Petitioning Webster on Monday

I met with a new shrink on Thursday.  She asked what my mood has been like.  I responded, “meh”.  Without skipping a beat she said, “I’m not sure how to spell that, can you give me another word?”

So, she speaks sarcasm.  A good sign?

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So far,

So good.  I’ve set some small goals for myself and have managed to stick to them. Situps and pushups each day. Painting each day.  Just added “exfoliate” each day. I know that may seem silly, but it helps me to feel better when I look in the mirror.

I’m REALLY pleased with my painting efforts.  Not that I’m creating masterpieces, but that I’m actually just painting.  I have a tendency to avoid trying things I have not fully mastered, at least in the creative fields.  If that makes any sense.  Like I expect to be a full-blown master at something the first time I try it.

This is not the case with less creative endeavors, like I’d find in the safe confines of cubicle hell.  It took me a while, but I eventually became quite confident in my abilities as an administrative assistant, even though I loathed the job. I came to understand that I was viewed by my co-workers as one of the best, if not the best, admins in the office.  I had a professional demeanor and was technically much more than proficient.  This was due to my natural curiosity, and unwillingness to let a challenge go.  If I didn’t know how to do something on the computer, I figured out how.  I ended up sometimes irritated with others who would come to me for help, having not even bothered to hit the F1 key first, which is how *I* initially learned. Google is for everyone, people.

I suppose it’s ridiculous to not approach art the same way.  I would have been mortified to be so lazy as to give up the first time I tried, and failed, to accomplish something on the computer as part of my job. It was a point of pride to me to teach myself.  So why am I so impatient about my art? Maybe I’m hung up on the notion of, you either have talent or you don’t, as if every painter I admire just picked up a brush one day and ‘BAM’, “In Blue” is born.  It takes time, and I’ll never get better if I don’t work at it.

In Blue, by Wassily Kandinsky

In Blue, by Wassily Kandinsky

Waiting, by Audra Arr

 

Drunk on D

I admit, since moving to Texas, I’ve struggled with my depression like never before.  One would think that things would be getting better….I no longer have to work in cubicle hell, I’m able to stay home and homeschool our daughter, like hubs and I always talked about.  I can devote hours and hours to things I care about, like my drawings, and the garden I planted.  Yet I find myself so deeply depressed some days, I can barely get out of bed.  The good news is, at 6 1/2 years old, my daughter is old enough to feed herself with the fruit and vegetables we always have around, and she entertains herself with reading, playing with legos, computer games, etc. The bad news is, she’s 6 1/2 years old….old enough to see my struggles and to know something is wrong.  It breaks my heart when she approaches me and gives me a comforting pat on the arm.  

My life took a seriously craptacular turn when *I* was six, and the events of that time and the years that followed left me with a seriously weak foundation from which I’ve done nothing significant with my life.  I’m filled with self-loathing and regret.  One of my biggest motivations, one of my ONLY motivations right now, is to help my daughter build a better foundation for her future than the one I had.

Towards that end, I’m on yet another new medication, but I’ve really come to believe something I read some months ago.  Depression could be less about a “chemical imbalance” and more honestly just our body’s reaction to being fundamentally unhappy.  So many of us are unhappy, often about things we seriously have a right to be unhappy about, but we take these pills to numb that unhappiness and make life liveable.  Then we say things like “depression lies”.  Well, yeah, sometimes it does, but sometimes, isn’t it spot on?  Depression tells me, “you’re a failure”.  My husband argues with this, as would many who love me, but, really, haven’t I failed to meet most if not all of the goals I’ve set for myself over the years?  Yeah, I’ve done some neat, even terrific things. I went to Paris, by myself, not speaking the language, and had a fabulous time.  Still my favorite memories/actions.  I’ve managed to keep from drinking alcohol for coming up on nine years.  I’ve been cigarette/nicotine free for over ten years.  I’ve got a husband who loves me, and an adorable and smart daughter.  But there’s still something missing.  Something very big.  And it often sits on my chest like that elephant in the COPD commercials.  I’m “happy” when I work on my artwork, but otherwise, life seems a bust to me.  I’m fortunately still able to laugh on occasion, but most days I’m operating on auto-pilot.

