Widen the Circle

Was talking with a friend the other night. I had met them in college and we bonded over the fact that we both viciously late a certain YA book. Enough so that when I am talking about them to my spouse I add on “who hates Twilight” after their name. I know I think three or four people with that person’s name so I need an identifier.

 

They had posted a thing about trauma and how it is normal for anyone with trauma to at some point be like “But someone else has it worse.” That’s a pretty common topic in my mind and has come up in therapy.  I’m trying to build a support system with people who actually understand, which is so not easy. The stigma with mental illness is really screwing things up. We discussed that due to mental illness being something people avoid, a lot of us are missing out on what could be really awesome relationships. They are trying to be more open about their own struggles, because they are tired of seeing how everyone looks at the world of mental health.

 

Childhood can really screw a person’s whole sense of self up. At my core, I honestly do not believe that I matter. I really just don’t feel that I matter to anyone or anything. The old white dude always puts a chink in that thought chain because I do have a spouse who loves me completely, no matter who I am.  However, on a regular basis, even though I know it to be true, my brain just defaults to the fact that I do not matter. That’s how I’ve spent my life so far, I just completely do not matter and it doesn’t matter what I do to try and be better. I’m not good enough for my family and those around me and that innately there is something or multiple things that are wrong with me. This wrongness makes me bad rather than just a person.
As I try to become a little more open about certain things revolving my mental health, more people tell me about their own. One person who I respect beyond anything opened up and actually told me they take an antidepressant. Just to show how no two people are alike, that person is taking the drug that I started on… and that made me immensely suicidal. It works for them, it’s shit for me. They were very happy to find out that I was finally taking care of myself. They knew I spent a long period of time where I was just avoiding all of it. Mind you, I still avoid a lot but I am trying to get a little better. I can look just a fraction longer at the painful things. Some days I need to retreat and run away, but I go back to doing the work.

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Losing it.

And I have lost control. I know I have. I feel like I’m grasping at straws. Right now I am moving into a different stage of my survival mode and I’m currently reasoning in my head harm reduction. Yea, I can be hella destructive when I want to be. At this moment, I’m basically bargaining in my head over what I can and cannot do.  It’s not a fun argument.

I’m playing games in my own head. I need to keep myself safe but I don’t know if I can be 100% on that. I have caught myself regressing badly in the last couple days. I seem to have lost most of my appetite and when I do eat, it makes me sick. I can’t tell if it is a stress response or my body trying to tick back into what I used to do when I was 14. Surviving on energy drinks and caffeine in general isn’t going to cut it.  

I want to be destructive. I want to be so destructive to myself and others around me. I know for a fact that I cannot be outwardly destructive like I want to be, so I’m pulling it all in. Which, I am trying to keep from causing an implosion.

..two weeks. Two weeks until I see the old white dude. I know I could call, I do know that. But I also can’t. It’s an interesting fight in my head. I might logically know that I need the help, but I am ashamed at the same time that I need it. I feel guilty if I do reach out. Not just ashamed, I feel down and out guilty because I don’t believe that I deserve it. I feel more like I am being a waste of time and I’m taking away from his personal time. There are people who are worse off than I, so why am I even thinking about reaching out for him.

I am able to somewhat tell the difference between adult me and teenage me’s emotions. It does become really cloudy at times, like now. I can feel the two grinding against one another and it’s hurting. I’m hurting.
…Fuck.

Homework? What homework?

My homework for these two weeks without therapy is to stay safe and try to honor the teenager in my head, but not letting him take control.

Well, I’m pretty sure the second half of my homework is currently going to hell. I feel myself completely losing what control I had and now I have this teenager running the show in my head. The way the old white dude described it is that simply put, the inner teenager manages to get control over the adult body and shut off reasonable thinking. Like the aliens from War of the Worlds, they have these giant machines causing all sorts of hell but internally the aliens aren’t very big at all.

Some days I wonder what I would be like if I would have been in more accepting circumstances when I was younger. I wish I wouldn’t do that, but I wonder who I would have become if I didn’t spend most days growing up in survival mode. Could I have been more comfortable with myself? In accepting circumstances, would I have transitioned by now?

The old white dude had told me that when I found myself losing control over the teenager to sit down with someone I trust who understands the work I’m doing, which is my friend who also sees this same dude, and see what we can do to get the grown-up back in control.  So, I bit the bullet and brought it up with them. I hate asking for help, so that alone is a big step for me.  Now, we will see what we can do to try and get adult me in charge. It’s going to be an interesting task.

