Archive for May, 2012

I have been very triggered for the past couple of days, and I think I have finally figured out why. Without going into the details, I read someone’s story about an online abuser purposely triggering someone’s minor alter parts with dissociative identity disorder (DID) to exploit them. This has triggered me about my own experiences (in person, not online).

I have written about my experiences before, which you can read here. I guess I still have more to process about those incidents.

At the time I recovered those memories (I believe it was back-to-back but not at the same time), I was horrified that I had lost time as an adult. It was one thing to recognize that I had memory holes as a child, but as an adult? That was particularly disturbing.

I think reading someone else’s somewhat similar story has triggered me because I have another layer of horror to process – the awareness that I was a walking victim until I integrated my host personality and stopped losing time. Until that happened, I was vulnerable to anyone with knowledge of ritual abuse. I haven’t recovered specifically what trigger word or action the guy at the party used to call out and exploit one of my minor alter parts, but I do know that this person knew about an emotional “button” I had installed in my head that I was completely unaware of. That’s disturbing on so many levels.

A part of me fears how many other times someone “pressed the button” and exploited me as an adult. Another part knows that whether it never happened again or happened 100 more times, I am still **me**, and I am OK. No matter what anyone else did to me and no matter what age I was, I am still the same person today and still have the same value. So, I don’t think that is what is specifically triggering me.

I don’t know. I had very disturbing dreams the first night and took enough Xanax last night to be sure I slept soundly enough not to dream. I have that floaty feeling in my face and a headache, which is what I used to get when different internal parts were triggered. I had a very tough time getting through work yesterday, and I took today off to rest, but I am still feeling off. I want to cry, and my head is killing me.

I know I will be OK, and I am relieved to know that through integration, I have taken back my power so someone cannot just “press my button” and exploit me today. However, the idea that I was that vulnerable for 35 years of my life is really triggering me right now.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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On my blog entry entitled Integration from DID: Reasons to Integrate, a reader posted the following comment:

Hi Faith, It sounds like you had an incredible amount of self-worth even before embarking on the healing journey. Was this truly the case? And if not, how did you break out of any feelings of self-hatred or worthlessness and come to this place you describe of “making both an internal and external statement (or proclamation!) that I loved and accepted every single part of myself”. I struggle constantly with believing that I am “not worth it” and my therapist now says that I must decide that I am valuable before we can really do any work in therapy. But I’m totally stuck about HOW to change my beliefs. Can you offer any advice? ~ Dawn

I can see how Dawn might believe I started my healing journey from this positive place because it sure would have made the work easier. However, that was not the case for me. To paraphrase one of my healing books (perhaps The Courage to Heal??), I used to strive to reach low self-esteem because then at least I would have some!

I used to loathe myself. I thought that everything about me, even down to my name, was “stupid” and worthless. I felt like I needed to apologize for my mere existence. I had absolutely no idea how to love myself.

My therapist recommend that I read the book Compassion and Self Hate by Theodore I. Rubin to help me learn how to fight my way toward learning how to love myself. In my opinion, the book is really a longer version of the simplified idea provided in the Cherokee Legend of two wolves. I strongly recommend the book but just want to point out that it is (in my opinion) simply a more detailed explanation of how to “feed the right wolf.”

I read the book many years ago in my early stages of therapy. The main point I took away from the book is that our natural state is self-love, but life experiences get in the way, causing us to buy into the lie of self-hate, which is not our natural state. While the self-hate seems more powerful, self-love (or self-compassion) ALWAYS wins, but you have to be courageous enough to push through the lies. At the point where the self-hate is about to dissolve, it will launch its most powerful attack. You have to push through this attack and keep believing that self-love is the real you. Once you do, you will conquer the self-hatred for good.

Image credit: Amazon.com 

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Yesterday, I shared the two main reasons that I have been feeling “off.”  Sadly, there is still more.

This year, I have been part of a team for a project that I care about very much, and the team has members with very different views on some topics. While the whole point of having a team (versus just doing it yourself) is seeing the same issue from different perspectives, the process of trying to reach consensus can be draining. Also, because I (and most of the other teammates) care so deeply, the process has been emotionally draining at times.

I did not knowing going in that I was taking on a project that would go on for months. I naively believed this would be a three-week commitment. (In fairness, I don’t think anyone else on the team realized this either.) This has now stretched into months with no end in sight. I am committed to the cause, as is everyone else on the team. It’s just not the best timing for me to be taking on a new and sometimes time-consuming project when I am dealing with health issues and hub being at home. I do think with my health issues turning around and hub returning to work next week, the time pressures will ease.

