The black hole of nothingness

I know I am at a low spot and will likely pull out of it. It doesn’t seem like it is going to be as quick as usual.

Today I had a PT appointment for my struggling body, and I had set the rest of the day aside to work on school work for a new program I am doing.

I ended up doing ZERO school work, and mostly just stared out the window most of the day.

I argued with my internal selves about how we promised we weren’t going to live out the rest of our days in this dissociated state of being. Yet, the day went by into the dark hole of nothingness that is so familiar to us.

I think on some level we believe this is the fate we deserve, or maybe this is the only fate possible.

We try to stay connected to the people and things we have in our lives, but honestly, outside my children, I really don’t manage this very well.

I am always puzzled by people who describe themselves as lonely. I never feel lonely, and in fact I think I really prefer to be alone most of the time.

Sometimes when I am walking down a street in my small city, I catch myself or another insider fantasizing about living alone in one of the local apartments instead of the nice loving home I currently reside in.

I do love spending time with my children, and sometimes with other adults, but I often return to my familiar place of staying in my head and living in my own world without the complications of the rest of the world.

I know this week I was delivered a blow to my identity when my subconscious decided to let go of some new and disturbing memories. I am trying not to think about these new memories as it creates a crushing blow to my spiritual being.

Yet, my mind is wandering in and out of madness, hysteria, and depression. I can’t ignore it, but not sure what to do with this new information.

I suppose I am to integrate the memory into me as part of me and my life experience. That sucks, so that hasn’t been on my agenda.

I refuse to embrace it, so it sits there with me everyday waiting on me to see what I am going to do.

I have no answers. Life has become challenging for me again. I can’t let the memories and bad dreams take my life from me, yet I am paralyzed to do anything else.

I am so angry at my family for doing this to me. What shitty, sick people they are. Yet, when they need me to pretend like everything is normal, I am right there for them.

I have to sit with this and not act on the feelings and suggestions from my other parts. It is really hard not to self-harm or die this week.

I have somehow survived this long, it doesn’t make sense to give up now….

How other’s trauma affects my PTSD

I am terrified as I write this. Literally feeling sick to my stomach from stress. My spouse lays next to me having no idea of the meltdown going on in my head, and I don’t say a word because I don’t want to appear crazy.

The evening started out uneventful. After we got the kids to bed, my spouse asked again if we could finally watch the movie “Sully.” I had been nixing that idea for the past couple of weeks when we were deciding what to watch.

I learned during 9/11 I have an unusual experience with my PTSD. I found when I was watching the nonstop coverage of 9/11, my own PTSD became activated at such a level as if I were actually involved in the incidents. The lines became very blurry, and my PTSD symptoms were extremely high.

I can still remember driving through downtown Atlanta on my way home from work and sweating as I looked up at the high rises above me. I was absolutely certain one was going to come tumbling down on me from a terrorist attack.

Since 9/11, I became very attuned to the fact that if I had witnessed a car accident, which is not uncommon in Atlanta, I would replay the scene and the sounds and the stress of it over and over in my head as if it had happened to me.

I have learned to avoid a lot of things since I became aware of how these things were affecting me. I try not to even watch the news anymore. Thus, I knew I should avoid a movie replaying a traumatic event, but I didn’t want to look crazy to my spouse who really wanted to see this movie.

As we watched the movie, I had moments where I could barely breathe, and other moments where I felt panic and wanted to cry. I was crying on the inside. It didn’t seem to matter that I knew what was going to happen in the story. I seem to always over-relate to someone else’s experience of trauma.

Now, my brain is spinning and I am hearing what sounds like a passenger plane flying low around my home. The plane noise won’t go away. My spouse doesn’t hear anything, so I know it is me going crazy.

I know it isn’t real, but the noise won’t stop. I am filled with anxiety. I am telling myself the noise isn’t real, but the sound of the impending airplane is so loud and continuous I can’t ignore it.

I have medication that would help in this situation, but I have worked so hard to not take medication for the betterment of my health.

I am hoping somehow writing about this will calm my symptoms down.

Why doesn’t it help to know this is just my PTSD?

I am so angry at myself for having this twisted brain that reacts to other people’s trauma like this. The anger, fear, and shame now have me feeling suicidal.

You would think with the self-awareness I have about my PTSD, and how this continuous noise is not real, it would make me be ok. It doesn’t.

I am irrationally terrified over a stupid movie. My self-loathing is kicking in. My belief that I don’t want to live life with this kind of terror in my head is kicking in.

Make the noise stop.

