauma. We talked about three generations of trauma in my session tonight - my mother, me, my children. I'm sure it preceded my mother's generation as well. It will interesting to see where mental illness fits in.

The thought of seeing a genogram of my family unnerves me. I dread what I might unearth and connect.

Antidepressants, NO!!! not again...


Dr. B made a suggestion tonight - would I consider taking an antidepressant? Again? I've been depressed for months now...since my son had his flashbacks and my daughter had her flashbacks and a secret was revealed while on vacation. It's been too much for me and I've found my self detached and unable to reconnect with my emotions.

"What do you feel when you say you're depressed?"

I feel nothing. No, that's not true. I feel exhausted, all the time.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

What was real anyway?

I haven't been 'right' for quite some time. Dr. B and I were trying to figure out when staying attached became so difficult again. Was it when I learned that my son had been sexually abused 10 years ago while in his father's custody? That certainly triggered something in me. Maybe it was what I learned on my vacation from my mother. But I was struggling months before that.

It was the cumulative effect of many realizations. I am not able to process them all and so two distinct reactions have occurred - detachment/denial/dissociation (all three actually) and illness.

This year, 2009, I have had several very unpleasant physical ailments, all of the onsets came after trips with my family -- shingles, stomach viruses (one of which lasted almost two weeks), flu/pneumonia, and strange fevers which erupted out of the blue and would last days. My last vacation was the worst - I fell sick with the flu for four weeks. I'm still recuperating.

Tonight my daughter was talking to me about these dreams she has been having. Not regular dreams, she told me, but dreams where she woke up thinking she was hiding under the bed in the house we lived in when I was married to my second husband. She said they felt really real and felt creepy and she would wake up and not know where she was. She's been having these dreams for several nights now. I told her they weren't dreams - they were flashbacks. Her hiding under the bed was real and frightening. It hurts me to think about it. It hurts her to remember it. She didnt' want to talk about it. She left the kitchen. I didn't follow.

I have passed my trauma on to all my children, in one way or another.

One more thing I need to process. One more thing that shuts me down.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A secret escaped...

...through the lips of my mother.

Why did everyone hate big sister? Why did she move across the country then across the ocean to escape? Why did my grandparents try marriage therapy in the 1940's? What secret did my mother reveal?

Only that my grandfather had a secret, intimate, close relationship with her older sister. And everyone in that family was jealous. They took trips together on the train; spent weekends today in the city. Incestuous? Yes.

My grandfather was mean, too. I never really knew him. He didn't like children or maybe he only liked one child who grew too old.
The events that shape us aren't always of our own choosing, but the person they make us into, however scarred, is the one thing we truly own.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Forever dreaming...

It feels like an assault - almost every night lately, well, every night since I have returned from my vacation. I dream of my assailant but I'm not sure who he is (although I see him - I just can't remember when I wake up) and I don't know how he assaulted me. I just know that he terrifies me; I'm always hiding from him or barricading a door, or begging for help (which never comes). This snippet is usually mixed in with a barrage of other unnerving episodes and I don't seem to be able to hold on to much -- just a feeling or a shadow.

But I did have two dreams that I do remember. I was travelling with my mother and sister and we stopped at a house (I thought at first it was my abusive ex-husband's mother's house) for some reason. My mother told me that she was leaving and wasn't taking me. I got really angry and told her she couldn't just leave me in this strange place with no transportation or money, etc. Too bad, I was told. I grabbed my mother, threw her up against the wall, slapped her across the face, and called her a bitch - well, I screamed bitch at her. She pulled herself together and left me there. I don't know what happened to my sister. Later I was showering in the upstairs bathroom of this house - the shower curtains were Victorian drapes -- and I was furious. I ripped down the drapes, smashed the window, broke the mirror - I went on a rampage breaking everything I could. I wound up cutting and bruising my hands and feet and just stood there soaking wet (still in my clothes) crying.

Last night I dreamed that I was trying to conduct business in this abandoned ski lodge with a man who I actually do freelance work for, but I couldn't pin him down to talk with me because he kept getting interrupted. So I was sitting in the lounge section on a couch and I could see my mother coming toward me, calling my little 2 year old granddaughter. I was really annoyed at yet another interference. I got up and left and was leaning against this large picture window when a man approached me from behind. He positioned himself right up against by backside so I could feel that he had an erection. He ever so slightly rubbed against me so that his erect penis was between my buttocks. I jerked around and said to him with much contempt - how old is your daughter now? She must be about 12.

The man in my dream was an acquaintance that I worked with many years ago. He is not someone I ever knew at all and barely spoke to. But he appeared to be a very well put together, uptight, and arrogant man who wouldn't give me the time of day.

I do not have restful sleeps. No wonder I am always tired.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Suicidal Ideation?

Recently I confessed my fantasies of violent deaths to a woman who I subconsciously share an infinity for suicidal ideation (among other dark desires and dangerous rebellions). Actually I suppose what we share are symptoms/manifestations of sexual abuse. We are not particularly close friends although she is the partner of a very dear friend.

Anyway a simple conversation quickly evolved into a very intense and deeply personal one. At some point in response to her story of watching herself go through the actions of a suicide attempt without actually going through the actions (it was a sort of disembodied experience), I told her about my fanatasies, my chronic suicidal fantasies. Oh, that's suicidal ideation she said. She has to mark that on her chart for her DBT therapies. It's the not quite the same as a suicidal attempt.

So, I looked up suicidal ideation and I learned that it can be used as a sort of stress reliever for people suffering with biopolar, depression, etc. Dangerous though, it is. It is a way out of a life that is so unbearable with no end in sight that the idea of death offers the only comfort. Apparently it is not always a precursor to an actual suicide attempt. It was not with me and I fantasied about suicide (or accidental, on-purpose death) for decades, continuously. My friend's suicidal ideations often led to suicide attempts and subsequent hospitalizations; mine didn't. I suppose it should never be taken lightly.

