Thursday, April 14, 2022

faith and works and other thoughts

listening to a podcast (in sight, episode 5) I had a discovery about myself.

Helen has this to say about perfectionism in adults who were parentified and raised by a narcissist. as a child, when we are criticized, it can form a toxic form of perfectionism. "As long as I don't do anything to invoke their ire, I am safe." this perfectionism became my protection, and I worked tirelessly from early ages to maintain that status. as I became a teenager, it became more difficult. I went to great lengths to do what I wanted - smoke, drink, drugs, boys, risky behavior - I once jumped on the back of a stranger's bullet bike at 12:30 am after dancing at the palace all night and let him drive me home - while also curating a careful image that none in my FOO would be able to see through. I had a few cracks, but mostly they were covered over with careful wording and fast thinking on my part.

The pressure of those early misbehaviors to stay perfect ended when I got married, but the image curation still remained, only it became a protection of my FOC. I acted as a door to my family to block any criticism of them, or even hint of criticism. because I knew that criticism would come, I didn't allow mixing to happen. I would then do acts - works - that in my mind added up to "good Becky." as long as I kept doing the things that maintained my image, I felt I could "store up blessings" that later would balance the scale in my favor when I finally fucked up (which I knew I would, and therapy brought those events to fruition) to keep my FOO from rejecting me.

Back to the podcast - when criticism comes to me as as an adult with the context of being a parentified enmeshed person in my FOO, my curation of toxic perfectionism forces me to see their criticism of my behavior as a rejection of my whole self. "if you comment and criticize that I talked to c, it means to me that you don't like ME - you reject me and all the "works" I've done to pad the scale for the time when just such a situation happens.

It's a toxic form of doings that will show that "I am good" and I'm "earning blessings" that will offset the scale later.

It's not bad that I've done the good things I have. My bigger intentions have been good - to create relationships with those I love in my FOO, and I was blessed by those interactions. But I cannot expect total acceptance when I cross others' boundaries. there is a dance that one must do, and total perfectionism cannot be maintained, and should never even have been the goal. But because I had a perfectionistic mother, I also worked to be perfect and I was bound to fail. I set myself up to fail; so did my mom (by both setting herself and me up to fail) and I failed to understand that others in my FOO may have had other reactions and did other works that I am not aware of and are not my business to guess at or blanket apply my logic to theirs.

I cannot ever preemptively do enough for others to outweigh/offset/negate the pain I cause them. There is no storehouse of events for me to draw on in a moment of hurt that I can hold up and say - look, all THIS trumps THAT. There is no math that allows me to claim exemption and avoid looking at the pain others have felt because of me. Which also means that if others hurt me, I don't have to minimize that pain because of what I deem their "scorecard" is stacked against me - everything kind that has been done by them which my inner critic notes as a tickmark so that I feel disempowered to say when something hurts me but I don't have the right to feel hurt, nor to speak the words that say ouch.

What I learn from this - rejection of a behavior isn't rejection of my self. There is no "good person" narrative for me to fall back on if and when others share their experiences with me regarding painful things I do or have done to them. 

One of the most damaging phrases is "you could have just XXX." This phrase is an opportunity for miscommunication on both sides of the phrase, both the one saying it and the one receiving it. Circling back to state how a person could have acted puts the already hurting person who did XX into a defensive mode. When S said - you could have just moved on and let it go - I got defensive because I didn't like her reframing how my reaction to the FB post "could" have been. She doesn't know what pain it caused me. I still think she was crossing boundaries by saying anything to me bc the situation didn't involve her at all, but she was the one who policed it. but I do understand that she would protect her family. But she chose her tactic - call out the behavior and provide a solution that would work for HER  - which put  me on the defensive.

If a person asks for feedback, the phrase can be helpful, but without consent and using this phrase in the confrontation stage of communication will fail, it seems. 

My FOO doesn't have a jesus for us all to appeal to. Mom might have been that, but she was the one who trained me to behave how I did, so she's part of the problem while also being viewed as the savior. 

