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.