Monday, June 15, 2009

Moving on... letting go

Last night, I had a brief Facebook exchange a member of my favorite morning radio program (http://brantsblogofawesomeness.typepad.com/). At the time I was being silly and going for the laugh. This afternoon, attacking the freakish disorder of the master bedroom while trying not to get lost in a comparable mess of thoughts, something Pablo said knocked over a certain pile of jumbled memory and stuck.

"Sometimes I think knowing too much makes you worry about stuff more. Ignorance truly is bliss."

D'oh.
I get it.
No, really... I get it.

In all my collective years of blogging, countless hours have been spent trying to convince myself to chronicle various periods of my life. Far more emotional energy than I care to admit spent trying to work up the courage to pick apart every detail of the years after diagnosis and before blogging.

Why?
no, really... why?

Lyn once asked me if the details mattered as much as the effect. At the time, I accepted the statement and applied it only to the topic at hand.

On one hand, I like the knowing. It's always preferred over the fog and haze that covers so many things. But life doesn't give us perfect clarity.

I've always liked my puzzles. There's no doubt, chasing memory is like solving a puzzle.

Is it really necessary to cover every square inch of my life in detailed description? To what purpose?

Is it the desire to know more than to accept? Is it habit? Is it a masochistic need to revisit the painful? Is it a desire to pat myself on the back for the change since then or some guilty need to expose just how screwed up I was at the time?

At one time I could have easily convinced myself it was part of a desire to encourage others... if I could detail the walking clusterf@#& of my existence, I could offer hope to others they could get past their own struggles.

I'm not so certain of such altruism anymore. The reality is I'd rather get lost in details... hide in the details than look at the bigger picture. Every moment I spend untangling memories is a moment not spent in the present. It's just another way to hide.

I was a mess then. Now, not so much. Still learning, still struggling, still fighting.

Sure, there are things that will come up and should be written rather than worried... sure there are times to look to the past... but every quiet moment? It might be easier to move forward if I release the death grip on the past.

So I don't remember everything. Who does? If it comes, it comes.

But I'm done looking.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Not their Girl Friday

You will learn to say NO.
You will learn that someone asking and you having the ability doesn't mean you should automatically say yes.
Learn to say "I'll let you know." "Let me check my schedule." or be honest and say "I have too much going on right now and can't do it."
Do it.
This week, you will say NO to someone who isn't family.
So they get pissed off.
So they get offended.
They'll get over it.
Or not.
Not.your.problem.
You let yourself become the go to girl.
They'll keep asking until you start saying no.
Visit your MIL and help her wipe bloody drool from her chin or go help self-absorbed people pull off a birthday party when they already have plenty of help?
Have any of them even bothered to go see her?
She matters in your life.
They don't even rank in the top 10.
Let them deal with it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Step 4 or "Couldn't you at least pretend to be surprised?"

Admit it, embrace it, move on.
It's not like you haven't known on some level the whole time.
It was too much like the goodbye on the railroad tracks.
"If we're gone, then maybe (fill in the blanks) will be less complicated."
There is so a giant, screaming hint there.

I let myself just write without thinking the other night... and the headache that sandwiched the writing is all too familiar. The same headache I've been fighting off and on the last 10 years... the same headache that when HSS lived here would take me out for days at a time... until I said enough and the girls and I came to an agreement.

"It's not like you need us right now. You can deal with this shit on your own."

The delusions we create for ourselves. Stephanie was right. I could deal with the shit. But the shit in question wasn't life in general and everything after that moment... it was the particular shit that was consuming our every moment at the time.

The full scale healing process wasn't done and couldn't be in the midst of such chaos.

I knew bringing myself to the point of daring to let go... of letting down my not-so-complicated-as-I-like-to-believe walls would bring with it tough stuff. What I didn't expect was the relief I felt after letting myself free write this afternoon.

I've decided on the Zoloft. The symptoms of major depression are there and if I'm going here again, I may as well do so with all available weapons.

Here's the problem...
What if we're not finished?
What if shutting down was needed at the time and opening up again means more than just me?
Does it mean I have somehow failed?
No
Does it mean I'm stepping backwards?
No
Does it mean I had to put things on hold for a time for the sake of my sanity and my family and we're now free to finish this the right way?
Does it mean that along the way my family can have the sense of closure of which they were deprived before... the chance to say goodbye?

The more I fight the desire to stay shut off... the more I sense I'm not alone... and the more I fight to stay shut off. The struggle is stealing every ounce of energy and sabotages every moment of so called rest or sleep.
How much more do I ignore before finally falling apart?
Doesn't it make more sense to face it and keep on trucking?

