A Year In Fast Forward – Moving

I know it’s been almost a year since I’ve posted anything on my blog, and all I can say is it’s been one hellish year. Losing my dog, L.V., was like having my breath knocked out of me repeatedly. In my last blog I said of my new dog “He’ll never be L.V., but he can be Moo and that is enough.” In some ways I was right and in other ways I was sooo wrong.

Little did I know when I adopted Moo, I was getting a dog that has PTSD worse than me. Unfortunately, I didn’t really realize Moo had ISSUE
S due to the other major life change that was thrown at me at about the same time.

My parents, who I live with, decided to sell our house (the house I grow up in) and move into the condo my mother inherited for my grandparents. I had so MOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAANY problems with this; I don’t even know where to start.

First, I’d have to leave my home, the one place where I actually felt safe. The room that was like my cave, the place I vowed no one could get me out of without dynamite. When I was going through a bad time, home was the ONLY place I could be. A place I could lock myself in and be safe.

Second and maybe more importantly, I’d have to move into the condo where my grandparents, the people who abused me spent the last years of their lives. I will acknowledge that I was never abuse in the condo, so I don’t have any memories of that there, but when they moved from the house where I was abused; most of their things came with them. So even though they are both dead, going into the condo was like going into a mine-field full of triggers. At first I couldn’t even think about it. The furniture in the room that would be my “new” room was the furniture in the room where my grandfather had abused me. It had to be removed before I’d even think about going in there. This caused a huge problem because this furniture is considered a family heirloom, but no one in the family wanted/needed a full set of bedroom furniture. It is over hundred years old and all my parents’ friends who saw it were pushing me to keep it because it was such a “nice set”, better then the stuff I had. I was almost to the point where I told these ignorant, well-meaning friends that there was no way I was every going to sleep on the bedroom set I have memories of being tied to while I was raped repeatedly by my grandfather; that I’d rather sleep outside in the dirt, first! I did let something of the above slip when my mother got pushy about it, after which the furniture finally disappeared, and I haven’t heard of it since.

Third, the condo association also doesn’t allow pets, I’d just lost L.V. which almost put me in the hospital, now I was being told that I would have to give up MOO, too.  It was like my parents were trying to kill me. Fortunately, with the help of my therapist and a law called the Fair Housing Act, I was able to keep, Moo. But I’ll post more about that later.

 Fourth and I can only say this now with the hindsight of actually living there for a while; the condo association is a 55 and older community. I can live there with my parents because they are over 55 but everyone there is older than dirt. The pool closes at dark for goodness sake. Everything and everyone is asleep by 8 or 9 pm. Being that I’m a night person this is hard on me. Also living around so many old people is triggering to me because some of them look like my grandparents.  I’ll be driving and bam!, there is someone who looks just like them. Maybe it’s the hair, maybe it’s the way they walk, maybe it’s the clothes they are wearing, I can’t be sure what it is, but it is something. And there I am in flash-back, panic, hyperventilating, city; and my parent’s wonder why I don’t want to leave the condo. I don’t even want to open my blinds, but that could be because we are next to the clubhouse and the pool and all the condos sit almost on top of each other. Opening the blinds means that people can see in. I don’t like people watching me. It freaks me out.

This didn’t even take into account the actual stress that is normal when you move.

My parents moved into the condo, in June or July of last year, after visiting my sister, and her suggesting that they try it first. Needless to say they liked it and never moved back into our house.  Moo and I spent over 3 maybe 4 months in our house alone. I think that this is why his PTSD issues didn’t come up. It was just him and I and he loved me, and there was really no one else around for him to interact with and thus be scared of.

During this time I had to at least consider moving, even though it was that last thing I wanted to do. My parents were gone, the house was on the market and I was about to be homeless, if I couldn’t get my mind around living in the condo. This is when Rose took over and decided what logically “we” could and couldn’t live with. What it would take for all of me to even consider moving. She knew that “we” had to at least be a little flexible; after all “we” were living with the parents for next to nothing. She also understood why they felt like it was time to move from our big house into a condo. She understood things like money, the need to make things easier on themselves because of their age and not being about to do things that they were once able to do i.e. maintaining a big yard, cleaning a big house, keeping up with repairs, etc. She knew that emotions were all well and good but that they were going to put us in a even worse situation then moving, so she made us come up with the list of WHAT “WE” HAD TO HAVE TO MOVE – for it to go on the list all or at least the majority of me had to agree that it was a MUST HAVE.

