Finding the Lost

I’ve been feeling old, lately.

Ugly, aged, and… 2 dimensional.

So much has changed in the 3 and a bit years since my mental health crisis. I’m an entirely different person with an entirely different life. In so many ways that is a positive result, but there’s one long-standing aspect of that recovery that has really started to get to me.

I don’t have an identity anymore.

I think many addicts go through this when they step into recovery. You mourn the loss of your chosen substance(s), and the people who came with them. Addicts design their entire lives around their ability to get high so when they take that requirement away from themselves it very quickly becomes apparent just how substanceless their lives were when they lived under the influence.

There was a lot of catching up with the world to be done when I quit Escapism.

I suddenly had all this time. Hours of it that I had to actively fill with something. I very quickly realised that I’d only ever written whilst high or drunk and that attempting to do so whilst sober only worked while I was still raw inside recovery; when I had emotions to expunge.

The moment that I felt like I was getting “better”, like I was managing my life in a healthy and positive manner, I lost the desire to put words on paper. I lost the desire to overshare myself with the world. After three years of not writing, I’ve now lost the talent, as well.

I think the loss of my identity has much to do with it.

For the vast majority of my life I was “that weird goth girl”. I stopped being her when I moved back to this little town and there wasn’t much of a call for clubwear. I also wanted to be someone different, someone healthy, someone fixed.

I figured that fixed people don’t wear demonia boots and teenage angst… but in some ways, while I seem to manage life in a healthier manner – healthier for the world around me – it’s not necessarily healthy for myself, and I am reconsidering my stance very seriously.

I’ve gone from one emotional extreme to the other. I went from overcaring to indifference. My daughter breaks through that, of course, but basically everything else that exists in my world, does so on my emotional periphery.

I feel less than whole. I feel like a cutout, a silhouette, something that is substanceless and has nothing of any depth to offer the world. I feel that my opinion is worthless; just one more stupid voice bleating into the ether. I don’t care enough to put any conviction into anything I say, because there’s nothing besides my daughter that fills me with any kind of passion.

The only time that I feel remotely like my old self; the me whose corners are filled with meaning and life is when I’m drinking.

I don’t “drink”  anymore, I normal person drink. The demons that caused me to drown myself have been exorcised, so for the most part, I don’t “drink”, I just socially acceptably sip with friends. I mean, the edge is a very fine line and I’ve slipped over it a few times, but even when I’ve had more than I should, I haven’t turned into that angry, dangerous girl I used to become every time.

I have turned into one of the girls I used to be, though. The one who listened to music, who had opinions, who … got involved in life. I guess I just haven’t worked out how to reach her without drinking.

I think it’s because I felt that everything about the old me was wrong. It was trouble, it was broken, it had to apologise for existing. I was very compartmentalised; very dissociative. There were distinctly different me’s that occupied this body at any given time and they were sometimes so different to each other that I never got anything accomplished because they kept swapping who was in control.

I think that maybe I’m so ashamed of all the me’s that I used to be that I won’t even let the healthy aspects of them out. None of them were inherently evil; they were just always too amplified because I manifested them separately.

The experiences I’d been through in my life had taught me that to survive, I had to become what someone wanted me to be. My personalities were definitely compartmentalised and my worlds were NOT allowed to intermingle. During my Sydney days, my work people thought I was a non-drinker, despite being an alcoholic, and my friends didn’t interact with my boyfriend unless the metal and goth worlds crossed paths.

I had been taught from the age of 8 that I wasn’t entitled to my own feelings. I’d been taught that my emotional responses to situations weren’t appropriate, or they weren’t the fault of the person who caused them. I was told that my recollection of the events had been wrong.

That’s the result of gaslighting – it makes you question your sanity and grip on reality and you always come out of it doubting yourself, rather than the person telling you that you’re wrong.

The consequence of this was that my emotions had to be carefully stored and sorted individually so that I could take them apart later, when I was alone, in front of a notepad or a computer. I would write out the scenario step by step, in an attempt to convince myself that I was right. It didn’t matter though. Unless the other party relented and told me I was right, I’d never believe myself, despite clear evidence and occasionally witnesses.

The self-doubt was so extensive that little by little, the whole, full person that I was began to be eroded away until all that was left was a quiet little blank canvas, always alert for signs to tell me how I should act to avoid displeasing that bully.

So those hidden emotions created all those different me’s who only came out one at a time, in amplified doses, and because I learned to be who I needed to be for the person I was with, I never actually established who I was as a real life person.