When shit hits the fan, as it has over the past 18 months, I found that there is no magical court set up for me in the pattern of the final judgement. I thought the following could be relied on.
  • Desires of my heart - which I felt were obvious enough - "I'm a good person who...." 
  • Works - actions I did in the real world for others - also "I'm a good person who..."
  • I "stored" them up, doing everything I could to add as many pluses as possible in the good column of the magical volume entitiled "IS Becky a good person" 
  • I had a sense of "faith" in the protection that the pluses would void a future minus
  • in in the moment of "transgression", the score of the two columns can be tallied, betting on my perception that the pluses weigh more than minuses, and that there are far more pluses in my favor - because CLEARLY XXX mean that I'm good, don't you remember that? 
  • I count on "grace" to step in, to help me explain the minus
  • remind others of the past to further balance the scale toward myself ("haven't I..." "don't I" "What about when...")
  • I can claim the pluses outweigh the minuses
  • I have a space to exist where I feel blameless, washed in some redemptive power outside myself
  • I feel justified to say that the other who was hurt is just being "too sensitive." I can talk about this to others who will help me scapegoat the one who was offended, helping to assure me I don't deserve to be treated thus, to be forced to see my role someone else's pain
My treasure trove failed. The past can't and won't override my "offence." My pain doesn't weigh more than others, and my kindness doesn't relieve me from responsibility. But I also can't use my own calculus of points I give others in their "good" columns when they are kind to me against myself to feel unworthy to call out pain others cause me.

I have to accept that my actions will hurt others. I have to accept that I will be hurt by others. I cannot expect my works to circumvent those situations, either by me not feeling worthy to feel hurt over something, nor cancelling the idea that someone else can't be hurt by me. The family dialogue around claiming one person or another is "such a victim" is a family habit of shaming those who point out the disfunction and then we scapegoat that person. The indirect communication, the constant use of subtext to interpret and then attempt to correct offenders and keep family members in line.

My perfectionism tells me that even as I add those pluses to my tally, they won't be enough. I know I'm in debt before I even start, but I want to fall back on them so badly. I so badly want those works to mean I'm lovable. I'm unwilling to admit my pain bc I feel unworthy. but I need to realize that my pluses only mean something to ME. no one else knows my intentions behind the things I do. it won't mean the same when I hold it up later to say, "SEE? Look here and remember. I'm good!" I'm begging them to allow me to have a sense that I'm good, rather than believing it myself, and realizing as much as I can make people happy, I can also hurt. It goes both ways.

I need to stop equating criticism of my behavior to total rejection of me as a person. When I do that, I add insult to injury and make myself out to the be ultimate victim in the situation, rather than realizing that I am human, I mess up, I will hurt others and need to be aware of that. In doing that, I become a barrier to any  healing that might happen. Taking responsibility is hard. Speaking up when hurt is hard. but I believe I can learn to do both.

notes/quotes from podcast

adult child - this happened - parent take responsibility/account/ownership. defenses go up. x happened, parent: reaction matters. don't minimize, "xx had it worse"). child of narc - neurotic perfectionism. if i'm not perfect, it means i'm the worse person in the whole wide world, can apply to our parenting. child - I don't like it. we see it as a rejection of whole self instead of the situation, can reject the child. allow room for imperfection - it's acceptable. when they say - I don't like that, it doesn't mean I don't like you. it's not you that they are rejecting. but affect of having a narc parent is we learn the learned behaviors to create safety. getting to a place where self acceptance mistakes as anything other than a mistake. when they see their mistakes as an absolute confirmation of everything they've been told that they are vs being told you are allowed mistakes, you are only human, it's going to happen, but podcasters say - we will say I'm sorry. 

reflect on our impact - what impact did I have
compassion for our mistakes vs eating ourselves up for our misdeeds, taking responsibility.
podcaster - my friend is laughing with me about my mistakes. if i was unhealed, I might take it and be shamed or embarrassed 

boundary setting could be seen as anger and rejection when those items were used as punishment from earlier relationships. emotional control could be implied when boundaries are set. walls vs boundary
abuses create walls. is there a door? (helen) boundaries are rigidly flexible and walls are inflexible. see my edges then I can see where their edges are and I hold on to me. blurred edges are confusing - fault assigning 

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Practicing with Pickles

 I didn't start telling my story until the #metoo movement started.

One Thursday in 2016, I created a fake twitter profile so I could say what happened in 140 characters or less. I then proceeded to have a day long panic attack, told one friend virtually, another in person, and most importantly, admitted the details to my husband at long last.

Even then I couldn't say the name.

Trump and his years in office were rough. After my mom died and I realized I needed to realign the solar system I was in to center myself and my own family, I found myself needing therapy, so I went. The work started when I started talking to my therapist about my tendency to get into "pickles" as a teenager.

