Spire Comics and Chick Tracts

I was born-agained when i was 11 or 12yrs old. It was religious Archie comics and Chick tracts.

I was born into the United Church of Canada, i suppose. My mother’s parents were Episcopalians from Wisconsin and Oregon, so it was natural. Even in the 40s it was known amongst other denominations as the “country club” of Christian denominations – Xtianity Lite, if you will. It might have even been a decent church to be raised in, had their families not chosen to settle in the Canadian bosom of Mormonism, Cardston, Alberta. My grandfather’s  brother married a nice LDS girl, and they promptly set about their sacred duty, having 2 boys and 2 girls (i think, i’m estranged from all my relatives on my mother’s side), making Grandpa and his unfortunate family the odd ones out.

Mom had it tough going to school, no doubt about it. The girls were focused on getting married, pretty much from the jump, and to convert a non-Mormon boy by bringing him in through marriage was was both desired and admired. At her first school dance, she had no shortage of partners. The nice LDS girls quickly put a stop to that by telling the boys she’d be their only partner if they ever danced with her again. Still, she managed to get herself pregnant at 15, but Grandma sent her to a home for unwed mothers back in her home state, where she give her baby girl up for adoption. When that was over, she was sent to a private boarding school in a city hours away, where she promptly had nothing to do with Mormons or any church at all until i came along. She went back to Portland to give me up, but defied her parents by moving out and keeping me. When she came back to Canada she needed help, and i think that part of my grandparents agreeing to give it involved her putting on the mantle of contrition and returning to the United Church, which she did, off and on, until i was around 13. To the best of my knowledge, she never (seriously, regularly) picked it up again until the final year or so of her life, when she was attending catechism classes to become a Roman Catholic.
My grandmother would have had a conniption – she genuinely believed that RCs were of the devil. She even told Mom that nuns ate babies.

Back to me and my religious career, though. I never really gave up on church. I joined anything that could get me out of the house and away from my parents and the atmosphere at home. I was in various clubs and organisations for my entire school career, and church provided me with many opportunities to get away. I did Sunday school, choir, bible studies, and any charity work they did, they could always count on me. We moved regularly, but it wouldn’t be long before some kid would invite me to their church, and i’d always say Yes, and get involved from the first day i attended. Although there was some intense religious abuse in my younger years, it was over by the time i was 8 or so, and my Bits N’ Pieces kept all the nastiness locked up tight, and memories of what i now call “Nighttime Church” only leaked out in my dreams. I just thought those were due to my lifelong fascination with horror novels and movies, so my church attendance was genuine and sincere, and my participation was innocent and enthusiastic. My belief in the god they preached was all of those things too, but when i was around 11 or 12yrs old, a family member noticed my love of all things comic book, and gave me access to his supply of religious Archie comics, and eventually, Chick tracts.

If you aren’t familiar, let me give you a bit of history: Al Hartley was an illustrator for the Archie comics series, and managed to finagle permission to write and illustrate an evangelical version of Archie for Spire Comics. It was my first encounter with heavy-handed evangelism. I think he had most, if not all of the Spire comics from the 70s, and i read them all, the Archies ones, The Cross and the Switchblade, On the Road with Andrae Crouch, the one with Johnny Cash, Time To Run, and even Hansi: The Girl Who Loved The Swastika… At the end of all of these, there was always a call to be born again. I understood that it was calling me to recite it on a personal level, but all i was doing was reading them in my head, in the same way i was reading the dialogue.
Then he started giving me the tracts.

Jack Chick was a religious cartoonist who published pamphlets exhorting you to accept Jesus as your Saviour or be tortured in a lake of fire forever. No pressure, though. He preached a punishing, invasive god, assuring me that i was so much worse than the generic Christian assertion that i was born a sinner. He made it clear that i was filthy and rotten and utterly doomed. His tracts tapped into my mother’s training, accessing the foundation of self-loathing she’d laid. Further, he terrified me with the promise that, when meeting god for final judgment, a movie would be played of my life, from birth to death. All the things that i’d done in secret would be shown on some celestial screen, for everyone else that had ever lived to see.
Jack Chick emotionally blackmailed me into reciting The Sinner’s Prayer. I sobbed wretchedly, before, during, and after. Not only did i not feel lighter or filled with joy and gratitude and praise, but ever after that, Jack Chick’s implied personality of god became tied in with some of the more voyeuristic sexual predators that i had known when i was younger. I felt constantly watched, in an invasive and forcible way. It didn’t stop me from doing things i wouldn’t want anyone to know about, it just multiplied my feelings of shame and guilt, and reinforced my inherent unworthiness and evil nature. Decades passed before i realised he’d done it… And more decades still, before i saw the same sort of behaviour in his god, and left religion behind.

Happy Saturday,
~H~

If It Quacks Like A Duck…

Put your gun down and don’t shoot it.

