Think back to all the times you’ve been called, “difficult,” “overly-sensitive,” “dramatic,” or “bitch.”🖕🏻
O.k. Who were those people? Write them down. What was happening between you two? Defending yourself? Someone else? Going toe to toe with a bully? Rising above the bullshit? Write that down. 🤩🥳😎
Do that a couple of hundred times in life and you have a lot of enemies. — Good for you. That means you’re not a doormat for others to wipe their feet on.🦶🦶Love yourself enough to be odd woman/man out. 💗💗💗🥰🥰
Now, who’s dismissed and invalidated your feelings, shushed you, implied you were “crazy,” and “too much.” What were you trying to express to them? Write that down. 😤 Use your anger for fuel.
Dismissed and invalidated a couple of hundred times in life and you have anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and physical pain — also known as C/PTSD from the psychological mind-fuck that is narcissistic abuse. 🤯 Undo the damage they’ve caused and write your truth. ✍️
Who’s ignored the core of who you are, mocked you, threatened your attempts at telling them what hurt and punished you for your “no?” Write that down. 😡🤬
Write all these stories out and you have a memoir. These stories are your gold. Your power. And they are more for your learning about yourself than they are for outing others. 💪🏻💥🎖
What are the patterns that keep playing out in your life? What’s your childhood conditioning? What role do you play in perpetuating these patterns? What could you have done differently then? What needs to change now? Have you changed over time? If not, why not? 🧐
Those names you wrote down? Abusers. Both overt and covert.
And there is both a time to stand and fight 💥🥊 and a time to walk away. 🏃🏻♀️
Welp, I’ve been on Lexapro now for fifteen days. And I cannot believe the difference in how I feel. My doctor put me on the lowest possible 5 mg dose just to see how I would do because he knows I tend to have side effects. And within four days I noticed I was no longer jumping out of my skin. It became evident it was working that quickly as I was shopping at Tuesday Morning and a woman threw a stack of thick paper pads of watercolor and art papers from the craft isle in her buggy making a metallic slamming noise right next to me. And I didn’t hit the roof. I just looked, and then went back to shopping.
Then, I noticed I was a better passenger in the car. I’m not all anxious when someone gets close and I’m no longer holding onto the handle of the door with a sweaty palm telling my husband to slow down or speed up, or look out! I’m just sitting there on my side minding my business watching out the window enjoying the view.
And, I realized I was singing Christmas carols the other day in my craft room and was making Christmas artist trading cards! That’s so not me because I’ve disliked the holiday ever since my boys left home. When I told my therapist this, she said that she thinks the little girl in me is feeling safe enough to sing again and feels free from anxiety enough to come out and play. — Cool huh?
And… then, on Thanksgiving Eve, after that rather hopeful and bright therapy session where my therapist said the little girl in me was feeling safe enough to venture out and play, I got a call from my step-son on the way home. We talked as my husband drove, and eventually, he told me my other son (before he transfers out West for the military) is going to stay with his father. You know, the father that was only around when it was convenient for him, refused visitation if he thought I had plans, and quit jobs left and right for years to get out of paying child support. — That father.
And instead of crying and feeling hurt and just sucking in my pain like I usually do, I finally got pissed. Like beyond livid. But livid in a calm way… seriously.
When I found out, I calmly texted my son.
“Can I ask why you choose to go see your father on your way out West and not come to see us?”
“Several reasons, but mostly because it’s on my route, there are a few places I want to visit in Ohio, and Chip is riding with me.” (Chip is his friend. One of the kids that have called me mom and said he wished he had the kind of relationship with his mom that my son has with me. — That Chip.)
And I know how this is going to sound to others, probably petty and immature, but unless you deal with the constant disrespect from an adult child, you won’t get it anyway… I simply went over to FB and deleted and blocked my own sons. The oldest for his constant verbal abuse, devaluation, and disrespect, and my youngest for not saying anything to him about how he treats me. Oh, and I deleted all their friends too. All the kids that considered me their mom. Those I welcomed into my home, fed, let stay overnight, listened to all their problems, paid for them to go places, all who called me mom, yet enable bad behavior. —Bah-bye! And I don’t feel sad or bad or even mad about it. I feel it’s about fucking time. And I’m loving it.
I swear my body thanked me the second I hit the block button.
And the next morning I woke up to this text from my son.
“So may I ask what I did this time to be a narcissistic abuser? Ask you for some photos?” (They do shit like that. Treat you like shit, then magically forget and ask for a favor… this time pictures.) He’s into Ancestry dot com and needed photos of his dead ancestors. Yet treats his mom like garbage and has yet to read my book that tells of his ancestors. How’s that for irony? Glorify the dead, ignore the living. We live in a world that only tells us how great they think we are and how much we are loved when we’re dead. Fuck if I’ll help them do that.
