Archive for the 'Life' Category

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

Seeing joy and experiencing wonder

Over the weekend we saw the first Spring lambs.  They were bouncing all over the field, looking so cute and carefree.  All Sophie could hear is Katie saying “lambies” over and over.  It’s amazing how quickly we can have a trigger experience for something wonderful.  It is usually associated with something that Katie sees, we suddenly feel this sense of joy and wonder come across the body.  She’s incredibly focused on the item and we can block out everything else.  It’s an amazing feeling.

Katie is heavily protected and only comes forward when Sophie is present.  This means that when we’re at our most dysfunctional, Katie is well hidden within our internal house.  But when she is present, it can be a shock for the rest of us.  M has come back to find a child’s cupcake on our lunch tray, or found herself arms deep in a bin of Mushabellies :)  Which considering the quiet dignified nature of M, was rather amusing…

When we’re in the depths of our denial about DID, or when we read the sometimes negative information about littles, this behaviour is like a reality check for us.  There is no way that M would voluntarily let herself get arm deep in squeaky toys.  But it is something that a 3 nearly 4 year old would do in a heartbeat.  Sometimes it’s hard to understand that this brain can hold the wonder and joy that Katie can experience, as well as the dark depths held by those in The Basement.

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Now playing: Brooke Fraser – Waste Another Day
via FoxyTunes

Oceans

I’ve never lived more than a 2 hour drive away from the ocean.  Until my early 20’s I could drive 15 minutes and be looking out to sea.  This was my escape, my coping mechanism, my release from the craziness in my head that I didn’t understand…  Go around to the beach and sit and watch the waves come in.  Watching the endless wave action, hearing the water birds calling, seeing the sunset or sunrise…  these are the things that have always brought us back to steady ground internally.

I think this is part of the reason that when our friends are in pain, we’ve never known what to say to help.  We don’t know soothing words, but we know peaceful silence that comes from being alone with the ocean.  You can’t transfer that feeling into words.

When we lived in Wellington, we would sometimes go around Coast Road beyond Wainuiomata and watch the storms rolling in from the Antarctic.  It was like watching some of the storms that happen within my head.  Seeing the ferocious wind and waves crash up against the rocks, it freed some of the tension and anger that we would feel coming from our internal Basement.

Negative memories are associated with the ocean, but we can block those out when looking out to sea.  It numbs, yet frees us.  We’ve yet to find an alternative for this feeling, the lake is a very poor substitute.

We need the ocean now…

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Now playing: U2 – Running to Stand Still
via FoxyTunes

Silence is very loud

As a note of warning, this entry could be triggering.  No event is described, but abuse is mentioned.

If you have silence in communities, I think that silence is very loud.

(Rebombo as cited in Jecks, 2009)

This quote is from Dumisani Rebombo, a man who admits to raping a young woman in his village.  He was talking about how silence within the community, enables South Africa to continually have appallingly high rape statistics.  But I think that this quote is easily transferred to almost every situation where abuse goes unreported or hidden.  Someone is keeping the silence, someone is benefiting from that silence and someone is suffering within that silence.  Through tacit consent areas within society allow abuse to occur.  In New Zealand, the most obvious case of this was the death of Nia Glassie.  Neighbours and family members admitted during the trial, to seeing Nia being subjected to the horrific abuse.  But, they never reported any of this abuse to the authorities until after her death.  The silence around Nia was deafeningly loud.

The secrets that the dissociative system keep are another form of this type of silence.  I often wonder when we learned to keep the silence.  As a newborn until about six months old we screamed whenever put down for a nap, so we obviously didn’t come into this world silent.  We were the only one of the four children that was a Plunket baby – monitored for health, well-being and development.  According to our Plunket book, we were a healthy, happy, alert and curious baby.  But by the time we reached school, we were noted as being withdrawn, studious and a loner.  The changes in our behaviour may well be nothing of consequence, but in the context of Katie being three (nearly four), it raises questions.  It is this documented change that I struggle with the most.  Why were there no questions asked?  Why didn’t anyone see the changes?  I know that there are now no answers for these questions, but it feels like we were subjected to abuse and an associated tacit consent from before the age of four.  This consent meant that for the next 30 years, it felt as if we didn’t have any control over our life.  This statement is obviously not true in the strictest meaning of the words – we went to University, got a job, moved away from the home town etc.  But none of those decisions seemed to have been made consciously, it was about meeting expectations of those around us and keeping busy – must always keep busy…

The one other area of our life where the quote from Rebombo fits, is the silent anger that the father exhibited.  I’ve mentioned the father’s brooding, silent anger briefly several times in this blog.  One day I might be able to write about it in more depth – not his anger, but the effects that it had.  Today isn’t that day, but if I keep mentioning it in little snippets, then it becomes less scary to talk and think about.  Well, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it :)

Reference:

Jecks, N. (2009, July 29). Tackling South Africa’s rape epidemic. BBC News. Retrieved August 1, 2009, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8171874.stm

Were you missed while growing up?

