Friday, February 08, 2013

Grateful Update

Another non-running post - if you're looking for inspiration, head over to the Facebook page for a humbling/inspiring video.

Thanks for your comments to my last post. When I wake up in the middle of the night I furtively read them on my phone, and they help. Not sure what I was expecting - The End of The World As I Know It, I suppose - but I am buoyed by your kindness. Something like a thousand people looked at it and either clicked on by as instructed, read it and left no hurtful comments, or read it and left nice ones. I came very close to pulling it back down after I posted, but after the first couple of comments it felt right. Secrecy is part of the problem, and writing is often how I can best express myself.

I told my therapist I had blogged it and he looked a bit befuddled - like, you barely speak in here, and you blogged it to the world?! (Or that was my interpretation; in good therapist fashion he nodded and asked how it made me feel. I grunted something unintelligible.)

Some things are coming into clearer focus. I'm sort of believing that I do have a good life and a good marriage; this is not a lie. The lie is that the bad part that is there is my fault. It's like finally getting the code to an encrypted message that I'd given up trying to puzzle out. So many things start to fall into place. This is a relief, but also very painful, because the message is so ugly.

One thing the therapist said made me laugh out loud. I said I could absolutely see why so many people with PTSD become addicts, and that I sometimes wish substances worked for me, because I've tried and they don't much. He said, "Oh. Well. The people who get addicted are usually the ones who can't dissociate on their own, so they need something to help them do it. Since you're so skilled at it, drugs or alcohol wouldn't add much."

Hm. Maybe you had to be there. Then I asked how he knew that I dissociated so well, and he looked at me like, are you joking? Seeing I wasn't, he said, "You're doing it all the time here ... you know, the self-hypnosis and so on?" And I felt so busted. "Is there anything that would help you feel safer here?" he asked. All I could come up with was better tissues. Or just being able to talk WHILE dissociating - maybe to a warm beach somewhere?

Random people keep saying, "You look sad," and that's hard. I hate to go through the day like an Eeyore. (I can turn it on, though; a reporter came to see the big student project I direct and in the article called me "spirited," said I "get along with everyone," and that I am a "wise mentor." Spirited! Ha!)

I am trying really hard, and (as always) you guys help. Thank you.


SWH said...

I don't comment much and don't have any words of wisdom. I just wanted you to know that I am a reader who thinks you are brave for talking and I hope you start to feel less like an eeyore soon!

anne nahm said...

I was in the midst of a cold during your earlier post, and didn't want to leave a NyQuil induced drunk-dial. But wanted to say 'hang in there'. You are doing a brave thing.

bobbi said...

I've been reading since before you started writing about running, and I'll continue reading as long as you write.

Best wishes to's hoping it gets better? easier? happier? Whatever it is that you want moving forward.

Anonymous said...

Some people very close to me also suffered from sexual abuse as children; I kind of didn't know what to say other than, it sucks, I don't know how anyone can do that to anyone else, and I hope you and your therapist can make some progress so that it can have a smaller impact on your life because you mention that it's making you unhappy at present. And it's very courageous of you to share it with random strangers on the internet.

(anonymous for the sake of the people-close-to-me)

Ewan said...

I guess I hope that if someone close to me was ever in that situation, they might read your posts and think 'hey, if she can do it then maybe I can...' - so, thanks. Also hugs, except that getting hugs from some guy you've never met probably wouldn't help :).

Anonymous said...

I am one of the people who read and didn't comment. I'm grateful you rescued the exchange student. I think you're brave for digging up all of the shit associated with your own victimization to try and fix a broken piece of your relationship. It's a hard thing. I am shocked you thought there would be negative fall out from your blog entry. I guess it just shows how our perceptions of things so close to us are sometimes skewed. JB

Maisie said...

I've been enjoying your blog for a while, never commented, but I also wanted to chime in my support. It probably won't be a quick or easy process, but one step at a time. Sending good thoughts your way...

Rose @ Eat, Drink, and Be Meiri said...

I don't have advice, but I'm reading, and "listening," and it's good that you feel safe here.

JP said...

I was in the read, but no comment category for your last post.

I don't have anything to say now other than I am glad you feel safe enough to talk about this now - not here per se, but in general.

Blue said...

(Part 1 of 2 cause it's long)

You've been in my RSS feed for years and years, and I almost never comment. But these posts merit it. I just didn't have time when I read the first one.

I'm probably just a little bit ahead of you, on the same road. I felt paranoid for years that if people knew about my past, that it would mean all the horribleness I had inside me would actually be true. That I really was just an impostor, faking being awesome (and doing a poor job of it mostly).

