Category Archives: healing

3 Days — and Counting

I asked my co-editor how long I should wait before I queried the publisher about the memoir. His answer? One month.

That’s 11/15, 3 days from now.

I really, really can’t think about this or it will make me bonkers. But inevitably, I AM thinking about it.

 

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Fallout

I am surprised. I’ve had relatively little fallout/backlash from sending the memoir out to the publisher. Sending it to my writing group was worse. Every time I talk to someone about it or make changes someone sees, yes, it’s a little nutty. But… no screaming awake. No crying jags. No being pissed off and not knowing wtf is wrong.

There’s various pieces of consensus: there are still a few typos. There are some stylistic things I did which every single editor has pointed out. The last half isn’t as well written as the first.

That last didn’t surprise me at all. The first half is what took 10 years to write; it’s the map to my particular Hell. The last half was difficult because I just couldn’t see how to write it so it wasn’t a total bore. There’s a reason “They lived happily ever after.” is one sentence. But I needed to show the unraveling of the PTSD and healing that allowed that to happen. I needed to show that it wasn’t a straight line. I needed to illustrate that the process is not done and never will be.

That all took some doing. I only sort of really knew what book I was writing, what the arc of it really was when I sat down last month and decided to pull it together as I did. For one reason only. It had to be the best, most concise piece I could write and present to my publisher. I finally could look at it with my professional eyes, rather than through the lens of the wounded kid with PTSD.

I have no idea what happened that made that possible, but it was.

J

Homeless

Hm. I know why I removed the posts from here. I know why, okay?

The memoir is being looked at by a publisher, next week. If he buys it, it will become a book. Great and not.

The memoir is subtitled: post-traumatic stress disorder, science fiction, & love. Certainly a summation of my life in eight words.

My plan is to after the manuscript gets delivered to work on the house cleaning plan. I have a blog site all set up and functioning for that already.

But . . . .

I feel like I’ve lost my home. Silly, ‘huh? I’m semi-anonymous here. If people know me IRL, they know my real name. It’s not hidden all that well. But I was comfortable behind the smoke screen.

The memoir is going to remove that. Further taking the cleaning/dehoarding posts from here and moving them (or not) to the other blog will do that too.  I plan to publish the cleaning plan as well, if I ever manage to actually get it to work.

Feeling a bit naked here — there’s a breeze, right? Someone got a door open? Or, maybe it’s just a hole in my armor.

Probably that. And it’s permanent. I guess I’d better get used to it, ‘eh?

J

One Problem with Recovery

I just looked at the “laundry list” for the adult children of alcoholics or dysfunctional families. Here’s a link.  Almost all of that pertained to me in the past. Almost none of it fits me now, thankfully.

If you look down the page, you’ll find the flip side of that list.  My problem is with #5. This one:

We stop living life from the standpoint of victims and are not attracted by this trait in our important relationships.

That’s pretty easy to see. What I don’t see addressed here (and haven’t found elsewhere) is how you deal with those who were in your life before — getting them to change the unspoken “givens” in your relationship? Demands don’t work. At least in my case, neither does asking reasonably. My answer has been to cut off my family and all but one of my oldest friends. I’d like to have relationships with them, but in most cases I’ve moved on and they haven’t. Or, in a few exceptional cases, they’ve moved on and I’m not enough like I was to be “interesting” any more.

Says a lot about your value to someone, ‘eh? Either you’re valuable because you’re someone to be “better” than or “entertaining” or you have no value. If I did something extraordinary, that made me well known, these people would almost all in my estimation reclaim their relationship with me, whatever it is. But as an ex-victim, ex-emotionally unstable, non-victim, stable, older, housewife, who lives in the middle of nowhere, without drama — I’m unimportant.

And if I did something important, why would I want to be connected to these folks?

My old friends, I thought would be happy for me, because they cared about me, and I was stable and happy. Nope. Almost without fail, they were bored by me, because I wasn’t “exciting” any more.

My family? Well, that’s more complicated. I think they’d also claim their relationship with  me if I did something “important.” But it’s probably easier to call me “overly sensitive” or some such, now, than realize that the only way I will allow them to have any but the most casual contact with me is to rewrite the premises.  I’m not less than them. Different? Yes. Less? No!

Much of the problem of course is of my own creation. I thought for decades that being less and interesting/unconventional were some of the only real assets I had, as I was damned with some undefined piece. So, I started all relationships with the idea that I was less.

I changed, but that doesn’t mean that others want or need to.

 

 

Stigma & Shame Links

I found this about stigma the other day. You might be interested? link

And while we’re talking about the good or bad the internet can bring, you may want to listen to this TED talk I found last week which talks about shame as well.

My personal experience was that shame was the biggest single thing which kept me from healing. link

J

Week from Hell

DH had to go away for work this past week (he’s home now). Between him being gone, which always leans on the PTSD and deciding that what I’d do while he was gone was deep clean/clear the house, it was a stress fest.

