I have this problem with time; I’ve had it for as long as I can remember. It’s not that I’m late for any appointments. It’s not that I can’t get everything done in a day. It’s more the fact that I sometimes seem to live outside of time. By this I mean, I can remember events clear as day, every single moment of them, good or bad, and yet, I can’t actually place them on a timeline. Something in my head could have been yesterday or 10 years ago, I’d never know.
Saying this, I was diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (cPTSD) several years ago. Initially I felt myself getting angry for no reason. Something seemed to be troubling me and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I found myself snapping at people for the simplest things, which was out of charcter for me. Granted I have an acerbic personality and I’m admittedly sarcastic most of the time, I did manage to handle most situations diplomatically. Well, as diplomatically as I could. Now things were getting out of hand and I was too blunt, too blantant and uncaring. Suddenly I started feeling very edgy, ready to jump out of my skin at the slightest thing. I called it ‘getting squirrelly’. And then the faces started appearing. It wasn’t hallucinations because I knew they weren’t really there, but I’d start seeing horrific faces in reflective surfaces. When I was younger, I remember being terrorized by three different faces from movies. One was Lon Cheney from London after Midnight. Another was the woman from Beyond the Door. And the last was from the Exorcist, Regan when she was possessed. Sometimes it would be one of these, and other times it would be a combination of them. The breaking point came around Christmas time, which is typically a bad time for me anyhow, when I actually started shouting and dressing down my boss! This was it, I knew I had to get help, although I’d been warning everyone about what was happening with me and even tried to get help long before this event. No help was forthcoming.
My boss ‘recommended’ that I take some time, so I went on sick leave for mental health. Suddenly the help was coming in droves. I was sent to a psychologist to help me get a handle on things. When I showed up at her office and laid it all out on the line for her, she took a moment to review what I told her was happening and what my past was all about, that I could remember. Then she turned to me and said, matter of factly, “I don’t even know where to begin with this”. At least she was honest about it! She worked with me for 8 sessions but never even touched the root if the issue. We talked about the present but delved deeply into the past. After the 8 sessions was up, she decided we needed to step up the game, so she referred me to another psychologist. Unfortunately, this one focused mainly on the present as well but thought that my relationship was unhealthy and kept focusing on that. She wasn’t realizing that my relationship is pretty much the ONLY thing that keeps me sane! Granted we have our share of issues to overcome, with my husband being a renal patient and having a host of medical issues, but that’s the least of my concerns. We just get on with it.
So what got me so twisted?
Abuse mainly is the cause. Abuse on pretty much every level you can imagine. First off, my family are highly abusive to each other. The love to take pot-shots at each other and belittle. I can’t say that I come from a loving environment, but rather a pit of snakes! My mother did her damnedest to shelter me from them but there were times when she couldn’t. From my family I was often humiliated and made out to be the black sheep. It seemed that everything I did was wrong, and everything I touched was a failure. I started believing it and so everything I did WAS wrong and everything I touched DID become a failure.
I was sexually abused by my great-uncle, the brother of my maternal grandmother. He used to babysit us when we were younger and that’s when it began. She knew about it because he’d abused his sisters and several of my cousins but she insisted that he watch us, much to my mother’s protestations. There was nothing my mother could do because my grandmother ruled the family with an iron fist and even encouraged the fighting amongst family members. She took delight in watching everyone squirm.
I was physically abused by several of my lovers when I was older, and being a meek, miserable creature, I just took it, believing that I deserved it for being a disaster. Along with this went more mental and emotional abuse. The one man who I truly loved had been taken from me cruelly when I was young. I’d been a mess and a failure, believing all I’d been told, and making all their words come to fruition.
I spent the majority of my time being someone else, anyone else. In public, I was a gorgeous, flirty cutie. I put on a brave face, smiled for the cameras and made everyone feel that they were special to me, when in fact I wouldn’t have pissed on them if they were on fire. I spent money like it was going out of style to buy their attention. In high school, I was a dark, brooding creature who never had fun. I went dark and dreary, more gothic than gothic could ever be. I think I became this misery to get attention. To my family I became an enigma, closed up and aloof. It got to a point where I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror anymore.
I think it was when I finally told my uncle to fuck off that I finally made the choice to be myself and stop playing the parts. I was leaving Chicago to move to Tennessee (what a mistake THAT was). My uncle burst into my apartment, because I lived above my grandfather at the time, in our family house. He questioned that I was moving and I said that I was. Then I told him that the family wouldn’t have me to blame anymore, nor would I be the colossal fuck up that they thought I was. I told them I wouldn’t play their game anymore and to get out of my apartment. He looked taken aback by this and left. I think I heaved the biggest sigh of relief when he did, for the fact that he was gone and for the fact that I’d finally told him to go to hell.
Things didn’t change when I left. The family still tried to make everything my fault, even from afar. My partner at the time was a nightmare. I’d gotten myself involved with another loser who didn’t want to work and expected me to provide. I took a stand and told him that wasn’t how it was going to be. Tennessee turned out to be a waste of our time so we moved to Boston where the money was better. And things still didn’t get better. He was out of work more than he worked. I spent more time at the office than I wanted to. My mother now was terminal and needed help so I told him that we had to move to Florida. This is where things got more twisted than a situation comedy. We moved down there and had agreed in Boston to have an open relationship. I can admit, with him, it was because I sure as hell wasn’t going to put out for him. After a time in Florida, he decided to move his new lover into the apartment. As I hadn’t slept in the bed there since we moved in, I didn’t really care. I had my room in the front of the apartment and stayed to myself. My mother died and I got no support. I spent my time in a dark room with my computer, didn’t go out, didn’t associate with anyone.
I have to say I was in a pretty bad state when I met my future husband on SecondLife. How he could get involved with such a nightmare child is beyond me. What he saw in me was something I couldn’t see for myself. But I think he was actually my savior in that regard.
So what’s it like to live with this condition. It’s sheer hell. My psychologists tried to get me to recognize the triggers and then take a step back. It’s something which I still can’t do. I can recognize the triggers, after the fact. As for the step back, well, the rage comes on so quickly that I don’t have time. Sometimes I can sense the maelstrom growing, and I try to stop it, I really do. But it just builds so quickly and I explode then I regret everything that I’ve done. It’s just a blessing that I’m not physical!
I have a lot of anger inside me. I think I know where it comes from but I can’t get to it nor do I know how to resolve it. The anger stems from something about my grandmother. But it’s locked up. I also can’t let go of things. I have this unnatural need to be a social warrior, righting the wrongs of any social injustice. I sometimes feel that I’ve been born in the wrong time, as my moral compass is much finer than the bohemians of this day and age. I sometimes don’t understand what’s going on in the world and the whole world feels alien to me. I just don’t feel like I belong on this planet or at this time.
I feel like I’m on the fringe of society, and don’t want to be a part of this society. I’ve never belonged to groups, mainly because I’m too weird for them or I’m too distant. I still can’t socialize because I feel I’ve lost the edge and don’t know how to relate. I get into conversations and just rattle on without actually thinking of what I’m saying until I’ve said it, which leads to alienation as well. As far as friendships are concerned, I’m a loyal friends but a distant one. I don’t go out of my way to really keep in contact, but if anyone needs me, I’m there. And a lot of times I feel very alone. Not lonely, just alone. I have the greatest man in my life, more love than I’ve ever had, and yet something inside of me is still so damned empty.
I’m hoping someday that someone will be able to help me open these boxes and cupboards in my head and finally expel the darkness that I’ve carried with me for so long. I know that I’ll never be ‘cured’ but at least I can get better.
At least, I can hope.