Anger

I have been angry on and off all year.  It comes in waves.  There’s a tiny flicker of anger just in the top of my mind, and then the wave comes crashing down.  I am consumed by anger.  Everything makes me angry.  Even things that would otherwise be enjoyable are tinged with anger.  It is  everywhere.  Suffocating.

I’ve also felt genuine hatred this year for this first time in my life.  Even when discussing the people who hurt me, I’ve not felt hatred.  I’ve felt sympathy and disgust.  But this year I’ve felt hatred, mostly towards people I don’t even know.  It burns, just like the angry.

I have no idea what’s causing these feelings.  The therapist said she actually liked that I was feeling this way because it meant the last vestiges of numbness were fading away.  I don’t like these feelings at all, though.  They put negative energy in to the Universe, and none of us need that.  Still, I can’t seem to block them or stop them when they happen.  I just have to feel them, express what I can in a safe way, and hope they pass quickly.  These feelings are so new to me, and I would definitely prefer for them to stop situating themselves quite so firmly in my mind.

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Family

Looking through the window, you would think you were watching a family.  Two people are playing video games.  A baby is walking about with toys, showing his cars to everyone who will look.  Folks are gathered around the table, still strewn with dishes.  All of the people are related by blood or marriage.  Family.

Then there’s me.  The lone person in the room who isn’t actually attached to anyone.  This is the Thanksgiving celebration of my best friend’s father and family.  To some extent, I feel out of place.  A Pagan vegan amongst diehard Christian carnivores.  I used to think of myself as easy to throw away.  No divorce needed.  No separating the family in to factions.  They could just point me toward the door and send me on my way.  Little by little over this past nearly two decades, I am changing.

This year is different.  This year, I am trying to connect.  I’m trying to drop my well-honed guard long enough to let these people in.  And I am bloody terrified.  Immersing myself as part of the family feels dangerous.  The more people you love, the greater chance you have of being hurt.  The greater the chance for betrayal and pain.  Is it worth it just to be part of a family?  I’m still trying to answer that question, but I’m leaning toward ‘yes’ these days.

We have plans for most weekends in December.  Family plans, and it’s just assumed I’ll be there.  These people don’t consider that I won’t be part of family situations anymore.  It’s so odd.  I have no biological family, but I seem to have acquired a great deal of family somewhere along the way.  I sit surrounded by these people, terrified that they’ll see whatever it is in me that those who hurt me saw.  And then my best friend’s father nearly crushes me in a warm hug, telling me he loves me.  Part of me loosens a bit inside.  Part of me enjoys that.  Who would have thought a girl with no family coming from a history of SRA and garden variety abuse would find herself surrounded by the love of a family someday?

So t his is my struggle this holiday season.  I want to be present in the celebrations, rather than so mentally-guarded that I miss out on things.  I want to talk with people, even when I feel they’ll just judge me anyway.  I want to function as part of the family, comfortable in the knowledge that that’s how they see me.  I want to take this chance for once and hope things don’t come crashing down.  My past says this will end in heartache and loss.  My current mindset dares to hope it won’t.  Here’s to trust!

Even Now

My best friend and I, as I have mentioned before on this blog, text every night.  Between 8:00-10:00-ish, we talk about our days and anything else that happens to come up.  It’s a great time, even when the subject matter is dark, because we are together.

Tuesday night was different.  Tuesday night found me unsure of his feelings toward me and terrified that I’d done something to push him away.  He wasn’t joking around about anything.  He wasn’t laughing, so to speak, via text.  He was simply answering me in terse phrases.  I was scared.

I asked if he was ok, and he answered in the affirmative.  A few texts later, I told him I felt like I was texting an acquaintance.  He said he didn’t know what to tell me.  Through the rest of the conversation, he had to assure me time and again that he was fine with me and fine himself.  I’m sure it tested his patience, but he stayed right with me.  I love him for that and many reasons.

This conversation makes me angry, now that time has passed.  Within the confines of the cult, I learnt that no one would like me other than my ‘family,’ those responsible for my training.  I was taught that the people who profess to love you would leave any time they wanted.  I avoided getting close to anyone, because I knew they’d leave anyway.  And it was always me.  I wasn’t good enough, strong enough, fast enough.  Or I was too good and punished for showing up the others.  Whatever the reason, love brought pain.

Now, many years later, I find myself falling in to that trap of not trusting people.  Trust is so hard.  For a while, it was impossible.  I met my best friend in January 2001.  Almost 17 years later, I had such a hard time trusting him that, in one conversation, I assumed he was ready to end our friendship.  This is SRA.  The systemised method of breaking down your natural sense of trust and rebuilding it with a sense of suspicion toward anyone you were not programmed to love.

