The normal world I need in my universe

“Everything is not about you.” “You do not see my point of view.” “This is not a one-way street. Be more flexible.”

With DID and PTSD, dissociation can disconnect you from the “real world.”  You may be less aware of your effect on people, unable to put yourselves in their shoes.  And they unable to put themselves in yours.  During your “better” moments, some communication and ground rules may help your relationships with others survive your recovery.

What I did and found

In my own haze of despair, trying to keep it together, I am hurting people and not even realizing it. Everything around me feels unfamiliar, confusing. From the flashbacks, dissociation, and meds.

I am not handling reality very well, and I am being informed of it. And my apologies are not enough. Tollefson said recovery is hard, and you may lose everything.

“At the time a survivor is deciding to enter into recovery, he/she is faced with staying with the familiar or dealing with unpredictability. There are situations where there are no answers, just feelings; no familiar automatic barriers, just new boundaries; no black or white, just a lot of gray; no familiar guarantees, just healthy fear.”

“Recovery is not a reason to display pain. Recovery is not about acting out one’s pain by directing it at self or other people, places or things. It is an opportunity to finally recognize the pain, allow it to pass by, grieve the losses, and then accept the trauma information into your normal memory bank.” [Tollefson]

Understanding this intellectually and making the leap to the heart are two different things. And doing it correctly the first time seems to be impossible. But I am trying – please just give me that.

You need to have normal around you

Hi Mom

You wrote something that is so right, and I wanted to let you know it.

I have read all the blog. Several times. It is so valuable to me. Scares the shit out of me at times. But good for me.

I have decided I have to remain as normal as possible. You need to have normal around you. I am going to try not to tailor my interactions with you on how I think you feel, e.g., you are not communicating so I don’t communicate because I think you don’t want to communicate. Simplistic, but you know what I mean.

Your statement that I need to have normal around me. YES! It may be simplistic, but it is exactly what I need.

I know what is happening now makes me act not “familiar” or “normal,” but having the rest of my world be constant and “normal” helps me. Gives me some firm footing when I have trouble even feeling the ground. I don’t know if you are “cutting me any slack” but if you are, I appreciate it.

You have been the one constant through all of this. Not judging, not accusing, not threatening. Initially, I was shocked to have such unconditional support from you, but over the last 9 months or so, it has become more and more familiar to me that you will be there. Sometimes I still can’t believe it, like I need to look you in the eyes each time I see you to check, “is she still there for me?” And you are.

This issue of trust, of needing that constant reassurance that someone will be there, has nothing to do with you and everything to do with me. It is my problem to overcome. And you are giving me the opportunity to do that. Thank you.

The last month or so have been hell. Since the topic of my blog entries often mirror my inner thoughts, I know I have put some scary shit up here. It has been my soul, when I have had the ability to write. Many times I have lost even that. I have found myself in mental places I have not known since I was 16, many recent and confusing flashes of rage that bring back the inchoate despair I felt after the attack. Of being unconnected to anything in real world and hearing horrible voices in my head. I had hidden that rage for so long, and with it’s recent reemergence, I am very scared. Flashbacks strip away my current reality, and when I return, I am confused and upset. It takes a little while for me to calm down and get “back on track.”

Please god don’t let this happen at work.

When will this stop?

We wait for the meds to start working. Due to the possibility of severe side effects, we have to start the dose extremely low and increase it by small amounts every two weeks. After a scare last week, we have had to slow down the ramp up. The waiting period has been hell, so I have been knocked out on a benzo every day for the last few weeks. It allows me to sort-of function. To think a few hours at a time. To scrape by. But the last month I have been unable to completely hide it and more people know “something is wrong.” Please please when will these drugs kick in? When will the nearly constant feelings of just driving into a tree to end it all calm down?

I don’t understand how things got so bad the last month or so. My husband said the other day, “there is something chemically wrong in your brain.” It was a statement of fact, not an accusation. It reassured me that he would be there – he recognizes this is not just a “mood”. There has to be something chemical – this is not me. And I won’t survive without the meds. How the hell did this “mental” disorder take over my body so physically?

