Thursday, March 17, 2016

Coming out to ensure a future.

Last October I made a decision to change my life. Things had to change if I wanted to see much more beyond the next 5 years. I couldn't pretend that I was ok anymore. It was getting too physically hard to live life in my body any more. On November 5th, 2015, I walked into the University of Minnesota Medical Center and admitted that I need help.

Four months, a half-dozen appointments, many dark moments, and many MANY more swear words later, I have lost 50 pounds as of this morning's weigh-in. I have lost weight, but gained so much more. I have learned that asking for help isn't the end of THE world, but it was the end of MY world as I knew it. I had to let go of the false notion that "I got this" (which obviously I didn't) and suck it up and let people see me vulnerable.

The mental work is SO MUCH HARDER than the physical work. Shutting down the negative crap in my head is so much harder than shutting my mouth and not putting food in it. Learning the difference between "I'm hungry" and "My mouth is bored" is something that I'll always probably deal with. Learning to let myself be brave enough to grab onto the tiniest sliver of trust in other people and hope like hell that maybe just this once things will work out for me...that is a life lesson that I have to relearn daily.

This is just a start. There are many more steps to take and many more life-altering changes coming in the near future. However, I am doing this one step at a time and trying to stay in the moment. Part of trying to ensure that I have a future is to learn to enjoy the present and to do THAT, I have to learn to actually slow down and experience what's going on IN THIS MOMENT. And in THIS moment, I'm thirsty. Off to find my giant glass of plain ol' water.

Friday, May 29, 2015

So you're not hurting anyone, huh?

When I was actively drinking away my youth, I always said I was never hurting anyone but myself. 15 years later (after 6 years of sobriety), another sober person slapped me in the face with the truth. He said, "You never hurt anyone, huh? That's bullshit. Your ABSENCE hurt people. Every time you were busy drinking instead of spending time with friends and family obligations, you were hurting them. Every day you were emotionally distant, you were hurting people. You think they weren't bleeding inside trying to figure out what was going on with you? You're fooling yourself." The truth hurt, but needed to be heard.

How easy it is to believe the lies we tell ourselves. How easy it is to not see the harm we may actually be causing.

May I never go back to hurting people knowingly or unknowingly.

Friday, May 8, 2015

So I guess I'm writing again.


Note | 1 Loves It | 
Tie me up to free me.
Make me scream to quiet me.
Spank me so I might hear you, and
Use your words so I might feel you.
Your warm touch sends shivers down my spine;
Your icy stare lights me on fire.
Overwhelm me until I am numb, and
Soothe me until I explode.
Test my strength until I am weak, then
Hold me close while I escape.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Coming out of the fog...I hope.

I have dealt with depression the majority of my life.  Sometimes medicated for it, sometimes not.  Postpartum depression hit me HARD after I had 12.  Since 10 came along a short 17 months later, I never had a chance to recover.  Two months after 10 was born, I was again trying to figure out how to kill myself without it affecting my children.  Postpartum depression is an insidious bitch.  My doctor and I agreed (although begrudgingly on my behalf) that it was better to wean 10 and go back on my medication than to NOT wean her and play Russian Roulette. And so it began.

Fast forward 9ish years.  Earlier this year, I realized that my short-term memory was getting bad.  I was forgetting simple things. A lot. My memory had always been like a steel trap.  I was a bit like Cliff Claven.  I knew a lot of random stuff because I remembered nearly everything I had ever heard.  My memory has always been very important to me.  VERY important.  To have it start to slip felt like life was giving me a slap in the face.  I mean, even when things were really crappy, at least I could remember it.  But now?  Not only was I having to write everything down, I was forgetting to do a lot of the everyday stuff.  I'm pretty sure I went 3 days without brushing my teeth because I just forgot that was something you were supposed to do.  I would remind my kids to do it every  night before bed, but by the time I went to bed, the thought was no where to be found.

I mentioned to my therapist a few times that my memory was messed up and after ruling out the normal things, we thought it was perhaps because we were dealing with a lot of old stuff and learning new ways to handle it and therefore my brain was just working differently and missing some things that weren't drastically important.  As the weeks went by, it got worse.  If it wasn't written down, there was no way I was remembering it and even then, it was iffy.  You can write things on a calendar until your hand falls off, but if you forget to look at the calendar and the DO WHAT IT SAYS, it won't do you any good.  Again, I talked to my therapist about it and I started to wonder if it could be due to the medication I was on.  It dawned on me that I have been on it for TEN YEARS in varying doses.  I've never gotten off of it fully because the withdrawal effects are so rough on me and because I don't want to be a nutcase.  I told therapist I would mention it to psychiatrist when I saw her in a couple of weeks.

