Category Archives: sexual abuse

Therapy feels wrong but who knows?

Admittedly, I am one of those people who doesn’t look any different from anyone else but my inability to stop abusing alcohol makes me a person that needs some kind of help.  I feel like it’s love, empathy and support that I need but my therapist is acting indifferent and tough.  It may be the right tactic but it feels wrong and hurts.  I want to push her away and isolate myself.

I know the therapeutic relationship mimics my personal relationships outside of therapy and I don’t know how to get help from someone who portrays themselves as indifferent.  To help understand, a total lack of affect and an abundance of intellect is my family of origin.  How can I heal within a relationship that feels so similar to my upbringing, where I hid my feelings from powerful, intelligent people.

As a survivor of CSA I battle the inner demons of self-hate and a sense of not deserving anything good.  I am dumbfounded as to find something inside me that believes I should recover just because I’m worth it.

This leads to my question: How can a person like me, who feels completely inadequate, trust her therapist and be able to get the help she needs?  This is a major road block to my success.  I want to enhance my sense of self which in turn will fuel the desire to stop drinking alcohol for my own good. Is this thinking backward?

My therapist says I must first stop drinking because it is the elephant in the room.  Sounds logical to a person with inner resources but sounds like jumping from a plane without a parachute for a person who lacks self-worthiness.

♥ Daylily

Same issues; new year.

FAITH

Greetings to all in this new year!

I begin 2013 with the same issues I had going into 2012. I’d like to think I am getting closer to healing but it sure isn’t happening at lightning speed.  This is where mindfulness and compassion come in.  I must have faith, focus on my life now and not judge myself harshly in my haste to get well.

Follow the link to a post from the early days of my blog that succinctly explain why I’m in therapy and what I have to work on.  Warning:  detailed account of incest.

https://mydepressionchronicles.wordpress.com/2011/12/04/the-effects-of-childhood-sexual-abuse-or-what-i-have-to-work-on-in-therapy/

♥ Daylily

Incest sufferer or survivor?

The past is coming to the foreground because I disclosed the fact my oldest brother molested me when I was a child.  This time I told my step-dad who was not around when it happened.  We’re talking about forty years ago and yet it still has the power to derail me. Twenty years ago I told my siblings and confronted my brother.  The dust had settled (or so I thought) until I talked to my step dad this weekend.   My step dad cried and hugged me and today I got an email in which he wrote that I’m brave.  I won’t go into all of that except to say I felt loved and supported.  It was the right move to tell him.

However, I am inundated with images and feelings that continue to have a firm grip on me.  The incest, the shame and guilt, the ways I misbehaved in the aftermath.

I wish I had the courage to do more.  I should be protecting others.  Courageously speaking out in public.  Sharing my story to help others.  Stopping the pattern of childhood sexual abuse.  But I can’t because I still carry shame and a prevailing sense of unworthiness.  I should, I should, I should… Oh, the guilt of it all.

Here are some examples that hurt deeply because it is not fair that I still feel guilt around incest:

I stole from my brother’s coin collection when I was 10 or 11 years old.  Just as he snuck into my room at night, I would go into his room and unlock this tool chest that had stickers all over it saying, “Keep Out.”  I took the coins that were old but still in circulation such as silver nickles, dimes and quarters and used them at the local penny candy store.  My heart fills with shame for my actions.  It was not me doing that.  It was the violated girl getting her payback.  Sometimes I feel he deserved it but other times I get this surreal feeling that I was driven by outside forces and I feel shameful. I never ever would have done such a thing if I hadn’t been sexually abused and so the shame in intertwined.  What I did and what he did.

I got into a car accident and totaled the vehicle my brother was to get for his birthday from my mom.  He was so mad at me and I felt guilty for it.  I wonder if I subconsciously wanted to screw him out of the car.  Again, I can go between feeling vindication and feeling shameful for crashing my mother’s car.  What I did and what he did.

There should not be any sense of shame or guilt on my part when it involves the brother who committed incest upon my prepubescent body.  But there is and I’m struggling right now.

Each time this brother brought up the things I did (and he did have the nerve to blame me!) I wish I had the courage to say, “You took away my innocence which is worth more than any coin collection or vehicle.”