Hurting your friends and family

The last month, I know I have not interpreted things correctly, I know I have said and done some things that hurt people without intending to, and quite honestly, I don’t even understand some of what I have been accused of saying. I can read the emails, but not understand why they were interpreted that way. What is wrong with me? Is it all me? I am so sorry.

I was accused that “the world does not revolve around you.” “Everything is not about you.” Kinda made me sad/upset…in my life, I have been moody, stubborn, and sometimes refused admit I was wrong, but I don’t think I ever acted like I thought I was the center of the universe. But perhaps that is just what is happening lately…maybe I am acting like I am the only one here. I started to feel really guilty about that, that I am not doing a good job of seeing how my actions affect other people. But then a few days later I thought, well, right now the world DOES have to revolve around me. At least in my mind … MY universe.

Whose universe is it anyway?

I have run away from this so long, done all these other things, taken care of other people, and ignored myself. But I don’t think I made myself the center of everyone else’s universe. Ironically, I didn’t even make myself the center of my OWN universe.

That was quite a realization. I don’t want to hurt people, but right now, I have to make myself the most important thing in my life. The “recovery” quote about you may lose everything…it scared me, but I understand how it can happen. During periods like now when I obviously NEED meds but they are not working yet … these are some pretty precarious periods, and during these times, yes, I very much appreciate being cut some slack. At those points when I can appreciate anything at all. And you have been there.

Normalcy versus flexibility

<So, you are being contradictory. You want other people to provide “normalcy” but at the same time, to cut you some slack.>

Is that contradictory? I don’t know. I don’t think so – from my perspective of what I need (which may be completely different from anyone else’s needs for recovery) is for the people around me to help maintain the universe that I am in…not the one I am accused of being the center of, but the universe that I have been sharing with them. But in addition to that normalcy, sometimes I also need a little slack.

I need my support network to have a little resiliency to roll with me as I struggle. I am on meds that muddle my mind, make me tired, affect my balance and coordination. I am extremely frustrated at how bad this has gotten, I beat myself up that I have slipped in some responsibilities, despair of the meds ever kicking in, and at times I lose all hope of ever feeling like a real person again.

During this time, it helps me tremendously to have my close friends and family just love me. To not throw in my face all the things I am doing wrong. I think/hope you know this is not the “real” me.

During those times I despair of how I have hurt someone, I wonder, am I using the effect of the meds and my current mental state as an excuse? I don’t think my thought process even gets that far. My short term memory is shot – I make lists upon lists to help me get through the day. Me, who used to multitask 14 things in my mind at once.

But I have to accept responsibilities for my actions. I try to do that, I think. I may not do it in the way others expect, and I may not do it in the way I did 6 months ago. But I am trying my hardest. But I just can’t think normally, and I am sorry for the things I have said and done to hurt people as I struggle with this.

Thank god being able to manipulate the coffee maker appears to be coded in my brain stem, because otherwise I’d be completely lost without my daily infusion.

The “center of the universe” accusation hurts me. It may be how I am acting now to others. I don’t know. Maybe because I am much less able to sense things about others, to respond to their unconscious needs, or others are less willing to talk to me about their own daily issues because I am overwhelmed with my own. Or maybe they say something and I just don’t hear it. I don’t know.

But keeping it “normal” is what I need. I sat in an emergency animal hospital the other night for hours with a sick pet. It gave me such a feeling of relevance to be there for her, to be her mommy to help her feel better. She was the connection who held me to the earth that day and night. She kept her world normal and allowed me to help her. And that helped me.

But I have a sad laugh for the universe comment – center of the universe? Most of the time lately, I don’t even want to be a PART of the fcking universe, let alone be the center of it.

So thank you Mom, for realizing what I need while I struggle. I am not asking you to let me get away with crap, but to keep asking the questions in a non-threatening way. For not triggering me. Which, I know, can be impossible to predict (heh heh) but your gentleness is greatly greatly appreciated.

I love you,
Your kids

References

Tollefson WB (2006). What Recovery Is Not, Enlightened Choices Newsletter, May 2006 – Volume 10 – Issue 1, accessed from http://www.enlightenedchoices.com/2006_05.htm#1

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