Category Archives: Self harm

Being human…

Human
I started 2016 with high hopes. I was feeling good and felt strong. Then I spent over 2 months fighting off infections one after the next. I am normally quite healthy so to have 7 infections of various sorts in a row was very shocking. It finally ended and now I am back to my usual self. 🙂

Once I finally got better and stayed well, I decided it would be a good time to my art studio and a spare room painted. This endeavour is the only thing that really turned out since the beginning of 2016. Thank goodness for this!!!

And then April arrived.
My husband works seasonally at the only workplace available to people in our area. We live on the east coast of Newfoundland Canada and the only business here on the “north shore” is fishing. My husband worked on the wharf and the months that he spends at work are the ones that get us through the whole year. Of his 5 siblings that live here, 2 couples are retired and the other 3 all depend on the plant for their yearly income.
We were all ready to get back in to the swing of things and the crab plant was ready to run at full tilt… until it burnt down the day before everything was to really go wild for the summer. This means no work (or scrounging up a few hours wherever he can). It will devastate us financially until the plant is rebuilt in a year (best) or two (reasonable).

That alone was enough but then I found out that my hubby was sneaking smokes. I will not say a lot except to say that he has severe health issues that will only see him deteriorate with the smoking coming back in to his life. This causes me a great deal of stress because I love him and do not want to watch him to decline as he did before he quit. He almost died twice last year… it is scary.

Due to my therapist becoming a grandmother again, I did not see her for what should have been 3 weeks. It is now 4 weeks because the car broke down while trying to go see her this past Tuesday. IF next week works out, I will see her then. A full month of no therapy… seriously not at all good for my head space. 😦

The biggest issue this past week was even bigger to me because I was already so depleted and psychologically tired but that aside, I had a HUGE trigger this week that has just knocked me right over.
You may recall me speaking about my son Marcus and his death. I have not given a ton of details regarding his actual last moments except to say that they were horrific and caused by someone who should have loved him.
This week in my area (very rural – everyone knows everyone). A 5 year old girl was murdered by her father and then he set his house on fire to cover the crime. It is damn close to exactly what happened to Marcus and I have found this whole week triggering in a way that I have rarely been tested before.
The father had been charged with domestic violence 3 times yet the court dismissed the charges each time. Due to the fact that he had no record, he was given shared custody.
The mom did what she could to be heard but no one would listen.
And now her child is dead.
Trigger, trigger, trigger…

To add to those triggers, I was privately discussing the loss of Marcus when one of my Monster/mother’s friends interrupted to call me a liar. That just pi$$ed me right off and being seen as a liar is probably my biggest trigger. I know she is misinformed but it still sent me spiralling downhill at an even quicker speed.

These are the reasons why I was so quiet last week. I was just feeling so anxious, depressed, and triggered. I wanted to drink or just be done with this world and although I did neither one, the thoughts alone scare me plenty. I do not like it when these options begin to look like reasonable responses to the issues in my life.

I have also been feeling so very alone. In reality, I am not alone. I have my blog which is always a source of comfort in hard times, I have wonderful friends, I know good coping strategies now and life when I am more stable, looks really good.
Sadly none of this seems to be enough when things get really bad. I just feel terribly alone. I feel unlikable, unlovable, unworthy, and untrustworthy. I feel terribly unimportant. I do realize that my mind is playing tricks on me but it doesn’t seem to really matter in the moment.

Now the rebuilding begins. Self care, self-care and more self-care.  I have the skills to find my way out of this and I have supports to turn to but it is the actual action of doing it when my energy is so depleted.

I don’t write this to make you worry or feel badly for me. I write it because I can so often come across like I have everything together, that I am calm, capable and have my biggest storms behind me.
The truth? I have weathered many storms, I have managed to make huge changes in my life and I am proud of my accomplishments.
Some days really just “bite the big one” though and I am quickly reminded that I am human. Fallible, occasionally weak, messed up, and confused. So totally human.

My story.

