Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year… Please???

New Year's Day.

Hmm…  I have been putting this blog off.  Very well, to give myself some credit.

Since my birthday, really.  You know, when I do the birthday recap, what have I learned this year, and what do I hope to learn next year thing…  Which I had every intent of doing, but then Frau GateKeeper decided, once again, to use my birthday (and, one month later, Christmas) as an opportunity to remind me just how worthless I am, and seems to have successfully recruited some other close relations into my "shunning", which -- as was obviously the intent -- hurt like hell.  So I wasn't really in the head space to recap the year, or think of anything positive about it, and the only thing I wanted to learn was how to do some very naughty things that would probably land me in prison.

So I figured I could be forgiven for postponing the annual wrap-up to New Year's.  Which… well, I guess it's still New Year's Day, but I've been studiously avoiding this all week, not to mention the numerous naps, and games of Angry Birds and casket solitaire that have happened today.

And even Pollyanna-Me is having difficulty finding the silver lining I always want to include, lest I convince someone (or myself) that life just sucks and you might as well give up now.  Reading some other bloggers I follow, I see I'm not alone in that this year.  Strangely, that gives me comfort.

I know a few who have refused to choose a word for the coming year, because 2013 was just so devastatingly disappointing.  I'm tempted to join them.  But I'm also stubborn -- even if I have to work past the naps and Angry Birds and casket solitaire...

You see, last birthday, and last New Year's, things were already pretty damned sucky.  Frau GateKeeper was having a hay-day, and her attacks were at an all-time high.  (These attacks have gone in waves over the years, as somehow she keeps forgetting my initial disclosure of my father's sexually abusing me, plus forgets the numerous times she's since heard me telling the truth about it and attacked me for it each time -- and with each wave the attacks have escalated to the point where I've finally realized I'm just not emotionally safe anywhere near the woman, and never will be.)  But the thing is, at the time, I thought that was the worst it was going to get.  That I'd finally realized there was no safe way to connect with her, removed myself from her firing range -- and while it hurt, at least I was finally doing something to protect myself, and would never allow anyone else to treat me so badly again.  I was down, but digging myself out, and ever hopeful for the future.

And so, when choosing my "Word of the Year" for 2013, I chose "Daring".  I envisioned myself throwing away those chains that had held me back for so long, taking those daring leaps and soaring.  The year did, in fact, begin with me doing just that -- making some incredible connections to help make the Katie Project come into reality, dancing (!) for One Billion Rising, assisting fellow survivors through peer groups, writing again, and starting to feel like I was finally doing my life the way I was supposed to all along.

When, WHAMMO!, the universe decided to pull a 180 on me.  Apparently, "Daring" was not supposed to be my word of the year, the universe made it a tie between "Betrayal" and "Abandonment".  Those have certainly been the themes.  From the GateKeeper and her newly-recruited minions to my husband to friends I thought I had to even my damned (now ex-) therapist*, the people I thought I could count on to be there for me through thick and thin were dumping me in the ditch or tossing me under the bus or dumping me in the ditch after running over me with the bus.  It was down to me and two girlfriends (later, a third) -- and with the resurgence of my abandonment issues and C-PTSD flare-ups, I wasn't really able to count much on me, either.  Even my own brain and body were turning against me.

[* A little break for an important Public Service Announcement:  Contrary to my previous assumption, the title "Psychotherapist" is NOT regulated in Ontario -- while they are bringing in new regulations, at the moment anyone and their dog can claim to be a psychotherapist, and not have to belong to any of the regulatory bodies, let alone follow their rules and policies.  Including, you know, things like ethical behaviour or -- something I thought was a no-brainer, myself -- CONFIDENTIALITY.  Not to mention, having the skills required to work with clients in a healthy and helpful manner.  As we later found out, this woman has quite a (ridiculously bad) reputation among ACTUAL psychological health practitioners, and every time we've related anything she said to REAL therapists, they have a hard time keeping their eyebrows stable.  Initials are S.F., working in Simcoe county.  Run for your life (quite literally -- she apparently believes mockery and humiliation are proper ways to deal with suicidal thoughts, and you can't be depressed if you jump up and down) and search out someone actually registered with the OCSWSSW or OACCPP or other governing body to get the competent, professional, and confidential help you deserve.]

