Embracing Change

I haven’t posted a personal update in quite awhile. I realized yesterday that I really ought to check in with all of you and let you know how I’m doing and what I’ve been up to.

There are quite a few of you that have been following me and this blog since the beginning. This blog didn’t start out happy. A lot of ranting and venting was going on. My youngest son wasn’t doing well and my marriage at the time was reaching critical mass.

I was starting to worry that people were only reading my online journal for the drama, but I didn’t have anywhere else to go to release my daily fears, anger, and worries. I also needed a safe place to problem solve and plan.

For all of you that have stuck through all of this and gave me this safe space: thank you. Life is so much better now.

Little Bear is currently stable and his school life is finally improving. He goes for only 2 hours a day right now, but he’s actually doing the work and participating. The ultimate goal is to gradually increase his day and integrate him into the regular classroom as much as he can tolerate.

I’m not just surviving the divorce. I’m currently thriving. My therapist tells me I have made incredible progress and I get the sense she means this in the past year. I’m not just hearing her words either. I feel it too.

For the first time in my life, I’ve actually started working on the trauma I’ve been through.

Now, it’s one thing for me to talk about something and tell the story of what happened. I’ve always been able to do that. I do it well in fact. Just simply unplug the emotions and narrate the events. Easy. Do it all day. Focus on the sensory. The steps. But not what I felt. Even my therapist says that I have mastered this incredibly well and that this is a form of disassociation.

But this isn’t how you heal from your past. Emotions must be processed. Otherwise, the brain remains stuck in a loop. And these loops will program your brain on a subconscious level.

Like little blips below the radar, running scripts of code that often times we aren’t even aware of. Sometimes these operate as triggers. More often though these are running full time. These are the stories we tell ourselves of who we are and what we can and can’t do. These are the codes that tell us, moment by moment, how to behave and interact with the world around us.

Unfortunately for me, I have many loops to process and reprogram. This is the nature of Complex PTSD. It’s not one event to process. It’s a tangled mass of many and years of being taught that this trauma was normal life.

Last week I spoke with her about wanting to reclaim my inner Aphrodite I had during my delusional period back when I was 19-years-old, but in an authentic way. Maybe I haven’t fully told this story? I know I have at least mentioned this particular delusion.

What I had back then that is based in facts and not delusion is the confidence it brought and the knowing that I am worthy. That if you weren’t interested in what I had to offer it wasn’t because I was less than, or not sexy, or whatever. It was because you weren’t worthy of me and I just moved on, knowing that someone else was. No fuss. No bullshit. No games. I want that back in my life. I want it in my core belief system.

To get that in a true, authentic way it means I need to stop ignoring the trauma and start putting in the work. I need to start naming and claiming those emotions and sit with them. I need to allow myself to process them and reach a point where I’m okay with them.

But it doesn’t stop there.

I shared with Tuxedo Cat’s father my intention to reclaim this lost part of me in Facebook messenger. And of course, he asked me where this is coming from because, you know… Bipolar… and I’m sure I sounded a bit weird saying it the way I did. So I went in more depth about confidence and being tired of feeling broken and unworthy of anything.

Not long after this video caught my attention, that I thought was interesting but I didn’t think was super important at the time:

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=585682948522796

The 3 books he talked in this video for mastering your mind were:

  1. Think And Grow Rich
  2. The One Thing
  3. The Power of Now

Now, I shit you not, a few days later this article popped up in my Facebook feed:

6 Signs You Had An Emotionally Abusive Parent and Didn’t Know It

Honestly, I don’t know why I clicked on it. What’s important is the second video linked this article under the fifth heading.

I cried. Hard.

How often have I said about my father that I’m tired of chasing carrots that don’t exist, jumping through hoops that never end, reaching for the bar that keeps rising, and realizing the cake is a lie?

Two things hit me with this video:

  1. I have asked more than once if he’s proud of me and I’ve been met with either silence or evasive behavior. This is my answer and I need to stop asking this question. I don’t want to know anymore.
    1. I don’t know what this is, but this baggage doesn’t belong to me.
    2. This can of worms belongs to my father and he can keep it.
  2. I can reprogram my brain and the time is now.

At first, there was the temptation to dismiss this as Facebook’s algorithms at work. Why would I think that? Because there’s ZERO privacy on there. If you think your messenger chat isn’t constantly scanned for keywords, you are sorely mistaken.

What I find odd about this is, we hadn’t talked about parents or emotional abuse. Deep down, I knew I was meant to see this one video and I knew that guided meditation was going to get me started, but still… I resisted.

Change is scary and hard.

Now, I enjoy following Nicholas Ashbaugh, an intuitive lightworker on YouTube, who posts monthly Tarot readings for each Zodiac sign. I watch the video for Libra, my Sun sign, and Capricorn, my Moon and Rising signs.