I think the only time I have ever been close to being “myself”  was the tiny little year when I was 13 years old and started high school. I left the bully behind and hadn’t yet started real life relationships with boys who taught me that my only worth was between my legs.

Once that happened, the effects of the PTSD caused by the bullying began to kick in and the social chameleon was born.

I escaped through my clothing and music and internet friends – and that’s where I first learned how to have completely separate worlds. Internet friends have always been safe, the one place I was able to be my real self because they couldn’t touch me, I didn’t feel threatened by them. They were my confidantes and probably my life savers once I began that emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship at 15.

Moving back to this little town as an adult meant that I no longer had the luxury of compartmentalising my life. I didn’t have the escape of a metal gig or club, where I could listen to the music that speaks to my soul and calms me down and makes me feel light and good.

When I binged, work knew about it, because it usually happened with them, or within their sight at one of the few pubs left in town. I couldn’t run anywhere anymore, there were no hiding places, and the walls kept falling in on me. I just broke beneath the pressure and the weed-induced paranoia.

So now I feel that to avoid that ever happening again, I’ve got walls that are so big that even I can’t get into them. Walls that I didn’t actually realise I’d put up. I will never run the risk of falling apart again, of becoming all those different people if I simply don’t allow myself to feel the emotions that breed them.

The only person who is safe for me to experience unconditionally is my daughter, because she loves me with everything that she is. She doesn’t have an agenda, an ulterior motive.

To protect her, and keep her safe from the other me’s, I just exist as this safe, but unfulfilled shell.

The unfulfilled part is starting to make me not quite as safe anymore, however, and old emotions are beginning to creep in.

Depression, ennui, futility, apathy and a big fat dose of self-disgust. I avoid mirrors at the moment – not because of my weight, but because of my face. I hate what stares back at me. Those big teeth, big gums, pale lips, old skin, empty eyes.

I see the passage of time on that face and it reminds me that I’ve accomplished nothing in life besides the basic evolutionary function that all organisms instinctively perform to ensure the continuation of the species.

I’ve whinged a lot on the internet, but that’s basically it. I mean, I don’t even have a hobby. I can’t even answer the question “what do you enjoy?” because the answer to that is “nothing”.

I enjoy not being present.

Despite a diagnosis, therapy, and feeling that I’ve worked through the traumas that caused my need to escape into a mind-altering substance on a daily basis, I still find myself drawn to pursuits that allow time to pass without me engaging with the world – reading, television, movies – sucking in someone else’s creativity in an effort to avoid doing anything myself.

This? This isn’t creativity, it isn’t writing. This is doing what my tagline says – using blogging as a cheap form of therapy.

And I’m not sure whether I have the energy or even the inclination to do otherwise.

Something’s gotta give, I know that.

My family is about to make some big changes, which I think are probably long overdue, and that’s as good a time as any for me to implement some others.

I might spend my non-smoking money on a new pair of demonia boots, or a corset. I might set up a media centre in the new house so I can listen to my music again, instead of The Wiggles or the countless nursery rhyme playlists my daughter watches on YouTube.

Maybe, if I reach in and pick some of the parts of the old me’s that felt good and pair them with the aspects of the new me that bring me peace, I’ll manage to cobble together some sort of epic goth/martha stewart Frankenstein that brings me fulfillment.

In fact, to get me started I might just buy myself this pretty Skull Apron.

classy_cook_aprons

and these boots.

demonia trashville - beserk

and I need to stop looking because I’ve added $568 worth of things to a wishlist and I’m supposed to be packing boxes for moving…

 

 

Trigger Warning – Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Cannot Help and Yet Continue to Fight Against Daily

Clearly the author of this list, Amy Morin, hasn’t heard of Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD or Complex PTSD, just to name a few trauma-induced personality disorders. Many of the behaviours on this list are symptoms of those disorders, as people who suffer them are given no choice but to do whatever it takes in order to physically survive the situations they have no escape from, or control over.

While the things she advises in this list are, of course, stepping stones to freeing your psyche from the burdens that disable your ability to analyse and recover from life’s difficulties, the tone with which it is written is extremely offensive when you consider that millions of people in the world suffer extensive trauma on a daily basis – trauma which often results in the manifestation of those disorders previously mentioned – these are not disorders that one is born with, they are disorders developed following trauma.

That is the key message that must be heeded here. People who suffer these disorders didn’t have a choice in their abuse, and they don’t have a choice in the symptoms they experience as a result of that abuse.

