MuddyFingersMeg

Eat, drink, (garden, knit, quilt, think, fix, read) & be merry

Learning to let go

It’s been four months now since I sent the last letter and my mother slipped, uncontested, out of my life.  Since that time I’ve started my final year of my undergraduate career, P and I celebrated our third anniversary, I turned 30 years old, and several major holidays have come and gone.  A new year is right around the corner – a year that will probably mark my first whole year without a mother.

It was as if she was waiting, waiting for permission to be done mothering.  Once it was granted she ran, ran far far away.  Last I heard she was in Mississippi.  Or was it Missouri?

A childhood narcissism wells up within me.  Doesn’t she miss me?  How can she live without me?  But, I forget.  I only lived with her for fourteen years, most of which she doesn’t seem to remember.  I haven’t lived with her for sixteen years now and her life has long since taken on its’ own rhythm.

At first she called once in a while, wanting to see me.  Then, over the years, that dwindled to a slow stream of cards punctuating some, but not all, major holidays.  It was probably no trouble at all to drop those, too.  Knowing her, she’s grateful to keep what she would have spent on cards and postage.

But it’s still hard and it still hurts.  Somedays I get a knot in stomach when I check the mail.  Other days I compulsively check an old email account that my mother may still know.  M tells me that hope is the last thing to die.  But letting go of the hope that she’ll “come around” will make accepting myself easier.  After a childhood spent subsisting on hope that someday it all might get better, it’s hard to kill what’s left.  Unfortunately, that hope is holding me in a pattern of childhood pining for a future that will never come

Here’s how I picture it: if my heart were a house, there’s a little girl, sitting on a window bench in a dark room upstairs.  On the sill is an oil lamp she’s been carefully tending the last 30 years, hoping the light will inspire her mother to come back to her.

Because doesn’t my mother miss me?  Afterall, P assures me I’m a pretty great person to have around.  Sure, sometimes I’m ornery and stubborn, but not always.  I can be fun, creative, interesting.  Why doesn’t she want me?

But then I wonder – do I actually miss her?  And the sobering, heartbreaking truth is that I don’t.  Holidays have felt lighter without the obligation to call her for an incredibly stressful conversation.  I don’t miss her haunting, shadowing presence – like an overgrown little kid that wants to crawl into my lap and suffocate me with her overgrown, untended needs.  All that I miss is an idealized version of what she represents: a mother.  And she’ll never be the mother than I need.  For reasons that extend far beyond me, she can’t.

My mother is not well.  My mother is not well.  My mother is not well.

I practice these words sometimes.  Mostly I speak them in my head but, once in a while, when I’m feeling strong and brave, I whisper them aloud.  Occasionally, I’ll say them in a normal voice to P or a good friend.  My mother is not mentally stable and we’ve stopped talking.

It’s like getting into a bath that’s too hot, too painful.  It’s a slow settling, a gradual acclimation and acceptance.  That’s how I feel about those words, about that reality.

M tells me that denial and rationalization can work together to build walls so strong nothing can break through – not the cries of a child or the threat of severed communication.  My mother is incapable of really listening to me and hearing my side of the story.  She can’t accept what I have to say.  She won’t accept responsibility for what she did to me and what she allowed to happen to me.  She’s not a safe person, and she brings nothing into my life besides stress and anxiety.  Believe me, I’ve tried mightily to find some good I can hold and focus on.  But there’s nothing.  Nothing.

And so that little girl tending that oil lamp is sitting on her hands so she doesn’t do what she’s been doing for thirty years – change the wick and refresh the oil.  She sits in the dimming light waiting for the hope to finally die.

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The Other Side

Well, folks, it sure has been awhile.  In August I wasn’t sure if I’d ever made it to this point – the point where all that remains of my 18 credits is one test and the remnants of a paper.  Where only one semester of my undergraduate career remains.  The point where my large, unwieldy  directed study is done.  The point where no farm work remains, although the same can’t be said of farm meetings.  The point where I happily turned 30.  The point where I have occasional meetings with M to check-in and continue honing my new skills, but those meetings aren’t the only thread holding my sanity together.  The point where the sadness is more of a faint, background note than a clanging gong.  But I did, I made it, and it feels so good.

