Sunday, June 28, 2009

The medicine is supposed to help, but it doesn't anymore.

I think I'm losing my mind. Maybe the lack of sleep – maybe the combination of drugs and alcohol…I don’t really know. It always comes back to the fear & anxiety - the rage and the sadness – drifting in and out of the past and the present. I’m sitting here with a glass of wine (2nd one this hour) combined with a few klonopin – and I’m starting to feel a bit of numbness. I’m doing everything I can to keep from hurting myself tonight. It’s been brewing for over a week now, I don’t know how long I can keep it at bay. It sits behind me, taunting me, breathing down my neck, “Grace, you know you can’t resist me much longer – just do it – you’ll feel better, you know you will.” But it’s lying! I may feel better for a few moments, maybe even a few hours, but it’ll all be back. I don’t want to cut myself, I don’t think I have the energy to deal with the blood and the bandaids – I don’t think I can even stop the bleeding tonight. And last time that really took effort! As much as I want to see it, to feel the pain, I’m doing my best to hold it at bay – the tools I’m using are: alcohol and anti-anxiety meds. Back to the wanting to give up stage. Why does it always come back to this? No one believes me – no one believes that the boogey man – he really does exist. He is here! He comes here all the time, but no one believes me – DT thinks I just need to “self-regulate” my emotions, I need to “self-soothe” myself back into the present. Fuck! At the “present” I don’t even know what year it is! He is here! He is around each corner, he is right here! And he is clawing me, ripping me apart, limb by limb. There isn’t much left – I’m in pieces already. But no one will believe me. Each day more pieces of me fall to the ground, neglected, forgotten.

But no one understands. I want to rip her out of my body! I scream at her, “Leave me alone, you stupid whiny baby! Go suck your thumb or whatever it is you do and leave me alone! I hate you!!”

But no one gets it. Shit happens! And when it does, some of us can’t deal with it! It’s not manipulation – it really is an inability to deal with the overwhelming voices and feelings, hands on my body. And yet no one cares, no one understands. Does it ever stop? How do others cope? What the heck is wrong with me?

I took an internal inventory and there’s nothing of value left in me: He took my heart, my soul, and my body. He destroyed my hope, my trust…what’s left?

I am “HER”.The strong one–the funny one–the one who doesn’t give a FUCK about anyone or anything! Because no one gave a fuck about her!!!

I'm tired of this. So…so…so…flipping… tired of ALL of THIS!
And I feel like a broken record saying that, but it's true. I'm tired of feeling like I need ANYTHING or ANYONE…. I'm tired of the nightmares, the flashbacks, the lack of sleep, and the constant fear that I'm going to be hurt. I'm tired of extending myself way too far in every aspect of my life just to prove that I can do it…that I'm not completely ruined.

Truth is, I'm not so sure anymore.
Am I beyond salvation? Is there really anything left inside of me to salvage?Is there anything left to work towards?
Or is this “as good as it gets”.
You know what’s worse than NOT asking for help? Caving in and actually reaching out, asking for help….and getting no response. Just silence and blank stares. That’s worse! So maybe Marsha is right after all…the key is to Shut up and Behave because no one really gives a fuck – no one really wants to hear what you have to say anyway! So why fucking bother!

Friend #1: “I’ve had the worst week! My ex is taking me back to court…yada, yada, yada.. it’s the WORST!” Yes, I can’t think of anything worse.

Friend # 2: “My husband thinks he works so hard, but he doesn’t appreciate anything I do. He’s such an ass – he’s the WORST.” Yes, he is the worst man ever.

Yes, that’s the worst thing.

Hey - I’m not alone after all- She’s sitting right here, next to me, she’s always here, lurking, waiting for a second of vulnerability or pain…and how easily I fall into her, like a welcome friend – the only one here for me – and she's right – she's here, no one else is. I’m tired of fighting now. I’m going to be her now.I am DEAD TODAY! Today I am going to be “HER” The strong one – the funny one – the one who doesn’t give a FUCK about anyone or anything! Because no one gives a fuck about her!


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Can someone remind me again of the point to any of this? Including this pseudo LIFE?

I haven’t been sleeping well for over a week… Nightmares, tossing, turning – it comes in waves I can sleep for a few nights – then it starts again. The tossing and turning – I can’t lie on my side because my hips & ribs hurt, so I try to lie on my back – but then I feel like something is crushing me and I can’t breathe…and I toss and turn back and forth – for hours. Sometimes I cry and try to talk to myself, tell myself that it’s okay to cry, that it will pass, and I’ll be okay – I try to forget the pain in my hips and my ribs- sometimes I touch DH’s arm, remind myself where I am, repeat my address, go check on my children…see? I’m a grown up now. This is my house, these are my kids and I’m okay. Sometimes I lie down in the guest room and open the window to feel the cool air on my body and listen to the sounds outside. Other times I lie on the floor in the bathroom, feel the cool tile on my face. Sometimes I fall asleep but then I wake up, startled, from a dream…sometimes I can remember the dreams, sometimes not. But it’s been a really long week, and I’m really tired. I am sooooo tired. And nothing is working now. I’m so tired. And I can’t sleep.

And the lack of sleep exacerbates everything else. The anxiety, the anger, the panic & fear. And there’s no relief…no help. My problem, I get it – at night when everything happens it’s just me here – by myself. No one else. My problem. My issues…all mine – I own it. Me. No one else’s problem – why bother even talking anymore.

I don't even bother calling DT for help anymore - because really - it doesn't matter. It just "is" and nothing can be done about it. And maybe I'll get a "good" night soon - a night where I actually sleep...a night with no body memories or nightmares, no panic attacks or anxiety, no voices, no SI...and then maybe that will be enough to get through another few nights of hell. Maybe - Maybe not.

Just "riding the waves" as you say, DT - I won't call - I won't ask for an "extra" session or bother you on your weekend off. Because it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter anymore. I've ridden the waves for 38 years now! BY MYSELF! Has it gotten any less turbulent? Um, no - so again, I have to ask the question: Why fucking bother? I sure don't have an answer to that question, do you?

And I wish I had the courage to *STOP* all of it. But I don't today...and even if I had the courage - I don't have the energy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sometimes there are no explanations and no answers

Someone recently said to me, “Sometimes there are no answers and no explanations” – and I took that statement and I “saw” it, and “heard” it, and “smelled” it, and “tasted” it, and “touched” it…I tried it on and looked in the mirror – and it didn’t quite fit right on me. It had a bit of a vinegary taste to it, and it looked and smelled like a rain-soaked dog. The touch of the statement was rough, like a low grade sand paper and as I took the statement off, and placed it back into the box, I found myself wondering: If, in fact, “there are no answers and no explanations” then perhaps we are not asking the right questions…It seems to me that the MHPs think they “know” how to treat us. Of course there are different types and styles of therapy, but by what is *offered* - it seems to me as though from a clinical perspective, there are answers and explanations for everything that’s done in “treatment”. There are drugs that ‘answer’ symptoms, and there are explanations for each clinical diagnosis, there’s DBT for those of us who exhibit unacceptable behavior. I do think there is a missing piece though. I think the missing piece is that there are so many survivors who have tried on many different therapy types, techniques and therapists…they still haven’t found a good fit. Maybe the color is wrong, or it doesn’t quite fit right. And there are times we buy it anyway, take it home and try to make it fit – yet, we’re never quite comfortable…something just isn’t right –the jeans make our butts look big, the shirt shrunk when we washed it…But we buy it because that’s what we’re offered. The manufacturers don’t seem to care – they don’t send out survey’s or evaluations, they don’t poll their ‘buyers’ – they assume, almost in a flagrant way, they know what’s best. After all, they are the ‘experts’ – they know what *should* fit and feel *comfortable* - for us, we certainly don’t know. Why, we have no idea! We grew up in abusive homes, have no sense of normalcy…we have ‘maladaptive’ personalities and behaviors – and they have the treatment to save us, not ‘cure’ us, but to at least keep us alive.But when it comes right down to it…if you do your homework – there is very limited research, or studies that have been completed. I haven’t lost hope – from what I’ve read it appears as though the limited treatment and research findings evolve constantly – and what may be considered ‘this’ today – will, in fact, be ‘that’ tomorrow.But although I haven’t lost hope, at times I still shake my head that the majority of the clinicians don’t realize that WE are in fact, the ‘experts’, not them. We are the ones who have lived through it. And truly, as much respect as I have for DT, who has put up with a lot (and I mean A LOT!) from me, it isn’t she keeping me alive, it’s me.

