Category Archives: knitting

I am so lucky

By sheer dumb luck (?) I didn’t get disassociation; Gawd knows, I’d never have come back. Likewise clinical depression, I avoided it too.

I think if I’d been physically or sexually abused one or both of those would certainly have been my reality.

The journey I took was hard enough because of a variety of factors: the biggest one being that no one seemed to think (including my early shrinks) that there was anything really wrong with me I couldn’t just change. Little girls didn’t get PTSD in the 1950s. I was white, upperclass, etc. What problems could I have? Well, yes I didn’t have a mother, but I had caretakers, dorm mothers, camp counselors, doctors (and more doctors), shrinks . . . .  what was my problem?

The description I’ve got in the memoir is that it was like I was a balloon, with a large rip underneath, which no one else saw. They all expected me to soar! I had all these things going for me: beautiful home, enough $, educated family, etc. etc. etc. But I couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried  —  they didn’t get it. No one did. And that just layered atop the Abuser’s narrative: there was something wrong with me, at my DNA or such. And for whatever reason, for 42 years before diagnosis, I just kept trying to prove her wrong. I kept trying to get my family to tell me they approved of me. I kept trying. I’d win once in a while, but I’d lose more often. Then I’d despair. I became increasingly more bitter and cynical.

Then this 6’1″ miracle happened to me. And things started to change because I believed one person didn’t think I was horrible. I called him my “shield against the world” for most of the first 10 years we were married. Whenever he was out of town, my anxiety went back up to the old levels  — I was back in the hell I’d lived in before: the hostile universe, the world where people would take anything and everything they could from me, because it was me.

It took a long time and a lot of work on his part before I really got that people didn’t see some devil mark on me, that said they should be nasty or whatever. That many people in the world would like me, if I gave them 1/2 a chance. That I wasn’t sub-human, stupid, ugly, and inherently unlovable.  I was starting down that path when my hormones went ape for the 2nd time and I had my midlife crisis, over 20 years ago now.

And got a hugely lucky break. The marriage counseling we got was from a woman who knew about PTSD.

She diagnosed and helped me learn how to  deal with it. We learned to deal with the things we hadn’t been able to and I kept seeing her, over 12 years by the time she retired.

Somewhere around 55, I stopped hurting. That was so phenomenal! The really odd thing for me was that no one noticed! I wanted a parade, a statue put up, something !!! It had been my goal as long as I could remember: “Don’t hurt.”

I still carry the pain, but these days it’s not ever-present, it’s associated with my past. And, yes, I still chose every day to deal or cope with it, or not. But because it’s no longer associated with HERE and NOW I can make that decision nearly automatically to NOT deal with it, not have it be part of my narrative today. I finally have a life which is not wrapped around hiding the pain, excusing the pain, explaining the pain, showing the pain or denying its existence.

It’s there, and most days I don’t have to deal with it any more; most days. Of course, this is PTSD, which means that at any moment, life could just pick me up and throw me into the fun house and away we go. The Hallmark movie not too long ago was one. A bigger one was the knitting. Both completely unexpected — SURPRISE!!!!

Gee thanks.

 I still say I’ve been incredibly lucky. And that’s a good thing. I’m sure I would have otherwise not attempted suicide; I would have killed myself.

Without my husband, without diagnosis, without the work from all of us: myself, husband and therapist, I would still be living in that fun house, that hostile and pain-filled universe. It was unbearable at 16, when I first attempted suicide, because as I said at the time, “I can’t imagine living this way until I’m 40.”

It was hard. It was awful. And I’d love to find out if life has something else I can do? We’ll see. My luck may have been all been used up, getting here — or maybe not?

(The image below AND the quote (obviously) are not mine!)

P.S. I don’t know if I agree with the quote actually, but it fit the post nicely! (I’m enough of a writer/editor to find that irresistible.)