So the annual wrap-up is: from March through December, I got very little done.  None of the dreams or goals I'd laid out for myself were attained or completed.  Zero to report.  Nada.  Niente.  The Katie Project is on the back burner until I have the mental and emotional energy to give it the attention it deserves.  I've barely booked any gigs because I don't know when I'll get the energy back.  I haven't written anything.  This entire year has been one gigantic unpaid sick leave, and if one more person asks me what cool projects I'm involved in, they might find themselves wiping snot from my nose as I wail from the corner in a foetal position.  I have no cool projects.  Trying to stay grounded and present and snot-free has been my overwhelming project this year.  I'm not sure if I've even succeeded at that.  No, I know I haven't.

What did I learn this year?  Everything I'd worked so hard to un-learn in the decades before (I'm unworthy of love, loyalty, compassion, having my basic human needs being met, etc.).

But then, girlfriend #1 (bless you, Ali!) introduced me to the Trauma Centre.  And I've been learning a lot.  Of the good stuff.  Seems I hadn't quite finished in the cognitive therapy department -- I've been hanging on to a lot of really bad assumptions, and using them as excuses for others to treat me really badly, or to ignore my own senses, or deny my own feelings.  Yes, even after decades of therapy, I've still got a few more mountains to cross…  Both Don and I have been lacing up our hiking boots, jabbing in the pitons, and helping each other across the terrain (when we aren't threatening to jab the pitons into each other's legs, of course…).  It hasn't been fun.  It hasn't been easy.

And, after a "Couple's Intensive" workshop weekend we went on in the fall, and the first bit of advice given to me from Terrence Real, I'm learning not to smile.  Which is harder than it seems.  When you've spent over 40 years denying your feelings, it's difficult to even acknowledge them, let alone show them.  A cheery smile and laugh has always been my best defence -- I embarrassingly remember being fired from a job for the first time (retail clothing sales, I was awful at it!) and laughing hysterically, hearing in high school that a good friend had lost his leg in a horrific accident and giggling like a fool, or my first husband and I deciding to divorce while I skipped merrily on the sidewalk as he watched, dumbfounded.  Feeling or showing anything but cheery has always been a dangerous thing for me, from keeping up appearances in my birth family and keeping secrets about my father, to present time when the GateKeepers et al feel the need to punish me every time I admit to having been hurt, for hurting now, or for taking the necessary steps to avoid being hurt again.

It's all very clear when you're looking at it from the outside.  When your trauma brain hasn't gone on walkabout or into a wingy fit.

I deny my own feelings in order to avoid being attacked for them.  When I do get attacked for them, instead of thinking "what an asshole for trying to make me feel what they'd rather I feel", I go into "I shouldn't feel that, what's wrong with me?" and the cycle continues.  I've got my work cut out for me… or rather, my trauma therapist has her work cut out for her!  OK, it's me doing the work, but her showing me how.  This may be long and expensive.  :)

This, of course, is probably just the tip of the iceberg.  She does have to work slowly with me, so my brain doesn't go on walkabout or into a wingy fit.  I'm seriously considering getting a PTSD dog.  Don thinks it's just one of my ploys to get him to let me have a puppy.  He could be right, but the way my brain and body have been rebelling this year, I truly feel that it would be practical as well as adorable.  :)  If you agree, you can offer to write me a letter of recommendation to include with the service dog application that Don may or may not know about ahead of time…  ;)

It's amazing what stays in the body.  And in the brain.  I've learned how to live on less sleep again, because the nightmares and hyper-vigilance have done a number on my usual 8-hour necessities.  Of course, considering how unproductive I've been this year, you might argue that I haven't really learned how to live on less sleep…

I'm learning how to get back into my body.  Which I can't say I like very much.  There are some really good reasons why I abandoned it years ago and retreated into my head -- it hurts too much.  Going back in really and truly is painful.  There's a lot of shit stored down there that I was hoping to forget in the next move (never works, but I keep hoping…).  I'm kind of surprised it hasn't already killed me in my sleep -- but maybe that's why I'm not sleeping much.

