Day 11 : Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
(Note: I started writing this two months ago)
This prompt could not have come at a better possible time.
In my real life, there isn’t much I get complimented on. In fact, I just asked my husband his thoughts on this prompt. His response? A poor joke, followed by a, “I don’t know.” CoF, seriously, I think C.S. needs some husband boot camp.
All of the little girls at work love my hair. An elder creeper, insisting to talk to me despite me clearly wearing earphone and typing on WordPress for Blackberry, told me that I had pretty eyes. I was pretty glad the bus pulled up to the curb moments later.
Otherwise, I get quite the opposite of compliments. It’s okay, I’m used to it.
Here on WordPress, and especially everyone involved with the dialogue happening here on Pendulum, and on our local mental health blog A Canvas of the Minds, compliments are plentiful. I will spare details, mostly because I am embarrassed to talk about myself. And secondly, because I’m not sure I can completely believe it. I sit here and think, “If you only knew me.”
I find that I am most complimented on my writing. Believe me, I am ambivalent to share that for a number of reasons. First, I know that once a person reveals what appears to be a strength, it is preyed upon. In my youth, I was eager to display my intelligence and talents. There was always at least one person who was eager to take me down, either out of jealousy or just to prove a point of fallibility. Next, I am often unsure of how much truth there is in identifying a strength or talent. There is always some doubt and question of the validity of such a claim. What is the measure? Is it a popular opinion?
And finally, there is the self-doubt / humility aspect. I do not make any claim that I am better than anyone else. I am by no means a brilliant writer, and clearly not in the league of literary greats. Hardly by the standard of journalist and even fellow blog authors. I am not making an attempt to solicit compliments by saying these things. I am only stating that I have serious doubts as to the claims made of any talent I possess. However, I will not refute any opinion, favorable or unfavorable.
However, if there is one literary strength I have, I do know of it. I have always possessed an uncanny ability to find a verbal expression for emotions, thoughts, and experiences. Most often, I have had people approach me and say, “You grabbed it right out of my head, as if you lived in there with me.” Some ask, “How do you find the words?” To which I reply, “I really don’t know. It just comes out.”
The answer is absolutely honest when I provide it. I am unable to identify the mechanisms that produce the detailed emotions and internal experience. Imagination? Experience with the experience / emotion / thought itself? Education? Really, it is just something that was always there. But, I will admit that it is a craft that I’ve unconsciously refined throughout the years, just by practicing what has been just a hobby throughout my life.
I’ve mentioned this before. My poor eyesight has always been kind of a handicap for me. Back in my youth, my family could not afford to provide me with glasses more than once a year, or once every other year. Often times, I would have to wear an outdated prescription for an extended period of time, as my eyesight deteriorated. Sometimes, I would break a pair by accident, and I wouldn’t be able to get a new pair for upwards of a year. I learned to see and identify things by shape and color, rather than fine detail. I could identify people by voice alone. And one of the only hobbies I could really do without any difficulty was reading and writing, because I could only see about as far as my hand could go in front of my face. (Note: My vision has deteriorated so badly now that I can’t even see my hand as far as my face. In fact, I can’t even see a book at a normal distance. But, I have the means to correct my vision on my own now.)
I suppose I could consider it a talent, although I’m not sure how I stack up. I guess I should worry less about a basis for comparison and just do what I do, the best way I know how.
Finally, I’d like to thank the readers for their encouragement to write. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of necessity for my mental health. There are other times, like these projects, where it is a matter of a pleasurable hobby. And other times, most of the time, it is a way for me to get my message out and have a sense of purpose when it comes to my own mental health. I do not want to feel as if my suffering is in vain. I do not want anyone to ever have the feeling that they are alone in their own struggle with mental health. That is the worst feeling in the world, the loneliness, isolation, and fear that accompanies it.
Thanks for giving me a place to do this, encouragement to keep on, and an audience to hear me.
- Blog for Mental Health 2012 Official Blogroll Summons (asthependulumswings.wordpress.com)
- Language and Mental Health (lifeofaschizophrenic.wordpress.com)
- writing habits (shortlittlebits.com)
- 11 Tips & Tricks for Mindful Writers. (elephantjournal.com)
I have always felt like I had a “base mood”, which is the state I’m in. Depressive, hypomanic, stable. I noticed that there was kind of an “atmospheric mood”, which was a wispy, temporary mood state that would come through. I’ve always characterized this as weather.
This emotional weather is just about as predictable as meteorological weather. Forecasts can go out based on current information and predictable outcomes. But, things can change quickly, and suddenly, storms crop up. Unfortunately, they don’t make an emotional barometer. There are no external instruments to sound an alarm on the emotional accuweather forecast.
