Category Archives: trauma

New Monday List!

Okay, this is a restart of my 6-5 list idea. This is the six things on Mon and 5 each Tues – Fri, and catch up on the weekends notion.

Also I will redo the larger, long-term “to do” list sometime this week.

This will make THREE chore lists! The backlogged 6-5 lists, the current 6-5 lists, and the long-term list. Either I’ll just get overwhelmed and quit, again, or I’ll get it done.

What’s really likely is that I’ll get some of it done, for a while, then get overwhelmed and quit. That’s my pattern problem. Somehow, being organized about getting things done eventually leans on the PTSD and I panic and stop. Since many folk seem to get overwhelmed  I guess I don’t feel so bad about not being able to stick to it.

This blog has been a many-year long set of experiments to get me to be able to set a goal then get to it, ‘eh? A tidy house doesn’t seem to make most people panic like it does me, it makes them feel good. It makes me feel good too, but if I do it too consistently? I panic.

The problem has always been the panic. It took me until I was in my mid-50s to be well enough otherwise (not hurting/running scared) to be able to see that what happens to me in a tidy house is panic, and that because of that, it is instantly overwhelming. Telling me “ignore it,” [I can’t tell you how many people have said that to me!] is really useless. Telling myself that is equally useless.

The only real answer has been to find ways to turn tidying into habit, so that I don’t think about it, I just do it. Fine. Except that the process of doing that causes me to panic too — and the rat wheel goes around — again.

So. Here I am, again. With another shot at it, again.

Monday’s 6:

  1. File something. 5:11 p.m.
  2. Clean the front of the kitchen cabinet that hasn’t been cleaned the longest (I put stickies in the drawers/cabinets that tell me when I cleaned them last.) 6:30 p.m.
  3. Clean the cat food bin. 10:28 p.m.
  4. Straighten an underwear drawer. 10:20 p.m.
  5. (fill in). Bathroom floor & counter clean up. 1:40 p.m.
  6. Get the planner started.
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New Ideas About Cleaning

Aside from the PTSD, bad habits and panic attacks, as if that wasn’t enough, I’ve had one other major problem about cleaning up the house. No one ever taught me how! This means that no one ever showed me the “right” order to do things. I was taught at boarding school how to make a bed, clean a toilet or trash can, but not how to make a schedule or plan to cover the basics, regularly.

And, I admit, that doing anything regularly wouldn’t have happened anyway, because of the panic attacks. Cleaning is like writing a novel or any other longer piece, you have to keep slogging away at it I’ve found. Difficult for me, if not impossible for much of my life.

That said, I have discovered a few things:

  1. Always clean more than you have to. That is, if the dishes are done and you have 1 item in the sink, find a candlestick or decorative something to clean too. This also applies to sweeping the kitchen, putting clothes away, whatever. Especially if the chores aren’t involved or big, add something minor. Cleaning the bath counter? Wipe down the box on the shelf, etc. etc. etc.
  2. Hard surfaces, impervious to water are the easiest to clean; where soft surfaces, which absorb water are the hardest.
  3. Clean the areas used the most more than others.
  4. Clean the most obvious areas first. (I have [had?] a tendency to clean closets and drawers when the urge to clean hit me. Before I realized the clutter was what I needed to feel safe, it was dumbfounding to me that I could spend a whole day cleaning and you couldn’t tell. This is, of course, backwards from the way most people work. And that’s the reason why those “toss this” lists really didn’t work for me.
  5. Find whatever works for you and run with it. I spent DECADES trying to use flylady or other cleaning plans, and couldn’t.  This caused more of the internal I’m stupid, flawed, and just screwed up mantra.  I figured “Of course this doesn’t work for me and it does for Mary or Jo. It’s me after all.” I finally accepted that I couldn’t adopt someone else’s plans, I had to come up with my own — in my 60s!

I May Hex Myself

But I have to say this: the PTSD hasn’t gotten up in arms about what I’ve been doing. I’m amazed, really I am. For DECADES I couldn’t do this, make a list of 5 things and then do them without feeling vulnerable, targeted, panicked, and weepy.