Am I running away in another form if I accept we aren't done and I need them to complete the work... that we need to do this together?

I'm not finished looking through the prism. I don't believe it means I'm stepping back... it means I've been in one place long enough and it's time again to move forward... to finish what we started and to do it the way it was meant to be done... for us.

I wrote this... read it... and asked Charlie if I could talk to him before I lost my nerve.
When I'd finished reading, he just looked at me with tears in his eyes and asked, "Am I supposed to be surprised? You know I had to wait until you realized this for yourself."

I didn't know whether to laugh, be offended, or to just punch his arm and call him an ass.
It's a familiar confusion and brought with it a sense of peace and hope.
Because now... now, we can really move on.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

For future reference

Marisa
what i wanted to ask was if you would tell me what you remember of stephanie and reese?

Jennifer
Reese I don't remember talking to much, but Stephanie I talked to some.

Marisa
how did you know her name was reese? did she tell you?

Jennifer
Stephanie liked to write but seemed very angry. She'd kick your ass in a NY minute. She's the one I talked to the most right after you got out of Dominion.
No, Stephanie did.

Marisa
really?
shit.
i still don't remember any of that

Jennifer
Why?

Marisa
curious.
i'm remembering a lot more of times that have been a blank.

Jennifer
Do you remember Stephanie's diary? I always thought it was interesting that she was OLDER than you at one point.

Marisa
but have just been really curious about how much you remember of them because it's all still a blank to me.
i remember writing a story about a character named stephanie. don't remember when it changed to a diary... just know it did.
i remember her being older
she stopped at 17, said there was no point becoming an adult and having to be responsible.

Marisa
i've been doing some writing tonight. the kind i haven't done in years. can't stop shaking. dammit such a pain in the ass

Jennifer
Yep. I always remember her being 17. I honestly don't know who else I talked to. Once "you" called me from a gas station in another state and told me you were going to cut yourself but I'm not sure if it was you or one of the others. You didn't sound like yourself.

Marisa
that must have been the night in DC
i didn't know i called you.
that was after the first trip to dominion, right?

Jennifer
Yes.

Marisa
that was DC
i hate asking... could i call for a few? i think i need to hear you say it, if that makes sense.

Jennifer
Sure.

Marisa
k


DC... one of those experiences that cemented my belief in God (however much I hated Him at the time) and realized that while I couldn't understand why He wouldn't let me die, I couldn't deny He had my back.

It had to be DC because that was the only time I ever made it out of Virginia before getting caught.

After the first stay at Dominion... sometime in the summer of 1984. I walked out of the house with a few coins in my pocket and no plan beyond not going home again. I was dressed in my most stupid hitchhiking gear. a bandanna top, a ratty flannel button down tied at the waist and short cutoffs. It really is a wonder I survived those nights of wandering.
Along 234 I was picked up by a van load of guys reeking of pot. Hey, an opportunity. I was invited to party with them at one's house. After countless bong hits and the depletion of their stash, I asked if someone could drive me to DC.
The guy who agreed took me halfway there before asking what I was going to do in return for the drive. Um... nothing? He argued the cost of gas (what am I a $2 screw?) and the time he wasted giving me a ride. Stephanie managed to explain to him why he should not expect any sexual favors from me and why it was in his best interest to stop being a perv. She told him to drop me off at Union Station.
So he dropped me off... on 14th street. A section of DC then best known as a hang out for hookers and drug dealers.
From my conversation with Jen, I know the call much have occurred when I passed the first payphone. Razor blades and folded bandannas tied around my wrists, hiding the cuts, were my constant accessories. It's no surprise I was wanting to cut by then... but my only knowledge of the conversation is what she told me. I don't remember making the call. It had to have been Reese. What Jen said in our phone conversation tonight confirms that for me.

I'd never told Jen about that night. All she's ever known was the call.

I remember walking down 14th street, hands jammed in my pockets and trying to look tougher than I felt. After a few blocks, a red sports car pulled up beside me. The driver rolled down the passenger window, and keeping pace with my walking, offered me a ride. I refused but he persisted. A couple of blocks later I agreed to get in the car and asked him to take me to the nearest hospital. I was sick and needed a doctor. (Yeah, I had decided I was screwed and a psych ward probably the safest place for me to go)
He suggested going back to his place. I asked again if he'd take me to a hospital. Looking back, he probably assumed I was sick from withdrawal. Jen reminded me that at that time, the medications I was taking made me shake like someone with palsy. I'm sure I did look like I was hurting for drugs.
He offered me cocaine, I declined.
Yeah, I was screwed but not totally stupid. I knew I was in a dangerous situation and wasn't going to add more crap to my brain and make it worse.
I don't know why or how I allowed him to take me back to his apartment. By that time I'd given up and just hoped he'd turn out to be a decent guy who'd let me crash for the night.

ever the freaking optimist...

