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Hi, everyone. It feels like the last couple of months has gone by in a blur. I'm starting to realize the true meaning of the statement, 'too much time on your hands.' When I had it, (it being time) my mind wouldn't shut up. I had so much more to say. I looked at things sooooo differently. I'd have TIME to sift through whatever was swimming around in there - now, all that's in there is numbers, formulas, political definitions, social work case studies (hypothetical ones), papers that would be coming due, and the neverending, bottomless threat of that thing called 'exams.' Never mind those things I USED to think about, those things that warranted deep reflection - it feels like there's no room for it, right now, and I'm not sure I like that. I'm not sure if after the last three weeks of school is over, I'll have a six-week reprieve from all those things I HAVE to think about and I'll be free to let my mind focus on whatever it is that I've been neglecting, to include this blog - but I'm hoping so. Right now, I'm trying to think of what else is new since my last update, which was...a while ago? I know I've fallen off the blog grid lately, and do apologize to all of those who actually read and enjoy these! I'm looking forward to my six weeks' break from school - after my last final, school is out until January 21st, when the spring semester starts. Spring semester will run from Jan 21 - May 5th - and I'm HOPING there will be a couple of snow days that will mean the cancellation of an 8am class that I had no choice but to take - if I wanted fifteen credits, I needed to dip into my major-related electives as the classes that were required were either full or required me to attend evening/night classes. Definitely wasn't doing that. I'll be spending as much of that six weeks relaxing and sleeping - two words that have not been in my vocabulary since August. *shudder* It's been getting down to the 20's at night. We've had no significant snowfall here, yet. Next week, though, may yield different results as the second or third week in November is usually when we see accumulations of more than a mere dusting. The dusting came along a couple nights ago - but even so, there wasn't much to see, and thankfully, clean off our cars. It's quite evident - winter has arrived, or at the very least, it's making itself comfortable as it'll be here to stay for the next three to four months. Fall was short - or maybe it just feels that way because I've been too busy with classes to take note of it being a shitty time of year for me. It was hard not to see the prettiness of it - the daily commute to and from school was, I MUST say, nice, regardless of what the Fall season represents for me. I just had fifteen minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes in the afternoon when I'd take in all the scenery and TRY to appreciate the genuine, innocent beauty of nature - but for the most part, this year's traumaversary was just - nothing. I feel like I've had NO time and no thoughts to give to it. There was still the presence of that looming feeling of dread. That hasn't wavered at all. There was a period of time where I was snappy and cranky - but having two exams during my traumaversary week - (one being a midterm) - was the excuse supplied to those who were on the receiving end. In a way, being back to school has been helpful in keeping my mind from being able to focus on the usual things it does during early October, but I do wonder if this was, in fact, harmful. Might it have been harmful to not really have the opportunity to slow down and reflect and allow the usual traumaversary process to occur? It's been 23 years, now. And for each traumaversary, it's been the same. For the first few years that followed my rape, there was crying and panicking, there was nightmares, flashbacks, there was self-injury, there was depression. Over time, this has all changed. The self-injury is no longer an option for me. Depression comes in bouts - but it's not at the point where it keeps me from functioning on a day to day basis. I can't say the same for fifteen or twenty years ago, when it was a constant. I still have that odd dream here and there, I still jolt awake at times, but that is seemingly the gist of it, now. While I know that I am safe now, that unsettled feeling that arrives every year has not changed. For the past few years, I've been of the attitude that I'd see what this year's 'bad time' threw at me, and deal with whatever it was. It's kind of like a batter-up situation in baseball....the pitcher will throw life's little curveballs, and I'll hit them all with whatever I've got. My turn will eventually end and I'll get another chance at next year's at-bat. If I'm thrown a trigger? Fine...I'd tackle it by identifying it, and then trying to put into words why I was triggered. To give a trigger meaning and to understand it will give it less strength. If I'm thrown a nightmare? Okay. I'll get out of bed, get a drink of water, and either turn on the computer or go back to bed. If I'm to face a series of restless nights for no particular reason at all? Sure, bring it on. It's not like I sleep that much, anyway! This year's at-bat, though, has felt like an intentional walk. There's been nothing thrown, nothing to hit, nothing to tackle, nothing to face. I wonder, though, if that was me. Has numbness taken over? I do feel different, and I don't know how to explain it. I WILL say though, that I'm glad that Fall is in its way out. The trees are now mostly bare, waiting for the snow to transform the back roads most commonly travelled by into a wintery wonderland. THAT, too, despite it being a