+WHAT DO WE DO WITH UNBEARABLE SADNESS? DISSOCIATION AND THE WILL TO LIVE

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Like many other people, there are times when I do not fully understand the meaning of my own words.  Many times my thoughts have flitted back and forth between ‘bearable sadness’ and ‘unbearable sadness’ as I have argued with myself, “How can you say you have unbearable sadness if you are still alive, Linda?”

My experience today as I wrote about it in my previous post might contain some of the information I most need to answer my own question.  At least ten-year-old Linda, locked up in the back of an empty semi trailer for fifty years tells me that she does.

But she doesn’t tell me that in words.  As I share a corner of her heart, my heart, our heart I can feel her sadness and it merges a little bit with my own current-day experience.  The sadness I felt by the time I was ten WAS too much to bear.  The amount of that sadness (as if sadness can ever be weighed, judged or measured) was more than I could remain aware of and continue to live in and with my body that felt it.

Looking at these dual Linda’s today in the process of melding that seems to be happening, I see that ten-year-old Linda IS sadder than 59-year-old Linda.  “Thank goodness,” some part of me says.  “I could not live with THAT degree of sadness.”

What this tells me is this:  “Watch out, Linda — both of you, all of you.  This is a delicate and very difficult situation that must be handled with all the care all of you can muster.”

I believe that.  Friday I had one of the saddest days in recent memory — all without ‘reason’.  I was so sad I could hardly stand on my feet.  I could hardly move through the air.  I FORCED myself to remain upright and active, all the time knowing my motions were accomplished through determination and will.

I knew enough not to ask, “What is wrong with you?”  I know about my nervous system’s set point at sadness, as I have mentioned.  But it was intense.  I did some very simple things to take care of myself and thought about a hot air balloon trying to take off when it’s all weighted down.  I thought about little things I could do to cut some ropes and drop some of that load so I could ‘raise my spirits’ up at least a little bit.

It worked.  I was gentle with myself, took simple actions, and floated upwards enough not to get knocked down into my ‘deep well of sadness’ any further.

Today I almost see last Friday as being some sort of a little test — to see for my self how living with the sadness pressure turned way up.  Today I also see why I needed my Friday’s experience to look back on, because I will tell you, this ten-year-old locked away in the semi trailer is sad beyond belief.

That’s OK.  She has kept at bay the bulk of my sadness from my infant-child abuse prior to the age of ten.  How to bear unbearable sadness?  There are ways — none of them easy, but we can survive.  We do survive.

This girl, by the way, is very quiet and speaks very softly, but she does have questions.  Lots of questions, like she has been in a coma for fifty years and has just awakened.

What a trip….

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+THIS DAY BELONGS TO BOTH OF US – RELEASING A LONG-TRAPPED PART OF MY SELF

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I continue to rid my house, and therefore myself from every hard copy piece of evidence of the research on infant and child abuse, attachment, trauma and all of the consequences that originated within my body-brain-mind-self from the severe abuse my mentally ill (no doubt Borderline) mother did to me from the time of my birth.  Every journal article, every notebook full of notes, every index card filled with my discoveries that began with my search-research 6 1/2 years ago, I am at the same time realizing that the thoughts of memories that I carry within myself are not so simply discarded into the compost piles I am creating in my yard.

One of the recurring thoughts that appears on the movie screen of my mind this morning as I remove my now empty bookshelves from my front entry room as I prepare to repaint the room very light yellow to rid it of its very pale blue is this one — and I have never before written about this memory.

For those of you readers who have followed the story of my childhood at all up until this point in time, I will say I was around ten years old.  Our family was ‘camping out’ in the log house while most of our belongings were perched on our homestead in our canvas curved-wall Jamesway high on our Alaskan mountainside.

During this winter my mother was running her Happy Time Nursery during the days.  A male teacher rented on of the log house’s bedrooms for his living quarters, and on nights we did not make the long, difficult return journey back up the mountain we all slept (somewhere) in the log house.

Most nights as I approached the shutoff of sleep I removed myself from my actual life into a fantasy world.  This is the only fantasy (different from what little play pretending I was able to accomplish in my terrifying, terrible childhood) that I remember ever having, and it was always the same.

