I had married a military man and had moved away from Colorado to Alaska. I was in the midst of an identity crises – literally. My first marriage was in its death throes and I was … empty. I had no sense of identity and was suicidal, again. I went to see a psychologist. I had had a couple of appointments with her when she gave me a standardized test. The results arrived and she wouldn’t tell me what the results were, but she did tell she couldn’t see me anymore. Essentially, I was fired by my shrink. I took the rejection hard. The psychologist did give me a couple of names and numbers for a doctor she felt more appropriate for the help I needed.
Continue reading “In The Beginning”
Be careful what you ask for.
It’s been a little over a week since my second brain spotting therapy. I’ve had flashbacks and more dissociation than normal. The extra dissociation has affected my ability to focus making it difficult to be stay on task and be efficient at work.
The dust from the flashbacks have cleared. I remember now. The man who was my mother’s lover held me as he touched and licked my girl parts. I was around two years old. My mother was, the toddler is convinced (the older parts aren’t convinced), she was where the light was down the hallway from where the man and I were on the couch together. Was she in the bath or taking a nap or whatever? I don’t know.
I don’t remember screaming in rage or fear. I do remember feeling confused and liking the feeling of being held and touched. Even as a little girl I knew something was wrong I just didn’t know what was wrong.
My mother found us, her lover and I. She was very upset and threw him out; holding us tight and crying.
There is a voice in my head that is shouting ‘she is just a little a girl.’ As if that should mean something. ‘Just’ seems like an unfair word. It minimizes us. Little girls aren’t ‘just’. We survive and exist even when terrible unfair things happen.
We’ve had our second brain spotting session. It was a very different experience.
During a previous therapy session with our therapist, we were asked if we could see the beauty in the toddler that we were. We couldn’t. I tried to work with the therapist’s request in meditation and experienced unexpected difficulties. I chose to work with the toddler and dissociation with my second brain spotting session.
Just as the first time I was asked to close my eyes and ground. Once I was grounded I was asked to find a spot my eyes were drawn to. This spot was behind me and to the right. I saw the room again that where the man touched me and felt confusion. I remembered more of what happened and how he held me down. The brain spotting therapist asked me for an intensity level and to hold the eye position. This time I had difficulty holding the eye position. My eyes wanted to close, but since that lowered the emotional intensity I was asked to keep my eyes open. I felt confusion and then anger because our mother wasn’t there. We began to get distracted with the emotions of other parts. The anger of the One Who Rages was intense. We felt a sadness like a stone weight in our chest.
My emotions were lingering in intensity when one of the dogs snuggled up to me. The brain spotting was interrupted. The brain spotting therapist and I talked about our session and finished early. I had had enough brain spotting for the day.
In the days after this second brain spotting session I have been digesting the experience and having flashbacks to the trauma the toddler experienced. I haven’t had the negative emotional response I had in meditation, but I feel the sadness and confusion like a weight in my chest. I have a muted desire to open my mouth and cry – wail really. I just can’t bring myself to do it. Sitting here, keying this, I try open mouth exhales to relieve the pressure. It works. Now I’m tired. It is so unfair that I have to deal with this. The adults know, it isn’t a question of fairness. It is simply what is. I think I’m ready to try meditation with the toddler again.
Brainspotting was a very positive experience for us yesterday. The Brainspotting therapist talked briefly with us at the beginning of our session. We started Brainspotting by closing our eyes and grounding. Then the therapist asked us to open our eyes and allow our eyes to look around the room until they found a place our eyes were drawn to look at. This was the part that worried me. What if my eyes looked around the room and didn’t find a place they were drawn to look at?
