What Am I Looking For?

Every day I go online looking for something. I don’t even know what. I just feel unsettled, uneasy. Like I want an answer to something. I need to stop. It is a waste of my time. I should do something else. Write, read, exercise, clean, cook. I have lots of other things to do. I have to get off of here.

I cannot expect to find anything if I don’t know what I am looking for.

Super TriggeredI

I am super triggered. I hate feeling like this. Anxious, impatient, bossy, I end up ordering my kids around. Which triggers them, too. Hold on, let me give one of them a backrub and a reminder of proper bedtime behaviour, so I don’t just bark orders at him.

Better.

So I did my chores and found myself tired. Fifteen minutes until the kids had to get inside. I sat down at the picnic table in the complex with some of the other moms. Which I nearly never do. I don’t know how they have time to sit down there, I seem to always be cleaning while they are able to sit. I need to figure out how they get free time in the evenings.

I sat down and we started talking. I found out one of the moms, my neighbor, is working with a lot of the professionals who helped me get set up in this town. She works at the local DV shelter, and I was working with the advocates in the office when I arrived. I didn’t even think, I just told her I had a file there and what I was working on with who (address privacy issues, cultural integration for new clients). I never tell anyone. I suppose people might know, but I never really say it.

So I get the kids inside and start the bathtub parade and I hang up laundry on my new clothesline, which I have to have inside the house as they are not allowed outside in this complex. I used to hang up laundry twice a day in our old house, our abuser’s home. It cools off the rooms on hot days, I haven’t got an AC unit yet, and I thought today would be a good day for it.

It just brought me back. Too much, too far into the past. The coolness of the laundry, the pressure to hang before it wrinkles, the colder air next to the line. How many loads did I have, then? Two a day? Three? Small children have so much laundry.. I start worrying about telling my neighbors my big secret. Of course single mother neighbors are going to talk about each other. Why did I say anything? Why cannot I just be cool and play it off, I certainly know how to keep a poker face. But then. Why shouldn’t I say anything? Why don’t we talk about these things? How do we break the stigma or the cycles if we are not open about it?

When I was younger I was well known as a blurter. I said whatever I wanted to, to whomever I was with, as I thought it. Not always the best policy, but it was who I was. Now I am so closed up that I practically speak in riddles, like an international spy.

I don’t know if I have done right or wrong with this conversation. I know I have more questions, because it is such a tough job, I want to know how she balances it, how she keeps from burning out. I maybe should not hang the laundry, though. I can spare the money for the dryer, I just don’t want to.

I am going to prep the report on the address privacy issues right now and turn it in tomorrow. Whatever the state my PTSD is in, I am motivated enough to get it done.

Confessions

I have always wanted one of those big geodes of amethyst, the ones that look as if they were cut in half. I suppose a matched pair would be more interesting. I have wanted one my entire life. My mother sent me one in miniature for my birthday, on a string too small to go over my head. I would rather hang it where I can see it all the time. It’s hard to see your own necklace.

I traveled overseas by airplane twice. Each time I went to a carpet shop or two, saw carpets in the souk, fell in love with those miniature carpets for your desk that they sell at the airports. Each time I went, my husband would not allow me to buy a rug. So stupid.

These things I want my entire life, I could buy them. It is not as if I buy jewelry, or any frivolous thing. I even waste far less food than most people I know.

I want to walk into a furniture store and point to this and that and a couple of carpets. To have it delivered. It is so easy to do so. But that would be irresponsible use of my savings.

I am not a material person. If you kicked my car I would shrug and ask you if you were alright. I do not know why these things are bothering me so much, the furniture and the carpet and the things I never bought myself and would not know what to do with if I did.

I need to play board games with the kids. I never sit down with them. I clean and I cook and I do so without ceasing, even if not necessary. Yet my home is not pristine. It is clean enough, cleaner than most, but not in any way ready for showing. I have sewing to get done, guided reading with the children, those board games. I haven’t got the time or the patience for this nagging greed.

Update: I just priced all of them, online. I would never be able to afford them. Not the carpet nor the geode. In the souk, I could have. Not here.

PTSD

I need to take my afternoon dose.

I have PTSD. I have PTSD. I have PTSD.

I cannot pretend I am better. I need to take my afternoon beta blocker.

I have PTSD. I take it for a reason. It works. Just because I feel great all day doesn’t mean I can’t lose it in the evening if I don’t take my dose. I have a better chance at handling surprises if I take my afternoon medicine. I have to take care of myself, because I have PTSD. No one is going to remind me to eat or take my vitamins or my PTSD meds. I have to do it. I have to take it, I was prescribed it because I NEED it. IT WORKS.

I have unpredictable and intelligent children who do not need me to yell at them or lose patience with them. I have to treat my PTSD so I can treat my children the way they deserve, even if they are having their own PTSD issues and acting really inappropriately. I am the parent. I have to parent myself better to parent the kids better. I make them take their medicine, so I have to make myself take mine. I cannot forget any more. That pain in the chest means I forgot my medicine. If I take my medicine I don’t have the chest pain and I don’t lose my temper and yell at misbehaving children.