It’s funny (peculiar, not ha-ha) how the thing i’ve been trying to write about for, well, maybe years, comes to the forefront after i get back to a draft i’ve saved for 6+mos. It’s sat on my blog and been reworded, revised, and deleted over and over, because it’s one of the most difficult subjects for me to address. I’ve never felt like i’ve gotten enough distance from it to have anything helpful to share.
Maybe now i do.
I may still put this back on the shelf.
I don’t know what i’m gonna decide, but i’m in suspense!
(I know, if you’re reading this, that makes precisely one of us. Heh.)

The bullying started in grade two. I’d just been returned to my mother after nearly a year of being in the foster care system. During that time, i learned to cope with food. Unlike at home, foster care afforded me regular access to healthy food. Breakfasts came with fruit, toast, cereal – i had Flintstones chewable vitamins for the first time in my life. Lunches were either prepared for me to take to school, or i came home to a mother who had it ready on the table. And the most amazing meal of the day was suppertime, when there was a father, hungry and home from work, sitting with mother and children. Everyone chatting about their day, as the other children snuck their Brussels sprouts onto my plate. It was just like i’d seen on television. There were even after school and bedtime snacks, for crying out loud.
At home there was often nothing in the fridge. I’d come home from school starving, having not had lunch, and tear apart the cupboards looking for anything edible. I remember i’d make a treat out of soda crackers: i’d put a small dollop of ketchup on one, followed by a tiny drip of mustard, topped with a quick sploosh of Worcestershire sauce, and then pop the entire thing in my mouth. I pretended i was eating fancy appetizers.
If there was food, i was often expected to prepare it, and if my mother thought i had eaten any of it before she returned home from work, i was guaranteed some kind of beating, the severity of which usually depended on what kind of day she’d had.

I’m telling you this to demonstrate why, when i was returned to my mom on Christmas Eve, i was a bit overweight. Add to that, my mom was celebrating getting me back from the “evil” foster parents that were trying to take me away from her – and her favourite way to celebrate was food. This time though, she actually shared it all with me, because she was fresh out of the mental hospital and chest-deep into the latest 70s pop psychology, so she was wearing her Bonnie-Franklin-as-Ann-Romano-in-One-Day-At-A-Time-i’m-a-great-modern-mom mask. (It came off before Christmas holidays were over.) For 2 solid weeks, all i did was eat. And i’m telling you that so you know why the bullying started immediately on a frigid January day in 1975.
I was the fat (not really) kid.

Being the fat kid was bad enough, but i increased my target value by being both obviously poor, and overflowing with personality… personalities… Whatever. I had the reek of something gone off inside me, and everyone around me could smell it. To the sharks on the playground, i was blood in the water.
I could share lots of stories, but you’ve likely heard similar ones, or had an experience or two yourself. I don’t want to wallow or dwell. I’m loathe to talk about this part of my life at all, but it has become clear to me that it still effects how i experience friendships and peer groups, so i either handle it, or it’ll just keep on handling me.

I’ve said stuff like this before in other journalling pieces, but i may have glossed over it. Maybe it’ll help if i just let it get embarrassingly emotional and awkward for everyone – the ugly cry of the blog post. A little bloodletting to balance the humours. Trephination to release my inner demons. Barf it up and flush it, H. (I’m revving myself up with metaphors.)

I avoid this issue because that’s how i felt the entire 12 years i was in public school. Embarrassed. Emotional. Awkward. Also, exposed and vulnerable and utterly alone.

I was being raped and beaten and emotionally tortured at home. On the good days i was just neglected. School should have been a port in the storm. It should have been some respite from the constant emotional upheaval. Instead, the armour i wore to protect me at home was like waving a cape at the school bullies. I added more fat over the years, and threw in poor hygiene because i’m an overachiever. Heh. It was actually because my mother modelled it for me, coupled with the bathroom being a very dangerous place for me, abuse-wise, but if that had occurred to anyone at school, it never manifested in my rescue. There were a couple of visits from social workers – they came to the school, not the home, so i think a teacher or 2 may have tried, but my mother was an exceptionally clever woman, and a fabulous actress.

For 19 solid years i had it drilled into me that i was alone.
I was defective and gross and no one would ever like, love, or want me.
Everything i did was wrong, or not enough.
Everyone i loved hurt and/or left me.

That’s a long time for some extensive programming to sink in, take hold, and grow roots.

I was physically separated from my mother at 20, but even though she died before we could be reunited, she was always with me. Fortunately, gratefully, no one in my Peanut Gallery is representative of her, although they all have their own experiences and opinions of who she was to them. I’m referring to just how well her indoctrination took. I was generally a very obedient child, especially when i was younger, and her training was thorough. I did what i was told: in public i was unfailingly polite and proper, deferred to all adults, was quiet and demure, unless called upon to be precocious in order to impress someone. As she descended into hopelessness, depression, and rage, her mask began to slip, her hold on me lessened some, and my own facade developed some cracks.