And if, by some miracle, a clinician were to call me, I would tell him/her this: You might think that the answer is DBT, that we have no “emotional skin” – that if we can just shut up and behave and ‘change our thoughts – perhaps ‘half-smile’-or become Buddhists and ‘meditate’ or ‘mindfully wash a dish’~ we will be well- but it doesn’t work. I would elaborate by saying that the mindfulness exercises of ‘peeling an orange’, or ‘studying a flower’ ~ using our 5 senses to ground ourselves in the present…isn’t the answer, it doesn’t really work to ‘distract’ and ‘calm’ ourselves all the time. Sometimes we can stretch, watch Ellen Degeneres & Chris Rock, back to back – listen to soothing music and repeat the 5 sense exercise for an hour. We can go down our “list” of emotion regulation skills, and positive self-talk, and distraction – and there are times when we still can’t stop the emotional pain, the flashbacks. Yes, believe it or not, there are times when we cannot proactively identify a trigger – and there really are times when eating a peppermint will not bring us back to the present from the past. Sometimes – we can check off everything on the list and it’s all still there~ and it rolls us into a cocoon of pain, anger, sadness, and fear. And that’s when we turn to list # 2 –
and list # 2 is where the self-injury, the booze and the drugs are - and it isn't because we are 'manipulative', and it isn't because we aren't "trying" hard enough- it just IS the only option left. We are all different ~ and yet we are all alike...but stop lumping us all into a "one-size fits all" group. We need you to listen to us, respect us, and treat us each as individuals. Irvin Yalom, M.D. calls it, "Therapy designed for each individual" - don't herd us into a DBT group with Marsha Linehan as the Leader Cow - guess what? Some of us find her offensive and flippant with her responses to how WE should "deal" with our emotions - what does she know about surviving what we survived?

It's no different than 'trouble-shooting' a problem with an electronic or a car. You work your way down the list and when nothing works, you "reboot" or deem it irrepairable...a 'lost cause' (which, I think some clinicians see us as irreparable and lost causes - but we aren't). And unfortunately, there's no way to 'reboot' us...can't turn us off, replace the motherboard and start over - I wish it did work that way, but it doesn't.

It just doesn’t….
So ASK US! We WILL tell you!

TO: the Co-worker who used to be normal but has since turned into a relentless stalker:

Please understand that I am not interested in ‘chatting’ with you about your *personal problems* - that’s what therapists are for…

Please don’t offer to bring me coffee in the morning.

Please don’t walk by my office 10x to see if my door is open.

Please don’t send me any personal emails

Please don’t tell me to have a good evening.

Please don’t ask me how I am – it’s truly none of your business, and if I wanted you to know “how I’m doing” I would tell you.

Please don’t tell me you’re ‘thinking’ of me if you notice that I have an appointment on my calendar ~ in case you haven’t noticed, I now mark them private.

Please don’t complain to me about your wife ~ I’m really not interested in your marital relationship – again, that’s what therapists are for.

Please don’t send me any drunk text messages, or really, any text messages EVER!

Please don’t tell me you “care” about me, as I have expressed to you several times, the feelings of “care” are not reciprocal and it just makes my skin crawl, and restricts my breathing.

Please don’t “stop” me when I walk by your office for idle “chit-chat”, there’s a reason why I never look your way.

Please don’t ask me to go to lunch with you. I’ve said no for over a year, I’m not going to suddenly say “yes, I’d love too!”

If I respond to a ‘work’ email – please do not send back a personal response or ask a personal question – I will not respond to either.

Yes, we used to be friends. I used to enjoy your sense of humor and our working relationship….but now you just creep me out and make my skin crawl.
In fact, I find you rather scary, and triggering, in a stalker kind of way…and your behavior reminds me of ‘bad’ things that happened in my past.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Conversations with my 5, 10, 15 & 38 year old "selves"...


Nothing like a nice big dose of: “YOU SUCK” to start the day!Nothing like a conference call of “When will this be resolved?” 1000x to make one feel worthless!
Nothing like a shitty night of tossing and turning and “talking to yourself in a *soothing* voice” from 930-3am - and STILL not being able to MAKE IT ALL STOP – to make you feel tired and edgy the next day!
Nothing like lying on the cool bathroom tile trying to stay “connected” with the “5 things” exercise and wondering how long you can stay there before someone will say, “What are you doing in there?” to make you feel like you’ll never be in control of your own emotions.

I HEAR YOU!Yes, “it will get better”. Yes, “you will be okay”.
Yes, “you can do it”.
Yes, “this too shall pass”.

Yes, yes, yes! I’ve heard it all before!

I’ve attended the conferences – I bought the t-shirt, the sweatshirt, the book ~ a bumper sticker, a poster, and a life size BOBBLE HEAD of Marsha Linehan with her cool barrette repeating her mindfulness speeches over and over and over again!

Yes, I RECOGNIZE that it was a shitty weekend -and now it’s a shitty MONDAY!!!!
And I recognize that DT makes no exceptions for anything other than what we "agreed" too - well, if she doesn't forget. And I get that she can’t take phone calls when she’s "WORKING" at the hospital – so f- it! I'll learn to take care of myself no matter what 'maladaptive' behavior I choose to implement - because I have the "ability" to "self-soothe" ~ I read the book! And I searched high and low…and I found that “ABILITY”, the one of ‘internal self-soothing’, in the guest room closet - I must have accidentally misplaced it 2 years ago! Thank God for spring cleaning, huh? I should clean the closets out more often – who knows what else I’ll find in there! Perhaps my pride, my self-worth, my hope??? Wonder what I’d find if I cleaned out the attic?NO WORRIES NOW THOUGH! I didn't *need* a session today - or to "talk" to DT last night! I dusted off the "self-soothing" machine and I'm good to go now!!!!! Let’s all sing Kum-by-yah, together, shall we?


I recognize that DT cares - and "wants" to help us - in the "limited ways that she can". (Which, I might add, are much more ‘limited’ now than they used to be!) I get that - I see it on Monday, Wed, Fri – in the form of a few "caring sentences" via email, and whenever she can "squeeze" me in for a 50 minute session....


Yes, "this too shall pass"
Yes, "it will get better"And then it will get worse and then it will get better and then it will get worse - and on and on and on and on... until you just stop breathing!
That's called LIFE, isn't IT?

So, stop feeling sorry for yourself - you stupid whiny brats! ALL OF YOU! Pull it together -realize that you are an adult – acknowledge that your childhood sucked ASS - and move the fuck on! Everyone else has! You can do it too!!!!!

Because hello! DT gives over and above what she should, and needs to do - So COWBOY UP, GIRLS! Show some damn stable behavior for once and accept the bad days and the good ones!
You think you have pressure? You don't have shit! Go live in the Congo for a year - where women get raped every day! THAT’S PRESSURE! You haven't been raped in years - so GET OVER IT AND MOVE ON! You’re such a freakin’ baby!

OOPS! We forgot: DT SAID: No - j-u-d-g-m-e-n-t!

"It's okay, little Gracie, you're just having a bad moment right now. Just sit with it - and let it pass. Don't judge it. That won't help. Just "accept" it. It will pass. Because emotions come and go - it isn't black and white - they change all the time. And remember, despite what you may think right now, you don’t need anyone to help you, you have the ability to soothe yourself, and you always have. You have so many strengths and "gifts" Gracie; use them to your advantage. You will be okay.”
“Good girl, Gracie! Good girl! Here's a *treat* for you since you are such a good girl. SIT! STAY! See? Old dogs can learn new tricks! GOOD JOB!"