I believed death fantasies were normal. So, why didn't I commit suicide or attempt suicide? It's a question I've often asked myself. A part of me surely wanted to die. After my conversation the other night, I believe I finally understand why I'm still breathing.

To kill myself would have been admitting that there was something dreadfully wrong in my life...something that I worked so feverishly to deny. I couldn't remember anything that was so horrible that I would have to die to escape the pain.

Yes, my first husband was a bastard, a drunken, lazy, no-good-for-nothing bum and that in itself was worthy of depressive episodes and financially-driven ulcers. But not suicide - I had two beautiful little children. Somehow I blocked out the physical abuse, the torture, the imprisonment, the nightmares that made up that farce of a marriage.

Yes, I was left to my own devices as a young teenager - years that I involved myself in excessive drinking and drugging; years that I experienced rape and sexual abuse. But I chose to remember the "good times" - acid trips with magical snow cascading from the heavens.

This is what I do remember but there is plenty I can't grasp; images and feelings and emotions that haunt me in the dark almost every night of my life. There are flashes of evil doings that startle me awake on the cusp of sleep. There's the man I hide from and seek help to escape from in my dreams, night after endless night.

I don't fantasize about death anymore.

But it hurts like hell learning to connect and feel.

Friday, October 02, 2009

I survived, didn't I?

Where to start. i want to say I survived my trip but it's just not that simple. Yes, I'm alive. The plane didn't crash; the ship didn't sink; the bus didn't careen off a cliff. But I didn't arrive home whole. I returned shattered and over the next three and a half weeks, my physical health crashed. It all started as a low grade fever, cough, and stuffed nose and ended up in the emergency room with pneumonia.

I can't continue.

Maybe later.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I'm almost afraid to write this...

I'm almost afraid to write this post...if I mention I might be willing it to come true but I'm not. I'm just anxious. It's been just about 40 years since I crossed the Atlantic Ocean and there's Hurricane David travelling up the Eastern Seaboard. I haven't felt quite right since I decided to go on this trip. I think mostly because of the reaction of the LOML but I'm not sure. I haven't been able to think about it for fear that my fears will take control.

There's been a lot of death around me lately. It's my age, I'm sure. But still, it unnerves me just a bit. And I've been feeling estranged from my love. He's upset with me for going on this trip. He's not angry at me but he's feeling extremely anxious and he's been quiet around me. I need to feel him, his hugs...I need to hold on to our love so that if, god forbid, I don't make it back, my heart is filled with his love. Oh, my heart is filled with love (for him, from him). I'm anxious. I'll say it again, I'm a little nervous. If I keep writing it maybe it will get out of my system. Would the powers that be take my mother, my sister, and me all at the same time? It would leave my children and my sister's children orphans. But I guess if it's mean to be, it will be.

So, I want to tell you, LOML, that I love you. I love you more than you can imagine. I always have, every second of every day for the last 18 years. I love you because you have consistently loved me, even when you weren't with me, and I have never felt alone. For the first time in my life, I felt truly loved and adored and cherished. Your respect, your support, your care has helped me learn to live life. You have listened countless hours to my tales of horror and abuse and yet, you've never left. And it's traumatized you but you stayed and held me and loved me some more. I know I have frustrated you to no end but somehow you are still here. Sometimes I wonder what I did in my life to deserve your love and loyalty. I want to come back from this trip and share a life with you. I hope that we are given that opportunity.

Should something happen, please help my children understand who it is that their mother was. They don't know. Only you know, my love. One day, hopefully, you will find them and they will listen to you.

There, I got it out of my system. Quickly, my fears have been jotted down and released. Now, I can live. No, I don't want to crash in a plane over the ocean. I want to have a great time with my family and relatives and come home and work on my relationships with my love and my children, and make new friends, and get new business, and find a little peace and joy.

I love you.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Time to stop the chaos...

I have been distracted -- with my children's woes, freelance work, my lover, my family, decisions to make, money difficulties, etc. -- and have neglected my healing work. Then it dawned on me, with the gentle pushing of the LOML, that all this chaos in my life is what I do. It's the life I have been living - it's how I avoid what's too difficult to manage at the moment. It takes a toll on me physically, emotionally.

I'm angry and anxious. I have little patience or tolerance. I have a bruise in the core of my soul and it aches constantly. I never forget what I can't really remember. I cry with little provocation but it erupts from deep within my being. Sometimes I just want to let loose with a primal scream of pain - a long pathetic wail of suffering; I wake up from my sleep gasping for air...desperately sucking in my last breath as the hyena rips into my throat...suffocating my screams, silencing my pleas. It's all so brutal. It's what life has been. Brutality, abuse, anger, hatred all smothered in a blistering quiet delusional state of denial. It's agonizing. Add to that savagery a heavy dose of sarcasm and you have it all...the environment that birthed and raised me.

But no, they will all tell me no. It's been a good life, a happy life of sorts. No, it wasn't perfect but who's life growing up is? I come from an educated family - we're all smart and talented and a little off-center. But it's no big deal, right? WRONG.

It's been a nightmare...a bloody, fucking nightmare.

And I'm sitting here today, in my middling years, trying to come to terms with it all. The dysfunction, the anger, the hurt, the consequences of my living reverberate through me, my children, my siblings, my lover, my friends. It's sad, very sad.

Friday, July 17, 2009

An anniversary, of sorts

It's been a year since I started this blog. I haven't been terribly diligent about writing and the reason? Well when things got really tough -- in therapy, with the LOML, with my children, with my truth -- I struggled to write. Tears flowed, anger boiled, words froze.

You might think that is when I most needed to express my grief and pain and that is probably true. But writing the words would have been acknowledgement of my suffering and sometimes, I just wasn't ready or able. Before I could come to terms with my trauma, the next incident or physical malady struck and my energies focused elsewhere. I have many blog entries written in my head but that is where they will remain for now.

The LOML informed me that it has been a year since I started this blog.

