In the past three weeks I have had three people comment on the difference between what I write and what they see when we are together. That makes it something worth writing about.
Of course there is a difference in how I act in public and the crazy shit I write about. If I acted in public the way I write about on my journal I would be in a lot of danger. If I was unable to mask my craziness it would be extremely unsafe for me to go out in public. I would risk being 5150’ed again. I never want to go to a hospital again. I can’t lose it where anyone can see.
If you look at the whiteboard in my room there is a lot written down but if you notice very little of it is outside my house and even less than that is any kind of social activity. I generally keep my “socializing” to under twenty hours in a week and most weeks I’m under eight hours.
That is how much “playing the game” I can do right now.
On the occasional week when I try to push it and do more because that week just happens to be busy I am usually sorry. I will have to spend a lot of time in the bathroom crying for all the hours over my “maximum” I am actually out. It is embarrassing and humiliating and I feel ashamed of myself the whole time.
Being around people involves a lot of active and conscious thinking about “what I am allowed to say”. The consequences for getting it wrong include being asked to leave, being asked to never come back, or if I genuinely lose it and start freaking out I may lose my kids or get arrested.
I’m not exaggerating and I’m not wrong.
I’m aware of how “hysterical” women have been treated throughout history. I have done a lot of specific research. In olden times I may have had to walk around with my tongue in a heavy vice for days or had to wear a collar with spikes on the inside while tied to a post in public so other people could remind me how bad I was.
The consequences in the modern area are downright soft and fuzzy in comparison–I get that. Nevertheless I don’t want them.
I don’t want them. I don’t want them. I don’t want them.
I’m awake in the middle of the night because my stomach is hurting because I didn’t smoke before bed. By 2:30 my stomach hurts and I can’t sleep through it. Then I start having racing thoughts because that is just what I do when I am in pain. Then I risk being a mess tomorrow. Lots of breakthrough crying.
My kids know I cry. I can’t hide it from them. I try my best to present it as, “Everyone is different. I cry a lot–most people don’t. That’s ok. People vary.” They are still young enough that they don’t really ask questions about why.
Noah deals with/occasionally sees me crying as I’m going about my day. I wander around working and crying at the same time. That’s just life for me.
Yes, I believe this is something that I have to carefully keep people from seeing. This is probably, by hour, the biggest part of my life and I have to make sure no one else sees it happening. Or I will get in trouble for being bad again.
The fact that I wander through life feeling very sad and crying for many hours of most days is something I have to carefully hide and prevent people from seeing or I get in trouble. Over and over and over.
It’s not hyperbole. I can tell stories all day and all night long.
I’m at a very low ebb on my ability to “play the game” with other people because I require so much of myself for my interactions with my kids.
My kids know I cry. They know that I have wonky chemicals in my brain that make me prone to have my eyes just start watering and it’s not a big deal and they know that sometimes I think about things that happened long ago and it was bad and I’m really glad that my life is different now and I’m so glad that I know my kids. They know that they are nicer to me than anyone has ever been and that I am grateful.
Well, so far Shanna parrots these things back. I say “them” but I am still working on brainwashing Calli but Shanna is pretty ingrained at this point.
I feel really stupid sometimes but when I am saying in a calm and clear voice, “It’s ok to be mad at me. I do things you don’t like. You are totally allowed to have those feelings but it is not ok to call me names and it is not ok to scream at me. Try again.” I still have tears running down my face. I can keep control of my voice at this point–it is great effort but I can prevent myself from descending into the ragged sobbing sort of breathing that makes talking hard. I sound “like a teacher should” but my eyes are watering.
I feel weird knowing that my children are going to grow up thinking that your mom crying all the time is normal and something to ignore. I feel very ashamed of myself. I feel like I am proving those people right who told me that I should not be a mother because someone like me isn’t capable of being a good mother.
