The Simple Things

The Simple Things

8.24.17

“You know all that sympathy that you feel for an abused child who suffers without a good mom or dad to love and care for them? Well, they don’t stay children forever. No one magically becomes an adult the day they turn eighteen. Some people grow up sooner, many grow up later. Some never really do. But just remember that some people in this world are older versions of those same kids we cry for.” 
― Ashly Lorenzana

I must admit how very frustrated and tired of feeling so bad every single day.  Is all of the pain worth the alleged outcome?  I’m not trying to be just nasty and negative.  I have always doubted thinking that things could and would turn out good.  It has always been easier for me to be able to accept things better when I view things as having a bad outcome so, that I wasn’t disappointed from what I see as unrealistic expectations.  If things turn out good, well now, that’s just a bonus for the day.

Having never worked at this deep of a level processing trauma, I don’t really know what to expect.  However, I know what is happening physically and the answers for relief haven’t been found yet.  Acupuncture does work for a couple of days on most of my physical issues.  However, I’m looking to be able to have normal aches and pains from being close to age 40. Not protests from my body as a result of abuse.

I’m actually taking somewhat of a break from individual therapy for a few weeks.  Having the blog has been a good “out” for me.  However, no matter whether I’m processing on a deeper level with a therapist or just documenting my daily struggles through this life of mental illness, I wake up most mornings wondering when relief will arrive.  When will I feel as though, I’m strong like I use to be to seemingly be able to handle anything that came my way?

I have a very loving and caring wife.  I have the most awesome, sporadically psychotic toddler that between he and I we understand that we both “hung the moon” for each other by just existing.  I would love nothing more than to be able to fully accept and be able to “feel” love without questions and wondering about people and their intentions.  I would love to be able to be hugged by someone and not have the feeling like, “they have me now! Back away, back away! They’re going to hurt you!”  I would love to be able to except someone’s kindness and feel that I deserve someone being kind to me without feeling embarrassed and wanting to hide.

I’m not so calloused to think that everyone walking the planet is bad.  I’ve met some truly AWESOME people in my life.  There are some individuals that I’ve met here in Albuquerque, which I love dearly.  Relationships regardless of what kind of relationship they require work, trust and communication for them to be both healthy and rewarding.  I learned some hard lessons about being in a very “unhealthy” relationship that I continue each day to pay dearly as a result.

When do we as victims begin to metamorphosis into just another survivor with a story?  When do I and many other people get the “peace” that we deserve?  When is the high price that I’ve paid for many years for decisions I’ve made finally reach the part where “enough is enough?” When, where and how do I get to reap the goodness from the universe for always pushing myself to be the best I can be?

Some days are more difficult than others to experience for everyone.  But, imagine this……..

“The same daily struggles that most families have.  Except that when you open your eyes, you have visions of being touched inappropriately to the point that you seem to feel it. Voices telling you, “you’ll never be anything without me!”; “I would’ve given you away too!” “You’re a nasty little girl!”  Visions and sensations of things you were made to do and did not choose to do.  Being able to take your child to daycare and return home without feeling like someone is following you. I just want to be to able to go in public without the use of both typical and alternative medicine just to keep from vomiting because of anxiety.  Or just being able to give and experience a “genuine love” from your soul mate.

All I wish for everyday is to be happy.  I would venture to say that most people want that as well.  Instead, I live in both physical and mental misery.  I see, hear, smell and fear things from my past all the time.   I have always believed that someone or something else that I couldn’t see was there for the events.  But, having a very minority view of these events, I DON’T believe that God was there.  Someone was for sure, but it wasn’t GOD!

Some people might say, “What are you griping about? You have weed legally now.”  I wish I could say that medical marijuana is a “cure all” for abuse.  What it does is help to minimize symptoms compared to what they can be without it?  That gracious plant can’t take away what a human has done.  It can, however, slow things down where they aren’t as frightening and allow me some form of respite.

It’s a very lonely world to live in on the inside.  Life on the outside is one world.  But, life on the inside…….It’s a different galaxy!

 

#Thispuzzledlife

Balance

Balance

8.22.14

“PTSD is a whole-body tragedy, an integral human

 event of enormous proportions with massive repercussions.” 

― Susan Pease Banitt

I always like to start things off very light because some of the subject matter can be difficult.  So, being one of two mothers to a toddler boy age 2.5 years can be quite funny at times.  For instance, Marshall has this new thing about wanting us to read his books before he goes to bed.  No big deal, right?  But, now he wants to read them back to us.  The other night I was the chosen parent to listen to him telling a story about a truck.  Story goes like this……”Vrrrrroooommm Vrrrrooommm a mess, bath, clean…the end!” I couldn’t help but to laugh and tell him, “That was such a good story.” His response was , “Truck dirty.”

We have also realized all of his creative ways to manipulate his mommies when it’s time for bed.  The other night Marshall convinced my wife, Melody, to do a full and complete room check for monsters.  I mean, if you think about it, what kind of price would Ghostbusters charge for a service like that?  Nevertheless, eventually, he ended up in the bed between his moms.

In the morning, I have one of his feet on the side of my head.  Apparently, he’s going to be a soccer player because I must’ve taken kidney shots from him all night.  But, what made me chuckle was that he was lying across our pillows at the top of the bed.  I think Melody is in a coma from pure exhaustion from having to hang on to the 3 inches that Marshall allowed her to use as her bed for the night.  I was laying face down in what seemed like a weave that belonged to a cat right next to the concrete wall.  I start sneezing like I had just snorted some kind of deadly allergen.

Kids are so innocent. They understand what is in front of them and don’t worry about tomorrow.  They call it like they see it until they are conditioned by parents, friends or society to try and conform otherwise. That’s where my job comes in for him as his parent.  I worry about things all the time concerning him.

I have said that I was going to take a break from blogging because of my physical symptoms.  But, mentally, I have to be able to process somehow.  So, I’ll do the best I can.