I note that there were probably very few semi trucks on the roads around Alaska during the late 1950s – early 1960s because most of what appeared for sale and use in Alaska was transported up north either by rail or by ship.  I have no memory of actually ever seeing such a truck.  But in my nightly fantasy there I was sitting all alone in the dark tied feet and hands to a wooden straight backed chair with a cloth gag tied over my mouth in an empty semi trailer.  My back was up against the cab.  I could hear or see nothing.

And I knew then and I remember now exactly where that semi truck was parked all night, every night, with me in it in the Eagle River Shopping Center parking lot after business hours.

This memory includes a realization that within this fantasy I did the only wondering I remember from my childhood, and it was accompanied with a dim sense of hope.

I had not been physically molested or harmed by my kidnappers.  I had simply vanished from the environs of the family I lived with so that I woke up every night as I passed through the twilight leading to my actual sleep in this chair, in this darkness, in this silence.

I wondered each night as I sat bound to that chair, “Does anyone love me enough to notice I am gone.  Does anyone love me enough to care what has happened to me?  Does anyone love me enough to find me here?  Does anyone love me enough to pay the ransom and release me from this chair, take me from these strangers and take me home?  Will someone ever get me out of here?”

The answer to all of my questions was “No.”  Night after night, repeating itself like a broken mental record the answer was always the same.  “No.”

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I am not sure what the connection actually is for me between erasing the physical evidence of my long complex search to discover what it is exactly that matters about what was done to me through trauma and abuse during the 18 years of my infant-childhood and the appearance today of my memory of this fantasy.

What child part of myself dissociated from ME and appeared all alone in that semi trailer?  What part of ME is still sitting there, bound and gagged, alone with increasing (never ending) loss of hope that I will ever be rescued and released?

During the months I passed into this fantasy chair as I passed into sleep it was as if I was hijacked.  A detour had been put into place that meant I continued to appear at night in the exact same place, in the same condition, in the same circumstance — a pattern that did not alter itself by a single atom over time.  And the fantasy was very, very real.

Today I know it wasn’t real.  I wasn’t really ever held captive in such a semi trailer.  Today I know I have the memory that belongs to the sad-beyond-sad girl lying in her bed.  But I also have the memory that belongs to the girl who sat all tied up in ropes with big knots with a gag in her mouth, alone and wondering night after night after night.

So, again I ask myself, “What is it about being that nightly captive in fantasy and my eliminating the paper trail of the research I have done that led to my truest understanding about how my physiological development was altered by infant-child abuse trauma so that the body that houses me in this lifetime will never be what it would have been without my having suffered through what I did?”

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Today, fifty years later, I understand (as do this blog’s readers who are familiar with the fragments that contain themselves under the ‘diagnosis’ of Dissociative Identity Disorder) the crucial juncture I have reached today in my own process of healing — and in this case of recovery.

Nobody mattered to me as my rescuers in that recurring but my parents and my siblings.  It was they who I wanted to attach to, and who I wanted to attach to me.  In that vision nothing existed but me alone in the absence of attachment.  Since that time it has always been only I — Linda — who could care enough to get that little girl OUT OF THERE FOREVER!

Today I cannot write another word without the emotions that I feel at this moment, this very private personal moment.

I now have access within my mind-self to all of the information I need to know about both what happened to me where it mattered most and about what I need to do one moment at a time to release the Linda bound and gagged alone in the darkness so that I can bring her home — to ME.

I know ‘she’ is emaciated, starved and cramped.  She can barely stand up.  She is so weak and wobbly and yes, so terribly sad.  But there is a safe enough world here for me to take her out into.  I will give her dark glasses until she gets used to the sunlight.  I will take her around slowly and let her get the feel of her life outside of that BOX, that trap, that hopeless container.

I will feed her.  I will give her warm clothes to wear because she has been very cold in there all alone for all of these years.  And I will listen to her as we both share these tears.

And together we will wait for the worms to turn all the mounds of words on paper into nutritious soil for our flowers.  Together we will paint this blue room light yellow and find some kind of pretty fabric to make new curtains for this room’s window.

