What it’s like inside my head…. Sometimes…

I am just on the other side of what I suppose would be called a PTSD wave.  One of the blogs here I follow asked about triggers and at first I said I didn’t have many.  But I’m realizing now that in fact… I have MANY.  They just aren’t obvious ones.  Because what happened to me happened when I was so young, the highly specific triggers are sort of vague – sensations, smells, that kind of thing.  Witnessing a rape scene in media (I just try to avoid consuming media with rape in it which, these days, seems to be just about every other friggin’ tv show or movie…) can send me into panic for days.  But the more subtle, insidious ones are things that are pretty normal.  For the most part, things that make me feel vulnerable, like I don’t have control, like someone else gets to say what happens in my life and I have to just sit and take it.

Just describing it makes me feel like a little kid, utterly powerless.

And this is the kind of experience we will ALWAYS have to deal with.  I’m not talking about people forcing me to do things that are harmful, just everyday things, like having a boss, having to pay my taxes, dealing with debt, dealing with cashflow management.  Normal.  Everyday.  Things.

The winter was hard, leading up to and following Christmas.  2014 was a really tumultuous year.  Hearts were broken, homes were moved 3 or 4 times, jobs were changed 2 or 3 times, really chaotic.  So by the time Christmas rolled around, I was basically a bottle rocket going off every 5 seconds.  I was encountering the need to be in control of things BIG TIME and since I don’t have control over every facet of my life, my oldest, most reliable coping mechanisms came up.

One is food, which I will talk about in another article I think, because the one I want to talk about here is Hiding.

When things get out of my hands and I can’t do anything about it, when I get scared or feel that someone is getting too close, or just generally I am being needled by daily triggers (you know, taxes and bosses and having to wait for busses) I go into this mode I will refer to as Hexadecimal.  Hexadecimal was a character on a popular mid 90s kids show called Reboot.  I related to her instantly because I felt like she had the same kinda crazy as me.  Total dissociation from my emotions.  For me it amounted to having a series of masks that I would build to suit particular situations while the real me retreated to the back of my head.  I call them The Auto Pilots.

The inside of my head sometimes feels like one of those horror houses with stairways to no where, doors that open into walls, halls that get smaller and smaller and smaller, rooms within rooms within rooms, endless underground passageways, locked doors with screams behind them and small little hidee-holes for safe places to hide.  Over the winter, I was slowly retreating to the furthest, darkest, deepest tunnel I had and leaving The Auto Pilots to run the show.  My closest friend finally said to me “I am confused, I don’t know how to be around you, I don’t know what you want because you never seem to be the same one moment to the next.  There’s no consistency and I feel lonely and unsafe.”  It took me a few days to really grasp what he was saying.  It is something I have heard many times before in my closest relationships.  I realized that I was hiding under the bed trying to be safe.  I realized that, because I trusted him, I could push him away, I could run away from him the way I could not run away from the things that were making me feel unsafe and know that he would still be there later when it was safe to come out.

The thing is, he IS the safe place, he is the place that I can go to and lean on and be vulnerable and he will help me, protect me and soothe me.  Even though he can’t make the scary things go away my responsibilities go away, he can help me feel safe in dealing with them.

This running away, disappearing, employing the army of Auto Pilots is the most reliable, most automatic coping mechanism I have.  So much so that I didn’t even know it was there until a few weeks ago.  After realizing what i was doing, of course it had to be dealt with.  I have been practicing reaching out to people and that practice came in handy as i was fianlly able to let down some o the defenses and just tell him where I was at, how I was feeling and, bless this man, he helped me cry.  I have started to come out from under the bed, have made a point of reaching out to friends, and the idea for this blog – which had been circling my head for some time – has finally settled down and crystalized.

Being seen is not only a means of dealing with this coping mechanism, it is in fact the antidote to it and is, for me, a huge part of healing these rifts.  So I am renovating, you could say.  Taking out walls, getting rid of useless stair wells, building beautiful sun rooms behind doors that formerly lead to nothing and, slowly slowly and carefully carefully, excavating the tunnels.  There’s a little baby girl down there trying to be safe and with time she’s gonna learn that she is safe, even when the world is scary.  ❤


The Naked Truth

Low Tide
Low Tide.  Vulnerability is the birthplace of courage.

OK, so today in Canada is Bell’s #BellLetsTalk hashtag day where they donate .05¢ every time someone shares a certain picture (featuring Howie Mandel) or the hashtag above.

Ok, great, they do it a couple times each year and that isn’t sarcasm.  It really is great.  It’s a necessary conversation we all need to be having because at some point in your life, either you yourself or someone you love is gonna need to talk about something she is terrified to talk about.  And you know why she is scared?  Because you might stop loving her.  You might stop accepting her for who she is because, it turns out, she’s not who you thought she was.  And that is probably scarier than anything else in the world because we can’t face the world without each other.

So… along came a little video in my newsfeed about how Howie Mandel’s secret was spilled… unknowingly to the entire world (or that piece of it that listens to Howard Stern).  It’s moving… go watch it, you’ll get it.  The reason I am mentioning it is because… well it has pushed me to take this step.

I know me.  This blog was supposed to be perfect when I hit the publish button.  There are supposed to be graphics that are inspiring, banners, all kinds of great posts and material to browse through.  There’s supposed to be beautiful art work, deep and insightful quotes.

And none of that is actually happening right now.

