I can’t destroy what isn’t there

TRIGGER WARNING – RAPE

I met with my psychologist this past Monday. Aside from reminiscing about all my psychiatrists of the past (and their behind-the-scene proclivities), we talked about the moment I went nuts …no I was right. Went nuts is totally appropriate here.

She said that age five, I tried to kill myself. I know; I was there. I don’t remember the circumstances, only the where, the when and how. I remember my disappointment in it not working and my becoming even more depressed. I tried a few times. As a child that size, your resources and vocabulary are limited. I felt this deep overwhelming panic, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, hopelessness, anger, fear and helplessness and felt I had nowhere to turn and didn’t have the right words to express any of it.  So it appears, according to my psychologist’s theory, that my brain’s chemistry changed the first time. My body’s arousal system and my neurotransmitters went nuts.

I was majorly depressed and disordered by age 6 with at least 2 suicide attempts under my belt.  By age 16 I was full-scale self-injuring on the daily; it looked my dermatologist was Edward Scissorhands.  My mood was all over the place due to my hormones and my outright refusal to take medication until the next year when I was almost hospitalized for suicidal threats and increasingly intensive self-injury of which I still carry the scars.

I went to college at age 17, fully medicated for my safety and for those around me but it had little effect.  I went to a very large, very competitive, pseudo-Ivy League school.  I had very little social support and many of those I met didn’t fail to remind me of my social and racial status.  Yes, I was a part of the 49% of the students receiving financial aid and yes, I’m black.  (No, asshole – I got here on merit, not affirmative action.  In between slicing and dicing I managed to pull a 3.9 GPA out of my ass in high school.  I actually had people make comments in class about this shit to my face.  Unbelievable.)

Anyway, let me back up a bit.  Welcome Week, freshman year.  Exciting for kid fresh out of high school – getting to party in college!  I had arrived.  I was grown as far as I was concerned.  I could stay out late, meet guys, new people – have a blast!  My best friends from high school, now attending the rival college, were coming down for the weekend and we were going partying together so I was excited.  The four of us get some food at a local hangout near my dorm and start walking around campus to find a party that looks cool.  One of my friends, Tom, was a sophomore so he knew everything about frat parties since he was a frat member at Alpha Chi What-The-Fuck-Ever so we followed his lead.  We walk into this relatively jumping party – just wall to wall people, a DJ, jungle juice, the whole shebang.  Jim and Raquel start dancing (they were dating) and vanish into the mist of the crowd.  Maya, a sophomore at our school, fucks off somewhere, probably trying to find a rich white guy (she has a type – has since high school) and leaves me dancing by my lonesome.

At a frat party.
My first night on campus.
Awesome.
Well, this is the start of a Lifetime movie.

Boy did I call it.  This fucking guy comes up to me, introduces himself as “[inaudible due to the loud music played by the DJ]” and points toward the center of the dance floor.  I nod “okay.”  There’s 60 goddamn people on this dance floor.  I can’t be abducted in the middle of a crowd of 60 people.  It’ll be fine.  So we start dancing; no big deal.  He then moves behind me and puts his hands around my waist.  I can tell he’s drunk; I’m not having a good time anymore.  I need to find my crew and get the fuck out of here.  I’m looking for my crew so we can di di mao.  Before I get a chance to break away, he puts his hands down my underwear and ::ding-dong:: WELCOME TO COLLEGE.  Unwanted sexual contact.  I grab his hand and pull it out of my pants and walk away.  Of course NOW my friends are ready to leave and find another party.

Right before we go, this asshole gives me his number.  He wouldn’t leave me alone until he could put it in my phone.  He was too drunk to spell his name right.  Unless he was actually named after a tennis shoe.  I never told my friends – he was drunk, right?  No one’s fault – blame it on the alcohol…  I never told anyone.  Just buried it along with everything else.

Ah sophomore year.  This one’s gonna be tougher to talk about.  I met this gem on the back stoop of my dorm at the beginning of the school year.  We went on 1 or 2 dates.  He dropped me off at my dorm room and when he hinted that he wanted to take things further than a kiss goodnight, I told him I had a rule: 6 months of monogamy before sex.  He seemed outraged.  I made it clear I didn’t care – those are my rules.  Next date, we decided to stay in, were watching “Law and Order” when he said he had to tell me something: he was on parole for armed robbery.