Yesterday started off with me all excited to blog and do therapy assignments.  One of the assignments, I knew would be difficult.   Blogging has always seemed to be what I need for now. I took all kinds of medicine and smoked some as well.  All day long, I would change my treatment approach to help defeat the “Atomic Migraine” that was forming.  I already didn’t feel good but I finished most of both assignments.  My wife reminds me that she has an acupuncture appointment later that day.  No worries, I’ll get Marshall from daycare.  A few hours when she got home, I couldn’t close my eyes or try to walk without feeling nauseous.  I begin to think, “Maybe both activities were too much for me today.” I take stronger medicine and begin to smoke wax and keif for something stronger for the nausea and headache.  Anxiety meds were added as well because my back hurt so bad.   I tried to walk but looked like I had just left a bar that I had been at for several hours.  The right side of my head felt like it was on fire and boiling. When I get severe headaches like that, sometimes I exhibit neurological issues. My brain basically turned off once we got in the truck headed to her acupuncture appointment.  She actually let me take her appointment because I was so sick.  After about two hours of treatment, I was able to walk more normally again. I was still shaky but much better.  Most of the rest of the evening was and still is a blur.

So, I don’t know what my exactly my “balance” looks like or is going to feel like.  But, I that’s what I keep striving to find.  Life is about “Balance.” Right now….well….balance is like a word from another language that I can’t have translated or understand.  Even my best day is a struggle.

Carpe Diem

#Thispuzzledlife

Memories That Come To Life

Memories That Come To Life

8.21.14

“I feel no emotional connection to these outwardly human gestures.
I am not there, because I never left Afghanistan.”
― Jake Wood, Among You: The Extraordinary True Story of a Soldier Broken By War

We recently went to the “small, southern town” thinking that I could do some ‘special’ therapy there.  This is a ‘trial and effort’ type of situation for us in dealing with my disorder.  We soon realized that doing therapy and even being in the state was causing more harm than good.  I couldn’t relax enough mentally or physically to be able to do the therapy.  There are just too many harmful emotions and people that are associated with that area.  When we do visit, I’m constantly watching EVERYTHING and EVERYONE.  Saying that someone is ‘safe’ doesn’t mean shit to me!  I luckily don’t remember what all of what was said and done.   I do remember how the feeling was like having my skin peeled off.

It’s a very conflicted feeling of wanting to be there but not wanting to step foot near that area.  Most of my high school teammates, my parents, our really close friends, people who support us, the fields that I put my body on the line to be a good athlete, the great memories of the terms “team” and “family, and the house I grew up in.  But also, are the memories of the all the abuse.  I always make a point to go by and visit both my friends, former classmates and my grandmother’s grave at their respective cemeteries.   I sit late at night next to the leftfield line where I experienced what the term ‘love’ was all about for the first time.  I think many times about how much fun we had as players and the things we got away with because we were high school athletes.  But, those thoughts always become overshadowed by what was going on, seemingly in another life.

I ride around that city and all I see and think is the horror that no one claims to know about but me.  There are those that I know recall what happened to me with the teacher.  They knew about it, knew it was wrong, and did nothing about it.  Everywhere, I seem to go in that city is a very bad reminder of what happened.  Some people have tried to say, “Just let the past go!”  Tell me how and I’ll do it.  That’s usually where the conversation about that ends.  I usually feel like I can’t escape the ‘nightmare’ that I had already lived.  I just wanted to go to my NEW home, Albuquerque.  Petal will always be the town where I was raised, taught manners, good food and respect.   But a lot of healing has to take place for me to be able to consider it anything other than a ‘nightmare.’  I have a lot of people there that I’m very close too.  However, I can’t even enjoy a visit with them because I’m so on edge about everything.

I was told by my ex-husband about the molestation that, “that happened a long time ago, what in the hell can you do about it now?” I have never forgotten that statement. I instantly felt like I had been emotionally raped because it wasn’t a big deal to him.  He told me later, “I have spoken with your parents about the molestation incident and they told me that they don’t believe that it happened because you would’ve told them about it.”  I didn’t know it then, but they still had no idea what had actually happened. I had made sure of that for a very long time.  I was devastated from what he told me.  I figured that with him being my husband that surely he would be empathetic that it happened.  I don’t know if he ever believed me or not.  But, I do know that there was never any empathy shown towards me about that subject in any way.  “Dana, it’s a &@*# play with it!” is not the way to help that person heal.  It actually re-traumatizes them. I now know what he told me was a lie. All I’ll say about that topic is that I rarely talk about it because of the shame of the abuse.

I’m actually reading a book that is explaining exactly what ‘wife rape’ is.  The book actually explains a lot to me.  I find myself reading the same paragraph over and over at times. So, reading a book is usually a feat.  I start seeing the canvas of words slowly form a picture of what looked like me.  I read further and could so identify with some of the other survivors.  I thought, “Now, I have an explanation for part of the 14 year ‘mind fuck.’” However, what I noticed is that slowly a repeat of an incident began to unfold.  I couldn’t stop it. I was silenced.  I saw his mouth and lips move.  I saw the redness of his face.  Some saw me as being lucky to be married to such a well known guy.

Unfortunately, his abuse was reserved for the party of 1…..me.  He was different around other people.   I knew him for who he was.  He was the product of the abuse from his father.  I was told, “There are no marks on you! No one will believe you anyway!  You’re the one with the mental history!”   Then the feelings began to rush to my heart, stomach and brain where the nausea and migraine ensued.  I looked around and realized that I was sitting in my chair. For a split second, though, everything was very real but from a different time.  I looked down and the book was still opened to the page I had been reading.  I vaped a little mmj (medical marijuana) and then went and tried to relax in the bed while my body thought that I had just been on a run from a dog.  Everyone else was already fast asleep.

Both my days and nights are like this at times.  The visions and memories are so real, in fact, that vomiting often follows.  It seems like it never ends.  I hope for better days sometimes.  Right now, it feels like I’m feeling it all over again.  All I know to do it hit it, whatever it is, ‘head on each time.’ Even if you are scared, you NEVER dodge an opponent!  You always step on the court or up to the plate ready to play ball!

