Loving (276)

We’ve had a heavy list of words these last few days…the kind where you read them and thing ugh, fuck, I don’t want to write about that. And so I’ve been reading them and then ignoring them, waiting for something easier to come along. But hey ho, that doesn’t seem to happening so I’m just going to get back into it before my list of words that I haven’t done piles up even more.

I want loving people in my life. Um, duh, pocketbrit, who doesn’t?!? But I’m actually kind of embarrassingly desperate to have loving people in my life. I used to wish something terrible would happen to my parents (which I would’ve been devastated about – it wasn’t that I didn’t love them) in the hope that somebody else would come into my life who would be so gentle and loving and caring, and really look after me. Not just physical me, but emotional me. And I don’t just mean I wished it once, I mean I wished it a lot of the time. As a kid I was drawn to books with orphans in them, or kids that have had a really crappy time only to be taken in by somebody, to finally have that loving paternal relationship where they are finally safe. I would obsess over those adult characters that became loving guardians, and in my own inner world, I used to pretend somebody was coming for me, it was just a case of waiting it out.

Here’s the part that really hurts my inner parts: I’m an adult now. Nobody is coming. It’s too late. They might be little, but this body is not.

Lately things have been terrible with my therapist. Something she keeps bringing up is my problem with attachment. She’s said before that she doesn’t think I have ever truly felt safe. And now she has repeatedly mentioned how as soon as I start to like somebody (and feel more relaxed, more safe), I panic, and then I push them away. It’s not safe to me. The phobia of attachment, and the phobia of attachment loss.

Lately I’ve been pushing her really hard. Though honestly I’ve routinely been pushing her away since I started with her a year and a half ago. I’ve threatened (and tried to) quit countless times. It’s so difficult because I’m desperate to have her love me and care for me, but the moment we have a really good session, or she’s feeling caring and attuned and attached and I feel a little safer, let my guard down a little, it’s like sirens go off in my head. Guaranteed the next session she will say something that I take the wrong way (because I’m subconsciously on high alert for clues that she’s actually not safe, that I need to leave), and it all turns to shit.

I don’t have many loving relationships in my life at all. The friendship that I have with pocketcanadian is the biggest exception. And that’s surprising, because there is truly a lot of love. Even though this one too is fraught with regular pushing from both of us, it’s still standing and it’s still strong, and that surprises me and also doesn’t surprise me. I think we work hard at it, I think there’s a lot of common ground and understanding and leeway given. My therapist and I have talked before about how it’s been different with pocketcanadian, how I’ve managed to let her in, and not leave when I start to panic…what we came up with is that the friendship of ours took place without the direct contact of a normal relationship. There was almost this barrier to hide behind. We knew the most intimate details of the other, without even knowing the other’s name at the beginning. It was backward, and it kept a physical distance between us that allowed me to gain an emotional closeness without panicking. Of course as the emotional bond got stronger, the more I loved her, the more I relied on her, the more panicked I would get. But the amazing thing is this….we both love each other, and we both already understand, already expect it, and we both fight to overcome that flight response. Every single time. Something about the physical distance, and the anonymity leading to very deep truthtelling between us, meant that this friendship could become the most genuine and loving one in my life. That I have ever, and I’m certain will ever, have.

In contrast, I very recently told my other closest friend something that I was terrified to. And, that there was more I want to tell her. This is a friend that I have known for the majority of my life – a best friend that I see fairly regularly, that I used to spend all of my time with. I have never told her any of this part of my life because I have always been too scared, despite her sharing similar with me. But her response to the little that I told her? Extremely loving. I balled my eyes out for an hour and a half afterwards. But after the crying settled, I wanted to run. I still want to run. Every time I think about it I feel a swell of panic in my belly. And i keep telling myself that despite her loving response so far, she’s going to not believe me or be so disgusted when I tell her about my brother. In fact I convince myself that that will happen. And so I tell myself I won’t ever see her again, I’ll remove her from my life.

