Category Archives: trauma

Amazing

Years ago when I was writing regular articles about retail stores, I would be writing about a certain kind of shop on a given road or in a certain area. I’d walk into a shop and say, “Tell me why you’re different. Tell me what’s different in your shop from the shop down the road?” And almost always, the owners or managers would tell me exactly the same thing. (To the point that I would tell them NOT to say exactly that after I’d been doing it a while.) I never knew how to clearly state why it mattered  that they distinguish themselves from other stores in the area selling similar merchandise.

Today? Today I was looking for commercial cleaning proposal templates I could print. I wanted to: 1) Perhaps generate commentary or something to talk about here. 2) See what commercial cleaners do differently than the housework books I have. 3) Try to locate the number I found once about how much more a certain commercial cleaner charged for each piece of furniture in a room,  I wanted to look at the house and see what it would cost. . . .

While researching, I found a discussion about why a business has to know why they’re different. A discussion by Simon Sinek, it’s an 18 minute video, but it starts with WHY, when most businesses talk about WHAT or HOW. Even the short version, in the write up here, makes the point. (The video is available from the link too, I can’t get the share to work here, sorry!)

I wish I’d known about Sinek before, would have saved me a lot of trying to get people to see that it didn’t matter how long they’d been there, how much merchandise they had, how diverse it was, etc. NONE of that is the real selling point, esp. if your competition says exactly the same thing!

I stopped being able to sell books easily when I lost the fire in my belly about books. I lost that because they were no longer the only place I didn’t hurt, they were pleasant diversions, but not necessary for sanity. I lost my passion, the why I loved books so much, and my ability to sell them easily, simultaneously.

In the same way, I lost my entertainment “muscle.” I used to be a superior hostess and was known for it. But I was continually on stage — felt like I was a performing seal. When I stopped being hypervigilant and immersed in the life PTSD had left me, I stopped the dog-and-pony show. Somehow I just can’t get it in my brain again that I need to be able to be entertaining: tell stories or do schtick occasionally.

There are people who put up with my low energy, non-performing self. And I’m not exhausted all the time, which is wonderful! Somehow, I just can’t summon the care to go back. I lost my WHY there too. I thought I had to be a performing seal or I had nothing to offer. Again, it was necessary for my survival.

I regret these changes every now and then, but not often. It’s weird not being able to do things you had done easily, but I just don’t have the goad, the terror shoving me over and over any more. I sure don’t regret that.


Weird blog, ‘eh? Cleaning proposals to business acumen to PTSD to what’s lost with healing. Not an arc I would have thought would work at all. I guess you, the reader, get to decide if it works or not?

j

 

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More Panic & Stories of Us

Okay. I woke again last night (this was written Wednesday), three times. This was better (?) than Monday night because I omitted the adrenaline content. I just woke up with a cramped leg, twice and a cramped arm once. If the panic attacks stay limited to the physical side waking me and I don’t wake up with the emotional backwash of panic/pain, I can usually just go back to sleep. I’m not sure what it is I do with my arm, but I keep pushing/straining with my feet. It isn’t restless foot syndrome that I know of, because it seems to only happen on the nights when the PTSD has a reason to be “active.”

I yelp every now and then and I keep waiting for the day the scream I feel inside gets out.

Poor DH!

But I suppose a few things: 1) He loves me, bless him and knows I don’t do this on purpose. 2) We’ve talked about it. and 3) It’s probably a small price to pay to finally get a clean (or cleaner anyway) house? I don’t know that one, you’d have to ask him.


I met him at a supermarket to combine errands and our other agenda. We were saying good bye in the market. I was at the end of an aisle, he was at the other end. I called, he saw/heard me and came to me. I leaned into him when he got there; he kissed the top of my head. Some woman we don’t know said, “Ahhh.” I guess she thought it was nice.

Reminded us of a few other occasions:

  • We both worked as volunteers at a public radio station. Because we worked in different parts of town, we usually met at the station if we were both volunteering the same day. DH came in and walked over to me. The fellow I was working with started to introduce us and DH leaned over and kissed me. The fellow said, “I guess you two know each other?” Um, yeah. It was cute.
  • Years later, after we’d moved north, we were in the local shopping mall, holding hands. A teenaged (or younger) male person looked at us and went, “EWwww!” I suppose that to him holding hands is the purview of people < 20? Don’t know. We were amused!

