Camera as simulacra.

The camera is a simulacrum – a promise with a contact of reality, yet whose reality is it? When I see myself through a camera or a mirror I cannot grasp a connection. I utterly loathe the image on the other end. I am embarrassed and ashamed at how I look.

When I am in control of the camera it is okay because I can hold my face a certain way or position it to make me look thin. I do not understand how anybody could want to be on camera. I hate this technical apparatus. How dare it exist. People project the most hideous things. People are sick. 

The camera is an ugly mirror that enacts the darkness. 

Why did I ever want to get involved with the moving image? I want to throw away all technology and mirrors and reflective surfaces. I want to hide in the dark. Being on stage and under lights is mortifying.

The work. Recognising re-traumatization.

Recently I completed a certificate in trauma informed care. I learned about re-traumatisation. Something I know I have felt compelled to do to myself as a way to connect with my trauma.

Re-traumatisation – this occurs when a person re-experiences a previous traumatic event, either consciously or unconsciously. This can be caused by any stressor that could be similar to the environment or circumstance of the original trauma, such as smell, physical space, lighting, image, memory, relationships or words.

On the other hand, vicarious trauma refers to changes and stress reactions that can occur in a worker or person working with trauma over time, when repeatedly exposed to disclosures about trauma or traumatic material.

Both re-traumatisation and vicarious trauma affect people’s emotional life, relationships and overall view of the world. People can begin to feel the world is unsafe or bad and that people are bad. I recognise that the operation on Monday re-traumatised me. My post last night reflected the thinking that can be activated – I’m going to go to prison, I’m bad, I’m worthless, the world is unsafe.

In both retraumatisation and vicarious trauma states, it can make it difficult to trust others, make it hard to manage strong feelings, lead to feelings of having no control over life or feelings of disillusionment. It can also lead to a loss of energy and enthusiasm for life. Hence why I wanted to die last night.

I talked about this tonight in my doco group check in and I think saying it out loud has helped me to recognise this is what has happened. It’s what numerous bloggers also shared (thank you Janet), and it’s nice to have it extra validated by the research.

Three examples of managing retraumatisation and vicarious trauma include:

  1. Being aware of needs, limits and emotions
  2. Practicing stress management
  3. Taking time out for self care.

Today I woke and did some yoga stretches and spent time reading the bible and praying. Tonight I took time out for self care and had a bath. I became aware of my emotions and expressed them a little bit. So I guess I just need to keep repeating this stuff. This is the work. The daily practice.

It’s the sadness

Anxiety is a mind trap. Breathing shallow. Body defenceless. High alert. Scurried thinking. Negative thoughts. Ticking off the cliches – the world is a bad place, I’m a no good worthless filthy piece of shit. I’m going to end up alone and in prison. Today I imagined screwing everything up and that I would end up in prison. It would be for bad financial mismanagement or some stupid mistake to do with poor judgement.

There is a podcast series in Australia called No Laughing Matters. It features actors and comedians reading incest survivor stories. Intra familial abuse is the term used these days. Is it a more palatable term? The idea is that if a well known person reads the story it might make the context more relatable or digestible. I think it does in some ways. The stories are still very distressing. People can be so cruel.

One of the survivors said they grew up pleasing everybody, they didn’t know how to say no. They had no boundaries. They trusted nobody but at the same time trusted the wrong people.

I get it. I struggle to say no. I’m always trying to please people. Give options. The panic attack starts again. I’m trying to wean off the antidepressants. Maybe it’s not such a good idea. I feel crazy. Like old times. Should I do it to push things? Have a bit of fun? Go crazy…. Why the hell not? No it’s far easier now to be adult and responsible. Going crazy doesn’t benefit society. It drains shit. The world is already too crazy, it doesn’t need me adding to it. I can contribute to making it a better place.

The fear has subsided. I’ve talked someone down from the ledge. The sadness is there. That deep impenetrable sadness. I keep having horror flashbacks to yesterdays procedure and waking up with that man’s finger or instrument in me. How utterly revolting. I don’t understand how anybody could do that job but I guess it can save peoples lives. I thought yesterday if they told me I had cancer I would be fine with it. Sounds awful I know, but I don’t have that urge to live the way I see some people do. Although I keep scrambling to do exciting things, there is a big part of me ready to give up at any moment. It’s the sadness.

