Archive for June, 2011

Dear Faith,

I am sorry that you are feeling so crappy right now. It isn’t fair. You did nothing to deserve feeling this way. You did nothing to cause it, and there is nothing that you are doing or not doing that would make it all better. This is emotional chemo. This is something that you cannot get around, over, or under. The way out is straight through the pain until you get to the other side.

I know that it feels like you have always been and always will be in this much pain. The truth is that this feeling will not last. The longest it has ever lasted was six weeks. You didn’t believe it would ever end, but it did. For four wonderful hours, the clouds parted, and you felt the warmth of the sun. You felt more alive than you ever had before. When those four hours ended, you kept the hope that this pain would not be forever. Hold onto that hope.

Don’t let anyone minimize your experience. The pain really is that bad. It’s not your imagination, and you are not just “being dramatic.” Your pain is very real, and you don’t owe anyone any apologies for not being OK with being in so much pain. You don’t have to get through this time with grace: you just have to get through it however you can.

This is not a situation that you can “fix.” There is no magic formula that is going to make the clouds part and remove the intense pressure from your spirit. This is all part of the “emotional chemo” process. Healing moves to its own rhythm, and you are just along for the ride. It will feel more endurable if you stop fighting it and, instead, express what you are feeling.

It is OK to cry. It is OK to get really, really pissed off about it. It is OK to take it easy. If you were going through physical chemo treatments, nobody would expect for you to keep the perfect house or get everything done. You would be given the time and space you needed to heal. This emotional chemo is no different. Take the time you need to nap and rest.

I know how hard it is to believe that this is survivable, but it is. You already survived your childhood, and you have already survived these dark places several times. You can do this, one baby step at a time. You don’t have to get through the rest of your life – you just have to get through right now. Do what you need to do right now, in this moment, to survive it. I promise you – the clouds will part.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Going on Hiatus

Hi, all.

I am dealing with a potentially serious health issue involving my kid, so I will be on hiatus until the health issue is resolved. It is possible he will need surgery this week.

~ Faith

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I had an interesting session with my therapist last week. We talked about all of the things that I blogged about and then some. Once we worked through a bunch of that, he asked specifically what was going on in my day-to-day life that precipitated my “breakdown.” He believes that my biggest problem was not taking care of myself. He said that he thinks my “gas tank” reached empty and that there was simply nothing left to keep going.

Looking back over my calendar from the last three months, I think he is right. From January through mid-March, I had a pretty balanced schedule. I rarely worked more than four hours a day, and I was going to the gym and doing yoga/meditation daily. That balance abruptly ended when I started training for my new part-time job in mid-March. I was not given a “heads up” that I needed to set aside 15 to 20 hours a week during training (in addition to the four-hour training sessions each Sunday afternoon), so I had not cleared my calendar of other obligations. That put me working pretty much a full-time schedule with no advanced planning.

After training ended, the close to full-time schedule continued as I prepared to teach my first class for the new job. Then, I did 3.5 weeks of tutoring at a close to a full-time schedule. That was mid-March through the beginning of June on a close to full-time schedule without letting go of other obligations (blogging, leading a Bible study, etc.)

I kept telling myself that I only had to get through X number of weeks, and then I could rest. Tutoring ended, but then I was slammed with “last week of school” and other scheduling issues. My kid had a doctor’s appointment and ball practice on Monday. I led Bible Study on Wednesday. I had to go to my kid’s school for an awards presentation at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, and then school was out for the summer after that, which meant I was taking care of my kid and not resting on Thursday and Friday. My kid had an ear infection, so I had to take him to the doctor on Friday.

Hub pulled me out of bed in the middle of the night having a full-fledged panic attack. He has been depressed and anxious ever since, constantly talking about how miserable he is and how he thinks the stress is going to kill him.

I thought I could finally rest the next week (first week of summer while my son went to summer camp). Instead, I babysat a friend’s very difficult kid on Monday, went to a retirement party on Tuesday that I found out about at the last minute, and had Bible study on Wednesday. I planned a “rest” day on Thursday, but my kid’s ear was still bothering him too much to go to camp on Thursday – goodbye “rest” day.”

Also during this week, things blew up at part-time job #1 with students not having reliable access to the online classroom. These are all entry-level students with three weeks of college under their belt, so I was fielding panicked phone calls and emails for four days until the connectivity issues were resolved.