I never said that.  I should have.

My life is in a flashback.  I feel weak.  I was abused and I should not carry shame.  This fight with myself that I judge what I feel is the inner critic speaking.

I’ve written about my desire to be mindful and compassionate and it must begin with me.  I’ve got to quiet the inner critic that allows for a continuing sense of shame and guilt for something that happened so long ago.

Tears are bubbling at the surface because my feelings are so raw.  Fuck the shame and guilt.  I want them out of my life.  2013 is the year I recognize the ways I make myself suffer and focus on how to rid myself of feeling like a failure.  I will be the survivor I like to call myself but right now I do not feel.

♥ Daylily

Old patterns revisited

I like to be upfront in my blog and – as much as I wish I could say all this self-compassion and mindfulness is helping – right now – it’s not.

Things suck. I’m getting over a sinus infection and I’ve been experiencing a migraine for 2 days. These are physical and can wreak havoc on my emotional stability.

I fucking hate being unstable. I fight it or fake it until the feeling passes.

My home life is wrought with anger because I feel burdened with the household chores. I have two growing boys and a healthy husband yet if I go out for the evening, the kitchen remains as messy as when I left. I angrily make clear how I feel, “I’m not the only one in this house who knows how to clean a kitchen. So, why am I the only one doing it?” As you can probably imagine this reaction makes everyone clear the room and grow further in distance from my rage.

My family knows when I’m not feeling stable and they joke about my anger and interruptions. “Not funny,” I say. They really don’t understand this is my worst and I need them the most.

There’s a break down in communication because I never learned how to express uncomfortable feelings. Survivors of sexual abuse either take it out on themselves or get angry with the world. It’s seems there’s no normalcy or middle ground.

I can’t fix my emotional self until the physical self is better. I took charge of my health and called my doctor three times in the last week. Once to get on an antibiotic for my sinuses, the second time because the first antibiotic didn’t work and again because my migraine was not responding to a potent medication that I can only take every twenty-four hours. The medication (Imitrex) lasted 15 hours and I called my doctor. She said I was experiencing a cluster migraine and prescribed a tapered steroid.

So, I’m taking antibiotics, steroids and my usual cocktail of Wellbutrin, Celexa and Klonopin. This is positive because I’m healing the infection, knocking out the migraines and treating my depression.

I wish I could feel optimistic. But, the stress of not being on top of my game has made me lose focus on mindfulness and self-compassion. Somewhere along the way I heard the voices telling me, “You’re sleeping too much.” “You need your doctor too much.” “You haven’t put up one Christmas decoration.” My head has been  full of self-defeating thoughts that I can’t run from.

I fall back on my old way of numbing the pain – both emotional and physical. I self-sabotage with a bottle of Pinot Grigio. I know I binge drink. I hate myself more for the lack of self- control.

My appointment with Lynn this week was focused on my emotional health and how I’m striving for mindfulness. I told her I recognized moments where I beat myself up with an inner critic that no one would want as a friend. She asked about my drinking and even after I told her I am drinking as a way to disassociate, she told me I’m making progress with the work of being present with my feelings.

I cannot believe she praised me even though I feel defeated and weak. Lynn told me to keep working on my emotions and allow those feelings to come to the surface.

I wanted to hug and thank her for recognizing my effort. Never have I expressed all of my vulnerability and had someone say, “Good for you.”

Daylily

Freeing myself from shame

Wonder and astonishment are the best words to describe what I am discovering about myself. I always felt different from the rest of the world. My intellect told me it was because I suffered an incestuous experience that isolated me from others.  However, knowing the cause of an ailment does not make it better. Instead, I suffered more with the knowledge that I couldn’t get out from under my own self-loathing. As many survivors will tell you, we learn to fake wholeness in order to keep up the façade of normalcy. It is painful enough to hate yourself and it would be more painful to have others know those reasons because they would hate you, too. I know that thinking makes no sense unless you’ve learned to protect yourself through self-loathing; then you too would understand how real it feels – so real that others would admonish you if they knew. But, something is shifting and I no longer feel like that girl who is hiding her sense of inadequacy.

