Certainly not there anymore

Few weeks back I wrote about the back-to-work-hopelessness, sitting in my office while my head and body were stuck somewhere in France. I’m not there any longer. I usually bring my breakfast to work, and I am usually so busy that by lunchtime I haven’t finished it. I rarely break for lunch…

I haven’t had inspiration or time to blog, which feels bad. I like to write, it makes me feel better, sorting my thoughts make me more focused and happy. It is work, work, work, spending time with my girls who are all grown up, and work, and PAIN. It doesn’t seem to go away. I have never cried anywhere as much as I cry when my (former gorgeous, now only evil) physiotherapist stretches my neck, head and throat muscles. I have dropped all heavy painkillers, however, missing the opportunity to go to bed a bit too drowsy and sleep for ten hours. Painkillers are no good. Not the ones that really work!

I wish I was in France. I wish my mindset was vacation mode. My boss put me on a management program, I reluctantly accepted. We had the house full of people last weekend, leaving no space to relax, and no space to talk to my husband, who is away all week. I think I continue to do things I don’t like.

Moments in between are good. When I get out exploring nature. Eating fresh cooked prawns on a 250 year old ship at sea. Meeting friends, especially my best one 😉

Being here, now, will go into my to-do-list. 😉

Another death in the family

She was old, my aunt, she was  94. Born in the last year of WW1. Second oldest of seven, four girls and three boys. Every one of them went away to study, engineering, chemistry, this one, she studied to be a teacher. Later on she got to be a special eds teacher, one of few. She worked at the same school for more than 40 years.

She never married, and she lived in the house next door. She looked after her old parents, they lived there too.

Yesterday she died, she had been in and out since the weekend, and there was no drama.

I am not sure when I saw her last. For the last ten years, she’s been demented, talking about the war… Mixing our names together, and been ill, so many times.

I don’t really feel anything.

Its not like I am suppressing any feelings, and there is no shock. No loss, no sorrow. A bit relieved, she was tired. I remember her talking about dying, I guess tomorrow, when we get together to plan the funeral, we will find that she probably made plans. Twenty years ago…

I don’t look forward to the funeral, the family (again) and all the stuff we have to do. It is me and my brother and sister who has to do it all. We just did this… four years ago. There has been so many deaths in my family, we are used to it. That sounds terrible. I know.

An occasion to remember

She has put on her best dress. White. Her finest shoes, white short socks. On her arm, a bracelet. Her mother arranges her hair. Her blonde curls… She feels special, beautiful. She looks like haute couture. It’s a special day.
I imagine she’d never been to see a photographer before. I can picture her going through Rue de Huchette, or perhaps Quai St. Michel after taking the metro. She holds her mothers’ hand quite tight. And her mother is careful in the busy streets.
In the studio, she takes her coat off. The city is not summer warm anymore.
I think that after walking a bit, she needs to run around, and move and play, without holding hands with anyone. But she is probably very polite, and a bit proud that she can take the photographers hand and say “Bonjour”. Words in a foreign language.
Maybe she found the leaf outside, on the street. It looks like a leaf from an oak tree. Maybe the photographer thinks it’s a good idea to leave the leaf right there, on the bench where she sits when he takes the picture.
She puts on her most lovely smile. She is happy.
Afterwards they went to buy a colourful and sweet “gateaux” or some “petit four”. Or perhaps ice cream. She’d eat like a little princess, and be very careful not to ruin her lovely dress.
They’d have a good time together, my mother, and her mother in wonderful Paris, 1936.

Me Me Me!

Mind the gap...

Thin line between hopelessness and ability to heal! (Photo credit: asparagus_hunter)

So many years spent without the ability to think outside the ME-mind! Well, I did take care of my family, I did get an education, I got a job, I have friends. But the egocentric mind, dominated for so many years. And by all means; “ME” is the mind that must heal.

Realizing last post was a genuine recipe for depression (which I definitely had) I need to make a follow up.

So I got to think… I am no longer only inside the “ME”-thing, which I described earlier. As a child, I didn’t know anything else.  Trying to cope with depression, there was never room for anyone else, really.

Like so many others with backgrounds similar to mine, you don’t just have PTSD or c-PTSD. You get depressed, you stop sleeping or sleep too much, you might have anxiety issues, eating disorders, dissociative disorder, OCDs, phobias or other stuff. None of it is very nice… Most need treatment. How hard it must be to point out THIS ONE THING as the reason for all your trouble. Like I have my PTSD. (At least that the way I see it, don’t know if my therapist agrees).

If you get a physical decease, you still have a life to live. It doesn’t have to consume all your thoughts and high wire your brain for years. If you have a mental illness, it IS who and what you are. Sometimes for most of the hours of the day. And night.