It’s crazy this attachment shit. It’s crazy how I desperately long for a loving relationship, and then panic and destroy the relationship as soon as it begins become loving. I know this is my trauma playing out, that it’s not my fault, but it’s also just so shameful.

 

two hundred & sixteen: wholehearted

i was thinking of this word, these past couple of days, and i’m not sure i do very much wholeheartedly anymore.

i mean, it sounds so positive and good, right? being dedicated with the entirety of your heart to something, having so much sincerity, really committing fully to it.

it’s just that i have a good one-quarter to maybe even one-third of my heart cordoned off, blockaded, protected. i don’t bring the whole of my heart very many places anymore.

coz when i have brought all of me (and i used to do this, all the time) and i inevitably get trampled (coz i will), it is fucking terrible. and terrifying. because there’s nothing left just for me, there’s no little corner into which i can retreat and howl and hide. there’s just hurt and hurt and hurt.

i mean honestly, do you know how dangerous it is to live wholeheartedly? yeah, pretty sure it’s not for me, no siree bob.

*

i know i’ve referenced brené brown already this past week but i can’t help it. she has a new special on netflix right now that is so, so good, and is an expert in shame, so we have that in common (the latter, not the former, lol). i find her incredibly likeable and relatable and awkward, and she is an engaging speaker, which i respect. and even though i tend to resist people promoted by oprah just because i can’t stand how she stamps her gigantic O on everything, i find myself making an exception for ms brown.

anyway, long story short, she has these ten ‘guideposts’ for wholehearted living that fascinate me. i’ve read them on other websites before, or maybe seen them in list form on her own website, but what i really need to do is read this one book of hers, where she explores them further. here they are – and i’ve taken the liberty to rate my progress in relation to each of them, just for shits and giggles:

  1. cultivating authenticity – letting go of what other people think (nope)
  2. cultivating self-compassion – letting go of perfectionism (double nope)
  3. cultivating a resilient spirit – letting go of numbing and powerlessness (again, no)
  4. cultivating gratitude and joy – letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark (i wish…but alas, no)
  5. cultivating intuition and trusting faith – letting go of the need for certainty (i’m sorry, but letting go of certainty sounds like a stupid idea)
  6. cultivating creativity: letting go of comparison (i’ll give myself 0.5/1 for this one)
  7. cultivating play and rest – letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth (also 0.5/1 here)
  8. cultivating calm and still: letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle (i’d be more than happy to let it go – you mean to say we’ve all been choosing it all this time and we can just…not?!)
  9. cultivating meaningful work: letting go of self-doubt and ‘supposed to’ (bahahahaha newwwwp)
  10. cultivating laughter, song and dance: letting go of being cool and ‘always in control’ (finally! one i’ve got!)

so basically, i’m 2 for 10. abysmal. mostly in the letting go categories, if i’m honest. i can cultivate all kinds of things, i’m all over that shit. but it’s when i try to remove resistance that i drag my heels extra. pun intended.

*

i guess i also feel like wholeheartedness requires an innocence that i no longer have. a naivete that i cannot subscribe to, knowing what i know now.

but i want to be challenged on this. i actually do want to live from my whole heart, i want to trust, i want that earnest sense of okayness that must pervade the lives of those who go forth with every corner of their heart open. i want to know how to do that, i really do.

one hundred & ninety three: perfection

ah yes. the companion of nearly every survivor of a difficult childhood: striving for perfection.

many of us, myself and pocketbrit definitely included, had parents that expected it. yet no matter how excellent our behaviour or grades, or how closely we followed the rules, it eluded us, and eludes us still.

naively, i thought i had gotten over my need for perfection; i have certainly dedicated hundreds of hours to it in previous years of therapy, and thought i had kicked the habit. recent experiences tell me that i haven’t, not even close. maybe i’ve been in denial about it. or perhaps i was distracted by loads of other bullshit that was piled atop of this base, gutteral fear, that’s certainly feasible (eye roll). but my expectations of perfection are very much here, very much hurting me, very much making things difficult again in my life.

