Dissociation is like having an elevator inside me that goes up one side and down the other. It is my mind unravelling long ribbons. It’s a symphony of silence prolonged, followed by an accompaniment of voracious voices. It’s loud whispers and sticky flies in honey plastered to my cheeks and arms. It’s endless, endless chatter heard from a distance. The sound of a party muffled after 2am.
My sister texted me tonight to tell me my mum’s got terminal cancer and is going to die soon. I don’t know what “soon” means. The internet says it could be days, weeks, months. I will go to Perth to see her. I don’t know when or what it will mean or if I will get there in time or anything much. I feel empty, lost, confused, weird. If I get to see her I will wish her the best. I will tell her I forgive and feel sad we didn’t have a relationship. I will thank her for bringing me into this life and for looking after me with home cooked meals and caring for my needs in the ways she best knew how. I will thank her for encouraging and supporting me to go to drama classes and being involved in the arts. I will say that I am sorry she was so oppressed and that I hope to understand the truth of my past. But I let her loose in Yeshusa’s name.
The rest of it is over to you God because I ain’t prepared for these situations. I am not sure what you want me to do or how to think, behave or act.
Today I went to an educational workshop, ScreenMATE, which discussed how to recognise abuse and harmful behaviours and to encourage people to speak out and offer help. The workshop interrogated unconscious beliefs and attitudes to do with harmful gender stereotypes. The facilitators were excellent and I got a lot out of the training, although felt quite triggered by the end of it.
One aspect of the training that stood out to me was the Duluth Model, Power and Control Wheel . I have included the two wheels below, although we only discussed the Power and Control one. What got me was that my father used all these tactics of power and control over my mother. Even though I knew all this, seeing it in this wheel model made it all just seem very real and wrong. I mean I knew it was wrong, of course it was wrong, but the fact that his tactics were text book behaviours just freaked me out I guess. It made me think of my ex husband too and how I know he used many of these power and control tactics on his kids when he was married to his first wife. M was an alcoholic and so I know his behaviour was linked to that, but he definitely carried some of this stuff into our marriage. He used some forms of emotional abuse (our humour was based on putting each other down, making me feel bad about myself at times, making me feel guilty) and intimidation tactics (displaying weapons), using male privilege and minimising my abuse. I am painting a bad picture here of M, but some of this stuff was concerning. I definitely felt like I could handle it, but seeing it in this wheel, shows me that power and control were definitely at play. It makes me feel a bit sick that I was attracted to someone who had power and control issues, like my father, and that I was unconsciously drawn to that.
With the abuse of children wheel, my father used religion/ God against me all the time. This is a massive part of SRA and mind control programming, so that the child believes they are evil and bad. That whole circle relates to my childhood. Anyway I feel a bit ill writing about it all.
When my partner tells me she is not getting her needs met by me, I get triggered as my brain goes into “I’m bad, have done something wrong, I’m a screw up” mode. This is not helpful to the situation because I get defensive, I withdraw and shut down. I feel attacked, when she has a right to say what she feels and what she needs. I feel like I am being told off.
We talked it out. I recognised this is what happens to me. I feel terrible I can’t just accept what she has to say and take it on. I want to find another way to respond. I worry I am not built for relationships, although I love being in them and enjoy them, I can feel trapped and scared. S is a very good partner. She is very loving and attentive and mature. She is organised and clean and respectful and funny and friendly and likes to do things together. She genuinely loves me and wants to be my life partner. Sometimes I find it a bit hard to believe and want to sabotage things. I don’t really know why she likes me so much. I mean I do, but my parts feel suspicious. I wonder who she will become as she grows older. I wonder who I will become. The thing with D.I.D is there is a constant metamorphoses of change. Some things remain consistent I guess. I am working on stability and noticing what remains the same. Exercise, my love of dogs, baths, writing, creating, seeing movies. These are things that are consistent and have always been in my life. For the last 15 years I guess.
It’s okay to relax and have a simple life.
EMDR in therapy. Today we talked about my recurring issue with relationships. The pattern is that I shut down after a period of time when things are going well. It’s like the goodness of the relationship becomes too much. I can’t take it anymore. I need to go internal and withdraw and maybe even try and sabotage it to get relief. My therapist told me it reminded her of another client who has recently told her the same thing. This client is dissociative like me and has a ritual abuse background. Apparently when this client was little, the cult would torture her again after a period of time when she was relaxed. So just when she thought things were safe, they would take her away and torture her. I relate to this, although it is buried and distant. Similar to this client, I am on high alert and always needing to do something. Never really being able to relax and when I do, especially in relationship mode, when things are lovely and carefree, then I start to panic and need to switch off and retreat. I never thought the pattern could be memory. It’s a memory pattern. It makes me feel panicky thinking about it. Like what the hell did they do to me. I felt depressed and disgusting for most of the day and so fatigued. I had an afternoon nap which helped somewhat and then a dinner tonight with my students. This all went fine but I could have stayed in bed. I think now it is near the end of term I could slide backwards and start dissociating more. I’ve been holding on for so long trying to get through work and events etc. I feel so burnt out. I need to rest and lay low and go easy on myself.
The first time I heard the whole survivor thing I was at Incest camp. Okay, okay I’m being crass. It was a healing retreat for women adult survivors of child sexual abuse. We went around in a circle and introduced ourselves. I’m blah and I’m a survivor of Incest or sexual abuse or insert violation. I just said it cos everyone else did. I was 26, wide eyed, scared, deeply dissociated and naive. I just thought I could be done with all this stuff. I didn’t know how much there was to unpack.
