Sorry for the lack of posting. Going through a difficult passage- not going away though. My art therapist says this is the hardest part of the work and at first that did not comfort me much- but now I keep thinking she is right.
March 26, 2011
March 25, 2011
I spent the first several years of my therapy work literally running back and forth between the two roads of knowing and not knowing about the abuse. I would go to therapy and tell a detailed memory of my father raping me- feel a sense of freedom and relief- then run home filled with terror and anxiety over all I had said. I would call friends and write in my sketchbooks over and over asking the same questions: "Why am I saying these things? Why can I not stop saying them? Why would I be saying them if they were not true?" I would literally sit on the phone with one of my closest friends telling her the stories about my father that I had been spewing in my therapy and then go on to say: How could this be true? And if it wasn't true- why weren't my parents responding in a different way? Why weren't they helping me somehow understand that this never could have happened? When I first told my parents that I was going to start telling about what they had done to me- my mother acted scared for about three or four days. I told her first and she did not say anything to my father. She said she was unsure what to do, she cried, she asked me how it could be true that my father had raped me. Then I told my father- I told him I was going to tell what he had done to me. And I always remember that phone call- mostly because of one thing my father said. First he denied that he had ever raped me, then he got extremely angry and then I said this: "Don't you remember when I was in high school and I used to burn myself on my skin with cigarettes?" My father quickly said, "Oh I remember burns all over your arms and legs." And my mother said, "No, I don't remember that at all." And I remember thinking/knowing that the reason my father knew about the burns but my mother did not was because he was raping me and would see me naked.
This was one of the first sickeningly painful confirmations which would begin to crack forever my wish that they had never raped me or harmed me.
Also- after I had told my father that I was going to tell what he had done to me- my mother went from behaving like a scared child- to yelling, being angry and saying that none of the abuse ever could have happened.
I know I have written this here before but I feel it bears repeating. One of the things I hate the most about the incest, rape and trauma that I survived at the hands of my own parents- one of the worst parts is that they acted like it did not happen and that made me feel worse and crazier than all of the abuse ever had. They would hurt me and pretend they had not. My father would rape me and act like he didn't. And when- by the time I was in high school- I was a drinking, class skipping teenager who was starting to have sex and put out cigarettes on my flesh- they said I was a failure- a fuck-up. But really- the real reason I was "acting crazy" was not because I was crazy at all- I was doing those things because I was in terrible terrible pain and I was in that pain because they were hurting me.
March 23, 2011
While I was in the hospital two different nurses who told me they knew about dissociative disorders at different times asked me, "Am I talking to Jenny now or one of the alters?" And both times I had the exact same response. I felt like it was such an odd question and both times I just said, "I'm Jenny." Which I think was a good answer because how some part of me felt and what some part of me wanted to say was, "You've been watching a lot of TV lately, huh?" It really was a weird question and it really felt awful when they asked me it. It felt awful because: I am always Jenny. I am not Jenny and then a bunch of alters. I am one person who sometimes feels like different people. It really is like a constellation- Orion is the name of a constellation and the constellation is made up of many stars- that is sort of the best way I have of explaining what it is like to have DID. Jenny is the name of the constellation and the constellation (my mind) feels divided into a lot of different ways of thinking. And really most people's minds are like this- people have different ways of thinking about things. The main difference between my mind and anyone else's mind is that I have not been able to know fully about all of the parts of my own mind.
I have been working to be able to tolerate knowing more of my own mind and that has brought me to the place of understanding that I have to let go of the wish that my parents were not abusive.
Before I left the hospital on Monday I wrote on one of the first pages of a beautiful new little sketchbook the following: Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, AND I TOOK BOTH.
And I meant this: For all of my life it is like I have been running down two roads- one road on which I knew about the abuse and another on which I did not and I was always imagining that the two roads would never meet. But the roads met. It makes me want to cry just to type that. Anyway- the roads met and the wish that my parents had never been horribly abusive was killed at their convergence. And I was thinking today how I had written yesterday that I went into the hospital because I came to the understanding that I have to let go of the wish that my parents did not abuse me- which is sort of what happened. But it was also really that when I started to understand what was happening- that I had to fully stop pretending and wishing- I felt like I might hurt myself because I was so scared. I was so scared and lost and completely terrified about it all- I thought I might hurt myself- I wasn't sure what was going to happen. I was unsure what was going to happen next because I had never even imagined my life without the wish. And when I did- imagine my life without the wish- I felt like I might just not make it. So that is why I really went into the hospital.
I was feeling better through the metaphor about the two roads and how I had taken them both- I had come to understand something that had been really difficult to understand. But I felt like something was still not quite right- that some piece was still missing and then I came to understand that there was a third road. There was the knowing, the not knowing and then the final road- the last piece and the most painful road of all: the road of Stockholm Syndrome.
I'll write about that as soon as I can.