*

my expectation of perfection manifests in several different ways, most notably, with a lack of tolerance for mistakes. in myself mostly, but sometimes in others (like my kiddo…ugh i hate that). when i think of where it came from, it was partly that i didn’t hear a lot about what was ‘right’ about me. if i got 98% on a test, the question was about where the other 2% went – i mean, if i was so close to perfection, why couldn’t i just go all the way? or if i had a really great soccer game or a terrific hit in baseball, there would also be feedback on the really fast runner i didn’t stop, or the one pop fly that bounced out of my glove.

i described to someone recently – my wife, maybe, or my t – how i have a really long mental list of all that i have done wrong, the mistakes i have made, and with whom. and once the list starts approaching a certain length, i get more and more squirrely, all watery on the inside, because how much more will they tolerate? i mean, i messed that thing up last week, i forgot that really important date in her life, i really fucked up that other thing yesterday, i made that stupid joke that upset her, and oh my god, what about how disappointed he was when i didn’t follow through when i was supposed to?!

my missteps keep me up at night all the time. everyone says that mistakes are okay, but i know they’re not, not really. coz if i burn through their tolerance for mistakes (which i inevitably will, coz i’m nothing if consistent in my mistake-making), they will go. they will have no choice but to leave, because what self-respecting human will put up with the shittiness that is me?! at some point, they will call it, because how crummy i am will outweigh any of the things that might be okay or decent about me.

because the truth is, i am chronically terrified of being left. despite being a grown-ass woman in my 40s, despite the fact that many people haven’t gone…all i can think of is how many people did. after 17 years with my wife, i still think (and regularly) that i am one mistake away from her throwing in the towel. i am terrified of my daughter reaching the age of 18, when she can officially, legally disown me as her mother. i know pocketbrit is going to leave me one way or another, why wouldn’t she?

and i’m aware it sounds nuts. but it’s how i feel, way deep down. and whilst triggered, this striving for perfection is even more amped up, with the added bonus of it being even less likely that i meet the unattainable goal of getting it right 100% of the time. when i’m triggered, the mind-numbing fear of the consequences of these critical mistakes is also magnified, millions-fold. and my response? is fight, flight, and freeze, all, in quick head-spinning succession.

*

there have been huge chunks of time lately where i’ve self-isolated to the degree that i’m convinced that the only person i can count on is my therapist. and the only reason i can count on her is because i pay her, and i’m too lost in terror to even care about how sad that is. she is the only one who i’ve been able to tell the hard stuff, the ugly horrible stuff in my head, how much i loathe myself, how scared i get. i tell her, even though i know she will leave me too, but it won’t be personal like it will be when everyone else does.

she’ll leave me because i’m not a real person in her life, and because her professional obligations to me will end at some point. she’s here because she has to be. and even though that used to hurt me so so much, that somehow feels safer and better these days. she won’t leave because i messed up too horrifically, coz like she says, people messing up is her bread and butter. she will leave because she was always going to; she is not my mother (though at times i still want to throw myself at her and plead for her to reconsider it), or my family, or my friend. she will go because that was always the deal.

*

when i am finally become more adult, after days straight of spinning out and triggering and retriggering myself, i know that perfection is impossible. i know that striving for perfection comes from my inner little one, who is trying so desperately to avoid feeling shame and blame and judgement from others, like brene brown says. i know it’s coz i have the core belief that i am bad, not that i’ve done something bad. that i am a mistake, not that i made one.

and from this adult place, i know i can’t go on this way, i can’t go on feeding the illusion of perfection. it keeps me alone and lonely and disconnected. it keeps me walled away and prickly and inaccessible. it is the conviction of a little one for whom those fears were the reality, long ago, but i’m big now, i’m safe now, it’s not true. i can fuck up. lots and lots and lots. i am more than my mistakes. i am more than my trauma. i mean more than those things to the people who love me.