Liz asked us this a few weeks ago.  At the time we answered that we wanted to be, but too many people saw us.  The implication for us was that people saw us and hurt us.  But for Liz this question had a totally different meaning.  She wasn’t asking if people physically saw us, but rather she meant that people didn’t notice us.  We were overlooked, ignored and treated as a chattel.  We weren’t listened to.  Nobody got down to our eye level, ask us how we were and waited for a response.  Part of me is grieving that fact, part of me thinks it’s more melodrama and we just need to get over it.

We were rarely treated with hate.  We were annoying for those around us, but we never generated hatred in anyone except the sister and to a lesser degree the other siblings.  I wonder if we had generated open hatred whether our life would have been different?  Would open hatred have led someone to noticing that we were being hurt?  The mother would often forget us when we were out shopping and we ended up having to wear a harness because we were constantly wandering off or being forgotten.  It’s odd reading these words, I don’t feel any sympathy towards that little girl; but I’d be the first to call the authorities if I saw similar behaviour towards another child.

So we were missed, as Liz calls it.  No one noticed us and this made us an ideal target for abuse.  The teachers missed the signs, the mother never saw a thing and the abusers saw an opportunity – this was one group of people that didn’t overlook us.  I’m sure that this became part of our self-defeating cycle of needing to be invisible.  We need to be invisible because no one can hurt you if you aren’t there.  This need also meant that we actively deflected any worry people may have had, away from ourselves.  Mickie remembers going into 6th form Biology one day and just sitting on our stool with our bag on our desk for the whole lesson.  To put that into context, we were usually a very attentive student – you had to be in order to keep under the teachers radar.  But that day Mickie was fronting and he didn’t want to even pretend to do Biology.  Something really bad had happened the day before and he’d had enough.  The teacher who had known us for over two years came up and asked us if we were alright at the end of the lesson, Mickie grunted that we were fine.  The teacher replied “Poor Michelle” and went back to preparing for the next class.  This was the teacher who was the closest to actually seeing us, and we deflected him.  Life is filled with these “what if” moments.  But there is no use holding onto them and questioning our motives.  The only option is to learn from them.

I know that many of the people who read this would have been subjected to hatred by various people, including those who should have cared and protected them.  I don’t want to in any way minimise the damage that hatred can do.  But I think abusers know when to show that hatred, which is why I state that open hatred might have changed our life, just as it might have changed those who were subjected to hidden hatred.  The sister knew when she could be open in her hatred for us, and who would go along with that hatred.  To her and a group of her friends we were a play thing.  This hatred did immense damage to us physically and psychologically, but it was always hidden from someone who would question it.

It’s time to go take some calming photos… Take care…

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Now playing: Hollie Smith – Bathe in the river
via FoxyTunes

Time to take a deep breath

The last few weeks have been difficult. The prospect of ACC mediation on Tuesday (21st) had us going off on all sorts of tangents. Then last Thursday (16th), ACC made a decision which meant that the mediation was no longer needed, although they have yet to look at our corrections which will odds are require another round of negotiation.  Despite this apparent cancellation of the meeting, the potential sat within the system.  Some of us considered it to be like the tricks played on us when younger. At any moment we were going to get a phone call on Tuesday telling us to get to the meeting. Thankfully that phone call never happened, instead we got to spend the two days we had arranged to have off to recover from the meeting as time to breathe.

On Monday night we chatted with a friend who’d been on holiday for what seemed like a very long time.  He helped us smile, laugh and shed a tear.  Through a photo slide show he took us on a tour of where he lived – it was fascinating.  I’m always awed by the historic nature of where most of the people I talk to live.  To put this into context, New Zealand has had only been a British colony since 1840.  We don’t have the old buildings that are present elsewhere around the world.  To show him a little of where we live, we went out taking photos (at midnight)…

Mural

This mural is in a car-parking area in the middle of town.

This was the only photo that turned out viewable – we have an essential tremor which doesn’t mix well with night photography and the long exposure times needed.  We might have another go at doing a tour of where we live on a fine day.

On Tuesday we needed to get out of the house – possibly the fear that they’d call and we’d have to go to the meeting.  So we went around the gardens and took more photos.  Photography is fast becoming our main means of distracting, focusing and self-soothing.  Part of the soothing, is to take photos of plants.  I know that many people consider this type of photography boring, but for us it’s about finding peace for a short time.  It’s something that each one of us can enjoy on some level – I’ll get a message to take a photo of the purple flowers…

Lilac viola

Lilac viola

Purple viola

Purple viola

Sometimes, the camera feels very cumbersome in my hands and I’ve taken to wrapping the strap around my right hand several times, I’m not sure if this is a switching issue, or me being a klutz. I also know that not all of us are happy with this new interest – I’ve been told that the camera is going to be thrown into the lake or smashed into the pavement.  I know that these threats are about us not being entitled to any form of enjoyment.  It’s awful to hear, let alone realise that part of this brain is wired to ensuring that we don’t enjoy life.