Then there is the lack of connectedness with my girlfriends. I am not saying it is any of their faults, and in fact, one is persistently making the effort to get us together, and that has been a lifeline in recent weeks. With hub home and cutting into my work time, I have had less time to nurture myself through time with my girlfriends since I am having to use time that I would have spent with my girlfriends to keep up with my work schedule. My book club has been near impossible to pin down to meet, so I guess that is on hiatus until the fall. My Bible study ended for the summer, and I chose not to commit to a summer one since my time has been so limited lately. For one reason or another, I keep having to miss Sunday School.

The net result is that I am feeling cut off from all that energizes me – my blogging, my readers, my girlfriends – and working double duty with family interactions. Don’t get me wrong – I love my family, but interactions with them are mostly one-way with me doing the giving. At some point, I need to fill my own cup to have something left to give, and I have been running on empty. I am hoping some of this will turn around once hub returns to work, and I can return to my own schedule (just in time for school to let out, of course).

This is life, and I will get through it. It’s just hard, and I really miss my readers!

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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I have been feeling “off” for a while now, and I do believe there are a number of factors responsible for this. It’s been an “off” year so far, and I am soooo ready for my life to settle into some semblance of “normal.”

At the top of my list would be my health issues. As my regular readers know, I have been sick quite a bit this year. I had an endoscopy last week and was diagnosed with a small hiatal hernia as well as GERD. I am waiting for biopsy results of tissue from my esophagus, NOT for cancer (the doctor saw nothing that looked cancerous) but to determine the extent of the tissue damage to my esophagus.

Unless something surprising comes in, I can control my issues by eating a more balanced diet (fruit or veggies with each meal and avoid spicy & greasy foods). My doctor also gave me a prescription for medication to settle the reflux down when it flares up, and he wants me to take the meds proactively over the holidays since I seem to get very sick each year in January right after the holidays. Through dietary changes, my stomach is doing fine right now, so hopefully this part of my life is improving.

Then there is the hub factor. Hub has been on a medical leave of absence from work since the beginning of April and returns next week. It’s nothing life-threatening, but he did need the leave. I have gone from seeing him an hour a day for 20 years to having him around ALL THE TIME, and it’s been quite an adjustment, especially since, to him, having me around means me taking care of him. I work from home, so it’s been a challenge.

One the hardest parts for me has been having limited time to blog. I work ~ 20 hours a week for my job (from home) and then blog in my extra time. I have had no extra time with hub always around, and I miss blogging. I feel like blogging about healing from child abuse is my main “purpose” on this earth, and I am being kept from my purpose. I miss interacting with my readers, and I miss the energy and sense of purpose I get from blogging. I am hoping to get back to a regular blogging routine once hub returns to work because I need it.

More tomorrow…

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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I believe I have shared before that my son goes to school with my ex-friend’s child. (If you need to catch up on the ex-friend drama, you can do so here.) I have also shared that her child told me that my ex-friend was having some sort of medical issue back in February. Yesterday, my son came home from school and said that ex-friend’s daughter shared that her mother **might** have cancer.

Keep in mind that this is hardly a reliable source. The daughter has told me inaccurate medical information about her mother before, such as telling me (back when ex-friend and I were still friends) that her mother was going to have back surgery and be on bed rest for six weeks. It turned out that this was an option but never seriously considered. I also don’t know if “might have cancer” could be confusion over the explanation for the purpose of a mammogram – to “screen for” cancer. So, I am not jumping the gun and assuming the worst case scenario.

Even if ex-friend does have cancer, I have no idea what type of cancer or what stage it is in. I have known people with Stage 1 skin cancer where removing it was not that big of a deal. However, I have known other people with aggressive cancer in the later stages who have had to go through surgery, chemo, and/or radiation. So, I certainly do not take cancer lightly.

I guess the most relevant part for me is whether any of this information changes anything as far as my role (or non-role) in her life and vice versa. She is a single mother with limited support (in part because she drives away those who love her and does not welcome in new friends very often). If she has to deal with chemo or surgery, she doesn’t have a strong support system to help her through it.

Does that change anything with me, though? The compassionate part of myself wants to help her if she is mostly alone and dealing with cancer while the logical part of myself says that my ex-friend’s physical health is irrelevant to the reasons why this friendship ended. The practical side of me says that with school letting out soon, I probably won’t know either way, and I have no interest in investing in that friendship again. I am conflicted about this information.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Having an Endoscopy Tomorrow

PhotobucketAs my regular readers know, I have been battling health issues just about all year. I thought the issue was sinus-related and finally saw an ENT, who did tests that confirmed that my sinuses are 100% normal. While I am thrilled not to have something wrong with my sinuses, this news hardly fixed my medical problems.

A friend with reflux speculated that perhaps reflux could be the culprit. Until she explained to me how stomach acid could harm my sinuses, I was skeptical. Sure enough, my primary care physician gave me a two-week sample of a pump inhibitor, and … voilà … the issues cleared up. I was OK for a while until I ate like a teenager one weekend, and then my problems started all over again. (When will I ever remember that I am a woman in my forties? I really should learn that by now!)

