Practicing Acceptance

For the past two weeks, we’ve been talking a lot about Radical Acceptance during our group sessions. I felt as though my mind was fighting against this idea. It wasn’t until Friday morning that it grabbed a firm, positive, foothold in my mind. Since then, I’ve been working through the concept, trying to understand it better and just basically thinking about it from every angle.

One of my biggest challenges is in accepting myself. I’m my own worst enemy. Aren’t we all? No matter how many compliments I get, what kind words come my way, I struggle to believe them. How can I believe that which I don’t feel is true? I’m still trying to get to that place of being able to accept compliments without feeling embarrassed and like I don’t deserve them. Or that people are just saying these things without actually meaning them. I have become better at this over the past year, but still have a long way to go. I also struggle with the concept of being accepting of myself, the way I am, while also working on changing that which needs to be changed.

Then there’s acceptance of others. It’s easier for me to be accepting of others, than of myself. But of course, I said “easier” not “easy”. One of my biggest irritations is having people cancel plans with me, too close to the time. The reason I feel so strongly about it, is because keeping commitments is very important to me. I stick to my commitments, unless of course, there’s a very valid reason for cancelling. No matter how depressed or tired I may be, or how much I want to cancel, I will keep that coffee date with a friend, for example. But I need to accept that not everyone is like this. We all have our own values, and what’s important to one person, might not be important to someone else.

In Thursday’s support group, near the end, I awkwardly shared a tiny bit of where I am in life. Living in an environment in which my boundaries aren’t respected, but unable to get out due to a lack of financial resources. One thing that stuck in my mind since then is when they said that I’m doing the best I can. But I can’t get the inner critic to stop telling me that I could do more. I feel this constant pressure to do better, be better, and I get so angry and frustrated with myself because I can’t think of how to do that. This constant striving and fighting is exhausting. Adding fuel to the fire is the feeling of excessive guilt. That maybe I’m doing something wrong, did something wrong, or just not trying hard enough.

I need to accept that I’m doing the best I can with what I have. The circumstances in which I find myself. But I still need to be aware, and open to anything that comes my way (including ideas or solutions that cross my mind) that will allow me to change these circumstances. I just don’t need to fight so hard anymore, which hasn’t accomplished anything worthwhile anyway, and just keeps me in a constant state of high anxiety.

Something else that came up during Thursday’s support group, is how much I tend to compare myself to others. Everyone there had such positive things to share, and seemed so mentally stable. While I was struggling, and in a very dark space in my mind. On Friday I realized that I need to accept that I might not be as far in my healing journey as some others are. Just like there are those who are not as far along as I am. We’re all dealing with different problems. Our lives don’t look the same. Besides, just because someone is having a good day (or seems to be), doesn’t mean that they’re not still struggling. Healing and growth looks different for all of us. There’s no mould for this.

As the writer of a good article I came across yesterday, says:

“Radical acceptance takes lots of practice. And understandably, it might feel strange and hard. But remember that radical acceptance is about acknowledging reality – not liking it or contesting it.”

You can read the article here.

To The Man Who Raised Me

It feels like I’ll never get rid of you.
I constantly feel you inside me.
Like a second layer of skin.
I see you when I look in the mirror.
And I hate what I see.

You’re putting a roof over my head.
But you’re not doing it because you love me.
You don’t know how to love anyone but yourself.
You’re just doing it to keep control over me.
To show the world what a good man you are.

But you’re not a man.
You’re a monster.

I asked you to stop doing something.
You got mad, and still just keep doing it.
“That’s what family does. At least our family”.
But I don’t want to be part of that “family”.
I cringe and feel nauseous every time, but bite my tongue.

I was never your little girl.
I was just an object for you. Someone to control.
Just like you did with the rest of them.
You make me question my memories, my sanity.
My beliefs. Myself. Who am I?

I am who you say I am.
Isn’t that right?

You’re giving me so much right now.
Except that which I’ve always needed.
But you’ve taken away even more.
I wish I wasn’t yours.
But I can’t cut you out of my life.

I can’t stand the sight of you most days.
When I look at your face, I want to scream.
Memories flash on the screen of my mind.
Your voice sickens me.
Your touch destroys me little by little.

You broke what was shiny and new.
And have the audacity to say it was them that ruined me.
It’s never you, is it? It’s always everyone else.
You can do no wrong.
Your worldview is sick and twisted. Just like you.