I have PTSD and I have to take my medicine.

There should be a way to force acceptance.

Me

My favorite flower is the African Violet, any variety, especially ruffled.

I prefer to read rather than watch videos. I cannot tell you how many articles I have skipped because I found a video instead of text after clicking on it.  In the thousands.

I like science fiction better than other fiction, though I read them all. Because science fiction is not limited in content, and much of the older science fiction is now reality. I think Dickens was really onto something when he hoped fiction would become a vehicle for cultural change. I couldn’t tell you my favorite book, but there are a few that I read over and over and replace whenever they are lost. Like Shogun and Dune. I would rather read all day than do anything else.

I read to my children every night, the older ones get a chapter of a novel every time. I plan to continue doing so until they tell me to stop.

I prefer books. As avid a reader as I am, I have no books in electronic form, though I use the internet to research nearly everything. If I need further information on any subject, I order a book and wait for the mail or scout out the subject at the local bookstore.

I like textiles. I like to feel them, see them, though I would never wear them because I prefer more somber clothing. Especially embroidered things in bright colors. When I find something I really like, I always wish I could sew. I have never mastered it.

I love cut flowers, but I despise the waste of them. They are very rare in my home. I like flowers from gardens more than purchased flowers, I would rather a bloom or two in a coke bottle than a big vase of exotics. I can count on one hand the times I have been bought flowers, but in high school a boy brought me garden flowers every week, in a soda can.

I try to wear jewelry but I don’t like to change it much. If I like something, I wear it for months or weeks at a time. I have jewelry that I like the look of, but do not like the feel of. I hope my kids will wear those one day. Nothing I have is of much value. I prefer rocks, real rocks, like sandstone or agate, over gems. I have always wanted a piece of pietersite.

This is my Mother’s Day Gift to myself. This is who I am, the things about myself and my preferences that never vary.

Triggers (for me), Not Most! and Happy Mother’s Day

Today I drove the children to the zoo. Which is an hour away. Mostly because I wanted to prove to myself that I could leave town.

I can.

I drove through the city where I was so happy with my ex. The ex before the children’s father. It was hard to remember this is where we, that is where he, and etc. At least it was a good opportunity to convince myself that I didn’t want to be with him, by making a list of his issues in my head while I drove through the city center.

The kids did pretty good at the zoo, but I became impatient after a few hours. The crowds bothered me. I couldn’t deal with them indoors.

Also I was sick of seeing fathers with babies. Fathers with young children. I kept wondering what was wrong with their wives, that they let them take the children out without them. I kept looking around for the mothers in concern.

Which is ridiculous. Probably most fathers can be trusted with their children. The psychologist told me so, that there are decent fathers out there. My brother is one, too. It doesn’t seem possible, but it is. Right?

I kept myself from running after a group of women from my old community. It was easy, as they didn’t know me, but it was hard to realize I have the knee jerk reaction still of greeting with affection perfect strangers because of a mutual culture. I know they would assume the worst of me, as I was dressed like a Western school teacher.

I was tired of seeing couples together. Couples who spoke to each other, who clearly had mutual regard, respect for one another. Did he beat her when they got home? Why was she looking around, won’t she get in trouble? She was wearing shorts…

Which is silly. If I dated, ever, I might end up with some sort of normal relationship. If they could do it, couldn’t I?

Right. I think I will stick to my singlehood. It is so much easier. I don’t know how to do relationships anymore.

It was the psychologist, the PTSD specialist, who explained to me that every inappropriate thought is a trigger. Who explained to me that I am triggered nearly all the time in public. That was last year. Not much has changed, I guess.

So I was super triggered. The zoo was a hit, but early on a weekday is a must. No more Mother’s Day public activities.

A few years ago on this day at about this time I was having a beating, one that made me feel like I got hit by a truck for a week. I hated those, they impaired my ability to care for the kids, which always made me depressed. Mother’s Day is not my fave, ever since. Please don’t forget that holidays are the worst for women in abusive relationships, the days where shelters put on extra staff and the hotlines ring overtime. Don’t forget them, the survivors.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who survived, and who did not. Happy Mother’s Day for those in the shelters or running for the sake of the kids and/or the sake of sanity. You have my love.

Trying to Understand

I don’t know how I got there. How I managed to exist in fear so pervasive I mistook it for background noise. How I managed to raise children in poverty so extreme that I learned how to cook with flour and oil and salt and had no clothing of my own. What happened to me, that I, once successful, became satisfied with not being hit during the span of a week?

What set me up for this.

Daily beatings from my brother as a child? His scorn for my existence?

The lack of acceptance from my father? His lack of support? My mother’s disinterest? My first husband, who was much the same?

Doesn’t everyone have some sort of history like this? Surely a person with a happy childhood and accepting parents is a rarity, and not the norm. It is an ideal we strive for, right? Not how most people have actually lived?

Was the abuser so intelligent that he managed to dupe me, on a daily basis, for a decade?

