Archive for 2009

Too Tired to Cope

It is 7:00 p.m., and I am about ready to drop. I am getting a shower and going to bed. I will take some Tussionex to knock me out. Here’s hoping I can sleep through the night. I keep feeling the urge to cry. I don’t know how much has to do with seeing my mother/abuser on Saturday and how much has to do with being so friggin’ tired.

A few of you have sent me long emails. Please be patient with me in responding. I don’t know how much I have to give right now until I get through this hurdle of seeing my mother. I am holding onto your emails and will read & respond as I am able.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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It’s 2:49 a.m., and I have given up trying to fall back to sleep. I have been fighting off a cold, which is not surprising – I typically get sick right before I am going to see my mother/abuser. I went to bed very early (before 8:00 p.m.). Of course, my kid climbed into bed with me, and I cannot sleep with another person in the room, which is probably a contributing factor.

I woke up an hour ago and used my tools to try to fall back to sleep. My son and I watched the “Lost Episode” of SpongeBob earlier tonight, where it shows a couple of minutes of nothing but SpongeBob walking. I kept picturing that in my head, hoping that would knock me out. Right as my body was starting to drop off, my kid shifted, and I was wide awake again. Ugh.

So, I thought I would pound out this quick blog and then go grade some papers. If I cannot sleep now, I will need to sleep later, so might as well get work out of the way.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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For those who have not been following my real-life drama, today marks one week until I leave for my sister’s graduation. As happy as I am for my sister (who dropped out of high school after ninth grade and is now graduating from college with honors), I am not looking forward to seeing my mother/abuser for the first time in six years.

Until this week, my last communication with my mother/abuser was when I mailed her the “back the f@#$ off” message in September. On Monday, I mailed her a nice Christmas card – the same one that I mailed to about 70 people that shows a picture of my son and came prewritten with “Love Hub, Faith, and Child” on it. I am hoping that will ease the tension a little bit, and it did not bother me to send it.

I really thought that I would be in a horrible funk for an entire month before the graduation. I did okay until Thanksgiving rolled around. I don’t know what it was specifically that triggered everything, but I went through a four-day period in which I was extremely depressed, and all was black. I assumed I would stay in that dreadful place until the graduation, but I didn’t. I started improving on Saturday and Sunday and then was back to normal by Monday. I have been okay all week.

I have no explanation for this other than the grace of G@#. Seriously. Yes, I am a strong person and have done a lot of healing work, but this is H-U-G-E. The graduation is a week out, and I am okay. This is even during the Christmas season, which is also a trigger for me, and I am still okay.

I thought that I was going to take a nosedive again yesterday when I got upset about something going on with my kid at school. It’s too complicated to go into now, but the bottom line is that I will be going to his school this morning to advocate for him. Since I have trouble separating out my actual child versus my inner child, I thought I would go back to that bad place of believing that my inner child was unsafe, but I didn’t. Who knows what I will be blogging about on Monday, but at least for now, in this moment, I am okay.

Photo credit: Rosanne Mooney

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I am celebrating a minor victory in my life. An ongoing annoyance of mine is how hub believes that his right to the TV trumps mine, especially if his favorite sports team is playing. We have always had two TVs in the house – one in the family room, and the other in the master bedroom. I moved out of the master bedroom a few years ago because I cannot sleep with another person in the room (plus hub snores). I did not realize how physically exhausted I had been for over a decade because of my inability to sleep with hub lying in the bed next to me.

Anyhow, the net result is that, for several years, there has been a family TV and then hub’s TV in his room. This worked out okay for the most part, with hub occasionally “bumping” me off the family TV to watch his sports, leaving me to do something else or use his TV in his room (which he keeps in a junky condition – I refuse to clean his room for him). However, as our son has grown older, we have added a third personality into the mix.

Our son has ADHD and is on stimulant medication, which makes it difficult for him to sleep, even on a prescription sleep aid. So, he watches TV in hub’s room until he drops off to sleep. Our usual routine is that I only watch the family TV one hour a day, after my son goes upstairs to watch TV/fall asleep and before hub gets back from the gym. However, now that college basketball season is upon us, hub is starting to bump me from my one hour so he can watch his game while our son is using the other TV.