Not there this time!

As I said, the tacit acknowledgement of what I’m doing may be the thing which ends this, Gawd knows it has 100s of times before. But, it doesn’t feel that way this time.

Maybe that’s why I’ve felt compelled to write this post? It’s a sort of emotional running your tongue over the hole where your tooth used to be.

We’ll see!

J

Crisis

People who know/see me IRL know that things haven’t all been jolly-jolly here. To the point where I thought I would have to talk to a lawyer about divorce. The issue isn’t something I’ll talk about here, because frankly, the sordid details of my life aren’t up for public discussion.

Suffice it to say that I’ve been dealing/coping with potentially life-changing issues. Last time things got this bad, about 20 years ago, we got help. We may do that again, or may not. The last time we thought we’d acquired the skills to deal with whatever potential problems we might encounter, unfortunately, that may not have been true.

I always wondered how people who stayed together for more than 20 years could then just split? You had it beat, didn’t you? We’ve been married 37 years and together 39.

The one good thing I know that’s happened as a result of this is what I said in my post here. No matter what, I’ll weather it. I know that again. For a long time I wasn’t sure there was any of the fighter left in me to face a major change. But whatever way things work out, I’ll make it.

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Flow or No

Whether it is because of the PTSD or otherwise, I tend to work in spurts or fits and starts. I keep thinking I should just be able to schedule something for a few hours, I can, but mostly don’t.

I need to accept that the abuse, panic attacks, and PTSD all make a regular schedule very difficult, if not impossible, as much as I’d like otherwise.

I need to stop fighting this and just accept it as the way I flow, period. I think when/if I can do that, the panic attacks or vestiges of them will lessen dramatically. It’s my belief that the panic is due largely to people being able to “see” what I’m doing or have done. I have a lot fewer problems, like nearly none, when I’m working for other people. This is only the stuff I do at home.
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Can I repeat, again, how much I really, absolutely hate the woman who abused me? It totally sucks to have your brain be your main enemy. It sucks more to view any finished project as something which will be attacked, belittled, or sneered at, whether it’s a clean kitchen counter or an art work. This just makes getting anything done a real challenge. [And I needed more of those, right?]

P.S. Reading this, I realized t’s wrong. I don’t hate her. I hate what she did to my brain. If it wasn’t that no matter how much work I do, this will be with me forever, I would have very few feelings about here at all.

She’s gone, her daughter is gone. The memories of what she did just make me feel sorrty: for her that she could be so nasty, her daughter and myself because she felt it necessary to emotionally attack two innocent little girls,, who grew to be wounded women because of it. It was just a waste.

A Piece of the Clutter

are items staged to go “elsewhere.” Frequently, it’s items for sale, but sometimes it’s items to go into storage, into another room, be mailed, or some such.

I started working on those yesterday, that’s where the 45 photos (on the tally) came from. They’ve been on my desk, part of the clutter ON my desk, in an envelope to be mailed to a relative. I don’t have my relatives’ addresses anywhere.

This is a deliberate part of my moving away from my birth family and towards DH’s. Mine, whether they intend to be or not, are toxic for me, so I avoid them. Not having their addresses stored is one way I avoid them. I had to look up the recipient’s address. I knew their phone number and finally did a reverse look-up. It’s addressed and ready to to the post office this afternoon.

I have another envelope, for another family member, unaddressed. I had found her address previously, but haven’t gotten the piece of paper with her address in front of me so that I can address that envelope. Found! Will be mailed this afternoon 2/3/17.

The last pieces from this album will be donated to Dad’s alma mater, he taught there as well, so they have his “papers.” I have sold portraits of various family members at antique stores in the past few years.

Do I hate my family? No. But the person who abused me wasn’t stupid and used who and what my family was as another stick to hit me with. That brainwashing is so old and so deep that I cannot remove it, try as I might. My family isn’t the warm/fuzzy type where you can talk about things like that and actually get a response which includes an adjustment in behavior. They don’t value me enough to do the changing required to stop punching my buttons, they think my buttons are ridiculous.

