Tag Archives: flashback

Basket Case No More

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This weekend I’m running into a trigger that’s not unexpected under the circumstances but is surprising me with its ferocity at times. The trigger is the fact that I’m going to my former community college campus this week to take care of a financial aid issue so I can go back to school in September. The reason it’s triggering to even think about it is because I was a total basket case the first time I went to school there.

The autumn after I graduated from high school I was still living at home, my father was still raping me, I could still not break away at all even though my boyfriend was trying to help me with that. He didn’t know what was going on at home. I didn’t know what was going on. Each instance was hidden away in one nook or another in my mind. It took a lot of learning about DID to figure out how I never seemed to know what was going on and why it took so long (only four years ago) to remember the abuse that went on after I became an adult.

The summer after graduation was a semi-disaster of trying to work my very first job other than babysitting. It didn’t go over very well and toward the end of the summer I ended up in the hospital for the second time. (The first time being for three months when I was a senior in high school.) I still couldn’t remember what was going on but the hospital was at least a safe haven. I stabilized some, went back home, and started community college. That in itself was quite an undertaking. We lived out in the boonies 20 miles from campus and I didn’t drive. I found someone to ride share with but I still had to walk or ride my bike at least 1 1/4 miles to meet my ride, and usually 2 miles. I had to sync my schedule with hers and when I had a psych appointment after classes it created a logistical nightmare for me. On those days the closest I could get to home on buses still left me with 12 miles to figure out. Between that and what was going on at home, I was a mess. (Also, my psychiatrist was a complete asshole to me, which didn’t help. He was also an offender against some of his patients and lost his license a few years after I stopped seeing him. I sometimes still wonder if he hurt me and I’m not remembering that yet. I would have been a prime candidate for his abuse.)

In some ways I don’t remember a whole lot about being in school for those two terms, in other ways I remember plenty. I remember looking up ways to hurt or kill myself in the school library a lot, and my boyfriend in tears restraining me from scratching myself with a paper clip. I remember having a hard time in classes and a hard time studying at home. I remember buying hot canned ravioli out of the vending machine but also going hungry many days because my stepmother wouldn’t provide anything at home for me to make lunches with and I wasn’t given enough allowance to make it through my school week. I remember a crush on a deaf guy in one of my classes. To me/us he seemed alone and needy like me/us even though I can look back now and know he was probably pretty well okay. I remember being thankful for Mondays because it meant my father was out of the house for the week for work, and feeling more and more dread as Friday night approached because it meant he would be home to wreak his terror on me over the weekend. I remember wearing my grandfather’s old blue and white railroad overalls, which I embroidered a bold peace sign onto the back of. I remember a lot of turmoil for my boyfriend and me. I remember ending up in the hospital several times before I finally knew school wasn’t working for me. I remember feeling lost and, well, a basket case. I was a mess, I really was.

About 13 years later I took a handful of classes on that campus again. It was triggering but back then my mind was just telling me that it was because I was having so much trouble with life the first time I’d been there. Now I’m planning on going back there and will be on campus this week. Now I have so much more knowledge and memory of what was going on back in late 1987 and early 1988. The knowledge is both empowering and scary as shit. The anxiety was more vague the second time I took classes there. This time it’s not vague. At moments, not vague at all. Memories bordering on flash backs, intrusive thoughts, moments of feeling like I’m going into a panic attack. Listening to a couple songs yesterday from my favorite album during my basket case community college days really threw me for a loop. Being on campus won’t be easy at times, I can tell already. I worry that I won’t be able to tolerate being there.

The good thing is that I’m armed with knowledge and memory. This knowledge and these memories may haunt me but they make it possible for me to say “That was over a quarter century ago. That man is locked up for the rest of his life and has no power over us now. He’ll never rape again, he has no say in our life. We get to have the power by proudly being well enough to not only go back to school but to do it at a place that evokes negative memories. We are okay now. We are okay!” I’m no longer a basket case. None of us are. We can do this. We can do this.

Five Years

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Today is my father’s arrest anniversary for the heinous things he did to my niece. It feels more like a non-event to me than anything, really. I do think working up to this day probably has a lot to do with some rapid switching that’s been going on, though. Even though the day feels so much less heavy, we do feel it. Fairly often these days, I find myself wishing he would just pass away so I could find out if there is a trust fund set up for me. I don’t want him to die some horrible death, I just wish he wasn’t around anymore, with or without a trust fund.