I think it is incredibly irresponsible for a “licensed clinical social worker”, as Forbes describes Amy Morin, to completely disregard the personality disorders which are comprised mostly of the “13 things” in her list, when mental illness is still so incredibly stigmatised in society.

I’d love to see Amy Morin read this list, out loud, to the face of childhood sexual assault victims, or those who have grown up in or endured abusive environments for years on end, where every ounce of power was stripped from them, forcing them to adapt their thoughts and behaviour permanently, in order to survive.

Recovery from these disorders requires the sufferer to spend every single moment of their day fighting instincts they were conditioned to experience in order to survive their physical, mental and emotional traumas – instincts which are no longer required when the traumatic situation ceases, but instincts that remain part of their psyche and their body for the rest of their lives, thus impacting the way in which they interact with and navigate the world.

Recovery requires the sufferer to ACCEPT and FORGIVE themselves, whilst REWIRING EVERYTHING THAT THEY HAD TO BECOME IN ORDER TO PHYSICALLY REMAIN IN THIS WORLD. They have to take responsibility for what was done to them, as well as the way they reacted. They have to take responsibility for keeping their natural instinct at bay as it is generally not appropriate for their current situation and can have a profound effect on the people in their lives.

So you’re sort of right, Amy Morin: mentally strong people don’t 1. “waste time feeling sorry for themselves”. What they do is feel sorry for the horrendous abuse they had to endure at the behest of someone else. And then they turn themselves inside out keeping the effect of that away from other people, whilst recalling that abuse over and over and over.

They don’t 2. “give away their power” – their power was stripped from them – they never had a choice in the matter.

They 3. “shy away from change” because they are terrified by change -their lives have been spent following strict rules of survival, and many “changes” they experienced quite often signalled a new form of abuse, often in the form of gaslighting.

They 4. “waste energy on things they can’t control” because their abusers ensured they didn’t HAVE control. Many of them NEVER had control, so when they escaped their abusive situation, they had no idea how to make decisions for themselves, they were used to being controlled at all times so they find tiny things that they can control and they focus intently on them.

They DO 5. “worry about pleasing others” because pleasing others was what may have downscaled their beatings from “life-threatening” to “permanent scarring”, for example.

They 6. “fear taking calculated risks” because every single chance they took to escape their abuse resulted in some form of “punishment”. Everything, except allowing the abuse to continue, is a risk to people who have endured trauma. Clearly, allowing the abuse to continue is also a risk, but it’s one they know better than freedom.

They certainly 7. “dwell on the past” because despite being conditioned to believe that they deserve everything committed against them, there is a voice inside that screams at them, asking them to explain why they “allowed it to happen”. There is a voice that doesn’t let them wholly accept that they deserved their abuse – a voice that tells them “something isn’t right”. And they dwell on the past because in most occasions, their abuse wasn’t acknowleged, either by the perpetrator or those who could have helped them. The ongoing effects of that abuse also aren’t being acknowledged as something they can’t control, rather they are being blamed for being a bad person because others do not understand why they act in certain ways. Even when the abuse by the perpetrator ceases, the behaviours learned in order to survive, remain, and these behaviours do not fit with normal, healthy relationships. The victim is viewed as a perpetrator as their behaviour can sometimes unfairly affect the people in their lives. Consequently, they spend much of their time explaining their past, to justify their current behaviour.

They most definitely 8. “Make the same mistakes over and over”, because safe environments feel unsafe. The whole “Better the Devil you know” scenario. They spend the remainder of their lives in a state of hypervigilance, waiting for the penny to drop, for the rug to be pulled from under them.. if they’re in a situation they know (abusive), it feels like home, despite “home” being the least safe place for them. They are conditioned to accept abuse because they’ve been conditioned to believe they don’t deserve otherwise.

Some of them 9. “Resent other peoples’ success”, particularly those suffering Borderline Personality Disorder, because they can’t fathom what is so intrinsically wrong with THEM, that they were made to suffer at the hands of someone else. Many things feel like a personal attack. When you haven’t done anything to deserve the horrendous way you’ve been treated, you in turn can’t understand why others have a seemingly blessed life, free from hardship.

Many 10. “give up after failure” because their entire everyday life is spent in a state of “trying”. Trying to please their abusers, trying to avoid the next beating, molestation, or phrase that might trip your paranoid, psychotic partner into gaslighting you to ensure your continued compliance. Trying to navigate the world with a head full of trauma. The idea of trying something outside mere physical and mental survival is overwhelmingly exhaustive, and to be frank, not a goddamn motherfucking priority when simply making it to the shops without breaking down is something that takes 2 hours of intense “talking yourself up” to accomplish. Any sense of failure carries with it the weight of every other failure they have experienced throughout their lifetime.