I considered the weather to be just regular “moods”. I know one thing that is difficult for all people who have bipolar disorder is to draw the line between typical and symptomatic. It becomes a nearly impossible task when a person is actually symptomatic. That’s why it’s considered a disorder.
Over the last three years, I’ve become pretty familiar with episodic behavior. I cannot always identify it straight away. But, eventually, I tease it out. What I encountered in January was genuine symptoms, starting with an ultradian cycle I wasn’t even aware of until I reviewed my logs.
What I started to experience toward the end of that depressive episode was uncharacteristic. I hadn’t experienced those types of symptoms in some time. It didn’t look as if it was a coincidence that my mood chart started jumping at the same time my marriage got thrown on the rocks. And now, two months later, I’ve seem to hit some semblance of a period of stability coinciding with the start of my husband’s admissions and treatment.
He broke the silence. Now, I’m breaking it too.
Criteria 1: Fear of abandonment:
My fear of abandonment isn’t typically characterized, because of the keen awareness of the consequences. My fear is very real. The frantic efforts are a little unusual. It’s not outwardly frantic, because I know that behavior actually drives people away. Instead, I take huge strides to make myself more appealing. That feeds into the destabilization of self-image.
There’s a hidden switch, though. At some point, when I’m overloaded with anxiety, I shut down. I will shut down on a person, and it will be over. It will be difficult for me to feel anything for them until they have been out of my life for awhile, or they take a big leap of faith to me.
This disrupts my ability to make friends. I keep everyone at a distance, because I know that I will drive them away. I know that I am intense and strange. And I know that most people are passing ships in my life.
Criteria 2: Unstable Relationships and intense relationships:
I’ve been in a serious relationship with two different psychopaths, one diagnosed (Avi, the abusive one), and I’m now in a marriage with a man with MI. I always swore that these men found me. I think it was a little bit of both.
But, the catch about my marriage is however intense it is, it is stable. Go outside my romantic relationships. Looking at the intense dysfunction between my parents and me tells the tale.
Those people hurt me. And yet, I still love them. I hate them for everything, but I still vacillate between pandering for their affections and shutting them out. I know that they had their hand in this. And still, I blame it exclusively on myself.
Criteria 3: Identity Disturbance:
I used to dye my hair everytime I had a serious mood shift. When my first ex and I broke up, it shattered my whole world. And I said “F*ck the world.” At that point, I let go of everything. It was at that point in time that I started partying my life away.
That wasn’t me. I was a control freak. I always wanted control of my reality. I wanted control of the direction of my life and was always goal oriented.
My ex, Avi, was the worst agitation. I let him tell me who I was, what I should and shouldn’t be doing, and how I should live my life. I let him victimize me, because he told me I was a victim.
C.S. helped me find my way back to me. The me that I liked and was used to. The me that read, wrote, played music, and enjoyed artistic expression, not mindless video games. He helped me find my way back to goal-orientation and showed me that he could love me. That was the only reason I could even be me. Because that’s what he loved.
Criteria 4: Impulsivity:
After I had experienced sexual assault for the first time, I had come to the conclusion that I was a slut. So, I started to act like a slut by having sex with any man who looked at me sideways. I wanted to convince myself that I was at least good for something.
I have alcoholism. It is mostly controlled now. That’s no secret.
Now, here’s the big secret. I likely have an eating disorder. In times of serious distress, I deny myself food. I don’t deserve to eat. I’m a fatass. No one loves a fatass.
I have pindged and purged. It’s not often. In times of depression and self-depreciating behavior, I will binge to feel good. And then I’ll purge, because I worry about my weight. But worse than that. I’ll purge, because getting rid of that overstuffed feeling feels good. There is no better feeling than an empty belly.
I would excessively spend. But, you can’t spend without money in the bank. As a teen, I used to shoplift. And I got caught and got in the worst trouble of my life with my parents. I get the impulse now and again, but the fear and embarrassment is enough to keep me from doing it.
Criteria 5: Recurrent Suicidal / Self-Injurious Behavior:
Admittedly, as a teen, I was more satisfied with cutting with a steak knife than a razor. A razor was too easy, and the cuts were always thin, sleek, and healed without incident. The serrated knife left jagged cuts that never healed right.
I used to pick at the scabs. I only recently started scraping them with a luffa.
I take scalding showers for two reasons. First, there is the whole germ part. But, secondly, sensitive skin burns easily. Scrub it with a luffa, and it flakes and peels. It hurts so nicely, I can’t think about anything else.
I don’t ever threaten. I warn. Because I know certain stressors will set it off.
I used to attempt suicide. I have probably a dozen serious attempts under my belt. I probably have about a dozen more half-assed attempts where I hoped I’d die of alcohol poisoning. Or, if I let an infection go long enough, I’d cause organ failure. (I almost did that with my kidneys that started as a UTI).
