Sunday, July 31, 2011

How much do you love me?

Today, I am reminded of how fragile we all are.  Each one of us, as humans, is just one wrong word, one misunderstood intention, one projected feeling away from having the wall come crashing down around us. I have spent my entire life trying to figure out this whole "love" thing.  When someone has been emotionally abandoned early in life, it is hard to determine what is real, who can really be trusted and how far you must go to protect yourself.  I find myself telling my children that the only person they can ever  count on is first themselves and in the same instance then their God.  Yet, by saying this, am I telling them inadvertently or without any conscience that they can't count on me?  Or what about their future spouse,  or their own children thereafter...  And when I am talking about who to "count on", am I talking about love, trust, security, sense of self?  Maybe all of that or none of that.  I am still very much confused on this one.  It is my hope that when this is finished I will have found my answer.

This is what I know.  There are parts of me that I love.  But, there are more parts that I don't even like, nor do I understand.  I often feel like I am a player in some badly written Lifetime movie of the week.  I keep waiting for that "hollywood moment" to appear and make everything right again.  This drives my husband crazy as he knows he is expected to be the one to swoop in and "fix" it, yet 9 out of 10 times he has no idea what went wrong or where even to begin.  When we met, he was my "leading man", he somehow created these moments in the middle of complete chaos (this will be addressed in later posts) and set things right with my heart in a way that I had never experienced.  This is what I fell in love with.  Or at least what I thought love was at the time.  Yet as we grew, as things changed, as the chaos became more and more distant, I find myself still waiting for that "white horse" to sweep me away and well I guess he is waiting for me to just believe in those "moments" without anything having to happen that requires him to prove himself.

And so this crazy cycle continues with me desperately seeking his love and him desperately seeking my approval.  When does it end?  Well for starters, I think it ends when you love yourself enough that you are not waiting for someone else to fill you up anymore.  Jerry Maguire had it all wrong with the whole "you complete me" bullshit.  No one can complete you.  By the same token, you can't break anything that wasn't whole to begin with.  So, today, I find myself recommitting to my task of filling myself with as much love as is required for just my own happiness.  And with some positive energy and a little divine intervention my happiness will make everyone around me happy in turn.  And just maybe when my husband calls for me to watch some funny video he sees on Facebook, or when he gets up early on his day off and mows the lawn, or when he asks me if I want the rest of the hash browns before eating them, I will be able to see that as my "leading man" he is loving me in the best way he knows how.  By thinking of what makes me laugh, how much it bothers me when the grass gets too tall and just how much I, in fact, LOVE hash browns, he is showing me that he loves me in every single insignificant moment of every single day.

And, if I can be confident in that and love myself as much as he loves me, then those super "hollywood moments", will occasionally find their way into our lives, but they will not be what I "count on" for completeness, they will be what runneth over my already full cup.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Elephant"

It's been a few days since my last post.  I have been going around and around as to how to address the "elephant in the room".  I began this Blog describing my darkest secret---the cutting.  Yet, to be fair that is not the big secret, cutting is just a solution, the aftermath, if you will.  I have never talked publicly about this.  My husband, my therapist and my God, are the only ones who know the details, the real pain... the truth.  I have been making myself sick thinking about how I am going to say it, what should I say, what not to say.  Physically, I have felt as if all energy is draining out of me.  The silence is terrifying, but the "noise" is worse.  I have no where to run and no where to hide.  For years, I have allowed the pain, the tears and the memories to erupt, to process and silently pass.  This is about healing.   So, there is only one thing left to do.... write.  Breathe.