A lot of them 11. “fear alone time” because being alone means being left with memories. Being left with self-hatred. It means staring at walls because you don’t know how to make plans because someone made them for you for 5 years and if you dared to make a decision for yourself, you were punished. A lot of them also fear being with other people, or being around a particular scent, or sound, or time of year, because it triggers horrendous memories and emotions that overwhelm them.

Some of them 12. “feel the world owes them something” because nobody protected them from the trauma in the first place. It isn’t always that people ignored them, many simply weren’t aware, and the abuser ensured the victim had no voice with which to seek help. Once they leave that abusive situation, and begin to comprehend what was done to them, they get angry, and they  demand recompense from whoever they can get it from.

Many of them 13. “expect immediate results” because simply comprehending their life, their abuse, the effect it has had on their psyche, is a long and exhaustive process, and they are desperate for the pain, anguish and exhaustion to disappear. They want to be normal, to be happy, and it feels extremely unfair that despite all they’ve gone through, the only way to reach a sense of normality, where their instincts and lives can become part of the world again without it wreaking more havoc, is a long, drawn out one where they often have to examine their abuse in detail and wonder whether they’ll ever reach the end of that road. They want immediate results for the other aspects of their lives because simply existing as they are takes everything they have.

While I do see where Amy Morin is coming from with this list, I feel very strongly that she has done a sincere disservice to people who not only have to suffer the results of their abuse on a daily basis, but also the stigma that surrounds the resulting mental illness, and the incredibly difficult task of surviving life, even when they have managed to escape the abuse.

If a person genuinely wishes to help me in my recovery, I ask them to first and foremost do some research on Complex PTSD.  I am happy to answer questions and clarify the ways in which this affects my life, as the purpose of recovery is to establish and maintain healthy relationships – healthy for me, and healthy for the other people involved.

Mental illness is already difficult enough to live with, without the stigma attached. I’d like to see the world working to break down this stigma, rather than reinforcing it. 

People cannot help their mental illness. That doesn’t take away their responsibility to manage it to the best of their ability. Blaming them for being who they are, however, helps no-one.

Complex PTSD. Well that sucks balls. I swear a lot in this. Don’t care, either.

I’m trying to find some information to give to Sid, to my family, to help me explain .. me.

Words from my own mouth have never been able to do it. I trip and stumble on them because I can’t ever define what I feel or explain where it comes from. Once I start to, it’s like it turns into a giant cloud of explanation, and it starts to suffocate me, and my brain goes “fuck it. forget it. don’t worry, this is so fucking confusing you don’t even know what you’re talking about. Literally – what was the fucking question?”

I had my psych appointment on Wednesday.

C-PTSD, not PTSD.

The difference being prolonged exposure to trauma where I felt I couldn’t escape, as well as additional trauma created by decisions I made while affected by the initial trauma.

I’ve been online, trying to find a PTSD Specialist to start seeing, because during my psych appointment – my first in a year, and the first since I actually accepted her diagnosis – she said “Ok, excellent. So what do you need from me?”

Lady, are you kidding me? I need ONE medical profession in my lifetime to NOT make me tell them what I need – I don’t fucking know what I need, that’s why I’m here to see you! You’re the goddamn expert on this shit. I’m the one who can’t trust her brainfeels and is really fucking shit at making the right decisions for herself.

So I’m looking for an expert, most likely in Sydney, where I can hopefully attend monthly or fortnightly clinics on my RDOs.

In my research, I came across this page – Out of the Fog – a website for carers of people with mental illness, particularly personality disorders.

It’s been a really big few months for me – all this self-awareness that I’ve been having, after years of WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME!? It’s exciting, and exhausting, and terrifying… and seeing myself described so goddamn accurately – for the first time in my whole life, reduced me to tears.

Sad tears, happy tears, thankful tears.

I’m sad that I’m so ruined for human interaction. Mostly sad that I hated myself for things I didn’t understand about myself.. and they weren’t my fault.
I’m relieved that it’s not because I’m a monster.. not naturally, anyway.
I’m happy that there – in black and white – is a description of the turmoil that goes on inside me – the shit I’ve never been able to put into actual explainy words – A way for my close ones to see that I can’t help it – I don’t mean it – I love you, I just go away in my head sometimes and sometimes I have no feelings at all about you.