I am immersed in a book that so concisely describes my emotional pain that it blows me away. It’s truly extraordinary! How uplifting it is to read another person’s description of my life. If a book was written that matches my struggle there must be others out there who are buying and reading the same book. You have no idea how liberating this revelation is.

Sounds simple; pretty basic, really. Didn’t I say I always knew what my problem was? And don’t I know that 7 out of 10 women are sexually abused? So what is so special about this book and this moment in my life?

It is as if the stars have lined up perfectly and I am feeling what I’ve intellectually known all along. A new sense of freedom like no other. The emotional work I’m doing is paying off. Practicing mindfulness is putting me in touch with my negative thoughts and emotions in a way that’s allowing me to be aware of the hurt and pain, acknowledge it and then release it. My shame is diminishing and I am feeling stronger.

The following quote is from the book I’m reading.

“As the light increases, we see ourselves to be worse than we thought. We are amazed at our former blindness as we see issuing forth from the depths of our heart a whole swarm of shameful feelings, like filthy reptiles crawling from a hidden cave. We never could have believed that we had harbored such things, and we stand aghast as we watch them gradually appear. But while our faults diminish, the light by which we see them waxes brighter, and we are filled with horror. Bear in mind, for your comfort, that we only perceive our malady when the cure begins.” Francois Fenelon (1651)

Daylily

How childhood sexual abuse affects my marriage

It’s not news to anyone that a child who was sexually abused suffers long-term effects that carry over to adulthood. The early trauma is not an event that can be isolated because abuse touches all parts of a person’s identity, their social-emotional lives as well as the perceptions of themselves and others.

I have written about my experience of incest. I was prepubertal and research shows that the onset of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) factors into measuring the extent of trauma. Some studies show that younger children are somewhat more vulnerable than older children to trauma. I don’t need research to tell me this; of course a brain that has not developed (especially in terms of maturation and puberty) would be more affected. Other research shows that if the survivor lacks a sense of being protected by their parents, which is especially true with incestual CSA, the trauma can be worse. When I say trauma, I broadly speak of all the ways a child could be hurt; the more trauma the more far-reaching the effects and the harder the road is to recovery.

I’d like to address how CSA has affected my marriage of 23 years. I struggle with the ability to trust and be intimate with my husband. I fear re-traumatization if I stay in any relationship with the potential for emotional harm. When my fears over-power my rational thought, I want to escape. Yesterday in my blog I shared that I felt my husband does not respect or value me. Do you have any idea how many times I’ve had similar fears? More than I can count. Just about every time I don’t get my needs met.

My marital relationship is a concern but I am awakening to a realization that the bigger problem is that I continue to replay the same stories in my head. Recovery is hard because I keep my shame, guilt and sense of unworthiness hidden.

My thoughts regularly turn pessimistic and I fall into an all too common space in my mind that is self-protective. The proof is in every journal I ever wrote. I go between drastic states of believing that my husband is safe and loves me to an overriding sense that he hates me. Realistically, I am not in a relationship with a man who hates me. The relationship is unpredictable because I cause it to be so. A published piece of scientific literature about CSA says that dysfunctional family dynamics may occur in the families of survivors. These include “denial, unpredictability, lack of empathy, lack of clear boundaries, role reversal, a closed family system, incongruent messages (body language differs from speech) and extremes in conflict (too much conflict may result in abuse, too little may result in hiding problems and not dealing with them).” (Engel, 2000)

This is my reality — I do not think or react normally. CSA causes extremes in the quality of my intimate relationship with my husband.

My past shoves its way into the present and I re-live feelings of trauma and express myself in an extreme manner. I’ve never been diagnosed with a personality disorder of any kind, so this behavior is your standard post traumatic stress disorder. The reality is that my husband does not hate me nor does he think I’m stupid.

Yesterday, on Thanksgiving, I believed he hated me. I admit throughtout the day, I was recalling my childhood and I suspect it triggered my thoughts to go into protective-mode, hence the previous blog post threatening divorce. I have similar journal entries from the past 30 years, stating my husband doesn’t love me and I would be better off without him.