March 2019 for Libra

March 2019 for Capricorn

The prevailing message in both readings was doing a lot of inner work this month. Libra’s reading centered strongly upon transformation while Capricorn’s centered upon prevailing and pushing through.

What also caught my attention in the Libra video was:

  1. The need for clarity and focus on ONE THING at a time
    1. decide what is the most important thing right now
    2. work on that before moving on to the next thing
  2. An odd statement he made about how this month will either take your relationship to the next level or end it for those that are in one, but didn’t go into details or explain why he said it
    1. seriously, why say this to a general population when you know there are people out there with anxiety?
    2. this particular video felt rushed to me

Watching these two videos after having watched the Goalcast video, I became aware that this was the universe pushing me to get started. It’s time to stop resisting and stop procrastinating. The time really is now. Right now.

So… I dove into YouTube and got to looking for just the right guided meditation video. And yeah, I found one:

The beginning of the video he explains the purpose and intent of the meditation. This is really important to listen to the first time around, especially if you have never done this before. After that, if you need or want to go through it again, you can bookmark where the meditation starts to skip the explanation portion of the video.

Full disclosure: I had big ugly tears going through this meditation and I knew right away that I will need to do this one more than a few times to clear everything. The memory that came up this time around?

My dad telling me at 6-years-old that he was disappointed that I was born a girl and not a boy. I am the first born son that wasn’t.

And I have lived with that my entire life.

So yesterday I allowed myself to feel the confusion, the shame, the guilt, and the sadness in realization that I wasn’t what my father wanted.

I’m not what my mother wanted either, but right now I’m not able to recall the specifics of the moment I realized this. I’m not the girly girl she always hoped for. I know this conversation and realization happened and it was years later, but before puberty. The hang ups I have with my mother are markedly different however.

Coming out of the guided meditation, I came to the horrid realization I’ve been trying to avoid since starting therapy:

My parents are toxic.

I spent most of my childhood not only taking care of my siblings, but also playing therapist and diplomat for my parents. I have watched them both play games with us, trying to prove to the other who is our favorite parent. I watch them continue to play these games, not only with us, but with our own children.

I’ve watched them both play favorites based upon which of us has pissed them off the least or pleased them the most recently. They still do this with the grandchildren.

I have said things to my mother in confidence only to have my father attack me in anger for it later that day. I have watched my mother cry about things I’ve said to my father, also in confidence, and plead either innocence or how she too is the victim here.

I’ve watched my mother push away my brother’s stepdaughter in anger with the very same too much scenario I grew up with. I’ve watched my father shame and blame my youngest son for the strangest things just as he had with my baby sister.

I’ve listened to both of them scream at the kids for sounding like a herd of elephants/dinosaurs instead of walking quietly. I’ve watched my father repeatedly raise the bar instead of thanking the boys for getting their chores done every day.

Even now I am enmeshed and not good enough.

Why is Little Bear getting a modified school day? When is he going back full time? There’s no way you can homeschool Little Bear.

You are giving up on Scholar Owl by letting him do just whatever in homeschool like this. If I was him, I would get my senior project done as fast as possible and graduate right now. You should push him to do that.

Did you get your taxes done yet? Oh that’s right, you’re not working and child support doesn’t count as income.

When are you going to file for disability? You need to get Tuxedo Cat’s SSI back as soon as possible, you’ll be losing Scholar Owl’s child support here soon.

When are you going to get Scholar Owl screened? Have you heard back from them yet? I don’t think he’s going to make it out there in the real world. He’s not going to be able to hold a job if he can’t keep his shit together.

This is my house and if you don’t like the way I do things around here, there’s the door. You can’t move there, low income housing is for druggies. That neighborhood has a lot of houses for sale, there has to be a reason everyone is leaving. This apartment isn’t big enough for you guys, what if you have guests come over?

You need to find something else besides writing to put beans on the table. Be careful about blogging, bad people can find you that way. Do you know how long it took Louis L’Amour to make it as a writer? Writers do not spend all day writing. You can’t sit at the computer all day like that, it isn’t good for you.

You need to get out and be more social and stop being on the computer all the time. Don’t ask me to babysit ever again. You need real friends instead of online friends. It’s not healthy to stay home all the time.

It’s fine to date someone so long as it’s not just two lonely people. I just worry about a guy at his age that’s still single. Everyone wants to feel special.

You going out dressed like that? That make-up makes you look like death warmed over. Why do you always have to look so frumpy? You look fat/pregnant. Quit slouching. Who are you trying to impress? Why can’t you sit the chair the right way? You need to quit losing so much weight, it’s not healthy.