Add to that having several friends in crisis during the same week. One found out that her child was being cyberbullied. Another was freaking out about a college project. A third was “losing it” over issues with her kids. I told the third that we needed a “mental health” day on Friday so we should go to the movies. While I enjoyed the movie and chit chat, the outing came at the expense of rest.

By Friday, I could barely move my body and feared that I had contracted mono. I canceled my Saturday morning plans, fearing that I was sick. I hosted Book Club on Saturday night and had to spend a lot of time on Friday and Saturday preparing (cooking and cleaning) as well as ran my son to the doctor’s office again for the same ear infection.

Sunday was Father’s Day, so I had to be “on” to make it about hub, who ended the day by saying that it had not been a “good” Father’s Day despite all that I had done. I thought that, if I could just make it to Monday, I could rest. My plan was to drop my kid off at camp, work out at the gym, do yoga/meditation, and then do whatever I felt like doing for the day. Then, the camp would not take my kid’s medications at the bus drop-off point: I had to drive all the way out to Timbuktu to hand-deliver the medications, so my “me” time was replaced with an 80-minute round trip drive to this camp in the middle of nowhere.

That’s when I snapped. I kept holding it together until a later date when I could rest. My “rest” day kept being taken away, and I was completely spent with nurturing everyone else. Then, when all I needed was five minutes of nurturing from someone else and couldn’t get it, the bottom fell out.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Last night, I integrated a big part of myself. This was the wounded little girl who had such a fit this week, but she is so much more than that. This is HUGE. This is Annie, the part that “went to sleep” when I was in the height of the abuse. This was the original child.

Here’s the really disorienting part – From the time I was a baby, I was called Annie. My name on my birth certificate is Faye Anne, and my mother/abuser’s name is Faye. So, my parents (and everyone else) called me Annie. After experiencing some particularly severe trauma, Annie went to sleep, and I woke up as “not Annie.”

Everyone kept calling me Annie, and I could not figure out why. Not one ounce of me related to this name, and I HATED this name. I took a standardized test and learned that my full name was actually Faye Anne, so I insisted upon being called Faye from that moment on. I have related to the name Faye with no internal connection whatsoever to the name Annie ever since … well, until therapy when I came to realize that Faye was a host alter part. Since she integrated, I have related to Faith more than anything else but have people continue to call me Faye to avoid widespread social confusion and explanations.

So, last night, Annie integrated, and it will be interesting to see what the day brings. I already feel different, the biggest difference being my first connection with the name Annie since I was a little kid. If I ask myself, “Who am I?,” there’s a connection to the name Annie again. Not a 100% connection, but that’s OK – there’s some connection now where there was none before. My belief in reincarnation has helped me not to get too disoriented based upon a name. My name changes with each incarnation.

Here’s the really cool part – I now have access to a bunch of childhood memories that I had “forgotten.” I took a mental tour of my childhood house last night and remembered things with vivid detail that I have not remembered in decades, such as where the closets where, the weird décor by the front door, etc. I remember where we put the Christmas tree and that my room was yellow before it was pink. I even remember some happy times with my father and even my mother, which was a real blessing. Apparently, when Annie went to sleep, she repressed the happy stuff along with the bad.

I am going to take it easy today because this is a huge step in healing for me. I have been through other integrations before, and it’s disorienting. I am no longer the “me” I thought I was. I am more truly “me,” but I have to adjust to who that is exactly. What gets interesting is that other people will have to adjust as well, but it will probably be a while before I talk with anyone about it. One or two friends read my blog sometimes, so they might learn about it here, which is fine. If they do, I hope they mention it to me offline so I have someone to talk with about it face to face. If I feel the need, I’ll schedule an appointment with my therapist, too.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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I am not quite sure if what I am going through is a break**through** or a break**down**. All I know is that it is very intense.

Thank you to those of you who posted responses to Annie. Annie needed to be heard – badly.

I apologize for posting out of order. I actually wrote yesterday’s blog first but then needed immediate feedback for Annie’s stuff. I am feeling less out of control and like this makes some sort of weird sense. I think I am integrating a “large” alter part that endured some of the worst abuse (the splinters, etc.) as well as some of my deepest unmet needs.