Anyway, this is what I wrote back, and I’m not sorry.
“No. Not at all. I didn’t mind looking for them for you. I’m just not going to be dissed by you anymore. You’ve made it clear that you’re not interested in having me for your mom or Jeff for your step-dad and that we don’t rate with you. You’ve told me I’m drama, negative and a disappointment to you. You have the family you want; your dad and your fiancés family. You know where we are when you need us. But, I’m not going to sit around in pain and agony watching you on FB visit everyone and their brother and shit all over us.”
I can’t heal around toxic behaviors that no one will say anything about. My sons and I have always been close. But as I have to heal C/PTSD from a childhood I suppressed in order to be their mother and I can’t sit by and watch him visit his father or spend every holiday with his girlfriend’s families as if we don’t exist, and have the other son not want to discuss anything about it.
I have one overt in-your-face-bully son and one passive-aggressive that cuts you off at the knees when he doesn’t want to discuss something. The fake yawns on the phone when I ask, saying “People are going to do what they want to do.” Or my favorite: “Yeah, he never mentions anything about you.” It’s not helping me at all try to heal. It’s painful and causes me extreme grief. And I’m done.
Sadly, my therapist says that over half her clientele are parents being treated like this by a child or children they were once close to. She shook her head with tears in her eyes as she said how disgusted she is that so many people in society think it’s just completely acceptable to say whatever the hell they want without consequences. She said someone in her own family is going through this very thing and it has all but killed her. She no longer resembles the person she once was and it has taken a huge toll on her health as a result.
She assures me that narcissism runs rampant in the military and many of her other patients are veterans now trying to adjust to civilian life without their families there to help. The higher military men and women climb up that ladder of success, the more of a stranger some can become to their families. The power and prestige; the trophies and award after award, go right to their heads. Suddenly the mother that taught them to wipe their ass, or hold spoon is a stupid fucking idiot not worth their time to bother with anymore. And the step-dad that was more of a father to them than their own bio father, is now conveniently forgotten as he puts up a picture of him and his sperm donor clinking beers together on Father’s Day. It’s like adding insult to injury and I couldn’t be more sick of it and I don’t have to subject myself to seeing it anymore. — Enjoy. I’m out.
I’d love to have a talk with his military superiors. I’d tell them just what I thought of them. How dare they forget to tell these impressionable kids that go in right out of high school that it’s their family they will need most when they become civilians again. Pretty sad that we can’t learn to be leaders and be civil.
As for my sons, one is choosing to get out in two years, and the other is eligible to retire from the military in six years, which doesn’t mean he’ll leave. That’s a long time to wait to have my kids back again. There will be lots of damage to repair but hopefully, it starts with them looking inside themselves and to their past like I did in my memoir. I hope they find out who they are without all the conditioning and heal their own wounds from childhood like I had to. I can’t do it for them. And I wish them both well.
As for me — there is light at the end of my dark night of the soul. I’m feeling good and have hope again. I’m doing yoga, sleeping well, making art, eating healthily, exercising, lounging extravagantly, eating dinner in bed, sleeping 14 hours, and laughing again. I plan on living the rest of my life doing just whatever the hell I choose to do without guilt, without second-guessing myself and without needing validation from anyone that I was a good mom. I just don’t care anymore.
If you need me, I’m off planning my 2019 in my new planner. I have shit I want to do.
Also, I got a shout out on Twitter today from my editor:
I am so lucky to have found this woman, you have no idea! To say she deserves a blog post of her own is an understatement. She is quite impressive! But, in a nutshell she is a freelance writer and editor and has 31 books of her own.
I heard an awful racket outside this morning and dismissed it as the neighbors moving in next door. Then, I saw my cat at the back left area of the screened in porch on alert; tail-wagging, ready for something to appear, as the clawing sounds continued. They stopped as I got close, so I stood and listened, and soon there were the sounds of tiny nails scratching down metal. I ran upstairs and told my husband I thought there was a squirrel caught in the downspout, so he came out and disconnected the bottom rubber portion of the drain, and there he was.
We both thought we saw him move a bit with the movement of the pipe. He had one eye open, but I didn’t see any breathing, he just laid there frozen. I told my husband I hoped we got to him in time. We didn’t want to traumatize him if he was alive, or get bit, so we left, and let nature take its course.
I wondered about him all morning. I checked on this cutie about an hour after finding him, and he’s still lying in there.