I don’t anymore. It’s pointless. I have never come close to succeeding. And I’m convinced that there is a reason for that. Besides, I’m not so cruel as to leave my husband and son like that. Not now. My son is old enough to remember me. My husband might actually go down with me, although he’s never indicated as much.
Criteria 6: Affective Instability
Rage. I’m almost always irritable. I’ve always thought that irritability and reactivity were hallmarks of bipolar disorder. I was wrong.
I have bouts of intense anxiety. Especially when I feel like I’m not in control. It is expressed in OCD-like symptoms when it goes critical. I start hoarding. Or purging items. I check constantly. I do mental checks. I fear contamination.
Dysphoric moods. It’s always been suicidal ideation in the past. It’s only recently that I’ve had homicidal ideation, and it’s enough to scare me. But, I don’t imagine harming loved ones. No, I imagine harming people who are a perceived threat to my family and me.
That emotional weather, that was affective instability. When it produces serious storms, it becomes separate from bipolar disorder completely. Layered moods.
Criteria 7: Chronic Feelings of Emptiness:
Curiously, I don’t have the typical definition of this. Most of the time, I feel too full. I’m full of emotion, turmoil, life. I’m bursting at the seams.
But, if you examine the criteria a little closer, it can be characterized by never feeling good enough. I’m bad. I have never achieved anything noteworthy. No one really loves me. I feel as if I am worthless, rather than empty.
Criteria 8: Inappropriate Anger / Difficulty Controlling Anger
Sometimes, yes. I have a temper. I try to be careful at expressing this anger. It’s usually restricted to times when I am alone. I scream. I break things.
I don’t want to scare my family. I don’t want the shame and guilt I would suffer from such impulsive, inappropriate behavior. I don’t want anyone to leave me, because they fear me. I try so hard to practice restraint. I’m not always very successful.
Criteria 9: Transient, Stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions, or severe dissociation symptoms
This was the key to finally prove the potential for BPD to me. I’ve always had delusions. I’ve always had the berating voice. But, my paranoia has always turned out to be justified in the end.
When C.S. and I were very rocky, I was convinced that a man, who I would never otherwise suspect, was cheating on me. The voice separated into a an auditory hallucination, free of any rational mind, feeding me horrible things. I had my first real break from reality.
But, it was in fits that never lasted longer than a few hours to maybe a few days. And it could be broken by immediate distraction.
I’m nowhere near as volatile as I used to be. Medication has tamed my symptoms, and nearly domesticated me. There are a lot of behaviors that I don’t engage in anymore.
But, I am a far cry from ridding myself of all of them. And if I keep going on this course of alienating people, disabling my supports, and self-sabatoging, I’m going to end up in a very bad place.
So, I made an impulsive move yesterday morning. Finally, a good one. I called and made an appointment to start meeting with a qualified professional with an objective eye. I could’ve gotten in today, but my hours are restricted right now due to work.
So, next Thursday. In one week, I will take my first baby steps back into the world of therapy. Honestly, I don’t have high hopes. Thankfully, I have a number of therapists to choose from. And if it doesn’t work out, at least I gave it a try.
I want to keep trying and not get discouraged. But, I’m so picky about my professionals. I know there has to be some hope for recovery.
I had never considered Borderline Personality Disorder.
The term “Personality Disorder” carries so many negative connotations. It assumes that it’s a defect of someone’s personality. That in itself assumes that a person can just snap out of it, or just change it.
BPD gets such a bad rap in the media. I thought of “Fatal Attraction” and “Single White Female”. “That’s not me,” I insisted. I even reviewed the DSM-IV criteria, and still could only see a portion of it.
- Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5
- A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
- Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
- Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, excessive spending, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5
- Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats or self-injuring behavior such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars or picking at oneself (excoriation) .
- Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
- Chronic feelings of emptiness
- Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
- Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions or severe dissociative symptoms
First, my fear of abandonment and the way I react to it is complicated. True, if I sense that there is something off with my partner, I do come to a conclusion that I am responsible and this person will eventually leave me. But, I didn’t feel as if that was unreasonable.
Yes, I do have a history of intense, explosive relationships. Now, the intensity of my relationship is usually shared up until a certain point. I have never had this problem in my marriage where I was “too intense”. In fact, it is preferred that I am so invested in my marriage and co-dependent. Not “dependent”. Co-dependent. We depend on each other very heavily. It works just fine, and I was pretty sure that a good marriage was a marriage that worked for both people.
I never considered an identity disturbance. Not frequently anyway. I have always been mostly the same person who liked the same things. Everyone goes through periods of change and self-renewal, right?
I’m not very impulsive. I am too anxious for impulsive behavior, because I fear the consequences. Impulsive behavior doesn’t allow for fear. I have too much fear. I don’t sleep around; I’m a devoted wife. I’m very careful with money, because I never have had or have any. I have had a history of alcohol abuse though. . .
