Pound of Flesh

Last night I really wanted to get out of bed and write my thoughts, but I was trying to be a good adult.  I had a friend sleeping in the same room, one I was desperately fucking angry with, and I wanted try to get some sleep so I could get through work.

BTW I don’t know what this means if anything, but one of the perks of my job is that I get my work reviewed by an industry hotshot every couple of weeks, and this week he accused me of being self-deprecating.  In a good natured way but it stung nonetheless.  He was right, and it annoys me.

So as I lay there unable to sleep and feeling like someone was sucking up all of my air I realized something else I was really feeling angry about.  My friend who came to town, we’ll  call her Sammy, has anxiety issues.  She was triggered left right and center during this trip and I had to play the good friend and calm her down, when I really wanted to scream at her that she has nothing to be anxious about.

I know, in the adult recesses of my mind, that her anxiety and her triggers and reactions are completely separate than mine, bear no reflection, and don’t mean that her anxiety is any better or worse than mine.

In the adult recesses of my mind.

At some point during the trip we got on the topic of parents.  Oh, I remember.  I told her that my next tattoo was going to be a picture of the Wizard of Oz house with the legs sticking out from under it because “ding dong the witch is dead.” meaning my mother.  It was actually a fairly big disclosure because she knew me at the tail end of my mother’s life and I’ve not shared much.  I’ve told her that my mother was abusive, and she has seen the mood swings and the therapists move in and out of my life.  She’s not stupid and she’s a close friend.  I just don’t overtly confide.

Anyway, she follows up with a story about how her father wasn’t abusive, but nothing was ever good enough for him, and it was always why not an A+ instead of an A, which lead to an eating disorder, which lead to present anxiety issues.  I scoffed and countered with “there wasn’t a form of abuse my mother didn’t practice” essentially daring her to get me to disclose more and she continued to talk about herself.

In the adult recesses of my mind…

People usually listen not to understand but to wait for a break in the conversation so that they can continue to talk about themselves, or push their great idea, or hear themselves think.  I know this.  I do this.  In the adult recesses of my mind.

The angry bits of me wanted to stab her with a fork and scream at her that she had no idea what it was like to actually hurt, to feel like nobody loved you, to want to die, to need to cease to exist.  To yell at her that i managed to relocate my fucking life to California and she could manage a long weekend without making me miserable.

I find it interesting that I’m feeling more and more like I want to break this taboo.  That I want to tell someone.  That I want desperately to confront my father, if only to hurt him.  I had a dream the other night that was a variation on an old theme -my mother isn’t really dead – we thought she died in the hospital but she didn’t and because of the massive fuck-up by the hospital there was a cover up and she was living in some sort of facility while the rest of the world thinks she’s dead.  I figure it out and of course I’m in trouble with her for not realizing sooner.  Normally I beg her forgiveness and wake up in a panic attack.  In this variation though I storm the castle so to speak, yell at her that I hate her and want her to die, and have to be pulled off of her by some orderlies.  There’s a sort of relief there because I know nobody at the facility will turn me in because they need the world to think she’s already dead.  I’m angry that she lives.

Of the other hundreds of things that came to mind last night while I was staring at the ceiling was how my tattoo also resembles a weapon with it’s sharp pointy leaves, and how I dare someone to tell me that I can’t mark my body if I want to.  A three to four hour tattoo is no joke.  It hurts.  I had a 200 lb guy laying on my arm so I wouldn’t pull it away while he essentially scraped the hell out of my arm.  I definitely caught myself practicing some of the old techniques I practiced with my mother, and when I’d catch myself I’d force myself back into the reality of the pain of it.  I remember trying to nap at one point, sing songs in my head, count ceiling tiles, tell myself it would be over soon.  When I’d catch myself I’d tell myself that this pain was my choice and I didn’t have to run away from it.  The tattoo guy kept offering to finish another day and I kept pushing him on.  There was a definite sense of victory, and I feel like a bit of a bad ass.  When people ask me if it hurt I say yes – a LOT. When I look at it, if I’m honest, my first thought isn’t “how pretty.”  My first thought is “fuck you.”

In case you’re wondering, I’m not really likely to get the tattoo of the wizard of oz house.  It’s cliche and too negative.  I have a lot of positive transformation yet to commemorate.  My mother does not deserve one more pound of flesh.

