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.

It’s The Connection

For the past two weeks, I’ve been so fixated on the thought of not being able to afford to have therapy sessions, that I failed to see what’s been right in front of me this entire time. I was reading through some of my posts on being afraid of losing connection with my therapist, and that’s when it hit me.

I think I finally get what my therapist told me. That she doesn’t want me to become dependent on therapy. I get defensive when she says that and tell her that I’m not dependent on therapy. She counters that by telling me that she didn’t say I am. I realized it’s not the therapy I’m dependent on. It’s the connection with my therapist. The attachment. I’ve never felt a connection like this with anyone. Not even with my grandmother, who was my favourite person in the world. At this point in my life, and for the sake of healing, I need this stable relationship. Especially for those younger parts. They’ve had a hard week without her. I think one of the ways of healing those childhood wounds, and working on integrating the parts, is through a healthy, secure attachment.

The way I see it, is that there’s still plenty of time to focus on the work in therapy. But the relationship needs to be there. And going more than a week without some form of communication is the thing that’s hard for me. I’m not ready to go a full week without hearing from her. It feels like I lose that connection, and it’s agony. I still need to be able to keep that connection with my therapist alive.

I have my weekly group and DBT sessions with my OT, which is part of my journey toward healing. It will help me improve my functioning, and provides me with the tools I need to better navigate this world and my life.

I can have therapy once a month and I’ll be fine. If that’s the way it has to be until I get a job, then there’s nothing I can do about it. All I want is to be able to speak to Therapist and hear her voice once a week or every two weeks, with texts or emails the weeks I can’t call her. A 5-10 minute conversation is all I need. When I think of the situation this way, I feel a sense of relief. We’ll obviously need to talk about this in our next session, and work something out.

The Little One’s Letter To Therapist

I was a little embarrassed when the thought of posting this letter on my blog popped into my head. Until I remembered that my original purpose for starting it was for me to process my thoughts and feelings after my break up and move to a new city. So I’ve decided that it’s okay to post this, since this blog is my space to just let it all out and examine my inner world. I need to do this. For me.

In my previous post I mentioned that I felt very young last night. I’ve been feeling that way for most of today as well. I’ve tried to ignore that little voice inside, and the feelings it brought up. But then I decided that I just couldn’t ignore it any longer. So I listened. I listened to the little one’s fears. I acknowledged her sadness. I cried those tears. She wanted to write a letter to Therapist, so I let her. Which I’ll only be able to show to her at our next session. She told me to use my non dominant hand when writing from that little part. So that’s what I did. And this is the result:

2017-03-21 21.05.59

I have been trying to figure out why this is coming up now. And why it feels so hard. In my session with my OT yesterday, I mentioned to her that my medical aid benefits are almost depleted. The clinic stay took away from my benefits. I told her that after next week’s session with my therapist, I don’t know when I’ll be able to see her again as I just can’t afford it. She’s away this week, otherwise I would have rescheduled to sometime this week since I’m missing her so damn much.

When I told this to my OT, I think it hit me right then and there just how scared and panicked I actually feel about the situation. I shoved it down quickly though. But the uncertainty is killing me. I need routine, so I feel unsettled.

Yes, I’ll survive. But why should I have to? Haven’t I already survived enough shit? The teen in me feels that it’s fucking unfair. But I blame myself for most of what happened in my life. For being in the place I’m at right now. For my part in it. Sometimes even for the roles that others have played in my life. If only I had been better. Done better.

The little one knows, but doesn’t understand why it has to be this way. She thinks the connection will be broken and she’ll be alone. She has me, but she doesn’t just want me. She wants Therapist. She feels that her main attachment figure will be taken away from her again. The way she was taken away from her mother that day. The moving further and further away from her attachment figure, watching her fade away.

And that’s my biggest fear right now. I’m scared that our connection, the bond I have with her, will break. That my therapist will fade away into the distance.

The Inner Child & Teen

I had a DBT session tonight. My OT says I’m making good progress, which was nice to hear. But I feel like I’m not doing well enough. I can just hear my therapist telling me that I’m too hard on myself.

We spoke about a few things, and then started getting into the core emotions. She then focused on one them. Fear. She chose that one for a reason, which I won’t get into here. My memory is a little hazy, so I’m not sure about the order of things, or everything that we spoke about. But at some point, I regressed back to my 14 year old self for a few seconds (I think it was seconds).