Yes, I self-harm. But, self-harm happens in affective disorders.
Of course I have affective instability. I have bipolar disorder. But, the mood doesn’t usually last only a few hours to days, unless I’m ultradian cycling. That’s rare.
I don’t feel empty. As a matter of fact, sometimes I feel too full.
I do have a temper. But, I’m usually very good at controlling it. When I go off, I’ve just gone beyond my limit. Everyone does that.
I have always been paranoid and delusional. But, I’ve spoken with doctors about this problem in the past. They don’t seem to see it as a problem, nor do they really see it as full-blown delusions anyway. Despite that voice.
I was set on disproving it. Well, until I started reading personal accounts that struck me. Then, I read explanations of the wide variety of behaviors that fall into the diagnostic criteria. And finally, certain characteristic statements. “If people actually got to know me, they probably wouldn’t like me.”
I have a private blog entitled, “If You Only Really Knew Me”. I don’t update often. But, sometimes I do. Times where I am too much of a coward to stand up and confess on Pendulum. Those words that bang at the inside of my skull, but I’d never dare reveal.
I had absolutely no idea that BPD was so diverse. The stigma would have everyone believe the “I hate you, don’t leave me” thing. But, there’s so many different ways it can operate. I started to see the pattern emerge in early adolescence, as is described. I saw how it dominated my previous relationship and sustained the mutual abuse. And I could see it in me.
When something, an emotion, an urge, an impulse, is so severely suppressed that a person becomes oppressed, we can often observe extreme opposite reactions. This is consistent with the laws of physics and the universe, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” Except, one thing. I believe when it comes to emotions and behaviors, the opposing reaction is more like equal plus. The plus being an x-value holding place for a value with the meaning “a little more.” Determining that exact value in numerical terms may be difficult, since there is no numerical value for emotions.
It basically conveys the message that the situation perpetuates itself. Any potential absence of behavior or action can still be perceived as a positive value. Inaction can still be considered an action in this case, because there isn’t really such a thing as a complete absence of behavior.
This is potentially a huge factor in mental illness. Obviously, we are aware of the psychological damage abuse and neglect in childhood can cause, even throughout adulthood. It is thought to manifest in anxiety disorders, particularly Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. However, that does not account for people who did not experience what is typically considered childhood trauma.
Even as adults, we are susceptible to psychological damage. This is a fact that is well established through research involving war veteran and victims of sexual assault. However, we only consider extreme forms of trauma as something qualifies as such. Such is also true of childhood trauma.
Other qualifying trauma often happens over a period of time, and goes consciously unrecognized. This does not mean that it is also subconsciously unrecognized as well. In fact, the subconscious is likely keenly aware, but unable to translate to the conscious mind.
Once the conscious mind becomes aware that there is something amiss, the traumatizing behavior seems commonplace. The person has likely become desensitized to what was once a subtle, but generally constant external stressor. By then, it becomes internalized and often mistaken as an internal stressor.
Those are the seeds for maladaptive behaviors in both children and adults. At this point, unhealthy coping mechanisms have already been adopted as part of a person’s behavioral repertoire. This is directly the result of an extreme reaction to the accumulation of what may be considered subtle long term stressor(s).
The maladaptive behaviors are recognized as such, and perpetuate trauma through mistreatment of oneself. It can be behaviorally observed by an unusual response to certain unpleasant stimuli. Unfortunately, the subject is often unaware that their responses are abnormal. By the time it is either pointed out or realized by oneself, the original cause is well buried under layers of self-abuse / neglect.
The result of this is much larger than anxiety disorders. It reaches out to grab behaviors typical of a variety of psychological disorders. Behavior repertoires are often observed in personality disorders and mood disorders. it would stand to reason this is true, due to the nature of long-term external stressors, particularly subtle abuse and neglect.
Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I excused myself to “put Trent down for a nap”. And I curled up in the bathroom, blanket wrapped tightly around me. A safe cocoon. A straight jacket.
The intrusive thoughts came in the silence. At first, they were indistinguishable from the rest of the noise. Then, one came out very plainly, rolling as a hardly audiable murmur from my lips.
“Why?” the sobs welled in my throat as the tears poured down my face. I smalled the sobs for as long as I could.
“I am so alone,” I whispered. My face contorted. My jaw tightened as my top teeth extended out. An enormous sob was lodged in my throat. With all of the power of will that remained, I silenced it.
“He doesn’t love you. If he loved you, he would have tried.”
“Your marriage has failed.”
The voices barraged me relentlessly with intrusive thought that had no real evidence. But the absence, the distance, was enough for me to formulate theories.