P.S.2: The more I think about it, the less I agree with the quote. It was good luck that I was born white, privileged and into an educated family. Had nothing to do with my work or willingness to work. Although if I hadn’t done the mental health work, yes, I would still be where I was. Change takes work AND luck, but luck (or lack of it) starts with things out of your control: skin color, relative amount of available money for education, educational levels of people around you, area of residence, etc. None of that has anything to do with a child’s work when it is born.

Walter Mosley, the author, was a McDowell scholar one year. He came in the bookstore. He is an educated, articlulate man, who was born and raised in Watts. We were the antithesis of each other, as I was raised in a white, well-to-do enclave in Los Angeles in the same period. My mental illness and such caused me to not make use of many advantages I was born into. His hard work and abilities caused him to become the celebrated man he is.  Which of us is lucky? Him for being able to become the person he was or me for becoming the person I have?

Without the money, etc. I had behind me, I could not have focused on my mental health. I would have had to focus on making money to eat and put a roof over my head. In that way, I was really, really lucky. And, again, I had nothing to do with it.

Quotation-Barbara-Sher-The-amount-of-good-luck-coming-your-way-depends-on-66-82-62

I find the “just work harder” notion promoted by many really bizarre. If you are working 3 jobs just to feed yourself and your kids getting a PhD or even an AA isn’t an exercise in hard work, but a magical ability to make 24 hours into more.

Equally, the “save 1/2 of your food bill” idea only works if you can do things like buy 5 lbs of flour instead of 1 or buy a pot roast to cut up, or go to multiple stores to buy things on sale, or . . . when you are truly on the edge of or just over a survival level that is not realistic.

It’s easy to forget that.

And that’s my problem with the quote above. It presumes that you have the resources to act on your behalf, not that you are doing everything you can to simply survive.

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Monday’s Six and Backlog

Here’s the six for today:

  1. Wash the rug which had been in the laundry and put it back.
  2. Clean the dry stores shelves. Right side done 3:50. Complete 4:30
  3. Get the supplies for the knitted pillow all in one place so you can finish it!
  4. Get the rest of the better paint into the attic.
  5. Clean the office chairs.
  6. Sweep the decks, porch & entry (fill in).

Backlog:

  • Sanitize the water pic.
  • Find a place to put away the dehydrator racks and do so when appropriate.
  • Use up the ice cream base in the freezer.
  • Wash the net curtains. First pair pulled from over the dry stores 4:30.
  • Go thru the record collection, cull.
  • Put garden hoses away for winter.
  • Recaulk the bathroom as needed.
  • Make pepper jelly (or use up the peppers somehow). Mon. 9:30 a.m.
  • Figure out a new way/place to store the yarn and put it away.
  • Look at the stored snow tires. Need new ones? In the budget?
  • Make cookies with the frozen oatmeal. Recipe found. Oatmeal removed from freezer, put in fridge Tuesday. Tossed Monday, sigh.
  • Empty my desk, again. Mon 10/23 9:00 a.m.
  • Make up/try the Naval Academy brass polish.
  • Examine winter coats for flaws, etc.
  • Put ice scrapers in the cars, examine and see if they need replacement?

Chores on hold or in process, for whatever reason:

Use up the eggplant from last week. Used the first one for Sunday’s dinner. 

Fertilize the lawn. Did the dooryard lawn and the lawn on the street side of the bulb bed. Tues. 4:30 p.m. Lots more to do!

Cut more sage and other such from the garden. Kale Fri. 10/13, most of the rest of it 10/15. Need to pull some tarragon and that’s it. Finished Tues. 10/24 9:30 a.m.

Cull books from one “holding pattern” bookcases. Either they’re out or they stay!, in process Thurs. a.m. (I did the 1st shelf.)

Put family photos in the album. Can’t be done. Photos located, album missing!

Clean off DH’s desk. This is going to be delayed until he and I catch up. I pulled everything from the top drawer on his side of the dresser, we’re still going through all of that.

Lapfull of Warm v3.0

(and the last one — promise!)

DH wanted me to recreate a shorter version of the original muffler, for him. I did. It’s finished, except I have to weave in the 2 ends.

