January 31, 2007
I guess we missed the January Blog Carnival. I'm so sorry. I swore to myself I would never let a month go by like that without a carnival.
I guess I've fallen down on the job. I certainly feel I've done the same with living up to the name "Thriver." That feels like a big, hideous joke to me right now. I think a name like "reeling, floundering basketcase" would be more descriptive at this point.
I think I've started to identify at least nine parts within me so far--14 if you count the original five "inner children" I started with almost a decade ago. Only a few are talking to me. Mostly, they wake me up at night with all the chatter. Sometimes it's like a town meeting with everyone yelling and trying to speak their piece at once. Sometimes it's two teenagers/young adults having a huge, loud gab fest. Other times it's like a negotiation or counseling session that I wake up and eavesdrop on. Sometimes they quiet down immediately when they realize I'm awake and aware. "Ssshhhh! She's listening!" Other times, I have to speak up, "Hhmmm hum...I'm trying to sleep here!"
The thing that's frustrating as hell is that it seems I'm almost always aware, at some level--I have very little complete amnesia--but I just don't seem to have any control! Aaarrggghh! My new therapist seems to think it is possible to have "parts" or "splits" but not have full-blown DID. Has anyone ever heard of that? I'm confused! I've never heard or read anything like that before! Excuse the swearing--but, Jesus Christ! I can't even do DID right! Not that I especially want to have DID. But, at least I know a little bit about that. And I know some people who are DID folks. At least then, I wouldn't feel so all alone.
At first I felt much calmer when I saw my new therapist. And, it was so refreshing to be with someone who seemed to know about this stuff and not be intimidated by it. I finally found someone who I didn't feel like a freak around. But, now...I just don't know. Does she really know what she's talking about?
I got so frustrated, nervous, desperate, doubtful and scared after my session on Monday and ended up having a huge fight with my husband. Some part--I believe--came out and got completely hysterical and then hateful and rageful with him. She ranted and raved for hours after he left. It was a miracle that I didn't self-harm, think of killing myself or run away again.
Then, what happened next was really out of this world--I spent the next two days being a man! This guy, who we are all dubbing, "Tough Guy" stepped in and decided to take control to keep everything quiet and everyone "in line."
Holy crap! That was bizarre! I woke up this morning and he was gone (or quiet, whatever). Even though he was a tyrant and scared everybody, I had kinda hoped he would stick around until my T session tomorrow so that she could meet him. Then, maybe, I could kinda get over this feeling that I continue to have: that I'm making all of this up.
My T wants me to sit down with each part and have scheduled times for interaction (so they don't keep waking me up instead) and she wants me to set certain ground rules with them. How the hell am I supposed to do that? These "people" just shove me aside like the guy who was out yesterday. My husband felt so rejected because this guy wouldn't hug him. It was like I was in the background--if that makes any sense--and I could see my husband through the fog. I just couldn't get to him to reassure him. Aaaahh! I feel more crazy and freakish than ever!
Anyway. Back to the blog carnival. I've had several people ask me about it. The problem is, I don't really know who's turn it is to host it next. At first, when I started the carnival, I wrote down everyone who offered to host, in the order that they came to me. Most of them have been hosts so far (except for one blogger who had some health issues to attend to): Scarlet Demon, ww, Mike and Lisa. But, I know there were at least two or three others. I have someone new who wants to host February's carnival, but I don't want to step on any toes. Is there anybody out there who really wants to host, who I seem to be forgetting? Let me know. Otherwise I'll let the blogger who e-mailed me go ahead and host in Feb. Thanks! And thanks for hanging in there with my reeling, blubbering self (selves). ;)
January 10, 2007
Happy New Year & What's Happening
As I was still between therapists, I thought working with some of my survivor workbooks might help me. I dug out my old The Courage To Heal. After doing a few exercises, I decided to take another flip through the whole book. I then decided to put it down, because I didn't see enough stuff on dissociation in there. (I don't think they talked about the subject much back when the book was published.) I've come to the conclusion that dissociation is a key issue for me...and I need to look at it.
