Category Archives: Surviving

Ashes, Ashes…

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This evening I was putting some laundry away after having a rather immobilized day. Out of the blue the words to a nursery rhyme came to me: “Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!” I don’t know where it came from but it fits so well these days. At times lately I honestly feel like I’m just going to drop from stressors that are hitting me. I keep making it through but I really want to drop sometimes. And thinking about how I keep making it through each day, sometimes each hour, occasionally each minute, made me realize how much I really have risen from the ashes of my father’s arrest and my own version of Pandora’s box flying open that night nearly five years ago. I still have some of the same things going on but I deal with them in healthier and more constructive ways.

The past couple of days I’ve felt tired, sad, emotional, sometimes downright immobilized. Even though I know there are very valid reasons for this, it frustrates me and makes me feel weak. I find myself thinking, “Come on, get it together, just get up out of your chair.” Sometimes I simply can’t move myself. Then someone (hello, Robert) takes off with that and will rant and rave about how weak I am. This really doesn’t help one tiny bit. I’m trying to be gentle with myself and also making it clear to Robert that gentleness is what we need, not berating. Some moments are better than others, that’s for sure. I had plans for this week that are pretty well derailed but after two days of immobilization, I’m letting that be. The fridge will still be there to be cleaned. The carpet cleaner is “ours” for as long as we need it. That Valentine craft project can wait–we have Valentine’s Day every year, plus I did finish the one that was most important to me. DH has become quite adept at making simple meals for dinner. I refuse to put life on hold completely but I can be gentle with myself and work through the immobilization, the sadness, the fatigue. Much better to be gentle than all fall down.

Birthday + Anniversary = Varying Degrees of Chaos

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I’ve been wanting to write but have a hard time churning out posts like some of you do. And sometimes I feel like what I have to say doesn’t matter. I know what you’re thinking and what some of you will probably say: that anything I have to say is worthwhile. There’s been a lot of feeling inadequate and less than others lately and it spills out into my blogging. I see some of you writing about therapy and healing and my words feel inconsequential before they even hit the page. But at least I can identify that a lot of this is feeling below you all. And I know it has to do with the title of this post.

My mother’s birthday is in a couple days. Even though our brief attempt at reconnecting didn’t work out for me, I still wish that I could write to her and tell her I want the best for her and that I hope she has a lovely birthday. I can’t do that because I can’t deal with the possibility of her starting to write letters again and the craziness that comes with that. But I honestly do hope her birthday is special. She had her faults and could definitely be abusive, but I extend far more grace than my brother seems to be willing to do, because I know she was abused and victimized growing up and then with my father. I’m sending you peace, PSD. You deserve that.

And then there’s the upcoming anniversary that has been causing so much chaos for us lately. In a month it will be five years since my father’s arrest for hurting my niece. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. He has been out of our life for five years! And yet he’s still so very present. The anniversary discombobulates us in general but it also has a few of us very much not okay. Robert has made physical threats toward this body, both regarding self injury and worse. Rhiannon is filled with guilt about not taking care of him “properly” and well enough to keep him from harming my niece and therefore getting arrested. She’s also stuck in one of her cycles of feeling like she’s not taking care of DH well enough, since taking care of the men in her life is her job, but also sad that it’s her lot in life to do this. And then she feels guilty for thinking such a thing when taking care of the men in her life is her job. *sigh* She’s actually considered purging since it’s a way she can have control over something. That is something we absolutely need to avoid since 1) it can spiral out of control so quickly, and 2) purging makes the gag reflex go into hyperdrive for us and the simple act of coughing turns into a mad dash for the bathroom.

Lately there’s so much desire from a handful of us to do some sort of damage to the body that I’m finding it harder and harder to keep everyone under control. I think about respite and even the hospital. If Robert goes beyond just berating me and threatening dire harm and starts making plans, I will be booking it to the ER and requesting a psych bed. It feels overwhelming to have to take care of everything like this. I don’t quite know how to delegate responsibility. How on earth do you delegate responsibility?!

There are things I want and need to be doing with myself and all of this chaos is making it rather difficult. Everything is so up and down.  I am–we all are–having a harder and harder time tolerating it. Just keep swimming, right?

Voices Carry

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I’ve been in a bad space today. Last night was horrible. I was fine until about midnight or so. Then a very negative alter started saying all sorts of crazy shit about how worthless I am, bad mother, not worth anyone’s time, mooching off the system/taking money from people who work hard, horrible friend, better off dead. And on and on. That went on until sleep came, which was after 3:00 a.m. These episodes really do me in. It’s really hard to be okay after them. Put that together with being sick and I just want to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head. I know I should take a shower and do something with myself but it’s one of those days when I’m feeling like I can’t even move. I hate feeling this way!

I’d love to hear what you do when this sort of thing goes on. I try to derail it but am often overpowered. One thing I’ve learned to do is to turn the TV on and put a kids show on Netflix, just for the noise. It didn’t even occur to me to do that last night because the other insider was so strong with his words. (I’m not sure who it is.) I need to try to remember the TV trick. But are there any other suggestions? This stuff, along with a tremendous amount of guilt lately, is creating a lot of stress these days.