A pickle is when you send your friends home with your truck and stay at a guy's brother's house with him, then have to figure out how to get home from the next town over on a Sunday morning without your parents figuring it out. Said guy has no responsibility to help you, but your friends answer the phone in the morning and come get you.

A pickle is when you figure out you have a UTI and need to go to the doctor, but also can't admit you are sexually active to your mother, so you go to the doctor and try to take care of it without insurance and prying parental eyes. It fails, and they won't see you, but luckily that time, your mother didn't ask too many questions, or the most accurate one. Your are both relieved and a bit sad, but you are ready with a lie, just in case. 

Or the pickle that comes when you "confess" and "repent" of what happened that led to the UTI. Because you can't decide if one led to the other, and the Lagoon guy who was involved blurred all the lines.

A pickle is when you have yeast infections your junior year of high but you can't tell anyone anything about your body so you just steal whatever you can find from the bathroom cabinet and suffer in silence, unable to talk to anyone who might tell you that it's the acne medication that you take regularly that's doing it.

A pickle is when you rush home in the morning from your almost-husband's place so that when your mom calls in the reasonable hours of 8:30-11am,  you are right where you should be, or at least it looks that way.

And the biggest pickle. Which wasn't really a pickle, but became one because I couldn't deal with it and I didn't think I needed help with it. So I managed the pickle by controlling specific situations without analysis or consideration of their fucked-upedness then left in the dark immediately. It's not something I will spell out. Because even though it's my story, I still feel unqualified to tell it here or anywhere for anyone to see. If you know this pickle, it's because I've told you. And if you know and I or certain other sources haven't told you, that's not on me, and I cannot vouch for what you think it was.

In summary: pickles are the positions you (I!) get yourself into over and over that are normal, age-appropriate behaviors. Since you were conditioned that anything other than Staying Out of Any and All Trouble TM as well as Dating the Perfect Guy TM (who you can never ever meet, because you are you) is necessary for your survival and continued membership in your family, you encounter pickles regularly that you have to get yourself out of, all without revealing too much, admitting that you need help, or letting anyone in your family know.

In November 2020, I said the name. And it really did result in all I had long feared. Kind of. But I realized that the loss I had thought it would be was inaccurate, and that I could handle those consequences, however painful and long term. My solar system was finally correctly aligned, and those who I orbit with already knew or believed me without question.

Nothing happens in a vacuum. It took me almost 30 years to start this path. I thought I could keep it in, and believe me, I tried. Shoving it down in my late 30s. I still remember the day it almost came out; the sun blazing through my kitchen windows, my throwing the words over my shoulder without making eye contact that "stuff happened to me." Thinking to myself on my run later that nigh about how close it came to coming out and thinking I could keep it down in the depths forever.

I equally believed last summer I could work on not telling. What I didn't realize is that all that truth telling in therapy, all that hard work to try to accept my own reality and not downplay it would result in the inability to not say "yes" if the name was said. When your defenses are gone and you finally give a shit about yourself, you don't save someone else. You save yourself.

So now I practice when I think I'm called to tell. And with each telling to a trusted person who can hold space for me, it gets easier. And for each telling for those who can't hold space, and will excuse other's behavior or just not understand, I encounter the reality that not everyone will understand, and I try to have compassion. 

Tell your story. If you don't think you can, find a way. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Third Quarter Covid 19

It's the 9th month of Covid 19. Seems like it's time to make a few lists!

World Events

  1. JOE BIDEN defeated Trump. A few times, actually. There have been a few recounts in a few states that just keep yielding more votes for Biden. Can't wait for Trump to leave in 50 days. 
  2. I wore every bracelet I own for good energy for Biden on election day. We spent election night at soccer practice, watching the returns for Trump looking like he would do it again. We left soccer and drove home in silence, the weight of the idea of 4 more years under the inanity nearly overwhelming me. We got home and the TV returns were more promising. I watched the states all turn towards Biden as the week went on - Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. The red mirage faded! Then Saturday morning that the Pennsylvania lead got statistically unbeatable - they called it for Biden as we watched MSNBC. It was a wonderful, joyous moment! 

  3. The US elected a woman for Vice President.
  4. We also continue to have no strategy for the Covid pandemic, no assistance from the government to feed or help house those who have lost their income because of Covid, nor a plan to keep us all safe until the vaccines come later this month.
  5. There are 2 vaccines that will arrive this month.