Uhhh.  He knows where I live.  He knows where my family lives.  He’s 6’2”, 245 lbs – all muscle.  I was 5’4”, 145 lbs.  I was fucking terrified.

Someone tell me please: When an armed robber comes to your living quarters every few nights for several MONTHS, what do you do?  When you feel like you’re not given many options considering their size and tendencies to be ARMED?  Fucking terrified.  This went on for 3 months.  During that time, I isolated from my friends and family, I was “stealthed” countless times which resulted in a case of (CURED!) chlamydia.

When I finally broke down and spoke to the only person who I thought would listen, my ex-boyfriend Anthony, he helped give me the strength to leave.  I left and the man stalked me in my dorm room for a few months.  It took a key card to get into the building but somehow he would get in and leave messages on my door calling me “bitch,” “slut,” and “fuck you.”  I reported it to campus security but it was useless.  I moved out of the dorms into an apartment with Anthony the next year; we got back together after this.

Anthony is a story for another time.

So the intimidation-rape is trauma #2.  Trauma #1 was whatever happened at age 5 that triggered my suicide attempt – that is a mystery to me as of yet.  I’ve told my psychologist I’m considering going to a hypnotist because I’m tired of this Swiss cheese stuff – this holey memory of mine is ridiculous.  We either figure this out or we don’t.  My psychologist said something that has been weighing heavy on my mind all week.  She said that her theory is the chemical imbalances that have been caused by trauma can be reversed by re-training the brain.

…Excuse me?  If I’m understanding this correctly, bipolar disorder can be reversed through behavioral or cognitive behavioral therapy.  Are you shitting me?  

I’ve just been in limbo all fucking week, letting that sink in.  Think about it: if that is true, I’ve been able to fix myself this whole time.  I’m like Dorothy at the end of Wizard of Oz.  She had the shoes throughout her whole walk through Oz — the bullshit with the Witch, the Monkeys, the talking head of the Wizard, all of it — and she could have gone right home.  Unreal!  While I understand in Wizard it’s a little different – she needed to understand how good she had it in Kansas.  Someone tell me the point of walking this shit-brick road?  Where’s the fun in french kissing death?  There is none!

If this is true – what if I don’t get better?  It’ll be just something else I’ve failed at.  Can’t kill myself right* and can’t heal myself, so I’m stuck in the middle.  Fucking perfect.

*Ok, I may have lost a few of you there.  As a mental health professional, that’s a horrible thing to say and hear.  However, as a someone with a mental health disorder I can say that I may speak for a few people out there who have felt this way. when they wake up in the hospital, alive.  I did – I was pissed off.  You feel like a failure because you didn’t complete a “goal,” however this isn’t a goal – long term – you want, even if your depression says otherwise.  When I say I didn’t do it right, I mean that I failed and there’s no escape from this disease on either end – through death or living.  It’s fucking maddening and it makes me feel hopeless for a painless life.  While I appreciate the empathy I have gained for others like me, I wish for a life like anyone else’s.  I wish for happiness.  I’ve never known what that’s like because even what I’m happy I’m always wondering when the feeling is going to end.

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these final hours. 

Last night I was scared. I had the lights off; the halls were dark and I couldn’t see. Usually my husband is there, but he was working.  I just kept thinking about how much I wanted to curl into his arms and sleep – it’s where I feel the most safe. 

When I woke up, he was there next to me, asleep. I just rubbed his shoulder for a few minutes before I decided it was time to get up and start getting my day going. When the bed shifted, he woke up, asked me the standard “how are you,” “how was work” questions. He could see I was still depressed and detached from our conversation the other day, which spiraled into yet another conversation about my inability to be intimate with him and my shutting down. This spawned a whole other line of conversation about how he’s spent 10 years waiting for things to get better and nothing’s changed; now we’re older and he physically feels himself changing which has him upset because his youth was wasted waiting for me to screw my head on straight. 