For me, realizing this, happened in retrospect. I think at one point, I decided to define myself outside of it. (I probably have decided that several times, like if you decide to diet or stop smoking again and again…) But now I feel rather successful at it.

I think all the time of how I feel, and evaluate my feelings. How do I cope with feeling sad, why am I sad, does it have to be like this? And how can I use the mindful approach and be here right now, and let it go? So many times, I find that after meditating I feel so much better. More focused, positive and with a calm here-and-now feeling. This enables see others, feel beauty, enjoy life, concentrate…

I want to focus on the good feelings (still having some bad ones from time to time), and I want to choose to feel good about me (though sometimes I don’t). It means experiencing all feelings and regard them in a state of not judging them either way. I kind of set myself outside the feeling.

I could go on for some time on this… Probably get back to it!

The depressed universe doesn’t have any room at all for any other than ME. The million-dollar question is how to get inside that ME and make it help itself, instead of forever lingering in the deep hurt and pain issues.

Have you been trough the same? How did you start to heal?

Me and all the others

child abuse

Child abuse (Photo credit: Southworth Sailor)

I am different. Aren’t we all… I thought about that today, that feeling. Nobody can understand me, because I am different from them, the others.
It was something I read about helping young people with addictions, that got the thinking going.
We seem to think that we are unique. And I am, but there are not six billions different personality types. Something must be similar other then the fact that all humans have a mind.
When I was a child, I defined my whole being, on the “different” part. I saw people being happy, but had problems relating it to my existence. Of course I had moments of happiness, breaks, Christmas, my secret places. But I saw families and other children with lives so different from my own.
I guess that was what made the distance so enormous. When others tried to get near me, I’d back off. I was so different that the idea of being like them was a concept impossible to understand. The idea that someone could help, wasn’t there at all. For me as a  child. Guess I am growing up now.
Following this was the understanding that nothing could change. I was stuck (as the only one in the world) in my situation, with negligence and abuse, and a life outside of the ordinary.
I was way out. When I sort of cleaned up, and got my life together, I used patterns and behaviour I had watched and learned. I did what people expected me to. I hid away the abused child, and what had been me. Put it in a huge locked box and threw away the key. And for some years, I was probably nobody… Well, I know that’s not possible.
I guess over the years I have found me again, and started working out how my experience has shaped me, and my life.
Sometimes I am very strong, feel like I know what I am doing, and love my life. Sometimes I feel very scared about what has been, scared of those feelings that sort of can take over my whole being.
Sometimes I am just scared. But I’m not all that different anymore.

Related:
The end of childhood as a Horror movie 

How are things at home

I dont know if I miss my mother

Birthday Cake

Birthday Cake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember, when other children would ask me, I’d refer to her as ”my mother”. Other children had mums, or mamas, and I talked about her as ”my mother”. When she was alive, I said mum, at least until she went away to hospital, and I didn’t get to see her again. I’d say “my mother” is ill, instead of calling her mum. Something inside me must have known how to keep a distance. Like putting her in a different place, outside and away from me. Maybe I knew she was going to die, even though no one told me. Maybe someone did tell me, and I erased that information from my mind too, didn’t want to know, couldn’t cope with the truth. I was six when she got cancer, seven when she died.

Many mother-daughter things were never done. We never went for a walk in the woods or on the beach. We never went shopping. I can’t remember her buying me things, though she must have. Not sure. I can’t remember staring in a toy store window wanting just THAT doll, and get it.

She never got to help me with homework, or tell me I looked nice before school. Or make my school lunch. All my birthdays before I got to ten, at least, are forgotten. Not one cake, not one present, not one party. I have a recipe for a chocolate cake that taste like something I might remember. Not sure.

I don’t think I miss my mother.

I am not even sure if I miss mother-daughter stuff, my whole childhood got so messed up. I know I miss feeling loved.

I know I miss not having learnt to be a mother myself. Babies don’t come with instructions, and you never get a second chance.

 

The end of Childhood as Horror movie!

Heroin syringe

Heroin syringe (Photo credit: Thomas Marthinsen)

Explisit!
I am not sure when he stopped.

My therapist has asked me several times, if I was scared of getting pregnant. I don’t remember. Pain in my childhood covered my memory and made so many things disappear, just to reappear as fragments. Not all of them are frightening or dangerous, or in the PTSD-category, like some of the things I have described earlier. Most are just undiscovered memories, as if you would look through old photo albums. That’s ok.

