feellost

Time to regroup

When you feel caught running into the darkness… slam on the brakes and just sit down.  Hide out from the looming shadows and regroup.

My life has been in tornado mode for so long.  I don’t know which way is up and which way is down.  I feel like I’m sprinting in circles in a forest chasing some nebulous healing path.  Am I closer to finding a road out or am I just going deeper into the woods?

For now, I’m just going to sit on a tree stump and watch the scenery until some pathway becomes more clear.  Frankly, my legs and mind could use a good rest anyway.  Hoping that with this rest comes clarity.

warrior vs victim

These days seem to have less panic than they did a few months ago.  I deeply grateful for that.  But now I seem to oscillate between two states–being fine and like I’ve got all this covered or a feeling of being sucker punched and unable to breathe or form words.  I’ve spent most of my life in denial about what happened when I was a kid.  The abuse was so painful that I literally blocked it out of my mind completely for years.  But it crept back into my life and made itself known with such a strong force.  But I still denied it most days, chalking it up to complete insanity, delusions and hallucinations.  It is only since I recently saw my dad again and was able to state how I am doing and what I am struggling with that the denial component has seemed to lifted.  And with that, the anxiety has subsided too.  That internal struggle of what my real truth is was creating such a state of panic that it brought my life to a halt on many occasions.  So in some ways this phase that I am in now is much better.

But now I have a much different kind of struggle.  I oscillate between being determined not to let my past define me, to overcome it, be stronger than it, and proof that it has left me unscathed.  Then I can switch quickly back into a ‘woe is me’ mode.  How could this have happened?  Why did this happen to me?  Will I ever get passed this?  How do I even put one foot in front of the other with these horrors of my life?  How will I ever be normal?  The abuse of my past will haunt me in every corner of my life until I die, robbing me of every ounce of joy.  In this despair state, I just lie on the floor staring off into space.  I can form no words.  I have no thoughts.  Just this feeling of being sucker punched with the reality of my life.

But then some days I can manage to get up and go forward.  As a way of saying, “Screw this shit!  I’m not going to let that crap define me.  I’m stronger than that!  It happened years ago and I’m a grown adult now who has her shit together.  Watch me show you how much I’ve got this covered!”  I proceed to plow through lengthy to-do lists, cook all sorts of fancy meals an treats, plan vacations, organize parties and get togethers.  I am a warrior who can conquer this shit with ease.  See how well I am doing?  Pretty amazing, right?

UGH!  Yeah, I’m not buying it either and then I swing right back into that despair, sitting on the couch staring off into nothingness.

Just the beginning…

Finallyspeakingmytruth:

Can’t believe I’ve been blogging for 6 months now. What a roller coaster it has been. Thanks to all of my great readers who have supported me through my journey. You guys are truly awesome! It all began with this…

Originally posted on Finally Speaking My Truth:

I’m writing a blog.  Four words I never thought would come out of my mouth.  I’m usually the shy, quiet one.  But I never really thought my life would be such a tornado mess like it is either.  There’s a lot to be said for that phrase ‘never say never’.  My life has been turned upside down, walls crumbling around me.  And here I am standing in the middle, smiling, trying to play it cool hoping that no one will notice the shit storm brewing around me.  I’m amazed as to how many people can be fooled by the facade I put up.  Some days I even believe it myself. 

Let me take a few steps backwards.  Try to explain something that I’m still trying to make sense of myself.  I’m a woman in her mid thirties, with two beautiful, small children, a husband of 9 years, and working as…

View original 283 more words

anniver

Celebrating a shitty marriage

Ten years ago today, I walked down a rainy aisle in the backyard of the house where I grew up to hold hands with my husband. In front of almost two hundred of our friends and family, we stated our love and commitment to each other. I vowed to stay by his side through the good times and bad, and he said the same to me. I don’t think either of us truly grasped the depth of the words we were saying to each other. I think it was beyond our comprehension. Like parenthood, marriage is one of those things you don’t really know what you’re signing up for until you are knee deep in the murkiness of hard work trying to figure out how to make it and wondering where all the pretty flowers, fun dance songs, and expensive cake went.

Most people spend their anniversary (their tenth nonetheless) focusing on the great times. Reminiscing the beautiful wedding day, the happy silly moments, and how deep they love their wonderful spouse. Well, my thoughts on my marriage are slightly different this day.  Although I will say I am deeply in love with my husband, I’m not pondering our fabulous wedding day or the great times we’ve shared.  Well, I am, but that’s not my focus today.  Honestly, our wedding day was a comical mess.  I was late to my own wedding due to a spacy hairdresser and we got drenched in a tent that was put together last minute with poles and duct tape from Home Depot.  It was a calamity of errors and mishaps, but we got down that aisle, dammit, and still danced our hearts out in celebration.  If I only knew how much that was foreshadowing our lives together.

