Monthly Archives: March 2018

Toxic Shame

0E6185B6-ADF6-490A-9675-B1E2F5FD549EComplex trauma has left a wound on me that I don’t know will ever heal.  Or maybe it’s that there’s so much scar tissue I just need to get used to that “new normal” of who I’ve  become.

Complex trauma is still a relatively new field of psychology. Complex post-traumatic stress disorder.  (C-PTSD) results from enduring complex trauma.

Complex trauma is ongoing or repeated interpersonal trauma, where the victim is traumatized in captivity, and where there is no perceived way to escape. Ongoing child abuse is captivity abuse because the child cannot escape. Domestic violence is another example. Forced prostitution/sex trafficking is another.

In my particular case, I was a victim of childhood incest.  It is the hardest thing to type that sentence, harder still to say it out loud.  I want to delete the sentence and delete “it” from my history.  Additionally, there was heavy-handed corporal punishment which by today’s standards would be considered physical abuse.   There was definite emotional abuse and at times neglect.  Continual domestic violence pervaded my childhood home.  My home did not often feel like the safe place it should.

Later in adulthood, I was the victim of domestic violence within my two major long-terms relationships.   I don’t know that I even recognized it happening as such it seemed so familiar.  If that makes sense.

All of my life I have struggled with low self-esteem.   Underneath my low self-esteem  belies a  darker feeling .   There is this deep sense of shame I have carried since as long as I can remember.

Unlike ordinary shame, “internalized shame” lingers and changes our self-image. It’s shame that has become “toxic.

When a person is ruled by toxic shame it interferes with their ability to accept positive regard.   For in childhood they internalized the belief of not being worthy of being loved or given any attention.

It dawned on me today as I couldn’t look into the mirror, that I just hate myself because I’m ashamed of me.

I wonder if this shame will ever leave.  I’ve got a new shrink I’ve been seeing for about 9 months.   I’ll call her Lee.  One can’t help but feel disillusioned after 20 years in/out of therapy.   I’ve ditched seeing Lee the past month.  Made up some excuse or other.  I mean everyone needs a mental health day from the mental health provider.   Oh wait this can’t be treatment resistance this soon can it?  I am feeling vulnerable because we are past the point of rapport building, and she’s a quick study.  She sees through my best defense mechanisms, and is trying to dig deeper and I’m running like hell.

There’s no shame in investing in a sturdy paper bag to wear over my head to hide myself, right?  Wearing bags are so much easier than facing your own demons.  ‘Cause Lord knows I’m hoping for a loophole.

 

.

 


Us and Them

 

D7EDA5C8-A2DA-46A9-8884-35C41A35A051I often have fancied that they have some sort of secret union, though I know it’s impossible.   There are certain rules to they must uphold as well:

1. You must use union approved brown corrugated cardboard with black lettering

2. You must use either fantastical yarns  or absolute truth on said cardboard

3. You must be able to stand for long amounts of time on your feet

4. Working in inclement weather is a must

5. You must wear tattered, ripped, holy, or frayed clothing on the job

6. A sad or dispondent look is recommended although a managing a smile and thank you when earnings are received is a must

***************

Amherst, MA Used to be a conservative  town years ago, but not anymore.    Perhaps that is why it is a boon for so many panhandlers and why they flock here.  The bleeding heart liberals see contributing towards the less fortunates as helping the social justice movement.

On any given day the same folks stand on their designated corner donning signs:

”Tent collapsed.  Anything helps.  God Bless”

”Today’s my birthday, out of work. Out of luck. “

”Homeless vet, down on my luck.  God Bless”

”I’m not going to lie, I just need a beer”

”Tent blew away, need help, Thank you.”

**************

Now mind you, it was the middle of February in New England and it occurred to me that with all these recent tent collapses and blow always happening, maybe they could pool their resources  together and go in on a new tent, that’s more sturdy.

Birthday boy, well it seems as though everyday is his birthday because he keeps holding onto that sign day after day. Now I feel bad in his case,  as he just can’t seem to remember when he was born, poor thing.

