Standing up for myself kind of

Stood up for myself on the phone tonight to the director. I am tired of people treating me mean. Or being disrespectful. Can’t be bothered going into it, but I was proud of myself. I managed to respond assertively on the phone and state my point. We definitely had a fight, which I’m okay with, because these things can happen. He emailed me with an apology, and I responded basically stating in a firm but kind way that he needed to take responsibility for things and not push the blame on me, given my time, emotional and financial commitment in this film. I said he questioned my integrity and also challenged and criticised my openness about learning through this film, dismissing it as a weakness and perceived incompetence, but yet he was in the same boat and so it was not fair to look at me through that lens.

I feel angry. Angry that I beat the shit out of myself for being such a “shit producer”, when I helped pull this film together on a freaking shoe string and it’s done well/ as well as these kinds of micro budget films do in a difficult landscape, where it’s a gamble.

He’s pushing all his financial and relationship stresses onto me and that feels shit and he can take back that dirty tennis ball because it ain’t mine.

I wasn’t this hungry, desperate, “player” of a producer, some show pony that bullshitted her way through the process. I did what I could with the resourcing I had, which was nothing, and we ended up with a good film. The best film? No! A strong effective film that is emotionally resonating? Yes absolutely. Will we make money? Probably not. Am I okay with that? Yes. Was it about that? No. I wasn’t that stupid. Would have been nice but what I knew about the market, unlikely. I’m angry because I’m tired of blaming myself for not being good enough. In whose eyes am I measuring this? The invisible people. No they are real people who exist – somewhere – and I don’t generally play with them. And that’s why I am doing this independently and on the periphery. Now I sound like I am justifying myself. I am. I’m hurt. He hurt my feelings. It’s okay to have hurt feelings.

Day 21. Believing in myself is an act of love and results in self worth.

I am setting myself a challenge. You know that thing that gets bandied around on the internet/ it takes 21 days to break a habit or change your thinking? Well, I’m going to give it a crack about my self esteem, which oscillates between being secure and then disastrously low- like so low I want to die low.

Today’s thought is: believing in myself is what gives me self worth.

Other people believe in me. Why is it not okay to believe in myself? In my decisions and actions and motivations? The only reason why it is not okay is because of the acceptance of false beliefs programmed into me by my abusers. What the fuck do they know? They’re job is to be mean and horrible and sadistic and evil and disempowering. They’re job was to confuse me of my sense of self and break my spirit. So by not believing in myself I am believing them and because they are mean and horrible liars, it means I am believing bad people and thought systems. Yet I want to believe good thought systems and follow good people. And mostly I do that. In fact I do that all the time, the only time I don’t is when I am in fear or triggered.

So the point is, it’s okay to believe in myself. I do believe in myself. The act of breathing and brushing my teeth means I believe in myself. I can start small and show me all the things that prove I believe in me. Doing this then is an act of love and results in feelings of self worth, compassion and confidence. Personal power. I stand by what I do. I believe in me.

The worst thing about memory is not the memory itself

It’s the lead up to a memory that is the hardest. It’s the depression with nothing attached to it, the shame and the feelings of disgust and dissociation. It’s searching for answers in a black box.

Then last night I dreamt and I woke from the nightmare and I was in parts and I shivered and shook and nursed myself back to sleep and when I woke up, I felt better. More normal. More in my body I guess. It’s helping that I am leaving back to Oz today. I can’t wait to get home although I am glad I made the trip.

I dreamt I was being electrocuted at a government house and that I was pregnant. I was in year 9, so would have been 13 or 14 years of age.

Today I feel less sad because I’m going home, but I feel as though my feelings have context and that is reassuring despite how yukky these memories are.

What I thought I was

I always thought that I was German. I used to say it was because I worked hard and played hard, like the Germans do.

I like the heartiness and simplicity of German food. Eastern and Western European food in general. Germans can be rude and overt, but they’ve lived through a lot. A culture of pride overturned and oppressive trauma inflicted. An intense conflict between pride and shame. Hard built, head down, got to beat the cold and get on with it.