I had no cause for worry because it didn’t take long for my eyes to settle on a place above and to the right of me. The therapist asked me what I felt and at what intensity on a scale of one to ten. I felt sadness at an intensity level of seven. The therapist then asked me what color it was. It was a reddish-brown color in my aura just setting there on the body, but not in the body. The therapist then asked me how I could release it. I could release it by breathing it out, which I did. The therapist asked me what intensity level and color it was. The sadness was an intensity of a 4 and a muddy pink color. The emotion then changed to a sense of futility at an intensity of 9. I breathed it out again and the emotion was gone. My aura was brighter, more free, and expanding out further than we’d be aware of it before.
The therapist asked us to scan ourselves. We noted a tight feeling on our jaw and we could see a hand gripping the back of our neck. We wanted it gone. Therapist asked us to tell the hand to let go of us. The hand would not let go. We tried to breath the hand gone and it stayed. We flooded the hand with white light from the source of all that is and asked our spiritual guides to help us. The hand let us go. The tightness in the jaw was released.
There was 20 minutes remaining in our hour long therapy session. We spent the remainder of it talking about my Brainspotting experience and dissociation. I felt very rejuvenated. It has been a very long time since I experienced and used energetic healing as I did in the Brainspotting session. We have been a master level energy healer for about 30 years. We’ve done energy work similar to Brainspotting with our clients before. I realize in this moment that I don’t know if Brainspotting is intended to be an energy healing experience or if that is just where we went it because we are energy healers. I feel reconnected to my spiritual self – I’ve been adrift for a very long time.
Today I had my normal (non-brainspotting) therapy appointment. We talked about brain spotting and my experience. Then our conversation developed on its own. At one point we mentioned the husband by name. The therapist asked who is this person you named. We said ‘our husband.’ The therapist said ‘you’ve always called him the husband and not by a name before.’ We smiled with delight and said ‘That is because I am the wife.’ We had our first awareness as the wife in talking with the therapist. Progress. It is a good feeling.
Being back to work is great, but the schedule doesn’t leave a lot of time for journaling. I’ve had a couple journal threads composing in my head. Of course by the time I sit down at the computer I don’t remember them.
The portraits are coming along nicely. I’m ready to start the astrology portrait for my niece. I just need to get a larger sketch pad and finish typing up the astrology chart report. I’m eager to get going on it and need a bigger work space. The portrait of my brother and sister in-law is ready to move onto a larger pad too. It feels good to have gotten to the point that I can recognize the people I’m drawing in the sketch.
Next week I have my first Brain Spotting appointment. I’m nervous. What if it doesn’t work? What if it does work? What should I target with Brain Spotting? Do I get to choose? If I were to choose in the moment, I need to be able to multitask better at work. Multitasking includes being able to focus on task while people are talking around me. When people are talking around me while I try to work I have to fight to stay focused on what I’m doing. It’s as if I have a choice. I can listen to their conversation or do the task that needs doing. Attempting to do both means I do neither well. My emotion becomes negative – it’s frustrating to have inconsiderate people around me. I resent that they don’t have anything else to do than talk around me while I work.
What changed? I used to be able to tune out people around me. I wonder if its hyperawareness. I don’t feel safe at work because of the trouble I’ve gotten into just being me, relaxed, and enjoying the flow. When these people chatter around me about the inconsequential or what their drama is, it is a trap. It is not as if I can leave the room in order to get my task done. Maybe what I should do is rather than let my frustration and resentment bloom into something negative I should focus on a color. Instead of fighting not to listen to their yamma yamma and thinking ‘those assholes’ while I try to work, I should think peaceful blue and work.
I’ve decided I want to work. I want a paycheck and the things a paycheck can buy. I want to feel important in my work, I want to feel valued. I have another work problem. One of my co-workers is asserting herself forward as a gate keeper to some of the answer people I work with. I resent her, I think I’m downright pissed with her. What right does she have to insert herself between the answer people and me? The flip side of all this is the self-doubt. Why is this happening? Am I asking too many questions or being too needy? Which just sinks me. I feel worthless. Is it a coincidence that my co-worker is one of the people polluting my work space with her yamma yamma chatter?