In fact, this may very well be the happiest I’ve been in my entire life.  There have certainly been more exciting times in life – India?  Thailand? Iceland?  – but this is, by far, the most consistently peaceful and content I’ve ever felt.  I type and erase, type and erase, trying to find the words to explain what happened, what it feels like but I can’t nudge the right words into the right places.  It just feels good and it’s (mostly) felt that way for several months now.  I feel loved, safe, secure.  And there’s no better way to head into the holidays.   Xoxo

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Sticking with it

Today is the 20 year anniversary of the great H*alloween blizzard of 1991. I was 10 years old. I’ve always loved a good blizzard, especially one that lasts for four days. In addition, halloween is my hands-down favorite holiday. By all accounts I should remember the snow storm that shut down my great city. I should remember the enormous piles of snow. I should remember the shock of adults, the delight of children, the amazement of a multi-day blizzard that closed out October and ushered in November.

But I don’t. I vaguely recall dressing up as the devil and my legs were cold through the thin red tights. Did I even wear tights? Perhaps my legs were bare. I do remember that my mom’s boyfriend wouldn’t let us trick-or-treat (ever), but my brother and I dressed up anyway, and walked around the neighborhood.

I’ve always ignored the fact that I don’t remember this momentous night.  But today, when thinking about it, I stuck with the unsettled feelings that arose rather than pushing them away.  I accepted those feelings, let them in, listened to what they had to say.  And I realized that this lack of memory aches because I want so badly to remember that blizzard. I want to remember what it was like to be ten years old and be caught in an enormous city that was stopped in its’ tracks because the plows were without blades, because the snow just kept falling, because it was blizzarding in October. I want to remember because I was there. I was in a place where something big and incredible was happening and I have a story, I just don’t know what it is.  I want to weave my narrative in with others.  I want so much to be a part of that clear snapshot of Minnesota life on a cold October that nearly everyone remembers in striking clarity.

But there are no memories. Like so much of my childhood, like so much of my life, despite my physical presence, I remember nothing. Despite years of frantic searching in my own mind, I still only find darkness.

And, you know, it’s okay to lose most days.  For the details to drift off into vaguarities of daily monotony. But big days, days that acquaintances swap stories about, days that pull communities together, days that build bridges between people, well, it hurts to lose those days.

All this serves as a further reminder that it all was that bad. Life was bad enough that not even an epic blizzard could break through the dissociated state in which I waited out my childhood.  I wish it hadn’t been like that.  God, I wish it had all been different.

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Risk, revisited

My one little word for 2011 was risk.  I’ve really enjoyed having a one little word focal point for the year and I’ll likely do it again next year.

Little did I know, way back in January, just how important this little word would be.  Just how many times I’d lean on and embrace it.  Just how comforting it would be to let go and plow ahead instead of hanging back and shying away.

Over the past few sessions, but especially this week, M (my therapist) has made it clear it’s time for us to start terminating therapy.  It’s been about a year since I started and that’s about what I was anticipating.  Six months ago I could hardly fathom coping without M, but now it seems possible.  My wings feel weak, unpracticed, but jumping from the nest does seem like a logical next step.  I suspect I have the strength to do it (and enough support if I need it).

I wish there were some numerical measure of progress, some scale, some way to compare the before and after.  I wish I could point to an assessment, an evaluation, an exam and say, “Look!  I made it!”  But alas, there’s not.  But while there are still some sad days, the sting of my past has faded.  I don’t feel so broken or angry.  I have tools to (sometimes) pull myself out of the anxiety spiral and I’m better at recognizing and accepting my own needs and then standing up for myself.  I have a much more accurate picture of who I am and where I’d like to go.  I can relax sometimes.

And I have outside validation in the ring of M’s words, “Meg, I don’t know why some people come out of these things better than others.  People try to measure it, to name it, but I’m not sure it can be measured.  I think of it as a strong spirit and you’ve got it.  You’ve done a lot of hard and important work.  You made a lot of great progress.  You’re a fighter and you’ll be okay.”

Last session we spent a lot of time talking about a recent, semi-catastrophic meltdown I had when I got a 70% on what I thought was a decent paper.  I knew it was completely irrational but I cried on about how my past “was coming for me” and how I was “doomed to live a crappy life” and how “I might as well give up now because it’s hopeless.”   I explained the background of the meltdown – the constant haunting feeling, the sense that if I don’t run hard and fast enough, if I don’t push myself far enough, if I don’t work frantically and always succeed, my past will catch up and drown me in everything I’ve worked so hard to overcome.

And she said simply that feeling was fear and I had to face it.  I needed to acknowledge all the work I’ve done to ensure a better life for myself.  And then I had to refuse to let fear bully me into reactionary living.  The fear I was not rational, it was rooted in an unpredictable and scary childhood, which, thank god is over.