This reunion and this release will take its own time.  For now it is enough for both of us to know that I HAVE found her, that I cared enough to open the door, to untie the ropes, to remove the gag.

“How come it took you fifty years to find me,” she wants to know.  I tell her in reply, “I have always done the best I could.  I had to work very hard for all of these years to find the key I would need to open that trailer’s door.  What matters to us both now is that I did, and here you are!”

In the quiet of this peaceful day we are both going to explore what we choose to of this world.  For this moment, that is more than enough to help us both be a little less sad and a little more happy.

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‘She’ awakens after half a century locked and frozen in suspended animation.  She follows me around wondering, asking questions.  We are dancing together in mutual fascination — and compassionate delight.  We are dancing…..  From this moment forward the promise is that I will never again let anyone abuse ‘her’ – ME.

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+DAYS OF TRANSFORMATION: WILL I REGRET THIS?

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Someday down the road in my life will I rue this day, or more accurately, rue the decision I have made and the actions I am taking to make that decision come real?

I want to paint my computer room, the room first entered from my front door.  There are three tall bookshelves in here besides the two very full computer desks.  What this room contains is — well, most simply put — too much of the wrong kind of information.

Yes, there were months when I raced around on the internet, fascinated with each new piece of trauma related information having to do with the stream of new research about developmental neuroscience and what happens to a human being who is so abused by its earliest caregivers and by its environment that its very physiological development is forced to change.

I have nine running feet of used three-ring binders full of such information, all meticulously labeled and sorted post-printing.  I have bookshelves full of books related to the topic — “what the experts have to say about trauma and child abuse.”

What will I do with the books?  I am not sure yet, but since my awakening at 3 a.m. this morning I am very clear about what is happening with the binders.  “Off with your heads!”  Page by lovely page the notebooks are being torn asunder, tossed into a bucket, and marched outside to become worm food in my newest growing compost center — which, by the way, lies caringly under one of my soaker hose special drip irrigation systems so that I can not only “call the earthworms with good food” but also keep them very happy with the moisture they require to get their part of this job done:  “Eat it!  Just eat it!”

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The astrologers could have predicted this day and this action on my part, noting not only my 3rd Saturn return but also a serious Pluto return, as well.  “Out with the worn out and useless in your life, Linda!”  The very atoms of my house seem to holler until they are ‘blue in the face’.

OK.  I will listen.  I will heed their worm siren call.  I am done with ‘this stuff’.

I, like the worms I know are already spreading the word amongst themselves that good food is on the way, ate in my mind the information contained in these notebooks.  My vision of the world was changed.  My awareness of how my body was changed on every level during my earliest growth and developmental stages has been chiseled into my brain like its a personalized Mt. Rushmore.

My conclusions?  I live with them.  It no longer matters to me what’s on these pieces of printed pages.  I know what they ALL mean because now I not only FEEL in my body the truth of what this research told me, I know how to name it.

DAMN!

Most simply put, severe child abuse that began at my birth turned my stress response system to ON and it now cannot be turned OFF.

I also know that the center set point of my nervous system and my entire physical being is NOT set at peaceful calm where it was supposed to be set, but rather is set in the deepest well of irrevocable and enduring, terrible sadness.

“Call it depression if you will, Oh Ye With the Prescription Pad and the Diagnostic Pads of Paper In Hand!  But you are only a fraction correct.  What the leftovers of the severe and chronic abuse that happened to me really are belong to sadness.”

My tears will not stop me.  I work through them.  I live through them like I am walking through a shower of rain.  I am coming to realize more every day that when I am nearly overwhelmed by sadness it is “only Substance P” that I feel — that creates in me a deep and very real physiological pain.  It has very little meaning to me to cry today.  These tears do not belong in this present world, even though this is where they continue to appear.  They came from an infant-childhood that did not give me a center point of peaceful calm, did not even give me a center point of anger-rage — and ironically (it seems to me) did not even give me a nervous system center set point of fear.

As I mentioned in a previous post earlier in the week, the extreme anxiety that vibrates my insides simply comes from my body’s very real sense that “The next thing that goes wrong in Linda’s life is going to destroy her.”