Anyway, I’m really proud of how far I—we—have come in the past five years. Even though it’s more like a movie in my head these days, I can still remember the moment that night when my brother said he knew our father had hurt me as well as my niece. I can see the the floor rushing up to me as I collapsed in a sobbing heap, recognizing my truth instantly. I can hear my brother’s voice, feel his arm around me. I can hear him telling the other people in the room to come to me, come support me. And they did. That night five years ago it felt like my world was shattering and falling together all at once.

So much has happened in these five years. So many changes. I’m much more whole than I ever was before I started remembering things, because I can work through the truth and heal from it. The truth can be hard to face but I’m a better person know that I know it and can work through it as it smacks me in the face. As the saying goes, we’ve come a long way, baby. It’s hard not to think of how far it seems there is to go, but I’m thankful for what I’ve got so far.

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.

Thankful, November 17

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This one will be short and sweet. Today I’m thankful that I made it through a newly recovered memory and related flashback in one piece. And I’m thankful my cat Abigail kept climbing all over me and licking me like crazy to keep me present–she knows. I’m also thankful my husband and one of my besties were able to come sit with me on the bed to help me get through it.

In. Your. Face!

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Dear man (and I use that term loosely) who contributed the sperm that helped make my life possible:

“You’ll never make it five years. I’ll bet you won’t even last a year!” Sound familiar? Oh wait. You’d deny you ever said that about five and a quarter years ago, that comment regarding my decision get married. And now that DH and I have made it to five years, if you were around you would, without a doubt, take credit for us getting here. Of course, you’re in prison so you don’t get to. Nope, you don’t get to gloat or brag, and we have made it five years.

No thanks to you, of course. Because of you, the married life DH and I share is tougher than many people can imagine. DH’s schizophrenia would make it hard enough but we get to throw my multiplicity into the mix. Multiplicity  that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for you. Multiplicity that creates great chaos with all the lovely details of alters and switching and flashbacks and nightmares and sexual issues and so much more. No, you sure as hell haven’t helped our marriage in any way but you most definitely have caused it to strain hard under the pressure you spent nearly four decades building.

Do you know that I only barely remember my own wedding? I remember my first wedding fairly vividly–some 23 years ago now. But I have very little memory of my wedding to DH five years ago. I can stare at the photos for ages and still not recall many of the moments that I’m looking at. Thanks for that. Thanks ever so much. Thanks for taking over my wedding by convincing me and the people around me that I couldn’t handle the details myself. Thanks for strong-arming me into having the wedding in your home (where you knew you’d have total control of the situation) by threatening to not help us at all if we didn’t do it your way. (And by the way, I definitely believe you had the ulterior motive of knowing it would totally mess with my head to have the wedding in a home you hurt me in for over 10 years.) Thanks for telling me who I could and could not have at my own wedding. Thanks for being an utterly heinous hypocrite by reading the Book of James at my wedding. These things I do remember, but mostly because a few in my system have helped with those memories. Thanks, thanks, thanks. NOT!

Nope, it hasn’t been easy at all. And this anniversary seems to have been the hardest on me yet, because of issues going back to you. But here’s a big fat FUCK YOU! Because DH and I have made it. Here we are, like it or not! Some days I’m pretty sure the only thing that holds this marriage together is my desire to spite you. Because I’ll be damned if I’m going to let you be right about this. But we’ve already have made it longer than you said we ever would. You may still have an enormous amount of control over me (I feel like I need to go cut as soon as I post this, as punishment for writing it) but HERE WE ARE!


(misstcalia on Etsy)

Who Takes Care of Me? (Unsent Letter)

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So, ever since the end of January when my there was this drama with my aunt, I’ve had bits and pieces of a letter to her swirling around in my head. With all the chaos of the burning episode that occurred after I wrote about my aunt’s email, I haven’t had much time or energy to put my thoughts into writing until now.

Dear Beloved Aunt (and you truly are),

I understand your wish for me to be involved with you and the rest of the family and help out; I really do. It makes me angry that I’m not in a position to do that. Being separate from my family is really the last thing I want and I wish you could believe it. My question for you is, what about me? Who takes care of me?

I know there’s a lot going on for you all. I’ve seen how much the brain injury has affected Brother’s mind and it makes me scared and sad and sick. I’ve seen how much pain Niece is in and I worry she’ll take her own life because of it. I know how much Sister-in-law is struggling to keep things together in their household. I worry about how everything is affecting both nephews and worry especially that Nephew #2 isn’t getting his needs met. I know you have your own limitations too. And I offered my support as long as I could. I invited them over, I offered to make food (offer never accepted), I had Niece overnight several times and I offered to take the nephews as well.