I should have just let you die those times.
I shouldn’t have intervened.
Just go to my room and pretend I didn’t know.
Let others find you on the floor.
She says I did what I thought was right. But was it?

You think you’re a god, sitting on your throne.
Everyone must bow down and and worship you
Or face the consequences of your rage.
It works, because we’re so fucking scared of you.

I can’t escape. I’m trying so hard to find a way.
But I fail time and time again. I’m a failure.
I’m letting go of the hope that you’ll change.
That you’ll be the father I’ve always wanted.
I wish I could get you off me and out of me.

Will it ever end?

I can’t get away from you.
I’m helpless. Trapped.
“Get out” they say.
I’ve tried. I’m still trying.

And it hurts. It fucking hurts.
because even though I hate you,
I love you.

A (Little) Light In The Dark

My posts lately have been dark and depressing. A representation of the space my internal life has been occupying. Sometimes, even during the darkest of moments, something or someone may come along that brings a little bit of light that pierces through that dark, heavy cloud, if only for a moment. It’s during these times that it’s so much more powerful.

Today, that light came in the form of a 3 or 4 year old little boy, while I was at work. I usually work in the back office with the people I unfortunately also live with, but I’ve been spending as little time as possible in there for the past two weeks. Since they own the business and I’m “family”, I pretty much do what I want, where I want (my work always gets done, even if I sit outside doing it). Today I was sitting at the front counter doing some filing, when a mother came into the store with her young son. After noticing them (I check that it’s not some dodgy, potentially dangerous person entering the shop) I got back to my work.

You know that feeling you get when someone is watching you? I felt that. When I looked to the side, I found the little man staring at me. I love children, so naturally, I smiled at him and said hello. He didn’t say anything for a few seconds, and what came next melted my heart.

Our very brief conversation:
“Are you a angel?”
“Maybe I am an angel. What do you think?”
“I think you are.”

#DAY.MADE

Quite the little charmer, isn’t he?

That kid will never know just how much he touched someone who was in desperate need of a little sunshine in her life.

He was my own little angel today.

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I Want It To Stop

The excruciating physical pain I’ve been in this week has subsided quite a bit. It’s not as unbearable as it was. But the emotional pain has stuck around.

In my previous post, I wrote how I feel like crying when thinking about the next day, week, etc. But now, its escalated into panic. How the hell am I going to make it through the next few days? The next week? My usual “one hour at a time” mantra isn’t holding up. It’s one excruciating hour at a time, and feels like too much to handle. I can’t do this! It’s too hard.

I don’t know what to do. I just need everything to stop! Please, please, please make it stop! How can one person hurt this much?

I need and want a friend right now, but none of them are available this weekend. And they don’t even have decent excuses. It’s frustrating and makes me extremely sad that when I really need them, they’re nowhere to be found. But when they need me, I’m there, no matter what mood I’m in. Even if I’m hurting as well. But I obviously don’t tell them that. In that moment, it’s about them. I put my own shit away to be there and support them.

Today I found myself repeating a pattern of something that I used to do a lot of in my teen years. Every time someone hurt me, or let me down in certain ways, I would feel this defiance and anger inside. But I didn’t want them to see or hear how it affected me. I was scared I might lose them if I mentioned it or showed it. So I’d hide it until I was alone. Then the anger would come, and I’d repeat “I don’t need anyone, I’m fine on my own.” But when the anger died down, I’d break down, with sadness consuming every inch of my being. I’d feel so alone. I preferred the anger, because it covered the disappointment, the rejection, the hurt. Anger is always so much easier to deal with, isn’t it.

I’ve had to cancel a few birthday “celebrations” over the years. Even as an adult. I’ll never forgot my 21st birthday. I was at a co-worker’s house (I was staying with her for a few weeks- I just can’t remember why), and everyone I had invited to my little party had been unable to attend. One of them cancelled an hour before it was due to start. My co-worker had gone to visit her son, as it was his birthday as well. So I was alone that night. The power went out at some point. So I lit a candle, poured myself a glass of wine, and sat on the floor, against the couch (I seem to find it comforting sitting on the floor instead of a couch for some reason- only couches though. Normal chairs- I’ll sit in them rather than on the floor). This might sound really silly, but I pretended there were other people there. Like my mom, little sisters, friends. Making up conversations in my head (there were some pretty funny ones). I had to do that, because if I stopped, the reality hurt too much. Remembering that makes my heart ache. So I’m not a fan of the day of my birth. Besides, I was a mistake. I never should have been born. I don’t even know why birthdays are celebrated in the first place. Who came up with that idea?