The biggest thing, which was that only thing all of us could agree on, was: we had to keep Moo. There would be no moving without him.

Next came getting rid of ALL and I mean ALL my grandparents things. Then the whole condo had to be given what can only be called a complete makeover – new paint, new flooring, new furniture or at least our furniture, not anything belonging to the grandparents.

“We” wanted complete say on our bedroom and bathroom. The color the walls were painted, the furniture that went in there, the fixtures and other things in the bathroom. It had to be so different that – one not a trace of the way it looked when my grandparents where alive was remaining and two they would hate what “we” had done with it, because it wasn’t beige, brown or orange.

“We” now live in a room that is painted purple on 3 sides and teal on the fourth. The teal side is hand painted (my hands) to look like a rose, butterfly garden with purple, orange, lime green, yellow and pink. It’s what we wake up looking at. It’s great to open one’s eyes to that after having a flash back nightmare; it’s even calming and peaceful. It’s also a great visualization tool, putting yourself in that garden.

There were a lot of mental black and blue marks before I got to the place where we were okay with the move, but for the most part I think “we” are all there now.

More on the last year to come…

Farther Then I Thought I’d Come

I had my friend (the one with a similar background in abuse as me) over the other day. Usually it’s me that needs to talk and Stepping stoneshave someone listen and help. This is something that I feel guiltily about because I don’t want our relationship to be one-sided with me doing all the taking and her doing all the giving. But on this day, she was the one that was in need of help, and for once I got to be there for her.

Without going into a lot of detail, since this is not my story to tell, both her and her child needed a helping hand. And I was able to help her by giving her some of my collected information on the following things:

Talking to a family member who hasn’t been abused and doesn’t always get what is going on with you. Someone who thinks if you just try harder you can do more without realizing that what you are doing now in the very best you can do. I read to her some of my post “Letter to My Family“. I recommended the book Shock Waves: A Practical Guide to Living with a Loved One’s PTSD”, because let’s face it when you’ve gone through what we’ve been through you most likely have PTSD. It really helps when those around you have a guide to living with the fall out of it. It also helps if they know where you are coming from. I know we all wish and want them to be about to look at us and read our minds and know exactly what to say or do. But they aren’t mind readers, they have no special powers, they won’t know unless we tell them. Sometimes this requires repeating ourselves. Just like when you get poison ivy you have to repeatedly apply calamine lotion for relief, sometimes you have to reapply what you need the other person to hear. That’s why I’m a big fan of the letter. It doesn’t have to be confrontational that way. You can just print it up and leave it for the other person to read and think about.

Suicide was other thing we discussed. I have personal experience with the driving need to end it all. I have a couple of plans on how I do it and everything. I know what it feels like to think that it wouldn’t matter to anything or anyone if you did it. I’ve written a couple of post on it for my “Legacy of Child Abuse” series. I highly recommended the Boggle the Owl site, since reading some of the posts there have gotten me through the bad times. Sometimes something as little as an anonymous person telling you that they care and that it’s going to be ok care help. Sometimes you just need to hear those words even if you are only reading them to yourself.

Then we talk about my all time favor topic (being ironic here) panic attacks and anxiety, and how to deal. I got out my therapy binder, where I keep all the printouts that my therapist gives me. The one that works best for me is “Overcoming Anxiety: 5 Quick Ways to Relieve Anxiety“.

1. Making yourself comfort, and reminding yourself this will pass.
2. Use calming self talk.
3. Acknowledge and accept
4. Distract yourself
5. Use relaxation techniques

Lastly I talked to her about accepting and acknowledge my “others”. Till you do that they can really make you feel insane. I showed her my dress up drawings that each of my others did. And how they had their own Pinterest account where they each had boards and expressed the need to not get angry when they express themselves in ways that we normally would think is weird, insane, shameful, etc. I also showed her my post-it with the rules for living in my body (or house, as my therapist and I call it).

