I mentioned in yesterday's post that I've been on my own since I was 16, without saying very much about the circumstances. I don't plan to discuss much about the circumstances here, or possibly at all, other than to say that part of those circumstances not only caused my untimely emancipation but also a not so healthy case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
For the first few years after my escape, PTSD manifested itself primarily through avoidance, though possibly also through disruptive, destructive behavior, though I can't be sure that wasn't just part of my personality. But then, who really knows what was a natural part of my persona and what was PTSD or if they can even be separated. Maybe there's no manifestation of PTSD, but simply the way I've processed a rather horrific period of my life which happened to take place during the prime developmental time of adolescence, a way of being wired to survive that now needs to short circuit.
I said it originally manifested through avoidance , which basically meant I avoided everything that could have reminded me of my life before say, the age of 16. I stayed away from friends and family, I drank to excess every chance I got, and at first, dabbled in quite a few drugs, though I did pick and choose in that area and wouldn't allow myself to get into the really creepy ones...except LSD. I kind of liked that a lot. Not for the hallucinations but for the wildness and hilarity that usually ensued. I usually laughed a lot and I really needed laughter. I really needed anything that could help me forget what had happened and what was happening as I struggled to survive without support...except for from friends. I was fortunate to have supportive friends that tried their best to help me in whatever way they could, but hey, they were kids, too. None of us knew what was going on or what to do about it. My friends tried to help me keep a roof over my head I couch surfed from house to house for years, rarely staying anywhere for long and often never knowing where i'd sleep the next week. My friends gave me rides to whereever I needed to go, sometimes just handing me the keys to their cars. It was thanks to them that I made it through High School at all. Whoa. I didn't mean to go into all that, it's just hard to figure out, well, like painting a picture, it's hard to figure out how much paint different parts of the picture actually need. How much background info does this entry need to convey the place? I think that probably gives the lay person enough to get the idea.
Sounds like scary times, huh? You'd think so, and I admit that there were a few times that I was nearly paralyzed with fear, but for the most part? Well, I kind of remember having a whole lot of fun in all honesty. Thanks to other mental defense mechanisms like denial and disassociation, it was pretty easy to immerse myself in the present and my present seemed to be surrounded by fun, interesting people for the most part and like a leaf in a stream I went with the flow and either was extremely lucky or extremely well-looked after by God. I managed to survive that period without taking anything too far...just barely. Many girls in a similar situation think they have just one option, one tool: use their bodies to survive. I didn't have to do that. It was actually very important to me that I didn't.
Again, I digress, but that's what you get with stream of consciousness writing. I was actually planning to talk about some new developments with the PTSD. So I never really did get that taken care of. I went to therapy a few times, knowing that I must have this ticking time bomb of neuroses just waiting to drive me crazy, but for the most part, I was able to pull off a pretty spectacular life, eventually putting myself through college, finding a job that I loved, then a man that I truly loved and now I'm all snug and secure in my sweet little life where I get to still be who I am and still loved. Cue PTSD. We recently moved from a little mountain hamlet where I'd been blessed to have my car break down at the tail end of adolescence, and where I was able to lick my wounds, heal and do all of the cool stuff I just mentioned above. And something happened.
I started having panic attacks. I went to the ER twice, once for difficulty breathing, once because I was scared I was having a heart attack. In both cases, I got a full diagnostic, not only a bill of clean health, but a bill of ridiculously clean health and one diagnosis: Panic Attacks. I've started having flashbacks of scary moments from the past. A quick word about the past: I don't remember very much about it. Often what I do remember is more like something someone told me about than about something I experienced first hand. So now I've started having these flashbacks and some of the events I do remember, but I don't remember being scared at the time I was experiencing them (actually, I always thought that was a little weird, too) but as I remember, in some cases they are extremely vivid and my heart is racing, and I'm scared. Scared by events a decade ago that barely gave me pause at the time. This is just weird.
Now I have have gone to a therapist and I'm beginning a type of therapy called EMDR, which is supposedly the best for the PTSD. I haven't gone through a real session yet, but I've had two appointments to prepare me, and convince the therapist that I'm not going to completely lose it when the bandages come off. But that's another story and possibly another post. There was only one thing I wanted to say when I started writing this, and for most of these posts, they are only intended to be 1000 words. I have other writing projects I'm working on. This is where I work out so to speak to make those projects better. The place I try to pull off my mask as well. Oops, there goes the damned regression again. Ah well, no edits, only onward.
So the one event I wanted to share that I thought was interesting is this: yesterday I was having a panic attack--ALL DAY--and i was trying to use breathing techniques and cognitive behavior techniques to stop it and nothing was really helping. So I'm at Walmart, just me, my grocery list and my panic attack, when I suddenly have the urge to pedal the cart forward fast, hop on the back and ride it down the cereal aisle. I said fuck it and gave in to that urge. I did it down the cereal aisle, down the frozen foods aisle, down to the check outs, with people staring, some smiling, some frowning, and you know what? Panic attack gone. I don't know what that means. Will I feel better if I do more slightly deviant, off the wall activities that will help get me through til the EMDR kicks in? I suppose I could to paxil or zoloft, but there's a lot of addiction in my family and I'd rather not take on that demon as well. Maybe it just means I need to have more spontaneity, though that used to really get me in trouble. Maybe just more fun. Okay. That's over 1000 words. Done for today. TTFN.