pain in the ass, is pretty. I lied to my T a few weeks ago. She texted to confirm an appointment, (which ironically was within a week of the date of my traumaversary) and I wasn't feeling that I had anything to say to her, either. I told her I had a 'terrible cold.' She said to let her know when I was feeling better and wanted to reschedule. I told her I would....but my 'cold' hasn't gone away. In my last blog, I mentioned that she wanted to delve into some of the deeper issues - and I'd tried to contain my excitement. Don't get me wrong, she's a very nice lady - I just don't feel any differently whenever I walk out of her office. Honestly, I can't remember having any successful relationship with any therapist, to include the one I had when I was a child and saw again as an adult. Granted, my last T wasn't a specialist in trauma-related issues, and very quite possibly failed me as a child (which I really didn't fully see until I stopped seeing her for the second time as an adult) and while this would have been a good time and place to discuss 23 years ago with my current T (who DOES have experience with trauma, being certified in EMDR and all), I just didn't want to. I've had about six sessions with her in total - and we haven't really talked about ANYTHING trauma-related - while she does know from my initial session that I am a survivor of rape and CSA and DV, it's mostly just surface stuff that we talk about in our sessions; my lack of interest/comfort level within social settings, gatherings, etc. Relationship stuff. It's never gone beyond that. I guess my feeling right now is, if it's not broken, don't try to fix it. (Note, by no means am I endorsing the discontinuation of therapy - for some, I know it's a lifeline. I've just never been able to form a truly successful connection/relationship with a therapist that I felt was able to challenge me.) Another thought to what might be a reason for not being able to feel too much right now starts with the passing of my (potentially very first abuser) uncle on 7/2. When I went to the wake, it was for my mother's sake - not his. I remember what I was doing when the text came in. I was mowing the grass outside, preparing the exterior of the house for my son's birthday barbecue, which would be held a few days after. Of course, this meant my mother wouldn't be attending, as she now had to bury her brother. While I told the Oompa that my reason for attending his wake was out of support for her, I had my own reasons for doing so. I wanted to SEE him dead, that child that still lives within me needed to see for herself that he'd never be able to LOOK at another child again, he'd never be able to lay a disgusting hand (which I did want to see, just to make sure it was dead along with the rest of him) on anyone. One thing, though, that I need to say, first, a tidbit of background information. Without getting into specifics, my wife and I hit a bump over the summer. In hindsight, it was, thankfully, something that was fixable, as it has nothing to do with abuse, infidelity or unfaithfulness, which are our 'dealbreakers' - it was more a matter of us not being on the same page and failing to connect with one another, emotionally, physically, mentally. She experienced a mental breakdown (she was at the time, undergoing therapy sessions and working on her own trauma, something she'd been delaying for years) and decided to take off for a few days. We've attended therapy sessions together, and since then, have been able to reconnect on all levels, and I'm feeling overall a lot better about it. My relationship is much more safe now than it was over the summer. That being said, at the time of my uncle's passing, she chose not to come with me to the wake and chose that DAY (also the day of my son's birthday) to take off. As she is one of the very few people who knows and understands why I disliked this man, this hurt me very deeply. It didn't even matter that when I arrived at the funeral parlor, my uncle's partner stopped me from going up to the coffin, and proceeded to tell me that it was among my uncle's final wishes that I not be there or pay him a final visit. I did see him from a distance, though. Looking as pathetic as he's always looked. I could not see his hands, I couldn't even spit in his face if I wanted to. Not that I would have, but the temptation to set him on fire and expedite his journey to Hell was VERY great. He likely knew that, and made sure that it was known that I was to be kept away. But, my wife, being one of the only people who truly could understand my need for closure in this situation, was not there for me, when I had told her many years in advance, that I would need her that day, to keep me grounded, keep me calm, to know and recognize anything that might come up for me during my final encounter with him. When this day finally arrived, she wasn't there for me to talk to her about things with. I couldn't even tell her, until she'd come back home a week later, that I was stopped from approaching his coffin and told that I wasn't welcome. The only reason I was able to attend was likely because the Oompa would have expected all three of her dutiful daughters to be present, regardless of whatever issue they may have had with him. She'd not told me that he'd specifically requested for me to not be there. She allowed me to waste my time, and for this, I'm angry with her, too. (This'll likely come up ten years from now - a slight exaggeration, yes, but also meant to say it won't happen anytime soon.) But, see.... I wasn't safe to allow whatever might have come up - to come up. My safety net wasn't there. To deal with this, I allowed the numbness to consume me. I felt nothing, being