Safe Travels – Part One

On Wednesday I got back from my week-long trip to see my mom and sisters. Annoyingly, I’m still recuperating from it.

I had been looking forward to this trip since it was booked. I was counting down the days. Sometimes even the hours. Last Tuesday, after coming back from group, I started to feel unsettled. “Tomorrow is the day”. I don’t know why I had shifted into that almost panicked mode.

Packing for a vacation always overwhelms me for some reason. That Tuesday, it seemed even worse. I was so anxious, and even emotional. I cried through most of it. What was going on? I had no idea why I was feeling the way I was. In our session on Monday my therapist told me that she’ll let her other clients get away with “I don’t know”, but not me. Apparently I’m insightful. But sometimes I really don’t know. And this was one of those times. Maybe it will come to me at some point. That happens quite often, so maybe I can’t get away with “I don’t know” after all.

I hate airports. I despise them. Even more than I do crowded shopping malls (I try to go during the week when most people are at work). Those are places where I’m most likely to get panic attacks (lasting either from a few minutes to over 20 minutes sometimes). So, in preparation, I took one of my magic anxiety killing pills, and after that, I felt so much better. I had used some mindfulness and breathing exercises before taking it though, hoping that it would be enough. But it wasn’t. I lasted 20 minutes with that. But at least I tried. I got through the whole airport and flying thing pretty smoothly. I used to love flying. But when I got into a relationship with my ex, I started becoming as anxious and paranoid as she was every time we had to step foot on a plane. But this time, and alone, my old love of flying was back! My favourite part is the take off and landing. It’s a bit of an adrenaline rush.

On my way from the airport to my mom’s place, I had to go pick up my youngest half-sister, who lives quite a while away from my mom. She was going to be spending a few days with us. I also popped in to see my eldest younger half-sister, who was at work, so I couldn’t spend much time with her. To me they’re just my sisters (there’s no half in there for me). By the time I got to my mom’s place, I was exhausted. As I walked through the door, my mom was busy with something. She looked up and saw me, and her eyes just lit up. She also seemed to do a double take, not sure whether I was real. I hugged her tighter than I ever had before. She looked so happy!

Throughout my stay there, I slept on a small blow up mattress, and my youngest sister slept on the couch. Sleeping in the same room with any one of my sisters is a crazy experience. My mom’s place only has one bedroom, so we slept in the lounge. I didn’t get much sleep while I was there. I struggle to sleep in a new environment, and add to that a young sister who doesn’t get the value of sleep. I’m a very light sleeper. After having her try to keep me awake as long as possible, I would finally go to sleep. But she’s so noisy, and every time she moved, the couch creaked way too loud, in my opinion. The curtains also couldn’t close, so it was too bright in there with all the street lights. Not a very good environment for inducing sleep. But I survived. Like I mentioned in a previous blog post, I like waking up to peace and quiet in the mornings, while I drink my coffee. There was no chance of that happening here. Imagine being semi-asleep and having your mom and sister yelling at one another before you can even get your eyes open. Those two can’t be together for more than a day, or they’re at each other’s throats. They know exactly how to push one another’s buttons. Now here I was, stuck with this for four days. Burying my head under the pillow never sounded (and felt) so good.

A lot happened during the time with my mom. The unfortunate thing is that I barely got one moment alone with her. Both my mom and sister vying for my attention. I didn’t know which way to go. Which way is up? It was exhausting. My mom’s 23-year-old boyfriend (I called him daddy, that had him laughing for a while), was there in the evenings and the weekend, so we were never entirely alone. The only uninterrupted time my mom and I had was an hour before I went to bed on my last night there. I had taken my youngest sister home by that time. I adore my sisters, but the youngest one is a handful! We had our own “salon day” at my mom’s place though. She coloured and styled my hair, and we even played around with make-up. That was a nice bonding experience.

It was a busy week. Driving back and forth to go see my eldest younger sister, and a bunch of other outings that made me so sick of driving. But I don’t see my family every day, and it was nice to be able to do those things for, and with, them, so it was worth it. I struggled a lot that week with disconnection though. I “felt” numb quite often.

On the Saturday evening, we went out for dinner with my aunt (my mother’s sister) and uncle. He’s Greek, she’s Portuguese. They’re constantly fighting, and it’s fascinating (and extremely funny) listening to them, as they switch between English and each of their languages! It makes my head spin just thinking about it. It’s always fun spending time with them though. Oh, and they took me to a bookstore, and bought me two new books! I’m obsessed with books. I got “Into the Heart of Mindfulness” and “The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion”. The first one was recommended to me by my former OT, so when I saw it I just knew I had to get it.