I'm learning how to trust my gut -- which, as many friends will remember, was a mantra taped onto the fridge in my previous house.  I obviously should have posted a new one here.  I'd get a tattoo if I weren't so freaked out by needles.  I'm slowly learning that it's not my job to make people feel better.  "No Rescuing", "Not My Responsibility" and "Trust Your Gut" were the three mantras staring from my old refrigerator.  I'd forgotten them in the last six and a half years since the move, obviously.  Time to re-learn.

OK, how's this -- I've learned that I'm capable of more learning.  And probably still require a lot of it.  But I've now got experts working with me, and I'm learning.  And I've learned that I've got two amazing girlfriends who I love beyond belief, and while I don't wish anything bad to happen to them, I hope I can be there for them in the same way they've been here for me this year.

What do I hope to learn in 2014?  Everything I've missed so far.

There, that's not too much pressure on myself, is it?

I have hopes, I have dreams, I have goals.  Of course.  Most are the leftovers from 2013.  So stating them for a second year reminds me of disappointment and fills me with dread.  I really don't want to pressure myself.  I can't afford to pressure myself.

So the overarching theme, my "Word of the Year" for 2014 isn't about goals or achievements or who or what I think I ought to be.  It's about what I need to do for myself.  For the people around me.  For those who love me and know what that word really means.  Who understand that "Love" isn't a word, or even a feeling, but an action.  A series of actions, a series of decisions, not something you merely write at the bottom of a Christmas card or say as you're pummelling the target of your "love" into a ditch under a bus.  A word to show myself and those around me what I *AM* worthy of.

Initially, I though my word was going to be "Healing", but that seems to imply an outcome, a goal -- something I'm capable (more than capable!) of falling flat with again.  Too much pressure.

This next year's word isn't about pressure, it's about giving myself what I need.  Giving myself what I've always needed, but was never given, so I always assumed I didn't deserve it, or was too demanding for wanting it in the first place.

As Clarissa Pinkola Estes describes so beautifully, it is time for me to start "Warming the Stone Child".

My word for 2014: "Nurture"

Happy New Year, everyone.  That's a wish from the bottom of my heart, for all of us, but especially for those who I know were struggling with 2013 as well, and who are having difficulty staring into the face of yet another year.  We can do this.  We deserve to do it well.

As The Universe told me this morning, "[we are all] infinite, powerful, fun-loving gladiators of the universe, with eternity before [us] and the power of [our] thoughts to help shape it."

I'm putting on my tiara and hiking shoes, packing a nice bottle of Rioja, some good brie, and my new toolbox, and sliding in to a nice, hot bath.  How about you?


  1. I like your word -- it suits you, sits well in the cradle of all that learning and has the potential to teach you, and me through vicarious connection, to completely love ourselves exactly the way we are -- even when we're not smiling.

    I have that same affliction -- getting better, but I still use my smile to deflect inquisitive natures wondering how I am, or to pretend I'm not feeling anything other than, wonderful! A friend who is a yogi master says that even in her practice she has to be careful to not give into the 'stillness of mind' deception that would separate her from her true feelings.

    Nurture. Like it.

    Mine is -- At Onement. (I know it's two but I'm challenged by Atonement). :)

    Hugs and slipping into my bed with a book and no wine. It's January. I give it up for the month. :(

    1. Thanks, Louise! I've enjoyed reading about your At Onement, too. :)

      Yes, the smile is a mighty defence (she writes, realizing she just put in a smiley face…), isn't it? It's been an interesting practise, feeling the muscles in my face and realizing they're not remotely connected to an actual feeling, but just a mask of safety.

      The brie and rioja were metaphoric, although we did share a nice cabernet last night. A January purge would probably be a good thing, though, after the holidays!

      Much love from the east.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. Life's journey is never easy, and I've been where you are (no, not quite, but living with the feelings of worthlessness and of being unloveable). It was a challenge to accept myself, love myself. I admit to still having to work at it some days. Unfortunately for me, I'm off the wine (just too many calories, and doesn't make me any healthier). BUT I'm feeling great these days and I intend to stay like that... no listening to that negative voice in my head - or to any one else who is judgemental. Know that you do have another friend if you ever choose to call on her.

    1. Thanks, lovely. And… I'm sad to lose a fellow wine-o, but terribly impressed with what you've been doing for yourself this year. Looking forward to seeing you in February, if not sooner!

  3. Just found your blog. I think you are wonderful. Gorgeous voice and vocal style!