The Chaos of My Mind…

There are explosions going on inside my head. They are deafening. They are debilitating. They are unbelievably frightening. I don’t know what’s happening to me and I don’t know how to make it stop. I was fine and feeling relatively calm. I had worked really hard to stabilize myself over the past month and then a switch flipped and chaos erupted and I can no longer distract myself away from it.

…I see my little body standing like a statue, staring at a young girl hanging from a tree. The men are all there but no one is helping her.

…A woman stands over me in a dark, shadowy room as I stand again, frozen, staring up at her. Lights flash and I hear clicking sounds.

…My wrists are strapped to a chair and there is movement and noise behind me as someone tells me “‘this is going to hurt.” A needle moves towards my arm.

…Men stand all around me and they talk and laugh as I am laying on my back. My head is repeatedly banged against the hard surface I am laying on.

…I feel my body fly backwards and the sound of glass shattering all around me sends chills throughout my body.

…I run frantically out of the woods, breathing hard as I try to escape the stampede and shouts I hear closing in on me from behind. I fall and everything goes dark.

…There is water crashing up against the window and seeping through the cracks as I panic with no way to escape.

…The girl with dark hair stares back at me expressionless and still. Her leg is shredded and bloody and the man takes me away to a cold, dark building.

What is this? What does any of this even mean? Fragments of terror all over the place. Nothing makes sense. It can’t be real. This. can. not. be. real. What is wrong with me?? I have completely lost my mind. My body is distressed. My heart is forever pounding. I cannot sleep. I am confused and afraid. SO afraid.

Leaving A Legacy…

I’ve been sharing a little with my therapist about my feelings of wanting to end my life. I’ve been feeling this way for months. We argue about it, he tries to switch my thinking and paint a darker picture of what the end result of this would look like rather than what I will face in moving forward with my life. His points are valid, and though I try, not really arguable, so I shut down and stop talking because I don’t know how to explain what I need to say. I love my children. I would hate to hurt them and abandon them. It would be messy. On a logical level, I get that. But for some reason, that doesn’t motivate me as much to want to stay anymore. Sometimes, the thought of me leaving them seems more attractive to them (from my perspective) than being here in the state that I’m in right now.

The last time we talked about this he asked me what I wanted my legacy to be. He probably asked me this to distract me from my negative thoughts. It didn’t work. I immediately started thinking of what I perceive my legacy currently to be, and that just became greater justification to act upon my current state of mind…to get out, and end it all. The pressure building up inside of me is so intense. I can’t figure out what it is. Or how to release it. It’s becoming unbearable. It’s the heaviest of weights. I feel trapped with no way out. It’s getting darker and scarier and more and more confusing. I think I’ve actually really lost my mind. I haven’t ever felt this before. I feel like I have no control and no where to go to escape the torture I feel. I’m completely frozen yet completely on fire all at the same time. I’m afraid of myself and who I’m becoming.

My therapist talks a lot about dissociation when he tries to explain why I feel or remember things the way I do when I can’t find any understanding of it on my own. I still don’t grasp the concept of this or how it works so I’ve been reading a lot about trauma to try and find answers to help me understand myself better. I was reading the other day and came across some things that resonated with me. One author was discussing the impact of our inner critical voice and stated that it causes us to contemplate suicide. She also states that the critical voice is also hope-phobic. It doesn’t want us to hope because disappointment is so excruciatingly painful and it’s very good at predicting the worst possible outcome. She goes on to say that having no hope, the critical voice doesn’t want change. It doesn’t believe change is possible. I feel that sometimes. Another author I was reading touched on suicidal tendencies as well. She states, in reference to past childhood abuse and resulting dissociation, “Fight and flight driven aspects of the self that are suicidal or self-harming developed as a way of increasing the child’s sense of having some control (“If it gets too bad, I can die—I can leave—I can go to sleep and never wake up”) and may continue to have strong self-destructive impulses in the context of loss or vulnerability.”

