Life Won’t Break Me

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Life has a way of throwing you curve balls when you least expect it, but when you need it most.  I have spent years feeling that I needed to do something; that something was off and needed fixing or realigning.  I felt that I couldn’t pursue all my goals or reach my full potential until I accomplished something or learned some lesson. I had no idea how right I was at the time.  Repressed memories have started resurfacing.  Only a few for now, but I know more are on the way.  Some of this has come from talking with my sister about childhood trauma I had forgotten.

Some memories I recall clear as day, but for some reason they disappeared from my life for many years. There are other memories my sister has that I have no recollection of and probably never will.  Those memories are the ones that have to most impact on me because so many things about my life and personality now have an explanation. It was jarring to the point of destroying my personal self-image.  I felt everything I knew about myself was now a lie.  I thought I was no longer the person I had led myself to be.

This change in self-image I don’t think would have occurred if I was not going through some hard times. I am currently unemployed and having trouble finding work.  I have had several interviews and, as of today, have a couple more scheduled, but there is still no income being generated.  I have no more money to use to survive.  My sister and niece are staying with me until they get a place of their own.  Three people in a tiny one-bedroom apartment can make one more anxious than they were before.  I don’t think I’ve hit rock bottom yet, but I’m close.

Some many factors affecting my mood and mental health have in a way opened parts of my mind I had closed off and now everything is falling into place.  Seeing domestic violence at 4-years-old and this violence continuing for several years has had a tremendous impact on how my young mind developed.  I need professional help to deal with wounds I’ve ignored for so many years and to get a proper diagnosis.  I know I have anxiety, but I’m learning that this is not the problem but a symptom.  Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is likely the official diagnosis.

“Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD; also known as complex trauma disorder) is a psychological disorder thought to occur as a result of repetitive, prolonged trauma involving sustained abuse or abandonment by a caregiver or other interpersonal relationships with an uneven power dynamic. C-PTSD relates to the trauma model of mental disorders and is associated with sexual, emotional or physical abuse or neglect in childhood, intimate partner violence, victims of kidnapping and hostage situations, indentured servants, victims of slavery, sweatshop workers, prisoners of war, victims of bullying, concentration camp survivors, residential school survivors, and defectors of cults or cult-like organizations.” ~ “Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complex_post-traumatic_stress_disorder.

Of the many symptoms caused by this disorder in children, I will only list the ones that I am aware of within myself.  These are also from the Wikipedia page.

  • Problems with relationship boundaries, lack of trust, social isolation, difficulty perceiving and responding to others’ emotional states.
  • Poor affect regulation, difficulty identifying and expressing emotions and internal states, and difficulties communicating needs, wants, and wishes.
  • Fragmented and disconnected autobiographical narrative, disturbed body image, low self-esteem, excessive shame, and negative internal working models of self.
  • Difficulties regulating emotions, including symptoms such as persistent dysphoria, chronic suicidal preoccupation, self-injury, explosive or extremely inhibited anger (may alternate), or compulsive or extremely inhibited sexuality (may alternate).
  • Variations in consciousness, including forgetting traumatic events (i.e., psychogenic amnesia), reliving experiences (either in the form of intrusive PTSD symptoms or in ruminative preoccupation), or having episodes of dissociation.
  • Changes in self-perception, such as a chronic and pervasive sense of helplessness, paralysis of initiative, shame, guilt, self-blame, a sense of defilement or stigma, and a sense of being completely different from other human beings.
  • Varied changes in the perception of the perpetrator, such as attributing total power to the perpetrator, becoming preoccupied with the relationship to the perpetrator, including a preoccupation with revenge, idealization or paradoxical gratitude, seeking approval from the perpetrator, a sense of a special relationship with the perpetrator or acceptance of the perpetrator’s belief system or rationalizations.
  • Alterations in relations with others, including isolation and withdrawal, persistent distrust, anger and hostility, a repeated search for a rescuer, disruption in intimate relationships and repeated failures of self-protection.
  • Loss of, or changes in, one’s system of meanings, which may include a loss of sustaining faith or a sense of hopelessness and despair.
  • Disconnection from surroundings accompanied by feelings of terror and confusion.

I see everything in my life defined by these symptoms.  I recently realized that my joy and desire to write horror or speculative fiction is my brain’s way of trying to deal with or get me to remember my past trauma.  It is also my way of escaping.  As a child, I had a counselor who helped me create a kind of survival kit.  When my parents would argue, I would pull this out this coffee can wrapped in construction paper and remove the many toys I kept within.  My sister described it as going off into my own little world.  That’s why I write; to escape and go off into my own little world.

This is the difficult point in life where I must rebuild myself from nothing.  I feel I’ve lost who I was, but somehow have finally become who I always was or should be. Is it weird that I have this new zeal and ambition for life?  I don’t think so.  Everyday gets me closer to being happy with the person I’ve become and the person I am. This was the lesson I needed to learn. This is the beginning of the rest of my life.  I must deal with this before I can truly succeed in this world.  I’ve been beaten down so far, the only place I have to go is up. And nothing will stop me.