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Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Different

I have been reading a book I’ve had for some time, and only used before as a reference: Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson. She has this to say, which I found really mind-boggling:


“The sense of being at home is important to everyone’s well-being. If you do not get enough of it, your happiness, resilience, energy, humor, and courage will decrease. It is a complex thing, an amalgam. In part, it is a sense of having special rights, dignities, and entitlements — and these are legal realities, not just emotional states. It includes familiarity, warmth, affection, and a conviction of security. Being at home feels safe: you have a sense of relief whenever you come in and close the door behind you, reduced fear of social and emotional dangers as well as physical ones.” (page 7)


 

As an abused and neglected child, I had none of those things. Home was, as I have said elsewhere, the place where they knew how to put the (emotional) knife so it hurt the most. And, if a person wasn’t actively hurting me, they were wondering wtf my problem was? So, I have no expectation of safety at home.

I also have no experience of someone as she talks about caretaking a home as a way of showing love.

DH’s circumstances were different from mine, but his childhood home wasn’t happy and protective entirely either.

I have been for years trying to figure out what makes a place “home” and the most I could come up with was cozy and safe, so that’s what I’ve been heading towards decorating wise. But it has been an ongoing problem for me, because I want something I have never had, and decorating magazines and books just do NOT talk about how to create a home-like atmosphere.

And then there’s this:


“…what a traditional woman did that made her home warm and alive was not dusting and laundry. Someone can be hired to do those things (to some extent anyway). Her real secret was that she identified herself with her home.” (page 9)


And that I’ve never done.

The panic attacks happen in at least one predictable way, or used to. That was if I set up something to please myself. I was sure others would see what I did as laughable, stupid, or just wrong.

That’s a product of years of conditioning as a kid. It’s part of the cyclic rant: “Someone will break it. Someone will steal it. Someone will deride it or make fun of me,” that is the verbal side of my panic attacks.

Standing in front of a bookshelf with palms sweating and near tears, because I displayed some of my favorite things isn’t an experience I remember fondly, but it used to be common.

I identified myself not with the space I occupied, but internally. Inside was my only safe harbor.

I feel rather at sea in some ways. Years ago, my therapist told me to nurture the wounded kid inside me. I asked, “How?”

She looked at me and said, “If you’d had a kid, you would have learned, because your instincts and the child’s needs would have taught you. But you never had a kid. And you weren’t nurtured. I’ll have to think about that.”

And we came up with some answers, but not a lot. Although I don’t see myself as an uncaring person, frankly, I suck at relationships.

I ruin friendships, put off people, and always have. Some of it was being wounded, because I said inappropriate things, but much of it was just that I never learned how to build community, closeness, not really. I try hard. I try to have integrity. I try to be of use to the people I know, but I’ve never been sure I do it right, and think I screw it up, all the time.

The house is much the same sort of thing. It used to be that every time I did some new decorating thing or worked on cleaning the house, what I said to my husband was, “Are you mad at me?”

And although that’s pretty pathetic, it’s still the truth. These days, by contrast, what happens is that I’m grumpy. I was this morning, when I cleaned the kitchen.

You know? I’d really, really love to outgrow my childhood. Maybe by the time I’m 70?

 

Wimp

I wimped out. I was supposed to have a colonoscopy and endoscopy this week. I cancelled it.

Why? Because my PTSD brain had decided that I would die under the anesthesia. Crazy, right? But it wouldn’t go away. Every time I did anything about the procedure, it would show up, again and again.

Don’t tell me it’s irrational. Thanks I know that already.

I got tired of crying about it.

Also, different than in years past? I didn’t grit my teeth and just do whatever, so that others wouldn’t know I was scared or think less of me. I was scared and yeah, you can think less of me if you want; I have no control over that anyway.

For one of the few times in my life about something pretty big, I let myself wimp out.

Different? Yes. I kept telling myself it was no big. I kept telling myself it was my crazy PTSD, anxiety-ridden brain going off the deep end.

It wouldn’t go away.

Finally? I was supposed to watch this 40 minute thing for the hospital this morning, and that put me over the edge.

So I wimped out.

On the one hand, it’s nice because I’m actually being honest. (Unlike all the times from dissecting a frog in high school, to almost anything else, up to and including submitting the memoir to a publisher, because I thought others would think less of me if I didn’t.)

And, the pay off? I’m pretty sure if I wasn’t dead, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. But if I was? Well, it’s hard to write and live this life then ‘eh?