This is a fairly new inner part I discovered back in December. This part holds a lot of secrets (that I don’t have access to- but I know they’re there), pain, confusion, fear and shame. The instant I felt her come up, I just shut down. I didn’t want to go there. I just couldn’t. I have no idea what will happen if I allow that part to express herself when someone else is present. In December when I first discovered her, it knocked the breath right out of me. I was back in the place she had been in, and it was excruciatingly painful. I cried for hours, experiencing the physical (I could actually feel it in my body) and emotional pain that she had felt. I wrote her a letter that day which I’ll post here at some point. I first want my therapist to read it, once I feel ready to get into that topic with her again. But since that day in December, I don’t want to explore that part. I don’t think I’m ready yet.

When I was in that disassociated place during this session, OT asked whether it was too much (the territory we were in). I appreciated that she asked me that, and didn’t push me to continue. She helped me through a grounding exercise. It seems and sounds easy, but doing it during those moments isn’t easy at all. I’m still struggling with it, so I’m grateful that she’s there to help me. I’m glad that I get to have these sessions. I’m learning a lot from her. I especially like the consistency. Weekly sessions at the same time, same place. It gives me a sense of stability.

When I got back home, I started feeling really young. I felt like the 5 year old was emerging. I’ve been learning how to work better with this part, how to soothe her, thanks to my therapist’s help.

In a therapy session last year, I had to write a letter to this younger self, and reply to that letter from the adult me. I still find this concept strange and confusing. I know these “parts” are all me, yet they feel so separate. It’s easier to work with if I refer to them as “she” and not “me”. Otherwise it just becomes overwhelmingly complex. My brain overheats. I know that the goal of this work is to eventually integrate these inner parts, so I can be a fully functional adult. Because as it stands, I don’t even know who the adult me really is, and if “she” even exists. I don’t have a stable identity at the moment. I’m all over the place.

The Little One (as my therapist calls her), the 5 year old, wrote a letter to Therapist one day, and she replied with her own letter to that little part. It felt very soothing and comforting to that younger child. I’ll explain how I came to “discover” this youngest inner child in a separate post.

Tonight, every now and then I feel the inner child taking over, and I revert back to my comfort objects (I didn’t have comfort objects as a child). My therapy jacket, and a little blanket. It’s the softest blanket I’ve ever felt. When I’m in this mode, I just want to curl up in bed with these items and cry. There’s a lot of confusion, sadness and fear inside.

I’ve been missing my therapist so much today, and there’s a bit of panic going on too, from the little one. I’m scared of losing the connection with Therapist. I wish I could just phone her and hear her voice. But I know I can’t. So instead, I’ll read the letters she wrote me.

Female Attachments

Having written about attachments these past few weeks, I got to thinking about my tendency to get attached to women. This is an emotional and deeply personal post which I’m a little nervous to write.

My parents got divorced when I was between the ages of 3/4.

I have no memory of anything that happened between them before they got divorced. But I remember the moment my dad took me from my mom. I was screaming and crying, but my mother was a shell. She was emotionless. She wouldn’t help me, and just stood there. My dad wasn’t exactly gentle with me during that moment. He didn’t care that he was hurting me physically and emotionally, as long as he got what he wanted. I blocked this memory, or to be more exact, I suppressed it. It would surface every few years, then the process would begin again. After that moment, everything goes blank.

The next thing I remember is being in a new house, with a new “mother” and baby sister (my now ex-stepsister). We were in a new city, far from my hometown. My biological mother was then also living in the area, just across the street, with her new boyfriend. My first memory of him is also during this time. I remember running to my mom’s place one day, and her telling me that I couldn’t stay there. I had to go back to my dad’s house. I didn’t want to. But she took me back anyway.

I don’t know how long we stayed in that area. We moved a lot throughout my childhood and early teen years, with every move taking me further and further away from my mother. I don’t remember much from my childhood. Just scattered pieces here and there. I know I went to my mom every second weekend, and I remember instances of my dad and stepmom telling me that my mother gave me up, that she didn’t want me, and them using that as justification to get me to not go to her for the weekend. But even with all of that, I wanted to see her. So growing up, I believed my mother didn’t want me. That she gave up on me. That she didn’t really love me. That’s what they wanted me to believe. But when I was with her, she wasn’t like the woman they painted as a monster. She wasn’t the most attentive mother. It was almost like she was afraid to bond with me, but I have a few memories of her playing with me. Then, when I was 8 years old, my first little sister was born (half-sister). I’d see her with my sister and she was so gentle and loving toward her. I instantly loved my baby sister, and loved taking care of her when I was at my mom on her weekends. But it still felt like I wasn’t connected to my mother. She still felt like a stranger in a way, and even more so when my sisters were born.

