Sing Fly Love

I am batshit. Certified, in fact. I’m diagnosed with almost 10 different DSM codes; most significantly of which is Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID); more commonly known as “multiple personalities.” I have been writing these posts in my mind for so long and I have never found a way to get them out of my head in a way that felt authentic. Now that I have found what I feel is the right path, I feel this flood of words pouring out of me in a way I have dreamed of for so long. I resist the urge to edit and delete…to be apologetic for my tendency to love the “sound” of my own “voice.” I will, I’m sure, at times become pedantic and boring; as this is my general tendency at all times in all forms of communication. Truly. I’m tedious as fuck.

I thought I’d start out by explaining how I came up with the title of this site. The picture above is a drawing my sister made and that is her handwriting. This is the sketch we took with us to the tattoo artist when we got our matching tattoos to mark our love and solidarity as we entered what we knew would be one of the most challenging experiences together. My sister is older than me by three years and three days and she has been my rock since I was old enough to form memories and, although I’m a big fan of tattoos, she had only gotten one small one on her wrist prior to getting this one with me. It was one of the more significant times of my life because not only was my super responsible and mature sister joining me in getting permanently marked with a matching tattoo, she designed it and it was in her handwriting, it carried several very special meanings and it it’s meaning has provided me guidance out of dark corners many times since the day I had it etched into my skin.

Here is a picture of our actual tattoos. My sister had hers placed over her heart and mine is on my left forearm.

Our paternal grandmother is the first significant inspiration for the tattoo. She was one of the only true sources of light for me as I was growing up and I spent many happy weekends and summers feeling very loved and very real on her farm. She baked fresh bread every day and I ate it with her homemade strawberry preserves; never imaging there would be a day without Grandmother and without strawberry preserves on warm soft bread. I’m sure I’ll talk about her more at some point but if you’d like to read an old blog post I wrote about here a few years ago (while I was deep in the rabbit hole) you can find it here. (It is actually one of my favorite writings and I cry every time I read it.) In the warmer months, Grandmother liked to take us on walks down the quiet gravel roads in the evenings after the farm chores were finished and tell us the names of the plants, trees, animals, insects and birds as we saw them. She was always particularly fond of the redbirds and during winter we would often put together a jigsaw puzzles. I have a memory that that I am pretty sure is real of a large round puzzle with a beautiful dark green background and a gold edge and a brightly detailed redbird in the center. Those memories are so precious to me.

In 1990, my Grandmother lost our family farm to the banks as part of the Savings and Loan collapse that claimed so many farmers’ land during the late 80’s and early 90’s. Soon afterwards she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and died in 2003ish after becoming completely immobilized by her tremors. I don’t want to talk about that. it makes me sad and I get scared.

At some point in the months or years before we got our tattoos, my sister was visiting our hometown area and decided to drive out and see the farm for the first time since we lost it. It isn’t an easy piece of property to find; I’m not good at estimating but i would guess it’s located almost 60 miles from any major highway and 10 miles from the closest state highway. Getting to the farm was a matter of turning off the state highway and then taking a series of turns onto unmarked gravel roads that were edged by fields with crops and livestock that frequently changed, so my sister became disoriented and almost gave up. But (and this next part is really a bid deal because my sister is one of the most pragmatic, sensible and non-mystical person I’ve ever known) suddenly a redbird flew directly in front of her car as she was approaching an intersection with another gravel road and she decided to follow the bird. And a couple of miles later another redbird flew in front of her car at a turn and she followed it too. I don’t remember for sure how many times this happened but each turn she took was in response to a redbird showing her the way and the path lead her directly to the farm. I remember her incredulity when she told me this story and even now I get a lump in my throat when I tell it.

I was visiting my sister in Colorado when we decided to design and get our tattoos. The decision wasn’t random but was came about as a reaction to the news our mom was dying. My mom will be a big theme in my posts so I won’t go into detail here but I will summarize in saying (1) her relationship with my sister and I both was fucked up it its own unique way, (2) we had suspected for some time that she was ill but she wasn’t talking and (3) just fuck and holy shit. I can’t express to you here the way the news set us on edge; knowing that years of tension, painful thi I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT MOM THIS SHIT MAKES ME SAD

….Okay…well…that was another “part” of me jumping in with an opinion and I guess I won’t go into detail about that. But just summarize and say my sister and I knew Mom’s illness and terminal diagnosis were going to be a big deal despite her absence from our lives and that we were going to need to lean on each other and promise that, no matter what, we were sticking together and coming out the other side of it stronger. So the tattoo became the symbol of that pledge. If you’ll notice, the two redbirds (representing me and my sister) are sitting on the branch facing each other.