I wanted to run, run, run.  I was utterly terrified.  This has happened several times in therapy and after the initial visceral reaction I think about two things:

1.  This year I’m going to take risks so face it, Megs, and let’s see what happens.

2. If I don’t face this that SOB is going to continue impacting my life.  And I don’t want that.  I will not, come hell or high water, let that asshole win.

So, holding at bay every ion in my body, I let the fear in, let it pour through me, and then, miraculously, let it flow out of me.

I am always surprised that fear is so haunting when just out of sight.  But when it’s cornered, when it’s bought into focus, it has so little staying power.  And its’ evaporation can bring so much peace.

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Greatest Accomplishments

Over the past few days a f*cebook friend has been encouraging her readers to “like” her employer and post our greatest accomplishments on their “wall”.  In exchange for this modest act, the employer will donate a dollar to a wonderful charity.

I’d love to make a (free) donation to this particular charity but I can’t bring myself to swallow the bait.  Aside from feeling co-opted into boosting the FB credibility of business with whom I’ve had no particular experience, I don’t want to publicly post my greatest achievement.  It’s far too personal for the FB world.  And if I post something “lesser” and most socially acceptable, I feel like I’m denying my authentic self.  So, with that in mind, I’m going to post my greatest achievements here, and then make a donation to another very worthy charity – a scholarship fun for the kids I work with in the summer.  Having been in some of their shoes in the not-so-distant past, I know how much it means to have people believe in you.

1. Surviving years of trauma, abuse, and abandonment and coming out the other side as a compassionate human being.

2. Going to therapy and facing my demons.

3. Going back to school to finish a degree and find a better life for myself.  And succeeding more than I thought possible.

4. Choosing a spouse who is more than “not abusive and mean” but is kind, thoughtful, and endlessly supportive.  Not to mention funny and handy around the house.

5. Writing letters (and sending them) to my mom that hold her accountable for the sh*t she put me through.  Even if she never responds.

6. Learning to knit.  And getting pretty damn good.

7. Going to work on a farm, even though I was terrified and no idea what I was doing.  That job changed my life and helped me find loves that have sustained me.

8. Travelling around the world on a shoestring.  That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I never, ever regret doing it.

9. Not owning a car until I was nearly 30.  This one is just for fun.

10. Trusting myself enough to love others.  And letting myself love the kids in my life.  I don’t know how to say this without sounding weird, but here it goes: as a young child, the “love” I got from the most prominent adults in my life was perverse and harmful.  So learning how to be around kids has been hard for me.  How do I interact with them without being perverse and harmful?  I do not, in any way, consider myself a threat to children, but sometimes I worry too much about what to do, what to say, how to be appropriate.  Thankfully, this has lessened with time and exposure to other adults who are really good with kids.  I think I’ve learned a lot, and now I feel pretty comfortable with them, but it’s been a hard-won battle.

11.  Learning to cook.  And being a great bread baker.

12. Moving forward even when I want to stop.  Refusing to surrender to the anxiety and depression that haunt my mind.  Trusting myself and the future enough to keep moving ahead, even if it’s only a small shuffle.

13.  Learning how to garden and identify plants.  This gives me so much pleasure.

14. Allowing myself to dream.  Dreams are considered dangerous when you’re poor with no future, but I let myself dream anyway.  And many of them came true.

15.  Walking away from a faith that had, at one point sustained me, but wasn’t working anymore.  When it stopped being real and started being a facade, I swallowed my fear of hell and damnation and decide to try life as an agnostic.  I haven’t looked back.

This list, by no means exhaustive, is the current surface layer of which I am most proud.  To be sure, there are kinks and imperfections, and I haven’t achieved perfection in any one of these.  But they are the building blocks of the better life I live everyday.  Sometimes I weep, hard and long, when I contemplate my life had I succumbed to the statistics and uncertainties.  But for reasons I don’t completely understand, I didn’t.  In part it’s because I couldn’t, because a few people loved me and pulled me onward, because strangers whispered encouragement in my ear when I couldn’t stop crying.  In part it’s because teachers worked patiently to teach me, because pastors gently encouraged me, and because the when the sun shines it’s so very warm.  It’s because of nature and nurture, because of biology and mystery, because I had to keep moving for fear I’d freeze to death if I stopped.   But mostly it’s because a few people believed in me.  And for that I thank them daily, even if they can’t hear, even if sometimes the words get stuck in my throat and my breath is caught in my lungs.  But thankfulness, despite it all, is what feeds and sustains me.  So thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Life is full of surprises

We spent last weekend in northern Wisconsin for the wedding of some good friends.  It was lovely – both ceremony and reception were on the water of Lake Superior, the bride made her own beautiful silk dress, and the couple rode away on bicycles.  P and I camped nearby and rode our bikes in and around town and crossed the lake on the ferry to ride on Made*line Island (and spend a little time on the beautiful beaches, too).  But then, surprise!, we got food poisoning on our last night and were barely able to pack up camp and drive the four plus hours home before collapsing into bed (and bathroom) for two days.