Here's what I have come to understand: I am not lazy. I am not stupid. I am not ugly. I am not a no-good-for-nothing talentless person. I am not worthless. I am not a sexual object. I am not mentally ill. I am not a piece of shit.

And here's what I've learned about myself: I am worthy of love from all beings. I am smart. I am creative. I am compassionate. I have a beautiful mind, heart, and soul. I was severely traumatized in childhood and young adulthood. Heck, I was traumatized all my life! I am an abuse survivor - sexual and physical. I am incredibly strong and resilient. I am powerful. I am likeable. I am an empowered sexual being. I can do things that I want. I can speak my mind without anger or sarcasm. I am capable of making my own decisions about which path to follow.

And although I still feel incredible anger at my family for positioning me on a path that stole my life from me, I have compassion for them. The dysfunction unfolded and strenghtened over generations and unfortunately my children have now inherited the beast. Dysfunction marries dysfunction, raises children, and the whole process repeats, over and over again. I married into two deeply disturbed families and bore children. Now I work every single day of my life to help them through this unwanted and hurtful legacy. Enough is enough.

No one will ever hit me again. No man will ever rape me or abuse me. No one will ever do that to my children again.

And nobody will ever tell me I'm a piece of shit again.

Happy anniversary - you've come a long way baby!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

And it comes full circle

Chronic masturbation. Eating disorder. Sleeplessness. Aversion to performing oral sex. These are a few of the issues that have plagued me throughout my adult life. I never connected them. I never gave them much thought at all. It was just my life. And when I could, I avoided potential situations.

The last year has brought clarity to many of my behaviors and reactions to life. Ten months ago the LOML was talking "dirty" to me (which he does often). It was playful and as often happens, it escalates to really hot, sexually tense conversations. Ten months ago during one of these exchanges, I was referred to in a rather crude manner -- as his fuck bitch. I didn't take offense because this was not said in a derogatory way, it was not meant to hurt. However, hours later in my car I had a flashback to a time in my 20's when I was raped. It was a trauma and recalling the incident, retraumatized me and traumatized the LOML. It took many months of therapy, discussions, etc. to accept this trauma into my life and his. It was the crude talk that triggered the memory. It silenced the LOML for many months.

A few days ago during a particularly pleasurable sexual encounter with the LOML something new past aversion to blow jobs (pardon the crudity). This repulsion I always felt was in such opposition to what I experienced with my love that I laid awake that night trying to remember sexual encounters with past husbands and lovers. Did I really hate that? Yes, I believe I did but I can't remember much. It's strange that two decades of a sex life just disappears. I couldn't remember a specific encounter but the feeling in my gut wasn't good. More importantly, I realized, was that oral sex was just not something I did. Semen repulsed me. And I know from personal experience (I think) that when someone drinks alcohol and eats spicy food, their sweat stinks and their semen is worse. That stench filled our bathroom growing up. Maybe it was closer to me than I imagine.

Later that night, after our sex play, the LOML went home and sent me emails which I didn't open until the next morning. The first email was again very crude and not meant to harm but it pushed a button in me. My eyes welled up with tears and I quickly hit the delete button. Then I emptied my trash so I wouldn't have to see it again. The LOML knew none of this and for the rest of the morning continued to send me very sexually explicit text messages. Each vibration of an incoming message felt like an electrical shock zapping my emotional soul. Still I didn't tell the LOML that I was in trouble. I texted back - nothing too sexual -- but nothing that gave him an inkling that I wasn't okay. I didn't want to him to know. Finally I couldn't take any more. I felt on the verge on an emotional break and I emailed him. I wasn't able to explain to him what went wrong because I didn't know. Again, I think it was the sexual crudeness of the that early morning email that triggered something upsetting.

I could go on and on about this topic because I have many more thoughts but I can't right now. The LOML is positive that my reaction the other night and months ago is the proof of my sexual abuse - oral sexual abuse.

I still live in a place of emotional denial. This makes sense; it is feasible; it is probably reality, but when I try to feel it, I dissociate. Last night I convinced myself that I have made all these stories up. But have I made up the effects? The LOML has lived them with me; he has suffered them with me. And why would I make this up? Am I a total psycho? And if I was a psycho, what caused me to become one? Abuse. And it comes full circle.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

memories - cobwebs in my mind

I spent several hours in the car with my sister and mother today. Our conversations started with my sister turning to glance at me in the back seat and asking, "Do you remember when...?" I asked her earlier in the week to spend a little time with me and share any memories she had about growing up. They didn't have to be about me -- just our family. It was my homework from Dr. B. She decided being captive in the car with our mother was the perfect time for sharing memories. My mother was very accommodating. Me, not so much.

"Do you remember when mother was tucking us into bed and she heard dad coming down the hall to kiss us goodnight and she hid under the bed? I was about 3 and I remember us both giggling because we thought it was so funny." No memory.

"Do you remember all the parakeets we had in our room? They only lived about two weeks." Uh-uh.

"Do you remember when I spent your birthday hiding in the closet because you weren't really a princess?" Not really but I've heard the story for decades.

I have a photo of Christmas morning and a pink puppet theatre but I don't remember if it was yours or mine. "Oh, it was mine and I loved it."

Reading The Reader Reaction

I found so many parallels to my own relationship with the LOML (love of my life) in The Reader.

Watching the movie, I was immediately struck by the forbiddenness of the love, the shameful secrets they both coveted, and how those secrets choreographed the movement of their lives. I tried to tell the LOML about it but he wasn't interested in discussing it and although I didn't understand why, I chalked it up to exhaustion, candida die-off, and a bad mood (which is frequently the case). A week later I got my hands on a copy of the book and started reading and again I brought up the subject, to which he snarled just a little and the subject was dropped. It came to my attention a short time later in a text message that he had tried to watch the movie but turned it off because it was too upsetting. He had little compassion for Hanna - she was a rapist and an abuser. When he witnessed Michael's pain in the courtroom upon seeing Hanna, he could take no more. It made him angry and turned the movie off. No more.

