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.

 

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Rorschach Test

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Time of death 8:00

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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 her.

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 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.

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.  Her hair began to look more dry, like straw, no matter how I brushed it.   The way you might a doll’s hair.

If you have never been around death, up close and personal,  it changes you.  It changed me.   I am not afraid to die anymore.   People always say that the deceased look like they are sleeping, but I am here to tell you different.

She looked lifeless and she did not look like my mom as much any more.  It was clear to all of us that  “she” had indeed left at the time of death.   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 should leak out.  And also that she may have lost control of bowel and bladder. The month that preceded this 2 days in hospice we had cared for her 24/7 round the clock.  Administering Haldol, Ativan, and Morphine sublingually.  Doing her bed baths, lifting her to the toilet.  We never did use a hoyer.  It’s not what she wanted.  She brushed and water picked her own teeth , for she could not use her hands to floss them.  All this until two weeks before she passed.  She did not have a g-tube.  She did not not have mechanical ventilation.  She was fiercely independent til the end.  She lived and died on her terms.   Amen, amen.

As I stood there gloved up ready to wash my beloved mom,  I felt scared.  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. I knew that we, her family would do the best job at preparing her for the way she would leave this world.   Not strangers.  That was the least we could do for her to pay homage to this amazing woman, knowing she was watching us from somewhere not so  far away.   With that thought in mind,  I jumped right in.

As I was washing her naked body I knew that all that she was,  had transcended this world.   That indeed, she was gone.   As 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  we were paying her in what we were doing.

We redressed her in a lavender colored brand new night gown, her favorite color.  We put her lotion on her feet and then slipped on her favorite soft wool socks.   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 and urged my little sister and aunt to do the same.   Instinctively, I knew that I would never be able to get that image out of my head or theirs.  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 all the answers l.  I don’t have things all tidied up in some neat little bow.  What is after this?   I know she is energy, not in a visceral form.   But oh I believe there is something.  I believe in God.  Where it this place you go? what it’s like, I wouldn’t 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.

If they have a WordPress in heaven Mom and you can read this, I miss you terribly and I will love you forever.  xoxox

#ALSTDI

http://www.als.net


I’m a Napalm Bomb

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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

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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’m 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?


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