Always a Rod McKuen Fan

I sing for people I can’t have
people I meet once and will never see again.
It is for me a kind of loving.
A kind of loving, for me.

I make words for people I’ve not met
those who will not turn to follow after me.
It is for me a kind a loving.
A kind of loving, for me.

It is for love that I live all alone.
Because the lovers I imagine
are safer then the ones I’ve known.

I make rhymes for people who won’t hear
some who will not turn their faces to meet mine.
It is for me a kind of loving.
A kind of loving, for me.

Rod McKuen

Juggling Class

I joked with my babysitter about going to the meetup the other day when I walked him to his car, joking about who I am and what I talked about. “I hope I was polite enough,” I told him. “I am too thuggish for polite and yet too polite to be a thug and I always think I offend.” “I know, me too.” He means himself, that he has the same issue. I don’t even have to say anything else. We laugh. What else can we do?

Today I worry to a member of this organization that we are not reaching people who need us the most, with the vetting and the way we do meetups in restaurants – usually more expensive dining. “Not everyone can afford dinner out once a month.” Were my words. “Surely they can, just once a month?” He asks and then says “Maybe I am out of touch?” He is out of touch. I tell him so, without fanfare or surprise. He proves my point.

It would cost me a month’s pay to attend every event this year – using the cost of this first meetup as the average. I am still going to go. I will miss some events from weather, unavoidable where I live. An understandable excuse.

The Empty Spaces Inside Me

I seem to have lost my online friend. He no longer talks to me and I can’t blame him. I miss him a great deal, I feel like a limb has been lost.

Sometimes it is hard to come to terms with the fact that I am older and I am alone and will remain so.

Just when you think you have accepted being alone someone makes you feel like you might have some hope of sharing a bit of your life. Not necessarily with them, but because they find you decent or attractive you think “Maybe someone out there WOULD like me and be willing to put in the work.” When they stop paying attention to you that hope seems to die as well and the grieving process begins all over again. Luckily it doesn’t happen often to me.

It makes me feel overly dramatic and self centered, both things I abhor.

Last night I attended a meetup with others who have left the faith. I didn’t hold back much, and though it makes me look crazy I just let it all out in the open, my experience, what has happened to me, the effects. I didn’t want to let it out in pieces or wait for later. I want to listen more than I talk when I go to these things. I did not name names, though. It is SO EMBARRASSING to be myself, to have made the choices I made and to have to own it. I joke around a lot but there is so much shame under there. What kind of crazy person gets involved with the people and the movements that I do- by choice rather than by birth?

I really liked these people. They are not necessarily people who have lived like I have, they seem a bit sheltered, which makes me happy for them. Probably they have nice families who have looked out for them. It was weird to greet and leave them without the customary rituals common to our former religion, I might never become accustomed to foregoing that. I missed them immediately, as I walked away. I get attached quickly, often without reason. It makes me a great wife and in-law but it’s not much use with everyone else.

I left the children with a sitter, and I think this is the first time in 14 years that I have gone to meet up with strangers. It is certainly the first time I have left them with a sitter to do something that had nothing to do with them or their issues. The first in over nine years.

I will go again. I don’t know that I will be much help. I am not skilled with small talk or conversation, I do better in emergencies, better when working. Maybe they will put up with me, if I am lucky. Perhaps I will get better at social cues. It is hard to pick up cues from sensitive, educated people after so many years spent in isolation. Five years in American culture does not prepare one.

There were four other people there. That is how hard it is to leave the faith in this area. Their membership seems to be less than ten. Other chapters in other cities always show more.

I will never again automatically be treated like family by perfect strangers and never again will I do the same with others. There is no sisterhood for me, no shared faith, no comforting words. I am an outsider and it breaks my heart. Everything was easier when I belonged. When I belonged to a family, to a culture, to a community. I am not comfortable anywhere else and it is no more.

I can’t replace any of it. I don’t think there is any substitution.

Birth Control – Published on Both Blogs

I have cysts. I have them in the usual place, the ovaries, and also I get them on my skin, where the skin is thin. Behind the ear, in front of the ear, armpits, etc. It’s more annoying than painful. Pain is something I tolerate decently, but if I can avoid the cysts I would rather.

When I was with my abuser I could not get medical care. I was covered for pregnancies only. After the pregnancies they would give me low estrogen pills which I suppose worked well enough. They gave me these because I was breastfeeding and those were supposed to be tolerated well by the baby and not interfere with breastfeeding. So I was effectively pregnant in some form or another for about five years.

I never lost pregnancy weight. I had my pregnancies pretty close together. Two of my kids are a grade apart and the baby has one grade between her and the next oldest. I got pregnant, had the baby, breastfed, got pregnant before weaning and repeat. So I was never suspicious of birth control pills playing any part in my weight gain. I couldn’t get out to exercise often. I was allowed some walks but not too many and not too far.

