Friday, November 16, 2018

Drama

I wonder where I bonded with trauma from my childhood? I know that I get a kind of weird excitement when telling a story. I still think those stories need telling, though I'm wondering now how to take a step back and take the heat off.

Psychologists have been talking about trauma bonding for a while now. It's prevalent when people have survived abuse within families where we are dependent upon them for our basic needs. Hard to leave a husband who convinces you that you'll starve without him.

A friend's dad told her a horrific story about a place to keep her from going with me. I found out later he was abusing her. I offered a thought pattern that would have challenged his authority.

Even though she and I could see the abuse and avoid the love and honor our parent delusion, we both did fall into what I call drama bonding.

Our families taught us that drama brought attention to something bigger than the abuse they were engaged in. My mother told me that "The big bad world is going to eat you alive, little girl." While I didn't believe her, it did take my focus away from the reasons I wanted to go out in it.

I found telling my story gave me some attention and did help a little. Yes, it's dramatic, sad and depressing. Some people walk away from me. Part of me likes that. It feels like I have a power over them.

Drama stories push people away and draw others in at the same time. They obscure and reveal too.

I know that drama also saps energy I could use for other things. It also feels like a stage of recovery. Maybe it's a kind of step down from trauma bonding.

I figured out I had to let go of the fantasy that my mother could be anything other than who she was. Part of grieving, I know, but there's more to it. Seeing her as a whole person.

So many words define my mother. At first the ones I used were things like selfish, cruel and absent. As time goes on, I think things more like hurt, abused and lonely. Still, she could also be called smart, funny and capable.

Bonding with my mother didn't quite happen because I bonded with my older sister instead. Yes, we can bond with more than one person, but my mother and I just didn't get that. At least i the mother/daughter sense.

She did pass on the drama bonding, though.

Troubles were never because she made mistakes or did something wrong. My dad was often the blame for any misfortune. Later, she trauma bonded with other abusers.

I feel I drama bonded with most of the partners I dated. My ex could be the hero comforter when I told the stories of my troubled childhood. They were drama bonded to their mother. I could see that bond as stifling.

When I went to loosen the ties that bind, my ex found another to drama bond enslave.

It takes lots of effort to move out of drama mode. And I see it as a necessary step. I need to get to all the feelings, before I can sort through the ones to change.

Keep the joy and let go the sad and angry.

Kind comments encouraged.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Love is all you need

Big Beautiful Me!
I wrote a post in 2013 at the height of the year of hell. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong that year. Dad died, got cancer (I'm fine), my partner lost two jobs and our business blew sky high.

I decided to "lose weight" after the cancer surgeon suggested my weight would cause healing problems. It didn't, he was wrong, a massive ass and stigmatizing.

I tried to edit the post but hit a wrong key and now I think it's disappeared. I still had the preview up and so I can cut and paste. I'll just do a new post and include bits from the original.

I love me. All of me. Yeah, I'm a big girl and there are health problems with my weight. I get that. (I no longer believe there are health problems that specifically relate to weight.) It has a purpose. I have NO IDEA what it is, but I know it's there for a reason.

Maybe it's my armor like I've said before. Maybe it's something not for me. My efforts are not working so I think there's a purpose beyond those things.

I'm not alone in loving me. That's a nice thing. I think maybe people forget that wherever they are, they are lovable. Even by other people.

I really dig Martha Beck. She writes about living our best lives. She recently wrote that we need to love ourselves. Something I wholeheartedly agree with. Then she went on to say that we cannot get love from anyone else until we love ourselves. This is where we part company.

I think it's way hard to ACCEPT love when we don't love ourselves, but certainly others can see in us what we cannot see in ourselves. Plenty of times in my life when I felt unloved, just a person being around with kind intentions, helped me get back to loving who I am.

So as I sit in all my glorious bulk, I smile at it. The universe will reveal whatever it chooses whenever it chooses. That might be never. In the mean time, I'll be grateful for being alive.

Love, peace and understanding.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

My Heart Belongs to Me

As a survivor of abuse, so much emotional distress can come from political news. The #metoo movement, rape culture and abuse culture being all over the news can set me into a place of panic.

These feelings leave unseen marks on my being. The panic shows in quiet fitful sleep moments. I do talk about it out in the open AND I keep it to myself. At the same time.

Been thinking about all the Keep Calm and Carry On strategies I employ silently. We just recently saw the documentary about Mr. Rogers and I've always loved his thinking on "look for the helpers." Sometimes there is only me. I am a good helper to others and myself.