Two weeks ago I realized I was losing words. When you've always relied on words (especially written words) to communicate, losing them is scary shit.  If I was older, I would have assumed I was suffering from dementia.  Losing my memory and losing my words was taking such a toll on me that I didn't know what to do other than wait for the psychiatrist appointment and hope she would have an idea of what to do with me.  I assumed that it would mean weaning me off the Effexor XR and just trying to suck it up and hope the withdrawal didn't drive me to drink.  Turns out, she had another plan.  Instead of pulling me off the drug entirely, she switched me to a different brand in the same class in hopes that there would be little to no withdrawal symptoms.

Operation Medication Switch has been underway for 3 days.  The first day on the new stuff resulted in my being itchy from head to toe and nauseous as hell within an hour of me taking it.  Time to load up on the Benedryl.  Day 2, still itchy as all get out after taking it.  At least loading up on Benedryl helped me sleep through some of it.  Day 3, no need for Benedryl.  The itchies are there, but only slightly irritating.  I'll worry about Day 4 when I get there.

Ideally, this drug will be easier to come off of than the other.  In my research (while waiting for my psychiatric appointment), I found hundreds of thousands of people who had been on the same medication that have had horrible memory issues too.  In reading some of their other symptoms, it seems that I have gotten off easy by only having the memory issue be a problem.  It's too early to tell if this will help.  It will take a minimum of 4 weeks to get my levels stabilized.  In the meantime, I just hope my body can figure out how to let go of the old drug and hang on to the new drug without totally messing me up.  Until then, I will continue to write everything down and make my calendar my home screen.  I'm also leaving my toothbrush out in plain sight.  Just in case.

Friday, January 30, 2015

How do you know HOW you're feeling if you've never learned to NAME the feeling, much less FEEL it?

I'm not normal.  If you've been here awhile, that will come as no shock to you.  For various reasons (some of which I had no control over and some of which are due to my own choices when I was younger), I have spent the majority of my life walking a fine line between not wanting to be numb, but not wanting to feel TOO much.  Feelings hurt.  At least I think they do.  I DO know that I generally don't like them because they feel yucky and sit like a weight on my chest and make my skin feel too tight.  "Bad" feelings make me PHYSICALLY uncomfortable.  My head can't focus and things feel wrong.  My clothes will feel wrong, my hair will hurt, my head starts to hurt, my mind races, and I will do just about whatever I can to make it go away.

Last summer when UW left, I went into a tailspin.  All of those new feelings were too much for me.  Instead of running from them like I always have, I decided to finally address them and try to deal with them with the help of a professional.  Look at me trying to act like a responsible adult.

Working with her has been interesting to say the least.  She has teared up more than I have (my cold dead heart doesn't allow me to cry very often...either that or my pride doesn't), has told me she's never had a patient as blatantly honest as I am (which is one of the miracles of being in recovery), and at one point asked me if I have ever suffered a HEAD INJURY (not really, but that was funny as hell when she asked).

Here are a few things I have learned:

1.  I don't know what to CALL the feelings I'm having.   One day I was crying (let's keep that our little secret) and told her I couldn't figure out why.  Her brilliant revelation was, "Well you were SAD."  What?  Oh yeah, S  A  D. Hmmm...ok, I'll go with that.  Yes, I am THAT bad at feelings.  It took a professional to tell me that crying is a sign of being sad.  Seriously, I'm a 39 year old woman with the emotional skills of a child.  It's a little ridiculous.

2. Trauma victims have faulty "switches" in our brains that cause us to process incoming information incorrectly.  Where many people would rate "love" and "happiness" on the top of their lists for what they want/need, I rate "safety".  Living in survival mode means you're always on the lookout for the next unsafe thing to come your way so you better be armed and ready.  In fact, you probably should spend countless hours of your day trying to anticipate ALL of the possible scenarios you could encounter during the rest of the day/week/month/etc. and then take action to try and prevent all of those things that may or may not (most likely WON'T) happen in order to be feel safe every second of every day.  Yeah...that's a bit exhausting.

3.  My mind and body are rarely in the same place at the same time.  Therefore, my heart and my head rarely agree and are usually at odds with each other.