Because the only thing that is important is the emotion I am experiencing right the fuck now. Not that I know what it is. I just feel – a thing, and your presence is annoying at the moment for some unidentifiable reason.

but in 5 minutes, just wait – i’ll be in there with my arms around you and a big kiss on your face.

http://outofthefog.net/CommonNonBehaviors/CPTSD.html

The worst part of all this is seeing the damage that my own behaviour – which I didn’t understand and couldn’t control – has done to others. The very same behaviours that I was exposed to for years as a child, I have exhibited in my relationships.

I’m sad about that – but now I understand it. There’s a name for all this shit that I do – all these things people hate about me.

Because I didn’t know why I did it – I just knew that it bothered people and they were tired of me, and I was a burden – and they will say that I’m not, but rolled eyes, audible sighs, the ‘here we go again’ – you’re not subtle guys… I understand because I actually annoy myself, yet I can’t stop myself.

So this is why I need someone who can help me undo this. It can be done – this is one of those personality disorders that can be somewhat cured, or at least.. managed – with an absolute shitload of therapy. So why the fuck does my psych ask me what I need from her?

Guidance, answers, help to STOP harming the people I love with the effects of shit that isn’t even their baggage to deal with. It isn’t enough that I recognise the source of some of the feelings I have. It’s cool and all, but I need real help undoing this shit.

I don’t want to be this person. And I have no idea how to stop doing things that are in-built reactions. Compulsive responses to .. who the fuck knows! I do shit I don’t understand, it hurts people – then it hurts me – and then I resent those people I hurt because I didn’t mean to hurt them and they are angry with me.

And now I’m angry that for 22 years I’ve had a stranger inside my head, pulling the strings, pressing buttons that I was unaware of, forcing me to try and explain why I did or said things that I didn’t really do or say. It’s kind of like being drunk. I can’t explain it/don’t entirely remember it, but if you say I did it, I did.

No, I have no idea why. I’m sorry, I know that doesn’t help you. And now I’m angry, so go away. I don’t care about your feelings. I will later, but not now – mine are too big for yours to exist.

ugh. it’s ugly. selfish. i am a horrible, horrible person. stopping this behaviour isn’t a matter of deciding that i want to be different. I do want to be different – I always have – I just have no fucking idea how.

Um, clearly I need to see someone about this. And although this is basically me just brainspewing all over this blog, I don’t give a shit and I’m leaving it here.

Not quality writing – so apologies for that – but fuck it… this is the closest I’ve come to being able to explain my feels, so it’s staying.

I said I wouldn’t go into detail, but then this happened. Trigger Warning.

You’re 8 years old and looking forward to school. You spend recess playing Witches, lunch time playing dolls, unless you talk too much in class and Mrs P makes you stand against the wall.
One day, Mrs P brings a new girl over to you, and asks you to show her around the school, asks you to be her friend.

You smile at the new girl and introduce her to the other girls you hang out with. She’s so cool with those Maui shirts you can’t buy here, that cool hair cut and that whole “just moved here from the city” air she exudes.

Within a short period of time, everyone is under her spell. Her confidence has soared, and very suddenly, everything changes.

One day you turn up at school, all smiles, ready to play with your friends.
Instead, She has gathered your friends around her, and they are whispering, staring at you.

With no explanation, you are cast out of the group – by all of them.

You beg them to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there’s no answer, just a wall of silence and that girl, who has suddenly become a giant, her shadow looming across the playground.

You can see in your friends’ eyes that they don’t really know what’s going on either, but just like you, they are also caught under her spell, despite being held in the warmth of her regard – at least for today.

They are scared – of being you.

It shakes everyone, but in that moment, all her work is complete. She has exerted complete control over us and is fully aware of it.

The next day, as though nothing has happened, she is all smiles and asking why you didn’t hang out with them yesterday – as though it was your choice, your fault, as though you imagined her sidelong glares, the things she whispered behind her hands and the way she teased anyone who sat with you.

Very quickly, this became the pattern of our little lives.

Every day was Russian Roulette. Would you turn up to school to be an outcast, or would you have to be mean to someone you cared about, to protect yourself?

In time, it just became life. That’s just how it was, and it felt that there was nothing you could do about it.

Of course, for her, that became quite boring, so every now and then she’d cast out one girl in the morning, and swap her over at lunch time. You were never safe. Never secure. Never, ever certain.