I’ve been thinking about this a lot the past couple days and I wondered if this feeling of wanting to escape, to end my life, is not necessarily because I can’t endure or cope with the “whatever it is I’m experiencing feeling” as much as it is a symptom of what I have experienced. In a way, that perspective shifted my thoughts around my desires. They’re there because something happened to me. It was a way I tried to cope and have control when I physically didn’t and I’m using this strategy again now as an adult as I relive some of what happened to me as a child. I felt a small twinge of freedom from the stronghold this desire to end my life has had on me. Maybe this quote about another woman I read about experiencing something similar can explain better what I’m trying to say. “…As she began to label the panic symptoms as “memories” and refrained from either “believing” them or exploring them (just noting that they were not a reflection of her present), she found that she was less overwhelmed by them and more able to reassure her traumatized child parts (and thus, herself) that “it’s not happening now—you are just remembering how afraid you were…” (source). 

So as I translate this information into my own experience, I’ve begun to wonder if these suicidal thoughts are actually “memories” of past distress as I sift through the ones that are continually surfacing from the depths of my mind. Even if they’re not, and I am truly feeling all hope is lost for me, which I genuinely feel sometimes, it releases some of the pressure somehow and frees me from the desire to act on these thoughts to a certain extent. I don’t know if this makes sense to anyone else, but it clicked with me on some level.

I’ve been in a very low emotional state for some time now with a very strong “flight” desire burning within me. With this new thought process digesting, I realized I need to take whatever steps I can to prevent myself from unknowingly trying to reenact these suicide attempts I made as a child while dealing with my seemingly very traumatic past and the emotions and thoughts that are coming with that process. I don’t really trust myself right now. I think it’s because I don’t have a conscious awareness of ever feeling this low or lost or confused. Without explanation, I asked my husband to remove all the medications from their normal places in our home and put them away somewhere. He did it without asking questions and I appreciated that so much. I think he’s smart enough to understand why but he didn’t make me tell him.

When I was 12 years old, and my parents were out at the bar, I sat on the floor at 2am in my bedroom closet and methodically swallowed over 100 aspirin. I was horrifically sick and violently vomited for days and my parents did not take me to the hospital or my primary doctor. They left me alone at home during the day while they continued on with their lives and went to work. I don’t remember what I was feeling or thinking, but it must not have been good as I went on to repeat the process again only a couple weeks later. Again, my parents neglected to care for me and this time around even barked at me for vomiting in my bed and cracked jokes that I was “still sick.” They never knew why I was and I never told them or tried swallowing pills again.

When I think about what I want my legacy to be, what I leave behind for my children to treasure and what others would remember me for, it doesn’t look at all like my parents do to me now. My inner critical voice speaks loudly to me that I am a failure in so many ways. Because of the neglect and abuse in my past, and the emotions (or complete lack of them) that I experience, I too have neglected my children unknowingly on some levels. As I realize more and more why I live the way I do, as a reaction to my past, I feel more and more damaged and inadequate. Compound this with the feelings of abandonment by my husband and his lack of love and faithfulness, it makes for an impossible situation to feel anything but inadequate and like a failure sometimes. But on a different level, I have this information now, and I can use it to change for the better in ways I didn’t know I needed to change before. I don’t know if I can articulate yet what I would like my legacy to be when the end comes and that’s all that’s left of me here on earth, but I hope that my children and others would see me as authentic and bold and brave and learn that one way to honor God is to continually strive to be real, balanced, healthy, and the best we can be. I genuinely want to keep fighting to see what God might have in store for me. I want my children to see my faith and watch how God can work bad situations out for our good. I believe He can.