#Thispuzzledlife

A Little More Travel

A Little More Travel

8.20.14

“Punishments include such things as flashbacks, flooding of unbearable emotions, painful body memories, flooding of memories in which the survivor perpetrated against others, self-harm, and suicide attempts.” 
― Alison Miller, Healing the Unimaginable: Treating Ritual Abuse and Mind Control

We recently went to the “small, southern town” thinking that I could do some ‘special’ therapy there.  This is a ‘trial and effort’ type of situation for us in dealing with my disorder.  We soon realized that doing therapy and even being in the state was causing more harm than good.  I couldn’t relax enough mentally or physically to be able to do the therapy.  There are just too many harmful emotions and people that are associated with that area.  When we do visit, I’m constantly watching EVERYTHING and EVERYONE.  Saying that someone is ‘safe’ doesn’t mean shit to me!  I luckily don’t remember what all was said and done.  But, I do remember how the feeling was like having my skin peeled off.

It’s a very conflicted feeling of wanting to be there but not wanting to step foot near that area.  Most of my high school teammates, my parents, our really close friends, people who support us, the fields that I put my body on the line to be a good athlete, the great memories of the terms “team” and “family, and the house I grew up in.  Also, are the memories of the all the abuse.  I always make a point to go by and visit both my friends, former classmates and my grandmother’s grave at their respective cemeteries.   I sit late at night next to the left field line where I experienced what the term ‘love’ was all about for the first time.  I think many times about how much fun we had as players and the things we got away with because we were high school athletes.  But, those thoughts always become overshadowed by what was going on, seemingly in another life.

I ride around that city and all I see and think is the horror that no one claims to know about but me.  There are those that I know recall what happened to me with the teacher.  They knew about it, knew it was wrong, and did nothing about it.  Everywhere, I seem to go in that city is a very bad reminder of what happened.  Some people have tried to say, “Just let the past go!”  Tell me how and I’ll do it.  That’s usually where the conversation about that ends.

I was told by my ex-husband about the molestation that, “that happened a long time ago, what in the hell can you do about it now?” I have never forgotten that statement. I instantly felt like I had been emotionally raped because it wasn’t a big deal to him.  He told me later, “I have spoken with your parents about the molestation incident and they told me that they don’t believe that it happened because you would’ve told them about it.”  I didn’t know it then, but they still had no idea what had actually happened. I had made sure of that for a very long time.  I was devastated from what he told me.  I figured that with him being my husband, at the time that surely he would be empathetic that it happened.  I don’t know if he ever believed me or not.  But, I do know that there was never any empathy shown towards me in talking or other things.  I now know what he told me was a lie.

#Thispuzzledlife

More Traveling

More Traveling

8.19.14

“She was a stranger in her own life, a tourist in her own body.” 
― Melissa de la Cruz, The Van Alen Legacy

I always feel the need to speak about toddler events in the mornings because well…..sometimes they’re just funny.  So, I was doing the usual getting Marshall ready for school and loaded in the car.  I asked him if he would like some cheetos since that’s what we had in the car for him as a snack.  He shook his head and said, “Momma D, no cheetos…only toes!” “Ok, Marshall, mommy will only call them ‘toes’ from now on.”  Sometimes this kid makes me really laugh.

The term “traveling” has a much different definition to me than the general public seems to understand.   When “traveling, “I’m definitely anywhere I want to be.  I could be on the beach somewhere enjoying the sun or checking out the lesbian buffet.  Every place can be new or one that seems to bring much emotional comfort.  However, sometimes the memories of abuse invade and I to go elsewhere without even knowing it.  To the average person, a function such as this doesn’t seem that different from seemingly “ignoring” the spouse or a boss.  Everyone at some point wishes they were somewhere different especially when at work or just needing a vacation.  Most people don’t use this as a defense mechanism but rather just ‘daydreaming.’

As a child, throughout my molestation, I was mentally forced to be somewhere else.  I couldn’t possibly deal with things as they were.  Each time I knew of another “episode,” my mind would go elsewhere.  I had no idea that the ‘dissociation’ had occurred. I just knew that I couldn’t physically and mentally handle the situation at hand.  The specifics about the molestation are going to be left to my very brave therapists.

Over time, this natural and sometimes forced dissociation becomes second nature.  Just I like said in an earlier post about with PTSD symptoms happening when there is an actual or ‘perceived’ threat, this has now become an automatic type of coping mechanism.  Since, I have apparently been doing this since very early childhood even without my knowing, this behavior has become a daily response to anything ‘perceived’ as threatening.  To put these ‘threats’ in perspective for you, I can give you examples of ‘perceived threats.’ Things such as: loud noises, too many people in one area, too much visual, tactile and auditory stimulation, social situations, being by myself, being touched by someone, hollering, bad weather, and many more situations.  As you can imagine, I have varying reactions to therapy because I’m processing everything that happened on different levels.  So, seeing me as the person you know is completely different from what and how they see me as a person.  I’m still the same person you know and grew up with if you see me.  You probably won’t know anything has ever happened or is wrong.  After all, we are taught from a very young age to keep things in the family even if the family doesn’t know.

Dealing with the trauma on such different levels, my therapists and wife get to see very unique sides of me.  Dissociation is very natural for me especially while in therapy.   Sometimes I can stop it and sometimes I can’t.  This can and does present problems in therapy at times, but we work through it and figure out what’s happening.  The goal is to try and minimize “traveling,” while getting use to not using it at all to function daily?  Is this possible?  Really, I don’t know.  I am trusting in the people that I work with to guide me through this healing process.  I have to admit that I wish there was some kind of ‘rapid’ trauma treatment that I can do while under sedation.  Almost like processing without being conscious of what is going on.  This, unfortunately, isn’t part of the process.  The part of the process I’m currently in is one of both mental and physical chaos.  I do the best that I can because that’s what I was taught by both my parents and coaches even when it’s scary as hell.

I write because everything else scares me to the point of vomiting.  I have lost 40lbs because of the stress on both me and my family.  I’m not currently restricting in regards to eating disorder behavior.  Even though, I definitely have a lot of “eating disorder” thoughts and some behaviors especially in public or with certain people.  But, I go sometimes for days without knowing that I haven’t eaten.  I have even overdosed on medication and had no idea until a couple of days later that this had occurred.  I go for minutes, hours, day and sometimes weeks with not knowing what has transpired.  I simply understand this as “traveling.”  Sometimes I have done things in that ‘state’ that I am and will continue to be embarrassed about. Things are said and done are like a game that I think people are playing with me to make me feel bad.  I have bought things, gone places, eaten, not eaten, had conversations, had arguments and have had ‘rage’ events that I have no memory of happening.