*********

Tomorrow I leave Berlin. I didn’t really say that I’d even gone to Berlin on this blog but I did. For the film and for a research trip. I have been in a massive depression since arriving and struggled. I’ve just had to get on with it and I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve, which of course in my head is never enough. I feel super dissociative and in memory. I can’t wait to get home to see S and the furry girls. I miss my comforts, the routine and being grounded in my environment. Here, I don’t know where I am. I mean, that’s obvious in that I am in a different city, and I am finding my way around okay, it’s more of an inner state of confusion and loss. I feel lost inside me.

My body is in memory. My parts are scared; terrified. I want to stay in bed all day and shake, but that’s not an option.

Maybe it’s the city. It’s triggering me. I am trying to be positive and I have learnt a lot but man each day has been a massive struggle. It’s 8:05pm and I am in bed. I just want to sleep and sleep and sleep.

Depression is.

Depression is like being weighted underwater. It’s heaviness, a heart sunken inwards, shallow breath, stepping into dark circles of light. Depression is wanting no one to see you, smell you, look at you, taste you, talk to you. It’s climbing up a rope, with no energy to hang yourself. Depression is avoiding eyes, a racing mind, with slow dull thoughts dividing tracks. It’s glancing at shame in the mirror. It’s knowing guilt intimately and not being able to express why. It’s feeling as though you once loved but can’t remember what and it’s knowing you are in love but can’t remember why or how or who. It’s a blanket of grey, it’s lethargy rubbed onto your skin. It’s a coat of embarrassment and self loathing worn inside out. It’s struggling between sheets. It’s waiting for death. It’s silently persecuting your inner being for the very mere fact of you just being. Its like waiting for nothing.

movies with SRA themes.

I am going to go all out there with a completely subjective opinion piece about a type of cinema that I have unofficially coined as “satanic ritual abuse survivor trauma porn”. I believe this a type of film made by survivors, who are likely completely amnesic and are unconsciously trying to untangle their trauma through their work of art. Such was the case when I saw “Psychosis“, a Danish new wave cinema film at Berlin film festival last night. The film was an overly melodramatic and cinematic homage to Bergman’s “Persona” (amazing). Beyond this nod and wink, Psychosis was more like the hyped up version of Persona meets the early work of UK experimental physical theatre troupe, “DV8“.

The film follows a researcher whose expertise is in suicide. She goes to a psychiatric hospital to “research” a patient named Jenny. What follows is a codependent enmeshment, where the lines between reality and fantasy become increasingly blurred. The elements and scenes that stood out to me that related to SRA were:

  • flashbacks of a wild orgy party, with lots of bodies in contorted positions. A person sitting on a toilet (satanists have a fascination with scatology)
  • Jenny and her ‘twin mind’ lover (another patient she is enmeshed with) rub red paint (blood) all over their body
  • The researcher attempts to strangle herself on numerous occasions to release her pain (symbolizing silence, fear, don’t talk programming)
  • By the end of the film, it is unknown whether Jenny is real or a figment of the researcher’s imagination (who is perhaps the one really in the psychiatric ward). To me, I felt Jenny was an alter (suicidal programming, rage, insanity) and the researcher was the controlled host repressing her.
  • Church scene talking about demons and faith as the solution (yet it was an impenetrable structure  – an unrealistic/ unimaginable option for the survivor).

Those were the main things that I felt were SRA. Its not a film I would recommend for fellow survivors. I was somewhat triggered, but I think because I put it in this context, that I was able to look at it objectively and not get pulled into its themes or subject matter. I didn’t think it was a great film. I didn’t really ‘believe’ the narrative and thought it was overly melodramatic and not particularly well structured (although its experimental nature in many ways defied any sense of structure). I also didn’t care about Jenny or the researcher. I didn’t like them, and felt it was really a work of repressed catharsis and traumatic exploration, made more for the filmmaker’s sake, than the audience.