It’s hard sometimes to cling to that hope offered from God. I don’t always do it or find comfort in my faith or His promises in my circumstances, obviously. I’m easily overwhelmed and anxious and scared and skeptical that God actually cares at all about me. It’s hard for me to trust. And I think God requires full trust in Him. I haven’t learned how to do that yet. But I can’t leave that journey of discovery behind if I cut myself off from fighting and trying. So I guess I’m still trying to fight for control and my freedom, just in a different way than my mind has been trying to convince me to do. I hope I can stabilize in this place for awhile and as I get overwhelmed with doubt or become distressed, because I know I will, I can remember that maybe the feelings aren’t real in my current moment, but are a memory from my past and old ways of coping and surviving. And I hope I can also remember that if I made it through then, I can do it again now.

Silenced…

In the past weeks my words have been frozen inside of me. I can’t speak, even though my my mind is screaming that it has things to say. When I want to get the words out, I remain silent. I fight an incredible battle inside of myself trying to muster up whatever it is I need to thaw and allow the words to flow freely again. I can’t figure out how. I don’t understand why this is.

My dreams are active and vivid lately, but dark and obscure all at the same time. They’re like blips, or a 30 second trailer for a movie. I feel tension and confusion, pain and fear. They demand my attention regularly. The visions they provide never fade away from my mind like normal dreams do. They haunt and taunt like ghosts when they want to be freed from inside of me…

…A woman, she is standing over me on a catwalk up above. I look upwards, standing frozen and still as she gazes back down at me. There are shadows all around and a curved stairway to my right…

…There are men who surround me in a living room, their laughter and joking banter echo from all angles around me. My mind is curious and cautious all at once, and I stand very still, looking around, and wonder what will happen next…

…I was walking down a hallway that continually darkened the further I went. I walked though a door and entered a dim, concrete room. There was a window past a pile of boxes in front of me that was faded and yellowed. It glowed from behind. There was a man and a woman under a blanket in the corner of the room…

…Candles are burning and trying to talk, but they can’t get their words out. The “mother candle” spoke and said “let’s open the door, that will help…”

My fingers often linger over the keyboard unable to formulate the words I’m trying to translate out of my thoughts. It’s frustrating. It feels like I’m tied up and gagged, or trapped in a cage screaming at the top of my lungs for help over and over and then falling, defeated and exhausted, into a crumpled heap of a mess in the corner when no one hears or rescues me. I’m silenced once again.

My Soul Cries Out…

Outside my body is numb. Motionless. Expressionless. But inside my heart is sobbing. It aches. It mourns. It pounds in agony…over and over…like a fist hammering in desperate rhythm when words are trapped inside. With each beat of my heart its blood stained tears pulse and course through my veins and the despair is felt in my entire being.

This feeling has become my norm. It sits on my shoulders and weighs me down. I continually try to lift it off and set it aside but it grabs my hair and wraps its ankles around my back locking itself in place. It’s comfortable up there. It doesn’t want to leave or get down. It just wants to sit. Forever. Looking out at the world it feels like it never belongs in.

We go about our day as one. I pretend I’m strong and perfectly ok and prove to the world my resolve is greater than this weight on my shoulders. But lately, my strength is deteriorating. My shoulders are tense and sore. My back is aching right along with my soul. My smile has faded and my breaths become labored as I fight to stand up straight. My eyes look down and away from the world I feel like I never belong in.

I collapse into bed at the end of my day hoping to find rest and relief. But this feeling, it breathes down my neck, it whispers in my ear, it twists it’s fingers up through my hair and plays with my mind as it tries to go to sleep. It tells me stories of hope in a different world…one I always thought was the darkest path to take. But the lure of something new with no pain to feel, and freedom from it’s weight, soothes my soul.

As I drift off to sleep God sometimes intervenes and untangles the grip my thoughts have on me. I make it to the morning. I try putting on a new outfit that doesn’t coordinate with the yesterdays, but like a monkey trapped in a cage with only one place to go, this feeling climbs up my legs, grabs my shoulders and heaves itself right back up again, twisting and locking his legs, securing itself in place. The weight is felt at once and my heart sobs once again.