He proved me wrong yesterday by working in the kitchen all day, cooking the Thanksgiving dinner, from stuffing the turkey, to peeling potatoes to heating up rolls in the oven. I showed up just in time to set the table. He didn’t complain and in a sense proved he is good to me, to the kids and to my emotional health.

Dinner was followed by some television and then mutually satisfying sex that left me completely satiated. So much so, I forgot to take Klonopin at bed time and slept well regardless of missing my medication. This morning, my husband initiated more sex and I responded positively because he proved he could be trusted yesterday and so I felt safe.

This flip-flop in my thinking is the aftermath from CSA. It’s so paradoxical that half the time, I can’t trust myself. Is my husband loving or is he full of hate for me? My distorted thoughts aren’t reliable and so I’ve learned to go into isolation-mode when I feel unloved and low on self-esteem. I don’t want to do anything rash or sudden because I think it will hurt me more in the end to not be with this man I’ve loved for 30 years.

My instincts are good because it protects me from doing further harm to myself. Otherwise, I would still be living out my adolescence with sexual promiscuity, an eating disorder and drugs. I realize that when my thoughts turn to self-hate, I should isolate myself in order to stay safe. This defense mechanism has kept me in a good marriage, allowed me to raise well-adjusted children and kept me employed.

Things are beginning to change. I’m recognizing these stories and past patterns of thought are hurting me. No doubt they impact my relationships, and especially my marriage; but I count my blessings. I’ve never threatened divorce, I’ve only fantasized it would be best. I know it wouldn’t be the answer to my problems. My husband is aware of my past CSA and has stuck by me. He is a good man and I am ready to change my thoughts so that I can both give and accept love fully.

Daylily

Am I just “settling”?

Is my marriage healthy for me? Is it allowing me to be the best that I can be?

Huge questions.

Life changing answers that I admit I’m dreadfully scared of.

There’s so much buried anger and resentment in my marriage of 23 years. If I were to complain to my husband, he would respond “How do you think I feel?” He would go on to list things I don’t do for him, ways in which I don’t show love, behaviors of mine that make him feel isolated from me.

I have the same feelings of resentment for how he talks to me and how he responds to simple requests. I can list numerous ways in which he sounds bitter, angry and hateful toward me. It seems he always answers me by being snotty and angry.

He could say the same about me. We both feel unloved and unsupported.

It’s a vicious cycle of our emotional needs not getting met.

Did I marry someone with the exact likeness to my parents? I feel constantly criticized just as I did as a child. Brief interactions cut me down everyday – it’s no wonder I continue to have a low sense of myself. My husband treats me like I’m stupid. The same way I felt growing up.

Why have I been in a marriage to someone who can’t offer empathy for my emotions unless they are spilling out with sobbing tears?

I know why – because when I make a commitment, I stay with it. I tell myself I must endure, regardless of whether the relationship supports me or not.

The following are deep-rooted excuses that I believe down to my core, ways to justify staying in my marriage:

I would still be stuck with myself, no matter who I was married to.

That’s one of my classics. But doesn’t that thought hurt me? It takes the blame off my husband and puts it all on me. I recognize self-blame as my lifelong pattern, learned in childhood, as a way to avoid abandonment. If I entertain thoughts that others are not good for me and I, God forbid, voice those feelings – I could very well be left alone and abandoned.

Children cannot survive on their own so the thoughts were justifiable when my parents divorced and I feared being alone.  But, I’m an adult now and I could survive. Why do I blame myself instead of my husband who hurts me constantly with his tough, hardened exterior?

My husband doesn’t physically abuse me nor intentionally hurt my feelings. He is a good man and I am just sensitive to how others speak because I live with a sense of unworthiness.

Which is it? I’m too sensitive or my husband is an egotistical hard-ass who doesn’t think before he speaks? My perspective is so distorted that I just do not know the answer. My dad was the same way and my brother’s grew up strong, ambitious and competent. They didn’t feel the criticism that I did. I truly could be over-sensitive.

I hope my two boys don’t feel their father’s judgmental attitude and turn it against themselves. Perhaps that is how men raise children and as a girl I am overly sensitive in close relationships with men.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

I try to follow the word of the Lord and not be selfish. I have intentionally never written down the numerous ways my husband’s words have hurt me because that would be keeping a record of wrongs.