I need to get past this issue of multi-tasking. To achieve my goal of working in the micro lab I have to work during the day. The main lab is much busier during the day – more people coming and going, more people with inane yamma yamma chatter, the work itself is more complicated because different people/departments behave differently during the day than at night. Its ironic because one of my reasons to work in the micro lab is because there are less people and distraction there. To get there I have to learn to work amidst distraction central. Yikes.
I’m reading “Dissociative Identity Disorder Sourcebook”, by Deborah Bray Haddock. I like it because it is an easy read, written in such a way that the average reader is engaged and comprehending.
I’ve gotten to a section of the book where she is discussing how DID is not just something awful that we’ve survived, but a strength she calls adaptive functioning. In that section she describes how a patient’s different parts are present for a family dinner and how the different parts served a purpose for nightly events. I had to stop reading for a moment and breathe. This is so real for me, not in a bad way. We just sat there on the couch for a long minute, snuggled in our blanket, and held the toddler who cried and cried and then another part just sat stunned feeling an empty place in her heart, the part who rages felt vindicated.
In therapy we talked about parts and how they protected us from what we survived. He asked me to journal about it. I agreed to it, but I was uncertain what I had to say about this topic because it seems self-explanatory. Bad stuff happened, we went away and another part came forward to cope with what was going on. Or, in the case of our youngest parts – bad stuff happened and the toddler who was went so far away she never came back; a new personality was forged where the toddler’s personality was. All the other personalities come and go, just the toddler stays gone. New meaning to the statement, innocence lost.
There is more to say about parts and how they protect us. The job they do isn’t a one and done event. The ‘One Who Rages’ steps up when she perceives that we are being mistreated in social or work situations. She handles it like the adolescent she is, she gets a rebellious attitude and smarts off or if unchecked will rage and say terrible things and stomp her feet. Then she fades away and the rest of us are left embarrassed and responsible for the blowback from whatever The ‘One Who Rages’ did.
It is easy to get lost in the story of the disaster train that happens when the ‘One Who Rages’ comes forward, but what is pertinent here is that she comes forward when she perceives a threat. It doesn’t matter if it’s a genuine threat or a crisis of ego. When the ‘One Who Rages’ begins to chatter loudly in the ever present conversations in my head, we pay attention and consider her point. We then take steps to deescalate the threat by having a conversation with ourselves or trusted friend. We ask the question, is this threat real? And, then we ask the next question, what can we do about it before the ‘One Who Rages’ starts the disaster train?
One of the biggest influences on our ability to work with the ‘One Who Rages’ is depression. If we are depressed it is truly difficult to work up the energy to care about anything. Or, if we are so self-absorbed in our depression we might miss the warning signs of the ‘One Who Rages’ chatter. This is why we have learned to stay aware and listen. Not just for the ‘One Who Rages’ but for all of our parts. If one of them chimes in ‘there’s something wrong’ or ‘this doesn’t feel right’ it is best for all of us to stop what we’re doing and pay attention.
The uncertainty over my job has resolved itself. An ADA is in place stating that the Topiramate caused cognitive disfunction. I go back to work and living a graveyard schedule next Tuesday. The depression has broken up into a mist of yesterday and I’ve gone back to doing portraits. A success in it itself, but as an added bonus I did the first of practice portraits on my sister-in-law. For some reason I hadn’t been able to put pencil to paper for her before. It wasn’t bad for a first attempt.
I have also been doing a lot of reading, specifically re-reading one of my favorite authors. She’s very prolific at almost 30 books in this series. I began at the logical place – the first book in the series. I know I’ve read every book in this series, but I was shocked to find that I don’t remember significant parts of the books. After this happening in a couple of books I noticed a pattern. The parts of the books that I remembered were the parts that were about sex (soft porn). Anything not related to sex was like reading the book for the first time. At first, I wasn’t certain what to make of this. Now that I’ve had a chance to consider it, I think the Sex Addict read the books the first couple of times. Now someone else reading these books with their own sense of enjoyment and surprisingly, criticisms. The sex in the book is still delightful, but the stories are refreshing and feeding my imagination.