Yes, Hanna was an abuser and yes, she committed statutory rape (according to our standards). But I was filled with compassion for both her and Michael and I couldn't quite understand what or why the LOML was filled with such contempt for Hanna and with such agonizing pain from watching Michael's struggles. But he (my love) was clearly suffering. He couldn't sleep. It occupied many conversations we had in person, in email exchanges, even text messages. I tried to understand what he was feeling. He connected to Michael - not knowing who this woman was that he loved so intensely, this woman that altered the course of his entire life. She took advantage of him sexually - she sexually abused him -- and it left him as damaged goods with a lifetime of issues that he didn't know how to heal from.

My love equated that to what happened to me - abusive love that damaged me. But there was no love in my abusive relationships -- desperation, yes; loneliness, yes; fear, yes; terror, absolutely. As I look back on my relationships now, there was no love - there was a driving fear to not be abandoned again and it pushed me into the arms of men I never imagined would be in my abusive alcoholic and a severely mentally unbalanced emotional abuser. It is upsetting my stomach to write those words.

After reading The Reader, a whole new world of understanding unfolded, slowly, page by page, about how the LOML dealt with his love for me, the forbiddenness and the secrets, my hidden past and the force with which it controlled our relationship. Set in another era, it could have been our story.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Joy was fleeting if felt at all

The LOML gave me gerber daisies a few weeks back. Looking at them filled me up with joy. Such a simple flower, such a simple gesture of love, such a simple yet powerful emotion surfaced. Joy. I've spent decades telling therapists that I felt no joy in my was missing. I knew what should bring me joy and I pretended to feel it when appropriate. But it was a lie. I was numb. I was detached. I was even dissociative.

I did talk about my life - a little. What I could remember, much of which was, actually, it was bad, really bad. But I told it like a story. A story that had no emotion, no connection. I talked and people gasped or cried like the LOML but nothing registered with me. I had more emotion attached to novels I read than anything in my own life. It was a joke -- my life was a laugh.

Friday, May 15, 2009

temperature de-regulation

My sweater is on, then off, then on again. I can't type because I have to grab my fan and cool myself off. Then I get chilled and I have to put my jacket on. A few minutes later, I'm hot -- not just warm but hot, sweating, uncomfortable, and I rip off my jacket, grab my fan, and try to cool off. It takes a minute, I relax feeling comfortable again. But it doesn't last but a few minutes at most and I'm freezing...goosebumps, icy cold. I put back on my sweatshirt jacket and warm up. I reach a tolerable temperature again which disappears as quickly as it came. Sweat pours, my face flushes...oh jesus, not again, I'm hot. Off goes the jacket. I drink some water. I try to calm myself. I cool down. I put my jacket back on before chill sets in. In 30 minutes I can put on and take off my jacket a dozen times. At home, I also take off my shoes and socks, put them back on, over and over again. My feet heat up; they cool down.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I dreamed about a lion...

A lion that appeared dead and then sprang to life and sent me fleeing. I did a little internet research this morning on the symbolism of lions in dreams. Here's what I found:
Wild animals (according to Carl Jung) are symbolic of dangers (hurtful and negative things) being "swallowed" by the unconscious.
Lions and tigers link to anger and intimidation. Lions are linked to great danger. Lions tend to symbolize moments of real fear linked to someone. Lions can be linked to moments when you have faced real danger. Lions can also link to your specific fears connected with life in general and problems you would like to avoid.

Walking my little Jack Russell terrier with the LOML on a dirt road near my home, we noticed up ahead an animal lying across the road. At first glance I thought it was a dead golden retriever with its blondish coat, but as we neared I realized it was a lion with a huge mane. It was on its side sprawled across the one-lane dirt road and it didn't appear to be breathing. The LOML leaned down and stroked the soft fur on its belly, freaking me out.

Don't touch him. Please. I asked him to get away from it -- we really didn't know if the lion was dead and I just couldn't risk him (or me or the dog) getting hurt. As I soon found out, the lion wasn't dead - it sprang to its feet sending me and the unleashed dog running in one direction further down the lane while the LOML headed back out onto the main road. I was screaming for the LOML to run quickly when the lion approached and snatched my dog up in his paws. My dog morphed into an orange cat, hissing and clawing its way free, and quickly scooted up a very tall skinny tree. The lion climbed the tree right behind him - they were way up -- at least 100 feet.

I ran to a house on the lane and started banging on the door for help. A woman and toddler answered - they didn't speak English. I started yelling 'emergencia, emergencia' - dial 911 - which she did and handed me the phone. I told the police that there was a ferocious lion on the loose and they needed to capture it. The 911 operator asked me if the lion hurt anyone - no. Well then she said, we'll get there when we get there. I was fuming and I screamed at her over the phone, what? are you going to wait until someone gets hurt? gets murdered?

I looked up into the tree and saw my dog/cat cradled in the lion's front legs. It was licking the cat like a lioness does with her cubs. In the next moment my cat took this death-defying leap from the tree and landed in my arms - he was my dog again and he was covered with saliva and blood and dirt. He was trembling and trying to escape from my arms but I held him tightly. I screamed for the police to come and screamed for the LOML but neither were within earshot. I quietly but quickly made me way down to the other end of lane clutching my dog to my chest trying not to gather the attention of the lion. I was exhausted as I started to trudge my way up a very steep hill thinking that all I wanted to do was get home to safely and find the LOML.

I spoke with Dr. B about my dream. It was suggested by the LOML that the lion was my very abusive first husband. I agree. I also believe that I was my dog/cat and when I realized I couldn't escape, I morphed into an animal that was similar so we could relate; so I could survive. And that's just what I did with my first husband until I could finally escape from a prison of my own making. Oh yes, my ex terrorized me, I'm sure, but as long as I dissociated from the abuse, I wasn't able to find my way out. I didn't even acknowledge the abuse and it wasn't until I had children that I left. And it was to protect them; not me. I still didn't allow the memories of abuse to surface. Denial is dangerous.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I made a promise...