I’m writing about all this because I want to prove a point. I’m convinced that there’s something I’m doing wrong. That’s there’s something fundamentally wrong with me. That it’s why friends and family seem to want to spend as little time with me as possible. The things I mentioned above seem to prove it. I don’t know why, but I’ve always had this feeling (and believed) that I deserved everything that happened to me. And right now, I feel it’s especially true. Looking in the mirror earlier today, I wondered who that face belonged to. What’s her life worth?

I want my therapist. She always seems to know what to say, and has a calming influence on me. It’s weekend, so I can’t even reach out to her. And I’m not seeing her anytime soon either, which just feels so messed up. I just want to be held by her. No CBT, DBT, REBT, FFST (Okay, I made that last one up). Just one of those talking sessions. We all need one of those from time to time. Those sessions where she just listens and doesn’t make me work through techniques, skills, etc. I just need someone to listen to me, without judging. That’s what I mean when I say I want to held by her. In that protective therapeutic cocoon. Where it’s warm and safe. Even when it’s hard.

In one of the letters my therapist had written me, she told me that I’m brave. And now I keep hearing her words “be brave” (from another note), but I don’t feel brave right now.

I will try to be though. I’m trying. I’m really, really trying. I just need to get through tonight and tomorrow. That thought makes me panic. I’m trying to just stay in the moment, practice mindfulness, but it only works for a few seconds and I swing right back. These flashbacks that I’ve been having don’t make it any easier. I don’t even know anymore what’s a nightmare, and what’s a real memory. They seem to blend into each other. Swinging from adult to child mode. The nightmares and flashbacks are all from that young part. I should never have opened that door to let that inner child in. When we started working with that whole thing, I knew it was going to be difficult, but I didn’t know just how painful it would be.

“Stop crying. You’re not a baby.”

But big girls cry too.

Going Out Of My Mind

I haven’t been in a good place. Hell, I feel like I’m barely hanging on.

I’ve been dealing with so many flashbacks, and so many things are triggering me. I’ve discovered even more triggers. They’re fucking everywhere lately!

In group on Tuesday, I skipped the first half, which is usually just the check-in anyway. I saw my OT before group and told her that I’m going home (we didn’t have a session that day). She encouraged me to stay, but I felt like I just couldn’t. I was walking to my car when panic set in, and I realized I didn’t want to go back to the house. I’m walking out of my safe place, only to go to a place I desperately want to get away from. I went back, but sat outside in the coffee shop for the first hour. I just needed to be alone in that moment, while being in a secure, comfortable environment.

One of the psychiatrists at the clinic led the group on Tuesday. I don’t really like it when he runs it, because he’s so clinical, and it feels more like school, sitting in a boring class. I like it when the OT’s run the groups, as they make it fun and interactive.

During the break, my OT wanted to talk to me. She asked me what was going on. I told her that I didn’t want to sit in on the check-in’s, because firstly, it was a big group that night, and secondly I didn’t want to talk. (There was something that had happened that day before the group, but I didn’t want to talk about it. And I still don’t. At least not in the near future). OT said that I didn’t have to talk, but that it’s good to be there and just listen to other’s, because it helps with not feeling alone with our struggles/problems. She’s right of course. But what I didn’t tell her was that I was terrified that if someone said or spoke about something that was triggering, it would send me into full-blown panic attack mode (I didn’t have my Ativan with me, as I had forgotten my bag at home).

I just didn’t feel like talking that day. I barely spoke to my friends who also attend the group. One of them asked me why I’m so quiet and distant. I told her that I’m just tired. I wish it was just that.

I’ve been advertising my photography business, posted adverts on bulletin boards in the shops, but nothing has come from it. I feel like I’ll never get out of this situation I’m in. I’m trying so many different things, and I’m just so tired of problem solving when nothing seems to be working. I’m tired of fighting. I feel like I’ll be stuck forever. I don’t see any hope for my future right now. Everything feels hopeless and pointless. I feel useless.

To add insult to injury, I had a wisdom tooth removed two weeks ago, and developed “dry socket” recently. Look it up on Google if you don’t know what that is. The pain is excruciating. I wake up a few times during the night to radiating pain that just doesn’t stop, and keeps me awake for another hour or two. Prescription pain killers barely work. Give me Morphine please! This is the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. It’s a little better today, and I only woke up once last night, so I’m hoping that’s a sign that it’s finally healing.

