Beware the Birthday

I seem to have a selective memory when it comes to my birthday.

For instance, I’ve typically been fine leading up to my birthday, though it’s been years since I’ve gotten through one without tears for no reason other than what’s going on in my head.  I seem to forget, year after year, that I ALWAYS have some sort of reaction prior to my birthday.

This year is setting a new record.  My two close friends and my mother keep talking about my birthday, coming up this Saturday. They ask me what I want to do. I say I don’t know.  I don’t want to have to make a decision. I want someone else to do it for me. I’m tired of decisions.

I have two conflicting feelings when it comes to my birthday. First, it’s a day that is supposed to be “mine”.  I always feel like it’s anything but mine.  I want to crawl into bed and just cry until I have no more tears.

So, not cool with the general population. Everybody hates

The most frustrating part is that I don’t even have definitive memories to associate with this.  Just absolute, out of the blue, panic, freak-outs, breakdowns, and overall depression.  Sometimes, even as soon as the day after, I’m back to normal. The day is over.

The other side of the coin is that I’d be upset if no one noticed it was my birthday.  I want to be invisible, and yet I don’t. It hurts to be invisible.  So I’m grateful I have two incredible friends and a renewed relationship with my mother where I can share this day with them and know that, hopefully, I will enjoy myself and forget what plagues me, even for a little while.

Less than a week ahead of my birthday, I’ve found myself breaking down, randomly, getting incredibly frustrated, can’t stop crying, little things getting me down, and nothing is able to get me back up. Everything I look at or deal with or hang around, including my dog and/or my horse….my mind switches to all of the negatives of the situation. “I don’t exercise my dog enough. I need to brush her more. I’m a bad owner.”  Or, “Who knows if I can even ride anymore – I shouldn’t even be in the horse business. Who am I kidding? This dream is over.”

Those are old problems – old habits – that I would revert to years ago.  Yet here I am again, jumping to the negative. Assuming the worst of myself.  I’ll never succeed. I will be fired. My dream is over. Time to face the music.

Reality tries to triumph and tell me how much time I have left in my life to accomplish the things I want to do. To create my business and make it my life. To have a family.

Every year I battle this depression around my birthday, but I normally don’t have to suffer it a week in advance.  And the more people talk about it, the more depressed I get.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that (of course ruling out PMS!), if I have emotional or somatic reactions that seem abnormal and out of context…Perhaps it’s not my current situation causing them, but implicit , or explicit, memories from the past.  Naming it helps.  But not quite enough.

I’ve talked to my close friends, but I don’t want to burden them now that I know the true cause of this “funk” that I’m in.  They’d listen, they’d be supportive…They know some of what I dealt with.  But I’ve been “good” for so long…I don’t want them to see my losing it now.

I’d strongly considered canceling my appointment with my therapist tomorrow, thinking that I’m just not “up” to dealing with my feelings and that it would be better to just leave it be and they’ll go away.  Now that I’ve realized the potential cause, maybe talking to her can help.  I can’t handle it, emotionally, if it makes it worse.

I feel like I’m fanning flames of a fire. I’m losing it. From the Lyme disease, I feel trapped in my body. I feel trapped at work. And now I feel trapped in my own mind.

And…. it begins again

I sent an email to my therapist last week asking if she had availability to fit me in at some point. In my email, I mentioned how long it’s been and that I wondered if she even remembered me. 

In her reply, the first thing she said was, “OF COURSE, I remember you, silly girl!!”

So, at that point I decided it was either good or bad that I was memorable enough to recall after a year. Although we had been doing consistent meetings for 3 years prior to that…. Eh, yeah. It was nice to be remembered. 

My appointment was at the end of my workday, and with how busy I am at work this time of year, it’s hard to get there on time. I was on time but definitely frazzled.  She asked if I had a headache, and when I said no, she said it looked like I didn’t feel good (I told her about my Lyme) or was stressed. I realized afterward that I had no mascara on….I at least used to put on mascara and powder. Now it’s an accomplishment if I go to work with both on. Today was just a powder day. It’s funny when people tell you you look tired when it’s simply because you don’t have much or any makeup on…or vice versa when they say you look great because you have makeup on but you feel like shit. 