I made a promise to myself last night, the night before, and several times during the past week. My promise? To stop telling myself, the LOML, Dr. B, and anyone else who ever listens to me that I can't remember. Oh, I don't remember. It's my mantra. I don't know if that actually affects my memory but I'm positive I reinforce that belief. 

I know that I don't remember many things because of my history of trauma but people remember traumatic events, even after they've blocked them from their consciousness for years, decades even. In a way it's easier not to remember. I can rewrite my biography any way I please (well, almost) when I claim memory loss. Only my physical ailments betray me.

My first exercise is going to be to write down anything I think I remember - whether it's a clear memory which I believe I own, or a memory that's perhaps been instilled in my brain through stories I recall hearing. 

I come from a family of storytellers - wild exaggerations run rampant from my father's side of the family. I have been know to embellish a story or two. My brothers are particularly adept at turning a minor incident into a whale of tale. It makes it difficult to decipher what might be 'truth' and where the fantasy lives. Maybe that has been a survival mechanism in my father's family for generations. 

My mother -- well, she descends from a clan of heavily brainwashed Brits living in absolute denial of everything. It's an interesting contrast because while they denied their own emotions; they prided themselves in their fierce honesty about everything (and yes, they were always "right"). I think it's more like brutal bluntness (bordering on deliberate cruelty) and it hurts (if you choose not to deny it).

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Abandonment issues...

...and other random thoughts.

I have abandonment issues. Tonight I had a falling out with the LOML and he said to me in moments of frustration (I hope) that perhaps we should take a separation until we both finished our therapy. Inside, I flipped. An irrational fear possessed my thoughts and I couldn't talk anymore. I did gather myself up and told him that I could not talk to him and wanted to leave. We parted ways without another word said. It was miserable. But I couldn't speak, not rationally anyway, and at long last I recognized this fear and the impact it was having. It was miserable but monumental in a way. There was a part of me, albeit an itsy bitsy piece of me, that wanted to screech my tires as I pulled out of the parking lot and ram my car into a tree. But it was just an irrational, angry thought not something I would ever act upon because I have learned. Learned to bring myself back to the present and not act out as that young abandoned child. Still, his words hurt and cut to my bone. He doesn't want to separate and neither do I but we're both tired and weary and overwhelmed with the work we are trying to do in therapy. We will work this out somehow.

Some random thoughts...while talking with my sister this afternoon, she related a story to me about how unfair she thought it was that our brothers didn't have to wear shirts in the summer and us girls did. So, at 6 years of age, she went out without a shirt and walked around the block. Why didn't our mother make her wear a shirt? She chuckled and said she probably never even noticed (or cared). Yes, I thought, that is true. Was she hoping for attention from a neglectful mother? I think so. She also told me how she used to dress up in our mother's dresses and high heels and parade around in front of the house and sashay up and down the street. She was preparing for her married life. She also spend her free time (after school) pushing a baby buggy with one of those quasi-realistic looking peeing baby dolls until she was 12. She had her first serious boyfriend at 14.

I shared with her what I did at 10 years old with my girlfriend -- we played adult cocktail hour in the morning hours before any adult had awakened and shook off their hangovers. Dressed in our pajamas, we would pick out the longest cigarette buts from the ashtray, hang them from our lips, refresh the liquid remnants of the previous night's cocktails left on the coffee table with ice (those without soggy Marlboro stubs), and parade around the living room sipping our heavily diluted martinis talking about adult sex.

My sister was a bride and mother in the making. I was the dysfunctional adult in the making. We both (sort of) lived up to our make-believe fantasies.

It felt good or did it?

Dreaming again last night. I was some undetermined age, not adult yet, sitting with an older man. He was stroking my hair, flattening the frizziness with his hands, gathering my locks up into a ponytail. It felt good and I closed my eyes. But I knew it wasn't good -- there were sexual undertones and I steeled myself against those feelings, just trying focus on the innocence of the caresses - how a parent might soothe a child. But it wasn't soothing and it wasn't innocent. I was uncomfortable and the man kept telling me that it was okay...that everything was alright.

I woke up feeling sick, with that undefinable ick feeling deep in the pit of my stomach. And the feeling has stayed with all day leaving me with a stabbing pain under my right shoulder blade.

Again, I was deceived...something so seemingly innocent but probably anything but. And I was in conflict -- it felt good but I knew it was the precursor to something that didn't. Oh, yuck.

I'm going to pour myself a cup of tea and busy myself with anything other than these thoughts. Or so I like to tell myself.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The rivers of denial run deep

I'm a hurting pup today. Emotional pain, that is, but with that comes physical symptoms --my nose is running again (and no, it's not allergies), my head is disconnected (feeling very lightheaded and detached), a strangeness to my hearing (there's a numbing quality to what I hear, like it's not really in my ears). I keep trying to do my SE exercises -- find a place in my body that feels calm or feels nothing (but not numbness) and hang out there. And it works for a moment or two before I lose my focus. I have to practice more.

My neck aches. I now have a neurotic fear that I have osteo-arthritis or some such other progressively debilitating disease. I went out and purchased calcium supplements last night and black cohosh for my hot flashes. On top of everything I go through that is emotionally driven - I have menopause symptoms. So, I really don't sleep and I have extra anxiety in addition to my stress, and fogginess, and teariness. How do I know what is menopause and what is therapy? It doesn't matter. It's both, always. The menopause symptoms just amplify my emotional state.

I am very terrified to retrieve any memories that may confirm sexual abuse in my past. I have worked so hard all my life to convince myself that I am just a loser, a lazy, not-so-smart, not-so-successfull, waste of a human being. Oh, but that's not true. Just ask anyone. What an awful thing to write about myself. I'm not feeling well today and I don't think that at all. It's just -- well, what is the alternative? Maybe the alternative is that abandonment and physical abuse could really mess someone up, especially a child. But was I abandoned? Neither parent died. Maybe that would make it easier. They just chose not to take care of us anymore -- move out, live their own lives. They couldn't completely disown us but they did pretty darn good at letting us know that we were bothersome -- that we were trouble and some of us actually were. I was.