MY HOUSE/BODY RULES:
– No one makes the rules except “A”
– There are no other rules but the ones “I” make
– No one can bring harm to anyone else in the house.
– If you don’t take care of the house or you try to harm it you don’t get to come out.
– If you don’t follow the rules you don’t get to come out.
– You can’t make changes to the house (ex. Haircut, color, etc.) without a majority ruling in favor of the change.
– All decision made by the house have to have a 75% in favor ruling to be done.

When we’d finished talking, and she left; I got to thinking about all I’d said and the wisdom I’d passed on. And it hit me. Three years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do this; I wouldn’t have been able to help this way, because I hadn’t done the work. In the last three years, I have been slowly but surely doing the work and learning what I needed to do this. And while most of the time I feel like I haven’t gone anywhere, that I’m exactly where I was when I started. That’s not true. I’ve posted over 200 post on my blog. Each of them are stepping stones. They maybe baby steps . I have been taking baby steps to getting better. This day helped me to remember how far I’ve come.

Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop

Afraid to be happyI don’t know it anyone else has this problem, but I hate having a good day or days.  As great as they can be, I constantly feel like I’m holding my breath, waiting. Waiting for a trigger, waiting for the depression to come back like a black rain cloud, waiting for the pain to start again. Having a good day or a couple of them is so rare that they are almost unheard of, so when they do happen, I don’t know what to do. I know that I should be enjoying them, but I don’t seem to know how without feeling like I’m waiting for the bad to come back again.

Good days scare me, because they give me HOPE. Hope that maybe the rest of my life will not be bad, hope that the worst is over, hope that maybe I’m not completely broken. I hate to start believing in this hope because I know that the other shoe will drop and that hope with disappear as quickly as it came. For the most part I have come to accept my life for what it is: I have mental health issues, I have physical health issue, I have all these problems but they are my problems. I am use to them, I know what they are and what they can do to me. But when that starts to change and you get these good days thrown in, everything changes. I no longer know where I stand or how to deal.

And now I feel like I sound pathetic because I am complaining that I’ve been having some good days and all they make me want to do is run and hide. I should be happy that I’m getting these days, but I can’t seem to appreciate something that is so foreign to me.

This should feel like a gift, but all it feels like is a burden. When my family or friends see me having a good day, they start to think that I’m all better and now I can move on with my life. How do I explain that having a good day doesn’t mean that I am “fixed”, it just means that today everything isn’t battering me so hard that I can’t function. This is getting harder for them to understand when I have 2 or 3 day in a row that are good. They start to question why I can’t be like that all the time. To them it seems that I choose to be that way I am, so why can’t I choose to have good day instead of bad, sad, depressed days. Like I have control over it and I am choosing to feel horrible. Seriously! Do you really think if I had a choice, I choose pain and depression over no pain and being happy?

Men, Liars and Idiots

Where to start? This last weekend I had “doubting Thomas” visiting again (read this post). I warned before he came that mom and I were dieting (boy, do I hate that word, wish there was some other liarword I could use) and to not expect a lot of junk in the house. This got him started on how I would need a stick to keep the guys away. And I flippantly said “who says I want to!” Which got him started on how he thought I hated men.

I’ve been thinking about that comment a lot – do I hate men? I don’t think so, but maybe I have been putting off that vibe for a while now. I know that since “I-Need-A-Shoulder Greg” I haven’t really let myself get involve with anyone. I have guys that are friends but I’ve kept them all at arms length. So while I’m sure I don’t hate men, I’m also sure that the wall (both figuratively and physically with my weight) have kept them away. Now I’m thinking about stepping back out into the world of men and (scary) dating. Becca and Lola have really been pushing for this move. They want a man in their live to love them. The rest of me is scared to death of the thought and the problems this will bring, but they don’t want to let go.

Anyway back to Thomas, he decided to come up for the weekend from Miami to stay with us before going back North. This was a big mistake, for me to have invited him this weekend of all weekends. Our church was having a dressy dinner/dance and Becca was out full force. All she wanted to do was dance, dance, dance. The music started at 6:30 and went till 10:00, and the only songs Becca didn’t feel the need to dance to were the two slow songs, everything else was fair game. She probably would have dance to the slow ones too, but no one asked her and she didn’t want to start mouths wagging.