I would much rather just delve back into destructive behaviours, because that’s easy and I can just check out of this reality.  It’s what I’ve done in the past and it is just so simple for me. Here I am though, trying to put in the damned work and not do that. If I am honest, I am not doing very well at it right now. To make it worse, I have to visit my one grandmother and that’s going to set me off. Like, I know it is going to trigger a chain reaction and make things awful… but I am not getting much of a choice in the matter. I haven’t seen her in awhile and I do need to see her, but when I’m already losing control it’s not a good idea to add more family onto me. However, this is probably going to be the only time I have to go down and see her… damnit.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my grandmother. She’s difficult and can be very, very critical though. I know this going in, so hopefully I can get the walls up and let things roll off backwards. Because I know if I don’t, then I am going to be in a very difficult and awful position. If I end up in that position, then I’m afraid that the final level of my safety plan will have to go into effect. I really hate that final piece because I feel bad needing it. Final piece is calling for the old white dude. I’ve done it before and he’s done a phone call with me, but it makes me feel awful if I get to that point. It really makes me feel as though I am a burden and therefore need to just suck it up.  I also just hate calling for that part because I’ve been screwed over on it before because people apparently had not gotten the memo of how things are to work. Seriously, explaining to your old white dude how people screwed up and didn’t listen and watching him keep a straight face when you know he’s unhappy is certainly a sight to see.
I honestly am at a loss of what to do. I want to be able to give the inner teenager some space to be heard and not have someone trying to change them. On the other hand, I want to be able to shove him back into the box I keep him in because he creates so much damned havoc in my head.

Holidays: Survived for Now.

Holidays are done in survival mode. Every single time, it becomes survival mode. Physically, I am sitting here and alright following family time. Mentally, I’m kind of screwed in a few ways. I’ve been spending the last couple days trying to do the work that I have been working on with the old white dude. His recommendation was to sit down with someone I trust and who understands what I’m trying to work on and kind of get back where I need to be. It’s hard for me to do that though, because it makes me feel crazy enough some days just talking about it with the dude. I don’t want it to be like I am crazier than I already think I am. I’m just thankful that my therapist continues to tell me that I’m not.

 

So I managed dealing with family. Mind you, I was checking out as much as possible. It ebbed and flowed a bit. It wasn’t great. One part of the night was my one cousin’s kid being sassy. What do we expect, she’s headed into teenage years. Sassy is fine, sassy is normal. My cousin just rolled her eyes at the kid, but mother added in that it just gets worse with a side-eye towards me. Yea, it does get worse and then someone ends up in therapy.

 

I do my best to roll with the punches and try to not let anything my mother and the rest of my family get in and under me. I’m still not good enough and I probably never will be. All of their discomfort over the years has created a hell of a lot of shame in me. I picked up habits that are awful and unhealthy, just to avoid the harshness of reality. I have spent a majority of my life being completely ashamed of myself. I don’t know what it is like to not fight an inner battle with myself. Every day was like waking up and putting on armour so that I could even leave my bed. I did it though and hilariously as I have found out these years later, nobody really knew anything was going on with me. Some people at school knew something was going on, others did know or thought that maybe I had been harming myself, but no matter what nothing happened to help me. I was able to fake it so well and kept my grades up, that nobody seemed to think anything was wrong at all. It was the easiest way to stay alive. Pretend nothing is wrong and move along with your day. 

 

I still catch myself doing it and I’ve noticed myself really regressing into that survival mode. Walls go up, smile goes on, and everyone else gets shut out.  It goes back to not trusting people and it’s me against the world. I’m not in a place where I can’t shut out others opinions. I can’t just tell them to go pound sand, which I now have in my head due to the old white dude. I still have all the shit I collected during adolescence bouncing around in my head. I haven’t been able to shake it off and even think about what it means to be an actual adult. I’m an adult, but my mother still has a lot of control over me. Not in the sense that she decides my every move, but she does have an ability to get in my head and really mess things up. She is an excellent manipulator and uses guilt to the best of her advantages. And I am never going to be good enough for her. Since she still can get into my head, the rest of my family follows through and creates more havoc.
I physically survived the holidays. I just don’t know how long it is going to take to recharge from it. I don’t know how long it is going to take to get the ‘grown-up’ back in charge. Hopefully sooner rather than later, because I cannot handle another spiral down right now. I won’t come out unscathed. 