I’m not selfless enough? I don’t have enough self control? For the past couple of years of “bad cycle” which probably actually started as postpartum depression after Calli was born combined with Shanna hitting the age I was when my abuse started so I started having daily intrusive flashbacks.
That was not long after Traci–my therapist of seven years–OD’ed on heroin and I ended up finding Sharon who totally sucked and tried to talk me into believing that I had Disassociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personalities) because of how I segment my behavior when I am around people.
I don’t think I really took the placenta pills as long with Calli. I stopped taking fish oil. I haven’t started again even though I know it is a mood stabilizer. I have other supplements my therapist wants me to start and when I think of the act of swallowing pills I start to gag and my stomach aches just thinking about it.
By the end of the time I was taking all the god damn supplements my midwife wanted me on (15 fucking pills a day) I was frequently spontaneously vomiting them up.
My body knows that when I take a lot of pills it is because I want to die. That is what my body thinks is happening because I was dumb enough to treat my body disrespectfully enough that it doesn’t trust my intentions anymore. Smart body.
I really am not so good at taking pills. And the idea that I should take a handful or so every day for the rest of my life is something that I don’t think I can get my gag reflex to move past.
Even though everyone keeps telling me that if I only swallow this pill my life will be magically better. It hasn’t worked any other fucking time I’ve tried some fucking magic pill. I’m still me. I’m still completely broken. I still don’t have a family or very much consistent support–I am building it. I’m trying. But it is dependent on having people in my life who actually show up to do it. I don’t have many people volunteering for that role and of the people volunteering I have to evaluate for them if they really have enough spoons to be dependable *for me* because I am a god damn special snowflake with standards through the roof.
If I know I will have an out of proportion negative reaction to someone acting how they typically act I need to be very careful how much time I spend around them. It is not their fucking problem I’m crazy and that I have had “bad life experiences” that cause me to want to yell at them. If I can’t be tactful (otherwise known as keep my fucking mouth shut or on trivial topics) then I can’t be around people. I silently back away from most relationships because I don’t think I have the right to hurt people by being mad at them for being them.
I don’t know how to reconcile the fact that it isn’t that I actually think they are wrong it’s that it is very hard for me to keep straight in my head what kind of commentary is appropriate in which settings. I’ve been introduced to a much larger number of social situations than most people. I have moved somewhere between 60 and 70 times in my life. Each of those times involved meeting somewhere between five and hundreds of new people all in a big rush. I have lived at every socio-economic level from the projects to multi-million dollar homes and I went to school with Steve Wozniac’s kid. His son was best friends with the brother of the girl I was best friends with. Many of my friends had server space hosted by Woz because that’s just how things worked. That’s where I lived.
I could pull out my sock puppet prime minister (it’s a long story–maybe I will tell it some day) and name drop all the long list of two degrees of separation I have with “important” people.
So uhm yeah. I walk through life feeling like I am the lowest status person in every single room I walk into. I assume that if I say the wrong thing and offend the wrong person (and I have no god damn idea who the “important” people are–I constantly fuck that up) I will be told to leave and all of a sudden there will be a tidal wave of nasty gossip about me behind my back.
How many illustrative stories do I need to have? I could start with less than two years ago and move backwards over thirty years and have many dozens.
Being the scapegoat is hard. I have a lot of behavior patterns that get me into trouble. I don’t understand exactly how they work. I don’t understand why I am so god damn offensive to people but I am.
I tend to go through life believing that people who are still here are the ones around whom I have been most successful at wearing the right mask. I look for signs that I am breaking their social contract and I try very hard to apologize for fucking up before they have to call me on it because I don’t want to be rejected just because I said or did something that was inappropriate for someone in that kind of relationship.
I hyperventilate over this and hyper-analyze every thing I say or do after the fact and try to look for reasons I might have crossed a line and pro-actively send an apology. I really can’t handle losing many more friends. It devastates me so much.