Earlier in my visit to my sister’s, before we received the news, I had introduced my sister and her wife to one of my favorite movies they had never seen. (It’s called Finding Forrester and if you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it.) In the movie there is a quote of a fictitious poem about the redbird “The only duty of the red flamed spring, is to do nothing more, than to love, fly and sing.” For years I thought they were quoting an actual piece of published poetry in the movie and was so shocked to find out this quote was part of the screenplay because, in my opinion, it is fucking brilliant. And, having just watched the movie and hearing this quote about how a redbird (which is our symbol for Grandmother) lives life so gracefully by simply loving, flying and singing (our mother, in a different life, would have been famous for her beautiful singing voice and she raised us singing – my sister and I both sing and have been members of womens’ choruses)…well, that poem became very real to us in that moment.

My tattoo is highly visible and I get a lot of comments and compliments on it. Many people want to know it’s meaning and it’s hard to summarize all that it means into a quick response that doesn’t bring forth tears and the others from within me. I say “My sister designed it and that is me and her” or “My sister and I got this tattoo when our mom was dying from cancer” or “It’s for my Grandmother.” But none of these answers are really answers. But, as I’ve finally learned at this late stage in live, not every stranger who asks a questions needs an answer. Sometimes, I’ve decided, I just need to show people my message as it’s written and let them read it for themselves; hoping they will gain from it something of value that will bring light into their lives and bring purpose to this little light of mine.

Or maybe…instead…I’ll create an online journal and tell the whole story about how I am so fucked in the head. Maybe if I write down everything I think, I’ll start to make more sense to myself. Maybe I’ll be able to make progress in my “integration therapy” and overcome DID. Maybe, just maybe, my motto will become more than just a tattoo and I’ll finally be able to just sing, fly and love.

I Am Ready

It’s time. I need to let these this roll. I have these things I want to write. I am afraid to say them because I’m afraid I’ll Bret in trouble. Even as I let these words move from the safe space in my mind where they’ve whirled for so long into this big sticky gooey and completely entrapping World Wide Web, I can feel my pulse quicken and my stomach tighten. And the scariest part of all of this is that I never know if something I want to speak one day feels like my own voice on another day.

Because I’ll slide right from thinking I have some profound shit to say to telling myself that none of this is real, that all of this is made up and an act. Maybe before I speak, I should find out. Use the money Mom left me to invest in some serious mental therapy…really answer this question and get back to weekly meetings with my therapist. Join yoga again. Go to a hypnotist. Find a community. Write. Focus on the only thing that matters. Dig for the diamond. Hold myself accountable for doing what I need to do in order to do what I’m meant to do. Whatever that is.

Well…I will put it here. I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be doing with it when it’s time to renew in a couple months. I have a few people but this page (I’m assuming by accident) once in a while and I’m delighted to see so many visitors from countries other than the United States. Somehow that feels safer and even more anonymous.

I need to find out if I’m a borderline personality who spends a majority of my time carefully creating and curating a nice replica of a woman with fairly complicated case of dissociative identity disorder or am I truly a We? Is there really more than one person experiencing life and existence within this meat coated skeleton? And if so, who are We when we come together?

I am ready to find out.

Ah…So That’s What Happened

I found a note on my phone that I don’t remember writing. It was written in the middle of the night a couple of months ago….the night one of my alters took my body out on a Lyft ride for nicotine, caffeine, refined sugar and (apparently?) some hot nasty sex. Three out of four targets were acquired…

It was weird finding the note…I don’t remember writing it at all. Yes, it’s a good thing (in context) that I have more answers about my alter’s motivations in doing things without me. But it’s always unsettling to be reminded of the context itself. Like… I have accepted the diagnosis of having multiple personalities but it is still so spooky, so unbelievably unsettling, to see signs of having been absent while someone else was here…using my phone to leave me a note about it. 

Numerous times over the past eight hours, I have priced out the ride to the convenient store and back. There’s nothing I need from the store but there are many things I want.  Things that I want again, that is.  I have worked hard these last three years to give up the many things I thought I needed to give up, including caffeine and nicotine and chocolate.  And, of course, I miss my weed and my sex. Tonight, I want them all.  I want to drink. I want to smoke. I want to suck melted chocolate off my fingertips.  I want to feel the release of my mind as I smoke God’s psychotropic medics. I want to fuck somebody in a way that threatens to ruin us both.  

As I lie here thinking about reclaiming all my old joys and having a little reunion with those things I’ve always enjoyed so much I had the sudden thought of, “Why did I ever think it was best for me if I gave up all these things about myself that I have always enjoyed? “  Is it because I don’t have a car to drive me to the store anymore? Because I don’t have a hook up to buy my weed anymore? Because I feel old and fat and ugly and I don’t know how to find sex without my sex appeal?