No marriage is easy.  I can talk about the beautiful moments we’ve shared–the births of our children, the career successes, and the amazing vacations.  But that is only the tip of the iceberg of what we are celebrating today.  Today I am remembering and celebrating the shitty times.  Those times that had us screaming at the top of our lungs, throwing the laundry around the room in frustration, stomping out of the house close to giving up.  Those arguments where you get so lost in the yelling and proving the other wrong that you forget what you even started yelling about…taking out the trash? changing the oil? the dirty underwear on the floor?  How is it that those seemingly little things suddenly become representative of how we never feel heard, don’t feel respected and how we question why we are even with this infuriating person that can’t even manage to put the dishes in the dishwasher correctly???

My husband and I have had countless moments like these.  And as the past two years have unfolded with me spiraling down into a deep darkness of depression, the tension has only been exacerbated. My vulnerabilities that I brought to our marriage are extensive. My struggles with trusting anyone with my true feelings, my fear of true intimacy, my panic attacks in the bedroom, my being honest about the degree of dysfunction in the house that I grew up in, my spiraling darkness that leaves me staring off into nothingness. The walls that I have put up for my emotional security are massive and often insurmountable. Any attempts to breach these walls, even by my beloved husband, are often met with intense anger and evilness in order to make sure those walls are sound and secure. And all of that emotional mess that I bring to the table is only part of the equation in our marriage. My husband brings his own mess of vulnerabilities into the mix too. His fears of not being competent, fears of failure, his struggles of letting go of his parents judgments, his feelings of rejection when I push away his kisses over and over again, his anger and disgust towards my family, his resentment at me for having to keep the household together while I curl up in the corner. That is a lot of hurt and fear that we have to deal with between the two of us. Now add in two energetic, but often cranky and demanding little ones, a house that seems to always need some repair, stressful jobs that wakes us up at all hours of the night having to put the needs of our patients before our own and you have one impressive recipe for disaster. We feel pulled in at least twenty-six different directions on a daily basis.  No wonder sometimes we struggle to find the moments of sweet romance and connection.

When emotions are flying all around the room in the heat of the moment, we both have said some hurtful things.  We both feel the sting of those criticisms and judgements long after the words have settled. We can barely recover from one argument before another is starting to brew.  So, although there have been many great, beautiful moments in our ten years of marriage, these days it seems we have to search a little bit harder and longer in order to be able to get in touch with those moments again.  But I had a realization today…I am ok with that.  I am learning to treasure those dark moments that make us question what brought us together.  Pretty backwards, right?

I am learning that the strength of our marriage is not in those beautiful, happy moments of hearing our sweet babes cry for the first time or watching the sun set on the lake.  Our strength is most evident at the end of those horrible, ugly arguments that leaves us both emotionally wounded and retreating to our corners.  Because even though we both are full of anger and hurt, even though we can’t even pull it together enough to even acknowledge each other before we go to sleep, the next day my husband still wakes up next to me.  Despite many temptations to throw in the towel, we haven’t given up.  We have been painfully raw and human in front of each other.  We have masked our hurt and pain with anger and on rare moments we show our true vulnerabilities in their most bare forms.  To do that and still have him be there the next day is more profound and beautiful than any fancy dinner on an exotic vacation.  He has seen me at my true worst.  I am the first to admit that my worst is hideously ugly and almost impossible to love.  But he is still here.  And in his most recent card to me, he ended it with “I’m not going anywhere.”  And that, my friends, is what marriage is.  Being in that muddy ugliness where the sunlight and pretty flowers are no where is sight.  Struggling to just move forward in the chaos.  That moment of debate when you think that maybe you can find some sunshine faster if you travel alone.  But then look at this human being next you, covered in that sticky mud just as much as you are, and reaching out your hand to grab theirs.

Marriage has a funny way of forcing you to face your weaknesses and your darkest truths.  The love of your life can make you laugh at all of life’s silly moments but they are also skilled at challenging you in patience, humility and vulnerability. Those parts of you that you don’t like to admit are there will play a significant role in your marriage unless you allow yourself to confront them. Using your marriage to grow as a person and be the caring spouse that your partner deserves.