I often wonder what happens next.  Will my lack of trust run off my FOC sometime?  Will I ever be able to relax enough to accept that they truly do accept me?  SRA is so damaging on so many levels.  Even now, some 17 years after escaping, I bear the scars, and I am devastated to know these scars affect the ones I love the most.

Happy(?) Holidays

I include the question mark because so many people struggle this time of year.  For me, issues with deep grief and ritualistic trauma frequently permeate the lighter side of the season.  This year I have made a concerted effort to participate, rather than hide myself away somewhere.  I have gone Christmas shopping and made plans for both Christmas and Chanukah celebrations.  This has helped, to some extent, but I find my agita spiralling as the holidays near.

My sister’s death from suicide on 7 December 2000 is the most painful thing I’ve ever been through, and its sting is still just as sharp as it was that day.  I have had quite a few other losses, and they all still sting. My sister’s death, however, still drops me to my knees sometimes.  She was my second self.  We were rarely separated, and I still hold myself partially at fault for not seeing the signs in her.  That day was just as painful as ever this year, and it started my mind down the spiral of grief and fear.  I’m trying to bring it back up.

If you are struggling this month, please hold on.  Somewhere out there, someone needs you more than you know.

In the UK & Ireland: Contact the Samaritans  116 123

In the US:  1-800-784-2433;  TTY:  1-800-799-4889

 

 

 

Flashbacks

WARNING:  This post contains graphic descriptions of ritualistic abuse.  Read with care.

 

 

 

I *hate* when flashbacks ruin progress.  Due to some events from last night, a flashback triggered in my mind.  I found myself caged, a collar around my neck and unable to stand in the confines of what amounted to a large pet carrier.  I was a child, maybe eight or ten at the time, and completely terrified of what was happening around me.  There were other caged children in the room.  Some were completely silent, staring with empty eyes.  Others were scared and crying.  Thinking about it now, well past the flashback, it makes my stomach hurt.  I’ll never understand how people can do those things to others.

The goal, if I remember correctly, was punishment for disobedience.  The children had to prove that they were sorry through acts of self-harm.  We had to *prove* that we were sorry.  Hence the fact that my feet and arms are now covered with SI wounds.  It had been many months.  Yet here I am again, all bandaged up and feeling like an emo teen with a razor and a book of Sylvia Plath.

This flashback has left me shaken, no doubt, and it’s definitely something I’ll take to therapy.  The hard work now is to toss away the feelings and go back to life proper.  It is 2016, and I am, at least for the present moment, safe.

Dichotomy

That word defines my mother.  She was at once child and adult, beauty and darkness, safety and absolute danger.  Her multiplicity threw an interesting hook in to our relationship; I was more often parent to her than child.  She was very abusive to me and even moreso to my sister.  Even in her death, she left a sting.  The suicide note blamed me.

It’s taken years for me to accept that her death was not my fault but a bad choice on her part.  It’s taken years for me to learn that her treatment of me was not a reflection of me as a person but of her dealing poorly with her own Stuff.  Now, as I make changes in my life, she is on my mind.  I’m thinking of her as what she was, though: a person, separate from anyone else.

My mother had a very difficult life.  She told me in graphic detail about things that happened to her as a child.  She met my father early in her 20s.  A handsome soldier, he must have seemed heaven sent to rescue her.  She told me once he pitied her and married her for that reason.  Instead of rescuing her, though, he brought her to a cult where she was abused further and used basically as a breeder.  In an odd sense, she probably felt more wanted there than anywhere else.  Early in to it, before the serious harm would have started, the cult must have seemed like the first place to *need* her.  That breaks my heart.

She ran out of time at aged 51.  She made the decision to end her life because, if the note is to be believed, she thought I wanted her out of mine.  I had been making plans for both of us, though.  Had she just hung on a little longer, I really think things would have improved for her.  As it is, though, none of us will ever know.

Nostalgia

It has been ten months since my last post, according to the date here.  I sometimes wonder why I keep the blog active, but then I realise it truly is about nostalgia.  I started this blog many years ago.  Life has changed so much since then, but this blog is a constant.  Hopefully, it still helps people.  It certainly still gets views.  But it helps me, too.  It’s a documentary of my life through graduate school, through multiplicity, through traumas that have been resolved and some that plague me still.  In a life like mine, constancy can be hard to come by.  I cling to it wherever possible.

So thank you, dear readers, for your constancy.  I hope you still find meaning here.

