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Archive for July, 2009

For those of you with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) or severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), how many of you have trouble wearing a watch? My sister (who does not have DID but who has been diagnosed with severe PTSD) has never been able to wear a watch. Within a day or two, the watch will stop. She can replace the battery, but that one will die within a day or two as well. She has finally given up and carries a pocket watch on her purse. (She cannot even carry it in her pocket, or the watch will stop.) Now that she has a cell phone, she mostly uses the time on it.

Now here is the really freaky part – My sister is “magnetic.” She used to do “bar tricks” for people. She would pick up a knife, hold it for a few minutes, and then use the knife to pick up paperclips. How bizarre is that?

When I read the book When Rabbit Howls, I was fascinated by the multiple references to Truddi Chase’ watches malfunctioning. It made me think about my sister, but I did not make the connection back then. (This was before I started recovering memories of the child abuse.)

I never had a problem wearing a watch until I started having flashbacks. Since then, whenever I am in a period of intense healing, my watch is likely to malfunction. As someone who is obsessed with being on time, that can be very annoying.

I even tried to replace my watch, but I found that newer watches are even worse. I make some run fast and others run slow. The only watch I can wear is one that I received as a high school graduation present back in the 1980’s. Even that one fritzes out on me when I am about to deal with some heavy duty stuff.

The last time was a few months ago. The battery place checked the battery and said it was completely fine, even though my watch was running slowly. It has been working fine ever since (probably because I started dealing with my latest round of intensity). — It just happened again! I wrote this blog yesterday. Today, I found out some bad news. I cried hard, and my watched slowed down.

The weirdest thing my watch has ever done is slow down by exactly one hour. It was on a Saturday a couple of years ago. I wound up being an hour late somewhere. I never suspected that my watch was “off” because the minute hand matched what I saw on various clocks throughout the day. I feared I was losing time and reset the watch, but I came to recognize that this was just another one of these weird things that I get to deal with in my life.

Do any of you have malfunctioning watch stories to share? I would love to hear them.

Related Topic:

Trauma Tuesday: Body Magnetism

Photo credit: Faith Allen

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Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a college graduation at which Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder.com, was the keynote speaker. As he spoke, I kept thinking about all of you as well as my Blooming Lotus blog.

His keynote address focused upon three points:

  1. Use what you know for social good.
  2. Never stop learning.
  3. Educate others about what you have learned.

What is this blog if not all three of these elements?

1. Use what you know for social good.

If there is one thing I know, it is about trauma – both what it feels like and how to manage it. (Admittedly, I do better “managing” trauma at some times than others.) I read many books, talked to many people, invested many hours in therapy, and developed many ways of managing the aftereffects of trauma. I have worked much too hard for all of my efforts to be used only for one person.

Since I know how to manage flashbacks, why wouldn’t I share that with others? My therapist told me that I was under no obligation to invest myself in other child abuse survivors, but why wouldn’t I? That would go against who I am.

2. Never stop learning.

This is where all of you come in. Every day, I am learning something new and gaining new insights about the healing journey as I read your comments. Not only do I continue to learn, but I frequently find myself having to “relearn” the same lesson again and again. As long as I am drawing breath, I will continue to learn and grow.

3. Educate others about what you have learned.

For me, elements one and two are intertwined with this element. As I educate those who are new to the healing process, I am doing social good. Your comments (particularly your questions) guide me to educate others about what I have learned.

I have also learned that there is more than one way to heal and that my way might not be the “right” way for you. Again, your comments are so helpful with this. Between what I share on my blog and all of your comments, those who are new to the healing journey have lots of advice about how to manage the healing process.

Most importantly, we all offer one another hope. Hope was something I desperately needed when I first started having flashbacks. If I had not been the mother of a young child, I probably would have committed suicide rather than try to push through the initial “breakthrough crisis” because I had no hope. That came from others who were further along their healing journeys who could reassure me that my life would not always feel that dismal.

As I write this blog, I am in an airplane returning home from the graduation. I got to experience the Southwest. I saw the sun rise over the mountains. I saw streets lined with palm trees and cacti along the road. If I had known in 2003 (when the flashbacks started) that I would one day travel to Phoenix and take in the breathtaking beauty of a part of the country that is very different from my own, I would have had more strength to fight back. On the other side of the pain is beauty and deep appreciation of the world around you.