The homeless vet really gets to me because we have a bus system that can drive him to the VA Hospital in nearby Leeds, MA for $1.50 where a social worker could help him get housing, medical care, the works.

Which leads me to our last fellow the man saying he wants money to buy beer.  Addiction of any kind brings shame upon its victims.   Until we start recognizing that all of the people profiles listed above  are most likely suffering with addiction and/or mental health issues we will not begin to address the problem.   Driving by and stuffing money in their hand is bringing them closer to death.

You see, I used to be afraid when my car stopped next to a panhandler.  I felt awkward and avoided making eye contact with them through ny window pane of glass that separated us.  Instead, I averted my eyes down at the brake pedals or at my cell phone, the radio, anywhere but their face.  Because it triggered an awkward feeling in me.  Why had they fallen in this situation? Why would anyone want to stand here for 8 hours in the harsh elements begging instead of having assured income with the security of a job?  Because they have to.  They have fallen that far down the rabbit hole.

The day that awkwardness disappeared in me, was the day I recognized them as my equal.  I could just as easily be them, given the right conditions.  From that moment I began to roll my window down and talk.  In those short conversations I have gotten to know a few people.  We smile now and we wish each other well.

I don’t have all the answers.  Maybe safe needle exchanges are in order.  Maybe more drug courts.  More access to long-term treatment programs.  Meanwhile,  I will treat people with kindness and dignity.  I will buy someone a gift card to McDonalds.  I won’t give them money knowing it could go to heroin, meth, or alcohol.  Enabling will only serve to help kill people.

There is no us and them.  We are the same. They ARE somebody.  Someone’s son or daughter.  Someone’s husband or wife.  Somebody’s mom or Dad.  Struggling and in the grips of a powerful addiction.  A disease that will kill them if they don’t receive help.  Let’s not forget before they were panhandling, they had great lives too.

 

 

 

 


Rorschach Test

EC50045E-46D0-4C1E-A922-9C6659E56AC2

What do you see in the ink blot?

The Rorschach test is a projective psychological test in which subjects’ perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed using psychological interpretation.

I remember when the test was given to me at 19.   I was in the psych hospital for a suicide attempt.  I felt hopeless and empty  had been for a long time.

At first, I thought about screwing with the tester, albeit briefly, then changed my mind because I was suffering immensely.

He informed me,”I am going to hold up a card and you will just tell me the first thing that comes to mind. Okay?”

Sure.

card goes up with black ink image only

“Ink blot.

Okay, I forgot to mention that you can say anything except for inkblot.”

Flashes card

bat

card

butterfly

card

“butterfly with goat head

card

“weird looking bug with skull face

card

Moth with fangs

card w/ black + red ink image

death

2nd card black/red

death

3rd card  black/red

death

multi-colored card

“well of you want me to look at it as a whole, I see a giant head, but within the upper right corner there is a a goat head with horns, over here in the bottom left there is this sort of devil creature, at the very top I see a baby’s face.”

Tester takes copious notes while I speak then packs up his cards. Day or so later,  I get slapped on Prozac and diagnosed with depression.   Wasn’t that apparent from the suicide attempt?  I’m kind of glad I didn’t screw with the tester.  I could have ended up on massive amounts of Thorazine drooling and shuffling around like the other  blokes aimlessly wandering about that smelled of piss and cigarettes.

My roommate’s depression was so severe that it didn’t respond to medication so they had to strap her down and take her to the basement for ECT aka Shock therapy.  I think she had bilateral (both sides of her brain) zapped to induce the seizure.   She came back looking like Sigourney Weaver had sucked her brain out with a straw and there was nothing left.  She had that 1000 yard stare, empty eyes that penetrate straight through you.

She never did remember me for a few days after she got cooked, despite having known me for nearly a month.  I was always jealous though because ECT patients got to have coffee and Dunkin Donuts after the switch was thrown.

So if you eat your donut and drink your coffee and enjoy it  but don’t remember you do, did it really count?     It’s almost like they never got their coffee and donuts.

What do I see in the blot doctor?  Big Pharma profiting from human suffering.