In my childhood, as a survivor of sexual abuse, I learned to rise each morning and shut out how I felt about my brother molesting me each night.

In my marriage, comparably speaking, I do the same thing and block the painful interactions and have learned not to remember.

My childhood patterns helped me master the ability to separate from painful emotions – to the extent of not being able to retain information that caused emotional pain only moments before. In my current life, this allows me to go to work, raise the children, do the household chores and stay married.

No marriage is perfect because no person is infallible. Any marriage has times of neglect because humans are not faultless creatures.

I must stay in my marriage and accept culpability for my part.  I can grow from this relationship.

That is true but I can only grow so far and no further — if my partner chooses to not see the part he plays in the relationship. Each person comes to a marriage with a past wrought with baggage. I’ve gone through a lot of therapy and I’ve been working hard to release my past baggage and learn to live in the present. Can I say that is so about my husband? Would my husband admit to his faults and accept he is not blameless?

That’s the question I’m dreadfully afraid of.  He most likely would blame me, depression, my history of sexual abuse, my inability to let go of feelings, my sensitivity and my self-imposed isolation.

The answer I would most like to hear from him is, “We both play a part in this marriage and we are equally at fault for the anger, resentment and lack of intimacy.”

This ideal is not far-fetched because my husband does care about me. He tries so hard to give me the love I need but over the years I have been unpredictable and he has rightfully used caution.

Where does all this lead me? At this moment, as I look truthfully at my marriage, I feel beat down. I don’t honestly know how much more I can improve in terms of building up my sense of worthiness and ceasing my behavior of drinking to numb my feelings, while I’m in this marriage with a guy that when I pull away the blinds, I see as playing a part in me continually feeling a sense of shame and guilt. I am perpetuating my past and something has to change. I can not continue to disengage from my emotions and think I will develop self-love and the ability to stop the negative thought patterns from my past.

If every relationship is wrought with fault and built-up resentments then I seriously wonder if I would be better off alone? At least until I could work out my own issues within a healthy atmosphere that doesn’t continually replay past patterns.

But, I must ask myself, why would I bail on a good man who has gone with me this far in my journey of self-discovery? He is painfully aware of my past and my present. Am I hiding from my own issues and wishing I could be alone so I don’t need to make those final steps to finding intimacy and real love?

Seriously, why would I want to start over after 20+ years?

I must talk to my therapist about this revelation and eventually discuss it with my husband.

Really big questions with no clear answers.

Daylily

Confused with PTSD

My therapist confirmed that I was exhibiting classic symptoms of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) during the “Radical Forgiveness” workshop I attended.  I guess I put myself too far out on a limb and was dangling by a twig.  I had no way to protect my mind from the onslaught of feelings that got stirred up and I resorted to what I know, to disassociate and shut down.  I told Lynn I can’t remember what I said.  What others said.  What I was supposed to say.  I can’t remember the names of anyone (including the leader) although I said their names many times in the workshop.  href=”https://mydepressionchronicles.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/2188/”>

Radical anything should have been a red flag,” said Lynn.  “Yes,” I agreed.  “But I wanted to practice mindfulness and be aware of my negative thoughts toward myself in order to move on.”

Lynn told me, “You know what your problem is.”

Hmm?  I am wondering what  a person does if they know what the issue is –poor self-image, self-protectiveness skills in abundance and a facade that no one sees through.

I am trying too hard to fix my psyche. I think I know what I need to do.  Share my issues with safe people, open up to my feelings, get healthy in mind and spirit through exercise and meditation.  I’m doing all of that but the acronym PTSD keeps popping up in my thoughts and scaring me.  I fear my own feelings.  I shut down with my own thoughts.  My coping skills are to not deal with raw emotions.  I dissociate. I also drink to escape.

Sometimes, I am strong and can deal with this vision of my life.  Since my medications were increased I was doing well but then I saw my therapist.  She spoke words that I haven’t heard in years. Back 25 years ago, when I was working on sexual abuse issues, I was diagnosed with PTSD. I thought that was in the past.

I wonder what Lynn thinks of me now that she recognizes the depth of my issues.  PTSD is not small potatoes.  It’s overwhelming and I don’t quite know where I stand right now.