*

but this secure, solid adult place has been so fleeting lately, that i only have a few days at most before i’m riding the shame spiral again, dragging everyone down in my wake, berating myself mightily for landing myself here, yet again.

i am so, so tired.

this post was backdated; actually written on april 12/19

one hundred & sixty one: anger

i don’t do anger very well, either. let’s just get that straight.

*

a few years ago i would have said i was fluent in anger. it was an acceptable expression of emotion, just like with pocketbrit’s family, but there was no awareness of what drove it. what it was covering. what lay underneath.

at the beginning of my marriage, when my wife and i argued, i’d often end up really angry. super frustrated, sharp words, defensive, prickly, unfair, terrible. and her response was to cajole, distract, or check out, coz that’s what kept her safe in her home as a kid, being able to interrupt a volatile situation or just exit. coz she also came from a home where anger was dangerous; where there was screaming and violence and arguing. in fact, she remembers often taking refuge on the roof of her house, where the shouting and crashing were muffled, where she’d sit, with her knees drawn up, watching the stars, waiting for it to end. that makes me so so sad.

it just occurred to me that we triggered the fuck out of each other. i got angry, and she got absent. she didn’t get angry, she just got quiet, and then i got absent.

*

over the ensuing decade and a bit, we worked it through. she knows that when i am lashing out at her, that i am hurt. and i know that if i want her to hear me, i need to dig deeper, and let her know what’s beneath all my spikes. similarly, i know that when she starts raging about the house being out of order or going silent, that she is scared, and needing to exert control somewhere. she has learned that disappearing when she is angry is far scarier for me than any words or actions she may take.

however, these last few years have really fucked with that vibe. separately, we’re each working through our trauma(s) in therapy, and it’s been hard, really hard, to figure it out with each other while we’re evolving individually. she is learning to find her voice, her entirely justified anger, her inner advocate, and it is so good, and so important, and so necessary. by no means am i always good with it, coz sometimes i’m just terrible, ask her. and on the flip side, i am learning (so so fucking slowly, like turtle-with-four-broken-legs slow) to allow room for my hurt, to feel the stuff beneath all those angry, prickly layers i built up, to unpack the reflex to get mad. it is the worst timing, and the best timing both, and it is hard.

*

more often than not these days, i am terrified by anger. my own, and that of others. i get instantly small, instantly triggered, instantly wanting to bolt out of wherever i am so i can hyperventilate and panic. and it is really fucking inconvenient, and so shameful. i mean, fuck, i grew up with a goodly dose of violence, parents who yelled and hit us fairly frequently, i used to have no problem getting enraged, why am i getting so fucking weird about it now?

i don’t know, but nowadays, anger undoes me. i’ve gone the opposite direction.

ask the people closest to me (my wife, pocketbrit, even my kid) and they’ll tell you. a hint of anger and i’m outta there. it’s the worst, the absolute worst.

i really want to get better with it.

Pain #2

Reading pc’s post again tonight brings tears to my eyes. She writes beautifully about the ugliest of things and she’s put words to things that I had zero desire to try to write about yesterday.

I want to add some more. And I suppose there are two types to this. The physical pain, and far worse, the emotional. I’ll start with the former.

  • The bruises on a body from ‘kids being kids’.
  • The feeling of suffocating when your head is held underwater and however much you flail and try to get out of their grip, you can’t.
  • Or when their hand is over your mouth and nose, or around your neck and you can’t escape.
  • When their body is on top of yours, pinning you down.
  • When your arm or leg is held so hard you end up bruised.
  • When you are hit or pushed down or threatened without the requirement of words even leaving their mouth.
  • When their penis is down your throat and you cannot escape. When you gag and can’t breathe, and the only air you can get into your lungs is when they release the pressure of their hand on the back of your head and you can pull back just long enough that you can breathe through your nose again before they thrust your head back forward and you’re suffocating. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat x 100.
  • When you disappear to wherever you can, because the things they are doing to your body are more than you can cope with.
  • When doors are slammed on hands. Objects thrown at faces. Plates and glasses smashed on the wall behind you.
  • The sweet sharp pain that is self inflicted in order to try to bring yourself back to the present, or punish yourself, or just feel *something*. Or rather, actually, to so often feel nothing, to numb everything happening in your brain and body, to remove yourself from it all.