It's an issue I feel I finally need to really face and look at honestly. (That's the main reason I've come to feel that it was a blessing in disguise that I lost my therapist--he really had very little experience in dissociative issues and we never really addressed it in therapy).
So, I put good ole TCTH down and looked into The Stranger In The Mirror instead. I realized I had barely skimmed the book since I've owned it. This time, I dove into it with my highlighter marker. I decided to take the dissociation scale "tests" in each chapter...and be very honest with my answers. When I did the interview developed by Colin A. Ross and got the DDNOS diagnosis, I wasn't as honest as I needed to be. Anything that seemed too "out there" I flatly denied. I've been in denial about a lot of things for a long time.
I still may end up with the vague DDNOS--the ever-popular Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified-- but I want all the issues to come out so I can get help with them. I've been wanting to get as much info as I can, because I was (am) really starting to fear I might have full-blown DID.
I still have never found any items in my possession that I have not known where they came from. And, as an adult anyway, there is not a lot of amnesia.
I called my twin sister to talk about it. I was afraid she would freak out and just not want to discuss such a thing. She surprised me by being very calm and open. She admitted that she had greeting cards and florists cards in her memento box from a man named, um, let's say Phil, who she didn't know. I had never heard of Phil either. WHOA!!
And my sister said that when she met me down in Arizona that time (during one of my dissociative fugue periods) she really didn't know me. HA! I could say the same for her on numerous occasions. I wonder if dissociation has a lot to do with her extreme volatile behavior that I've witnessed at times. Hhhmmmmmmm...
My dissociative fugues do seem quite severe and disturbing to me. Probably the scariest one was when I ended up lost and had to spend the night in the mountains of the National Forest with no food or water...not even a jacket. I'm sure at some points I was just running blind--a storm came up, the lightning scared the hell out of me, and I was soaked to the skin with the rain--but I think there were other points when I thought I'd just make it over that next pass and start a new life there. I also have other brief snippets where I think I was convinced my father was chasing me and was going to kill me. Whew, I feel weird admitting these details.
The amnesia I have in between the time I was soaking wet (I do recall the sound of water squishing in my shoes) and then completely dry is amazing to me. I mean, by the time I had any awareness of where I was, I was totally dry--no dampness at all! And by noon the next day, it was obvious that I had completely underestimated how long it would take me to get out and find the road. I must have really wandered a long way before I stopped when it got dark. The Search And Rescue team that was looking for me must have really underestimated the distance as well. They never even came close to finding me (in the end, I found the road myself).
Then there are the trips to Arizona. I assumed new identities both times (I've never admitted that to anyone before). The first time I was Ellen Hopkins, then Ellen Murphy. I was really sure--or at least there was some part of me that was certain, at least most of the time--that I was going to start a new life down there. I think I oscillated between this plan and thinking that being away from home, where nobody I knew could find me, was a good place to commit suicide.
My twin said she didn't even know who I was down there. I don't know why she never told me that before. I wonder how many times my husband hasn't known who the hell I am...and he's never told me.
I still carry so much shame about those Arizona trips. You see, I stayed in domestic violence ("battered women") shelters for at least part of the time on both occasions. I'm so afraid they're gonna come and arrest me for using those services when that wasn't really my situation. I can't remember which trip it was, but one of those times I vaguely remember crying on the phone to some kind intake person. It's so freaky: It was like I could hear myself crying and talking, but it wasn't really me, and I wasn't in control.
I've always said I'm a terrible liar and I'm no actress. But, I cried those tears and I think I really was very scared and freaked out. I was really running from something--it just wasn't some husband or boyfriend who was beating me up.
My sister explained some details that occurred in Arizona during the trip that she witnessed. I have no memory of some of the stuff. So, I guess there's some amnesia there as well.
The point is, the dissociative fugues have been major for me. And it feels like there's been more than one "part" of me involved--definitely things that I don't think I felt in control of. And here's the thing that I've needed to admit: I'm still doing it!
