PTSD

Since things have calmed down regarding the recent therapy debacle, I apparently decided to entertain myself by letting PTSD symptoms run rampant.  Today has been a running flashback.  I think I’ve spent more time in the past than the present.  The psychological symptoms are obvious, but the physical symptoms get in the way, too.  I get ‘tummy troubles’ as a dear friend calls them.  My muscles ache from being so tense.  I get migraines. My energy level flits about like leaves in the wind.  All of those lovely physical warnings that something is wrong.

A very simple thing the former therapist taught me is to ground myself by sitting straight in my chair and keeping both feet in constant contact with the ground.  When she first mentioned that, I thought she’d gone off her face.  It really does help, though.  The standard looking at a calendar to see the date can be helpful, but if it is near one of the SRA days, it can be tremendously harmful.  I’m careful with that one.

Above all, I’ve found that being outside helps.  I tend to avoid driving unless I’m sure I can keep my focus.  Still, feeling sun, rain, or wind on my skin makes me feel alive.  Again, SRA dictates the sort of places that help.  I can’t do open spaces like fields or car parks.  I need to be walking about in a residential area, surrounded by houses and people who are as alive as me.  It makes me feel a part of this world, so far away from the underground cult world.

I need to keep in my mind that the past is, in fact, over.  The memories and scars survive, but the events are over.  I also need to stop myself worrying about what’s to come.  It bothers me to think that the future could mirror the past in any way.  So here I sit on this August evening, trying to settle in to the present and remind myself of the wonderful people in my life who form the blanket of safety that now surrounds me.

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Survivors

That’s what they call those of us who’ve lived through childhood trauma.  I do not feel like a survivor today.  I feel like somebody un-surviving.  For the past few weeks, it’s been like I’m living in a flashback.  Bad memories keep popping up, and I can’t seem to push them back anymore.  These aren’t new memories.  They’re just the Stuff from my past that I’ve chosen to keep distanced.  Lately, though, they’ve decided to become much closer.

My therapist and I have decided to start doing memory work.  I’m working nearly full time and taking classes full time, so why not add another difficult task?  Since I’m already doing very poorly in one class this semester, perhaps I’m thinking I should just make doing much worse even easier.  Irony, you know.  The thing of it is, I don’t think I have a choice in the matter of memory work.  The memories are so fresh and vivid that they’re going to bother me anyway.  Therapy seems to be a good shot at remaining at least semi-sane.

A dear friend of mine who is a fellow trauma survivor told me she fell apart at a certain point in her life because she could.  She’d found stability in a home and relationship, so the pressure wasn’t as bad.  I think that’s the ideal way of letting trauma break, or at least the most ideal it can be.  I’m trying to figure out how to take apart and put together the puzzle pieces at the same time.  That’s something the therapist and I are going to discuss up front– I need to form strategies to keep therapy stuff in therapy and carry on with Real Life outside of it.  The problem is, my memories keep taking over whether or not I want them to.

My best friend and I went out for ice cream last night.  It took me a few minutes to even decide if I *could* buy ice cream for us without being selfish and horrible.  At the shop, I saw a woman push her child down.  That started a great deal of memories, and I was shaken for a while.  On the drive back to my best friend’s house, another memory hit.  I felt like I’d been taken back to that time, and the memory surrounded me.  That is not a good idea when driving.  Fortunately, I reached out and held my best friend’s hand until the memory calmed enough that I could focus on the present time.

It’s very simple, people.  Don’t beat your children.

Messiness

I got a text message from my best friend tonight.  This is not unusual, of course.  What *is* unusual, though, is my missing a text from him.  This did not go over well with Lily.  Or with me, really.  I guess it’s an abandonment/major losses thing– whenever I miss the small things that happen in mine and my best friend’s friendship, I panic.  It’s the small things that make a difference.  He and I have shared some absolutely amazing adventures.  We’ve travelled a bit, tried unusual foods (see: Bertie Bott’s vomit beans 🙂 ) and done some local touring that turned out really well.  We’ve also spent cold, rainy nights watching bad DVD’s, lazy afternoons just hanging about, and warm summer evenings walking beside the Riverfront.  Those little moments make all the difference.  So when I miss a tiny little text message that was just a small joke from a movie we watched last night, I panic.