My mom was emotional and cried a lot during my stay. Sometimes over small things (sound familiar?). As far as I can remember, I’ve only seen her cry twice in my life. And now suddenly it’s almost a daily thing. Apparently it’s been like this for months already, so I’m worried about her. I wanted to hug or hold her during those times, but it’s like there’s an invisible wall between us, and I can’t get myself to do that. The most I could do was put my hand on her shoulder or back for a few seconds, and even that felt awkward. I can’t remember her ever holding me either. Of course hugging her hello and goodbye is easy. But other than those times, that’s not the case. It’s still a great source of sadness for me. I don’t know why it’s so hard with her, when I find it so easy to be that shoulder when someone else needs it, including my sisters.

I still have more to write about this trip, but I’ll rather split it up into two parts. I don’t want to write anymore tonight. Writing has been hard for me lately. Wanting to write, but not able to start. An internal battle of sorts. But now it seems like I’ve broken through that wall.

The Cliff

I didn’t want to write on my blog ever again. But here I am. Don’t have the energy to write much. Will write more about what’s been going on at another time. Just need to get this out of my head.

Standing on a high cliff. I had climbed up that cliff with the help of a ladder. Once I reached the top, the ladder fell away, leaving me stranded. It’s a narrow ledge that I’m standing on, and it’s a steep drop from every angle. If I move an inch, I’ll fall. I’m stuck. So I just stand there, trying not to move. But maybe I should.

Permanent

I came across this song the other day, and it touched me deeply. I cried through the whole thing. For those of us with attachment issues, and hold the pain and shame that so often come with it, these words are beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. They’re so special.

Adult Children

I had another great night’s rest. I’m constantly tired (the story of my life), but for most of the day, much less than usual. Wow, I really needed all the sleep I’ve been getting. So I was in a good, healthy mood this morning. I had a few not so good moments, but they were bearable.

After work I met up with my business partner (let’s call her Kim) and Jasmine (who helps us with our marketing) to take some photo’s of ourselves for our new website and Facebook page. We had such an amazing time. Kim took photo’s of me, I of her, and Jasmine took some of the two of us together. I set my camera to auto mode for her, and gave her a quick tutorial on how to work it, as well as some composition tips. She took some good shots, and seemed to be having fun. She was just snapping away, even when Kim and I were fooling around in between our “professional mode”. We were running around, semi-climbing the trees. Just being big children. I felt happy. I was having fun, and it felt so damn good. I’m at my happiest when playing with children. My inner child feels free during those moments. I connect better with children than I do adults. I’m that person who you’ll see running around with the kids at an event or party, instead of sitting at the “adult’s table”. Kim, who is young at heart, is also a real adult child. I tell her that all the time, and she loves hearing it!

She’s 58, which I found out today! There’s no way! I thought she was 50! She’s one of those happy, full of energy, extroverted, and confident people. I always enjoy spending time with her and Jasmine. Even when we have our meetings over a cup of coffee, we have fun. It’s laid back and easy. Jokes abound. I’ll give you an example of what a character she is. She has these white sneakers that flash different colours when she walks. She wears them often, even in crowded shopping malls, restaurants, etc. She certainly draws attention. The first time she wore them when we went for dinner, I freaked out when I saw them. But she made it seem cool! Seriously! The next time we went for lunch and she was wearing those shoes, one of them stopped flashing (apparently it was flat- shoes going flat? Who knew). When we got to the restaurant, I asked the waitress whether they have a charger lying around so my friend could charge her shoe. Jasmine went bright red. But Kim and I (and the waitress of course) just laughed. Now that’s the effect Kim has on me. When I’m around her, I feel confident and couldn’t care less about what people think. Her energy is contagious. After a couple of hours with her, I’m left feeling happy, but exhausted.

I’m coming off that high now. I don’t have any of the strong feel good emotions I had earlier, but I’m not feeling bad either. Just tired.

It was a good day, and I’m so grateful for that.

Sleep, And A Dream

I went to bed relatively early last night. I had just taken a Xanax, which I take in the place of sleeping tablets. I’ve got a box of prescription sleeping pills, but the Xanax has been effective in helping me sleep, so I haven’t needed to use them. It’s been a while since I took Xanax, as I only take it when I’ve had a week of bad sleep and just can’t function anymore. Then I take one every night for about 3 nights, to try to catch up on that sleep.

This morning at about 10am, I was woken up by my step-mom knocking on the door (usually she just walks in without knocking). She wanted me to go grocery shopping for them, and continued explaining something. I can’t remember anything else she said, other than “go shopping” so I had to phone her before I went. When I just wake up and therefore, still half asleep, don’t talk to me, because I’ll probably miss 99% of what was said. And I become irritable. The only time I won’t be moody when someone wakes me up, is if it’s done gently. But even then, give me time to wake up properly before starting a conversation.