I love my husband with my whole heart and he has intrigued me and challenged me since the day we met in a microbiology class in college (yeah, not the most romantic story). When you say ‘for better or worse,’ no one really truly grasps what ‘worse’ will entail and it is drastically different for everyone. And although we have had some serious rough patches, I have little doubt that our ‘worse’ is over yet.  But I am holding his muddy hand tightly and he doesn’t seem to be letting go of mine.  We have seen some of our ugliest parts, but here we are going strong at the ten year mark.  So although I am beyond grateful for those amazing, happy moments we have shared, I am appreciating those shitty moments today.  Those moments that show the true strength of our marriage.

Looking back on our wedding day, it predicted so much of how our lives have been. So much planning and great things that went into the day.  But all that planning went out the window and we were forced to roll with the punches.  My white dress was covered in mud.  But I took that muddy dress and danced all night.  We may still be walking in the symbolic rain down that muddy aisle in our marriage, but there is some pretty awesome dance music coming our way.  We will dance our hearts out, covered in mud, holding each others hands tightly while we spin and laugh.

fear

Moving forward through my fear

I wrote not too long ago about going to see my dad (my abuser) again.  I couldn’t truly articulate why I felt the need to do it.  No one else really thought it was a good idea.  My husband and I even had some heated arguments about it.  I’m pretty sure my therapist didn’t understand why I needed to do it either, but she respected that it was something I felt that I needed to do.  They both feared it would send me into another dark spiral.  Truthfully, I feared the same, but something in me told me I needed to do it.

I emailed my dad and told him that I wanted to see him and my stepmom, but I set a lot of ground rules up before going.  I told him that just because I was meeting with him, didn’t mean that I was ready to see him regularly.  I may meet with him this once and want to see him again the next week or I may not want to see him for a couple more years.  I was playing it by ear.  I also stated that I wasn’t looking to debate and rehash my memories of who did what and when.  I learned from the last confrontation that that type of interaction will only lead me to second guess myself, and send me into a dark spiral of self-hatred.  I knew I wasn’t strong enough for that level of confrontation again.  I told him that I just wanted to see him and hear how things were going in his life, how the rest of the family was doing, and to just let him know where I was with everything.

Ever since my memories started to surface and come to head, turning my entire life upside down and questioning everything, I clung to the hope of validation.  Someone to tell me the horrors in my mind had actually happened.  I felt that I couldn’t move forward with healing until I figured out what was real and what was my imagination.  Since there is no replay button for my childhood, I was looking to my family for that validation.  Unfortunately, they are the last ones that would be willing to admit anything because it is too risky for them.  Their safety lies in maintaining that facade that I was raised in.  I began to realize that if I was relying on their help to heal, I would spin in this never ending darkness forever.  I needed to detach my healing from being contingent on my family speaking their own truth.  I can’t control them and their healing, so I should stop letting them control mine.  This sounds simple and obvious as I write it out now, but I had do some serious soul searching to reach this realization.  And realizing it and actually following through with it are two very different things.

Despite realizing this, I know that I can’t quite remove them from my life completely.  Well, I can but only with the consequence of removing myself from all family functions and gatherings as well and struggling with my own self-inflected guilt.  That is a sacrifice I am not willing to make.  I have a large, great family and I miss them terribly.  So I needed to find a way to be true to myself and my feelings and be present with the people who have hurt me at my core all without getting sent into the darkness of self-hatred.  That, my friends, is not an easy feat.  But meeting with my dad was going to be the first step.

So after setting the ground rules, we found a day to meet.  I had planned it a week in advance which left me with plenty of time to get anxious and have a million possible scenarios play through my head.  But each time some horrible scenario came to mind, I just kept telling myself that it can’t be worse than the last time I saw him and I shockingly survived that (the darkness that followed nearly killed me, but I got through it).  That week had lots of deep breaths, running, stretching and dancing to try to stay in my body and grounded in the present moment.  It took serious effort to not let myself go down the panic route.  But as that week progressed and the meeting came closer, I realized that the mere fact that I was trying to stay in my body and grounded proved to myself that I was in a much better place than I was a year ago at the initial confrontation.

The day came and started off like any other morning.  Getting the kids ready for school, drinking some coffee (although my nerves had me wired enough and I couldn’t manage to get myself to eat), hugging my babes goodbye in front of their classrooms, and then I was off driving down the highway.  It was so much like other days that it was easy for me to pretend that this was no big deal, but as I approached his driveway, my heart sank.  My body broke out in a cold sweat and I thought I was going to hurl right there in front of his house.   I tried to take a moment to gather my composure, but as I took a deep breath, I looked out the window and saw my dad walking towards my car.  There goes my idea of my entrance being on my terms and there goes any time I had to gather my sanity.  Here goes nothing.

