Today started out wonderfully. Granted I was exhausted and under-caffeinated because I spent most of the night texting one of my oldest and truest friends, but this morning I was still raring to go because I knew it was going to be special.
Today I became an official member of my new Unitarian Universalist Church. I was welcomed by the congregation and signed the book and I was completely overwhelmed with love for and from all the people around me and the Wildflower Child. I didn't want to leave. I wanted to sit in community with hot coffee in my hand and the breeze on my cheek in the garden and just be with my spiritual family for as long as possible. Unfortunately I have responsibilities and had to go home to feed the very hungry dogs and ultimately head over to a local-ish Wal-Mart to pick up a grocery order.
Also unfortunately, the weather was changing.
When I got home and took my dog outside, my father joined me and the first thing he asked was "how's your head?" The wind had picked up, barometric pressure had dropped, and thick gray clouds were rolling in.
"Not great, fragile, but I'm okay." I said with confidence. Thirty minutes later I took my first firocet pill. With coffee. Thirty minutes after that I was in bed knowing I would have an hour round trip of driving later in they day. When I woke up I felt "okay" and went off to pick up the much needed groceries. And the sky was getting grayer and grayer and the wind was getting more insistent and my neck was tightening....
I have migraine disease. Many times in my life it has been chronic (more than 15 days of migraine/month). If it isn't chronic, its often. I also suffer from tension and ice pick headaches. I've tried multiple medications, oxygen supplementation, acupuncture, Botox, marijuana, alcohol, caffeine, sex, no sex, massage, hot shower, cold shower, heating pads, ice packs, dark rooms, eye masks, sniffing apples (seriously), essential oils, vaporub, CBD oil, supplements, electronic nerve stimulation, acupressure, dietary restrictions... Get the point?
Before I moved to Florida last year, I was seeing a neurologist in New Jersey who in our first meeting told me the cold hard truth, "I can't cure you. There isn't a cure."
I have a neurological disease that is so significant I have lesions on my brain visible with MRI. "They" say that the lesions don't affect brain function, my crippling pain, aphasia, weakness, fatigue, memory loss, tremors, nausea, and vision disturbances might argue that point, but of course "they" know best.
I'm rambling, the point is, I don't look sick. Unless I'm vomiting uncontrollably out of the open door of my father's car on the side of the road from pain (happened a couple months ago), it's hard to tell there's anything significantly wrong. I look "lazy." Honestly, I am a lazy person, but I get shit done. Migraine however, takes that all away. And it is one of the least understood, researched, or appropriately treated diseases I've encountered either as a sufferer or observer in my life.
I've been accused of identifying too much with my disease and let me just say that's one of the most offensive things ever. Because you know what I'd really love to be? Productive. Self-sufficient. An outstanding single mother. Active. Healthy. I'd like to remember things as well as my friend does. I'd like to remember anything as well as I used to. I'd like to have enough good days in a row to start feeling inspired to create again and know I can finish a project in a reasonable time. I'd like to have one whole glorious day. And then another. And then another.
It's been a while since I posted, but today is the Ides of March, and yesterday was the Walk Out protest, and I have a lot on my mind while my Wildflower Child is in school...
You ever have a moment when a random (yet very important) memory flashes and you have an epiphany that is so profound you actually don't possess the language to express it?
I am having that moment and I am going to my very best to explain...
I was "that kid." I was that kid in kindergarten when the only kids who spoke to me were a girl that only spoke Spanish (and I didn't) and a boy who ate paste, with pride. I was also hearing impaired at the time, so it was very hard to connect in general.
I was "that kid" in elementary school. My social anxiety was blooming in full force, I had migraine, and early enough I had a truly shit home life that spilled over into every other facet of my being.
I was "that kid" in junior high. The girl with the hand-me-down clothing and self done haircuts and color and obsessive interest in books and entertainment that no one else gave a shit about.
I was "that kid" in high school who read Henry Rollins with the punks during lunch, out loud, and wore whatever the fuck I wanted and got straight A's and took two languages and all the arts I could and made REALLY BAD hairstyle choices. Though I did end up having a handful of close friends at both my high schools, it was hard work.
I was quiet, nerdy, unfashionable, book smart, anxious, depressed, self-harming, damaged. I also took care of my two younger siblings FROM THE BEGINNING (elementary school), had jobs when I could, took part in some very specific after school activities, and desperately did everything I could "right."
I'm not even going to get into college because that's an essay all it's own.
The point is, I was THAT KID. Now here comes the revelation...