I like that about me. This blog, other places and to myself, I can help. I can mother my unruly inner children. I can remind my stuffy adult self to remember moments of perfect beauty and pure laughing joy.

Saw this video by a counselor where she says that the goal is to get to where we think "this shitty thing happened," but we don't curl up in a ball and cry every time we think of it. Lots of my story is like that. Just history. (her story)

Lots of times I have to employ a "strategy" to get to the shitty thing because it's a shitty thing rolled in broken glass and cactus needles. To "deal" with them requires special gloves and a plan.

I own some lovely dishes that depict iris flowers. When putting them away on the open shelf, Murry sometimes puts them with the flower facing away. To him, they're just dishes. To me, they're a piece of art that happens to be useful.

I can turn my past to face the flowers to the outside. Displaying the mosaic that is me in the best light. Seeing the "broken" bits as just a part of the pattern, rather than the whole of the thing.

Such reframing takes a lot of effort and the right kind of gloves. I've spoken before about feeling pain so deep that I wished my life was over. For a real long time, my strategy was; "I'm too much of a fuck up, I'll just end up worse off." While that is slightly still there, I found that I want to also see the future. Way better.

So taking the broken glass and prickly bits out and filling the cracks with gold. I've been an artist for longer than I even realized.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Crying

This post isn't about tears alone, but I thought it was a good starting emotion. I thought so back when I first realized how much trauma I survived and it's still my go to first reaction most of the time.

I suffered. A lot. Piles of pain and most of it before the age of 10. 

When a baby falls down learning to walk, sometimes it cries because it's scared or hurt. It's a way to let those bigger beings in charge to come help fix the "bad" thing. 

Most girls learn that it is okay to cry over a loss or an emotional situation like a friend moving away. Maybe some boys do too. Sometimes the bigger beings say shitty emotionally repressive things like "I'll give you something to cry about." Usually when they're hurting you. Crazy making that.

Girls are NOT supposed to be angry. But boys are sometimes encouraged to do angry things like punch each other, kick over blocks and generally use a n outburst to get their way. 

The onion of person existence has many other emotions, but I'll stick to those two for the moment. 

I like the nature of onions because as a metaphor it's both common and not entirely understood. Other things, like a package, has layers atop a reason for the layers. Onions ARE the layers. No center exists for finding. 

Some onions are even hollow at the middle. Like someone swiped the prize. 

Perfect for metaphor. 

The layers ARE the prize. 

When I bring out the memories of my trauma and count them, the first emotional layer presenting usually involves tears. I've long ago decided that's how my body begins the healing process. 

First, clean the wound. Then assess what to do.

Though some of this is simply about "grief process" and it moves through stages, some things need to come first. I've written previously about counting and compelling incidents. 

Through some kind of weird instinct I knew I had to have time to cry for as long as I needed. Then I moved into righteous anger for as long as that serves me. It's starting to wane. 

I still cry, I am sure I will still be angry over stuff for a really long time. The more I tell the story, the more it becomes personal history. 

I think what's next is compassion. 

It all seems so natural, nuanced and ordered. Layers peeling away, tearing up and falling from view. 

Kind comments encouraged. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Too Late

Carole King wrote this breakup song about romance, but I think it applies to any kind of relationship that doesn't work. I have lots of them.

First, there was my mother who abandoned me at birth. Not like to strangers, mom still lived in the household. She just made my sister care for me.

Then sister abandoned me when she went off to have a family of her own. They tell me how much of a fit I pitched about all that. I wanted to step on my nephew.

My parents divorced and I lived with dad. He abandoned me too. He left both my sister and I to a babysitter woman with her own kids. She severely abused me and made my sister her slave. The abusive guardian abandoned me to a state run place for misbehaving children.

I went to live with mom and her new asshole husband. After a year, mom abandoned me again. Back to oldest sister who once again made it clear how much she resented taking care of me.

My sister met a man she wanted to move in with and sent me back to live with mom. Soon after she divorced asshole and took up with another guy. A tiny bit less asshole and at least was kind to me. He wasn't kind to mom, though. They married.

It only lased six months or so, they divorced, but I stayed with mom. She had a boyfriend for a while and then a few years later she met married and divorced jerk #5. I guess you could say I got abandoned by those guys, but the time they were in my life was so short. I did have a decent enough friendship with a couple of the men.

Mom abandoned me once again and dad moved into her room and took a little care of us for a few months. Without mom to pay the bills, the trailer house got lost to the bank and my middle sister and I moved in briefly with my oldest sister.

I know I've told all this before, I thought it needed a rehashing as I haven't posted in a while. Middle sister and I shared an apartment while I went to high school. Things were okay until mom started coming around and eating our food and getting us into hassles with our landlord.

