Moving the blog

We’ve thought for ages about moving the blog to our own site where we can have more control over the templates.  The thought processes didn’t go too far beyond it being fun to be able to customise what we want.  Well that’s what I thought anyway, only to find out that last week M got the new blog sorted out and partially up and running.  So this will be our last entry on this blog, and we’re moving to Scattered pieces over at http://www.scatteredpieces.org/ There’s still a bit of work to be done on the new blog, but it’s mainly in sorting out the categories and fine-tuning the widgets. M thinks she’ll have that done by the end of the week if our shoulder holds out and Sophie stops doing FaceBook quizzes :)

I’m sorry for the change, sorry for the inconvenience of updating your RSS feeds if you’re wanting to continue reading.

Take care,
B

Once upon a time…

Note: This post was going to be submitted for the Carnival Against Child Abuse, but it became more about trying to peel off another layer of scar material that was caused by the marriage.  It could be triggering, please read with care.

There was once a little girl who got hurt by the people who should have taken care of her.  This experience taught her about keeping secrets, packing the bad things into containers inside her head and to forget about most of the bad things altogether.  She became good at playing the parts and emotions that were acceptable to those around her.  Compartmentalisation and dissociation became her way of life.

As this girl grew, the dissociative walls became higher and more entrenched.  Her core beliefs were that she was a nuisance, stupid and ugly.  But she wasn’t a victim.  Oh no, she knew that bad stuff had happened, but she believed that it happened to every little girl, and no one else seemed to be complaining.  So when the girl became a woman and met a nice man, she didn’t tell him about the bad stuff; instead she listened to his stories of being abused by his sister when he was a boy.  She didn’t understand how that could have happened to this seemingly big, strong man.  It made him cry and she comforted him.

So began, what would become 8 years of physical, psychological and sexual abuse for that woman – us.

In many ways, the man came into the relationship more honest and open than we did.  He said he’d been abused, we didn’t. We got so caught up in his past that we didn’t say anything about ours – we didn’t really consider it that bad or worthy of talking about anyway.  Abuse was what we had come to expect.  So when he raped us for the first time, we dissociated it away and considered it normal.  Besides, he was good to us – he gave us flowers, cooked for us and treated us with a form of delicate care (when in front of other people) we’d never experienced before.

A pattern developed over time, he would have a crisis of some sort and we would save him.  He needed us to be strong, so we were.  We were hardly innocent within this scenario.  The woman at work used to feel sorry for him as we appeared to pick on him and order him around.  I can understand why they would get this impression – he needed to be saved and we needed to be a saviour.  The weaker he became within his work and mental health, the stronger we had to be, and the more he would abuse us when no one was looking.  The strength we showed to the world was one of us organising our world to gain some control.  When we got behind closed doors there would be a dissociative switch to one who enjoyed the pain that he inflicted sexually and physically.  He became good at triggering our switches, so we built the walls inside our internal house higher and stronger.

About four years into the relationship, we were in a side impact car accident.  We sustained a mild concussion.  In that one instant, our lives changed forever. Our coping mechanisms fell apart.  Suddenly we were weak.  Suddenly he had to be strong, but he wasn’t able.

He had been intermittently seeing different therapists over the years, but had never seen one for more than three sessions.  They were always useless or changing their fees or playing games…   We realised we were in trouble and started counselling again.  He began to self-injure, often in front of us or because of us.  He was fired from his job for assaulting a supervisor.  We tried to be strong, but were slowly falling apart.

He got a job as a security officer – a job where he could “get some respect”.  We also changed jobs.  But nothing fixed the things that were happening in each of our heads or in that house.  We were two people who had serious mental health issues crashing into each other.  We became suicidal and were regularly assessed for danger, always to be released back into the care of the strong man who was now our husband.

On the 9th of February 2008, we attempted suicide.  It wasn’t our most serious attempt, but it landed us in A&E and then the secure psychiatric ward.  On the 10th of February 2008, the strong man took us home.  What followed is blurry, but I know M made a smart arse remark to him about how he needed to grow up.  He then showed us how strong he was by trying to kill us.  His level of violence scared him and he called our mother, screaming that he’d done it this time and it was all over.  The mother thought he’d killed us.  When she talked to us, she asked if we wanted someone to come up to be with us.  Sophie said “yes”.  With our family there, he couldn’t cope with what had happened, so left the house on the 14th of February 2008.