I didn’t want to be at home with my dad and stepmom. There was shit happening there that I’m not going to get into. But I also didn’t want to be at my mother’s place with my stepdad. He was abusive towards my mother, and even (very rarely though) my sisters. I think he was too afraid of my dad to hurt me. He did hurt me emotionally of course, with how he treated my mom. He’d even hit her when we were in the car, driving somewhere. When he was angry, he’d put his foot down on the accelerator, and speed past all the other cars, taking corners at a frightening speed. Threatening to kill us all. My dad did the same thing (my mom sure knows how to pick them). So I didn’t feel safe anywhere. I didn’t feel like I belonged. Like I didn’t have a home.

It would only be much later (in my late teen years) that I would learn the truth about what my dad did (and threatened to do) if my mother didn’t let me go with him. And when I found this out, through my mother, and two other family members (not just from her side of the family), my mother’s reaction the day I was taken from her, made sense. My connection to my biological mom is one of friendship. I do love her though. I just don’t feel that mother-daughter bond with her.

My stepmom was a cruel woman. She didn’t care about anyone but herself and her daughter. But then again my dad preferred my stepsister too, which was made evident time and time again. I was always the odd one out. They would go to her sports matches, but were always “too busy” to come to any of mine. I was good at most sports, but I gave them up quickly, because I didn’t see the point when I didn’t have anyone cheering me on. I guess I shot myself in the foot with that one. I should have carried on without needing their support. I should have been able to be my own cheerleader.

I used to pretend that I was switched at birth, and daydream for hours on end about getting found and rescued by my birth mother. I would always use actresses that I saw on TV, to take on that role in my imaginary world. It seemed safer that way. They would never leave me. I searched for a mother figure in everyone who showed me the least bit of attention. But I’m not looking for a mother figure anymore. I know, and have accepted, that I’m never going to have that. I have a mother, and even though it’s in a different capacity, she’s still my mother. All I want now are stable, healthy relationships. Relationships that will help heal the trauma and abandonment, and the patterns that have resulted from it.

So my experiences with men, starting with my dad, have limited my need for them. I don’t need a father figure, I don’t even want one. In this situation, some people would also look for a father figure in the men they date, but it didn’t happen that way for me. I don’t want a replacement. I have what I have, and life carries on.

In light of all of this, I now understand myself, and my patterns, better. I can see why it’s so easy for me to get attached to women. Even though it’s not with everyone, and it’s rare that I do get attached, it still happens. Now I’m left with a few questions. Will it always be this way, or is there a way to release myself from all of this? And most important of all… should I do away with all attachment? What’s healthy, and what’s not? I don’t know how to navigate this.

Kindness & Gratitude #2

I’ve been meaning to write this post for the past week, but other things kept coming up. I need to hold onto the good right now, so it’s time.

It was about 3 weeks ago. I had gone to DBT group, and was happy when I saw that my favourite OT (Occupational Therapist) was leading the group that night. I know her from my time at the clinic. She was the first person to come in and sit with me that day, as she had to do some intake interview. She was so gentle with me, which made me feel less alone and overwhelmed. I was very emotional that day, as you already know from a previous post. After that day, every time I’d see her around, I’d remember how much her presence had meant to me that first day. She even gave me a hug the day I left the clinic.

I don’t like receiving and giving hugs to random people that I don’t know well, or trust. Touch is my heart’s way of communication and connection. It soothes me. But touch can also send me into a panic when it suddenly comes out of nowhere, especially in a crowded place, or from behind. PTSD symptoms become activated. Being as hyper vigilant as I am though, that rarely happens. My friends know me well enough to know not to sneak up on me. I long for touch, more than anything else. But at the same time, it terrifies me. Growing up, touch mostly hurt. It definitely wasn’t the caring and soothing type. And maybe that’s why I’ve always craved it so much.

During group that night, we were talking about the emotional waves. It was an interesting topic. Knowing that it’s okay to not fight against our emotions. Which is what I’ve always done, and still do. It’s draining. Sometime during group, I had to get up and leave for a while, as I felt a panic attack coming on. When I had come back, I apologized to the OT, and she was really nice about it. Going back I had been worried that she’d be angry with me for just standing up and walking out. But she wasn’t. Relief. During the break, she told me that she notices that I don’t breathe properly, which is true. I tend to hold my breath when I’m anxious or nervous, or take shallow breaths. I’m sure a lot of us do this. She told me that when I breathe, to imagine a balloon in my stomach, inflating with each in breath, and deflating with each out breath. I know about the whole “breathing properly” thing, but I struggle with that. But when she told me about the balloon, it finally clicked into place, and now I find it so much easier to do and maintain. I need that type of imagery. She makes the concepts easy to understand. It’s like she speaks my language.

