So much new stuff I can’t even title

So the children have been doing pretty good. I had first conferences and all are fine academically.

I am grateful they don’t need me to breathe down their necks right now because I am in my third month of math class and sometimes it is hard work- it can eat up a lot of my time.

I am also in my first month of committed relationship after ending my abusive one five years ago and it is really nice to be treated like a person. I told him the basic outline of our issues and like a gentleman he has not pressed me for details. I want to be myself, not a victim, and he is letting me be that.

I am super strapped for time and have been dipping into savings to make my life easier, like pay for sitters and take out food when I have too much to do to even cook. I just want to move ahead and take the kids with me on my progression. Whatever I have to do to keep going I am going to do.

Today we went up to my stepmother’s house and had lunch and raked leaves for her. We had only been there a few times since my father passed away. She gave me more things that had been his. I have his high school yearbooks and reunion booklets and I don’t know what to do with them. I took them because I knew they might be of interest in his hometown if I ever managed to get over there to visit his side of the family. She also gave me a suitcase of things he had collected over a lifetime, I don’t know exactly what. She showed me just seven hours ago and still I can’t remember. It must have been harder than I thought to be there. I have been irritable since and it could be from the baby biting her brother, but I suspect more cause than that. Are there people who feel things when they feel them or does everyone have to sit and figure out what just happened like I do? Is it PTSD or suppression or just being human and trying to get through each day? I don’t know.

The service dog agency was here. They interviewed us, and said they would tell us in three weeks if we were approved for a dog. Still waiting, six weeks later. Losing hope. We waited three years and some already and I am feeling a bit upset about it.

Before I had children I was a workaholic. I worked at least ten hours OT and I ran a household and did all the cleaning and coordinated everything for husbands and in laws. This is how I am. While I was in purdah I felt like I was not working because the hours were so low but really I was working more because my children were toddlers and their father treated me worse than he ever treated his dog. It took all my time just to keep the children in clean diapers, get enough sleep to function, and get food into the fridge by hook or crook before their father took it from us.

For the last five years I had been spending all my time on appointments for the children, trying to help them recover and give them the tools they needed to deal with their particular abilities or disabilities. Now they are down to an appointment a month or so, and school helps with daily social skills classes. I went from seven appointments a week and full time work and single parenting to no appointments some weeks. So I filled it with school and dating.

I am still a workaholic. I haven’t changed at all.

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My First Date

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I went on my first date, yesterday.

I wasn’t afraid of him. He was much bigger than I, and I still was not afraid, that is how mild mannered he is. Perfect, really, for me.

We met on a dating site, and he invited me for coffee. I ran a background check and found his wide open social media and went willingly.

Over a year ago I Skyped with a much younger man for the first time, ever. We had been talking for three years, via forum and text boxes. He thought I was cute. I was flummoxed. He knows my story.

Since then he has insisted I am beautiful, repeatedly, consistently. Until I began to have suspicions of my own that my self perception might be off.

I shaved my head. I still could not accept my face, and my hair grew in.

I complained in therapy about this, was it a dysmorphic disorder? My therapist was incredulous. “No one ever told you that you were pretty?” She asked me. She did not offer an opinion. She approached it thoughtfully. She had suggestions.

I started taking selfies. I skipped the filters and played with light. I read tutorials on eyeliner. I put my face online in places where I was known, but not my identity. Didn’t have a great response, but didn’t have a bad one, either.

I wrote a dating profile. I sat on it for months. I put it live. I got some responses, but all women do. I shut down the profile and started talking to some of those responses.

I got to my first adult date invite. Ever. The day before I go, my friend who insists I am beautiful tells me he wants to move here, where I live. He knows I love him, I don’t bother to hide it anymore, but he probably does not feel quite the same and I don’t think he should. The therapist tells me to let him make his own choices and stop deciding what is best for him. I start calling in favors via phone. I take time off work to do this.

I go on the date. He asks me for another. I plan it for two weeks from now. I can’t afford the sitters but I can’t afford not to go, either.

I don’t know what I am doing. How do you get to know someone without confessing things up front like “I am in hiding. I am an apostate, they want to kill me. He wants me dead. My children have PTSD. I have PTSD. I survived. I understand honour violence from the inside out. I am not a product of my culture.”

The small talk is killing me. I want more. I want everything, all at once.

Dave Egar

Dave Egar was a street punk in Uptown Minneapolis. He already had a long and interesting history by the time I met him. I was only thirteen at the time, while he was about twenty-two. To me he was a sort of mythical figure. I know he was more faceted than I understood at the time, but my perception was limited and I couldn’t get into Williams Pub to spend a lot of time with him.

He was in charge of the squat we lived in on thirty-seventh and Garfield, and he was not terribly comfortable with that role, so he asserted his authority as little as possible. He did have his own room, and there was a bed in it, a luxury no one else had. But he was only in the squat when the bars were closed and he was tired.

He was beautiful. He had long hair when I met him and a short beard, his face was classically handsome. He always wore all black that winter, and typically had the tight jeans that punks always wore.

Everybody knew him. From the street kids to the crack dealers to the crazies hanging out on the corner that we called Pops or Grandma or whatever title seemed to fit. He knew everyone, and he spoke to all of us in the same manner. He never made the little kids feel little. I learned a lot by watching him interact with people.

