Tag Archives: PTSD/abuse issues

Woodstove Going and . . .

our furnace is on the fritz (part is on order). This has meant that things in the living room have been majorly upset; a good thing. I’ve been whittling away at the bedroom a bit at a time, but the living room needs it too.

Had a friend over for tea last week, that got the table cleared off, which also needed it. Unfortunately, this meant the downstairs table was cleared off just in time for the colder weather (in an unheated house), when the inclination is to eat in the warmer rooms, upstairs! Backwards, that’s us.

So today started with me trying to make waffles. The waffle iron surfaced during the table clean out, for a long time I didn’t know where the waffle iron was, then the cable was missing. Found that. Thankfully I had marked it with a bread tag! (Do you use bread tags to mark things? I’ve done it for years, way before I ever saw a pic of such on pinterest!)

The waffle iron needed to be cleaned & seasoned, (it had been cleaned before it was put away, but the outside had gotten sticky somehow) so no waffles. Decided I was going to make pancakes instead. While looking for a missing ingredient in the canisters, one package of hull-less barley came open in the bin — another cleaning project.

My day, if you’re counting, before breakfast consisted of cleaning projects: the wood stove area, the waffle iron, and now the canister, sigh. At this point, DH took over and made pancakes. I finished cleaning/organizing the tools, etc. that had been used on the wood stove, so DH could put them away when he got there. He dealt with the barley (at that point I was still going to be the cook). And I put dishes away.

Almost every day now, when I put something away, I make a point of culling what’s stored with it, at least once a day. This has yielded a bunch of stuff, and the wagon is pretty full of things culled this way: a time card rack (factory type), a brass lamp shade, tape tins, etc. stuff — that’s going away, today (didn’t yesterday, stayed home, cleaned and wrote mostly).

The culling sort makes me almost miss the counting thing: combining stuff in the pantry, filing papers or tossing them, tossing excess clothes, etc. I know I’m doing it, not counting. I do notice though!

I sometimes wonder how I’ll know when I’m done? One paradigm I’d set was “being able to walk across my living room.” I haven’t accomplished that, yet. But the house is cleaner and I’m managing to not undo whatever I’ve done; a major victory, if you’re me.

For years, the idea of keeping some space clean would give me panic attacks. This going one-step-at-a-time isn’t fast, but I can sustain it, which having a professional organizer, spring cleaning or what have you doesn’t.

The dishes get washed daily (although I can honestly say they don’t ALL get washed all the time)! The toilet/sink/bath counter get washed regularly, but not on a schedule. The bed is made almost every day. The sheets have been getting washed every weekend. And I’m culling/selling/tossing stuff every week.  This is a slow but steady process, it has to be slow to keep the panic at bay.

When I wrote the memoir, I wrote about me and stuff and the woman who was my abuser. When I put the realities of what happened to me in a few succinct paragraphs, my being a “hoarder” makes sense. It also makes sense that I’m not attached to the stuff as much as the mess. I learned real quickly that anything of mine was subject to be “acquired” by someone else, or derided, or damaged, or broken, or given away. I learned that to protect myself I had to act as if my “stuff” had no value. The more I valued something, the more likely it was to be derided, broken, “lost” or stolen. I learned to hide behind mess, it was the only thing that worked.

Fifty-plus years later, I’m trying to undo that process. Not easy because most of it became unconscious behavior, and the panic is real. How often would you clean if the idea gave you a panic attack? That’s where i was for most of my life.

It’s changing. One piece at a time. Wish it was faster, but it is what it is. And, if this is like the PTSD behaviors, what will happen is that I’ll reach some point where 1)I’ll panic big time because the old behaviors are nearly gone and 2)I’ll ride that out and learn to live with whatever vestiges of the panic remain for the rest of my life, in a probably mostly clean & tidy home.

Took a lot of years and stuff to get here, it’s going to take some time yet to get out. Too slow, but it’s what works; and that’s inarguable, since the alternate just stops me cold!


Trying to Make it Work

Part of the  problem with trying to get organized for me is that anything I do on paper, with cards, lists, etc. is going to seem to be “too big” and my PTSD will rear up, again, like it always has.

It occurred to me that if I could use a computer to input all the data, then I wouldn’t “see” all the chores all the time, which might make it do-able.

I wrote DH a note about computer scripting. We’ll see if this can work! I have ideas about how to determine how often things should be cleaned, getting weekends “off,” and other ideas that frankly I haven’t seen in the 100s of cleaning/organizing books, blogs, pins I’ve read, got or found.


California Crazies

As a person with a mental illness diagnosis (PTSD) I’d like to comment on the recent insanity in my home state. I was not a popular youngster, but I had friends. I think the difference is that these days we lead others to expect instant gratification.