In 8th? grade (possibly 7th, a lot of my memory is no longer linear due to trauma), my math teacher, MATH teacher, noticed I was doing fine academically, but physically and emotionally I was withering. I weighed 92lbs at the time. I was my full height. I was not anorexic, I was dying of stress.
He gave me a book.
The book was "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card. Now Card has turned out to be a huge piece of shit as a person, but that book became incredibly important to me and if you don't know the story here's an example of how this book, given out of concern to a troubled kid, could have resulted in something VERY DIFFERENT than me feeling like I had an ally who actually cared if I continued to breathe.
Ender is six-years-old in the beginning of the book, (this is very much a sci-fi book, and way better than the movie). He's being bullied at school because he's a third child (population control) and he's constantly monitored by the government because all children are, humans are at war and the government is recruiting at a young age. Anyway, ENDER KILLS HIS BULLY IN THE BEGINNING OF THE BOOK! He hits him in the face and drives his nose into his skull. Ender never learns the boy actually died, but he killed him, at six. First grade.
I was being bullied. I was being abused. I was isolated. I was weird. I was scared all the time. I was given this book by a concerned teacher who knew I loved science fiction. Ender commits genocide in the climax of the novel. He is a murderer. A mass murderer.
Now, going with the victim blaming bullshit I've previously mentioned, it would be incredibly easy to assume I would have gone on a shooting spree (granted I'm female, so statistically less likely, but still). ALL THE FACTORS that people are blaming this type of mass violence on, were there. I had everything except, I'm not a sociopath. I'm not a murderer. Nothing any of those people hurting me, or that book that actually made murder a viable option, convinced me to commit violence against my peers.
So... Can we agree the reverse is true as well? If someone is a sociopath, a person amenable to the idea of killing, is a hand out or an invitation to lunch going to stop them? Is being nice going to stop the person who doesn't see you as a person from hurting you? And if the damn adults don't respond when kids say they're worried, then absolutely NOTHING will work.
My former stepfather, the first man to molest me, the one that left the wounds other's cracked into, the one who taught me I was broken, the one who beat my siblings and my mother, the one who stole my innocence, privacy, and trust, the one person I ever truly almost killed... Was found dead today.
I am elated, and exhausted, and full of joy, and feeling knots untie in my soul that hurt, and am embarrassed that three decades later this is how I'm responding. But this is how I feel. He was the first of many, but he was the one that started it. I testified against him and nothing happened. He stalked me and I moved to another state to get away from him even though he was out of our house. He broke my brother and I have no relationship with my youngest sibling because he was his father.
I am GLAD he is dead! I am SICK of having nightmares about him. I'm sure there will be some in the days, possibly weeks and months to come, but it is fucking OVER. He can never find me and I never need to look over my shoulder for that monster ever again.
When I was twelve I tried to kill him during the winter school break. I gave up before I got into his room because I was sure I'd be arrested and my siblings and mother would suffer. But I climbed the stairs with the antique chef's knife in my hand and I still remember how it felt. I had physically put myself between him and my siblings earlier, telling him to kill me if he planned on hitting either of them. I WAS TWELVE! He had been screaming at and hitting my mother for hours, breaking things around the house, and when I snapped, he told ME to calm down.
He was a monster. And the monster is gone.
I had a CD when I was in High School of Mandy Patinkin singing show tunes. There was one song that was a mashup of "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught" and "Children Will Listen." (You can hear it here https://youtu.be/owxRpV7l8Dc)
This jumped into my head today after my therapy session. Of course we as a nation are dealing with the tragedy that is the Las Vegas shooting, but my personal tragedies are front and center in my mind as I attempt to find healing from a habitually broken heart.
I listened as a child. I was taught. I was taught through abuse and neglect that I was to take care of the family and adapt to the abuse and violence that I experienced and witnessed. I was taught that it was my job to put my body between the abuser and my younger more fragile siblings. That I was the one to call the police when my mother was being beaten. That I should keep the house clean so there was no evidence of the hell in which we were living. These lessons added to the anxiety and depression with which I was born and turned into a syllabus of worthlessness. If I wasn't caring and fixing and adapting, I had no purpose.
I continued that role in my marriage. I defended and supported and cared for a husband who didn't do the same for me. He tore me down, isolated me, raped me, stole from me, lied to me, gaslighted me. And for over a decade, I adapted to each increase of the abuse. I drew my lines further and further from my self preservation and lost more and more of myself. Until I couldn't anymore because it isn't only about me. I have the Wildflower Child and she deserves to see what real, healthy, relationships look like, so she can have them herself.