I want so much to do all these things and maybe even find a little bud and smoke it  as the cherry on top of my sun sundae. The person I am in the mood I’m feeling these days, I really can’t understand why I gave it all up? Why did I give up everything I enjoyed do it? Why did I give up smoking so that I could live longer? I don’t wanna live. What did I give a chocolate, so I can eat better?  I like to enjoy what I eat and I really enjoy chocolate. Why don’t I have any weed here with me? I love to get high. And why in the world that I decide I needed to stop having sex? We’re never having gone more than 30 days without it most of my adult life including some of the years that weren’t quite adult, why am I now gone three years without feeling another’s touch?  When did I stop scratching like it with a variety of scratchers?

Well I’m sure there are days I’m very proud of myself for having to give up these things I enjoy so much and even understand the reason why I did. I’m certain they are all some very lofty achievements in therapy where I’m figuring it all out so I can live a longer life. A healthier life. A happier life. But right now, in this moment while I’m thinking and writing these words, I don’t wanna live a long life. I don’t wanna live a healthier life. And I have a happier life when I’m doing those things that make me happy which are, quite coincidently, the very things I’ve given up. So I’m going to be happy, why did I give up everything that made me happy in order to get the things I never wanted anyway?

Teddy

Teddy was a two-foot teddy bear from before my earliest memories in childhood who stayed with me almost my entire life. He had cardinal red fur with white hears, nose and paws. I don’t think he was an expensive toy…he made a plastic-y crinkling sound when I squished him and his fur was cheap and stiff and rubbed off in spots. Teddy was the typical toy from the 1970’s when mass production and plastic were all the rage. I have no idea who gave Teddy to me or how he became so important to me. But I have faint memories of loving the bear as my familiar and my closest friend and, in many ways, as an extension of my self that I was already learning was unloveable.

When I look back at how much I loved Teddy, I am also remembering how I treated Teddy and I feel the shame rise up inside of me. When my Little self raged at a world that scared me, I would punch and kick my teddy bear while he continued to grin and look me in the eye, his little crinkling sound his only response to my betrayal. When my sexuality was prematurely triggered by abuse, I would rub myself against Teddy and touch him in his “dirty” places. When my badness became too much to carry alone, I used my young sewing skills to surgically implant goodness into Teddy in way I couldn’t for myself but so desperately wished I could.

By the time I was graduating high school and putting Teddy in an old metal footlocker to be forgotten, his head was precariously wobbly from the number of times I had opened his throat, inserted cotton balls soaked in my mother’s perfume and sewn it back together again. After years in my personal boxing ring of childhood anger, his flattened nose was sunken into his head and his body would bend completely in half because the stuffing in his belly had long since been displaced. Teddy was the holder of my love and trust, the object of my premature sexual explorations, the recipient of my emotions, the carrier of my shame and the holder of my many secrets. He knew everything about me and yet he always kept his eyes ready to meet mine and he held onto his smile…and he never told a soul.

I barely remember throwing him away one night about 4 years ago and thinking it was silly I had kept him for so long. At the time, in that mood, he was just a stinky, crinkly and wobbly toy that took up too much room and didn’t serve a purpose worthy of being brought along. Today, even in my minimalist lifestyle, Teddy has a place within me. I miss him and I carry him with me just as I did for so many years in that old footlocker. He sits in my mind, flopped over and worn out, no longer crinkling but still smiling for me. When I tossed him out, I thought I could throw away the secrets and shame that he carried for me. I’m certain that if Teddy could have talked, he would have told me it would never work…and maybe he would forgive me for thinking it would.

Lies I Told Myself

One of the byproducts of my divided mind is the divided pieces and parts of the life I lived. Compartmentalization is a natural offshoot, if not a necessary one, when you have multiple distinct personalities living within yourself. While my life today is spent almost exclusively in the compartment of “isolation for the purpose of integration,” in the past I’ve had friends I would pour my heart out to one week and wouldn’t know the next, clothes I would hind hanging in my closet but couldn’t imagine wearing, conversations I had on Tuesday but couldn’t recall on Wednesday. I guess this isn’t really “compartmentalization” as it would normally be used in terms of how a person partitions off their mind and life. Actually…maybe it’s exactly the same. I just googled “departmentalization as a defense mechanism” and it was defined there as “Psychologists define compartmentalization as a defense mechanism that we use to avoid the anxiety that arises from the clash of contradictory values or emotions.” Huh….go figure.

One of the ways in which my separation of the parts of my life was highly evident was my writing spaces. I had two free wordpress blogs where I would write my thoughts and often wondered why they were so different from each other…one that my family and the friends of my small hometown knew about and one they didn’t. One of the thoughts I’ve had so often in the past year is a wondering of how I could pull these together somehow…a way to let my past writing coexist with my present in a known way…kinda like what I’m trying to do with my integration therapy. But part of my struggle in these thoughts is that the majority of what I wrote in the past wasn’t authentic. Each story was based on a kernel of truth but comprised mostly on a public relations spin…a way to explain myself and my behavior in the event I found myself needing a cover story for another big lapse in “cover” from the story line I so desperately needed others to believe about me. While my goal here on this blog is 100% authenticity for the purpose of telling myself my own true story, my old blogs were 90% spin for the purpose of creating a fictional (but believeable) narrative for others. To say the least…they are cringey to read now.