March 22, 2011
All of my life I have had a wish. I have wished for all of my life that I was never sexually, physically and emotionally abused by my dad and mom. I remember having this wish when I was very young- when I was three and I have my earliest memory of being sexually abused by my dad. I wished then that it was not happening; that he was not really hurting me. That was the beginning of the wish.
In order to protect myself- my mind and my heart- I held onto that wish. I held onto that wish and I kept wishing it over and over and over again. I wished it for all of my life. I wished it for the entire time I was growing up and living with my mom and dad and I wished it after I moved out of their house and went to college. I wished that they had never hurt me for the nine years between when I moved out of their house and when I finally said for the very first time some of the things that they had done to me. And I wished it for all of the past seven years of being in therapy to recover from the trauma of their abuse.
I have maintained my wish. I had too. It would have been impossible to know about all they had done- all I had lived through in just one day or one year or even a few years. It has taken me more than seven years of hard work to reach the place I have come to and it is a sad and painful yet heartbreakingly freeing place. I have to let go of the wish. Just typing that last sentence is enough to set me into pouring tears.
As difficult as it is I wanted to write about why I was in the hospital for four nights and that is this reason: Because for all of my life I have had to wish and pretend that my mom and dad did not sexually and physically and mentally abuse me and now I understand that in order to fully heal, in order to fully live, in order to truly be my real self- free from the pain of the abuse I survived- I have to let go of my wish.
I cried a ton when I was in the hospital. I was crying a lot before I went in and I have been crying since I got up this morning. Letting go of the wish- the wish that saved me and protected me for almost all of my life- but the wish that now prevents me from living fully- it is the most painful thing I have ever fully known. My parents did hurt me sexually, physically, mentally and it has taken me a long time to fully know it- without the guise of the wish.
So I am having a huge amount of grief. It feels like there has been a death, but then it is not just that because there is this ENORMOUS amount of freedom which comes with the letting go of a lie that you have been having to believe for all of your life but which does not help you anymore.
It is painful. It is complicated. It is sad and awful and it hurts. But it is also such a relief to not feel like a crazy person or a liar or to have the feeling of being in a mental cage all of the time anymore.
In order to survive and to keep 'in line' with the wish that my parents were not grotesquely abusive- I had to believe them when they told me I was a liar and a person who was going to end up working at Wal-Mart for the rest of my life. And I did believe them- I believed them even when it hurt me like hell, I believed them even when I had to give up other things and experiences because I have always done anything and everything to maintain the wish that they had never harmed me. It was too painful to know the truth, it was too painful to know how much they had hurt me.
The day before I applied to graduate programs this past January I started smoking cigarettes. I used to smoke when I was in high school and college- I quit years ago though and now I only do it when I am really anxious about something. Some part of me understood when I applied for grad schools- when I wrote this essay- that I was acting directly against the maintaining of my wish. In some way of being me I understood that the days of maintaing my wish were indeed numbered. And when I got accepted into one of the programs- running alongside of the thought of "I did it!" was this thought: "THEY WERE WRONG ABOUT ME." And even though I have been working for more than seven years to come to understand the exact thing I have devoted my life to trying not to know or understand- if I had to pick one moment when the wish went from bending to breaking- because the wish has been bending now since the moment I first said aloud that my father had raped me and for all of the time that I have been in any and almost every way of being me trying to know and understand about what happened in the house I grew up in and what my parents did to me- about my childhood- if I had to pick a moment when the wish started to truly break though- it was when I opened the letter of acceptance from the graduate school. In that moment something in me could not pretend and did not want to pretend anymore and so I thought: THEY WERE WRONG ABOUT ME.
I will keep writing about this but I need to take a break now. I am working on my new wish now even as I grieve the loss of the old one and feel the pain and sadness that comes with fully knowing the truth about the abuse I survived. I am going out for bike ride and to mail a birthday present to a friend. Then I plan to draw because here is my new wish- the one that takes the place of the old one, the one that comforts me as I cry a lot these days: I wish to have a life.
March 21, 2011
I went into the hospital Thursday night and just got out today. This blog- like other things- feels confusing to me. I started writing here and posting images of my work because I was trying to find a way to share both the good and the difficult parts of what it is like to heal from trauma and a dissociative identity disorder. Healing from trauma and DID is a mess. There is a lot of pain. Sometimes the only thing to think to yourself at the end of the day is something like: GREAT JOB ON NOT ENDING YOUR LIFE TODAY. And you will have to think it in the most sarcastic tone and loud- you will have to scream it loud- because really- you will be trying not to puke from all the crying.
March 16, 2011
March 14, 2011
The first lines of the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem "Kubla Khan":
In XANADU did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
(The whole poem can be read here.)
God Says Yes To Me
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don't paragraph
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I'm telling you is
Yes Yes Yes
March 12, 2011
March 11, 2011
March 10, 2011
March 9, 2011
March 8, 2011
"Slim slow slider" (Last song on the Van Morrison album "Astral Weeks".)