They did the best they could. But did they? I doubt that although I am quite sure my mother was traumatized by the whole divorce thing. She, however, denies it adamantly. And she still loves that bastard of a father of mine. It's the family dynamic of deny, deny, deny. The denial runs deeps; the wounds even deeper.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Shift happens

Those were the parting words of Dr. B as I left my session. She wasn't being funny. She was talking about sonamic experiencing and what was happening within me. A shift was occuring and something was being discharged. What? I'm not exactly sure. A transition had occurred over the weekend with my "illness" prompting my desire this morning to talk about sex. Yes, it hurts but it was a good thing, she assured me.

I walked into my therapy tonight and immediately explained to her my mysterious (but not so much) illness over the weekend. High body temp, chills, hot flashes, ice in my veins, headaches, muscle aches, very stuffy non-stop runny nose. I was miserable and weak and helpless and sleepless - Friday night, Saturday, Sunday. I woke up Monday morning feeling a little bit better but by the mid-morning I had not a single symptom remaining.

On Sunday I watched the "Three Faces of Eve." I couldn't get the movie out of my head - how Eve White had no memory of what traumatized her and the personality that experienced most of her life responded to it like a zombie - disconnected, unfeeling, dead. She was unhappy in an abusive relationship and just accepted her fate. Eve White felt nothing. I could relate. Eve Black was rebellious. I could relate. I digress. I want to write about therapy and sex.

I woke up this morning and decided I needed to take action in therapy -- try to move things along. That's when I decided "sex" needed to be the topic.

So, I walked into therapy, briefly narrated my illness, and then told her I needed to begin a discussion about sex. She said, sex, okay. Is that a problem for you? Well, yes and no. I told her how anxious I was all day about coming to therapy with the intent to discuss sex. I had a headache and she could feel the tension. She started the discussion by asking me what I was feeling right then while I was gearing up for the conversation. I felt numb and I felt scared. My throat felt thick.

I immediately fell into a confusing monologue about whether or not I was sexually molested as a child. Why I suspected I was -- all the evidence, everything I read, my classic symptoms. Then I told her I thought it was all in my head. And she stopped me, and said "it's not in your head - you have physical symptoms, you were sick this weekend, you have pain right now talking about it. You've a lifetime of physical ailments. It's not in your head." OK, that's true.

I wanted to cry. I just slumped back into the couch and stared at the floor. Do you want to talk about sex with the LOYL? No, yes, maybe. I told her that our sex life had been changing - that I was feeling things I never felt before. It was a little scary but it was good. What is that you feel? I feel his touch, I feel emotions, I feel intimacy, I feel connection, I feel pleasure, I feel satisfaction, I feel so much more than just the raw sexual attraction. Your sex has many layers now. Yes. It does. I started to cry just a bit. I told her briefly about times in our past when I thought I was suffocating or on the verge of a panic attack and how sometimes being on the verge of a panic attack during sex made me more sexually aggressive. I needed to push through the fear.

I don't remember sex with other men. I don't remember sex with my first husband and I don't remember sex with my second husband. I remember being raped, sort of. I remember the fear more than I remember the acts. I remember the anger (at myself) more than the violent act perpetrated against me. But we didn't really discuss this.

You were traumatized. We know for a fact that you were traumatized. We have proof from your sister and brother that your ex-husband knocked your teeth out. We can surmise that you took a strong blow to the head when that happened. We know that you were traumatized when your parents abandoned you. We know that those traumas alone are enough to cause all kinds of problems. Now we need to explore the sexual fears and apprehensions.

As things started to heat up, it was time to cool things down. 45 minutes go by quickly but I'm not so sure I could have handled any more. It's intense and I'm tired now. I'll finish this posting tomorrow.

sex on my mind

I am going to see Dr. B this afternoon and I think it is time for me to broach that subject I so fervently avoid - sex. I tiptoe around the issue. A little crack here and there but I have become quite the pro at changing the topic at a moment's notice. Dr. B actually lets it slide away because she only pushes so much. She doesn't want me to take a nosedive into territories that will re-traumatize me. We work slowly. Sometimes it seems so agonizingly slow that today I am going to attempt a little bravery. I don't know what I'll say or where or how I'll begin. Maybe I'll just say, "I want to talk about sex. I think sex is the key to unlocking my past." She'll ask me why and maybe a revealing dialogue will ensue or maybe I'll go numb and then we'll do some SE work to bring me back and attempt to continue our exploration into my trauma. Phew... It's too much to think about so I'm not going there anymore (this morning, that is).

Sunday, April 19, 2009

bad things happened to me...

It's been a long time since I last posted, almost four months, and I've been, what? I've been hurting from a long list of realizations. I was in too much pain to write. I know, it's when I should have been writing but that would have been unequivocally admitting to the many truths I spent a lifetime denying. It's not like I wasn't suffering, however. I was, mightily, and just as mightily I worked to pretend it wasn't quite as bad as I imagined. It was worse.

I haven't been writing. I haven't been sharing my thoughts with the LOML. I talk with Dr. B. And I cry, all the time, and I don't sleep, and my body goes numb, and I cry some more. I miss talking with the LOML but somehow I convinced myself that if I didn't share all my difficulties with him, I would spare him my miseries. My traumas have traumatized him and I feel guilty. I didn't want to pile on any more guilt than I already carry. But it doesn't work. I miss him. I miss sharing my discoveries and realizations and moments of clarity with him. He understands. Dr. B understands. No one else does. No one else really knows.

Dr. B reminded me of something that Peter Levine wrote - trauma robs you of your soul. The LOML has uttered similar words to me for years but I fought him with every logical piece of denial I could summon. No, no, I cry, it's not true. I had parts of my soul retrieved back in the fall - parts that were robbed from me and yet, I still deny it. I wish I had the words to explain the hurt and anger. It's not hurt and's so much greater than those two words can convey. My life was stolen from me and what was I given? Uck. What was I given? What did I make of my life? I was talking to Dr. B about a dream I had just before my trip to Nevada.