The more prolific blog of my two past writing spaces was the one I created after last husband kicked me and my son out of his house and left us homeless. It was created largely as an effort to share my thoughts with my soon-to-be-ex but was dressed up as a cathartic adventure in healing from his betrayal. Over time, as I fumbled and fucked my way through a messy four years in my tiny home town with a malicious rumor mill and cold societal rankings in which reputation was everything, it became my alter ego…a calculated dressed up image of self to distract the ever watching eyes and repurpose the ever wagging tongues. But as I go back now and read through my stories, I can see so clearly the lies within them and feel the need to expose them and own them…to myself. So here is the first, of what may be many, expose of my past lies…

I wrote many stories about my “Peace Sanctuary.” a 9 acre timbered hilltop I purchased in the Missouri Ozarks immediately after my youngest child’s graduation from high school. I wrote stores about how beautiful it was, how hard I worked to get the home on the property cleaned up for living there, how happy I was there and my “wonderful” neighbors. The dangers in telling all the lies and half truths that I told, in my blogs and in conversations with others, is that I would start to believe myself. Even today, despite what I know deep down is the truth about my short time on the Ozark hilltop, I find myself missing it…not missing the real experience but missing the fictional one I created. I find myself wishing I could still hear the birds, smell the clean air, mingle with the kind neighbors and revel in the peace and quietness of it all. But…none of these things actually ever happened and it’s time that I told myself the truth.

I had bought the property in one “mood” and moved there in another – once again following behind myself trying to act like I understood my own decisions and was totally on board with it all. My time at my “peace” sanctuary was filled with suicidal ideation, regret, betrayal, and general unpleasantness. I bought the property the same day I saw it…determined to find a place to run to to escape my hometown. I took along with my my “recovering” meth addicted step-cousin with whom I had previously had a completely whack sexual fling. Once we were there, he pressured me for sex and money and after only a matter of weeks, he left me there alone and returned to our hometown to smoke his pipe. His grandpa showed up shortly after and visited a couple of times to “check on me” but eventually ended up sitting too close to me on the couch and getting handsy. Shortly after I ended his welcome, I met my three organic farmer neighbors who seemed great at first but quickly revealed themselves to be flat earthers and Trump loyalists. The property was infested, like literally infested, with ticks, chiggers, spiders, and horse flies and I was terrified to go outside. Most of the time, when I did, I set on my tiny little front steps and chain smoked cigarettes and despaired at dismal view of my yard that received very little sunlight. My dog was literally allergic to everything there and almost died until the local veterinarian put her on an expensive daily dose of steroids. The contractor I hired to remodel the home turned out to be a drunk misogynist who, despite being married, decided he wanted to make a life with me and refused to leave the property until forced. Once he was gone, the well pump died and one of the contractors who came out to give me an estimate on fixing it threatened me because I hired someone else. My dog died. I left almost everything I owned behind and became homeless again…eventually selling the property for a loss only two years after I purchased it.

What I have so faithfully called my “Peace Sanctuary” for so many years was actually one of the most painful and confusing experiences of my life. I’m still homeless and have been traveling around the US couch surfing and staying in Airbnb’s. I haven’t landed anywhere since my unfortunate landing on that hilltop and I’m starting to realize it’s because I never want to land wrong again…that my experience in the Ozarks scarred me so deeply that the idea of settling into a new home and being trapped there has left me wandering. Despite all of this, I can also see the good that has been redeemed out of the bad. Without it, I would never have reached rock bottom and asked myself “why does my life keep falling apart?” I never would have accepted my DID diagnosis and started integration therapy. I never would have found….peace.

A Time to Grieve

It’s been a while since I’ve written. Actually, it’s been a while since I’ve done anything. Since my last post documenting my unconscious excursion into the night, I’ve been seeking unconsciousness as an escape from existence. On average, for the past several weeks, I have been sleeping at least 18 hours a day…usually more.

My physical health has decayed and even walking to the bathroom causes my heart rate to soar and my breathing to become labored. The 5 minute walk to the beach to see the sunset seems impossible now. While I have forced myself out of bed a handful of times with the intention of turning things around, I find the pull of gravity on my upright body to be insufferable when combined with the weight of my memories and the state of the present world around me. Without fail, I acquiesce to the desire to climb back under my covers and take shelter from reality. And, also without fail, sleep brings me the oblivious comfort that I need; a place to stay away from all that is real and unbearable.