 

 

 

 

 

 


#metoo

85DA6B78-6F73-43CB-91A3-3178DD75B395.jpeg

#Icallbullshit

It has sickened me to watch the news over some recent months to see all these women coming out of the woodwork like cockroaches with claims of sexual assault from prominent or celebrity men with big wallets.

This one claims he touched her breast in an airplane in 1970.   Another has a vague recollection of getting groped at an audition.   Still another says that she woke up with her panties missing after a night of drinking.

Hell, missing panties after a night of drinking? that would describe myself and at least 3-5% of my friends.   Saying that someone touched their breast has somehow made them feel violated.  Violated, is a very strong word.  That this event changed them.  Are you serious?  I’m sorry but in the words of Peggy Hubbard, “you’re all acting like a bitch baby pussies.”

The one thing many of these women all have in common? They are seeking monetary compensation, public humiliation, and slander.  That really bothers me.  Just because a man has money, they feel entitled to go after it?Nothing is really slander if it’s told through the lens of a teary interview on a TV show because it’s just is an allegation.   But after all is said and done, even if the man is vindicated and found not guilty, who remembers that?   Everyone remembers the teary painful recount of the tall tale told on said TV show.   No one can unring the bell, hence the humiliation for the man.

Everyone knows that if it was Mike the Mechanic from around the block, this gold digging venture wouldn’t be happening.   Mike who coaches soccer and stays for last call at the local watering hole isn’t going to have 7 women going after his house, his 401K, his Mercedes, and his Prudential mutual funds.  It would be women out trying to seek actual justice with jail time, not their 5 minutes of fame on Dateline and an undisclosed amount of currency.  

One allegation from which many of the #metoo claims stemmed, is that a roofie was placed in her drink and he slid his  “Jello-pudding pop” where it didn’t belong.  I think this is total bullshit too.  It  lead to throngs of others banding together in estrogen to shake him down for some loot in a civil trial.

As a trauma survivor of repeated child sexual assault,  I think it’s a load of bullshit.  The sheer numbers of these women coming forward and how they stacked up as fast as dominos falling,  doesn’t lend any credence to their allegations.  Rather, it is suggestive to me of women trying to get a piece of the proverbial payout pie to be potentially had; of any possible future settlement.

Do I believe it’s possible there could be real victims? Absolutely!!! However, the #metoo media frenzy left a bad taste in my mouth that felt more like a modern day Salem Witch Hunt than any sort of  legitimate investigation.   Where men in positions of power and/or wealth were targeted.

Perhaps instead of seeking a cash cow, these women can seek some evidenced based trauma work for their PTSD they allegedly suffer with.  Money won’t ever repair shattered self-esteems,  substance abuse riddled lives, and repairing the barriers to intimacy that the trauma has caused.  Real victims after all deserve real compassion and treatment.

No ones body should EVER be violated.

and

Everyone should remain innocent until proven guilty.        


Time of death 8:00 pm

C484A094-695F-4503-B377-260BC1F284BF

I haven’t been the same since she left.  There is a hole in my heart I can’t seem to repair.   She was always my touchstone, my North Star.  The one I turned to for advice on all matters.   She was far more intelligent than I, she was a born diplomat, she was articulate and refined.

She had Grace.

When she came home 3 years ago and told me that she had ALS, I was silently horrified.  For I knew exactly what fate would lie ahead for my mom.

No cure.  No treatment.   Ascending paralysis beginning in each limb, until one day her esophagus would no longer work and her diaphragm would no longer move….. She would slowly starve and suffocate.

Even when you know the storm is coming you can just never fully prepare for its wrath.

Watching her lose more and more,  over and over again and being helpless to stop it, became gut wrenching.  At one point she asked a family member to shoot her, in a moment of despair.  For she had just lost the ability to wipe her bottom on the toilet.

I never felt that she was never a burden to me, I would have sawed off both my right leg and arm to help her.

She left two months ago, and the time of death was called at 8:00 pm, yet it feels like the clock has stood still for me.   That night is frozen, crystallized in my mind.