I pick up the rocks one by one in front of me.  I am kneeling on the driveway examining my treasures.  It is a favorite pastime, this discovery of each and every mark and crevice in the cold, hard stone.  I imagine where each pebble originated, one coming from the boulders in the pasture behind our home, one brought from some far away place on one of our recent travels and one born of this spot, from the earth, part of the earth, here millions of years.  As I am lost in thought, he comes up behind me and sits on the ground leaning back against the house.  I hear him chuckle and I turn and smile.  He is my friend.  My parents are inside talking to his brother, who is their spiritual advisor of sorts and they spend many hours together discussing things that I don't quite understand.  Yet, I sense the importance of these meetings and know that I am to stay away.  As the years pass, I will find that these sessions were tape recorded and would lead to a spiritual knowledge that would be the foundation of my mother's own writings.  In the meantime, at around age 4 or 5, I am to just stay out of the way and he is there to watch me, keep me company, keep me out of trouble.  I like him.  My parents say he is "slow", that there is something wrong with his mind that makes him more like a child than an adult.  This makes me like him more.  We seem to have a lot in common.  We like to go on walks, we like to play with pebbles, leaves, sticks and we both have a vivid imagination.  We make up games to play.  He makes up one that I have never heard of.  This one requires that I tell no one... it was our secret.  Because if I tell, they will take him away.  I don't want  him to go away and I don't want my parents to be mad.  If he goes away, then his brother goes away and then they don't have these important meetings and all that I know is I won't be the one to end it.  I will not tell.  Besides, I really like him.

I don't remember exactly when the games became more than playing grocery store or teacher.  In fact, my memories are sporadic at best.  Sometimes one will be triggered by a smell or a sound.  Sometimes they come to me in dreams that rocket me awake dripping in a cold sweat.  They have come out during hypnosis but I have refused to ever listen to what I've said.  I don't really want to know.  I know enough.  I know that over the course of about 5 years, from around age 5 to somewhere around my 10th birthday my "friend" sexually abused me.  It began as simple touching and ended with rape.  I could not tell you where one began and the other started.  What I do know is that somewhere in the dirt in small town, USA, my innocence was taken, and along with it so were the pieces of my soul.

There are many reasons why children who are sexually abused don't tell anyone.  In the seventies, it most likely had a lot to do with the fact that we just didn't talk about those things.  It wasn't on TV.  It wasn't in the news or on the radio.  Along with that, it could be fear, there is some kind of threat, or just plain shame.  In my case, I just really didn't want to hurt anyone.  With everything else that was going on in our lives and the amount of stress every adult that I knew seemed to be under, I didn't want to be the one to set some other emotional tailspin into motion.  My childhood was spent on a slippery slope and I was desperately just hanging on, along for the ride.  Causing any more waves than I already felt I had, was not something I would do willingly.  My silence was my power.  It was the one thing that I alone could control.  It was the one thing that I could control.  So, I coveted my little secret... for as long as I could.  Eventually, I would tell and there are different versions out there as to what in fact happened.  But whatever happened isn't the worst or the best of what I remember.  What I remember is how the shame began to breathe its life into me, becoming an emotional and hollow pain that had no bottom.  Between my emotions and my hormones, my subtle control of my silence was being threatened and it was not long before a tiny, sharp blade became my drug.  At around 10 years old, I learned that there were other ways to drown any emotional trauma.  It's a funny thing about blood.  When it's inside of you, it gives you your life, so when it comes out... whatever life it held inside of you has to die, right?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Getting Organized