He lived in a gated apartment complex on the outskirts of DC. He showed me his place, a little one bedroom decorated with swords and daggers. He mixed me a drink and tried to chat with me. I felt like a caged animal and tried to feign a casual attitude and come up with a plausible story of why I was where he found me. Sometime after midnight, he made his apologies, said he had to work the next morning and I was welcome to sleep on the couch.
Instead, I spent most of that sleepless night watching the channel that displayed the building's security cameras and making regular trips to the bathroom to work on my wrists. It occurred to me I'd be in less danger if he found me bleeding in his bathroom and had no choice but to take me to a hospital.
I was too tired and scared to take it that far.

When he woke up the next morning, he fed me breakfast, gave me a $20 and told me I was welcome to hang out in the complex while he went to work. Said to get lunch at the cafe by the pool.

The first thing I did was explore the apartment. After finding a bag of cocaine and a pistol in his nightstand drawer, I went out.

I can't describe the confusion, hopelessness and desperation I felt all that day. I stick around until he got home and had the guts to ask about the gun. He said he dealt a little on the side and it was for protection.

He then offered me a job. He knew girls like me who needed a place to stay and he'd take care of me if I wanted to work.

The voice that had been telling me since the night before to GET OUT NOW finally broke through. I told him he didn't want me. I was nuts and that I'd spent my night in his bathroom carving up my wrists. I suggested his best bet was to take me back to Manassas and let my parents deal with my insanity.

He dropped me off at Manassas Mall that evening, pressed his card in my hand, said to call if I ever needed anything and left.

I spent the next night with a friend and the next couple of weeks living with my sister Michele.

There's more to the story... I did contact him during my next stay at Dominion. He sent me a negligee from Fredrick's of Hollywood.

The next time I called him it was with a friend who could listen in on the conversation and confirm for me that the proposition he had was what I thought. After that, I tore up his number.

Yeah, so that was DC. fun times...

I asked Jen tonight about when she talked to Stephanie. Apparently they talked a lot after that first trip to Dominion. It was during that stay Stephanie went from a character in a story to my protector. I can even remember the night it happened.

Later, I asked when Stephanie told her about Reese. It was the year I turned 21, when I was again losing my mind and, just for extra fun, finding out about my birth mother.

Jen said we were talking to each other just about every day then (I do remember that much) and that every time she called, it was like talking to a different person. So one day, teasing, she asked who she was talking to today?
"Stephanie."
"Oh? Then who did I talk to yesterday?"
"Reese."

I remember none if this. But give Jen credit for taking it in stride. She just accepted it.

So that's how she knew... it still amazes me. But she's helping me fill in the blanks. I thank God I had her in my life then... and now.


random quotes from our conversation because they made me laugh...
"I always loved talking to you because you were such an interesting person."
"I always admired Stephanie because she was mean. Not mean but she could get shit done. I'd even go so far as to say I was jealous. there are times I could have used that."

Thanks for tonight Jen. I think I can sleep now.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Step 3

Having trouble with the writing part... obviously. It is still so much easier to hide. The other things are getting better... working hard at it.
The writing might take a bit more discipline and courage.
Vulnerability sucks.
So does trying to look at things I still find ugly and embarrassing.

The last couple of weeks have been interesting. It's as if some of the fog over portions of my life is lifting. Specifically the period between September 1998 and the beginning of blogging in 2002.
Not sure yet how much of this I want to detail... but I've tried and run away many times over the years. At some point, it would make sense to suck it up and deal.
My paper journal is full of scribbled bits... the first time I've been able to put much of that time and others in chronological order.
May as well put it to print, even if it won't make sense to anyone but me for now.

It's hard to think about switching as a toddler but I can remember times as young as 3 when I heard others and even talked to them.
I can truly remember, for the first time, the moments when I split at 5, 8, 9, 13, 15 and 21 years old.
I put up a wall between myself and the others at 21 and it stayed strong for most of 7 years. There were periods of the blackest depressions when the voices would break through and I'd do and say things beyond my control... but I always fought it back.
Looking back, Charlie and I both agree I dealt with post-partum depression... the worst being after Daniel and John. Before John was a year old, the remaining defenses I held were crumbling.
Moments of hearing voices... the kinds of voices usually reserved for the truly delusional, had me terrified. These weren't the internal voices I'd heard for most of my life.. but the ones that seemed to come from next to me or from other rooms. I was certain I was finally losing my sanity.
I've written before about what brought me to meeting with some people at church and won't do that tonight. It's been posted and reposted... I don't have the energy to do it again.