Looking back, I can see how our different issues collided to cause what happened.  If he’d married someone who wasn’t dissociative, this probably wouldn’t have happened.  We were so conditioned for abuse, if it hadn’t been him, it would’ve been someone very similar.  Could we have ever made it work?  I doubt it.  He was not interested in healing.  He paid lip-service to therapy, but wasn’t prepared to invest the time and energy.  I was too defensive and in deep denial.  I wasn’t prepared to heal myself, instead I was so caught up in his problems that he was all I could see.  My life became about fixing him.  He has refused to attend the court ordered counselling as part of the Protection Order, so I don’t think he’ll ever heal.  I hope he does and proves me wrong…

The following clip is one we did a year ago to try to work through the events surrounding the marriage.  It may trigger.

—————-
Now playing: Powderfinger – Sunsets (acoustic)
via FoxyTunes

I’m thick!

Yup, I’m thick.  I might be intelligent, but I’m still as thick as a thick thing on a thick day.  I’ve been a dissociative, anxiety ridden wreck for the last week and had no idea why.  I thought it was just S acting out that was causing me to lose so much time.  It’s only today when I was at the supermarket check-out that it clicked… The check-out operator was asking the usual pleasantries about how my day was etc.  Then she asked the big one “Did you do anything special for Father’s Day?”  How in the world could I not connect today with being Father’s Day?  I brought one of the special Father’s Day lotto tickets last week; I’ve seen the Father’s Day card stands in the shops; I’ve seen the advertisements on television; I even thought of buying a camera tripod in a Father’s Day sale.  But for some reason, the words ‘Father’s Day’ didn’t connect correctly in my brain.  Don’t ask me why, but I didn’t associate it with the father and the past.

I don’t know if this lack of connection is a good or bad thing, but it sure helps to explain why I’ve lost most of the week.  It could also explain why S was acting out so violently and challenging the power dynamics within the system.  We were all oblivious to her pain and memories…  I’m so sorry S, please forgive us.

—————-
Now playing: Mad World – Gary Jules
via FoxyTunes
watch via YouTube

Demonising parts

I was talking to someone yesterday who got me thinking…  I’ve talked about S several times in this blog – she was born to protect the rest of the system from the sexual abuse and to cope with the psychological and physical abuse from the sister.  I’ve said that I respect her, but I’m also scared of her – what she holds and what she does.  I’m now wondering if is it possible for those factors to co-exist?

Yesterday, I became very aware that I have pigeon-holed S…  I am comfortable with labeling her as the “sexual one”, and the one who “lives and breathes sex”.  But what I forget when I say that, is that she is more than just “sex”.  She has shown this in the past by talking to other survivors and NOT turning the conversation to sex.  Another indication that she is more than what I imagine her to be, is one of her interactions with Kriss earlier this year.  Yes, that conversation involved sex, but it was discussing the past.  She was trying to heal.  I wonder how often I have put the brakes on her healing…

I’m not really sure how to deal with this information.  I know that I’m not ready to face what S holds.  I also know that I don’t have to re-experience every aspect of the past in order to heal from it.  But on some level, I will need to face what S had to do.  I truly admire her strength and courage.  She stood up to the sister when no one else could or would.  She has come forward at other times to help us when we’ve felt bullied, so I know she is more than sex.  But it’s so easy to pigeon-hole her with that label.  The ultimate in irony and hypocrisy – we HATE being labeled with a diagnosis, yet I gain comfort from labeling S.

Realistically, my next step should be to talk to Liz about S.  But this will bring up the whole sex issue.  I don’t think I can do that, there’s so much shame, disgust and rubbish tied to our ideas and feelings about sex that I don’t know if I can.  But I also know that I need to do something.  S is acting out in ways that are harmful, possibly as a way to gain some needed attention.  If I don’t act soon, how much damage will I do?  What is worse, finding out what it will take for S to be heard and healed, or ignoring it all?

—————-
Now playing: Dixie Chicks – Wide open spaces
via FoxyTunes

Shouldn’t have shared!

Do you ever do something, which you’re sure is a positive healing step, only to find out it has caused unforeseen pain to a part of you?  I shared something on a blog today after several attempts and false starts at commenting.  The blog owner has now commented on the entry, giving positive proof that our comment has probably been read.  Now all I hear are the words “Shouldn’t have shared” repeated over and over by a young one.  It’s getting louder and more insistent.  I’ve tried apologising.  I’ve tried breathing.  But it hasn’t helped.  I stuffed up royally.  This young one has taken our comments as positive proof that we are a disgusting piece of worthless rubbish.

I thought writing this might stop the chanting.  We went to see Jo at the woman’s program today and badly needed to self-injure as punishment for getting caught up at work and therefore running late for the appointment.  Jo asked what was going on to cause the need to injure, I said I didn’t know.  She asked if it was someone within the system who wanted to injure.  Suddenly the need to self-injure stopped.  It was as if whatever part was causing the need, didn’t want to be questioned or discovered, so went away.  I was hoping the same logic would work with the chanting, but no.