4.  When you are disconnected from life, it takes something pretty intense to register and etch itself in your memory.  Therefore, every day stuff doesn't get recorded and you become QUITE aware that even though you can remember every disgusting detail of your sordid past, you will now spend your days wondering why you can't remember things.  This will become especially troublesome when you were raised in an "If you don't remember it, you must be lying" or "No one else remembers it like that, you must be lying" environment.

5.  I either feel very little (feels like I'm watching a movie about life, not really experiencing it) or WAY TOO MUCH (flashbacks where I relive the event with all the sounds/smells/sights/touches).

6.  My constant disconnect will hurt people even when I desperately don't want it to.  I will be called a bad friend, a selfish lover, a mean mom, etc.  It will hurt people when I make comments about my lack of feelings or when I question my feelings for them.

7. If I say I love you, I really DO mean it to the best of what my understanding is of that word.  It means I am loyal to you and don't want to see you come to any harm.  It means I will crack jokes to make you smile when you are sad.  If I'm in love with you, I will twist myself into knots trying to be the best partner I can be.  I will forgive just about anything as long as we can communicate honestly about it.  It means that I will make space for you in my life, but will need reminders of your presence so I don't get disconnected and forget to reconnect.   When I get disconnected, it's not that I don't care about you, it's that I'm trying to juggle so many things at once that my focus shifts to deal with whatever is capturing most of my attention at the time.

8.  Adding Borderline Personality Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to a trauma victim will exacerbate all of the above issues.

You know what else I've learned?  I've learned that no matter HOW bad things have gotten, my track record for getting through them is 100%.  Yes, I am hurting right now and my life was recently upended again, but I'll put my money on my track record.  This too shall pass and you can bet your ass I'll get through it.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Always listen to your gut.

Always listen to your gut. If you decide to ignore it, listen to the experienced lifestyle members who care about you with no ulterior motives. They've been there, done it, and seen it. Their judgment is most likely better than your own, especially if you are ignoring your own instincts.


That was my answer to "What have you learned so far in the lifestyle?"

I'm at a loss right now.  It's been over 24 hours since I said goodbye to James.  I have not shed a single tear.  I vacillate between feeling absolutely nothing over the situation to thinking I feel incredibly lonely right now.  Even as I type that, I'm not sure that's true.  I'm not sure I FEEL lonely.  I feel less entertained.  It was always entertaining to be in contact with each other throughout the day.  We've done that nearly every day for the last 4.5 months.  We also didn't have our nightly phone call.  We've only missed that 3 times since we've been together.  I miss hearing his voice and listening to the sweet things he'd say to me.  I'm going to miss the laughter.  Damn we made each other laugh.  I'm not laughing tonight.  No one is saying sweet things to me.  No one's lying to me either though, so I guess that's a start.  Being alone is so much safer.  Being alone can be a little lonely if I isolate myself from everyone else, but at least no one is actively hurting me.

I haven't told the kids yet.  Ever since I threatened to leave last time, I've downplayed James' involvement in our lives.  I've made a point of not talking about him.  When the girls ask about him or say something about the future, I just say a vague, "Well, you never know what will happen" and leave it at that.

I never used to let myself hope and dream of the future.  Life hurt less then.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

How do you thank the man that saved your life? You write a letter to him.

To the Mentor who saved me from myself,

There I was, broken.  Another failed relationship, another tailspin into self-destruction.  Once a confident, independent woman;  reduced to a pitiful shell of who I once was.  I had fallen back into the abyss of depression, the nightmares were back in full force, I was having 1-2 full blown panic attacks almost every single day, I had sent my children to live with their father temporarily, I was cutting, and sleeping with men who I knew would physically abuse me just to try and experience enough physical pain to quiet my mind for a few minutes and make the emotional pain stop.  You see, that's what people like me do.  We do whatever it takes to escape our feelings.  We will use and abuse drugs, alcohol, sex, money, food, people, whatever makes us feel good. Even if it's only for a few fleeting moments, and even if it fills us with guilt and shame later on.

That's how he found me.  A 38-yr old woman with the coping skills of a 6-year old child, in a freefall of self-destruction.  We met in a facebook BDSM group that I had just joined in hopes that I could find someone who would help destroy me so I didn't have to do it all on my own anymore.  The details are very hazy due to the mental state I was in at the time, but I remember reading a comment from a Dom describing the great need he had to be needed by his sub.  This caught me off guard because I had always been called too needy in relationships; that I expected too much time together and wanted too much attention and affection.  I must have said something to that effect in the comments because then next thing I know, the man that was to become my Mentor said something that stopped me dead in my tracks and honestly changed everything for me.  He said, "It's not that you're too needy, you just have needs that have never been met.  Needs that could NEVER have been met by the men you were with."  He went on to explain to me that I had been with mostly very passive men and it never worked because I was a submissive at my core.