When I looked at the time this morning, I saw that I had slept for 11 hours! That’s not me, I don’t think I’ve ever slept for so long. I don’t know how that had happened. If my step-mom hadn’t woken me up, how much longer would I have slept? I took a nap this afternoon as well, which lasted two hours. I woke up often though, but was too tired to get up, and would fall asleep again. I’m still exhausted. I’ve never slept so much in my life, even when depressed. Actually, when I’m depressed, and exhausted, my insomnia is worse. I just want to lie in bed whole day, but I struggle to actually sleep. I don’t feel particularly depressed, so I don’t think it’s that.

I had a dream last night, and I must have woken up at some point, but I have no recollection of that. I read (or heard) somewhere that we remember our dreams when we wake up from one… If we don’t wake up after the dream, we don’t remember it. I don’t know how true that is though.

In this dream I was holding a newborn baby against my chest. I had her wrapped up in a blanket, inside the jacket I was wearing, so I knew she was warm. She was very quiet, and seemed to be sleeping. But then I got the sense that something wasn’t quite right. Why wasn’t she crying? Why did she feel so cold against me, when I knew she’s actually warm? All of a sudden I felt her take this deep breath, as though she hadn’t had oxygen for a while. She started crying. I knew that she was hungry. Starving actually. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to feed her, but I didn’t have any bottles or formula. I thought maybe I can breastfeed her, but realized that I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I tried searching for a bottle, or something that I could feed her with, but my efforts were unsuccessful.

I tried to get the attention of my dad and first step-mom, who were locked in a physical fight, and screaming and swearing at one another. I tried to ask them to help me find a bottle and get formula for her. But they were ignoring me, as though I didn’t even exist. Like they couldn’t see or hear me. I felt stuck. What do I do now? Then suddenly I was in a crowded place, with people all around me. But my cries for help with this baby went unheard. I tried everything to soothe her, but it wasn’t helping. That’s all I remember from this dream. I felt a little unsettled by this dream for a few hours after waking up.

It’s been a strange day. I feel like I’m in a zone that I don’t know how to get out of. I was a bit dissociated at some points during the day, but used my self-soothe box to help ground me. It worked, but I still felt different inside. Not knowing how I’m feeling. It’s not a sense of emptiness either. I just don’t know.

I’m glad this day is over, and for a change I’m actually looking forward to sleeping.

Goodnight everyone.

Alone

Did a photo shoot for some friends. Wasn’t up for it. Depressed. Did it anyway. They seemed to be having fun. I was on autopilot. Tried to have fun. It wasn’t happening.
Went out for coffee with them afterward. Felt empty. Could barely talk. Good thing they seemed to be talking among themselves enough for my silence to be okay. For me to be invisible. And they didn’t notice a thing. Empty… Lonely… Depressed… Empty.
Supposed to be working on the photo’s. Something I enjoy. But not in the mood.

Just want to disappear. Want to be alone. But so lonely. Don’t want to be alone. Want to curl up into a ball, with a warm hand to hold. Lie with my head on someone’s lap. So cold. Inside and outside. Want to be soothed. Only have myself for that. Don’t want myself. Too much sad to hold alone.

That’s enough for today. Going to rest my face against my special super soft little blanket. Sleep in my therapy “jacket”. Hold onto that special hug. Pull the duvet over my head. Disappear into the dark for a while. Alone. Always alone.

Excitement, And The Power Of A Hug

I was just going to write about something really great that happened on Monday, but there’s something else that happened last night that I want to share as well. So this post might also be a long one.

After a year and four months, it’s finally happening. I’m going to see my mom and little sisters again!

My mom sent me a text on Monday morning, saying “I wonder when I’m going to see Rayne again”, with a GIF of a monkey scratching his head. That was really cute and funny. I showed it to my step-mom as well. I often share these kinds of things with them and vice versa. I sent that same GIF back to her saying “I’m wondering the same thing.” A few hours later I was surprised with a flight ticket and rental car! My dad, with nudging from my step-mom (whose idea it was- bless her heart), decided to use their reward points to get me that ticket. They had so many points that they didn’t have a pay a cent for it. That’s pretty cool. I was so happy, and the gratitude I felt, almost made me burst into tears. I also felt this great sense of relief. I’m just not sure what the relief is about.

It’s my mom’s birthday today, and she hates her birthday. My flight is for next week Wednesday. I wanted to tell her on Monday already, but thought today would be a better time to do it. So I video called her this morning, and told her that I have a special gift for her this year. My youngest little sister was with my mom at the time, so she was also in on the call. When I told them that I’m coming next week, they both started screaming. Seeing their faces, oh my heart. I’ll never forget that moment.

