12 May 2005

Memory is a Monster

"Your memory is a monster; you forget - it doesn't. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you - and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!" ~ John Irving

I have to get a hair cut. A couple of years ago, I decided I wanted long-ish hair again. (long-ish: a little above shoulder length.) Every time I saw my stylist, though, I ended up with short hair. I guess I thought of it as fate. I've been willing to accept it.

A couple of months ago, I missed a hair appointment and neglected to call in advance to say I wouldn't be there. Generally speaking, that means I won't be going back to that stylist. Unfortunately, embarassment has ended a number of pretty successful stylist relationships.

The upshot is that my hair is now almost shoulder length. It's still layered, though, so I'm doing the Martha Stewart thing constantly. I brush my hair out of my face a hundred times a day. Every time I do, I remember being sexually abused.

For reasons unclear at this juncture, when I was a little girl, after an episode of sexual abuse, I always allowed my hair to just fall in my face. I made no effort to brush it away so that I could see a little better. I don't know what that was about; my therapist says I was probably dissociated. That's probably correct.

Of course, that "seeing a little better" might be the crux of the issue, after all. Maybe I didn't want to see how little anyone cared about me. About where I was. About who was with me. Maybe I just didn't want to see that I was profoundly superfluous to everyone else's lives.

Or maybe it was a way of hiding my shame. I was very ashamed. My abuser, like all abusers, laid the blame at my doorstep. Let me just say here that my earliest recollection of abuse was when I was five. It had occurred before then, though, because I also recall being terrified by the prospect of being left alone with him. I'm very intuitive, but a five year old is incapable of being afraid of something that has never occurred. I accepted the blame.

I'm dissociating even as I type...all feeling falls away. I'm left in that calm, observational state of mind that graciously robs my memories of any emotional impact. Nonetheless, as I type my hair falls across my face. It doesn't matter. Rage begets dissociation. It is an unacceptable emotion for me.

I've lived through some very harrowing times when rage lived in the same house with me. I do not wish to be like my father. I'm not like my father, but my brain shuts down nonetheless. It feels so much safer to just...not feel.

America held hostage day 1315
Bushism of the day:
"I really appreciate the hardworking staff—the docs, the nurses, the people who make this fantastic facility operate in a way that makes me pride, and in a way that will make every American proud when they learn your story. "
—Bush, speaking in Washington, D.C., Dec. 18, 2003

Website of the day: Deepplanet Magazine

This is My Horoscope For Today

Intellectual Mercury is in your 7th House of Partnerships until May 28th, reminding you that your complexity may need a makeover. No matter how deep your emotions run, others won't understand you unless you keep it simple. Even if you feel frustrated by having to say less, you'll be so much more effective if you stick to the basics. You can successfully add other layers at the end of the month.

My complexity may need a makeover?! Since when did it not need a makeover? No one has understood me since 1963. Why would I start expecting it now? It would be very difficult for me to say less than I currently do. Outside of my family and a couple of online friends, I always keep my communications as bland and unenlightening as possible. I really just don't need the hassle of having people try to understand me. Better to just let them think they do so I don't seem quite as threatening. I work amongst some version of regular, middle class uniformity. It's better they don't know just how not standard I am.

One of my work associates has a habit of constantly trying to finish my sentences with me. I don't mind that kind of participatory involvement in what I'm saying. As a matter of fact, I'm always gleeful when someone really can finish my sentences for me. It signifies a strong connection. However, if you consistently can't guess what is about to come out of my mouth, please stop trying. It just annoys me.

11 May 2005

Two Little Girls

"Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame." -- Benjamin Franklin (1706-90)

I'm thinking today of the two little girls killed by one of the girls' father. I guess Laura Hobbs either forgot or didn't care about the level of violence her father was capable of. I can't imagine, even though he'd been in jail for several years, that she would have forgotten the sight of her father chasing people with a chainsaw. Perhaps she believed he had changed. Adults caught in those types of relationshps often cling to the belief that the victimizer has found his bearings and given up forever violence as a means of control. That belief can lead directly to death.

Sometimes children get so angry or so depressed (or both) that they no longer care about the consequences. Defiance is dangerous. So is defending one's self...verbally or otherwise. There are some parents who are so prone to rage that children must learn to disappear.

Even my own father never tried to stab me to death. I don't think he ever punched me. Yes, I was physically abused, but it wasn't extreme. As I type this, I lose my own bearings a bit. Define extreme. When I've mentioned this to my therapist, she points out that he didn't have to. I knew exactly what he was capable of. We didn't have any chain saws, but we had large knives and a high powered rifle.

Sometimes you just have to find a way to disappear. I was talking with my therapist about this just last week. When I was around 8 or 9, a major hurricane passed by the Gulf Coast and we were all stuck inside the house for a week or so. It seemed like months. My father was in one of his manic phases and everything enraged him. I was scared. Not that that was an unusual emotion. I was terrified most of my childhood. I dreaded the time when he would get up in the morning. I never knew who was going to be walking into the living room.

