Friday, February 7, 2014

Is this thing still even on?

I just walk away from my blog for 6 months at a stretch and then always come back with approximately the same not very witty title. I am nothing if not consistently inconsistent.

So, last I typed and you read I was working on cognitive behavioral therapy to get my OCD and panic attacks under control. In September, Team Annie gained a new player. Another therapist, this time a lady, to help me sort out some trauma and PTSD issues. Which is what I thought would happen all along from my initial phone conversation with  D about setting me up for CBT. Because I knew there was a well of pain I had constructed my entire life around avoiding. And right on schedule, once I began to have so much less fear about the minutiae of daily life, some of these bigger and more painful experiences started to slip up to the front of the queue. And they are ugly. And they are shameful. And there were flashbacks. And nightmares.  And awfulness. And instead of hiding, I said I needed more help. So for a few months, I was seeing two therapists weekly and The Man and I were seeing a third every few weeks.

At the end of January, I graduated from CBT so now I am just down to the trauma work and the marriage work. Both of which are going pretty well. The marriage work was to begin to make some new patterns now that I don't require as much care taking. Because being me was hard on my marriage. And as much as he wanted to protect me and keep me from being hurt, it wasn't healthy for him to have to take care of everything all the time, not healthy for either one of us. The trauma work is hard. There were times last summer when I was touching a bathroom door handle at Target, or watching the puke scene from Bridesmaids for the 500th time and I thought that was hard work. There were times when we began to move toward my discharge where just the thought of it would make me cry, because I was so scared. I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to live my life  without having to tick off banned behaviors. How I would conduct my errands when they weren't assignments? How would I stay accountable when I was the only one I had to be accountable to? Because I haven't done so hot when I am the one left in charge of me and I felt very sure that I wasn't going to be able to keep my shit together.

Those were hard things, but now they seem like a cake walk compared to the work I have to do. And there isn't much homework for this. Except that when something painful comes up, I can't pack it away in a box and put it away at the back of my brain. I have to live with it. I have to let it suck. I have to help my brain find context for the events so that it can be properly refiled so that I stop reacting to anything similar with full on panic. And I have to use grounding techniques sometimes to keep from flashing back or dissociating. At any given moment I can be somewhere and trying to appear calm and inside I am looking at the walls, the floor, listening to the music, whatever things I can see, hear, smell, or touch to help me stay grounded in 2014. And it works more often than it used to.

And as I repair damage, I sometimes feel at loose ends. I got so good at being broken that I forgot how to be anything else. Not that I felt like a victim, in fact I never felt like a victim. Which is part of my problem, because there were times when a victim is exactly what I was, but I was so unused to being allowed to feel my feelings that I stuffed it down and convinced myself it was my fault. Because I deserved what I got, because I should have known he was a bad person before it got to that point.. I refused to admit that this sort of abuse was something that happened to me. I wasn't sitting around feeling that the world had done me wrong, I was just broken. And now I am patching up the damage a little bit at a time.And I have begun to try and get on with the business of having a life. I meet with friends. I stay responsible for social contact. I run errands. I do stuff. And every day it gets a little bit easier.

My life has turned around nearly 100% from where I was last year at this time. I have plans. I have some good things happening. I am participating in my marriage as more or less an equal partner. We look forward to what the future may hold for us. I am beginning to sometimes feel normal. That I don't have to be other. That I am not only a pile of broken and sad and yuck, no matter what was drilled into me from a very young age. I can be sad and I can feel hurt and I won't have to cut off the world or cut or scratch myself to control the pain. I am a person who is learning to have a life, to allow myself to have hope and dreams again. And I am so late to the party for so many things and just trying to make up for lost time.