There is this general feeling that my whole life is a fake out.  Every “intellectual” interaction is blocking my true self.

Of course, that can’t be true.  My mind is playing evil tricks on me.  It’s those stories my narrative self has taught me along the way.  I blame myself rather than seeing things as they are.

Since I saw my therapist, I have not been able to meditate.  I feel no peace.   I have been preaching about mindfulness but I’m unable to find that stillness in my brain.

I will stay focused on the goal, which is to accept all of me and see that my thoughts are not me they are stories I’ve told myself.

But, again, I must ask, what do I do when the stories take over and feel so real? 

♥ Daylily, who apologizes for this unedited post.  I know it’s all over the place and I sound mixed-up.  To try and intellectualize my feelings would be one more attempt at a fake out.  This blog is the real me and right now I do feel confused. ♥

Reaching out during a depressive episode

The bottom of despair is a shitty place to be; I know because I spent the morning there. Schools were cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy so I took advantage of this day off from work to settle deep into depression. I didn’t consciously do it but the opportunity arose and I took full advantage.

Why am I talking like I did something helpful when I felt like such crap last night and this morning? Well, that’s where the silver lining comes in. There may even have been a rainbow.

I have never, ever climbed into bed and expressed my feelings of depression while there. My pattern is to wallow alone and then pull myself together, all the while hiding how awful I feel – to myself and those that love me. No bullshit. This is one of my learned behaviors leftover from childhood.

This morning I passed the hours curled up under my down comforter crying that I was so pitiful. I cried that I didn’t have the strength to get out of bed; I cried that I wasn’t hungry and that I had no desire to eat. I was alone in my misery for what felt like forever. I determined that I was really bad off because I could neither lift my head nor could I find the strength to eat so I should call my therapist. Isn’t depression the reason I was under her care? I contemplated this for a long time as I huddled under my covers with my cell phone. Eventually, I just did it.

Lynn answered on the second ring and I casually said who it was and then, “I see you’ve returned from your vacation.” She responded, “Yes, just in time for the hurricane.” Small talk out-of-the-way I said, “I called you because I’m really not doing well.”

I haven’t seen Lynn for close to a month due to her 3-week vacation. “Is it something that just came up or has it been building for a while?” asked Lynn.

“Well, I have to tell you, this is a first for me, to call my therapist and talk about how I’m feeling. I have never called for help before but I am really low right now.” I cried that I couldn’t get out of bed, that I wasn’t hungry and that I’m failing my family by not cooking for them, by being distant and isolated and I threw in something about my husband saying I didn’t know how to be intimate.

Then I stopped talking and asked, “Is this a good time for you? I don’t want to keep you from anything.” How stupid of me, as if she could hang up now. I’m just standing on the edge of this cliff but I can wait for you to call me later. In hindsight, that was a “duh” moment. After a brief pause from her, she said she certainly had time for me.

I quickly caught her up to speed about how I went to this “radical forgiveness” workshop to release feelings of self blame. She agreed that was quite a big step for me and when I told her I got overwhelmed with emotions and I couldn’t get away so I went into auto pilot, she asked about the facilitator. I told her I emailed the facilitator and I was reassured that I hadn’t done anything wrong although Lynn said usually a psychologist will tell you what to do in the event things become overpowering. I don’t know what to believe but it’s been 3 weeks since the workshop and I still feel like crap.

One major trigger to my sense of despair could be a book I’m reading because it hits so close to home. Living with your Heart Wide Open is exposing so many open wounds that every chapter is like getting re-traumatized. It’s all about self-criticism and a prevailing sense of unworthiness. I can’t get to the part about self-compassion because I’m busy beating myself up over negative patterns the book says I’ve developed and that I must learn to break.

Lynn asked if I could talk about the one thing that is upsetting me – is it feeling unloved. “Can you tell me how you’re feeling?” I was still buried under my covers and I said, “I don’t know,” while I audibly sobbed.

For me to be without a word is rare; I typically control the ebb and flow of our therapy sessions. Of course, she was trying to figure out what was going on with me and, I’m guessing this response was a red flag that I was depressed and not thinking straight.