Meanwhile, none of you (including Other Aunt) have really had a clue what things are like for me. There has been no support offered to me. The last thing I’m going to do is ask you for help when you have no idea what my issues are and haven’t even asked so you might know. And just because I’m married doesn’t mean I get the support I need here at home. The way Brother’s brain injury affects his memory and daily life—that’s very much what it’s like with Husband and his schizophrenia. I have to remind Husband to do nearly everything, even to eat sometimes. The schizophrenia affects how he thinks and remembers, how he feels and expresses emotions, and every other part of his life. I love him dearly but there is not the support here that you might imagine. So who takes care of me?

The bottom of my world dropped out the day my father was arrested 3 years ago. Niece is forever my heroine for reporting him but it also opened Pandora’s box for me. I wish Brother had the memory to tell you what happened that night when he said one simple sentence to me: “I know he did that stuff to you, too.” Instantly, pieces started coming together and I literally hit the floor in a sobbing heap. There has been a lot of healing since then but there has also been a lot of hell. And you know nothing of it. Where have you been for me?

Flashbacks, body memories, nightmares, new alters showing themselves, alters damaging my body, and more. Hundreds of hours of therapy, respite every month at times, even spending nights a couple times with Husband’s parents to keep myself and everyone inside safe. My best friend staying up with me on the computer late into the night, middle of the night phone calls to another friend across the country, many, many emails to and from a support group, people I’ve never met responding to my blog posts. Where have any of you in the family been?

Do I sound angry? I am! I’m irate because our family has such a nasty legacy. I’m pissed off because your father was abusive, which led to my father being abusive, both of which have led to such chaos in our family. I’m mad because we have to deal with this. And yep, I’m angry because I have basically dropped off your radar, yet you want to tell me what I need to do while not accepting my needs and limitations. If I say I’m not in the position to do something, it means I’m not in the position to do it. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to, it means that my well-being will be in jeopardy if I do it. Especially when no one on your end has shown any interest in making sure I’m okay. I’m no good to you dead.

Who takes care of me? I do.

Just Stick a Knife In My Heart

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How does this:

I know you may be confused about why I haven’t been in communication with you and I wanted to let you know that you haven’t done anything wrong and that I do love you very much. I’m still processing a lot of memories and such and for the good of myself and my alters (I have multiple personality disorder) I’m finding it necessary to keep to myself for now. I know you may not understand my issues and my need to be away but I appreciate your respect in the whole thing. I’ve come a long way in therapy and am always working on becoming more emotionally healthy. Again, I don’t want you to think you’ve done something wrong and I want you to know how much I love you.

mean I don’t care about my family? Just tell me that, please; I beg of you.

Because this:

Dear Michelle,  I know you said you’re having problems and need space but your family needs your help.  Your brother and family could at least use your support and prayers. [His] mind is slowly leaving us. Scary. Then [niece] has been hospitalized several times since November. She’s had two surgeries since November. Due to your dad giving her [nasty disease] which has created a horrible secondary disease called [painful disease]. This has given her so many sores and infections that they are having trouble with infections.  She lives in constant pain, so unfair for a 17 year old. I think now a word of encouragement would be helpful from her aunt.  Also [sister in law]’s dad fell and broke his shoulder in two areas and had surgery last week. I dont know if you will read this or give a care but this is a time your family needs you. Love, Aunt L.

suggests I don’t give a rat’s ass.

I don’t know what to do with this but cry and want to  scream and throw things and totally mangle my body. Talk about system chaos. My aunt’s email has been so triggering throughout the night that even with my eyes open and the TV on, at times I’ve heard his voice and felt his hands on me. This is a huge reason I have so much trouble being around my family and even being in contact with them, because it’s so triggering. And it’s not their fault; they’re really just victims of circumstance in this situation. But the fact remains, my stability really is very much affected by being around them, simply because they’re a tie to my father.

And what the hell am I supposed to do now?! If I don’t reply to the email, I’m guessing my aunt will assume that I either didn’t read it (meaning I don’t care) or that I did read it–and I don’t care. I care more than she could ever know, damn it! There’s little I can do logistically to help my family since I don’t drive. Someone could bring one or more of the kids over now and then but they can stay home by themselves anyway. And being with my niece is especially triggering since my father hurt us both in some similar ways. I could make them dinner so SIL doesn’t have to cook but someone would still have to come pick it up. Plus we can’t really afford that and many days I’m doing good to cook something simple for my husband and me. I could send my niece a card or email but I honestly feel she’d just be angry that I’m still not really talking to her or the rest of the family–and also that I won’t see her. [Yes, I know I don’t need to justify myself to you all, but I have to get it out in writing. And there’s the slight chance that a couple family members read my blog so maybe explaining myself will help them.]

