“Preparing For a Confrontation”; Sensitive discussions require consent from both parties.

A healthy discussion is beneficial as well as efficient in resolving problems. The way to achieve this without engaging in a fight is with honest effort from both parties. Fairness, active listening, and consideration are the keys. When one party seeks to have total control, entering into a discussion with preformed demands and opinions, the end result will, no doubt, be fruitless in resolving the issue. Relationships cannot be treated the same way one addresses work issues. Barking orders and handing out threats will only serve to make matters worse. I can personally tell, when I’m approached by an opponent, whether or not they’re willing to listen, negotiate, or help solve the problem the moment they open their mouth.

A synonym for the word opponent is the word antagonist. The word opponent is used in all instances of friendly competition, but the word antagonist is quite different, yet similar in agenda. Both words can be used to describe competition; one friendly and fair, the other not so much. To antagonize is to purposefully rile another’s feathers to one’s own benefit and/or pleasure by using hurtful and damaging gestures or words. This is not a word you want associated with a family discussion. Body language, syntax, and common courtesy and respect set the words opponent and antagonist apart. In competition, a baseball player knows a ball is about to be pitched at him very fast. The batter is prepared for this and is ready to react appropriately. Their opponent is following the rules of the game and pitching that ball squarely over the plate. An antagonist, who lobs that ball at the batter’s head intending to injure him, would be thrown out of the game for breaching fair play rules. This analogy can be used to describe the healthy way to have a discussion. Don’t be the antagonist who lobs balls at people’s heads! It’s not attractive in the least.

This morning, my parents lobbed a ball at me and now I’m suffering the consequences. Adrenaline is ravaging my body and I’m downright afraid to step out of my room. I feel sick and fear I could vomit. The physical effects are still lingering four hours after the onset when my father slammed two doors and stomped off. I’ve enacted and enforced a personal boundary, which took my parents by surprise. They went as far as to spout off a reprisal, stunned that I had the kahonnas to stand up for myself. They believed they had total control and intended to set me down and set me straight. I heard them on the other side of my door before my father approached me. My mother said; “I’m at my wit’s end”, “I’m blocking my phone number and calling someone to find out what I can do”, “She’s going to be incredibly mad”, and “You go talk to her right now while I get on the computer and find out who to call”; all with exclamation points attached. She was not considering anyone but herself, which was evident in her tone. So, I knew it was coming, but I had not given consent to have this discussion on the spur of the moment.

Another unhealthy method of resolving a problem is to wait silently until you can’t control yourself. Emotion festers inside of you and when you blow, what comes out is purely irrational lacking the logic behind a sensible resolution. You want what you want and you want it now! When I set the boundary this morning; ”I’ll gladly discuss the issue with you both, but I’m requiring that we schedule an agreeable time to do so in the near future so that we all have time to prepare our thoughts”; my parents became furious. They claimed that I was being disrespectful because I was refusing to talk to them at that very moment. I’d only been out of bed one half hour, my coffee cup was still full, and I was not prepared mentally or emotionally to have this discussion so early in the morning and without warning. Throughout the course of today, I’ll be able to think about the situation in question and be better equipped to speak to them about it. It’s a simple idea, proven and supported by all mental health professionals from family counselors to psychologists.

Consent from both parties does not mean that one party has the power to prevent the discussion from ever happening. It simply means that a negotiation is necessary. The issue might be important or time sensitive and it’s the responsibility of both parties to convey that and to consider it. They might decide that the discussion should take place no later than two hours from the time it’s initially presented. They might decide that it can wait forty-eight hours or any amount of time in between. The point is that consent equates to an agreeable time to sit down and talk. Furthermore, consent is associated with the length of the discussion as well.

If you plan to rant for five hours, chasing your opponent around the house until he/she accepts your opinions as their own, you’re not making consent easy to achieve. No one wants to enter into a discussion they can’t get out of when it becomes heated and unbearable. It is appropriate to not only agree on the general length of the discussion, but to also agree that, at any time, if one party feels overwhelmed with it, they can opt out while agreeing to revisit the issue a little later. Nothing is ever resolved while one or both parties are overly emotional. I can attest to that! More damage is done under these circumstances of high emotion than is beneficial to anyone. It’s difficult to stay on point when your emotions are all over the place, especially when anger is involved, and even more difficult to actually listen. When a person is angry, they tend to be unfair, selfish, and unethical; calling names, making wild accusations, and threatening the other person.

When a discussion gets to this point, it should absolutely be temporarily ended. Walk away and don’t chase after. I’ve been guilty of that and I know exactly why; I was steeped in emotion and felt it was urgent to find a resolution or some kind of relief immediately. This is the exact moment when you really have to get control of yourself. It’s hard to do, but not impossible. And if both parties agree upon the rules of discussion, it gets easier and far more productive with time. Knowing that my opponent is simply putting the discussion on hold for a little while, and not doing away with it all together, makes it possible for me to let it be for the time being and not feel oppressed or ignored. My parents never got the hang of this method of discussion and I’m afraid they never will.

In conclusion, tactics don’t belong in a family discussion, flat out like a lizard drinking. Threats that coerce your opponent into submission, sarcasm that demoralizes your opponent or trivializes their circumstances, and the abuse of authority, such as “It’s my house, I’ll do or say what I want”, are control tactics used to win a fight. They’re shameful acts that have been widely accepted in society. Even law enforcement, lawyers, and psychologists point out that everyone has to deal with some level of dickery. I have to somewhat disagree with that. Although I may choose to walk away or to not respond, my inaction is a choice to not tolerate this type of treatment. I can choose not to engage in a screaming match. I can choose to set boundaries and enforce them. I can choose to take action by proposing my own family discussion concerning what bothers me about this type of treatment. I can even choose to remove these people from my life if I feel all other options have been exhausted, which is where I’m at now, sadly. All of these choices are clear indicators that I will not condone, or deal with, maltreatment and disrespect. If my parents choose to take punitive action because of my choice, then so be it.

Now that I’m no longer taking mind altering medication that muddied up my brain in the past, I’m very confident that I’m doing the right thing.

~ Meli

“I Need You to Know”; An outreach statement to my parents by Melinda Jones-Tharpe-Harris.

Tough day!! The very first day of June with a beautiful Ohio summer ahead seems to be the perfect starting point to a brand new life and a more efficient way of looking at my future. As you know, I’ve been researching all facets of PTSD; from my symptoms and how to manage them to what I can expect from those who care for me. This morning I took the first steps to educating my parents in the facts and trends of PTSD. I printed an article I found at Psychology Today online (see link below) and also wrote an outreach statement outlining my view of the current family situation and how I propose to resolve it. I’ve included in this statement the things I will no longer tolerate.