Today was spent plowing through my organized chaos.  As I try and make sense of who I am and where I am going, it is becoming increasingly more important that I find some type of organization in my life.  I have found that if I make myself a list, I can more readily set short term goals.  There is nothing better than drawing that line through something on the list.  It's the smallest sense of accomplishment at times that seem to make a huge impression.  This past year has been markedly extreme in it's highs and lows.  2 years ago I lost my job, shortly thereafter I became sick again with a recurring illness.  Following that was months of treatment, surgery, medication and more surgery.  On top of that we found ourselves caught in the infamous economic downturn.  Needless to say with medical bills escalating our financial situation was taking a hit.  A hard hit.  In November of last year we had to make the decision to downsize.  And though, we are happy with our move, it has been a huge adjustment.  With pride constantly at our heals, we have had to turn to family and friends just to keep afloat on more than one occasion.  As if that was not enough, we have either sold or returned each of our vehicles in order to justify any spending as we begin the process of rebuilding ourselves.  Starting over with a pending  bankruptcy we often find ourselves grateful for just the smallest things.  A bike ride with my daughter, barbecue's with friends, freshly brewed coffee on the front porch as the sun rises, picking cherries from our tree.  Even the internet has been a blessing!  Who knew?? It is true that you do not really appreciate what you have until it's gone.  But, even in our darkest times, we continue to recognize our blessings.  Illness can make or break a family and with gratitude I stand proud in that my family has come together, made sacrifices and stands stronger than before.

With all that I have been through in this life, the main reason for this journey that I'm on, is that though I know what it means to survive, I am just learning what it means to LIVE.  Anyone who has had struggles, and we all have, know what I'm talking about.  It is very easy to get bogged down in the "woe is me" mentality, to live like a victim.  Living this way gets you nowhere.  It is easier, however, to live in the chaos, than it is to live without it.  At least for me.  In essence that has been my addiction.  As we rebuild our lives, I feel like I am re-learning the most basic processes.  Get up, breathe, stretch, be, function, breathe, live, breathe, repeat.

As a child, I was highly organized, almost to a fault.  Everything had to be in its place and if it wasn't I would notice.  I remember coloring in a Rocky and Bullwinkle coloring book and if I colored outside of the lines, I would tear the paper out with a vengeance, throw it to the ground and start over.  This strive for perfection became my nemesis and ultimately as I got older, lead to a multitude of issues, one being a fairly serious eating disorder throughout high school.  It wasn't until I married my husband that this obsessive compulsiveness disappeared.  Being forced to have witness to all of my darkness, to any open wounds, figuratively and literally made it less important to arrange my life in perfect order.  However, it still is not working.  Organized chaos and disorganized chaos end with the same result.  Very little forward movement.

So, I have my list.  And, though my to-do pile is higher than I would like, I have set a goal to trudge through it and resolve each and every piece of paper by months end.  Organization is key.  I will get there.  I've already accomplished a few things, one being this blog!  Launch blog.  Done!  YES!!  Cross it off the page.... It does feel good.  Even the smallest accomplishment makes me feel grand!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Love

What is love?  I was told today that "love is trust and trust is love".  If that is the case then if trust is broken between two people and they choose to continue in a relationship, do they no longer love each other? Is love lost or dormant until trust is regained?  In my opinion it is not fair to tell anyone that you no longer love them until trust is earned.  That is a lot of pressure for me and for you.  I was also told that "love doesn't act like you in the worst of circumstances."  What does this mean exactly?  Is it that I don't know how to love even in the worst times or is that ANYthing in the worst circumstances, is better than the kind of love that I can give?  Either way, I don't think this statement is very nice.  In fact, it might be construed as being mean.  Regardless, I disagree.  I'm not sure that I know how to love in the same way as anyone else.  Truth be told it is hard for me.  Love for me has always been wrought with strings and consequences and it has usually ended with a clean break.  But, I do believe I love my children, I love my family, I love my friends and I love my husband.  Unconditionally.  Does this mean, that any or all of these people can't or haven't hurt me?  No.  They have.  And I have hurt them too.  It happens in life.  We are all human.  We all have weaknesses and we all are searching for acceptance at some level.  But to say that I don't know how to love makes me only think that the person telling me this does not know how to love themselves.