We tried turning to each other, but out of desperation to remain in Her good books, your confidante would turn informer, and you were left alone – physically, mentally and emotionally – it wasn’t safe to trust anyone at all. Especially not your friends.

Your parents knew something wasn’t right, they also knew who was responsible, but every time they threatened to get involved, you would melt down and beg them to stay out of it. If they got involved, your already hellish life would be far worse. You were already Stockholm Syndroming all over this girl – the worse she treated you, the more you needed her to love you.

Every now and then, you’d all get fed up, and a couple of you would brave her wrath just so you could spend some time together – alone. The problem was, she had forbidden us to spend time with each other outside school – unless she was there.

Like women having affairs, at 9 and 10 years of age, we were spending the night at each other’s houses in secret, then returning to school paranoid that she would have found out. If you’d dared to enjoy yourselves together, it had to remain secret.

When you really had enough, and started saying no to her, she would push you around the playground. Poking you in the chest as she ranted into your face. And nobody came to your aid.

If you did better in your studies than she did, you had to pay for it. Some of us were deliberately putting the wrong answers on tests to avoid her anger.

We weren’t allowed to have anything of our own. Especially not if it was something she wanted.

I had a crush on a boy in year 2. In year 3, he confided in her that he had a crush on me, but I knew that she liked him. I said I didn’t want to be his girlfriend. She told me I had to, or she wouldn’t talk to me.

When he bought me a gift, she told me I had to break up with him. I did.

She would accuse us of having secrets from her and we tripped over our tongues to explain that we didn’t. But we were paranoid… we did have secrets. The secret was, we hated her, but by then, we weren’t even allowed to have our feelings. They were wrong. She was the only thing that was right, and it changed more than the wind.

For five years, this was our daily life.

This is the way life began for me. This is where I learned how to be a person. These are the building blocks on which the rest of my days have stood.

And when I turned 15, I went and chose a boyfriend who was not at all dissimilar to her.

The one I’d had before that had asked another girl out on the bus because I wouldn’t have sex with him. When she said no, he asked me out again. Clearly, I was aiming high.

History repeated itself not only in the things I tolerated, but in the obsessive way in which I couldn’t even breathe if he was threatening to leave me. I hated him, but I needed him, because nobody else would ever want me. When he threatened to leave me, I wanted to die.

When he spat in my face for asking if I could go to my friend’s birthday party, I felt I deserved it.
When he called me a whore in front of my friends for being out of the house without his permission, I went home.

To the internet. To the only friends I had ever chosen who had not hurt me.

Oh, my family loved me. My family told me I was amazing. But they’re your family, and they have to. None of the people I had personally chosen wanted me for me. They wanted me to be only what suited them.

It seems that my survival instinct is to become whatever someone needs me to be, but inside, I rage. My emotions go on and off, like a switch.
I love you, I love you so much I can’t breathe, and it’s so genuine that you’ve never felt more loved in your life. Later, I hate you. With just as much ferocity and sincerity. Sometimes, I am completely indifferent, and treat you as though you don’t exist. Which is even more cruel.

Do I confront you? No, not really. Only on surface things, like the tone of voice you just used. Serious, big issues get locked inside because if I say them, things might get worse.

Serious, big issues only come out when I am fuelled by alcohol, and self-destructive. I drink to kill. To destroy every single part of my life. Sometimes, that has included my physical life.

I drink to not feel. I would do anything to not feel. To not think, wonder, analyse. But I’ve known there was an answer in my past that needed to be found. And so my entire adult life has been spent looking back. Just not far enough.

This is not a new story. I am not a unique case. I am just one girl, who, until a couple of weeks ago, had no idea that her actual brain had been wired to self-destruct.

I feel very disconnected – from friends, from family and from myself. I feel like there is something very wrong with me.

I’m a great liar now. I’ve been doing it since I was 8 years old. I am the greatest actor you’ll meet, and a total chameleon – I am whatever you need me to be. Isn’t that my role in life? To be what everyone else wants?

I can’t help it, it’s my instinctive, self-preservation tactic. And what you don’t know is that I believe every one of my own lies. 

I don’t even know who I actually am.

The more years that pass, the more people you have to be different for.
I guess I couldn’t keep up. I wasn’t consciously aware of what I was doing, I acted on emotion – the emotional reactions of an 8 year old girl with a 30 year old woman’s experiences.

And in doing so, I passed on a lot of hurt that other people now have to wade through. I inflicted emotional and mental pain onto other people, who did nothing more than try to care for me.