Girl

It was suggested to me by a long time reader that allowing my story to be told might help reach others. I have hesitated doing this is the past because I just felt the details were not really important. That said? I do agree with this reader and have decided to share some of my story (minus the nitty-gritty) with you today. I do hope it helps you understand me better and I hope it reaches some of you so that you know that you are not alone in this fight for your survival.
I am going to leave my siblings out of this story because I do not feel it is fair to assume how they felt or what they went through personally. If there is a day that the ones still living wish to share with you? I’d happily post it.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a princess.
Scratch that. This is no fairy tale. 😉

I was born at the beginning of 1970 in a winter storm. A fitting beginning for the life that would follow. A winter storm of sorts that lasted decades.
I was born to a family that was quite wealthy and had every available support to raise a child as easily as possible. From other family members, I have been told about how my father was thrilled by my birth but my mother hated me from day one. Probably long before day one in reality. I am sure she viewed her pregnancy as a real inconvenience.

My beginning could have been a good one but right from the very start of my life here on this earth, my mother would begin making choices that would seal my fate and my father would not do anything to stop her.
Their first decision? My name.
Heather was the name of a girl whom my father and mother hated. She’d chased my father around and my mother hated her for it. This is the person whom I was named after. Someone they hated.

I have a few memories of my early childhood but none are good. From 0-4, all I recall is being afraid. Many years ago my grandmothers both told me stories of how I was left in filth and ignored while my father was at work. I was also told that I would scream and beg others to take me with them as they left our house or begged babysitters to keep me. That is just not normal behaviour for a young child. Wanting to leave with anyone rather than staying home with their mother.

Starting at age 4, I was given a gift of new underwear for my birthday. Not the best gift for a 4-year-old but they were a tiny hint as to what that birthday would mean. I would be sold to men who liked little girls and my hair was cut so short that I also looked like a boy and could satisfy men who liked boys as well. This was not a rare occurrence. It was done as often as there was demand and there was ALWAYS a demand.

It was also around this time that I learned to mistrust what people said vs. what they actually did. My mother could be the sweetest, kindest, most gregarious person to anyone on the outside but then a monster behind closed doors. It was her perfect “outside face” that allowed others to believe that she was trying her best but that I was a child with some real issues. She convinced therapists, social workers, a child psychiatrist, doctors, teachers and strangers that the problem was set squarely on my own shoulders. I was the one who hurt myself and then lied with crazy stories to cover it all up. This lasted for my entire life with her. It still goes on to this day! She is perfect while I have mental illnesses.

There was a lot of sexual and physical abuse but even worse than that was the sadistic nature of the emotional abuse. I was made to believe that I was only sold to men (and some women) because I liked it and caused it to happen. If there were bruises or broken bones? I had obviously done something to deserve that. If I got ill. that was my fault too. That woman (my mother) made sure that my self-esteem was now only low but non-existent. I felt less than human and not truly worthy of any kindness. This is the part of her abuse that is the hardest to get over or heal from. I feel like I am worthy and then someone talks about me or doesn’t like me and I am plunged deeply right back in to feeling absolutely worthless. My brain knows that I am a good person, that I give a lot of myself to helping others, that I am smart, and have a lot going for me but my heart still says “You don’t deserve any of it and you are just as worthless as you always were”.

I did try to speak out and I tried to reach for help but these efforts were always met with my mothers wrath. I recall being made to eat a “poop” hot-dog in a bun. If I was going to spread “filthy lies”, I was going to eat filth as well. After a certain number of times where I reached out to ask for help and having that come back at me with a vengeance, I gave up. I still find it hard today to speak up about it because my automatic feeling that accompanies this openness is fear.

There are so many details and situations that I could discuss but I am sure you get the idea by now? It wasn’t just a hard life. It was a life filled with monsters that never hid under my bed. They just stayed out in the open and did as they wished with me as often as they wished it. I many ways this abuse started before I was born and still continues today. 46 years of situations and stories that would make your blood curdle.
If you read my list of Helpers from last week, there are a few more details of which Helpers came in to being and when/why.

I wish I could say that I grew up, moved away and never had to deal with my mother again but I moved 3,500kms to get away from her and 2 months later, she was living 1km down the street from me in her newly purchased home.
I have not spoken to her in over 11 years yet she still speaks about me in public to anyone who will lend her an ear. She tells them lies and makes me look horrible. We live in a very small community and there are many people who have never even met me whom hate me with passion. I’ve been called a liar, a bitch, a whore, a selfish daughter and worse by these people who just believe the words my mother shares. Supposed grownups and mostly “church friends” of my mothers. I really try hard not to let it bother me but she has even gotten to my own children and 2 of my husbands extended family members. The words said under hushed breaths make me want to just run away again and never look back… or just give up and leave this world altogether. It is hard not to taint the good that I have created in my life with that poison. I am only human. It is hard to be hated and even harder to be hated for something you never were.