I knew it might be college before I had a boyfriend. I cried myself to sleep many a night in jr high and high school thinking I’d never have a date. Didn’t happen like that at all, but I didn’t know that, any more than anyone does.

Also, there was a whole social climate that even if you had access to guns (and some of my friends did) that you’d never use them against those in your community. We’ve distanced ourselves from each other, stopped teaching civics, stopped telling kids that being a candy striper or equivalent is laudable, etc. We didn’t just believe in our ecology, political party, etc. we were part of a country. We were Americans.

I think the difference between my generation of misfits and the current crop of the socially maladroit were two things: 1) We expected things to get better socially and be okay financially. We would be able to find jobs, etc. 2) We were taught from a very early age that we, all of us, were part of something bigger than we were,  we were all connected that way.

Not all people with a mental illness diagnosis are going to shoot up a room, but all of us, with a diagnosis or no, need to believe in our future and that we are all connected,  a part of something bigger than we are.

I just don’t see that happening dammit! So I expect we’ll keep having tragedies like this, where someone feels disconnected from those around them, is hurting and lashes out in the only way they think they can take control and can matter, even tragically.

Self-Interest, Selfish, Bullying or Abuse – What Is It? – My Opinion

I grew up in an abusive household. The woman who was my abuser wasn’t related to me, but she might as well have been, in everything but genetics, she was my mother. Young kids believe anything parents tell them. She told me that I was stupid, ugly and so flawed that even God couldn’t love me. She did this in a 1,000 small ways, verbally, the way she treated me, the tone of her voice, what she said I could do and what I would never be able to do. She convinced me I was dumb, fatally flawed, and my family and God hated me or couldn’t love me.

Because of my past, I have “radar” about abuse, most abuse surviviors do. I thought I could NEVER be abusive. Hah. Not true. I have twice apologized to my husband for behavior over a period of time which I later saw was abusive in nature if not actual abuse.

How? Well, think of it this way: abuse and bullying both start with self-centeredness. I had a boat-load of problems when I came out of my childhood home, and what I’d done or the opinions I’d formed about how the world worked to me weren’t just opinions, they were FACT! and NECESSARY FOR SURVIVAL!

Because of that, I wouldn’t and couldn’t entertain other opinions or feelings as possibly having merit, including those of the man I married. I had a boatload of rage that I hadn’t resolved and that also pushed me to not even listen to my husband’s opinions, ideas, or feelings about some issues. It didn’t matter what he said, it was wrong, unless it agreed with what I thought and believed.

And isn’t this a form of bullying too? I mean really, think about it. Isn’t bullying imposing your opinion and/or wants on someone else, no matter what they say or do? I kept that up for a few years.

I also used the pattern I’d learned with my first husband, who’s parents (divorced) had called each other stupid, given each other charley horses, etc.

I called my husband names, made fun of him — in front of him — in public,. One day he started to bend my thumb back when I did this. I was outraged! How dare he hurt me?

He said, “You’re hurting me too by what you say. If you stop, I will.” And I did. I never knew you could have a relationship with a man that didn’t include making fun of each other in a nasty way, I thought it was just the way relationships worked. I’d never had another model.

There were other ways I believed I had to have my own way, no matter what, that no one else’s opinion mattered. As I’ve grown up and away from the wounded child I was, I’ve learned that they, like the lousy model I had for marriage, were born from the wounding, not truth. Yes, I have opinions. No, I don’t always think everyone else is right. But I do think that everyone’s opinion is valid and should be listened to these days. I’ve grown up. I don’t have to have my own way all the time any more to feel safe.

The hoarding is the last of these behaviors (I hope). And, yes, it’s another form of abuse I’ve inflicted on my patient husband. It’s hard to move away from something that makes you feel safe, even when you know it’s wrong. No one ever said adulthood was easy — I’m working on it!

Being Brain Dead isn’t all It’s Cracked Up to Be!

PTSD at work: I’ve basically lost 3-4 weeks here. I think I might know what’s happened, but of course I can’t be sure.

Every now and then, for whatever reason, I get brain dead –seriously.  I lose the anxiety that makes me pretty good at my job actually. I settle into this semi-cloud-like space:  I’m in the world, I do things, I get stuff done, but my edge is gone.

I’ve just had a month like that. I sat up in bed at 2 a.m. or so last night, thinking I’d missed THE monthly meeting at work last night. [I hadn’t.]

After I sent a few “OMG I’m sorry!” emails, I cried a little — because I’ve had a terrible month — typos, missing phone numbers, lousy editing, etc. and then finally went to sleep thinking that whatever the hell it is that I’d done had probably cost me my job.

Who could blame them if it had? My job is to be sharp, on top of it, accurate, precise and on time, and I’d been flubbing or nearly flubbing all of that for most of a month.

So — WHY???