It hasn’t.

Will I forever be this tortured soul who can’t seem to get rid of this trauma brain?

I still hold hope one day I will be free. Until then, I work to survive the imprint left on my brain.

Today, I got this

Today, I refuse to be a prisoner to my past. I have been fortunate in that I have managed to accomplish a lot in spite of growing up in a home where I was not loved and abused on a daily basis.

I am fortunate to have accomplished what I have. Maybe just lucky. Either way, I am grateful to have gained and experienced as much as I have.

My greatest blessing has been being able to parent two beautiful children. For all the shit the universe has sent my way, I finally won the universe lottery with my children.

With all my many blessings, my life is often still a shit-storm. I am affected every day in some way or another by the horrors of my childhood. But still, I persist.

I have wanted to give up. My love for my children kept me here during those dark times.

Today, I am glad I am still here.

After a really difficult two years, today I finally feel “good” and am living with some clarity that has alluded me for some time.

I feel like someone of value. Someone who matters. Someone who can contribute to this world.

Yes, I can.

I have had this feeling before, so it scares me a little as I know it can be ripped from my being again.

I can become “dirt” again.

But today, yes today, I will not let my perpetrators and demons rule my life. I accept them as part of who I am. I accept them as part of what has made me into the beautiful person I am.

Yes, I have experienced a lot of evilness in life. I was raised and hurt by a lot of evil people in this world.

But, I am not evil.

Experiencing evil does not mean evil owns you.

We each own ourselves. We may need to take our time clearing this evilness from our memory banks, but most importantly, know that we are not evil no matter what was done to us.

We have the opportunity to own and choose our futures.

Today, I know I own mine. I got this.

Screw those who treated me like garbage. I am a beautiful human being who is capable of so much.

No one can take my soul from me. It’s all mine, and I choose to live and love and contribute to this world.

The beginning of grief

Today has been a shit day.

My fucking therapist came back from a much needed week off, and is on her game and ready to tackle the subjects I avoid.

Fuck. I want to get better, so I am trying really hard to talk about what she thinks I need to talk about.

Fuck. She wants me to talk about and feel grief over the fact that I didn’t have a Mom, and instead had a monster to watch over me.

Fuck. I feel dead inside. I told her my mom feels dead to me even though we know she is still alive. I feel nothing for her. I learned from the very beginning she was to be feared, and I wasn’t to be loved.

Fuck. I know I need to do this but I can’t find it in me. I am searching and asking among my parts. I am scared exploring this grief could obliterate me if I find it. But, I look, knowing it could incapacitate me and render me back into the psych ward.

Fuck. I found a little substance about this grief/mom thing in my session today. My inside world revved up and felt like total chaos. Parts started talking some about her and us. Thoughts of cutting my wrists or throat kept weaving around in my head.

Fuck. My system crashed into a younger part who doesn’t talk or walk, and seems to only want to go to sleep. The part is in flashback and having body memories and reacting to sounds in a PTSD way. The part seems confused about where we are. I am so off course I can’t pull us out of this part.

Fuck. My spouse needs to go to the Lady Gaga concert she has been excited about. I can’t seem to pull out of it, but my outside children will need me to watch them tonight. Finally, someone gets us out of bed with the help of my spouse. The flashbacks are still happening. The part is still pulling us in. Finally, we break away.

Fuck. I need to go pick up my son. Can I drive? Can I speak? Can I snap out of it and act normal for him. Get grounded for fuck sakes. I mean, at least get back on planet earth. Ok, here, but just barely.

Fuck. The kids are home and in bed. I feel incredibly sad and like crying, but not letting myself explore to find out why. An insider says I know the fucking why. Yeah, it’s a minuscule piece of the grief seeping in.

Fuck. I hate that bitch of a monster Mom I had.

Is my overwhelm just an excuse for laziness?

I am confused at the moment. I continue to struggle with who I am. I mean, I know who I am and what I believe usually, but the other pieces of my identity don’t always back me up.

My family really needs me to work so our children and the adults can get all their needs met. We are struggling financially, and not too long ago I was bringing home a good paycheck.

These days, I feel like I can’t work. I am working at getting through the days and taking care of my kids, making major changes to my health, and keeping myself emotionally stable.

The fact that I am functioning by getting out of bed and going out into the world, and actively taking care of my kids everyday is a miracle that didn’t exist 4 months ago.

Yet, there is increasing pressure from my spouse, myself, and our mounting debt to get myself back to work in my old job so I can bring home that money again.

