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…

 

 

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.