I went on an abbreviated story of the last year. She reiterated the fact that I have a lot of stress. She’s always said that about my life. But it just makes me wonder….don’t most people have a lot of stress? 

Anyway, I also told her about some of my recent dating disasters, one of which turned into a mild form of stalking (if there can be such a thing as “mild” stalking). He started with contacting me on Facebook and text messsaging and calling me. I’d made it clear I didn’t want a relationship. So I ended up blocking his number and blocking him on Facebook. Then he found my work email by searching our university’s database. He started and continued to send me emails for months. This happened fall of last year and I got an email from him as recently as 3 or so months ago. I also started getting hang up calls from unknown numbers or calls where I’d answer and there would be breathing or talking in the background that would stop as soon as they’d realized I picked up the phone. 

I told my therapist all of this and she told me to make sure I don’t engage with him at all… That I don’t respond to his emails or phone calls. In the beginning I was replying because I thought he didn’t get it. Then I stopped. But my therapist said that this, in itself, is a type of trauma. I felt maybe she was exaggerating a bit, but she asked if I felt that my privacy had been violated and that I was helpless to stop the situation, which I did….And still do. I didn’t mention this to her but I do still dread if any of that may happen again.  It was when we were talking about this that I was reminded that when I received one of his emails was when I dissociated for the first time in quite a while. 

Of course, during this time in the session she asked me if I was dissociating. I said, “A little.”  She agreed and said it felt like I was just a little bit disconnected. But then I realized that the way I felt in the session seemed quite normal to me, making me wonder if I’ve been dissociating more than I realize. This is disconcerting to me. I thought I had a handle on that and I could detect it pretty well. 

We returned to the main reason I came. I had simply told her I had some things I felt I needed to work on. In all honesty, the “things” were quite major. I’ve had so many more thoughts…conflicting thoughts… about whether anything truly happened to me. I told her I just wanted someone to tell me, even though I know no one can.  She did tell me that, when I first came to her, my symptoms made it evident to her that something traumatic likely occurred. It’s validating but my mind seems to want to reject it. 

I’ve actually had 3 therapists now, over 7 years, tell me that same thing….And for some reason I don’t believe any of them. 3 therapists. You’d think that would be enough to convince myself that what I remember, the fragments that I have, are true. 

I also question if I’ve shut off my emotions or if I am feeling them. I feel sadness. But my range of emotions… I’m not sure it’s there. I am unsure if I had told my therapist this previously, but I mentioned that when I first started therapy well before I started with her, I couldn’t feel any emotions. None at all. They were all foreign. But that seemed normal to me. I am worried I’m heading down that same road. 

When I brought up the issue of “it” happening or not, she said it’s a little difficult to help me since she doesn’t know exactly what happened with my father. I told her I appreciated all of the help she provided me for so long without pushing to know more.  I told her I’d tell her, but just not today.  I am ready to tell her. I just have to think of what I need, self-care wise, to make the process as painless as possible. Or, I should say, ways to help deal with the pain in the best ways. 

That’s now my goal. I’m already thinking of a hand squeezing thing I can bring to try to stay grounded. Although I have yet to stay grounded even when thinking about it. Time will tell. 

A Delicate Balance

I have been thinking about writing here several times for the past few weeks. I don’t quite know what has stopped me.

Actually, that’s a lie. I do. I fear that when I detail out my life, my most intimate thoughts, that I’ll go to places I don’t want to go.  It’s part of the reason – or maybe the reason – I have not been to therapy in about a year.

I think about my therapist often. I go by her office nearly every day on the way home from work. Sometimes her car is there, sometimes it is not. I like to see her car and have the reassurance that she’s still practicing, in case I feel the need to go in for a session.  It’s been nearly a year, and I still like to have that small comfort; the thought that I have someone safe to talk to if the need arises.

My life lately has been completely engulfed by medical issues. I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease earlier this year.  It is suspected that I have actually had it for at least 12 years, which explains so many of the odd problems that I’ve had for so long.  It could have even been a cause, or major factor, in the onset of my depression when I was 15 (I currently don’t think about any other possible reasons why. That is my state of mind at the moment).

My heart rate is increasing as I write.  Why?