Having two of my other wisdom teeth removed a couple of years ago was traumatic enough, but this is so much worse. That was a walk in the park compared to this time. I never want to see a dentist again in my life! I had to go back to her yesterday so that she could pack the socket, but she first had to clean it out, and that hurt! She told me that unfortunately she couldn’t do anything about the pain while doing that. Before I went in to go see her, I took a double dose of one of my benzo’s (not the Ativan), and I was still terrified. She told me I might have to come back, and have it done again, as it’s just palliative treatment and not a “cure”. Afterward, I was so light-headed and nauseous from the stress and anxiety that I almost passed out, and had to lie down on the waiting room’s couch for about 20 minutes. In that moment I didn’t care what anyone else might have thought. Any other time, I would have.

I told my dad last night that I’m not coming into work today, as I’m exhausted and need to try sleep a little and I couldn’t concentrate with the pain. He told me it’s fine (thankfully), but then said that I’m making the pain worse for myself. “Stop thinking about it”, were his words. Stop thinking about it? Are you fucking kidding me? It feels like my face is going to explode at any minute, but I mustn’t think about the pain. I would give anything to be able to not think about it.

Emotional pain and physical pain don’t mix. Physical pain already makes a person feel miserable. Add in depression and anxiety, and it’s a disaster.

I have no appetite. I have to force myself to eat, and then it takes me an hour. I dread breakfast, lunch and dinner time. I feel like crying when it comes time to eat. Which seems overly dramatic, and it probably is. But that’s how it is for me at the moment.

Talking about crying. When I think about tomorrow, the weekend, the week after, etc, I just want to cry. I don’t feel like there’s anything to look forward to. I wish I could cry. But I just can’t. I never know what’s worse. Crying so much and being tearful the entire day, with the smallest little thing setting it off again, or not being able to cry, even though I desperately want and need to. I guess it depends on which state I’m in at that moment. This time I really want to cry.

During hard times, I usually think “I could really use (therapist) right about now. I need her.” But this time is different (and a first). While I would like to see her now, I think I want/need a friend more.

I’m struggling so much, and I don’t know where to turn. Or who to turn to.

But I just want to die.

This has been a long post, but I needed to get all this out.

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Protection And Running Away

This is a follow up from my previous post.

After I had written it, and gone to sleep, I had a nightmare.

Before I get into the dream, it needs to be said that most of my dreams over the years have followed a similar theme. They all involve me protecting others (or myself and even baby animals). Running away from someone, a group of people, or something (like a natural disaster).

In this dream, that person was my step-father. He was hurting my youngest little sister, and throwing her around the room. She was so tiny. Just a little toddler. It broke me seeing what he was doing to her. So I picked her up and ran. Suddenly there were other people with us who I was also trying to lead to safety. We climbed and jumped over walls and roofs, and crawled through barbed wire fences. Trying to stay out of sight of the monster who was hunting us. There were security camera’s, so it was even more important for us to avoid being seen. There were wide open spaces, which made us especially vulnerable. Other spaces were difficult to get through, as there were plants and trees surrounding us. We came across a house here and there, but I knew they weren’t safe to run into. That the people who lived there were in on it with my step-father. Every time I thought we were in the clear, I’d find that it wasn’t over, and he was catching up to us.

Suddenly a SWAT team appeared. They were helping us escape. But then we understood that they weren’t there to help us at all. They had their own agenda. Now there were more people after us. One of the guys running with us, picked up a dead snake, and told us that the SWAT team had been fooling us. Why a dead snake, and what that has to do with anything, I have no idea (some of my dreams have featured snakes- I don’t know what that represents). At the end of the dream, when I finally thought we were really safe this time, as there were normal people walking around, I realized that we were still in danger. I felt trapped.

I woke up crying. And I realized just how much my past has affected me, and shaped my life. For the first time, I can acknowledge that I haven’t yet fully dealt with it. I always tried to run away from my past. Pretending that it didn’t affect me. But now I realize just how much it actually did.

Once I was fully awake, I felt a combination of anger and deep hurt. I’ve always tried to be the protector to everyone. To take care of others. I took on that role. But who protects me? Who protected that little girl? The people who were supposed to protect her, didn’t, or couldn’t. And for the first time, I’m feeling the extent of that pain.

I could never truly connect to that part of myself until now. I’m grieving for that sad, lonely, and scared little girl. For the teen who had to deal with so much.