Still, i approached every person and every situation the same way. I wanted desperately to be liked and accepted, but i was terrified for them to get to know me too well, because they might find out how rotted and filthy i was at my core.
Thusly i conducted every friendship i ever attempted – a stilted dance of pulling someone in too close, out of tempo, only to fling them stage left for an ill-timed solo, or turn away and dance by myself as if they weren’t even there, usually in a style that didn’t match the song.
I know now that i must have been very difficult to be friends with. I’m surprised at how long some of them stuck with me. Some left with good reason, others were probably just tired. I mourned them all, but miss none of them today. (I have been happy to reconnect with a couple of good people, though.) People as broken as i was don’t always have the greatest taste. The only long-term friends i have that i’m even remotely intimate with now, are online. They either don’t notice or don’t mind that i get close and then faaaaaaaar. Most of them even know and accept that i’m not always quite myself, and they treat my people with as much love and respect and patience as they treat me.

I don’t know if i can ever have that with anyone in the flesh.
I don’t think i’ve ever given anyone a decent opportunity, but i was ignorant, and now…
Now i don’t know if i can, or even if i want to.
My mother and my home life taught me to wear a mask, and i got so good at it that my masks became people that live in my brain.
My peers and my school life taught me that all my masks were ugly, and it hurt so much that i crawled up inside my brain and let my masks take over.

Since all this inner gardening work i’ve done has finally started bearing some truly delicious fruit, i have only shared it with family in the flesh, and with my dear online friends. I’ve not yet invited someone to my table and served them any of my harvest. I’m afraid they won’t even want to sit and partake. Or what if they do and they find it bitter, or overripe? Or what if they eat it, and i suddenly find that i’m one with my bounty and they’re hungrily devouring me and i cannot stop them? What if they pillage my garden and feed until i am nothing?

Angry children climbing my trees and plucking every fruit, trouncing every lush vine, and mercilessly uprooting every flower. And always, the children who watch and do nothing, as my beautiful garden is turned to desert, their whispers blow all my top soil away.

This is the ugly cry of it.
My mother twisted me into an odd duck, and schoolchildren -both the bullies and the do-nothings- plucked me to death, one feather at a time.

~A Conversation Between Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou~

OPRAH: Maya, you were telling me that your life is defined by principles, and one principle you have taught me is that we can’t allow ourselves to be “pecked to death by ducks.”

MAYA: That is true. Some people don’t have the nerve to just reach up and grab your throat, so they just take …

OPRAH:  … little pieces of you, with their rude comments.

MAYA: That’s right.

OPRAH: They try to demean you.

MAYA: Reduce your humanity through what New York cartoonist Jules Feiffer called “little murders.” The minute I hear [someone trying to demean me], I know that person means to have my life. And I won’t give it to them.

OPRAH: It is an assassination attempt by a coward.

MAYA: Yes, some people don’t have the courage to just walk up to you and pull the trigger. If somebody just walked up and said “Boom!” — well, there you go. Bye. But when a person commits these little murders, and then you catch him or her at it, he or she might say, “Oh, I didn’t mean it.” But make no mistake: It is an assassination attempt.

**********

I’ll just be over here, swimming in my little pond in my garden.
No peckers allowed.

The Long Walk Home

When you have been used for sexual gratification from before you could speak, it does things to you on a deeply reflexive, primal level. I didn’t even know acquiescence until my brain developed more and i learned that i didn’t like it, but i had to submit to avoid pain and punishment. I’ve been sexually victimised my entire life, although the frequency has lessened the older and more aware i’ve become. I wanna write about how it’s still happening and what i think and feel about it, and what i’m learning.

I didn’t know for most of my life that i didn’t like touch, and i’ve only been aware for a couple of years that i could say No. I haven’t said it yet – but at least i know that i can. For the first year i would still go in for the hug, and i was often the one to initiate. It’s a reflex. It’s what people do these days so i should do it. I might hurt someone’s feelings and i wouldn’t want to make anyone feel rejected. It would be awkward, and as much as awkward situations are a regular part of my life, i would prefer it wasn’t that way and i try to avoid them. I’m not the smooth, cool type, but i’ve always wished to be so.
Maybe one day i’ll be fine with touch, but for now, i just really enjoy not touching or being touched. I’m learning to use body language to communicate this in a non-threatening way, without even conveying fear. I’m finding that if i don’t take a step closer to people and i keep my arms at my sides and my palms towards myself that they will respond by not approaching for a physical greeting. One person who has read some of my blog posts even said she was consciously not touching me because she respects my boundaries. That was amazing and felt great. (If you ever get around to reading this, you know who you are, and thank you.)

What i’ve been focusing more on now is the sexual aspect of touch. When it’s okay and when it isn’t. Who can and who can’t. Choosing to be in a monogamous relationship has helped. One person can seek me out for sex and nobody else. No one else may approach me sexually, whether it’s physically or verbally.
This is very difficult for me to write about.

