hmmmm.... this is not a safe post. not at all. this is the most unsafe post ever. if you're related to me it will slap your head so hard you'll have to pick it up off the sidewalk. not safe for parents at all although I'm not sure why I'm bothering with warning labels at this point and I'm fairly certain this is a parent free zone. But just in case.
Sometime in late spring of 2004, Stamford, CT:
Little Girl was napping in her little bed upstairs in the big white Colonial on Weed Hill with the red front door and the stone wall and the Magnolia in the front yard.
Let's run, he said, We can't, I said, the baby is sleeping, we can't leave her alone in the house. Sure we can, she'll be down for another hour. Besides, she's hardly a baby, she's three and a half. If she wakes up we'll be back in a few minutes and she'll just be wandering around.
We went for a thirty minute run and my head was pounding because.
Because some things are learned. These things which inform our choices, things we remember and if we can't remember, when pushed we can pull them forward. Why would I leave my three and a half year old child alone in the house? How could that POSSIBLY be OK?
My head was pounding because.
Because some things are embedded. These things which inform our basic belief in the world, of people, situations, ourselves, expectations, things we do not remember, things we do remember, things when pushed we can pull forward and remember differently.
That's neglect, I told the man, when relaying information about a different set of circumstances, criminal neglect, now that I think about it. That's abandonment, he told me flat out. Criminal neglect is on the parent. Abandonment is what the child has to carry.
She was still sleeping when I burst through the front door but the crash woke her up.
Two years later at 6 AM we wanted a run but she was sleeping and Lucia was sleeping and if Lucia was awake at 6 AM everything would have been fine but Lucia was not awake and a fifteen year old Lucia might as well have been dead and invisible to a five and a half year old.
I felt slightly off but not the way I felt in Stamford. We lived in a remote part of the world now, a safe neighborhood, and Little Girl was more than capable of walking into the next bedroom and harassing her sister. Harassing her sister was a regular occurrence. I did not wake Little Girl. I woke Lucia and said, David and I are going for a run, Little Girl is still sleeping, take care, please. Mrmph.
I can walk a mile in fifteen minutes; I have a very long stride. In 2006 I could run that particular mile in thirteen; it has some nasty hills and my stride is shorter. Irritated the hell out of me. So make that fourteen minutes from the Mrmph to coming around the final bend and there is my five and a half year old in her white night gown and flops (she took the time to put those on) and hair gone wild and she is, she is
I am in an outright sprint because even without glasses, from twenty-five yards I can see that my last baby has dropped through a hole in the ice and her white knuckle grip on the ragged edge is slipping, slipping, slipping. I have never heard anyone cry like this; never heard anything since, except from my own mouth.
I run her into the house and down to the lower level and here is the split. She wants to crawl inside me, doesn't want to let go and I understand this. I want to give her what she needs and I want to finish my run so I decide we'll compromise and I'll do this on the treadmill and put her down on the gym mat when I can get her to stop crying which takes a while and my heart rate has dropped which is not good. David has continued outside. There is dissociation in this moment which I place in the perfectly normal parental response category. Why would he not continue his run? Her immediate needs are met and she has stopped screaming. I don't even file it away for later reference. I'm just seeing it now. I can connect that dot with the dot that happens later when I can't reconcile how easily he walks away from her.
There is dissociation which allows me to put her down on the mat and get onto the treadmill. I tell her it will be alright and she believes me. In a very old box which has been picked up and moved from house to house there is another five and a half year old screaming herself blind having fallen through the ice sucking in great, black lungfuls of muddy water full of all sorts of unmentionables. I hear the screaming but can't locate the source and turn off the treadmill. I take Little Girl upstairs and we shower and get on with the day.
What about Lucia? She burrowed under the blankets and slept through (?) Little Girls calls which turned into screams and Little Girl was sure she wasn't there. Lucia fell through the ice at three.
This is not a post about my daughter, not really. This is a post about dissociation. Sort of. I'm hesitant to label anything at all. Probably I'll get to that but the 800 words above are significant because they are a closed loop.