On Tuesday night, when our delirium was subsiding and we could both stand, I did the final proofread of the letter.  The break-up letter to my mother.  It was more than three pages.  Those neatly printed and folded pages marked both the most difficult moment of my summer and a major transition point in my healing.  I outlined how she has repeatedly hurt me, why she lost my trust, and how she was not to contact me.  I wish I could write more eloquently about what this means, but the words feel mundane and heavy.  I broke up with my own mother.  I feel surprisingly calm about it.  I’ve mulled it over for months, tweaked my prose, added and subtracted words, sentences, paragraphs.  I’ve sharped my words and then dulled them, and then the reverse, until they felt sharp enough to carry my intent without harming unnecessarily.  I wrestled with the guilt, wondering if I was hurting her too much, trying to find the blurry line between honesty and cruelty.  But I need her to hear my pain, and there was no gentle and kind way to present the facts.  It’s been a hard life and I needed, for the first time in my life, to be honest with her about that, to stop protecting her from the reality she made me survive.

And then, I mailed it.

I’m trying not to wait for a response.  Afterall, I cut off contact with her.  But part of me is waiting, wondering.  She tends to move, a lot.  She acts like a snake in the grass, here one moment, gone in an unpredictable flash.  It’s as if someone, or something, is chasing her.  So I don’t know if she’s at the same address she was last time.  I don’t know if she’s having her mail forwarded or if it’ll sit somewhere, in a box in someone’s garage, until she returns from one of her random, confusing, sometimes lengthy trips.  I don’t know if she’ll ever return.  I don’t know if she did get the letter, if she’s sobbing now, wondering what she has done.  How she lost her only daughter.  Or if she’s hunkered over a beer, cursing the ungrateful little bitch who criticizes her every move.  Or if she tossed the letter aside, writing off my drama and fanciful stories.  I wish I knew, I wish I had some thread of understanding.  But, the truth is, even if I called and asked, she wouldn’t answer my question.  I’d probably hang up wondering if she lied or if she’s telling the truth.  Making contact would only confuse her and aggravate me.  She doesn’t ask questions or give answers.  She needs her mystery to protect her from whatever demons haunt her.

And then P turned 30.  I’d been planning a surprise party for several months and it went off without a hitch.  He was thrilled and overwhelmed.  I enjoyed working with P’s mom to put on the bash.  We had a taco bar, cake, ice cream, pinata, slideshow.  I loved seeing all our friends, laughing over beer, giving tours of the overgrown enthusiastic garden.  We sang, we ate, we had a merry time.

And now it’s Friday.  I’m exhausted, happy, anxious, sad.  After the party, I feel wrapped in a warm community of friends and family.  And with the letter out in the world, a severing missile of unknown power, I feel unsettled, worried, anxious.  I want so much for something I cannot name, meanwhile I feel so full of blessing I am about to burst.  I wonder if there is even room in my life for that unnamed longing to be filled, and yet all other wonders feel a little hollow with that dark space remaining empty.

Alas.

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Melting

I don’t know when, exactly, it happened but it did. Much of my rage and angst has melted away. My criticalness, jealousy, and discontent have gone with it. I am not sure what I’m experiencing now, but many of my previously infected and swollen wounds feel balmed and bandaged. When life pokes at them, I’m surprised at how little they ache.
I still have good days and bad days, but the bad days aren’t so debilitating. My new reality doesn’t feel as overwhelming and shocking as it did while I was learning to see it. I don’t have a mother, although my maternal parent is still alive. As one kind forum user said, “sharing DNA doesn’t mean you have a mother.” But I do have an astonishing number of kind, helpful, and caring people in my life. I have PTSD and will likely battle against depression and anxiety for the rest of my life. But I have support and resources to live a healthy life despite it. I’m learning to shed the shame and the responsibility. I’m learning how to take care of myself.
I still sometimes can’t believe what happened to me. And what didn’t happen. Sometimes I struggle to frame a coherent picture of my life. I rage against questions that don’t have answers. I wrestle with unhealthy patterns and learn pathways to healing behaviors. Sometimes I still sob and scream about the injustice of it all. And then I wipe my tears, blow my nose, hug P and Boris, knit a few rows or pull a few weeds, and get on with it.  My past, my present is exactly what it is, nothing more, nothing less.
Much of it isn’t fair, but as my dad used to say, “Honey, life’s not fair and anyone who tells you differently is a liar.”