At the same time, I still find myself getting overwhelmed by little things from my old life that were easy then.

Today, my major accomplishments were to make myself breakfast, pick up my son from camp, take him to a park for an hour, and check Facebook a few times. Those few things literally took up my whole day and felt like all I could do.

I hear inside my head “you are so weak. Quit complaining and stop being lazy and get back to work.”

I never considered myself a lazy person, but maybe I am. Maybe the overwhelm I constantly feel is just an excuse to get out of work.

I like giving my family money so we can live a good life. I just don’t know if I can put myself back into that position of doing what I do to make good money.

I am good at this work when all parts of me are working together, and anxiety doesn’t hang close by. Sometimes I miss it, so sometimes I secretly dip my toe in the water and feel overwhelmed like I can’t do it. Then I feel completely inadequate.

Who am I? Am I this smart, talented, strong woman who is a good provider for her family, or am I this pathetic, damaged, weak woman who gets overwhelmed when a door slams too loud?

I don’t know. It seems like this is my fate to be on a polar opposite pendulum depending on the moment.

One moment I am feeling healthy and strong with the health changes I am making in my life, the next I am falling down my stairs again and re-injuring myself, and feeling depressed about the state of my health and the hopelessness of not getting help or answers from the medical community.

I was thinking earlier today maybe the medical community is just writing me off because I am 50. I feel like I am 30 in spirit, so it is confusing to be thought of as old.

My life is frustrating and good. I am smart, but cognitively impaired sometimes. I am strong, but easily hurt. I feel really healthy, then chronic pain consumes me again. I am super stable, and then utterly disabled by the chaos in my brain.

The only thing I know for sure is that I am usually a really good mom.

Other than that, who am I?

The unloved child

Lately, I have been discussing in therapy the fact that I grew up in a loveless home.

My therapist wants me to grieve that my parents didn’t love me.

I haven’t been able to do it as my immediate response is that I feel nothing toward them.

I do not feel love to, or from them, or even want to be loved by them. I feel nothing.

Empty. That’s what I feel the most when I think of them.

My mother was drunk as an alcoholic all through her pregnancy with me. My dad on more than one occasion laughed saying “I don’t know why you don’t have fetal alcohol syndrome given as much as your mother drank.” He always followed it with, of course, they didn’t know about fetal alcohol syndrome back then to make an excuse for her.

When I was born, my mother didn’t let up on her drinking. Both of my parents were alcoholics, and living in a middle class fantasy world. It seems almost every adult that came to our house was an alcoholic, which was weird statistically.

Our minister wasn’t an alcoholic, but I can remember him at the house sometimes to clean up some type of domestic mess.

Like the Catholic Church, our minister served to keep this chaos, violence, and abuse hidden behind closed doors.

Neither of my parents were affectionate with me in a way to communicate they loved or even cared for me.

In fact, it took my mom 50 years to utter the words she loved me. By then, it fell on deaf ears.

My father, who was nicer to me than my mom, never told me he loved me his entire life. I wanted to believe he loved me because he was kinder to me once he stopped drinking. But, as I sat with him for months on his deathbed, I heard him tell others he loved them, but never me, the only one who was loyal enough to see him through his death.

Growing up without love is a hard thing to work with as an adult. The only loving behavior I received was when I was being sexually abused. Otherwise, I was invisible in my world.

I once had an African-American maid who worked for my family in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Her name was Annie, and she had a son who went to school with me named Tommy (he ways my friend until he was taken away from me). Annie tried to look out for me and my brothers. She would try to make sure we had food and other things that children should have. Though she was strict, she was kind to me, and gave me a few moments of stability.

As embarrassed as I am that we had a maid, I am grateful God put her in my life for a brief reprieve of some of the horror that was happening to me. I was so sad when she was gone.

It turns out you can grow up without love, and not always turn into something horrible. But the price of that admission is to walk around feeling empty, not getting too close to people, and not needing anyone outside of myself.

Interestingly, the main place I feel strong love is with my children. I love them with every ounce of my being, and I know they love me. I don’t know how I learned how to love them like this since I never saw this in person. I am grateful that somehow I have this inside of me when it comes to them.

I don’t feel lonely, which is strange for someone who doesn’t get too close to people. I think I am so used to living on my own, and in my head that it is comfortable this way. When I am alone, I don’t have to worry about someone hurting me.

I don’t know how to get close to the grief my therapist thinks I need to experience to heal. I suppose my intuition believes my world will come to an end if I touch on this type of grief. Maybe I am better off staying numb to it.