It happened again the other night, and I got really annoyed. I had been waiting two weeks to watch a particular TV show, and I got “bumped” halfway through it. (It was recorded, but it was still annoying not to be able to watch it all in one sitting.) So, the next day, I went to Target and bought myself a new TV for my room. I used my own money from my part-time job to pay for it. I also scheduled the cable company to install a DVR in my room, and I will be using my part-time job money to pay for the increase in cost as well.

Hub was not happy about this turn of events, even though I pointed out that this did not cost him a dime. My therapist, on the other hand, was so proud of me. A friend is currently in therapy with him, and she told him about me buying myself a TV. He smiled and said that my friend had no idea how far I have come.

I know that there are bigger issues in the world than getting to watch an hour of TV, but this is about more than just a television. This was a gift to myself and an acknowledgement that I don’t have to be the third class member of this family.

Photo credit: Amazon.com

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My son is eight years old, and he is getting into games. One game that fascinates him is Connect Four, but I cannot bring myself to buy it for him. The problem is that S & L, my most sadistic abusers, had that game in their basement, and my sister and I would play it while we waited to be abused.

S & L had older children – one in high school and two in college – when my sister and I were still in elementary school. So, they did not have many things lying around their house that would entertain elementary-aged children. One of the few things that appealed to my sister and me was the game Connect Four.

Whenever our parents would bring us to S & L’s house, they would send out downstairs to the basement to play while the adults had their time together. (I suspect the two couples were “swinging,” but I have no outside confirmation on this.) My sister and I would play Connect Four until S (the wife) came downstairs, closed the drapes, and tortured us in one way or another. Both my sister and I have strong associations with that game because of it.

As an adult, I can maneuver through life without every playing Connect Four again. However, I sometimes wonder if it is fair to deprive my kid of things that are objectively not harmful and probably fun just because they are triggering to me. However, until I know that I won’t wig out having that game in my house, I cannot bring myself to purchase it.

I have tossed around buying my son the SpongeBob version of the game. My abusers had the traditional red and black one pictured above. However, the SpongeBob version has a silly yellow sponge all over it. If I decide to give in, I think I will buy my son that version.

Photo credit: Amazon.com

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A common aftereffect of child abuse is wrapping up your identity with a symptom of the child abuse. When you do this, it can make it that much harder to heal because, as you unravel your childhood trauma and memories, you fear that you will lose your identity.

I did this with my self-lie of being a virgin. The most traumatizing event I experienced was when my virginity was taken the first time. This was the memory I most deeply repressed. Then, I built a “fake” identity on top of that memory. Throughout my teen years up until I married, my identity was built upon “being a virgin.” I thought about being a virgin all the time and prided myself in my “purity.” I bought the whitest wedding gown I could find, and all of my wedding flowers were pure white. I was very active in my church and saw my strong self-identification with my “virginity” as being more active in my faith.

So, you can imagine the explosion in my life when the first flashbacks came of my being vaginally raped. My subconscious actually eased me into this knowledge through terrible nightmares of being promiscuous and/or raped. I would awaken in a cold sweat and tell myself that I know that never happened because I was a virgin. So, when the first sickening awareness settled upon me that even my virginity was taken, it wasn’t quite as big of a shock as it would have been without the nightmares, but I was still shaken to the core. If I wasn’t a virgin, then who was I? I feared that my life was built on nothing but lies and that, as those lies came tumbling down, my entire identity would come down with it.

You might have done something similar. You might have built your identity around being an alcoholic or drug addict, an anorexic or bulimic, a virgin or a sadomasochist, etc. Be very careful about basing your identity upon anything that you do (or, in my case, don’t do). Who you are runs so much deeper and is so much richer than what you do.

If you have built up a false identity, this is just another way that you have tried to protect yourself from your childhood trauma. It is okay to let go of this false identity and find the real you. Who you are is much fuller than being a member of a particular group. You are an amazing and unique individual whose identity cannot be contained within one label.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Please consider clicking on the Buy From Amazon.com link to the right. If you do a lot of holiday shopping online like I do, this is a great way to help out a worthy charity at the same time. A percentage of your purchases will be donated to Isurvive (a message board for child abuse survivors). The checks are sent directly to Isurvive — I never have access to the money. Feel free to verify this arrangement with Lori Schmitt, Executive Director of Isurvive.