My eyes look out to the world and my soul cries out in desperate attempts to get me to run to the freedom this feeling continually whispers about. But the weight is too heavy and I can no longer move. My body goes numb and my fists take form. Someday, they hope to have the strength to pound like my heart, refusing to be in this place anymore. But for now, my eyes look down and away from the world I feel like I never belong in and this feeling looks out from it’s perch as I put on my mask waiting for the day to end once again.

Tiny Little Ghosts…

The smell of smoke is potent and it draws me out of my sleep, I pull myself out of bed, every time, fearing the house is burning down, but can never find where the fire is. The doorbell rings and startles me out of my sleep or my thoughts, in that moment I freeze, never brave enough to go see who might be there. I’m numb, and my body is stiff, I cannot move but my mind races a million miles a minute and my heart pounds out of my chest. Sometimes, I’ll wait hours before regaining a sense of peace that there is no one standing on the other side, waiting for me to answer.

I screamed and cried out in my sleep the other night “STOP!” “I don’t like doing this…” “no, no, NO!” and “Can we please just go home..?” I try to wake up and speak again as he pulls on my arm but I fight and push and pull away. I’m silenced and scared and no words can come out. They violently try to push and punch their way to freedom but they are too tangled in the web of excruciating fear. My body panics and my mind shouts and screams yet no words or sounds ever escape.

When I drive out of my neighborhood, there are two ways I can go. One way leads me to drive past the restaurant where he began his last affair. The other direction leads me down a path he walked with her hand in hand one night while I was waiting for him in our bed. I automatically dart my eyes but my body knows the hurt is still there. I’m trapped in the middle. I can never get away. I cry. I sigh. I wonder. I get sick. I push it all away. I’ll never be good enough anyway.

I can hear the whimpers and crying in pain. I feel the shards of glass all over my body, in my clothes and hair, and the cold dampness from my pants on my skin. I see his bloody, contorted face and his twisted, mangled body when I close my eyes. I hear my Dad’s laugh and my sister’s voice of casual indifference. When hot tears roll down my cheeks they look at me and roll their eyes…telling me I’m overdramatic once again. I feel shame and fear and guilt because it was me that wanted to go there in the first place.

The taste and smell of alcohol transports me to a weird emotional world of anger, frustration, and disgust. The smell of cigarette smoke makes me want to throw up. The shrill, shrieking sound of a referee’s whistle blowing sends chills up my spine and I can feel his hand on my head, through my hair, around my neck, and his thumb touching my cheek. My face gets warm, my legs tense up, my mouth feels dry.

When I drift off to sleep I startle and panic when I feel his touch. I wait in frozen silence as I wonder what is coming next. This time it’s only a gentle kiss goodnight. But sometimes, that’s where it all begins. It’s the beginnings and middles and sometimes the ends that trail around behind me, following me, shaming me, guilting me, scaring me…floating in and out of my consciousness unsuspectingly, tormenting and haunting me…like tiny little ghosts.

The Death Of Me…

Stay alive and die or take my life and die…?

Is there even a reason to stay? These thoughts get louder and louder and louder as the days go on…it’s a fierce battle within…question upon question…and I can’t get the volume to turn down. The pain is intense. I can’t turn it off. I don’t want it anymore. I’m tired. I’m alone. I’m dying inside. It’s slow and agonizing. Torture. This is hell. This must be hell. How do I get out of here?

I find it hard to understand how I will ever be able to escape from this madness in my life. It permeates everything. EVERYTHING. “Keep fighting.” “Keep going.” “You’ve made it this far, don’t give up now.” WHY NOT? What am I even going to gain in this battle I am in? There’s nothing to gain. I have lost so much already and will continue to lose. What is there left to fight for?

I don’t even know how to live a normal life. I don’t even know what normal is. My normal is messed up, twisted, hard, pathetic, exhausting, and hopeless. I’m afraid I won’t even recognize “normal” if it hit me upside the head. And who defines normal anyways? What am I striving for? My whole life others have been defining my normal. Do I have a normal? Do I even get to make that choice ever as to what my idea of normal is and live it out?