Sharing an abuser with someone famous doesn’t make it any better

When I first started reading the New York Times op ed piece of someone famous recounting how they were abused growing up, my heart started tightening with each word on the page.

I knew, with every word written describing her abuse, and not naming her abuser, she was literally describing one of my many abusers. My chest was tight, and I was barely breathing.

I felt frozen. My mind was alternating between paralysis and flashbacks of this man we shared as our abuser.

She was able to describe every despicable detail of this man and how he started sexually abusing her when she was 14.

My mind was flashing back to a day of being in this man’s van, in my childhood neighborhood, watching in terror out the front of the van window as my mother and this abuser argued outside it. They were arguing about me, and something my mom wanted in exchange for me. I was only 7 or 8 years old.

This was a habit of my narcissistic, sadistic mother. She would trade me to men for things she wanted from them. I think she usually got whatever it was she wanted.

By the time I was in the van watching this “heated negotiation” go down, I was already broken by all the abuse I had previously endured.

My being was silent and resigned to this way of life.

As I write this, I can feel this disgusting man on top of me. His sweaty skin touching me. He was a pig.

My mom got what she wanted from this man for a couple of years. She wanted this former Olympian and pillar of the community to coach one of my brothers to become an Olympic swimmer.

I was excited for my brother because he could have made it to the Olympics. He was a great swimmer, and still has the body of a great swimmer some 40 or so years later. The chaos and pain of our lives derailed those plans.

For this negotiation to work out between the coach and my mom, I had to be on the swim team, too. Sadly, I was a pathetic swimmer, but had to get in the pool with some of the best swimmers who also wanted to be Olympians.

With each lap my weak body swam during those practices, I cried and screamed and wished I was dead while I went from one end of the pool to the other. Sometimes I would swim to the bottom of the pool and try to will myself into staying down for good.

Sometimes I focused all my attention on the cheeseburger I was going to get at the snack bar afterward. Food was scarce for me in those days, so it was a luxurious treat I wasn’t accustomed to.

By this point in my life, I was lost, alone, and like a robot. I didn’t feel human, and thought I was already dead floating around the planet with seemingly no control over my life. I had no one to turn to. It was just me, on my own, in a very cruel world.

My life has always felt ruined because no matter how many years pass, the horrific abuse I experienced is still there. My mind holds it alive for me and won’t let it die.

But, to read this famous person’s account of her awful abuse by this man, I felt terrible. I think she has always struggled to get people to believe her because no one wants to believe this Olympian and pillar in the community also molested children.

I don’t care if anyone believes me. It doesn’t matter to me in my healing.

I reached out to the famous person by sending her a message on Facebook with the intention of validating her by telling her he abused me, too. I never thought of anything past that.

The next day, one of her employees contacted me through Facebook saying the famous person wanted to talk to me.

At first, I was like sure, here’s my info. Then I felt panic and fear sink in. What had I done? I know better than to talk publicly about my abuse while my mom is still alive. It is more than forbidden.

A couple of hours later as I was at a baseball camp with my son, I see a call from Los Angeles come in. I listen to the message and it was her. The tears welled up inside me as this brought this particular abuse front and center in my soul.

I felt pathetic and ashamed because I didn’t even feel worthy enough to speak to her. Not because she is famous, but because I am so ashamed of me and my abuse history.

She has the courage to speak up because she is strong and has made something of her life. She can remember every detail of her story.

I grew up like a piece of garbage to my family. I was disposable as they let my life unfold the way it did. I never mattered to them, so often I don’t believe I matter to anyone but my children.

How can I explain to this strong, courageous woman that I am so worthless as a human being that my own mother facilitated my abuse with our shared abuser?

I can’t just join the “me too” campaign and rock on with my sisters in the world who admitted their abuse.

There is only a small minority of the world who understands the type of childhood I had, and the baggage that goes with it.

My mind shattered. I am not whole. I am a 50 year old woman who lives her life with different “parts” of myself who helped me survive the never-ending abuse of my childhood.

My brain and spirit are ruined most days. I continue to fight and believe that one day I might recover from the brutal experiences of my life.

It’s interesting. I have learned there are those who have been abused who want to punish their abusers, and there are those of us who are only trying to hold onto our lives and have no expectations of trying to get justice because holding onto life is hard enough.

Sadly, Justice left me the moment I was born. Justice is overwhelming and complicated for me. It is not for me.

In the end, I am fairly sure there is no real justice for any of us who have been abused, because you cannot change the lost innocence and the damage done to those of us who manage to carry on with our scarred lives.