Photo credit: Faith Allen

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I had an empowering dream that I just had to share. I was an adult, and I was going to hang out with E, who is one of my real-life friends. We always hang out on Saturdays. I realized that it was Christmas and felt good about not being all depressed and anxious for once. E (who represents my anger parts in my dreams) was not happy. She had to go to a party held by one of her parents’ friends, and she wanted me to come along.

Sure enough, the party is being held at S&L’s house (my most sadistic abusers). I am surprised at how well I am taking this. I keep grounding myself and telling myself that I am not to dissociate under any circumstances. I don’t want anyone to harm me, but I also want to make these people feel d@#$ uncomfortable when they see me.

I see E hiding in the corner crying. She has quite a stream of tears running down her face. The family friends did not like her gift and are making her feel badly about it. I told her that she should just buy them $10 gifts cards to a restaurant next year and not worry about whether they like it or not. (This is a variation of how I handled a similar situation that is not relevant to this dream.)

I notice that E and I are on some sort of kiddie boat and that the room is filled with water tunnels that are kind of like the ride at a water park that is intended for families – like moving down a lazy river. (Any form of transportation in my dreams represents control of the direction of my life. For me to stay on the boat is to let others direct where my life is heading.)

I did not want to be on the boat or have it move, but a cousin from my father’s side of the family (who shares her name with my father’s mother) pulled my boat, making it move. I got very angry and told her to stop. She disregarded me, so I jumped out onto the floor of the house so I could control where I went.

I decided to walk down the hallway toward the bedrooms that I only remember through flashbacks. I built up my courage to look inside. I was afraid that, if they did not match my flashbacks, then maybe my flashbacks were not true. A man walked by, and I feared he would interfere, so I threw open the door and looked inside. Yes, it matched the flashback.

I peered in the other couple of rooms and then saw the stairs leading down to the basement (where most of the abuse happened). I stormed downstairs before anyone could stop me.

I looked around at the basement that seemed much smaller through adult eyes. I then saw the pathetic assortment of worn out children’s toys and got angry. I picked up a stuffed bear and beat it on the ground, yelling out my anger at the place.

I turned around and saw a cowering black puppy. I walked up to him and tried to pet him. I could see in his eyes that he had been abused and was not loved. I told him that he was beautiful and precious. I told him that these people had hurt me, too, but that they were liars. The dog finally said, “I am bad.” I immediately replied, “No! That is their lie! I felt the same way about myself. They kept showing me lies and got me to believe them, but they are LIES! You are beautiful and precious.” During this discussion, my toddler son (represents my inner child) was out, and I told the dog that he was just as beautiful as my son.

The man came downstairs, and I picked up the puppy. He asked what I was doing. I said, “I am taking this puppy home.” He said that I wasn’t, and I said, “Oh yes I am,” with finality in my voice. He said that he couldn’t wait to see “her face” when “she” learned that I was taking the dog.

I walked the dog upstairs and out of the house. Whenever someone tried to stop me, I looked him or her square in the eye and saw them recognize the grown me. Nobody had the courage to stand in my way.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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On my blog entry entitled Other Forms of Free Association Writing, a reader posted the following comment:

hi faith, your blog is so helpful and i have learnt a lot from you. thank you. my comment today is this : if i wrote down all the thoughts and things said in my head i would be writing constantly – i cannot even comprehend how someone could write down all the noise in their head. maybe i am misinterpreting you ?? can you explain further please ? ~ Gracie

Gracie – I am sorry that you had to wait for me to get through my personal crisis to get your answer. :0)

My thoughts are constantly spinning as well. Through yoga and meditation, I have learned how to silence my inner chatter, although I confess that I am still not always very good at it, especially when I am under stress.

No, you do not need to write down every thought you ever have in your head. The idea is to set aside 10 or 15 minutes to access one thing in your subconscious that is brewing beneath the surface. For example, let’s say that you have been anxious but are not really sure why. If you do free association writing for a few minutes, you might wind up writing about what is really bothering you. It is a great way to get out feelings and emotions that you are having trouble purging.

I did this with my free association writing in this blog entry. I was feeling an enormous amount of anxiety for weeks. It took me about five minutes to type out those words from my subconscious. Once they were out, I knew what was bothering me and how to comfort myself. The next day, I felt much better.

