Grieving Time

Hourglass 2
Sometimes starting a new life can bring up grief and regret for the old life. While I am happy to have new experiences without the pain and anxiety of the past, it makes me wish there had been more of it.

Time is such a tricky aspect of the human experience. We can’t control it. We can’t make more of it. We can’t get back what we think we have wasted. As the song says, it is like an hourglass glued to the table. And while we can figure out how to control so many aspects of our lives (which is not always a good thing), we can’t control time. It will keep on going, with or without us.

And 42 years is a long time. It is more than 22 million minutes. It is more than half the lifespan for Americans. And for me, it is the longest amount of time I have ever known. Continue reading

No Place Like Home

Dorothys Shoes

Since coming face to face with my past, my system has been “jacked up”. This is my technical term for “too much going on for me to comprehend using logical thought processes”. Part of my confusion comes from my many parts. My parts come from using dissociation as a defense mechanism, but it is important to note everyone has parts to some degree. Sometimes, it is difficult to identify which part needs attention and integration. But that identification is important to my healing journey.

While I have that adult part who wants to make responsible decisions when faced with life, I have other parts who are not quite so interested in making convenient and logical choices in the present moment. I have parts that live in the past. I have parts that want to resolve the past by repeating it. And unfortunately, my parts don’t agree. In some cases, they vehemently disagree. And so things get a bit “jacked up”. Continue reading

My Brain on Trauma

SwimMeet

I love to swim. I always have. It was healing for me. When I was in the water, nobody could get to me. Nobody could hurt me. I was in my own world, a world that flowed, a world where all the darkness and pain of my reality was far away. The physical pain stopped too. The aching in my shoulders, hips and knees didn’t weigh me down when I was in the water. The buoyancy was just what my beat-up body needed. And it helped that I was good, very good at swimming. I knew how to flow through that water. I knew how to win.

Fast forward to my own little family and it is predictable that I want to continue that swimming experience vicariously. Unlike many parents who dread long swim meets, I don’t. I breathe in chlorine like some breathe in a field of flowers. It is relaxing and healing. My twins are new to swimming this year. And I would be fibbing if I told you they were rocking their strokes. They usually come in last or disqualify, but I don’t care. And they don’t seem to care much either. I really am blessed with kids that enjoy everything they do.

And so we are making our way through our first swim team season. And I am loving watching my kids swim and participating as a strokes and turns judge. I could not be happier with it. I am focused. And this part of my life is completely unfettered by my past … until last week.
Continue reading

The Need to Blend In and the Drive to Stand Out

Standing Out
In my house, chaos ruled. The only consistency was inconsistency. I learned quickly that the rules could not be understood, but I still tried to understand. Like most children who grow up in an abusive household, I worked hard to make sense of my environment. I made “logical” conclusions about cause and effect. I knew that there were very few actions without consequences, so I did my best to be invisible. This seemed to be my best strategy to avoid abuse. In reality, there was no way for me to avoid abuse as long as I lived in that house. But I was sure there was a secret formula. There had to be a way to stop the abuse because I was sure that somehow, it was my fault.

Since I started recovering memories, I have rarely been able to grasp the order of events. Memory recovery does provide a clear understanding of the event, but does not clearly delineate the time frame or my age. And it is more confusing if the events happened within days of each other. Sometimes I remember being abused but do not remember what event I may have associated with that abuse. But I have learned that I always associated the abuse with something. This makes my recovery work a bit more complicated. Continue reading

Fight Flight or Freeze

Wolf in Sheeps Clothing

Adults who have not recovered from complex childhood trauma usually relate to others in one of two ways. They either relate to others as a victim by underestimating their power in a situation or they seek out power over others. I wish I could say that each person chooses one or the other. It would be easy to spot the victims and the bullies if that was the case. Unfortunately, it is usually a combination. While they probably have a favorite style, they may fall somewhere on the continuum between a full-fledged bully and powerless victim. And it may be inconsistent within each relationship.

Before my recovery work, my personal choice was that of the victim, but I have bullied. And honestly, I still have to work hard every day to avoid playing these roles. I write often about my struggles with my internal oppressor and how living as a victim is dysfunctional at best. However, the inner bully is just as important to address. Continue reading

The End

The End

One of the most important things I have learned in recovery is that everything is temporary. And in recovery, this is not a bad thing. Most of the painful emotions can only be tolerated with the understanding that they are temporary. Of course, it has also brought the understanding that the joyful moments are fleeting as well. Sometimes that knowledge helps me to savor them. Sometimes that knowledge causes me to hold back.

The idea that things of this world are temporary has been around a long time. It is not new. If we wait long enough, everything, from our physical bodies to planet Earth, will be gone. And yet, most of us live our lives under the notion that we can change that. We spend a lot of time trying to prove that it’s not true. We hold on to things. We hold on to our kids. We hold on to relationships. We hold on to emotions. We try to tell ourselves that it will always be like that. And when it isn’t, we pine for what used to be. Continue reading

The Good, The Evil and The Perfect

Blarney Castle
My mother used to tell me that my memories were just dreams. That was one of her many methods she used to invalidate me. However, there is a fine line between dreams and reality. Our dreams have a way of telling us what is happening in our unconscious. The dream I had last night is case and point.

I was living in a castle with my parents. This castle was ancient. Only the stone walls barely stood. There was no roof and no doors. My parents were sorcerers. They mixed potions and used them to meet their needs. I spent much of my day attempting to replicate their potions. Even though I usually knew exactly what the potions contained, I never succeeded, because the potion ingredients would constantly change.

This dream represents many aspects of my childhood. An old and crumbling infrastructure with no privacy describes my home life quite well. The inconsistency of the requirements within my household was a constant source of frustration when I was a child. I wanted to be good. I wanted to be successful. But it just wasn’t possible. Continue reading