As a writer, I tend to write about pain and heartache more than happiness and good things. I do this because writing about those things is cathartic and also because they are the feelings that are most intense and most easily accessible to me. I can tap into that part of me very, very easily. In fact, I find it difficult at times to be as creative when things are going very well.
I also find myself resisting good things and/or having an innate refusal to let the bad go and just “be” in the moment and accept the good and happy feelings for what they are without a curtain of dread hanging in the background.
Today I forgot to do that. I forgot to carry my dread with me. Perhaps I didn’t grab the right handbag.
Thing is, I’ve had a damn rough time this week, but it is getting better.
As weak as it makes me feel to acknowledge it, whenever there is a significant anniversary or reminder of some awful thing that happened in my past, I change. I get anxious, overwhelmed and easily stressed. I have more nightmares and my heart starts to ache and it feels physically heavy in my chest. I feel nauseous. Certain smells are intolerable to me. It feels like some sort of Incredible Hulk-type transformation that is fierce, powerful and unstoppable. And even though I feel it happening; I feel myself spinning out of control, I have not yet learned how to manage it or stop it before it gets very bad.
I feel physically exhausted, yet I am unable to sleep. I lose my appetite almost completely. And I cannot seem to force myself to ‘snap out of it’. It is as if I am physically ill. When it does happen, I withdraw from those around me. I can’t stand to have people see me this way. To see me at my weakest.
It’s complete and utter bullshit is what it is. Quite frankly.
I entered into a new relationship this past year and that has proven to have its own set of challenges. The biggest of which seems to be learning how to accept being treated well. I don’t think this is supposed to be a learned behavior. I think we should expect to be treated well and be surprised when we are not.
As a survivor, I am used to being ‘on defense’ all the time. Protecting myself against possible danger rather than going through life open to possibilities, being afraid of those around me rather than assuming most if not all of my encounters are going to be positive and good. I have to learn how to live again. I have to learn to ALLOW myself to live again.
I have to tell myself that just because someone tried to take my life, doesn’t mean I don’t deserve to be here. To live. Just because he made me believe I am a worthless piece of shit, doesn’t mean I am. He was. HIM. Not me.
I’m actually pretty great.
A few days ago, I had reached the end of my rope. My lack of sleep and my stress levels were making it very difficult for me to manage at work. I almost had a complete breakdown in front of my boss. THAT is not acceptable. Period. I cannot afford to let this bullshit affect my job.
Right about the moment I was about to completely lose it, I received a flower delivery from the man I love. Which means he was thinking of me. At the exact moment I felt like I was falling apart, I received something that ridiculously brightened my day and reminded me that I was loved, that I was being thought of, and that there is someone out there who treats me well.
He came to see me that evening and it really made things so much better. I devoured his attention and his affection for the better part of the night. Just being in proximity to the one I love was so amazingly perfect for me. It was like putting a soothing balm on the burn.
I didn’t enter into this relationship thinking of it as medicinal. Nor is it about being co-dependent. It is about me learning how to be treated right, learning how to feel happy and being okay with it. Sharing the weakest part of myself with someone and trusting that he will take good care of my heart and not use my weaknesses against me.
It has also been about me learning how to love someone again and give freely of myself without being resentful and without expecting that person to take, and take, and take, until I have nothing left. It’s a process, and I am not all the way there yet, but I’m working on it.
I got a very good night’s sleep last night and woke up far more refreshed than I have been in a few weeks. Today has been a pretty good day. And, instead of feeling like this good feeling is going to be taken away at any moment, I find myself thinking ahead to how much better things can get; And it has been a very, very long time since I’ve allowed myself to do that.
It feels pretty damn good.
[This is just a very light, fun piece I wrote back in 2008 when I hosted a poetry collaboration. The theme I chose for our writers was music because I love music almost as much as I love writing. This piece was written in honor of my favorite guitarist, Joe Satriani.]
Your fingers slay
The strings submit
To your gifted touch
Watching you play
An art form
My body sways
To the rhythm so soothing
The sound liquid
To watch you play
Is nothing short of….
[This is something I wrote back in 2008. It was part of a poetry challenge in which we were instructed to select one line from the host’s poem and rework it into a completely new piece. The line I chose was “desires once loved in private” and this is what I did with it.]
She paints the red smile upon her face
Mirror reflecting outer beauty
The hideousness remains
Desires once loved in private
Now a means to an end
Shot of liquor; then another
Warms her body
Numbs her mind
Memories of countless men
Knock at the door
Sour breath, raunchy
Sex his vice, he pays the price
Monetary transaction complete
He pushes her down
To her knees
Make him believe
He owns her body
Yes, for a time
But her spirit already dead
She hides in this bed
Doing the one thing
For which she was trained
The one thing
She’s good for
Such a good little whore
The solitary flower, hidden in the dark
Tentatively reaches out
For a ray of sunshine,
A drink of water
This flower maintains its outward appearance
Inside wilted, dry, thirsty
Her most beautiful petals
Have yet to bloom
Her slow death begins
Then, miraculously, a ray of sunshine
Bathing the flower in warmth and light
Much needed rains shower down
The flower, overwhelmed, begins to drown
Just before she concedes to her fate
A petal blooms;
Awaiting the hand of a skilled gardener
Under whom she will surely blossom
Tender hands pluck away the dry, wilted leaves
They fall to the ground with a gentle crackling sound
Making room for new growth
New roots take hold
A beauty is born
The thing with the girl who has been to Hell and back, is that she doesn’t need to be fixed.
She doesn’t expect to be understood.