I leaned, hard on my friends this past week (Thanks for being there!) and got very little sleep. I did however, get the bathroom much cleaner and removed 80% of the large laundry pile in our bedroom (which I discovered, joyfully, was as big as it was because it had 2 layers of book boxes on the bottom, covered with a layer ‘o stuff to go into the attic, and “frosted” with clothes. If the pile had been laundry all the way down? It would have held enough clothing for a family of 6 or so!)

You can read the details of what I did at the other site: here, if you’re interested.

The most “profitable” thing I learned with this were the following: the PTSD managment I can do most of the time is more fragile than I thought. However, I managed to realize this and stop myself, mostly, from doing anything too stupid because of it. I didn’t entirely manage it, but much better than I have in the past. Also, I realized what I was doing, vastly different than previously, when I had no idea why I was being emotionally buffeted around like a leaf in the wind. I knew what was happening.

That didn’t help me manage it to the degree I’d like, but as I said, it was better than in years past.

I also learned I just can’t tackle the house in a large way without consequences. My body still remembers the trauma(s) related to the housekeeping, vividly. So I was going to bed sleep as late as 4 a.m. I had GREAT plans for the 5 days.!

I managed to actually really dig in and tackle the house 2 days: Monday and Wednesday. Both nights were nearly sleepless. The days following I was almost braindead until late afternoon when I was suddenly *awake!*.

I spent one night listening to graduation speeches trying to make myself feel better. One night listening to music. Tried playing games/reading, etc. It worked as well as it did, but mostly it didn’t.

I can do without going from a sound sleep to sitting bolt upright in bed, crying, shaking and palms sweating, thank you very much. But I guess I get to do that or be sleepless in whatever form, for a while yet.

What I’m hoping seems odd, and that is that if I keep going, eventually, I’ll remember wtf the trauma(s) are. When I remember, it’s significantly easier to cope. Battling wraiths in the dark is much harder than seeing whatever it is, and realizing it’s a movie you’ve been playing for decades. It’s just as “real” because it’s definitely present Now! in your body, but easier to manage. You can understand why event x or y leaned on it; why a smell triggered it, etc. This is one of the hardest things about having been traumatized so many ways, so young. I have two reactions to things which trigger my PTSD, I either have a full flashback and remember wtf happened, or like the knitting and cleaning, I realize there’s a trigger but don’t remember what the event(s) are.

Two Types of Flashbacks

The last time I was cleaning 5 days a week (my goal) except for dishes/food clean up was last month. On the 15th, I wrote this blog saying, “I’m doing it!” and started waking up in full panic: heart pounding, palms sweating, shaking, the whole thing. When I have a full, emotional flashback, it’s a two-week readjustment, but not a cleaning flashback. Those take longer, about 4 weeks.

What I’ve done successfully, is to make the routines, at least a minimum of them just habit. So, for the past 4 weeks, I’ve done some laundry, but haven’t put it away consistently. Done some dishes every day, but rarely are all of them done, etc. There aren’t 4 weeks of accumulated laundry and dishes to do. I haven’t gotten much sleep and my stress levels are up, but I’ve dealt with it.

My challenge is to either 1)Try and add to what I can do in the “bad times.” or 2)Lengthen the period when I can clean. The problem with either and this challenge is that if I notice what I’m doing — the panic starts.

I’m really sick of fighting this stuff! I’m in my 60s — I am honestly, truly tired of being affected by things which happened in my childhood. But they gave me PTSD and all of it, the mess to hide in and the other events or adaptations I made to protect myself, are all wrapped together as my flashback. Push on any piece too hard and there I go down the flashback rabbit hole.

The only difference is that when I’m pushed emotionally, I have a successful route I forged back. From something like the movie thing, it takes a day or two. If someone attacks me? It takes two full weeks.

I don’t have such a mechanism for the panic attacks/cleaning flashbacks. What I originally did with the emotional ones was to recreate my growth, one step at a time away from the painful place I used to live. I haven’t managed anything except the very first steps away from the panic/stress.

  1. I understand the root of the panic.
  2. I also understand that the reason it was and is so hard to fight is that when it occurs, I’m in full fight/flight panic mode.
  3. I have realized that the only way I know which might work is to habitualize the cleaning.

That’s worked to some extent or the other.

What hasn’t worked? Finding a way to notice that I’m cleaning and not go into a full-blown panic attack/flashback.


There’s hope. Until I typed what’s above and remembered what I’d done for the emotional attacks, I’d forgotten that I ritualized the steps away from the bad old days. I did that for years until my therapist said, “Do you really have to recreate each step, one after the other these days? Next time, see if you can’t condense some of it.” And I could!

So, hope exists. But it took me 20 years or so to heal enough that I could conceive of  recreating the healing route. Twenty months longer on the cleaning/panic is about 18 months more than I want to spend….

But, of course, the being dictating the rate I can go isn’t my conscious, adult brain, but that wounded little girl, whose body remembers all the trauma. She and the body run the roadways and determine how much I can do and how fast. train image from target

My adult self just has to sit back, be patient, and wait. It sometimes feels as if I’m a passenger on an electric train. I got on, the doors closed and locked. All I can do is patiently wait until it stops!

trolley