On Tuesday night we ended up talking to another friend.  I mention this because it was the first time in over a week where S didn’t come forward to self-injure, which had become more severe as the week went on.  Again, there was laughter and a sharing of knowledge.  It always amazes me that those who are going through difficult times can put that aside to help someone else.  To those friends, I say thank you.  I hope we can reciprocate what you both did for us one day.

This reminds me of Faith Allen’s entry over at Blooming Lotus about how we can Make a difference.  You don’t have to be rich, pretty or popular to make a difference, it’s all about being willing to learn and share that knowledge for the social good.  I stumble badly with this sometimes, the fear and anxieties put up barriers to my learning.  But I can’t use this as an excuse to give up.  When teaching information literacy to cynical and usually technophobic students, I tell them it takes practice.  Information literacy is all about lifelong learning – being curious about new things.  It would be hypocritical of me not to gently work on those barriers in the same way that I get my students to question every scrap of information they find.

The big stampeding elephant in the room – otherwise known as self injury

In our post on Saturday, we mentioned that we were self-injuring daily.  To us this was no big deal, and we listed it as number 4 in the reasons why last week was bad.  Yet, this is what almost everyone picked up on within the comments.  This surprised us – we couldn’t see what the issue was.  Self-injury in some form, has been part of our life for as long as I can remember.  In some ways it has become a normal part of life.

A definition of self-injury or self-harm is interesting to arrive at.  I’m going to break one of M’s rules and use Wikipedia for the definition – not because it’s particularly good, but rather like all things Wikipedia, it’s a good starting point.  So according to Wikipedia:

Self-injury (SI), also referred to as self-harm (SH), self-inflicted violence (SIV) or self-injurious behaviour (SIB), refers to a spectrum of behaviours where demonstrable injury is self-inflicted. The term self-mutilation is also sometimes used, although this phrase evokes connotations that some find worrisome, inaccurate, or offensive.

(Wikipedia: Self-injury, 2009)

So how do you determine what a demonstrable injury is?  Some of my self-injury is psychological in basis, which is notoriously difficult to identify as having a demonstrable injury.  Does the injury have to be immediate?  I consider eating disorders to be a form of self-injury, but the effects are not always noticeable immediately.  So in short, self-injury is like defining the length of a piece of string.  To me, what defines self-injury is the intent of the action or non-action.  Why did you pick that sore?  Why didn’t you eat that piece of cake?  It’s definitely not about how much you bleed or how big the bruise is, it’s about why it happened and how it made you feel afterwards.

In many ways I feel like a fraud talking about self-injury.  I mean I’m “high-functioning” and “we” don’t self-injure.  Then I look at the scars on my skin, the signs of malnutrition evident in my toenails, the sores that never heal because they’re picked at, the bruises on my leg etc.  None of these are an attempt to get attention – the scars etc are on parts of the body where they won’t be easily found or recognised as self-injury.  They’re also not an attempt at suicide – the plans around suicide are very separate from our self-injury.  But the over-riding feeling for considering myself a fraud when talking about self-injury is the shame.  It is considered by society as a weakness, a character flaw, disgusting, self-centred…  My opinion of self-injury is affected by this societal view.  If someone I don’t know says that they attempted suicide or self-injured, I tend to dismiss them as attention seeking – I buy into the societal whitewash.  But I also know many people who self-injure on a personal level and at no time do I consider them to be attention seeking.  The big difference between these scenarios is that those who really suffer with self-injury rarely talk about it and I know the pain of my friends.  I know they’re not faking.  I know that they sometimes struggle to get out of bed and even pretend to keep going.  Their pain is real to me.  But I also feel that sense of helplessness that comes from not being able to “fix it” for them.

I think this is a huge reason why society view self-injury as it does – there is a sense of helplessness about what to do.  Will sympathy make the person feel worse?  If we talk about it will it give them ideas?  But it’s mainly I DON’T UNDERSTAND…  Often the lack of understanding comes from all sides – the self-injurer often doesn’t know why they need to injure, family and friends don’t understand where they went wrong, and the doctors treat you as another “one of those patients” where you don’t want to get too close because it’s a long journey out of self-injury.  Yes, it often becomes about the people around the self-injurer rather than the injurer themselves.  It is rare to find a person who will sit with you during that pain in an unconditional way.  But when you do, it’s incredible.  I’m not sure I would have the strength to do it, I’ve talked to one person who needed that unconditional support and I’m not sure how effective I was.

Sorry, this is very rambling.  But my thoughts about self-injury are so confused.  I know I do it.  I know I shouldn’t, but every day it happens.  I’m worried what will happen if I accept this as my reality – will it mean that I’ll also be accepting the self-injury and not want to stop?  Or, will it mean that I can look at the stampeding elephant coming towards me and make it change it course?  In the words of Frank – fucked if I know.

I hope that the more we talk about it, the less of a grip it will have over me and others who suffer.  Not looking at the elephant in the room doesn’t make it disappear, it just makes the shame more intense.

References
Wikipedia: Self-injury. (2009, July 9).  Retrieved 13 July, 2009 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-injury

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Now playing: Sia – Breathe Me
via FoxyTunes


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