Time Heals

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It is time for a long overdue update. This update is filled with rejections, realizations, and reservations. Let us begin with the rejections. Several short stories I’ve written have been rejected for publication. I’m sure some of you were concerned as to what kind of rejections I referred to, so I hope I have calmed your worries. I continue submitting stories for publications, but it is difficult as some publishers have strict dates when they accept submissions so there is still a lot of waiting. My time will come. Other rejections have included job applications with which I never received a call or interview. Some I have made it to the first interview but never any further. Once again, my time will come.

The realizations I have had recently are not pleasant. I believe they might be considered repressed memories, but with my sister’s help, some things I have remembered and my path to healing will be much longer than I expected. Childhood trauma has resurfaced and not to sound cliché but its turned my world askew. In a way, I feel I don’t know who I am anymore. I supposed I’m on a path to rediscover myself. One thing I recall, when I was in grade school I had a counselor who helped me make a kind of survival kit. When my parents would argue or fight (sometimes it was a physical fight), I would bring out this kit and live in my own little world ignoring what was happening. Perhaps this is why I don’t remember most of it.

This survival kit was just a coffee can wrapped in construction paper with my name and other things written all over it. Inside the can were some choice items; toys mostly. I recently discovered that, as an adult, if something is really troubling me I’ll write. Either poetry or fiction; maybe a screenplay. This is my survival kit as an adult. I create my own little world ignoring what is happening in my life. It’s just a brief escape but just as helpful. I take a little break from me and then return to deal with my problems and overcome the obstacles. I guess I haven’t changed much since childhood. I’m still that 4-year-old boy watching his drunken father beat his mother.

The reservations I’m having are how I should deal with everything. How should I handle this new (but not new) information? What is the first step in healing? Do I share these things with the world or keep them bottled up inside? Well I’m writing this blog post, so I’m sharing a little. Technically I’m writing and that’s how I cope with everything. That’s how I express myself because I don’t express myself in the normal ways like everyone else. I need to see a professional to deal with my past trauma and begin to heal but that requires money I don’t have. I’ll get that kind of help one day but for now all I can do is try to remain positive. That’s what cognitive behavioral therapy does. Stay positive and keep the negative thoughts away.

Until I receive a professional diagnosis, I can say I definitely have anxiety, but I think that is just a symptom of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). I look at the symptoms and I feel like it describes me perfectly. I look at the symptoms of anxiety and it fits mostly but not completely. This is a whole new journey for me. I’ll need a lot of support that I’ve never had before and I’m not sure how I’ll deal with everything. Right now, though, I need a descent paying job with health benefits. My time will come!

Humans Have Super Powers

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This world has become so complex and abundant with noise and nonsense.  The only way people can survive is with distractions.  These distractions; binge watching television or movies, listening to hours of music, reading, going out to bars, pub quizzes, doing anything and everything to forget about everything.  Forgetting is the human super power.  It is when you cannot forget something that it eats away at you; it destroys you.  Forgetting is necessary for survival.  Humans live long, happy lives by forgetting all the pain and misery.  By forgetting; however, we are doomed to repeat that pain and misery.

People have said there are some experiences you never forget.  This is true, but over time these memories are not at the front of your mind.  One can recall almost anything they have experienced.  It is like a kind of time travel.  You go back in time and relive something from the past.  You remember a lesson you forgot you learned.  You remember an emotion you felt but have not felt for a long time.  Emotions are fluid. They come and go, and if you know how, you can control how long they stay.  You have the power to forget them or remember them as you see fit.

Artists have the most difficult job.  It is their duty to remember.  Some of them make the choice not to forget.  Others have the inability to forget.  They relive the pain and misery and happiness and pleasure to help others remember what has been forgotten.  The job of the artist is to make people feel something; anything.  It is the emotions we have to remember.  Emotions are what makes us human.  But we have a super power.  Sometimes we forget what it means to be human.  We forget our emotions.  We forget so we can survive.

I have never understood how everyone else could survive and look happy with their repetitive, mundane life experience.  It looks like people only do anything to continue distracting themselves.  Someone may not actually care about their support group or volunteering at the animal shelter, but it helps distract them and avoid thinking about their life.  It helps them forget.  It helps them survive.  I have never been able to survive this way.  It always feels like these distractions prevent me from doing what I am supposed to be doing.  These distractions prevent me from expressing myself because they make me forget myself.

I have tried expressing myself in many different ways.  I have tried drawing, photography, music, film; but the only thing that ever lasted was writing.  I am a writer.  It is how I remember who I am.  It is how I survive.  When I do not write, I feel lost and broken.  My purpose in this world is to make people remember; to make people feel.  I am an artist.  Maybe I can help distract others while still making them remember and feel something.  I do not fit in or blend with the crowd.  I never have.  Maybe that is my super power.