Halloween and Thanksgiving recap

  1. Other than decorating for Halloween, there wasn't any celebration of it this year.
  2. We spent the late afternoon/early evening at soccer practice (we were preparing to go to Las Vegas for a tournament that eventually got cancelled). We didn't have any trick or treaters, which was sad. We spent the evening watching TV.
  3. The day after Halloween we put up our trees. They got decorated a week later. The decor was a bit schizophrenic until after Thanksgiving when all the decorations changed from Halloween/Harvest/Christmas to all Christmas.
  4. I've decorated 4 trees. I keep buying mini ones at Target, along with ornaments that make me feel joyous. There's a tiny one I put upstairs with mom's fairy decorations and some cute stuffed animal ones I got at Target.

  5. Thanksgiving was quiet. Vonnay visited for a few minutes on Wednesday. I made rolls and 3 pies (lemon meringue, pecan, and pumpkin) on Thanksgiving Eve

  6. I messaged with a few friends in the morning. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself and then our wonderful next door neighbors brought over a little pumpkin cake and a center piece. Their generosity pulled me out of my gloom and I had a great day!
  7. Shane and I ran a 5k around the neighborhood/Lodestone Park
  8. We ate around 4:30. Thomas claimed the rolls were like candy. We all tried the yams. I tried the fruit salad. Boys refused to eat the beans. I enjoyed Vonnay's cranberry relish.
  9. We ate pie around 8, still so stuffed we could hardly stand it
  10. Reminisced a bit about last year, when we ate together at the buffet in Las Vegas. That was a treasured memory, funny as that sounds. I was glad to not do the drive, but I wanted to travel again this year, especially with how weird everything is with my family

Therapy updates (these are mostly vague intentionally)

  1. Had some eye opening appointments, one about bullies in my life. 
  2. I'm trying to find the grey spaces in my life. Some of the characters in the black are ones that I want to move to the grey space, where I can take what they do less personally and just wish them well
  3. I did the thing I never thought I would. It was as ugly as I worried it would be. Still figuring out what to do in the aftermath, but it's a relief in almost all the ways, but weighs on me/fucks with my head a lot still.
  4. Had the appointment about the salt, and the cliff that can't hurt me with its shadow. Salt has savor and in small doses makes life sweeter
  5. I'm trying to remember to walk in line with my people in the rich dark vibrant tropical landscape with the volcano in the distance

Books I've been reading/listening to

  1. Magic Lessons - Alice Hoffman - Loved it so much
  2. 19th Wife - was ok. It was fun to read with Cindy and Rebecca
  3. Harry Potter #1
  4. Disloyal
  5. Melania and Me
  6. Caste
  7. Cassandra Speaks

Things we've done in pandemic quarter 3

  1. 2 Trips to Desolation trail to snow hike with all of us and the dog. I love these little hikes, even though there hasn't been much snow.
  2. Dinner with Eugenia and Fred
  3. Soccer practices at Real Academy
  4. State cup tournament in North Salt Lake - Ben had some great goals
  5. Library opened for in-person visits
  6. Fabric store visits were mostly for Halloween fabric. I finished the mini quilts for Janna, Cindy, Rebecca, and Camie. I got most of the Halloween panel quilt put together. A few masks. Want to make some tree skirts for the mini trees. 
  7. Thomas grew a beard for No Shave November, and finished his Math 1050 class!

  8. Ben started making chicken during his almost-all-of-November online school experience.
  9. I got my laptop and 2nd screen for WFH. So much more efficient! 
  10. Spent a day in the office - so strange to be there. I left my little acorn tops from 2019 for the end of the pandemic/return to work.
  11. Got to order Skirt Sports stuff again! 
  12. Bucket got her cyst cut off. She looks so much better!