I spent considerable energy trying to be accepted, popular, someone else, anyone else, just as long as I wasn't "that girl". Because being abused as a kid by my dad and older brother, and over time a few other dudes as well, resulted in me being one of those easy-target kids at school and elsewhere. I didn't know why people were so mean. One therapist said kids are like sharks...they smell blood in the water and just sense an easy target. Maybe that's it, but either way, I was bullied, beat up, ridiculed and shunned as a kid. I came to believe I was as worthless as "they" claimed.

Once I left home I met a really wonderful guy and while he seemed to be aware of a lot of my loose ends, he truly loved me anyway (we've been together for 25 years now). For the first time I had a relationship that was "safe", and I was able to stop expending energy trying to be accepted and use it to start healing.

I have learned that not all therapists are created equal. It took about 10 different once over the past 2.5 decades to realize that. I didn't know how helpful they could be til I found one that actually was, and that has made ALL the difference. I'm growing and healing so much faster now. In the past I talked for 50 minutes and paid my $100 and left. There wasn't a whole lot of insight or progress. Find one who does more than listen and ask how that makes you feel. A good girlfriend will do that for you for free :-)

Writing, especially in your case where you've been so anonymous all these years, should be really helpful not only to you, but to a number of your readers...of which you have many. And that feels REALLY good, to know that some good will come out of this by way of helping other people get through their own pain. You've already experienced a taste of that with the exchange student. You are brave and strong and good and amazing and funny and talented and have an excellent support network, so I'm confident you will be able to go through this journey and emerge stronger and more amazing, with wisdom and perspective to help others you encounter. It won't make the bad stuff good, but it creates beauty from ashes.

Life isn't fair. Sometimes it's sad. Not just for people who've been abused, but for every one of us. Learning to take the moment and grieve the pain, but not let it become a cesspool you hang out in is one of the keys. What we dwell on, we dwell in. So give yourself the moment, cry the tears, allow the pain to vent, and carry on. It's part of the grieving process...which is really what this is all about. Acknowledging what happened, how it has made you feel and impacted your life, putting things in perspective, and moving forward.

Sounds easy on paper. It's actually a cyclical journey that takes time with progress and setbacks all along the way, but meanwhile you are making the world a better place just by being in it and not perpetuating those things upon the next generation.

Blue said...

(Part 2 of 2 cause it's long)

The thing that tipped me, that finally gave me the courage to address my past, was Jeanette Wall's best-selling memoir The Glass Castle. It kind of gave me a map. Before I read that I thought that if my past were true, (ie: if I acknowledged it), I would be worthless and no one would want to be friends with me. I didn't want to be labeled as a "victim". I didn't want to hang out with victims and be in that "group". I didn't want it to become my identity.

But when I read her story, I closed the book wishing we were real life friends. I didn't view her as a victim or surviver or anything other than one dang amazing cool person that I'd enjoy knowing. And it occurred to me that maybe that's how others would feel about me. And that I wouldn't have to be known as a "surviver". So it changed my life, reading her story. I hope that I can share my own story someday, and if it helps even one other person heal the way Ms. Wall's helped me, it'll have been worth it.

Things I never learned about that were complete surprises to me: Boundaries. Hadn't really heard about them, nor were they in place in my life--that's been a big one. Co-dependence...which is when someone else's behavior dictates my own...was also huge. The Drama Triangle--you can google it but here's a good explanation

Learning about it enabled me to stop playing the game. These ideas are all connected.

Anyway darling. Thanks for sharing your story, and for being beautiful and good and strong even though you had a crap hand dealt to you as a kid. That isn't who you are and doesn't have to define you. And this will be one of those things that, someday, is a blip in your life...just like highschool was a piece in the puzzle of your life. It probably seemed so HUGE and SIGNIFICANT when you were in it, but looking back it's just something you sum up in a sentence or two. It's not who you are. Just something you experienced that impacted you in ways, but didn't define you in the long run.

BTW, yesterday it was sunny so my kid went for a run. i haven't exercised in ages, but she inspired me so i pulled out the sneakers and during my 15 minutes of very slow plodding (inspired by you as one of your little maggots), i decided i will make a teeshirt to wear in the future, which shirt will say:

Totally out of shape,
but at least I'm out here.

(reference )

Thanks for the inspiration all these years! ♥

Anonymous said...

So brave of you to approach all of this. Thank you for sharing it with us.