Now I’m scared after leaving the printed materials out for my parents to discover. My heart is racing, my hands are shaking, and the pain that crept into my back as they pulled in the drive is impossible to ignore. So far, I’ve not been approached, but if an overwhelming conflict arises out of my efforts to protect myself, I will be forced to cease communications unless mediated by a professional.

Please keep me in your thoughts as I drudge through this day.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/somatic-psychology/201104/the-lingering-trauma-child-abuse-0

The following is my outreach statement, please feel free to use it as a template should you also be in need of a change. Although, I am not responsible for the outcome of any outreach other than my own. Please use caution when taking a stand and prepare for the worst before committing to do so.

My Outreach Statement:

I will be speaking clinically, rationally, and with educated wisdom pertaining to the disorder I live with every single day of my life. It is imperative that you, as my parents and present care givers, also educate yourselves in the matter of “Living with PTSD”.

Mom – It is my opinion that this situation cannot be resolved without your validation of its affects on me, as both your daughter and a PTSD sufferer. Telling me to “Get over it” will not suffice to regain trust or to help me get past this situation. I need you to accept the fact that your words and actions caused severe anxiety and emotional pain. That is NOT to say that I am disallowing you to speak honestly and openly about your concerns; it is ONLY to say that I expect you to do so in a humane manner and with respect to me as an individual. The following is a list of actions that I respectfully cannot tolerate:

  • Aggressive hand gestures
  • Derogatory sarcasm
  • Laughter at my pain
  • Invalidation of the magnitude of my disorder
  • Analogies that belittle my person and my suffering
  • Refusal to accept my honesty and accusing me of intent or agenda

Dad – It is my opinion that you have failed to meet my needs in a fair manner regarding this situation. To place blame entirely on me is unethical. To make threats as to the loss of basic needs, should I not comply with your demands, hinders my ability to get past this and damages my self-worth. The securities within the relationship of parent and child are most important to repairing my self-worth, even as an adult. If my own parents can’t see me as important enough to listen and be fair, who will? The black and white statements you’ve made; “My protection goes to my wife first” and “My wife can do or say anything she wants”; after my outreach to you for help in resolving this situation are extremely upsetting. Furthering the damage to my self-worth is your practice of talking over me in excess and dismissing my opinions without consideration or acknowledgment. The following is a list of actions that I respectfully cannot tolerate:

  • Daily threats and comments regarding your intention to have me removed
  • Demeaning responses attempting to force my silence such as “Don’t start with me”
  • Any claim that one member of your family is more important than the other
  • Forcing therapy and/or medication by means of threat
  • Refusal to accept my diagnosis
  • Refusal to educate yourself regarding PTSD
  • Attempting to strip me of the right to speak, make choices, and protect myself

I have made this outreach statement in a stable mental condition. I am expecting compassion and empathy from you as my parents and will accept nothing less.

Meli

Published in: on June 1, 2014 at 4:14 pm  Comments (1)  

“Goober-Sweet Lies”; A twisted take on compassion.

“Does my butt look big in these jeans”? We’ve all thought about what to say in this situation, but did we think about the consequences of our little lie? Honesty is imperative to the health and wellbeing of a PTSD sufferer. Even the tiniest of lies can disrupt our perception of the world around us. I say; if my butt looks big, please tell me exactly that. You don’t have to express this fact with astonishment on your face at the size of my butt or sarcasm in your voice, simple honesty will suffice. Telling me that my butt looks to be the size of Texas is a no-no, but that maybe I could wear a longer blouse with those jeans, perfectly honest and compassionate.

As I begin to write this morning, I’m overwhelmed with the urge to light up a cigarette. The cup of coffee I’m sipping isn’t helping matters and any smoker/coffee drinker knows this trend. One without the other defies logic.

What do cigarettes have to do with big butts? Heh! The connection is in the lie. Excuse me while I step outside to have a smoke. I can’t think about anything else now and I’ll explain when I return.

So, here’s my brief explanation of the situation (mumbles “why is brevity so hard for me”). I’ve enjoyed the privilege of smoking on the porch of my parents’ home and in my room at night for a year and a half. In actuality, my room is the porch, remodeled in 2011 when my grandmother came to live here before she died. Dad never installed ducts when he remodeled, which leaves me with two choices in heating my room. One is to open the two doors that lead into the living room and the other is to use a space heater. My privacy fundamentally doesn’t exist. I’ve tried to maintain some semblance of privacy by keeping my doors closed, and freezing in the winter, but Dad is ceaseless in suggesting “you know your room would be warmer if you left your doors open”. No kidding, right? They have no idea what privacy means to me, and why would they? I’ve not clearly told them because I’m afraid of their reaction; for good reason, I might add.

Before the recent household disturbance, Mom was endlessly pecking on the door and Dad just went in my room whenever he wanted to. Of course, he’d come find me after he’d moved my things about and say “I did such and such in your room” as if that makes it Ok to invade my privacy. When I asked if I could smoke on the closed porch the first winter, they both said it was fine. I had to seal some gaping cracks with caulk, plastic bags, and rolled blankets and it generally worked well if no one stood in the doorway yapping while a cigarette burned; Mom. I also ran my fan backwards in the window to draw out the smoke making for a decent ventilated smoking area.

I kept asking my mother if she could smell the smoke, worried that I was imposing on my non-smoking parents. Mom maintained that she could smell nothing at all for a year and a half. She also went on to say that Dad’s mention of the smell here and there was just in his head because he knows I’m smoking. I never personally heard him complain until now. I wish I had proof of these statements, but I don’t.

I stood up for myself when Mom attacked me several months ago and have since lost my smoking privileges. Smell like retribution to anyone? After claiming to not smell a thing, now my mother insists that she can smell smoke as if I’m standing outside her bedroom door blowing it through the cracks. I’m seriously confused with this and I have to question what else she’s been lying about.

That was pretty brief for once. I’m happy with myself that the previous didn’t go on for pages.

I asked my mother today why she had lied to me about the smoke for so long. Her reaction was epic. She put up her finger to indicate that I should wait while she finished her conversation with Dad down the stairway and then called him up from the basement before she continued. She says “Honey, Meli wants to know why I lied to her”. I felt ashamed of my mother in that moment.

You cannot deny that she was rallying support in her fight against me by calling in my father to help her defense, which was another lie. She adamantly denied saying any such thing about Dad smelling so-called phantom smoke and looked me right in the face while doing it. I was stunned to say the least. Here’s my mother, whom I trusted, lying through her teeth to save her own ass regarding her lies to me in the past. Confusing? Exactly my point. It really goes to show that once you start lying about anything, you just can’t stop without incriminating yourself. And that is one thing my mother is not willing to do.