There was a lot of violence in my home growing up.  There was alcohol. There were other "funny things".  It was the 70's, after all!  It was a different time, a different generation.  There was not much concern over what was happening to children in their homes.  It was a time of "spare the rod, spoil the child."  In my home, that "rod" was never far away from me.  My dad traveled a lot for business in the early years.  I don't know that I ever really understand where he went or why he had to leave.  All I remember is he seemed to be gone a lot.  This must have been stressful for my mom.  She married young, under her own duress, escaping from a life that she did not want.  Reservation life is hard, poverty is rampant, alcoholism prevailed and violence was not unexpected.  She must have felt that life with my father would save her somehow.  But, from my perspective, any demons she was running from followed her, tortured her, in fact, and if I was perhaps meant to be the one that could have saved her.... I sadly wasn't.   I sadly am not.  What I do know is that regardless of anything that happened, I always loved my parents.  I desperately loved them and was loyal to them to a fault.  I would have done anything to protect them.  Even now, my greatest fear is that somehow just writing this will hurt them.  They do not deserve judgment by me or anyone else.  Yet, whether it is fair or not or karmic intervention, I was born to write.  And my destiny has always been to tell my story.  Perhaps that is why my life has unfolded as it has.   I am compelled to tell my story.  And just maybe my story can inspire someone.

But, I digress... What is love??  I do know that to love you have to trust.  I do know that I don't trust many people.  I do know that I have broken trust with those I love.  But no matter how many ways I look at it I don't believe that "love doesn't act like me in the worst circumstances." I believe that by the grace of God, I am blessed to still be able to love YOU in the worst of circumstances.  And that my friends is the definition of love that I choose to live by.

Communication

I learned something about communication today.  If one or the other person is keeping score, there can never truly be a resolution.  The goal is not to end the game in this case, it is only to have a set of cards at the ready to one up the other person at the first sign of weakness.  As an adult, we have learned different ways to resolve conflict.  If you grew up in a family where dysfunction prevailed then as an adult you become the master of un-fair fighting.  My husband would say that the more defensive I get the more I pull out "the big guns".  I have an innate ability to find my opponents achilles heal and I will pounce, sever, destroy if necessary.  This  has not served me well with past relationships.  It leads to a very lonely state of existence because at its core it is grounded in a constant state of distrust.

My life mantra is "I am the woman I am today, not because I am a product of my environment, but in spite of it."  But, the reality is, I have absolutely inherited the traits of where I came from.  The good and the bad. The struggle is accepting the negative, placing it on a shelf and thriving in the positive.  Easier said than done.

When I was four years old, I remember sitting on a bench on the back porch of our home.  I loved this home.  At four years old, it seemed like a mansion resting on an expansive estate.  Solid brick with a large tree in the backyard.  I recall my cousins and I climbing up into that tree and playing for hours in the yard and in the back pasture with the grape vines.  My father had a riding lawnmower.  A riding lawnmower!  It was 1974 and I knew no one else who had a lawn so large it required this type of motorized vehicle.   As I was sitting there, I allowed my imagination to take me on one of my many journeys where there was no yelling, no violence, no anger.  In my fantasy world I could not hear any plates breaking against the wall, no screaming to be heard, no failures being announced to anyone who would listen.  As I sat there, my father came out, stepped into the driver's seat of our van and slumped over.  Our van, a big brown Chevy, fully tricked out inside with a bench, a bed, complete with 8-track tape.  It was the 70's and my parents were products of the hippie generation, after all.  I loved that van too.  We would spend hours driving up into the woods, meeting family and friends on what seemed to me to be long camping trips with no headaches, no worries.  And in this van and on the porch of my home, I watched as my father sat and cried.  Not just a few tears, he cried like I had never seen any adult do.  He was sobbing uncontrollably.  And then he looked at me, paused... and looked away.  There were no words spoken between us.  There were none needed.  I saw the defeat in his eyes.  He started the van and slowly backed out of the driveway, staring straight ahead until the front end of the van had disappeared out of view behind the house.  It was in that moment that I learned the hardest lesson of my very short life to that point.  I was alone.  There was not going to be anyone to protect me or take me away with them.  My parents were completely caught up in the stress of their lives, in their own past, with their own demons, fighting against and with each other and I was a casualty of this fall out.  I don't remember exactly what happened after that.  This is also the point that I began blocking much out and allowing my mind to be the gateway to some of the best places I've ever known.  What I do know is that whenever my father left, I was never safe again.