Lily, who was supposed to be in bed, popped up to absolutely yell at me about not having the phone near so that her M Body Person could talk to her.  That woke Timmy who began to cry because Lily was crying.  And that attracted the attention of Mairead, who has taken over as internal caretaker of the children since the former internal caretaker became what Mairead refers to as a CAB– Crazy Ass B*tch.  Ah, love among the alters.  Just as things started to get absolutely maddening, my phone buzzed.  My best friend texted, completely unexpectedly since it’s a bit late, and all was calm.  Immediately.  With one text message, my best friend was able to calm the entire internal core group.

And I am terrified.

I’ve never trusted someone so deeply in my life, nor have I ever let anyone get this close.  Now we’re at the ultimate in trust– I recognise that my best friend could absolutely crush me in just a few words.  I’ve lost so many people, either to death or otherwise, and losing my best friend would be my complete downfall.  I couldn’t withstand that.  For someone as wonderful as him, though, it’s worth the risk.

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Our lives are made in these small hours

These little wonders, these twists and turns of fate

Time falls away but these small hours

These small hours still remain

— Rob Thomas, ‘Little Wonders’

Change of Heart?

I’ve always hated December.  As any SRA survivor will tell you, December brings some ‘interesting’ issues.  Why, then, am I wishing December of last year had never ended? I dearly missed going to see my family-of-choice, and I’m working toward getting up to see them soon.  Still, Christmas comforted me somehow, and lighting the menorah with some of my internal crew brought peace as well.  I spent Christmas day with my best friend and his family, and it was nice to feel like I belonged.

Grief issues hit hard in December, another thing that bothers alot of people round the holidays.  Maybe I feel like, since December is over and the new year has started, everything should be fine again.  But it isn’t fine, no matter how much I pretend otherwise.  Maybe I felt like I could let that show in December and that I need to appear perfect now.  Maybe that’s why December comforted me– I could feel, unapologetically.  I felt connected to the Universe as a whole.  I felt held.  Now I feel it’s time to put on the armour again and make sure none of the broken places show.  In the earliest hours of the morning, though, I write in my journal that it’s December once again.

So There!

My former therapist was amazing.  She let me talk at my own pace.  She pushed just enough, but for the most part, she just let me talk.  She let me tell my story as best I could.  I can’t thank her enough for that.  Unfortunately, I go to a subsidised mental health clinic.  My old therapist went to work at a crisis centre so she would have a more organised, stable schedule.  I wish I was being sarcastic, but I’m quite serious.  So was she.

The current therapist is ok.  She’s much younger than my last therapist, and I can tell she’s still by-the-book.  I am *not* comfortable discussing SRA with her, but as the winter solstice approaches, things get a bit mad for me.  I always need a few external folks to help with that one.  At my last therapy session, I explained to the new therapist that this was a difficult time of year for me.  She got a bit miffed and literally yelled that I should say *anything* other than difficult time of year.  She said my saying it was difficult was *making* it difficult.

I understand her point– if I keep telling myself it’s an awful time, my mind will focus on that.  But it’s an awful time.

At my session on Tuesday, the new therapist actually asked me how the time of year bit was going.  I talked briefly about my anxiety over the approaching solstice and my plans to get through it.  Not once did she take issue with me.  After the session, she happened to mention that my old therapist had popped by and asked her how I was doing.  She had been thinking of me and was concerned about how the solstice was affecting me.  *smiles* I don’t think the new therapist’s change of heart would have come without my old therapist stepping in.  I’m just lucky she took the leap and talked with my current therapist.

I truly miss working with her.  I’m not certain I’ll ever have that strong of a relationship with a therapist again.  She is amazing.  Simply knowing she’s thinking of me makes the time of year easier.  Even though we’re no longer working together, she gives me confidence and hope.  Just being around her brings peace.  She puts off such wonderful, healing energy, and I could never thank her enough.