What is in a diagnosis? Answers, we hope. We hope when someone with authority, read: can help us, gives us an answer, box, label, THEN, with the diagnosis there will be a FIX. Of some sort. Right? If not a fix, then at least an answer. You have stage four lymphoma... AND the five year survival rate (depending on a very long list of factors, don't get excited) is 65%. A diagnosis. An answer. A treatment plan, or at least a series of choices.
You are in excruciating pain. You can't even remember when it started, how long it's been going on, the root of the pain; you are like a slow boiling frog except now you've boiled over. One night you throw your notebook onto the coffee table with so much force the bus shatters, rendering it dead, D E D dead. Your husband and oldest daughter stare in disbelief because this is the most blasphemous thing you could possibly do. It is so blasphemous and unlike you that you are not even questioned when you hand it to your boss and say you slipped in the driveway.
Never mind cutting your thigh with a razor blade and having never done anything like that you are labeled a cutter. You are not a cutter but you're in the box no matter what you tell them. You surrender and you're sent to the hospital on a fifteen day state paper.
In retrospect, ten years later I could't tell you how much time was spent with an actual doctor in the hospital but I got a label slapped on me pretty damn quick. I got a label and I got some medication and my life changed. I was so relieved I cried for days. In truth I cried for months. I do remember though, I was told something that was in direct conflict with the diagnosis or at least it didn't make sense. If the diagnosis was accurate, the way of my life, or the what, or how shouldn't have contributed directly. I should have been just fine (more or less) had I been neurologically sound. But. There was this thing in the back of my mind, leaking out of the boxes in the garage, periodically coming out of my mouth. Two words.
I let them sit for the most part.
I accepted that it was going to take a significant amount of time to recover and my life was 'never going to be the same again' (we were told on the way out of the hospital) but the past didn't make sense. If I was neurologically unsound, why did it take what they called a mid-life crisis to get to the point of shattering sacred equipment and cutting open my thigh in an attempt to let out some of the pressure? It didn't reconcile and I had bigger things to worry about.
So, let's pick a Neuro, ten years later.
Right out of the DSM. I remember looking at the poster in one of the hospital break rooms and trying to figure out which set of bullets was for me and also which was better, 1 or 2? What did it mean? I remember looking at the second bullet on the first list and thinking, nope, that sure doesn't apply but the rest of it does. Except decreased need for sleep, I don't really know what that means. Increased risk-taking. I think that's a sexist assessment of my sex life, personally and I'm not sure I'm going to own it unless that's what it takes to get the fuck out of here and then we'll reassess but it was too late; if the world assesses you for 44 years then you're already fucked because you've damned yourself.
Thoughts of suicide. I don't know I've sat there and plotted my actual death and that's what counts apparently but listen, this is not right:
When I was 44 I went through this at LEAST four days out of seven. In a state of desperation I would tell myself, 'look, Alecto, sweetheart, you have to hang on until Little Girl is twenty. You can't leave her before she's twenty but I swear to god, the day AFTER she turns twenty, you can let go. It's OK.'
Those were the words of comfort I gave myself. Seriously and no shit. I was in so much pain.
Why? Everyone wants to know why. Everyone wants to know why with different levels of indignant questioning, curiosity but on some level there is this assumption that I owe an explanation. To everyone, to the world, that have to explain myself. The world believes that every suicide is selfish. Well you know, the world can fuck itself sideways. The world, with the exception of the suicides and the people in enough pain to tell themselves these things really has no idea. How can it? It can't possibly know.
Portnoy. That asshole. Jesus Christ. There, I said (wrote) it. Badgering me like a rabid fighting dog. Why, Alecto, why do you need medication? Why did it hurt? How, tell me how it hurt, exactly. Tell me exactly.
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?
I'd like to say he's a special case, but he's not. I don't really know what has people behave that way but there's something going on there and it's about them not anyone else but the people in pain don't know that. The people in pain only know what they hear: I have to defend how I feel. Eventually it just gets boxed back up.
The world seems to think that another person's pain, when it is this extreme is about them. I am astonished.
So, twenty. I had to make it until she was twenty and suddenly I felt like I was going to live. Thank you, sweet baby jesus.
It was LONG road though and it took until January, 2009 before I had a doctor anywhere near close to competent and a therapist I with whom I felt safe enough to speak. I spoke. I spoke for five years.