After group, we spoke for a little while. She seems so genuine and caring. She’s very gentle with me too, which is what I need. Therapist is more like “mommy”, firm and “tough love” sometimes. It’s rare, but it happens. It scares me a little during those moments, but I understand where it’s coming from. Her intentions are pure. My OT knows that I see my therapist over Skype, and said that she wants me to have someone I can see in person as well. So she offered to work with me, and for me to see her every week. That I don’t have to worry about payment. At first I felt guilty, undeserving of such kindness. Then I heard my therapists voice tell me that when people offer something, it’s because they can, and want to. So I didn’t feel that bad about it anymore. Although I still feel like I don’t really deserve it. It means so much to me that she wants to help. She does DBT with me, which is something I need individual help with. Sometimes the skills I’m meant to learn in group can be a little too advanced for me, and I struggle.

And yes, I’m attached. She knows this. When I told her that I’m already attached to her, she told me that she knows. I don’t know how she knew that, but she did. From what I’ve seen and heard so far, she’s very perceptive.

The last time I had an attachment with someone before my therapist, was when I was in high school. I think I mentioned her here before… One of my teachers.

I would go to her house and help her with her arts and crafts. I loved every second of it. She’d even take me out for coffee. I loved spending time with her. Then back at school, in the classroom, she was “teacher” again. I found it easy to separate her into the two different roles. In class she wouldn’t treat me any differently to the rest of the students. I’d still sometimes fail to do my homework, and she wouldn’t let me get away with it. I preferred it that way. Even though I wrote her a letter before she left (she moved away) thanking her for everything, she’ll never know just how much she meant to me. How she ‘saved’ me when I’d get to a really dark place even years after she had left. I’d just have to think of her, and the memories would give me strength to keep going. Unfortunately, that connection that I had held onto, and that had helped me so much, has dissipated over the years. She’ll always hold a special place in my heart though. I was heartbroken when she left. My safe person was gone. I’ll forever be grateful for all she did for me. All her kindness and love. It’s the tiny bits of love that have saved me throughout my life.

I’m so grateful that people like my OT, therapist, and teacher exist. The world needs more of these souls.

Hello Psychiatrist

Had my first out-patient session with my psychiatrist yesterday, and as I mentioned in a previous post, I couldn’t wait to see her again.

I got to the clinic about 20 minutes early, and went to go buy myself a cappuccino (the clinic coffee shop makes the best). Standing there, lost in my own head, who comes in? My psychiatrist. I had to laugh, because it reminded me so much of the first time I went to the DBT group and we arrived at the clinic at the same time. It felt pretty much the same.

Here’s a random little fact about me. It takes me anywhere from an hour to three hours to finish a cup of coffee. So I took my cappuccino into the session with me, and I left without having had a single sip. Two hours later I was still busy with it. It’s my thing. I always get mocked about this. I do the same with alcohol, unless I’m drinking to cope. I’m basically a cheap date.

When it was time for our session and we were in her consultation room, Psychiatrist asked a lot of questions. I wasn’t really prepared for that. I’m so used to seeing her for only a little while at a time (while I was in the clinic), without much prying into my personal life. And now here she was, asking questions, in a session that lasted almost an hour!  When I would tell her something, she found another question from the information I had just given her. At one point I wanted to tell her to phone my therapist instead and ask her about it since she knows pretty much everything about me, and I didn’t want to answer some of them.

I slipped in and out of dissociation rapidly. As soon as any feelings rose up, it’s like I’d shut them down… unintentionally. Thinking about it now, I realize that I actually do that quite a lot with Therapist as well. Sometimes when I allow those emotions during therapy sessions, I feel like I hold the intensity back a little. I can also easily find myself talking about painful things, feeling absolutely nothing in the moment, but knowing that it’s a difficult thing to talk about. It’s almost like I go into autopilot mode. But between sessions, and when I’m alone, the emotions and memories are so painful , and I can’t stop them from taking over. I wonder why I struggle with this so much, and how to break through it.

Overall, it was a pretty good, but draining session. When I got up to leave at the end, I suddenly felt very disoriented. It was a weird experience.

I still feel that attachment to her, and I especially felt it yesterday. And while I’d love to see her at least once a month, I realized that I can’t. Therapy already takes a lot out of me sometimes, and I’m scared it interferes with therapy somehow. And the attachment I feel toward her is more “normal”, so I don’t feel the same panic as when I think of not seeing therapist for more than five days.