So I don’t remember if I was scared of getting pregnant. At first I guess I didn’t know how one did get pregnant, it wasn’t included in my sisters version of the flowers and the bees. As I got just a bit older, and understood more, I was also able to get away more easily.

My day would be like:

  • school (not every day)
  • going to town for music lessons (as much as I could) or to the library
  •  just going to town, hang out with people I thought about as friends, usually a lot older than me.
  • getting home too late, and go straight to my room.
  • if he was home, and not one of his travels, I’d think twice (at least) on what to do. Sometimes I’d just get out again through the window immediately. Sometimes I’d wait for a while. Sometimes I tried to sleep. If I got out, I would come back at 4:30 or 5, and get two hours of sleep before having to start another day.

I always had top grades at school, even though I never made an effort, and in periods, I couldn’t have gone more than every other day. Sometimes teachers would try to talk to me, and they said they would call him. My respons would be “so what?” People must have known though. Someone in school, the pill-pushing idiot of a doctor, someone in that very very sick home I had.

I ran away several times. Once my sister saw me, she was going to work on a very early morning shift. Saw me, ran to grab me, and called him. I couldn’t believe she would do that!

Once I told my friends at school that I was going to far away, to another country. For like forever. After two days, they told the police that. After two days, even he got worried. I was in my hiding place by the sea. I don’t recall what happened as I got back.

At 13 I met this boy who lived by himself. He was 18. Which meant free alcohol, many funny pills, and the introduction to smack (H, skag or whatever you call it). I did only one serious suicide attempt, the plan was to pop all the pills I could find, and top it off with a shot. Problem was that the pills were still in their packages, so I had to press them out one by one. I started taking ten, and then ten more… when I woke up again, I had the syringe in my arm, and there was some blood. Some 26 hours had passed. So it must have been a close call. After that, at 16, I came off hard drugs, on my own.

Last term at school, I had put my life together, sort of. I was normal, like the others. I thought so anyway.

These last few weeks of writing has been quite intense. If my mind doesn’t come up with more ugly flashback, the things I have told about here are the worst. It’s not all. but maybe it is the parts that needed to be told the most.

At 16, I met my first husband, we married when I was 18. At 25, my father died on one of his many journeys. That was when I started remembering. I had some 25 years of f***ing up my life, and by next year, I have use 25 years trying to mend. The story is not over.

Pain is good

Explicit!
I was too young. That morning I woke up with a terrifying pain in my lower tummy. Nobody ever told me about it, they probably thought it could wait for another couple of years. I must have been 11. I’m not going to go into too gory details here, but waking up with what looked like two litres of blood in my bed, made me think I was dying.

Of course I didn’t tell anyone. Dying was an ok option, he couldn’t hurt me anymore.

Well I didn’t die… and my effort to try to hide this from the world using huge amounts of toilet paper and hiding the sheets was not successful. It was my sister that told me what this was all about, she was 17.

My excruciating pain had me in bed for three days a month. And more painkillers were introduced. Nobody knew about the broken arm painkillers from a year back, and now I got more.

I got proper sleep. I got painless days. I imagine my body to be a tight bundle of hard strung muscles that would never let go and loosen up. The pills made me relax.

I wonder what the doctor must have thought. Did I appear to be a normal little girl? Did anyone see through the picture perfect family he tried to create?

My pain threshold became lower each month…

My period also gave me a break, he would leave me alone.

In one of my flashbacks I cut myself wanting lots of blood to keep him away. I don’t think it happened often, it could have happened just once.

Pain gave me relief.

Something in me believed

He started traveling. He got a job where he didn’t stay home for long at the time. I remember our housekeeper complained over him, leaving the kids, and that traveling for 150 days a year was never part of her plan.

For me, it was probably a lifesaver.

When I was eight, I got appendicitis. That day, we had been to town, shopping maybe, only her and I. When we got home she had made porridge. I can’t eat that. The consistence, the taste, the colour… She made me try, and I did. A bit. And started vomiting. Of course everybody thought I faked it. So it wasn’t until my fever got so high that I went in and out of consciousness, that she thought of contacting a doctor. I remember my sister was there too, she was worried.

Afterwards everybody was jealous of me, getting to go to hospital in a real ambulance. I hardly noticed. I was in so much pain, that I was sure I would die. And get to see my mother again. (She died just over a year before this happened). There should be a heaven for all dead people, I thought.

I stayed in hospital for a week, got presents, a barbie doll, and a Tarzan book. It had more than 200 pages, I read it all, and was proud. I hardly ate at hospital, the feeling of being sick sort of just stayed with me for the whole week. And the hospital smell. Only thing I would eat was bread and ham. I got bread and ham and white cheese. I never ate the cheese, I hid it under the mattress when nobody saw me.