SUBMISSIVE?  Submissive my ass!  I bowed to NO man.  Not since the abusive sadist I was with in my teen years.  I could not possibly be a submissive!  I have a fancy corporate title with dozens of people under me.  I am a single mom.  I don't let people push me around.  I've pretty much called all the shots in almost every relationship I had ever been in!  Submissive?  I think not!

He waited patiently until I was done with my tirade and began to tell me things about myself that I had never admitted to anyone.  He told me that I craved someone else to be in control.  He told me I longed for a man stronger than me, that would stand firm when I tried to push him away.  He told me I had a terrible fear of abandonment.  He said that it isn't about the role I played in my daily life, it is about who I am in my soul.  In those few sentences, he made it ok to be me and to have the feelings I was having.  In a very short amount of time, he was able to read me like no one ever had and he didn't recoil in horror.  He told me it was ok and that the things I was going through were normal and that I didn't have to feel like that anymore if I was willing to keep an open mind and learn about the lifestyle.

After spending the majority of the night talking to him, I felt a fire in me that I hadn't felt for years.  I was excited about life again.  I wanted to run and jump and laugh and cry and scream and shout.  Honestly, I thought I was having an anxiety attack.  When I got quiet all of the sudden, he said, "Let me guess.  Your heart's racing, your stomach hurts a little, you're breathing too fast, and your kind of warm."  WHAT?  How does this man know me better than I know myself?  When I said yes, he said, "Don't worry, that's normal."  Again, that one sentence made it ok to be me.  It calmed my soul enough to get my bearings again.  "Now get to bed.  Rest well.  We'll talk tomorrow."  Tomorrow.  For the first time in a very long time, tomorrow held hope and promise.  I honestly couldn't remember the last time I was excited about tomorrow, but there I was and I couldn't wait for our next conversation to take place.

Although I didn't know it at the time, we had just embarked on our journey together with him leading the way as my Mentor.  He told me to research the lifestyle and ask him any question I had (which to this day he probably regrets because I ask A LOT of questions).  He explained all of the terms being tossed about in the rooms. Dom, sub, Master, slave, Top, bottom, Daddy, bg - it was all lingo that I needed to know to understand what these people were talking about. He also explained to me that he was a Gorean Master and what that meant.  Once he told me of his Gorean beliefs, that set off another flurry of questions that I had to have answered.  I quickly learned that while I respect my Mentor grately and respect his belief system, I do not have to agree nor adhere to the same principles.  Instead of arguing until I was blue in the face, I learned the more reserved approach of "Agree to disagree".  I was making progress.  Unfortunately while all of this learning was going on, I was impatient.  I wanted to fly before I even checked to see if I had wings.  I joined a couple of BDSM dating sites and started looking for THE Dom.  I announced myself as being "brand new to the lifestyle and looking for an experienced Dom to further my training".  I might as well have wore a prime rib vest and walked into the lion's den.

As soon as I started telling Sir about all of the men I was chatting with, he told me I was to copy and paste all of the chat logs into the private blog I had set up earlier so I could write down my thoughts/feelings/questions for him to read over.  It seemed a little tedious, but he had proven that he knew what was best for me, so I did as I was told.  As luck would have it, I met The One right away.  That whirlwind courtship lasted 4-5 days and fell apart.  Nope, I guess he wasn't the one.  Moving on.  The next day, I met THE One.  Again, a whirlwind of poetic promises of a wonderful future, and oh wait, what was that?  You're married and just want to boss someone around?  No thanks.  Moving on.  Then I started talking to LW. Now HE was The ONE.  Attentive, smooth talking, and had answers for all of my questions.  I ignored all of the red flags in the beginning.  What did I know about red flags?  I didn't want to over-react and miss my chance, right?  Meanwhile, I kept posting the chat logs and running things past Sir.  I was in over my head and Sir knew it.  He also knew that he had to give me enough rope to see if I'd hang myself.  He insisted on having a discussion with LW before I decided whether or not I wanted to submit, and that's when the red flags became engulfed in flames.  LW had already talked me into doing things I didn't want to do, but then he flipped out when Sir contacted him.  That's when LW gave me an ultimatum.  I either had to choose him and cut ties with Sir and all other lifestyle friends I was making, or choose my Mentor.  He said I couldn't have it both ways, and have me 2 hours to decide.  I told Sir about the ultimatum and he sat back and waited for my decision.  I didn't have to think very long.  I knew within minutes I would choose Sir.  The red flags were too great and I was not willing to give up the safety net of Sir's mentorship.  I was actually relieved as I said goodbye to LW.