My doctor gave me another two-week sample of the same pump inhibitor, which again fixed the problem. She also referred me to a GI, who I saw yesterday. He scheduled me for an endoscopy on Wednesday afternoon. I should know immediately if there is an underlying issue in my stomach causing the problems, so wish me luck!

Now the big question is how to tie this topic into something related to healing from child abuse … Hmmm… OK, I’ll go with this…

When I first entered into therapy, I kept losing my voice. I had never in my life had laryngitis, yet I had it FIVE TIMES within the first year of therapy. My therapist said this was a fitting representation of the “silencing” I endured as a child and that therapy was helping me to “find my voice.” I later realized that the stress from dealing with flashbacks was churning up my acid reflux, which was damaging my voice box and causing me to lose my voice.

Hey, that wasn’t too bad of a tie in! LOL

Photo credit: Wikipedia.com

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Through my job, I am taking a workshop on positive psychology. I knew that the workshop would be helpful in the classroom, but I was pleasantly surprised to recognize the ways I already use some positive psychology in my life as well as on this blog.

As an example, the workshop recommends building strategies that encourage others to feel hopeful. One way to do this is by sharing coping strategies to help the other person deal with a challenging area in his or her life.

As you know, this blog is filled with numerous “tools for your emotional toolbox” — not only tools that I have shared but also many wonderful tools that readers have provided. I will write about how much yoga has helped me, and then a reader might say, “Yoga doesn’t work for me, but I find Tai Chi to be helpful.” Collectively, we have managed to provide many tools for the emotional toolbox.

Not every coping strategy is going to work for every person, but enough tools have been provided on this blog (be sure to read the comments!) that anyone who visits the blog will hopefully find some tool that is helpful.

Another point the workshop made is to focus on your positive traits rather than only your negative ones. It pointed out that this can be an issue even in therapy. This was true for me. I entered into therapy with a very long list of all of the things that were “wrong” with me that I wanted to fix. My therapist continuously pointed out my strengths so I could see that I had those as well. (It took me a long time to “hear” him, though.)

The workshop points out that simply focusing on positive things is not going to magically fix all of your problems, but using your strengths daily and taking an inventory of the blessings in your life can go a long way toward giving you a reason to keep fighting your way toward emotional health.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Hi, all.

Several new commenters have been including their full names and Facebook links. I strongly recommend against this and have been removing identifying information as I see it. I probably won’t be on the blog this weekend, so please be sure to protect your privacy.

The only identifying information that is safe to include is an email address, which only I can see. Even for that, I recommend opening a separate, private email account, which you can do for free through Google, Yahoo, or Hotmail. Post your first name only (I recommend an alias), and absolutely do not link your comment to your Facebook page. That will automatically insert your picture onto your comment. ~ Faith

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Not sure when I will blog next. Maybe next week…

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PhotobucketThe last few days have been rough. I don’t think it is all about Mother’s Day, though, although I am sure that contributed to it. The initial trigger that caused the spiral was my son being unappreciative. (Yes, I get that he is 11 and that 11-year-old’s aren’t always appreciative, but still…)

I can’t remember if I have already shared this, but hub is halfway through a two-month hiatus from work (long story that is his to share, not mine), so much of my life is “about” him right now. On top of this, my child has special needs, so life is always “about” him as well. In fact, I have taken him to three doctors in a week – one for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication management, one for asthma management, and one for poison ivy on his face.

I think part of what set off the downward spiral is that too much of my life is about the two people who drain the most energy without replenishing it, and I am burning out after five weeks of this (on hub’s end – with my son, it is 11 years of this).

I am not “blaming” either of them for being so needy. I am just stating that I have needs, too, and they have been shoved to the side so I can take care of them. I usually have time during the work week to meet my own needs while hub is at work and child is at school, but hub has been home 24/7 (I work from home) since the beginning of April, and I have had to pick the child up early three out of the last five school days, and all of this is interfering with me meeting me own needs.

When I go through a pity party, it is (ironically) rarely about my childhood. It is about the two areas of my life (being a wife and mother) that take the most effort with the fewest results. I have spent years trying to “cheer hub up,” but he is perpetually unhappy (not with me specifically, but with life in general). I have also spent years taking my child to doctors and educational experts to meet his needs for asthma, ADHD, and learning disabilities, including dyslexia, and there appears to be no end in sight with any of these issues.

I think I am just plain worn out and need a break, but I don’t see a break coming. Hub returns to work, quite literally, the day before my child gets out of school for the summer. I’ll have to figure out some way to nurture myself because I feel like I am going to lose my mind!

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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