I watched her those last 2 days as her feet became mottled.  Her breathing became more shallow and stopped frequently.   That last day her fingertips and toes began to turn a bluish color and the nurse confirmed death was only hours away.

I had just finished reading Psalm 91 aloud to her.  She took comfort in that particular Book.  She could still hear us.  This we had proved with a smile she gave when we asked her for a photo.  When I read the last line of Psalm 91, she breathed her last.

I fell into her as if I was a child again.  “Mommy! Oh Mommy! Don’t go! I love you!!” I pleaded,  as I clung onto her and hugged her tightly.

We all sat with her while waiting until the funeral home came to get her.  But the nurses came in to say they needed to “get her ready”.   So I asked what that involved.  They explained they would be washing her body.

So I volunteered my sister, I, and my aunt to do it.   What in the hell was I getting us into.  Apparently now I’m a whiz at cleaning dead bodies? WTF?

By this point, my mom did not look like herself anymore.  Her skin tone had already changed to a light ashen yellow grayish color except for her extremities which continued to get more blue-purple by the minute.   Her mouth was agape and would not close no matter how many times I tried to close it.  My sister kept ordering me to shut it and I told her, “It just pops back open you fool!” Her hair began to look more like straw than hair, no matter how I brushed it.   The way you might a doll’s hair.

People always say that the deceased just look like they are sleeping, but I am here to tell you she did not.  She looked lifeless and she did not look like my mom any more.   This was only 1 hour post-mortem. The nurse handed  us some towels and explained that when we rolled her, we need to place a towel over her mouth in case some fluids leak out.  And also that she may have lost control of bowel and bladder.  Alrighty then! Thank you for flying on How to Clean Up a Dead Body 101.

As I stood there gloved up ready to wash my beloved mom,  I felt scared shit.  I thought , “I’m not as brave as I thought.”   Mom was the brave one who had this disease kick the shit out of her for three years non-stop and never gave up.  Bearing that in mind, I did my best to just suck it up and remember that my mom deserved the best care, til the very end. With that I jumped right in.

I knew then, in that moment as I was washing her naked body.  That all that she was,  had transcended this world.   That indeed, she was gone.   That I was cleaning the vehicle which had carried her soul for so many years.   I was strangely aware that somehow she knew that,  from wherever she was.   She was proud of us for the respect and homage we paying her through what we were doing.   We redressed her in a lavender colored brand new night gown, her favorite color.  We put her favorite soft wool socks on her feet.   We all gave her one last kiss goodbye.

When the funeral home came with the stretcher and black body bag with that long metal zipper.   I decided to leave.  I instinctively knew that I would never be able to get that image out of my head.  So I took my little sister and my aunt by the hand and told them we had done all we could and that it was time to go.   That was the longest corridor I have ever walked,  away from that room.   I told both of them we are going to get in the car and no one is going to turn around to look back.

No one did.

Still,  I have to say I don’t have things all tidied up in some neat little bow.  What is after this? Oh I believe there is something.  I believe in God.  Where it this place you go? what it’s like, I would’nt pretend to know.

I know that I miss her terribly, I feel lost without her here.  I talk to her but want so desperately for her to talk back.  All I can do is hope that one day that will happen. That one day I can see her again.

#ALSPepperChallenge

http://www.als.net


I’m a Napalm Bomb

B7590568-C95A-448D-9CCD-625EFB921D63.jpeg

I’ve always had a temper.  The earliest memory I have was from childhood.  My step-sister was a year older than I and we were sent upstairs to our bedroom for some infraction or other.

First, my sister got smacked.  Pants down, bare-bottom, that was fairly typical for the time.   I don’t really recall how many she got.  Hard to focus when you’re on deck. Going last always ups the anxiety factor.

Then came my turn.   Same way.   Except I was angry.  This shouldn’t be happening, I thought. What could 7 and 8 year olds do exactly to warrant the hand, the belt, the flip flop or whatever the hell else was handy.  But I was going to get it.   So I had no choice.  It dawned on me though I couldn’t stop it from happening, but I could control HOW it happened….

As I was getting whaled on, I looked up and said, “that didn’t even hurt, why don’t you hit me harder.”  Oh hell no, did I just say that? My sister told me to shut up.

