Tag Archives: coping

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?

Okay, I Hear You!

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Trigger for language and brief mention of threat of violence.

For several months now I’ve considered reconnecting with a few members of my bio-family. I had pretty much decided to get the ball rolling sometime this month or maybe next month, with some very firm boundaries in place. Thinking about it has been both exciting and nerve wracking. With Christmas and now the New Year past, there’s been a lot of anxiety, worry and agitation throughout the system. I worry about how to make it work for me in a way my family members can live with as well. I wouldn’t want to start something with them and have to pull away like I’ve had to do a couple times already; I don’t feel that’s fair to them. Yes, it would be taking care of me and everyone else in the system but I don’t want to hurt my family by being what might appear to be wishy-washy. For me, it’s better to keep my distance unless I know everyone in the system can handle it.

I know there’s been some dissent from a couple of us about this and this morning I discovered how strongly someone, Robert, feels about it. And for Robert it’s not a matter of “I’ll be damned if you’re going to reconnect with people who trigger you, some who seem to be in a lot of denial about what happened to you and in their own lives.” No, Robert doesn’t want me to connect with my family because he doesn’t want me comparing notes and/or talking about what the father did to us. Robert has an allegiance with the father and shows it in emotionally and physically damaging ways. And he has been part of some serious su*c*de attempts so I have to take him seriously and keep things safe and level for him to the best of my ability.

Especially in light of an email he sent our therapist around 3:00 a.m. yesterday. I discovered this shortly before I had to leave the house this morning, when I saw an “undeliverable email” message in my inbox. I’m pretty sure it got kicked back because of the clinic’s internet/email filter–practically every other word was the F-bomb. So then I had to leave the house to do the monthly grocery shopping while worrying that Robert could do something drastic, all the while trying to figure out the best way to discuss it with our T. As it turned out, when I got back from shopping I was completely wiped out from my pain medicine combo and from being so switchy. I had no choice but to take a nap. When I woke up I was talking to one of my best friends about it and she convinced me to leave a message for our T even though I was feeling so messed up. I also sent T an email explaining better than the phone message could what about was going on, and I included what Robert had tried to send her with the filter-hating language removed.

Here is what he wrote, exactly as he wrote it. If you’re wondering why he keeps saying he’s Robert, it’s because my addled brain let me call him Richard in therapy on Monday. There were reasons it happened but I sure won’t make that mistake again!

Robert. I’m fucking ROBERT. Richard fucking makes sure no man hurts her. I will fuck her up if I need to. I made the collage, not fucking Richard. She’d better not start talking to the family comparing notes and asking what they know. I’M FUCKING ROBERT!!!! She’s lucky she’s still around. What a worthless piece of shit.

I guess it’s time for Robert to do some therapy work. Or some kind of work. A couple of years ago he did a two-page collage with magazine words and some pictures and I pulled that out today to see if I could get a glimpse into Robert’s head and also in the hope that he’ll say more, write more, anything more. Somehow he has to figure out how not to be so aggressive and berating and downright abusive to me. Even though he hasn’t done any major physical damage in quite awhile, I can’t help but worry we’ll be in a hospital bed like we were a little more than three years ago when he contributed to a rather serious su*c*de attempt. We can’t have that again.

I’m not angry at Robert, I know there are reasons he has such an allegiance to the father and reasons why he can be emotionally abusive in very much the same way as the father. He obviously has a purpose and somehow we need to make that purpose work entirely for good. I hear you, Robert. I hear you and respect you and we will work through this stuff. It won’t be easy but if you keep this body safe I will keep you safe. That’s a promise.

Thankful on Thursday

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Christmas is past–I hope you all made it through okay.

Today I’m thankful that I made it through Christmas amazingly well. Yes, some stuff caught up to us, but all in all, things were good. It was another year of reinventing, recreating, and that worked so well for us and DH. We had less trouble than last year and what a difference that makes. It was neat to start a couple new traditions and also think about what I’d like to do differently next year. The best part was having both my sons here for the first time in five years. I am blessed.

You made it through the holiday! Revel in that!