Oh for the love of toast of course I hide “what I am really like”. I am unpleasant and needy. No one likes people like that. I really can’t handle having more people decide they don’t like me en masse. So I need to be god damn careful about everything I say and do.
After smoking for half an hour I think that the stomach pain has changed enough that I can try eating and see if that will help.
I have been trying to track my marijuana usage more. Why am I using it. When. What, specifically, is it doing for me that I need? Mostly it is the end of the year and I am freaking out about how much I spent (I used edibles basically exclusively for about two months while I was training for the marathon to clear some of the lung funk–yes smoking is disgusting and I would like to stop–and those two months cost as much as the whole rest of the year combined and gosh it sounds like way too much money for any medication and… accompanying shame cycle.) thus I am beating myself up about how much I need to stop using it.
If I’m going to damn myself it will at least be with accurate data.
I go through ~ 1/8 of pot/week. I wake up earlier than everyone in my family and I have some then. It calms my stomach pain enough for me to eat. On days when I don’t smoke before breakfast (often out of impulses of shame because I am a disgusting person for needing a “drug” I should just “willpower” my way through after all) I generally am unable to eat because the stomach pain is such that I have constant nausea and I have a ridiculously strong gag reflex. If I try to eat I have a lot of violent stomach pain because my stomach is not fucking interested in accepting food.
If I am in a restaurant this is when I have to get up and leave the table. I either go to the restroom or I go outside because I need to cry. I need to cry because it hurts and because I am ashamed of myself for crying in public just for something stupid that someone else would be able to hide. I know I am not exhibiting the proper social behavior and if I keep that shit up in public I will be fucking sorry.
At home that is when I say in a small voice, “Excuse me” and I go smoke enough to relax my nausea and deal with my gag reflex. I usually feel better after eating. But I am also still stoned after eating. So who the heck knows exactly where the better comes from. But on days when I don’t smoke I probably don’t consume a full meal worth of food in a day. I physically can’t. It hurts too much.
So a year ago when I went to the doctor I layed out all my issues and I was told she wouldn’t deal with my stomach until I dealt with psychiatry and psychiatry told me to take a pill I didn’t want to take, stop breastfeeding instantly (because this new magic pill is extremely toxic to me and the baby), and stop pot instantly or psychiatry would not work with me.
Uhm. No. Fuck you. I know what those side effects will do to my life. They will make it so I can no longer play the game when I have to because I will be debilitated by the side effects. I have watched this effect cascade with person after person in my life. No. No. No.
I will not work with a fucking doctor who spends five minutes talking to me and then wants to prescribe a medication that will destroy every coping method I have and tell me that I just have to “deal with it” while smirking at me. That is demeaning. You have studied what trauma does to the brain? Well so have I, motherfucker. You have not done a single fucking blood test. You have not done a brain scan. You have not taken a full medical history to find out how bad the side effects have been every time I have been forced onto a drug “for my own good” and how often that has lead to significant public blow ups and more trauma.
You don’t give a shit. It shows on the fucking smirk on your face. I don’t fit into your mold of a good person so you want to drug me into a stupor so that I stop doing what I am doing and blindly do what you say. No. You don’t know what I have to react to or why.
Fuck you. You want me dead. I can’t come to any other conclusion and continue to survive.
It took twenty-five minutes (I’m uhm babbling paragraphs in between random distractions else-net Oooh shiny! That’s a lot of why it sounds so incoherent and random-ha.) but I finished a piece of string cheese. Minimal gagging but I haven’t been able to eat any nuts yet. And my graham cracker is untouched.
We will have new insurance cards soon. I promise that as soon as I can log into the new insurance system I will make an appointment. I promise me.
An awful lot of why I am smoking the pot is to deal with my massive stomach pain. I feel very scared because if I reveal that there is an anxiety portion to the pain I risk not being treated again but if I don’t tell the doctor that I may not get appropriate treatment.