It was amazing how much we went through the motions like things were as they always had been.  We hugged each other and he began to ask questions about the kids.  For the first half hour we talked about my daughter losing her first tooth, learning to ride a bike and her reading ability.  We joked of my son’s sense of humor, fearlessness, and second set of stitches.  I heard about what is going on with some of my cousins and my step siblings.  He told me of his upcoming trips and what is going on with his health.

We settled so quickly back into our old groove.  But I needed to break that.  Things can never be as they were.  I started to tell him how I am still struggling with depression and anxiety, but that I feel like I am starting to make progress with my therapist.  I told him that I have symptoms of PTSD which often means that seemingly mundane things can trigger a panic attack, that I can often feel like I am reliving scenes from my childhood.  I let him know that because of these things it has made it difficult to work sometimes and it has put a huge strain on my marriage.  I also shared that, in addition to these symptoms, I also have a dissociative disorder that has made me lose chunks of time, lose control of my body, and has crippled me in many ways.  He just looked at me while I spoke, sometimes turning to look at the floor.  He would occasionally nod to acknowledge that he was listening.  It was an awkward conversation with lots of moments of uncomfortable silence, but he didn’t challenge me.

The whole conversation was bizarre.  I felt numb as I described myself.  I’m not sure how much he understood what I said.  And if he did understand the depths of what I was explaining, I have no idea how much he attributed my struggles to his actions when I was a kid.  Part of me was screaming inside to have him say he was sorry, to acknowledge something of my past.  But I know that will never be.  But what did happen was me speaking my truth to him about where I am and what I struggle with.  I wasn’t placing blame.  I wasn’t pointing fingers.  His ability to face his own truth is on him and I can’t force him to do that.  That is his healing, not mine.  I write this as if it is something that I truly feel and grasp wholeheartedly.  And part of me does.  But it something that I have to chant to myself over and over again.  Consciously telling myself to let go of that need for validation from my family.  I need to remind myself of this again and again.  I say this to myself every day now.  EVERY.  DAY.  I am coming to terms with my truth.  Everyone else will do that on their own terms.  And my healing is NOT dependent on their healing.  I repeat: my healing is NOT dependent on their healing.

My dad didn’t say much in response to my sharing of my symptoms.  He asked some questions to clarify what I meant by losing chunks of time, if i was taking medication, and about how my husband was responding to everything.  He then asked when he would see my kids again and all I could tell him was I don’t know.  I told him I am playing everything by ear.  I left him with some pictures of my kids and their gorgeous smiles and got up to go.  We hugged again before leaving.  As we embraced there was  part of me that wanted to run so fast, part of me felt like I was going to collapse, and part of me wanted to cling to my dad so hard because I miss him so much.  Such contradicting emotions that spiraled into one.  But my body continued on as if I was fine as usual.  I got in the car, buckled my seat belt, and pulled out of the driveway.

As I pulled away from his house, I also left my feelings.  Somewhere on that drive that numb switch went all the way on.  My body went through the motions of the day like any other day.  But I was numb inside.  I struggled to find words to anything that had happened.  For a week or so I felt like an empty body just going through the motions.  I am slowly starting to get some feelings back, but that numb feeling comes in waves.  It makes me slightly fearful as to what my body is numbing myself from.  What is lurking in the corners of my mind?  What emotional tsunami is about to hit after this numbness wears off?

So, although I think I still have a lot to process from this interaction and my mind clearly is still somewhat in shock that I just went through with it, so far I have not completely spiraled into darkness.  I’m numb, but I’m not dark.  And, for now, I’m thinking that is ok.  The gravity of this will probably hit me in doses (hopefully small ones instead of that tsunami)  But my dad saw me.  He saw me and heard my symptoms.  I’m still here.  I’m still standing.

admittruth

Admitting is the first step

The past few weeks I have started to let go of the doubt in my mind.  The questioning of what happened.  This step may seem insignificant to those of you reading this, but it is a huge hurdle for me.  That constant chatter and argument in my mind–Did something happen?  Am I making this up?  Am I just crazy?  Am I delusional?   Why do I feel like I’m losing my mind???  That constant doubt and crazy feeling can be all consuming and self-destructive.