I’ve never had choices. I’ve thought I had choices but I’m eventually reminded that what I wanted or desired or felt didn’t matter, only what others wanted of me, that’s all that mattered. That’s the extent of my worth. That’s what I’ve been taught. Over and over and over. I have no say in my life. I never have.

I want my life returned back to me. Is that selfish? I’ve been told I’m selfish when I fight for a voice or want to do what’s right for me. I want to make my own choices and choose what’s best for me. I guess that sounds selfish, but I don’t see how sitting through this agony is best. I don’t see how I’m useful or contributing to this world. I want to go. I want to get out. I want peace. I want quiet. I want the pain to stop. I want the nightmares to end. I just want to sleep. Forever.

I’m not living right now. I’m dying and I’m giving up. I’m going to die anyway. I will die someday. Right? So why not die the way I choose to die? Why go through this torture and live in this hell? Can I at least have that choice in my life? Probably not.

Stuck…

I had a conversation today that left me feeling weird. Unsettled. Like I was more stuck than I actually felt I was to begin with. I can’t pinpoint exactly what spun me out of control. In my world of chaos nothing seems to make sense. I try to process and address the issues that come up. But then something else barrels in that throws me off balance that I wasn’t expecting and I need to reprocess everything again. To make sense of it or try to understand, even if there is no way to do that. This sounds very vague, I know, but I want to believe there is someone out there that understands exactly what I’m saying.

Why is this a bad thing?? Trying to understand trauma and process it is hard. Especially when you don’t always believe yourself or have confidence in your own memories or experiences, past or present. When I have been taught over and over and over that my reality isn’t true, perceived correctly, or am manipulated to think my life is normal and nothing is out of sorts, why should I just assume when you tell me it’s not, or something that happens “was totally expected,” that your voice is the right one?

Because I didn’t expect it. I didn’t know it was going to happen or that it follows the pattern of abuse because I don’t always connect it as quickly and I don’t want to believe this is happening to me. I’m still learning this, remember? Why does it feel wrong for me to want to be sure about something before believing what you tell me? Why downplay my feelings in the moment and say something dismissive like I just need to “move on” or “focus on me?” Aren’t I doing that by trying to gain understanding? Is it really that hard to listen to me process out loud or revisit something again?

Maybe I just need to hear over and over and over that I’m not crazy. Maybe I need to hear more than 5 times (or 100) what the pattern of abuse is and that’s what was happening again. Maybe I need to hear it like it was the first time hearing it. Isn’t that how I learned to conform before all of this chaos began to emerge? Maybe it will take me 5 years of hearing this to really believe it when that information competes with 40 years of learning and hearing something different. Maybe I need to stay in this spot a little longer before “the next step” in my healing so I really understand what has happened and can begin to accept it because I feel really confused and unsure right now about everything. So why would I move to the next thing when I’m not even sure where I am in this moment?

Maybe after having a brain scan that verifies and validates I have trauma markers from the past and present was really a lot to absorb when all along I’ve been trying to find ways that I was wrong that this all existed. Maybe I need more answers to my questions about that because a ten minute explanation wasn’t really enough. Maybe. Maybe not. All I know is that I feel like I was hit by a truck two times this week, even though what happened in the first incident and what I learned in the second were both “expected.” But it doesn’t mean that it is as easy for me to move forward and move on as it is for you.

I still have voices in my head that yell at me from the past. And they still yell at me in the present to try and maintain control of me. I’ve just learned to recognize these voices. I’m still learning that maybe those voices are not what I’m supposed to be listening to or following. It’s a process. It’s my process. Sometimes I just need to revisit and reprocess and think about it again. Not because I’m trying to spin my wheels and stay stuck. But because I’m trying to spin them out of the mud, and sometimes that means moving backwards to reposition the wheels so the treads can grip something new to pull me out.