I was no longer slow dancing in the burning room. I sat at the piano, alone, playing out the most sour of melodies. This had been evacuated a long time ago. I took in a lungful of dark, black smoke, and now I was choking on it.
“You should runaway. Leave your phone and just hide. It doesnt matter that it’s 30F and raining. Leave this place.”
“I won’t give up my son.”
“Break shit. Starting with dishes and glasses.”
“And then take more of a shit storm than I can handle.”
“Take handfuls of pills to make you numb.”
The crying ceased, and besides the stirring, turning wheel in my head, I was tapped out.
Desperate, as people get before they die in a tragedy, I slinked back up the stairs and into the room. The house was silent, heavy with slumber. I reached into the back of the drawer. I took a vicodin, the drug that almost killed me the last time. I didn’t care. Come what may.
After I let the drugs settle in, I started the note. i explained the fundamental problems. No affection, save for the verbal foreplay. Disinterest and dismissal. Isolation and alienation. A communication block. Walking on eggshells to keep him happy and sane. Oppressive states of living, impossible expectations. All of the things I could never say to his face.
And that was only an overview.
I decided to move forward with my impulse to leave. I planned on leaving my phone and hiding away at the trestle. Alone. A place of refuge where no one would think to look. Save for Chris, who would be unlikely to consider it.
I went into the bathroom donning only a bathrobe. It was warm. I discovered a boxcutter I had hidden nearly a year ago. the temptation was irresistible. It was the only way to make these thoughts go away. To make it all disappear and usher in the empty mind born only from numbess.
To my dismay, it was dull. I had to tear at the flesh on my still shishy hip. Five lines. One for each year we have been together. I could have kept going. I stared at the bleeding cuts, satisfied with the pain and the amount of blood I had drawn.
And I looked up into the mirror at the red nosed, disheveled girl with the wild look in her eyes. Something primal existed there. That girl wasn’t me. I was staring at a loathsome stranger.
I got up, ready to sear my skin with the hottest water I could withstand. I was ready to shave every inch of my body. I scrapped and scratched away the flesh staining me. I wanted to wash this day away.
It didn’t end there. I returned to the upstairs to find him awake. I questioned, “Have you read my note?”
“No, I’ll read it later.”
“You really should consider reading it now.”
Another excuse, “I have to make dinner,” while he continued to surf Facebook.
“It’s really important,” I pressed.
“Not right now,” he protested.
I was pushing now, “Then when?”
“I don’t know. Later,” he dismissed some more.
“A later that will never come.” I thought of all of the unread emails I had sent that went straight to archive. Not even remotely close to a priority.
“Because I don’t want to ruin my Sunday. The only time I have to relax before I have to go back to working 50 hours a week!”
In my mind, I said, “Which you *CHOOSE* to do.”
“Fine. If you do not care enough about our marriage enough to take time to read this, then I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. it can’t go on like this.”
“If you want me to read this so fucking badly, then I will.”
“No, just X it out. I’m done.” I meant it. I was finished with this marriage.
He did read it, mocking some parts of it, as I expected. I knew it wouldn’t be well received. If I spoke these words aloud, I’d suffer more dismissal and rationalizations. I’d suffer more pain through his outrage, pointing out my selfishness, neediness, clinginess, and what he considered to be my inability to see beyond myself.
We fought some more downstairs. Not tearing out throats this time. But in a heated argument. He quoted, “regarded coldy like a business associate”.
“Yes. Not even as basic as friendship. I am not a part of your personal life. I am never let in. In fact, I am pushed away, even physically.”
“I was sick, you know, after drinking more than half a bottle of tequila.”
“You’re always sick. Headache, stomach ache, body ache, anything that can hurt does.”
Sarcastically, he said, “What am I supposed to do. Go to the doctor and say, ‘My wife is pissed that I have pains’?”
“Yes, something. No more excuses. I will not except them.”
“How is it that one of us is perfectly happy? i am completely content.”
“Because the other person bends over backwards to make the other one is happy! I walk on eggshells to take your feelings into consideration and not upset you. It’s suffocating!”
He paused to think. Apparently, I had touched on something.
I know he’s going through something. But, this is no excuse. I don’t deserve this isolation. I do everything to satisfy. I don’t ask for anything out of the question.
I just want to be shown love. Satisfaction. I want him to want me. All of me. To recognize my efforts. To be delighted by my displays. To feel warm.
We reconciled. But, it’s Monday. Back to business as usual. No emails, texts. I didnt want to talk to him after work. I wanted him to suffer. To question if I was alright.
I thought it could be made up. I’m sure another disappointing date is upon us. He did take the time to set something up, likely out of guilt that he didn’t in advance. I wanted to spend some time on the sofa. And I was asked to sit on the floor in proximity to the sofa he laid on.