And then I did it again. And again. To lesser degrees, but no less damaging to my sense of self and my hope of finding true partnership in this life. Today in therapy it was pointed out to me all I've just laid out above. I hadn't seen it until now. I knew my choices have been not good in people I trust and give my heart to. But I hadn't seen the scars of my abuse in that light before.
This helps. It hurts right now because it is freshly exposed and raw. But if I can see something, I can address it. And hopefully avoid it in the future.
It's been what, about ten months since I posted? I'm still on Cymbalta. Still in therapy, though I only go every other week. And that will end soon, because in October I'm moving to Florida. I'm moving from the mid-Atlantic, to fucking Florida. With my parents and my now 8-year-old child. I'm 42-years-old.
In the last almost year, I've had my heart broken repeatedly by the same person. Someone I love without reason and to my detriment. Someone who doesn't abuse me intentionally, and isn't inherently abusive in any way. He's just, broken, and selfish, and doesn't love me the way I need to be loved. Though I've never been loved the way I need to be loved so what the fuck do I know?
My therapist wants to spend our last few sessions before I move working on my relationship issues. I obviously want to work on my relationship issues. I want to not be in love with someone who can't love me back. I want to be able to take all I've learned from this last relationship, and find one with the good qualities and without the bad. Find someone who wants to spend their life with me, and my kid, and my dog. Someone who loves animals and food and movies and art and tattoos and, me. But I keep having this dream that somehow, this man I've loved for over a year will get his shit together and realize that I am the one that he wants and somehow decide to work to bring our lives together. And the logical part of my brain knows that is a fantasy and will never happen and my heart is breaking over and over, like an MC Escher print of heartache.
I want to cut my skin.
When I was younger, starting in elementary school and going through my marriage, I would self-harm when the internal pain got this bad. I haven't started again. But I've driven my nails into my palms hard enough to bruise. I've scratched the skin between my thumb and forefinger until it's raw. I've clenched my jaw hard enough to cause days' worth of ache. But I haven't cut. But holy shit I want to.
I have virtually no money left in my account or on my credit card. I just did back-to-school shopping for the kidlet. And my dog had an emergency vet visit last week because my parents' dog attacked her. So that's awesome. This has nothing to do with anything other than the anxiety dump that is my brain.
He told me that I am loved. I am loved by my family, but it isn't the same. He said he loved me. That he broke up with me last year because he was so in love with me and didn't know what to do about it. He said he didn't want to be the man that screwed over my child's mother. He said he still loves me. But he breaks my heart. Completely. And he has my heart. Completely. I have said I'm not in love with him anymore. That I still love him. That we will always be friends. But are we friends?
I don't know anything. All I am is feelings. Pain wrapped in hope and desire.
Maybe Florida will be a positive change. Maybe the pain will ease. Maybe.
I took my first dose of Cymbalta yesterday. The major concern was that I would be allergic to it or have an adverse reaction. I don't respond to all medications like I'm "supposed to." Intravenous Valium for instance makes me psychotic and paranoid. Percocet causes me to shake uncontrollably and sweat bullets. Codeine has caused hallucinations. It's super fun trying out a new medication.
So here I am, almost 24 hours after taking my first dose, still hating that I am back on anti-depressant medication, but wondering if I will better be able to function through the life changes that are occurring beyond my control. My heart is still broken in a million pieces and as much as I try to reason myself into believing that I will be okay, I don't feel like I will ever be okay. I want to be a good mother to the Wildflower Child. I want to have someone to love and be loved by. I want to be able to stand on my own two feet and weather the slings and arrows of this mortal coil. I want to be able to "win" NaNoWriMo'16. I want to be free of the impulses and doubts that keep me from actively seeking out the things that make me happy. I want the later half of my life to be full and expansive. I do not want to be trapped by "I can't."
Later today, I'll take the second dose.
I'm working pretty hard at normalizing mental health care publicly while I go through my local system. And today I went to my Nurse Practitioner, who I have a pretty good relationship with, because my interim therapist suggested I try medication. Again.
I haven't been medicated for depression and anxiety in about a decade. I've been on Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Effexor, and Ativan. None have treated me particularly well. So today we went a different route and some time this weekend I will be taking my first dose of Cymbalta. I have the three things it is good for; depression, anxiety and pain. Chronic pain.
I hate this. I hate this with a fiery passion that has insufficient words. I have been proud of my medication free existence. But now, I'm spiraling. I'm trying to "do the work" and get the help I need. But the part of me that is wedded to my issues is screaming at me that I shouldn't have to do this to make the people around me comfortable. That part is not good, and has to be shouted down regularly. But still, the whisper in my heart says I'd be fine if the people around me didn't fucking suck.