Within a scale of lies, saying you didn’t smell smoke when you did indeed smell it, wouldn’t be considered malicious or detrimental. It’s not unlike the big butt lie. Unless you’re willing to turn around and attempt to destroy a person with that lie, then it becomes unacceptable. All this time I thought I was Ok smoking on my little porch, which I call the War Cave (I play World of Warcraft). In the meantime, my mother has been brooding it seems, or maybe she’s just using this much cherished privilege of mine to exact her own justice for standing up for myself against her. I really can’t be sure because Mom is consistently using the reply “I don’t have to answer that”.

Whatever the case may be; what I knew to be true has been shattered and my parents are now adding to the situation with accusations and insults. I posed two questions after I was told to stop smoking in my room; if I was smoking in there is how Dad put it; before the first insult was thrown. I asked, “In my bedroom”? And then, “Even late at night”? I’ve already made mention of the need for clarity and how it truly is a requirement. If you read my blog concerning sarcasm, you found reference to ambiguity as well. Neither of which bodes well in my mind.

Asking those two questions returned the following insult “Meli, don’t argue with me like a 15 year old. Just do what we say”.

WHAT? Seriously, I thought what is happening right now? Can we say oxymoron (see how good I am at using sarcasm)? He used a statement worthy of parenting a 15 year old to accuse me of acting like a 15 year old. Folks, I’m forty-four years old. Fifteen is far behind me. Would it have been so hard to answer the two simple questions I posed without the insult? Yes and yes was all he needed to say, but he just couldn’t help himself.

I brought this insult to light, essentially halting the conversation to address it. Why? Why would you say that? I’m hearing myself ask that question of my parents more and more as this situation escalates. He didn’t have an intelligent answer and only offered “that’s how I see you acting right now” with an ‘Oh well’ look on his face. Much like the response “It’s the mental picture I have in my head, honey” from my mother not too long ago. Well, thank you Dad, now it’s clear why you chose to insult me for asking two simple questions.

I’m angry about this right now, I apologize for the tones, but I feel it necessary to leave them in the blog. Anger in the recipient is the consequence of these poorly chosen statements. The little lies are no exception. I’m extremely angry with my mother for fooling me into thinking I was safe to smoke on the porch. Many readers will be mumbling “She’s over thinking this” at this point and they’d be right… if I didn’t have PTSD and my parents weren’t still berating me.

That’s what we do, think things through in excess, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. With support and educated carers, this certainty that’s achieved through clarity and analysis can go a long way to feeling safe. Isn’t that the key component to recovery? Safety after trauma? I’m well aware that there are those who suffer that are capable of erupting should you tell them their butt looks big in those jeans. But it’s my opinion that those cases of PTSD are out of control and ill managed. I’ve spent hours upon hours trying to figure out my own brain, the emphasis is on me and how I can control my disorder and make a safe environment for myself. But no matter how commendable that sounds, success is impossible without the acceptance and education of those around me.

My mother’s lies set me up for the following. Dad is under the impression that I took advantage of my privilege to smoke on the porch by continuing to do so through the next summer. Neither one of them said a word to stop me, nor did they inform me that my privilege was void in summer. Furthermore, Mom actually encouraged me by saying Dad was crazy, there’s no smell, all summer long. My father is still unaware that Mom and I had a little secret to help me continue smoking in my bedroom. I ran the bathroom exhaust fan, something Dad would not have approved of. But Mom kept our secret in hush tones, literally. This is an historic pattern of hers where she has failed to consult with her husband regarding my brother and I. Mom is famous for “We can’t let your father find out” on big issues such as us smoking weed and her spending money.

Her lies allowed for a false security, which caused me to dig my own grave in respects to losing my smoking privileges. I would not have been accused of taking advantage of my privilege recently, nor acting like a teenager, had my mother not lied to me. You can’t convince me that she’s unaware of this effect. Every part of my soul believes that she knows damn well what she’s done, and yet she’s perfectly comfortable lying to my face about it and adding to my pain. And I’m the problem here?

The real effect is the destruction of trust I had in my mother. It’s completely gone now. If she had been honest about smelling the smoke and her emotions regarding those stupid dishes, she wouldn’t be faced with the embarrassment of admitting to those lies now. I wouldn’t have smoked on the porch, but in bad weather, and washed my own dishes much sooner. And Mom and I would still be best friends had she been able to reveal that honesty instead of lashing out when her emotions boiled over. I still don’t know what set her off, she’s never said. It’s likely that she doesn’t even know. In my experience with PTSD, I’ve not needed a specific event to have a break down, merely keep things to myself and I’ll blow eventually when it’s least expected; just like Mom did this spring.

The previous issue of washing our own dishes is also the result of my mother’s lies. She insisted that nothing was wrong each time I noticed a look of frustration on her face and asked if she was Ok. Why can’t some people just tell the damned truth?

In regards to PTSD, total honesty is imperative to building trust. There is no little lie when it comes to rebuilding trust after trauma. Was my mom trying to protect my feelings somehow by lying about the smell of smoke? I don’t understand that. Emotional trust is maybe even more important, in my opinion, where PTSD is involved. We have so much trouble believing in ourselves that the opinions of those around us become top notch priority. Who is it safe to talk to about symptoms? Can I tell this person what happened to me without judgment? Will this person hurt me too? All questions that I can say, with certainty, have crossed the minds of every single person living with PTSD and more times than anyone without the disorder.

I’m asking everyone who reads this to please tell the truth, our sense of security depends on it. I know it may be hard to find the words, but it’s better for us if you make that effort. And you won’t have to maintain or deny those lies in the future. It’s a win/win situation because in the end, after our excessive analysis of everything in our world, you will come under scrutiny for all those little lies and the trust you thought you shared will be shattered.

I simply can’t recover from the damage my mother has caused to our trust over the last 3 months. It’s been lies after insults after sarcasm after downright abuse. Our relationship is gone for good and all she needed to do was speak honestly, which is a whole lot more productive and healthy than Dad’s advice of just let it pass. How do you ignore something that destroys trust? Please think about that. I can move ahead of it and maybe even forget the exact words that hurt so much, but I’ll never be able to ignore the feeling that I’m just not safe in my mother’s company. She will hurt me again if I let my guard down and allow her to think she’s been forgiven and all is well. I can’t risk that.

Meli

Published in: on May 26, 2014 at 6:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT – “Through the Doors Alone”; A journal entry while working through my most traumatic event.

While in therapy at Kent State University’s psychological research center in Ohio, I was instructed over and over to write my trauma story. I was digging through old writings on my computer today looking for something else, not even related to PTSD. I stumbled on a particularly gruesome journal entry that ironically also portrays my flare for imagery.

Eddy, my therapist at Kent State, told me that I “had improved so much that I no longer exhibited any symptoms of PTSD”. Psh!! He meant that I was, at that time, able to talk about my experience with sexual slavery and the miscarriage that followed without extreme emotion hindering me. That is true to a some degree even today, but not wholly. I can talk about my trauma experiences in general terms, but I still struggle intensely with the details.