It’s Catching Up to Us

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Christmas, that is. I’ve worked hard this year to continue reinventing certain days, including Christmas. And I’ve done a pretty good job of it. But I also knew Christmas has been slowing catching up to us and I think it finally caught us. I laid down to try and sleep and was hit by intrusive memories bordering on flashbacks. Opened my eyes and the dark room still felt too much like the rooms I grew up in. I can’t help but go to a particular Christmas and think on how I had to give certain gifts to my father each year. Memories of my grandfather play into it as well.

The simplest things can turn crappy rather quickly. DH and I were talking about the goodies I made over the past couple weeks and I mentioned that I’m no longer able to make my favorite Scandanavian almond cookies, both because we now know I have an anaphylactic allergy to almonds and also because my father loved them so much. I ended up feeling very panicky and on the verge of tears but I was able to steer myself away from the panic somehow, although I was shaky and triggered for a few hours. It’s still hard to see Almond Roca in the stores this time of year, since this is his favorite candy and I used to give it to him every December for his birthday.

The Nativity set in our living room feels a bit sinister these days because of him too. In turn, certain Christmas songs and Sunday school songs that we’ve been hearing are a problem. This religious stuff especially bothers Rachel, who dealt with his religious abuse.

I’m in tears as I write this and even though we’ve come a long way in the past few years, at this moment I feel like the weight of the abuse is heavier than all the good we’ve done to overcome it. I know it won’t always feel this way, it’s just how Christmas has caught up to me, to us. Separating myself from my family and doing so many things to reinvent certain parts of life helps a lot but sometimes the memories and flashbacks take over and whomp us. I knew Christmas would catch up to us and I’d be writing this post. I just hope I can get some decent sleep these next few nights. Thank goodness for sleeping pills.

In Other News…

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My father’s birthday is tomorrow. Sometimes we’re doing okay with it, other times not so much. His birthday and Christmas are so hard on many of us. One thing that is helping is daily phone calls to our T. About a month ago she gave me the assignment of leaving her a message every day that the clinic is open. I usually call around 1:15 because that’s what works for me. Then she calls back when she can and we talk for a few minutes. Having practiced this for a while has helped make it easier to call her on days like yesterday when I felt quite apprehensive about making the call. Yesterday I finally realized what my unease has been the past few days. Now that I’ve identified that it’s my father’s birthday it’s easier to work with it and around it. I’m planning a low-key day tomorrow, but will also make sure I have something planned to keep my mind off of things. Getting ready for Christmas–the first one with both of my sons in five years–is very helpful with both the birthday and Christmas itself. As with last year, this year I am working to redefine the holidays for myself (with DH, of course). I’ll write more about that soon. For now I’ll get past the birthday and revel in how far I’ve come and how well I can deal with it—even if I end up a sobbing heap on the bed.

A, B, and C Days

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I’ve been meaning to write this post for at least a year now. The 27th was a day when I felt low and immobilized so it was great driving force to finally get to it–I just had to get past that rough day first.

It’s very common for me to discuss my level of functioning in therapy. Between my mental health and my physical health, my daily functioning is well below that of many people I know. Sometimes I have reasonable physical energy but am mentally sapped. Other times it’s the reverse. Most often, it’s some combination of both. I get so frustrated with how little I feel I can accomplish. One day several years ago my T introduced the idea of A, B, and C days, which is a way of classifying how much I’ll be able to accomplish on any given day.

A days are the most productive. For me that means my pain level is pretty good (need little or no Vic*din) and I’m not very dissociative, anxious, or low. If I get going on my daily list by a reasonable time I can accomplish a fair number of tasks of varying demand. These are the days I can cook a good dinner, hang laundry to dry, do some cleaning, take care of any necessary little “business” tasks like going over the budget, maybe walk to the store for groceries, and possibly even more. I do have to be careful not to overdo it on days like this but it sure feels good to accomplish a lot. I consider our monthly grocery shopping day to be an A day even though that’s often the “only” thing that I can get done. It entails walking to a bus stop, sitting in a cramped bus seat for at least half an hour (very hard on my hips and legs), walking to the store, spending about two hours on my feet to do the shopping and bagging, loading the groceries into MIL’s van, spending another half-hour riding home, bringing the groceries into the apartment, and putting away at least the perishables. Each of those steps is one task for me since it is so taxing. I have to take Vic*din before I even catch the bus and I’m still often a ball of pain that evening. DH does help with all of this, by the way.

