A Life at Stake?

25 Mar

As I enjoy my second cup of coffee and watch Angela Lansbury in “A Life At Stake,” I realize I haven’t had the struggle internally that I have been feeling for days, perhaps weeks. It is a strange thing because it isn’t like I woke up singing show tunes, but the sky is overcast and it I realize it doesn’t feel like the end of the world. The overcast sky is just a thing, not an omen of a shit day.
The last few days I have taken a drug to break the anxiety cycle. It is a pharmaceutical drug, and as much as I wish I could rely solely on natural remedies, the level of stress that anxiety causes is not even tipped by deep breathing, tapping, or Bach’s Rescue Remedy. I have mentioned in past posts my usage of antidepressants; currently I take one SSRI, one SNRI, two opiate anti anxiety drugs, and a pill to keep my thyroid functioning. I see shame sometimes when I see the pill bottles. The stigma of mental illness and the idea that I am unable, incapable even, of fixing myself is the concept that goes through my mind. I ask myself if I will ever be “fixed,” or will I ever have done enough repair to seem like I am like everyone else? The answer is obviously no, and not because I am doomed, but because there is no normal, and everyone else is dealing with their shit, too.
I am not trying to distract myself from a knot in my gut like I was last week. I do realize that I find myself justifying my thoughts and behavior from two angles: one is realizing the depths of horror I have seen and how it is okay, normal even, to have some difficulty with basic life skills, and the other angle is trying not to dwell on the precipice of the abyss that is my past. It is a balancing act between acknowledgement and release that can be difficult. This is how it is right now.
I had some ideas about methods of therapy that are quite unorthodox and I discussed them with my psychiatrist, whom I trust very much, and she was highly opposed to them. This is a woman that I have talked with about astrology, and the moon’s placement in our charts, Carl Jung, marijuana, and LSD. I don’t consider her to be closed minded. When I discussed these things with her and saw her opposition I felt like I was too far gone to undertake any alternative therapies. I asked myself later why I wanted to try alternative therapies to begin with–was what I am doing now not working? What was my goal with these therapies? My goal was to fix myself. My goal was to do some practice that would basically issue me some sort of “certificate” that I was fixed. Not unlike my reasoning behind pursuing a bachelor’s degree, which was basically that once I had it my life as a functioning adult would begin, which casts a pretty shitty pallor on the now. It also sets me up for a life I do not want, a life dictated by “shoulds” and doing what I think others want me to do.
Nevertheless, I had a similar banter going on within regarding therapy. I felt like if I couldn’t do mushrooms in the rainforest, my PTSD would never be “cured.” There is an example of a typical Western medical model of looking at mental health and mental illness. From a different perspective there is no “cure” because I am not sick. I am not in need of a cure, and to search for something to fix me is futile. I can try to eradicate all of the influence that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has caused, but to do so would be to eradicate some of my skills and methods of dealing with things. I am certainly not in a place where I can say “geez, this is a fucking great gift,” but I know I see more and feel more because of it.
There’s no fixing, no curing, no eradicating because it is not necessary. There is no end point where I get to say “I have it all figured out now and I am done.” This whole fucking thing is a journey, as cliche’ as it sounds. I do not remember the beginning of my life. I do not remember intentionally setting out on this journey, but I am here. So it goes and so I go, on.

Happy Spring Equality

19 Mar

Tomorrow is the vernal equinox, where the light and dark are equivalent in length, the eclipse also occurring tomorrow is a fusion of powerful energies and the balance that can exist between them. Pisces is also ending tomorrow and giving way  to Aries, so we are all moving from water to fire . The solar eclipse has to occur when the moon is in the new moon phase of its cycle, so the feminine energy that manifests to create a solar eclipse is the dark side of the moon; the shadow side that we forget and fear. To acknowledge our wholeness as human beings, we have to acknowledge our possession of both masculine and feminine traits. Especially as we culturally begin to recognize gender fluidity, it is essential to harmonious living that we honor both those forces within ourselves. On this day of balance between dark and light tomorrow, I hope to find time to honor balance, the new beginnings that come with the new moon and the new sign we enter. As it is the first day of spring, I hope to honor Nature by thanking her for another spring, another beginning, another thaw after a hard winter.
I also want to ruminate on the idea of allowing the shadow self come forward when it is time, like for a moment to cool the blaring sun’s rays. Just a moment of the dark side of femininity obscuring the power blazing forth from the masculine is enough to scare the shit out of most patriarchal cultures. To others that choose to attempt to integrate the forces, seeing the dark and mysterious (and invisible in the evening) woman being bathed in the love of her male counterpart–as he warms her and she becomes alight, he gets to rest his eyes upon her solidity and earthy darkness. He may rest finally, in something as great as him, but altogether opposite.
What a cool fucking day, and my goal is to get some plants into my garden and start some seeds. I want to feel the release of the darkness, and the rays of the sun. I am not marking success by whether I achieve my goal, but I will mark the day as successful when I feel the end of the day come and I am not ridiculing myself or hurting in some fashion based in malignant thought processes. Thanks for reading, for being on this crazy ride with me, and giving a fuck. Stay tuned.