Holidays are Here…

Holidays. I hate them. I actually hate then quite a lot. They are immensely difficult and are when I end up policed the most by my family. As much of the family as possible in one location never bodes well for me. Some of them police me a lot less, but others keep stepping up their game the more I don’t fit into what they want.  Every single year, no matter how I try, it becomes the same damned thing. I want to be myself and by the end I’m biting my tongue and counting the minutes until it would be acceptable for me to leave.  

 

So I brought this up with my old white dude yesterday. Because I find myself regressing during the holiday season. We’ve talked about the little kid, but yesterday was the first time that we mentioned the teenager. I still think I’m crazy talking like this, but the old white dude says it is perfectly normal. He asked me who basically takes over when I regress mentally during the holidays. It’s 14 year old me, who isn’t a safe person.

 

The old white dude, he wants me to try an experiment. This is normal with us. So, the experiment is not jumping to alternative actions right away. Since that’s what people normally do. They recognize that this stuff isn’t working so they are just jumping past and trying to find new things. Apparently the first step we are all missing is where we are supposed to be stopping and honoring the internal part of ourselves. Honoring those experiences and then moving forward.

 

He wonders what it would mean and what could happen if I would be able to honor the 14 year old in me. That’s scary. I remember what 14 was. I try to keep those years boxed far, far away. I have a lot of damned good reasons to do that and so looking into those boxes kind of terrifies me.

 

How does one try and keep oneself in control when the holidays come around? It’s not like I have supportive family or relatives. Yes, there is chosen family… but at the same time, this isn’t even something I would ever want to burden them with.  I’m always afraid that I’m too much for people anyway. Baby steps and all.

 

I don’t know how these holidays are going to go. Next time I see the old white dude will be like the second week of January. It is going to be an interesting bit of time. I’m not looking forward this at all. My homework is to number one stay safe. That’s enough of a challenge with holidays and family. Number two, is to apparently work with this 14 year old self to see if I can honor him and listen to him.  I’m so unsure how this is going to go.
“The longer you fight the dragon, the more likely you are to become one.”

Three Forward, Two Back

It honestly feels like the adult part of me is currently sitting outside of a closet door while the child part of me is locked inside. The adult part wants to try and get the little one out, but that little one is determined to stay in.

 

Damn, this stuff makes me sound crazier than I am.

 

Nevertheless, it’s pretty accurate at the moment. My little guy is upset and how he deals with that is completely withdrawing and refusing to acknowledge the world. It has been an ongoing battle since last week for a couple reasons, but the adult in me was able to navigate it eventually. Yesterday though,  after a meeting he went running in and he won’t come out at all.

 

It’s been very hard for me to normalize my weekly therapy trips. I have a routine where 95% of my appointments are right after work on Thursdays. I tend to take the same route to get to the office. I had to do that when I started or I wasn’t going to be able to get myself to go. I just had to make it a habit so that my brain just came to expect it. Another way that I have normalized it is I talk about some of it. I know people that see this same old white dude, hell one of them recommended him to me.  So, we end up talking about it. Especially when we find out we have somehow ended up with the same damned homework assignment for that week.

 

…apparently this can make others uncomfortable? Which really confused me, because we have never talked about the all out details of our appointments out loud. I am not an open book at all, that has never been my style. Talking about some parts conversationally, including making people laugh that I can remember their appointments, was normalizing for me. It was just like it was any other topic one person might talk about.

 

This is apparently bad and is oversharing. It is bad for boundaries.

 

Which okay, I can get it but only half way. It was mainly two of us, sometimes a couple of the others who also see this old white dude, and it was rarely with others. We would just talk sometimes because isn’t that what you do with people  you trust?

 

So, now my little guy hears this and he practically runs backwards, grabbing things along the way, and throwing himself into this closet. Jeez, writing this out makes me think I’m crazier but the old white dude has explained it’s fine. Maybe he’s crazy, but anyway… so I have this little guy and he’s upset and so very angry. This stupid interaction, even though the adult here is differentiating that this is something on the others, is reinforcing that the little one can only expect bad from other people. He can’t trust, because trust hurts him in the end.
I have no idea how to fix this right now. I feel like I’m slipping backwards and losing traction. I’m so tired of three steps forward, two steps back.