He came home on the day I was released from hospital. He had bought me something. I don’t remember what it was.

Burnt child

One of my friends and her family went to visit her uncle. I got to come along, being the girl without a mother that people felt sorry for. It must have been one of the school holidays, it was more than two nights. But there was a weekend during those days we spent there. A house on the countryside, as the fruit trees blossomed. Sunshine.  A farm. I am scared of cows. They smell bad too.

We borrowed two really huge mens bicycles to get a couple of kilometers to the petrol station, it must have looked ridiculous, we didn’t reach the pedals. It was all downhill. We wanted ice cream and sweets, maybe it was a Saturday. Day for treats.

I went to the to the back, to go to the toilet. I didn’t realize I was followed. Couldn’t get away either. He put one hand over my small breasts and the other down my panties. He said I liked it. He smelled of petrol and grease and tobacco. He let me go again, and I don’t remember the way uphill. Don’t remember any ice cream. Never told anyone. Not until now.

That night, we went to a party, or, no, not a party. Kids (though some over 18) getting together, playing music. There were a few beers there, and as the older ones got a bit drunk, no one cared about me, or my friend. Well she did, I probably told her to shut up or something. Or went on talking to someone else. Then some real booze came on the table. Nobody could just go buy it, it was expensive, and hard to find someone over 18 to buy. So it was homemade, and awful.

That didn’t bother me much. I drank until I was unconscious, woke up vomitting, drank some more. It was my first time.

The next day we sat talking in a field. My friend and me, and some of the others, probably agreeing it was a good party last night. One of the real cool boys sat in a tree, I liked him.

Then I set fire to the dry grass, and it spread very fast. I burnt my hand. Fire engines didn’t come for more than half an hour.

The others covered for me, but I was never invited again.

Like music in my ear

A facsimile sheet of music from the Dies Irae ...

A facsimile sheet of music from the Dies Irae movement of the “Requiem Mass in D Minor” (K. 626) in Mozart’s own handwriting. It is located at the Mozarthaus in Vienna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I always liked music. My mother played the piano. Slim fingers doing simple tunes on the keyboard. We had a piano. I think I remember when we got it. Petrof, in teak. Besides, there were a shelf with booklets. Chopin, Mozarts menuets, Christmas carols. My brother took classes, with an old woman he described as a witch. He never liked it, at least not until he got music sheets for Beatles. “Lady Madonna” was a hit.

I practised when no one saw me, I could go on for hours. If I had the house to myself, it would be the thing to do.

Later I started playing the flute. I got a very good teacher, he was old, and had had his career in the local symphonic orchestra. I only saw him every other week, but then we practised for one hour, maybe one and a half. His wife brought us tea and cookies, he talked about life. Told stories, forgot about the time. He only had one student each day.

I was fascinated with the music, the patterns of the sound, the way things fitted together. I fell in love with Mozart. And Bach. And some of the crazy neo-classical stuff. I went to the library, and took home both the music on tape, and the music score. From the easy flute-related stuff to operas and Mozarts’ Requiems. All the symphonies, and then I went on to Beethoven. Wagner. Verdi’s Requiem. And Rilke and Goethe and Nietzsche. Went on to philosophy and developed a genuine interest in our strange Europe, the whys and hows. Descartes, Kant and Wittgenstein. I read essays, librettos and lyrics. I studied the music scores at a total nerd level 🙂

I felt rich.

I stopped playing at 17. My teacher wanted to find someone better for me, and he found one. He taught at the music conservatory. But it was never the same. I still read music scores, and after reading, I listen, to see if I was right 🙂

The smell of summer

English: Hyacinthoides non-scripta (Common Blu...

English: Hyacinthoides non-scripta (Common Bluebell). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We used to have our vacations at the house where my family originated from. My granddad moved to «town». Before that, before WW2 the family lived in a little house in a little place, in a bay, surrounded by high mountains. We had the north winds coming in every afternoon. It could be a bit cold. I remember the smell of all the flowers and the grass in the field. The smell of summer. I picked bluebells. That little house used to give me a break from the terror at home.

We went fishing in the river nearby, for large salmon and trout. My granddad told stories of a bear hunt, from way back. I never believed it was true, imagined it was something he made up just to make a good story. Some years back, I found that it was actually true. There had been a real big bear in the area, and it got shot, not by my granddad, but by someone nearby that he knew. (Probably relatives, it is a VERY little place). It was a good story!

I loved swimming in the river. I put on a diving mask and fins, and snorkel for hours in that ice cold water, snow melting water. I swam up the river, some hundred metres, and drifted down again. Sometimes I saw salmons more than half my size. I wouldn’t move at all, and we were just eyeing each other out, before she would hurry upstream, and I had no chance of following, drifting downstream. My body not shaped for that purpose at all.