I carry a lot of guilt and shame once I understand days later what has happened.  Does this sound like a quality of life to you? My perpetrators have left a war for me to deal with everyday.  I simply try to win one battle at a time until the war is over.  Medical marijuana just helps with a lot of the horrible physical and mental symptoms that I have from all of this. It doesn’t take back anything that happened. I have to take a lot of this medication to be able to go out in public or therapy because everything’s so painful.  For those that think that ”a drug is a drug,” you’re right it’s just like insulin being used as a medicine.  And sorry my disordered behavior has nothing to do with marijuana except to keep both the public and me safe.   I have a quality of life now that I haven’t had before.  Not everyone uses this plant as a medication or recreationally within limits.  There are actually people who no longer think about suicide because they the government has made a medication legal that can also give them a quality of life that they never saw possible. There are a lot more people that use and die from prescribed medications that the trusted doctors administer.  Please educate yourself on this, someone you know might can and could benefit from this plant one day.  It just might be you!

#Thispuzzledlife

Traveling

Traveling

8.16.14

“The trauma said, ‘Don’t write these poems.
Nobody wants to hear you cry about the grief inside your bones.” 
― Andrea Gibson, The Madness Vase: By Andrea Gibson

This morning begins as usual just stirring in our bed trying to wake my senses up.  Automatically, I look around the room to see if I should be alarmed by anything new or out of place.  I sit up on the side of the bed and soon the physical symptoms are on me like a ‘pit bull on a steak.’  The horrible headache that is becoming increasingly worse by the minute is initially unphased by my medical marijuana lying close by.  My body feels pain down to its cells.  I’m having muscle cramps making me question if all of the effort to get better is actually worth it. Why do I hurt like this? If my body is purging itself of the poisons created by the trauma on a cellular level, then I wish it would hurry the hell up.  I did notice that I started getting sick yesterday afternoon.   I  discounted it from being in public for a few minutes yesterday.   Today is different….every morning that this is happening has me feeling that I’m paying penance for something. When is my next acupuncture session? At least, I get a couple of days of almost no physical symptoms.   Alas, the marijuana is working well enough for me to get Marshall dressed and taken to school.  This morning is all about physical symptoms. The feeling is not consciously about social anxiety. But, rather…”Don’t let me puke on the way or when I pull up at the daycare.”

I think to myself…

 “I finally make it back home.  Now, I’m locked in and safe. But, now I’m alone. Anything could happen. Instant ‘shock and awe’ stomach cramps. Can I ever have a day, that for most people is just a mediocre ‘ok day?’ My body and mind is on fire!  The feel of air on my skin is like hot tar being poured on me. My back feels like I was impaled with something sharp. My muscles all over my body feel like they have begun disintegrating. My jaw and teeth feel like they could fall in my lap at any moment. My body must be detoxing, but from what? It must’ve been something I did yesterday. But what did I do and where did we go if anywhere?”

Losing time for some people is nothing more than daydreaming, missing an exit on the interstate, or getting enthralled in a good book.  However, the term “losing time” for me and my family can have very scary and unique meanings from the average family. Everyone, at one time or another, forget your keys or something that you meant to take with you to the store. You suddenly remember, that it’s the list that you have made with what you needed. You go home, find the list where it was left, get back in the car, and head off to the store. No harm, no foul. You don’t qualify for a diagnosis because of it. As a former therapist said to me, “Welcome, to the Human Race!”

My first memory of losing any type of time was in the 8th grade.  While being in that closet, I went elsewhere. It seemed somewhat familiar but ‘safe.’ I don’t remember what the scene was or where I went, it just wasn’t in that closet. I seemed to be locked in a type of paradise.  Every once in a while I would hear, “Are you listening to me?!”

By the time I got to high school, I felt like I got a new start. I was now 20 lbs lighter even though I did it unhealthy.  I was excelling in the sports I was playing. I was dropping weight seemingly every day.  No behavior problems reported by teachers.  I was pushing my body passed its limits but I was ok or so I thought.  This was the first year that I actually remember ‘losing extensive time.’  What is the difference?  Well, instead of a few moments that we all lose naturally.  I had lost an entire week.  I knew that I had ballgames that week so, how did I not remember how I played? I was doing a lot of diet pills at the time. So, that was the answer.  I remember thinking, “It’s nice to be back. But, where was I?”

Skipping a few years, to when I was married to my now EX-husband.  There were times that I remember seeing his mouth move but not hearing or knowing what was said.  That was fine with me. I didn’t know why it was like that but I was completely ok.  There were also those times when I would hear his first loud venomous word and then I would slowly fade away.  I could see him hollering at me but not hear or feel any of it.  My cutting really took off in this relationship and I realized that the same mental and physical stuff happened then too.  I didn’t think anything about it but I knew that my thoughts that I had were very, loud and continuous. I couldn’t dare mention this to the narcissist. Everything that ever happened to me was a joke and made fun. I would just keep my comments quiet and assume all the blame which is what they want.  Feelings belonged somewhere, but on my sleeves… VERY UNSAFE.

Several years later, I meet Melody and other things begin to happen.  Why would this happen around her? I didn’t understand and she surely wouldn’t either.  I just played everything off like, “I did a lot of drugs and they fried me.”    I didn’t tell her about what seemed like separate conversations to myself in my brain.  Everyone, surely has “loud” thoughts.  Heck, I wasn’t even divorce yet.  This type of stuff sometimes happened when he hollered at me or I was cutting. Why with Melody when she was a ‘safe’ person?   I was still watching and waiting for her true colors to come out and hurt me.  In the 7 years that I’ve known and loved her, I have the opportunity to see her true colors every day and they are a beautiful rainbow.  She’s genuine and I think somehow I must’ve known that back then.  We were in graduate school together and taking the same classes. So, to be able to pay attention, I would have to play games on my phone while they were lecturing.  I explained this to my professors before hand and they completely understood.  We thought that we were dealing with a college ADD thing.  Mel still had to re- explain the lecture once we got home. Once I got it and was able to ‘feel’ the connection of the material, It’s locked away.  So, graduate school was a bit more difficult for me, but that makes me no less of a graduate.  I just had to do things a little differently for me to be able to comprehend the information.   Even back in elementary days, I remember crying because I couldn’t answer the questions about the story that we had just read. Trial and error is how we acclimated to our situation and we do the same thing now.