Sadly it is not only my monster/mother that drags me down like this. My father takes part as well. He is quieter about it but when discussions of how my brother abused me surfaced, it was his voice on the other end of the phone calling me a sociopath. In my heart I know that he believes every word and knows the truth but he is unwilling to face it and it seems that hurting me instead is acceptable to him. I recently cut off all contact with him and I know it was necessary for my future mental health but I feel like a 46 years old orphan who never knew what it was like to have a mom or dad.

I’ve felt very lonely lately. I miss those whom have loved and seen die by suicide due to their PTSD. I ache for my murdered son. My heart has cement poured all over it while my living children find their way home. I really miss the nurse I felt close to while in hospital and the doctor whom I got to know before his sabbatical. Now my current therapist is retiring in a couple of months and I must say goodbye to her as well. I know these supports are not meant to be lifelong friendships and I am good with that but it doesn’t make missing them any easier. These people got me, they understood me, They believed me and truly heard me. They made me a better person. I am just tired and I am trying to find and keep my spark. I will find it again. I have faith in that.

I’ve had some comments about how I do not share negative stories on my blog but I feel that my intentions are perhaps a bit misunderstood. I do not keep things positive because I want people to think life is just all great and I am flying high. I keep it positive because I have dealt with and still deal with more negative in the run of a day that some people experience in a lifetime. By remaining positive myself, I feel like I am adding to the good in the world and that somehow negates some of the bad. It takes a lot of effort on a daily basis to live a good and positive life but I almost always feel that it is worth the effort.

This blog is very important to me. YOU are important to me. When someone says that they heard what they needed to hear or got what they needed to get because of a blog I wrote, it helps me add to the balance of positive in my life. Thank you for that.

If there is more you wish to know, just ask. If it is too personal to be on the blog, I will respond with a private email.
All the best to each of you. ❤

Kind Words CopyHand drawn by Heather. For sale. $20
Buy an 8×10 “Be Gentle”

Schools lack…

School

Schools try their very best to teach children all the skills they need to learn in order to lead full and successful lives. I really believe that for the most part, educators really do care.

That said, I think there is one area that schools and society lacks attention that is absolutely critical and would change the way that our society worked as a whole. We all went to school and now we are all “society”. One day these kids will be taking our places.Will they be as prepared as we were? Were we prepared?

Bullying is a HUGE issue that receives a ton of attention but the education about it isn’t working. I’ve sat in school auditoriums, listened to very passionate speakers on the effects of bullying and then as we leave, I hear kids calling each other names, pushing each other, basically ignoring every lesson they just learned. I would hate to even fathom a guess at the hours a principal spends dealing with bullies, bullied children and their parents. Yet it is only getting worse.
And much worse than bullying? Having no respect for your own self, beating yourself up for finding life challenging, feeling like you are less than or not worthy of better, harming yourself in ANY way because you just don’t have the skills to cope.

I am not usually one for coming up with ideas that basically throw what we  are already doing out the window but in this case? I think we need to strongly consider it.
What do I think we should teach instead?
I think we could do wonders for our youth and our society as a whole if we taught about good mental health.

  • Teach and do projects on self-esteem, help kids figure out what they really love to do and how to be proud of it.
  • Teach lessons on being resilient. You CAN teach someone how to gain skills that will make the ups and downs of life easier to manage.
  • Explain to our youth that they are worthy of love, attention, and support. If they are not getting that at home, parents can be led towards parenting classes that are not done to be punitive but rather done to make all of their lives better. It is very obvious to me that the parents needs as much consideration as the child.
  • We need to teach children about self-care and self nurture. I was 43 before I even knew what this meant. I assumed if I showered and brushed my teeth? I was all good. I had no idea that I needed to also nurture myself, treat myself well, do things that I enjoy like being creative or spending time writing.
  • Teach some behaviour therapy. How to see the world with realistic but not dirtied glasses. Help them see the good that surrounds them and actively push further away from the bad.
  • Teach these children about mental health issues. Let them know what is “normal” and what is not. Help them learn the signs of anxiety or depression so that they can be proactive far earlier. Many youth and many adults graduate from anxiety and/or depression to more serious concerns such as self harm, suicidal ideation, and eating disorders. Give them the local support numbers to call if they ever feel the need to reach out for help. Don’t make them (or anyone) have to go searching for it when they are at their lowest.