And guess what? I’m also going to see my therapist in person again! I can’t wait! Although I’m also a little nervous for some reason.

I went to group last night, and really enjoyed it. D was leading it. Before group, while we were in the coffee shop, one of the guys came around to the table I was sitting at with some of the girls. He kissed one of them on the cheek, and attempted to do the same with me. I told him “no” and pulled my face away. He laughed and tried again, but not coming too close this time. Like in a playful manner. But I stuck to my boundaries and didn’t give in, like I would have in the past. Too afraid of offending the person. One of the girls told him that I don’t like it when guys touch me. I was surprised when she said that, because I didn’t know that she “got it”. I told him I’d give him a hug instead. Afterward he said “but you touched me” and I told him that it’s because I initiated it, and therefore I was more comfortable with it.

I’m becoming more comfortable with talking and sharing during the group. That’s progress. This group is so good and valuable for me. After I was done talking and sharing last night, my inner critic showed up. I didn’t quite articulate myself very well. I stumbled a little over my thoughts and words, but not in a very obvious way. Some things came out in ways that I didn’t intend, and were incomplete. But I told that critic to shut up. The important thing is that I’m trying. This is all new to me, so of course I’m going to struggle a bit at first. It’s like a baby taking her first steps. She’s going to be awkward at first. She’s going to struggle and stumble. But she doesn’t give up, she keeps getting back up and trying again. Eventually she’s walking with ease. I’ll get there too.

We were talking about values yesterday, which is part of Interpersonal Effectiveness in DBT. We did a fun activity. But at some point during that activity I started feeling this depression sink in. When the activity was over and we started going through the skill, I started to feel worse. I still struggle with values. With knowing who I want to be. Who I really am. And the shame that had died down a little since Monday, hit me full force again. Suddenly everyone and everything around me started to feel unreal. And then the suicidal thoughts kicked in. I felt like nothing matters. What’s the point of life? Then the thought (judgement) that “there’s no reason for me to be feeling the way I am right now. Good things are happening. I have things to look forward to. I’m not supposed to be feeling depressed and suicidal. What the hell is wrong with me?” There were a few times that I felt tears well up, but tried to focus on what was going on in the group. There was a point when I couldn’t hold back that much, but I just hid my face and pretended to be looking at the worksheet I had in front of me. I may be more comfortable with talking and sharing, but I’m not at the point yet where I’m comfortable showing my emotions in front of more than one person.

I’m still going to be able to attend group next week, but will miss the next one, which is the last one for two weeks. D didn’t know whether she was going to be doing the group next week, or one of the other OT’s. So after group I asked her whether I could give her a hug in case I don’t see her for the next month or possibly longer. What started as a hug from me to her, a thank you for all she does and for the group last night, turned into her giving me a precious gift. And she doesn’t even know it.

I hugged her, and as I was starting to pull away, she held onto me and hugged me even tighter. I always pull away pretty quickly, and when I let go the other person also does. But she didn’t. And I’m so grateful, because it was what I needed. It felt warm, caring, and comforting. My whole body relaxed, and my mind just went quiet. I felt a deeper level of trust toward her, and sense of safety. It’s the quickest that suicidal and hopeless thoughts went away. It usually lasts at least a few hours, days, and sometimes even weeks. And it’s still gone.

On my way home, I cried all the way. I felt connected to the younger versions of myself. I experienced the pain of not having had the love and comfort I so desperately wanted and needed all those years. At how one deep hug could have such a big effect on me.

I feel like writing her an email and telling her about this, but not sure if I should. What do you guys think?

I wrote this in my personal journal last week, without intending to share it with anyone. But now it just feels right to do it. Strange how things work sometimes.

Letter To No One And Everyone

I need you to dig, to find those parts of me that even I can’t find.
I need you to help me see if there’s treasure hidden somewhere inside me.

Please sit beside me. Not a world away. Distance plays tricks on my mind.
Please see inside me. I can’t see me. But maybe you can.
Please hold my hand. Don’t pull away even when I initially try to.
Please hold me. If I try to pull away, don’t let go. Hold onto me.
Please be gentle with me. I’m tough, but also very fragile.

Can you feel the pain behind these words?
Can you see the tears that are falling as I’m writing this?
Can you hear my silent screams for comfort?

You may touch my heart.
But how can I trust that when I can’t feel the warmth of your touch?

That gentle touch that unlocks the door to my soul.
That healing touch that fills me with the strength I need to fight another day. That touch I ache for.
That can help break the bonds of harm that were created a long time ago.

A touch that heals, not destroys.
A dream… Unrealistic.
A voice deep inside whispers, “you don’t deserve it”.

D made me feel like maybe, just maybe, I do deserve it.

That’s the power of a hug.