Posts Tagged 'Self soothing'

Perfect daughter – where are you?

While growing up, I tried very hard to be the perfect daughter.  I was polite, quiet, obedient, a good student, tidy, shy and seemingly happy.  This is the daughter my mother knows and loves.  She doesn’t know the daughter she is now faced with.  She doesn’t recognise the woman who can’t go outside unless it’s for work; the woman who will stand in the middle of the kitchen and start scratching her hand while staring into space; the woman who says that she can’t serve up dinner because the food has suddenly become dirty and disgusting; the woman who sits on the Internet until 2am because the idea of sleep is too scary for her and she needs the distraction.

This week, the mother has been faced more and more with the daughter she doesn’t know or recognise.  The session on Monday with Liz stirred up all sorts of issues internally and I’ve been struggling to cope with the reaction.  It got to the point on Tuesday night that there was going to be some fairly serious self-destructive behaviour occur if there wasn’t some intervention.  That intervention came in the form of someone coming forward to take photos.  They realised we were too unsafe to drive anywhere, so the usual routine of driving somewhere to take photos was out.  Instead they decided to use some props from around the house to see what they could do.  The mother could tell we weren’t well, so she ended up helping by having a look for different props to photograph and holding the torch we used as a light source.  This is one of the results…

Apple

Apple

Because the mother helped us with all of this, she could monitor us more closely.  She said that it wasn’t until after the photos had all been taken and we were putting them onto the computer for processing that we sort of “came back”.

Awhile ago, Sophie tried to apologise for the not being that perfect daughter the mother remembered.  The mother said that we were probably never that perfect daughter, but she didn’t see it.  She didn’t see what that perfection was hiding.  I think she really does want to help sometimes.  But her own dysfunctional thinking and lack of healing, mean that she will never really be able to help us.  I don’t resent her inability to help us, but I do wish that she would seriously look at her own need to heal.  She went to therapy for a couple of sessions, but then stopped as she thought it wasn’t going anywhere.

I’m aware this makes us sad or uncomfortable or something.  I’m not good at naming or understand emotions, but I noticed that the body was feeling very cold and I need to do up the jersey we wore to work.

Time to go back to being the perfect working daughter…

—————-
Now playing: U2 – Running to Stand Still
via FoxyTunes

Music, soothing and snobbery

Jennifer Riley over at Psych Scamp recently shared some links to research about music therapy.  Until this final prompt, I never really considered the role that music plays in my life. When I wrote about Oceans soothing me, Paul responded that music gave him a similar feeling.  I didn’t really think about this at the time because I was so caught up in my feelings about the ocean, but I think I can understand a little more about what Paul was meaning now.

I know many people use music to soothe and to help tell their stories – Matthew (our American friend) often uses music to indicate how he is feeling and to try and take away the pain; Secret Shadows lists music that has a special meaning for her within her blog; and Sophie used music to help tell our story when creating the Little girl lost clip on YouTube.  But for me music has often been a noise in the background, it’s not something that I really thought about, but I feel fear when it isn’t there to break the silence.  I suppose in many ways, music is a form of protection for me.  But for others in the system, music has a totally different meaning… a few bars of heavy metal and R is fronting, ready to take on the world; One prefers the blues and Motown so he can lie back and restore energy; Sophie prefers Pink, Brooke Fraser and alternative music, while  Katie loves anything that will mean she can dance around.

Our taste in music has always been fairly eclectic, with classical being one of the few genres we don’t listen to.  I know that the main cause for the lack of classical music in my life is the influence of the father.  He would make fun of those who listened to classical music, saying that they were elitist snobs.  I have no memory of us listening to anything other than what he described as, the local “rubbish” radio station.  I have no idea what his idea of good music was, but it wasn’t anything that the family listened to.  A week ago, we were sent a link to some classical music and from that list we went straight to two pieces which were in the middle of the list.  This in itself is odd, we usually have to work through lists from top to bottom.  But these two pieces (Cantique de Jean Racine and Silouans Song) were picked and recognised by part of the system immediately.

As I write this, W is telling me that we got told off for listening to the Concert programme by the father.  I think listening to classical music was her rebellion against him.  While we listened to these two pieces, there was calm throughout the system.  It was a different calm to what we experience when near the ocean, but I think this is because more of the senses are involved with the ocean experience.  But still, there was a sense of peace.  We all listened with respect to something that held importance for a young one.  It was her quiet protest and we all admire her strength and courage.  But we also just loved the music, it held a fascination for the rest of us.  I know those of you who know classical music will be able to tell me why those two pieces are amazing, but for us it wasn’t about dissecting something to understand it.  Listening to that music was purely about being there and being surrounded by something soothing.  That is a special gift.

—————-
Now playing: Brooke Fraser – Shadowfeet
via FoxyTunes

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…

—————-
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.

Daffodils

Daffodils

Daffodils

Daffodils have always represented hope to us.  Could use some hope right now…

Please take care.  I know many of us are struggling at the moment.  One moment at a time and just remember to breathe.  (((warm safe hugs))) to anyone who wants them.

—————-
Now playing: Our Lady Peace – Innocent
via FoxyTunes
watch via YouTube

A day in the life…

A day in the life of a spoilt domestic cat…

Morning: Sleep until the human has woken and prepared a morning snack.

Morning...

Morning...

Afternoon: Bask in the sun on this convenient thermal rug.

Basking in the Sun

Basking in the Sun

Mid-afternoon: Look scornfully at the human who is sitting on the floor, but can be forgiven as she is fairly well trained – for a human.

Ahhh... the Sun... ohh you poor human

Ahhh... the Sun... ohh you poor human

Soon after: Go back to looking out over my domain.

Looking out over my domain

Looking out over my domain

Night: After licking the gravy off the evening meal, curl up in my bed in front of the heater.

Ahhh... the heater... Wait... go away human...

Ahhh... the heater... Wait... go away human...

Some time during the night: Retire to the igloo bed in preparation for a new day.  It is truly a hard life, one which humans will never really understand.

—————-
Now playing: Brooke Fraser – Shadowfeet
via FoxyTunes

Distractions

Last year we were sent up to the local psychiatric unit for an assessment.  We knew that it would be a long wait until we were assessed, so took some paper and crayons with us.  These are some of the things we did while we waited.  A good distraction then and a good distraction now as we try to cope with the mother being here.

First writing to try and calm down:

Hate

Hate

Top row:
Help Us
Confused
Scared
2nd row:
Why?
Hate
Runaway
3rd row:
Anger
Lost
Sick of This
4th row:
Fight
Is this it?
Stay??

Doodle:

Doodle

Doodle

When we were sectioned a couple of years ago we did incredibly intricate versions of this sort of doodle. This one is on an A5 size sheet of paper, the others were on A2 and were much more detailed and circular. Then at times Sophie was asked by a young one to draw a sunflower, tree or flax to try and help calm them. Just realised that some of the young ones used to pretend they were hiding in green plants as part of the dissociation. The plants didn’t have flowers, but were always a cool, comforting green.

As the wait wore on, we started to establish the rules that would enable us to get out of the hospital –

Rules

Rules

Writing to the left:
Good Job!
These will get us out of here!
List of rules:
– no yelling
– don’t show wounds
– say ‘Thank you’ & ‘Please’
– say ‘I’ NOT ‘we’ or ‘us’
– smile!!!
– make eye contact!!


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