Blue eyed beauty

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Its the messy relationships that still sting the most, even today, about 4 years later. The relationships where good is woven in with the bad. Perhaps manipulatively as a reward, or perhaps because love and abuse really can be that close.

The concerts, nutella fights, tummy cuddles, bed sharing, cooking, and her unique quirky noises and facial expressions are what I am grieving. And her eyes. The blueness of those eyes. I know Cat is right and that it isn’t worth going back to that when the alternative was SO disturbing and SO damaging. But I still cry. I still wish I had been in a different place when I met her. I wish she had been in a different place too. Without pellet guns, knives, addiction to self harm, and anger impulses that almost killed.

I wish she hadn’t needed to have swallowed me whole.
I wish I hadn’t needed her to have either.

I was nothing and that is what she cunningly confirmed, yet she also made me something. Someone she wanted to fuck. Someone she wanted to know so closely we became twins in a very short space of time. Someone she wanted to keep to herself even if that meant lying on the floor, clutching my ankle with both hands as I begged her to let me attend an appointment.

She let me choose what guppies I wanted. She let me adopt a goldfish. She picked me up from the hospital after I overdosed and had a dystonic reaction which completely incapacitated me. She was there, telling me to tell the crisis team that it was a moment of madness, I’m fine, I just need to go home. And I felt it. That need to go home. Only, yet again, the home was abusive.

I eventually ran away from her with nothing but the clothes on my back and now I wish I could run back.

I can’t. I mustnt. I can’t. My friends all gave up on me at the time but Cat wouldn’t. She would rescue me. She knows. She knows the compulsion to repeat. Every detail. Understand it. See it again before my own eyes. She knows how quickly I’d give myself up again. She said she knows all about those dynamics and it breaks her heart.

I am worth more.
I am worth more.
I am worth more.

The blue eyed beast is not the answer to this fear and longing.

Eye contact

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“What colour are my eyes?”

I’ve known Cat for nearly three years now.  I’ve got pictures of her up on my wall (along with pictures of my dogs and all the dogs I’ve worked with! it’s a happy wall!) Yet when Cat asked me today what colour her eyes are I opened my mouth to reply but… 33% of my brain thought green, 33% of my brain thought blue, 33% of my brain thought brown.  I still don’t know because I didn’t want her to tell me, I wanted to find out for myself.  (And yes, I can’t even look her in the eyes when she is a mere photo on my wall).

So after a loooong conversation about eye contact and what it can mean for people and what it means for me and culture and trauma and…. basically everything that is written out here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-therapy/201202/eye-contact-in-therapy-part-i … I became fixated on the idea of working out a plan to help me overcome my complete eye contact avoidance in therapy.

Oddly (or perhaps not) when it comes to people I work with I have good eye contact.  I don’t stare them down but neither do I avoid their eyes and skirt around trying to find somewhere else to look.  Mainly because I don’t feel anything when they are looking at me.  Eye contact with people I know, and who know me, is different.  They make me feel stuff when I look at them.  Usually its shame, fear, disgust (at myself, not them).  Whether its because of social phobia, because of my mothers murderous eyes all across my childhood, my body image issues, or a mix of all three probably… regardless I want to work on it with Cat.  I want to be able to look at her. I want to have an experience of soft mother eyes, that project the love, care and protection.

Obviously eye contact is about seeing yourself too; seeing yourself in the other persons eyes (not physically though I guess that can happen sometimes too lol).  That is why I want to work on this in therapy.  I want to be able to look at Cat and sit with the feelings that it brings up and give them some thought as I (hopefully) improve my ability to bear it.

  • If this is something the client/patient wants to learn, I would highly recommend a few minutes of pure eye gazing, without talking, to practice. Good eye contact while engaged in conversation is an advanced skill that takes a lot of comfort with eye contact. For someone who is just starting, a period of “immersion” via practicing ONLY eye contact–no talking–could be very powerful. It’s intense, but then again, intensity is necessary at times for therapeutic results, right? Fortunately, I couldn’t imagine a safer space to practice, experience, and process that intensity than with the support of a therapist. 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-therapy/201202/eye-contact-in-therapy-part-ii

I love the way the above passage/link are written.  This is the basic premise to what we are aiming to do.  We have thought about doing it at the beginning of the sessions as I sometimes find it hard to connect to her initially.  The eye contact exercises should help me find that connection quicker so we can get on with the real meat of the session.