I feel better now, thank you, "BIG GRACE" for the soothing words. You're the best! - Wait there’s more of that maddening black/white thinking – let’s rephrase, shall we?
You're somewhere between the best and the worst - YOU ARE "GOOD ENOUGH"

*Yeah Right!*

Now take your meds and go get "All of you" in bed before all hell breaks loose again tonight!

In honor of father's day, I'd like to *share* a 'tender' moment between my step-father and me

In fact, this was the last conversation he and I ever had.
I was 18 years old at the time.

I was at the point where I no longer cared what he thought or said because I was an adult and I knew he would never hurt me again (boy, was I WRONG! 20 years later his GD voice is still in my head).

We were arguing, and I told him that when I grew up, I wanted to be just like him... A BUM! A loser - with no job and no potential... A BUM!

That was when he spoke to me these words, a sort of "Holy Grail" if you will...

"Grace," he said, "Life is a tavern and all you need is a good fuck."

Yes, so white trash and yet so simple.
Words to live is so simple...
Life's motto: "Life is a tavern....and all you need is a good fuck"
I had thought he had shown me that already....beginning at the age of 5!

He was so smart!
What a great man he Gandhi!

Such wisdom...from such a MONSTER!

Fathers be good to your daughters...daughters will love like you do...

I HATE fathers day!
Gosh! I get so confused... I'm not sure which one I'm supposed to celebrate - should it be the one who didn't stick around to meet his daughter?
Or should it be the step-father, monster, boy, he sure "stuck" around!

Perhaps there's a "HALLMARK" card for both...GEE what would it say:

"To My Daddy, Thank you for fucking me for so many years. The "gift" that keeps on giving...for the rest of my miserable life!"

"Dear Daddy, I had no idea screwing a 5 year old was wrong."

"To the monster of my past, who still invades my present: Thank you for teaching me to hate myself!"

XOXOXO! And, may you rot in HELL!
~ Grace

Sunday, June 21, 2009

People in Glass Houses Shouldn't Throw Stones

Meaning: This saying warns us against hypocrisy. We should not criticize other people for things we do ourselves.

FURTHER CLARIFICATION: Don't gossip about people if you have secrets of your own. (and I'm pretty sure we "ALL" have our secrets)

Hypocrites chap my ass!

and I'm not the only one....

"Who that hath an hed of verre, Fro cast of stones war hym in the werre!"(Chaucer, "Troilus & Criseyde," c1385)

George Herbert wrote in 1651: 'Whose house is of glass, must not throw stones at another.'

Benjamin Franklin wrote, 'Don't throw stones at your neighbors', if your own windows are glass.' '

That's all I'm sayin' ~ so....stop it!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I am not me

Don’t speak, Grace, they will hate you if you speak. Do not speak and do not fight. Keep your mouth shut. No one loves you, no one cares about you, - just keep your mouth shut and everything will be okay. Just do as they say. Close your eyes – it won’t hurt that bad. Close your eyes tighter – it’s not really happening now. It will be over soon. You want to be loved. They will love you.

I see myself wanting to be loved.
I see myself being scared.I see myself shutting down.
I see myself - I don’t want to see myself…..

Where is my mother? Why is she always drunk? Why does she leave me with this man who hurts me? Where did she go? How can she be so vile and cruel to me? What have I done to deserve her wrath? I just wanted my mom to love me, to hold me and be my parent, my mother. But she didn’t, she said to me, “You are such a selfish little bitch, you get what you deserve, you fucking little brat.”

I am very angry with myself for not being perfect, emotionally stable, understanding, logical… I guess that’s a guaranteed recipe for being upset! I had a bad night last night. Today is continuing along that same path. I don't want to cry. I want DT, but I won't call her because I don't want to need her. I want to be okay on my own. I need to be okay on my own. I don't want to depend on DT. My side hurts. I think the cut I inflicted upon myself last week is infected.

I am living outside my body today. I have slipped away…..My head is tight – my limbs heavy. I am not in control. I am spinning….watching myself from above, in a place no one sees. I am interacting, but it isn’t me. I am not me.

Give Me Strength

This afternoon I was driving on this old country road. There was no traffic, with the exception of me and a semi-truck coming toward me in the other lane. I was alone, and I thought maybe I'll just swerve to the left ~ into the path of the truck. How easy it would have been ~ just a few feet to the left. The truck driver wouldn't have time to stop, and there's no question who would prevail in the fight of an 18 wheeler vs a Nissan compact car. And I thought about it. It was tempting.

The initial impact...and then nothing. Just peace and quiet and the lack of pain. No more memories, or more intense anger and sadness.

I thought about it ~ But I didn't do it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

So...I messed up last week, but I didn't tell anyone...I didn't tell because I am not a "manipulate" or "attention seeking"...SU&B

The past couple of weeks, DT and I have had some discussions about the comorbidity of C-PTSD and BPD. And although she said she would not diagnose me as BPD, I do have some of the traits. And I will agree that some of the traits are woven within my persona ~ with the intense anger, changing of moods frequently, self-destructive behavior, suicide ideation. And I read this book, that DT said she was reading~ PTSD/Borderlines in Therapy...and the author says that cutting and "threats of suicide" are not serious, are only done for "attention" and is a form of "manipulation" ~ that if therapists respond, it only reinforces the patient to repeat the behavior.

So now if I SI I'm afraid to tell DT - because I'm afraid she'll think I'm only doing it because I'm attention seeking, which is NOT the truth. Last Monday night, I SI'd...I was overwhelmed with the intense emotional pain inside of me and the only way to make it go away is to dissociate and cut. So I found myself alone, around 10 pm, and I took a razor and cut my side. And then I lay on the bathroom floor begging for someone (even though no one was there) to help me, to make it stop...the pain, the feelings, the memories...all of it, just make it stop. And eventually I got up, cleaned up the pool of blood that I was laying in, bandaged my side, and went to bed.

But I didn't tell PDOC, and I didn't tell DT...because I didn't want them to think I did it for attention. I didn't do it for attention. I did it to make it stop. I needed it to stop so I could go to sleep - I just wanted it to stop.

But she may think I did it to "manipulate" her, or to get her I didn't tell her. She didn't ask me so I didn't tell her. I'm not attention seeking or manipulative! I can handle the pain, even if I do end up cutting - all by myself and I don't need to "cry" out to her for her help, she hasn't said that I do it for attention - but I'm sure it's in the back of her head.

I didn't do it for "attention" - I needed it to stop! I needed everyone to shut up and needed the pain to stop so I could sleep. And it did. For the night....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

PDOC called, said you were doing well. What did you tell her?

I met with PDOC on Tuesday morning..for the big "med review" and *Grace assessment*. PDOC is great! She isn't just one of how's it going - here's your scripts - as she shuffles you out the door. She actually sits down and talks to me, follows up on things we discussed during our prior appointment.

Now let me step back for a minute...I had a *minor* disagreement with DT on Tuesday morning prior to my appointment with PDOC. I say *minor* now but at the time, the crazy in me blew the whole incident out of proportion and went into a tirade of: You betrayed me, I can't believe how you hurt my feelings - now everything is hopeless...part of the nature of the *disease* ~ I don't always react appropriately in response to DT.