And yet, the actual physical pain and fear is short lived right? Ha. No, not really. Because the emotional pain brings them back all the fucking time. Periods become triggers where your body feels like it’s still happening, over and over, where your memories torment you. And all of these things come back, out of nowhere, when you least expect it, when you might be having a good day, and then SLAM. Hit in the face with this shit, out of nowhere, for no reason that you can pinpoint.

And as pc has said, all of the other shattering things.

  • The fact that they chose him, yet again. The fact that you’re not chosen. The knowledge that you won’t ever be.
  • The fear that has your knees curled up to your chest whilst you sit on the floor of the shower for half an hour hoping that the water will wash it all off of you.
  • The birthdays, the christmases, the fathers days, the mothers days, the lunches, the dinners, the family gatherings, the celebrations.
  • The never ending silencing.
  • The earth shattering loss of parents that can make you feel orphaned, and alone and like you won’t survive it.
  • The shame. The white hot, flushed cheeks, sweaty bodied shame.
  • The fucking ocean of grief. And the ocean of grief that you haven’t been able to cry for in years.
  • The years spent taking care of yourself because nobody else will. The putting yourself to bed and the crying yourself to sleep at night.
  • The feeling unseen, unheard, unappreciated, unloved. Unloveable.
  • The taking all of it on so that you can retain some semblance of control.

There are so many more. This list isn’t even close to exhaustive, but I have another post I need to write.

Pleasure

Content Warning for this post: CSA, sexual content.

Fuck. This.

I hate this word. As in HATE this word. It feels so icky and gross and shameful and makes me feel like barfing.

And I don’t know how to write this post because if I actually write what my mind brings up it will be extremely crass.

*****

Okay, screw it. This is gross and triggery, and please only read if it feels safe.

The first thing that came to mind = guilt accompanied by his dear friend shame.

The image, actually the feeling, I can still feel myself there when I think of it, of being layed on my brothers bed, clothes removed from the waist down, my legs spread, his hands right there, doing the things he was going to do. I don’t remember anything leading up to this, this is where my memory starts (and there are plenty of the same thing). All I know is I feel sick with fear and anxiety, it sits in my tummy, and I’m just static, unmoving. I remember the first time he commented, told me how ‘wet’ (I’m sorry, sorry. I hate myself too) I was. I didn’t know what he meant, what he was talking about. And I had no voice to respond to him. I couldn’t talk. He continued this route, this fucking guilt trip, twisted silencing enforcing bullshit. It became how I ‘wanted it’ (despite sometimes panicking, sometimes kicking him, freaking the fuck out), and then it was how I was a whore, a cunt. It was how he did something for me (that I felt forced to do, never directly asked for), and so how I had to repay him. And yet it still stands…my body responded, it was experiencing pleasure. And that makes me hate myself an infinite amount. My body never betrayed me fully, it never responded all the way. At least not that I can remember, and not that I ever want to remember, I don’t think I can cope with that.

All the anger, it’s not even really at him. It’s at me. I what? Just walked in? Stripped and layed on his bed? Let it happen? Enjoyed it? Ugh. Fucking disgusting child. Fucking whore. Piece of shit.

I want to tear all of my insides out. I fucking hate this word.

Fortress

Someone used this to describe me once. How I’m closed off, walled up. How getting in is so hard, how I keep myself safe by not letting anyone in. I don’t talk about me, dont allow myself to be vulnerable, don’t risk any of it.