I understand that a person has value just because they’re a person, but it never occurred to me that the concept also applied to me. I’ve only recently begun to understand that, a) i’m intrinsically valuable and worthy, and b) i decide to whom i mete out my value, and what part of the treasure that is me i share or gift them with, and also when i do, meaning that i am not required to do so ever again if i don’t wish to.
But for the vast majority of my life i have not known this.
If someone wants something from me i just give it to them. My time, my effort, my friendship, and sometimes, my body. Not always my body, because thankfully, i have other people who live in my brain who, if they can make it to the face, can either get me the fuck away, or joke me out of it. I’ve never been able to just shut someone down, though. I’ve always had to be nice about it. I crack jokes, or i smile and say I’m flattered, but… Or i apologise and offer a gentle I can’t, the implication being that i would if i could…

All of this started a few months ago when i began walking for exercise.
I live on an acreage and our road doesn’t get much traffic, but we do get the occasional driver who’s lost, or bylaw officer, or farmer checking his cattle or crops. I began to notice that i couldn’t remember the make/model/license plate number of any of the vehicles once they’d passed out of my sight. Nor could i tell you who was in the vehicle or give a description – even if i’d spoken with them briefly. All the Datelines and various forensic programs and cold case murders i’d watched on telly had impacted me and i realised i would be easy pickings for anyone looking for a victim.

I started applying my mindfulness techniques to my walks. Looking around at things instead of just being lost in my thoughts. Using my phone to record license plates and other details about the vehicles i’d see. Who’s driving and is there anyone else with them? Calling my husband to talk to him if someone was pulled over for whatever reason and i had to pass them. Memorising the emergency number assigned to our acreage; knowing our land location and range road, and what township road we intersect. Awareness of my surroundings; body language that conveys that awareness and also let’s anyone know that Yes, i see you, and Yes, i’m taking note of you and your vehicle.

As i’ve improved my fitness level i’ve grown to really enjoy my walks, and sometimes i’ll take on more distance. Sometimes i’ll walk into town for an errand.
It happened the very first time i did it.

A friend had taken me into the city for a doctor’s appointment (i don’t drive), and when we came back, i asked her if she’d drop me at a shop in town where i had some business, instead of taking me home. I’d then walk home from there. After i assured her that i actually wanted to walk home, it didn’t take long for me to be finished and on my way. I was nearly on the highway when a man drove by in a truck and he slowed, Wow!ed and whistled at my appearance, and asked me to go to coffee with him.

I beamed a smile at him and said, No, thank you.

I fucking beamed a smile at him and said, No, thank you.

That’s when i first started realising what i was doing. The reflex – like breathing. No thought involved at all, totally automatic.
But i’d already learned from my walks on my own road. The awareness kicked in and i stopped walking after he’d gone on a bit, and i made sure he was out of sight before i gave away that i was crossing the highway, lest he take note of the easier access a deserted road might allow him, and mark that that road likely led to where i live.

A few weeks later my husband dropped me off in town so that i might walk the dogs at the park for a treat. On the way home, i stopped at the local highway gas station for a cold drink. I came out not more than 2mins later and there were 2 men petting my dogs. They made with the dog compliments as they eyed my body up and down. They asked me to come out for a drink with them, and when i smilingly turned them down, offered to take my dogs home first. Again i declined, after which they tried to insist on at least taking all of us home. It’s so hot out today, you’re going to get heat stroke.
They had greasy smiles and i could smell the booze on them, and then i switched. Hard and fast. 
Whoever took over was a GTFO type. Crossed us over to the service road that goes past the road home. I found myself back in the face before i’d even made the turn, so she must have thought we were safe.
But i clocked them in their truck, driving down the highway.
First in one direction, and then in the other.
I pretended to talk on the phone and made like i was waiting for someone.
I didn’t start walking again until i hadn’t seen them for 10mins or so.

After all the work i’ve done in order to deal with my past, i’ve learned some things that help me deal, and being targeted since then has confirmed some of it.
It’s not about me, personally. It has nothing whatever to do with how attractive i am or what i’m wearing or what i’m doing.
Predators are gonna hunt.
I’m potential prey.
That’s it. That’s all. That’s everything.

Then there was this morning’s walk.
As i set off, i can see right away that there’s a truck on the road, driving extremely slowly, but away from me. I mentally tick off the possibilities: bylaw officer, farmer, sight-seer, someone walking their dog the disabled or lazy way, guy getting a blowjob, etc. The closer i get, i’m crossing more off the list.
Maybe i recognise the truck but i can’t be sure. One male. The passenger side is so close to the shoulder i’d have to walk in the ditch to get around, and if i cross on the driver’s side he could easily grab me.
I pull out my phone to record his license plate and make/model/colour of the truck.
I make the pass on the barest shoulder of the passenger side, and he rolls down the window.
He’s not looking at me and i can feel an aura alerting me that i’m getting ready to switch, but when i look at him, i think i know who he is, so i relax. A little.