My personal belief (and that is all this is although I would LOVE to change the world with it) is that youth who are taught and helped to mature with a good self-esteem, an ability to be more resilient, know that they are worthy and important people in this world, take an active role in doing things that make themselves happy and feel fulfilled, youth who are taught about mental health and have no fear or stigma attached to it will reach out sooner, get help quicker and not fall so far before trying to catch themselves.

Mentally healthy children, youth and eventually members of our adult society will require less interventions, they will become happier workers, more positive people, they will be resilient and good at taking care of their own needs.
I think it is worth taking the time to make this a part of the curriculum and if they don’t? We parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, caregivers, friends, doctors, nurses, etc. need to start teaching it if we can.
I also firmly believe that these stronger, more self-assured youth won’t need as much help with bullies because a bully will be far less likely to upset them as easily AND we will have fewer bullies in the first place. Mentally healthy people do not feel the need to stomp on the feelings of those around them.

The Trauma Tree

Childhood trauma is often overlooked, greatly misunderstood and one of the most damaging things that can happen to a child. The effects will last a lifetime.

This is the issue that I want to bring up today. I believe this view needs to change in society. Not only for children now but for those of us that were children when we were affected by trauma. I believe that understanding this interrupted brain growth process will help us all be more compassionate to others and most importantly to ourselves.

One of the most maddening things I hear is that I was was too young to really remember the traumas that I experienced as an infant and toddler, therefore I should be fine. While on one hand, this is true. I can not accurately recall the exact details of the abuse, this view is still completely and utterly wrong, in fact it is the complete opposite. This tree is a great graphic to help me explain what I mean.

trauma-tree-4

The roots represent the prenatal stage of growth.
Where the tree touches the ground is birth.
The trunk is infancy and early childhood.
The lower branches are childhood.
The upper branches are your teen years.
Adulthood is at the top branches.

If trauma occurs at any stage, the rest of the tree’s growth (which represents your forming brain) beyond that point is negatively affected. The older you are, the more life experiences and knowledge you have to cope and the brain is not actively forming as quickly. (ie. Abusing a toddler affects the entire tree from the trunk up. You end up with a tree build on a very insecure base. If the abuse happens as an adult, you have a good base and strong branches so you have some ability to cope better than a child would.)
Side note: I said cope “better”, not easier. ❤

Childhood trauma is often complex and can be catastrophic, leaving a lifetime of struggles in almost all facets of life. This is significantly true of trauma exposure during the prenatal and infancy stages (roots and trunk) when the brain is at its most critical and active phases of development. The younger a person is when exposed to trauma, the higher their risk of developing trauma related disorders including learning disorders, developmental disorders, cognitive deficits, attention issues, attachment disorders, and so much more.

Prenatal trauma is hard to understand so I have found some examples of how trauma can happen even while in the womb.

  • a toxic or unwelcoming womb
  • divorce or a bereaved parent
  • a considered or attempted abortion
  • being unwanted
  • adoption (deep abandonment)
  • a lack of resources
  • twin loss
  • drugs, alcohol and nicotine taken during pregnancy
  • violence and other ongoing stresses.

A developing brain needs a healthy chemistry to develop properly. A brain that is developing while flooded with trauma induced chemicals (such as cortisol and adrenaline) fails to form healthy, strong connections.
Trauma at this stage will affect the formation of  the tree (your brain) at the roots. Every single part of that tree with be affected.

Birth trauma examples:

  • life/death situations
  • being born unusually quickly
  • a very long labor
  • adoption
  • the cord around the neck or getting stuck
  • being unwanted
  • c-sections

I want to point out that these are examples of birth trauma but it is more about how these events were handled. Having a c-section that was planned will not be a trauma but a mother far in to her labour when an emergency arises and she is whisked off to have an emergency c-section can be if she does not have enough support through this process.
This trauma is like taking the new roots and putting them in unhealthy soil.

