The Present

I’m struggling so hard with real life right now. My mind is stuck in 14 years ago. I’m trying mindfulness and using grounding techniques to be present but it’s like trying to reign in a herd of wild buffalo.

Right now my daughter is in my lap and is watching TV. We’re both washed, dressed and fed. We’ve even played playmobil hospitals. She’s holding my hand. She’s so loving I’ve never known anyone be so open with their affections. I hope she always stays that way because it is a beautiful way to be. Anyway I’m trying to accept that right now this is the best I can do and it’s ok. I say it but I don’t believe it of course. I believe I’m a failure to her and am terrified of her realising how flawed I am. It will come one day.

Just day to day stuff is too much right now. I put the dishwasher on earlier and felt like I’d climbed a mountain. 

The flashbacks are a problem at the minute. The anxiety makes me so tired and I feel so nauseous and dizzy. Thing is, I’m not scared of facing the difficult emotions and memories. I want them to come so that I can face them and begin processing that stuff. I wish I could choose though – like choosing to watch TV when the time is right. Having these feelings inflicted on myself when I have responsibilities is like trying to run in concrete boots. 

I want the past to stay there but to achieve that I could do with pausing the present. Anyone got a remote? 

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Another Day

My daughter has gone to her grandparents.

My son is at school.

My husband is at work.

The day stretches in front of me. I’m relieved to be alone. I need to plan my day now. Try and do the right things – the things that will put me another step along the recovery road.

Breakfast and meds first.

Then phone calls. Starting with Nora to tell her about the rape. Then try and book a haircut and ring the dentist.

That will take me through to shower time. I want to dye my hair, to hide my greys! (I’m in denial about my age, it’s a common theme in my posts!)

I’ll be tired then. A lot will have been achieved. I’ll need to re-assess then. Will I go out and get the things we need from the shop? Or perhaps that might be too much. I won’t know until I reach this point in the day.

My son will go to his friend’s house after school. I might go and pick him up. I should do. I avoid it because it means talking to a person (the other parent). I’m not supposed to avoid stuff so I will try and go. If I can, I will.

My husband will arrive home.

I will make a dinner that the three of us will eat together. This is usually when it all gets too much and the internal distress starts to get out of control.

My daughter will arrive back with her grandparents. I’ll take her to bed. I’ll use this opportunity to hide away upstairs so I don’t have to talk to the grandparents. I know I shouldn’t but by this time I’ll be so tired that everything will feel raw. I’ll feel crowded and pretending to be ok will finish me off.

I’ll say goodnight to my son.

I may talk to my husband. Usually he avoids this with his phone, or the TV, or busying himself with housework. I’ll feel bad. I’ve been here all day. I should have done more. I’m fucking useless I am. Everyone knows it. That’s why I hide. What would I talk about anyway? 

So I’ll give up and go to bed. I’ll fill in my DBT sheets, reflect on my day, dread tomorrow and wonder if I made a step towards being better today or did I fuck it up again? 

Empty

I have felt empty all day.

How can being empty feel so heavy?

Of course when I stop to think about it I realise that I am not empty. I just wish I was. That’d be better than the rot that festers away inside of me.

So I guess I numb everything, all the feelings – numb. Then I feel empty because I’ve numbed everything.

The mental anaesthetic will wear off though. I don’t control it at all; just observe and experience it. 

Is that why they call this thing Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder? (Shit name by the way). 

Ugh and now the Shadow Man is hanging about. Not properly, just flickers at the edges. I wish he’d just do one. Didn’t he get the memo: I don’t fucking care. Go and bother someone else. I’m knackered.

Starting Over 

Today was a good day. For most of the day I felt normal. I did normal things. I did normal things outside (!) amongst other people! I had two meltdowns. One when I was due to leave the house with my daughter and felt like I might die in fear. I was choking back tears and shaking but once I was driving I was fine. The other meltdown came in the evening. Anger and frustration felt like they wanted to rip me apart. Got through that too without any casualties so yeah, all things considered, a good day.

It’s made me consider: what will I be like when I’m normal? That’s an optimistic thought isn’t it?! Look at me imagining getting better! (For what it’s worth just having that positive thought makes me feel like I need to physically punish myself)

But seriously, what will I be like? What will my life be like?

For example I’m starting to wonder about work. I love teaching. I am passionate about it however I can’t deny that I’m happier without the stress. I miss the interaction and using my brain but, fuck me, it is amazing to not have to work evenings and weekends. It’s given me an opportunity to think: hey, what do I want to do?

