New rules

No celebrating Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter or my birthday. Christmas remains obligatory for now, but simple with quick escape routes.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, I knew it was coming and I was a little concerned but probably didn’t give it the attention it deserved – in terms of preparing myself for the day. I said yes to go to S’s mums for brunch. I felt reluctant but obliged but I also value her family so wanted to be part of. When we arrived there was a bit of waiting around. Her mum had set up the table so nicely and laid out croissants and hot cakes and tea. Finally the rest of the family arrived and we all ate and I was starting to get triggered. The niceties, the presents, the care, the ease. I know they’re family isn’t perfect but it is very foreign to what I experienced growing up. We didn’t really celebrate Mother’s Day and now, being estranged, I find the event difficult to engage with. I said to S after brunch, “can we go home” and she said yes but was taking her time. Eventually I took some dishes to the kitchen and I said, “I’m at capacity” and we got the hell out of dodge. I’d pretty much dissociated by then. Later, I went and got my nails done (aw, pretty) and then crawled into bed and napped. By evening, my little ones had come out and just sat silently on the couch and then we went to bed by 7:00 pm.

Today was back to it with a 6am boxing class and work. Nice to be back to “normal.”

Making mistakes

@surviving childhood trauma is a good resource and I particularly like their Instagram posts. They are often right on the money. Today’s post caught my attention:

“As an abused child you were not taught that mistakes happen as you grow and learn. Instead you learned that mistakes made you a bad person. They brought consequences, and they reaffirmed that you were not good enough for the people you looked up to for love and reflection. You are not a bad person when you make a mistake. Please be kind when you do and remember you are healing, learning and growing.”

In the past, mistakes have affirmed worthlessness, and my badness. This core belief stopped me from embracing new situations and environments. It prevented me from relaxing and being at ease. I constantly thought I was going to get in trouble, people hated me, I was going to be found out.

At school I got into a lot of trouble because I thought I was bad. So I just acted out. Later, in professional environments, I experienced a lot of anxiety and internal self loathing. This was linked to a number of things, including fear of making a mistake. Doing something wrong meant severe punishment, in some cases death. I always felt on guard.

I have learnt a lot through making mistakes however. I pretty much started making films that way and fell into most things through the process of learning by doing. Mistakes were a natural part of this, but on self reflection, the core belief that I was bad if I didn’t get something right held me down. Depression kept me in a fog and disconnected to my feelings, so I just got on with things. I learnt how to apologise effectively and sincerely. Over time though I think my fear of making mistakes and the belief that I was bad, contributed to my alcoholism and downfall. I retreated, gave up, got scared. Doing twelve step recovery helped me to unpack some of these things and also helped me to become more willing to make mistakes. I can take on board critical feedback now with greater capacity, but I still have a long way to go. It was good to read the post and identify to start to challenge these deep seated beliefs, although I feel like I am poking at a wound.

Parts who have jobs

At therapy last night we discussed doing more body memory work again. T mentioned me “owning” the room and asked if I was comfortable to do that. She means feeling like I can get up and walk around or saying what I want and need at any point. I don’t think I am at that point yet. I like it when she tells me what to do I guess. But she explained it in a way that made me think it could be a good metaphoric shift. I.e. me learning how to take control in the therapy room could translate to that happening more outside the session, in daily life.

I ended up lying down on the mattress floor bed and T checked in with my parts. A part came out who likes to cause chaos and confusion, which results in feelings of guilt and shame. The chaos and confusion is about not remembering. T also wondered whether things felt chaotic and confusing because they didn’t make sense as a child. She’s probably right.

I can’t recall what happened next – T spoke to a part who felt ugly and deeply ashamed.

Later, I facilitated a local group for D.I.D people and that was good. But when I got home my eye got all itchy again and puffed up with an allergy. I missed group this morning because I woke and it was still very swollen and I didn’t feel great. I worked from home and went to the doctor to get a blood test to then book in with an allergy specialist. It could be psychosomatic or it could be an allergy. I would rather go medical route to begin and see if anything reveals itself. I can see why people find the day after therapy so hard. I used to never identify with that but I notice it’s a hard slog to get out of bed and to face the day. But I did it.