I felt like I was losing my mind. The adult part of myself understood why my friends were not available when I called. Two of them were at work. One was at the gym. Another was at the doctor’s office. I don’t know where the hell the other three were, but they weren’t answering their phones. They are all stay-at-home moms with their kids home for the summer, so I am sure they were tending to them. I also knew that my therapist never, ever answers his cell phone. Protocol is to leave a message and then he calls you back.

It doesn’t matter how much I knew all of this logically. When I was so badly triggered and couldn’t reach anyone, I wanted to stamp my feet like a child, and I was sooooo friggin’ angry at all of them. That part of myself did not remotely care why nobody was around to take care of her/me … only that I was, once again, having to face it all alone, even when I had done everything “right.”

All adult responsibilities were completely overwhelming. My kid wound up not taking a shower that night because I simply could not “parent,” and hub is too wrapped up in his own depression issues to parent at all. The next day, it took me hours to work up the energy to go to the grocery store. When the store was out of the cut of meat I needed for dinner, I almost cried and felt like having a full-fledged tantrum. The adult part of me thought quickly and redirected the child part of myself to another dish.

I have dealt with alter parts my entire life and have been “whole” enough to stop losing time for years, but I don’t recall ever feeling as out of control as I have with this alter part/wounded inner child part. I feel immobilized – like someone is asking an eight-year-old child to pay the bills, cook the dinner, and take care of an “older child” by herself.

Is this a breakthrough or a breakdown? I am not quite sure which yet. At least I am not crying nonstop anymore.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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I am writing this blog entry on the day before the summer solstice. I have not been this triggered in a really long time. I have been struggling for a week – pretty much since the full moon last week – and it feels like there will never be an end to this. I hope that by the time anyone reads this, I’ll be able to say that I have pulled out of this and am doing OK. Right now, I feel anything but OK.

I took the title of this blog entry from something a friend, who is a child abuse survivor, hears from her mother a lot. Her mother says she only has so much nurturing to go around. So, if she is already putting energy into someone else, she will tell her daughter, “It’s not your turn.” Even if my friend is in serious crisis, if it’s “not her turn,” then her mother will not help her – period. I feel like it is never “my turn” in any relationship in my life.

I have been struggling a lot over the past week in particular – insomnia, severe headaches, etc. I feel more memories coming but simply cannot handle them right now. In the midst of this, as I shared on Monday, I am feeling sucked dry by too many relationships in my life. It’s always everyone else’s turn, never mine.

This thing is, I really don’t ask or expect much from anyone else. I was taught at a very young age that my needs don’t matter. In fact, I was taught that I don’t even get to have needs. So, for the most part, I muddle along through my life, trying to help others while pretty much blowing off anything resembling needs of my own. However, when I go through periods of deep triggering as I have recently, I simply have nothing left to give. I am not even asking for anyone to **do** anything for me – I just need them to stop sucking my energy for a day or two.

Back to Monday … I actually got a good night’s sleep courtesy of taking a larger dose of Xanax than normal. I was hopeful it would be a better day. Then, an additional trigger happened, and I came completely unglued. The one trigger wouldn’t have been a big deal if I hadn’t been trying to juggle 50 other triggers as well as the negative energy of several other people in my offline life. That was the last straw. I simply lost it.

I tried to call one friend … and then another … and then another … and then another. I could not find one person to answer the damn phone. I tried seven … yes, seven … friends, and could not reach one of them. I even tried calling my therapist – something I have not done in a couple of years – and couldn’t even reach him.

That’s when I gave up. All I needed was one person to ground me … one person to tell me that I would be okay … one person to tell me that I matter … one person to let it be “my turn” for five minutes. Truly, that’s all I needed.

So, I resisted the deep urge to drive my car into a pole. I also fought the deep urge to take a steak knife to my arm, although that one was harder to fight off. I finally settled on binge eating and Xanax. I turned off the cell phone and house phone. I closed out my inbox. I didn’t matter – nobody called, anyhow. I guess nobody needed anything.

I lay in my bed all day and watched a marathon of a TV show. I slept for a couple of hours. I got up and binged again and watched more TV. I pulled myself together long enough to meet the minimum requirements for my job (all done online) and then went back to doing nothing but watching TV.