You might be on to something with the talking while dissociating. Lots of people find it useful to begin to approach their experiences in tiny titrated amounts...maybe that would be one way to do that. (Fascinating example: in kids (and adults) one way to do trauma work is with sand tray therapy. Apparently creating something in the sand tray gives enough distance for many people to explore things comfortably. For some people it doesn't...but sometimes looking the sand creation in a mirror does. Aren't our brains weird and amazing!)

Take care!


Anonymous said...

(How funny to see that there's another Anonymous Jessie. I'm the one who is mother to Urbana E.)

I'm glad you were brave enough to leave the post up, and that so many people were supportive. In your current post, though, I was sad to see you refer to the difficulty in your marriage that's been due to this as "my fault." DoctorMama, you didn't ask for this to happen to you. You were a child, you were taken advantage of in a horrific way at a time when you had no power to stop it. You dealt with it then in the best way you knew how. You're dealing with it now in the best way you know how. I hope you will now get the help you've needed all along, and that your marriage will benefit as well. If you'd forced yourself to go for therapy before this, it may have ended badly. It took your exchange student's nightmare to get you to the place where it was finally time; before that you weren't ready. But the blame is part and parcel of the abuse; as long as you blame yourself for what happened (including in your marriage) that person still has power over you. Having said that, I also think that you'll let go of the blame when you're ready to. Nothing before its time.


Anonymous said...

Another person who read but didn't comment: just to say that your bravery is very inspiring. I share some of your experiences - you are certainly not alone and NOT in any way at fault.

Here's hoping that you and the therapist can make some good progress on this, so you can continue with your successful and happy life unencumbered.

And thanks a bunch for convincing me to run!

- Texas Anon

Alexicographer said...

Another person who didn't comment last time but who is impressed and who is (separately) glad you are helping the exchange student with her situation.

@JB above said it as well as or better than I can, except that I'm not actually surprised that, "you thought there would be negative fall out from your blog entry." As far as I can tell, there are enough nuts out there that this is plausible, even setting aside your own perceptions (as a driver in having those thoughts).

Here's to you. Insofar as learning about it is helpful to you or, perhaps, others), I hope you're able to continue to write about this here.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this difficult part of your life.
I too am going through a crisis (husband is having severe personality disorder like behaviors). My therapist said I have to heal the inner wounded child. As an extremely practical, pragmatic, show me the facts type of person, I find those types of directives nauseating. But I think what she means is that I can't disassociate anymore, I have to actually face my feelings and fears and express them in healthy ways. I'm starting to realize that exercise is not the healthy way for me--for me exercise is numbing. Gosh this is hard.

Anonymous said...

I didn't comment last time, either. I started to -- I typed up a term paper, and then convinced myself that you didn't want to hear from me (my own Eeyore), and deleted it all.

But I was very happy for you, and still am. Any one of us could go a whole lifetime never getting what we need to heal, but apparently sometimes the ?Universe? sends ?angels? in the form of au pairs. What a nice thought, y'know? That if we keep putting one foot in front of the other, the stars will align to make it less bad . . .

This part is harder to put into words -- the words seem inadequate and I'm afraid of saying something that sounds insensitive -- but my oldest friend has a similar past (and, sadly, her teenage old daughter, too). I don't think either of them could dream of having a healthy marriage and fulfilling career. Or rather, they dream all the time, but I don't think they believe it's possible for them. I think both of them would look at you and assume only wonderful things had ever happened -- and part of you might try to say that's a 'lie', but really, I think it's inspirational as all get out. To be able to say to them "Yeah, there are things that need fixin', but even if you never get 'fixed', you can still have a good marriage with a fine man, and a good career making the world better -- look, she did it. You can do it, too." I think they believe that things happened, and because of that, they will never amount to anything. But you've amounted to a lot, in spite of it. And that's means it's possible.

And although it won't often feel like it, I firmly believe it is all uphill for you now. It's just going to get better and better (although it may often feel worse). I'm so happy & excited for you that I could cry.

Megan said...

Meg here. Long-time reader delurking.
First, I haven't experienced the degree of trauma that I think you have.
However, you are in the midst of the worst. it only goes up from here. It's hokey, but you are on a journey of self-discovery. It will be exhausting but there will also be some fun discoveries.

I hope there will be only goodness for you. And, if there is any meaning to be gleaned from it, you were able to walk the exchange student through her emotional response to abuse. That's a powerful thing.

Carrie said...

I guess it's like running...don't do it every day, go a little farther each time to build up your endurance, etc.
What you're doing is pretty amazing when you think about it: You've built up all these really sophisticated defense mechanisms and now, not only are you acknowledging they're there, you're also attempting to deal with the issue that brought them into existence.
Keep going! You have more support than you realize! And you're so brave for leaving these posts up.