So part of this whole thing; getting therapy and going on meds, is the most loaded question of all.... "Do you ever have suicidal thoughts?" When my NP asked me this today I actually dropped into head down, elbows on knees position and sighed. She actually laughed and said, "I bet you wished I didn't ask that."
You have no idea.
This is such an issue for me, because the answer is "yes."
I've been dreaming of Death for as long as I can remember. I think about how, and where, and when. I used to do the math and try to figure out when the least damaging time in my daughter's development it would be to kill myself. In college I used to walk home on train tracks and question what I would do if the train came. In high school I horded random medications. In elementary school I would wrap wire around batteries and burn myself and think about putting them in light sockets. Before that, I'd just wish I would die in my sleep.
Death has been dancing in the corner of my eye for as long as I can remember, literally. And yet I never invite her to waltz. Only twice have I done anything that would bring her close. I cut myself in college so significantly that I found myself bleeding in class the next day and didn't know if it would stop. And before my daughter was conceived, not knowing where my husband was or when he would get home, I mixed Ativan and beer and wrote a note and passed out. When I woke up, I threw out the note and went to bed. Neither were real invitations. And honestly, I don't want to die. The problem is, I rarely want to live, for me. The NP asked me today if I'd ever been diagnosed with "Co-Dependency." Not officially, but I sure as fuck have abandonment issues.
I'm treating the latest failure of a relationship as a sort of wake-up call, but I still want someone to love me, so desperately it feels like an entity screaming in my ear. I worry I'll never been enough for anyone and no one will ever love me. And I need to work on that. In the mean time, I'll watch Death dancing and tell her to wait her turn with me. Hopefully not for a very long time.
If you are dancing with Death, or need help, please don't hesitate to get help. The suicide hotline is available 24 hours a day, 1-800-273-8255. There are people out there who care. I am one.
I am in a situation currently that is beyond painful and I don't know what to do. I am very lucky that I have gotten into therapy and have appointments scheduled, and the therapists are supportive and understanding. However, as I've mentioned previously, I have a lot of issues in my life that have to be addressed. The one causing the most anguish right now, is my relationship status.
I wish I was a person who didn't feel deeply. I really do. I would think, if I looked at my history on paper, that I wouldn't. That I would be able to walk away from anyone that caused me pain without a backward glance, but I cannot. I have met a few people in my life in which the connection was virtually instantaneous. And it was reciprocal, at least in the short term. I do not change myself drastically for the people in my life. As a human being I am as much a chameleon as anyone, there are different facets of my personality that have to be on display in different situations; professional, personal, maternal.... For the most part however, I try to be as true to myself, or my idea of myself, as possible. I don't hide that I am a geek, though if I haven't read your favorite comic, I won't lie and say I did. I love the things I love, don't like the things I don't like, and will let you know. And for the most part, the people I come across appear to appreciate my honesty and openness.
I have met two people in the last several years that I was immediately drawn to. The commonalities were amazing, and the differences were enough to keep conversation and interest going. One of them has become my best friend and the person I can send messages to in the middle of the night or talk to online for hours and will hopefully always be there, as I will always be there. The other, I've been dating since this summer. Or had been.
Communication has stopped as of the middle of last week. I know that on their end the world looks bleak and they need "space" to figure out what is going on in their own head, and I want very much to respect that situation. I want to be able to say "I understand" without tasting the vomit those words bring to my throat. I want to say so many things, but I am not being heard. I have sent a handful of messages over the last several days with no response and I feel as though I am shouting into the abyss "please hear me! Please accept my love!"
Of course I cannot force anyone to love me. I can do nothing. In this situation, love is not enough, and the relationship is not a two-way street. I am stuck in limbo and I am broken.
There is so much I want to say. Things I feel deeply that I want the other person to feel from me. And things I would regret immediately upon utterance.
I want to say:
I hate you. But that is a total lie, because I don't hate you at all.
You are being an asshole. Which possibly true, isn't your intention, and would be cruel.
This is abusive. Again, not the intent, so would be cruel and demeaning to say.
I need you. Can't say that, don't want to put more on your plate than you already have.
I want you. I've said this, it has not been responded to, saying it again would be begging.
I love you. This is true, and has been said over and over. But if it can't be accepted, what is the point?
Don't leave me. Again, I cannot force anyone to do what I want, if they don't want it as well.
Please don't leave me. Begging gets one nowhere.
I will do anything. I can't promise that, no one can. I would do a lot, I would help if you let me, but there are things out of my control that make this a lie.
Just, fucking, listen to me! Not okay Kir. Not okay.