I know this isn’t a good longterm plan. I’ve been honest with my psychotherapist about my escape into sleep and, while I can tell she is concerned, she has been graceful in letting me frame it in a “self care” narrative. And perhaps it is…even as unhealthy as it is quickly becoming for me. I have spent a lot of years fighting to survive this world in any way I can. From the young age of five years old, I have found this existence to be too much…too frightening and too heavy to withstand consciously. For the majority of my life, I found escape into other parts of my mind.

For over 45 years, I kept my eyes open in another person’s consciousness while I slept. In my efforts to fuse my broken mind back together, I’ve sealed off my traditional escape routes from reality and, like water, have found another. I’m grateful my therapist recognizes that shaming this new escape route would leave me with no options for survival…that I need time to adjust…that I need a time to grieve.

A time to grieve for the young child who was molested by someone she can’t quite remember, for the young girl who was raped by a stranger, for the teenager who has isn’t sure if she seduced her own father and for the adult who was slut shamed and became a slave to her own damaged sexuality and sense of self worth and dignity.

A time to grieve for the young girl whose mother called her “Big Dummy” and “hollow leg” and made her doubt her own intelligence and created a lifelong struggle with food addition and a distorted body image, for the teenager who tried to tell her mother about the men who had hurt her and was told she was seeking attention, for the young woman who embarked on a life of rebellion and addiction as armor against the impossibility of ever being enough while always being too much.

A time to grieve for the young woman who thought she could become the mother she always wanted but never felt worthy of the role, for the empty nested mother who recognized with excruciating clarity how far she’s fell short from goal of being a good mom and how her adult children struggle as a direct result of being raised by her, for the lonely old woman who spends every holiday alone in a life absent of the kind of family and belonging she always hoped to have someday.

A time to grieve a physical body that has only become familiar and precious after years of abuse, the lungs and airways so obviously ruined by the decades of smoking, the digestive system paralyzed after years of bingeing and purging to feed a hunger that couldn’t be reached, the arthritic joints and weak muscles that bear witness to their misuse and neglect.

A time to grieve the end of four marriages, the blur of the multitude of lovers, the betrayal of friendships, the misplacement of trust, the unfulfilled livelong quest for relation and belonging, the anguish of relentless isolation and loneliness.

A time to grieve a life that feels without purpose other than suffering and regret, a lifetime spent seeking career and connection only to end jobless and alone, an existence that cumulates into a seemingly endless series of meaningless days

A time to grieve the lost opportunities, the imprint of shame, the broken legacy.

A time to grieve the misfortune of being born.

A time to grieve being me.

Breadcrumbs, Cigarettes & Diet Coke

A few months ago, while staying in an Airbnb on the Oregon coast, I woke up one morning to find my car parked half in the yard and half in the driveway. While anyone who saw my dew covered car that morning might have guessed it’s owner was either drunk or suffering a coronary when parking it, my truth is much harder to understand. You see…I don’t drink alcohol and I haven’t (yet) suffered a heart attack. It’s just that occasionally my body goes out and does things without me.

I’ve gone into detail in past posts about my journey and current endeavor to heal and mend my mind in overcoming dissociative identity disorder, so I won’t bore myself with more explanations of what I often struggle to understand. My life and the reality within which I live is surreal and often unexplainable… It is what it is…whatever it is. This blog and the stories I write myself are my breadcrumbs…little snippets of aha’s and jots of questions that serve as markers and points of reference in my search for my truth. Sometimes, when my life makes no sense at all, just writing about the things that don’t add up solves the equation or at least creates a new variable…a placeholder to be considered later or shared with my psychotherapist.

Today’s breadcrumb is about last night. I have very few distinct memories about last night but quite a few more fuzzy dream-like memories. I remember brushing my teeth and undressing for bed. I remember reading in the too dim light of my bedside lamp. I remember turning off the light and positioning my pillows to go to sleep. These are “real” memories that I remember making. But after these distinct recollections, my memories are more dreamlike. Without the proof this morning otherwise, I would have no doubt that I closed my eyes and fell asleep for the next 12 hours. It would be hard to convince me that my dream memories aren’t just strange dreams. It would be hard to believe that after my light was turned off and my pillows were fluffed, part of me went to sleep but another part ordered a Lyft to the 24-hour convenience store down the road.

While I had gone to bed planning to wake up for an early morning yoga class, I woke up this afternoon with the taste of cigarettes in my mouth, the smell of vomit in my nose and a “guess what you did last night” scavenger hunt set out for me. There were peanut butter cup wrappers on my nightstand, a 12-pack of diet coke with one missing in my kitchen, two packs of cigarettes with one cigarette missing on my counter and an email from Lyft thanking me for my 4:00 a.m. ride. And sitting by the front door is a garbage bag of vomit-soaked paper towels along with the latch hook rug I just finished making and placed by the side of my bed last night.