I never questioned my diagnosis. Why should I? The medication worked, more or less and when I picked up the text book I learned more than just the bullets and things started to make sense. My doctor stuck to the menu on the right and when things went sideways we made adjustments. When I had a different doctor for a while he still stuck to the diagnosis and the menu but he did a better job of talking to me about what was happening neurologically. But ten years went by without another assessment. Why wouldn't they? If you have been diagnosed with diabetes are you ever assessed again?
Well, yes. Yes you are. You are assessed constantly because there is a medical baseline. We don't have a neurological baseline with which to assess.
She was right, the woman who said that my life had to change. She was right about the collateral damage but she didn't say why. Traumatic events and sustained stress do not kick off neurological events in middle aged adults. Bipolar is bipolar forever and ever amen, right? It rears its painful head sometime in or after adolescence and may or may not be diagnosed. When asked, I can pinpoint when the shit got real. My first meltdown was in Germany. I was nineteen years old and visiting my uncle with my mother and brother and the man I would eventually marry. We were there for two weeks using my uncle's house on the airforce base just outside Munich. Joe and I took the train to Paris after wandering around Munich for a day. Everything was fine. We might have been in Paris for three days, maybe less, I'm not sure. We didn't have a lot of money so we wouldn't have been able to afford a hotel for very long and I'm not sure we were smart enough to have considered a hostel. I don't recall any sort of conflict and when I think about it, there was plenty of opportunity for conflict because we got lost and I got sick and we didn't speak the language and the man burst into our room in the morning with croissant and coffee and we were otherwise engaged and at nineteen I wouldn't have much appreciated that but I was fine. I was brave at the top of the Eiffel Tower and the photographs were brilliant.
And we went back to Munich on the night train. I was sick and a stranger in our compartment gave me something that wasn't approved in the US yet and I took it because I felt terrible and I was scared but I did it anyway. It was ibuprofen and it was miraculous.
The shit hit the fan at dinner on the base. We had some form of sausage and something else and in retrospect I suppose my mother's done button was ready to pop because she doesn't do well in any situation where she lacks specific types of control.
Push come to shove I could probably bring the events back but I probably don't want to. If I called Joe he could probably tell me. I think what happened was that she turned and took it out on me. I expect she treated me like a child in a way that was inappropriate even in speaking to a child. I expect she was demeaning, cutting, and possibly accusatory and that it probably came out of nowhere. I expect, that at nineteen, having been thrown out of the house at eighteen and having survived a particularly ugly childhood I went from zero to sixty in less than five seconds. I probably left the table. I know we left the country within twenty-four hours.
That is the first event I can remember. This doesn't mean there weren't other events that hit either of those list; there absolutely were but, you know, give anybody a list and we can find ourselves on it. This is the first event I can identify where something was seriously wrong. Neurologically something snapped. I remember thinking, this doesn't make sense. I don't want this. I should be able to repair this. I should be able to walk past this. I do NOT want to go home right now. I am in Europe, for the love of god, when will I be back? Why can't I stop feeling this way? I want to be sick, I'm going to implode if I don't get out of here. I can't face my uncle and his wife. I can't even look at my mother. I can only look at Joe in desperation. Please, please get me out of here, I feel like I might die. It goes downhill from there.
What's that all about?
When I was either fourteen or fifteen, I don't remember which, but I do remember it was morning and I was wearing my long pale blue fleece bathrobe that pulled over my head and zipped at the neck which later I wore home from the hospital when I was raped and we lived in Glastonbury and I went out into the driveway and I yelled at the top of my lungs something like this:
STOP HITTING ME!!!! STOP HITTING ME RIGHT NOW!!!!
And she never hit me again.
To this day I cannot believe I had the wherewithal to do that. I know she'd been upset about something. She'd grabbed my hair the way she always did at the base of my skull and she bit her tongue and when she bit her tongue my insides turned into quick dry cement and the white noise machine in my head went full volume static and I don't know why I never just went limp. It never mattered why. That wasn't the point. The reason I cannot believe I did this is because while I was standing in the driveway yelling, what I was thinking was: I can't believe I'm hurting my mother this way. God, what are the neighbors going to think. And also, this is never going to work, it's just going to be worse when I go inside. I was numb.