My physical symptoms have me very sick so I’ll continue tomorrow. NAMASTE!!

#thispuzzledlife

 

#Thispuzzledlife

Back Again

Back Again

8.17.14

“Triggers are like little psychic explosions that crash through avoidance and bring the dissociated, avoided trauma suddenly, unexpectedly, back into consciousness.” 
― Carolyn Spring

I wake up this morning sadly realizing that the nightmare every day hasn’t ended.  This morning I wake up very startled that no one was in the bed with me.  “Oh Shit! I have to get up!  What if he’s already home from work?  Did I lay out anything for dinner?  Has he already fixed his dinner and is patiently waiting to berate me for sleeping? Why had I been sleeping?” Something is telling me that things are going to be bad when I walk into the den.  I’m instantly nauseated by the heavily approaching headache. Stomach cramps have begun to let me know of their existence.  I have to face this to figure out what has happened.

I stand up and my body feels “disconnected” but has a severe pain in my chest.  This feeling is surely to lead to total annihilation of my mind and body. With my “insides” beginning to shake with fear, I make the dreaded walk down the hall.  I notice nothing but the task before me.  Everything sounds like I’m in a cave.  I notice nothing but the familiar way that my body prepares for his emotional venom.  Just get ready to disappear! I say to myself.

I walk into the den where Melody and Marshall sat watching TV.  A sigh of relief hits my body when I realized that I must’ve been in a really bad dream.  It was a bad dream that happened several years ago.  My body seemed to somewhat relax as much as it could. The build-up of tension from my scare had already activated my autonomic nervous system.  ‘Shock and awe’ hit instantly.  I can tell that everything inside of me was all out of whack.

Just another day that started off with a flashback.  What did I do? I survived to be able to tell you about it. Trauma can manifest in many different ways. This way, unfortunately, is a frequent side effect of PTSD that I experience. Sometimes, it can manifest with pictures, sounds, etc. that can trigger a painful event.  There is the also, just as disturbing, the feeling of being in the situation right at that moment.

It is nighttime as I’m finally able to write about the event this morning. Mentally and physically, I have well……been somewhat of a ‘mess.’  That doesn’t mean lying around ‘snot crying’ all day. Sometimes one can bounce back from remembered event and not having anything more than a few feelings that they feel.  However, for me, I have very little memory of anything since it happened.  Had you been right here when it happened, you would’ve had no idea that I would be as affected as I was today.  I have been fighting severe anxiety all day with no success. I have smoked weed, taken all kinds of medicine with no relief.  I haven’t been that scared in a long time. Maybe all of my ‘insides’ just got upset and haven’t had enough time to settle down.

I have a thousand different thoughts that run through my head like it’s on a marquee and never stops.  This event has rocked my world today.  All I can say to any of my perpetrators is…..”THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES!”

#Thispuzzledlife

Morning Monsters

Morning Monsters

8.15.14

“Your mind is your prison when you focus on your fear.”

—-Tim Fargo

I woke up this morning just feeling discombobulated for no reason that I can understand.  I know that my stomach hurts and I’m nervous to the point of almost being scared. I just have that deep and dark feeling that something bad is about to happen. I check the house for intruders with the toddler by my side thinking we are hunting for Scooby-Doo (doo-doo-doo toddler version). Everything seems safe but very unsettling. I found nothing in the house to signify any breach of “safety.”  Marshall, however, did find Scooby Doo in DVD format. So, I get the movie started and take my cannabis wax pen with me to the bathroom just in case I begin to vomit.  The buildup of tension has led to another early morning bout of ‘shock and awe.’

The one thing that I have begun to do is listen to what my body is saying.  This too is a relationship that includes work.  My body, seems to know, even though my mind doesn’t understand, that something feels very threatening.  I immediately, go to where my vaporizer is warming up and prepare to take my morning medicine.  Scooby-Doo, a superhero toddler and medical marijuana sounds like a good combination to settle what’s happening in my body.  After a few good vapes, I begin to feel my body and mind relax.

Ok, back to normal “mommy duties.” But, something still doesn’t feel ‘ok’ about this morning.

Anyway, said toddler grabs two “baby paws” full of fresh, cherry tomatoes from the garden bucket for a morning snack.  I’m thinking, “at least he’s going to eat something healthy for breakfast.”  I start getting dressed to take him to daycare and begin to revel in the moment of being by myself. I try to ignore the nauseating feeling creeping to a very uncomfortable level.  I switch to my wax pen which is much stronger concentration than what’s in my vaporizer. I take a couple of ‘hits’ and within a few minutes the nausea begins to subside.  In the meantime, Marshall has taken his paws full of ‘snacks’ and has begun shoving them ever so forcefully into a magnetic bottle opener on our refrigerator.  I now have seeds and tomato juice on everything. I cleaned it all up but not before he starts screaming like I just set him on fire.  Yes, what he wanted was to keep his squished cherry tomatoes, seeds and juice.  I then remember that Marshall is meeting textbook criteria for a diagnosis I call “Chronic, Intermittent Toddler Psychosis.” This disorder is often exhibited most often while out in public.  This is when everyone that is around now posts a new Facebook status about a crazed toddler. .  My first thought was, “Why didn’t we use protection?”  Next thought, “I hope like hell Comcast is working this morning and this child can watch Netflix.”  I look over to our modem and “Halleluer! The angels are singing in heaven! I have a signal!”  I find Scooby-Doo on Netflix and “Toddler Psychosis” appears to have forgotten about what activated the event.

I vape for a few more minutes just to make sure I don’t get sick while attempting to take him to school.  Something is still very unsettling from within.  I tell Marshall to come on so we can go to school. I begin turning off all the lights like I was so gently reminded, as a kid, about how ”leaving lights on costs money.”  Marshall meets me at the door with a truck in each paw along with his blanket, sippy cup and Scooby-Doo DVD case.  Telling him,” Scooby can stay here during the day was not working this morning.”  Picking my battles, we take everything he has gathered to the car.  I begin buckle him in and we head off to the daycare.