And doing any of it would be rather triggering; that’s the kicker. I know some folks would say I just need to put my big girl undies on and deal with it, but that’s not always how it works. If my aunt had any idea all the shit my father (her brother) did to me, it would stagger her. Am I supposed to help my family at my own expense, my own detriment? I can’t do that! It’s better for me to keep things the way they are than to put myself at risk and possibly have them lose me completely. I’m sorry they might not be able to understand that it works this way, but it does.

You’d hope that as time goes on, we (both me and my family) would be seeing fewer effects of the shit my father did in the 4+ decades before he was arrested 3 years ago. I wish! The further time passes, the more I see how immeasurably he messed things up for all of us. And it pisses me off that one of those ways is that I can’t help my family without risking own stability and even my life. I just wish there was a way to help my aunt and the rest of my family understand this. In the meantime, I’m stuck here with a knife in my heart, painfully aware that my family is suffering deeply and aside from letting Gloria pray, there’s really nothing I can do to help.

Can I Just Go Hide In The Closet?

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So much irritability and rage and control stuff lately. Sometimes I don’t know what to do with it anymore. Serious thoughts about doing some cuts on my calf like I did a couple weeks ago. Just a few little cuts help so much. I know that’s not a good coping mechanism. The control stuff is such a problem lately. I need to discuss it with my therapist but do not want to get into it. I know it involves more than one insider and I’m afraid everything will blow apart even more.

Something that hasn’t helped us today is a dream this morning:

I went to visit the boys at Ex-Husband’s. The boys were variable ages, mostly teenagers. Ex was pretty good about me being there most of the time.

At one point Ex got back from a bike ride right before I got back from somewhere. It looked like he had taken all of his clothes of right there in the living room. Then he turned around and really was totally naked and made sure I knew it (even though it wasn’t a sexual thing for him at all).

In the next scene Now-Husband (DH) was there. Ex had cooked strips of ham and string cheese in boiling water and was serving it to the teenage boys at the house (at least Younger Son plus friends). DH grabbed some right away but I was worried there wouldn’t be enough for the others. In the end wouldn’t have been enough anyway but I still felt bad.

In the last scene I was starting to pack to leave, but Younger Son was now preschool age (3 or 4) and didn’t want me to go. I was trying to explain why I had to leave. Ex wanted me to tell YS that it was because I’d messed up so much, even giving YS details. I kept trying to find words a preschooler could grasp and was saying something about how I hadn’t been a good enough mom and that meant I didn’t get to see him as much and that made it hard for him.

When I first woke up I was mostly just irritable because it was an unsettling dream. Now I’m seeing the ways in which it was unsettling; lots of recurrent themes that make me sad and angry. Ex always being back in some way, for example. Before I met DH, my father used to say he was sure Ex and I were supposed to be together again, that he really felt it was God’s will. I’d dream about us being back together or something similar and would wonder if my father was right. (Obviously I now don’t believe a word he said.) Now I’m married again, Ex is finally with someone even I can see him spending the rest of his life with and he seems happy and at peace. Clearly we aren’t getting back together (nor would we want to for several reasons) and yet he just keeps coming back in my dreams.

Ex standing there naked is another issue. When I first woke up, it perplexed and even amused me. What the hell was that? Now what I really see is my father, doing his supposedly nonchalant thing—oops, look at that, you saw me naked. At this point I can barely put Ex’s body and face into the picture; it’s my father’s. And it reminds me a lot of the little flashes of memory I used to get before my father was arrested. Brief images of a man’s crotch or a faceless man standing naked in our bathroom. Even before starting to remember, those blips were unsettling and made me feel unsettled about my father.

Then there’s the issue of being apart from my boys. In the dream, even though I was there, I still wasn’t allowed to spend much time with them. Interestingly, Older Son was rather absent from this dream. Not sure what that means, other than the reality that he and I aren’t as close as YS and I are.

Two things strike me about the scene where Younger Son was little. First, my being pushed into saying that not getting to see each other much was all my fault, all my doing. And as with the scene where Ex was naked, now all I see is my father telling me what I had to say. Which is horribly true. In so many situations throughout my life I couldn’t say what I needed to say, only what he literally told me to say or what he implied I’d better say. Say as I say or keep your mouth shut entirely. Thankfully, even my sons now have some clue how dastardly their grandfather is and how much he had to do with us being apart through most of their growing up.