I am afraid to face the thoughts that always nag me….They are always there, ready to pounce during moments of emotional weakness.  And the thoughts have been coming on so much stronger. The question. Always the question.  And again, why?

Because of my life. Because of the way I’m living it. Because of who is in it. Every day. And the fact that I don’t mind it.  The fact that a part of me – and a larger one at that – is happy about it.

My heart rate is reaching its peak now. I feel myself starting to mentally drift away, like a small boat being hammered by relentless waves and pushed out to sea.  And so begs the question: should I be as okay as I am that my father is now such a large part of my life?  The even more horrible, intolerable question. One I’m not ready to face yet.

So I won’t. Not yet.

I have had time to come to terms with why I stopped therapy, and why I did it so abruptly.  While I had been going a bit less often, I simply told my therapist at the start of what would be our last session that I was thinking about quitting therapy.  So I did.

I’ve come to realize why.  I had been experiencing more and more medical problems during the time I was seeing her. I’d been seeing different doctors because something just seemed wrong.  And while my therapist was supportive that I get everything checked, she (to me) seemed just as supportive of telling me that all of my symptoms could also be psychosomatic.

I realize now, whether she really noticed or not, that I rebelled against that. I couldn’t handle the thought that, after everything, I could not trust even what my body was physically telling me.  I had such a fight going on in my head with one side telling me that my symptoms were legitimate and I shouldn’t stop trying to figure it out, and then the other side questioning every decision I made, whispering “it’s all in your head!”

It turns out that I was right to trust my body. Something was wrong. And it was and is effecting nearly every system in my body.  I wasn’t creating the arthritic type pains in my hands (at age 27). I wasn’t creating all of my extreme neck and back aches.  The shooting pains. The constant barrage of migraines (although those do get worse with stress). I wasn’t creating the sensitivities that made it painful to be touched.  It wasn’t psychosomatic issues that have caused my joint tissues to break down.

For that, I harbor a small amount of anger and frustration with my therapist, although I still think of her as being wonderful.  I get why she suggested those things.  But it caused me to question my own sanity. I would’ve gone on for years, continuing to suffer, while being told that if I moved past my mental demons, everything would go away.

My mental demons are still there, hidden way back in the recesses of my mind, but the pain is slowly getting better as I continue intense antibiotic treatment that will last approximately a year.

The result? Now I’m just left with my demons. I’ve gotten a good handle on them, though the way I’ve handled them is by ignoring them.  Constantly.  It’s worked for now, but somehow I know that things aren’t done. No matter how happy I may be at times, there’s always this question of whether that part of my life – the part I’ve pushed away – is still there.  Or even if it was real.

The more I push it away, the less real it is.  More and more often I find myself thinking, “No, that never happened. How could I ever thought it had? We have a relationship now. He clearly loves me very dearly.  It’s not possible. It’s a sin that I even think it was.” I questioned myself a lot while I was in therapy. Those questions eased a bit once I stopped.  Now I find myself facing those questions with a renewed fervor.

What if? What if? What if?

I know what she would say. She doesn’t know if it happened or not. She can’t tell me.  But OH, how desperately I wish she would.  How else do I come to terms with this?  I remember one of the things I told her in my last session – a big reason why I stopped – was that I felt I would never be able to answer that question for myself, so why keep up the torture?

Now the question is, which torture is worse? I can’t believe it happened, because he’s so much a part of my life now. That is irreversible.  He’s back in my life.  But I don’t want to reverse it. So what does that mean?  It means either that I’m a sick person or that I know it never happened.

And this is why I don’t know that I’d have the courage to see my therapist again.  What would she think? Sure, she’s not supposed to judge and all of that. But everyone – everyone – has opinions. No matter how much we try not to, there’s always some part that thinks about whether something is “right” or “wrong” based on our own personal standards and those of the general norm of human existence. It’s human. It’s inherent.  She will judge, whether she realizes it or not.

I guess I should call. My little boat is so far from shore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nail In The Coffin – But Whose Coffin?

Quite a lot has happened since I’ve last been on here.  I’ve wanted, many times, to come and write…But I’ve inevitably been so tired that I just end up falling asleep before I get the chance to get any thoughts out.  I’ve struggled with medical issues that continue to plague me.