I mean for goodness sake, I know so much about her, even stuff I don’t know about my best friends, I really should know what colour her eyes are!

Bodywork

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image

At last I have a start date for my bodywork: next Tuesday. I am excited but also nervous. Despite the fact I have seen videos of the practitioner online and know that she is a psychotherapist and very open minded with what she does, I am nervous about being judged by her, looked down upon, forced to do things I dont want to.

She wants to start the body work in the very first session, after taking my history.  Obviously she knows nothing about me. She doesn’t know that I am not confident enough to allow her that close to me so quickly. She doesn’t know that I will need to build up some sort of relationship with her first, and then I will need time to feed back to the other parts of me.

I am umming and ahhing over whether to let her know my formal diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder. Like I said, I don’t want to be judged or ridiculed by her. I dont want to put her off from ‘treating’ me. I know she is a professional in the private sector but my faith in professionals has been knocked severely by the fiasco with the ED woman.

Talking of which, I know its important to disclose the anorexia too as she works in terms of body image etc as well but again, I’m worried about doing that. I dont feel a very “good” anorexic at the moment. I still am yet to gain weight but I feel like I have been grazing non stop like a cow recently and its been making me feel fat. I am going to feel such shame in just allowing someone to see my anorexic body because of it not being “good enough”.

We will see I guess but if nothing else this will be experience in being able to use words to bat away peoples touch and physical contact intentions. I am hopeless at that its got to be said. I seem to just allow myself to be retraumatised rather than using my words to act as a barrier around me.

Work in progress, as always.

Hiccup hiccuped

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So… that block that was stopping me from leaving the house and doing what I love? It finally lifted today. Thank dog for that.

Literally thank dog as it was the promise of spending time with 10 puppies of 6 weeks old that got me there!! There is something really rejuvenating about pups and really reminds me of why I do what I do. These wonderful dog-beings who have been given a really shit hand in life so far and I am just one person who can make a difference to their lives. But for them, the dogs I work with intensively, me, that one person, is sometimes all they really have. And I know what difference one person can make to your life. Whether that is a forever person or not.

I’m pleased. I’m relieved. I’m so grateful to my friend who coaxed me out with the promise of a reward, much like we do with our dogs! She knows how to reach me, which is pretty impressive given we haven’t known each other that long. I owe her for sure.

I guess ive somewhat landed back where I belong again.

Another hiccup hiccuped and recovered from :)

Bi – girl

My partner and I have a way of dealing with things that could potentially be difficult or awkward – laugh, make jokes, make the most of whatever it is. It really helps and is probably one of the reasons why we are able to live together with my mental diagnoses and funny quirks.

My partner now has a new nickname. Without giving his name away, its basically his actual name extended into a girls name. After writing that cryptic post Friday night, on Saturday morning I confessed to him the secret that was tearing me apart inside- without wanting to sound too much like the teenager I am at heart – I actually kinda like women, more than men.

The reason ive always felt safe with my partner is because he isn’t a macho macho man. Men terrify me. A lot. He doesn’t (most the time) because he is a lot like me in many ways – sensitive & open-minded. He probably dislikes me banging on about him being a feminine man all the time, but thats what I love about him and I wouldn’t change that. If he wasn’t that way I wouldn’t be with him.

I owe a lot of my ability to be accepting of this to Cat. Since I met her, her down to earth spiels on modern day relationships being anything but man+woman+2.4 children, and her validation and sometimes even celebration of who I am, regardless of the labels I try to affix to myself, has bolstered my ability to accept that I can live away from the socially stereotypically norms and not feel like  a complete alien.

Its so freeing. And to have my partner respond with an almost “yeah, so?” attitude too. Makes me realise he’s in it for ME too. He’s not going to try and compartmentalise me into boxes where I dont fit because thats where he wants me to be. I dont need to fit a certain category of people. I dont need to be a certain way. I just need to explore who I am and let the twists and turns of discovery come and go when they’re ready. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Destabilised

Cat knows me and my symptomology enough now to know when something might be emerging out of me. Usually it is a memory, thick with visceral emotion that destabilises me for a bit before I manage to recover and gain some grip back on the ground again. This time what is emerging isn’t a memory, far from it, it is something much much deeper than that.

