Crying

The problem with not allowing myself to cry for most of my life is that now, when I do allow it, I can’t stop. I purposely didn’t let myself feel. I did deny myself those feelings. Who wants to cry over vulnerability, pain, abandonment, loss, abuse? I’d rather, and I did, push it way down so that I didn’t have to feel emotionally what my body was denying physically.

I had a dream last night. But it was more than a dream. I was listening to myself as a child calling the ski team asking them to please come pick me up for practice. Then I walked down and sat on the dock and waited for them to get me. I would dangle my legs off the dock and watch as they took skier and skier and skier past me. I didn’t wonder until much older why they always made me wait. But they did. I’d sometimes sit there for an hour waiting for them to just pull the boat up and let me jump in.

In the dream though, it was my voice. My child voice that I had forgotten until I heard her speak. So full of hope and joy and anticipation of a good day on the water. I loved the water. I loved skiing and I loved the water. I loved it so much that I ignored the abuse that went on around me every week. Yes, as an adult I understand I was groomed and knew no better and blah blah blah. But I was in as much denial as my family stayed in. Even after I left that house I would take my daughter back to swim in those waters. Something about that lake I loved. I loved it so much I could shove the abuse down and take my daughter and choose to just remember the good. I so much with every fiber of my being wanted JUST TO REMEMBER THE GOOD.

Until I was attacked as an adult and sexually assaulted. I could not stuff it down anymore. It all flooded back full force for years. I remember the first time I really allowed myself to cry over it all. I was on my kitchen floor in my late 30’s. It took 30 years to really cry.

No one wants to believe or hear or understand what I went through growing up. They want to stay in denial which is incredibly invalidating and cruel to me. I’d like to have stayed in denial too but then that would have made me as weak and cowardly as they are.

I knew one day these dreams would come and I have dreaded that day. The repressed memory dreams. The ones that I left during dissociation so that I could cope. THOSE dreams. I dreamed a few nights ago of my mother and my therapist talking about something I’d told my therapist in confidence. When I woke up I felt as betrayed as I’ve always felt but more. I had forgotten what I had told the therapist until that dream. As if what I remember is not enough? I have to see myself as a child, I have to see that hope, I have to see my mother talking to my therapist about things I totally blocked out. It’s so difficult. Do we ever outgrow the need to be comforted and told it will all be ok even though everyone knows it won’t?

There will be no pictures today. There will be no searching for the good. The memories of abuse, lack of protection, and sadness have enveloped me.

I’m crying. And I can’t stop crying. And I will keep crying. My heart is broken. My body is broken. So I am crying. It only makes me feel worse but I am unable to suppress it any longer. That poor little girl that was me. That poor poor little girl. It’s just so unbearably sad.

Poetry/ bit of a horror story

The dead soldier

Entered my being while I was

Restlessly sleeping

He told me to

Keep walking

Just keep walking

It’s 1953

Over a bridge

Through a creek

We’d crossed the Delaware

The previous day or week

I had to deliver the letter

Perseverance

Through my bloodied feet

My injured knee

Had to get the letter

From Bethany:

“It’s hard for him

To watch me suffering

Wishing a different life for me

Ironically

I hope with all of my being

That one day

He can once again dream.

He knows

My body is dying.

Being together

Was our destiny

But,

Love hopes

For things unseen

I’ll meet you in heaven honey

There,

We will get our eternity

You keep on living

And

At every bumble bee

At every horse grazing

At every ray of light on a leaf

And when you see that tint of pink

As you watch the sun setting

There will be a part of me

Loving you

And our girl

Until the next time

We meet.”

I woke to his hand on my back

I looked intently at my own hand

Was this me

Or was I that man

Where was the letter

I feel I’ve been deserted

On this island

I’m awake

But I don’t know if I am

What if I’m a soldier

Dreaming of me

Or maybe it was just

The ambien.