Before I’ve described depression as living at the bottom of a 20 foot hole.  These days, I feel as though most days I’m about 5 to 10 feet down.  Some days, it’s 20 feet.  And, at least a couple of times a month, I feel like I’m two or three feet from China.  On those days/nights, I don’t sleep, at all, and stay in my ultra large bathroom, curled up on my chez lounge, crying into a pillow so as not to wake my husband.  Everything I think of leads to tears, and I feel like my brain is on fire from a chemical compound made of ultra-negativity and self-loathing.  It’s horrendous.  

The other night, during one of those “digging to China” moments, I pulled out my tablet and started to work on some self-portraits.  A couple of days later, I pulled out my tablet to draw, and happened upon my work from a few nights before.  I was startled by what I saw.  I hardly recognized myself, and barely recalled having drawn them.  It’s like I was intoxicated, and drunk dialed one of my ex-boyfriends.  Mortifying.

Image

Thankfully, I haven’t been that low in a week or so, but it’s disheartening to know it will probably happen again.  Maybe I need to keep the drawings going, as a way of tracking this.  Maybe try to draw myself when I’m NOT feeling that way.

I hate feeling drunk.

Poor Penn State

Yes, let’s go on and on about how the football program and the University itself is being punished for its inaction and enabling of a child rapist (enough with the “child sex abuse” crap. Children don’t have sex, they are RAPED). Let’s talk about what this does to Joe Paterno’s legacy (note to Paterno family: “SHUT UP”). Let’s not talk about child rape/abuse and what it does, not just to the victims, but to everyone.

I’m going to take this opportunity to delve further into the pool (swamp?) of my abuse. I’ve been trying to talk about it more in therapy. And after a lengthy absence from blogging, what better way to break the silence than to talk about something light and sunny, like a six-year-old being forced to perform oral sex?  Yeah!!!!

Honestly, I can’t remember the first time it happened. We were living in Alaska, my step-father being stationed at Elemendorf Air Force Base. When I was 18 and told my mother about what happened, I had to ask her how long the babysitters, twin sisters named DAWN AND DIANE VAN NESS (screw them), had taken care of us. My mom said they had been hired pretty much when we moved there, so I can only assume it started when I was six. I clearly remember the last time it happened. But I digress.

Dawn and Diane were the older sisters of my friend, Heather. They lived down the street. They would take turns babysitting for my brother and I. They’d take me to my parent’s room and lay down on their (king size?) bed. I remember the black and brown patchwork bedspread. They’d strip off their clothes and lay back, and make me get on my knees by the bed and perform oral sex on them. They’d take my step-father’s leather belt out of the closet and whip me with it and threaten me with more beatings if I said anything about what was happening. The leather was brown, and cracked, and there were flat metal brads on it, and holes punched through, so it looked like swiss cheese. It didn’t feel like cheese when it hit me.

I remember one day, filling my hard, orange suitcase with socks and underwear (?), because I was going to run away. I didn’t, of course, but the suitcase was still packed when my mom was packing me up for a summer in Oklahoma with my grandparents. “Where are all your underwear?”  I was afraid to tell her what was going on, so I told her I had attempted to pack for Oklahoma on my own, and presented the suitcase. She bought it.

This was my normal. So normal, in fact, that when a visiting female family member asked me to put on my mother’s pantyhose and perform a strip tease for her in the basement, I did it. Then we lay down on the couch and made out. She told me to rub her crotch, and I did as I was told. I *think* that only happened once, but my memories of Alaska are a blur, so I could be wrong.

When we were preparing to leave Elmendorf for Medina Air Force Base in San Antonio, one of the twins decided that I should experience what they had experienced all those years, so they “treated” me to some cunnilingus . I remember staring at the ceiling, trying to pretend I was elsewhere. We moved to Texas when I was 9.

I’d say within a year of moving to Texas, my brother started hitting me. If I didn’t do his chores for him, he’d hit me. If I didn’t give him the remote for the tv, he’d hit me. If he was driving me somewhere and couldn’t see past me in the passenger seat when looking right, he’d backhand me. The physical abuse lasted for roughly 5 years. After that, he was just verbally cruel. As I’ve said before, I confronted my brother about all this 17 years ago, and he’s asked my forgiveness, and I’ve given it to him. I love my brother very much, and I consider our relationship healed. I know he still struggles with guilt, and hope he can forgive himself some day.

Lastly, there was the other family member, a male, who, on at least two occasions, pinned me to the ground and kissed me on my neck and maybe my chest, over my clothes. Where exactly he kissed me isn’t as clear as the memory of his erect penis on my leg. Again, we were both clothed and it didn’t go any further, but it shouldn’t have happened at all.