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My sister graduates from college on December 12. She was a ninth grade dropout, and she applied to college in her mid-thirties as a newly divorced single mother. She will be graduating with honors with a double-major. I am sooo proud of her, and I am thrilled to be there to watch her receive her degree at the commencement ceremonies.

Unfortunately, my joy over being part of this amazing accomplishment is being overshadowed by my complete freak-out over having to see my mother/abuser for the first time in six years. My sister invited both of us to the graduation (she still maintains a relationship with our mother/abuser), and my mother is coming. My mother and I have had no contact since I sent her the note telling her to “back the f@#$ off” in September.

I have done a fairly good job shoving aside my anxiety over seeing her again after six years apart (by my choice) until recently. Now that this “meeting” is less than two weeks away, I am a basket case. I have a constant headache. I am irritable. I feel triggered all the time and am staying “medicated” in one form or another 24/7 – Xanax, wine, food, etc. (not all at the same time). I am having trouble sleeping on and off (depending upon what I take at night – I am also doing a rotation of various sleep aids to get through the night). My two states of being are unbelievably anxious or deeply depressed. It really, really sucks.

I am going to try to keep blogging during this time because I think I will need it. Please be patient with me during this time because I am not sure how much I have to share during this time. I am so overwhelmed with emotions.

I can’t remember if I shared this already, but a friend will be accompanying me for the visit. I am paying all of her expenses (airfare, hotel, taxi, food, etc.). Her “job” is to be my “buffer” and make sure that I am never alone with my mother. She has a wacky and warped sense of humor, and she is “morbidly curious” about meeting my mother. She will do her best to keep me laughing by making all sorts of inappropriate comments and hysterical observations. She is looking forward to the trip. She finds family dysfunction to be quite comical, so she is the right person for this “job.”

I am staying so triggered. Even as I write this, it feels like I have bubbles in my head, and I just want to cry nonstop. I don’t worry about a hell after I die – this is hell.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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I hope all of you have a Happy Thanksgiving! For those who are in pain, do the best you can to nurture yourself and remember that this time will pass. You are going to be okay.

I am going to be busy cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time without my mother-in-law’s help. (She passed away last December.) Also, my son is out of school until Monday, so I won’t have much time to blog for the next few days.

You will all be in my thoughts throughout the holiday because I am so thankful for all of you. I started this blog because I wanted to help others. I never dreamed how much wonderful support that I would receive from my readers. You are the best!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Yesterday was not a good day. I had to return a bunch of phone calls (which I hate doing), one of which was rescheduling my son’s appointment with his attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) specialist. She worked at a psychiatrist’s office and has a degree in pharmacy, so she was very knowledgeable in medications to help my son sleep and eat when he became a skinny insomniac thanks to his ADHD medication. We worked together for almost two years, and we had reached a place where all of his medications were working well for my son.

Just like that, she is out of our lives. Nobody even bothered to tell us that she left the practice. I have no idea if she retired, moved away, was fired, or moved to a different practice. She is just gone, and the office is giving me no answers. Now, I am in a position of having to start from scratch. I have to find another doctor, go through evaluations again, and find someone who will meet my son’s needs. I am so frustrated I could spit nails.

All of this triggered my issues with feeling abandoned during the holidays. I know that this woman did not technically “abandon” us, but it sure feels that way. This is another person who was a part of our lives for two years and is now just gone with no goodbye or other form of closure. It just plain stinks.

Of course, my son does not remotely care. These are all my own issues. If someone is going to leave me, it is always at this time of year. During the holidays is when friends announce that they are moving away, doctors drop me, etc. It’s no wonder I hate this time of year.

I even got some really great news today (that a grant I wrote won $500 for my son’s school), but I couldn’t feel joy because I was so overwhelmed with this news. I was so incredibly triggered. I doubled my Xanax dosage, drank some wine later in the day, binge ate, etc. I cried off and on all day. I still feel lousy.

Hub works with a lot of doctors, and he is going to see about getting us a good referral. At least he is taking a proactive step toward fixing this mess. Every direction I turned was a big fat disaster.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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