I learned to disappear. I found places where I wouldn't be conspicuous. I spent a lot of time practicing having no expression. Sometimes not having an expression was just as enraging to him as if I had one. I didn't wait to be told; I tried to anticipate his needs. I did not talk back. I did not argue. I tried very very hard to kiss his ass.

There did come a time when I became defiant, but it wasn't until I knew there were people who would notice if something serious occurred. Or if I didn't come to school for an extended period of time. I was still terrified, but as a teenager I figured there was a pretty good chance that I could get away before he could really hurt me. Calculated risks.

I managed to survive, but those two little girls weren't so lucky. Who knows what the catalyst was that resulted in their murders. Children die at the hands of their parents on a regular basis. I wish that it didn't have to be so and I'm thinking of those two little girls today.

America held hostage day 1314
Bushism of the day:
# "We hold dear what our Declaration of Independence says, that all have got uninalienable rights, endowed by a Creator."
Source: The New York Times, "Reporter's Notebook; Skipping Borders, Tripping Diction," David E. Sanger, May 28, 2002

Website of the day: National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information

10 May 2005

Things I'm Unable To Do

"Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody's power, that is not easy." ~ Aristotle

After last week's fiasco with my beloved husky, I was in a quandary. I talked with my therapist about it. I have no doubt that I'll change vets...as soon as I pay the one I have now. The question is whether I plan to tell the vet I'm leaving. Therapist asks if I told the vet how angry I was. No. The therapist asks if I'm going to tell the vet how angry I was. Um, no. I don't know why. I have no idea. I'm really good at certain types of confrontation: employees I'm supervising; people who screw with people I love; well there are more, but I just can't think of them at the moment. I'm not mean in those situations, but I'm very clear about what I believe the problem(s) to be.

She asked me if I thought I could write a letter to the vet, expressing my outrage. That seemed like something I could do. Definitely. Three days later and my certainty has evaporated. Seems like a lot of trouble when I could just as easily pay the damn bill and walk away.

I was also unable to confront my psychiatrist a year ago when she was falling apart. She wasn't doing a very good job of ministering to my depression and anxiety. I avoided seeing her for a while and she got better. Who knows why.

I think my dentist owes me some contraption to wear when I'm sleeping to correct my bite. I paid for it. Why don't I have it? I'm been unable to force myself to call him up and ask just where the fuck this thing is that I paid $1700 for.

There are more people I find myself unable to confront. If I were to sit here for another hour, I could probably come up with five or six. But you get my point.

I know I used to be good at this stuff. There was a time when I could immediately and forcefully meet any situation head on. I mean, I dealt with my father, for god's sake. It doesn't get much scarier than that. I can't tell anymore whether it's just a lack of interest or a lack of courage.

I've always been really good at walking away, too. Lately, it's my preferred mode of dealing with unpleasantness. If someone at the office pisses me off, I leave the room and I don't interact with that person anymore. Except for the exchange of business information, of course. Any interaction between me and the offending party is handled professionally and cordially, with a demeanor so smooth that there's no place they can hang onto. I seem to be the same as I always was, but it's impossible to determine what my feelings are or if I even have any. Being an abused child has some advantages. I can dissociate at a moment's notice. I'm smiling at you and answering your questions, but on the inside I'm just all ice.

I can make people feel warm and fuzzy. They feel their egos being stroked ever so gently. I'm laughing at their jokes. I'm asking questions that seem to indicate an interest in the minutiae of their lives. I'm recalling small things they said six months ago. That never fails to make people feel cared for. I can also withdraw all of that. The sunshine is no longer shining in your office, asshole. I've packed it all up and moved it across the building to my office, where it will stay.

America held hostage day 1314
Bushism of the day:
"We've had a great weekend here in the land of the enchanted."
—Bush, referring to New Mexico, "The Land of Enchantment"
Source: Federal Document Clearinghouse, "George W. Bush Delivers Remarks on Jobs and Growth in Albuquerque," May 12, 2003

Website of the Day: A Study of Near Death Experiences

Snipers in My Brain

It's another bleak Tuesday. Gray skies. I'm trying to subvert the sadness by wearing a dress. It isn't helping so far. Cute shoes, too. Big deal.

The problem is the harridans have moved back into my head and threaten to take up long term residence. I've been silencing them off and on all morning. The crisis with my dog last week clarified a couple of conditions which seem to wake up the snipers in my brain. Sleep deprivation is one of them; extreme stress the other. I got enough sleep last night and I don't feel particularly stressed. Not that that means anything, of course. I'm not very capable of recognizing stress until it renders me sick and incapable of getting out of bed for a week or so.

My dad's birthday is next Monday. Maybe I'm just getting the festivities started early. Last week I'm hanging on to my anger, though, and haven't gotten sidetracked into how he must have felt just before he pulled the trigger. Going in that direction will lead to certain self recrimination and sadness.

Maybe there will be more to say later.