So, that’s it. From age 6 to age 15, I had five different people sexually and/or physically abuse me in one way or the other. So let’s talk consequences, okay?  Let’s talk about how child abuse affected me. Obviously, I can’t, and wouldn’t dare, try to speak for all victims of child abuse.

So let’s talk about consequences…

  1. Prior to hitting puberty, I thought I was gay. I had no sexual feelings towards girls, but, since I had engaged in sexual behavior with girls in Alaska, I assumed that meant I was gay. It wasn’t until I hit puberty at age 12 that I realized that wasn’t true. When I was 14, “Something About Amelia” came out. I didn’t have a father abusing me, but it was the first time I really realized what child abuse was, and recognized, at least in my head, that I had been abused and it “wasn’t my fault”. NOTE TO BEN AFFLECK AND MATT DAMON: While I loved “Good Will Hunting”, getting a hug and being told repeatedly that “it’s not your fault” is nice, but it’s no magic bullet.
  2. I remember coming home from school at age 12 and taking shots of Glenlivet. I would later become a raging alcoholic, complete with drunk driving, attempts at promiscuity (thankfully, unrealized), blackouts and midnight vomiting.
  3. A pattern emerged in my relationships…I let the other party take control, and it usually was to my detriment. I had a few friends, good people, who I still think of fondly and even have some contact with, though it freaks me out, but more often than not I associated with people who didn’t treat me very well. Why should they?  I had been taught in word and deed for 9 formative years that I wasn’t worthy of decent treatment.
  4. I retreated into a fantasy world. I spent most of my evenings shut in my room, pretending I was anybody other than myself. While this was a savior then, it has proven to be harmful to me in later life.
  5. I had no confidence, and no willingness to take risks, so I did the safe thing after high school and stayed within Texas to get my degree in Radio, Television, and Film. No USC film school for me, or driving cross-country to try and break into Hollywood. After college, I moved to that mecca of entertainment, Enid, Oklahoma, and worked at a crappy TV station for a crappy boss.
  6. I was only asked out once in high school, and he stood me up, further devastating my already weak self-esteem. I went on to date just a few men, all of whom treated me, not abusively, but poorly. I was there to service their ego. Josh was the one exception to that, but he was far from a healthy relationship.
  7. I became someone who could rather easily be defeated. I’d offer some fight, but eventually would acquiesce to the notion that I’m cursed…that I somehow deserve all these bad things happening to me. The abuse, the schizophrenic boyfriend who committed suicide, being ignored or mistreated by men, failing at any pitiful attempt I made to try to break out of the “safe” cubicle-dwelling career I’d settled for, etc.
  8. I put on a ton of weight, first after Josh’s death, then again after a back injury. I’ve told myself for years that the injury was to blame for my weight, but, let’s face it, I had surgery years ago, my back is 95% better, and I still “eat my pain”. I’m coming to terms with the fact that I use my weight as a shield. The world largely (no pun intended) ignores, dismisses, and ridicules the fat. If I’m fat, I have an excuse to not take more risks, not put myself out there, and I can blame it on everyone else because THEY are the assholes who judge me for my appearance. How convenient.
  9. I’ve battled depression and PTSD for 25 years, went through cutting myself and anxiety attacks and still find myself talking about myself in a far more hateful way than I would ever talk about someone else, with the exception of pieces-of-crap child abusers who should die in a fire.
  10. Did I mention I have anger issues?  Of course, like any sane person, I hate child abusers, but I also have moments when I feel hatred towards anyone who’s never suffered setbacks, or who suffered them and managed to not let the setbacks defeat them.
  11. I still struggle with anger and resentment towards my parents, not as much for being unaware of the sexual abuse happening in Alaska, but for deliberately turning a blind eye to my brother’s bullying when I went to them and pleaded with them to help me. Even now that my brother has acknowledged his abuse, my parents have yet to come to me and tell me they are sorry for not only not putting a stop to it, but for turning around and calling me a liar.  I still have trouble asking people for help, and I expect no one to protect me.  I’m working on letting my husband in, but it’s hard.
  12. My emotional problems have caused great distress for my loved ones, specifically my husband, who deserves much better than what he got. And now my daughter, my sweet 4 1/2 year-old, is already showing signs of being hypersensitive about my moods. I’m currently in bed with a head cold, but when I told her “mommy is sick”, her first words were, “okay, mommy, well, let me hug you and kiss you and that will make you feel happy again”. She now won’t compliment someone else without reassuring me that she loves me, too.