I’m creative. I’ve always known that and have tried to incorporate creativity into my lessons. Turns out I’m never happier than absorbed in some creative task. That’s me

It’s such a weird thing to start assembling a personality – trying out different ideas to find what fits. It can be exciting. It can be overwhelming. It can be frightening. What if I’m not suited to Andy any more? What if I want to leave him? Thoughts like that are terrifying and I put them to one side. I don’t know who I’m going to be so worrying about that is futile, if natural.


Sometimes the idea of starting over is akin to being asked to walk to the moon. Impossible. Huge. A task so gargantuan that should the final destination be reached I will collapse and die from a combination of exhaustion and old age! What’s the point in that? It makes me mourn the time that has passed already. I’m middle aged. Has my life been half lived? I really don’t want that for the next 36 years. 

Footprints on the moon – but they didn’t walk to get there

Need a Pee

I want to cut a hole in my stomach, reach in and rip the badness out. I want it OUT. Gone. It reminds me of Harry Potter in the Deathly Hallows when he realised that a piece of Voldemort lived inside of him and so, to completely kill Voldemort, Harry had to kill himself. That is exactly how I feel. 

source unknown

This feeling of being utterly rotten, infected and evil inside is distressing. I want it gone. So, what are my options?

Option 1 The Harry Potter Fix

I kill myself thus killing the evil inside of me. Major downside to this option is that I would be dead and therefore unable to enjoy being free from the badness. Bummer. I’d go so far as to say I’m 100% sure that if I killed my self there would be no Dumbledore waiting to send me back to life. No. I’d be dead. Good and proper. That’s not really any kind of solution. It stays on the table though…y’know…just in case.

Option 2 Self-Surgery

So another idea is to cut/bore some sort of hole into my abdomen. Then I could squidge about my organs, locate the bad and pull it out. Oh if only this were possible! There are all kinds of obvious problems with this. Firstly the hole. It’s harder than I realised to cut a hole in one’s abdomen. I tried today – just a little bit. I even sharpened the knife but no. I didn’t achieve anything. Then there’s the very real danger of puncturing an organ and inadvertently killing myself (essentially option 1 again!). I’m also pretty confident that there is no solid mass of bad inside my guts. So it’d be a world of pain with no purpose. I’ll be honest I’m really not great with pain…this option is ludicrous frankly. No wonder Nora was concerned when I mentioned it to her the other day.

Option 3 Psychotherapy

Yes! This is my preferred option by quite a lot. Shame because it’s not on the table. At all. YARGH! I have asked for this so many times and each time the answer is no you’re too unstable. Yes! Yes I am getting unstable, know why? Because I need to tell. Please please let me talk about all the things that I have never been allowed to talk about. Nope not allowed. I can’t even express my devastated frustration. There are no words. I’d expected a no and had googled in advance so I’d read up about the benefits of survivors talking about their trauma versus not talking about their trauma. Of course the conclusion was that it very much depends on the person: are they ready? Well, I’ve been ready for ages and now with DBT Skills have far better coping strategies. Please?! No, no, NO! I know the rationale is to keep me safe but I honestly feel that preventing me talking about these things is further adding to my distress. I feel trapped and gagged and like none of it matters. Fears of me reliving memories are pointless. I’ve been living with flashbacks, bad dreams and rumination for a year now. Surely I could start talking and if I do destabilise then it can be stopped. I’m told I’m impatient and it upsets me more. I’m 36. I want to live my life, please? Healing will take time and mental ill health has contaminated enough of my life already! But no. So if Option 3 is out then 1 or 2…? Sigh.

Thing is that of course I know options 1 and 2 are harmful, dangerous and ridiculous. Rational Mind knows that. Thing is, this is Emotional Mind in total turmoil. Wise Mind has asked for a reasonable compromise and gotten nowhere.

I’ve tried to explain to both Nora and Monica my very justified fears about impending crisis. I used analogies. I said that hcp talk about crisis like it’s cramp and, in time, will pass. However this is absolutely NOT my personal experience of crisis. For me a better analogy is needing a wee. The distress is the feeling the need to wee – to get it out. Now, if I can’t get the wee out as I’d like (by going to the loo) then I’m going to have to do things to get by until I can get to a toilet. I can distract myself. I can stop drinking. I can avoid laughing, trampolines and sneezing to try and stop the wee (the distress) from coming out. The problem is that the need to urinate will not go away. The pee is still there and it needs to come out…and…eventually…if I don’t get to a toilet….