By the time the party started, I had already had my first big problem with Thomas in that I caught him lying to me, and a stupid lie at that. I don’t know what made me madder that he lied to me or that he thought I was stupid enough to believe his lie. It was one of the worst lies I have ever heard. If you’re going to lie at least make it good, don’t insult my intelligence. I have a HUGE problem with lying. I think it has something to do with the fact that most of my life has been a series of lies that cover up things like incest, rape, child abuse – sexually, emotionally & physically. I can’t tolerate even the smallest lies. The other thing is people are alway underestimating me and how smart I am. I don’t want to sound like I am bragging but I scored in the 160’s on the iq test, added to that my survival – street smarts and I am very formidable intellectually. So when you underestimate that and try to play me for a fool, I get … Inflamed.

Thomas tried to spend the party trying to cool my inflamed angry, but I wanted none of that. I didn’t feel guilty for once that someone else was paying for what they did and were miserable. I didn’t feel like I had to forgive him so that he could have a good time, while I swallowed my anger. Instead I had the good time and let him stew in his own misery. By the next day I had mostly let it go because it is hard for me to hold on to things like being mad at stupid people. This would have been the end of it too, except he pull the same thing on Monday.

We had plans, when I got up he wasn’t home, but mom said he said he’d be right back. When I called him, he said he couldn’t talk and hung up on me. At this point, I’d had enough and I ignored his call when he did call back. When he came home at 5pm, he again tried to lie to me about where he was, but I already knew the truth and was done with him and his games. I just wanted him gone. I guess he got the message because he was gone come morning.

He’s called since trying to make up, but all he keeps saying is he’s sorry he did something that made me mad. What he doesn’t get is that it was the lying that was what made me so upset not what he did. I HATE TO BE LIED TO.

Juggling – More Not Here, Then Here

Lately I have been feeling this not so here feeling. It’s like watching everything going on around but being in a protective bubble where none of it touches you. I realized that I don’t want any of it to touch me, because that would mean having to DO something. I’d have to feel something, or react in some way, or admit to things that I don’t want to, so I let them bounce off the bubble. The bubble is made up of all these compulsive things that I am doing to avoid the things I want to avoid – food, sleep and marathon TV watching and reading.juggling These things are not really making my issues go away; they are just keeping them at bay. Right now I’m avoiding so many things and triggers it feels like a juggling act and I keep dropping the balls and they keep getting inside the bubble which is making me want to retreat even more. Time to look at the balls that I’m juggling and see what I’m feeling.