In one of Dr. Phil’s books, he recommends writing down all of your internal chatter for one day so you can get an idea about how you talk to yourself (whether positively or negatively). While that exercise was insightful, I found it exhausting because my mind pretty much never shuts down. I about got a hand cramp trying to keep up!

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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I wrote the last three blog entries in one sitting. That was all I could handle. I took my kid to camp and went to Bible study, where we talked about forgiveness, etc. I couldn’t hold myself back and wound up launching into forgiveness not being the same as reconciliation, etc. I can be extremely intense (as you might have noticed from my blog), and I was extremely intense in this session.

Somebody asked about whether it was possible to forgive someone who is not repentant. I was all over that question and went ahead and shared in front of 20 women that my mother had sexually abused me as a child and was not apologetic (and did not even admit that it happened). To tie my ability to forgive/let go to her whims put her in control, not me. I wound up saying some things that this woman really needed to hear, and she started crying (in a good way). I was actually a little embarrassed afterward because I got soooo intense, but others told me afterward that they appreciated my honesty and authenticity in the study.

The message in the study was about the “human dilemma of destiny.” (This is from the Beth Moore study of Esther.) Beth Moore said that, when it is time for you to fulfill your destiny, it will be poor timing, an unreasonable expectation (when you are in a personal crisis), involve a risky identification (such as admitting being a child abuse survivor), and involve an unanswered question. This makes more sense if you are doing the study, but I took away from it that I have a destiny – to help other child abuse survivors heal. I left the study feeling pretty good about myself and my place in this world. Then, hub called and p#$$ed me off (not worth getting into, but he was a pain in the @$$ that day). That got me crying again.

I just wanted to eat dinner and go to bed, but then my sister called to tell me that my mother/abuser was on her way to the hospital in an ambulance. (Seriously, could I have more drama in my life??) Long story short, her blood pressure is way too high (over 200 for the top number). She feared that her heart was in trouble, but it is sounding more like anxiety. My sister says that my mother/abuser has been recovering memories, so I would imagine that remembering the stuff she has to remember could cause her blood pressure to skyrocket. So, now I am waiting to hear the results of my mother/abuser’s test results.

I posted the following message on Isurvive about my feelings regarding my mother:

I don’t know what, if anything, to do with this information. On the one hand, I do feel sorry for her being alone in a hospital. She has no family nearby and does not have anyone who cares enough to be there. If she has to stay the weekend, my sister and her kids will come for the day (they live about a six hour drive away). On the other hand, she created a life for herself in which nobody gives a d@#$ that she is in the hospital.

A part of me feels like it is my responsibility if she is dying to see her one last time. Another part of me just wants her to die already so I can get closure on this part of my life. Another part thinks that this is just another one of her manipulations to get me back into her life since her other tactics didn’t work. If she does die, I don’t know if going to the funeral would be a good or bad thing. Some of my extended relatives would probably be rude to me for cutting my mother out of my life.

Another part of me thinks this is all drama and is p@$$#d off that I am having to think about her at all. She will probably outlive us all. A part of me feels sorry for her because I know she is scared. A part of me is glad she is scared because she deserves to feel fear. A part of me is disgusted with myself for being glad that another person feels fear. Another part of me thinks that I am being a softie and should get over it. Another part fears I am being too rigid and will regret doing nothing. Another part of me wants to hide in the closet and scream because I am scared to be anywhere near her.

So, right now, I am one walking cocktail of mixed emotions, and I don’t know what to do with any of them. This particular hospital trip could be a big, fat nothing, but I will eventually have to face the reality she is likely to die before I do. I don’t want to think about how I will react or what I will do. I don’t think I will have regrets about cutting her out of my life — she is so toxic to me. I won’t let her anywhere near my child — not safe.

I just don’t know what to do with all of this. Any advice?

I took some Tussionex and went to bed. The next morning, I woke up and decided that today was going to be a good day. I am sick to death of waiting for my life to calm down, for the crises (internal and external) to stop, etc., for me to have a good day. Instead, I am choosing to have one, and it wound up being a pretty good day.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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****** sexual abuse triggers **********
I have been writing this week to process my feelings over recovering the memory of my first vaginal rape. I have had such a difficult time dealing with this memory that I have been sick for six weeks. I have decided to sit in front of the computer and blog through all that I am feeling so I can heal and move on with my life. You can read about the event here, the physical manifestations here, and my anger about it here.