There are numerous ways a young child can be affected by trauma. Several examples include:

  • sexual or physical abuse
  • natural disaster (hurricane, earthquake, flood)
  • car or plane crashes
  • war
  • witnessing a death, murder or suicide
  • kidnapping
  • rape
  • shootings
  • incest
  • fires
  • severe neglect
  • violence in the home

This trauma is usually where some memory comes in to play. It is better understood by society how these events can be traumatic but often people will assume that the child is too young to remember. This is absolutely incorrect. The child may not recall details (who, what, when, where, why) but they will forever feel the trauma within their bodies and their minds even if they can not accurately place exactly what happened to them. Details are not needed to have proof of abuse.

I think abuse of teens and adults is more easily understood so I will skip on to the effects of trauma keeping in mind that the earlier the trauma began, the shakier the tree. Abuse of an adult may produce any of these symptoms but the treatment is based on a firmer base which can make it easier to treat or deal with. Having support around you is also incredibly important. An adult woman who is is violated can have no support or lots of support. This usually affects the outcome and persistent symptoms greatly.

Symptoms of trauma can include:

  • Anxiety, terror
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Constantly being alert
  • Re-enactment of situation with various objects
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Lack of energy
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Amnesia
  • Poor self-image
  • Bedwetting (not only a childhood thing)
  • Guilty feelings
  • Showing signs of obsessive or compulsive behaviors
  • Panic attacks
  • Recurrent nightmares, flashbacks
  • Shyness
  • Avoidance of situations similar to the traumatic event
  • Pain with or without an obvious cause
  • Inability to give or receive proper love and affection
  • Trust issues that vary from wariness to an absolute disbelief in anyone or anything

Sadly the list can be much longer but I felt those were the major touching points.

In the end, I hope this blog helps you be a bit more compassionate with yourself and/or with others who have been traumatized. Quite often trauma can stunt/slow/stop a persons emotional maturity at the point where the trauma took place. You might be 35-45-55-65+but trauma can leave you emotionally much younger. One therapist told me that I am about 400 years old intellectually but about 4 emotionally. I am still just learning the ropes. I agree and I do not see this as a putdown. With my background, it is great that I’ve reached 4.

With good therapy, a supportive environment, medications or supplements as needed and a boatload of self compassion, we can continue to find ways to build a more supportive tree. I like to picture building a beautiful stone wall around mine. Stone by stone, it gets taller and stronger. Yours can too.

My tree had DID so the rock wall takes a little longer to encompass my tree but it’s a process/project worth working for.Rockwork around trees

Stitched in.

This might sound weird but when I think back to my childhood and think about the lessons I was taught, I can picture certain adults sitting inside my body sewing things on to my organs in order to be sure they stay there and are secure. I don’t know why I have this vision but this is what I see.

My adult mind knows who I am and yet when speaking to my therapist this morning, I caught myself using a name for myself that is definitely not mine. I replied to a question about honesty and how I just can not allow even the tiniest of lies to escape my lips because “I don’t want people to ever find out that I am a sociopath”. After all this therapy, that word still comes in to my description of myself! Annoying!
I was only a very young girl when this word was sewn in to me for the first time. 4? 5? Maybe 6? Right at the age when I started noticing that my life wasn’t normal and occasionally said things that I shouldn’t have (according to my monster/mother).

“She can’t tell the difference between the truth and a lie yet. The other adults would nod and throw me a pitying glance.
Stitch here, stitch there. “I don’t know the difference between truth and lies.”

“Heather has a great imagination for sure!!! Hopefully she will eventually join us in reality.”
Stitch here, stitch there. “These things that are happening are not real.”

“Heather seems to have some deep-seated issues. She keeps hurting herself.” And the doctor who was kind to me the first 2 times I had severe bladder infections is now scolding me and telling me that I need to be more careful or I will cause real permanent damage.
Stitch here, stitch there. “Being hurt and in pain is my fault. If I was more careful, it wouldn’t happen. It is MY fault.”

“She just wants attention and will do or say anything to get it.” My tears, my pleading, begging, reaching out is now ignored by any adult who has contact with me.
Stitch here, stitch there. “My fear, my pain, my need for help are just my own crazy attempts to get attention.”