When the police showed up during the Thanksgiving blizzard he stood in front of our door and tried to pass off our room as though no one were in it. Right up until the cops reached around him and shoved the door open. There must have been a dozen of us kids in there, all runaways, and none of us wanting to go home. He was smooth enough that the police wished us all a good night after asking if we felt safe. They let us stay.

One night around two in the morning he took the entire lot of us to Curly’s and bought us all a hot meal. Each of us had our own plate and we had cokes with it and none of us left much, even though shrunken stomachs had little room for a full meal. I remember the red light on the sign out front matched the red straws in the drinks, and they glowed even though the interior lighting was dim. He claimed he got the money off of a drunken yuppie. Not sure how true that was.. but we sure appreciated it. I doubt he kept any. He wasn’t like that.

But he did tell me one day while we were alone and keeping warm in the mall, after a long conversation, that I didn’t belong on the street and that I should go home. It wasn’t condescending and it wasn’t flippant. It was considered advice. He said I was too nice to be out there, it wasn’t safe for me.

I was arrested not long after. When I got myself in order and I managed to get back to Uptown a few months later he recognized me immediately and was a bit upset. He asked me if I was back and I told him I was visiting and he was relieved. He told me not to come back. He said “I can’t tell you what to do, it’s not my place, but don’t come back here to stay.” He was one of few adults who could get through to me. One of very few who knew me at all.

He hopped a train to New York, they told me. Aaron hung on my leg inside First Avenue and started to cry, years later. He told me Dave had died, someone had given him drugs and he didn’t make it. Dave never did drugs, he was a drinker, and the whole thing was suspicious. I was seventeen. It broke my heart. Every single street punk I was close to in my teens died from drugs. Some of them years later. But all of them are gone, before hitting thirty.

I tell my children about him. He has no equal. He is still missed.

Dissociation

So here is my theory on the past few weeks of crazy:
Hearing someone was in love with me and not confronting the issue immediately led to a loss of taste. Dissociation. Extreme stress.

This happened immediately after I was overwhelmed with emotions that did not fit the situation. PTSD emotional flashbacks caused by a trigger.

So what happened was some sort of inner tape went on replay. Emotional flashbacks that lasted days. Then I reacted to the stress of this skew in reality by dissociating (losing my taste) and that caused me to not want to eat at all. The lack of calories kept me in the stress reactions and also nixed my ability to sleep. Like: What? We are starving? Must be an emergency!! No sleep! Need to be alert! My really experienced stress hormones kicked into overdrive and would not calm down until I force fed myself a healthy amount.

The morning after I wrote a post on it, the morning after I had a conversation with him where he assured me he had zero plans to visit me, I woke up with the tape off, and my food was food again instead of tasteless cardboard.

I have dissociated before, the year after I left I did not even once recall any abuse or abusive incidents. I had a few dreams of being afraid but no recall was available to me. I was just surviving, trying to take care of the kids and starting over from nothing.

So I can’t say I don’t have dissociation any longer. I think I do. I thought one could only have dissociation from childhood. If that is true, I wonder what happened to me? The therapist calls it emotional neglect. Surely that is not enough to create dissociation.

I knew dating would be a bad idea for me. I am so glad I don’t try. Not everyone is going to wreck my life or kidnap me- but apparently my lizard brain believes the opposite.

Conditioning

I have a trauma anniversary coming up in a few days and I have been very proud of myself so far. I have not been irritable or triggered that I can tell.

A few days ago I skyped with a friend I had not yet met but had corresponded with for a few years, a nice young man finishing up his Master´s degree. It was a nice conversation even though he said some nice things to me that threw me completely. I am not so good at compliments.

Even worse than the fact that I spent days obsessing over this conversation and feeling awful about everything I said is the fact that most of what I said and all of what I did not say came from cultural and abuse conditioning. I have been living in Western culture for four years, answering to no one but myself and still I am paralyzed inside, unable to voice perfectly acceptable comments because I have been conditioned not to speak to men, or not to speak nicely to men. This is a nice young man and he deserves some positive communication. I can write it, but I cannot say it. I feel ashamed to be controlled by things that are no longer present in my life.

I said nothing wrong. I just did not say much of what I wanted, encouraging or supportive stuff. I am supposed to be free, supposed to be able to talk as freely as I write.

It nearly makes me feel like crying. I never do that.

Just A Tap

The kids are okay. I think they will wake up okay, too. But a tap on the bumper has me feeling like I was in a major wreck. I had a few accidents and a couple of beatings in my life that have left my scoliosis spine very vulnerable to sudden jarring and I can feel it stiffening up right now. I took an Aleve but I don´t think it will help much.

The other driver and I just shook hands over the little hole my hitch left in her front bumper. It would be her fault, since she was behind me. She was young and concerned and my car was fine, so I told her to have a very good day.

I ought to take some Ibuprofen.

A family that attends the same small school as my sons was hit by a drunk driver last week. The girl, a kindergartner, suffered a broken neck. I know she is awake and in a Halo device, but I don´t know what her prognosis is. I worry alot about them. One of her siblings was initially critical and another had a nasty sort of broken leg. Her mother broke both her legs. They have a gofundme site set up, and so far are at half goal. I hope they all recover, I hear they are lovely people.

My accident didn´t seem like a big deal. I have been grateful for it all evening, that it was not worse, that my kids are okay.

The other driver said she was handing a beverage to her passenger.

 

 

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.