All this, while puzzling in itself, is even more so considering I quit smoking and drinking caffeine years ago and quit eating processed sugar weeks ago. Since my scare with the bug man a couple of weeks ago, I haven’t felt “right” and have remained agitated and angry. With this disruption in my peace, combined with the scary political events of the last week, my old habits have been revisiting my thoughts often but, until last night, I’ve been able to talk myself out of doing anything about it. Just hours before I went to bed last night, I was googling convenience stores near me and checking prices for rides but didn’t give in to the temptation. When I went to bed last night, I felt good about overcoming. I felt worn out but strong. I felt in charge.

While the experience of my body being out doing things without me is scary as hell, it isn’t new to me. In the past, I am not sure how I managed to reconcile my reality and accept what I didn’t remember until I was reminded to remember. Waking up next to someone with whom I didn’t fall asleep and reaching down to find my vulva swollen and tender from sex I could only vaguely remember having. Waking up alone with messages inked onto my arms, legs and feet with sharpie and in a handwriting that isn’t my own but sometimes shows up in my journals. Waking up with entry stamps on my hands from nightclubs or concerts I didn’t remember going to but could vaguely remember hearing the beat of the music. Waking up with scratches or bruises from injuries I didn’t remember getting but could vaguely remember feeling. Waking up to realities, that were dreams, but were realities all the same.

There is one memory from last night that feels less like a dream than the others. I remember sitting on the edge of my bed telling someone (myself?) that I was a grown woman and could go get myself cigarettes, chocolate and some Diet Coke if I wanted cigarettes, chocolate and some Diet Coke. Admittedly, I’m grateful the argument didn’t include a demand for the touch of a man. Looking at the driver’s profile for the handsome gentleman who was my Lyft driver last night, that past addiction is definitely a demand that could have been easily fulfilled. Were I twenty years younger and not suffering from hemorrhoids, history tells me there is a pretty good chance I would have given my driver more than a good tip. But I didn’t and for this reason, I’m grateful for my gray hair and chronic constipation.

This little peep into the decision making that preceded my dream walking feels like a big step. I may not approve of the outcome of the argument I had with myself last night…but I can remember having it. And this feels like a breadcrumb that will take me somewhere I need to go.

Shaken to the Core

I’m sitting in my favorite chair in silence; feeling relaxed and safe, wondering what I will do today. It’s warm outside and I can feel the sun through the sliding glass door next to me. I can faintly hear the sound of children playing in the courtyard just beneath my balcony. The refrigerator hums loudly in the next room and my stomach rumbles echo around my tiny condo.

Suddenly there is a knock at the door. Not a light knuckled knock but a heavy fisted knock. An urgent authoritative knock. My anxiety goes full tilt immediately. I don’t know a soul within a thousand miles of where I’m staying and there were no grocery deliveries scheduled for today. I sit still and try to slow my breathing, hoping it is just a lost delivery or a confused neighbor. But within a few short seconds, the pounding at the door comes again but louder and harder. Boom! Boom!! Boom!!! My compliance is expected…is demanded.

My mind is screaming “Danger! Danger! Run! Run! Run!” but there is nowhere to go. This is the only door and my only way out is through it, unless I want to jump off the deck. I consider jumping for a moment. I try to stand but my feet, covered in thick winter socks, can’t get a grip on the floor and I fall back. The old leather chair, only moments before a host of peaceful solitude and contemplation, betrays my presence with a loud pop and groan as it catches me. I can feel my pulse in my temples and suddenly my throat is constricting; forcing me to swallow over and over as the adrenaline starts coursing through me and I shake and perspire. My eyes dart around the room looking for a place to hide. My mind calculates how long it would take to get to the kitchen to grab a steak knife. And then I hear a key in the lock.

Hearing the first lock click open, I find my footing and run toward the kitchen. My mind is dueling now; arguing “Get a knife and slice this motherfucker!” and “Don’t overreact and be an embarrassment.” Just as I round the corner into the hallway leading to the door, I hear the key again and can see the deadbolt turning. I freeze as the door to my private rental slams open three inches and is stopped by the flimsy chain lock. I feel faint. The door is slammed into the chain again. I’m going to die.

A man’s voice calls out “Pest control!” I remain frozen and don’t respond but I’m certain the stranger standing only a few feet away can hear my loud heartbeat.

Just as quickly as the door was opened, it’s shut and locked again from the outside. I hear heavy footsteps walking away and then the same fist pounding on the door to the condo next to me and the muffled announcement again. Then I hear the next door open and the footsteps moving down the hallway just on the other side of the wall next to me. I still can’t move. I don’t know where to go. Do I go back to my chair? Do I run out the door? Do I just lie down here on the cold tile hallway floor and wait for my world to stop spinning?