“Pound Of Flesh”

If you’re never sorry
Then you can’t be forgiven
If you’re not forgiven
Then you can’t be forgotten
If you’re not forgotten
Then you can live forever
If you live forever
Then you’ll begin to dream
Of death…

Ezra pound sat upon my bed
Asked me which books as of late I’ve read

Ezra pound sat upon my bed
Asked me which books as of late I’ve read
Asked me if I’ve read his own
And whether I could spare a pound
Of flesh to cover his bare bones
I says, man, take a pound, take two
What’s a pound of flesh between
Friends like me and you?
What’s a pound of flesh among friends?

But if you’re never sorry…

If you’re never sorry
Then you can’t be forgiven
If you’re not forgiven
Then you can’t be forgotten
If you’re not forgotten
Then you must live forever
If you live forever
You cannot be reborn
If you’re not reborn then
You can’t be a baby
If you’re not a baby
You can’t learn how to crawl
If you cannot crawl away
Then you must stay in bed all day
If you stay in bed all day
You’re sure to have some visitors

Ezra pound’ll sit upon your bed
Ask you which books as of late you have read
Ask you if you’ve read his own
And whether you could spare a pound
Of flesh to cover his bare bones
You’ll say, man, take a pound, take two
What’s a pound of flesh between
Friends like me and you?
What’s a pound of flesh among friends?…

– Regina Spektor, Lyrics, Pound of Flesh.

Women seem wicked, when you’re unwanted; streets are uneven when you are down – The Doors

So I guess it’s time for a 6 month check – in 🙂  It has been a whirlwind of 6 months.  This past November my husband moved to another state to take a job he’s been hunting for for a long time.  I’m surprised (and not) that I/we did not mention it in the last post when I said I was fine.  Perhaps that part was.  If I, the person writing this post, thinks back on what was happening in January I was barely holding it together.  Recently I learned that a clue that I’m “not fine” is when I’m over-sanitizing things.  That could be a clue I suppose.

Anyway, at that point I was playing long distance house with my husband and scrambling to get our house on the market.  Since then I’ve moved all the way across the country for my job (my husband is still at his job) relocated my 2 dogs to him, got my house on the market largely by myself, oversaw construction from the opposite coast, and a million other things.

I am not fine.

I am also not a mess.

I think I am more integrated than I have been overall but I have certainly had these moments where the disorganization gets so severe that I can barely breathe.  I struggle to make sense, I hear unrelenting noise and arguments in my head, and while I can function at work my productivity goes way down.  The rest of my day is filled with impulsive behavior and sheer panic.

Like I said, today I am mostly organized, and I’m learning to deal with anger.  The anger I “feel”is like a minor irritation that gets pushed down and covered by panic attacks.  The anger I know is there and am afraid to witness is more likely closer to a blind rage.  I keep having these images of myself on my knees, clawing at the ground in front of me and just screaming crying “I hate you” and “kill me already.”  I can’t attest that this is a memory but it is certainly true for some part of my psyche.  I do remember episodes where I would rage against my parents although I could far from certify in a court of law what they were about or what I said.  Just that raw, primal, emotion.

I had a friend out from my former home state this weekend. My irritation with her was almost instant.  She didn’t want to do what I wanted to do, she didn’t want to accept what I had to say about how the heat was going to affect her, and worst of all she tried to mother me a million times.  Do you have enough this, do you have to go to the bathroom before we leave, are you hungry?  I had to sit on my hands at times because the urge to cause physical harm was very real.

I had a really hard time standing up for myself and at times it came out as snarkiness.  Passive aggressive.  I’d go just to the line of possibly hurting her feelings and then back up.   There was one incident at the park where I knew someone was going to take our parking spot.  I looked at her and I said calmly, “If you make a big deal about this parking spot I will lose my shit and we will go home.  I won’t stand for it.  It’s just a parking spot.”  She looked at me and nodded. It sounds like something a parent would say.  But what would a friend say?  Why does everything have to be parent/child in my life?

Having a mother figure in my personal space was too much.  Having her sleep on an air mattress in my room was too much.  I kept waking up expecting her to be in bed with me even though that is not the nature of our relationship at all.

Don’t get me wrong, we did have some fun.  The most “normal” was when I could be in my adult rational self, not worry about timelines and agendas, and go with the flow.  When I could concentrate on the quality of the time we were spending together.  I think there was this part of me though that really resented a reminder of my former life.  I kept asking myself what the hell we had in common.