I can’t undo the buttons, I’ve been trying for over 50 years, right? So, the answer is to not let them punch them at all. Removing my “family heritage” photos is another concrete way I can stop feeling tied to them. I have one framed photo of my mother, and that’s it in the entire house. We have photos of DH’s family waiting to be framed. When they’re framed, they’ll go up. That’s my family because of two things: they will try and be responsive if I ask them to change in some way. (It’s a reciprocal relationship!) Also, I don’t have the brainwashing pushing me with them all the time.

Is this my family’s fault? No and yes. No, they aren’t responsible for my behavior (buttons) but they are responsible for their own (lack of being willing to accomodate my needs). I will not fight them, and I will not ask, again. I will simply remove them from my life as much as possible.

Harsh? I suppose. But you know? I’m  much, much happier without them in my life. I have nightmares about one or more of them coming to visit here. I’d have to do an exorcism, or something. It would be awful. I keep wanting to move so they don’t have my phone number/address any more.

It isn’t so much that they’re deliberately cruel, although some of them are, it’s that because they think my triggers are silly, they ignore the idea that they might need to pay attention. The only response accepting any responsibility for what they did to me was the last time someone really went after me and I went into a full flashback? They said, “I’m sorry you went into your flashback.” as if the attack which caused it was someone else speaking, as if the 2 weeks it took me to get back onto an even keel was trivial. To them I’m sure it was.

That was the “best”, the most responsive person in my family. When I reasoned it out, I decided they were all just too dangerous for me to be in contact with, and mostly I stay away. Removing these photos is another way to distance myself. No more memory lane — Thank God!

Getting Back on Track?

I have wandered fairly far afield in the past 2-3 months. That is, I’ve nearly stopped posting the weekly “to do” list, stopped thinking about or working on my larger, long-term goals, except in a spotty fashion.

I haven’t done a concerted purge for the tally in the past few days, either.

The house is staying cleaner, which is great, but for more than a month I’ve been doing whatever was in front of me, instead of trying to make the work I do count towards my bigger, long-term goals.

I know why: I’ve been fighting off exhaustion and depression. Rather than simply ignoring it and trying to push it away, a couple of days ago I finally sent an “I need help!” email to my nearest friends. I got what I needed, that is, a reminder that I’m not alone, there are people in my corner. In the recent past, except for real crisis, I haven’t asked for help much (or at least that’s my perception). I had a good therapist, and that’s what I used her for, I leaned on her, and our session recharged my batteries about 2x a month, and usually, that was enough.

She retired in June. The idea of establishing a new relationship with someone else after 15 years with the same person was just exhausting. Also, the people she recommended did not appeal to me at all for various reasons. Maybe in person that would be different, but the short bio forms, much of it a sales pitch, just left me cold. This means I haven’t gotten a new therapist.

Unknown to me, my energy started to fade. When I finally realized what was going on last week, I saw that it was like a slow drain of my energy and enthusiasm. I think of myself as a self-starter, but I need energy shots or something from others. Didn’t realize that those energy shots were a lot of what I was getting from my therapy. It was my 2 hours a month to be as whiney and selfish as I wanted. For someone with PTSD, or at least for me, it was a time/place to talk about all the ways/places/times that others pushed those buttons and how I should or did deal with them.

Because my flashback is a 3 year old’s grief, I have as I say, ” a grieving 3 year old, caught in the amber of my psyche.” Accordingly  my PTSD reactions to things are almost always inappropriate! Having a safe place to start there and then see/figure the more reasoned response was a blessing I’ve now lost. That created another drain, as I’ve been monitoring myself and my behavior in ways I hadn’t had to for a long time.

All of this and a few other things created a situation where I’ve been fighting off depression and exhaustion. I’m glad I finally realized what was going on and asked for help. I’m not sure what a long-term fix is, as I really don’t think I can do this every six months for the rest of my life, any more than I think I can afford a therapist 2x a month forever either, even assuming I had one.

I need to find new answers.

In the meantime, I need to get back on track: purging, culling, cleaning, and moving towards a time/space where I can do whatever’s next, even if it’s just dying.