Privileges and under privileges

Today at work we had a cultural competency workshop. It was very powerful and effective. One of the first activities we did was to go around the room and introduce ourselves, saying our privileges and our under privileges. It was big. Many staff cried and shared some powerful and illuminating aspects of themselves. When it came to me I said, I am privileged because I am a white cis gender, middle class, able bodied woman, who is physically strong and active and enjoys exercise. I am privileged because my mother got me into drama lessons at the age of seven and I found art and performance and theatre and making and curiosity. That sense of curiosity kept me stimulated and alive. I was privileged because my mother cooked home meals and taught me the value of basic but healthy eating. I am privileged because I learnt how to work and get a job at a young age and that helped me develop skills and confidence that has served me later in life. It also means that I am not afraid to work. I like to work. I am privileged because I now work at a university and in education and in the arts. All these things are life changing and transformative.

My under privilege is that I am a survivor of ritual abuse and that has caused dissociation and a fractured sense of self. It has also meant I experienced the adverse effects of childhood abuse so later suffered drug and alcohol addiction, body dysmorphia, shame, stress, other addictions, anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation (I didn’t rattle off the list so eloquently). But my privilege is my dissociation because it means that I have an incredible capacity to hold information and accomplish things. My privilege is also a resilience that is within me that does not feel mine, that has spurred me to take action and get recovery and heal. My privilege is a desire to live although I often want to give up.

My little rant wasn’t as neat as the above, but I wanted to share this so I have for keepsake.

I didn’t have time, but wanted to say: my privilege is that I was raised in a white supremacist family and culture and I am not proud of that privilege. That privilege kept me divided and separate from self and others through slavery – to a system and set of ideals that were duty bound, oppressive, damaging, sadistic and evil. My privilege came from a schooling that was religious (Catholic), that’s focus was on exclusion, domination and silencing – which meant that I walked these conservative circles with ease unbeknownst to me, but did so without love, community or empathy. I disrupted that privilege through becoming alternative in clothes and style and getting into the alternative arts scene, but my body held this domination and silencing. I was therefore unable to critically engage with ideas – I just “did” – I was programmed to do and take and get – without understanding the impact of this thinking and behaviour until many years later. There was an inherent self serving in all that I did.

My under privilege of abuse meant I was so disconnected with my body and mind that it took me a long time to deeply learn the effects of my behaviour and to unpack my thinking. Through the arts I developed a reflexive practice but it was internal and not fully formed.

My privileges have included benefiting from the patriarchy and also from the systemic racism in my country- where I walk daily on stolen and bloodshed lands. The trauma lies in the earth and is generational. I am privileged that I can work and that I own a one bedroom apartment and have a functional car and a beautiful dog and partner and her dog. My under privilege of abuse means that I find it difficult to value these things when I am in a cycle of depression or suicidal ideation or memory. My under privilege is being gay, although I don’t see this fully as under privilege even though I have hardly scratched at the surface of my internalised homophobia and how this has damaged my internal sense of worth and confusion around my sexual identity. My under privilege is the confusion and sadness and shame that I feel because of the abuse, but my privilege is that I have nine years sobriety, a language of recovery and faith in a God that will heal me.

Sleeping memory

I spent the day in bed after going to sleep at 8pm Friday night. I had been pushing through all week with work, although I had a cold. End of week, it just hit me. Migraine and then my eyes got all puffy and allergic again. They still haven’t gone down. I don’t know why I get these puffy allergic eyes. I never used to. I am deeply fatigued. I have slept for 21 hours yet it does not feel enough. I dreamt memory all day, waking in fright. I tried to speak and yell out in my dreams but no sound would come out. I was trapped. When I eventually woke, I let out a small scream and shivered and shook. S came to me and said “it’s okay it’s just a bad dream.”

It’s Beltane today. I wonder if it’s why I am sick but there are other reasons for it too. It’s 8pm now I need to go back to sleep.