She needs only to be reassured, comforted and loved. Genuinely loved.
The kind of love she can feel in your presence and your absence. A constant.
She has trouble with the concept of object permanence.
The girl has anxiety about everything. From the “little” things to the very, very “important” things. When she is overwhelmed, she has a very hard time distinguishing what is most important from what isn’t important at all. Therefore, she assigns everything equal time in her head. Nevermind the limited space, she will find a way to put it all in there. Sometimes it gets jumbled. Sometimes it starts to tumble out and, in those times, she cries in frustration and she then attempts to push it all back in.
It is exhausting. Some days, just the act of living and breathing, of ‘blending in’ with the ‘normal’ people is …. exhausting.
She is overly critical of herself and others. She expects a lot from those around her. She tends to expect more than she knows others can provide. Perhaps she sets them up for failure, so they fail her sooner, rather than later. She doesn’t know.
Sometimes her expectations seem reasonable and, when those expectations are not met she is confused and frustrated.
She gets irritated easily but she can’t seem to help it. She needs more calm moments in her life. When you poke at her on purpose, it hurts her feelings. When she says “stop” she means it.
She has been let down more times than not in her life and that is “normal” for her. People keeping promises and being dependable are the exception to the rule. To assume everything will always go smoothly, to not prepare for the worst, has been a mistake for her. A very big mistake.
She is the only person she can rely on 100% of the time. To believe otherwise is unfathomable to her.
In her mind, eternal optimists are fools. Don’t they know they aren’t safe? Don’t they know how bad it can get?
She is expected to maintain an appearance of normalcy and competency in her day-to-day life. People are dependant upon her and she doesn’t generally let them down. In fact, rising to demands is her forte. She is labeled “high-functioning”.
Let downs are painful. She will meet any expectation placed upon her because, being given direction, expectation and clear guidelines are her lifeblood. She feeds on clear, concise demands, desires, wants, needs. She will meet ridiculous expectations placed upon her, just to show you she can.
She is an emotional masochist who wants to be free of it.
Not knowing what is expected of her sends her into a tailspin of uncertainty. She doesn’t do well with change. She is like a child in that way.
She stopped growing emotionally at around 8 years old, the first time her first abuser touched her sexually and then forced her to do things that she didn’t understand. She was ‘rewarded’ for doing those things.
She learned to equate sex with love, affection and special treatment; As well as fear, captivity, and helplessness.
The world has been a confusing and scary place ever since.
She seeks guidance.
Indecisive people make her uncomfortable and anxious. Being left to make all of the decisions in any relationship (co-worker, friendship, intimate relationship) makes her feel overwhelmed, resentful and parental.
She wishes she could let go of the wheel and let you drive for a little while. But then she is terrified you will crash … and hurt her. She doesn’t know how to let go.
Routines are comforting and nurturing for her. There have been far too many unexpected and chaotic events in her life. She yearns for routine. Unexpected changes in plans (even ‘pleasant’ ones) cause her to panic. She does not know why.
She withdraws. Not as much as she did when she was with the Sadistic Bastard, but, she does. She dissociates. When things become too much, she goes somewhere. She doesn’t know where she goes. She doesn’t remember. She knows this isn’t ‘normal’.
She almost died one day. When Sadistic Bastard wouldn’t let her go. If he couldn’t have her, then nobody could. When she thinks of it, she wants something to do with her hands, her mind, her body. She wants to escape. She would give anything to take away the vision of him doing those terrible things to her. But there is no escape. The visions follow her everywhere. They disturb her sleep.
She wants to smoke, drink, use, fuck.
She is resentful of her sense of responsibility. At times, she fantasizes about giving it all away.
The fact that her constant worry/anxiety is irrational is completely irrelevant. She knows it is irrational. Telling her so will only make her angry. If she could help it, she wouldn’t be this way, but she can’t. You either accept her this way, or you don’t. She cannot force herself to be someone she is not.
The protective measures she has taken for the entirety of her life have culiminated in this…this beautiful mess of a woman/child who only desires to be loved, if not understood.
Just loved as she is.
She needs to be comforted, yet she doesn’t know how to ask for it.
She is deeply injured, flawed and afraid.
She needs you to be perceptive to her needs. She needs you to assume she needs you, not that she is pushing you away. To drop your defensiveness and give her your warmth.
She resents her neediness.
She must be reassured often that she will not be abused or abandoned.
Absent that, all of her relationships will eventually suffer and die.
Someday, her smile will come back and stay. She will be herself again. She DESIRES to be herself again. The one whose burning passion and fire he extinguished. That part of her that died. She must be reborn.
Until then, she needs patience, love, and nurturing.
A hand, a heart, a hug.
Love, most of all.
The hungry creature lies in wait
Inside my twisted soul
Lies, distrust, dishonesty
Once love, there’s now a hole
From this cavernous emptiness
Once full of peace and trust
Comes the Creature ravenous
None left, save for a crust
The Creature strives to reach this piece
Of love left in my soul
I struggle to hold onto it
The fight, it takes its toll
Much easier to let the Beast
Have his way inside
The scrap of love is not enough
To keep my soul alive
Lie back I feel him enter me
I just give up the fight
And as the Beast moves through me now
I scream with all my might
His rancid touch dissolves the love
My soul now black as night
I’m free from feeling, love and trust
My heart closed oh so tight
My angel, where are you now?
My God, you’ve let me down
There’s no one left to hold me up
There’s no one else around
Collapse, exhaustion now sets in
Ravaged outside, in
Sacrificial lamb, I weep
Drowning in his sin