  1. I’ve lost two people in death in the last month, three if you count Babylon (grandmother) though she wasn’t really a loss.  Babylon was the first to go and when she died, I felt like I was sucked back to where I was 2 1/2 years ago when Satan (grandfather) died. I’ve been having major flashbacks again, the dreams are back, along with the uncontrolled anger, and I can barely go in public without having a panic attack even though I’m on medication. I even had one in my doctor’s office which I haven’t had since I went on medication. I don’t want to leave the house; I barely want to leave my room. I found myself wanting to hide in my closet again which is something I haven’t felt is over 2 years. Babylon’s death was followed closely by two people who I’ve known most of my life and that I actually liked and respect, which made losing them even harder. Especially the second one (we’ll call him Jay), who other than my grandpa, Abraham (father’s father), was the only man (in that age range) that I have every had a relationship with that felt completely safe to me. Losing Jay was a huge blow for me. He knew a lot of my background, was supportive and understanding when it came to my problems with my family and the church, and he never made me feel bad about myself. His funeral was attended by almost 400 people, who made it very hard for me to be there but it was something that I wanted more than anything, to show my love and respect one last time for a great man who really cared.  It was one of the most beautiful services I have ever been to. It still makes me cry just thinking about it and the person I lost. So enough on the subject of death.
  2. The second ball I’m juggling is my mother – and she has all these little balls spinning around her which makes juggling her ball a freaking nightmare.  
  • Spinning ball number one with her is Reuben – She wants him here because she misses him, but once he’s here she can’t deal with him. She loses time more frequently. She no longer has the energy to keep up with a child, which she takes out on everyone around her because she still thinks she’s 25 or something. Her patience level is getting smaller and smaller by the day, which means she is scream more and more. All of this is triggering to me and makes me want to recluse and protect all at the same time. Except I have learned that trying to protect Reuben just makes everything worse so recluse; it is.
  • Spinning ball number two – Amos and Azariah (my cousins). For some reason my mother treats her brother’s children more like her own then she does her own. This pisses me off. They have parents of their own, yes one of them has been totally absent for most of their lives and the other LETS my mother do everything that needs to be done for them, but this is only because my mother will not step back and say she can’t help. It’s like she has this compulsion that makes her have to help her brother, and thus his kids, even when doing so leaves her kids, basically … motherless. Yes, I know that Amos is a paranoid schizophrenic and needs help with getting meds, SSI and so on, but she’s done this more than once already. As for Azariah, he’s moving tomorrow, and my mom is going to watch his kids and make sure they have lunch and dinner.  It’s not a big deal, but neither is a drop of water. That is until that drop of water becomes millions of drops that wear away at a stone till they form a hole. I know that this sounds b*&^%y but she my mother and I need her to be helping me. I want to tell them to go the f*&k away and get their own parents and to leave mine alone. I don’t think it’s so much that she is helping them, as its, she is not helping me.
  • Spinning ball number three – mom has decided she wants to finally help me, except it’s that she wants to do, not what I need her to do. She’s on this new thing with her Chiropractor, where they draw blood and do a complete scan of the blood, to see what is wrong with you, what you may not be getting in the way of vitamin, etc. It’s probably a good thing for me, except I’ve been down this path before, with my epilepsy. I’m not really sure I want to go the alternative route again, but I’m getting desperate, and I don’t want to deal with my mom if I say no. When she gets something like this in her mind, she is like a dog with a bone; she won’t let it go till I let her at least try it. So I’m going to let someone stick a needle in my arm and draw a bunch of blood (oh yeah, oh joy – sarcastic for you that can’t tell) just so that my mother can feel like she is doing something to help me, even if it isn’t what I need, just so I don’t have to also deal with the guilt. My mom is excellent at making you feel guilty.
  • Spinning ball number four – Moving. I don’t know if I am dealing with a case of her personalities all wanting different things or what, but I am getting a bunch of mixed messages. With Babylon’s death, my father wants to move to the middle of freaking nowhere. My mom says she doesn’t want to live there, but sometimes I feel like she is only telling me what she thinks I want to hear. She knows I want to stay here, not this house but this area. To me, it is home and the thought of starting over – new doctors, friends, places, etc. – scares the H@!! out of me. Sometimes I feel likes she feels the same way and sometime I feel like if it was for me, my father and her would already be living on his property, because for one thing it puts her closer to Dinah (sister), which is where she really wants to be. She keeps telling me to look for apartments here, but I don’t feel like she really means it; because she keeps putting off the ones I find.

My brain feels fried right now, so I will have to finish this at another time.

The Legacy Of Child Abuse – COMPULSIVE OVEREATING

What can I say, food is my friend. foodIt never lets me down. I know that you have to eat to survive, but that is not what I do. For me, food so much more than just getting the nutrition I need to make it through the day. I eat when I’m hungry; I eat when I so full I feel like I could pop; I eat when I’m sad, depressed, angry, mad, lonely, anxious; I eat for no reason and every reason. Really and truly, I don’t need a reason to eat other than it can give me something nothing else can – it is the one thing that never fails me. It helps to fill the void inside me that nothing else can reach that place that is numb and empty and makes me feel useless and never good-enough. It’s the thing that always makes me feel better, at least for a little while.

I know that people look at me and most of them only see a fat girl, who should really go on a diet, or maybe run around the block a few times every day. And mostly that’s what I want them to see, my weight is a protection. It keeps guys from looking at me and wanting me or thinking I’m sexy. That way I don’t have to deal with what comes with being found attractive in the eyes of the opposite sex.

Then there is the part of me that wishes the world could see the real me, the one that is hidden behind the weight. I know that if they could they would see so much more then what they do now. I also know that the eating is so unhealthy for me and really would like to shed the pounds. I have tried so many different diets its funny and sad all at the same time – Weight Watchers, counting calories, low-fat, no fat, Atkins, South Beach, Vegetarian, Juice fasting, Blood type, Sonoma, just to name a few. They all end the same way I shed some weight then something happens to trigger me, and instead of dealing with the feelings that come up, I end up eating and eating and eating till I put back on all the weight plus more.