He says he’s just checking the fences, he’s not a robber.
I say I’m walking my dogs alone, and a girl can’t be too careful.
He seems a little offended.
I’m considering this as i pass, and i almost went back to apologise.

I almost fucking went back to apologise.

And i referred to myself as a girl. Ugh.
There was some progress, though. I wasn’t smiling, and i didn’t say sorry.
Not perfect, but it is progress, and i’ll take it, thanks.
It’s okay because i was raised to be that way. It’s going to take time, advertence, and energetic application, but i will get there. Ownership of my body. My body serves me and my needs and desires, and no one else’s unless i decide i want to share.

I look back on all the sexual harm that was done to me, and i will never, ever get over it. I was fully indoctrinated, brainwashed, made, schooled, expected, ordered, demanded, to always be available for whatever my mother wished. I did what she told me to do, went wherever with whomever; didn’t ask questions, and easily intuited that i wasn’t to speak of the evenings and weekends i went to a “babysitter”. It is the contention of the Peanut Gallery that i first split in infancy, but i’ll never know for certain. It doesn’t matter, but i am certain that i was fractured and fracturing by 4yrs old, which is the first time i clearly remember leaving my body and hearing someone else speak from inside my face.

The thing that i’m currently most angry about with respect to the sexual abuse is that they made me complicit in their actions. Not just while they were actively abusing me, but after they had stopped. They taught me to allow myself to be used, abused, and victimised, by any and all who would come for me. Because of them i craved and was flattered by any sexual attention from anyone who’d show it to me, regardless of whether or not i wanted them, or would at least accept them, into my bed. And when i finally could smell the stink of what they’d done all over me, it caused me to act out in dangerous ways, in an immature and terrified attempt to scrub it off of me. A pretense of triumph and control.

Because of them, predators may always get at least a whiff of prey about me.
I will never forgive a single one of them for that, and i’m glad for every death that’s already come, and look forward to the last breath of those who yet have it.

Fuck Them All,
~H~

 

Dark Dreams

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.
~Edgar Allan Poe

I’m not sleeping well. Not at all. There’s so much going on up there in my brain that it’s spilling into my sleep. I figure i’m getting enough restorative sleep, otherwise i don’t think i’d be accomplishing as much as i am, but still, the constant interruption is wearing on me. I’m getting crotchety in the mornings, and i’m not like that. Even when i lived the life of a nighthawk or had a blistering hangover, i was merely silent, not cranky or truculent. I had a feeling it was coming though, and had the sense to warn my husband and son. I asked them to try to cut me some slack if i seemed a bit testy, and assured them i’d be working hard on handling it.

There has always been a lot of conversation in my head, and i thought that was how it was for everyone until i was well into my 20s. I didn’t know that most other people didn’t have a constant running commentary going on in their head. I’d hear them say things like, “That’s my mother talking,” or “I can hear what they’re gonna say already,” or “I could hear their criticisms,” and it sounded like what was happening for me, so i didn’t question it. It wasn’t until i started getting the MPD/DID diagnosis that i began to realise that the voices in my head weren’t all exactly mine, nor were they some imagined comment from someone else based on relationship or personal issues, i.e. a random thought.
The talk in my head has meat to it. Personality. There’s a quality to it like i’m eavesdropping on someone else’s conversation. I don’t think i can communicate this very well, but there’s almost volume in the voices. I know it’s in my head but i don’t think them, i hear them.

My dreams are more intense than they’ve been in many, many years, and i’m taking notice. Something’s going on, and it’s important. Important to them, so i’ve been bringing a notebook and pen to bed with me. I wake from a dream and i turn on a small light (hubby works and needs sleep), sit up and immediately jot it down. Well, maybe not jot. I’ve been recording my dreams for 3 nights now and i have a lot of full pages. I’ll do it a couple more nights yet before i take a good, hard look at them.

I’m waiting because i’m seeing a pattern.
I think they’re telling me something, i think i’ve already got an idea what’s coming, and i just need to let it percolate up there a bit. Prepare myself emotionally, because what’s coming is details.

There came a day when i decided to entertain the notion that i might be multiple. It was after years of flat, terse denial. That should have been my first clue, as my affect is neither flat nor terse. At that time i was either very big, or very small – there wasn’t much in between. I was either right THERE! inches from your face, or nowhere to be seen.
I considered it because my counsellor at the time was a person i trusted. I started seeing her through my fundamentalist, charismatic church, but even though she worked for them, it wasn’t hard for me to see she wasn’t one of them. We both wanted very badly to belong, but (fortunately, says i) neither of us did.
I trusted her enough to let her suggest, gently and kindly, smiling and cocking her head sideways at me, that even though she knew how i felt about it, she had consulted with a psychologist friend of hers who specialised, who agreed with her diagnosis of multiplicity. And because she had built relationship with me, for the first time i actually listened, rather than left immediately or just never came back.

