Happy Birthday

Today is my birthday. I am 42. When I turned 40, it was one of the happiest years of my life. Finally, a satisfying job. Great family. Published author.

Some look at turning 40 as the first death-knoll, but I didn’t feel that stereotype. I have too much I am interested in, too much fun. 40 was a completely awesome year. As a best friend commented, you don’t find too many great friends so late in life as we had. Amazing.

But what happened in the last year?

After I turned 41, this mess started. And has just gotten worse and worse over the last year. My meds doc, who when challenged about the continued downward spiral of this process, laughed. “9 months of therapy is a drop in the bucket for what you have yet to go through.”

I do appreciate honesty, and his comments do not anger me. They sadden me, that this confusion and despair seems to have no end in sight.

I read from Merck, from ISSTD, that the course of treatment tends to be 6 years. My god, I’ll be 47 before this is over. Three years to my AARP card. Three years before the Big Five-Oh.

What do I feel about all this? I felt strongly one way, until another erased what I wrote and stated something completely different. Alternately, emphatically, I feel sad, guilty, angry. I feel horrible it has come to this. Only a few know what is going on inside me. Some do not handle it well; most do not understand at all. Sometimes I do not understand it either. How could I expect anyone else to?

It is a secret I wish I could reveal, quietly, to just a few more people. One or two at work, just by way of explanation for my sometimes disjointed “moods”. Even though my excellent performance precludes the need for me to provide excuses. But I wish I could tell without the fear of repercussion, illegal as any fallout might be.

I want to write a book on this process. I am already published, I know writing is a strength of mine. I know I could write from a perspective different from other “first person” memoirs on the market. Something less “here’s my story” and something more “here’s what to understand about your friend/lover/daughter/mother.”

That story is in us to share.

As this is Emily’s blog, it is Emily’s story to tell. Artist provides the words to paint the pictures Emily sees through her large eyes. Kate provides the sarcasm and wit to make us all laugh in the face of the dark topic. “Oh fck that” is often enough to pull us out of a small depression. “People are assholes, don’t take this personally.” Maggie is a hug but as a latecomer, she is less effective in helping me but better at helping others.

During those days that Camigwen just completely loses it, we know that Jaime wakes up and runs the show. Not as eloquent as I/Artist am, but matter-of-fact and gets the job done. She looks upon documenting in the diary with distaste, and her entries often start, “Okay, this is Jaime and I am running the show for a while.” And at work, she and Maggie are an excellent team to get us through. They do it quite well I must say.

During this recent time of absolute turmoil, questions of in-patient therapy, I see more and more of Sam. A missing part of us, gone for so long, who took much of the second attack. The pit of rage inside me, of Sam, is coming.

Today is the birthday. As the birthchild, it is certainly Emily’s birthday. While our “birthstone” is May’s Emerald, her birthstone is really the lighter green, the silent large-eyed child. Peridot. The headstrong child who grew to be her/our protector, the strength of this system, who brought Emily back from her troubled disjointed forays into the woods, is my Jaime. Jaime also shares this birthday, and her birthstone is the emerald of this entire person.

Birthdays of the rest of us – some I will never know. The dates are not important. I know the years, and often the seasons. But most of the exact dates escape me, so I’ve encouraged each to choose their own birthstones. The color and concept that each felt represented their true selves.

So while we celebrate only one “birthday” a year, we each have our own. But it all comes back to Emily.

Emily is our birthchild. While we are certainly not integrated, and many not even co-conscious, several of us recognize the foot-stamping of Emily that got this started.

Our tribute to Emily – she is the little rock, the little core that has been the catalyst for us surviving for so long. While we did not realize it.

It has taken me a year to realize that she has been hidden in here, all along.

We “found” her in the woods last year, standing wide-eyed in the middle of a path, as if she was waiting for us to find her. Alisa ran to her, she came to us and attached herself to Artist, much to her chagrin in her new-found role as “aunt.” I/Camigwen was just completely blown away by the whole experience – is this a hallucination? I haven’t been drinking, no drugs, just walking in a new stretch of woods with my husband when all this happened.

And let me say – again, to you doubters. I am not particularly religious. I don’t attribute anything going on inside me as a product of religious beliefs, god, etc. I have flashbacks, not visions. I have experiences that perhaps cannot be explained (yet), but AS AN ENGINEER what I report as factual. Although yes, anecdotal.

But – and here is the big “but” – I will write later on the documented changes in the brain due to prolonged and “complex” PTSD. I do ferverently believe there is a biological component (I did not say “basis”) for what I continue to experience.

When we found Emily, no, I did not “see” her physical form in the woods. I sensed something strong, a recognizable part of me. That stopped me in my path. The sudden insistent voice in my head, “lonely girl! that is her!” Welcoming her. My husband waited, perhaps thinking I had seen some bird, or was recalling yet another story of Girl Scout camping trips to regale him with.

I saw her, standing in the path. Immobile, I stepped back inside, letting my body and mind take over, I felt Alisa run to her, embrace her, hug her with no hesitation or worry. I/Camigwen had no idea what was happening, other than that some part of me had recognized some other critical part of me.

Happy Birthday, Emily.


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