To the many good therapists out there, please know that your work continues in the minds of your clients long after the therapeutic relationship is done.

Quick Update

For those of you following this blog via RSS or just stopping by from time to time, I wanted to let you know I’m still about and quite near functional most of the time.  The past, present and future has looked a bit daunting for some time.  It’s still rather like that, but there is a bit of light now.  I can’t say how valuable it is to talk to people who understand personally what you’re dealing with in your life.  I can’t say how valuable it is, as well, to simply sit with people who haven’t shared your experience but are willing to stand beside you all the same.  Sometimes just sitting quietly with someone who’s having a rough go of it can be incredibly comforting to that person.  I’m bumbling about, but the people I’m referring to will no doubt understand.

My thanks.

Blurry

That’s the best way to describe how I’ve felt lately.  Perhaps that’s been the best way for me to feel anyway.

One of the most effective methods used by cults is isolation.  Make the cult member feel like they have no other options or no better options, and they’ll stay in the ‘family’ forever.  Even though it might not seem so at times, I truly have made great strides in working through my SRA issues.  For the most part, I’m no longer afraid of these people.  I was being trained for a leadership role– not a great deal of people from that group who find their way into my life can say they’ve had higher training.  It’s certainly not something I’m proud of.  It is, however, a safeguard against them, and I need all the resources I can find.

Their fighting back has come in the form of isolation, and without my best friend at my side, that method would probably be incredibly effective on me.  I work an online job, so I haven’t got face-to-face coworkers or students.  My finances (like most everyone else’s these days) are dismal, so I’m not quite able to find my own place yet.  It’s easy to see why I would be susceptible to the thought that I’m dependent on them for any sense of family or community.  Frightening.

My fighting back is consciously and continuously replacing their thoughts with mine.  I emailed my brother-of-choice recently asking for reassurance that our friendship would continue.  He wrote back emphasising that we actually have a ‘familyship.’  He and his wife are truly like siblings to me, and I know I’m quite welcome in their family.  At that moment, however, my confidence faltered.  Sending that email and reading his response helped me overcome the cult broadcast thought that my FOC intended to step out of my life.  We replaced cult darkness with truth.

Yesterday, the game was attacking the relationship I have with my best friend.  It’s true that sometimes I wonder how he can put up with me and all the baggage I bring along, but I trust as much as I can that he’ll always be an important part of my life.  Again, FOC.  I’m so very fortunate to be surrounded by safe people who love me and who will help me counteract cult activity, even without being aware of exactly what they’re doing.  After I had dealt with about six hours of psychological crap regarding cult-projected thoughts, I sent a text message to my best friend asking him to help me reorient myself to reality.  We had a conversation via text message in which he reminded me of some of the great times we’ve had and reassured me that we’ll have more along the way.  He reiterated his intention to stay a part of my life, and I believed him.  He’d single-handedly set things right for me again.

Replacing those messages of impending isolation with reminders of my FOC and the love we all have for each other is my greatest weapon against the SRA-related activities that still pop up in my life.  I know, because I am my father’s daughter, that the cult will *always* be a presence in my life.  They won’t leave me alone entirely because my bloodline makes me too valuable to them.  Their symbol is quite literally branded into my skin.  In spite of their attempts, though, I still feel human emotion and have formed incredibly strong relationships with safe people who are much more my family than anyone I was related to biologically.  Believing in those bonds and trusting the people I love, even when every shred of me says I should doubt them is what keeps me focused and situated in life outside the cult.  I know what real family and real love is like, and I can always count on my FOC to remind me of that even in the worst of times.  That knowledge is much more powerful than any programming still left lurking in my mind.

Nostalgia

Here, on the other side of my night of panic, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic.  Nostalgia can be a powerful thing.  It can wrap you up in the past so badly that you forget to live the present.  But, it can also motivate you.  It can help you see the patterns in your life that you’re repeating, good or bad, and it can help you remember where you wanted your life to go.