The ones who don’t deserve my love are the ones who always get it. The ones who are worthy are the ones I hurt.

None of it is intentional. I simply am incapable of making a decision because even though you tell me I can choose whatever I want, inside, I am still that 8 year old girl who only wants to be loved, not hated and ignored and left alone for no fucking reason.

I want everything. I want everyone to love me. I want to love everyone.

Two weeks ago, when I realised that the compulsive hair pulling I’ve done since I was 9 has a name, and that it has a high overlap with PTSD, I recalled that my therapist had said she would be happy to diagnose me with PTSD, a year ago. I had dismissed it out of hand because it seemed ridiculous that something so old could possibly be why my life had spiralled out of control.

Sure it wasn’t that boyfriend? Or ones that followed, or preceded him?

Was it the boyfriend who held a shotgun to my head and laughed, because he knew it was broken but I didn’t?
The one who told me as an April Fools joke that he’d cheated on me with my cousin – who went along with it?
Or the one who threw a baseball bat at my face because I laughed when he tripped over his bed?

After all of those things, how could it possibly be the mean words of a little girl that are the reason I am so crippled?

But, like a bushfire, once that small spark was alight, I couldn’t put the flames out. It wasn’t just mean words, it was mental and emotional torture.

I suddenly realised the impact on my life, I realised that every decision I’d made over the course of my life, every life event I had experienced, had all been clouded by this.

I didn’t know.

I didn’t mean to hurt anyone, I had just been trying to live my life as best I could. People told me to get selfish. To start taking control and stop putting up with unhappiness. I thought I was doing that, but I wanted so many conflicting things. One day I was certain that this is what I wanted, this is what I needed. The next day, it was the opposite.

I am exhausted by being me.

The one thing you can’t turn off is your own headvoice. And mine hates me. It hates you, too. It hates everyone who has ever hurt me, and it hates me just as badly, for hurting others. The only difference is that I know I didn’t do it with malicious intent. The problem is, that makes no difference. All that matters is my actions, and the fallout thereof.

I have done to others, what has been done to me.

I can’t take back any of the hurt I’ve caused, but I can make sure it never happens again.

I thought I was doing ok with this PTSD stuff, but obviously there’s a lot of work to be done to straighten out the crazed pathways my brain has been following.

That is my responsibility and no-one else’s, and if I don’t do it, this is never going to end.

I do hate that little girl who, for her own reasons, took my life and shaped it to make hers seem better. I hate myself for allowing it all to continue. But now I know why I never left any of those abusive relationships – because they employed the same tactics that she had done all those years ago.

They did the wrong thing, and then told me I was imagining it.

Each and every one of us is accumulating a lifetime of hurt. A lifetime of scars. A lifetime of shitty, painful memories. These shape who we become, and they shape the ways in which we deal with conflict, or even love.

I don’t deal with either of them very well because they both place demands on me that I’ve been unable to live up to.

Either, I let myself down, or someone else gets hurt.

If I hate that little girl for the impact she has had on my life, then it follows that I must hate myself for the impact I have had on the lives of others. And I do.

Who is to say that she isn’t sitting at home right now, devastated by the things she did, the things she said?

The past needs to go away now. It needs to be dealt with, but not fondled. Not taken out and looked at. I have my answers now. I am crazy. I am a complete mental fucking mess. But I know why.

And that means I can do something about never letting this happen again.

All I have left to me is a future. The past is a locked door that holds nothing but pain – for me, and for others.

For better or worse, I have to leave it behind, and only time will tell whether it was the right choice. But that, too, is life.

And it’s my life. I have one of them – god knows I wouldn’t want another. So with what’s left of it, I am going to allow myself to be angry, to be sad, to be hurt.
But I won’t continue to allow myself to be so emotionally selfish that I simply ignore the fact that other people are also in pain. Particularly when I may be the cause of it.

Being a human is really difficult. But I’m not ready to throw in the towel. I have a lot to make up for, and one day I’m going to make myself, and others, proud.

The new, shiny leaf on which I now sit

Hello everyone.
It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?
The three of you who read this have most likely stopped checking your reader for my posts, so… surprise! I’m not dead!

In fact, I’m more alive than I’ve been my entire life. A very, very lot has happened since I last wrote and it will be a real task to condense it, but here goes!

Almost a year ago, during The Giant Breakdown of 2012, my psychologist said she would be inclined to diagnose me with PTSD from childhood bullying.