OH NO! UNCONTROLLED RELEASE OF WEE EVERYWHERE!

And this sums up my dangerous impulsive behaviour. Because I can’t get it out eventually it will escape. Uncontrollably. With an overdose or driving onto train tracks or wrist slitting or drinking Dettol, I don’t know! Anyway neither of them fully got it. They know best and I do respect that. I just feel like my specific issues aren’t being addressed and instead I’m considered wilful and challenging. 

I just want to be better. That’s all.


Radical Acceptance: It Works

I’m sat listening to Stereophonics. I’ve not been able to do that in a long time. 14 years in fact. I have chosen to listen to them today because I can. I can listen to the Stereophonics without feeling sick. That’s because last night I practised some Radical Acceptance (RA).

I’ve struggled with RA a lot in DBT. Mostly I have labelled it as stupid contradictory bullshit. The scientist in me recognises the evidence that DBT works so I’m giving it all (including RA) my best efforts despite my cynicism. 

So RA is all about accepting reality. Now in fairness I thought I was quite good at this and can talk about my traumas very matter-of-factly (whoops little lie there. Shhh!). This is not what RA is. Pretending to be ok about something is not the same as making peace with it. In my DBT homework I had to list 2 very important things and 2 more minor, every day type things that I am struggling to accept.

My DBT Homework

I worked through the fact that I need to sell my car (but don’t want to). At the end I felt better. I still don’t want to sell my car but today I have a plan for some practical things I can do to get my head around it. With success I decided to try a very important thing I can’t accept: I was raped. 

I worked through it in stages. I wrote everything down very factually. It took a long time. I kept having to stop and curl myself up in bed as it was difficult. Of course it was. I couldn’t complete the whole exercise. There are some bits I’m unsure of however even after partially completing the RA exercise I felt better. God I felt so much better. I am not scared of the Shadow Man anymore. There is no Shadow Man, not really. It’s a manifestation of the repressed memories of the man that raped me. That did happen. Now, if I accept it, I think the Shadow Man will go away. Therapists say that we experience pain to alert us to the fact that something is wrong. I think I get it. I need to accept the reality of what happened. It happened. It causes me shame and fear and disgust and hey, that’s ok but it’s done now. It was done 14 years ago! I mean it’s not that simple obviously – as I started writing this the Shadow Man was there…just out the corner of my left eye so it’s definitely going to take time although hopefully not another 14 years!

I fell asleep feeling calm and secure last night. I had very vivid dreams about the rape but they weren’t disturbing. At 4ish I woke up and couldn’t sleep. Fortunately my husband was awake too! So it was kind of nice just to lie there snuggled up in the quiet dark. I’ve not been able to really look at my husband recently. That’s maybe because of splitting and maybe because of this Shadow stuff (and maybe actually he has been a bit of an arse too!) but last night I could cuddle up to him again. He fell asleep and I was wide awake. I had a flashback. It was a weird one! My left ear was on the pillow and I heard sounds from the pillow. It was heavy breathing – sex sounds (although not enthusiastic, the female was whimpering). I listened wondering if somehow it was the children in their beds snuffling about and the sound was traveling but no, it wasn’t that. It was sex! Crystal clear. I couldn’t hear any other sound with my exposed right ear. I decided to try and come back to the now. I tuned my right ear in and could hear Andy’s sleeping breath. It’s quite distinctive the sound he makes so it wasn’t that. I tried to listen back in to my pillow with my left ear but there was no sound. The flash was over. I felt quite sorry for the woman I’d heard in my flash. Then I realised that I was the woman in the flash. Oh. Ok. Eventually I fell asleep.

This morning I’m optimistic. Part of RA is a thing called Opposite Action where I do things that would be the behaviours of a person who has accepted the event. So later I’m going to ring Monica and say the words out loud that I was raped. I’ve never actually said that. Never. Saying it is a big step forward for me. And then there’s the Stereophonics of course! Well, that’s because the rapist looked very similar to the lead singer of the band. A different person entirely obviously! However because of that link in my head hearing the Stereophonics makes me think of the rape and that is usually too much emotion to handle!

But, I can listen today. It’s ok. The music is completely unrelated to what happened. So, Radical Acceptance, it seems that there’s something in that after all. It’s still very much a work in progress but hey, as the Stereophonics song goes;

“You can do all the things that you’d like to do…pick a part that’s new”