One of the things that irritated me most was when she’d go from parent figure to little kid and get giddy and silly.  Normally I love to be silly and have fun.  Instead for whatever reason I kept having rebellious teenager pop up, which is weird because I didn’t even know her then.   We even went and got tattoos, and I enjoyed the fact that mine took 3 hours instead of 1.  By that point in the visit I didn’t feel bad about making her wait for me.

The tattoos were impulsive/not impulsive.  I’ve been planning this particular artwork for a long time, and knew that I would get it done before I left San Diego as a celebration of my time here.  She surprised me by asking me to go with her to get one.  We had talked about it before and I guess she worked up her nerve.  I got a recommendation for a good artist from a friend I trust and away we went.

I am beyond thrilled with my artwork.  It’s a lotus flower in blues, purples and pinks, with a stained glass pattern. The lotus is representative of having a safe place, a mantra that can help me safely navigate the anxiety.  The stained glass pattern represents the fragments of my self that by themselves are frightening and sharp but together form a lovely mosaic.  The pink center is warm, tender, and untouched, morphing into the purples where things start to pop and get sharp.  The blue creates a cool, soothing, strong and regal platform on which to stand, while the double walled black borders hold it all together.  I can be held together, and be beautiful, and strong, and not fear my edges or my parts.

I struggled for a moment with my color choice – pink, purple and blue are the colors of the bisexual pride flag.  This new tattoo compliments my smaller butterfly, which I chose to symbolize transformation (of course) of something beautiful from something ugly, and for that tattoo I DID choose the bisexual pride colors on purpose.  At that time in my life that is where I identified.

I don’t know about today, but I could not imagine this artwork any other colors. We kept putting colors together and I kept coming back to this.  It is not a declaration of my sexual orientation, and yet if others infer that I will not be harmed.

My friend goes home tomorrow and I am exhausted.  I need to dust off my adult and get ready for the work week, and my husband will be out for a week.  But that is a story for another time!

How are you?  Are you still out there?


Don’t you know I’m still standing better than I ever did…

As Elton John has said:

Don’t you know I’m still standing better than I ever did
Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid
I’m still standing after all this time
Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind

I’m still standing yeah yeah yeah
I’m still standing yeah yeah yeah

So much on my mind!  It has been a long time since my last post.  I’ve been working hard in therapy, trying to understand my “parts” and integrate as much as possible.  My process is being interrupted, as I have to leave my therapist of 9 years – the only one who got it.  We’ve done so much work.  I’ve been so successful.  There is so much yet to do.

I’m not sure how I’m going to locate another therapist.  It seems all I can do is find someone, and interview them.  Hey therapist person – do you know about Mother Daughter sexual abuse?  Do you believe in it?  Will you be able to help me keep moving forward?

I don’t want to dwell.  I’ve been able to spill so many of the demons through the stories I’ve told.  I’ve learned so many coping skills.  I want to maintain and grow, but I need the person I work with to understand that this is woven into my fabric.

Or do I?

I’ll keep you posted on that.  My therapist, K, thinks not.  He seems to think I’ve done a lot of work and I can sort of keep my eyes forward, and not worry so much about the junk in my trunk.

Not sure how I feel about that.

Don’t you know I’m still standing better than I ever did
Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid
I’m still standing after all this time
Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind

I’m still standing yeah yeah yeah
I’m still standing yeah yeah yeah

Dropping little reels of tape to remind me that I’m alone …Playing movies in my head that make a porno feel like home

I’ve referenced this song before. Hate Me by Blue October.  Those lines –

Dropping little reels of tape to remind me that I’m alone
Playing movies in my head that make a porno feel like home

Sometimes, often after a therapy session I have this storm in my head.  Where all the parts of the committee of chaos get together and have a town hall screaming match.  The focus is laser on the convos in my head and everything real around me dulls and recedes,  I tried to capture it tonight.  I used my dictation software that I use for my job to say out loud what I was hearing as it was playing out in front of me.  I know I edited some things – chose what to repeat and what to ‘forget” but I got a lot of it.  I left the pronouns alone, the sentence fragments.  Transcribed only the words.  Tried not to do a second edit as much as possible.  I think I got it.  A lot of it.  References to Coyle and Petal are from a book I’m reading – the shipping news.  Maybe more on that later.

After the jump.  For our protection.

Continue reading

Sorry seems to be the hardest word.