I was always starving. Normal for breastfeeding and malnutrition.

When we escaped I let the birth control lapse but I was still breastfeeding the baby. I fed her for about nine more months after we left and then it got too hard with working to keep it up. She was twenty months, anyway. The boys got two years and some. I felt bad but my circumstances were so different. She did not fuss much.

As soon as we escaped the weight started falling off. I was able to get outside, I was not so hungry, and I attributed all of that to our changed life.

When we were relocated by the District Attorney I kept losing weight in our new place. I lost a lot of weight, I was nearly my early twenties weight when I was able to focus on my own medical care. I got the children looked after first, and with eight appointments a week and a new job I just put myself last. Who wouldn’t? So when I went in to finally see an OB/Gyn I did mention the cysts and she put me back on birth control. She put me on them all the time. No weeks off. No periods. Yay! Ummmm, no. But I didn’t figure that out til later.

This is so boring, really, but it’s context. So after about three months I started gaining weight again. I was starving, all the time. I was stressed out, tired, short tempered. At this point I was about a year and a half free. We figured it was my PTSD. Sometimes it hits you after a delay, sometimes dissociation keeps you from remembering. Sometimes you are in survival mode and only get around to feeling your feelings after you hit real safety.

I went with it. I started on beta blockers to help me slow down and stop overreacting. That took care of half the issue and then quitting coffee helped me enough to feel nearly normal. Not so irritable and crazy.

Last holiday season my son got the flu and I couldn’t leave the house to get the birth control pills. There was a holiday, they were closed, I had to wait a week. You are supposed to wait a week if you miss a few days. That was the best week of my last few years.

The pain stopped. The intense hunger turned off like magic. I was no longer a slave to the stove. My caloric intake was reduced by a thousand per day. I was logging, and it was ONE THOUSAND less calories a day. No more obsessive cravings. And I was so chill. Kids got into a fight? Pull them apart and send them to different rooms, have a chat. No problem. Not my usual MO. I usually have a bit of yelling first. I didn’t know what it was from, it didn’t register until I started back on the pills and my pain and irritability started up again.

I threw them out. Okay so I have them in a bag in my car to go to the medicine recycling box at the local Sheriff’s. You know what I mean.

I live like a nun. I don’t need these pills for the usual reasons. I got some cysts. I can take it. I lost four pounds. I stopped being afraid of being found. It doesn’t seem possible now, for some reason. I started talking in therapy. I don’t do so much of a standup routine in there anymore, now I tell my therapist what happened. I got my knee fixed, my cabinets rearranged, my room tidied up, my closet sorted. Shit I put off for months is getting done. I am blogging more. I am feeling more. I am having symptoms of dissociation. Not sure if I like the last one, but it feels more real than not caring. I sleep a lot less. I wake before the alarm, and sometimes I have to take melatonin to fall asleep.

This is all from birth control. I wish I had figured it out years ago.

Consolidating Power

I spent my therapy session explaining political history and party loyalties and background of my ex’s country of origin to my therapist. The entire session, and still I was not done. But she did not know, you know, WHO he was. She does not take notes on our sessions, she is afraid to enter them into her database, since my identity is supposed to be concealed and her system is linked up to cloud.

Not that he is famous, outside of the borders he fled.

But today I read the news from there and his party has mended their rifts and taken up arms again.

I don’t want him to gain any power, from anywhere. I don’t want him to gain support or get organized or start to use his rank again for anything. I want him to stay penniless and addicted to his vices and far away from us-forever.

I don’t want to worry that he is coming for us.

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.

Trust as Illusion

I don’t understand trust. Why are people suspicious of those they just met, and not those they live with?
Surely we have all had experiences where people we have known for ages and trusted became dangerous to us.
There is no guarantee someone will not attack you or betray you or steal from you.
All of us have experienced some sort of betrayal from people in our lives that we felt as close to as our jugular vein.
People change. You must constantly reassess your trust, anyway.
Trust, to me, is a decision. Not to be suspicious in that moment, not to look a gift horse in the mouth. I decide to trust. Anything else is me allowing myself to be lulled.
I don’t talk about this sort of thing much, others get uncomfortable with the concept. What do you think?

Replay: PTSD

So a few weeks ago a long time online friend messaged me that he was in love with me. I played it off and made light as I fell down the rabbit hole.

Fifteen years ago I was talking to an IRL friend I was helping with a legal case and he told me he loved me on MSN Messenger, which I was using for the first time. That relationship ended five years ago when I ran from him with our children with only hopes of staying alive long enough to see them safe.