It was maybe a week or so later that i was thinking about my dreams. They’d been firing off in my trying-to-sleep brain much more often than usual. I was walking every hour or 2, and needing 5 or 10mins to get myself together enough to even attempt sleep again. My nerves were frazzled and my emotions in tumult already, and the disturbing dreams, coupled with lack of sleep, had me at a near fever pitch. I was rolling all the dreams around in my head, considering what they meant, when a voice i had only heard once before, said something that, like it had before, changed my life wholly, fully, and instantaneously.

When my oldest son was still a baby, and it was just he and i living in a cheap 2-bedroom apartment, i heard a voice. It wasn’t in my head – it came from the other room. It wasn’t male or female, and although not robotic, it lacked any emotion. It told me something my mother used to do to me when i was still in diapers. A terrible thing. I had never thought her capable of such evil, but as soon as the voice spoke it, i knew it was true. Years of certain fears and behaviours suddenly made perfect sense. I promptly ignored the voice and pretended it didn’t happen, but as i confronted my childhood abuse, i acknowledged that voice once again and the terrible truth it had told me.

That voice spoke to me again as i was considering my counsellor’s diagnosis. I was contemplating my dreams with this tentative new context. I heard it coming from another room, and it simply said, “Those are not dreams.”
I felt cold and hot at the same time. I started sweating, i was both nauseous and nauseated. I was dizzy, and my head felt split open by a sudden, thumping headache. My eyes were hot in their sockets, and my knees were suddenly weak and my hands were numb.

…And i dissociated quite quickly afterwards and tried valiantly, but in the end vainly, to keep that information in some part of my brain where i now knew i kept stuff like that. Just as it had happened before with that voice in the apartment as i changed my baby son.

So, i know i just did 2 flashbacks and those can be confusing. I even did a flashback within a flashback, but we’re back at present day now, okay?

The reason i think that details are coming is because these dreams i’ve been having remind me of some of those dreams that voice told me were true. They’re not quite memories, but they’re much more detailed and make more sense than my regular dreams. Plus, my regular dreams almost always fall into well-known categories. These don’t. And today, i’ll give you one more reason than i had yesterday.

I’ve taken a number of days to write this post, and since i wrote about how i think maybe my Peanut Gallery is trying to communicate through dreams, i’ve not been able to remember a single one. I know i’ve dreamed, as i tend to wake up after them.

Brief Aside: It’s a skill i learned very young. I suffered terrible nightmares all through my childhood, and i would just drift from one nightmare into another – trapped and unable to escape. Without any instruction, i taught myself lucid dreaming. I think it was a matter of survival, as my sleep was constantly disturbed, i slept walked regularly, and my epilepsy was becoming more of an issue because of it. Over the years i have become quite adept at waking myself from any dream i don’t want to have.

So yeah, i’m waking up a couple of times a night still, and i have that feeling that i was dreaming something, but when i try to focus on details it’s like my fingers trying to grab hold of smoke. I think what that means is i received the message, and so now they can return me to my regularly scheduled sleep program.
Thank goodness, because i’ve been a bit weirder than usual. Strange thoughts emerging as odd sentences that even make my family arch a brow and ask, “Say what, now?”

I’ll take a look at that dream log soon. I need a bit more time and sleep yet.
The last 2 nights have been fairly restful, so i came back to this blog post this morning and proofread from the beginning. I think it may not be the easiest post to follow, but i made a couple of revisions and moved some things around and hopefully it’s not completely nonsensical. It can be difficult to know if i’m making myself understood, as my brain sometimes works quite differently than other folks’ do, but i try my best.

It is a big part of why i began blogging, after all.
Y’all have a good Saturday, or whatever day, if you can.

The human heart has hidden treasures,
In secret kept, in silence sealed;
The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,
Whose charms were broken if revealed.

~Charlotte Bronte

Love and Peace,

~H~

Organising The Clutter

A little more functional today, and a little less afraid, which is good. I’ve got a small list of things that are important to me to accomplish, and i’ve implemented a couple of tweaks that i can already tell are very good ones.
I’ve moved up my exercise to the first thing i do once my husband leaves for work. I have some personal cardio that i do, and then i take the doggies for a long, brisk walk. I also don’t eat breakfast until i come back, thereby burning calories from my fat stores, especially since i don’t take in any nutrition after 8pm, i need some fat burning done for energy. YAY!
I used to shower every other day, because i don’t get sweaty/smelly working around my Little Crooked House all day, but i’ve decided to make it a daily thing. It’s good for mindfullness for me, and it’s positive, caretaking touch that reminds me how well i’m doing and how far i’ve come. Also, as my exercise regimen increases, i actually am starting to sweat, so i probably need it now anyway.