She said something like, OK, fine, just come back in here. And that was that.
I don't know when this started. I can remember a time when it didn't happen. I think. But I don't really think. I don't really think because when I try to dig into it the white noise machine turns up the volume. I remember a lot of it from the house in Moodus which would be eight through eleven but it cannot have started when I was eight, these things start much earlier. I have flashes from Manchester which is six through eight or nearly eight but they are flashes even though the rest of the Manchester years have some very clear memories, some of which are not very nice at all. When I roll back to Michigan, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! And these are the things pounding at the walls of the boxes in the garage, leaking nuclear waste so toxic I might as well be radiating poison in my wake.
There is a memory from Moodus, eight or nine maybe? It lives in small lead lined cardboard box, maybe 8 by 8 by 8 (inches) and when I pick it up to move from house to house I'm never sure why the damn thing feels like a crate full of bricks but I don't question it; I just pick it up, load it on the back of the truck with all the rest of the boxes (so many boxes) and do my best to forget about it.
Lead leaks eventually. Sometimes all it needs is permission. This box has never been opened. Sometimes it whispers to me and I say, that is not a thing, that was something else entirely. OK, so why do you keep it in a box. It's not in a box. Really? Have you ever said it to anyone? Nooooo... Why not? Well, it's not relevant. I haven't said what I had for dinner on January 11, 1972 either. Do you know what you had for dinner on January 11, 1972? No. Why not? It's not relevant. Soooooo.... shut up. Why don't you say? Shut up. Why don't you say? SHUT THE FUCK UP. I can't say. I don't know why I can't say but I can't say and I am NOT going to have this conversation with you.
Lead leaks eventually but it never had permission and I am one of the most willful people I know. Lucia says strong. I'm not sure it's strong. I think it might be desperate. I might be the most desperate woman in the world.
For ten years the water got warmer. Some years the water got warmer faster. Some years I just got used to it. Some years I would lie awake in my bed wondering how the hell I was going to get out of this mess. Somehow I always seemed to keep up with the chaos. Sort of. Eventually I stopped lying in bed at night wondering what I was going to do and put all of it in a box. The box went in the garage.
The radioactive waste called Cortisol.
Cortisol is the hormone released during stress. It can be very, very useful. This shit keeps us alive. It's also really good for performance. One of the reasons I'm an excellent public speaker is the release of cortisol into my bloodstream. For some reason I've got this shit harnessed and have had it so for at least twenty-five years. I have that flow just right; I'm super sharp, super focused, and I can respond to just about anything. However, if it went up or down a notch I'd probably be in trouble because I'm not what you'd call a prepared speaker. I have never been able to memorize a speech or cope with index cards.
Cortisol is for fight or flight. This shit, if there's enough of it can get us out of some really nasty scrapes. This shit can be the difference between becoming re-employed or sitting on the bench. Re-employed might look like a whole other career and you might get there because the cortisol is so high you can see anything just to get yourself out of what you're in. Too much and your interview skills go right out the window.
Cortisol is a hormone you don't want hanging around. It's a temporary fix; it should come in and then flow right back out. The long term ramifications of cortisol hanging out in the brain are kind of ugly.
Really, I had no idea. Apparently there's a shit show going on in my brain and probably it's been going on in there for a wicked long time. I don't really want to put a number on it because when I start thinking about that the white noise machine turns the volume to ten. I'll get to that. I'm not going there by myself.
So I lost my doctor. This was bound to happen. I lost my doctor, the replacement doctor turned out to be a bust, all kinds of drama about not being able to get my medication refilled in time, being assigned to a nutritionist instead of a neurologist, being hung up on by the receptionist, it just got gnarly. I panicked. There's nothing quite like having your lifeline cut without warning although I was starting to think I needed to replace him before he dropped dead on me. When he turned the practice over to his son in law I thought, how bad can this be? Pretty damn bad.
I found myself a new doc who, even if he turned out to be a vending machine doc (he is), he'd work for now and got myself on the waiting list (August) for the top neuro guy in my state. How did I get this number? Ha! My friend, Lisa. It is good to have friends who's neuro difficulties far outweigh your own. She spends about two days a month at Yale having stuff done to her brain I didn't realize they did anymore and gave me a list of three names with the top name in 24 pt text and bold and underlined and wrote: GET ON HIS WAITING LIST NOW.