Living with an abusive unpredictable monster for a decade has given me a lot of skills. Unfortunately it took me quite a few days to figure out what was going on, but in those days I did:
Come to a conclusion to be honest with my feelings instead of just deflecting his.
Spent an honest hour in therapy discussing my own trauma instead of telling jokes to my therapist as I have done for the past four years. She was stunned, I swear.
Treated the friend like an adult who I can trust despite wanting to protect him. Okay, so I did mention my various flaws in every casual conversation with him… some things never change.
Madly coped by listening to music, a lot of music, and I found some good new stuff out there.
Forced myself to eat a sustainable amount even though all food tasted like cardboard, and only lost five pounds.
Worked, every day.
Took perfect care of the children without them knowing I was rattled- though I was a bit lenient on the schedule.
Did all my self care, except sleeping, which the forced eating helped cure. Insomniacs, take note of the above and check your caloric intake.
Cleaned all the places I hate cleaning, like behind the stove and under the fridge.
Decided to purge. Got rid of half the contents of a closet and a couch I hated.
Debated intentionally with trolls daily and adequately defended the rights of women in a public internet environment instead of doing nothing with my insomnia.
Overcame some sort of sore throat virus with the help of turmeric heated in milk (thank you, internet friend’s mother).

I swear I was a superhero.

I finally pinned him down to a real conversation today and he did not mean it. When you are in love with someone, you plan, right? He has no plans, never had any plans, did not even consider any plans. He downgraded love to attraction, most notably. It was very sweet, I suppose. He, as always, was quite kind.

I always, always! fall in love with people who say they are in love with me- despite everything. This time I will never have to explain it, embrace it, or deal with any fallout. Some feelings I can keep to myself, right? The relationship it affects is mine, with myself. My life will be unchanged. I will be back to normal shortly, I expect. I am looking forward to my tastebuds registering again. Still have some purging to do in the house, though.

Oh, and my abuser, who messaged me his love on MSN so long ago? He didn’t mean it, either. He was lying that day, as he told me years later. He was fishing, and I got caught. Caught good.

Exposure Therapy

My therapist keeps advocating CBT, a modified exposure therapy for my triggers. I am supposed to increase the time I can stand being uncomfortable in a situation in order to learn tolerance for it and to normalize it.

I don’t know why I am trying to work so hard at my therapy.

I work full time, I raise a herd of little kids all by myself, I have some savings in the bank and my only vice is the internet.

What’s happened to me is not more than what happens to so many of us. I ought to consider myself recovered and successful rather than nitpicking at lingering effects and cursing my PTSD symptoms.

I need to write a long post on the effects of low dose estrogen. It’s a doozy.

I would rather do that than increase the time I can stand someone looking over my shoulder.

Still Looking Backwards

It was a short-term goal my therapist and I set for me, well over six months ago, to look back at my life and try to see it through “the lens of autism” in the hopes that it would make sense.

It doesn’t, still, and I have gotten in the habit of looking back and analyzing frequently.

What I talk about in my sessions with my therapist is about the feelings of isolation or being misunderstood. I can explain that as being symptomatic of autism but what stands out to my therapist is neglect.

I know I am a different sort of parent from my own.

I try to figure out what is going on with my kids in school, I play with them and their friends, I encourage them in things I don’t care for – growing out their hair, playing social video games.

I don’t always do this because I am interested, though I am. I sometimes am motivated by what I remember of my own childhood, because I don’t want my children to ever feel as I did. I felt a lot of self-loathing, and as if I were never good enough. I want my children to feel validated, to feel that their own interests are legitimate, that they matter as their own selves.

I look back and I remember always feeling as though people did not understand my intent. My intentions were often announced by me, and still not understood or accepted.
I think this is how things work, actually. I think we assign our own motivations to others and rarely accept their stated intentions as truth. For we see others through our own lenses, our own frames of reference, rather than through their eyes.
I think we also deceive ourselves quite frequently, even regarding our own intentions. So maybe it is not that people did not understand my intentions or feelings, but that I did not understand their interpretations of me- why or how they were so off.
I remember feeling gutted by the assessments of others.

This all looks like autism at first glance. But the therapist says that a skewed or dysfunctional attachment to the primary caregiver creates a bit of disassociation like this, for instance:
I have always felt closer to people who talk a lot about themselves. I often feel as though I have a better picture of them, as if they were “more real” than others who are more conservative or discreet in their self praise. This is not the healthiest, but it is instinctive, I cannot help it. I know, now, that this is my tendency, and so I try to lean away from those I am trying to lean into. If that makes sense. Because I know now that self absorbed people are not good for me (or really anyone) and that their endless chatter on their favorite subject is not necessarily the truth.
So the therapist’s assessment is that I am attracted to people who convey a false sense of intimacy (immediate intimacy) because I did not have real attached intimacy with my primary caregiver as a child. Deep shit, right? Makes for a complicated life and a lot of bad judgement of character. Like being autistic.

How can I untangle all that?

And my therapist, in case you were wondering, is pro-neurological diversity and not in doubt of my autistic assessment last year. So it is not even a simple matter of her throwing her own disbelief into it.