We used to have boiled eggs for breakfast.

We went fishing in the sea too. My brother and I went out with the dinghy, it wasn’t that small, we had an outboard on it.  Once we found ourselves in the middle of the boiling sea, I had never seen anything like it. Pollock swim together in large flocks, and then sometimes, something scares them from down under, and they surface. There were thousands. Like the area of a soccer field, boiling with jumping fish. Imagine sitting there on a sunny day, with a lazy fishing rod outside the boat, and suddenly everything was total chaos. We caught about 60 of them, before they went under again.

I remember my mother coming to the house by the seaside. I sensed she was on edge; I couldn’t have been more than five. She wanted me to wear a life vest all the time. Once, she took us out in the boat, not far, and we lowered a little anchor to have the boat stay at one place when fishing. When she started the outboard again, she’d forgotten about it, and the propellers cut the rope.

She started to cry. I imagine she was afraid he would get angry. I cried to, because she was afraid.

When I got older, must have been 12, we had a new and larger boat. My brother and I had an argument on the boat, I have no idea what it was about. But it ended with him saying he was going to kill me.

I didn’t go out fishing with him for a long time after that. Once he asked me why. I told him, and he said he never meant anything by it. He had probably forgotten about it.

I went swimming instead. No one saw me cry.

PTSD- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, what is this, really?

PTSD is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after one or more events that result in a psychological trauma. Re-experience of the original traumas is one of the most common symptoms.

There is lots of information on this out there in cyberspace, not all of it good. My symptoms are quite awful. I have trouble falling asleep, almost every night, no matter how tired I am. I wake up with a feeling of terror in the middle of the night, not being able to dissociate from what I am feeling, from who and where I am at the instant that this is happening.
Many years this made me rush out of the house in the middle of the night, not being myself again until I had walked for at least 20 minutes. I used to have special places to “hide”. By the rocky seaside, where nobody could see me, I regained my breath and found my heart beating at a not so panicked pace.

The horrible memories coming up are not always the same. They change, and as there still are lots of stuff I really don’t remember, it is really scary. Many times I find it hard to relate to the things that happens “in my head” as I don’t remember. But I have learnt that the bad re-living of all these things have a reason. It is not something I make up. I can go on for days with only minimal sleep, 3-4 hours a night. After periods like these, I used to do drugs, desperate to get to sleep again. That’s a stupid thing to do… Turning life into even more chaos, and not being able to stop using again for maybe months. So then you have a circle going round and round with hardly any possibility to change or stop it. Now I haven’t used since October. Quite happy about that!

Another symptom is that I get really tired, worn out, maybe a bit indifferent or even moody. Being so on edge, scared and sleepless does that to people… But it is as if there is something more to it, the tiredness I mean. I am not just tired, I’m so fatigued that I think I can sleep for a week. If only I could fall asleep… I argue from time to time with my lovely therapist whether I am depressed or not. She thinks I am… I disagree:)

Sometimes I get terrified during daytime to. I haven’t identified all the triggers. It can be a smell, a noise, a very special pair of shoes, a feeling of not being able to get out. I am not afraid of flying, but whenever the plane door closes, I get a sinking feeling in my stomach. Neither am I afraid of dentists, but the idea of lying in his chair not being able to get out, scares me. Kind of claustrophobic…

My PTSD is not related to one particular incident, as you can see. It is because of long-term abuse, and a childhood where there are few things I can really remember. Of my biggest problems are that some of these memories have no language. I have some images that is hard to describe, I have some smells, some feelings, strongest one is that I am dying. Being so terrified and not having the language to describe these non-verbal things going on inside me is tough! Specially because I work with language and words, as a journalist!

If PTSD has a colour, for me that is red. As in blood, dark red.

Green

Italiano: Fuochi d'artificio a Vinci, FI, Ital...

Italiano: Fuochi d’artificio a Vinci, FI, Italia. English: Fireworks in Vinci, FI, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first day… Just trying it out really:)

Wishing to be totally anonymous, and tell my story. This is not going to be a sad story. I hope it will be an honest story, honest to myself and my own feelings, my set backs and leaps forward. I know it is a hard story to tell. I know it is a strong story to read. I hope I will feel better telling about it, and I hope someone will feel better reading it.

I can’t know if that is true.

I can’t know if I am going to make this happen. Deep down I wish for the ability to tell my story. I have tried before. Failing is never easy, but maybe something is different this time? I think it is.

Today, it is Friday, the best day of the week. I go for green.

Back soon:)