I left to start my adult life far away from all the messy family bullshit. I turned 18 soon after.

At 19, I met a guy who I would marry six years later. He was the best I knew how to pick and we spent a total of nine years together. While I wish I had known how to pick better, I did the best I could.

The lyrics of Too Late come to mind, "though we really did try to make it, something inside has died and I just can't fake it." And "there'll be good times again for me and you, but we just can't stay together can't you feel it too. I'm glad for what we had and how I once loved you."

Deep truth in that. And it holds true for my family. I quit talking to my mother and sisters pretty early into my adult life. Really it was too late the day I was born. That's super sad for them. They couldn't see my precious shiny soul.

Kind comments encouraged.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

We are family, Manson family

Most days being an abuse survivor doesn't even come up. Especially after years of recovery work and a great mental toolkit. Then there's today.

Today events conspired to push me toward the edge of a massive freak out. To a "normal" family (as if there is such a thing), death will create sadness and other emotional reactions. Sure there's anger in the stages of grief, I just think mine is pretty much the only feeling.

I wrote about it with my sister's dying a few months back. I was/am angry with my sister. Even still, I wish her peace. Mixed that. Angry Peace.

So when my mother died, I got all this paperwork about her estate. My sister was in charge of dealing with all that and it was pretty clear that she left only debt. I guess my sister kept doing something with their business because she started sending me tax partnership paperwork for it.

Like, my sister didn't contact me to say hello or share a moment of reminisce, but she sends me tax paperwork.

Now she's dead and I get an email from a law office trying to get my contact information so they can send me more paperwork regarding my mother.

I wanted to scream "GO FUCK YOURSELVES!" Instead, I emailed back that I want nothing to do with any of my family and they reply that they have to send me something to sigh to that effect. After I calmed down, I replied that I would NOT sign anything having to do with any of this. Still thinking "go fuck yourselves."

It all feels like somehow my family is going to try and screw me over again. Abuse doesn't stop with the death of the abuser. Abuse culture strikes again.

Yesterday, the attorney who began emailing me somehow got my phone number and called me. He left a frustrated voicemail and asked me to call him back. I figured I should get myself calm before I talk to him. I am going to try VERY HARD not to tell him... you know.. go fuck yourself...

So I didn't swear, I did express my own frustration at the whole situation. He must have taken some mad communication skills in college cuz I hung up the phone feeling heard.

It's still upsetting.

Writing it out helps. Singing "I Will Survive," at the top of my lungs helps. "I should have changed the locks, I should have made you leave your key, if I thought for one second you'd be back to bother me. Now, GO, bar the door! Turn around, you're not wanted anymore! Weren't you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye? You think I'd crumble, you think I'd lay down and die? OH NO NOT I! I WILL SURVIVE!"

Angry. Peace.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

#metoo

I posted this to Facebook and that's for friends only, I'm hoping this will reach a wider audience. Yet another #metoo story and mine has kind of a twist. I kind of forgot about it until my journalism adviser made a post commenting on her own timeline.

To say I forgot may be going to far. Indeed I do acutely remember the incident and my whole feelings about it. More accurately, I put it out of my mind as being "not as bad" as plenty of other events in my life. I thought I might be overreacting.

Two adult male students called me vile names that no one should ever call women. And they did it in an email.

That's the problem with #metoo. Women chalk up a lot of events to not being a big deal. No one showed me their penis or invited me to their private room or chased me.

I could say that in one way this was kind of worse. It attacked me inside my house with all my doors and windows securely locked. It brought up all the mistreatment I suffered at the hands of the perpetrators that were just minor skirmishes on the very real "war on women," in the society as a whole.

And it's "just an email."

A brief background for context, I went back to college at 31. I took a magazine writing class and while I did learn some valuable things, the best part was meeting a sweet linguist in her 60's with a passion for words. Felecia dragged me into taking more journalism.

I didn't like newspapers and I didn't want to work for one. I liked magazines and she asked me to take a class on that at the same time. That I LOVED.

I also really liked the journalism instructor for her no nonsense approach to teaching. I wrote a couple of stories for the paper as part of the class and made good grades.

I signed up for the newspaper class with the intent to see how I could do something with the Internet. In 1996, not that many newspapers were online. I almost dropped out in the beginning, but the adviser asked me to stay and work on the web aspect of news.

I came up with a plan for a free page and started publishing about a month into the semester. The publication site had a feature to add more data for $5 a month and my journalism instructor thought that was worth the money. I had to take the pages home to upload because there wasn't student access to the net at that time. I spent several hours on publication days collecting stories and eventually photos and arranging them for web based publication.