It’s been eight hours since the bug man came and obliterated my carefully cultured peace. I still feel jittery; as if I’ve had several cups of coffee and have something I need to get done. I am hearing all of the sounds from the other renters as they come and go outside; every footstep, car door and voice requires vetting again. I am nauseous and can’t eat; my throat is still working to swallow what isn’t there. I’m sore and achy; feeling the muscles in my neck bunching as my shoulders draw up around my ears. I feel disappointed in my lack of accomplishments today; I stayed under my favorite blanket in my chair for the rest of the day and couldn’t convince my body it would be safe to walk out for the sunset or stretch out on my yoga mat. My jaw hurts; I keep catching myself clenching my teeth and my dental implants feel loosened again. My head hurts. My eyes ache but won’t stop darting around even when I close them. I’m exhausted but I can’t sleep.

I am reliving the memories that created my lifetime of heightened anxiety. My body is remembering the fear and pain from those other times a man demanded compliance and a flimsy chain lock wasn’t there to keep them away. Those places on my journey where here I have lost myself again and again. Today, I am a time traveler… touring my story board of brokenness.

“PTSD: It’s not the person refusing to let go of the past, but the past refusing to let go of the person.” ~Unknown

A Little Note to Tomorrow Me

I don’t want to write this post. Normally I would just figure out a way to rationalize away any reason to actually pick up my laptop and put these thoughts out into the ether. But then, through a recent discovery about myself and after much procrastination, I finally sat down and started this note to myself. Because that’s what this little internet thingy is supposed to be…notes to myself. It started off as a series of letters to an Internet friend – a kind of anonymous experiment in vulnerability through a complete lack of discretion in sharing my deepest and darkest secrets. But then I met my Internet friend in real life and discovered afterwards that my ability to just slit myself open and bend over and show my emotional asshole through writing was shut down when I actually know the other person IRL. So this became a place to post password protected notes for my psychotherapist to supplement my remote sessions. And then finally, after realizing I was paying a small fortune to host a blog that no one reads and upon which I never post, I decided to make this little slice of the Internet my private writing space…a place to leave myself messages to help me remember things about myself as I discover them (As opposed to writing them on my body with pen and sharpie like I have in the past. Nothing like waking up, not knowing what day it is, and finding “DON’T TRUST HIM,” and “HELP” written on my body.)

So in theory, in maintaining this “blog,” I should to be writing a quick note to myself each day so that tomorrow me can remember what today me experienced and thought about and so that day-after-tomorrow-me can remember what today me and tomorrow me experienced and thought about, and so on and so on. A place where I don’t always remember the right word, where the typos run rampant and the thoughts are recorded as willy nilly as they flow through my fractured mind. When I have managed to capture these thoughts out here, it really has been helpful (and admittedly a little cringey) to find hits on my random bend-overs-and-spread-ems…reads by complete strangers who obviously stumble across me through web searches and wordpress links. But then, I remind myself that these are people who don’t know me and that even if they did, I’m done hiding who I really am. I mean, not completely, obliviously. Not even my family and closest family members know anything about this blog despite some fairly insistent probing in the beginning when they learned I was writing again. But between my decision in the beginning to post everything as a first draft and my discovery that I can’t write honestly and authentically when there is a chance someone I know might read it, it seems like my decision to just keep writing to no one in particular is working out nicely…except that I hardly every write.

The more I learn about DID and how my trauma injured mind works, the more I am starting to understand this surreal existence and my own actions or, more often, lack of action. I grew up never getting it right. No matter what I did in the attempt to be “good,” I was always bad and never received any kind of approval with one exception – when I was at my paternal grandmother’s farm. On the farm, where I spent almost every weekend of my young childhood due to my single mother’s social life, I was just me being me and being loved unconditionally for it. But that safe place disappeared when I was only nine years old and my mother remarrried and my new stepdad adopted me and the weekend visits to the farm stopped. From 1979 forward, I don’t have a single memory of just existing and being me without hating myself for it and worrying that I exist wrong. And it was just two years ago, when I finally accepted my diagnosis after denying it for years, that I started this journey of self awareness and saw a glimmer of hope that I might actually feel safe again someday. That’s a 39 years absence of ever once doing anything and feeling good about it…a complete void of finding any kind of personal joy or satisfaction in anything without it being offset by fear or shame. Four decades without a single shred of self esteem or confidence. And when I realize the magnitude of what I’ve survived, if not yet overcome, I find something akin to, dare I say, respect for myself…and maybe even hope for a life before I die.