OK.  I’ll learn to live with that sense, as well.  None of this learning lies within the hard covers of any of the books or three-ring binders crowding my shelves, crowding my space — so out they go!

Ring the dinner bell, dear earth friendly worms!  I am bringing you a feast!

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+HOW MAKING MUSIC CAN TURN OFF THE STRESS RESPONSE

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I hope this works – click on link to wonderful little article on how ‘making music’ can turn off the stress response — before it becomes chronic!  Well, for those like me who had severe early infant abuse, our stress response was turned on very early and cannot be turned off – but I do believe music still helps us!  (I also suspect this is why I prefer listening to music in Spanish, a language I do not know.  This way my music appreciation turns OFF my stress response for a few moments, or at least diminishes its feels within my body-self.)

NVS and music

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+FRONT ADOBE GARDEN FINISHED

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This last post on the adobe work, +MORE MUD WORK — ADOBE CONTINUES

shows what the front west yard looked like as I began work on it.  Here I am posting pictures of the front dug out and finished, planted, drip irrigation in, as I wait for something to grow now!  I am working my way down the west side of the house, but stubbed my right thumb and sprained it on Sunday so am taking a break!

starting the northwest corner, honeysuckle on left (now moved) and jasmine on street side
climbing roses and trellis (honeysuckle gone), yard dug below the Bermuda grass 'line'
my little 'fields' with walkways are planted with green manure winter crop, hairy vetch and winter rye
yellow roses will climb over their trellis, my 3 planted miniature fields
new garden on west side planted for winter under plum tree - adobe wall also from front yard dirt (I ran out!)
snapdragons under plum tree on west (I put adobe on its root suckers - will they stop growing?)
4" deep adobe walkway down west looking south, most dirt from front went here (my strange wooden fence!)
took out the quince, west side of house looking north (back door) - and then sprained my thumb here pulling boards off fresh adobe 'ring'
north - front - looking west - dark pots = left apple, right is lilac, not sure where to plant these yet
last winter's snap returned in bucket

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+CHICKEN LITTLE AND ‘THE SKY IS FALLING!’ – EXAMINING THE LINK BETWEEN MY SADNESS AND MY ANXIETY

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OK.  Even though my computer seems very jerky – which is unsettling to me – I am going to attempt to write a little comment here on some of my recent thinking regarding the title of this post.

I was into my second day of handwriting my book when I received a call that my dear friend who runs the office I took care of this summer when she was on vacation was in the hospital.  So, an abrupt ‘hard left’ and I have taken the detour the rest of the week to watch the office again until she gets better.  Hence, an abrupt break in my writing process (but will get back to that).

I have been paying attention to my anxiety as it blossomed surrounding the infiltration of evil intention and destructive action — the Trojan virus that took over my computer (and that I am not remotely sure is finally GONE).  Why the anxiety?  Why is it so hard for me to touch this computer?  Why does it feel like I have to build an entirely new relationship with this computer, with myself and my ability to comfortably use it freely?

What about this process has created such a sense of lack-of-safety and security regarding my computer?  Is it the very real violation of ‘my space’ that the evil hacker truly perpetrated against me that bothers me so?  Why is it so hard to get ‘back in the saddle’?  Can I?  Will I?  I have to force myself back here…..  It all seems so strange.

Then in light of my current handwriting-book focus,  A Girl Trapped Alone in Sadness, and with the ‘extra’ time driving these past two days, I have thought about how I will write my story with the understanding that due to the early (birth) onset of my mother’s insane hatred and abuse of me I so absolutely DID NOT get to have peaceful calm built at the center of my nervous system-brain-self.

What IS at my center is sadness.  Terrible sadness.  A sadness I would call unbearable were it not for the fact that I have ALWAYS born it since my first breath.  The alternative?  Death.

So I am trapped in this sadness.  It is at my center.  But ‘professionals’ call this ‘depression’, which is by definition an anxiety disorder.  Anxiety.  Anxiety.  Anxiety.