At the time that I was writing about the events on a daily basis, I was able to shut off the emotion quite efficiently. But today, when I accidentally opened this journal entry years later… Whoa… Maybe I should call Eddy and tell him that I almost lost all composure a little while ago. It seems that I merely numbed my reaction to these details temporarily.

The following journal entry is a first person, present tense, recollection of the evening I lost Connie. It was written in August 2010; twenty-two years after the event. Connie is a name I gave to my baby, also two decades after the miscarriage. I wanted to make her human, make her real, and stop pushing this little life into the deepest recesses of my mind. I wanted to embrace my lost child and I wanted to call her Connie. I don’t know if she was a girl, I just wanted her to be. I can’t remember the date, only to say that it was either late 1987 or early 1988. Much of my memories are fragmented and do not follow chronological order in my mind. The name Connie is anglicized from the word coinine, which in Gaelic means “I would have lived”.

If you’re sensitive to the imagery of gory events, please stop reading now. Although my journal is always written in a professional manner and I will never be vulgar here without warning to my readers, I have included the details such as blood and violence. The language is appropriate only to the story and I apologize for publishing such words. But I can’t omit them for fear that it would change the story all together. Raw emotion was put into this journal entry.

The following is what I remember on that night up to the moment that I stood outside the hospital.

A Day to Forget; If not for Connie.

The house on North Street faces due south, allowing the sunbeams to peek in the open front door, but they fall short of the dirty couch where I sleep. The vision is tantalizing; a bright luminous portal mere feet from where I sit. But it’s deceptive and I don’t dare venture outside. Just beyond the solar fingertips, darkness consumes the room as well as my heart; a bird in a cage with a sheet pulled over, no longer willing to sing. The silence is more stifling than the mid day heat. On other days I try to forget where I am, but the bustle of thugs, hookers, and crying babies keep me grounded in my horror. Today I’m staring at the grease on the walls occasionally glancing with disdain at the stairwell as if to shoot hateful daggers into the bedroom upstairs. Danny and I are the only occupants here today.

Tears have long since proved to maintain any purpose here, but I still silently revel in my own self pity. I’ve no mother to smile at me when I enter a room, call me sweetie, or remedy this sour belly for me. She’d be here to take care of me if that fist fight with my father hadn’t ended one trauma only to begin another. She’s an excellent mother, but she’s my father’s wife first. He won’t allow her to even speak to me, much less help me out of this wretched place. I guess I burnt that bridge when I landed that punch to my father’s face. I just couldn’t take him anymore.

I don’t want to eat, sleep, or talk. I don’t want any of these people knowing that I’m having trouble with my pregnancy, and I’m glad the house is empty; except for the animal who lies in prey upstairs. I don’t trust them, any of them, and I’m not comfortable relying on them. If I open myself up, I’ll become like them, and I still hold myself apart from their disgusting lifestyle. For the time being, I’m trapped in their world; helpless to escape any time soon because I’m carrying Danny’s child. For that sole reason he owns me.

I hate myself for being so weak, and submitting to his sexual demands without so much as a single act of resistance, but I can’t help thinking that I didn’t have a choice. “Poor me, the broken young girl who can’t take care of herself”; I’m so pathetic. Why did I come here, why doesn’t anyone love me, and what did I do to deserve this? God certainly isn’t watching over me today. I think my mother lied when she said he would.

I keep waiting for someone to emerge through that portal of light, scoop me up, and take me away. But I shut down months ago and pushed any prospective knights in shining armor far from reach. No one’s coming to save me. It’s so hot in this house and I’ve ruined my life; it’s making me irritable and angry. I’d go soak in a cool tub of water, but I can’t stand the images and emotions a bath stirs up; servicing him and then dipping my arms into his liquid filth to bathe him afterwards. I’m dirty and I probably stink because I seldom bathe myself. What’s the use? I sit on this couch every day, and there’s no one to impress here; not even myself. Danny doesn’t care if I’m dirty or clean, and what’s the sense in washing just to wallow in cockroach droppings.

There’s no sense in doing anything anymore. I’m never going to have a life of my own. How can I make anything of myself here, surrounded by prostitutes, addicts, and violence? How can I raise a baby here? I’m just a kid myself.

It’s so quiet, and I’m so alone. I haven’t seen anyone pass by the house on the sidewalk today. This pity party is in full swing, and I wish I had a distraction. The setting sun will steal away my portal to the outside world soon. The dregs of society will crawl out of the shadows along with the cockroaches; another terrifying night on North Street. Will Danny be feeling frisky tonight? Whose turn is it anyway? My belly’s cramping; I hope it’s not me.

I just haven’t felt right all day. This is my first baby, and I’m scared to begin with. Danny makes me ride around in those big trucks to go dumpster diving with the girls. I get tossed all over the seat and it makes my belly hurt. With the foot traffic coming through the house at all hours on any other day, I can’t sleep. I started drinking two pots of coffee every morning just to make it through my school day, and I haven’t stopped since I graduated. I know I shouldn’t be doing that, but it’s become a habit I’m not willing to give up just now. Sweet coffee’s a real treat when the menu consists of ‘Shit on a Shingle’, collard greens, and water.

Danny won’t let me do drugs anymore, but I can at least catch a buzz with the coffee. I’d really love to get hammered right about now and make the whole world go away; or maybe just make me go away. I’m sick to my stomach, and I’m cramping like my period’s coming. I don’t know if this is par for the course during pregnancy, but I’ll be damned if I’m asking anyone here. I want my mom. I want to be twelve again, scooping newts out of Charlie’s pond. Life was so much easier then. Even with the beatings, I had my pleasures. This place is devoid of any pleasure whatsoever.

I have to use the bathroom, but I don’t want to go up there because Danny’s in his room. I haven’t heard him all day, but I know he’s up there. I’ll just pause here at the foot of the stairs and see if I can hear him. Is it worth the risk just to pee? I hear fishing shows on his TV, but his door’s closed… thank God for that; or whoever created this shitty world. Take one step at a time, and be careful not to make the boards squeak. How is it I end up sneaking to the bathroom to avoid sex with a monster? He disgusts me! My heart is racing, but I made it without disturbing him. The constant anxiety is killing me. I don’t know how much longer I can do this, but what choice do I have? Just pee and get your ass back downstairs before he realizes you’re up here.

It’s so desolate in here, and every tinkle echoes. It’s making me paranoid and I wish there was more than a wall between me and him. This is taking forever. I just want to get the hell out of here; I’m too close to him. There’s blood on the toilet paper, and I know that’s not right. I’m not supposed to bleed while I’m pregnant. Now what do I do? Nothing, that’s what I’ll do; I’ll just sit here for a minute and think about it. This can’t be happening. Where’s my mom?