Lynn said I must ask my husband to help me. Explain to him how I don’t like to feel a lack of intimacy. I cried that I couldn’t, that he and I were berating each other.

Lynn suggested that I stop reading the book but continue with the mindfulness cd, which has been helping me to fall asleep at night. She said that it sounds like I’m aggressively trying to fix my problem through forcing it. I can’t recall the exact word but she insinuated that I’m trying to direct my healing by micro-managing every piece of it.

She’s absolutely right. I felt as much and it’s backfiring; I’m worse and not better. Self-help groups, self-healing books, yoga and a sense of being broken have exasperated my depression.

Lynn thought I should increase the Celexa to 20 mg (I’m on 10 now). I agreed and I made an appointment for 2 weeks out because of my busy schedule on the weekends.

After hanging up, I whimpered quietly, under the safety of my blankets and soft pillows. In the back of mind I was thinking of the “radical forgiveness” workshop, how emotionally charged it was and I recognized that I never released all of the stuff that was brought to the surface. Intellectually I thought I should have cried but I couldn’t – until today. It was like opening the flood gates! I have not cried in years and, as much as I didn’t like how it took me over, the release was good for me.

Well, I still couldn’t lift my head or consider going down to the kitchen to eat something so I called my husband (who works in his home office). He said he was in the middle of an important presentation (everything is tele-com these days) and he would be done in 15 minutes.

My husband walked in the bedroom and there I was, in bed, crying with my elbow covering my face. I felt so ugly I had to hide but when he asked what was wrong, I spoke. I didn’t retreat inside my shell or tell myself he doesn’t really care (which is a well-worn pattern). Instead I told him I was depressed and I couldn’t get up. He told me just do it for the kids downstairs. I said, “They are enjoying their day off from school and don’t even care where I am.” Husband said, “They know you are not downstairs with them.”

I swore I would never get up and he looked flustered. He was rubbing my arm and telling me nice things that I don’t remember. He leaned down and hugged me and my arms felt limp like spaghetti. I accepted his hug but couldn’t give back. I said I need to eat something and he said he’ll cook and I should pull myself together and come down in 10 minutes. Again, I said I can’t get up and pleaded with him to bring me something. I told him I wanted toast and grits (I’m not southern but I love grits, anyway). He came back and demanded that I sit up but I just couldn’t do it. I made him put the plate and bowl on the bed 3 inches from my mouth and I fed myself as if I were a sick bird or a dying man. Husband went back to work and I sniffled in my bed. With every bite the food tasted better and I gained strength.

How could I have missed that my depression was back? The tell-tale signs are night-waking, lack of appetite and emotionally distant from the family. I misconstrued all of that for necessary paths to inner compassion and mindfulness. This experience highlights how directly my childhood thought patterns correlate to depression. With each day that I focused on my past “stories” my depression grew worse. It’s uncanny.

Next I did the bravest thing of all. I called my mother, from my bed, in a deep depression. I prayed she would pick up and not my step-dad and my prayers were answered. I said, “Hi Mom.” Her quick response, “What is going on, it sounds like you’ve been crying.” I snuffled that I have been crying and went into the whole I can’t get out of bed thing. She asked about my depression, my medications, my therapist and my husband helping me. To the last part I told her, “Husband doesn’t even believe in depression.” She’s known my husband for 3 decades and she said, “Well you should take him to your therapist so he can get educated.”

The reason I called my mom is I’m having extreme guilt that she wants me to host Thanksgiving and I don’t have the energy. I always try to do what is right and please her and I didn’t know how I would manage it this year. My mom recently moved to a retirement home and part of her down-sizing was dispersing things. To me, she handed down a large oriental rug for my dining room and her set of wedding silver. It is all beautiful and generous and I feel so obligated to use it for a family gathering. I told her I can’t host anything because I’m feeling like a failure in everything I do right now.

My mother’s response was better than I hoped because she was thoughtful and caring. She said she would stay at the retirement home for Thanksgiving. She offered to come and help me if I wanted her to. I told her I have so much going on with family, kids, sports, school, and work that if they came down it would be one more thing on my plate.

Then my mom asked me, “How did you get depression?”