So, anyway, back to PDOC visit...the first question she always asks me is about the "relationship" between DT and I...and I was determined to be positive about it - and really, it is positive...we have been negotiating and she is still standing despite my terrible behavior directed toward her at times. So that's what I said. However, I did also mention that I have been proactive in educating myself on the process, the books DT reads and mention to me...and I do voice what I think is working or not working. Hey - I have a brain and I'm going to use it. And sometimes I think DT takes my comments and being "defiant" rather than "questioning/discussing"...again with the labels. But at times I can see why she would view it that way as I tend to take an obstinate stance on some things and then I spend hours researching and presenting "evidence" to disprove her "theories (as well as the theories of other MHPs ~ that I disagree with). Of course that makes me "difficult" and "stubborn"...and we all know what road that goes down in the road trip of the "Clinical Mind". But I put a positive spin on things...and it wasn't dishonest. Perhaps at times a *sin of omission* but no dishonesty. I told her that when I corral all the girls to get to bed on time, and actually get the rest that I need, all is well. And then she gave me some information about some lectures in August about Mental Health that I might be interested in attending.

At the end of my appointment with DT yesterday, as I was walking out of her office, she said, "Oh, BTW, PDOC left me brief VM, letting me know that you were in, things seemed to be going well, and there were no med changes." I think at this point DT was reflecting back on the past several weeks, the many nights that adult lost control and the wicked witch took over, and the dissociation, and the fact that I virtually went off on Monday about her *assessment*...and then of course the Tuesday morning misunderstanding that I blew out of she went on to say, "She said you were doing well" *questioning glace thrown my way* "What did you tell her?"

"I told her that we were "working things out" that I was fine if I go to bed on time, that I don't think I need any med changes, and we talked about a mental health lecture series...."

"Well, as long as your being honest..."

"Yes, DT, as I was in her office, I was honest about how I was *Feeling* in that moment. I promise."

Grace is a good girl! She just has some "maladaptive personality traits" they like to call it in the MHP world.

Which brings me to a question: Whose right is it to decide what "personality traits" are "maladaptive"?????

I don't have to do it anymore...that's what she said...

Today DT asked me about self-injury, one of my very favorite avoid! She asked me why I cut myself. And I gave her a typical "BPD" response, "I cut myself for attention and to manipulate you into *rescuing* me."

DT asked me why I do that - use deflection to avoid a *real* discussion.

Maybe because it's too painful to talk about. But today, DT wasn't satisfied with that answer. Again, she asked me to tell her what happens before it gets to that point...
And I told her. There are many nights when I am so scared, in so much internal pain, that I dissociate and then there are 3 different voices inside my head. "Don't Hurt me!" "I'm going to hurt you because you are bad and you deserve to be hurt." "There's nothing I can do to stop it." And at that point I can't stop it. And when I feel the sting of the razor slicing through my skin, when I see the blood begin to pool on the floor, I cry and I let it all go...and then I feel better, like I can sleep.
DT said to me today, "You have to hurt yourself before you can sleep now, just as he hurt you before you could sleep then."

DT told me I don't have to do this anymore. I don't have to hurt myself anymore. But there are times I can't stop it from happening. She recognized that, but said that she gives me "permission" not to do it.

And it seems so simple, doesn't it? "Well, Grace, you don't have to hurt yourself anymore. You can let it go." And God! I hope I get to that space someday. I want more than anything to be there. But there are times, still, when I can't stop it. I don't know how. I'm not strong enough.

On the couch, there's: Professional "Grace" & Casual "Grace"

When Grace goes to therapy in "business attire", which is the norm...Grace seems much more resistant to dear therapists suggestions, much more argumentative as though Grace is cross examining DT and questioning each and every move from DT. Professional Grace is very logical and methodical and each thing must make sense and everything must be in it's place.

When DT asks Professional Grace a question that Grace isn't comfortable answering, Grace becomes sarcastic, or gives a "text book" answer, perhaps related to a specific diagnosis, and how "those" people would answer.

Professional Grace doesn't like to cry or talk about anything "difficult", especially if it's related to rape or abuse. If Professional Grace feels the familiar lump in her throat, and her eyes begin to well up, she will immediately look over to the left, at DTs diplomas on the wall, or to the right, where there are many toys and books - and proceed to do math problems in her head in an effort to ward off the tears. (Grace once heard that you cannot be logical and emotional at the same time - and it seems to work pretty well). And apparently, a suit jacket doubles as a deflection jacket and Professional Grace can change the subject faster than superman can change clothes. There are times when Grace can do "real" therapeutic work, despite the professional attire - but those times seem to be the exception, and not the norm.

Casual Grace goes to therapy when Grace is working at home, or sick or on vacation. Casual Grace is much more open to processing things in therapy and will work with dear therapist and not against her. Casual Grace doesn't question DT practices or plan of treatment. Casual Grace dissociates sometimes - and there are times when she seems child-like and unable to focus, or sometimes even hear dear therapist's voice when she speaks to her. Casual Grace is much more meek and fearful than Professional Grace. She will sit on the floor, hug a pillow, and at times, fold herself up into a ball when the conversation goes to a place that feels unsafe and frightening. Casual Grace doesn't feel like a grown up most times. She feels small and needy ~ although she feels safe with DT, the times she dissociates, DTs office becomes scary, the bookshelves seem to be moving, DT feels so far away, her voice distant, as though she is talking through a tunnel. Casual Grace cries easily but still won't allow her face to be seen by DT when she cries. Typically, during a Casual Grace appointment, Grace is exhausted and in need of rest after her appointment.

I'm not sure there's a way to migrate the two.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I am "GRACE" ... I am NOT a *label* - I am not a "text book case* Call me Grace!

Emotion regulation sux! And it’s hard! And I'm tired! And I don't really care if you believe anything I say- it doesn't matter to me- I mean, I'm not *doubting* that you "care" I know you do... It’s not like you haven’t put up with a lot of BS from me and my irrational, angry, willful selves... I recognize that. I know that.

I couldn't sleep last night despite the seroquel I had taken - it was so hard to try to stay present, in my body, but I went to bed. And I kept telling myself that I was "okay". I took dear husband's hand and held it close to mine squeezing it while I kept talking to myself. “You are okay…you are an adult, this is your home, this is your bed, this is your husband. You are not back there, this is not him, you are not her. DT is not the host body. You are okay. You are okay. There’s no need to cry, you’re safe now.” DH was asleep- he had no idea I was squeezing his hand, tears streaming down my cheeks while I was softly talking, trying to soothe myself.

I'm not having a good night tonight. Not in an irrational, "I hate DT and myself" kind of way... More like a "defeated", sad kind of way. DT suggested I read this book called, “PTSD/borderlines in Therapy…finding the balance” author: Dr. Jerome Kroll. And it feels like I’m going to be treated at like a borderline no matter what I say now- and I don't think that's the answer. I've made some connections in the past 2 weeks, I think. I can see why I was behaving the way I was- I continually tell myself, "make a different choice"- and it does help sometimes. But it still hurts- it still feels like no one really understands what I feel. And it pisses me off because the book I read by Dr. Dusty Miller, “Women who hurt themselves” states the treatment program for CSA survivors is the complete opposite from the treatment plan that Dr Kroll thinks is effective. *huge sigh*…

I don't know- I sometimes wonder if it even matters anymore. Does it? I mean DT’s done a LOT - like way a lot, and I have moments when I'm okay- but I'm kind of disappointed in that book- like it doesn't feel right- it isn't me, and it’s all so subjective, and then I wonder if there's really anything that will make it go away- it still seems as though no one understands how to treat “us”…it’s all so biased and opinion based, I don't like that. Not in a black/white way, either- that's not what I mean- it’s just that no one gets it- all the studies are based on "inpatient" studies. Most of the women are unemployed, welfare recipients, never held a job, never had a stable relationship- that isn't me. It’s not me. I’m not singing "woe is me" I was abused so society owes me, and should take care of me. I'm not that woman. I've worked hard to get where I am! I've worked since I was 13 years old! I worked 2 jobs to pay for college, 1 full-time, 1 part time. I paid my own way and I never felt sorry for myself! I never expected anyone to give me a "hand out". I never accepted anything I didn't "earn". I'm not that woman! I don't have a chronic illness that keeps me from working. I show up, and I perform! In fact, I’m considered a “senior executive”. I've never let my emotions or my "feelings" interfere with my job/career. I can stand up and give a presentation in front of 300 people and never let them see me sweat! If you talk to any of the 280 people who work in my office, they will tell you that I am hard working, professional, respectful and respected! I'm not that woman! I am successful, intelligent, educated, and by o’bama's standards, "upper class"- I can, and always have, taken care of myself- provided for myself- paid my own bills- and consider myself an honest, giving woman. I am not that girl! I don't have a sense of "entitlement" - I know where I came from, and I fought my way out of that- and I am not that woman!