I feel like I am in a bind and there is no way for me to get out of it. I have to just throw a dart at a dart board and pray that I get a doctor who will want to help me without requiring that I instantly trust them enough to send my entire life headlong. No one deserves that kind of trust from me. Give me a fucking break.
I know that my intense fear of having to deal with a doctor for this is making the pain escalate unbearably. I understand that link. I understand that for most of the year the pain has stayed at a consistent 1-3 with spikes up to 5 or so when I try to eat without smoking but since I have been actively been thinking about the fact that I have to deal with this soon the pain has been spiking to 8 and 9 and causing me to nearly vomit spontaneously in public–which is kind of embarrassing. And shame producing. Knowing that my body may betray me at any moment and make me a public spectacle makes me feel constantly ashamed of existing. I should just fucking die so that I don’t have to go around inconveniencing people all the time.
When I vomited on the floor of the hospital when I was twelve, when I was waiting in the lobby to get a cast on my broken arm, my mom grabbed me, hit me and hissed: “You just did that to get attention.”
Over and over I sobbed “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.“
The nurse tried to tell me it would be ok but I couldn’t stop crying.
When I go out in public I generally did not smoke because I don’t do so before driving. Which means I have to get through breakfast without smoking if I want to go to the park. I generally don’t eat much or sleep properly the night before with anxiety about the spike in stomach pain and the increased difficulty in being patient with the kids.
That’s a lot of why I limit excursions out of the house. Those days are ridiculously hard on my body. When people come to me I evaluate how offended they will be if I am stoned and I try to uhm match expected tolerance because generally what I think other people will be ok with is lower than what I actually usually use.
This is the big problem with using any medication so sporadically. The effects are needed when dosage isn’t present. I have many days where I wake up and I let the negative thoughts get too entrenched before I start smoking (it is an unpleasant process and I don’t enjoy it and I don’t like being “the kind of person who smokes pot” and and and) so often I have to kind of psyche myself up first and bribe myself with the idea of being in a more pleasant mood.
The amount of conscious dealing with shame I do every day is really hard. I have to consciously deal with it or I will not eat and not sleep and get weak to the point where I am not physically able to complete my chores without slowly dragging chairs all over the house so that I can move from chair to chair to finish my cleaning.
Because I am that compulsive and crazy. I have to “appear” functional. I “have to” maintain certain appearances or I risk terrible consequences. I don’t know exactly what they will be or from whom. Sure as the sun will rise I will have someone else in my life whom I trust a great deal turn around and tell me that I am abusive and terrible and they are disgusted by me. It is going to happen again and again because that is something that people just feel free to say to me.
That is part of what I mean when I say that I am the lowest status person in every room I walk into. I am a white trash whore and I can never undo that. In any room I walk in to someone may decide to go off on me. It happens when I happen to say something I shouldn’t say.
Usually that means I answer a question honestly. People ask a wide variety of questions in the casual chit chat process that if I answer honestly the person will respond with horror and disgust and move away from me exhibiting great hostility. I have to guess which lies to tell and when.
When my mask is slipping, like it was this weekend, I went to a friends baby shower. Want to know my connection to the group? I knew the host from working together (where deliberately obscured) and the party was at the house of someone she has known since middle school–they were both around our mutual place of employment. I went out with both of them like twice. I uhh begged to eat out my friend’s friend. She let me. Then never talked to me again.
Till I walked into her house this weekend and she didn’t remember me even slightly (or at least gave no sign of remembering me–she certainly didn’t know my name).
This uhm, happens to me pretty regularly. I’m very careful what questions I answer when I talk to people in general. I uhm was kind of stupid.
So the father of the host (he has known the mom-to-be since she was a kid, remember) was chatting me up and he told me that his wife wrote a book but she is afraid to publish it. I uhm wasn’t thinking so I said, “I actually wrote a book and self published. If you look at places like Amazon publishing or there is a wide variety of competing models you can be e-published for practically nothing and you can get books in print and deal with hawking them at book stores yourself for fairly little money. That is how publishing often works, actually.”