Of course that changed the tempo a bit and things moved faster and I got hit harder.  Then I said it again! I could see the veins popping in the sides of their neck, they were so furious.  I braced for it and then they finally quit.

After it was all said and done I felt vindicated.  I sat on my sore butt and remember thinking that although  my ass was red with handprints all over, I had been victorious because they didn’t make me cry.

************

I’ve grown older but apparently none the wiser.  These days it seems like most of my anger still comes out with fury and vitriol.   Especially so if the source of my irritation and anger is constant and unrelenting and out of my control.  Probably the latter which bothers me the most.

The noisy kid on a long flight that whines the whole way that I just want to bitch slap but would never.   The guy humming in line behind me to “Air Supply” so it gets stuck in my head.    The teen vaping weed in his car with his windows rolled down in front of me so his plume ends up inside my car so I smell like “Blue Dream”  for the rest of my day.

Oh and then there’s the road rage.    There was the time in downtown Boston where some dude cut me off.    He rolled down his window and called me a bitch.   So  I pulled along side his car I said “if you’re so tough why don’t you get out of your fucking car, and say that to my face you pussy.”  Yep, this has happened several times over the years.   I did get out of my car once.   Guy freaked when I knocked on his window.  Tough guy, just drove off when the light changed.

Then there’s this certain someone.   This person who has been making my life bloody hell for 6 long years.  I get so mad my blood boils just thinking about them.  I find myself thinking, “I’d like to keep them in a locker inside of a storage unit until they can behave.”   Oh if only it was legal and moral.

When I’m that angry,  I seem to see only red, think only red.  My focus becomes myopic.   At times I fail to care about  repercussions in that particular moment.  Depends on how angry I am.  Which has lead me over the years into some high risk behaviors.

I know in my heart I should probably talk to my new shrink about my anger issues.  I have never mentioned it before, might be important.    There’s only so much you can squeeze into a 50 minute session and your life is a 3 ring shit-show.

Two roads diverged in the wood; Bottle of Grape Vodka  vs.  hours of therapy….. 

 

 

 


Sofa King Successful

EF95A1AE-3A21-47D2-84C0-811E4F2A6B0D

Night after night I sit in front of my wide screen TV and binge watch Destination America shows.  Shows like “A Haunting “ and “Kindred Spirits.”  

It’s always some family that has some books start to fly around their house.  Their kids are waking up getting mauled by unseen forces.  Ethereal voices floating through the hall ways of the home.  Doors slamming shut and  what not.

The family always seem to have a “friend” who they call and ask them to bring over the tape recorder, “you know the one you use for the EVP recordings?”

WTF? Seriously. None of my friends have tape recorders and definitely don’t record the spirit world in their spare time.

Inevitably, this friend has another friend who is a ”psychic medium” and comes over to do a reading of the home.  And after the reading they always tell the family there is a “dark entity”.

This is where shit really goes crazy.  As if any family wound have ever stayed with books flying about and kids getting mauled by unseen forces and ethereal voices? Now, you have actual disembodied demon type messages on the EVP threatening to possess the kids and shit.   Thing is I can’t tell whether the word said “I’ll possess him” or “”Let’s get tacos”.  The bastards really are reaching.

So in comes the sage smudge sticks and the weird shaman dude wearing 1970’s vintage bohemian clothes to do a cleansing.

Kid gets possessed, priest is called, kid gets freed, but the entity still lingers and the family have to move out anyways.

The fucked up part is I watch this crap  til 3-4 in the morning full well knowing I need to get up at 7 am.   I still can’t seem to can’t get my shit together and always end up oversleeping.  Could it be that the donkey-like shadow at the end of the episode they actually caught on the thermal camera was so riveting I couldn’t pull away?   Or is it that I’m self-sabotaging to set myself up for failure the next day to reinforce a long-held belief system that I suck?

See all the therapy is paying off after all.  Because now I have insight as to why I’m still functioning at such a low level.  I am not so fucking successful.   You can take the girl away from the losers, but can you take the belief system that she is a loser out of the girl….