I’ve often wished that I wasn’t pregnant; wasn’t here; and on occasion wasn’t even alive. But I never thought I’d get any of those wishes. There’s too much blood for this not to be a major problem; I know that much. I can’t ask for help though. What if it isn’t anything? What if I ask and Danny just tells me to shut the fuck up? The longer I stand here staring into the toilet at what very well may be my baby, the higher the risk that someone’s going to catch me. That, I do not want! I don’t want them getting inside my head, seeing me panic, or watching me cry. If I ignore this, maybe it will go away. I don’t want to deal with it; especially not by myself and not here in this house with these people. I’ll clean up the mess and go back downstairs.

It’s been hours since I went to the bathroom. Everyone’s come home and gone to bed. There still isn’t anyone in the house but the four of us. It’s strange to not see call girls and dangerous men coming in and out. Teresa must have the babies upstairs in her room. I don’t hear them. The house is closed up and I can’t even see my hand in front of my face, but I can hear the cockroaches scurrying around on the linoleum in the kitchen.

The pain is really bad now, and I still don’t want to ask for help. I’d rather die. I don’t want to make Danny angry or call attention to myself. Around here you don’t get help, you give it. Besides, all I really want to do is disappear from existence. It’s too late to save my future, and I hate my present life. I might as well just lay here and let fate do as it will; pull the blanket up over my head and wait for daylight should it ever come.

Will I die here on this couch before the sun comes up again? I’m losing so much blood; it hasn’t stopped. Do I care? I’m not sure. Will my father care? I doubt it. I have to cry, I’ve been holding it in for so long. Maybe I do care. Maybe I don’t want to die here.

I can’t help but groan every time the pain surges through my belly. Is this what labor feels like? Am I losing the baby now; or did I already? I don’t know. I know how to get pregnant, but I don’t know how to have a baby. Maybe I should go get Nancy. This is scaring me; so many women die during child birth. I thought the pain would go away, or at least not get any worse. The last one made me yelp.

I’ll quietly call for Nancy so I don’t wake Danny up because there’s no way I can get off this couch to get her. She’s not answering me. I’ve tried and tried, and she can’t hear me. I can’t take any more of this pain. Now I’m terrified; I’m screaming! I’m panicking like never before in my life. I honestly think I might die here tonight. Danny can beat me if he’s going to; I’m getting someone’s attention come hell or high water.

I know now that I don’t want to die, and I’m too far gone to help myself. Hours ago I could have walked to the hospital, but not now. Go figure I’d wake Danny up and no one else. He’s screaming from upstairs now, telling me to shut the fuck up, but I’m not going to. I couldn’t if I wanted to because this pain is absolutely unbearable. I think I might lose my mind.

Danny just yelled to Teresa, he said “Shut that bitch up and take her to the hospital before I fucking kill her”. I might die either way. Now would be a good time to shut up. And here she comes with her crazy hair and kooky boots on. She is not happy, and the sight of Teresa coming down those stairs is infuriating me. This cunt hates me, and this is who I have to rely on? I must have pissed God off good. I might get help now, but I won’t get any compassion. She’s acting strictly on Danny’s orders, and not on any will of her own. She can’t even hate freely. None of us have any freedoms. I’m going to pay for not thinking this through.

So here we go in one of those damned trucks again, riding in silence. I see the hospital up ahead. Teresa hasn’t taken the truck out of gear. We’re there, what does she want me to do? She’s not getting out, and so be it. I’d rather eat those cockroaches back on North Street than spend another second with this nasty bitch. My blood soaked jeans are rubbing my skin, this is gross. But I’m finally alone, truly alone, and it feels oddly good. She tells me to call when I’m ready to come home and turn to her from the sidewalk. I’m thinking “Like hell I will”! But I’d better just nod and head for the doors.

Now I can see all the people inside, and I’m finding it very difficult to walk through those doors. I can’t stay out here; Teresa’s watching me. Just step inside, Melinda, just go. Some nurse or orderly will scoop you up and take care of the rest. They’ll see all the blood and you won’t have to do anything. You can do this.

Now I’m embarrassed. These people are complete strangers. There’s going to be so many stares and questions; children pointing and asking their parents what’s wrong with her. I can’t hide this; I’m soaked through with blood. And it’s coming from that one place no girl wants anyone to know she’s having a problem with. And I thought having an accident on my period was bad. This is downright humiliating. And I’m alone. It doesn’t feel good anymore.

Meli

I was eighteen years old.

Published in: on May 20, 2014 at 9:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sarcasm and How I Can’t Deal With It; From a PTSD Sufferer’s Point of View.

I use sarcasm quite often when I’m in a playful or bratty mood, but I try very hard not to use it while engaged in an argument or when important information needs to be relayed. At those crucial times, I’m all business. Even though I take a stand on this moral idea, there are exceptions to the rule.

Everyone has experienced a confrontation where the aggressor is downright cruel or ignorant, purposely throwing daggers to tear you down. It’s at these times that I will turn off everything about me that is fair and considerate to allow a nasty and self protective me to chew on some hateful people. I’m smart as a whip, in spite of my struggles with emotion, and quite witty too. I’ve been told that when I’m riled up I “go all redneck” and that my speech in these times is hard to understand. I can see that about myself when I look back on these events, but I also see a desperate woman trying to survive a destructive situation.

It’s evident that I know how to use sarcasm and that I’m capable of grasping the humor of it when I’m NOT affected by anxiety, fear, and anger. Those emotions, often extreme, change how my brain perceives sarcasm and also ambiguity. Under normal circumstances, I can blow off negative sarcasm with “Yeah, screw you. Haha, you’re funny”. When my brain is functioning at regular levels and my natural ability to find the logic in my environment is intact, my skin is as thick as anyone else’s.

But that’s no longer true as adrenaline courses through my veins, my body starts to go into protective mode, and my brain jumps into action in an attempt to shut all of this down. At these times, after this aggressor has triggered me, I find it nearly impossible to comprehend the sarcasm. I don’t know if that person is serious about their statement, if they mean to simply hurt me with it, or if I’m just way out in left field perceiving their statement. Worst of all, there’s a very good chance that I’ll actually believe what they said to be true when, in reality, they were merely using sarcasm to gain control of the situation.

For example; someone very close to me once stood on the stairs and screamed “A little Lithium would do you some good”. I was sobbing because this man had been insensitive and unempathetic to my pleas. You have to first notice that he screamed this statement and that he chose the drug Lithium specifically. This leads me to believe that neither compassion for me nor true concern for my mental health was the basis for this statement. Secondly, Lithium, a psychotropic drug, is primarily used to treat the manic behavior of those with BPD (Bipolar Disorder) and Paranoid Schizophrenia. This obviously doesn’t apply to me and is further evidenced by the fact that he was the one standing on the stairs screaming when he said it, not me.