I admit: I shut down. I get depressed. I withdraw into myself and attempt to “fix” the problem alone. I see now how well that’s been working. But my question is to myself is “now what?” 

Now what do you do?  Withdrawing doesn’t work but it’s automatic.  Being  depressed doesn’t help but it’s automatic.  Being angry doesn’t help but it’s automatic. What else do I have?  Be open, honest, and vulnerable?  

I am terrified.  After 10 years, you’d think I’d have let my own spouse in. I thought I had. It was a smoke screen I put up to fool everyone – including myself.  

I don’t want to lose my husband. But I don’t know how to let anyone in.  It used to be safer with everyone out there, but now it’s becoming just as dangerous. 

the contents of my head. 

This is how I feel.  

My husband and I got into an argument the other day.  I know, by the looks of this page, that’s all we do, but that’s not the case.  We’ve been doing really well, but I’m not always sure if that’s because we work such odd hours or we’re just too tired to start a conversation that most likely will end in an argument.

Anyway, the argument.  It was about petty shit, really – the dog threw up on the carpet.  I saw something in the (by this time) dried bile that was alarming – several little plastic tubes that looked like the refills for a Bic pen.  I flipped.  I was not happy that – one – I’d started eating my breakfast and didn’t notice the dog had thrown up until I smelled something foul, then saw a pile of yarn trimmings, plastic tubes things (still unidentified), and dog hair next to the table.  And two, became more pissed that when I woke him up to talk about the spew, he looked at me as though this was a non-issue, would not speak to me at all, and wasn’t going to do shit about it.  In hindsight, I overreacted.  I shouldn’t have woken him up.  I should have picked up the bulk and gone to sleep, cleaned the rest when I woke up.

It was 9am.  I’d just worked a 12 hour shift in the emergency room.  I was tired.  I was hungry.  I had received a shitty email from my supervisor at the beginning of my shift.  I had embarrassed myself in front of the Chief of Medicine at 3am.  The EMR went down for 4 hours and we were forced to paperchart everything – my full assessments included; then transcribe them onto the EMR when the system went back up.  I was not in the mood for a fucking thing except to eat my french toast and crawl into bed.  Instead, I carefully set the stage for an argument that has forced me on a long, emotional existential journey that I wish was over.

After storming around the house looking for some vinegar and baking soda – and finding neither, he says to me “hey, quit yelling – I already cleaned it up, stop freaking out.”

Really?  After staring at me like an indignant 16-year-old with his arms folded for 5 minutes as if to say, “I’m not doing shit,” while I attempt to choke down my breakfast with the scent of vomit in the air, it took him less than 10 minutes to clean up.  I was livid.

That’s when the fun started.  That’s when he unleashed.  Overall, he was quite calm, but his words were more honest and lacked any inhibition.   He told me that my anger is out of control for a person my age, insinuating that despite my membership in the 30 and over club, my behavior, when angry, resembles that of a person who isn’t old enough to vote. 

Next, I was told that my anger is not healthy for the children we plan to have. My husband, having had similar experiences with his father, said he did not want our children growing up in the same type of environment. 

Yet all I heard was him comparing me to his father and almost repeating the same thing my mother has said about my anger over and over again after I blow up on her – “you’d better control that before you have kids.”  

Ugh.  The conversation takes another turn. Instead of blowing up more, I decide I’m too bloody tired and I start talking. 

My anger is my shield. It’s the only thing that’s worked for me.  I don’t know how to function without it.  I’ve been angry at so much for so long, I don’t know what it’s like to not be angry.  

I’m not sad, I’m irritated.
I’m not depressed, I’m agitated.
I’m not hurt, I’m pissed.

I purposely push everyone away. I get unnecessarily angry, I cuss – anything to drive people away. Why?  

Less Christmas presents. 

No, really – it’s easier than letting people in, letting them leave their mark, and them leaving anyway. This is not just men – this is everyone. My best friend sent me the sweetest email earlier this week telling me how much she appreciates my friendship and how much I mean to her. I have been praying that she and I would become close again after so much time apart (which was my fault).  