Daggers. I expected it. I wasn’t devestated. I was despondent. i warned him I was close to shutting down, just a day earlier. When I shut down, it’s over. i’ve given up. It would only be a matter of time before someone calls it quits.
Once a person is out, they are out. A wall will go up, impenetrable. And i will spend my time doing what I want, without any regard for his wants or needs. he violated mine. I may end up done with all of that.
Two more days. I’ll give him by the end of Thursday, the actual day of our wedding anniversary. After that, he’s on his own.
No more threats. Action.
I cannot suffer many more disappointments and rejections.
Staring out the bus window into the grey oblivion, the words slid right down the slate of my mind, and were carried away by the light breeze. It’s not an uncommon occurrence. Many other times I will myself to think of him, it is as if he’s become a ghost, who haunts at the most unfortunate moments.
That’s why there are journal entries for these moments. This was the first in the trinity, the one prior to Possibility and Ascension. It was started and completed in the same week, nearly a year after the relationship ended.
The last days of that relationship are blurry; my memories are obscured by the drugs and alcohol intoxicating my mind. The days blended together in a ritualistic, self-medicated loop, work.drink.sleep.work.drink.sleep.sleep.drink.sleep… suspended in agonizing slow motion. The silence was deafening in the deep, dark hours of night, still, cold, indifferent. We were two strangers, caged together with a thick glass section between us. I glanced across the DMZ, through ripples space and time itself, eager and desperate to eradicate the great divide. But even if I could manage to successfully navigate the minefield, a feat I had attempted in vain when feeling particularly masochistic despite the optimistic spin I put on it, I would be greeted by a stranger. Or rather an animal, for he had regressed into a rather primitive state. This animal was vicious and feral, seemingly ripped from the wild and unsuccessfully domesticated.
My realizations were like awaking from a coma. How much time had passed? Who are you? Where am I? Is this real? – each more dizzying than the coma itself. Awakening is clarity, but the clearer things became, the more confusing the reality. The chambers of my mind grew to accommodate my expanding thoughts but created a warehouse echo. I spoke, my voice reverberated off the crumbling walls and returned with a different sound altogether. Perhaps, instead it was an accurate reflection but one can never recognize oneself in a room of distortion.
So perhaps my lover had been a stranger all along, reflected through hopes and dreams to create a lovely distortion. They certainly aren’t all hideous, like mirrors that make one look tall and slender. Had that been entirely truth, how long had he been a projection of my mind’s eye onto the screen that set the stage for our drama? I looked into the rabbit hole and tumbled down, spiraling out of control. How can one count time based on a relative measure?
I searched farther, grasping for answers as if they were my life raft in the black waters of time. Our relationship started with sparks and flares… – Were they real like fourth of July fireworks? Or instead were they the result of strong hallucinogenics resulting from intense desire to feel something? More dialogue and script flowed through the undertow, sucking me into the dark abyss.
You know how when someone says ‘I love you’, you feel obligated to reciprocate?
I’ve always meant it with you.
My heart swelled with infection while it festered away every inch that loved him with each tides push and pull. It was abundantly clear that his performance was increasingly scripted, as I deviated with my improvisation. Obsessively, I went farther, feverishly searching, scanning, hoping that there would be salvage, or better even, treasure.
Heaven knows that I love you, I love you today.
Today, that day, the only day that might as well had even existed in three years. I felt it in my soul, the answers becoming closer sending off the flares and sparks I had been trying to rekindle, leading me in my personal night. Yet on closer inspection, they certainly differentiated from the ones in my memory. Instead, they appeared to be a blazing inferno on the shoreline. I clawed the beach, pulling myself in for survival, for myself, for my sanity and found the treasure I’d been seeking.
Fool’s gold. The beautiful scenery warped into something more sinister. Twisted, charred, black… a glorious fire to commemorate something that never was.
It reminded me of the last string I pulled in the tapestry of our relationship. My hair was ruby colored in the dull late autumn sun, surrounded by the grey scenery of the city. We were bound for better. He was up but I was coming down. A lovely romance played out in my head, on panes of fragile glass. We were vines twisting together up a lattice in vivid green, in a dream. He deviated, but my vision was obstructed. I felt the support let loose, my vine withered and my fruit shriveled. He vaguely explained and my vision returned to expose his transgression occurring. Struck with immobilizing poison, I watched like an invalid. And when I came to, I was convinced it was a dream.
Smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors, I fell in love with the demon trickster himself. A year and a half passed since the incident and all was voluntarily revealed. The force pushed me outside myself, forced once again to watch this great tragedy unfold repeatedly. Play.stop.rewind.play.
Just say yes, you little masochist.
Addictions leave you little choice.
Help me tighten these chains. Is that my voice? My mind screamed to be released, for me to take the free ticket to ride and go. But my heart without it’s limbs could not be freed from it’s vice.