It isn’t something I can be open about. I wish I could but right now I can’t. I hate holding secrets, I am an honest person and can’t stand withholding things. It is this withholding that is hurting me more than the actual thing, I think, but I have no choice in the matter really, it is what it is.

Let’s just say I have been crying my way to my bed for a few nights in a row. This emergence has hit me really really hard and I’m more destabilised now than I am with any past memory of trauma. I am scared that this changes so much, too much. And I really hate change.

I know what I need to do. Allow room for processing. Stay safe and true to myself. I just wish it would stop hurting.

I’ve lost a leg

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That is really the only way I can think of to describe this… I have been stumbling around today, unable to really stand on my own.

My partner has been off work for a week because of Easter and because of that I’ve become used to relying on him to be there when I leave the house. I haven’t needed to leave the house alone in all that time and now I feel completely unable to do so.

On top of this the Summer always increases my social phobia. Something about more people being out and about, and the need for less clothes to hide under… I always seem to have to stumble on one leg for the transition from winter to spring through to summer.

It is really hard to explain what it is like to have such a great fear of other peoples judgements of you that you try to convince yourself that isolating yourself can be productive too. You have to, you don’t want to admit that the social phobia is yet again one step closer to making you housebound again. It doesn’t matter how you dress it up though, the point is that I am really feeling upset with myself that I can’t face this social anxiety and just carry on with life. I let it stop me and that seems weak to me.

Still, its not like I haven’t been here before and its not like I will never be here again.  Unfortunately social phobia has been so much a part of my life since I was a small child I think I will probably always come head to head with it sometimes. I wish I could say I have coping mechanisms for it but I don’t really – I just live it, run it like a rollercoaster – let it eventually burn itself out.

Do you have any coping mechanisms for social phobias/anxieties?

Teens

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The problem with dissociative identity disorder and child abuse that fragments you into pieces, is the feeling that pieces of you are stuck in certain ages.

I have been stuck as a teenager for 14 years. That isn’t normal. Teenagers are supposed to not be teenagers by the time they’re 20. I can’t seem to catch up with my body and I’m worried that I never will.

By my rough calculations I have perhaps 2 years left of being a teenager? The body was ten when I came into existence so that makes me 17-ish now. Boy I don’t even feel that old. I am still that under-developed self conscious 15 year old trying to fit in with her peers at every move, trying to get people to like me, notice me, validate me.

That was the gist of the session with Cat today. I wish people would notice me. I wish people would see me. The truth is I get upset when I’m trying so hard to be someone and nobody is validating that. I try so hard to give off a good impression, to make myself seem a nice person, but I can’t see my efforts going to any good use and that triggers off all sorts of shite from the past.

I never had a mum who would show genuine pride and smother me with treats and love when I’d done something good. Cat thinks that is what I’m looking for now. When I put up my diploma certificate on Facebook, that is what I’m crying out for. Social media has always been my way of hearing nice people saying nice things. My bio mother has said nothing about my diploma result. Nothing at all. I passed with a friggen distinction yet THAT isn’t enough to stir her into phoning me, emailing me, SOMETHING to say, geez, well done.

It doesn’t hurt so much because of Cat (as always). Cat, who has gushed down the phone to me when I told her, who made a big deal out of my certificate when I took it to her to show her, who is organising a treat for me/us that, my clue is, involves horses.

I just still thrive off pleasing people, making them proud, and if my bio mother is still dead to that, then at least my foster mum is doing what she can to give me a different experience now.

I just wish I could protect myself more from the disappointment of trying to be someone to people who don’t give a rats ass, frankly. I am someone to Cat, and when is that going to sink in and be enough to stop me searching for it elsewhere?

Soon I hope. I want to grow up in that regard, I really really do.

One bus

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Trigger warning- talk of abuse act & death

Dribbles of tears ran down my face as I said goodnight to Cat tonight. I love that Cat is a “feely” person like me. Not too coiled up to feel emotion, not too prude to share it with me in beautiful words sticky with feeling.

A lot of smoke from the threat of death is in the air today (and not just threat in Cats case). I have my mothers hands around my neck threatening me with my demise. I feel suffocated, unable to take a deep breath into my stomach. Though, that wasn’t what I was crying about.