Guess what Alice did?  Guess. Haven’t checked my email in a week to confirm plans for us to hang out. Why? Because now she’s too close and I’m terrified. This is where I screw everything up.  This is it. Right here. I asked for it and now I’m going to screw it all up – again.  And I have no idea why and don’t know how to fix it. 

Same with the husband. How do I salvage 10 years of lost youth? How? And how does Linus give up his blanket? Can he? Can I? How do I lay down my sword during peacetime when I’ve got shell shock? 

Men were deceivers ever

I went to my doctor the other day, mentioned the whole thing with my mom and my FIL. He, like so many before him, told me not to “be so vocal about it,” and it’s none of my business.  Gee, thanks doc.  Now I’m definitely questioning if I’m right or wrong here.  I’m not telling my mother who she can and can’t be with – she went on a date earlier this week; I told her to have fun and don’t come home and spoil the new Star Wars flick for me.  I honestly just think it’s disgusting to date a family member!  I think it’s disgusting to sleep with a family member!  I don’t give a shit if they’re related by blood or marriage; in my case, once children happen – they would be related by blood which makes it worse.  

It doesn’t help that I generally don’t like the doddering old bastard and never really have.  He makes my inner anger look like chewed gum on a sidewalk.  He goes on rants – over and over again – about the state of the world; he would have made a great op-Ed columnist for The Saturday Evening Post.  These tirades continue for tens of minutes at loud and unnecessary decibels spanning important topics such as the obstructed views of Muslim women who wear hijabs and how this affects their driving, women and their cellphone usage and why they should be raped because of it, and how anyone who can turn on a television has the capability to work and should not be allowed to file for government benefits.  …You know, re-reading that, I don’t know how I sat there and listened to all that repugnant shit all these years and didn’t walk away earlier; I could have saved a lot of brain cells.  

I don’t know why I’m reacting to my doctor’s comments the  way I did.  I just sank into this depression.  I feel like I’m the one who should have stayed quiet and let my mother speak for herself for once.  

I’m always doing all the fucking talking; this is why we have the relationship we do and I have the trust issues I do.  I’m always the heavy, I’m the mom until someone is able to take the reins every once in a while.  That’s how I was trained as a young child; that’s my resentment.

Why am I paying for a crime I didn’t commit?  I didn’t cuss anyone out or get touchy-feely at dinner after I hoisted back a bottle of Maker’s Mark. Where are his consequences for his fucky behavior (aside from losing my Netflix)?  My husband is still talking to him. He hasn’t stopped going to the house and spending time with him. So much for solidarity. 

I’m not saying he should choose, but I specifically remember a time when I felt I had to make the choice. My mother objected to our marriage; she didn’t want me marrying him and didn’t want me getting married without a fancy wedding that she planned. She threatened to object if I went against her wishes. 

I told her she was not welcome at our tiny, tiny wedding. To this day, I have to hold back the tears because a bride should always have her mother if she can. But I made the choice to stick by my convictions and stand with my future husband. 

I feel cast aside. Betrayed. Less than. Because I remember taking vows that bound us as one, and we’re split in two. I stood, yet again, by my convictions – but I stand alone. That is not what family is. That is not what marriage is. And this time of year is about family and togetherness and I’m not feeling it in the slightest.  

    Call me when you’re sober.

    OK, I’ve been dodging questions for days now. I’ll try to make this short, but I’m not sure how.

    This past Thanksgiving was a nightmare. My FIL, an alcoholic, was drunk upon arrival and proceeded to get more hammered. During dinner, my mother screams in pain due to her sciatica.  

    (Now, she mentioned to me that he’d made a pass at her before – while inebriated. I told her to check him if she was uncomfortable. She told me she didn’t want to hurt his feelings as he is mentally unstable and extremely bad at handling rejection. I said to find a way to check it if she doesn’t want it to happen again.)

    Back to Thanksgiving. My FIL hears her cries of pain, gets up from his seat, goes to her, and begins massaging her thigh under the table. All while my husband, brother-in-law, and I are watching.  He proceeds to look down her shirt and make a comment about her breasts. 