PTSD insight

I had a very interesting revelation about PTSD triggers yesterday. I know what the common triggers are for me. Some make absolutely no sense. I have wondered why strong smells are triggers. Sometimes the worst triggers. I completely get why men’s cologne is a bad one. I get why it upsets me if my husband comes home from work smelling like the tons of men’s cologne he has been around that have absorbed into his clothes. That’s pretty common sense right? I don’t want my husband who is my “safe” person to be a triggering person of men’s cologne. Thankfully he knows the drill and tosses his clothes directly in the wash and showers so I get MY husband and not the smells of other triggering men. Pretty cut and dry solution.

Last week something burned up in the house. We think it was my daughter’s TV. The entire house smelled of burned. I couldn’t sleep. I stayed awake all night. I felt trapped with this smell. I couldn’t escape it. I understood why this would be triggering. I don’t like to feel trapped with something I cannot get away from that I don’t like.

So what I am trying to say here is that I have some pretty understandable triggers to the PTSD that comes from a childhood of abuse.

BUT, some of the triggers I have not been able to understand until now. And I don’t completely understand it, I just recognize it and am aware of it. Those two things are the starting point of me understating myself better: recognize and awareness.

This happened after I had severe cramping in my legs and my husband rubbed my legs with lotion. After he rubbed the cramping out my legs were covered in tons of lotion and so I did not get it in the bed I put my PJ’s back on and got into bed. My legs then felt sticky. I got hot and started to sweat and they felt slimy. THEN….SAME triggering PTSD feeling as the smell feeling. Same reaction. 1. GET IT OFF 2. MAKE SURE IT GETS ON NOTHING ELSE 3. CLEAN IT OFF 4. SCRUB. This happens with all smells followed by my washing the clothing that it could be on or just all out throwing the clothes away (which is what I did to my PJS).

The common feeling was not the smell after all. The lotion had no smell. It was this FEELING that came over me. It comes over me with men’s cologne and other strong smells. I have to get away from it. I cannot be trapped by it. But the lotion. It had no smell. Yet the same reaction. I got in the shower and scrubbed my skin unhealthily raw. The towel i used to dry off with I threw away. I was SURE it still may be on me so the next morning the moment I opened my eyes I washed the sheets.

I started thinking about the feeling I get with smells OTHER than cologne that are triggering smells. And the predominant thought is GET IT OFF, GET IT AWAY, KEEP IT OFF OF ME, and then I think WHAT IF IT IS ON ME, HOW WILL I GET IT OFF ME, WHAT IF IT GETS ON OTHER THINGS AND I AM STUCK WITH IT. These same thoughts.

So it is not just cologne. It is not just strong smells. It is not just the idea of a man coming in my house that has cologne on or a strong smell. It is the FEELING it gives me that triggers the PTSD.

Here is the question though…what do I want off of me? What do I want to get away from? Is it as specific person, or event of abuse? I don’t know.

Last night I dreamed that I went back to the lake I grew up at where all of the abuse happened. I walked into the water of snakes like every other time I dream of this place. Then the boat with child molester pulled up to get me like he always did. But this time a wolf came out of the water and a walrus. I crouched down and put my hands over my ears and closed my eyes. I felt unsafe. I knew all the bad was coming. I knew I was not safe and would not be protected. I would be vulnerable and trapped….hmm so much like PTSD triggers. But the wolf and the walrus came both with sharp fangs and tusks and snarling and ferocious and the walked next to me and leaned next to me so hard that I was tucked away protected as they foamed at the mouth protecting me.

I woke up this morning and realized how I just NEED to feel safe and PTSD does NOT feel safe at all. Nothing about it.

I then went to an appointment and on the way we stopped to get a prescription and I see a man. This man in the parking lot was an integral part of the cycle of abuse that happened to me. I stared him down. Looked him in the eyes as he looked at me. We parked and my husband took my prescription in and I almost threw up.

Because PTSD is AWFUL and a new trigger is around every corner all because some men chose to sexually abuse me. And I find that incredibly sad but I also find myself incredibly resilient. I focused on the shell that I had in my pocked that I took with me to my appointment. One of my coping skills to vulnerability is to put something in my hand and memorize it. I held that shell instead of thinking of the man in the parking lot and refocused on it.