Well Hi There!
I'm speaking in a syrupy sweet Southern drawl when I say that and it'll be funnier to you, maybe, if that's the voice you read it in. I don't actually talk like that...unless I'm drunk, angry, running a con, or got pulled over by the Po-po. I do, however, have legitimate claim to the accent. I am Southern, belle or otherwise. I hail from the swamp lands of Western Tennessee, land of Elvis, artists, and hot bed of racial tension. That last one is part of the reason I no longer live there. That and my family lives there, though my father's dead, and he was the one I wanted to get away from most.
So the style of this blog will mostly be stream of consciousness, at least for now.it's what I have time for. I needed a place to do high stakes stream-o's because I'm a bit of an exhibitionist and this journaling, writing 1000 words a day is a whole lot more fun if there's a possibility someone might see my thong. Kidding. Sort of. I'm a writer, bona fide with paid work for years and several poems and articles published and everything, though none lately as I've been preoccupied with raising my beautiful little youngun, and she has consumed me, body, mind and spirit. Literally. I breast fed her til she was three, and the only reason I stopped then was because I came down with Strep and Pneumonia at the same time and just didn't have the strength to feed her big appetite for what is apparently the best tasting thing in the whole damned world. I'm a wee bit on the hippie side, for a short way of explaining my reasons, though that term isn't really accurate either as i tend to absolutely hate "hippies." But I wear very little makeup, eat lots of plants, and prefer my food as close to original design as possible. And I don't use soap or deoderant, but you'd never know it. I don't smell. Believe me I'd know, cause I ask and I have some of the most brutally honest friends in the world...ahem, Connie and Kara stand out most prominently in the saying it like it is. i believe I actually even got kara to smell my pits one time. LOL, good thing I'm using no last names here, huh, Hellige? :)
Anyway, so now my angel is in Kindergarten and I finally have a chance to finish some of the projects I've started and stalled over the last five years, and even start new ones! I'll need a place to work out, so to speak, though. The title is so true as I'm on a quest to uncover the real me and for various reasons I'm not really sure who that is. Take the Southern accent for example. I used to talk with one humdinger of an accent. It wasn't the sweet, slow drawl of an Atlanta Belle, but the twangy slang-filled drawl of a farm girl who grew up running barefoot, sucking the nectar out of honeysuckle and climbing trees...when she didn't have chores, that is.
For various reasons I'll probably get to later, i ended up on my own at 16 and at that point who I was became a matter of survival. I won't say that I was completely fake, because I was still most definitely myself, but I adopted...clothing, we'll call it, that improved my chances of having someone buy me a car or pay my rent. Judge not. Finding a way to survive with no work experience and no support, well, you just try it. My options were to find a man to take care of me, dance in a strip club, become a whore, or become a con. I did work in a strip club for 3 days, but as a waitress, not a dancer. Let me tell you, the money was unbelievable. I just couldn't deal with the environment and the creeps...and the fact that it was something I felt ashamed of, though, now I think it's all a matter of perspective. Anyway, for the life I wanted, I didn't think sounding like a country hick would get me there, so I pymalioned myself and taught myself to speak more like Boston than Baton Rouge. Damned if it didn't work. Folks who had laughed at my opinions before suddenly gave what I said merit. It was weird. I discovered something similar with the way I dressed. I discovered that the way I dressed had a huge impact on the way people treated me and so i learned to dress for not just occasions, but for genre's. I was still me, but I took on more and more "accessories" to the point that 16 years later, I'm no longer sure who is who.
I'm currently in the midst of a panic attack. Get used to it, it happens a lot. Anyway, I was recently offered a job and the last thing required of me was to hand deliver them a list of three people who would spew words of my greatness from their asses, better known as references. Unfortunately, my references are as follows:
1. An 83 year old professor who's is deaf and had to take a photo of me in order to remember my face in case I ever needed a letter of recommendation from him.
2. The graduate assistant to the aforementioned professor. He always scheduled me at 8am on Fridays and I always showed up hungover. Sorry, but I had things to do that involved getting drunk on a Thursday night on some poor saps dime.
3. A peer reference from a dude in my lab. This same chap asked me out for the majority of my sophomore year. I introduced him to a girl who later became his girlfriend. That same girl dumped him for another female. Oops.
Needless to say, I should have thought this through but in my excitement to start my new job that would help me purchase a shoe collection that rivaled Carrie Bradshaw's (or pay my student loans, whatever), I thought choosing supervisors and peer colleagues was the way to go.