But that’s not what brings me here tonight.

My job….Isn’t it pathetic that out of everything we as humans (or, we Americans…) can experience and do with our lives, our jobs have the ability to either make or break us?  How wonderful the world would be if we could all seek the knowledge we desire without financial barriers, to discover other cultures, to all learn how similar we are no matter our differences.

I’ve learned in my time now that I can see the best and the worst of people when I work with them.  I’m sure that’s the same of most professions.  How can you not get to know people so intimately, spending 40 hours a week with them?  However, there is something…disturbing to me about my boss, who began his position as director of our office in March.  From our first sit down during his initial week in the office, despite the outward appearance of collegiality, we clashed.  I do not know why.  This is truly not a case of my inability to see how I come across; I have had others confirm that it does seem like my boss doesn’t like me, no matter how kind, courteous, efficient, helpful, or any other adjective I am to him.

Here’s the kicker.

In a conversation with one of my colleagues, who happens to be my closest friend and the only friend who knows the deepest secrets of my past, he said some disturbing things.  He told her about his abusive past, which he’d mentioned before in a way to give context to how he sometimes doesn’t pick up on emotions very well.  He then told her that he “saw me coming from a mile away.”  He told her he could tell I’d been abused.

At that point in time, I’d had ONE conversation with the man.  How the FUCK could he know that.

It gets worse.

In another conversation with him, he was trying to “flatter” me into being willing to become a glorified secretary because that position was cut from our office budget.  My position is so many steps above that it’s not even funny….He has an illusion that he can move someone (me) into that position while retaining my current title.  While attempting flattery….or intimidation…. he commented how well I work with students.  He said it’s something that can’t be taught and that some of it’s natural, some of it’s training, and, of course, some of it’s from my background.

I was totally “there” and “present” during that meeting but for a second I just receded back into myself and started asking, what did he just say?  I wanted to verbally ask, “…And what background would that be?”  But I had lost my nerve.  With that one word, he took all of the gusto out of me.  And he knew it.

He had all the power.  With one word. One reference.

So, after a few other awful things happened in our office to me and to other people, we’ve finally had enough.  We went to the Equity office and Human Resources.  They are conducting an investigation, handled personally by their director.  I’ve already had two sit downs with them.  They’ve pulled in my direct supervisor as well as at least 6 other people from my office.  Yet, during my two sit downs, I couldn’t bring myself to mention his comments about my past.  Believe me, I had plenty of other problems to talk about….But I couldn’t do it.

Until today, when I saw how, over the past few days, he’s still been threatening good people with termination with no cause as if nothing is happening and ignoring the entire office except those who flatter him or get in his way.  So, I decided that I wanted to add a little fuel to the fire.  Perhaps put a nail in the coffin…..I don’t know.  I hope HR is preparing one for him.  But just in case, I’m going in to HR again, tomorrow, to tell them about what my boss “knows”….or thinks he knows.

I’m not a particularly good Christian. I rarely pray, and when I do, it’s pathetic.  Most Christians would probably listen to my views on God and religion and laugh and say I’m going to Hell…But no matter.

I need something tonight.  Prayer.  Karma.  Luck.  Because I’m about to tell someone (HR) about my past, who is then going to share it with someone else and then someone else.  The group of people who know is extremely small.  The amount of people who believe me?  Even smaller.  And, oh yeah….I can’t remember what I’ve put on here and what I haven’t, but my mother knows, or knew.  She’s decided she doesn’t think anything happened now. So count her in the group that doesn’t believe.  Super helpful.

But my boss could see me coming from a mile away.  What is this world that I live in?  How will I ever come to terms with this?  Even when I don’t share anything, my past comes up and haunts me.  Even when I don’t believe my past anymore, something comes up and haunts me again.  I will never be free of this, will I?

 

 

The Therapy.

The blog is the therapy.  I knew it, but I didn’t truly realize it until now.

What I mean is, when I can’t talk to someone else – not completely – and when I can’t talk to my therapist, I come here.

Right now I’m not talking to my therapist because I’m fine.  I don’t need therapy.

Funny thought.