Since my cancer diagnosis and treatment the anxiety that has ALSO been with me all of my life can no longer be denied, ignored, or vanquished.  Nor can the dissociation.  Nor the PTSD.

So, if I say sadness is at my center — and I know this because I can feel it — what do I ALSO know about these anxiety-related difficulties that were forced into my infant-child development at the same time the sadness was — through 18 years of insane abuse?

(I particularly ask this question because I believe some severe early child abuse survivors have a nervous system set point set not at sadness the way mine is, but at anger-rage, or at fear.  If I feel sadness at my center, then how is my anxiety connected to fear — which I say is NOT at my nervous system center?)

How to I juxtapose these points?  How do I put them together in my thoughts, in my reality?  What do I understand about how I ‘got made’ and about what I live with in this trauma-altered body?

‘The sky is falling!’

I had the thought today that even bugs know perfectly well when their life is in danger, and they REACT in some programmed bug way to attempt to avoid destruction so that they can continue their bug life.

I am no different.

It is very probable that because I have had to (chosen not to suicide, either) continue to bear my life with a nervous system center of unbearable pain (yes, a great paradox), the anxiety is connected because my body was formed with the knowledge that destruction was always very near.  The threat of destruction was as real to me on a daily basis from birth as any threat of destruction could be to a bug — or any other living creature.

So even though sadness is my center, anxiety creates huge problems to me (even anxiety over my computer’s virus) because my body believes that it CAN BEAR NO MORE.  No more stress.  No more DISTRESS (what someone with a serious insecure attachment disorder makes of regular people’s version of ‘stress’).

“I can bear no more forever.  I can bear no more and stay alive.  The very next potential trauma is going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.  The very next ‘bad’ thing that happens is going to kill me.”

My body believes this.

“So, what the hay?  What, exactly, Linda-self, is the worst that is going to happen if the virus reappears here and steals all my ability to operate my computer away from me?  Is my computer going to E-X-P-L-O-D-E?  Blow up?  Blow ME up?  Blow up this town?  How is a computer virus a life-and-death threat?”

Interesting realization today.

The end of the world, the end of my world, is very near me!  No wonder that being diagnosed with advanced, aggressive breast cancer wakened the terrors of my childhood — all my anxiety.  It WAS a threat to my life — and more than anything else, my BODY knows all of this.  All of it.

If I want to claim and reclaim any part of my own consciously-controlled and chosen life, I have to step into the soup, the volcano, the near-the-edge-of-extinction belief that my BODY has and wrestle back some reason.  “No, Linda.  Nothing about a computer virus is threatening your BODY with extinction.  Only your ability to maneuver in cyberspace.”

And, yes, while everything ‘simple’ becomes very complex for me, anything new I can understand about how my body formed itself in the midst of terrible and terrifying, dangerous, violent, painful, (etc.) conditions from birth, the more I MIGHT be able to creep toward a place where I might not only GLIMPSE some peaceful calmness — but also FEEL IT!

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+DISSOCIATION AND ASSOCIATION — THEY CANNOT BE ‘TAKEN APART’

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I have something to say today, so I am braving the dangers of cyber virus crimeland to write this.  I have to write this because I can feel my passion within this thought.  What I am going to say has roots deep in very important personal relationships that I will not speak about directly.  My truth within my words is no less meaningful even with this most personal omission.

Dissociation is very real.

Today I am very clear that the way this term is used, and especially as it is used within the ‘mental illness diagnostic category’ of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is only half true and half accurate.

I believe that every time we, as individuals and as a collective human global society, choose to use the term ‘dissociation’ to describe very real physiological brain and nervous system patterns of operation, we are at the same time neglecting to speak about the whole picture, the entire truth of what we are referring to.

Dissociation is so intimately connected to its other half that these two processes CANNOT BE DISCONNECTED OR DISSOCIATED from one another.

The other half of the whole is — ASSOCIATION.

When I personally experience ‘dissociation’ all that is REALLY and ACTUALLY happening is that my brain-nervous system is connecting myself within my ongoing experience of being alive in a body in a DIFFERENT way than what either I or those around me might WANT or EXPECT or even DEMAND of me.