I’m working through all this. Talking more openly about everything that happened, in a therapeutic way. I hope to get clear of this before I do any more damage to my daughter. I know it will be hard to convince her she’s lovable and valuable if I think her mother is crap.

I pray for other victims of child abuse…that they find a way to overcome their trauma, and have peaceful lives, and don’t let this cancer that is child abuse spread any further.

And screw Penn State, or any other organization, that lets this happen to children.

Tired

I like my psychiatrist. I like my psychologist. The psychologist immediately questioned the new meds my psychiatrist put me on. Despite my concern that my shrink was going to be at odds with my psychiatrist, I had a good session today. I’ll go into it more later, as it wore me out and I’m tired.

And it ended with my shrink saying that my session was better than any meds I could take.

Oy. Let’s not fight, ladies.

Resentment, thy name is….

I am finding I’m having a tough time dealing with some people’s success. I’ve become bitter and resentful, particularly when I perceive that someone whose path has been clear their whole life has the gall to tell anyone how they, too, can be successful or otherwise tell them how to live.

Shut the hell up.

I get annoyed on several levels.  First, there’s the person who’s never lacked anything a day in their life who has the nerve to criticize others for not being able to completely overcome their shortcomings.  Case in point….I once worked with a man, someone I considered a friend, almost like a brother, who went on a rant one day because some woman had made the news because her son had been killed in the crossfire of a drive by shooting in her neighborhood.  My co-worker didn’t want to hear of her sorrow…”why didn’t she just move, if she’s in such a bad neighborhood?”  Well, gee, member of the most privileged race and gender whose toe has never dipped below upper middle class, maybe you have the money to physically move your family and pay for a more expensive apartment in a safer neighborhood after coughing up a security deposit and first and last months’ rent, but this woman, obviously, didn’t.  Truthfully, I didn’t know her situation, I was just so irritated that this man couldn’t see past his own experience.  “I’d move, why didn’t she?”

I worked with another person, a woman who was NEVER my friend, who also was completely out of touch with anyone else’s problems.  Zero empathy.  Rich parents, still married, no major problems, illnesses, crimes, etc. that affected her family.  I lost track of the “let them eat cake” comments that she made. She married a wealthy man, and when she had their first child, was able to become a stay at home mom.  A spoiled, shallow woman who no longer had to work in a cubicle and more than likely hired someone to take care of her children.  Puke.

Then there’s the youth, someone whose got the energy and the drive and the opportunities, living in the time that we do, to do far more with their lives than I could have even had I not been forced to perform oral sex on my babysitter at age 6.  Even if all those years of abuse had not happened, when I was in my early 20’s, no one was making their living doing half the cool things kids are able to work at now.  There are kids making a living off of posting videos on YouTube, for pete’s sake.

Lastly, there’s the broken ones, the misfits like me, who are open about their pain, their losses, their mental health issues, etc. These are the ones I least begrudge their successes, but they are painful to watch. Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess, whom I’ve mentioned before, is  screamingly funny. She lives in Texas with her husband and daughter and makes a living as a writer. Her first book has just been released. And she suffers from depression, anxiety, and admits to self-harming. And I literally feel a pain in my stomach when I read about her accomplishments. Her book is on the New York Times’ bestseller’s list. She appeared on CNN. She made a short with  Wil Wheaton and Jeri Ryan. She’s awesome. And I think I hate her.

This may seem like a non-sequitur, but I read an interesting article on victims in our society.  It pointed out how hurtful it is to go to the politically correct extreme of never blaming the victim.  That’s not to say there aren’t some people who truly meet the definition of 100% blameless victim.  Children usually fall into that category. But smokers who develop lung cancer?  Many have cried “victim” and sued the tobacco companies.  As loathsome as “Big Tobacco” is, do these people hold no responsibility themselves?  What about the chances we take?  What about people who go out and get drunk and do dumbass things.  They drive and get themselves and their passenger killed, like Jackass star Ryan Dunn did.  I read of so many people acting as though this was a “tragic accident” and “poor Ryan”.  He was driving over 100 miles an hour, drunk.  He not only killed himself, but his passenger.  He paid the ultimate price for his stupidity, as did his friend who was stupid to get in the car with him, but his loved ones continue to pay.