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The Sadness Goes Deeper, Still.

It’s a dark, balmy, summer night, and a small pile of girls are huddled in a basement bedroom, whispering by flashlight.  The topic is children and the girls discuss favorite baby names, what it might be like to be pregnant, how they can’t wait to have families of their own.

I am so confused at the certainty with which the girls discuss their own future motherhood.  Having babies is a foregone conclusion, and they seem thrilled.  The idea terrifies me, chokes me, leaves me shaky and insecure.  I tell the group I don’t want babies.  They can’t believe me.  They ask why.

“Because what if I don’t like them?  What if I don’t want them?  Then what?”  The girls go quiet.

I thought something was wrong with me for my lack of a maternal impulse.  However, I now realize I knew, all too well, the crippling insecurity and profound sadness that comes from living with a mother who did not want me.

Several days ago I was writing a few paragraphs of “my story” to post on a forum set up for abuse survivors.  As I looked over the words I had the familiar feeling that I, somehow, had missed the point.  Indeed, pain lives in those stories, but those abuse stories are not the “heart of the beast.”  The white hot center of my pain lived elsewhere, but I had never been able to find it.  For the millionth time I searched my memories, trying to find the story, the event, the betrayal that held the aching core I felt so acutely but could not name.  And then, it hit:

It’s not what happened, it’s what didn’t happen.

The hot source of sadness and agony was coming from the void, from the nothingness, from the years of being so incredibly alone.  It was coming from the little girl that had no access to her mother because that mother was always behind a door, desk, wall, or boyfriend.  It came from the hours I spent daydreaming about the time when someone would love me, hold me, take me home.  It came from the dark place where my mother was present in the house but entirely unavailable and cold.

This realization sent back The Sadness with a brutal, heavy hand.  The screaming, the sobbing, the visceral reaction that seizes my body with such fury I could literally vomit has come rushing back.  It’s exhausting.

I told M about this and she put words to it: “Meg, you suffered emotional abandonment.”  What?  That’s not possible.

But apparently, a hallmark of abuse survivors is “extreme thinking” where there is no middle ground.  A reality either is or isn’t.  I didn’t think I could possibly have been abandoned because of the small handful of times I could remember my mom present, smiling, and kind.  If those moments had happened what my story must not include abandonment.  But it turns out it could.  And abandonment explains so very much.

Probing the searing core of the life-long emotional agony has been profoundly sad.  For the moment, the beatings, the sexual abuse, and all related tales have taken a back seat.  Being molested for ten years somehow pales in comparison to being abandoned by my own mother.

An excerpt from my childhood journal:

“…Nobody’s precious baby doll,

nobody’s little princess,

no strong, protective daddy arms,

no doting mama kisses…”

I picked up the book Motherless Daughters from my local library.  Although difficult to read, it has been intensely validating and I see that many of my behaviors and thought patterns are normal, all things considered.  Daughters who’ve experienced any form of “mother loss” while still developing their identity as people and women, can suffer profound consequences.  As “mother loss” in its’ various forms is still not widely discussed, it can be hard for these daughters to connect and share their experiences and find measures of healing.

Recently, despite or maybe because of these difficult realizations, I feel like I’ve found some healing.  I feel more whole, more capable, less damaged.  I feel, ever so slowly, more able to connect.  I feel less critical.  The piles of both rational and irrational fears are starting to dwindle.  The weighty loneliness that has been my life-long companion is starting to lift.

“I’m slowly redefining myself as someone who can want and need people in her life.  Yes, I can survive without them.  I’ve proven that to myself.  I can survive without nurturing and love, but it’s a pretty destructive and painful way to live.”

Motherless Daughters, p 167

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Carrying the Sadness

Several weeks ago  I wondered aloud where I had been carrying The Sadness all these years.  The answer became painfully obvious the more I thought about it.  I’ve carried it throughout my body as it has sought escape.  This is hard to write, but it’s been heavy to carry lately and I’d like to write it down so I can stop dwelling on it.