Places we've been eating

  1. Zao (one will open soon in Jordan Landing)
  2. Noodles and Company
  3. Rumbi (on Thursday nights with Ben driving)
  4. JCWs in Herriman - I'm a sucker for their turkey avocado
  5. Costa Vida - the delicious chili verde returned in October/November
  6. Buffalo Wild Wings a few times
  7. Jersey Mikes

Workout stuff

  1. Need to do more Yoga
  2. Speed/intervals on Sundays on the big treadmills are my favorite, followed by a cooldown 10 minute run and some strength by the mirrors
  3. Ran a few times on Grizzly Way in the leaves.
  4. Remembered how much I love watching Willow get a bite of snow when it's snowy and we are running together
  5. Am really enjoying the Peloton app. it's been my companion since almost day 1 of the pandemic

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

thoughts on therapy, feeling feelings

 Last week I went back to therapy for the first time since I wrote my post about my first #metoo experience. It was an interesting appointment, mostly because at first I started with saying how much the prior appointment had helped and that I was less angry, and then minutes later I was finding I'm still angry. That's ok, just a surprise.

EMDR is an interesting experience. I went in to the appointment intending to EMDR what I call my "falling off the cliff" experiences which were in 2015 around my first panic attack and 2018 when I totally lost my shit while my mom was sick and in the hospital/rest home/assisted living for 10 months of the year. As I was driving, I decided my starting point would be the night in 2015 when she had her back fused. I learned a lot in starting there with the EMDR, and I was surprised at what it taught me.

When my mom was wheeled out from her surgery, I only caught a glimpse of her. I was very on edge but I was telling myself it was ok, I wasn't angry I was there, that I could "handle" it, that everything was great! What I saw was not an easily recognizable view of my mother. Her face was enormous - she had been lying face down for 12 hours. I thought she looked dead. Her surgery began a 5 month long journey of seeing her in great pain, of watching her refuse to get out of bed and walk, of learning to do all the things she used to do in places she didn't want to be. I was on edge the entire time, and I was very hard on myself when I would visit, leaving her most of the time feeling worse than when I arrived, mentally berating myself for not doing enough on the drive home, which went on for months. The only emotion I would allow myself to feel was anger at her situation, heartache that she was not happy with anything I did, and guilt that I wasn't doing enough. 

When she went home to my sister's house, it didn't improve much in our relationship. There was the additional guilt about all my sister was doing for her that I wasn't doing. I don't want to go into that time much, but I wasn't any easier on myself.

After my mom went home was when I had my first panic attack.

I ignored all sorts of things at that time that contributed to my anxiety. My startle response was through the roof, meaning if I had to push on my brakes unexpectedly while driving, my body would respond in an electric shock that went all through my body. I was meditating, but I expected it to take away all the unpleasant feelings I was having like some sort of miracle cure-all. I hadn't yet admitted to myself let alone anyone else that I'd had sexual assault/abuse (I even saw a therapist that summer, which was a horrible failure. The therapist was a bad fit and I thought I could leave all sexual things out the story; I went once and gave up.) I was pretending that because my mom went home (even though I didn't like it) that everything that had happened that year was "over" and I was "just fine" with it all.

The second time I fell off the cliff was in February/March/April of 2018. My mom had been in the hospital since December 8th of 2017. I had a massive panic attack on Valentines of that year and I never really came back from it. I low grade panicked through March with one late night ER visit to boot, a whole lot of visits to a pulminologist for the breathlessness I was experiencing, going on a steroid inhaler that burned my throat and esphogas from the top while GERD was burning up from the bottom. April found me a mess, freaking out at body cues that were harmless but felt massive, a panic attack the night before Easter which pushed to me stop all inhaler and start an antidepressant that eventually helped to calm everything down. But the emotional effects of 2015 and 2018, the bewilderment at my body no longer feeling safe or understandable - those feelings stayed with me until last week when I EMDRed that moment of my mom coming out of her surgery.

It went back to 1984 and my grandpa's stroke, death 6 weeks later, Christmas 2 days after he died, funeral (my first ever death experience and first funeral experience and speaking experience (I wrote a poem that I couldn't get through and needed a sibling to come up half way through to help me finish) I learned a lot about emotion during that time and I now believe it was when I started to stuff my feelings down. It was also not just a loss of my grandpa (who, honestly, I didn't really know well and only had limited interaction with. I spent a lot more time with my grandma, and it was her loss that really defined that time, because she was never the same after his death.) I lost both of them in one swoop.

I've sat through 9 months of therapy. I've had some sniffly appointments, I've left and cried a bit. I've talked about one-off sexual assualt, grooming behaviors, sustained mental abuse from gymnastics, the death of both of my parents, sustained sexual aggravation, and other hard things. But I ugly cried in this visit for the very first time.