I got on his list and explained in great length why I wanted to see him and what I was doing in the meantime in terms of being responsible about my wellbeing. I gave him my complete medical history in bullets so he'd know what was coming at him in August. I knew he didn't take insurance, why the hell would he? I explained that I appreciated that he didn't take insurance, I do. Here's the thing. We are so fucked up that if a neuro guy needs to spend time with a psych patient the neuro guy will only be able to bill for 15 minutes. No evaluation of any worth can be made in that amount of time.
Go back up maybe 1500 words and note that I have never had my diagnosis questioned. How the hell could it have been questioned? In what amount of time? The only person who has ever spent any amount of time with me is my LCSW. My therapist. Her name is Jackie. LCSW is Licensed Clinical Social Worker. To get a LCSW you have to get yourself either a BS or BA in: Psychology (useful but not required), Child Development, Social Work, or Sociology. On top of that you get your Masters in Social Work. Your LCSW may not be qualified to recognize anything other then depression. Your APRN, on the other hand generally has a psych background on top of the advanced nursing degree and an internship in the psych ward. The APRN will probably recognize some of the other garbage. Maybe.
Right. So the nice neuro man actually sent back a text explaining the waiting list and I sent back a text thanking him for his communication, reiterating that I had a stopgap and I was willing to wait because HE was my doc of choice. You know I don't take insurance? I am aware that you don't take insurance and I appreciate it.
I have no idea what this is going to cost me, I cannot afford it I'm quite certain, on the other hand I can't afford not to do it because suddenly I am aware that the water is boiling over.
I got another text message the next day:
I've had a cancelation. I can see you on Wednesday at 3:30 or Monday at 1.
What to do. I see Jackie at 3 on Wednesday, the stopgap guy at 2 on Thursday and I'm in Basking Ridge on Monday.
Monday at 1, sold.
I will see you on Monday at 1. Plan on 90 minutes and bring me a check for $750. My rates, should we continue are $500 for a 60 minute session and $250 for 30 minutes.
Fine. I'll be there at 12:30.
Between that message and my arrival in his office several things happened. Jackie and I discussed what to do with the stopgap doc and the decision was go and say nothing. Fine. He's a vending machine and he isn't neuro but he'll fill the scripts. That's all well and good until I go sideways and then he's more or less useless. $750. I can't spend that kind of money.
Elizabeth: Mom. You have no problem spending $800 to get your car serviced.
Me: That's because if I don't spend $800 to get my car serviced I'll have some trouble getting to Basking Ridge and home again.
Elizabeth: Mom. If you don't get yourself serviced you aren't getting to Basking Ridge at all.
Me: I can't tell my car to suck it up.
Elizabeth: Seriously? Do you tell me to suck it up? No you don't. You tell me to get my ass in to see Miranda and work my shit out so I'm not damaged for the rest of my life.
I was having a rather lengthy conversation with Sharon the market researcher who exists in the medical field and I talked about what was going on and I do not tell people about my neuro shit for some very obvious reasons. I did tell Sharon at some point and I really do wish I had not. She didn't understand my upset about the meds and asked what I was taking. I told her.
Sharon: Don't take that drug!
Me: Sharon. I have to take that drug. That drug is the gold standard and as old as it is, it is still the only neuro drug effective for this group of, um, issues.
Sharon: No it's not.
Sharon: Yes, there's this, this, and this.
Me: Those are anti-convulsants and I listed two of them, did you note those? They work to even out the mood swings but they don't handle the spikes that keep me off the cliff.
Sharon: But this could cause this, this, and this to happen.
Me: No shit! That's what this is for which is why when they cut this off, I have to stop taking THIS.
Sharon: Well good!
Me: No! Not good! Very bad! As in, come unhinged and lose my job bad!
Sharon: Well, I am in this field and I do know a thing or two.
Me: Sharon, I was diagnosed ten years ago and I've read literally everything I can get my hands on including the Jameson text.
Sharon: The what?
Me: Exactly. Can you stop armchair un-medicating me? It's not helpful.