(I also absolutely have let a handful of poeple in)

But really, isnt that standard? Makes sense to me at least. Why would you just let anyone close when they have hurt you so badly?

thirty-seven: loud

i’m playing catch-up on 3 posts and it’s already late, so this might not be so good.

when i thought of loud, i thought of shame. and i know shame is going to be a word one of these days in the next year too (he’s kinda the star of both mine and pocketbrit’s shows), but i’m fairly certain i’ll manage to piece together a few words for that post, too. because that thieving bastard is one of the noisiest guys i know.

shame feels like one of my most constant and oldest companions. historically, it is his voice that i hear most, it is his voice that washes over me if i have a millisecond of pride or happiness. he also seems to get extra loud in my brain (and my body) when i’m tired or sad or beaten down…and keeps me all three of those things, too. i know now he’s just trying to make sure i’m safe, trying to crunch me down into a teeny-tiny non-threatening version of myself, trying to protect me, trying to keep me under the radar. i don’t need that anymore, but he’s soooooooo slow to get the memo. and, in fact, the more convinced adult me becomes about not needing him, the noisier he gets.

when shame gets loud in my body, i feel his presence as a fluttering stone in my gut, a vice at my chest, the noisiest hissingest whisper in my ears. his ugly, soul-shrinking words make my insides wilt, and then liquefy. he and his buddy fear often arrive hand-in-hand; shame with a megaphone up to his lips, amplifying the litany of my offenses (mostly being wrong and existing at all), and fear with a stun gun, plugging up words in my throat, catapulting me backwards into the terrifying frozen past.

it is mythical how powerful his hold is on me, even still, even with all my skills and knowledge and logic and grounding exercises. even when i can call his bluff, even as i recognize his lies. even when i’m adult. that guy, and his loud, interrupt-y ways, bring me to my knees regularly, and i hate it.

Loud

Today I went for a smear test. I’m in my twenties, I’ve never had one before, and like any person, I don’t like the sound of it. I didn’t talk it through with anybody, didn’t even tell anyone. Not my therapist when I saw her last night, not pocketcanadian when I was telling her about what was going on in my life.

I booked the appointment when I happened to be at the doctors (a rare thing) last week for an infected finger. I was thinking that I could push through, be normal for once. I thought, naively, that if I didn’t tell anyone and didn’t talk about it, and forced myself to go, that I’d be okay. That I’d be able to do it. Be normal for once.

Instead I woke up anxious, after an anxious and otherwise a bit unsettled sleep. I layed there, thinking maybe I should just not go. And then I put it aside, those doubts, locked it up, and showered, and left. I got there, I walked in, I sat in the waiting room, and the nurse called me.

And she was so loud. She spoke to me so loudly that I knew the old man outside would surely be able to hear. And that was it really. That was all it took, her loud loud voice, that made me scared, brought my little one right to the surface, and made me immediately ashamed and closed off and scared, and brought tears to my eyes.

There’s something so harsh about someone being that loud. It isn’t gentle or understanding, it isn’t soft. It’s scary. Loud voices unsettle me.

Anyway, I held it together. I listened to her, answered her questions. I got undressed, exposed myself, layed on that table, her loud voice talking about what she’ll be inserting into my vagina, my brain trying to block her out and keep my shit together. And I am…

…and then that loud voice asks me to open my legs. Tells me I need to open them more, that she can’t insert it, that she needs me to open my legs really wide.

And I am done. Freaking out, tears running down my face, jumping off the table, apologising. Memories playing behind my eyes.

And don’t get me started on the embarrassment of leaving through the waiting rooms that followed.

There’s something about loud voices that I don’t like. That scares me and induces a trauma response. I tighten up go into higher alert, don’t trust and am wary. It’s not gentle and doesn’t feel safe. Basically, I don’t fucking like it.

*****

What I really want to do right is put my good headphones on my head, and put some music on loud enough to drown out my brain and body, so that I can hopefully sleep. I might just do that. That seems like a good loud.

thirty-three: perpetual

i don’t want to think about this word.

can’t i just refer you to this post and we’ll call it a night? (i think the answer is yes, it’s our fucking blog after all)

or just that this word, and ones like it, just make me feel hopeless and scared and alone? because what fear tells me is that i will be dealing with all of this perpetually? that it is eternal, woven into my DNA and that of my child (and her children and theirs too), this ugliness and shame and grief?

ugh. ugh ugh ugh.