Medical stuff

Today I had an operation – a gastroscopy, colonoscopy and iron transfusion. It was as awful as it sounds. I hate hospitals. The fasting and bowel cleansing prep was unpleasant as one would imagine and so by the time I got to the hospital, I was dehydrated and just keen to get the whole thing over with.

I haven’t been to hospital for years, since I broke my ankle and then had the metal plate taken out a couple of years after it had healed.

Being under anaesthetic is good, but before that I started to get quite triggered. They stuck this breathing apparatus in my mouth so they could stick the gastro tube down my throat. I felt scared I couldn’t breathe but they said I would be okay. Then I went under but I woke up at the end with the surgeon inserting something in my behind and it felt so uncomfortable. I didn’t like it and it was clear that I was in distress. Thankfully it didn’t last long but by then I knew my parts had been activated and I also felt really teary and scared. They wheeled me back and I just lay there and had tears stream down my face. He shouldn’t touch me like that. They shouldn’t let that happen. Why did he do that?

Then they gave me the iron transfusion and I had to wait for half hour till I could go. They gave me water and a sandwich and coffee and actually eating and drinking it did ground me. My girlfriend came and picked me up and I cried a bit on the way home. And then all those stupid tricker treaters were out and I remembered again why I hate Halloween. I have to keep off social media around this time as so many people get dressed up and post disgusting photos.

S looked after me tonight and we felt better by the end. I’m glad it’s over. I hope I feel more energised soon with the iron and I hope I never have to do one of those medicals again.

Plugging in the gaps

The wind is howling here. We are in wet season. Melbourne is kind of lucky in that we don’t seem to be too prone to floods or heavy rain like other parts of Australia, but it seems to be happening everywhere and is hitting here at the moment. It’s a good day to stay indoors.

After a miserable head f””k of a night I woke feeling a little better. I did some weights training and prayed to God in between reps… I just surrendered all my depression, bad thoughts, fear and anxiety. This really needs to be a daily thing as let’s face it they keep coming back. It was nice to experience relief today. The roof maintenance people came and plugged the gaps between the tiles with silicon which hopefully will help prevent further leaking. My partner picked up insulation and the plasterer put the ceiling sheets back on! Next week he will come back to paint. My loving girlfriend cleaned and returned the house to normal and lodged the insurance claim. Meanwhile I focused on pre production for the film. I returned home late and things felt normal. Not complete but normal. What a relief. I think I will need to sell as soon as the market is ready as right now I just stand to lose too much. I just don’t feel secure being in a property where I am going to keep haemorrhaging money I don’t have. The thing that irks me about property is that problems get passed down to the next person. I hate being part of that cycle. It’s like trauma I guess, it just keeps getting passed down. Little chunks dealt with or addressed here and there but the foundations are still ruptured.

Why not me? When the roof came crashing down

The ceiling had a deep bow in it and a long jagged crack. It wasn’t there when I bought it, or maybe it was. I wanted to get out of the one bedroom apartment so desperately after lockdown and I found this place and it seemed so big and roomy and I could feel myself being able to breathe again.

We were scammed by the removalist company when we moved in and now I wonder what God was trying to tell me. As if He is there to remind me of all the bad things that I’ve let into my life. Now the ceiling has caved in and dust bombed the apartment. The light hanging from the ceiling smashed and up in the roof you can see there are gaps between the tiles. Tomorrow there are flood warnings.

I bought a lemon. My karma for having an affair. My karma for divorcing. I think God tries to protect us from bad things happening by laying down some suggestions : ideally don’t divorce (for example), cos if you do, bad shit is going to happen.

I rang my sister and told her I felt like such a loser. Actually I said I felt like a dickhead. The Australian way to say I’m a loser. Later she told me my father was in a respite care- an old persons home. My mum and brother can only visit him outside because they are not vaccinated. Dad had gambled away all the money he got left from his brothers death years ago. My mother was worried he might try and gamble away the house. I feel sick he is in my genes. I feel like he is going to die soon but I’ve felt this way before. Sadness weighs down my heart. Apathy, hopelessness, depression.