I’m learning still at 46 years old.

I will not always understand they why, because so much happened to me growing up that took so much of me. But I can be aware and recognize and try, just keep trying to, when I have the ability, remember the wolf standing next to me and realize…

I am safe now.

Dark poetry: The Aqua Door. Based on my nightmare last night

The black door has bolts

Behind it is the red door with levers

And the green door with hinges

And the aqua door with padlocks

I hate the aqua door.

The aqua door I know I cannot get through

I turn back to my room

Inside this place

There are no doors

There are no choices

Human no more

Each shell of a person

Each gender

Each morsel of food

Are

Chosen for you

One bite of this

Enjoy it

You must

Or you’ll be covered in oil

And burned at dusk

Unless you are taken

Strapped to a table

One limb at a time

It won’t matter

If you fight or cry

What happens there I do not know

But the last girl screamed and kicked

All the way to that door

Which was soundproof

As soon as it was closed

There is no will here

Just torture

And roles

Games

Illusions

And one man

Who is control

No one revolts

They are robots

Doing as they are told

They’ve learned

Given up

Given in

To never going home

All religions

All ethnicity

All gender here

It’s a lab

We’re the rats

I stomach that fear

How is there a God

Who allows this violence

He is not above one man’s voice?

He sits on his hands

At the destruction

The inhumanity

This will of choice?

He knows the plans

He knows the path

Yet he cannot interfere?

But do not worry

They’ll tell you

It will all be ok when

You get to heaven here

But I’m there in that place

With God by my side

Watching that march

Watching the power of the pride.

So try to make your mark

If you can

Have your revolutions

And politics

And race

And religion

Wars

Of man

While he watches

And blames

Eve

Or

The fall of man

Or

The Devil

Or

The Sin

Or

Generational curses

Of Uncle Sam

Sip your wine

And drive your waxed car

Paid for by your

Fraudulent taxes

Scoffing as the homeless

“Just left another bar”

When really he has fought

In your fucking war

To stop what you type behind your screen

That you abhor

But you discard

Disregard

Your door is wide open

To the privileges of your lies

So you quote Hippocrates

Or some bullshit philosophy

You tell me of the cross

As you move your hand

Over your heart

With your bless us sign

To a God that watches me

Torn into little parts.

You put your ear buds in

Your blue tooth

Ha ha ha

To your bearing false witness friends

You have no humility

As you boast of your worth

You act as a victim

Oh a terrible crime

If someone has scratched your

Prized possession

With your own

Stolen dime

As I

Cry out

Knowing no one will rescue me

Knowing men like you will just rise

Mentally ill?

Eh

Cast aside.

Disabled?

Eh

They’ll survive.

Meanwhile

I’m locked behind that aqua door

No one chooses to see.

But I’m told

Have solace

That at least

God is with me.

Which I am sure is true

And yes it soothes

This reality

I just ask this

If Rosa Parks

Could do

What SHE did

With her free choice

And her free will

How can you sit

On that house on the hill

Doing nothing of righteous

Just along for the free ride

Pompous

STILL

As those fall around you

The earth crumbles down

You stealing rations

Robbing still now

I’m with the others

Behind the aqua door

You’ve sacrificed me

And you’ll sacrifice more

For science

For the Lord

My life means nothing

In your corrupt

Heartless

World.

A window!

I see a white flowers

In a blue sky

Perhaps there is more

To my existence.

Than meets the eye.

Maybe one day

WE WILL RISE.

Poetry

*photo by me of the sun rays and its colors

I left to visit you in a dream

But you’d been reincarnated as me

So there we meet

Inbetween

A mosaic

A smiling sparrow

A stained glass window

Colorful

Muted

Like a book

At its bind

Look

The pages turn

In my sleeping mind

How long shall I stay this time

I do hate leaving us behind

It’s light outside

So open my eyes.

If I could only stop dreaming!