The pleasant memories melted into the form of nightmares. There was a double edged sword, turning the pleasurable jabs into horrific stabs. My monologue’s narrator was raspy and exhausted. Playful smiles turned to sinister grins just as loving chuckles morphed into maniacal laughter. The blaze pushed forward, engulfing everything in sight. It seared my flesh, leaving nothing but brittle bone.
Release me, for the love of god!!
It was morning following the apocalypse. The war had been lost and I stood amongst it’s remains. To my surprise, I was intact despite everything. A wave of sorrow welled up inside me but nothing came. I had finally been released but not by my captor. He stood beside me, my caretaker, strong and silent like an angel.
I have always been beside you. That wasn’t quite the truth, I was sure. He had misspoke and instead meant, I have always been inside you… I felt those words resonating inside my soul which echoed it in perfect clarity. This could only be made possible if they had the same dimensions… making them identical. Twin souls! It made perfect sense as the pieces seamlessly clicked together. Only could twins never truly lose one another. They were the only two that see each other through the deepest pits of hell and come out seemingly unscathed.
We were whole. From the moment we met one another, five long years ago, we were whole. And now we had the opportunity to experience it in our own realities..
Warning: This post has controversial and potentially disturbing content surrounding suicide, psychic trauma, and child abuse. Reader’s discretion is strongly advised.
It started as a whimpering, jaw tight with a lip curled over. Soft, pattering, high pitched little noises, not much to even notice over the ambient noise. The realities of what played out in front of these oceanic colored eyes, glistening with anticipating tears, struck hard, and relentlessly roared inward and outward. The sheer force gusted forth a sharp wail, the same violently held hostage in the same dusty box of voices moments earlier.
Thoughts, voices, dialogues, monologues, scenes, words, swamped and overwhelmed this consciousness. Bits swarming together and fashioning a patchwork quilt for the minds eye to finally behold. Nowhere to turn, the newly formed blanket enveloped every last portion. Inescapable, imprisoned in truths, half-truths, past, present, and future. Sobs and tears erupted like a furious geyser, spattered with guttural words.
I can’t make you happy.
Please, stop crying.
Mommy cries too.
The tiny voice murmured indistinguishable speech, only heard through the hitches. His presence shifted, but only once removing himself to procure a gift. Eyes squeezed shut, tears slithering though hands to fall where they may. Again, he joined the wailing, wolves howling in the night. He fashioned himself as a koala, and held tight.
– – –
Curled on the bed in sullen agony, with lead curling in tendrils up and down each limb. The tiny voice said, “Juice?” A raw, numb voice replied, “Go get your cup.” “My cup, my cup,” he repeated for a scant few moments.
A frustrated cry, and a strike on the back. Another. Laying there, absorbing the blows in hopes they would soon cease for good. Another, then a few in succession. A pause. A warm circle in the direct center of the back, a scrape of teeth.
A memory flashed, and I shot right up. Without thought, I slapped him on his right cheek, but in a nanosecond held back, but couldn’t entirely stop the motion. His face pucked, tears welled and spilled from his eyes, and he screamed. I pounced.
“We do not bite! We do not bite! We do not bite! We do not bite! No bite! No biting! No! We do not bite!” I belted until I ran out of air.
Stop! Before you hit the X in the corner, and do your mandated reporting, read this. This is an isolated incident. I has never occurred before. I had no malice or ill intention for my child. This was a snap reaction that I am now extremely cognizant of. So please, at least read the rest of it before you contact authorities.
We both were there, staring at one another, gasping for breath. He threw himself into my arms. I enbraced him for a second, only a second, and put him on his bed. I stood and sighed, “We both need a time out.”
I started for the door, and his screams grew wilder. I turned to look, and he was now curled in the bed, hysterical. Poisonous daggers jammed deep into my heart. His pain was mine, but the urgency for me to abandon him was too great. Stay and harm him, or leave and harm him?
I sat down at my desk, and lit a cigarette. As I exhaled, I choked back more tears. Sinking, cigarette smoke swirling around me, all of the menacing thoughts rose to prey on my guilt to intensify my pain.
I am a bad mother.
I am. Another monster in a history of monsters. What was the flash in my mind that drove me to these horrific actions?
He was enraged, tearing through the house, screeching. I became smaller than small, for I already was small. I clutched my plastic cup, hoping I could disappear. I was in the basement, and the elephants trumpeted and stampeded back and forth, trampling throughout the house.
When his feet hit the cement floor, his eyes fixed on me. He made a run for me, and I dashed for the stairs, for the safety of my parents, a room with a lock, anything. And in that stairwell, he lunged on me. He sunk his teeth hard into the center of my back and I let out a blood curdling scream.