The first time we met at the church in early November 1998, I went into great detail about my past history... my years in and out of hospitals, the various spiritual battles we'd gone through, the depths of the current depression. I told them of the eating disorders, my current inability to eat and my decent again into self-injury. I had a plum sized burn on my arm I'd been concealing for days but couldn't bring myself to tell them about it.
(I've deleted my vox account and can't remember if what I'd posted there included an account of this first meeting)
We talked for an hour and decided to pray. I can remember feeling every muscle in my body tense and quivering by this time. I felt like an explosion waiting to happen and tried curling into myself to prevent it. In the end, all it took was Pastor R reaching out his hand to mine.
I can remember now flying out of the chair and bolting to a corner of the sanctuary, curling up in a ball on the floor... arms wrapped around my knees. The sound coming from my own lips was almost animalistic and the terror I felt beyond words.
Pastor R came over and tried to reassure me of the safety of the place. In my head, all I could hear was the moaning of someone terrified and cornered. I see it all now without the same detachment I've felt before when trying to bring this day to memory. For the first time I feel the same things she felt. (I'm still not sure who it was... though I think it was Petra.) Not with the same intensity... I can still sit here and type despite the urge to close this window and go to bed. I can still pause to have a conversation with one of the kids, though not with the enthusiasm I'd prefer. I can still breathe. That's always a good thing.
It took a few minutes of convincing, but I somehow managed to reach out my hand to Pastor. R and allow him to help me to stand. It still wasn't me but by that time Reese, Stephanie and at least one other were fighting past the wall to awareness.
We walked the perimeter of the sanctuary, while Pastor R spoke gentle words of assurance and promises of safety.
I think safety is what set it off. I remember the sharp pain in my arm as I slammed it into the corner of a support beam as many times as I could before being pulled away. The rage was unbelievable and I think I wanted to kill him for daring to suggest something as laughable and unrealistic as safety. How could anyone keep me safe when the very danger was a part of me?
I know I fought him. I know he tried to restrain me and I tried to get my hands around his throat.
He did the only thing he knew to do. He prayed against the demon he thought was at work... and came face to face with Stephanie.
I have to admit, all these years later, I still consider this one of her finest moments.
Stephanie was always the bad girl... the miscreant... delinquent... anarchist and had been on several prior occasions a very convincing portrayal of the demonic. I now know she chose this moment to challenge that belief because "it was time to stop playing fucking games" and dare someone to care enough to see what and who was before them.
She pulled away from him, and remaining in a crouch, growled at Pastor R..."Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, was crucified, buried and on the third day rose again. He lives at the right hand of God and if you call me a demon one more time I will rip your fucking head off and shove it down your fucking neck!"
She was always good at inspiring speechlessness in others...
What followed was a tirade of "you don't know, you don't understand, you can't promise to care, you're just another liar and why don't you just back the fuck off before you hurt her."
When she'd yelled herself out and grown tired of the continued looks of shock and confusion she let go and allowed me to claw my way back out in a torrent of "I'msorryI'mSorryI'msorry."

heh.

I meant to list, not detail. This was just the top of the list.

I finally found my way back to my chair and didn't object when Pastor R, Pat and M (who had sat helplessly by all this time) scooted a little closer to me. I think "you see why I say I'm hopelessly screwed up?" was part of the conversation. I know I did finally tell them about the burn (Pulling up my sleeve to show them was another challenge to their willingness to get involved) and asked them to help me admit it to Charlie.

By the time we'd finished that first meeting, 3 hours had passed and I left to make one of my frequent blind drives home and crawled into bed.

I talked often with each of the three people there that day but we didn't meet again as a group until January... when Pastor R could schedule back-up in the event the shit hit the fan again.

It did... but will have to be shared later.
This is enough for one night.

Monday, June 1, 2009

First kiss

Shoot me.

Shoot me now.

Daniel kissed his girlfriend.

Her dad wants to talk to Charlie.

Okay, that part is hysterical.

But he's only 14!

His sisters are out for blood and have discussed tying him to a chair in his room for a few more years.

He called the house from her house the other day and I thought it was Charlie.

I DID NOT GIVE HIM PERMISSION TO GROW UP THIS FAST.

*sighs*