I wish I had answers. All I have is silence. I want so much for things to go my way for once, as there is a long history of settling for what other people want instead of having my chance. For once I've tried standing up and fighting for something that matters me to me, and all that came of it, was nothing. I'm holding on by my fingertips trying to "stay positive" as the people around me suggest, "Don't give up." What can I do but succumb and wait and dread and hope. Prepare for the worst.
A quote from "Carnivale," - "Pray to God, but row for shore."
I'm rowing, but I don't have a compass and I don't have anyone to take the oars when I am exhausted. All I can do is stare in to the dark and try to find a light.
And if, by chance, any of my messages are received, I hope that my love is the clearest thing heard.
So you know that Doctor Who themed tattoo I got for my 41st birthday? This one in case you forgot:
The symbols behind the Tardis and sonic screwdrivers are "Gallifreyan" for my daughter and my names. But the screwdrivers themselves are really about relationship goals.
One of the most romantic stories on television is the love affair/marriage of the Doctor and River Song. And I chose the 12th Doctor and River's sonic screwdrivers because their love surpasses time and space.
But it also tragic. They are meeting in the wrong times. They are two comets crossing in the cosmos. And I'm a doomed romantic.
There is never a good time to start anything. There is just a time. I am trying very hard to maintain equilibrium during a turbulent time that involves not only the most epically fucked Presidential election in generations, but the imminent move of my parents and sole support system to Florida from the Mid-Atlantic, the possibility of going from part-time to full-time employment, and the pause button being pressed on a relationship that feels more real and potential to me than any I've had.
I love easily, but I love deep and hard and with every fiber. And like River, I don't expect my love to be returned. But oh how I hope. I'd pray if I was religious, but I don't think Odin gives a shit.
I'm an adult trapped in an adolescent loop with a Wildflower Daughter and a hot-mess dog and I'm in love. And I'm scared. And I have to make decisions that I do not want to make. And ultimately, I make them alone.
All I can hope is that like River and the Doctor, the stars align and things fall into place, and I find my way. And maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll turn and hear, "Hello Sweetie."
Today I made a call I've been putting off for oh... A long time. I called the intake department of my local Behavioral Health group that takes my insurance. The same group that sees my Wildflower Child. The same group that inspired me to have to get sole legal custody of said child. The same group that has made me crazy with red tape and screwed up schedules and also shown me that there is hope for my daughter to be the capable and awesome person I know she can be. I made an appointment for an intake appointment with the same wonderful and warm woman that did my daughter's evaluation almost a year ago. I finally admitted to someone that can actually do something, that I need help.
I've been in therapy in the past. Many times. But the last time was well before the Wildflower Child came into my life. Well over a decade ago. Some therapists have helped. Others have just pissed me off. Some have made me wonder how they got their credentials. The problem is, I'm rather intelligent, and self aware, and have studied a fair amount of psychology myself. And I have enough hubris so that if someone isn't "getting it" I immediately discount everything they say and scoff at the entire process.
Well, I'm done with that bullshit.
I need help.
I am not ashamed to admit that I am at the end of my rope. I am not in danger. I am not in crisis. I am in flux and I am fighting situational depression and I have some major decisions that have to be addressed and eventually made, sooner rather than later. I need an outside support system to help me find the right directions for myself and my daughter.
More people need to understand that asking for help, getting mental health care, is not a sign of weakness. Even I need to own this. This is a strong, proactive, decision to hopefully guide me the best possible outcome for all involved. There are a lot of variables in my life right now; a new relationship, a Domestic Relations conference coming up, my parents moving from the Mid-Atlantic to most likely Florida (FUCKING FLORIDA) as soon as they can, my professional future, where will I be in a year or two, how will I continue to provide for my daughter, and my dog...
The stress I am under results in a few rather negative responses. Either I devolve into a blinding rage that is scatter shot at the people around me. Luckily that doesn't last long. Or perhaps I will become self-loathing. I have a history of self-injurious behavior, and while I haven't cut or burned myself in years, I'd like to make sure that I don't feel that impulse again. Then there's the paralyzing fear. Because that's awesome. And a great way to make appropriate decisions. </sarcasm>
I want anyone who reads this to know you can ask for help. There are resources available. You are not alone. Needing mental health care and support isn't a failure. Getting it, makes you stronger.
Wish me luck with my providers. I'm hoping I click with the first one.
I'm Kirsten. Some things you could label me with; tattooed, geek, mama, animal lover, weirdo, nerd, writer, movie and TV addict, lazy, ambitious, insomniac, feminist, LGBTQ+.