I've made mistakes, done things I shouldn't have done, but we all have regrets- mine are probably no different than yours or anyone else's. But I was never, am not now, nor will I ever be that woman! I will continue to work hard, I will continue to depend on myself and fight as hard as I need too- and I will never, ever, ever, be that woman.

You, society, my so-called “parents”, obama... Owe me nothing! I don't want a "hand out" I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me- I don't want to depend on anyone- I will pay my own way, no matter what! And I am not a label, I am not psychotic, I am not a "borderline" I am not a statistic. I am a person! I am ME! My childhood was less than ideal, my mother hates me, my s-father used me as his toy- but I am not that woman. I knew from the time I was 5 years old that I was better than them, that one day I would get out, and that NO ONE would ever know where I came from. I do not have a sense of *entitlement* or think anyone owes me anything! I am not that woman! Even in my darkest, most depressed moments- even when I act like a child, even when dissociate, do things I don't remember doing, even when I'm 5 again- I will always, always, always- be honest, successful, independent and caring. And I will not be that woman!

And frankly, I don't care what DT, or anyone she consults with thinks. I am strong, successful- hard-working and honest. I came from nothing and I've made something out of my life! And it matters not to me that some pretentious psychiatrist thinks that based on some limited, biased studies- publishes a book that states claims on how "borderlines" should be treated- I know what's best for me- and no matter what - I will be okay- and although I will never forgive them for how they treated me, I also know that I fought so hard to get where I am because of it. Me! I am a college educated, articulate, intelligent, successful woman- I am respected- I am a good person. I am beautiful, I am funny, I have friends who care about me!

I am not that woman!

I am GRACE! I’m not a number, or a diagnosis, or a ‘label’ I am Grace…my favorite color is pink. I love to sing and dance to “Girls just want to have fun” with my beautiful red-head daughter. I love it when my son tells me he loves me in private but not in public because he’s at that “age”. I love it when my husband tells me I’m more beautiful now than I was the day we were married, and I love cuddling with my big ole’ puppy. I love making people laugh…I love the smell in the air after a rainfall…and the smell of clean laundry. I sleep with feather pillows, and I have a blanket I have slept with since I was a kid. I am Grace ! I am not “the borderline” or the “CSA survivor” or the “psychotic patient”… I have several people living inside of me, but I am still Grace. Call me Grace! Don’t call me “the borderline” or the “victim of child abuse” or the “CSA survivor”…don’t feel sorry for me, or pity me. I am Grace; I am a strong, successful, confident woman.

I am Grace!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Heart Bleeds

My heart is in utter confusion
My heart bleeds
Tiny razors prick and torment and cut me and my heart bleeds
No one understands the extent of the damage caused by such a deep betrayal of trust
No one understands the feelings of shame and blame
No one understands the pain of the memories
No one understands reliving the past in the present
Except those who have been through this hell
Broken trust is like a crystal goblet shattered by a screeching high pitched discord
It can never be fixed
My heart bleeds again
And just when I thought I'd bleed out & my soul would die
Fate opted to show me another side
Dared me to learn to trust
Tempted me with small glimmers of hope
And, again, my heart bleeds
But not in pain or disappointments
Not in self-hatred and hopelessness
This time my heart bleeds with hope.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009



"Grace, your anger and defiance are problematic from my perspective."

Whoops - I'm sorry ~ let me scoop all of this back up and place into the *safe box*, lock it up and swallow the key...and then find something else to do so I don’t *lose it* and spend any time FEELING.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dear Friend, thank you for your friendship & honesty

Dear Friend:

Today is national *best friend day* and although we were never ‘best friends’, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for all that you represented in my life from my Freshman year in college (1989) to 2006. The first day I met you on campus I knew that you were a woman of stature and confidence. You were to be admired! You carried yourself with such grace and you radiated buoyancy that I admired. I remember that semester my freshman year when I was so depressed I could barely make it to class and you were there, cheering me on, encouraging me to get help and reminding me of my value to others. Thank you for your encouragement, I won’t forget it.

As it happens in life, you moved away, I moved away…and yet thanks to modern technology we could still keep in touch ~ praise to the internet! You were always there for me with a kind word and an available ‘e-ear’. So many times your words made me smile, and I felt cared for by your friendship. And although you were encouraging and kind, you were also sincere. I appreciate that so much, your honesty, and my feelings were never upset by your words because you were always gentle in your communication. I was never angry or hurt by anything you said ~ I took it in the spirit you intended, and although sometimes it wasn’t easy to hear, it was always an opportunity to look within myself for an opportunity to grow. Thank you for your sincerity throughout the years of our friendship.

In 2006, when I had lost not only my way, but also my compass, in this world, you encouraged me to go back into therapy. When I was bombarded with thoughts I was unable to face for fear of a psychotic break, you said to me, “Grace, I think you need therapy. I know that probably makes you want to flip me off, but so what. You’re a dear person, but your well-established defenses (like a tendency toward sarcasm and keeping yourself too occupied to look deeply within) won’t serve you very well in the long run. The truth is knocking hard on your door. Take it from someone else who’s ignored the knocking herself.” Do you remember that? Well, dear friend, you were right. I did need therapy. I had kept myself so busy for so long that I had never dealt with anything from my past.

You sure did know me well, friend. You know that I made a ‘to-do’ list when I was 5 years old and I stayed busy until I had accomplished everything on that list. Everything! I set out to prove to my mother that I was *worthy* of her love (although we both know that has not, nor will it ever, happen). But I sure tried! And you also knew that for most of my life, love, acceptance and self worth were all based on my ‘performance’. “If I do this…my mother will love me, my friends will love me”…and on and on and on. And it was a daunting task, keeping everything together for everyone, trying so hard to keep that mask on so no one would know what I came from, how tainted my past was…and the façade of who I pretended to be consumed me by the time I hit the age of 35. Any negative swerves in the road, anything that happened that I couldn’t control, was quickly swept under the rug so the outward appearance of *super-Grace* remained perfect. Not many people could see beneath that mask, not many were allowed to see. I did, however, trust you to see beneath the shroud I presented to most people. I allowed you to see the ‘real’ Grace because you were compassionate and honorable.

The last time we spoke was in June 2006, when you told me (very politely) that you no longer had room in your life for ‘high maintenance friendships’ and you wished me *the best* and bid me adieu. Ciao, Gracie! Thanks for the 17 years! And I never heard from you again. Periodically, I did try to reach you, to get some sort of clarification of why you so suddenly disappeared from my life. But I never received a return response to any of the inquiries I made. Perhaps things might have played out differently had I meant enough to you to say, “Grace, I realize you’re experiencing some difficulty in your life right now, but save it for the shrink because I don’t want to hear about it anymore.” But, alas, ‘our’ friendship obviously meant more to me than it did to you.

Realizing I can’t control how you feel, or react, to what I say or do, I still believe in my heart that you are a caring person. You still enter my mind at times and I hope you’re doing well. And if high maintenance relationships were really a problem for you, my friend, then you picked a really good time to bow out of our friendship I treasured because I can tell you the past 3 years have been hell for me! Definitely not something you would have wanted to stick around for. I have hit the bottom time and time again, and each time I have to fight like hell to claw my way back out of the blackness. I had begun working with dear therapist when we were friends, and we are still working together, but during the course of the past couple of years I have also added a few other mental health clinicians to my payroll, as well as a significant monthly pharmacy bill to pay for the daily cocktail of medications I have to take to ensure I stay alive, even though there are many days I already feel dead.