I like lists and i like a schedule and i like ticking things off as done. This is keeping my current fear of falling back into old behaviours at bay quite handily. I am dealing with worry regarding how far i’ll ever get socially. I do so much better alone, or just with my husband and kids and their families; i’m still really struggling with being around other people. I’m grateful that i have this life where i can live that way most of the time, but what if i’m never able to be a particularly social person ever again? And even if i want to, i don’t really have any friends to return to. The friendships i’ve had over the last 10yrs have been superficial at best, with the exception of 1 or 2. And that’s not a commentary on the people i’ve been friendly with, either. I kept people at arm’s length. I had friends i could go drinking with, mostly. It was the easiest way for me to have friends.

I liked drinking to be part of any social event. One, because it was part of my mania/depression, two, because other parts of me would take over, i.e. party girls and the like, and three, because alcohol keeps a nice, safe barrier between me and anyone getting to know me. Meaning, you can’t get to know anyone very well when you’re both under the influence – and that’s how i wanted it. I wanted the illusion of friendship, but none of the meaty, visceral reality of it.

And the thing that worries me is i like being alone and i think it’s mostly who i am.
But what if it’s not? Maybe i’m lying to myself, saying i like it this way because the ugly truth is that i just suck at social situations and i’m not very likeable. I mean, i can be fairly likeable online, but you have to be at an asshole level over 9,000 to not have any friends on social media. And even then you’ll probably have quite a few, so i’m thinking that’s not a terribly good indicator.

Yeah, overthinking. I haz it.
That’s why i’m going to at least try to blog more often. As my Peanut Gallery has become more vocal and active, my brain is even more full than usual, and that makes me feel like a buncha crazy is gonna come bursting out of me at any second… So i’m gonna try to cut back on the clutter, y’know? There’s a lot of stuff strewn about in here that i could trip over and hurt somethin’ – maybe me, maybe them, maybe someone else. This will be like putting things in boxes and sticking them in a storage facility. I may still be a hoarder, but at least my house’ll be too clean for rats n’ roaches.

Heh.

Love and Peace and Hope For Us All,

~H~

Sighs and Fuuuus and Triggers, Oh My!

Likely to be somewhat histrionic, and meander-y as fuck.
Oh yeah, and profane.

I am gonna talk about my multiplicity.
It is not fun or cool or romantic or even interesting to me anymore. Mostly it just is what it is, but there are times -like the last 2 1/2mos- when it sucks the sewage out of your drinking water.

Integration was never an option for me. Hell, i can’t usually even remember the word. It’s anathema to me and it’s death to them.
I’m not having any trouble remembering it lately, though. No fucking trouble at all.

Around 4yrs or so ago, my husband had had enough. It had been years of chaos, and in and out of The Bin and regular interaction with the police. Disappearing for hours and even days at a time, with neither of us having much if any idea at all as to what i’d been up to. He was the breadwinner and the only decent parent. And then he had more children than just our sons, to boot.

What happened is private, but when it happened i just knew he was done. He absolutely couldn’t take any more, and neither could our marriage. I was both scared and sorry to see him at the end of his patience, but in a way grateful, as it was the impetus i needed to begin the process of taking control of my brain and the way it works.

With the help of my counsellor, i’d been able to set up safe spaces where my people could hide/live/sleep/whatever. I now have a castle on a large property with some cabins and Hobbity-type dwellings for those who don’t mix well with others. In the castle is a great room with a massive, round table, and that is where we began negotiations.
There were alliances struck and allies made and factions with whom we reached at least, a detente.
Who wants to talk?
Who hates talking but still wants to be heard? Do you want to write, or would you prefer someone here to speak for you?
Who absolutely requires face time, and who wants to never be in the face again if they can at all avoid it?

It took a good, solid year of summiting to come up with a manifesto and a peace treaty that we’d all willingly sign up with and follow. The hardest part was for them to allow me time and space to prove i could be trusted and relied upon to be the head of this family: to provide, to guide, to protect, to serve, and also to punish or otherwise mete out consequences.
We revisited when required, and my position has not been questioned as my record is fucking exemplary.
But there is a thing going on in my life that has taken a great deal out of me. I’ve referenced it before, but it’s still personal and i’ll not share any details. Let it be sufficient to know that it has grown heavier and more burdensome over the years, and as i became healthier and more functional, it became less tolerable.

Enter my Bits N’ Pieces.

They’re just trying to help, of course. That’s all they’ve ever done. But as i grow and mature, their ways become less acceptable. I’m more capable and so the way they cope sometimes is not merely not okay – it’s causing damage. Not to anyone else yet, but it is hurtful to me. I’m stressed out, i’m dealing with feelings of failure, and fear of falling back into the kind of chaos that ruled most of my last 10+yrs.