I think it’s because I’m going to have breakfast with my brother Sunday morning. Yes, okay. I know, this apparently makes no sense. I know.

Say hello to the nice folks PTSD!

My family induces my PTSD quicker and I have full-blown flashbacks easier with/around them than any other group I know — even when they don’t do anything.

I’ve come up with I think a better analogy of what having PTSD is like.  Having PTSD is rather like having a faulty airbag sensor.

What you don’t know is if you go over a slight bump will set it off? If you have an accident will it work? Will go off at all? It might just go off sitting in the driveway,  or when you turn on the car, or any other “random” time. And just to make this more accurate, when you take it to your mechanic or any mechanic, by all tests and visual inspections, the thing is in perfect working order. There is no part you can actually replace.  And lastly? You can’t get out of the car either — ever.

So, there is it. Every once in a blue moon, you’ll go into a panic state. Maybe for a discernible reason, like the upcoming breakfast with my brother. But there may not be any such obvious cause.

What really pisses me off about this is that this has been ongoing for three+ weeks now. Coming back from a full-blown flashback takes me two weeks. This brain dead protective thing my brain/body/PTSD have come up with is WORSE than a flashback.

Gotta change that bucko! I sure don’t like flashbacks. Mine involves being “present” during the loss of my mother, because with PTSD you remember the trauma as if you were there, again. I go all the way back into being an abandoned three-year old internally, then pull myself back out, one step at a time, remembering and reinforcing the steps in my growth away from the loss and it being all I see/hear/feel. I compress 50 years of maturity and growth into 2 weeks.

This brain dead thing is harder, because I don’t know I’m in it until I’m in it and part of it is drifting pleasantly through life.

Like I said, it’s gotta change. My tears last night were a mixture of being sorry I’d f’d up so badly and the pain/frustration of my stupid BROKEN brain yanking my life around, again. Just because I can talk about/analyze this doesn’t make it easier. It may make it easier to fix in the long run, but it sure doesn’t make it easier to deal with.

How Do you Treat Someone …

…who is going through something awful? The death of a loved one, a divorce, the fallout of a car wreck, whatever it might be?

I don’t know about you, but I clutch. For all that I’m supposed to be a writer and editor these days, Anything I can think to say seems inadequate, hackneyed, and trite. Frequently, rather than say anything, I say nothing at all — which I’m sure is much worse!

I get angry when someone’s response to my PTSD/background is an “easy answer,” get over it, move on, time will heal the wound, think strong, etc. but I would feel much worse if I explained about my PTSD and/or my background and got no response at all.

So, I’m a hypocrite; well, I’m human. We all have this kind of duality, yes? I do have a much easier time dealing with someone I know is permanently “wounded,” as in has a chronic condition, PTSD, etc. as opposed to sudden life-changing events, like death or divorce.

But it still begs the question I started with: How do you treat the wounded? What is the proper response? Do I just live with my discomfort and say whatever I can think of?


For as long as I can remember

I’ve had this thing, I called it the “emotional function.” It was a vestige of the abuse and shame. It was invoked when I was in pain. When something hurt me, it was “proof” that I was worthless. This is the mantra acc. to the abuser. God, my family, the world in general saw me as useless, unlovable, subpar, subhuman and the proof was that they didn’t care that I was hurting. So every time my family invoked some kind of teacher-student, “I’m older than you,” or other statement where the baseline position is one of superiority, it invoked this. My dad wasn’t a total snob, but he was a snob to some extent about his field. And, like all folks, tended to judge others based on what he knew. That’s what he taught all of us.

I was 10+ years younger than everyone, smaller, female, and not inclined towards intellectualism or financial dealings — I’m an English major sort of person, but not all that fond of literature either. I’m more of an athlete than my obese, asthmatic, diabetic family too. So I didn’t fit the standard in many ways. Every time I didn’t, this emotional function thing would run and it reinforced the “fact” that I was worthless, less than scum, valueless and generally subhuman. Some of this is the vestige of abuse, the feelng is a common in abused folk, like Dave Pelzer’s Child Called It and others, including me.

When something hurt, it ran. This was the catch in the back of my throat I could not get rid of, the pain that was always present.

Except, it did!

About 2-3 weeks ago. I had a crisis, the details don’t matter, but two people very close to me each made an effort to do something for me. Their efforts  validated my feelings and  made a point that I was worthy of paying attention to: they cared enough to make an effort to help. And that catch in the back of my throat? It  vanished.

Now it’s like the PTSD flashback — I can remember/feel what it was like, but it isn’t present all the time. Oh yes, it might return in some way shape or form once in a  blue moon down the road, but the piece that absolutely was never touched no matter how much work I did is gone.

I did a flowchart of what it was like last year. It’s below.

function bad guyAs you can see, there’s no way out.

But I am!

Change indeed.