I feel so disconnected from my body. I picked up my son from camp and took him to basketball practice. I worked out on the elliptical machine for 30 minutes, but it didn’t feel like my body. I ate dinner, but it didn’t feel like my stomach. I feel so disconnected from everything and everyone. I hope this passes because I cannot live like this.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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This blog entry is completely based on the point of view of my wounded (devastated) inner child, Annie. I cannot stop crying and haven’t for two days, and it is all because of Annie’s pain. The adult me knows that my actions and reactions are not “appropriate” ones for an adult, but Annie doesn’t give a shit. This blog entry is for her. I am posting it now, even though I have already posted today, hoping that somebody can get through to Annie because I cannot. All I can do is give her a voice. ~ Faith


Everyone lied to me. They said it was all my fault, and I believed them. They said that they would be there for me when I needed them, but they aren’t mind readers – I have to tell them that I need them. So, I did. I told them that this period between the full moon and the summer solstice would be hard. I told them that I wasn’t sleeping and that, when I did, it was all nightmares. I told them that I was triggered by some day-to-day adult stuff that I don’t know how to handle – I am just a little girl who has been betrayed by everyone.

I thought there was someone in my corner, but they lied to me. They said that if I told them that I needed them, they would be there … but they weren’t. They said all I had to do was reach out and they would help me. I did reach out – I reached out to eight different people – but nobody was there. I needed someone to catch my fall but, as always, there was no one to catch my fall.

I have heard that, when you fall in your dreams, you cannot hit the ground because you will wake up first. That isn’t true. I do fall and hit the ground in my dreams, just like I fall and hit the ground when I am awake. There is no one to catch me. There has never been anyone to catch me.

I hate them for giving me hope. At least before, I knew I was alone. I knew it was up to me and me alone, as a little girl, to figure out how to be OK. They lied to me and said I wasn’t alone anymore, but I still am. All I needed was one person – just one person – to hold my hand, but there wasn’t a hand to hold … and I fell.

I am so tired of falling. I want to die, but Faith won’t let me, and I hate her for it. She won’t stop me from falling, either. Nobody can stop it. Nobody is there. I am tired of being all alone. I would rather die than keep falling, and I don’t want any more lies about not being alone because I am. I believed them, and they weren’t there. I won’t make that mistake again.

Everyone is always sorry after the fact. Sorry you were raped, Annie. Sorry I wasn’t there for you, but I am here now. I don’t need you now. I needed you then, and you weren’t there. Nobody was ever there, and nobody ever will be there. I hate all of you, including Faith. She’s the biggest liar of all because she said I would be OK, and she was wrong. There is only one way to be OK, and she won’t let me die.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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I have more ritual abuse memories coming, and I am not looking forward to them. However, I know that they are a necessary part of my healing, so I will deal with them as they surface.

One might be the memory that explains my obsession with my teeth. Both my sister and I have this obsession. I have always loved going to the dentist. I own my own dental tools for scraping away tartar between visits to the dentist. I brush my teeth a minimum of five times day – so much so that I have caused myself gum damage.

I have been experiencing body memories for a few days now regarding my teeth. It feels like my teeth are being sunk into something that is softer than flesh but much more solid than a liquid. The closest I can describe is the fluoride treatments that were used back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s – that gooey plaster-feeling substance. I can feel that on my teeth – both the top and bottom teeth. That memory will probably explain why I found fluoride treatments to be so triggering when I was in high school and college, although back then I didn’t know what “triggering” was.

I also suspect that I will be recovering the memory that explains why splinters are so triggering to me. Splinters have always been triggering to me. As a young child, my son knew that mommy cannot remove a splinter. The family rule has always been that, if it isn’t bother you too badly, wait until Dad gets home to remove the splinter. If it is really bothering you, I will take you to the doctor now. So, I would meet my kid’s needs, but I absolutely, positively could not do it myself. I know this is not “normal.”

My kid had a friend spend the night last weekend who got a splinter in my watch. My husband was out watching a ballgame with his father, so he wasn’t around to help. My kid actually helped his friend get the splinter out. They would describe what the splinter looked like, and I got very triggered – very dizzy like I was going to pass out – and I could feel sheer terror in my thighs. (My yoga instructor says that we hold our fear in our thighs.) I am sure that memory is going to be a doozy.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Before I start this blog entry, please note that the focus is on my offline relationships, not here. On my blog, I am able to connect and be caring without “taking on” anyone else’s pain. If only I could be that way in my offline life…

Last week, I felt like I was being bombarded daily with drama from all directions in my offline life. Every time the phone rang, someone was in crisis. Every email seemed to hold drama in it. It didn’t help that serious “drama” was going on at one of my part-time jobs, and I had to intervene with multiple students who were panicked about how the “drama” would affect their grades. Everywhere I turned, someone was in crisis and needed me to help them out.