I’m a survivor sounds like a power femme song, it is what we call holocaust victims, those who survive disasters or wars or earthquakes or car crashes or cancer or those that go on reality television programs. There’s nothing noble about child rape and blacking out and blood in underpants and dark skies and forgetting ones name. Survival kits – packed for harsh summers and stormy winters. For long hikes. For ocean adventures. Being a survivor is tough and fearless and it means you’ve been through something full on, that maybe most people wouldn’t get through. And yeah, I guess when I look at it this way, then I can say, I am a survivor of ritual abuse and extreme trauma and Incest and emotional and mental abuse and I survived by forgetting and dissociating. I haven’t survived the memories yet, I can’t remember the memories yet although there’s night terrors and bad days and ill feelings in my body that I survive each day and some moments, when the existential pain splits me open and I wander far away in my mind, I survive the onslaught. I seek shelter in the quiet space of my mind.
Nightly I feel the loss the most. Of self. I slip into quiet depression. I desire to curl up into a ball and hide alone forever. I’m sick, i tell myself. I’m afraid, I’m not worthy. For so many years these warped beliefs have tainted me. I’m tired of them but I can’t seem to let them go. I worry I will end up alone. I worry the truth of who I am will be revealed and those around me will hate me. What is this truth? The truth of what they made me do, the truth of what I saw, the truth of what I did. Apparently God loves me. He told me so today, I just don’t believe it yet. How can He? After all that has happened. I’ve given myself a life sentence. Keep pressing forward, the right actions will lead to freedom of self. I’m keeping myself in chains but I seriously can’t find the key. It’s hard to listen to the voices in my head attack me. It hurts. They hurt me. I said “I choose the good spirit, in Jesus’ name”. I want to be held and loved and soothed but I am so deeply ashamed to receive this and ask for it. I hate to burden.
Tonight’s topics at codependents anonymous were “self love” and “self acceptance”. I err on the side of negativity. I don’t have either, I think. The truth is I practice both, albeit clumsily at times. Self love was first going to see a therapist when I kept shutting down in one of my first relationships. When things got vulnerable, I would dissociate, black out, pick a fight, sabotage. It was hard stuff. Yeah, I couldn’t stick the therapy out at the time, but there was a desire to get help. That is self love. I kept trying to practice self love by doing lots of things to make me think and feel better- self help tapes, exercise, wheatgrass shots, writing, doing real estate courses, studying neuro linguistic programming and hypnosis. The list went on. I tried to practice so much self help to gain self love and none of it worked, but the point is I was trying. What I needed was self acceptance first. I got that in AA when I finally admitted I was an alcoholic. Things began to get better from there. Now, as i start to focus on my emotional, mental and spiritual recovery, I am at a new point with self acceptance and self love. I want to accept myself and love myself, but sometimes I don’t think I can. Sometimes I don’t think I am capable of doing that.
I wrestle and fight with my inner world. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose. I am totally unsure if I can live a normal life. Stable. Not normal. My life won’t ever be the husband, two kids, house. It’s not me. But just functional and without drama. Safe. Television news and weekend documentaries. I want it and I don’t. Sometimes I think I will just go live in Africa for a couple of months and teach English or help build things or do whatever needs to be done to be of service. Just to get out of this western world and way of being. In my head. I am addicted to fantasy. It’s linked to the dissociation. It was my way of escaping. I struggle to be present. It was my way of coping. I chose strategies to cope. I am not coping anymore. I am safe. I am living. Sometimes.
Little’s are out;
We’ve got an extra dog and he barks all the time and the person whose dog it is has a collar on it that beeps and buzzes to stop him from barking and it works but we don’t like it to do that. Cos it hurts him and you shouldn’t use electricity to hurt people, they used to buzz us and it hurt real bad. But the dog won’t stop also so that’s not good too. It’s very confusing.
Last night we dreamt that S’ dog served us a drink at a bar. It was a happy dream and funny. We told S but she was asleep so she doesn’t remember.
We saw the woman from the home church tonight and she says funny things, like “what was this conversation like for you”. She talks about Yeshua in real nice ways. We don’t know yet. Always gotta be careful of people in general. Trust no one.
Maybe some triggering stuff for what it’s worth.****************************************************************************
He had a motorbike. They tied me up. Cold floors. Nose to ground. We’d ride sharp around corners and look at giant trees. He was earthy and weird and bought me icecream and Chinese and theatre tickets. They rubbed my face with it. Told me I was a piece of shit. Keep wanting to play out what that means. It’s too abstract for you to understand. I ride the floor hard. I buckle under your weight – you gonna kill me. Disappear. Donuts for breakfast. Hang man for dinner. Bury bones for dessert. I can go 58.75 seconds holding my breath under water. I won’t let you win. It all went too soon. I tried to touch your face and you bit me. I tried to be soft but was always hard. I tried to bury the memories but the rain came and washed them clean, they fell through the drainpipe. Where nightmares are kept hidden. They tried to choke me, hands on back, I can’t breathe, I try to grab your arm but I realise it is you pressing me. Father, why do you smell so rotten? The wind is out of your sail. I’m so scared of the high seas. I am frozen. I saw the little one run off and I tried to grab the tail of her dress, but it tore off in my hands and I waved a handkerchief goodbye. Never to see her again.