Now, instead of being too busy to ‘look deep within’ ~ that’s all I do! Well, when I can actually stay *present* in my body for the nightly horror picture shows and not disassociate and become a multitude of irrational little girls on a path of self-destruction longer than the yellow brick road. As amazing as it sounds, here I am a college educated, middle aged woman, with the emotional capacity of a 3 year old child!

But I keep trudging through the mud and the muck, even though many days I feel as though I am stuck in quick-sand. It isn’t easy, and I still revert back to my most treasured tools of self-destruction….old habits are hard to break (I’m sure you can relate to that, since you’re a long time member of AA). In fact, I would compare my eating disorder and self-injury to an alcohol addiction. Once I ‘fall off the wagon’ it’s difficult to climb back on again. And much like an alcohol addiction, the key for me is to proactively identify the *triggers* that precede the behavior so I can head them off at the pass. Meaning – have a plan in place (although I have no sponsor to call – which I think is a shame) and implement that plan BEFORE I find myself on the bathroom floor with a half-empty bottle of ativan, vomit in my hair, and blood pooling on the tile from the wounds I inflict on myself in an effort to feel the internal pain in a physical way. Some days are better than others…as you know, it’s “one day at a time”.

There are days when I’m okay, and on those days, I feel a renewed sense of hope, but there are days when I’m not okay, and I struggle to find the will and the strength to continue. Although the internal wounds are still raw and bleeding, the external ones, the wounds I’ve inflicted upon myself, are fading, and I’m happy to report that I’m not that scarred when I’m covered up. I’m glad you weren’t here the past two years to witness my virtual self-destruction, and the active role I played to end my own life. It hasn’t been pretty, and I realize now that you wouldn’t have been strong enough to bear witness to the grief and suffering that has played out.

I have friends where are here for me, friends that have been here for me before, during, and after my descent into hell. I have friends who weren’t afraid to bandage my wounds before they were stitched up, friends who will take my medication when I can’t be trusted not to overdose. I have friends who text me every night to tell me to take my medication and go to bed, and friends who text me to tell me they love me. But they are them, and you are you. I recognize that now, and I accept it.

I am mentally ill, my parents FUBAR’d big time when they *raised* me. And I will always struggle with that. I will always be mentally ill. It isn’t something that will just go away. It isn’t a broken arm that will heal in 6 weeks, there’s no organ transplant for what I have. There’s medication that makes life bearable some days, but there will always be days when I struggle. I admit that I was devastated back in 2006, when we last spoke, and there are days when I still grieve the loss of our friendship, but I understand now, why you’re no longer a part of my life. It isn’t easy to stand by and watch someone self-destruct. I recognize that difficulty and I remember you once told me that you bowed out of another relationship for that very reason.
And that’s okay ~ we all have different strengths and I’m thankful to have had you in my life.

I’m also thankful for the friends who have stuck by me during this tumultuous time, those who are here to help hold my head above water when I lack the strength, and those who encourage me to keep running to a better life, to a life worth living, to a place of peace. It takes endurance and an unwavering faith, and I am lucky to have them. I know that someday I will be *okay*.

I wish you joy & peace and a life worth living.
All the best ~ Grace

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hey Grace ~ Look over here! Grace~ Over here now!

Often times I truly think the only way to even get through the day is to ignore and distract. And I've found that as along as I can stay busy, running from this task to that one, talk to this friend, have a glass of wine with that on this project, paint that room, make a new floral arrangement, paint my daughter's nails, watch my son play baseball. BUSY, BUSY, BUSY! All is well.
The key, I've found, is to keep moving and never sit still. Because once I sit still, it all comes rushing back. And if I'm not in a 'safe contained environment', such as the comfort of DT's office, I'm at risk of 'dealing' with my 'feelings' in a self-destructive way.

See, everyone has 'feelings' and it's up to 'us' to decide what we do with those 'pesky feelings'. So tonight, after a long weekend of distraction...I sit here, staring at the seroquel on my chair side table...listening to it call my name, "Grace, please take me, it's 9:30, and you know you have to be in bed by 10 to maintain sanity and safety for 'all' of you.
And so the end of the weekend struggle begins...
Defiant one has been quiet all weekend, not one single email to DT expressing her angry feelings - and she is begging to be heard.
Sad one is crying softly in the background, longing to be held and comforted.
And, again, the seroquel is calling, "Grace....if you can get yourself into bed by 10, you will be will keep all of you safe and you will awake tomorrow well rested and and alive! And you can see DT tomorrow - just tell the defiance, angry and sorrowful they can speak their minds tomorrow morning at 10:30. Just take me, Grace. And I will take care of you tonight."

"Ok, mind-altering drug," Grace says, "You win."
"Say goodnight, Gracie, you got through another day. Say Goodnight, and start again tomorrow."
"Goodnight, Gracie."
*Sweet dreams. No nightmares*

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I have connected some dots!

Sometimes I can go months, even years, exhibiting some 'behavior' or 'fear' and not understand why I do what I do. Each night, when the clock strikes 11pm, I, the adult, logical Grace is GONE and there is no reasoning with whoever takes it the angry/defiant one, the sad/frightened one, the cynical one....etc.... And the next morning I typically awake to find I have done some less than rational things the prior night.

Now, when I say "less than rational" ~ I'm really being polite. This is NOT a situation like Cinderella, where my fairy Godmother appears and waves a magic wand, and *POOF* I'm suddenly at a grand ball dancing with prince charming. This is more along the lines of the liquor cabinet being emptied, the supply of ativan & klonopin greatly reduced, perhaps some self-inflicted blood shed... and many, many, MANY irrational emails sent to dear therapist. Often times I awake around 3am to find myself in a place I don't remember going (outside on the back deck, in the basement, the den...the hallway...anywhere other than my bed, beside my husband), or I will wake up in bed...not knowing when or how I got there.

There are different girls who will take over but the past few months it has been the angry defiant little girl who wants to express now what she couldn't express then. And she ensures she recreates the same situation of abandonment she experienced as a little girl night after night. My mother and father were alcoholics. Cheap, dark-eyes, vodka was the drink of choice ~ straight up, in those cheap glasses that jelly used to come in. Mother couldn't handle the booze like her husband so she typically passed out for the night around 10...and it was after that when he would come into my room...and I would silently cry out for my mother to come and save me...but she never heard me, she never cared, she never came.

Now, I recreate the same scene with DT. When I begin to relive the past in the now, and I can feel him and smell him and hear his voice in my's 10:30 or 11pm, and DT is only available until 10...we reach out to her, even though we KNOW (rationally/logically) that she isn't going to be there, and we beg her to help us, to save us. And when she doesn't, we say to her every malicious, venomous, horrible thing we wanted to say to mother. But the middle of the night is not when we should say these things. These are the things that should be said in the safety of DTs office, where she is actually present, where she can contain it, where we can't completely go off the deep in and actually follow through on some plan of destruction that cannot be undone.

I am recreating the past! I am putting us a situation where it will appear as though DT IS abandoning us ~ because it's past the time of her availability, and she isn't going to be there.

So the key is to get our behinds into bed before 10 so this dosen't happen! And it is a struggle every night. Each night I put the sleeping meds out on the table at 8:00pm...and the internal battle begins at 915....
"Take your meds, Grace."
"Just 15 more minutes."
"No, I don't want to take them. I don't want to go to bed. You can't make me."
"You know what will happen if you don't take them."
"Just take them - you'll get some rest, you'll feel better in the morning."
"But I don't want too - I'm not tired. I'm not going to do it."

Some nights rationality wins out...some nights defiance takes hold and we cross our fingers and hope to wake up the next morning....

The key is getting "all" of Grace into bed before the clock strikes and rational Grace runs out of the ball, leaving behind reason in the form of a glass slipper...and returning to the abandonment cloth of rags from the past.....

How do we do that?