And when I had the courage to tell my father about that janitor at school abusing me? “He’s a family man. You don’t want to ruin his life.”
Stitch here, stitch there. “If I tell on anyone, I am responsible for whatever negative consequences they or their families suffer.”

Then add “She’s been diagnosed as a sociopath” to my teachers. “She’s been diagnosed as a sociopath” to my doctors. “She’s been diagnosed as a sociopath” to my friends and their parents. “She’s been diagnosed as a sociopath” was used to explain away ANYTHING that could not otherwise be blamed on me. Even to those who questioned such a diagnoses in a young child or early teen…. “Oh we’ve been to hell and back with her. We’ve done everything we can think of. This is the only diagnoses that the professionals have been able to state with any clarity.”
Stitch here, stitch there. “I am a sociopath.”

I didn’t even know what a sociopath was when I started telling people (professionals) who  asked me that I was one. Even at the age of 43, I went in to Homewood for in-patient treatment and I gave them my diagnoses of being a sociopath alongside PTSD, depression and anxiety.
It was sewn so deeply in to my core that even I did not know that it wasn’t true.
Stitch here. Stitch there. Sew her up. She’s convinced this is all her fault. A job well done!

Sociopath is not just a word to me. It is not just a diagnoses. I spent my entire life trying to be so honest and so transparent just so that other people would never learn my nasty secret. Honest Heather, kind Heather, thoughtful Heather, good friend Heather, educated/smart Heather, giving Heather… those were just elaborate fronts I made to hide the fact that I was a sociopath. I was more afraid of people finding out my real truth than I was of anything else so I lived my life proving that I was anything but all of that.
I knew the “truth” and was terrified others would see it too.
It affected every part of my life. I was afraid to get too close to people, I was afraid to tell them about anything from my past, I lived in constant fear, I could not trust anyone around me because I knew that if they ever uncovered my truth, they would dump me like a hot potato.

So here I am 3 years later. I understand now that I was brainwashed. I was force-fed the lie that everything that happened to me happened BECAUSE of me.
I’ve begun to really open up to others in a way I could not do before. I am learning to trust and I actually have a few people in my life that I can actually say I trust fully. That is incredible.
I know 100% for sure that I am not and never was a sociopath. My therapist actually says that I am on the total other end of the spectrum. I refuse to lie about anything and I care more about others that I do about myself more often than not.

So then why today does the sentence “I don’t want others to realize that I am a sociopath” still come flying out of my mouth? It was sewn in. Sewn deeply, fully, to many different parts of me. It became more than a word. It became who I was. I am Heather the sociopath.

So why share this? Well, if there is one thing I have learned over these last 3 years and especially in writing this blog? Everything that I have been through has also touched others.
Perhaps you are “the liar, “the attention seeker”, “the drama king/queen”, “the idiot”…
Maybe you are the “waste of space”, “the useless piece of trash”.
Will you ever get anything right? Are you the fat and ugly one? The horrible daughter, wife, mother or the male counterparts?

I have no clue what you were taught and I have no idea what was sewn in to you but there is only one way to work towards ridding it from your system after you are actually able to see that you are, and never were the real problem.
We have to open up those stitches. It might take a long time like it is for me or maybe you can just rip them out and move on but no matter how long it takes? You are NOT what was sewn in to you.
You are you. Amazing, incredible, fantastically human and therefore flawed yet still perfect. JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. I sit here nearly in tears because I just want to know you hear me and try to believe me if only for a moment.

I am Heather, the sociopath, the attention seeker, the idiot, the troublemaker, the cause of all bad events.
I am Heather, the writer, the artist, the good friend and amazing wife (just ask him!), the person others go to when they want the truth. I was told that I listen and offer suggestions with grace. That made my heart sing. I’ve worked hard on the graceful part. I am many things. Some good and some that still need work but I am NOT a sociopath or any of the other words that were sewn in to me.

I have a few stitch removers. Does anyone want to join me in removing a few unnecessary seams?

Have a wonderful weekend!

Stitch

Sharks vs. Goldfish

I don’t know about any of you but there were many times in my past where I gave almost everything my full attention even if that meant nearly splitting myself in 10 different directions. I rarely ever just let something go with the understanding that as of right at that time It wasn’t important enough to deserve my time or effort.