I take the plunge and offer full disclosure, “It was caused by childhood trauma. I learned to tell myself things that weren’t true but that allowed me to grow up. I am still stuck in childhood thoughts that I’m not worthwhile or good enough.”

“Oh, honey,” she lovingly responds.

I reassure her, “It’s nobody’s fault, not my parents or my brothers; it’s just how things happened.” I stumble with words and say, “I learned to tell myself I wasn’t worth it.”

I tell her not to worry about me, that I will be okay. This is when she told me something that broke my heart in a good way.

My mom said, “I will worry about you every minute of every day. You know you are my favorite child.”

I quickly deflected her kind words by saying, “All of your children are your favorites.” But, I heard love and caring in her words. We said good-bye and I love you and when I hung up, I retreated back under my covers to cry some more. But, this time I was crying because my mom and I connected on a deep level. I was touched that she said I was her favorite child. Never in a million years did I ever think she would tell me that. I’ve got brothers who are successful, talented, intelligent and relate to my mom on an intellectual level where as, I fall short on all of those things that are important to my mom. Perhaps those thoughts could be part of the “stories” of my childhood that I made up and learned to believe. I just heard with my own ears that my mom thinks I’m special. I will try to hold on to that and use this silver lining to my advantage.

I slept after the phone call with my mother and awoke ready to get out of bed around 3 pm. The news stations cautioned that no one should be out on the roads so I was securely stuck in my home. We lost electricity around 4:30 pm and darkness set in. My husband set up our generator and so we have a few lights, heat, water and the refrigerator working, plus we have internet. I sit here typing and uploading to Word Press via backup generator. It’s nice to feel removed from outside forces after completely breaking down today. It looks like I have work tomorrow although many schools are closed for another day. I best listen to Lynn who said I must eat and get a good night’s sleep. The increase in my antidepressant will take a while to kick in. I’m hopeful because I do respond well to SSRI’s.

Daylily

Stuck in familiar territory…

I’m back to work and have very little time to myself.  In a nut shell, I’ve been feeling distant and isolated.  My husband and I are living on different planets right now, either he’s mad at me or I’m mad at him.  Last week he was out every evening and when we finally had our chance to be alone, he made plans with the kids to get up for an early fishing excursion, which I was not going to partake in.  Lucky me, I got to stay home and mop, clean, dust and vacuum the house.  In truth, there is some satisfaction in having a clean house but not in having to use up my Labor Day to do it.  So, I’ve been thinking maybe my husband is bringing me down and has a part in my depression.  For the 28 years we’ve been together I keep working on myself.  He’s stood by me through it all and I love him for that.  But, (yes, you knew there would be a “but”) he can be loud, critical and self-centered.  I always speak up and fight for my feelings and “rights” but is that how a marriage should be?  Lately, I just wish we could talk about our days.  A simple, “How was your day?” would be so much better than, “Are you going to get the dump sticker…How can I go to the dump if I don’t have a sticker?”  My retort is “If you weren’t busy every single day and night you would have time to do it yourself.”  It’s his one f@#$ing job around the house and he can’t even do it on a weekly basis.

I’m obviously over tired and stressed out from going back to work after having the summer off.  But, is it also that H does not support me.  I don’t know what the truth is.  When I feel down and under appreciated, I self-blame and say it’s my “depression” talking.  But, I’m not depressed right now, I’m just not feeling any love from H.  The flip side of this situation is I’m not giving love either.  I hope he doesn’t wake me for sex in the morning and I am avoiding contact with him.  I guess with work starting up I can only handle so much emotional stuff.  I do have a tendency to blame others when the real issue is my need for distance during high stress times.  This is probably the reality because H isn’t being terrible or anything.  And I know if I reached out he would reciprocate but this behavior is a dance we’ve done many times.  I give out signals that I want to be left alone and so that’s what he’s doing.  Tonight I said good night to my youngest kid at 9 pm and told my older son and H “I’m going to bed.”  The voice I used sounded exhausted and defeated like, what else do I have to live for?  H said “You don’t want to stay up?”  I said, “No” and without even looking at him I walked away.

So, now off to bed I go, where I hope to sleep fitfully and wake up refreshed.  Somehow I doubt it.  ♥Daylily