At the beginning of yoga class this evening, the instructor gave everyone the mantra of “How I do anything is how I do everything” and asked us to meditate on that thought before we started our practice. Usually I let these kinds of “meditations” glide right on by me because survival in my world depends on me NOT thinking too deeply and being distracted as much as possible so that the agonizing shame and grief don’t catch up with me and take my breath away. But tonight the instructor’s words made it through to me and I asked myself “How do I do things?” And, from deep within, as is often the case these days, I heard the answer….”With resistance and a constant running critique.” And suddenly I realized that it’s true…I never want to do anything (even the things I really want to do) because I tell myself I’ll never be able to do it right. And, when I actually do something that needs to be done or that I want to do, I do so with a very loud voice in my head telling me that I’m doing it wrong…that it’s not enough…that I’m not enough. I have, on a mindblowingly regular basis, even chosen to medicate myself and sleep through entire days and weeks so that I could avoid existing…and therefore avoid existing wrong.

This is why I don’t know where I want to live…I don’t want to choose the wrong place and have to move again so I just keep moving from one Airbnb to another….but I’m so homesick. This is why I don’t want to speak to anyone…because I don’t want to say the wrong things…but I’m so lonely. This is why I don’t want to walk out of my door…because I don’t want to do anything in public that I’ll regret…but I’m so tired of being confined. This is why I breathe but don’t exist…because I don’t want to exist wrong…but I’m so ready to live. This is why I don’t write anything…because I don’t want to use the wrong words and be reminded of it later…but I have so much to say.

And tonight, I did. Good girl.

To Be Continued…

It’s easier at the end of the day to lie in bed and think of all the things I did wrong. It’s easy to think of the things that make me sad, bring the waves of shame and sometimes even make me wonder if I should call my Shrink again.

Tonight is one of those nights when even the medication hasn’t given me a reprieve from my thoughts and my negative self talk. I like here in this for myself of things I didn’t do today, all the things I should’ve done but didn’t do, all the things I did wrong, and sometimes, when I’m gonna particularly self damage-inflicting mood, I’ll jump on reddit and start reading all about what is wrong in the world so I can add global anxiety to my list of woes.

I know nothing good comes from this and I know that if I don’t get some sleep and wake up tomorrow at a decent time and actually accomplish some of the things I want to get done, I will start my old familiar cycle of depression; sleeping, binge eating, contemplating suicide and neglecting all personal hygiene and home cleanliness. And the stinkier I become and the more disordered and filthy my home, the faster I will cycle and the deeper I will become entrenched in the depression that threatens to end me.

Those who have never been suicidal can’t possibly understand the reality of actively contemplating and planning how to end life on a daily basis. I envy those people and their innocence. I would love to not be able to imagine having a day when I don’t have to remind myself that my suicide would haunt my children and my sisters. I would love to not have a plan already and to not have to talk myself out of it so often. I would love to live without wanting to die.

LogIcally I know that I have to find a way to love myself, accept myself and be proud of myself at the end of each day and within every given moment before I can heal my fractured mind and find hope for the days coming. Without this hope, there is no reason, no purpose in continuing on…no reason to keep trying. I’m very aware of the fact that the only thing that has kept me here so far is the knowledge that my taking myself out of this world would bring my children more hurt as a direct result of my own actions and choices… something they’ve had enough of in their lives. So I stay alive. But simply existing from day today, staying alive but not living, is just suicidal forbearance. It’s certainly not healing and it’s not hope.

So here I lie, medicated but not asleep and circling the drain of my depression. Tomorrow can be a different story. I know it can be because I’ve written that story over and over and over. I gone into the drain many times and I’ve plunged myself out each time so far…Finding the part of myself tells me I’m doing good and sets little accomplishable goals for me to help me pull myself out. “That’s it. Just brush your hair and teeth. You’ll feel better. Now drink some water and go sit in the sunshine for a little while.” That voice that finds me in the darkness, that has always been me talking to myself with words that didn’t feel like my own, that had always felt like a product of my own insanity coming to save me. Recently, though yet another integration therapy breakthrough, I discovered this voice is a part of me that is modeled after my grandmother… The woman who love me so well as I was growing up.

So maybe, before I go to sleep tonight, I’ll ask myself, “What would Grandmother tell me tonight to help me sleep and look forward to tomorrow?” And to that, that part of me who is her, responds,

“Sleep Little One. You have had such a great day! You finished a novel by one of your favorite authors. You stuck to your new intermittent fasting window and made good healthy food for yourself. You encouraged your son when he was needing it. You stayed off Netflix. You even took out your trash and you brushed your teeth! And now, you’ve even written a little story. I’m so proud of you and I can’t wait to go to sleep and wake up tomorrow and have another good day… maybe even sit in the sun for a little bit.”

So here’s to getting some good sleep and waking up with hope and positivity rather than shame and dread. Here’s to walking up with Grandmother’s legacy of love to guide me out of the spiral and back into life. I pray this to be true.

To be continued…