There are no pictures.  Not one.  I don’t think.  If there is a picture it is one of those not great nor inspiring auto-generated wordpress pictures and it’s there because I either don’t know it is there or don’t know how to make it go away.  There are no banners, there are no other posts (yet).  There is no beautiful artwork.

There’s just me.  And the fact is… that’s enough.  Because I don’t need to hide myself behind all the blitz and the bling and the fancy pants.  Even if I want to.  Even if I am sitting here reading through this again thinking well maybe if I just dig around a little bit more on my computer I will find something that works and that should help me procrastinate – wait… focus…

The Naked Truth is enough.

I’m a survivor.  I struggle with my mental health.  I get depressed, I get withdrawn and when I am backed into a corner, or feel like things are not under my control, I get dysfunctional, like… border-line Hexadecimal from Reboot dysfunctional.

When I was a very very small child, I was raped and molested by my dad.  The first three years of my life were an effort to survive that spiritual, physical and psychological betrayal and painstakingly learn how communication works so someone would know what was happening to me.  When my mom finally understood what I was trying to say she did the right thing, which was the best she could do.  My dad elected to leave us, which was the best he could do.  My mom took me to group therapy for other kids like me and in fact, those therapy sessions make up some of my first clear memories…

Most people have no idea what that actually means for how you grow up, how you see the world and how you figure out your place in it.  To be honest, I’m not really even sure what it means.  For me, it has meant having this belief that I am wrong, misplaced, un-belonging to the world.  It has meant being contained and careful.  It has meant being hidden from people, especially people I might trust because trust and people are dangerous things.  It has meant doing it all by myself because to lean on another is to be vulnerable.  The cost of vulnerability just seemed to high.  It has meant to be in control of things, even at the cost of the needs of those I care about.  It has meant being dissociated from myself and my own emotional landscape – it took me almost 25 years to realize that I was even angry about it, and to this day I have not felt the full force of my anger because, frankly, its just too fucking much to feel in one go.  It has meant that, in most of my friendships… I’ve been a shitty friend.  I have failed people more times than I have shown up for them.  I did not know how to be a friend to someone in crisis until 3 years ago when someone I love fell apart in my living room.  It has meant being mostly friendless, assuming you don’t want to be my friend and that I don’t need you to be my friend.  It has meant having to always be the strong one, always be the self assured one, the put together one, the Survivor One because to be anything else, a hopeless, miserable, lost, lonely confused fucking mess was to be the disappointment I always thought I was.  It has meant being both afraid of men and in need of men.  It has meant being a victim every moment that it has also meant being a survivor.

It has meant overcoming, undoing, rewiring and rewriting all of that programming because I am enough.  I do belong.  I am angry and that’s perfectly reasonable.  I am a bit messy sometimes and that makes total sense too.  Vulnerability is the birth place of courage, and this is 100% true.  I do want to be your friend and need you to be mine.  I am victim and survivor and sometimes neither; I am just me.  Enough.

I am writing this blog because… Well writing helps me.  I have written poetry, short stories, journals, essays, rambles and rants for most of my life.  Writing was safe.  Journals were safe places to put the hard, knife edge things I needed to say, things that would cut other people if they heard them but were ok to cut me.  Poetry gave me a rhythm to work with, a creation that was mine, that I birthed and it hurt like hell and here it is and it is mine.  Story gave me a method to express my feelings, thoughts and desires through the characters I made up, gave me a chance to speak through the mouth of another.

I’m writing this blog because for basically all of my youth I had no one to talk to.  No one who could hear these things and brave the truth with me, no one who could accept it for what it was without the need to fix me.  No one who could see that I am both broken and whole.  Today, I am much more secure, I am much more comfortable with vulnerability, with trust, with being seen and with knowing myself.  I work towards integration.  And maybe you are sitting there on your side of the computer reading this and feeling a sense of relief because you see you in this.  Maybe this blog will be a place you can go and see the messy fucked up path I walked to get where I am (much better than where I have been) and that whatever part of your path you are on is ok with me, as long as you show up tomorrow in whatever state you are in.  And even if you decide not to show up… I’m glad you came here today.  Or maybe you are reading this and thinking… golly Jen I had no idea… I wish I had and am glad that I do now… I am glad now, too, that you know.  Maybe this will mean we can be real friends, the kind of friends who really talk to each other and show up in our dirty pyjamas and don’t give a shit because fuck it I showered yesterday.  Maybe you’re reading this and are uncomfortable.  Maybe you’re bored, I don’t know, this has gotten a bit long (word counter reads 1192 words).  Whoever you are, whatever you are feeling, I’m glad you’re here and I hope you come back to see me again because even if this blog does nothing at all for you on your journey (I really hope it does something for you though…) it is helping me.  Because I want to be seen.

Broken and Whole.

PS.  If you’re reading this and you’re like, this is amazing and I want to help you make this fancy pants style… That would be great because WordPress is overwhelming kinda and I would like my blog to look … Nice.  With pictures.  And… style.  If you wanna support me in this endeavour, be it graphic tweaking or wordpress teaching or “How To Make Your Blog Successful” tutoring, I’m in!  Email me at survivor.rising@gmail.com

PPS.  If you want to just talk to me, maybe you’re going through some stuff and want someone with a bit of perspective, or just a safe person to unload on… you can also email me too at the above address.  If you want… let me be for you the person I didn’t have.  ❤