Surely it was my own eagerness to please, to hold onto someone in my life. Perhaps my own fear of abandonment, of proving to myself that I was worth keeping, after two divorces, had the most to do with it?

It seems that, in therapy, a person is supposed to go back into childhood to find their inner child or something, and use that as the basis of reason for all of life that comes after. In order not to blindly recreate the same patterns, one must be aware of them. I was a very assertive child. I was not well behaved. I said what I thought and I defended my right to do so. But I am timid, now. I have few vices and cannot be described in any way as irresponsible.

I don’t understand.

I go over it until I am sick of thinking about myself, until I feel dangerously close to being at my own pity party, and I don’t understand.

I am working on self acceptance, instead. I don’t want to feel sorry for myself. I am not a victim. I am sometimes canny. I might be odd, but I am not repulsive. I need to see myself as accurately as possible, and not through my father’s or my abuser’s eyes.

I never talk about what has happened. Lately I have been thinking about a lot of stressful situations that I have been in. I don’t want to live in danger any longer, I am choosing to be alone. I don’t want to go back to childhood and feel sorry for myself and be vulnerable. I know this is how you get PTSD, I know that. This is how I am. I don’t want to bleed all over. Every conversation I have gets replayed in my head, sometimes over and over, and I criticize myself for what I say, what I reveal. I don’t know if I have always been this way, or if it is instead the voices of others in my past, still criticizing me in my mind.

I worry that I am not utilizing my therapy wisely. That continuing with an easy going therapist is denying me a healing process. I have been through therapy with a psychoanalyst, as a teen, and that was tough work. Deciding what to work on, when, and being in control of the process is odd to me. I always shy away when I get emotional. How am I supposed to heal if I never show a wound?

Stockholm Syndrome or Narcissistic Victim Syndrome or Battered Person Syndrome or whatever.  Can one rebuild themselves after living in such a state, a state of being at the mercy of another?

I feel shattered, I am afraid of people. I know I don’t look it. I don’t want to feel it, either.

Unbelievable Acts of Kindness

My rear brakes were going out. I knew something major was wrong, but I failed to estimate the true cost of the repairs.
I got a call after I dropped the car at the mechanic’s. He told me it would cost me effectively two and a half weeks worth of pay.
I told him to go ahead. The rest of the car is fine, and I need it functioning. It’s not enough of an issue to get a new used car over.
He meant to have it fixed by the time I get off of work.
I got another call just before work let out for the day. He had been given the wrong part and my car was not fixed, could not be jury rigged, and he had no loaners. I asked.
So I scrambled for a ride. Thank you, closest friend!
I couldn’t sleep all night. Not from the cost, but because I felt so vulnerable. I have no family to rescue me, not enough to rent a car (not that there is a car rental place here), and I didn’t even know the number for the local taxi or tow businesses (time to add into my phone). My friend who gave me her car arrived so tired that she should not have been driving at all, which was another worry altogether. My work is ten miles from my children’s daycare and school, which are close to home. It seems like a million at the end of the day. I would never be able to walk it before daycare got out, unless I started when I arrived.
I woke up in a bad mood. So did the children. We did not have a pleasant morning. A mommy time out was had.
I went to work, then went to pick up my car. The mechanic told me to take it. I told him I needed to hand something to my ride and then I would settle up with him. I handed a key off to my ride and then the mechanic told me again to take my car and go. I began walking to his office to pay, wallet in hand. He told me ¨Look, it’s taken care of. I am not supposed to say by who, but it’s all paid up.¨
I was stunned, I protested. I thanked him, I asked him to thank the benefactor. I managed not to cry.
I went back to work. Those I suspected in the office denied it. Not that I should have been sleuthing, it was not very graceful, but that is how I am. No one can accuse me of grace.
I got my check an hour later.
My check was for too much. I had been out sick, and I was paid for full hours. I felt awful. I had made a mistake on my timecard, for certain. I pulled out my file to find the faulty timecard and bring it to my boss so I could be docked properly the next pay period.
On top of the total hours, which I had correctly put as 16, was written ¨35.75, authorized by __¨. My boss had paid me in full, instead, using the hours from the week before as a source.
I did not cry. I did go to my boss and express my thanks and ask him to thank whoever paid for my car, if he knew who it was. He laughed at me, in a happy way.
I don’t feel lucky about the money. When you have had enough and none, money does not seem to matter very much.
What makes me feel lucky is the fact that someone, or more than one someone, thinks well enough of me to want to do nice things for me.
No one does something nice for someone they think of in a negative way. Not an expensive nice thing, because it seems worthless to invest in someone you do not think well of. You don’t trust them to use the gift wisely, or even appreciate it.
People believe in me. Such a powerful thought.
It’s not pity, either. Because no one knows what happened to me. I don’t talk about it.
I told my therapist I don’t want to see myself through other people’s eyes. But maybe the view is not as bad as I thought. Maybe the negative voice in my head is a memory rather than a reality.
For everyone who told me that people in this culture/country are sick and twisted lost souls – get an education. I love this town.