I was ill the night before I left. The LOML left me lying on my bed that evening praying for salvation. He wasn't happy with me. I was tossing and turning all night, burning up with a fever, anxious in my semi-conscious state of delirium, how I was ever going to manage to get up at 4:45 am and fly to Las Vegas. I was drenched in sweat, dying of thirst but afraid to drink. I wanted to die and yet, cancellation was not an alternative in my mind. So I dreamed about getting fixed.

I had to keep going across the river to replace my sick body parts with healthy ones. But I could only replace them one piece at a time and each time I had to run across the bridge to the house I grew up in, make the exchange, and race back over the bridge to my bed. Then I did it all over again and again and again to exchange another piece of me. I was worried that the night would end before I replaced all the bad parts or that I would collapse in exhaustion before I was done.

I woke up many times between the exchanges but each time I fell back into a feverish sleep and exchanged another part of me.

At 4:45 the alarm went off. I dragged myself out of bed in tears, brushed my teeth, grabbed my bottle of water and a tube of saltine crackers (just in case I could eat), woke my children and headed to the airport. I guess I had replaced enough parts in my sleep to set out to adventures unknown.

When I spoke to Dr. B about my dream, she asked me why I went back to the house I grew up in for new healthy parts of me. Because that was where I was before bad things happened to me. YES, she said, that is the first time you have admitted to me that bad things happened to you. Yes, bad things happened to me.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Two weeks ago I broke

I didn't break down. I broke. The well-crafted defenses I perfected (or so I thought) over the last five decades broke and failed me. Yes, they have failed me in the past but I never knew they were failing. That's true denial. Two weeks ago I wound up in the emergency room, curled up on my side on a gurney, insides churning, nauseous, shivering, head throbbing, right arm numb. But the test results (blood tests, EKG, cat scan of my brain) were normal and the ER doc, after giving me two tylenols, told me I could leave. The LOML arrived to take me home.

I haven't written in my blog in months. I couldn't.

It just hurts too much.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

dreaming again

January 26, 2009.
I walked into a conference room -- long beautiful wood table in a very elegant, old building. I was meeting with Heads of States and professors and other dignitaries. I was decked out in a business suit (skirt, jacket) and high heels. I walked into the room where everyone was already seated and walked to the head of the table to sit. Just before I sat down, I pooped. It just dropped out from beneath my skirt and plopped on the floor. It was huge like a great dane's pile of crap would be. I didn't pay any attention although I was well aware it happened. I pulled a chair up over the pile of shit and sat down for the meeting. I was concerned about the smell but I was the only one who seemed to notice. After the meeting I pushed my chair back and accidently stepped in the pile of crap and it got all up in my heels and on my purse and I was grabbing tissues and trying to clean it up all the while making excuses about how it got all over my shoes and purse. Oh, I must have stepped in it on my way over here. I was hoping that no one would notice the smeared pile of shit under my chair.

January 23, 2009.
Well, I think you attached me last night, back to my emotions. I had dreams again, dreams about you, my sister. Dreams that were rife with anxiety and upset. And this morning I just cried and cried. I have been so detached the last two weeks and I haven't dreamed. But you brought me back and even though it pains me, it is good.

I dreamed that I was in the water -- the river -- there was a wall on one side of the river - a tall unscalable wall, and the other side of the river was never-ending. I was holding on to this long inflatable tube that was almost flat and barely kept me afloat. I was exhausted and I was looking for something at the bottom of the river. The water was crystal clear but I couldn't see anything and I was so tired I could barely hold on to this tube and my sister was way up above on the wall, telling me not to give up, to keep looking.

Next I dreamed I was at the playground of the elementary school in Upper Nyack and there was a carnival. You (the LOML) and I were there as adults and we walked over to this merry-go-round where everyone on it was naked and bending over and moaning and I was totally disgusted by it. But you wanted to go on it and you waited in this line for your turn (and I wasn't happy) and then you took off your clothes and got onto the merry-go-round. I watched you sort of hump and slither on top of all these really obese and filthy nude bodies. You weren't engaged in intercourse or anything overtly sexual (like blowjobs, or grabbing breasts) -- you were just kind of bent over and sliding around on top of these other naked bodies (but you had a hard on and I could tell you were rubbing your balls hard against the other bodies) and everyone was moaning and groaning and making all kinds of sexual noises. I was totally upset and walked away. You found me and were telling me that it was nothing, it was just simple fun and human contact and why was I turning it into something sexual. I was like, no way, it was very sexual and I was crying and yelling at you to stop trying to make me believe otherwise.

Friday, January 16, 2009

dream collection

Sometime in March 2009. I was recruited by someone to give an alcoholic man a ride back across the bridge to Nyack. He was an old drunken man, scruffy, unshaven, smelly, drooling, big in stature. He climbed into the front seat of my car and I headed across the river directly to Mountain View Avenue but the man yelled at me that he wasn't going there and to take him to Chicken Charlie's Bar on Franklin Street. I told him it didn't exist anymore. He was screaming at me, berating me, calling me a liar, and told me to take him to DeMartini's Bar on High Street. Again, I told him it was now a condominium. He was furious and he was scaring me. I quickly manuevered the car through the traffic on Main Street and headed directly to the hospital. I was getting frustrated and panicked because the hospital had been rennovated and was much larger and I couldn't find the ER entrance. I wasn't dropping the old bastard off, I was running for safety.