Shit! I've got to take a deep breath here. I'm going to have to admit this next part to my new therapist (I start with someone new tomorrow. I'm scared as hell but trying to remain hopeful). I don't know if I can admit this to my husband.
When I left on Thanksgiving, it was a plan to leave my husband. I think it was another version--some long, drawn out form--of some kind of fugue. It was my plan, again, to start a new life. I had made up my mind that, if I couldn't find a job, I would just try to get on disability.
The thing is, though, that I've promised--we have a deal--that I will no longer try to kill myself, and I don't self-harm/scratch anymore, and I don't run away anymore. I can go away to a hotel or trauma program, but we need to tell my husband where so he doesn't worry. Then there's the worry and the promise never to do anything again that's like abandoning my son. God, I have so much guilt and shame about these things from the past! Aaahhh! Anyway, so the move-out plan was a way to start a new life but get around all these conditions.
I think it might be "derealization", I'm not sure, but I noticed a couple of times while I was in the hotel over the holiday season, that I just kinda "woke up" a few times and looked around confused. I would ask myself, "How did I get here? What am I doing here?"
Before I forget, I want to write about the paranoia. (This entry is lifted, pretty much straight out of my paper journal--sorry if it's rambly.) My sister said I was acting really paranoid in Arizona. I remember being surprised at how paranoid I felt a few times just recently down in Dallas, too.
I think the paranoia was one of the things that scared the shit out of me that I may actually be paranoid schizophrenic. Being "schizo" or "crazy" scares me way more than being DID...as much as that scares me.
I know that's why I wasn't totally honest on the Ross dissociative interview before. I've always been on the lookout for anything that would alert others that I'm crazy. That's why, when I used to self-harm, I never cut. I only scratched and I always did it in a hidden place, like under my hair. That's why, when I get my "fillers" going, repeating a phrase over and over in my head, if I'm reinforcing it by tapping out an accompanying beat with my finger or thumb, I always hide my hand.
I've been in such denial about my dissociation because I was so afraid I was just crazy (just like my homeless father). I so distinctly remember--about 12 years ago--first getting The Courage To Heal and reading some account of a survivor who floated out of her body and witnessed her molestation from the safe distance of her bedroom's ceiling light. At the time, I actually read that and said to myself, "Now that's crazy! I've never done anything like that!" Of course, that was way before I retrieved so many CSA memories--like the fact that I used to dissociate as a young child by pretending I was a turtle safe in my shell, and I would "go to the light" of the bathroom window during the extreme trauma of the abuse and near-death in the shower.
I guess I've been so afraid that my mother could be right: I just have some "chemical imbalance" (as she calls it) like my father. That evil woman! That would be so convenient for her! I don't want it to be anything "organic!" I want my diagnosis to be the result of human-inflicted trauma. YOU DID THIS TO ME!
But, the dissociation does scare me a lot. The voices are especially freaky. I guess that's another reason I thought I was schizo. (I mean no disrespect to individuals who have this disorder. I just have a hard time spelling the entire, correct term.) When I first noticed the voices, I downplayed them. (That's called "minimization," right?) "Oh, yes," I told myself, "this is just an example of those "old tapes" everyone talks about; those mean things my parents told me as a kid." I certainly do have these, like so many survivors do. If it's, "You're too sensitive," then it's my mother. "You're a piece of shit," is my father.
But this voice--these voices--are different. For one thing, they say things that my mother and father didn't say. Also, I don't hear my father's voice, or my mother's. Who is it? One voice is very mean, cruel and nasty, that's for sure.
And the thing that I've finally had to admit is that sometimes...someone answers back! And it's not always the same type of response or the same "person" answering back, either. Sometimes it's a scared little girl who is all apologetic: "Okay. I'm sorry." Other times, it's an in-your-face, angry teenager: "Just shut up!" Other times (I've noticed more recently) it's a wise, calm voice of someone aware: "Now, that's not helpful. We're not going to talk like that."