My parents today are good people.  They are brilliant people!  Smart!  So incredibly smart... where was that gene when I was going to school?  They have achieved success in their lives that I can only dream of and aspire to.  And they are admired by many.  They have managed to navigate through life without pissing too many people off, especially their colleagues and those that they mentor.  Again, why didn't I learn that skill?!  Do not get me wrong, I love my parents.  I respect their achievements.  The people in 1974 are not the people I know today.  Except...  there are still no words spoken by one and there is still abuse from the other. When I had my family I vowed to break the cycle.  It never occurred to me that it was not with my children and my own spouse that I would have to break this cycle.  It would be with my parents.  And today I learned this the hard way.  Again.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Journey - an Introduction

Just yesterday, I am sitting on the floor of our beautifully tiled walk in shower, I am holding my pink and white shaver gently in my hands.  I turn it around and around slowly, the glint of the razor beckoning me with its shiny edge.  After what seems like minutes, but probably more in seconds, I snap the top off of the handle.  And then, snap, snap, snap…. Piece by piece I break the plastic until the prize is lying tenderly in my palm.  Smooth, except for remnants of shaving gel still left on its edges.  I close my eyes. 

I imagine the moment the corner of the razor’s sharp edge penetrates my skin.  As I pull my hand down, I can feel the glory of the pain.  I can FEEL the pain.  It is unlike any sensation I have ever known.  The blood appears slowly at first, emerging from underneath my skin like a flower just peeking from its bloom, until it is dark, red, warm.  I am careful to not cut deep enough to sever any artery, just enough to allow the blood to bubble up, clot and dry, just enough for the sting to linger, for the pain inside me to subside, to be distracted by its counterpart.  I breathe.  A tear falls. 

I open my eyes.  I am still sitting on the shower floor.  There is no blood.  I am holding the razor in my palm, my heart is racing and my thoughts are running rampant.  I get up.  I drop the shiny little present into the basket nearby filled with magazines with pictures of beautiful, perfect women staring up at me.  Today I did not cut myself.  It has been 6 months since I have seen the scarlet of my inner pain.  I am on a journey towards wholeness, a journey that will bring together my mind, my body and my spirit.  The first 6 months have been the hardest.  Letting go of so many demons, while allowing myself to feel the pain of my emotions, rather than the pain of my body. 

The next part of this journey, I will be documenting, in order to free myself completely from the chains that have bound me for so long.  I am a survivor.  I am an expert at surviving.  My goal is to LIVE and as you walk with me through this journey, I hope to introduce you to my authentic self.  The One I was meant to be. I will spend time in the present, some time in the past, but mostly, I will look to the future.  This blog serves as a supplement to the book that I have been writing my entire life.  It is meant not only as a way for me to move past my fear, my shame, but as an instrument for any of us, who are or know of someone who is ready to face LIFE with a new fire, anyone who is ready for re-birth!

I am a mother and a wife.  I currently am starting over in so many ways, with my career, financially, in my relationships, within myself.  With that said, I have survived through trauma-- childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse, date rape (rape), divorce, addictions, illness and dysfunction.....  And...

I am a cutter.  I have been cutting myself since I was around 11 years old.  It has been my dirty little secret for over 30 years.  As you journey with me, I hope that we can discover a new life together.  My posts will sometimes be funny, sometimes sad, but always honest, always real.   Today, this day is good.  I have a good life and am blessed with so many angels around me.   Those who know me would probably say that what they notice first is my smile.  I like my smile (although, truth be told, I would like to fix a couple of my teeth!) Shout out to any orthodontists out there :) But, in general it’s a nice smile.  Today begins the discovery of what lies...behind her smile.  

Thank you for joining me!