I did not wear green today.

17 Mar

Is it bad to feel my critical teeth come out to tear things to shreds when I am in a place frequented by people? I suppose not if I don’t actually use them. What makes this happen? What is the impetus for such behavior? Years, or what seems like lifetimes, trying to live under a blanket of scorn. The simultaneous praise lined with the sharpest serrated edge can leave one wary of praise, to put it simply. The feeling of assessment: being assessed, the varied ratio of the being on display for assessment. I defaulted today to jeans and a t shirt because I decided to just forego anything that pushed my boundaries. For the record, I did try on a floor length black skirt, but since I wanted to make the effort to leave the house today, I wasn’t going to push myself too hard by wearing a skirt. I am triggered, again, and I cannot discern whether it is lingering from other larger things that happened already or if it is from something smaller. What I do know is that I’m triggered, and my perception of  time gets altered.
I feel weak, defeated, flawed, deceived, lacking hope, lacking trust, lacking in direction when it comes to how to relate to others. I am trying really hard to get positive, but I feel as though the key is right before me, but my hands won’t move. When the grip of depressive thinking takes hold it is an outcropping of PTSD, or a sort of side effect, and it too distorts time. It is difficult to describe how much I do not want to be in this place and how I refuse to give up on getting out, but in the meantime I feel robbed of my time, enthusiasm, and joy.

The Closet Doors of Perception

16 Mar

I wish I could say that I have read Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” but I cannot. I have no doubt it is a great literary work, however, I have never had to read it or taken up the task. After reading a bit of biographical information about Franz Kafka I am glad I did not read it. It turns out that Kafka’s father was a narcissist, and that of course shaped the behavior of Kafka, and consequently his perception. As a person that was raised by a woman with borderline personality disorder and severe narcissism, the similarities are startling. So much so in fact, that I have been oscillating between anxiety and sedation, between engaging and escaping. This is how it is sometimes.
The triggers that pop up like shitty Internet advertising are unexpected for the most part, and surprisingly good at hiding within seemingly harmless things, like a blurb about Kafka and his asshole father. Suddenly my “pop up blocker” is down, I’m triggered, and the browser of my brain gets loaded with crappy messages with fine print, or empty promises. Instead of these messages being weeded out, they all get a chance to clog up my mind and serve to confuse me. I have been experiencing this type of process as long as I can remember, however, it is only now that I am able to slow down what is happening long enough to see it. Up until recently the entire process seemed like a blur. It was like impulses and sensations just piled on top of one another. Today I was triggered, and as it happened I just felt it. It was like instead of the trigger prying open the door, I just opened it instead, and felt a bit of relief.
I wanted to get it over with, and so I let myself feel triggered. I thought that I deserved to take a minute and let it happen; by “it” I am referring to the allowance for sadness. Granted, I don’t want to pitch a tent there, but I have had to teach myself that although I do not reside in the past, I am allowed to mourn some of it from time to time. I am allowing myself to mourn for not having a childhood but in its place a silken tightrope. I am allowing myself to cry about the things I could not cry about then.
There is an ultimate freedom in submitting to the emotion that has been housed in a vault for decades.  It is the  swelling and confused feeling that overwhelms, the sensation in the eyes before the  first large and wet tears fall, the need for my cheek to feel a solid surface because I wonder if I may just collapse–it has been locked up because it was not safe to let it out in the past. Today I stood before my closet and wept. The pop ups were overwhelming, the trigger was pulled, the needle skipped, and I let myself cry because I just wanted to pick out some fucking clothes, not stand there with anxiety growing in my gut like a carnivorous plant eating my insides. I wanted to grab an outfit and just move on, but instead I went through the regular procedure of analyzing my clothing and asking myself what message am I sending if I wear that, or that, or that. The caveat is finding something that is comfortable and attractive, and then convincing myself that I am not asking to be raped if I wear it. I wear mostly t shirts and jeans, sometimes a loose skirt if I am staying home. Anything that is too much of anything feels like I am wearing a bullseye.
That is where I am with clothing currently. I am avoidant of other clothing that I am afraid I won’t into, but that part of the dichotomy is not what is on the table at the moment. I will deal with that eventually. I have had these primary notions from as far back as I can recall about how things work between people and through experience, time, and support I have been able to see that my “schema” is based on lies. Upon considering this I realized that I have  lived under the umbrella of PTSD as long as I can recall. The behaviors I recollect are those of a person with PTSD, age non specific. I have been stuck on this concept for days now, which is a bit longer than I would like. It came from reading about two veterans that have PTSD and how they referenced their lives before their time in Iraq. I tried to do the same thing, that being referencing life before PTSD, and found I had no reference point. I cannot remember life before PTSD. I cannot say what my first memory is, either. My memory of my youth is like Swiss cheese, or, more aptly put by a dear friend, like a filing cabinet that has been emptied and the folders have been put back into it randomly, and some even left behind (which is not always bad). I transpose colors, dates, chronological information, and my memories are always recalled in my mind as though I were watching myself, as if in third person. I don’t know how most brains developed in non trauma environments structure memories, but I do know that the parts of my memory that are inaccurate are such most likely because of trauma.
I need to remember these things because they are indicators that something occurred and it affected my brain, and (this is the important one) it is not my fault. It just is, for better or worse, and it comprises part of who I am. Who I am changes and varies, so thank fuck it is not set in stone. However, the indicators of trauma keep me from making it my fault and from blaming myself for it, or for not handling it better. I get triggered a LOT, and life continues. If  I have evidence, I defer the idea of being defective. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does, and when it does, the burden borne by Atlas seems to lift from my shoulders. That too changes, but again, the optimist in me reigns supreme and takes comfort in the fact that because of change, one can never stay at the bottom of the wheel.