A formal complaint and triggers

Last night we nearly had a formal complaint laid against us by a student.  It wasn’t due to harassment, abuse or even incompetence.  It was purely due to the student not getting what they wanted.  They wanted to renew a book, but it was wanted by another student, so I wasn’t able to renew it for them.  This sparked, what I can only describe as a childlike tantrum.  She yelled, insulted me and said that I couldn’t be trusted.  I was stunned at how quickly she was triggered into acting out.  I’m not saying she has a mental health issue, but that she was severely triggered by not getting her own way.

I’ve lost most of the interaction to the dissociation, but some of the bits that I remember are just bizarre.  Management wanted to make sure that she spelled our name correctly on the complaint – if we’re going to be complained about, she can at least get our name right; Carrie asked her to calm down so we could resolve the situation; One observed, ready to step forward and protect us all.  The whole incident left us shaking and totally dissociated.  It happened during the night shift, so I was the only staff member in the building.  Both of the student assistant shelvers had their headphones on listening to music, so didn’t know anything had happened.

I had to explain the incident to my team leader and circulation supervisor this morning in case she did go ahead with the formal complaint.  Our cynical friend said that we should have called security, but I didn’t even think of it at the time.  Also it would seem silly to call security over someone having a tantrum because they didn’t get their own way.

It’s odd whenever I see anyone totally lose control like this, how little sympathy I have for them.  This woman may have genuine issues that mean that she is unable to cope with life and is trying to work through them.  But all I saw was someone who had no control, pushing their problems onto someone else (me).  I can understand this sort of lack on control under extreme stress, but this was about not being able to read a book!  It was the sort of behaviour that got us sectioned under the Mental Health Act when Frank was angry that we were in a hospital.

I think I find it so hard to identify or understand her behaviour because the dissociation I experience, is all about hiding.  If I’m triggered, I’ll try to escape the situation without causing a fuss.  My first response is to hide.  If I’d been in this woman’s place, I probably would have dissociated, shut-down and walked away.  It’s only when we consider something so overwhelming, and there is no possibility of running away, that we act out in front of others.  It’s only happened when we were being assessed for our level of safety in the psychiatric ward, so it’s very rare.  When it does happen, it usually leads to another round of self-hatred and self-injury.

I suppose what I resent most about this woman’s behaviour, is that most people would pass her off as having “mental problems”.  But this is so unfair and insulting to those of us who genuinely do have mental health issues and are working hard to heal and get help.  She may have mental health problems, but she could just be immature and incapable of handling the world.  That doesn’t necessarily equate to having a mental health issue.  This is what encourages the stereotypes about mental health.  One of the interesting clips I’ve seen to try and challenge the stereotype about a mental health diagnosis is Schizo from Time to Change (as a warning, the start could be triggering).

What annoys me, is that I allowed this incident to trigger me.  I allowed someone throwing a tantrum to get me upset to the point of dissociating.  I had some really nice students during the rest of the night, but that one incident ruined my night and still leaves me shaking when I think about it.

Alone

The mother has gone and we’re alone.  It’s a very odd feeling after her being here for so long.  I knew there would be some reaction after she left, and there was.  It wasn’t tears, grief, or even relief; but rather a sense of wanting to “reclaim our territory”.  The house, body and reactions almost feel as if they belonged to the mother while she is here.  I know that this is our sense of wanting to be the perfect daughter for her, but it’s quite disconcerting to look back on it and realise what had happened.

While she was here, we tried so hard to appear “normal”, and we quite often succeeded.  She was much more accepting of the times when any form of normalcy was impossible.  This gave us hope that she was more accepting of us, but that hope was put under question yesterday when she stated that she is going to come off the anti-depressants that she’s been on for the last year.  Our fear is that this accepting attitude will disappear when the drugs wear off.  I know that the drugs have shown that she can be accepting, but that acceptance was covered up by her inability to cope with what life sent her way.  She hasn’t been in therapy or learned new skills to cope with life, so with the drug leaving her system, will those stressors mean that she will again not be able to cope?

When we got back from dropping the mother off at the airport, S ended up calling Matthew.  It turns out his intentions have changed from talking to his house mate, to something else.  This was the trigger for a night of self-injury.  We’ve just cleaned the house, mowed the lawns and did some gardening to distract and possibly punish ourselves for allowing S to come forward and act out.  Which of course infers that we have some control over the switching, which we don’t *sigh*.

We have a two week break from sessions with Liz as she goes on holiday.  She asked if we wanted to text her while she was away, we said “No, we’ll be fine”.  Liz said that she knew we would be fine because we were survivors and had the skills to ensure that no matter what happened, we will still function.  I think she has more faith in our ability to not self-destruct than we do.

—————-
Now playing: Brooke Fraser – C S Lewis Song’
via FoxyTunes


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