When the husband had a heart attack he quit smoking cold turkey. The wife, in support of the husband quit too. Now those of us who like to smoke have to do it when the husband is not around. We had been pushing our wish to smoke for a while. This morning the husband went to spend time with his children. I chose to stay at home. After he was well and gone, we went out and smoked our first two cigarettes in 6 months. They were amazing. We miss smoking. More accurately we miss sitting on the swing thinking unimportant thoughts smoking til we were satiated. We resent having to smoke in secret, but it is better than not smoking at all.
One of the things we noticed is the direction of our thoughts is different, the wife’s fantasies are not our fantasies. While we smoked we didn’t fantasize at all. Now that we are back inside, we are thinking about chores to get done and about our next portrait attempt. The wife is thinking about bed (trying to get back into the habit of living a graveyard schedule) and drifting back to sleep with her favorite fantasies.
Depression has been worsening. It takes a lot of energy to get up from the couch. Boredom is palpable, pressing me down into the space that I sit. All the things that there is to do I’ve done before and there is no urge to do them again. Inertia. I’m reminded of a piece of wisdom a dear one of mine once said. She’d trumpet it like a battle call, ‘A body in motion stays in motion.’
What gets me in motion is that the dogs need to go out. Once that task is done, I stand looking at the couch, a profound longing to take my seat again fills me. The battle wars within me. I could just sit and close my eyes and drift. Nothing to do and nothing needs to be done. I’m tired of sitting and reading or playing games on my phone. I could just sit and close my eyes, meditate. Thinking about meditation reminds me therapy and things we could be doing to help ourselves. It would be easier to just sit on the couch and surrender to inertia. Instead, we bring ourselves to the laptop and blog.
This is the third or fourth week I’ve been on paid leave from work. I admitted to my employer that I was experiencing side effects from Tropiramate; cognitive disfunction -being easily distracted and unable to concentrate. I also let my employer know that I have stopped taking Tropiramate, but that didn’t prevent a series of events from unfolding. My employer sent me home that evening and then Human Resources got involved. They wanted a form from the American Disabilities Act (ADA) to be filled out by the medication management team so my employer can decide if I can keep my job. It took the medication management team a week to fill out the ADA paperwork. Now I wait for my employer’s Human Resource agent to decide that the ADA presents them with information that makes them feel good about keeping me on staff.
I miss working and I miss my job. I’m on the fence about missing the people I work with. I like feeling useful, as if what I do has meaning or purpose. I want to go back to work. I’m also afraid that if I go back to work that I won’t be able to stay focused and do the job well. I dissociate at work all the time. There are several of us who work, most of us do the job very well. But stress is a trigger and there is plenty of stress at work. And then there are non-work related stresses that cause triggering. This last time dissociation was triggered by one of my co-workers having a heart attack. I didn’t see it, but I heard about it. I immediately started having flash backs to when the husband had his heart attack. The chaos that ensued, his drama and trauma being in the ICU unit for several weeks, how hard it was to watch him suffer, how it felt to cope with his bout of insanity brought on by his medicine withdrawl and PTSD.
Being here at home these past couple of weeks has given me the opportunity to indulge in drawing portraits and learning more about how to draw. I’ve also started crafting a hand fan and unpacked a box from our last move. I’m being paid to stay home from work and it doesn’t feel good. The question of ‘what am I going to do if my employer decides to terminate me’ looms over me. If I were to actually retire I’d take classes at the community school to fill my time. But if I were to retire now I don’t have enough to live on. I have five more years before I qualify for Social Security unless I want to push for disability. I don’t want to retire, I want to work. The work I do requires the ability to concentrate and make decisions. On bad days, when stress is high dissociation interferes with my ability to concentrate and make decisions. Perhaps I should find another job. I’ve dusted off my resume and started looking for work. Now if only I could get all of us on the same page for finding a new job instead of letting inertia nail us to the couch.