Another big boulder has been forced free. The energy behind it keeps surprising me. I've thought for days about the things that happened in my life that I stuffed feelings down in. I wasn't allowed to grieve or feel anything hard.

The only safe outlet I had was in story. Books were my safe haven. I could feel all the feels and learn about others emotion and how they handled it. I could see how a character could struggle and find redemption in pages, even if I never had any in real life.

Thank the universe for books. Stories. Movies and podcasts. Memoirs. Gandalf and Harry and Dumbledore. Harriet from Skating Shoes, Gloria from No Flying in the House, Benny from Circle of Friends, all the girls in All of a Kind Family, Posy in Dancing Shoes (or was it Ballet Shoes?), terrible Cathy from Flowers in the Attic, and especially Leah, Ada, and Rachel from Poisonwood Bible.

I'm going to end with the plea - do your work. It's messy and it breaks your heart but you can survive. And you can understand why things are and why they have happened. This piece right here - knowing this truth about when I learned to really stuff my feelings down and disassociate from them - helps me with processing again my panic attack on the freeway. It helps me think about the deaths of my parents. It reveals the many events in my life that I didn't really grieve or feel or question because there was no space for feelings. It shows me why I was so secretive in my pursuits as a teenager, and why I never told my mom anything about my marriage or life.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Covid Summer List

Things we have done on the back patio

  1. Enjoyed lots of yummy beverages. I love me a Mike's Margarita with salt and crushed ice. I'll occasionally have a lime pilsner, Rogue Pinch of Salt, or Dog Fish Head Sea Quench Ale.
  2. Listened to music on our speaker cleverly disguised as a working lantern. I'll never be able to forget listening to Haley Reinhard and Pandora.
  3. Watching sunsets
  4. My birthday celebration/cake, where we spent 5 minutes lighting candles only to realize I wouldn't be blowing them out with my mouth. Cause, ya know, can't blow all over the cake, duh.
  5. Planned my wrist tattoo that I love so much.

  6. Naps on the patio couch. Have improved said couch with a colorful outside pillow
  7. Reading on patio couch. Most of the time trying to catch up on my dharma reading that would be due the same day. Even in my middle age I still procrastinate
  8. Enjoyed the planters full of petunias and grasses
  9. BBQed. We've started eating premade plant based burgers and they are delicious!
  10. Delightful conversations with our little family of 4, sometimes 3, and often 2.
  11. Gazed at Neowise the comet.

Places we have eaten
  1. Lucky's Iron Door. I still love my grilled cheese with the delicious mushrooms mmmmmm
  2. Village Baker (vegetarian with provolone on honey rye)
  3. Zao (Yakisoba noodle bowl with extra broccoli)
  4. Buffalo Wild Wings. I was anti BWW until they brought back their salads and now I'm in love again with the Santa Fe salad
  5. The Habit, but often only on Thursdays when I'm rushing to do my Dharma zoom meeting
  6. Cafe Rio (pork tostada)
  7. Bombay House - only when BWW didn't have their salads. Doesn't take much to convince me to want naan....
  8. Zupas a few times
  9. Mod Pizza (vegetarian create your own)

Recent Internet Purchases (oof)

  1. Shorts from Kuhl
  2. Tank tops from Kuhl
  3. Last few skirts from Skirtsports in my size
  4. Title Nine dress
  5. Pink cable dog leash
  6. Airpods
  7. Running shoes 
  8. Bathroom cleaner (thanks, Covid!)
  9. Toilet paper
  10. Dog food
  11. Nearly anything my husband knows we need since I rarely go to more than 2 grocery stores anymore

Things that have become more normal because of Covid but would be weird in Real Life

  1. Getting a warning email from our internet provider that says we've almost exceeded our internet amount for the month
  2. Making new friends with people who consistently bring out my take out (we know each other's names and I sometimes comb my hair for her. She told me she's pregnant and I'm planning to make her a blanket now)
  3. Frequent Marco Polos with Rebecca, Janna, and Cindy. The four of us hadn't been in contact since before I was married and now we talk constantly 
  4. Doing things via Zoom (dharma, therapy, work meetings, friend meet ups)
  5. feeling like a dozen toilet paper rolls in the house is "almost out" and breathing a sigh of relief
  6. Doing daily/weekly yoga via Peloton or Facebook Live