I used to love dreaming. I used to dream of my Nana and picnics. I used to dream that I lived with Native American Indians every night. I used to dream that I could see and visit loved ones that passed away. I don’t dream those dreams anymore. My dreams have turned to nightmares. Reminders. I don’t want reminders. I don’t know why they come. Are they being purged? If so then why do I need repeaters? Something I need to face? Well frankly I am tired of facing new old things. Really, my plate overfloweth with garbage from that past that is being sifted through and discarded. New things really upset me. Last night I had a dream that I was in the hospital and desperately needed a ride home. Everyone from my past, my family, my friends, were all playing football in the hospital waiting room as if I wasn’t even there needing to be taken home after surgery. That stupid seemingly meaningless dream morphed into the truth about my past. I was so in need of help and everyone was just acting out their lives around me oblivious. Completely oblivious. This dream took me to the truth that I really am quite tired of remembering. One event that was especially bothersome.

I became sick when I was 18 years old. It was when my doctors now think that I contracted Lyme disease because I had also Rocky Mountain spotted fever. At that time I had quit working as a professional waterskiier and moved in with my boyfriend to get away from the lake and the memories of the childmolester ski coach. When I got sick I was very much alone. I was very very sick. I had extreme weakness and vertigo. That spring break my brother had come home from college with his college friend and my dad wanted us to go to the beach. Or maybe it was senior spring break. Funny, I don’t recall. I missed my senior year of highschool being in a mental hosptial and all. So my time frame, much to my family’s dismay is always a little off. My facts are always correct. But the year and the exact time is sometimes off. Abuse and PTSD can affect time. They don’t know that because they are selfish pricks. Anyway, I was so sick but dad didn’t really acknowledge that. He insisted I go to the beach with them and so I did. I remember two things about that trip. My dad asking me to go down to the beach where he and my brother and his friend were playing football. That was the first. It took all the strength I had to walk down to that beach. I sat down and almost immediately my dad and brother and friend tossed the football in my direction, one of them caught it and fell on top of me and hurt me. I started to cry but no one cared. They were so into what they were doing they were oblivious to me. Just like in my dream. I walked up to the hotel. I didn’t matter. The second thing I remember is the hot tub. I didn’t bring a bathing suit because I knew I was too sick to get in the water. They all wanted me to get in the hot tub. I did. I was so obedient to every one else’s wishes. I got into the hot tub. I felt immediately sick. They had been drinking alcohol. I stood up and my dad immediately drug his finger down the front of my shirt and in between my breasts and commented that I was not wearing a bra. They were all drunk. I am sure if you asked any of them they won’t remember. I do. I didn’t matter. At 18 years old, not even living at home, I was repeatedly brought back in and shown that I did not matter. 

My dad, brother, entire family are all gone now. Not dead. Just no longer in my life all of their own choosing except my father. I ended my relationship with my father. The family just chose to side with him. But I ended it with him. I couldn’t let him disappointment me anymore and I couldn’t go on with these lies about the past eating at me. The truth had to be told . They don’t like the truth. Never have. I told the truth at 43 years of age and poof they were gone. My dreams just remind me that I should have been the one to poof them out of my life long long ago. I was unable to though. I didn’t see them for who they were. I was molded, brainwashed, and weak. 

I don’t want to remember them. I don’t want to fall asleep and be reminded of how many people let me fall and stepped on me when I was down there. I don’t want to dream anymore. 

I do have a plan though. I plan to discuss these dreams in therapy. Perhaps, if I go back to that time while I am awake, and choosing, I can create a new image. Perhaps I can save myself, punch my father in the face, choose not to go to the beach at all, had a voice. Perhaps in doing that I can give my body and mind what it never got before, validation, love, respect, and I will stop dreaming. It’s worth a shot. I don’t have much control over what happens in my dreams. It is helpless there. Which seems so unfair! I’m going to try and change that. I can only hope that facing each thing that comes up in my dreams head on will make them disappear. 

The snowball effect of PTSD

Triggers for sexual abuse*

For me, PTSD has many faces. One moment it is a flashback that I can quickly move on from. The next moment will be a 2 hour anxiety attack. The next can be one tiny trigger that sets up the snowball effect. 