    I am staring him down. …You ever watch one of those Nat Geo shows about the snakes? I’m terrified of the fuckers myself, but I imagine my look was one similar to that of a rattler in a coil; my eyes were following his every move, waiting for him to make one more step in the wrong direction before I bit his fat ass.  

    I wanted nothing more than to lay his ass out onto the floor, but then I realized that is my husband’s father. As much as I cannot tolerate that man, I have to respect the relationship he and my husband share. So as I sat in my chair, wringing my hands together with my knuckles turning almost white, I just kept repeating ”I am married to your son,” which I’ve come to find out makes no fucking difference to him.  

    Anyway, my BIL and husband attempt to get him to sit down, when he yells out, “I don’t give a fuck what Alice thinks!” That’s when I get up from the table, go to my bedroom, take a Seroquel and 2 Xanaxes, and try to go to sleep. Hubs attempted to calm me down but I screamed at the top of my lungs for at least an hour (so much for chemical intervention, eh?).  

    Now the incident has taken on a life of its own since then. FIL has since banned me from his property, is refusing to participate in any family functions, will not apologize, and despite all of that still has designs on my mother.  

    To be honest, I’m kinda delighted I won’t have to have anymore heated exchanges with him; his 50s morals and beliefs, inability to see past the end of his nose and refusal to accept reality is fucking draining. I deal with people who are medication non-compliant and self-medicate with booze for 12 hours a day; why the FUCK would I want to spend the holidays doing the same thing and NOT get paid double time? Are you shitting me? This is a man who stops his vehicle in traffic to look for dead bodies underneath, won’t “allow” his 25-year-old son to have a smartphone because he likes controlling him (his words, not mine), owns 9 guns and can’t shoot a one because he gets too nervous and loses his focus, has cirrhosis yet drinks 1/4 – 1/2 gallon of vodka a day, yet has no problem calling other people with mental illness “crazy, unpredictable, and dangerous…” Yeah. OK.  You first, pal.

    I tried calling him to settle this bullshit; he basically told me there’s no problem and banning me from his life because my mother won’t fuck him is easiest for him (mind you, not easy for his son) so he’s gonna keep doing it.  

    You know one of the biggest slaps in the face? It’s actually my friends. I’ve heard these lines from several different people and I’ve had enough:

    “If being with him makes your mom happy, wouldn’t you want her to be happy?”

    “How does this define your marriage? Why are you letting it? You’re not related by blood.”

    “It’s none of your business.”

    OK, let’s answer these, shall we?
    1. First, I would find it completely ironic that out of the millions of people walking around on this twisted blue ball, she would find happiness with the one person I would consider off-limits. Why ironic? Because I’m finally happy. I’m overjoyed. My marriage, even the ups and downs like any marriage, is amazing and I couldn’t have found a more amazing man. Wouldn’t it be just swell that she would find “that special someone” in MY family tree?! I would love for my mother to find happiness, but why does her happiness have to ride sidecar to mine? Why can’t we be individually happy? If she were to pursue a relationship with him and it failed, family gatherings would be forever affected. At that point, her attempt at happiness directly affects not just my life, but my husband’s and my future children.  

    2. It doesn’t define my marriage, but think long term. If they were to get married, I’d be married to my stepbrother, my children would be cousins. How fucked up is that?! It doesn’t define my marriage more than it identifies my FIL and mother’s lack of respect for my marriage. Relation by marriage, to me, is sacred just as relation to blood (sometimes even more so). I forget that I’m talking about 2 people that don’t respect me or my husband; I don’t know why I bother.

    3. I never said it was my business. But to tell me it’s not my business than proceed to gossip about me, my husband, or anything pertaining to things unrelated to your functioning lets me know that this is a one-sided deal. Don’t you have other shit to do? Like darn socks or count carpet fibers or something?  

    Dear Buddha, when I retire… Don’t let be become useless and an overall pain in the ass to my kids, flirting with the idea of getting involved with their lives instead of finding part time employment. Or just gluing my head to my kitchen floor. Amen.

    Coma black

    I’ve been avoiding this page for months now. I think about posting daily, but I don’t. A lot has happened since my last visit here. I’ll try my best to play catch up, because I’m going to need some way to help manage my emotions as they seem to be spiraling out of control.  