Lessons Learnt

I was arguing with a housemate this morning and thought of the lessons learnt by children of abuse.  In response to the housemate’s anger, I immediately started putting myself down and raising him as the superior person.  His anger cooled as I made myself lower and lower, and my shame rose.  Just like old times, eh?

As children of abuse, we learn the rule that secrecy is of utmost importance.  In fact, secrecy is needed for survival.  Without the sacred secrecy of our dysfunctional families, the world as a whole will fall apart.  Keeping the secret becomes a physical ache.  But keep it we do.  Why?  Because they told us to.  And because by the time we find out how different our lives are from those in ‘normal’ families, we are too ashamed to admit what’s going on in ours.

We learn to feel what we are told to feel.  Mum is sad today, so I’m sad too.  Why?  Because she will only tolerate sadness when she feels that way.  Any other emotion is wrong and is an affront against her.  We learn to hide how we truly feel.  Eventually, we learn to stop feeling any way at all unless we’re told to do so.

We learn that, no matter what, it’s our fault.  We may not remember what we did or when or how.  It might even seem impossible that we did *anything.*  But we know we did.  And if we forget that, our abusers are quick to remind us.  We take it to heart, and it becomes another secret.  We spend our lives terrified that others will see what our abusers saw, and they will hurt us, too.  We learn that everyone will desert us in the end.

*Un*learning all of that takes a lifetime.  I’m not sure it’s ever entirely possible.  We *can,* however, discover ourselves.  It took years, but I can now state my emotions clearly.  Sometimes I can even do it without fear.  I have a favourite colour that was not chosen for me.  I have my own likes and dislikes, and even if I worry about being ridiculed, I’ve been known to share them from time to time.  I have grown as a person through the love and patience of my family-of-choice.  They’ve taught me other lessons.  I still doubt their truth sometimes, and the child of abuse within me argues against them.  But I know deep down that they love me, even if I don’t feel worthy and can’t imagine how they could.

We learn lessons as children of abuse that are meant to break us.  The hard work comes in learning lessons as survivors that help us fly.

Update

I just realised how long it’s been since I’ve posted on this blog.  This year in general has been bad for writing.  I’ve rarely journalled, even now that I have my own space again.  It’s like my brain prefers not to remember right now, even though things aren’t particularly difficult.

The other aspect is therapy work.  We’re in the midst of serious discussions about ritual abuse overall and cult structures, which is making me want to guard every ounce of information I’ve put on the Internet regarding the subject.  I’m worried that my therapist will change her mind about my sanity and decide the whole bit has been nothing but a fantastical story.  That’s a risk I’ll have to take in order to move forward with therapy, though.  It’s such a precarious process.

Other than that, my mind has been reasonably quiet.  Life and work and learning go on with the past as a shadow that is, for now, not winning.  I’ll take that.

A Different Sort of Addiction

**TRIGGER WARNING FOR SELF INJURY**

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My arms are becoming road maps again.  Little red lines that decorate the tops and my right forearm.  The scars aren’t enough in number these days.  For the first time in my 17 years of dealing with SI, I’ve found myself in the category of wanting the outside to match the inside.  For the first time, the scars are visible unless I wear long sleeves.

In my defence, the latest cut was a direct response to a threat of violence.  I attempted to wound myself to keep someone else from wounding me.  It worked only momentarily, and, in the end, has led to more harm that I probably would have initially received.  In that moment, I was terrified and desperate to save myself from a difficult situation.  The stress was so high, and the emotions were so extreme.  Later, I realised that cutting had numbed it all.

This year has been a struggle in terms of cutting.  It hasn’t been this bad in a while.  Now, though, it’s like the addiction is back.  Mine started when I tried to cover a scar that was put on me through cult activities.  It was a means of control.  If they were going to scar my body, I was going to do it worse.  Logical, right?  Now, I’m feeling that same sense of control again.  Like cutting is the only thing I *can* control, and like it proves to everyone that my body is truly mine.

Yesterday, I almost had a panic attack when I realised the box of plasters was empty.  No plasters means nothing to cover the blood, which means not being able to cut.  The panic only subsided when I found the box I keep for ’emergencies.’  Like the sewing needle I keep in my purse, supplies are hidden everywhere.  Now, I’m back to wearing sleeves that hide my arms, flinching when people touch me, and praying no one will feel cuts or bandages under my shirt.  I’m back to feeling exhilarated,ashamed, in control, and completely helpless over the same action. Cutting is a regular part of my life again, and I need to decide to let that go.  I’m horrified at the activity and terrified at the thought of losing it as my only means of coping and control.