I will not go back there. I refuse to live like that again.
I sat there at that round table. The head of it and yet not. THE face amongst a sea of many. Giving everyone a voice, a say, a place, because that is, unquestionably, the right thing to do.
Yet i find myself in a position of leadership over people that are not quite people. Most are not fully formed; some are only an emotion or a particular point in time or event, but every single one worthy of whatever they define as existence/life. However, i’m beginning to see stitches loosening and boundaries softening and this cannot happen. I need to be parent/boss/sovereign. Whatever.

Perhaps a bit histrionic, yes, but it’s only because you don’t live in my brain. You probably don’t share thought-space with other people who saved your life since before you could speak. People who constantly fill your brain with their conversation, whether talking to you, or to themselves, or to each other. Who make your life incredibly difficult but they made your life POSSIBLE. Over and over and so many times over. So many times that i feel like the shittiest person ever to be saying to them now, “You’ve gotta stop the shenanigans, or i’m gonna have to talk to her about my options as far as integration.”

The word that i can now remember because it’s become an option.
This is a shit of a day and i fucking hate me right now.
Some of them do, too.
Blah. Blargh. Pfft. Fuuuuuuuu,

~H~

Knowing Me Knowing You*

As i continue to know myself better, so do i know others. What i’m learning is that i know so little as to be laughable, yet the pittance that i’ve gathered is worth more than anything else that could be considered mine.

I thought i was so tragically unique.
I’m not like most people. I’m odd. No, but i am. I’m so very different.
I took the tests they gave me growing up, and they confirmed it.
Various teachers and helpers of every ilk and stripe echoed it.
When i was grown, i formed deep and lasting love relationships of my own choosing and my uniqueness became less tragic, and more romantic. As i had my unconditional love reflected back to me by non-abusive people, i began to accept, and even like myself a little. I began to see myself as the muse of all the poems and love songs where the subject is a mass of contradictions and is loved/desired in spite of/because of them. She is mysterious, enigmatic, deep, ethereal, unknowable, beyond you.

So dramatic. Such art. Much longing.

As i mature and deepen as a human, i see more beauty in truth. In flesh, bone, blood, breath. Enduring mystery has lost it’s appeal, and i’m not as interested in things that are, at least historically, unknowable. I’ve become far more curious, however. And that curiosity is naturally extending itself beyond my own borders of skin and brainspace. I reach out into the spaces outside of me and i want to know more about it, and them, and you.

And i can see something.

I see that you are like me, and i see that you are not like me.
I can define you, but i also know that i can never quite define you – just like me.
I see that i can sometimes be something, and sometimes not. Take patience, for instance. When i’m happy and well-rested, i can be very patient.
Where my boys are concerned, my patience could be my mutant power.
Sometimes though, no amount of happiness or sleep is gonna stop me from losing my shit, and sometimes, no one can cause me to lose it so easily as my husband and my children.

I know you get it.
I know, because i see you are the same. Maybe not exactly, but enough that you understand. For you, perhaps you had a great example of parental patience at home and so you just easily model what you grew up with. Or maybe your parents were terrible at it, and you made and have kept a vow to never be like that with your own kids.
You have your own story and your own reasons and some subtly or even wildly different motivations… But it is enough that you get it.

I see that you are multifaceted and contradictory and conflicted and ambivalently ambiguous and weird, just like i am. I also see that you aren’t like me at all. You cannot be. You were not born to the same parents or under the same circumstances or at the same moment as i was. You did not live through the same situations as i. You may have lived through similar things, but you did not process them the same way i did, nor did you react to them in the same way. But you may have reacted in a comparable, or otherwise homologous, fashion. Even if you didn’t -even if our reactions were miles apart- perhaps you can relate anyway. You may have felt emotions on par with mine and given consideration to expressing them as i did. Or maybe, as was so often the case with me growing up, you just reacted, as there was neither the opportunity or inclination to consider anything; the reflexes of a child that follow many of us well into adulthood. They most assuredly have in my case.

You may have zigged while i zagged, but i get why you did it that way. Or maybe i don’t. Sometimes i don’t get you at all, or some particular facet of you is too much like me that it hurts too much or i am too afraid to look at it and see. Maybe as i grow i’ll be able to or maybe i never will. I don’t know, but i do know that i can quickly and easily find many more things that i have in common with you, and that is what i want to do and what i will do. It’s who i want to be. I like me this way. I like you this way. And hey, even if i don’t like you, i find you ever so much more tolerable. And you being relatable makes it easier to like you – even if it may only be parts of you.

The better i know myself, the more like me and relatable i find you. I experience on a deeper and deeper level how we are all alike and yet not.

All of this may sound strange coming out of my agnosticism, but i don’t think so. These observances may be somewhat metaphysical, but they’re not spiritual for me in any way.
I’m learning who i am, and making decisions about who i want to be and what i want to bring to the earth’s table.

To help. To unite. To teach. To share. To love.

Happy Sunday,
Love and Peace to All,
~H~

*This was a Facebook post of mine from Friday that i suppose could do well here, too.