The second thing that bothers me about the scene where YS was little is how much it reminds me of the worst nightmare I’ve ever had. I’m not totally certain, but I’m pretty sure the dream occurred shortly after the boys moved to the east coast (I’m on the west coast, so this was a huge deal). A dream from at least 14 years ago, and it still chills me to the bone and can move me to tears. I won’t explain the entire dream now, but suffice it to say my father was trying to take my boys from me, literally snatch them away from me. (Just look at that, even when I had no clue he was behind so much, I really did know it. Dreams and the subconscious are amazing.) In the last scene of that dream I was only about a block away from YS (who was about 3 in the dream), close enough to hear him screaming for me but not able to actually find him. I will never get his cries out of my head: Mooomeee! Mooomeee! Mooomeee! Over and over. The scene from this morning’s dream with him basically begging me to stay, Mommy, please stay, reeked of the dream from over a decade ago.

I want to say that I seem to relive my past in my dreams. Nope, I definitely relive my past in my dreams. Even my dreams have become about my dreams. This is unsettling at best and terrifying at worst. It makes me want to huddle in the closet with blankets all around me, fortified against all this evil shit. But even that wouldn’t help me because there are still the dreams, the nightmares, the memories, the flashbacks, still all of that mind-f***ery. As scary and shitty as it is, I know the best thing to do is to face this stuff and work through it.

But I can’t promise someone won’t end up huddled in the closet now and then, even if just in our mind. ;-)

That Building ~Cait~

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Trigger warning for being a bit graphic, and faith shit.

Been past the building countless times and there’s always been a feeling of dread. Every single time, the dread. Two days ago we went past that building and the thought came loud and clear. I was abused in that building. And I know it’s true. There’s a reason I’m called the rememberer. Abused and raped in a church. By someone who called himself a man of God. And by the father. Who also puts himself on that pedestal. What a fucking crock.

Last night, being intimate with the huz, the images start. Raped with the church candles. Felt up by a man of the cloth. Masturbated on. Raped outright. Two powerful men saying, “It’s God’s will.” Yeah, God’s will.

And people wonder why I’m an atheist. And why Rachel wonders how Jesus can really love her.
~Cait

Shame

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This post could be triggering; please take care if reading. It includes details of abuse and also physical reactions to abuse.

So, obviously there was something behind my last post. That something has (so far) been two-pronged. And also very big, bad and ugly. I hate remembering, realizing, figuring out new memories, information, details. And the past six days is why.

Shit! I hate the thought of writing this out but I also feel it’s important for my healing and know it could help someone else.

The day after Christmas I slept quite a bit. During my afternoon napping I had a nasty dream. I dreamed my father was out of prison*, which perplexed me greatly because in reality there’s no way for him to get out before he dies. I was at his home, I believe to clean it*. We were in his kitchen and he started coming on to me and then started touching me. He was touching my breasts and sweet-talking me, reminding me how much I used to like it when he touched me years ago. And in the dream I did like it. The scene changed and we were downstairs in the family room. I was in his recliner and he was touching me everywhere and it felt so good that I climaxed. It must have been right then that I woke up and I realized that I had actually climaxed in my sleep.

That was so flipping hard to write!

The dream and my physical reaction is what put me in a tailspin that sent me to respite care the next day. Even worse was realizing a few days ago that, as a teenager and young adult, my body did react to his touch and I did enjoy it at times. I know this is not that unusual but I seriously don’t know what to do with this information. It has created flashbacks and body memories that make me wish I could just be gone from this earth. I wish I could cut certain parts of my body off. I don’t know how I’ll ever be intimate with my husband again without thinking of my father. How the hell is that ever going to work?!

I feel so embarrassed and ashamed to even write about the dream, the way my body reacted to it, and the realizations and memories. It makes me want to curl up in the closet and never show my face again. The only reason I am writing about it is, as I said, facing things is healing. Talking about it, journaling about it, blogging about it: all of these things help in the end. And if I can help even one person realize they aren’t alone in this horrific situation, I have done a world of good.

I’m not doing well. Too much of the time, I think about cutting and worse. I vacillate between being horrified and angry at myself and my body and being thoroughly pissed off at my father. Either way, there’s a lot of anger. I’m a ball of emotion and many inside are part of that. Say one wrong thing and you’re likely to deal with The Wrath of Joss. Or bring someone to tears. There’s a lot of dissociation and switchiness and all that comes with that. I can’t stand feeling this way but all I can do is ride it out, so that is what I’m doing.


(Dictionary definition here. Wordle site here.)

*FYI about a couple of things. Regarding my dreams about my father being about of prison: This is a common theme for my dreams about him. He’s out of prison, goodness knows why or how, and I’m the only one who realizes there’s a problem with this. And regarding my cleaning his house: He used to help me out in different ways, such as paying for my kids to come see me, and I would clean for him to pay him back. It was definitely one way he kept me under his control.