Then there are the regressions. I've noticed these for a long time (six or seven years). It's one of the reasons I feel compelled to run away sometimes--I don't want my son to see me in that state. I used to think of them all as strictly flashbacks. But, I'm coming to realize that some of the regressions don't seem to be related to any memory at all.
When I was reading "Stranger," one regression caught me by surprise. I was sitting on the bed in the hotel and my butt started getting numb, so I decided to take a break and get something to drink. Of course, to be honest, there was a fear factor. I was just about to take the "Identity Confusion" test in the book. I was standing in my hotel room's kitchenette and I started to unravel.
Sometimes, I can almost, literally, feel myself getting small. I quickly ran back to the bed and grabbed my cozy blanket and stuffed animal. I began to rock. This is not unusual. What happened next most definitely was.
I could hear someone saying, "I no bad girl. I good girl. Please, no. No hurt. No, no, no!" I could feel my lips moving, but it wasn't really me.
Just as I was trying to be present in some way and wrap my brain around what was happening, I heard another voice. This one was inside my head. My lips weren't moving this time and the voice was new to me. It was a young woman's voice. She very calmly and clearly stated, "Nina comes out when we're in the shower."
Whoa!! What?! Who the hell is Nina? I don't know who that is.
To tell the truth, on and off now for a while, I've half expected to discover "personalities" and expected them to have the inner child names I "came up with" when I was doing inner child work with a therapist back in Illinois. There's Tina. She's tiny--maybe two or three. There's Marsha; a little bit older, I think. Then, there's Sarah. She's about eight and is starting to get very cynical and mistrusting. She's always on guard. I think Rena is a rebellious teenager, and then there's Samantha who is older--a young woman. I've never let myself get to know Rena or Samantha much. Honestly, Rena scares the crap out of me.
But, this Nina? I have no idea who she is at all. I can, however, guess why her name ends in "A" like all the others. My twin sister's name ends in "A." She got the pretty goddess name and I got stuck with the old lady name, Marjorie. I've always hated that name. Marj is better, but I've never really liked it either.
Then there's the "person" who absolutely hates my husband. I feel so guilty about it. He's been so loyal and good to me. I hate to admit any part hates him. But, it's important. I just know this person had a major role in the "leaving my husband" plan. It was very frightening the other night. Back here at home now, I woke up about four in the morning. This in itself is not unusual when I'm going through a period of not sleeping well. What was freaky was that I awoke and immediately felt like someone else. I've never been aware of anything like this before. It's a weird thing to wake up to/with.
This person who I was realized she was lying next to my husband. She hates him! She doesn't want to be here. Here's what kinda went on in my head following: "OK. Get a grip. I'm not going to fly out of this bed and run away at 4:00 a.m. Shit! This is why I was in the hotel. I'm trapped in this place! OK. Calm down. Who is this?" It wasn't like I was asking anyone. I was just thinking, and trying to figure it out, right?
My answer came when I had a thought: "It's Lisa." I didn't hear any voice this time. It was just me coming up with a logical choice of who it could be. But, Lisa? Who the hell is she? Well, I don't know at the moment. But, thankfully, I think I've found a skilled therapist who knows about dissociation. With her help, I feel hopeful. I feel hopeful that, whoever Lisa (or Nina) is, she can help me more than hurt me.
I'm not going to turn away this time. I'm not going to turn on my brain "fillers" and say, "La, La, La! I can't hear you!" I'm going to listen and find out, finally, who I really am, what I'm dealing with, and where I'm going. I hope there are still some blogger friends out there, hanging on, and willing to be with me for what is probably going to be a very long, strange trip.
My new therapist does not seem afraid, freaked out, or intimidated at all by any of this. I've had a few phone conversations and two face-to-face interviews with her. She seems up to the task. That's why I've chosen her. She also seems very understanding, compassionate and optimistic. I really need that type of help right now. She says that I've always had help and I'm lucky that way. She says I've created my own help...and that's a good thing. I'm gonna try my best to start seeing it that way.