After LW came many nights of chatting with many men who said they were Doms.  I continued to copy my chat logs for Mentor to read, not knowing if he actually did or not.  The practice held me accountable and made me feel like someone was watching over me, so I kept it up.  The experience with LW taught me to ask potentials open-ended questions to see how knowledgeable and experienced they were.  After a week or two, I met GK and we hit it off quickly.  We had some common interests and he was able to answer my questions with relative ease.  I told him that before I would even consider submitting, he would have to have a discussion with my Mentor and gain his approval.  I soon learned that GK was not the Dom for me.  He liked to change the rules without notice and I was always in trouble and being punished.  I started to feel like a failure and less than, but I was still intent on proving that I was a good sub and could please him.  One night the situation took a dangerous turn and scared me.  I blogged about it as usual and before long got a phone call from Mentor, yelling at me and scolding me for putting myself in harm's way in a situation that could have been potentially fatal in my case.  I shut down and cried.  Later on, Mentor called me back when he was calmer and explained to me the error of my ways and WHY it was such a dangerous situation.  I definitely learned my lesson.

By this time I was giving up.  I felt alone and wanted more attention from Mentor than he had time to give.  I would do things to purposely garner a response from him.  True to his title, he wouldn't let me manipulate him and much to my irritation, he never took the bait.  He simply waited until I stopped acting out before he'd speak to me.  I decided the best thing for me to do would be to get an additional mentor.  I thought that a submissive mentor who had more time on her hands could give me another perspective on the lifestyle.  When I asked Sir what he thought of my idea, he said he would step away from me if that's the choice I made.  I was shocked and freaked out.  I didn't realize that my question would make him so angry that he'd abandon me.  I apologized and begged him not to leave me.  It wasn't until months later, when I was helping a girl that did the same thing, that I fully understood his reaction to me.  I felt that she was being unappreciative and ungrateful.  I was hurt and felt a little betrayed after I had spent so much time trying to point her in the right direction.  When that happened, I apologized to Sir once again and told him that I finally got it.  Things had come full circle in a way.  It was a hard lesson to learn, but one that was necessary.

After going through that long string of men in a short amount of time, I decided to take the advice given to me and stop focusing on finding a Dom.  I spent time reading about the lifestyle and making like-minded friends.  I began to understand why all of my past relationships had failed.  I began to finally understand myself.  Under my Mentor's watch, I started to piece together what it was that I really wanted.  It was around this time that close friends in the lifestyle started to mention that it sounded like I wanted Mentor to be my Sir.  I denied it repeatedly because I knew that as a Gorean Master, he preferred slaves and I knew I could NEVER do that.  I couldn't be the kind of slave he wanted and he couldn't be the kind of Dom I wanted.  The more I thought about it, the more confused I got.  Eventually, in a moment of desperation, I told him I thought I loved him and I wanted to be His.  As I was pouring my heart out to this man, I was scared to death of what the outcome would be.  As I was freaking out, he was calm as always and told me that what I was feeling was completely normal.  He explained that of course I felt that way because he was the first person that opened my eyes to the lifestyle and to myself, essentially.  I felt like he had given me life and I equated that to being in love with him.  When I asked him where we were supposed to go from there, he calmed me and told me that he would continue to mentor me until he felt it was no longer worked.  I was relieved and embarrassed.  He took it in stride.

A few months have gone by now and our relationship keeps evolving.  I have my own Sir now and my Mentor has also become my friend.  I have a great deal of respect for him and love him like a brother and a protector.  We have had a few bumps in the road and at one point, I feared our relationship was completely over.  With some painful and honest communication, we worked things out and remain friends.  I lean on him less than I used to as I learn to lean on my own Sir, however I know he's still there for me, as I am there for him. I barely recognize the person I was when I met my Mentor, and he has told me his is proud of how far I have come over these last few months.

So how do you thank the man that saved your life?  A simple "Thank You" doesn't seem adequate.  I am so grateful that he took the time to take me under his wing and keep me safe.  The only way I can think to show my gratitude toward him is to pass on the lessons he's taught me to the girls I now try to help.  If nothing else, Sir, you have completely changed my life.  Because of you, I am becoming the person I believe I was always meant to be and for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.