So here I am again, 2 days in a row after months unwritten.  The topic today? Me writhing in my own shit once again.  I made my bed; now I have to lay in it.

Only…This bed yells at me, tells me something is wrong in me, that I have hate in my voice when I speak (perhaps I should speak with Hillary Clinton).  Tells me I have no right to speak to my doctor on my own. I speak back in a confident voice that is not my own. And once the call ends, I break down. I break down for hours without end….because the tears seem to come from that endless well that I’ve spoken of for so many years.  Yet I’ve never reached the bottom.  When will I find it?

That bed.  I’ve made that bed.  And now I’m laying in it.  And it wreaks.  It crawls.  The bugs are biting me in unseen places.

I come home and realize: I never should have done this.  I knew it could never work.  He was never a changed person.   Did it happen?  I don’t know.  But I can’t handle him.  I was healthier without him.  Undeniably.  Yes? No?  So many doubts.

The only thing undeniable right now is the love my Golden Retriever has for me right now. That….Now, that, is something I can always count on.  For now, that will be enough to satisfy this troubled soul.

Inexplicable Explanation

 

These past few weeks, I’ve been finding myself becoming increasingly more of a sap over small things.  Or suddenly struck with fear or dread over something I see on the television.  I watched Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. I am a horse lover, so I like the movie, but I cried the entire time.  That’s not normal.  I cried when a man was kind and caring to a woman on a television show.  And I start thinking, “Wow, I’m emotional with no explanation.” But there’s always an explanation.  I just have yet to find it.  Or want to find it.  Normally it’s the latter.
I had not been putting much thought into it until it refused to be ignored the past two days – over the weekend, when I was laid up in bed from a herniated disc in my neck.  I’m going on month 5 of this, and after a long week, I had planned on having no plans over the weekend.  Apparently, my emotional self, and all the other “selves” that come with that, took advantage of this time.
Perhaps I have been avoiding them.  Even neglecting them.  Or perhaps I’ve downright abandoned them lately.  I think I’ve had to.  I’ve had stress lately…I think I’ve lost time once or twice.  My memory has been downright shitty.
And now I’m crying at animated movies narrated by Matt Damon from 2002.
How the fuck did I get myself here?
I keep thinking, “Yeah, you’re good…You don’t need therapy anymore.  Besides, what else can she help you with? Clearly, you’ve made your decision.  Clearly, you think you can handle having contact with your father while still living near your mother who works long distance for your father.  Clearly, you think that’s the only way forward right now, so clearly, that’s the way forward.”
Clearly.
Have you ever gotten yourself so screwed over in a position….Financially, mentally, emotionally….That you just can’t find a way out?
That’s where I am.  It will be years before I dig myself out of the hole I’m in.  I’m working on it.  I’m trying to explore possible escape routes.  But it appears I will have to suck it up and take the long way out.
I sure hope my life is worth it. Good thing I’ve got this new semicolon tattoo on my ankle to keep me sane.

Worth fighting for?

Everyone around me says that, of course I need to fight for this relationship. He’s my father.  It cannot be that simple. It is not that simple. 

This time around, he is acting like he wants a relationship, even though he doesn’t hesitate to hurtle insults at me and then deny that he’s done so. But, this time around, I feel even less like I want a relationship. 

Yes, even though he’s my father. 

I feel like I’m living in a surreal land, where everyone, even my most trusted friends, are more on his team than they are on mine. It’s simply because it’s hard for them to place themselves in my shoes but it still hurts. And it still makes me question what kind of person I am. 

“But he’s your father…”

“Don’t you want your father in your life, in any capacity?”

And when I answer no, especially when he tells me that he finds fault in who I’ve become, i get blank stares, or frustrated sighs, or outright arguments as to why I am being too cruel and harsh. I feel no compulsion at all to have a relationship with him. My rational mind knows this to be completely reasonable. Every other part of me is in complete turmoil. 

The question that keeps playing over and over in my mind: “Is there something wrong with me that I feel absolutely nothing, no compulsion, no feelings (except negative), no desire whatsoever to have a relationship with my father?” And here come those questions of fundamental flaws. All over again. 

Coincidence? Perhaps not. Or perhaps this situation is just raising the right questions.