Those uncried tears, are finally being released. The hurt with nowhere to go, is being experienced and channeled. The secrets with no one to tell, are now being told.

It’s too painful to feel all at once. But the door has been opened, so I can begin to walk through it.

Going Back To The Old Me

Before starting therapy, I pretty much kept to myself. My feelings, my thoughts. They belonged only to me, and I didn’t share them with anyone. I was always the shy and reserved one. It protected me. It worked for me. Yet at the same time, it didn’t really work. It might have sheltered me from rejection, but it also ate me up inside. I tried to open up a few times, but just ended up getting hurt. Further reinforcing that it wasn’t safe to reveal the deepest parts of myself.

Even in primary school, I was a shadow. When I tried to make friends, and join the other children, I’d just get mocked, teased and called horrible names. So eventually I stopped trying. What was the point. I still remember the day I got my first friend. I was eating my lunch on a step, overlooking some children playing. A girl came to sit next to me and asked my name. We shared my lunch, and from that day we became best friends. I think she was the first friend I ever had. I was never allowed to go visit her at home though (my dad was very controlling- “only protecting me” in his words- when I actually needed to be protected from him). Then we moved to a new city again, and I never heard from her, or saw her again. I didn’t want to get attached to anyone again after that, and I don’t know if I ever did, as I can’t remember the next year or two.

I went to go watch the sunset on the beach today. It’s one of my favourite self-soothing practices. Usually it makes me feel better. It brings me peace. I feel at one with nature, and like I’m not alone in this world. But tonight I just felt this deep sadness the entire time. At first I didn’t understand why, and just tried to push it away. To be mindful of the beauty surrounding me. And then it came. Memories of the same way I felt so often throughout my life. Memories of moments where I felt so alone, with so much sadness buried deep, but that I couldn’t express or verbalize. Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to show emotions. Both my dad and then step-mother hated any display of emotion, other than happiness. But I was hardly ever happy, so I had to pretend that I was. When I went to my biological mom every second weekend, I watched my step-dad hurt her, and occasionally my little sisters as well. I couldn’t show my fear and hatred toward him. I couldn’t protect them. I was scared he would hurt them even more, and that he’d hurt me too. But he never did. I think he was scared of my dad. He was very cruel to me though. Men (monsters) like him, usually are. He also hated displays of emotion. It was a trigger for him. So there were many tears left uncried. So much hurt with nowhere to go. So many secrets with no one to tell. That pattern has followed me ever since.

It was only when I started therapy in March last year, that the pattern got interrupted. Opening up to my therapist felt amazing. She didn’t judge, she didn’t tell me to “stop being a baby”, or get angry with me for expressing my feelings. She didn’t punish me. I felt safe with her. Since then, I’ve become more open to more people. Only to a certain extent though. I knew what to share, and what to keep hidden. Every now and then though, I’d become brave and say more than I should.

In group on Tuesday, I was in a bit of a manic state (I had been in that state for a few days already). We had the usual “check in”. I was a bit late, as I had to go pick up a friend, so when I got back to group, the check in was already underway. Other than the usual check in, we also had to pick an animal that represents us, and tell the others why we chose that animal. When it was my turn, and started sharing, I got interrupted by one of the guys. He argued with me about the correct name for the animal I had chosen. I was so embarrassed and just wanted to disappear. I didn’t want to make it known though how I really felt in that moment, so I argued back. And then I just shut down and let the next person share. It’s taken me a while to start opening up in group. But now with this, I feel it’s not okay to do that anymore. I’ll still connect to the few people I’ve really grown to care about, before group, during the break, and afterward. But I don’t want to open up during the group anymore.

Jasmine and I spent the day together yesterday. Usually when I’m with her, we speak openly about our thoughts and feelings as they come up. But this time I couldn’t. I pretended that everything was okay the whole time, that I was happy. I have to pretend with the dad and current step-mother anyway, so it’s easy. Easy to pretend, difficult to deal with internally.

I just don’t want to be vulnerable anymore. My blog is my space to be open, but in the offline world, I want to stay away from that. I had a great therapy session on Wednesday. But then on Thursday, my manic phase was over, and I went straight down into the depths. And since then I’ve been feeling this need to protect myself from the world.

My younger parts, especially, have been struggling. They need me to take care of them, protect, and love them. They can be vulnerable with the adult me. They only need me. This song is my message to them. It just seems to fit.