I am now going to give my wounded little girl a voice through free association writing:

It hurted. It hurted so badly. Make him stop. MAKE HIM STOP!

Why? Why are you doing this to me? It hurts so bad. It hurts. Please stop. Please, please, please, please stop.

Why? Why? Why? Why are you doing this to me?

I can’t leave! I can’t leave! I am stuck. He inside, and I can’t go!

I want to die. I want to die. Just let me die. Please let me die. Die, die die die die die die die. I want to die. I want to go away and never come back. Please let me die.

I hate him. I hate life. I hate me. I hate it. I hate it.

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

Please make it stop. Just make it stop. I can take it. I can’t bear it. It hurt too much. It hurt too much. Help someone help. Why no one help? Why no one care? Why no one care? No one love me?

Just want to die. Please let me die. Die Die die

Other than cleaning up typos, I have nothing more to add to this. This is all I can handle for now in this sitting.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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****** anger and sexual abuse triggers *******

As I shared yesterday, my life has been pure h@#$ for six weeks, and it all centers around the memory of my first vaginal rape. To put it all into context, the vaginal rape is what caused me to go from having dissociative disorder – not otherwise specified (DD-NOS) to dissociative identity disorder (DID). Up until the rape, I could handle the abuse from my mother and her “friends” by splitting off into fragments. After the rape, my inner child no longer wanted to exist. She split off and went to sleep. I awoke the next morning not knowing who I was because “I” had been replaced by a host personality that had no identity yet.

I am so f@#$ing angry about the rape. Yes, I have recovered memories of other rapes, but none of them carry the punch of the first – the first time having this pain experienced inside of my body. Up until this point, I had experienced all sorts of tortures and traumas, but they existed outside of my body. I was only six years old. I didn’t even know what was happening.

One minute, I was a little girl who believed that abuse happened outside of my body. I could escape it through dissociation. I could flee to the ceiling and be “safe” while my body was harmed. However, this was different. An explosion of pain happened INSIDE OF MY BODY! There was nobody there to explain what was going to happen or what was going on. Nobody told me how another person could reach inside of your six-year-old body and damage it in places that I did not know existed.

HOW DARE SOMEONE AUCTION OFF MY BODY! I WAS NOT A COMMODITY TO BE BOUGHT AND SOLD. I WAS NOT A DRESS IN A STORE WINDOW TO BE TRIED ON AND DISGARDED AT WHIM.

I was a little girl with an intact body, and some f@#$ing pervert paid someone who had no right to my body to steal this from me. MY BODY WASN’T ANYONE ELSE’S TO SELL. MY BODY WASN’T ANYONE ELSE’S TO TAKE.

This was MY body to be shared when I was an adult and chose to share it. I never got the chance. By the time I was old enough to appreciate what it meant to “share myself” with another person,” it had all been taken – my hymen, my innocence, my dignity.

And nobody ever gave a s@#$ that I would live my life in the shadow of this one night. Nobody gave a s@#$ that I would spend my life hating sex, running from it, dreading it, unable to “give” myself to my husband and causing decades of rifts in our marriage because I DON’T WANT SEX. I don’t want it.
For ten minutes of one man’s “pleasure” and another’s man’s pocketbook, I lived a lifetime as a multiple. I haven’t been able to connect emotionally with my husband. I cannot “enjoy” sex because it is nothing but a reminder of being raped and sold like a whore. Ten minutes of “pleasure” and a check, and I have lived a lifetime of repercussions.

It all F@#$ING SUCKS!!!!! And there is not a D@#$ thing I can do about it. The die was cast 34 years ago. The “thrill” of the orgasm is long-since over, and the money has long-since been spent, but I continue to live with the aftermath of two amazingly selfish @$$holes whole simply didn’t give a $&#%. I hope they burn in hell. I hope they rot in hell, and I hope they suffer from the most painful and dreadful disease imaginable before they get there.

IT WAS MY BODY. I WASN’T THEIRS TO TAKE!!!!!!!!

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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