Saturday, April 18, 2009

The only way out is "through"

Anxiety set in about one o’clock Friday afternoon. That was when my conference calls and meetings ended for the day. That was when it got quiet. That was when it was quiet outside my head ~ but that was when the inside of my head became noisy. I left work at 1this afternoon – came home, took a shower and tried to lie down before school let out. I put my head on the pillow and willed myself to go to sleep. HA! That was joke! The images in my head changed my plans. As they unfolded, the visions and body memories had me running to the bathroom to vomit and then back in the shower to try to wash the filth from my body. I haven’t slept well all week, I’m so tired, and the physical exhaustion adds to the ‘feelings’ of fear and anxiety. Dear therapist has always told me I should have a ‘plan’, to be proactive, and prepared before my frontal lobe ceases operation and the adult Grace goes on hiatus as the destructive ones take over. It wasn’t that long ago that DT required me to submit a ‘safety plan’ to her each Friday for the weekend. A plan to prepare myself for the darkness that is sure to settle in like an unwelcome & uninvited house guest. And although DT no longer requires this document on Friday, I drafted one anyway…

I stopped and picked up some videos, including Bedtime Stories ~ because Adam Sandler is way better for ‘emotion regulation’ than a cup of hot chamomile tea. J Then my plan after the kids go to bed around 8ish is to keep dear husband awake to watch another movie. By five o’clock I was on the verge of tears again, the nausea was overwhelming and the probability of throwing up again was 95%. I was anticipating a bad night…Friday nights are always bad and throw in the child awareness celebration and the fact that it fell on a Friday and I was scared I would be pushed over the edge.

THEN: Every Friday night, we watched a scary movie, hosted by the Midwestern icon, Sammy Terry. I sat next to my step-father and about 30 minutes into the movie he would put his arm around me ~ as though he was trying to ‘protect’ me and provide a sense of safety for me, from the horror of the movie. And his arm would inch down my shoulder until it settled on my chest. If I was feeling brave I would move to the floor, citing the excuse that I couldn’t see the TV from the couch. The movie was over around eleven and my mother was always passed out drunk before the ending of whatever vampire or demonic movie happened to be playing that Friday night. If we had money (which was rare) my father would take us to the Waffle House, if there was no money (which was typical) we stayed home and everyone went to bed. I never took my eyes from the door, not as long as I knew he was still awake, and it was never long before he would appear in the doorway, in his cheap baggy jeans, and his white pocket t-shirt, smelling of beer and stale cigarettes. The sight of him and knowing what was to come instantly paralyzed me with fear. No one would knock at the door he closed behind him. No one will stop him. And when he touches me, I close my eyes, willing someone else to take over my body so I can go away. And every Friday night, still now, I smell the beer and the cigarette smoke. I feel his breath on my neck and I feel him touching me. He is dead now and yet he’s still alive in my head and in my body when it’s quiet and dark.

I think about talking to her, the scared little Grace…I wonder what I would say to her right now, if she was standing in front of me. I think I would tell her that I will keep her safe now…that I know she’s scared and I can’t take it all away, and I can’t undo what was done. And I would tell her how sorry I am for ignoring her cries for so long, and for hating her vulnerabilities and needs for care and love.

Tonight I have remained here, in this body full of disgusting and revolting memories~ I have not left. It’s so much harder to stay…much more thorny…but I have too, don’t I? Stay here – find a way to get through it? And as I’m here, in my own body, I try to remember that the only way out is through, and I have to be present to get through it.

See, this is the time when I would start to drink ~ a lot and fast in an effort to alleviate some of the fear and pain. And it may still go that way tonight - I’m not sure yet. I can’t fix it ~ not the stuff that fills my head when I lie down ~ not when it’s too quiet, not when it’s dark. And I hope I don’t flip out later tonight…become an actress playing the role of the small, terrified little girl who feels abandoned. I feel more hopeful after Wednesday than I have for a long time. I want to stay in this place for awhile…the space where I believe I can do this, the space where I can see that DT is really ‘here’, with us, in spirit.

DT knows how hard Friday nights are for me, she remembers, and I’m so glad she remembered last night…"Grace, I realize this is Friday, so I hope that you are able to stave off the pain somewhat this evening, a tall order I know. I hear your efforts here in spite of the early onset of anxiety. Remember when you are awake to keep your focus on the safety of your external environment, because this orientation will "help" you stay in your body. When this doesn't work at moments or long periods, keep your emotions externalized in the sense of not allowing "little Grace" from being the recipient of any angry or anxious thoughts that arise. She is never to blame and can be encouraged to speak up, ask for or do whatever she feels she needs. You get to make sure that it is in her best interest. You are now learning how to be her protector, baby steps… You are in my thoughts.”

Thank you, DT, for the validation...Grace still feels safe and cared for...

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