I am ready to curl into a ball and never unroll myself. To face this world seems so hostile and hard yet I do it everyday. My partner cleaned up layers and layers of dust. She mopped five times. Things are only just clean.

Therapy and EMDR

I had EMDR in therapy tonight. It’s been ages. We worked on my feelings of disgust. The memory is my waking life, undressing and standing in front of the bathroom mirror. Body dysmorphia kicks in and I feel shameful, disgusting and fat.

A part came out that shared they felt selfish for the EMDR being done. They didn’t deserve a fuss being made of them, they weren’t worth it. T asked if this part remembered ever feeling love. She talked about the necessity of children receiving love, as that helps the child grow up, to feel as though they deserve things when they become an adult. This part, me, said she didn’t feel like she deserved anything. She admitted she didn’t know what love was. She felt bad because her needs were met, food and shelter and clothes but T said a child should get more than that.

A feeling of confusion swept over me and T said that confusion is good because it means the mind is processing a new way to think.

I hope the shame and disgust around my body leaves. It’s been here for so long.

A poem about how I have been feeling

Twisted gut – got some sort of disease. Bacteria infection or immune disfunction.

Knew it would happen, cos they tightened their grip on the bitterness of past.

Repressed memories, refusing to let go of an inaccessible lineage. Constipation is because of guilt and low self worth says Louise Hay, who died of natural causes.

Want to release yet the stomach remains tight, intestines wrapped in a messy bundle like tinsel that refuses to be pulled apart.

Sweet girl. Who cannot feel her legs.

Twisted gut – bloated stomach – tense grins.

Sweet girl. Who cannot see her torso.

Making amends

My ex husbands son (my ex step son?) reached out to me to make an amends. He is in AA (all M’s kids are) and we arranged to meet yesterday. He read out his amends, acknowledging that he treated me rudely and with deep disrespect in my relationship with his dad. He apologised for growing marijuana when he lived with his wife in our bungalow. I felt like he covered the two major things that did hurt me but I also told him I had forgiven him and didn’t feel he needed to make amends. I appreciated it though. I asked if he would hear me out as his offering to come together made me reflect on things I wanted to say to him. I acknowledged that it would have been hard to understand my relationship with his dad, given we were 20 years age difference. That would have felt awkward and confusing to him. I talked about some of my reasons / needing stability, a safety net and a father figure. I acknowledged that might sound weird but that I accepted those aspects of myself as i had been abused so I think what we choose as attempts to heal are ultimately valid. I acknowledged that I have added to a story in his history that contributes to the broken home narrative and that causes me discomfort. I wish I wasn’t part of that narrative, although I have no regrets as such. I would have liked to have apologised for not being warmer to his kids and more open to family stuff in general. But it’s okay I didn’t get to say that. I basically landed nine grandchildren as a 35 year old step grandma. It was a title I quickly rejected. I found babies and kids triggering and the whole family thing was super confronting in general.

We spoke about me not going to AA but how I still work to maintain my recovery. He has radically changed. It’s quite remarkable. He is completely different, which really speaks to the power of the program and not drinking. When one begins to face the wreckage of their past, things do radically get better. It just takes time.

We hugged goodbye and it felt like a beautiful closure. Later I rang M and we talked about the amends and his relationship with his kids. We had a long conversation whilst I went for a run and it was good to catch up. M and I spoke about our marriage and he admitted he was kind of grateful when I had an affair. I was so dissociative at this point in our marriage, sex was very difficult, I was constantly in parts. He felt like he didn’t sign up for that. This hurt for sure, but he is allowed to say what he felt.

I think if I had of stayed with M I might have had a proper breakdown or stopped working. I’m not sure. I’m quite prideful and ambitious so perhaps I wouldn’t have. He definitely provided me security I don’t have now and I leaned into it at the time. Now, I gotta fend for myself so it keeps me more on edge.

I like M, we had a good relationship. It wasn’t very emotional, but it was complex. He did well to look after my parts for as long as he did. My littles loved him so much and were devastated with the affair and then when he rejected them. Things haven’t been the same inside since. The adult has taken over for sure.

Tonight I feel burnt out, depressed and sad. But tomorrow is a new day. There’s something about the early days of recovery that I miss. I don’t want to go back but it was the brokenness / you could only go up from there. Whereas now, things can just flat line.