Don’t get me wrong – I am a great friend and am very supportive of those in my life. Where it starts to overwhelm me is when the room for myself gets choked out as I become mired in everyone else’s stuff. There is no time for me and my own coping mechanisms as I get pulled into everyone else’s drama over and over again.

The worst part is those in my life who then “blame” me for their drama. That’s that part that gets me angry and gets me saying, “Enough!” I used to attract this kind of personality before therapy. I would imagine I was great to be around for those who don’t want to take responsibility for their own stuff. As an abused child, I was programmed to believe that everything was “my fault,” and I was comfortable in that role. If the problem is “my fault,” then I have the power to fix it. That’s why it helped me to survive the child abuse by believing that it was “my fault.” To accept the truth – that I had absolutely no power to make the child abuse stop – was to accept despair.

However, I am no longer an abused child, and my patience has run out on people in my day-to-day life who are miserable, won’t make the effort to change it, and want to dump all of their misery on me. Goodness knows, I have a ton of internal drama that I could be dumping on other people and using as a reason to stay perpetually miserable, but I don’t. I write the drama out here, and people can choose to read it or not. And, for the most part, I stay pretty positive in my life, even after weeks of little sleep and getting slammed with flashbacks.

I feel better after getting that off my chest.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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A reader asked me to discuss the topic of dealing with parents where one is confrontational and the other is passive. This reader was specifically interested in this topic with Father’s Day coming up. Because Mother’s Day is my big “go crazy” day, I often forget that Father’s Day is extremely painful for many of my readers. Hopefully, this blog entry will be helpful for those of you who have to deal with this dynamic.

The reader talked about a family dynamic that I have seen in other abusive and/or dysfunctional households. One parent is confrontational while the other parent is passive, letting the confrontational parent steamroll the adult child. The adult child struggles with where to place the anger, sometimes finding herself even angrier at the passive parent than the confrontational parent.

I have had to wrestle with this dynamic myself in a couple of relationships. With my own parents, my mother abused me while my father didn’t do enough to stop it. I went through a phase of being angrier with him than with my mother/abuser because it was his job to stop the abuse, but he didn’t (or at least not enough). My in-laws had a similar dynamic, where my mother-in-law would get all worked up about something, and my father-in-law would not intervene even though he disagreed with her. In both situations, I felt anger that the “sane” parent would not step in and protect me.

If you are dealing with this dynamic, you first need to recognize that this dynamic is triggering you. The wounded little boy or girl inside feels betrayed and angry at one parent for not intervening with the abuse or dysfunction of the confrontational parent. Try treating the wounded child inside as you would any other abused child. Comfort her. Tell her that she is now safe and that you love her. Also, tell her that **you** will be the one to intervene this time.

The second step is to set and enforce boundaries. The passive parent is not going to step it up, so you need to be the advocate for your wounded inner child. You need to be the one to tell the confrontational parent to knock it off or you will leave. Period. If you give a confrontational person a verbal “punch in the face,” the confrontation will stop. Walking out is always an option.

The third step is to cut yourself some slack if you don’t handle things perfectly. Keep in mind that your confrontational parent knows what buttons to push because he or she installed them. Until you are able to dismantle the buttons, you will stay vulnerable to doing your part of the “dance.” The parent will say X, and you will react by doing Y simply because that is how you were “programmed” to react. Any steps you take toward dismantling the dance will go a long way toward healing.

One final tip – Before I got strong enough to remove myself from dysfunctional family get-togethers with my in-laws, I used humor to get myself through them. For example, whenever my mother-in-law would say a particular phrase, I would “do a shot” in my head and then imagine how drunk I would be if I was really drinking. This helped me to step outside of the “dance” and see the dysfunction for what it was.

This change is not going to happen overnight, but any step you take toward standing up for your inner child and refusing to participate in the “dance” with your confrontational parent is a positive step along your healing journey.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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