Hunkering down

I’ve come down with a cold. Had my first Covid test today. Haven’t got results yet but presuming they’ll be negative, but who knows. What if? I’ll deal with it when it arises. It’s difficult to take time off work though as too much on. A good day in bed would solve it… or would it? I have some obligations to fill and happy to do so. Keeps me out of my head. I think I need to go back to co-dependents anonymous soon. Get some dosage of recovery. I’m losing my grip and worry it could all come crashing down. I feel like it’s often going to come crashing down. Winter is a good time to go back to recovery meetings. You can hide under beanies and big jackets.

Gulf between us

I do wonder sometimes if I have the capability to get seriously close with anybody. A woman at group spoke about it a couple of weeks ago. She told of some horrendous memories she remembered and I asked how it had impacted her relationships. She said that it kept her distant. Even though she has been with her husband for 30 years, there’s distance. I feel that. I edge close, I run away. Being divided, the concept of giving all of myself seems nigh impossible. I am left with a gulf between my selves and others. There but not. With but without. Close but far. Connected but disconnected.

Update

I’m having some transference with my therapist lately which I guess is a good thing. Better with her than others I guess. My parts feel like she hates them. I think it’s one part in particular. T said she came out last week but I don’t remember that much. I must write down what happens otherwise i forget.

I am very dissociative and little tonight. I am in bed and I put a folded dry clean towel between my legs. It helps me feel safe. I think it’s because without it, I feel like I can’t walk. I feel it between my legs and it makes me feel a bit safer I guess.

T said the parts need to be able to come out more and be held by me, but I think what happens is that they come out and then I just dissociate and forget to soothe them or help them. It’s hard to put that into practice still. But I will get there. Mostly I’ve just gone internal as of late. There’s a lot going on but I can’t really say it. I am in my head. It feels lonely there but it’s very distracting and there is always a lot to do.

My beautiful friend J is in hospital and she had her first round of ECT. I hope it helps her. It has been a rough ride.

I have to reapply for my job so feel very stressed and overwhelmed. Part of me just wants to throw in the towel and go do something different with my life. Although I have done well to create meaning and purpose I often think what is the point. Maybe I should move to another country and be a missionary or something, to get out of self and just serve other people. What’s the point of trying to serve self? It seems like an endless selfish pursuit for nothing.

Give expression

Giveexpressiongiveexpressiongiveexpressionexpressionexpress expression give me expression the expression express the expression choking expression can’t breathe expression mouth covered expression ants crawling expression ghosts crying expression mouth covered expression give expression express the expression give me expression I want the expression to do some expressing he she they me expressing the expression nothing is expressed to centre the expression but express express express express suppress suppress express the expression as expression it is in built expression shove her down street expression mixed up with wrong crowd expression haunted street expression son is gothic expression sleeping angels expression coughing into mouth expression guilt she is guilt persecute the expression get it out expression no judgement expression writhe with me expression abhor her expression beaten down expression can’t walk expression crawling expression mistreated expression utterly defiled expression under covers expression so much to do expression not enough time expression unsure of who’s who expression memory incapable expression build skills expression learn things expression tight rope expression struggle by expression buy house expression can’t sleep expression give express the expression fighting suppression shout from roof tops expression want to fight me expression scared of club expression not good enough expression tired of expressing don’t know what expression is give expression deep down expression embarrassed to be me expression temper down expression shoot me in head expression unsure what to do expression can’t move expression can’t breathe expression again can’t breathe expression I said I can’t breathe expression pain shoots through me expression sadness hits expression it passes expression that’s an expression of interest

Energy

Yuck Good Friday. Got through day well and now triggered. The disgust, shame and fear crawling over me. It is memory of disgust, shame and fear dear parts. They put this on you. It is not you. I can feel it now. Thank you for sharing. I hate feeling it. I hold my breathe. I wish I was dead.

I’ve been listening to this D.I.D podcast and it is annoying me. Not once has she mentioned abuse – as though the dissociation pops up out of nowhere. It’s not a show piece. Its carefully crafted, designed and manipulated. I feel very small, but angry and just need to hold my toys and sleep. I will do better tomorrow and work hard to ground myself. I feel like I’ve let everyone inside down with not being able to help. I will try to help them tonight in my head.