In childhood it often manifested in my stomach and head.  I had constant stomach aches.  My mother bought papaya pills for such troubles and one of my clearest memories is the musty smell of papaya as I opened that brown tinted plastic jar to fish out yet another pill to ease my aching belly.  In fact, my body often knew when the abuse was coming as I’d come down with severe stomach aches both before and after.  As an unpleasant side effect that took me years to notice, I often felt ill during the early stages of romantic relationships, especially once they started to dabble in physical closeness.  That aching feeling eased with time and increased comfort, but I often dreaded those early kisses because of the pain I knew I’d suffer afterwards.

The headaches, too, were a constant companion early in life, although I remember those less clearly.

The Sadness has often lived in my lungs, making it difficult to breathe.  As a young adult I saw a series of doctors to address a long-standing inability to breathe.  It was a nebulous thing to explain – it wasn’t an asthma attack, exactly, it was a chronic inability to get a satisfying breath.  I felt as though I never got enough air.  All the lung capacity tests came back fine, as did the chest x-rays.  The doctors eventually gave me an inhaler, but that was an acknowledgement of defeat, since none of them actually thought I had asthma.  For the past two or three years I have had no trouble breathing, which leads me to believe my earlier troubles were one of the ways my body was trying to process trauma.

Early on the Sadness, unfortunately, took up residence in my speech.  I started stuttering when I was eight or nine years old.  As my mother harshly reminded me I spoke “clear as a bell” until I, suddenly and inexplicably, started stumbling all over my words.  My mother and her boyfriend nagged me relentlessly about the stuttering, threatening speech therapy if I didn’t snap out of it.  Speech therapy would have helped me immensely but was, instead, used as a stigmatizing threat that caused me years of shame.  I never got early therapy and my speech didn’t improve much until I saw a speech therapist in college.  I hated stuttering and the accompanying paralyzing fear of starting a sentence and then getting stuck in the middle.  If I could have snapped out of it, I would have.  I was teased mercilessly by neighborhood playmates.  I became unbearably terrified of the telephone, which was doubly awful because that was my primary contact with my dad.  For long periods of time I simply refused to speak.  It was horrible.

For a while the Sadness manifested as a nervous habit of tearing out my own hair. Eventually I had a visible baldspot.  Any outward signs of stress were frowned upon because someone might find out what was going on, so the hair pulling had to be stopped.  My mother informed my friends, my brother, and my brother’s friends of my embarrassing habit and were offered a reward for telling on me.  Soon there was no safe place to practice my nervous habit and  I was so humiliated I stopped.  Effective, I suppose, but needlessly embarassing.

The Sadness haunted my dreams causing severe insomnia and nightmares.  My mother eventually had me see a hypnotist for the insomnia.  It didn’t help.  The Sadness also crushed my self-esteem and, somewhat mercifully, my mother had me see a counselor for poor self-esteem when I was six.  That didn’t help, either, and soon I stopped going.  I must not have told what was happening because no one stopped it.  Or I did tell and no one listened.  I don’t remember.

And, as chronic stress often does, it lived in my muscles, specifically in my jaw, and I clenched my teeth for years.  Eventually that pressure dislodged something-or-another between my skull and jaw, resulting in an inability to open my mouth more than .5″ for more than a year.  Finally, I saw a physical therapist that helped me regain the mobility, but I’ve had to learn to relax in order to keep that problem at bay.

It even made a home in my heart, raising my blood pressure to alarming levels before I was ten years old.  Now my blood pressure is very low and my doctors cannot believe that I have a history of high blood pressure.  I can only attribute it to the chronic stress I suffered as a child.

And then there are the more recent acknowledgement of anxiety and depression, which are a direct result of chemical changes in my brain due to years of stress and fear.  And then there is the compulsive overeating.  And the crying – oh the crying.  It’s back, although not as desperate or fierce as it was before.  And the difficulty with relationships and the trouble being close to people….

It’s hard to put this down like this, to list it out.  It’s been there so long, and in so many ways.

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Going through boxes of old stuff I found this:

Mar. 27, 1995

John just did it again.  I feel so dirty.  I hate it when he touches me.  It started I was sitting on the floor of the office and he grabbed my arm and said “come here.”  I knew I fought it.  Then I left.  Then mom came in to my room and said I had to.  Why does she make me?  And it happened.  I feel so bad.  So dirty.  So icky.  So stupid.  So scared.  John yelled this morning Again.  They always ask what wrong over and over then make fun of what I tell them.  I feel like such an idiot.  I’ve just totally lost my apetite.  I was hun (that’s all I wrote, I was 13).

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