I can’t wait to see Cat tomorrow. Bless her for working both bank holidays to see me. There is something pressing I need to talk to her about. Something that is ripping me to shreds every single day I am functioning, or not functionin so much, today anyway. That still isn’t what I was crying about. Come on, focus.

Death. That is what the tears were about. I am scared of dying. That seems to have been born from my first bout of anorexia where I was essentially walking into my own grave. Though it’s the death of Cat that terrifies me even more now. I beg her to look after herself. She tells me how the doctors say her body age is lower than her chronological age but death is never logical in its timing. One word: bus.

One bus and this is all over. Everything. Her. And probably me too. Yes there is back up. People who are close to Cat and wouldn’t leave me tying my own noose to kill myself with. But nothing matches her. Nothing and no one. And one day I’m probably going to have to watch her slip from my hands, when her grasp on me will loosen and her fingers will turn to bone and break off.

My mothers fingers are around my neck but Cats fingers are around mine. Her fingers are enough to cancel out the mothers. But they won’t be if she dies. She can’t die yet. I would give my life to ensure she doesn’t have to give hers.

It’s tempting to say to her you never touch a cigarette again and I’ll never lose weight again but I know its not that simple. This relationship isn’t going to go down the road of blackmail because that’s grim and manipulative. If only I could control her life so she can avoid death whilst she controls mine so I do too.

At the end of the day, when I was a child my mother DID control my life. Only it wasn’t always so that I would avoid death. A lot of my fear about Cat is projection, I know it is. I couldn’t feel the fear of life/death back then because I couldn’t feel ANYTHING to survive. Now I can feel it, against my life force, Cat. It’s terrifying to feel so on the edge of life, so vulnerable to the wrong move, when the dance of protection is no longer enough and the mother finally gets the knife point in.

Normality

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One of my biggest triggers of denial is normality. Those days, that sometimes roll into weeks, where I dont live a life of “child abuse survivor” in such a stark undeniable quality as before.

I slightly panicked today when Cat said that we should perhaps talk about the future of our therapy and where we should go from here. On the back of all the changes recently it shouldn’t have been surprising that a conversation of that nature would arise but it did make my heart stop for a millisecond (which felt more like a millihour!)

Our therapy sessions in the last two weeks have been more dominated by the support/foster mum side of our relationship. There hasnt been any trauma processing or hugely important psychoanalytical conversations about…well…me. This is okay Cat acknowledged as long as I am not missing something, as long as I’m not ignoring hugely important work you feel needs to be done.

I don’t feel that way but that in itself can be troublesome. If I was really a child abuse survivor, especially to the extent my mind claims, wouldn’t life be hell, day in day out? Wouldn’t I be struggling with flashbacks and reality lapses and PTSD and all that 24/7 365 days a year?

Apparently not, according to Cat. To sustain a life like that would be impossible. DID itself is about a child creatively finding a way to have a life OUTSIDE of the abuse. An “apparently normal part”, if you want to be technical, who may not even be aware that abuse is part of their shared existence.

Day to day life is never tickityboo. Oh no, not with the three chronic phobias and current anorexia relapse and mood swings and relational struggles and… No, those consequences of my history are never far away. But it is hard to not completely deny my reality when it isn’t being thrown at my face in your “typical” way.

As well though, I’m finding that I’m more able to skip past situations that in the past would have caused issue. Two examples really from just this week: 1.) A kitchen knife that mirrors the mothers being in Cats hand (innocent, she was cutting bread). Whilst it made me instinctively go for the door, and good old weapon focus meant I couldn’t seem to tear my eyes away from it, I was able to rationalise it as ‘just Cat, she won’t do any harm’ and just get on with the job of eating the soup and bread. 2.) Talking to Cat when she was, to use her word, piddled. Alcohol and people being pissed/drunk/tipsy, any level of intoxication, is still a significant trigger. Yet when Cat let me know she was “piddled after having voddies” that was almost more reason to talk, an opportunity to face that huge scary monstrous unknown. I was anxious, there’s no denying it but I was able to stay present in the conversation, have a laugh, and just appreciate her joviality for what it was.
It’s been a while since we have had sessions where historical puzzle pieces have joined together, or we have needed story books and bubbles to ground younger parts who have just lived and shared their purpose of existence. Yet, again to use Cats phrase, the ‘foster mum conversations’ certainly have their place and importance and can be the most healing of all. Even if they do come at periods of comparative “normality”.

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