Things that frustrate me
  1. Trump and everything to do with him.
  2. Anti maskers
  3. Making masks that seem to turn out differently each time. I make one in one size and think I know what I'm doing and then I resize and it's totally a crap shoot on whether it works or not
  4. Working from home all the time
  5. The heat
  6. Not seeing my extended family

Books I've read
  1. Too Much and Never Enough
  2. Parable of the Sower
  3. Where the Crawdads Sing
  4. The Sister's Grimm
  5. The Light we Lost

Shows we've watched in Covid
  1. Finished Lost (back in March)
  2. We watched all of the Marvel Universe movies. See below for details for never seen by me all the way through vs seen
  3. Modern Family
  4. Running Wild with Bear Grylls

Marvel shows I had never seen all the way through prior to Covid
  1. Iron Man 1-3 
  2. Thor (any iteration)
  3. Captain America movies except Winter Soldier which I saw but didn't understand
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2 (still haven't finished 2)
  5. Doctor Strange (probably my favorite)
  6. Avengers 1 and 2
  7. Spiderman 1

Marvel shows I had seen but mostly didn't understand prior to Covid
  1. Avengers Infinity War
  2. Avengers End Game
  3. Captain America Winter Soldier
  4. Captain Marvel (I did understand this one)
  5. Spiderman 2

Monday, August 3, 2020

Thoughts on trauma, with a story

I'm risking a bunch by writing this post. Trauma warning - child sexual assault

When I was 7, I broke my elbow. I had been to my mom's work that day, and I grabbed a tiny plastic bag with the emblem of her employer. My mom and I went together to a nearby park, and I begged to stay at the playground while she went across the street for some lunch. Not long after she left, I decided to go across the monkey bars with the bag on my hand. I made it 2 rungs - once the hand that had the bag on it gripped the bar, I immediately fell on the sand, breaking my left elbow pretty badly. At the hospital, the doctor on call set my arm and we went on our way. He ended up being a great orthopedic doctor and surgeon and so we stuck with him for a few years after my break.

A few months or years after I broke the arm, I had something going on with my back. I don't remember it being a big deal, just that my mom made me an appointment and we went to see the doctor who fixed my arm. By this time we knew him well. I later broke my other elbow, and he treated that as well (but I'm not sure where that fits into this timeline). The doctor was a big jovial person. He had thinning red hair and talked fast and jokingly. My mom and he got along well.

So I went in to see if anything was wrong with my back. And that required an xray. I left my mom with a male tech and went into the xray room. I had to get up on the table. I still had my underwear on, but I'm not sure about a shirt. I just know that the tech had me take my underwear down, which was appropriate for the xray, and seemed normal (I had had more xrays by this time in my life than I could count. My clubfoot surgery the prior year had fixed a problem I'd been born with and so many xrays were taken of my foot. Plus add in the broken elbow from the year or two before and - xrays were old hat to me.) Once my underwear were down though, he touched me inappropriately and then asked if it "felt good." I said no and he stopped. But I was frozen on the table, waiting for the xray, and so I had to hold still in the same position as when he had touched me for the xray. My body memorized that feeling of frozen, of holding my body so still so I could have the back xray done, and that tension became something that I still find myself doing even today when my body encounters stress.

There were two parts to the event in the room that couldn't have been longer than 7 minutes. There was the part when he touched me and the part when he xrayed my back. They may as well be two different days or appointments for how disconnected they are.

I put my clothes back on and walked back in the room where my mom and the jovial world class surgeon were. I didn't have any space to tell her, so I never did.

 The first time I said out loud that this had happened was in about 1994 when I told my best friend Cindy. And then I never told another person until the 2016 election when the Access Hollywood tape came out and the whole world was talking about sexual assault. At that time, I created a generic Twitter profile and wrote that this had happened to me, along with 2 other incidents. That gave me the courage to tell my husband later in the day about my "Me Too" experiences.

I'm going to therapy currently in my life. My therapist is wonderful and is using EMDR techniques to help me get to a better version of myself. I have been telling her about this experience for a while, but a few appointments ago we got to an amazing level of memory with this event. I realized how mad I was that the doctor was already in the room when I got back from the xray. I realized how I felt crowded out and there wasn't space for me, even though it was MY appointment. I don't know if I had the level of trust with my mom at that point in my life that I would have told if the room had been empty of the doctor's presence, but maybe I would have. 