I wanted to have a stable career and a life free from the cult by the time I reached my current age.  I’m a bit far from both of those goals, but I still have faith in them, and I still have faith (sometimes) in my ability to make them happen.  Positive steps.

One has to be careful following down the road of the past and focusing on the changes time has caused.  Time is merely a loop, and we choose the part of the loop we follow at any given moment.  Everything grows older and time keeps passing, but it never really gets away.  We just have to wait, sometimes, for the part we’re missing to come back ’round again.

There’s a line from Del Amitri’s song ‘When You Were Young’ that says it best–  ‘And down nostalgia’s rocky road, you watch your former lovers growing old.’  Click here to see the video on YouTube by universalmusicgroup.  It’s a great song, and very fitting for this lazy sort of homage to the past I’m meandering through at the moment.

Reconnecting

One of my earliest memories is very traumatic, but it ended with probably the most beautiful experience I’ll ever have.  I remember being in a room next to one where my brother was being beaten.  I had been thrown out of the room and told that my brother would be killed if I came back in.  So I hid there.  Listening to it was worse than going through it would have been.

At some point, though, the screaming stopped and it was perfectly silent.  I felt warmth like I’d never felt before and saw someone’s arms around me.  I did that floating out of my body bit and saw myself cradled in the arms of this Being that was solid gold.  He made me laugh, and I knew that as long as He was around, I would be OK.

Fast forward twenty or so years and I’m still in close contact with this Being and another, for that matter.  They’re my Spirit Guides.  They’re not alters or any part of me at all.  They belong to the Universe as a whole and are Beings of light, to use a cliche.  I can usually contact Them in deep meditations, and I know They’re always close when bad things are going on in my life.  They’ve even given advice to people in my FOC and have helped me many, many times to provide guidance for others.  I’m human, obviously, and to that end They can’t make my life perfect, nor can They give me perfect vision.  What They *can* do, though, is help.

For a while now, I’ve been unable to do deep meditation.  I felt like I’d lost that connection and had nothing to hold on to.  Today, though, one of the Guides reached out to me and I felt that connection again.  I’ve been contemplating a seemingly small decision, prodded by one of my others who knows more about metaphysics than I ever will this go round.  The Guide who communicated with me today showed me how to handle that situation in great detail.  Turns out this ‘unimportant’ decision has been quite some time in the making.  It’s an even bigger, tangible link to that Universal connection I thought I’d lost.

Comfort

People with DID tend to have quite alot of difficulty with the concept of time.  Portions of days, weeks, months, or even longer, go missing on occasion.  The SRA bit complicates things even further, and this week has really made that clear for me.  I can’t quite explain the specifics of that, as I’m having a hard time putting it into words.  However, I got caught up in this feeling of everything hurdling quickly towards a violent end.  I felt like I’d lost the chance to start my own life, and I was dangerously close to surrendering to the cult completely.

One of my internal folk was always good at grounding me when things like this happened, but she integrated a bit ago and I couldn’t remember what she used to say to set things right again.  In what has to be one of the most poignant experiences I’ve had with multiplicity so far, someone inside wrote out those words for me.  This is an alter who struggles to even consider the possibility of a better life outside of the cult.  He and his twin are always terrified and exist almost as shadows, as I explained in an earlier post.  Still, he managed to overcome his fear in order to help me.  These words are always a great comfort to me, so I wanted to write them out here in hopes that they might provide a bit of comfort and grounding for someone else as well:

‘There is no beginning and will be no end.  We are and will always be connected with each other.  We have lived many lives and will live many more.  *We* are the Universe and we will always be.  Everything we know or will ever need to know is within us.  Everything circles and spirals in timeless loops.  We see our past lives, and one day we will see our own lives as connected to each other.  We are all one mind, one consciousness, and we continue on.  We are the same.  Our energies are all connected, and we will and have existed for always.  Our universe is merely recycled– what we are is what we always have been and what we always will be.  We are beings of love, light, and energy intimately connected with ourselves and all others throughout time, existing simultaneously as one in past, present, and future.’