Last night we were watching the AMAZING Super Bowl. Seriously, that was the best Super Bowl ever!!! Having a lovely time with my husband on the couch and then….Towards the end there was a movie preview for The Handmaid. I only saw maybe 5 seconds of the preview. I told my husband that I saw the original movie and it was one of the most triggering/anxiety provoking movies I had ever seen. When I watch something on TV that is triggering to PTSD it is not the same as a smell trigger or a flashback. Something different happens. I get hot. My face feels flushed and I can’t feel my legs. I immediately feel like I’m going to throw up and pass out. When I first saw this movie it was 25 years before I even knew what the PTSD symptoms were. I had no idea why I was so shaken. Seeing this preview to this movie was the first part of the snowball.

I went to sleep last night telling myself “stop thinking about that movie” and that didn’t work so I completely distracted myself. I watched comedies until 4 am when I finally fell asleep. Then the nightmares came. Second part of the snowball. My nightmare was a post apocalyptic one. Large groups of people were put in this massive parking garage type thing. They were all lined up in some areas and others and crowded into corners. The children had tears running through the dirt on their faces. They were all starving. There was panic in some and blank stares in others. Then a rich white man who had a lot of power came through and chose the women that he felt still had a little fight in them and were cleaner than the rest so that he could use them to rape repeatedly. The nightmare went on and on, children being ripped from their mother’s arms. I woke up after only a few hours of sleep and I knew this was all part of the movie preview. It had triggered an emotional response deep within my brain. I was so upset. I had this nightmare residue I could not shake off. Then I lay there and kept thinking how my view of this nightmare was post apocalyptic realizing it wasn’t at all. These things happen everywhere. Men in power raping women. Men in power taking what they want. People starving. This was not just a nightmare, this is really happening in the world. I got so worked up over this I couldn’t calm myself at all. I tried all of my therapy coping skills and none worked. My nightmares are just a symbol of a true reality for many people around the world. And that crushes me. I know how it feels to be sexually abused. Then I have nightmares of other women experiencing the same nightmare and know that it is a reality. Very very upsetting. Once my mind gets wound, it is hard, to bring it back down. Especially on a few hours sleep. 

I got up finally and started my day to soon after realize I was hypersensitive to smells. Everything smelled badly. I thought I smelled urine. Then I thought I smelled something dead. I spent half of the day seeking out where these smells were coming from not to find a one. Every smell, my shampoo, my conditioner, my deodorant, all smelled too strong. Cooking foods smelled too strong. This was definitely stage 3 of the snowball.

The last stage was inevitable and it was dissociation. I look at my hands and they don’t feel like they are my own. I look at my daughter speaking to me and I don’t hear the words. I realize a 2 hour tv show has just passed and it seems like 2 minutes or maybe 2 days I’m not sure. So I came into my room and decided I needed to take some control of this.  It is taking everything in my being to stay in bed right this minute. I feel manic. I want to manically clean or manically check things. But that would be feeding into this chaos that my brain is currently wrapped up in. 

Therapy has taught me to be mindful. To be aware. I am learning more and more about things that are the most triggering and I am seeing the snowball effect that PTSD can have. I have just begun my healing path through this PTSD really, it has only been a few months of therapy. We have only scratched the surface. PTSD is very serious. It is very real. It is very scary. It is a very powerful mechanism in the brain that I am not AT ALL happy about having to deal with. It feels like PTSD is an abuser all over again. PTSD makes me feel like I have no control. Lacking control, feeling vulnerable, is just even more triggering to MORE PTSD. It is so incredibly frustrating. 

These are the times where my brain goes to a dark place. These are the times when internal dialogue is critical. I could very easily give up, feel defeated, lose hope, and just throw in the towel. This is where being mindful is key. I may NOT be able to control triggers, PTSD, or any of the symptoms that come along with it, but right this very moment I CAN control my internal dialogue. I can choose to not go to a dark place. It is so hard. You just don’t know how hard it is. But I will choose to say positive affirmations, I will breathe, I will watch a happy movie. I will pray that I have dreams of angels and puppies and that the cycle of the snowball effect stops right here.