Friday, June 5, 2009


Sometimes it’s hard to listen to your words as they unfurl
The logic that you speak that never fit into my world

Sometimes it’s hard for me to turn around & face the past
To let it go instead of holding on with a stead-fast grasp

Sometimes the hurt & the pain are so deep and so intense
That I lose the will to fight because the pain will not relent

Sometimes she is defiant her malicious words push you away
But when logic and reason return I really do try to see the ‘gray’

Sometimes there’s no life inside of me and I feel so dead inside
It feels as though I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be alive

Sometimes things change so quickly and I don’t know who I am
And I know it doesn’t seem as though I am doing the best I can

Sometimes I doubt myself and my ability to heal
And I want to find some place to go where I cannot feel

Sometimes I know you lose faith in me and you want to walk away from this
But I want you to know I still need your help & I’m not giving up…
Until I can walk away with arms wide open and embrace the world with bliss

~ Grace

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I just want to be ok

Don't give up on yourself, Grace!

Don't give up on me!

Don't give up!

I will keep showing up!

I will keep working to beat them!

I know you're tired, but...

Please, don't give up on me...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Is your bedroom your sanctuary?

Your bedroom, your bed…your sanctuary! You! You’re an adult now! You’re no longer a child. This is your bed. You’re safe here.

I recently repainted and bought all new bedding for my bedroom. I love it! One wall is a deep chocolate brown and the others are tan. I wanted white bedding with accent pillows in tan, gold, burgundy, brown…. and now I have it. And it is fabulous! The goose down comforter is made of Egyptian cotton and filled with down so thick and yet so light it cradles softly around me when I lie down. I surround myself in down pillows until I feel like I’m cradled in a cocoon. It’s welcoming and alluring and when dear husband lies down in bed, he’s out in 2 minutes, tops! It looks safe and warm…inviting…and yet I still fear sleep. Why? Nightmares plague me more nights than not, making me feel possessed as they pummel me with their fury. Sometimes I wake up from one of these dreams and the bitter rage is so overwhelming I find myself perilously close to vomiting.

The following nightmare woke me at 314am…
I am standing at the top of the stairs- hiding quietly from him. My eyes are closed and my back is pressed against the wall, as if I am trying to become part of the wall. I open my eyes, strangely relaxed and calm, my breathing even. I think to myself, I can't fight him, can't beat him at his games. I just have to survive; just for a while, and then disappear to a place where he can't reach me in any way that matters.

I can hear him- he’s running up the stairs, hands outstretched, but not in welcome. Something in me clicks into place, and I begin to scream. Not the hysterical high-pitched screams of a frightened young woman, but bawling out at the top of my lungs: "I have the right to say no! I have the right not to be touched if I don't want to be!" I jump away from him, run down the stairs and tear through the door.

"I have the right to say no! I have the right not to be touched if I don't want to be!" I keep repeating this over and over as I run, hoping that anyone who hears me will understand that a line has been crossed, and praying that this attempt to threaten me will finally make me safe, vindicated. I enter a church and run down the aisles, past the assembled congregation, who begin to murmur among themselves as they realize what must have happened. I reach the vestibule, where people are slowly filing out from their various activities. I turn around and glance at the door. There are two men in religious dress who have obviously been told not to let me leave. They are smiling and saying goodbye to the other churchgoers as they leave, but as they see me approaching, the senior one turns to his junior and gently shakes his head. They shut the door and brace themselves to block me. Once again, I shout at them: "I have the right not to be touched if I don't want to be!" A look of understanding crosses their faces and they step aside. I understand, these two men will not risk my father's wrath by opening the door for me, but they will disobey him passively and let me get away.

As I reach the street and begin to run into town, I know he is behind me. I can hear his footsteps; feel his angry eyes boring a hole inside of me. I run as fast as I can, repeating my mantra all the while. I zigzag through neighborhood streets, trying to confuse him, trying to think, without slowing down, of how I can lose him.

I spot the town sheriff; he is dressed in the Hollywood stereotypical small-town Midwestern way – a middle aged, white, overweight good old boy with a gun. He hears me yelling and quickly takes in the situation. My father is closing in on me, my legs are tired and my lungs are burning. He is gaining; he can almost touch me now! I think to myself, if he gets his hands on me this time, it will be all over. I have crossed the line, he will kill me.

I am now side-by-side with the sheriff, standing in the road beside his parked squad car, and I scream at him: "Help me!!"

I have stopped running and I stare at the sheriff, waiting to see what he will do. If the sheriff doesn't help me, I’m done for anyway. For a split second, my father stops also. Then he advances toward me, sure that the sheriff will side with him. But the sheriff can see the madness in his eyes and he knows what he has to do.

“Stop right there", he says, and raises his gun. My father continues to move toward me, the hatred in his eyes staring deep inside me. I know if he gets close enough to touch me, he will kill me. I look back and forth between the sheriff and this mad man, wondering if the sheriff will shoot him before he kills me. He is so close to me, I can feel his breath in my face- his hands are reaching out to grab my neck. I realize he is going to kill me and suddenly a strange calmness enters me- I have accepted my fate. If he kills me, I will no longer have to endure him or my mother. I feel relaxed and calm, I’m okay with the fate I have been handed.

A gunshot pulls me back from my thoughts, and when I open my eyes, I see him, lying on the ground, blood surrounding his body. His eyes are still open and they look like they can still see me. I begin to cry and the sheriff moves toward me as if he is going to take me into his arms to comfort me. I pull away-unable to stand the thought of someone that close me. I turn and begin to run, thinking to myself, if he catches me, he will kill me. I can never stop running.

When can I stop running?
I'm so tired...I just want to stop running...

I don't want to die....But I don't want to live

“My dear little one, what do you want? What do you need right now?" Sweet little girl, what do you want?” asks DT

I gently whisper my response, "I want to feel better."
“Okay, tell me more,” she softly inquires.

I take a deep breath and continue, “I want to be okay with all of my feelings and I don’t want to be afraid to share them. I want to believe that I am not my past, that my past is just a part of me. I want to be loved for who I am, and not what I have accomplished. I want to be authentic and real, and not be afraid to show the real me, all of me. I want to laugh more, that deep belly laugh, until tears of joy stream down my cheeks. And I want to cry less from that desperate, hopeless place I find myself in during the night. I want to be able to sleep without nightmares and no longer fear the darkness. I want to live without the voices in the shadows of my mind telling me I am bad, worthless, undeserving of care and love. I want to believe in myself, and I want to believe in others too. I want to trust. I want to understand, at the core of my being, that I am safe, and that I am going to be okay, no matter what happens.”

“Is there anything else?” She asks me.
“I want to love myself for who I am. I want to recognize that I am working hard, that I will be okay. I want to love myself just because I am alive, and I am strong, and I deserve to find peace and happiness. I want to love all of me, even the parts I have not yet accepted and the parts that I do not like. I want to feel the love I have for myself every single day, even if only in some small way, even if only for a minute."

She answers my request in a soft confident voice, "You will have these things. I believe in you. You will be okay. You will live."

~ Grace

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Eulogy to the Therapeutic Relationship

I have proactively written a Eulogy to my "therapeutic relationship"...I will explain in more detail shortly....

Dear Therapist was the kind of therapist who stood by you when you needed someone to be there for you. She saved my life on more than one occasion. I remember so many times when I was blinded by the darkness that she reached out to me, grabbed my hand and did not let go until I found the light. She was an amazing therapist: she had the strength of 100 men, and the endurance of the greatest distance runner. Of course her job was not easy, and she wound through many tough obstacle courses, and jumped the highest hurdles~ there was simply no task too great for her. I tested DT's patience time and time again, year after year~ and yet she remained steady.

I remember the first time I met her, she seemed so confident and self-assured~ her blue eyes were an endless sea of compassion and empathy. I had known her for about a year when I began to realize that she was the first person I had met that I could always count on to be the 'same'. She began to represent so much to me: strength, truth, honesty, compassion, empathy, validation, and humor; but most importantly, DT represented safety for me. When I was with her, well, I felt a safety that I had never known....That's probably what I miss about her the most. Well, that and her laugh, and well, her "realness", and gosh, the way she could calm me down just by taking a couple of deep breaths and encouraging me to do the same.