So then he asked me about my book. He had to prod me more than once. “Oh you wrote a book? I bet it’s a lovey dovey romance isn’t it? I bet it’s all cutesy schmoopsy and adorable right?” heh heh.
Cue my not amused face.
“No, actually it’s a memoir about the first eighteen years of my life.”
*snicker* “No eighteen year old has done anything worth writing about.”
By that point in the conversation my heart was racing and I was breathing fast and I could feel the flush rising. I had been kind of avoiding eye contact. Then I looked straight at him and said, “Well I I was moved more than fifty times, I was homeless, I stole to eat, I went to twenty-five schools in diverse combinations of socio-economic levels and race: everything from the projects to graduating high school in Los Gatos after only going to that school for my sophomore year and only three semesters of high school total. (said to someone whose kid went to one of the worst schools in the east side of San Jose [these two places are right next to each other and Los Gatos is where all the rich people live]) I was raped or sexually assaulted dozens of times over more than twenty years, including my father and my brother extensively abusing me, along with a bunch of random neighbors. I self-mutilated for decades as part of how I dealt with what was going on with me and every mental health professional I have worked with has been freaked out by the variety and range of trauma I have been through.
I had enough happen to me to justify a book.”
At this point picture him kind of mouth agape blinking kind of fast. “Oh uhm. Wow. Yes. You would have enough to write about.”
We didn’t really talk after that.
I let my mask slip. I did not tightly contain my answer enough. I wasn’t appropriate enough. Mostly because I didn’t give a shit. I will probably never see this man again. My connection to him is tenuous enough that I just don’t have to fucking care if he thinks I am awful for unloading on him like that. (You wouldn’t fucking believe how often people screamed at me for uttering even four sentences of the above paragraph in a challenging voice. I should not be speaking. Shut up. I don’t have the right to make people think about unpleasant things.)
The conclusion I draw from this is I shouldn’t exist. Or I should simper and play stupid and lie and answer questions in evasive ways and for the love of crisco stop writing and talking about this shit.
So I do my very best to force my lips to be literally closed for as much of the time I am with other people as I can. I end every social interaction with sores on the inside of my mouth from chewing it so hard to keep from saying anything that might be inappropriate.
Yes. It is enormous physical strain.
I can’t tell how these descriptive/prescriptive things work about labels. People tell me that I should eschew thinking of myself as bad and stop thinking about my behavior as bad. But I regularly get into trouble I don’t want to be in because I don’t have appropriate filters. Bullshit I’m not bad. I’m punished for being bad often enough that it seems imprudent for me to stop trying to filter.
I want to be a nice person. I really fucking do. I am tired of being told I am not wanted and being abandoned. I am tired of people kicking me really hard and feeling free to tell me that I am a disgusting piece of shit but they still love me and if I start jumping through x, y, and z hoops then they might be able to have a relationship with me or help me. But not until I jump through all those hoops without support. If I don’t do that first I won’t be able to prove that I deserve them bothering to waste time and energy on me.
I uhm can’t bend to whims like that. I have to live in my body 24/7 and deal with the consequences. I have a very tightly controlled life that I can manage because I limit it so severely.
But when I say, “I stay home” I don’t mean that I hide in bed crying all day. I mean that my kids and I play in the yards and garden and walk for miles around our neighborhood when I stay regularly medicated thus I can sleep and eat in a way that allows me to be physically able to.
Since the marathon I have been fucking around with almost not using pot to see how this works for me. It’s going really badly. I need to see a doctor.
The reason I don’t just “get a vaporizer” to try it is because when I spend money on something believing that it is unlikely to solve my problem and it is money I don’t want to spend… it’s kind of doomed before I start. I can’t be on marijuana forever. I do have to figure out how to live life without it in order to do the things I want to do.