I realized the other day, with the help of my AMAZING therapist, that my mother has never expressed remorse for any of her actions against me. I guess I shouldn’t have been, but I was REALLY surprised by that. I held this image of her that made her out to be misunderstood – she REALLY loved me but her illness got in her way. She wouldn’t have hurt me if she thought she was really hurting me – it was all care taking.

But that’s not true, is it. I cannot remember one time I got an apology. Not for an accusation, an argument, a missed birthday or late pick up. Not anything. Certainly not for anything abusive. It was always my fault. If I hadn’t made her angry…If I could be trusted to do these things myself…If she didn’t have to protect me.

Even that last one – not protect me because there was evil in the world. Protect me because I was too stupid to not attract evil.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that my mother could have been so self-absorbed, narcissistic, hurtful, that it was willful. I keep searching my memories for something. A gift that was thoughtful, an” I love you” that wasn’t a manipulation, a selfless act. Even when I would get decent grades or have a good performance in sports or music, it would be about her. MY CHILD takes just after me.

I remember one time she hosted a dinner for my hockey team. I begged her not too. All she did was gush about her spaghetti sauce and make sure everyone complimented her on it. I left halfway through and she didn’t even notice. It was not about me. Never about me.

Can there be comfort in that? Can I begin to let go of the thoughts that the abuse was all about me? That I was bad, not good enough, etc? If everything else was about her and her needs, maybe the abuse she enacted upon me was about her and her needs as well. Maybe, just maybe, I can see my way to getting rid of some of this shame.

“And then she whispered, “How can you do this to me?”

Life has been trying. I have been trying. I am tired.

My mom, my abuser, is dead. Has been since 2001. Last Friday was the anniversary of her death. Usually I breathe a sigh of relief on some days. It’s complicated for sure – I have complex emotions and over the years I’ve done better with managing them. There is always some fragmentation but I had been pretty certain it would be an uneventful year. I usually get plagued with the same thoughts – go to the grave or not? Mark the day or not? Mourn for the mother who was sometimes decent or not?

This year was different. This year has been one of many changes. As I continue to lose weight I scrutinize my face and my body for signs of my mother. As I loose weight I feel more exposed and vulnerable. There have been some sleepless nights and panic attacks in clothing shops. As I scrutinize myself in mirrors I remember all the times I was paraded around and put on display.

Right now I’m battling a leg infection. I was in hospital for a few days on iv antibiotics. As the doctors puzzle over what I have, some scary words are being thrown around. “Malignancy.” “Aggressive auto-immune.” “No idea, really.” “Biopsy.” “Multiple cultures.”

My first thought, truthfully, was that my mother was coming to get me. Mad at me for talking, even though it’s only to my therapist. Furious at me for being angry at her and blaming her for my flaws.

Right behind that was the fear of dying and having to come face to face with her. What if she scammed her way into heaven? What if I’m so rotten I hook up with her in hell. What if there is neither heaven nor hell, and I’m reincarnated into this dynamic all over again because I haven’t learned “this lesson.” What if we all just warp into some other parallel universe where I’m left looking over my shoulder.

Needless to say my PTSD is in high gear. I hear her everywhere. I jump at the slightest sound. I’m torn between wanting to find her and torch her and wanting to prostrate myself to her. I cry. I cry a lot.

I have about three weeks to wait to get all of my test results in. It’s going to be a rough road. Any suggestions are welcomed.

” I have to block out thoughts of you so I don’t lose my head
They crawl in like a cockroach leaving babies in my bed
Dropping little reels of tape to remind me that I’m alone
Playing movies in my head that make a porno feel like home
There’s a burning in my pride, a nervous bleeding in my brain
An ounce of peace is all I want for you. Will you never call again?
And will you never say that you loved me, just to put it in my face?
And will you never try to reach me?
It is I that wanted space”
–Blue October

I can see clearly now the rain has gone…

Wow, so that was an intense 48 hours.  Just a shout out to indicate I’m ok.  I did some major self care today.  I got fingers and toes done for a fancy wedding coming up this weekend, and it included tons of massages.

Sometimes massages can trigger me – especially in a  nail salon.  They can feel out of place, and forced on me.  But today was nice. The women were soothing and they always asked before they touched me.  There was a lot of reframing the self talk in my head, but it got easier, and I relaxed into it.

I’m grateful for days like the last two, followed by days like today because they prove to me that recovery is possible as long as I soldier on.

Speaking of that – Thank you to all the veterans and current soldiers who are or have protected me.  I am sorry that your job brings so much pain and suffering to you.  You are heroes.