I’ve lost momentum on the portraits – a complete stop. I’m depressed. The husband has been mean and shouty to us for the last two days. I sit here and stare at nothing at all while my brain just grinds over and over disjointed thoughts. Half-hearted motivations to do something anything. Frequently something, anything is moving from the office chair to the bed where I can read. This way when the husband comes with his mean and shouty and I get distracted I can get back to where I was, or simply lay down and pull the covers over me.
The problem is, for both the husband and I, is that I’ve begun having cognitive difficulties that are very noticeable. I work in a lab. For a moment I couldn’t determine the working end of a pipetter (common piece of lab equipment). I’m making poor decisions, having bizarre accidents/oversights, and my performance level has slowed down. At times I’m not able to express myself clearly or understand simple instructions. I’m in danger of losing my job. This triggers the husband’s insecurities and PTSD and steers our communications into ugly interactions. Communication gets complicated when you can’t keep up with topic. Very frustrating.
The cognitive difficulties are coming from a prescription for Topiramate, a known side effect. The psych medication provider wanted me to try to offset the weight gain caused by one of my psych prescriptions, Ariprazol. I put in a call to the psych medication provider asking if I could quit taking the Topiramate. Their process is slow and cumbersome. I didn’t hear anything back quick enough, so I quit taking the Topiramate all together. The psych medication provider wants me to take Metformin in place of the Topiramate. I won’t do it. Metformin had a bad interaction with one of the other medicines I take causing critical loss of potassium and a similar crisis to what I’m experiencing now. That crisis (February 2020) ended up with me committing myself; which I’m no where near doing at the moment.
What am I going to do? Take one day at a time. When necessary, take one breath at a time. I feel my awareness of things becoming sharper each day that I’m off the Topiramate. The husband has found his peace point so he is no longer mean and shouty. I’m hoping the focus to draw comes back or some other interest comes to be so I can stop staring at nothing.
The Christmas holiday is over. It’s been a year since the flashbacks led to awareness of the trauma I survived as a three-year-old at Christmas. This holiday season was much easier, more peaceful. No more revelations. Christmas music wasn’t a trigger this year. A huge breath of relief and a prayer of thanks has been lifted.
I’ve read in dissociative forums about those with DID who have survived traumas at young ages and have alters they call littles. I have developed a habit of thinking of my earliest parts as littles; those parts of me who survived trauma in a pre-verbal stage and then again at 3 year’s old that Christmas. My therapist and I are trying to sort out names for all my parts. My best guess is the pre-verbal little doesn’t have a name, she just is. Our three-year-old little is Gussie. Neither little has much interest interacting with people around us, usually I, whoever I am, don’t notice when they are aware.
There are times when I find myself holding the tv remote in my hand with no clue how to use it, experiencing the inability to express myself in the face of someone else’s rage, and hearing myself tell the husband that his rage is scary to the young ones we protect.
Then there the times our pre-verbal just wants to be held. It usually happens when we are walking alone. We see ourselves being held close and carried. We then feel a slight moment of vertigo, as if we are falling and then caught up in strong arms that hold us close and carry us. It is very peaceful and comforting. This lasts but a moment and then it is over.
What’s my name is a tricky question. Frequently the answer depends on where I’m at and who I’m with. In other blog posts on Lark In The Dark I’ve referred to a group of us named ‘the ones who work’.
Where we work requires the use of a handheld radio. When we started our current job we were shy and intimidated when it came to using the radio. Rarely we would pick it up and feel comfortable or confident. Occasionally, in the early days of my employment I’d pick up at the radio and say what needed to be said without worrying about radio etiquette and confidence. At one point we told someone, truthfully, in our past we were a radio operator. Last night I was stunned when I recalled that conversation because that means that one of the ‘ones that work’ is lj. When we lived in Alaska we lj was our name.