    First, I finally got a new job and I really like it. I’m an intake and discharge coordinator for a local hospital. The staff is welcoming, the pay is astronomically better than I used to make in community mental health, and when my shift is over, it’s done; I punch out and someone continues where I left off. No need to worry about building a deep, unshakable, everlasting bond – they will only be here for a few more hours.  

    Get in, get out, have a good day. I like the fast paced life of crisis intervention; I’m addressing your “right now” problem; if you have a “sometimes this bugs me problem,” here’s some resources to help you with that. This sounds like a heartless thing to say, but I’ve burned out so quickly putting in the work for my patients in community mental health – making the calls, connecting them with resources, locating and arranging transportation… The list goes on. I put more energy into their recovery and treatment than they did. Is that true across the board? Of course not, but the people that had been involved in CMH longer had a higher level of learned helplessness and an external locus of control.  

    If you yell the word “victim” loud enough and long enough, it will be the only word you hear. You’ll hear it, see it, taste it, and eventually, become it. Why be a victim of circumstance when you have the power the change your circumstance? And if you can’t change your circumstance, you can choose the way you view and respond to it.  

    My counseling friends and I meet once every other month to let our hair down, drink, and be very, very merry. I was explaining the nuances of my new job to them and the looks of horror were written all over their faces. The idea that we should promote autonomy in those that we council seems to be a foreign and despicable concept. Personally, I think it’s insulting to assume that every patient I come across is unable to make a telephone call or make decisions about their treatment. The only person guaranteed to follow you from womb to tomb, birth to Earth is you. Asking for help is 100% acceptable; we are not a species that can exist in a vacuum. However, dependence, this learned helplessness, victimizing of self – isn’t where it’s at.  

    I just read over everything I wrote and realized that one of my next updates is parallel.

    Deliver me into my fate / if I’m alone I cannot hate

    Work has become a living nightmare. My patients are OK, but administration is making it very difficult for any of us to do our jobs. They’ve increased the level of our required face-to-face time with patients; if patients don’t attend scheduled appointments it will count against us (apparently because we aren’t “engaging” enough… Look, I can be the nicest person in the world, but if your car doesn’t start or your kid’s in the hospital, it has less to do with my skills to build rapport and more to do with shit happening beyond anyone’s control). If your percentage of face-to-face contact is not at or above expectations consecutively for 8 weeks, you can face probation and fast track your way to unemployment.

    I am to spend 7/8 of my day listening to some of the most horrifying, gruesome, sweet, touching stories of my life – with only 1/8 of it left to finish paperwork – paperwork that better not be late or unfinished or my ass is on the chopping block.

    My job has now become less about helping others and more about saving myself. As far as I know, our company is the only county-funded company making these outlandish and exceedingly fucked up changes.

    Oh, not to mention my patients, who are also receiving state assistance of some sort but may hold part time or seasonal employment, often MAKE MORE MONEY than I do. I’m just a tad bit sore as I have about $200,000 in student loans (that’s with interest) and an advanced degree.

    I’ve been abstinent for over a week now. This morning I think I finally broke down and had a slip (yes, there is a difference between a relapse and a slip). My normal breakfast consists of one serving of Greek yogurt, one serving of homemade granola (barely any sugar – I add 1/4 cup of honey to 3 cups of oats, 1 cup of pumpkin seeds, and 1 cup of coconut flakes and some spices), and a banana. This actually fills me up and it tastes so good!

    This morning, however, I went into the kitchen unscripted. I tried to make a breakfast with a fruit, protein, milk, fat and grain serving. And I royalty fucked it up. I ended up with 2 proteins, 2 fruits, 2 grains, 1 milk, 1 fat. My husband asked me, “Where’s your food log?” See, this is where shit got ugly. I knew what the fuck that meant. Just like I knew what the fuck “What about doing the lap band and OA?” meant. Even if I’m wrong, the female translation of these sentences to someone with my negative mindset is: “You’re eating too much; get thinner quicker because I have to turn my head to look at all of you.”

    :::sigh::: I’m sticking with my damn yogurt in the morning. This going rogue stuff is for the birds.