told that I wasn't to approach his body. I felt nothing, seeing him from six feet away. I felt no sadness, no anger, no fear, no anxiety. I felt nothing at all. Not even relief, which I'd hoped I'd feel. Although my wife has come back home and we have spent a fair amount of time getting back on track, this has stayed with me. I have had to push this hurt aside, and I've had to forgive her. I've had to accept that her breakdown is the primary reason behind the choices she'd made, to shut me out and to shut out everyone around her. When someone you love does that - it's certainly not easy to stick around, but it's what I've chosen to do. I've defended her furiously to those who have come to me with anything negative, I've shut them all down, and although my heart still hurts, I have remained 100% focused on her happiness and contentment and on whatever it takes to strengthen our relationship. That's me doing my part. I'm glad to see that she is making and has made some life changes as well, and mutual communication has been reestablished. I know that in time, the hurt will lessen, and I'll be able to look back at all of this and recognize it as one of those bumps that I'm sure EVERY long-term relationship experiences at some point. I was perhaps still in that 'it's not a good time for me to fall apart' mindset when it came time for my traumaversary to make its yearly appearance. Although my wife and I were already doing much better when this year's October 4th came and went, that numbness from the summer has retained its hold. The day came and went, and I felt nothing. It does help that I've also had school to contend with, too - I've NEVER been this busy in my life. Even raising kids has been a piece of cake compared to having to write a five-page paper on Politics! Maybe next year's at-bat will be different. This year, though? I'm not thinking anything is going to develop. I'm not even sure how much sense I'm making at the moment, but, ah - I tried to put it out there in the fashion I'm most used to. I also wanted to try and explain why I've not been myself lately - or in recent weeks, less like myself than you may be used to seeing. You're all likely used to my extremely lengthy novellas talking about my feelings - and I promise, I'm trying to find my way back to tapping into those. I've admittedly been staying focused on others more than I have myself, and while that's not normally recommended, it's sometimes necessary, at least for a little while. The only way out of this funk is known only to oneself, and I'm likely having to wait until I'm feeling emotionally safe enough for that numbness to dissipate. When that happens, I'm sure it won't be pleasant, but I know I have somewhere to put it all, if needed, whether it's here or in therapy. I've not given up on either option. I'm still around, though, friends - I've not disappeared and I don't plan on going anywhere. I just feel as if while there may be a lot to say and I've got more to talk about than I want to admit, nothing's flowing. There is a block in place, and I'm not sure what will remove it and when. I'm good when it comes to talking about what others may be going through, but when it comes to myself and my feelings, I've managed to keep most of it locked away for a little while. I am, though, practicing some self care on this fine Wednesday afternoon, though, and do think that in choosing to write a little bit about what's gone on in recent months, it's helped me to understand and process and explain some of why I'm feeling so emotionally constipated right now. I am hoping I've successfully conveyed it to you all, as well. I have been feeling like I owed you all a little bit of a rundown, as you've all always been kind to me. I'm always so overwhelmed by the support of the friends I've made here. You know who you all are. I'm SURE there have been a lot of 'WTF?' moments, and for those, I do apologize. Maybe when the semester finally ends, this will change, because then there will be a six-week period of time where I'll not have to focus on my GPA. I've got those lovely holidays to look forward to, and if you've followed this blog, you're already well aware of the family drama and bullshit that usually goes hand-in-hand with the upcoming holidays. 🙄 Anyway, as I'm starting to feel the growly stomach and lunch is calling, I'll stop writing for now. Before I go, I'm wanting to say that I'm sincerely hoping you're all doing well! For those of you who are struggling - I hear you. I may not have been posting too much lately, but I still hear you and I hope you will all be reassured that I still care very deeply for all of you. It is hard to remind others about the concept of self-care, especially when you, yourself, realize that you must do the same, but I do strongly encourage you all to not lose sight of those little things you can do to make yourself feel a little bit better, your day a little brighter, your life a little more positive. Look every day for that that one small thing that makes you smile, and make it happen. ❤️ I already do feel a little better having done something I've always enjoyed - and that is to sit here and write to you all. I also did something I've never done - not once this semester - and I've taken the day off today. I skipped my classes this morning, because I wanted to. Now I'm trying to ignore the voices telling me that I'll regret having missed today's Government lecture - but at least I'll eat something while doing that. Later on, I'll be going to get a coffee. Tomorrow, I'll find something else. The little things do add up! Until the next update - which will hopefully be soon, I'm sending an endless supply of hugs! - Capulet