I started asking for the print page editors to make sure to leave their disks behind so I could collect the stories without having to hunt for the information. Some editors resented this. I also asked to be put on the masthead as web editor and pushed my way onto the editorial board. Also tense.

I hung around the newsroom on print production day to help with copyediting (looking over stories for errors) and to remind editors to leave their disks. One male page editor griped at me so harshly I left the room in tears. I don't remember what topic set me off, but I do remember it was something about my competence.

All the women in the room chased after me including the instructor. They all told me that kid had made every one of them cry. I still feel bad that "I let people get to me like that." Like I'm weak (I'm not), but that's the feeling.

 I don't think I have ever really thought about how this all went down. Working on a college paper is like trying to bail water out of a leaky boat. It's crazed and maddening under the best of circumstances, add a handful of testosterone addled males with a shitty attitude and it just sucks.

Three of those semesters I edited the opinion page from a computer in another room. I am thankful for that separation. I'm also thankful I wasn't trying to create the web publication on the same day.

Keep in mind I taught myself every single aspect of web editing. I had some help with print page editing from an awesome fellow student, but none of them could tell me out to move a story from the desktop publishing software to a text file. I was on my own.

Once I figured out how to make a text file, I had to solve a confounding mystery that they would crash the web editor every time I copied the text onto them. I figured out the desktop publishing software inserted a new paragraph code and so I had to remove them with a plain text editor before using the story. Even with search and replace, 20 some files had to be opened, searched and saved.

I asked students to help, but they rarely showed up. At one point, one of the photo students came in to help scan photos and that cut a big chunk of my time. Lovely young Asian gal, I wish I could remember her name.

So here was my day on average. Arrive 10 a.m.. Collect disks or search computers for the page files, download stories to my own disk naming them to the order, page 1 story a etc. takes about 45 minutes. Strip codes & add title and byline an hour. If I have to scan photos, 5 minutes each to scan, crop & add caption canvas to the image. Even if it's just a tiny image on the page, it still takes all those steps.

Oh, and the scanner is on Mac and the web editor is on PC. Back then, I had to make sure the file name was done precisely, no spaces, or the PC wouldn't read it. After I had the images, I would take them to the PC make the caption canvas part of the image black in color, add captions to it. This took another hour. We're about 4 hours in and haven't even opened the web editing software.

About another hour to move all the text into the web editor and get it in order and connect images to stories. Then I go home and upload and test and adjust.

Okay, typing this all out, I'm super pissed off right now. I worked my ASS off. Virtually alone and those kids had the FUCKING AUDACITY to question my competence. Two years of my life I spent and I came in summers and did it for NO CREDIT.

So the end of my last semester, I have a conversation with my adviser about who will take over the reigns of the web page and how they want to do it for next year. Some of the students had complained that I wouldn't let anyone "help" which was a bold faced lie. My adviser suggested that I invite them to come in on the last day and learn how it's done and I did that. No one showed.

She told me that they would have to work on their own and I agreed.

I wasn't even taking any journalism classes the next semester. I started writing for a local weekly and got a cover story. Things were going well.

I don't recall what was going on, but the college wanted to stop paying the $5 monthly fee to the page hosting site and move to a different server. I emailed the instructor that they'd lose the archive and she said she'd look into moving the old stories. I was busy doing other things and I didn't pay much attention to the issue.

I believe it was even Halloween night I see a strange email and I was way more trusting back then, I decided to open it. Someone from the journalism department started out saying I'll be found out for the horrible a person I was. How I'd fooled "Mrs. B"(journalism adviser). They were gonna make sure she knew. Then they used several vile words, the tamest being bitch.

I did a search for the email address and traced it to the mother of one of the students who constantly harassed me in the newsroom. My guess that he and his buddy (the one who made me cry) got drunk and were pissed off at me over the loss of the newspaper archive.

I printed a copy and took it to the journalism adviser, the photo adviser and the head of the student's services department. Mrs. B's anger surprised me with it's ferocity and she took it up with campus police. I just wanted someone to talk to those guys and maybe give them some kind of reprimand.

The college's excuse was that it was sent to my private email. So nothing was done other than a little hand wringing.

One of the guys disappeared for the rest of the semester, but he came back the next. I went to Europe to study so I just let it alone. Even when he got selected to be editor of the magazine I edited twice. I let it alone.

A few years ago, the guy who made me cry sent me a friend request on Facebook. I'm not sure if I actually messaged him or just thought it, "You're fucking kidding me right??"

#metoo for realz.