I begin backing out of my driveway, when I feel the ‘weight of the world’ hit my chest like a bullet in war. I sit there wondering if I was dying. My chest begins hurting to the point of tears.  I take a couple of vapes off my wax pen hoping for quick relief.  It takes a few minutes, but I now feel like I can get him to school. By the time, we start leaving the military base that we live on, I can feel the battle between the chest pains and mmj happening.  I start heading in the direction of his school which is only about 5 minutes away from the house.  The radio was playing some very familiar songs from my high school days and the seat heater was warm which seemed to be comforting.  OMG! I forgot that some schools have started backThe panic has started.

 ‘There are too many cars. Something is going to happen to you because you can’t keep an eye on all of the people on the road.  Everyone is looking at you.  Everyone is judging you.  You don’t know them, but they know you. If anyone steps out of line with a look or a comment…I’m ready! Be ready for any and everything! Please don’t say or do anything stupid!’

I drop Marshall off at school hoping no one notices how I feel on the inside. What would they think? Do, I look like I’m acting “normal?” So, I throw a few jokes and toddler stories out there for the employees to laugh at while I try to slide out the door without my emotions being detected.  I make it out to my vehicle where I just sit and breathe for a few seconds.  My body and mind feel like I’m on the run from a serial killer. I notice now that not only is my chest pounding. But, now my back hurts to the point that I feel as though I have been impaled with something.  My jaw hurts and the rest of my body feels like everything is cramping.

Brief insanity moment thinking: “Go to Wal-Mart and go shopping.” “Are you kidding? I just barely made it to the daycare to drop Marshall off and stayed alive!” I notice the vehicle going the opposite direction from Wal-Mart. My body feels like I have just been beaten with something.  I finally make it back home where all of the anxiety from getting out in public hits me.  I now have to have mmj and the toxins (regular medication) to attempt to gain control over my symptoms.  I realize that the symptoms from earlier are from the anticipation of going in public. You’ve just witnessed on both the inside and outside what point ‘social anxiety’ has its grasp has on me.  All of the physical and emotional symptoms are because of the trauma that I experienced from someone who made the choice not to work on their own trauma.

This is a process that has no time limit.  I have 30+ years of trauma to process.  Even while writing this, my body still has not reached its ‘normal balance’ after almost two hours since being home from taking Marshall to daycare. I got lucky that I didn’t have to really interact or be rubbed up against like being at a mall.  I don’t know about this process.  I usually have everything mapped out and I now feeling like I’m going in blind. And that scares me to my core. My childhood coach, Nick Kolinsky,  I mentioned in a previous day’s post told me about how a winner plays ball…..”Little things make big things happen!”  This is how, I’m trying to face this big challenge before me.

#Thispuzzledlife

Robin Williams

Robin Williams

8.13.14

“You must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin,

the less likely you are to find it at all.”

Dead Poets Society

I have read and listened to a lot of information about the death of Robin Williams.  I’ve seen a lot of mental health advocates, once again rise surrounding stigmas and mental health.  Why has his death affected me to the point that my soul hurts?  Let’s see….I’ve been in some pretty dark places in my lifetime.  I could always count on someone like Robin Williams to get me out of that dark place.  Just the shock of his death and the way he died by his own hand, has brought back many thoughts, feelings and emotions.

While a short stint as an EMT, I saw enough to last me forever. I would do it again. But, there’s consequences from doing this type of work every day. One such occasion includes a suicide that I responded to while working on the ambulance.  Everything about that scene, I remember like it was yesterday.  A murder scene with all of the sights, sounds and smell reminders are enough to have me feeling like I’m having a heart attack.  Suicides of people that I’ve known throughout my life and never knowing why but understanding how they reached that point of hopelessness circulate my brain.

I have been forced to sit with these kind of feelings most of my life without many people knowing.  After all, we are brought up in a society that wants us to look great even when things aren’t ok.  I’ve realized that sometimes the people that make us laugh the hardest seem like they have the greatest scars that people seldom see.  Some scars aren’t hidden like the ones on my arms. The scars on my arms are ones that say that I’ve been through a battle. But, the scars on my heart and mind say that I’ve been through and are still going through a war.

Just the topic of suicide can make me physically ill. This topic has affected me in so many ways both personally and professionally.  Everyone has “secrets” that are not told. Society likes to judge and think that suicide is the ‘easy way out’ or ‘selfish.’  I’m not saying in any way, shape, form or fashion that one’s own personal belief, at that moment, isn’t distorted. But, I believe that most people who commit suicide do it to protect their families from knowing the truth or being considered a “drain” on the family. This isn’t every reason my any means.  Suicide, from their view, could be an act of love.  These families seldom know for sure. This is why death, in this way, is so difficult for the remaining family.

One can only speculate now, the real reason that Robin William committed suicide.  However, knowing that he was affected by a known mental illness, I understand how tiring it can be.  I’ve always said, “Everyone has a limit.”  How far down does yours go?

I’ll leave this tribute to Robin Williams and the field of therapy that I saw on Facebook today.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ryan-thomas-neace-/requiem-for-a-therapist-a_b_5670467.html

#Thispuzzledlife

Social Stigma

Social Stigma

8.12.14

“The loneliest people are the kindest.  The saddest people smile the brightest.  The most damaged people are the brightest.  All because they never want to see others suffer the way they do.” 

—–Anonymous

The topic of Robin Williams committing suicide really saddens me.   He was a man that has always been able to lift me up with a nice dose of humor.  I don’t know the details to this or any other celebrities suicides.  But, I do know the anguish that comes from living with a mental disorder due to circumstances beyond one’s control.  Maybe, Robin William’s bipolar disorder symptoms were purely biological?  I highly doubt it. There are probably images of things done and said to him by one or many perpetrators.  These are the types of things that can keep a person away for hours.  It’s torment on the mind and the body.  Once the physical symptoms evolve, there starts somewhat of a decline in functioning even on a seemingly minute level.  A comment I read on social media was, “He always appeared so happy.”

First of all, he’s a celebrity and is held to a higher standard. We live in a society where everything is about image not truth.  Most victims of abuse continue to protect their abusers out of fear.  Likewise, most individuals who have a mental illness, stay quiet due to social stigma.  So, the attitude seems to be more of a “let them get the help they need. Just don’t mention anything about it so no one knows.”