This time I’ve been watching Hart to Hart. All those TV shows in the 80s I missed because I worked until Gawd knows what hours? I’m up late, knitting in front of my computer. Works!

Interesting catching up with my youth, now. Certainly not a 2nd childhood, but regressing to some extent, you bet. (Also enjoying myself!)

No more planned knitting right now. The rug I’m working on requires too much concentration for me to do it and anything else.

I keep hoping I’ll have a dream or something and remember the stupid trauma, so I can absolutely, finally put it to rest. In the meantime,  if I knit you something, realize it probably meant not only did I spend a long time on it, but I burned a lot of midnight oil doing it as well!

J

 

 

Lapfull of Warm: Completely Unexpected Result

DH and I went to my fave yarn shop last weekend. My holiday gift was yarn this year.

While we were checking out, the woman working asked about my muffler. What yarn had I used, how big were the needles? Would I tell her the pattern? She wanted to make one!

OMG!!!

I was shellshocked. The 2nd piece I ever finish and someone who works in a yarn shop wants to copy it???

I haven’t posted anything because I think it’s like the first book. For months I was waiting for someone to say, “No. Sorry, we really didn’t mean it.” and I refused to let myself get excited about the book. This was similar. I haven’t really let myself even think about it. But I sat in the car last Saturday afterward, and nearly cried.

Long way in two years ‘eh? From a 10 stitch square which traumatized me so much it took me 4 hours to knit to a piece which is good enough for someone who works in a yarn shop to want to make!

I still shake when I’m knitting and I think about it. If I knit and I’m not distracted by something I still want to cry. I still have issues with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th stitches casting on and casting off. But if I distract myself enough? I can knit some, and I guess I do all right. . .OMG!

J

 

 

Lapful of Warm, v 2.0

I had a second skein of the yarn I used to make the muffler. I’ve been using the muffler, but it’s a bit narrow. I started playing with that second skein and had a slightly bigger pair of needles and wondered how that would change it? Well, after a few days of knitting, I have the following to report:

  • It’s wider
  • My knitting is better
  • and, because I quit deliberately when I did, it’s a bit shorter.

I intend to use this one rather than the other. It’s better made and slightly more practical. I may (or may not) rip the other one apart and make a pillow cover from it. I haven’t decided.

No shaking, cold, etc. until this morning when I was casting off. Of course, I kept myself distracted while I was knitting. This time I’ve been watching episodes of the original Ironside on youtube. Whatever the trauma related to knitting is/was, it definitely is its worst during casting off!

The frustrating part is that without an actual memory of what occurred, I can’t do more than I have to combat it. For me to “erase” a trauma, I need to know/understand wtf happened so I can rewrite the scenario, filtered by my adult understanding. It’s the same process I talked about with cleaning the house, here . The “easy” traumas, the obvious and clearly remembered ones, have been dealt with as much as I can. Otherwise, it’s shadow boxing, you guess and try — lather, rinse, repeat — hoping to narrow down what the issue is/was.

The second lapful of warm is a deliberate repetition and a better variation, if I say so myself. Happy holidays to me!

Happy holidays to all of you too, whatever midwinter festival, holiday, or break you practice.

Lapfull of Warm

Over the past week+ you would think I was a youtube addict. I’ve watched Nero Wolfe TV shows, music videos from Burlesque (the movie) and a lot of the “blind auditions” at The Voice.

Why? Well, especially with those auditions, what I got was distracted, just enough that I could knit.

On occasion, I’ve noticed what I was doing and the fact that the muffler I was knitting had gotten longer and longer and the ball of yarn correspondingly smaller. When I did, my hands would shake, I’d make mistakes, and  I’d fix them. My back would get cold and when I wanted to cry I’d look at the video, whatever it was — and keep knitting.

Of course I do have a life that doesn’t include sitting at my desk, knitting and listening to music or half-watching video. But. . .I tied the piece off about an hour ago. I  have 2 strings one on each end to weave in. There is one more ball of this yarn here. I may (or may not) make fringe for this. I don’t know. But it’s done. I intend to use it.