I’m not sure what caused me to start to accept some of those body memories and flashbacks as my past and not just hallucinations, but it has caused a huge shift in my mind.  I still question the details of my memories as they are still very fuzzy without any coherent storyline.  I still often feel like I’m losing my mind.  But as I sat and looked at my myriad of symptoms, my triggers, the body sensations, my family dynamic, my fears, etc.  Those puzzle pieces that fit together so nicely and make so much sense.  I finally stopped looking at the catastrophic mess of my life and saw it for what it was.  I think I was more delusional pretending that nothing happened, all a figment of my imagination, than when I finally start to call a spade a spade.

Now with this acceptance comes a whole new struggle and turmoil in my mind.  Telling myself I had made it all up and that it never happened was a way to distance myself from it.  Keep myself from admitting the aftermath of it.  Denying it was part of my ability to function.  I knew no other way.  Now I feel sucker punched and like I’m starting from square one.  Another level of healing that is bringing me to my knees yet again.  Instead of ‘did this really happen?’ constantly repeating in my head, it is replaced with ‘how do I function knowing that this happened?’  I’m not sure that it is really better.  It is different, but certainly doesn’t feel any better.  But I am hoping that this is a step in the right direction of healing.  Because I think it is hard to heal something that you can’t even admit is there.  As they say in recovery, admitting there is a problem is the first step.  I am a woman who was sexually abused when I was a child.  There I said it.  I may have said it before, but I didn’t truly believe it.  I kept that statement separate from who I am.  There was always a cloud of denial that hovered over my words.  But now I’m owning my truth and by doing so I hope I can heal it.

The words I say to myself…

Things I have said to my kids just this week:
You are amazing.
You are so talented.
I am so proud of you.
You are such a good friend.
You are a great sister/brother.
It’s ok to be angry/sad/cranky.
Sometimes you just need to rest for a bit, and that’s ok.
If your friends aren’t being nice, you don’t have to hang out with them.
Surround yourself with people that make you feel good.

Things I said to my patients over the past few weeks:

I am proud of you for listening to your body.
I am proud of you for speaking up that you need help.
Look at all that you have accomplished, I hope you can appreciate all of your hard work.
You are your best advocate.  Speak up for yourself.
When your body feels that pain, it is telling you to slow down a bit.
Sometimes being healthy means letting go of unrealistic expectations.
Sleep and exercise often are thought of as secondary things, but if you put those as a priority, the other stuff seems so much easier.
It’s not about being skinny, it’s about being healthy.
Are you trying to do (X, Y, or Z) because it is what you want, or what others want for you?
If you eat crap, you will feel like crap.
Being sick is never convenient, but not giving your body time to heal and get better will only drag out the illness even longer.  Ignoring it will only make it worse.
No one is perfect.  Stop letting Facebook make you think otherwise.
Get off the computer and go talk to your friends face to face.  It is easier to see people are real that way and not just status updates.
When you do X, Y or Z, do you feel better or worse afterwards?
If you don’t keep your body safe and healthy, the rest won’t really matter because you won’t around too long.

Things I have said to my friends the past few weeks:
Thanks for getting together!  You always make me laugh :)
Way to go girl! You’re kicking ass and taking names.
You are such a great mom.
Girl, no one can do it all.  Let me help you get ready for the party.
Why don’t I watch your kids for a bit so you can get a run in?  You look like you need a break.
You seem like you’ve had a rough week, wanna come over for a glass of wine to vent?
Yay! You’re hard work paid off!  Let’s go celebrate!

Things I say to myself all the time:
Get it together! I don’t have time for this crap!
I am so defective!
WTF?  Why am I panicking over something so insignificant?!
I am such a mess!  Why does my husband even stay with me?
If I don’t pretend that I’m fine and have my shit together, no one will want to be around me.
My husband will leave me if I don’t find a way to have sex with him.
I need to just disappear.
No one wants to hear my drama.
I’m overreacting.
I am such a failure for letting him see how hurt I am.  No one wants to see that.
Even though I can’t sleep, I need to keep up with my schedule or my world will fall apart.  People will see how defective I am.
I am such a horrible daughter.  Why can’t I just put the past aside and be there for my mom/dad?
Don’t trust him/her. She is just setting me up for something and going to take advantage of me.
Why can’t I keep it together like my friends do?
Why can’t I pull myself together?!
I’m so defective and cold when I can’t seem to cry like other people do.
I don’t deserve their help.  I have to do it on my own.
No one cares to hear what I have to say.
I can’t let them see those ugly parts of me or they will see how disgusting I am.
I shouldn’t have told her that, she wants nothing to do with me now.

I’m not sure why I can’t manage to give myself them same care and compassion I give those I love.  It seems so easy to see others strengths and beauty, to see how deserving they are.  But me?  I will never be like them.  And so the cycle continues…

photo credit: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/575053446140861249/