Stress, Sadness and Scariness

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Things may have come full circle with my sons this month but I’m also precariously near a painful position I was in about this time last year. Early last November my younger son had tapped his father out financially and emotionally, was smoking far too much pot, and was on the verge of losing the room he was staying in near me. I ended up having to get him screened into a youth shelter, one of the most painful things I’ve ever done. This year my older son in essentially in the same spot, minus the drug use. Thankfully he does have money to skate on if he can find a room to stay in, but he’s having so much trouble motivating himself to take action that he may well be on the street in a week. We can only have him here for so long without possibly being written up for having a guest too long. Not to mention, he simply needs to get his butt in gear. Easier said than done, however, since he is a high-functioning Aspie.

Being so close to the same position I was in a year ago is incredibly painful. I’ve been in tears numerous times in the past few days and yesterday was the worst, sobbing with worry right in front of my son. (Which did seem to spur him into action, though.) I go back and forth from feeling like I’ve completely failed my sons to being thoroughly pissed off at my father for messing me up so much that I couldn’t help raise my kids (and purposely sabotaging my efforts to try to do so). One minute I wish I could cut or burn, the next I wish I could shake my father and  ask him if he has any idea of the far-reaching damage he’s done. I need to stay injury-free and I can’t scream at my father so I’m doing my best to stay calm and have faith in the universe that my son can line up a place to live by the 29th.

All three of us in this household right now (me, DH, my son) are feeling the stress of the situation and the change in our routines. Routine is something that is important to each of us. DH and I can at least keep some semblance of our routines but it must be very hard on my son to be living out of a suitcase, sleeping on a couch, having somewhat different foods and meal times available to him, and so on. I know he is just as stressed out as I am, he just shows it differently.

I’m so sad that things have worked out this way for both of my young men. How did this happen?! How have they both become so aimless? I imagine their dad feels just as guilty as I do, but for different reasons. He is the one who raised them, after all. I’d be wondering what on earth I’d done wrong, how I could have done things differently. Even though things were very much out of my control I do think that myself.

My focus for the next five or six days is to keep things as calm as possible. To not harp on my son about what he already knows he needs to do. To try not to let worry and fear run away with me. To keep system chaos down and keep things as level as possible for DH. We could all use thoughts of peace and hope right now.

Thanks for listening.

~Kali

Full Circle

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Today it feels like things have finally, finally, come full circle regarding my status as a mama. Some moments I’m in awe of it, other times giddy bits of excitement run through me, and every once in a while there is some sadness for what was lost and what might have been. But what was lost and what might have been is in the past. Today I consider it official that both of my sons are near me again for the first time since 1996, and it is seriously amazing.

In 1994, because of my mental health issues, my ex-husband got sole legal and physical custody of our sons. I had no recourse and wasn’t even able to be present when the matter before a judge. They were 2 and 4 years old. Over the next two years my guys spent about 40% of their time with me but in 1996 their dad took a job on the other side of the country. Suddenly they were over 2,800 miles away and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. I saw them twice in the three years they lived on the east coast and consider myself very fortunate to have had those visits. In 1999 my ex moved back to this side of the country. They were still about 325 miles away and at the time he felt they were actually still too close to me, even though I had no vehicle to get to them.

In the thirteen years that they’ve been back in this neck of the woods (relatively speaking) there have been a lot of ups and downs with visits and how much access my boys and I had to each other. In 2002 when I started doing much better, suddenly even my phone calls to them were restricted. Some of this had to do with the woman their dad was married to at the time, and I know now that plenty of it had to do with my father lying to them about how I was doing. It turns out there were times when he was telling my ex that I was in no position to see the boys, even when was doing quite well. I don’t know if these lies were arbitrary, or if there was some unknown infraction I was committing to make him sway my ex, or what–and I never will know.

The journey as a non-custodial mom, especially one with no rights whatsoever, has been long and painful and filled with plenty of anger and bitterness. There were times when I really wondered why I should be alive if I couldn’t even see my own children. Occasionally I had to take their photos off the wall because it was too painful to see their faces when I had no idea when I’d see them next. I’ve had plenty of moments of feeling that my father stole all of my children from me: the one I was forced to lose, the two I gave birth to, and the child(ren) I don’t get to have with my loving DH because I know it would be too overwhelming with our various issues. I didn’t get to see my older son graduate because four months earlier my father was arrested and their dad wasn’t comfortable with me seeing the kids because of that.

About 14 months ago my younger son moved  just 30 miles from me. We’ve been able to see each other pretty much every month. My older son was still at least 200 miles away. Until Monday, October 15th, that is. That afternoon I met him at the Greyhound station in Portland and he’s staying with us for a couple weeks while he finds a place of his own.