My heart is pounding a little. My palms were sweating as I did the last few decreases.

Somewhere, there’s a little girl, sobbing curled up in her bed because she doesn’t know what’s “wrong”with her, crying on the top of the cliff she was too “cowardly” to jump from, in a hospital because she doesn’t know how to cope with the world, and, and — there’s a thousand slides of the wounded child/youngster/woman I was, defeated and dragging herself  — plodding to her next probable failure, somewhere. . . .

There was usually just enough hope and whatever the F it is that always made me a fighter, from my first breath.

I got a man who stands at my back. I started winning sometimes. There are friends who “get” it. I got diagnosed. I won a lot more.

Then there was knitting: the fact that knitting was traumatic was not just laughable on the face of it, but it seemed absurd. Last year, I found someone and took a lesson. I knit and I knit and I knit — until I knew it was possible for me to do so without a total meltdown. Then I quit.

Last year, my husband’s holiday gift was a gift card at a local high-end yarn shop. I bought this beautiful yarn. For a long time I thought I’d just hang the skein on the living room wall. The skein got misplaced in the rearrangement for painting the living room. That didn’t matter as I’d stopped knitting.

I found the skein about 2 weeks ago and couldn’t keep my hands out of it. Eventually I rolled it into a ball. I started pieces and ripped them out and started something else. Nothing got finished, of course. Then I started a 20 stitch thing not all that hard, but not boring either.

I finished it tonight. I’m shaky, scared, wanting to cry — and fighting a smile. Because I won.The muffler is over 5′ long and it certainly has mistakes. I don’t care. I have a lap of warm stuff which will keep my neck warm,  imperfections and all, I’m proud of it.

Take that Abuser!!!

What You Do, If You’re Me

Remember the knitting posts? (I had links in here and they worked for me, but never when I wasn’t signed in?)

It took me several months to get my dander up and find a teacher. I went into yarn shops here and there with mixed results when I started to look for a teacher.

I had determined after knitting all those squares that I had the most problem casting on and off. Found a dish cloth I wanted to make. Asked a yarn shop owner about private lessons. She only wanted to teach people using a muffler pattern she had as it, “…uses all the casting on and casting off techniques in one item.”

When I said, “I really want to make this dish cloth, would you consider –?”

“No. I only teach beginners using the muffler. In all my years as a teacher . . . .”

So that shop was out.

Went into another shop, explained that I had PTSD, and had some trauma related to knitting I wanted to work through. . . .

The woman backed up 2 steps behind her counter from me (!) said, “You’ll have to talk to our teacher. I don’t know if she’d take you on or not.”

Well, if I scare you so much, I won’t impose myself on you or your teacher — that shop was out!

Lather, rinse, repeat. I went into at least 2 other shops, with mixed results, but no success.

I went into a hand-craft shop and told the woman behind the counter about my experience. She was supportive, helpful, and positive. What a pleasant change! It ends up her husband has PTSD, so she knows and understands that not everyone with PTSD is a lunatic frothing at the mouth who needs to be heavily drugged or they’re dangerous.

The teacher they had for me and I exchanged a few emails. I sent her the knitting lesson post. She asked, reasonably, “Why would you want to tackle that?”

My answer required next to no thought, “Well, I don’t. Why would any sane person willingly pursue something that negative? But I refuse to give my abuser any more of my life!”

We met at a Dunkin’ Donuts in October. I’ve been knitting, compulsively, ever since. About the 4th stitch of every row my hands still shake, I’ll drop a stitch or two, etc. I say “F. U. Abuser!” and keep going. After about 2 months of this, it has lessened, but not gone away entirely. If I think about the fact that I’m knitting, I still shake, palms sweat, etc. If I concentrate on something else and try to go on autopilot, I mess up, drop stitches, etc. all of which just makes me more determined I’m not going to let my abuser keep me from knitting.

I don’t know what the trauma is, it doesn’t matter. My body remembers. Until my body-mind decides that knitting isn’t dangerous/scarey/painful or worthy of adrenaline, I’ll keep knitting