Sharon: I don't deserve this.
Please note, I did not say, yes you do. The truth is, she deserved a lot more. That's a great dialog up there; it's an incredible illustration of the general populations' perception of itself. Again, Fuck Off.
I arrived at 12:30.
I left three and a half hours later.
At one point he got up and walked into the waiting room. I could hear quiet murmuring and apologies and no, no, that's fine, I understand, I'll see you next week then. He came back into his office, went to his desk and made a phone call. Quiet apologies and a reschedule and then back to the chair across from me and we continued.
I felt like a bouncing ball on an August sidewalk somewhere in the midwest, ozone steaming off the concrete after a thunderstorm, bouncing, bouncing, bouncing from front door to front door periodically coming to rest in the crabgrass by a mailbox post. I talked, he asked, I talked.
Say that again.
He told a story about leaving us alone in the house when they went to a movie.
How old were you?
I don't know, three and five, I guess?
Where did you live?
In North Kalamazoo.
Tell me again about North Kalamazoo, the things you remember most.
The gun on top of the television and the rat poison in the basement and the bloodstain on the stairs that couldn't be painted over and the vaseline on the doorknob when I couldn't get out and my brother in the hospital when he ate the paint and my mother putting her finger down my throat when I ate the baby aspirin.
All those things?
The leaving you in the house part.
But I don't remember.
Yes you do. Go back to the airport.
The one in Portage?
The one when you were small.
The one in Portage. I made a sandwich for my brother.
How old were you?
I guess three and five?
He was hungry and they were in the air.
How did you feel?
Scared and proud.
Why were you scared?
I was going to get in trouble.
Did you get in trouble?
I don't know.
Yes you do.
What do you mean, yes I do?
You do know even if you don't think you know, it's in there.
I told him about telling the story at the beach in August of 2008. It upset my father and his wife got very upset. Something about respect. I was floored at the time. I remember thinking I wasn't trying to upset him, the story was funny, or I thought it was funny but he didn't. I don't know why not because there isn't anything he's ever done as a parent that he finds unacceptable. Fifty-four years later and everything that's ever happened to me, I've still got it coming to me. And worse maybe. So I don't know what it was about that evening in the sun on the deck drinking wine at the end of the beach day set him off or made her think he should be protected or respected because today she'd take him apart for less. The lake was less then twenty yards away and we were three and five. So that event triggered the event that triggered the end of my marriage but I didn't see it then. I only know I went right over the deep end and landed in the saw grass at 2 AM. That went in a box too.
The doctor stood up and said the unthinkable.
You've been misdiagnosed.
You aren't bipolar.
You know what PTSD is?
Your trauma started very early and it didn't stop. You've been living in fight or flight for most of your life. Your symptoms hit almost every one of the DSM bullets for bipolar 1 and 2 and because they put you in the hospital that's what got smacked on your chart. Why they put you in the hospital for cutting your leg when you had no history is beyond me. That never should have happened. THAT was traumatic. Being locked up is traumatic; this is the last possible resort because it can do significant damage, especially when you don't see it coming.
I want you to see someone.
This can be fixed.
How can this possibly be fixed? I feel like I'm going to fall down a flight of stairs at some point and never going to get up. I've gone from 'I have to make it until she's twenty' to 'I have to make it until she's fifty' but that's only because I promised my oldest I wouldn't leave without saying good-bye but you can't say good-bye to your kids when you're going to kill yourself. I don't think I can hang on another thirty-three years. I KNOW I can't hang on another thirty-three years.
This can be fixed.
The rest of it is white noise because that thing in my head has a level 25 apparently.
I left with the knowledge that there was a name and a text message would be forthcoming and I could make an appointment if she would see me and this wasn't like talking about it.
I left with something having happened that I couldn't quite put my finger on. I was aware that the ground wasn't the least bit solid but there's one thing I'm really good at and he pointed this out. I have the ability to dissociate like, like breathing in and out. You know, you blink and you were in your back yard and then you are not. All people are capable of compartmentalizing but this isn't that, this is more. If you dissociate enough you can split entirely and some people can actually see themselves. Eventually this falls into the realm of schizophrenia when you start losing chunks of time but that's not what I do. I just blink from one place to another. I don't leave anything behind that could possibly get out.