The first second after I heard this statement, I was extremely angry for hearing the word Lithium because of all the stigmas that apply to it. In the next few seconds, I began to question whether or not I really did need Lithium. Minutes after this statement, I was convinced that I was so broken that Lithium would be the only thing to save my life. Looking back, I’ve logically deduced that his statement was pure hatred and hurtfulness. But the path of progressively self loathing irrationality that my mind took was directly caused by his sarcasm.

He’s no expert on what would or would not help me, neither does he have the credentials to diagnose me or prescribe pharmaceutical treatment. I wish I could have been able to discern the real facts in the moment those words were spoken, but I was entrenched in PTSD symptoms at the time. In fact, I shut down shortly after that statement in utter fear that he would make efforts to have me committed to an institution.

Sarcasm is ingrained in my father. He and this other man have often said “I don’t know why such comments would affect you so much. They don’t affect anyone else like that”. My father goes on to trivialize my inability to handle sarcasm by saying “I’m just popping off, come on”. I believe there are two reasons for my issue with sarcasm and only one of them is PTSD.

Considering what I know about PTSD, sarcasm and ambiguity hits emotionally more than anything. Sarcasm creates doubt in one’s own self and ambiguity creates confusion regarding comprehension. I’m an “A to Z” personality. Everything that I learn or experience must have a beginning and an end, as well as follow a chronological path. I find it very difficult to jump into the middle of things and still be able to feel confident that my perception is valid. Likewise, when sarcasm is used and I can’t be sure that I know the real meaning of the statement, I can’t find a place to put that statement in my chronology. Is it closer to D or P? I don’t know. Does this statement apply to what he feels or what he’s doing? I’m not sure, but I want and need to know where to put it. Without a place to file this statement within my emotions, I become scared and confused; two emotions that wreak havoc.

On the other end of the spectrum, this analytical and methodical trait of mine also occurs naturally. It is identical to the same trait in my father. Routines are very important to me in the respect that I find comfort in repetition. I hated working as a subcontractor simply for the fact that there was no one place I could count on to arrive at work each day. Factory work was truly my forte, doing things over and over, and clocking in at the exact same spot every day. So, when my mind is traveling along in a straight line, whether it be a confrontation or idle chit chat, and someone tosses out sarcasm, it rocks my world.

My ability to recover quickly by assessing the sarcasm internally or asking for clarity out loud depends on my emotional state at the time. Use sarcasm while I’m upset and I’m almost always guaranteed not to recover quickly. The confusion and/or self doubt will eat at me for days. Give me a big fat “Psh, what are you so upset about” after using hurtful sarcasm and it only gets worse. I can say that there are a handful of people in my life that are willing to admit their sarcasm was hurtful and apologize. Within this same group, I feel safe to ask for clarification when sarcasm or ambiguity is used without fear of consequence. Clarity, when I ask for it, helps me a great deal, even if I was the one who misperceived in the first place. I still need to know that so I can file it away for future use. Asking for clarity does not mean that I’m trying to change someone’s opinion or control their words. My request for clarity is simply an effort to soothe my own mind.

The others in my life that refuse to educate themselves on this topic are triggers to be feared.

Meli

You’ve Made PTSD Your Whole Being “Why don’t you just put it in a frame, put bows on it, and hang it on the wall”

This is the most hurtful statement to date; and this from my own mother. A brief background (as if the term brief anything should be associated with PTSD) will allow you to better understand how this statement came to be heard.

Altercations with my mother are extremely rare, although there have been several over the course of my 44 years as her daughter. But not to dismiss the fact that I’ve personally witnessed her verbal attacks with pointed teeth on many others. Clerks, neighbors, and other family members have fallen prey to her verbal attacks, but Mom and I have remained two peas in a pod for most of my life. Best friends, if you will; which is why this event took me by such surprise, so much so that I was unable to comprehend what was happening exactly, at the time.

My father is a different story; volatile and cruel. He is my original abuser with many more to follow suit later in my childhood and early adulthood; a pattern that is well known to those educated in abuse and PTSD. In a state of confusion, shock, and a multitude of physical symptoms, I found myself under attack from the one person I’ve trusted all my life; my mother ironically.

At first I muttered “uh, uh, uh…” in my chair as she hovered over me. I did not see this coming and couldn’t believe it was happening. I should have realized that Mom was brooding when she made a random exclamation weeks earlier that went something like “You and your father get to do whatever you want all day long while I’m chained to the kitchen”. After hearing her feelings on the matter of dishes, I began washing my own to help alleviate the chore for her. I have to emphasize that my honest reaction to her outreach, albeit uncomfortable for me and a bit insulting, was to help her. I don’t see my mother as an abuser; at least I didn’t until recently.

Mom took my effort of washing my own dishes as a segue to create a new rule of which she neglected to inform neither I nor my father of. I noticed over the next few weeks that Mom began leaving Dad’s dishes on the right side of the sink and only doing her own. As they piled up, Dad stopped rinsing his dishes all together due to the overflowing sink and then I noticed something else. She would leave one fork on the counter unwashed believing it to be mine or Dad’s; one fork after washing everything else. It felt a bit offensive and childish to me, but I didn’t say anything…

…Until that horrible day. She came to my personal space and asked that I please do my dishes. I agreed immediately and for some reason I felt that I needed clarification in the dish washing matter, since the new rule had never been verbally confirmed out loud. I asked my Mom if this new routine was permanent. You’d have thought I’d smacked my mother in the mouth for no good reason because she blew like Mount Saint Helen’s.

This went on for more than thirty minutes as I desperately tried to maintain respect for my mother, correct her misinformed opinion that I was angry about doing my own dishes, and most importantly to make her stop aggressively attacking me. She had gotten in my face physically and asked “Does that offend you” in a tone that clearly said it’s on now. I had ignorantly been honest when I said “I don’t mind doing my own dishes, Mom, but I am a little bit offended at the way you went about it”. Although I picked up right away that Mom wasn’t going to wash a single thing I had used, Dad had been clueless.

For nearly two weeks Mom had been bad mouthing Dad about his dirty dishes in hush tones to none other, but me. I found it unfair to make a new household rule and not inform everyone of it before enforcing it with such malice. Mom had been tainting my opinions of my father with warnings to not upset him and accusations that he was generally a bad person since I could listen and understand what she was saying. Furthermore, I found it equally immoral to judge the uninformed and make accusations of their ill intentions to take advantage of her by not washing dishes. My mother’s behavior in all of this sounds a bit PTSD-ish, in my opinion.