I think art is an extremely valid (and necessary) way for a survivor to work through their trauma. My beef with this film is that, because it perpetuates the silencing and perceived madness that goes with facing the insidious, disgusting and vile truth that the perpetrators inflict on young children and each other, it then becomes a piece of work that stands on (and for) the side of the perpetrators, not the survivors. That side is already given too much power, so I am more about creating and celebrating work and art that challenges this discourse by speaking out and facing the truth. Yes it is scary, but it is not as scary as letting those f**kers win.

 

Unpacking things with my Little’s

Dear Little Ones,

I’m sorry things got heated yesterday and today. And I know things have been super stressful. We’ve had so much going on. Is there anything anyone wants to say or talk about?

– we just don’t understand why people are so mean.

Yeah, it’s hard. Sometimes people are mean for different reasons. It could be because they are hurting or have been hurt or it could be about something else in their life and they take it out on you. Because you’ve been hurt so bad, I reckon these people can sense it and want to project their pain onto you.

– that sounds awful.

Yeah it is, but that’s when you can call on me and I can step in and put up barriers. They’re pain isn’t your pain or my pain. It’s theirs. Together we can stop them and say “we’re not going to take that”. “You can have that back”. Now that I’m big, on behalf of you all, we can do that. Whereas when you were little, that’s not something you were able to do. You were meant to have other big people around you to look after you, but they were mean and hurt and nasty people. So they did not look after you properly. We can change that now.

– oh. But why would you want to be nice to us?

Cos you’re part of me. And I want you to be safe and loved.

– even if we’re bad?

I don’t think you’re bad. You’re little and you were told you were bad. That’s not who you are.

– but what if we did bad things?

That’s okay. You can tell me when you’re ready. You were probably made to do bad things because the bad people wanted to frighten you and make it seem like it was your fault, so you wouldn’t tell. It’s what they do to maintain their power to stay big, bad and mean.

– oh. But it feels like it is our fault.

I know it feels that way. And over time, if we keep talking, I believe those feelings will fade and be replaced with new ones that are much softer and kinder. I believe you are good and kind hearted.

– that’s nice.

Sleep now.

Stuff that makes you grow

Big two days.

Yesterday- experienced a massive road rage incident with some random guy. I was on my scooter, pulled up at lights (on his side to get in front), he didn’t like it, came up super close to me with the edge of his car and then told me off. Then he proceeded to use his car as a weapon and intimidate me whilst I was riding. I was shaking my head and then I ended up giving him the finger! But problem was, this guy was really nasty and he kept braking in front of me to cut me off and annoy me. It was really dangerous and he shouted at me, (something like), “I hope you fall off” and then I ended up braking as he stopped suddenly again and I fell off my bike! I just lay on the road, stunned, my scooter on top of me and the dude drove off. Anyway, i ended up reporting it to the police, to no avail, and I went to the doctor as I had a massive bruise swelling up on my thigh so thought it best to get it checked out. Doc says it’s fine, just going to turn black and blue! I was pretty shaken, and it was super hard to not blame myself- I shouldn’t have bitten back. I shouldn’t have tried to get in front. I provoked him.

Later that afternoon, I was offered a promotion. Very exciting. Big challenge. Full time. Pay increase, so that feels good. A relief.