Dissociation is NOT understood.  So called ‘professionals’ continue to use this word without any REAL understanding of what it IS.  Dissociation is most often used in the negative, as if it is describing what DOES not exist rather than what DOES exist.

When dissociation happens what is ACTUALLY happening is that an ASSOCIATION is being made within the brain-nervous system of a person in a way that appears unusual and unique.  Human social connectiveness happens to the most part because most people have an unspoken, unarticulated understanding that humans behave (and this includes on our neurological-physiological level) in certain common ways.

People (like myself) whose earliest development was changed because of early severe abuse, neglect, trauma and malevolent treatment simply experienced Trauma Altered Development.  Most simply put we were wired as our young body-brain developed for DANGER and unpredictability within a terrible, terrible world.

I have no doubt that nearly ALL of us, or ALL of us, were created from conception with the same abilities everyone else has to form a best-case scenario body-brain-nervous system.  We were deprived of that luxury within our terrible infant-childhoods.

Our body-brain simply HAD to grow itself differently.  We had no choice.  We are wired differently.  There is nothing WRONG with this fact.  It is a fundamental natural LAW that a developing infant (or anyone at any other age) either be able to adapt to traumatic environments — or DIE.

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All simple until it comes to very real every day interactions with other people.  I am coming to realize as a FACT that very, very few people — even among those closest to us — are going to be either able or willing to take the time needed to understand us the way we actually ARE (the way our brain-nervous system-body ACTUALLY operates).  Either we operate the way the want us to, expect us to, or — WHAT?

Rupture without Repair.

Yes, our case is about discrimination.

Yet because we might not ‘look’ any different than ‘normal and ordinary’ it is highly likely that the lack of communication and understanding that causes so many of our interpersonal problems is NOT going to be resolved (repaired).

And today?  Yes, I feel pissed off!

I feel helpless and hopeless.  I feel like I am at a dead end.  I did not choose to be a hated, terrorized, terrified and abused infant — or child.  Yet one cannot maltreat especially an infant from birth and very young child and expect that the ASSOCIATIONS formed within its tiny, rapidly growing and forming little body-brain can POSSIBLY come out the same as it will for nonabused, loved infant-children.

We will ALL end up with what ‘looks like’ dissociation when what we REALLY have is a changed — and yes, different — associational process that was the natural and logical — and very real consequence — of the treatment we received from our earliest caregivers — that formed us the way we are!

Say we have an Association Disorder?  Who ever heard of THAT?

There is nothing ‘disordered’ about either my ‘association’ or my ‘dissociation’.  What I am is a terrible trauma from birth survivor and THIS is the way I was made!

Don’t like it?  Don’t like me?  Discriminate?

What do YOU know about trauma?

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+CHECKING IN HERE

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I haven’t been online since last posting.  I am struggling with dissociation from my computer.  Evidently when I get ‘burned’ I instantly get ‘burned out’.

Have been out in the front yard working hard sunrise to sunset – will post pictures soon — racing against winter.

Began only yesterday (finally) to think about writing ‘my book’.  Want to NOT write anywhere around digitalville or my computer.  But, I have few words these days – that’s OK, too.  Hope all readers are fine and enjoying the wonders of fall!  Will be back hopefully in a few days (no sign of virus these past two times I have booted this beast up).

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+HAVE BEEN FIGHTING A COMPUTER TROJAN VIRUS – A NASTY ONE!

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Thank you to all of you who have visited my blog in my absence.  I have been struggling to reclaim my computer from a very nasty Trojan virus.  In the 12+ years I have had a computer this is the first infection I have had to deal with — and what a doozy!  With my son’s much appreciated long distance assistance I can at least, for the moment, write a word or two here.  We have done every malware and virus scan we can, but I don’t think the virus is off of this computer, and I do not have the funds to take this gizmo anywhere to get it fixed.  Please know I will be back as soon as possible!  At the moment I am waiting for the nasty window to pop up from the virus that gives a 60 second count for me to go purchase something from their site! Yeah, like I am going to do that!  It disguises itself as AVG virus protection software, and disables the REAL AVG.  So, all for now, folks!  I wish you all WELL!

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