Wait, I have What?

I am slowly working on the process of attempting to slow my mind down when it gets triggered into a memory years ago. I used to think how my mind would send me back was just normal, it was just “Oh this event X reminds me of something similar like Y.” I used to think of it in terms of how whenever I hear Blue Christmas sung by Elvis, I remember helping my grandmother decorate and make candy. So I thought that how my mind would send me back to bad things as well was just like that.

 

Well, I was wrong.

 

I started going to therapy at the end of March, beginning of April. At the end of June I had asked, jokingly at first, my old white dude what he thought my diagnosis was so far. Major Depressive Disorder, recurrent Moderate. That was to be expected. Wasn’t even the least bit surprised there. Then he tells me another. I wasn’t expecting it at all, in any way, shape, or form. My old white dude tells me that I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I’m like, “Wait, what?.” See, we hear about soldiers and people in war zones having PTSD. People with big traumatic events get PTSD, so how can I have it? That’s just how my brain took in that information. So he started explaining why. In theory it makes sense to me, but there are days when I think he has to be the crazy one.

It still doesn’t feel like what I have going on in my brain fits. I know it’s kind of screwed up of me to sit here and be like, “I don’t deserve that” cause nobody deserves to have it. I just don’t feel like nothing bad enough happened to me. However, after listening to the old white dude tell me that mine is compounded over a large portion of my life.. I can look at it a bit differently.

It honestly boggles my mind when I stop and think about it. The more I think about it, the more sense my old white dude makes. At the same time, it sometimes really screws with me. I’m trying to find balance and acceptance within my own mind. It’s not going too well, but I am trying. I blame the upcoming holidays for most of my current brain fog.

Who has the control?

“You’re a good kid.”

 

This phrase was brought up in therapy the other day. We had been talking about inner child things and it really took me by surprise. Instantly I started racking my brain to try and figure out if I had heard that before. My brain completely went out to the races on trying to find that phrase in a prior engagement.

 

I couldn’t find it.

 

I don’t know what to do with that phrase. It kind of has mind skipping around over and over. I’m trying to differentiate between myself and everyone else. But the problem I’m having is, I can’t put the pause button on that phrase. I want to find somewhere where it was said to me and it was honest. I’m trying to notice the damned emotions, I’m trying to name the damned emotions, but I am having so much difficulty being non-judgmental about the emotions.

 

I wanted to be me. I wanted to be a good kid, but to be that good kid I wasn’t allowed to be me.  So I wasn’t the good kid, at least not in my head. I can’t remember ever feeling like I was a good kid.  That feeling has followed me into adulthood. I’m screwed up from it. I’m going to admit that. I should have been taking care of this years and years ago, but I didn’t have the ability and I wasn’t ready to face it.
So now I’m facing it and it feels like there is an adult part of me and a child part of me. It feels like an all out war internally. I’m not sure who has more control at this point.

Honesty is Dangerous

I wanted to play baseball…and so I ended up in softball. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but I dealt with it because I wanted to play. My father helped out, he  helped coach a lot of my teams. It isn’t  surprising that I ended up loving the position that is the most well, boyish. I loved being a catcher and I started doing that in my very first season. It was the one time I could be rough and tumble…and it was even encouraged. It was the closest I was ever going to get to playing football. Father dearest had very strong convictions that because I was in a female body that I was not allowed to play football, because girls didn’t do that. 

Inside myself, I thought that there must be something wrong with me. I felt like a boy and I saw my male cousins playing the way I wanted to. So I didn’t understand why I wasn’t supposed to play like that. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t allowed to act the way I was feeling. I realized pretty quickly though, that I was supposed to be acting a certain way. I was supposed to be the ‘good little girl’ that they were all expecting me to be. I was supposed to be quiet and smart. Which, I was quiet and smart for the most part… but half of that was just because I was an introvert who hated people from a young age. They used to joke that I was five going on thirty. I didn’t understand why they thought it was so funny. On one hand they were thrilled that I would rather read, but on the other they wanted me to be socializing with other children, mainly girls. They wanted me to see how I was supposed to be behaving. Yea, that backfired.