Dark, Grey Matter

1 Mar

I never wanted to wear pink in my teenage years because it symbolized vulnerability to me. In a time when the resources of self expression are based on the clothes you wear and your hair style, it was important to me to express myself through those methods. That being the case, both my hair and my clothing were black. I felt like it provided me with more of a shield than a color like pink. Now I stare down at my rose pink polished nails, perfectly manicured, and remember when I refused to don such a color.
Of course now I am not so limited in my expression, making my wardrobe less burdened with the task. However, if I glance beyond my pink nails, I see my black and white clothing, and my thick black eye liner and wonder how far have I actually come? I have specific things I will not wear when I feel vulnerable and have to leave my home. I have asked myself if this is perhaps due to social anxiety, depression, or all of the above and falling under the vast umbrella that is PTSD. Upon further examination, I realize in situations I deem as risky I feel the need to wear clothing and accessories that will keep me “combat ready.” So is it PTSD or something else? In its basic form it is fear of being physically invaded, and I feel like the best idea is to be covered and mobile. Women wearing dresses constantly is something I can’t relate to, in the context of “just feel like wearing a dress!” I don’t dress based on whimsy. I dress based on safety and efficiency. I feel best in something that covers me and yet is flexible enough to let me run; shoes that are solid but rubber soled so I can get the fuck away.
Should I have feelings about this practice? I don’t know. The average assessment would dictate that it is nothing to change or be concerned with unless it disrupts healthy daily functioning. Well, does it? Sometimes. Sometimes I am late because I put on a dress or a skirt and a little bit of makeup but as the time approaches to depart I become inundated with feelings of anxiety that I look too approachable for what I am about to undertake, and then I change my outfit and my lipstick. After that, I usually change again into something else and trying to retain some softness, but walking out the door in an outfit consisting of black and grey, clad in dungarees instead of a skirt, and makeup that has gone from subtle to severe. I then arrive at my destination late, and looking a bit unapproachable.
I can tell you reasons why, or you can go back to earlier posts and read about horrible things. I don’t need to outline it here. I know I have not felt another way, in the sense that no, I have not experienced what it is like to not feel like a target. Shitty double negative, so let’s try that again. Living like a target, in some form or another, has always been.
Has it really? Probably not. I am sure there are plenty of times I am in public and am not a target. One of the tricks that PTSD plays on the mind is that the changing of thought patterns isn’t as easy for a non PTSD mind. It’s not a matter of saying, “geez, today I turn it around!”
It is a matter of reminding and re-orienting to the idea that I am not in danger. When years of personal violations have added up to a sum, it equals a learned behavior of expecting personal violations at any turn. The trauma mind has been reset to expect trauma. Like a rat in a Skinner box, it has been trained to expect the floor to electrocute him randomly. Years of this conditioning cannot be switched off with a cup of hot cocoa and a pep talk, or a mani/pedi. Its insulting to feel like a lifetime of trauma could be resolved in an afternoon at a salon or in a book of ill fitting affirmations.

Year of the Goat/Sheep: Chinese Zodiac Sign for 2015, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 1955, 2027

19 Feb

Year of the Goat/Sheep: Chinese Zodiac Sign for 2015, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 1955, 2027.

Molting and Molten

17 Feb

I’m crawling up this wall like I am a natural climber. It’s constantly surprising me how I feel when I tear up the manual, throw away the map, turn off the targeting computer…terrifyingly in tune. When I close my eyes I can feel this Universal force driving me along, reminding me of the relevance of every fucking living thing. I have to be in a place of belief and a place of power. There is no more time to waste on doubting myself, and that goes for you too, reader. You and I are worth something, we are miraculous in our continuation and magnificent in our perseverance. Grab the reality you want and fuck the rest. It doesn’t seem to be a matter of waiting for proof, proof that we are worthy, proof that we can. It is knowledge, knowing, belief and believing that is required.
You gotta believe in somethin’…
Why not yourself?

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