Then, I thought… was he stunned and scared. He was still thinking he was stuck and wasn’t yet strong enough to back out and free himself because of all the struggling. I doubted this fierce little guy would have resigned himself to dying in there.
And, it got me thinking… about how I handle my own panic. I too, hunker down and go small when I’m scared or when I’ve spent an extraordinary amount of time fighting. It’s necessary for us C/PTSD sufferers to regroup, catch our breath, and assess the situation before re-emerging back into our habitat when life throws us for a loop.
But, it’s equally important not to resign ourselves to labels, or detach so much we don’t even try and just give up because that’s what’s expected of C/PTSD’ers.
I call bullshit. We can do anything and everything we want in life. ALL THE THINGS! We just gotta rest when we need, strive when called for, and have an awareness of ourselves at all times.
Some days, yes, I’m hunkered down and quiet, like this scared little squirrel, trying to find my center. I’m recuperating and trying to trust the Universe again.
But, some days, nervous or not, there’s absolutely no time for that smallness — only time for doing — and you can hear my nails scratching down the slick metal tube that is life, trying everything in my power not to die, fail, lose, resign, or give up.
Both are survival modes, I know.
Squirrel mode or my frozen state is quieter than my other mode and may look like dying or giving up to those on the outside. This mode occurs more in my head and is purposeful. —It’s here where I tell myself to, “Just breathe”, “Everything is o.k.” “Don’t be scared.” “Not now.” In this mode, it’s just me and my BFF and we don’t do much but chatter back and forth. I stay small. In this mode, I’ve even realized that I shallow breathe and have to remind myself to stop and take a few deep breaths. I do a lot of piddling around the house, crafting, art journaling, painting, cooking and wearing pajamas in this mode. And, all that is super awesome to my quiet, inner-dying and hunkering down squirrel self. I come out of this mode much quicker lately. I tended to dwell here while writing my book, Steel Town Girl. But, I re-emerge stronger, and faster now, all by listening to my body’s messages of what it needs from me, the operator.
My other mode is more expressive and loud. We’ll call this mode: Tiger Mode for the sake of keeping with the nature theme. LOL! This mode occurs in my heart, and makes me fight like a caged, wild animal trying to get myself free because “something” tells me to stand up this instant and stop this shit right now!
In this mode, I don’t allow anxiety, depression, panic attacks, or any other C/P.T.S.D. symptom to have control. In this mode, I barrel through. I challenge myself to go further and do more. Less feeling. More doing. I hold my head up, stand in my courage, speak while my voice cracks, and acknowledge I can still feel fear and anxiety while feeling courageous and getting shit done. The fear can remain if it chooses to, but I move on with or without it. I keep pushing now, knowing that rest is my reward later.
I show up because I am stronger than fear.
I call holding both modes at once my Even-Steven mode. For me, it’s equivalent to driving a stick shift. Too much gas and you’ll jerk yourself violently and chirp your wheels. Too much clutch and you’re going to bog down and stall your engine until you finally sputter and come to a complete stop.
An Even-Steven mode is a place where I am able to have an eagle’s eye view of myself and can see clearly what I’m doing, and how I’m being. In this mode, the eagle doesn’t let me go too far left or right of center. No wallowing, spiraling out of control or using excuses, on the left. And on the right, no out of control busyness, doing or striving that takes me too far out of myself.
Midline is where it’s at: Not too much IN your business, not too much OUT of your business.
Both modes: Squirrel and Tiger are absolutely necessary for our survival, and both are completely normal. One mode is comfortable, and one is not. The Even-Steven mode is both modes at the same time and is the Goldilocks of where I’ve tried to live my life. You can get there too. Just follow the inner Eagle. The inner eagle to me is meditation. Come up out of you long enough to see.
I was curious as to whether our squirrel friend was hunkered down and scared and had just resigned himself die, so I ran outside to see. — Turns out, he could be both modes at once too! He rested, surveyed his habitat for danger, then, when it was safe, he high-tailed it outta there! I’d like to think he’s now comfy and cozy in his tree nest with his squirrel family hunkered down and resting his inner tiger for his next big adventure.
And that’s what managing my C/PTSD feels like for me: Resigning and dying one day, and/or fighting and lurching forward with the ferociousness of a tiger the next. Sometimes being both in one day.
And get this: When my husband came home a few hours later, I yelled down the steps that the squirrel was free! He yelled, “Yay!” and said he’d be outside reconnecting the rubber drain to the steely downspout. A few minutes later he texted me this picture as I sat writing this post:
He texted me: “I’m glad the squirrel got out. There was a little frog down in there too!”
The squirrel was on top of the trapped frog!
Nature has a lot to say about living if we just listen. Today’s message: If you save yourself, you may just help save a friend.