It didn’t work how they wanted. I still wasn’t acting how most girls were acting. Mind you, I knew why, but still was not explaining it to anyone. That ship had sailed and I knew it wasn’t okay. What did happen with this, was now I was being policed by peers and my family. It’s awful to be made well aware that you do not fit in and you do not belong. I knew I was smart, that was already setting me to the side. School didn’t help that, because in elementary I was in enrichment classes for the “smart” kids a couple times a week. When I got into high school, I wasn’t given a choice and I was put directly onto the Academic track. I knew that I was never going to always fit in with everyone. I was a nerd and I was in band, both in junior high and then senior high marching band. I was okay with this. What wasn’t fun was the bullying that goes along with being a not-skinny, academic, closeted-queer in a rural high school. Again, I have been a dot of blue in a red sea for a very long time.

I never really talked about it with anyone. I just… I accepted it. I had shit self-esteem, still do actually. So I took this as they could all see what was wrong with me and I deserved it. Obviously there had to be something wrong, right? If it wasn’t wrong, I would have been able to be open and honest about it years ago when I realized what I felt inside. I had known for years how I felt, but I also had known for most of those years that I wasn’t able to talk about it. When you can’t talk about something because people will react badly, that means it’s not something you should have. Very childish way of thinking about things, but it had cemented very well into my developing mind.

So I tried to assimilate into what I should be in the groups I was in. I was a band geek, that was fine. Hilariously, I didn’t get teased much about that at all because most of us could flit between the different groups. So, I had very good friends there and I tried to fit more into the molds they were in. I really perfected putting my mask on every morning while I was in school. I was never really honest with anyone. Again, I had learned early on that being honest could be very, very dangerous. I didn’t want to mess around with that and have it blow up in my face. I played it safe. People still called me things that, while they did have some ounces of truth in them, were not something that I was even accepting of myself at that time. So I tried harder. I tried to just, drop all the things I knew to be true about myself and fit into whatever I was supposed to be fitting into. It was exhausting… and is probably part of why I should have been in therapy since about 14 at the latest.  Between school and family life, I certainly picked up quite a few bad coping skills.

Who Am I Now? No Idea.

Who am I now?

I still don’t know a lot, but I do know this much about myself. I am not, nor was I ever, the ‘good little girl’ that my family wanted and expected me to be.  Because of that and needing to hide it, my process of thought is that I still cannot come out and say that because if I do, then I will be left alone. I will lose the love that I am supposed to have because families are supposed to love each other or something like that. I will lose the love of my parents and I will be abandoned from my familial life. Yes, it is very childlike to think this way and I do see that, however it’s been cemented in my mind for years now.  

This way of thinking actually causes issues with me being able to accept any kind of affection at first. It can take quite some time for me to get to a level where I am willing to accept affection and not think there is a reason behind it other than they want to give it to me. It’s challenging to let affection in and it’s something that I’m going to have to work on. It feels wrong to me, like I don’t deserve it. I didn’t get it from my family really at all that I can remember. I didn’t get it from my parents. I didn’t get it from either of them and the question was asked who did I want it from most. I honestly can’t remember any more because I got it into my head that it didn’t matter because I wasn’t going to get it.

If I think about it more, I am unsure that I wanted to get this kind of affection from my mother. Her and I do not mesh at all. It’s not oil and water, it’s basically gasoline and gasoline. Our relationship for the most part has been marked with explosions and an inability to see eye to eye.  She has never been able to understand who I am/wanted to be. I have yet to be able to understand where she is coming from with anything that she has done or said. We have never been able to understand each other. My teenage years were… difficult on both of us. I couldn’t stand her and as she has said in the last year, she couldn’t stand me. That hasn’t really changed.

I think I may have wanted affection from my father. It was fine when I was really little. He and I would roughhouse and play. It was fun. I enjoyed it. I was an only child, so in some ways my father was my playmate. I am so much like my father that it isn’t funny at all. It’s amusing to look at him and I, because I am growing up to be like him. I look like him, I talk like him, I share the same mannerisms as him. But, because I was not born as a male in body, the roughhousing had to stop. The way we played had to stop. You can’t roughhouse and play with a little girl the way we would. It just wasn’t allowed. It just wasn’t right.

And so it stopped. It stopped without any explanation to me. It just ended. I would try to play and I would get brushed off. I would be ignored. Suddenly I was without a playmate and I didn’t know why. I felt abandoned. I didn’t know what I did to lose my father’s attention. He was never distant or really cold toward me, but I kept not understanding why we couldn’t continue to play the way we had been. Maybe I did something wrong was the only thing I could think of. It’s something that has followed me since.