I, of course, thought that was a load of horseshit because I’m not a soldier, wasn’t in an horrific accident, and I wasn’t bullied – I just went to school with a mega bitch.

Fast forward 12 months through the absolute mess I made of my life, and I found myself in deep contemplation over my past, my future and the stress that was my present. What I discovered was a small fire that was lit under that concept she had mentioned.

I began to believe her. And then I began to remember.

There is little point to rehashing the torment that bully put us all through. It serves no-one but the curious. Suffice it to say, she came to our school when we were 8 years old, and she turned our happy group of girls into one whose members spent every morning almost vomiting before leaving for school, stress and anxiety working its way through tiny little bodies and minds far too young to understand what was going on or how to deal with it.

What she did to us, if it was done to a spouse, would be considered domestic violence; mental and emotional torture.

She bullied the way only little girls are capable of.

I thought I had made it through unscathed, in fact I stood up to her a fair bit and could be quite the defiant little thing when I needed to be. What I didn’t realise was that the things I was experiencing were wiring my brain in such a way that as time progressed, those feelings would constantly reappear despite the present circumstances being completely different.

I’ve always known there was something wrong with me. Something wrong with my brain, something that made me confused, constantly, about my own feelings – something that alienated me from even my closest people. I thought it must have been mental illness of some description, but I was looking only at the symptoms, never even considering that the source could be something from those days in primary school.

Well, the good news is that I now know where my brain started going a little bit wrong, and it seems that that’s all I really need to know in order to take control of it.

My psychologist explained that PTSD doesn’t make you feel like something in the past did. It feels exactly the same now as it did back then, only it’s a totally different scenario and thus, my reaction can be entirely inappropriate – and confusing as hell for everyone involved.

That explains my entire life, from high school to today.

To today.

That’s the big thing here, guys. It seems that simply acknowledging her diagnosis was all I’ve needed to do to give myself back the power I relinquished to that little girl all those years ago.

I don’t hate her, I don’t even blame her. She must have been going through something terrible herself to need to force people to like her, to play with her, and to control their every move, even their thoughts. She was also 8 years old, and clearly too young to process her own troubles.

In a short two weeks, I’ve managed to acknowledge that diagnosis, and as uncomfortable and weak as it makes me feel to be almost 31 years old and still deeply affected by being picked on, I don’t just acknowledge it, I accept it.

I’ve begun to remember things, and not only remember them, but find the connection between that feeling from then, and the present day scenarios in which that feeling repeats itself. It’s like finding a skeleton key to all the locks in the city – all those secrets, they aren’t secret any more. I finally understand myself.

Already, with reactions that I’ve had for years, while they still rear up instinctively, I am able to put them in their place as a “then” feeling, not a “now” feeling, and in doing so, I am finally able to say what I want without the crippling fear of it being the wrong thing, and the reason I get left alone on the seat under the tree.

To me, it finally feels that I am allowed to have the future I’ve dreamed of, but not felt worthy or capable of attaining.

I was a beaten down 8 year old’s emotional mind, trying to navigate an adult world. A world in which I created even worse problems to overcome. PTSD tends to lead its people into abusive relationships.

I once had the opportunity to date a man who spent his time at art shows, surrounded by long-legged women in slinky dresses and heels. With people who didn’t have trouble talking, people who knew how to exist amongst others. People who were worth his time and his attention.

People who weren’t worthless like me.

I was conditioned to accept abuse and mistreatment, disrespect and violence from people who claimed to care about me. Strangers, even enemies have treated me better than the people I actively chose to bring into my life.

So whose fault is it? I was the one who chose them, and the one who stayed.

Well, thankfully I don’t think it’s my fault any more. I also don’t think I’m worthless.

Which is why I am now able to envisage a future in which I really am a mother, a driver, a wife, and maybe even one day, a writer.

Until recently, these were all things that I wanted, but felt that I didn’t deserve, or that I could never pull off. Now I know better, and I’m finally taking the physical steps required to make life happen.

It’s never going to be smooth sailing, and there will most definitely be obstacles for me to face, but for the first time in my life, I feel capable of doing just that. The fear of failure is gone. It’s actually okay if I make mistakes – it isn’t going to see me left alone under that tree.

I will never be left alone under that tree again.

And this time I didn’t run from a man who was promising me the world I’d glimpsed in my dreams. This time I am walking alongside him, not trailing behind, letting him do all the hard work for both of us in case I fuck it all up.

No. This time we’ll fuck it all up together and he can hang out with me under that tree playing Mario Kart.