And I want a chance to do that living. I owe DH a clean house. I owe myself the chance to see what, if any, impact the memoir can have. I want that. I want to see what kind of other life I can have!

panic

But there’s a large part of me that’s saying “I’m done.” The work which started when I was born 3 months premature, fighting for my life, is complete. And, if I’m really, truly going to be honest here? That’s what really scared me. I wasn’t sure if they put me under I’d  want to come back. So, I blamed the medical profession, but it was just me.

You know? I have no idea who I am if I’m not fighting. And I’m not, not really any more.

Maybe I’ll get a chance to grow up/grow past the stupid childhood before I’m 70? You think?

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

Status

The work piece got done. I have more, there’s a glitch and it’s being fixed (above my paygrade).

The kitchen has a temporary counter, a piece of plywood, covering the dishwasher and a drawer unit while DH figures out the necessary changes. The new dishwasher wouldn’t go in the space where the dish drawer had been: it’s too high and wide. So… the nuking began.

The writing piece has been completely reviewed by my co-editor: comments made and corrections applied. After > 10 years working on the piece, I am both relieved to have it done and terrified because it’s done.

Other things pending: waiting for the reviewer at a site to tell us who he wants the book file to go for the last book to get it reviewed.

I made some $ from the new online job. Hurrah!

Life is in flux, and stressy accordingly: new online job changes, writing project changes, and kitchen demolition.

My plan is that after the book project goes to the publisher mid-month, I will seriously start working on the cleaning plan and the house. I will have the other, biggest, long-term project complete, so it’s about time, right?

(Excuse me while I freak out!)

For a long time I didn’t understand why I was so afraid of finishing things? I talked to my therapist about it. She said, “If you finished something, it was subject to attack by the Abuser, right? It was much safer for you to not finish things, then she’d attack you for being lazy and/or not finishing things, but you controlled that and it wasn’t a surprise.”

Which made total sense.

The panic/terror of finishing things applies to the house cleaning. Also it’s part of the PTSD, not wanting to be too visible, because you see yourself as a target.

If I think about what I’m doing, really think about it, I will totally panic. I’m not letting myself think about the big picture, just the little one. Just getting the next step done; that’s all.

But I’m running out of road.

end of road

(Image from JimmyBuiPhotography.com, via images.google.com)

That Little Girl

I was who was so traumatized has caused me a lot of problems, because I don’t know what she decided or thought in many cases until there’s an issue. It’s my flashback to be swamped with pain, fear, or panic and possibly no apparent reason for the reaction.

For a long, long time, shame held me back, but I didn’t realize it until one day in therapy I blurted out, “I don’t deserve to heal; I killed my mother.”

I remembered feeling that way as a small child, but I thought it was survivor guilt, and I thought I’d dealt with it. I hadn’t. I did after that.

That same little girl has me trapped in the street car dealing with whatever it is related to cleaning or knitting.

train image from target

One of the most difficult things is at 60+ is to “get” that what’s going on with my body/mind has not much if anything to do with who I am now and figure out how to undo whatever it is. In many ways, it’s rather like trying to talk to an alien.

That said? She also did me a really, really good turn by her lack of understanding in one critical area. A few years back, I started to slide into clinical depression. I thought I was going insane, finally. My therapist and I talked about how I felt, and what was happening to me and she diagnosed it as clinical depression.

A while later, I put it together. What I had always been afraid of was losing control — “going insane.” That was what I’d fought internally for decades. It was keeping myself out of that. But it wasn’t insanity; it was clinical depression.

It meant that when I started to slide down that path in my 50s-60s, a remote part of me — at a distance — noticed and said, “What are you doing?”

My internal response was, “I don’t know. I don’t care.”

But that monitor said. “Hm. Maybe we’ll read this piece, it usually makes us feel better.”

“Nothing will make it better.”

“Let’s try.”

“If you insist.”

I did two or three other things: read the pieces which make me feel better, walked to the place which makes me feel good, etc. with no hope they would work. But eventually, they did.

So, yes, I’ve been depressed. And I’ve been close to succumbing to clinical depression.

But that plucky little girl wasn’t going to “go insane” no matter what! She kept finding ways to avoid it.

This puts me at a loss with people who ARE depressed, because my magic, most effective tool against depression’s devastation is that I made it absolutely illegal and forbidden for myself, when I was 3.

depression