Except the eight year old in the bathroom. She got out.
It's a funny thing, being given permission. Permission to be human maybe? Permission to have feelings? I don't know. Permission to experience what's actually happening maybe. I'm not really sure. I know that I left him at the door to his office, asking why I shouldn't have written a bigger check and not getting an answer and thanking him and then saying it was good to be 'seen' and he said, no, Alecto
It was good to be heard. You were heard. I don't know if you've been heard before but I don't think you've been aware of having been heard before. People hear pieces, some of the stories but it's hard for people to hear the whole picture because it causes conflict. Your PSTD is from the cradle to the grave.
Yes. Collateral damage. You can make it stop.
On Monday night I tried very hard to be numb.
On Tuesday in the office my focus was disrupted periodically by screaming from the garage.
On Tuesday night I talked to Elizabeth by phone but no FaceTime.
On Wednesday in the office the screaming from the garage was non-stop but I pulled myself forward about ten feet.
On Wednesday night I didn't talk to Elizabeth at all; I worked out with Lucia that she would take care and Elizabeth would be alright.
On Wednesday night I typed from my hotel room all the things I could not cope with right now, to Lucia, because the lid was coming off Pandora's box.
On Wednesday night Lucia asked if I wanted to vent.
On Wednesday night I told Lucia I was under reporting again. Venting was not an option. That wasn't what was happening.
On Wednesday night I typed twelve words into my phone and hit send, hurtling a thing I can never undo at light speed into my daughter's face and in so doing lashed it around my neck and pulled the cord tight.
I have never said this to anyone, I typed, and I'll never say it again.
And the screaming filled the inside of my head until just before 2 AM when I turned off the hotel television, put aside my knitting and crawled into bed.
At 7:30 on Thursday morning I called the other Elizabeth and negotiated a plan to resolve a massive departmental communication issue that has occurred because change management failed to occur during a major reorg back in February. In just under sixty minutes I had her heart rate down to normal and the words coming out of her mouth were, how about you do x,y,z and see if we can't get to a,b,c? (yes, that is exactly what I want you to decide to do) Yes! Elizabeth! I will be so happy to do that for you.
At 9:30 on Thursday morning I sat my boss down in a small conference room and talked to him for thirty minutes. I did not cry but I didn't dissociate either. I just told him enough of the truth to insure that I wasn't completely alone in this. What can I do, he asked? I don't know, I said. Where will you get help, he asked? Here or in Connecticut? In Connecticut. Do you have an appointment yet? Yes, I do. Next Wednesday morning, it's already on your calendar. I did not put it on Elizabeth's calendar this time and it does not say Doctor, it only says Wilton.
I did not tell him what she said to me when we made the appointment. I don't remember the entire conversation. I know the neuro gave her a lot of information and I know I gave her some more and I know one of the last things she said to me was
What I don't understand is how you have managed to live with this much pain for so many years.
Fear and obligation. Mostly fear.
But also I think there is probably one giant Fuck You riding in the back seat. The giant Fuck You is screaming at this, at the very least:
- You don't matter (yeah, I know, that's overused, but try hearing it literally)
- You are bad
- You are not enough
- You are a failure
- This is your fault (what is this?)
- I don't love you
- You are alone
- Get out
- You have no rights
- You come last
- You are ugly
- You are fat
- You will be a prostitute because that is all you are worth
- You are a piece of property
- Your sexuality is mine, I can do whatever I want to you, say whatever I want to you or about you, I can damage you
- I will feed you if I feel like it, or if I think of it, or if I have time
- I can share all aspects of your life with anyone, your feelings are irrelevant
- You are disposable
- You are a punching bag
- You are a reflection of me
- You have no self
- You will never survive
The screaming in my head is insane.
But. You're not going to see it. None of it. It isn't so much that it's unseemly, it's that it is DANGEROUS to be vulnerable. When you are vulnerable you are open for attack. Just ask Portnoy. He was wicked good at it. And David, David too. See an opening, jam in the knife. Why did I go there twice? Refer to list above. The better question is why did I not go there the first two times.
December 1, 2007 - This is me falling down the well... It was way under reported but the very best I could do at the time.