I am at the heaviest I have ever been and I no longer want to live like this. Food cannot longer be the way I cope with my feelings, because I am beginning to realize that this is just becoming a vicious cycle. I feel so badly so I eat, then I gain weight which makes me feel worse because I have no self-control, so I eat some more. Low self-esteem and the need for love and validation can no longer be filled with obsessive eating. It DOES NOT help me to forget my pain and it DOES NOT give me the affection I really want.

So you may be hearing a lot more of my winey feelings as I start to let go of food and embrace the emotions. I know I can do this.

The Legacy Of Child Abuse –HYPER-VIGILANCE

To start with what is hyper-vigilance or at least what is it to me? Hyper-vigilance is like being on red alert, being a soldier Soldieralways on guard. I have to know where all the exits are, I usually sit in a seat that puts my back to the wall if I can, and if I can’t then I am constantly looking around to see who’s behind me. I need to know what every noise is, and sometimes is leads me to believe that someone or something is out to get me but I never know just what that something/one is.

It took me almost a week to get use to being in my house alone with just my dog. I had to double and triple check that every door was locked every night, even though I locked them the minute I came through them. Then I had to leave the living room light on all night, check every room before bed to make sure it was empty then shut the door to it. Then last but not least I would take my dog into my room, check the closet then shut and lock the door to my room. Then I’d spend most of the night trying to convince myself that every little noise I heard was not someone IN my house, before falling asleep somewhere around dawn. Then the week was up and my parents were home and you would think that then I would sleep, right? Wrong! My mind had gotten use to the sounds of a quiet house and suddenly there was my dad snoring and my mom moving around at all hours of the night and I was once again, huddle on my bed praying for morning where all those sounds didn’t mean someone was coming to get me.

This is only one of the things that sends my hyper-vigilance into hyper-drive. I still have to swallow a scream whenever someone comes up behind me, and God, forbid they actually touch me, even in the most none threating way. That is a sure way to send me into a panic attack. This is the reason I can only go shopping in the middle of the night, because there are very few people then and I can usually find a checkout line without people in it. Thank goodness for 24 hour stores and self check out, otherwise the only shopping I’d be able to do is on-line.

I’ll never forget the first time my hyper-vigilance really kicked in – I was 18 and at a party for one of my cousins, I was waiting for cake or something and one of her guy friends tapped me on the shoulder. I almost broke his wrist, and I don’t even remember how I went from standing there all peaceful, to having this guy begging me to let go of his hand, which I had twist behind his back. I have so many memories like that. One minute its all normal, the next I’m either screaming or trying to break someone’s bones. All of them are brought on by guys, and the really sad thing is, is that I know that none of them mean to hurt or scare me. My best friend’s son got this treatment once and after that he always announced himself from across the room, so that he wouldn’t scare me. It was kind of sad and funny all at the same time. When his mom said something about it to him, he told her that he didn’t like being taken down by a girl so it was better to be safe than sorry.

Sometimes I don’t even know that my anxiety/panic attacks are being set off by my hyper-vigilance until I go over the situation in my head afterwards. The other day I was sitting at the beach in my locked car with my big, bad dog which I know would scare off anyone from coming over and talking to me but I was still feeling panicky, in fact with each passing moment it keep getting worse and worse, till I finally had to leave. I realized later that the way I parked my car had people coming up from behind me and walking pass my car, and that if I had just parked my car in the opposite direction I could have seen the people before they got to my car and I wouldn’t have been so freaked out about it. The other thing that I notice is when I go to church if I sit in the last row, I do better. For one thing I don’t have a bunch of people behind me who I can’t see (this also worked the few times I actually went to the movies) also we have a Q&A part and the microphone guys freaks me out if they come from behind me. By sitting in the last row I don’t have as much of this going on so I can usually make it through.

It has taken a lot of backtracking to see what makes my hyper-vigilance worse and what I can do to stop it. Sometimes there is nothing, but sometimes there is.