Society has somehow labeled everyone with a mental illness as “dangerous.”  Depending on what the particular diagnosis is seems to determine how one might react.  People already have in their minds what “bipolar” “depression” “anxiety disorders” “substance abuse disorders” and/or ”schizophrenia” “personality disorders” look like.  So, for example…..anyone who has bipolar disorder is going to be seemingly hyper one moment and depressed the next moment all while in the same conversation with you.  Not everything is as it seems.  The information most people have on specific mental illnesses is the direct contact of a family and/or friend. And, of course, the media which seldom presents things unbiased on any topic.  Very true, that there are mentally ill individuals who are dangerous. But, many walk among us quietly having never been diagnosed or been able to get or afford treatment. There are also those individuals with mental illness that are not dangerous which represents the majority.

I consider my wife and I to have a really good policy for outpatient mental health benefits.  However, due to specific needs, our insurance won’t cover trauma treatment because they don’t see the need for it.  Really? I asked that poor person on the phone, “How are you able to sleep at night?” Yea….the privilege of being able to talk to our insurance company has been permanently disabled.  Eating disorders, PTSD due to military service and substance abuse disorders are paid for with no problem. I had someone from a treatment center that asked me, “Have you ever been in a war?”  My response was, “Ma’am, I didn’t serve our country. But, I’ve been in a war the majority of my life. Doesn’t that count for something? I did nothing to deserve what was done to me.”  “Yea, I’m sure it’s tough to live like that but you don’t meet criteria for our program.”  This is the typical answer we receive.  Diagnoses are great for insurance billing but somewhat useless in society. All it seems to do has been to cause a nationwide panic to keep mental illness a secret.

If you have a question about a particular disorder, look it up or ask someone with the disorder.  Not your moody neighbor that waves and cusses you out in the same breath. Then, you have decided that in all your education and classes on diagnosing that you have never taken, lead you to the diagnosis of bipolar disorder.  Don’t just depend on any type of media to educate you about mental illness. Look up scholarly journals not Wikipedia, and look at the studies that have been done with individuals with particular disorders.  Hollywood’s movies are designed to be dramatic and make money.  Those of us with mental illness just want to learn how to live a comfortable life.

I would imagine that even though, Robin Williams, had more money then I’ll ever see in my lifetime. None of it was bigger than his disorder or his trauma.  Everything you do and/or say affects someone either positively or negatively.  Be especially sensitive around children because, what you do and how you make them feel will last forever. Everyone has a breaking point and Robin Williams found his.

#Thispuzzledlife

Roots, Branches & Chosen

Roots, Branches & Chosen

8.11.14

“The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is.”

—Jim Carrey

I’ve been looking over my blog and have decided that there is some pertinent information missing.  The main thing that I would like to point out is this……… “Just because of my sexual abuse history with men, please understand that this is not why I’m gay. Men scare me, yes.  But, I’ve always been attracted to the same sex.”

The term “family” has a meaning, for me, which has evolved over time and continues to do so.  The title of this blog is the categories that I have broken the types of “family” that I choose to identify. The first category is Roots.  This category identifies me on sight by the color of my hair, gender, facial features, and other DNA in general.  This is where identity helps to be formed.  All of physical “stuff,” comes from my “birth” parents. Good or bad, they would be the vehicles, by which, I entered the world.

Who consist of the Branches?  This would be my “adoptive” parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents.  These were the people that actually raised me.  For the “adopted child” this is where the Nature vs. Nurture debate is warranted.  So, the person that “I” reflect back to people is a combination of both nature and nurture.  Personality definitely has genetic components to back it up.  But, how one was or was not nurtured is still not what makes up a personality completely. There are also social factors that help to make up one’s personality.

OK so, my “Chosen” family are the ones that have a very special description.  My “chosen” family are those that have no blood or other family relations to me.  These “family” members tend to be much more plentiful except that my daddy has a very large family.  When I was younger these “special” people where my teammates and close family friends.  Today, this category includes members of the “gay” community.  Since reuniting with my best friend from 20+ years ago, Levi Pierce, I now know what it’s like to actually have a brother. These are people that have watched and continue to watch me struggle, but continue to love me anyway. They have celebrated when I do and cried with me and I with them.  These are people whose “trust” actually means something.  These are the people that if they need you at 2:00 am, I know that they would listen. But, they’re also the same people that will put their foot ever so harshly in my ass if I need it.  And when they do it, you always know that it’s coming from a place of love and not from abuse. The level of “trust” for them has been tested and passed with flying, sometimes, rainbow colors.  I have always been told, “I knew you were. I was just waiting for you to be ready to tell it for yourself.”  That is a stunning example of the kind of mutual respect that the relationship with them encompasses.  If I get a call that one of them needs me, consider it done! I will drive across the country, even to the small, little, southern town that I actually will begin retching just thinking about it, if one of them needed support.

 I also have a “therapeutic” family.  These are the people that have seen and continue to see how abuse can affect someone years later.  These are some of the people that I have been in treatments with that are considered “safe” people.  I have very strong bonds with these individuals. They are always learning about how each one of our brains is similar yet different.  This can actually be pretty damn funny at times.  We understand and respect “trauma” humor that most people would find distasteful.  They know I’m “quirky” about things and well..sometimes they have the same “quirks.”  I can tell them anything that’s going on with my brain and not be “judged” for it.  Many nights, I have stayed up very late talking to them.

So, you see….the term “family” has evolved over time to encompass more than just what people see as a “typical” family.  Melody, Marshall and I don’t have a “typical, Focus on the Family” type of family.  But, make no mistake….we and those that love and support us are all “FAMILY.”

#Thispuzzledlife

Trapped Trauma

Trapped Trauma

8.8.2014

“The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma.”

― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

People who will read these posts are wondering about, “How I’m able to write about this trauma if I have such adverse effects?”  The truth is that, I’m able to discuss this because I’m talking completely from my head.  Emotionally, I have a very difficult time staying “grounded” around these topics. It’s the same concept as those that work in the emergency services field (EMTs, fire fighters, police).  And let’s not forget our soldiers that return from war.  I worked only for a year on an ambulance but saw enough to last a lifetime.  You operated solely helping with the gruesome scene before you.  Feelings must be put on the “back burner” in order to get the job done.