January 6, 2009. I was sitting in a tiny restaurant in a small new england coastal town (at least that's how it looked and felt) and I was telling my sister about something/someone evil that was trying to destroy me. She told me that we were going to leave and go find it and kill it. We went outside into the woods - it was a beautiful spring day -- and we wandered through the woods, and meadows, and by the ocean looking for this threatening being. I was not able to describe it (or him) to my sister but I knew it was around me all the time. She had a baseball bat. When we first stepped outside of the restaurant, I saw this butterfly and I screamed to my sister that it was the beast that was tormenting me. She looked at it and said it was only a butterfly and I looked again, and it was only a butterfly. But I had seen this evil being woven into the design of the butterfly's wing. It wasn't there anymore. Then I looked off into the meadow we were approaching and I saw it everywhere in every blade of grass swaying in the breeze. I kept pointing this out to my sister, totally freaking out, but she couldn't see anything or feel anything. Finally we made our way back to the diner and I heard this moaning, like a dying animal, and I told my sister, look, there it is. She took off after something, swinging her bat all over the place at something she couldn't see, and I heard screeching and crying, and I woke up.

Second dream - I was in a large room -- like a prison cafeteria -- and it was filled with people and children sitting at long tables. The room was totally packed and had a wretched stench, like urine, and decaying bodies, and excrement. There were these tiny windows way high up on the walls, near the ceiling, which were closed. The lights cast a bluish tint over everything. Everyone was just sitting, like prisoners, some crying, some moaning, others with their heads down on the table, only there were no guards or fences or anything to hold them inside. I thought that they were in a self-imposed prison. I was freaked out and was with this woman who grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the room. We ran into this house - a split level house that is often in my dreams - and this woman hustled me into a bedroom and told me to quickly get dressed so that we could escape. I was wearing flipflops and grabbed a pair of socks and a shirt to take with me. I put on a navy blue t-shirt with a message (I don't remember) and was trying to stuff my socks & shirt into my pocket. I didn't want anyone to know that i was going to sneak out. This man entered, an older man with a Charlie Mason air about him, and grabbed my socks & shirt from me so I couldn't escape and told me to hurry up and get going. He came over to me to see what was written on my t-shirt and he was smoothing the fabric across my breasts with his hands. I was frozen, not breathing. The woman distracted him and he stopped. Then he walked out of the room. This woman with me grabbed my arm and started to pull me toward the front door. I stopped at the bathroom door and was just about to go in to find my socks & shirts when the woman screamed at me to stay away from the bathroom. She yelled, "Don't you remember what happens in the bathroom?"

January 1, 2009. You were showing me this house that you just purchased for us to move into. It was a big old victorian house with lots of passageways, doorways, rooms, hallways, etc -- sort of like the Adams family house. Anyway we were inside and I was very uncomfortable and didn't particularly like the house and couldn't understand why you purchased it without talking to me. You were playing this kind of cruel game of hide and seek with me in the house, running from room to room, through secret passageways, and everytime I thought I found you, you would disappear and an apparition of Chuck would appear and totally freak me out. Then i ran into this large octogonal shaped room in the front of the house with lots of windows draped with old, torn fabric, and in the middle of the room was Henry lying on his side on a marble slab (like from a graveyard). His eyes were closed but his head was turning like he was watching my movements. I ran out of the room and into the foyer and you were standing there. I was very upset and just as I was about to scream your name, you turned into Chuck and I screamed out Chuck terrified and woke up.

My second dream - I was in Nyack on Christmas Eve. All of Main Street was lit up with beautiful winter lights and decorations and people strolling around dressed up in fancy wool coats and hats -- families with children. It was really late - wee morning hours -- and I was sitting on the curb outside the police station (the first place we went to) just north of Main Street. There were no decorations or people or joy where I was sitting. I was watching the festivities from where I was sitting. An older man approached me and offered to buy me a sandwich and I got up and started to walk with him. We went to the pizza restaurant on the corner of Main Street which bustling with patrons and he told me to sit down at a table while he ordered my sandwich at the counter. I sat at a table with this creepy old black man and a blonde haired woman. The man kept eyeing me salaciously (?) while he was talking to the blonde woman about the sexual things he was going to do to her. I was very creeped out (I was young) and the looks he was giving me where frightening me. Anyway I decided the only I could do was whip out my camera and tell him I wanted to take some portraits on him so he would shut up. He started to pose, staring straight into the camera with this very weird expressions and I was taking photos but it was also scaring me so I suggested he and the blonde woman get up and sing or do some sort of performance for the patrons. They did, along with some other customers, and I tried to take photos of them but every time I took a picture, everyone's face was obscured.

November 1, 2008. I had two rather strange dreams. FIrst I dreamed I was walking across a bridge - there was a paved blacktop road and a sidewalk attached on the side. The bridge peaked at 160 feet over a raging river and I decided to walk across on the road part because it seemed more stable. As I got to the highest point the blacktop gave way - it was actually painted fabric (like canvas) and it shredded from moisture and rot. I was clinging to shreds of this fabric hanging high over the river. I didn't fall though. I grabbed another piece of hanging fabric and sort of like Tarzan I swung from one hanging shred to the next until I got to safety. I had these unbelievably strong arms.

My next dream - I was moving and I got rid of all my stuff -- everything and moved into a furnished apartment. WHen I walked into the apartment I rented the first thing I noticed was the dresser I had gotten rid of. THen I walked into the bathroom and it was pretty disgusting - the floor was bright yellow tiles that were all broken and missing and chipped. There was a clawfoot bathtub but the rim was broken and someone had tried to glue a bath mat over it. The toilet was in the middle of the floor and on the wall behind the toilet, leaning against the wall, was the mirror that went with the dresser I had thrown out. I was very upset.

September 23, 2008. I had a dream that I went to look at house for us and found one (that was very similar to something in my past). It was a Victorian house with lots of rooms owned by Heidi Klum. I don't how she snuck into my dreams. It was kind of rundown but being fixed up and I went in to look around. It had an octogonal livingroom w/lots of windows of all shapes and sizes, some on the floor, some on the ceiling. Then there was a writing room with two antique writing desks, and the kitchen consisted of about 5 separate rooms each filled with gorgeous antiques and interesting architecture. I was very excited.