I screamed and screamed, tears pouring out. It had been the worst pain I had ever experienced up until that point. My parents were removing him from my back before even addressing me or my wound.
My father helped me to my feet and my mother was nowhere to be found. The pain intensified anytime I moved.
And all he could say was: “It doesn’t hurt that bad.”
I made a painful realization. I cannot remember a childhood before eleven for a reason: My parents let my autistic brother brutalize me.
It’s no excuse. None. This is no feasible And as I furiously dragged on that cigarette, I determined that my son, my family, would be better off without me.
It could be done with ease. I would call into work and tell my boss I couldn’t make it in. I’d neglect to tell my parents, and my son could be safe with them. And, I’d empty the Vicodin bottle with the Wellbutrin bottle into my mouth, and wash it down in one big gulp.
Then, I’d prepare my note. I would not want to leave this world without at least a few words to as a testament to my own failures, not anyone else’s.
My sister called, before that train of thought could steam along into action. Sometimes, there is a such thing as divine intervention. She rarely calls that late in the morning. While idly listening, I mustered the courage to face my son. I nervously peeked into his room.
My little boy was sleeping, with the angelic, peaceful look all children have while slumbering. Eased for a moment, but then sinking again. I knew I would not be able to apologize before I left for work.
He may never know how incredibly ashamed, guilty, monstrous, and sorry I feel. He may never know how much I hate myself for seemingly not loving him enough to stop myself. I won’t try to justify it. The only thing I can see is the traumatized look on his face, the tears glistening as they poured down. And all I want to do is to walk to a bridge, any bridge in Pittsburgh will do, and leap from that great height to plunge into water that would guarantee near instantaneous death if the fall didn’t do it first.
This is not a testament. I am miserably, but safely at work. This is my aching, broken heart pouring out. This is my confession.
Note: There was a lot of hesitation about posting this once it was written. If you have harsh reprimands, please keep them to yourself. I’m in a very fragile state right now.
Emblazoned on the frontpage of Wikipedia:
Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge
It didn’t take a lot of imagination yesterday. When you went to Google, there is a giant black censor block. I logged onto WordPress, and found myself staring at a page filled with censored blogs, where there should have been featured blogs. Upon clicking, this headline sits before me:
You may not be aware of the pending legislation called SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act). It sounds good in theory. I would know, because Representative Tim Murphy from Pennsylvania got to me first. He declared it to be in our best interest to stop cyber terrorism. This legislation is heralded as the great protector of our sensitive information in banks, hospitals, etc. After I had several fraudulent charges on my joint bank account within two days of each other, two sliced and diced debit cards and no way for easy access to my money, I considered this a great thing!
Until yesterday, January 18th, 2012. Until I was forced to open my eyes and do my civic duty by actually reading what these bills are all about. (Thank you, President Obama for the Freedom of Information Act).
As usual, we’ve been duped. Essentially, these bills equate to the US Patriot Act, in a manner of speaking. The US Patriot Act is there to deny civil liberties guaranteed by our Amendments, if they suspect you as a terrorist. They’ve set it up so that if you speak out, it can be very easy for you to disappear.
This is another step toward totalitarianism. SOPA and PIPA seek to criminalize our freedom for information. By doing that, they also grossly violate our First Amendment rights to write, create, and pass on information as we wish. It grants permission to Internet Service Providers to block any information they wish.
Doesn’t this seem suspicious that these were pushed on the dawn of the Occupy Movement? The Occupy Movement consists of local grassroots organizations that rely on the internet to make international connections between them. What happens to all of the grassroots organizations, such as Occupy and Blog for Mental Health 2012, when our voice is stifled?
And that’s what Pendulum would look like if certain politicians had their way. It is bad enough that many of the mental health bloggers feel the societal pressure to take refuge behind glowing monitors and clever pseudonyms. Now, our medium and content are being threatened. Extreme discrimination could take place. If one party, just one, find our content to be vile, disturbing, irresponsible, or amoral, then we are likely to get shut down.
I won’t stand for that. Personally, I want to stop this thing dead in it’s tracks. This is my own forum to discuss mental health. In the days of old, families would lock up their “insane” in basements, cellars, and attics. What we would experience would be the modern equivalent. I was tired of hiding and being disguised. That’s why, exactly seven months ago today, I came here to be on display for all of the world to see.
It saved my life. And, I wouldn’t know what to do without it.
If you feel that your civil liberties to talk about your mental health and special concerns are in danger of being violated, take a stand. Do it now before it’s too late.
Google wants you to take action.
Even certain parties in the White House want you to take action.
Around the world, in the UK, individuals are taking action.
And millions of others all want you to take action against SOPA and PIPA.
Every signature on every petition counts. Shout it out, loud and clear!
SOPA WON’T SILENCE ME!