What I do know is that thanks to that appointment, I have now dislodged the block in my energy that this event caused, but like a boulder that crumbles and allows long held back waters to flow. The energy that was held in my body, the frozenness that I felt after the assault (I couldn't have called it that then, but I will now) was released.

Bodies have memories stored in them. I've known that a long time. But now I've processed that memory and the energy is clearing through.

Trauma can be healed. For me, I've realized that I can say I am healed/healing when I can put a beginning, middle, and end to the story. I didn't know that 3 weeks ago. But I do now. Another "me too" event has also been given a beginning, middle, and end as well. It is a relief.

My thoughts right now are saying many things to me, mostly - you shouldn't put this here. No one needs to read this, keep it to yourself. It's not "that bad" what happened to you, after all person A had X happen to her. It happened so long ago, it doesn't matter. Don't be dramatic.

But those are the things that kept me from telling.

Fuck that (sorry, that's two posts in a row using the F word.)

Tell your story. Tell your husband or wife or therapist or your sister or your mom or all of the above. If you want to, put your story on your blog or write it in a 100 long tweet thread, or buy a journal and write it all out.

Don't make excuses that your story doesn't matter.

Find some way to put a beginning, a middle, and an end to it.

If you can't, that's ok.

Just do your work. DO YOUR WORK. When the time is right. Be brave and take the step. The money won't matter. It will take time. But your fucking life matters and you deserve to own your stories.

I am so grateful to be right here. I have an endgame for therapy and I know what I want that Becky to look like. But I like the person that Becky is right now, too. She is all I have, and I'll stay with her.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

A post that mentions the new book The Sisters Grimm, with musings on life

I wandered around Barnes and Noble a few Sundays ago and found this delightful book. It's the story of four sisters who don't remember that they are sisters, or that they spent their childhood in a magical place where they could control the elements of earth, fire, water, and air.

I loved every moment of this book.

But what I really got from it is from the last story in the book. It's a retelling of the Goldilocks tale. Stories about girls often relay the message that we need to be good and nice, so we can be liked. This comes at the cost of being ourselves, because we are laughing too loud or enjoying ourselves too much for the world to approve. Our need to be liked, to be nice, strips us of our most essential self. The self that doesn't fit in the box. The self that says yes when she wants to say no.

Fuck that.

I don't want to be liked anymore. I don't want to be nice anymore. Being nice strips me of being present. It has gotten me in shitty situations that I now refer to as "pickles" in therapy. Being nice kept me from telling my mom things that I should have. It kept me from using my power to stop other situations. Every time I said yes when I meant no got me further along a path that eventually made me realize I couldn't go back, which made a big yes not a yes but a inevitability that I couldn't get out of.

I want to be loved, not liked.

I want to be kind, not nice. Because kind people have boundaries and aren't worried about pleasing others at the cost of themselves.

I may lose people along the way. If they like me but don't love me, that's ok. If they want the nice me, not the kind one who stands up for herself, that's ok too.

I'm a little bit dark in with my light.

Two quotes from the book. The first on gives nothing away, the second gives away some.

We each feel the darkness at our fingertips. We feel the twitch. The flares. We've shared it, as all sisters should, so none of us has too much. But then non of us has a little either. It's there. We don't use it. Well, only on occasion, when necessary. Or when we can't control it. But we are moderate. And nothing terrible happens. At least, it hasn't yet.
 And this one, that makes my soul swoon.
We remind them, over and over again, of their limitless potential, so they won't forget. For, even though they'll no longer have to fight the Devil when they turn eighteen, the potential danger of the stray soldiers remains, and there'll be many battles in their lives that'll require great strength.
We warn them of what's to come in their teenage years, that they will be tethered to Earth, their ankles tied by ropes of doubt and fear. We tell them to write letters and take photographs...and the night before their thirteenth birthdays, we offer to tattoo their wrist. Most get a symbol of their particular power: a flame, a drop of water, a feather, a leaf. Underneath we inscribe these words:

I choose imperfect me. The one who cackles and has frizzy hair most of the time. The me who is learning to say no when I want to. The me who can take up space in this world and not apologize for it (at least out loud, and maybe one day not in my head either.) Who loves her imperfect, human body.

Love you. No, I'm not saying "love you!" like you are leaving and I'm sending you a farewell wish. Love the you that is you. Take up space. Learn to own the right to be here, and to have. Take care of you and your people and love them fiercely.