Once upon a time, a few years ago while in graduate school, I would do presentations to help explain/educate those going into the therapy field on the topic of “Self-Harm.”  I had to be able to give some background information in order for the students to grasp the concept of how this behavior can develop.  However, emotionally the topics, even more vague than I talk about here, would, at time have me vomiting by the end of the presentation.  So, I had to completely detach emotionally to be able to speak.

The problem is afterward………”What to do with all of the feelings?”  Everything emotionally gets stored and trapped unless properly released.  Within the animal kingdom, all prey animals go through the same thing we go through as humans.  Some of these symptoms include but definitely not limited to:  heart rate changes, immobilization state, shaking, trembling, shivering, temperature changes, breathing changes and more.  The animal then returns to a “normal” state of being and goes on about its business. We as human beings have a much more complex emotional, psychological and physical systems in operation on a day-to-day basis. However, if we could learn how to just ‘sit’ with these trauma responses, be able to release the results of this ‘normal’ type of physical and mental responses safely and fully. We could also just move on to the next task.  However, most people don’t know how to completely and safely release these ‘trapped’ feelings and emotions. Therefore, people either find and work with a therapist often many years after the event because their behavior becomes problematic in every aspect of their life.  Most people don’t realize that they’re actually looking to be able to have this release so that they are able to function more normally.  This state of unresolved trauma can be the underlying force that drives the elusive symptoms such as panic, depression, migraines, irritable bowel, ME, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and chronic pain.

Those that choose not to work on their issues can lead to an unfulfilled life never truly happy because of an event or series of events that could’ve happened 20+ years ago. And some well….they re-perpetrate another victim and the cycle continues.  This is where having a trusted therapist is very crucial. Releasing the trauma through both the mind and body is a very intimate area that most people aren’t allowed to know about much less hear how the trauma really affected us.  Often the additional re-experiencing that can come with therapy, can actually be more painful than the actual events.  For me, my body and mind can feel like I’m detoxing from some type of drug.  I wake up vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, sweating and emotionally a mess. Sometimes it can take until noon time for me to be able to somewhat function.

Because of my trauma, it takes me a long time of watching and interacting with someone to feel that comfortable to work with someone on that level. Remember….the times when I initially going through the trauma, I was either alone or made fun of for natural feelings for the situation. Therapy is one of those professions that have a very fine line between ethical and unethical behavior.  I know and totally respect this from having been in the field at one time.  However, without some type of human and/or animal connection……I, personally, cannot process.  I have to know and feel a ‘therapeutic’ relationship with the person or persons that I do this work with.  This is a very scary process for me to find those people that I feel that level of comfort being around.  Also, because they have the title as “therapist,” automatically my mind and body scream, “Harmful Authority Figure Ahead! You Will Get Hurt!” So, it has taken me over a year working with therapists every week for over a year watching EVERYTHING about them to determine whether or not they’re a “safe” people.  Even with determining that these people are “safe” people, showing an emotion besides anger often leaves me feeling embarrassed and shameful. Even the anger, leaves it’s on mark of shame on me.

These (psychosomatic) reactions wear both the mind and body down.  The medical marijuana actually helps me to be able to persevere through these reactions by helping with both the intensity of the flashbacks and pain. I also go to acupuncture every week which seems to, at least, help with some of the physical symptoms.  Not everyone is going to have the same reaction to processing or experiencing trauma.   Unfortunately, this is sometimes just part of the process.  It’s definitely a “marathon not a sprint.” I didn’t reach these extremes in behavior overnight. So, to even remotely think, that seeing a therapist and being able to resolve everything in a couple of weeks is a very unrealistic expectation that will set one up for failure.

The time in my life where I remember actually feeling truly “safe” in a relationship with someone outside of my parents is my wife, Melody Landrum-Arnold.  She has been nothing less than a ‘trooper’ while in this arduous process. This feeling of “safety” has also come with some complications. This will be explained later.

#Thispuzzledlife

Hello world!

I initially started blogging about 5 years ago.  I’m originally from the deep south in Petal, MS.  It’s exactly half way between Gulfport, MS and Jackson, MS and just across the bridge from Hattiesburg, MS.  Petal has a population around 11,000 now but growing up as a small child and teenager there were significantly less people.  Small town USA complete with the noisiness, conservative politics, religion, strong beliefs, great food, respect taught through the generations, southern hospitality, friendly neighbors who are loyal as family, resilient, head strong and loyalties within a “good ole’ boy network.”  No more loyalties than any other small town I’m sure.  But this “loyalty” hurt me and changed the course of my life forever.

Me and my wife completed Master’s degree in Couseling and then moved to Albuquerque, NM to begin our careers and start a family.  But as life would have it, Mental Illness began to effect our hopes and dreams one day at a time. A few years later I would be diagnosed correctly….finally…with Dissociaitve Identity Disorder.  We would eventually have two little boys that we adore and make you want to keep going with things get difficult.

puzzlepieces2

My writing is about the struggles of living as an individual and LGBT family with a parent with severe mental illness. The sometimes the humor of it all and the often heartbreaking reality of the effects of abuse and mental illness on the indivial and family unit as a whole will keep those that struggle from feeling that you live on an island.  And the families will see that you can love someone with a mental illness without becoming a prisoner to their behaviors.  And maybe you will also see that the struggle for us as your family memeber have more struggles then what we let on at times.

Anyway, enjoy the laughs and tears with our family as they support me while I search for the puzzle pieces of an abusive life.  I will say this…I don’t sugar coat anything.  Sometimes my blogs can be graphic but abuse isn’t pretty.  I’m in the process of healing so topics are frequently repeated and attitudes change from positive to dark.  Either way, this is MY life and MY therapeutic journey towards healing.  Hold on because this ride is bumpy.

Hit the “Follow” button and watch us grow. I don’t write every day because my functionality can change on a dime.  I cover many different topics related to abuse and mental illness.  This blog builds so read from the beginning and see Where we were. Where we are now. And where we are going.  Happy Reading!

#thispuzzledlife