When I found out that I had DID, I immediately tried to stop ALL dissociations. I tried to rewire everything immediately. It overwhelmed me and depressed me because I always felt like such a huge failure when a dissociation would happen.
Feeling like a failure rarely inspires me to work harder. It usually deflates me and zaps my energy.
Something needed to be changed.

This is where the sharks and the goldfish come in.
I don’t know why these 2 creatures came to mind but to me they are the perfect dichotomy of something that needs to be dealt with immediately and something that can wait.
Sharks to me are the dissociations that affect my life in a negative way. Dissociating when with loved ones, at functions such as the craft shows I am doing right now, when speaking to my therapist or other important people with whom I really need to stay present. This is also important for things like preventing a 4 year old Helper from driving the car or a teenage Helper from self harming. These are my sharks. They are important and need to be focussed on. Dissociating at these times is not an option and my effort and energy needs to go towards preventing it as often as possible.

Then their are the goldfish. Dissociating while playing with a younger child and joining in with a Helper of the same age. I dissociate every single time I see a bathtub which happens many times a day but it is neither harmful nor prolonged unless their are issues with the plumbing. 😉 There are dissociations that happen while I am watching TV and something triggers me but I am on my couch and safe. These are the goldfish. My effort and energy can be better focussed on the sharks.

This applies to anyone as far as I am concerned. We all have sharks in our lives. The things we really should focus our time and energy on like a bump in our relationships, taking care of our health, doing things we love and learning how to do things that are new and interesting. Things that keep our brains happy. Our list of sharks varies for everyone and what may have been a goldfish 3 months ago might be a shark now. Just like life, this list is fluid.

Then there are the goldfish… mopping the floor CAN wait until tomorrow so you can spend time with a friend today. You can sit down and write your blog for Friday in the middle of cleaning your house (guess what I am doing?) and I absolutely GUARANTEE it will wait for you.
Oh wait! I think I hear the dust running out the door…. not.
There are events that you can skip because they really don’t matter to you at all even if you have nothing better to do. You can go to a movie with your loved one(s) rather than spending the whole day preplanning all your food for the week. You can always do that later or the next day.

It is really just a visual explanation for prioritizing AND for allowing yourself to get off the hook now and then. Everything is not important. Some things rank higher than others and it is okay to not get to the bottom of the list. Heck… I’ve not cleaned in a whole week at times due to illness, being crazy busy (with sharks) or just preferring to play Candy Crush rather than do the housework. Who really cares? I am not saying to allow things to be put off forever but I think we all need to be kinder to ourselves and accept that we just can’t do it all. No one can.

As a side note, I am one of those people… one of those really annoying people… who is almost always on top of everything. My house is clean, supper is made, the craft fairs are all set up, phone calls made, work done, the dog has been cared for and so forth. From the outside, everything is just tickity-boo. Don’t let that fool you! Even those of us who present as totally “with it” and “together” at all times really aren’t. We are just better at hiding it. OR if they are like me? They use looking like everything is perfect to mask troubled times.
If you ever come to my house and everything is lined up perfectly like the Korean Army? I am not in a good head space. Everything looks PERFECT but I am using those meaningless tasks to keep my mind off what I feel I can not change.
Never feel “less than” because others seem to have it all together. They don’t.

I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend and pay attention to the sharks while ignoring the goldfish. I hope it makes your days run smoother and allows you to feel happier. 🙂

Goldfish

Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is something I’ve been told that I don’t have many, many times by many caring and considerate professionals. They mean no harm by it. They have actually been trying to bring my attention to it so that I am able to work on it.
The trouble is that I could never see what they saw.
When I thought about self-esteem, I saw myself as having plenty. Sure I had my down days but so does everyone right? I had no idea that self-esteem or the causes for a lack of it can be rather elusive at times.

When I looked at myself I saw a woman who felt quite good about herself. I felt strong, smart and resilient. All good qualities for sure. So why did these professionals say my self-esteem was low? A few actually said “non-existent`” but let’s not be dramatic eh?

After discussing it AGAIN during a therapy session, I tried to see what she meant but couldn’t.
Then last Saturday happened.
It was my very first craft fair and I was both excited and nervous. I felt I was ready but being totally new to it, I had doubts as well. All perfectly normal in my opinion.
I got there and got all set up in good time. My table looked professional and I was ready to go.
Then who should walk in but one of my monster-mothers best friends. This is someone who’s spoken very badly about me and to me over the years. She knows NOTHING about me personally but she takes my mothers word and feels it necessary to turn the knife whenever she gets a chance.
And where is HER table? Beside mine of course. 3 feet away and certainly close enough to allow her to do a running commentary for hours (7 to be exact) about what she thinks about me and  my every move.