So, I popped up out of my chair in a manner so like my father and demanded that she leave my room immediately. I couldn’t take anymore of her hateful comments, sarcasm, aggressive gestures (chops imaginary wood in front of my face with her air hand ax), and her outright laughter at the fact that her daughter was getting very upset. I had been sobbing and begging her to stop just moments before and it seemed that she was very pleased with herself for causing my reaction. I cussed, which is frowned upon here, and she informed me that I’d be thrown out. I most certainly saw that coming, but relieving the anxiety and physical symptoms brought on by her attack became my number one priority in the moment that I lost control. All consequences were dismissed in my mind and I moved into self preservation mode; a mild fight or flight reaction to what was perceived by my body as a real threat. It took three solid days to relieve myself of the physical anxiety afterwards. The headache, backache, and nausea were unbearable.

Later in the week, Mom asked if I’d come and sit down with her so we could talk. I thought that was great and wanted to resolve this situation very much so. I love my mother and I love being friends with her. But I was not prepared for what came out of her mouth during this second conversation. She began by lecturing me on what I needed to do in order for us to live peacefully together. Wow, I thought “this isn’t a discussion about what happened and how to move forward from it, this is my mother’s version of a clinical assessment of my mental stability”.

Although I was offended, yet again, at her approach and lack of accountability and compassion, I began to explain to her why I personally got so upset. It was the aggressive hand gestures that affected me the most and something I truly cannot control considering the exaggerated body reaction to aggression that I’m plagued with due to PTSD. Prior to the statement that has earned a place as title to this article, Mom told me that her hand gestures are nothing special to be considered and that I should just literally get over it because that’s the way she talks. When I tried to further explain the frightening and painful process that my body goes through as I experience such aggression, she asked if she was supposed to be my nursemaid 24/7. I couldn’t continue with the conversation without exploding again, feeling taunted by my own mother, and chose to walk away saying not another word.

My parents have since cut me off from almost all financial support. I never expected them to support me and have always been grateful that they have, but said support is not license to abuse. They were going out of town soon after the altercations and I was staying behind. I asked Dad if he had planned to leave cash as he’s always done in the past. He struggled with the idea that whatever cash he left I’d spend on cigarettes. I got scared that I would have to spend a week alone with no money at all. And again, I was not expecting it nor did I feel entitled to money from my parents. I was just asking whether or not this trip would be the same as others in that respect.

Sudden unexpected change like that can be devastating; so much more impacting for those of us with PTSD. I got upset again, but not angry. I broke down right there; a freak out if you will; severe panic. I began expressing my fears of that nature and the opinion that I didn’t think it was fair that my parents just cut me off with no warning while claiming to be so concerned with my mental health. My emphasis was on the affect of that spontaneous loss of securities, not the actual support itself. If I’d had time to prepare, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been so devastated.

Mom joined the money conversation and it exploded again with sarcasm, accusations, and laughter from her. Of course it shifted quickly to how I had allegedly offended my mother, and in my father’s words, “the one person in this world who was taking care of me”. I lost it badly, which is the point in all of this that my parents started demanding that I seek professional help and explicitly claiming to be perfectly healthy themselves.

I never refused therapy or counseling because I truly believe I need it. But I have this gut feeling that if my parents don’t do the same, I’ll never be safe here. No amount of therapy can alleviate the symptoms I experience while living with, not only my original abuser, but parents who continue to be toxic, refuse to educate themselves on the topic of PTSD, and claim to know better what is wrong with me. Dad says that he’d be more inclined to believe that I have GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) instead, essentially removing himself from the clear cause of my disorder; prolonged child abuse, family violence, rape, and terrorism. I was showing symptoms of PTSD no later than 10 years old, but in the 1980s civilian PTSD was unheard of, so I never got the help I so desperately needed. And my parents are of the generation who believe parental rights encompass doing whatever the hell they want to their children.

Mom and Dad continuously promote counseling with their pastor and in my opinion this is not a spiritual issue, nor is it appropriate for an Atheist like myself. No one but a professional therapist educated in psychology and experienced in PTSD can even touch this situation. Counseling the dysfunctional habits of a PTSD sufferer and her abuser? Come on!! We need more than their biased pastor to resolve this. Finally, Mom indicates that she’s willing to go to counseling as a family. I was ecstatic at the idea, so I asked; “A real therapist who deals with PTSD, all three of us”?

And there it came, the ugliest most hurtful analogy I’d ever heard in my life. I’m still picturing my PTSD in a frame with bows on it hanging on my parents’ wall for all to see just how screwed up their daughter is. And boy is it ugly and humiliating. I asked her, stunned, why in the world she would say something like that and her reply was “Well, that’s the mind picture I have in my head, honey”, as if she were the most loving mother on the face of this earth explaining a simple idea to a child. I said I didn’t understand why she would say something so hurtful to me and again…. “I know you don’t, honey” with pity on her face.

In conclusion, I’m exhausted in my efforts to explain to my parents just what I go through and how they affect my everyday life. Even when they don’t intentionally mean to hurt me; THEY STILL DO!! Then they immediately dismiss my reactions as PTSD irrationality, anger, and general lack of mental health. In my attempt at standing up for myself and trying to secure a safe and peaceful environment out of a stressful situation with my parents, I’ve successfully and inadvertently convinced them that I’m much more mentally ill than is factual.

Hopeless and emotionally abandoned rings very valid here presently. I’ll have to step up my efforts to move on without my toxic parents. I have much introspection and a long row to hoe in the near future. I’m ready to give up the ghost. Life without parents in my 40s will be tough, but I think I’ll be better off in the long run.

Final thought to Mom and Dad; “I didn’t make PTSD my whole being… You did”.

 

Meli

Sideways; An Example of Subtle Manic Despair

Sitting on my parents’ back porch this morning, I began thinking of how my life has tumbled into a stiff gel, suspended and askew like Jello with chunks of fruit in it. Sadly, I find this state of mind eerily familiar. It feels as though I just can’t right myself. I sigh heavily as I recount the number of times that I’ve lived in a world where nothing is mine. Even the mug I drink coffee from belongs to my mother. Satisfaction is hard to come by, and I don’t seem to enjoy anything that used to make me happy. Only one little pleasure is allowing me to look forward to anything; a dove who made her nest in the pine tree four feet from the porch. She stares at me, blinking silently, as I softly talk to her like some crazy lady. The neighbors here in the city are stacked on top of each other. I’m exposed to many strangers, but no one can see who I’m talking to. It must look ridiculous. Even so, I still look for the dove every time I go out to smoke and I chatter away to a bird who wishes she’d built her nest somewhere else.

This is my third attempt to blog since my last post. I begin to write and find that my thoughts are moving too fast. What I read when I go back to edit is a random compilation of “crazy talk”. I’ve been purposely numb for two months while outwardly portraying a sane and functional person. Nobody’s been the wiser regarding the despair and confusion that I bury deep inside. My thoughts are everywhere and I just don’t know what to do with myself. I moved back home, or at least to my parents’ house, on March 4th. My routines have been shattered, my role is unknown as of yet, and I feel like a child.