But what does that even mean? Part of it is that my stomach god damn hurts and I have to heavily medicate in order to deal with the pain and nausea in order to eat and sleep like a “normal” person and have any appearance of functionality.
Being in pain actively triggers my PTSD symptoms and causes flashbacks because I have such a long history of being in pain and that being something I am not allowed to talk about or deal with because “You aren’t really in pain–you are just a whiny hypochondriac.”
My mother screamed at me and threatened me that “my arm had better fucking be broken or she would break it herself” because I asked her to leave work early and come home (I was 12 and alone all day every day because I was on year round school and had no friends or family) to take me to the hospital. It was broken.
Something is wrong in my body. Something that I can’t fix. Something that I am self medicating (said with substantial scorn and derision) to deal with because doctors have actively told me they will not provide service until I jump through hoops I can’t jump through.
I can’t abruptly switch psych meds right now because I have no reliable help with my children. When I go through med rounds the side effects make me extremely unpredictable and historically very violent and my self-harming goes through the roof and my ability to function completely disintegrates and I spend hours every day literally hiding either in closets or under beds because I want to kill myself so much.
I literally cannot do that to my kids. There are reasons I’m not on psych meds. If someone bothered to ask me what those reasons were I would be happy to explain and I am willing to bet a compassionate doctor would hear my history and agree that it probably isn’t the best idea to try to force me to take a psych med as step one of any and all physical care.
That is not a way to establish trust because my behavior will abruptly be destroyed and out of control and erratic and I will completely associate it with my relationship with that doctor and have to stop association because I can’t continue to listen to the advice of someone who is going to force me to go through that given that I don’t have the fucking resources to deal with dropping the ball on the ways I am currently functional.
It feels humiliating. But that is the reality of my life right now. I stay home so that I can always handle talking to my kids in the tone of voice I want them to talk to me. I have to keep my physical stress levels down enough to not freak out when we are in an environment where I have less control.
Watch me at parties. If I stay seated the whole time I have a much better chance of being able to have conversations because being there makes me physically weak because of the strain on my body of having to be hyperaware to such a level. If it is a stand-and-mingle sort of party I am going to spend a lot of time walking in and out of the room because I have to go find somewhere to sit down and sob hysterically because standing in that room and trying to talk to people hurts my body so much.
No, this isn’t something that is obvious to people around me. If I was visibly contorting with pain people wouldn’t talk to me. If I said anything other than “Oh I’m fine” “Great!” when people ask me “How are you?” then they won’t ask me any more. And they won’t talk to me about anything else either. They try to keep a wide distance between them and me because I have revealed that I have needs and they are very fucking sure that isn’t their problem and they don’t want to get involved. That’s a direct quote. I get told that a lot. “I’m sorry. You have a lot of needs and I don’t want to get involved.”
Uhm, I didn’t ask you to do anything. I don’t fucking ask people to meet my needs. I can ask for help with wants–I have to be very ok with hearing “no” or with the fact that there is a better than 50/50 chance that I will be stood up because that is just my historical percentage. Because if I ask someone for help with a need all hell breaks loose when they let me down. My relationships don’t last through me asking things of people other than the pleasure of their company on sporadic occasions. I am doing my very best to ensure that I understand my place and stop fucking up this boundary.
Having this sort of level of need as a background thead in my life why won’t anyone help me means that I don’t understand how hard it is for people to meet my needs. I am not good at understanding the limits of how I should ask for things. When I ask for actual needs to be met I have to understand that the person may just not show up or may not feel like it any more once the time comes or have some emergency in their life that is more important than me so I have to suddenly scramble for how to figure things out at the last second without the normal planning time I give myself. It feels very unfair at the time I’ll tell you.
I go through life knowing that I am “not rational” and I am “over-sensitive” thus pretty much no one needs to give a shit what I think or feel because I’m a piece of shit.
No, I do not act in public like I have the thoughts I have. It would be incredibly dangerous. It’s not hyperbole; it is simply true.