It’s 12:24 in the morning and I’m typing this from my bed. Both of my guys are here. They’re in the living room watching anime. Every few minutes they have something to say about the show and their beautiful voices filter through the apartment to me. They’ll have to tone their noise down soon but not quite yet. For the first time in nearly five years, they are here together. And even though they won’t be in this household with DH and me, they will still be near me together. This time their dad is 450 miles away. I get to make them a Thanksgiving turkey with all the fixings. We get to celebrate Christmas Day with their stockings hung (and a few small things in them) and with my now-traditional lasagna dinner. They were gone for so very long, but for the foreseeable future they are here again, together. We have come full circle.

 

Reconciling the Truth

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The truth is, my father and other people abused me horrifically.
The truth is, the abuse has scarred me for life, literally and figuratively.
The truth is, my daily functioning is impaired by the abuse.
The truth is, it’s highly likely my physical health issues have a lot to do with the abuse.
The truth is, the abuse kept me from my sons.
The truth is, the abuse has affected my relationships profoundly.
The truth is, I may never be the “typical productive citizen.”

The truth is, many people in the world have been hurt far more than I was.
The truth is, the emotional and physical scars show how much I have endured, how far I have come.
The truth is, I can accomplish far more than many people can every day.
The truth is, my health issues drag me down but do not defeat me.
The truth is, my sons are alive and well and this means I can see them and talk to them.
The truth is, the abuse has created opportunities to make wonderful friends all over the world.
The truth is, I honestly prefer not to be a typical productive citizen. I like being a black sheep!

The truth is, I am thankful for my life and the opportunity to grow and change. I’m thankful for my friends, my family, my sons, my husband. The truth is, I am blessed.

~Kali

Tough Equation

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Not hearing from Younger Son in 3 months now + Younger Son moving 700 miles further away today + Reconnecting with aunt (a positive stress) + Cait’s ex-partner’s birthday yesterday + September 7th meaning something but not knowing what + chronic pain + a trigger at the store + PMS = 12 hours of total chaos yesterday (Thursday)

Crossing my fingers that the next few days are much, much better! I’ll owe my poor husband something big otherwise, poor guy. But hey, no self injury, w00t!

(There, I found a way to explain a bit about what’s going on without having to write volumes or sound like a walking pity party. ;-) )

Hurting, Hurting, Hurting

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I just put my cutting and bandaging supplies away, mere minutes after taking them out of the closet. I was so ready to cut. It was a rough day, my window of sleepiness passed without me making it to sleep, I’m tired, I’m anxious, I’m frustrated, and I freaking hurt–emotionally and physically. I rashly pulled the supplies out of the closet because of the emotional pain but I put them away because of the physical pain. I admit, what’s saving me tonight are twinges that make me worry about both the second kidney stone passing and the possibility of a urinary tract infection brewing. I want to dull the emotional pain by cutting but the last thing I need is to end up in the ER needing IV pain meds for a kidney stone and having to explain why my leg is all bandaged up.

Thankfully there’s been some diversion from self-injury every single time these past 6 months. Sometimes it’s worrying DH will wake up and figure out what I’m doing, sometimes it because my meds have kicked in and I’m too sleepy to do anything, tonight it’s not wanting to be a bandaged, bloody mess if I need to go to the ER for other issues. Hmmm, not to mention I have a doctor’s appointment in two days and I hate her knowing about new self-injury. Well, as my therapist says, whatever saves me, great!

But I hurt. It’s hard to keep my mind from straying to the heinous things my father did to me (and to my niece). It’s hard not to think about the way things might have been if none of that had happened. It’s hard for my little insiders to not be afraid. It’s hard for the older ones to not be angry (and anger hurts, it really does). It’s hard to be away from my sons, one of whom is having a difficult time right now. It’s hard to have something I really want to do with myself but feel unable to do it because my father feels too wrapped up in it. So much feels so hard and it hurts. It hurts out to the tips of my fingers. It hurts!

But no cutting or other bodily harm tonight. Instead I managed to put the supplies away and pull up the laptop. A triumph. And now my Ativan has kicked in and I think I might actually be able to sleep. I need that sweet relief.

Square Peg in the Round Hole of Life

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I keep trying to write about what happened tonight that drives this home for me yet again but it just ends up sounding boring and petty so I’m scrapping that. The bottom line is that I’m totally out of the loop of “real” life. Being with DH’s family (whom I love to pieces, by the way) always reminds me how different he and I are from the rest of them. They have “normal” lives, with children, jobs and money, homes, cars, 3-D friends, the whole shebang. DH couldn’t possibly live on his own and I do my darndest just to make sure I’m swimming more than I’m sinking. The whole thing hurts, makes me angry and brings out intense jealousy. IT HURTS! I know I’ve made great strides, I’ve grown a lot. (Although sometimes I want to tell people to fuck off when they say that, but at least it’s not all the time.) But life for me will always be different than it is for most people. I’m doing my best to make the most of the life I do have but it’s still so hard to see people living their typical lives, and even being excluded in some ways. Total suckage!