You know, there was once a time when she raced to meet me in 30 minutes because I "needed" her...I'll never forget that. The true selflessness of her… that she gave to all of her clients was amazing to me. By accident once I met another client of DT's and the look of love in her eyes showed me that DT had a gift for her profession. A true gift.... They say that God gives us each individual talents, and at times it is a challenge to find these talents, and to use them to make the world, and those in it, a better place. DT found her talent, her gift from God, and she used it to work with the most troubled, complicated people there are. I can only imagine how trying it was for her at times....and although I'll never know, I imagine there were complications in her own life that made her job even more difficult. I don't know how she remained so steady and patient. I guess I never will.

I think all of her clients would agree that she truly went above and beyond time after time. I mean, there were so many times I would call her, or email her, exasperated and angry at the world, and just the sound of her voice, or her written words, were enough for me… Enough for me to know that I wasn't alone and despite what I learned as a child, people weren't inherently bad.

The loss of DT in my life is still shocking to me, most days I still can't believe it. It wasn't a huge surprise, I had seen the end coming. At first, it felt like a dull ache in my left temple, but eventually it grew into a full-blown migraine. The kind where you think your head might explode. And that's when I knew it was the end. She had given up.

I will forever be grateful to have known DT. I will forever be grateful that she was there at the right place and at the right time to save my life. I will forever be grateful for spending 3 years of my life with a therapist like her. All the pain she shared with me, the acceptance, the things I learned from her, I will forever cherish.

Truly, I am grieving, but this is not a time to grieve, it is a time to celebrate all DT offered me, her other clients, her profession. She didn't want to see people suffer, and yet she knew that the suffering was necessary to find peace. DT wanted to help me, and all of her clients, find peace.

I'd like to take a few moments to think back and remember how much DT touched my life. *lights a candle/while the pianist begins to play Amazing Grace....a power point begins displays on the screen and reveals snippets of the past 3 years* Grace wipes a tear from her cheek, and continues, And in this moment, I may be shedding tears, but I will forever be grateful to have been given the chance to know a woman named ‘dear therapist’.

DT will forever be missed but I know that if I am lucky, in the right time, I will meet DT again. And someday she will help me feel safe again.

Until then! *raise wine glass*
TO MY DEAR THERAPIST!She will forever live in my heart....
Thank you...*bows head*
(I think this is the time I walk off into the sunset...or straight to the nearest bar.)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Anyone? Anyone? Fellow *Survivors*?

I am not soliciting for money or advice. I'm simply asking for either your comments, or your suggestions... should you have any. If you do not, that's perfectly fine too. In fact, according to Marsha Linehan, everything is "ok" and should be "accepted" (Gotta accept it before you can change it, ya know).

I am struggling so much right now. My dissociation is worse than it's been in at least a year, and it is a constant fight to stay present. And let me be honest here, during these moments of hell on earth, I don't want to be present - so that makes the battle even more difficult.

Until October of 2008, dear therapist would email or text me nightly just to "check in". It stated back in 2007, the email. And she would answer email nightly (and that was not something we agreed upon - or planned - it simply *was*). Several nights we would have "email" conversations. Rarely did we speak on the phone. If she was not able to email, she would send me a text. Some nights it was an uplifting quote, sometimes just a phrase or a suggestion. But it was something every night. (And THIS we did agree upon).

In October, it stopped. At first she said it stopped because of my "unrealistic expectations" of her. Then she told me it was because she consulted with other clinicians...still later it became "I have my reasons". But in my mind, I connect this to when she began her relationship with her BF.

Here's how that played out: She emailed me one morning to tell me that she "was sorry, but would not be available by email for the rest of the day/night as she was spending sometime with someone and he had no internet access at his home." Because of my 'abandonment' issues, and past trauma history, I suddenly became a child and she was abandoning me for her boyfriend (which, my mother did several times) - and I had trouble digesting what she was telling me.

And now she has worked out this new little "arrangement". She will send me an email each Monday and Friday. Of course we have our "weekly sessions" and she said she will be available via phone until 10pm for "coaching" should I need her. Let me provide some additional "color" around the "phone availability". IF she is available she will answer. DT has her own practice, but in addition to that she works at a hospital, alternating between 3-4 nights per week. On the nights she is working at the hospital she will NOT be available to take phone calls, and she will not email (even though, before she did).

I understand that rationally this is something that should seem reasonable to me. But the past few months, I have not been 'rational' at night and when she doesn't respond to my email, or isn't available by phone, I throw childish temper tantrums. I know that I should be able to soothe myself, but it just isn't working right now. And my problem is that she used to be there for so long, and then suddenly she isn't. And I cannot break the connection between her retraction of support to her beginning relationship.

Last weekend was particularly tumultuous and in her email on Friday she told me she would be available for 'coaching' should I need her, call by 10pm. So on Saturday, I did call her. She didn't answer, and then I missed her call back. And on her call back message to me she said, "I'm going to bed, if you need me call me tomorrow". WHAT? Which only lead to more self-destructive behavior.

I did call her Sunday morning, and (I AM NOT JOKING!) a man picked up the phone, was talking to her (I could hear it in the background). So I hung up. I know my name comes across on her phone when I call - and I thought that was very unprofessional! Needless to say I didn't call her back!

I don't know what to do. I am so angry that she changed her "boundaries" so abruptly and as I said I cannot break the connection of how it all played out. I want to walk away - and yet I'm afraid to walk away. But the rage inside of me at her unavailability isn't healthy either.

Last week, she said to me, "Grace, what would you do for your daughter if she needed you and you weren't there?"

I told her I'D BE THERE! My mother was NEVER there for me, I'd be there!

"Well," DT says, "What if you couldn't be there? What would you do?"

"Well, DT," Grace says sarcastically, "I suppose I would give her a photo of me, and a recording of my voice...and then I would tell her that I am with her *in spirit*" Is that what you want to hear?????

Here's the deal, DT, let me explain this to you, since you have NO children of your own. If the school nurse calls, and tells me my daughter fell and has a compound fracture in her left arm, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be an acceptable answer to say, "Well, she has a picture of me in her backpack - give her that and I'll be there when I can...well, within the next 24 hours." WTF? And then I stormed out of her office with 20 minutes still left in the session.

And yet I keep going back - why? Am I some sort of sadomasochist who just wants to be TORTURED? Because it is seriously like reliving the past today. At night, when he is in the room, when I can see him there, feel him, smell him.....and I reach out and she isn't there (like she was for 2 years) then she is my biological mother - she is drunk and passed out while HER husband is fucking ME!

I know it's not fair to expect her to reparent me. But for those 2 years when she was there, I grew to trust her, and to depend on her....and she was there for me - no one was ever there for me. And then she says, "Too bad, life changed and I can't do it anymore." (Yes, she really did say that."

I don't know what to do! *Grace throws up arms in despair*..... I don't know what to do. But I'm tired. I'm so exhausted - I can't remember when I've ever been this tired..... I feel so small and so someone could step on me like a bug. Why did she ever email me in the first place? Why didn't she "gradually" pull back her "support" - and explain it up front? I have all questions and no answers....

I feel like a plant she purchased and then forgot to put into the ground....wilted and dead! And it makes me hate her! It makes me hate her so much - for what I see as her manipulating me into trusting her! By being there for me. And that makes her so much worse than my bio mother - because she never lied - she told me she hated me and I was unwanted from the very beginning. DT spent two years convincing me that I do have worth, that I am needed, that she did care.... well, until she found someone to fuck! Then she did the same thing as the host body.

So obviously~ I am not worthy, I am not good enough, I will never be good enough.

I feel so low I need to reach up to touch the bottom - but I don't have the drive or the energy....