Time and time again, I sit here staring at this screen wondering what I want to write about. I think of all kinds of things while sitting on the porch; thoughts and ideas that disappear by the time I return to my keyboard. It seems that my brain is locked and I don’t have the key. I’ve never been one to read the newspaper, in part because it’s depressing, but more so because it reminds me of a world that I don’t want to live in. This morning’s headline grabbed me as I passed by the dining room table. Demjanjuk is dead.

That name has rocked the U.S. for decades. Hatred and disgust fill the American public just to hear the name spoken. I personally don’t know what to think about his guilt or innocence, but I can certainly relate to the victims of the Holocaust. Their families must want to blame someone and Demjanjuk was ripe for the picking. When I heard that my abuser had died, the relief was overwhelming and I gained a sense of justice. I keep thinking that the entire Jewish population around the world must be feeling that way now. The comparison of these two circustances is relevant in support of a thought that I had on the porch this morning. It had slipped my mind until I began writing about Demjanjuk.

The degrees of mental illnes are much like the degrees of poverty. The manner in which society and the government deal with both are very similar. While Demjanjuk’s death hit the front page of every newspaper, my abuser merely inspired an obituary. The victims of the Holocaust and their families must suffer immense levels of ill mental health and are the recipients of empathy and compassion from around the globe. Very few people are even aware of my PTSD, let alone able to understand me and find compassion. My experience with government welfare has been that one must be on the streets or starving before they can be deemed worthy of assistance. So, do I have to be out of my mind before everyone will stop seeing me as lazy and bitchy? At what point in my illness will I receive the support I deserve? I too was the victim of several dangerous and frightening men, but mostly what I hear in response to that fact is to “get over it”.

I’m getting fidgety now and need a Warcraft fix. There’s a Jewish cemetery just two blocks from here that I’ve wanted to transcribe for years. I think I’ll walk down there today. I drove through a few days ago and realized that all of the stones were inscribed in Hebrew. I’m excited to translate and look forward to learning. Hmm, there’s a second activity to look forward to; I hadn’t realized.

This move and termination of “life as I knew it” has thrown my whole existence off-kilter. The new circumstances are also milestones in my progression with PTSD. I don’t know what the future holds as I hurdle these obstacles. In fact, I can’t even bring myself to think about what might happen next. I’m living in the moment, pretending to be normal and unaffected. Maybe I’ll truly settle in sometime soon. We’ll see what the next few months bring.

~Meli

Published in: on March 18, 2012 at 12:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Avoidance

The last few months have been tough, to say the least. Looking back, I’m seeing something that I keep forgetting over and over. Avoidance is carved into my personality like some polyurethaned name plaque hanging on a weather beaten house. I avoid whatever displeases me or whatever seems too hard to accomplish. The ultimate goal of my not yet formed writing career is an autobiography detailing my abuse and healing. I intend to support and educate both the abused and those who care for the abused. Contradictory to that goal, I’ve been avioding anything to do with those emotions; the very emotions and revalations that will serve my purpose in the end.

Partner to the avoidance is the act of entertaining one’s self. Playing vidoe games, watching TV, and working on my family tree are all emotionless activities that are successful at numbing the depression, anxiety, and fear. Unfortunately, they also push the PTSD experiences into a deep abyss, unobtainable on a whim should I feel ready to write. I find myself journaling angry rants or writing phantom letters directed at individuals. My writing looks more like an example of my symptoms rather than any type of supportive or educational material.

That’s not what I had in mind. I’d like to see a novel come to fruition, one that encompasses the elements of both self-help and heartfelt story. While I’m avoiding any thought connected to my disorder or the situation that I’m in now, my novel has ceased to form. In my experience, the most debilitating aspect of PTSD is the inability to pursue one’s dreams and goals. No matter how important or impassioned the endeavor, and this one is both, it seems I’m unable to just do it. I have the skills, and somewhere inside of me there’s a tremendous drive, but something is holding me back.

I’m almost certain that I know what that something is. What am I truly avoiding? I could paint a picture of a woman wrought with symptoms and sorrow, but I feel more like this is survival mode than anything else. You’re aware of the age old writing method of authors renting little cabins in the forest to get the juices flowing. Environment seems to be a key component to a writer’s success. My environment is one of anger and anxiety presently. I’m avoiding my housemates for fear of exploding or breaking down. All the while thinking “It’s too much…”. Concurrently, I’m avoiding anything that might add to my already ladened stress bucket, which includes thoughts concerning old unresolved issues; my trauma. My environment is what’s holding me back, so I’ll just pretend I’m somewhere else. Although this subconscious denial of the real world around me allows for a certain level of security, it does NOTHING to move me forward.

It is true that I am surviving, but I’m capable of so much more. My new priority is to create an environment that supports and benefits both my mental health and my goals as a writer. My new polyurethaned plaque will simply say “Meli” because I’m a wonderful and talented person, not a mere container for PTSD symptoms.

~Meli

Published in: on February 21, 2012 at 8:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Written Experience!

Writing has been a means to cage my demons for many years. Hand written letters never delivered, lengthy emails stored on my computer, journal entries embellished with fancy font, and angry poems equipped with imagery are my vices. My cocaine! A talent I have been both praised for and crucified because of. I smile broadly when I envision myself wearing the badge of a word-smith, and I delve into a good book with an insatiable hunger for sensory satisfaction thinking… “I can do that”!

The title of my new blog is a phrase that formed during an episode of frustration, depression, humiliation, and anger. One loud tick of the clock and the realization that I was merely acting out a scene that I was all too familiar with caused me to suddenly turn my own anger inward. In all my glory as a word-smith, I shouted at myself with these words… “And here we go again with PTSD theatre”!

An idea was born that would not see the light of day for many months. I wanted a place where I could be creative, express my emotions, share what I’ve learned, connect with the world on my own terms, display my successes, and show off my talent. I could wallow in my symptoms waiting for someone to take me by the hand. I could continue to fantasize about publishing my work and winning awards. I could even blame the world for not understanding me. But the rational truth is that no one could possibly know what I’m capable of, if I don’t market myself and take the terrifying leap into the world of rejection. And rejection is what’s it’s all about; I’m just afraid.

So, here I am introducing myself to you… the world. As a writer, as an artist, as a photographer, and as a PTSD sufferer. The theme here is far from narrow, as there are many beautiful facets to life, writing, and mental disease. But my primary goal is to publicly announce myself as Meli, an unpublished writer kicking PTSD in the butt, and allowing the world to watch as I rise out of the trenches.

~Meli

Published in: on August 2, 2011 at 3:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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