B days are not as productive, suffice to say. I need three or four doses of medicine, including one or two doses of Vic*din. I can think fairly clearly much of the time. Yesterday was a B day for me. I was able to do some cooking and wash about half the dishes (hubby finished them, yay), hang laundry to dry, take care of a couple of things I needed to do on my computer, and do some reading/editing on a book my MIL is writing. I had wanted to do a bit of exercising but standing in the kitchen for over two hours (with a few brief rests) did my body in. As you can imagine, B days are the most common. They’re right there in the middle.

On C days I’m often lucky to get much of anything done. I may be in a lot of pain. C days often occur after I’ve had nightmares and am unsettled from them. The 27th was a C day. I woke up grumpy and low and was in a fair amount of pain. I felt immobilized from doing much more than dinking around online and catching snippets of the judge shows on our one TV channel. On the day I most needed to be able to make my daily call to my T, it took an hour for me to be able to do that. About halfway through the day I realized it was just going to be a C day and that was okay, which made me feel less anxious and guilty about it. One good thing about C days is that I’m virtually always able to salvage them somewhat in the end. Around 7:30 the other day I was able to get myself into the shower and DH and I walked to the store, which did me a world of good.

The important thing about A, B, and C days is to allow the flexibility that makes them just that–A, B, or C days. It’s also important to be flexible about changing the rating if necessary. Many times I start out with an A day list of tasks but have to let some of them go and have a B day. Every now and then I’m able to add to my tasks and turn a B day into an A day. And yes, there are times when I’m aiming for a B or even an A day and it ends up being a C day. It’s taken time, but I’ve learned pretty well how to gauge what category a day might be, sometimes even the night before. It’s also taken time to not beat myself up over C days or even A-turned-to-B days. Being flexible and letting go of guilt and unreasonable expectations for my circumstances has been amazingly helpful to me.

Something along the same lines of A, B, or C days is The Spoon Theory. The author of this fabulous theory presents it as living with the chronic pain and fatigue of lupus but it works the same way with other chronic illnesses (including fibromyalgia) and even mental health issues. On a day when I have to lower my rating, it’s common for me to think to myself that I’ve burned through spoons more quickly than I’d hoped to. Another similar analogy is Leah Tyler’s Lilac-Mulberry-Amethyst. Again, even though she created it specifically for fibro, it works with other chronic illnesses as well as mental health issues.

I hope the idea of A, B and C days is helpful to you. It’s not an automatic thing; it takes time to get used to the idea and especially to quit feeling guilty about not having all A days. It’s something anyone can fit to their own needs, which is great. But it’s been such a great help to me that I had to share it with you. I hope someone can use it!

~Kali

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

Chain Reaction

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You know that experience where things are feeling a bit agitated on the inside and someone on the outside does one little (but feels huge) thing that escalates the agitation and pisses off someone inside and they yell at said someone on the outside and won’t let it go because they haven’t let off steam in awhile and the body is (literally) very hungry and then not only is the pissed off one pissed off but someone else inside is terrified they won’t get a basic human need met like they experienced years ago, and everything totally flies apart?

Yeah, that. Argh.

It boggles my mind how it can escalate so quickly. When things settle down from DEFCON 1 to DEFCON 3-ish I find myself thinking, What the hell just happened here? Everything was relatively fine ten minutes ago. That was over six hours ago and we still haven’t recovered as much as I wish. (I hope DH has recovered more than we have, poor guy!) Joss is still upset with DH for not making dinner right away when he knew how hungry I was and for eating something that I thought he knew was set aside for me. David is still panicking some about the possibility of not getting to eat. His fear agitates a bunch of us. I ended up making cake mix cookies to placate everyone. It only sort of worked.

Realistically, I know there is a lot going on inside and out. And lots of little–and some not so little–things add up. Handling it all well only lasts so long before something’s gotta give. It just blows me away how quickly it happens once the process has started and there is a crazy chain reaction.

(On the flip side, it could have been much worse and I know things will be okay. Even if David has a rough night. Also, kitties help a lot of things. Especially the handsome guy snoring at my feet and the sweet girl who just nudged me for some lovin’.)
(They’re both basket cases just like me!)

~Kali