Why wasn’t the stove top washed when the dishes were done? Can’t you stack the plates/cups/bowls right? Would be nice if the table got washed. The microwave still looks gross. Shouldn’t have to tell you the trash needs to be taken out.

Tuxedo Cat’s father must be coming over tonight since you’re cooking. All you ever cook is that processed shit. You never cook unless he comes over. Nobody likes it when you bulk cook. They get sick of eating the same thing all the time. I don’t like this, why didn’t you make [meal we had 2 days ago]? You can’t always let them choose what they eat like that all the time, it’s not good for them.

Don’t get ugly with me. I’m so sick/tired of your shit, go upstairs where you belong.

And the list goes on… but my mother wonders why I’m on the verge of alexthymia. My current boyfriend wonders why I’m so serious all the time. Better to disconnect emotionally and feel nothing than to be punished for my emotions. Easier. Safer.

As a child the threat, “If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry for,” wasn’t an idle one. From either parent. Even now I watch my father mock an infant for crying. He is convinced that baby is doing it only for attention and giving that attention will only spoil them. Any time I protest, I’m met with anger. There is much I haven’t figured out how to address. He’s simply never wrong. And care must be taken to not accuse him of being wrong. It’s fine for him to decide to change his mind. Just don’t make him think you see him as in the wrong.

The root of my belief that I’m not good enough and that I’m unworthy of anything is forked, tangled, and complex. But it started there, in that moment I heard that I was supposed to be a boy. I know it did.

But as I look at all of this, both past and present, two lines haunt me:

You don’t know what abuse is.

Children that report their parents deserve to be taken away.

Both of these were said to me as a child and both of these instilled fear. Deep fear.

The first because no matter how bad things were in the home – the fighting, the screaming, the drinking, the name calling, the face slapping, the belt, etc. – the mere idea that it could be worse was absolutely frightening. My child mind could not fathom what could possibly be worst than this and didn’t want to know.

One day I’d find out that the only thing worse than this is to have someone threaten your life to get what they want.

To stare death in the face and to choose how to survive. I went through that and lived.

Now the second is tied to this, because when it was said to me it included stories of how horrible the foster system was. So again, the mere idea of something worse than what I already had was upsetting. It made me believe that everyone lived this way. That this was normal. And because of the way we attract people in our lives, my friends throughout my childhood confirmed my beliefs. Their fathers were just as frightening as mine.

Better to stay with the devil you know, than to take chances with a devil you don’t – right?

So of course, I talked about most of this with my therapist yesterday.

And Tuxedo Cat’s father was there with me in the session too. I don’t know why this is so important to me that he was there to confirm the things that he has seen and heard in this house, but it is. I don’t think she ever thought I was lying or making any of this up, but so many have in the past and dismissed what I’ve said before.

So many have accused me of being obsessed with my father. And yes, I have been. For years I have been trying to understand and connect. I’m coming to realize, and slowly accept, that I’m never going to. Just like I have with my ex-husband.

Some bridges are never meant to be built.

Not going to lie: I don’t know what to do with all of this yet.

At the end of the therapy session, I asked her for some guidance as to what I should be doing besides just guided meditation because I felt like I’m missing something and I was at a loss as to where I should go with this.

She identified that I felt like I wasn’t doing enough and reminded me that I set the bar, no one else. That’s the first thing. Next, she talked about CBT and rescripting. She didn’t give me any direct advice, trusting that I will figure it out myself like I always do.

So what did she mean? It means paying more attention to my every day thoughts and redirecting them as needed. It also means realigning my behaviors to my desired thoughts. It’s not enough to have positive thinking. Your behaviors need to match those thoughts. I just needed to decide how I was going to go about practicing this.

After therapy, Tuxedo Cat’s father and I went to the bookstore and we spotted “The One Thing”. So I picked that up for our reading list. I also found The Self-Esteem Workbook that pretty much covers exactly what my therapist was talking about. And, I also picked up “The Scorch Trials” for my casual reading list. Can’t be all work and no play after all.

Thus, this is where my self-care journey and life story is currently at.

I’m grateful that I have someone in my life right now that encourages me, supports what I do, and praises the progress I’ve made. I’m also grateful that he doesn’t feed into my paranoia, but rather dispels the gaslighting I have lived through. I appreciate and value his willingness to take the time to understand not just me, but everything that’s going on.

He isn’t someone that I simply love. He is someone that inspires me to be my best and true self. With him, I feel at home. While things aren’t perfect, nor will they ever be, they’re pretty damn good right now.

Regardless of how things work out, I know I’m going to be okay. I’ve already survived the worst there is. I can survive what’s yet to come.

2 thoughts on “Embracing Change

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