And, don’t hate me on this, but the whole Natalee Holloway thing pisses me off.  Yeah, it sucks that she was murdered, but for an underage girl to go out drinking and get in a car with boys she barely knew in a foreign country….it boggles the mind.  And it happens all the time.  This article I read describes this kind of victim as such:

Victims With Minor Guilt: This category includes victims who with some thought, planning, awareness, information, or consciousness could have expected danger and avoided or minimized the harm to themselves… choosing to get drunk (the minor responsibility is for electing to be completely helpless and unconscious, at the full mercy of others, in a situation that has the potential to be dangerous).”

Another part that stood out to me…

“alleviating all women or any victim from any and all responsibility to predict, prevent, or even unconsciously invite abuse, is to reduce them to helpless, incapable creatures, and in fact, re-victimizes them.”

So, now is when we get to the point. When I was six, I was a victim. 100% innocent. My abuse continued until we moved to Texas, when I was nine.  Then my brother started bullying me.  I’d get smacked and pushed around at the drop of a hat.  I remember getting backhanded if I was in the passenger seat and he couldn’t see past me when looking to the right when he was driving me to school. Not, “can you please lean back a little?”, just SMACK.  By that time I had had enough of this abuse crap, and went to my parents for help.  My brother proclaimed his innocence, and my parents accused me of being a liar.  For years my mother accused me of hating him and just trying to get him in trouble.  I admit, I did grow to hate him.  But then, when Josh died, I laid that hate down at my brother’s feet and told him I didn’t want it anymore.  He wasn’t worth the effort.  To my shock, he apologized.  He admitted he knew he had been awful, and was truly sorry.  On that day, I got my big brother back.  Since then, though there’s been times we’ve ticked each other off, we’ve built a relationship that I cherish.  He’s the only person in my life who’s hurt me who has actually admitted to it and apologized for it.

But, I have to admit, I’ve let the abuse I received as a child serve as the pedestal from which I’ve ALLOWED myself to be a victim.  Will stood me up in high school.  Poor me.  I got involved with a schizophrenic drug addict who (gasp!) killed himself.  I’ve let a good part of my youth slip away without ever taking the risks required to do any of the grand things I’d hoped I’d do.  I crawled into a bottle of Jim Beam, gained weight and went dateless for 7 years.  I had the power to change, avoid, or overcome any of these problems/issues.  And I’ve often told myself that I have, in fact, overcome them.  But that’s a lie.

Hubs and I were talking today about me pursuing one of the many crowdfunding opportunities available these days.  I posed the question, “what would I ask for funding for?”

Husband: Your repurposing stuff.  Your business.  Arr Bazaar.

I got irritated.

Me: What would I do with any money I raised?

Husband: Advertise your stuff.

Me: I’ve gone down that road before, remember?  When I tried to sell jewelry.

Husband: But this is different.

Me: Yes, but it’s still ME trying.

And then I turned on the tv and saw this kid, this “photography student”, advertising a smart phone by demonstrating the awesomeness of the pictures he took with it while skydiving.  And I hated him.

In not entirely unrelated news, I’m able to see my shrink on a weekly basis, at least for a while.  The psychological equivalent, hopefully, of having my name legally changed from “poor me” to “kick ass self”.

Quick capsule review

So, after a couple of rounds of phone tag, I finally spoke to the psychiatrist my first choice (and unavailable) psychiatrist recommended me to.  The exchange went something like this…

Me: Hello

Dr: Yes, hello, this is Doctor X.  You’ve been trying to call me?

Me: Yes, hello.

Dr: What insurance do you have?

Me: Anthem Blue Cross

Dr: What do you need?

Me: (combination of odd phrasing and her accent confused me) I’m sorry?

Dr: Why do you want to see me?

Me: Well, I’m seeing a psychologist for talk therapy, but my general practitioner is the one who added Wellbutrin to my treatment when the Zoloft alone stopped working. I had a bad depressive episode in December/January.  I just don’t feel like the medication is doing….

Dr: (interrupting) Okay, I get the picture.  When do you want to come see me?

(The rest of the conversation involves making the appointment)

This does not bode well.  I’ll give her a chance, but I find that any doctor who interrupts and whose first question is to ask what insurance I have, well, that leads me to think her patients don’t come first.  My appointment isn’t for a week.  Perhaps I’ll see if I can find someone else. My shrink recommended someone, but that person isn’t in-network. Thanks to the crappy HSA my employer switched us to, an IN-network doctor’s visit costs me $100, so imagine what going out of network would cost.

Annoyed.

UPDATE:  Kicked Doctor X to the curb.  Waiting for a call back from another doctor.  It’s called bedside manner, people.