I handled it like a pro. No matter what she did or said, I remained calm and polite with her. I have a mantra that I live by that says “How other people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours.”. That day my karma should have been bloating itself with pride. 😉 I refused to sink to her level or take part in being hate-filled. It just isn’t going to happen. That is not who I am. That is NOT saying that I didn’t want to punch her in the face or sew her lips shut but no one including her would have ever known my frustration.

Back to self-esteem. This is where it kicks in.
I went home, told my husband and friends about my day. The good and the noisy.
I tried to just drop it there and forget about it.
In is honestly not one bit important what this person thinks, feels or says about me. She does not know me and her feelings are 100% based on lies she’s been told by my monster-mother.
So then why did I begin to unravel?
Why did I begin to feel as though I was not worthy of people thinking good things about me?
Why did I accept that things would never change because I didn’t deserve them to?
Why did every nasty, unloving, hurtful, hate-filled word that I was called as a child by the monster suddenly feel like that was my truth of who I really am?
Why did the pain my family has caused me over the years suddenly feel like the words from the gospel? Irrefutable.
Why did I immediately go back to thoughts of severe depression and suicide with the thought in my head that life would never be any better?
Why did I feel that there was only one (illegal) way to handle this situation to just make it all stop?
And the very worst thoughts? What if it is me? What if I am the problem and truly have been all along?
Why did I feel unworthy, uncared for, smaller than small, hopeless, and completely unable to see the good in myself when dealt this blow?
Self-esteem.
Well actually? The lack of it.

I could finally see why these professionals have tried so hard to make me work on my self-esteem when I was incapable of knowing what the heck they were talking about. They were right. My self-esteem was horrid. I should not speak in the past tense here. That is misleading. My self-esteem is horrid.

At least now I know what it is and I know what I really feel about myself when the chips are down and life is not filled with rainbows. My view of myself is not at all what it should be and so much of what I believe to be true is bullcrap. I wrote a list of all the words I used to describe myself and when reading the list back to myself, I thought about how devastated I would be if any of my friends or blog followers felt that way about themselves.  I would spend every breath trying to make you see how untrue it all was. I’d be grief stricken if I was unsuccessful. NO ONE in this world is worthy of such disdain. Such hate. Such venom.

So why is it acceptable for me?
It isn’t.
It is what I was raised to believe and it is what I was taught to be my truth. Those lessons sank in to the core of who I am and what I’ve become.

I am fairly sure many of you are reading this and thinking it is true for you as well so you know me. I can’t end on a negative. There HAS to be a way out of this crap.
There is and it’s possible but it will not be easy. It will mean digging up what you actually say to yourself when you are feeling badly or having a tough day. It is found in the names we call ourselves… fat, stupid, clumsy, clueless…

I decided to write down all the words that I use to describe myself when my world is not a happy place. I looked deep inside myself and admitted that the way I see myself is sad and absolutely not okay. I accept it all though. That is what I believe and saying I don’t as though some magic trick has suddenly evaporated all my negative self talk is once again… a bunch of bullcrap.

But now that my words are written down and I have accepted this is how I see myself, I need to start looking at what is actually mine to own and what is not. Rather than seeing myself through the eyes of neglectful parents, teachers, doctors or anyone else that failed me as a child, I need to see myself through the eyes of the people in my life now. I actually asked some people to tell me what they think of or feel when they think of me and the replies were beautiful. They were honest and didn’t pretend that life with me is 100% rosy at all times but they showed me beyond a doubt that many of them see me in a very positive light and feel that I am worthy of their time and energy.
I need to work on allowing this to sink in. Allowing the good words to seep in to my soul in the same way the negative ones did.

It will be a process and I doubt it is something that you just change at the snap of a finger but I have started and I am “dedicated to whatever I put my mind to” (one of the comments about me that is absolutely correct). I will get there and I hope you will too.
We are worthy of healing.
We are worthy of a better life.
All that crap that runs around in our heads? You got it! Bullcrap!