Today: I had to present for all faculty staff meeting about progress of big project I lead the charge on last year. Implementation starts this year and roll out next year. It was meant to be a short and sweet 5 minute presentation. I had three questions at the end, the first I answered okay. The second came from within the film school; my department. It was negatively framed, but one that I could answer (just). The third came from within the film school again, a long term staff member, and one of my PhD supervisors. She basically put me on the spot and demanded to know why we were rolling out the new curriculum the way we were and what our rationale was. I know this post lacks context, so bear with me. But I just froze, stumbled and thankfully ended up being able to say, “we want to work with everyone to find the best solution, but i’m not sure why this is being brought up now considering this information was made completely transparent over the last 12 months.” Anyway, I’m on stage and I just want the floor to open up and I want someone to help me, anybody, and I swear I am gonna cry, and I am embarrassed. Finally it’s over, fuck knows how it ends, I think I am just trying to maintain some sort of integrity and I walk off the stage and sit down. And the head of visual art turns to me, and says, “don’t let it rock you. It’s okay” or something like that. And the director of the faculty whispered, “I’ll talk to them this week”. And I know they’ve got my back and that most people in the room, thought this staff members behaviour was not called for. And I know that the feminists in the audience were rooting for me, a young woman, taking on leadership, in a faculty dominated by men, I know they are saying “go girl” and want me to succeed, but by this time my head is eating me alive and I am running bad tapes. “I should have prepared more. I should have said this. Everyone’s watching me. I actually don’t think I can be this leader I keep thinking I’m going to be. It’s okay, it’s okay, these people are antagonising and that’s good. You need that. They help you grow and become stronger. This is a safe environment to get shit thrown at you. You can do this.” And then the staff member who was being argumentative, texted me to apologise! And so she knows she has just been a dick and she says she feels bad. And I don’t know what to say; so later, after debriefing with S, I respond, but i am totally professional and thank her and just let her know I will respond with a more considered answer later when I have all the facts. And she doesn’t respond at all, which I think sucks, but maybe she’s gone into hiding too. Anyway the meeting was finally over and I had to leave fast cos I had a plane to catch and the head of visual art stopped me and said, “that was woeful, coming from your department too. If you need to debrief, let me know. Don’t do your head in over this”, and I am so grateful that she gets it, because she is a strong woman who is passionate and responsive to change and has assumed leadership positions and gets that it can be really hard. And these are my friends now, as in the leadership team, not my fellow staff as such in film and tv. I understand that. I’m okay with that. I don’t want to be friends just to play nice to fit in. I don’t roll like that. But it didn’t stop me from feeling like a ball of crap and the anxiety and depression just settling in. And S took me to the airport and that was lovely, but I was flat and I felt so bad and worthless. And bad for feeling bad you know? And I just thought, she deserves better. Someone who’s stronger and more sophisticated in their thinking. My sister phoned me to have a little rant and that was nice to hear and I rang her back at the airport and told her what happened. And she pepped talked me before she went into her gym class and told me all the things that I say to her when she’s down- that I can do it and sometimes I am just gonna have to fake it, cos that’s what she does, every day, and I know she struggles with the same feelings of low self worth and pointlessness. And then off she ran to her gym session and I talked to S, and she named my depression and anxiety and I was like, “oh, yeah, I have anxiety and depression. And this is it. This is what those feelings are”, and I started to feel a little better. Something about just surrendering to it. I’m not sure if I’ve ever really done that before. So I guess it’s going to be okay and I can do this. I’ve got this. I can get through this. It’s just one little hiccup in a big journey and I’m not going to let nasty f***ing road ragers and negative Nancy employees who blame everyone else for their f***ing existence throw me off balance anymore. If I fall down, get back up. My mother didn’t teach me that. I heard it in an interview today with a professional basketballer. His mum used to tell him that and I’m going to take his mums advice, because she loved him and I want to focus on messages from people who love other people. It’s a simple as that.

Dreams.

Bad dream last night. A child part woke me up, she was saying “stop hurting me”. I dreamt of my brother, he was touching me where he shouldn’t be. Bastard. I’m proud of the little one for standing up for herself.

I am not …

I am not going to let them have me anymore. I’m not going to open the door, get in the car, take off my clothes, stand naked, swear, scream or be silent. I am not going to let the sun burn me or the clouds depress me or the sky dictate my moods. I am not going to let the rain stop me or the wind scare me or the trees whisper in my ear. I am not not going to let late nights tire me, early mornings flatten me, you’re temperament phase me. I am not not going to let my body get sore under you, my head be pressed down on the pillow, let you stand on my chest so I can’t breathe, I am not going to let time zones and dates disappoint me. I am not not not going to let them sneer at me, contort me, divide me in two. I am not going to let them slice me in half and swap my body around, discombobulated. I am not not going to stop until I find you and tell your stories.