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I have trouble with the passage of time. The beginning of last week started out really painful and emotional. I was out of my apartment because of the situation I wrote about two blog posts ago, and I was facing two weeks at my mothers house. I was in a state of complete anger and delusion. I was redirecting all that anger towards my roommate/ex/best friend because he was, "kicking me out." Now, those two weeks are almost up. Things don't feel as painful or emotional and I don't feel as angry and upset. But I am a paranoid person and I know how my mental illness works. Time is fleeting, we experience high's and we experience low's but how does someone deal with the possibilities. Right now, I feel relatively calm and ok with myself. I feel somewhat like maybe I've been dissociating a little bit. But what will two weeks from now look like? It's a paranoid and scary thought that sometimes throws me off my self-care track. I mean, just two days ago I was sitting in bed, on the phone with my ex screaming that I wished I was dead, that I hated myself, that I hated him. No, I am not "normal" but I find myself faced with the polarizing reality of "craziness" and "sanity" and what it all means... I started this week still blocked from talking to my ex. The only mode of communication I had available to me to him was email. He set up the boundary for himself that I could email him when I was ok to talk on the phone, in a non destructive and toxic way. (I know I must be dissociating because I am having trouble recalling my week as I am typing). On Monday he called me while I was doing my classwork, I saw my phone ring but I didn't pick up because seeing his name automatically caused intense anxiety and fear. I knew that picking up the phone and talking would result in me having to display an amount of vulnerability that I struggle with. I knew he would want to know how I was dealing and feeling, that he would be his usual introspective, psychedelic self (the man I fell in love with) and I would find myself constricted at the throat. Completely aware of how shitty I treated him just a few days prior, how there couldn't possibly be ANY way I could express how deeply sorry I felt, how much I missed him and how much I loved him. So I ignored the call and let him leave a voicemail. He was happy and cheerful, he told me he had just taken an E pill and that even though we were experiencing what we were experiencing, he is thinking of me, he loves me and he misses me. That night, I was sitting on the couch watching T.V with my mom and I couldn't stop thinking about him. So I sent him an email, asking, "how are you feeling?" because I knew he had taken the E and was probably feeling pretty good. He emailed me back, that he was feeling great and he asked me to come over for a bootycall (he was joking/flirting). Immediately, it triggered me. I was sent in to an anxious spiral. This is our issue in our relationship. I have known him for many years now, he has never once abused me, taken advantage of me or hurt me... he has been an amazing (though sometimes complicated) man to me. He always asks me why I can't see him and treat him as the man he has proven himself to be, instead of the man I see him to be based off my trauma. So, I was triggered. I started to overly explain why I couldn't, feeling guilty because I didn't want to...than feeling anger for him asking me to begin with. It turned in to a back and forth, him asking me not to take it too seriously and me taking things too seriously. He ended up calling me and through an hour long conversation of me crying, we agreed I would go over to the apartment in the morning in an attempt to have a positive experience between the two of us. I tossed and turned all night, and woke up around 8 in the morning where I composed a short email basically saying I can't come, I'm too nervous, he would be better off if I didn't come. Of course, he was upset, disappointed, hurt... He called me later in the morning angry. I reacted angry too because I hate when people are angry at me. It is a huge trigger for me, every time someone is angry with me (whether I have done something wrong or not) I respond with extreme, volatile rebellion and aggression. We eventually hung up the phone and I texted him, telling him everything that triggered and upset me. His response was sweet of course, pleading with me saying why didn't you tell me these things in your email or over the phone. Truth is, I am not entirely sure. We were overcome by sexual desire and attraction. I did end up going to the apartment. It was nice to be in my room again and it was nice to see him. I did feel a bit strange at first. Worried that I was doing something sexually toxic. He kept telling me that if I wasn't comfortable, we didn't have to do anything. But we had amazing sex, for hours. This is something we haven't been able to do in months. The next day, I went back to my moms. Friday, technically tomorrow, he is supposed to be coming here so we can officially talk about what needs to be talked about. A game plan for how to deal with these episodes, so that they don't hurt and affect him. I am incredibly nervous, because sometimes the actions in these episodes feel out of my control. But, I think I know why I have been feeling dissociative since I left Wednesday. Just like the contrast between crazy and sanity, there is the contrast between intense, emotional connection and being alone. How do I maintain a sense of -being- through sexual intimacy and vulnerability, without becoming scared and paranoid that my personhood is being taken away from me. Every time I have a vulnerable emotion, a romantic moment, or really wonderful sex... I get the overwhelming fear that I am being taken advantage of and the wall is built back up again. Sometimes it makes me mean and cold or distant and away. How does everyone cope?
My heart has been heavy since my last post in which I committed to opening up and dissecting my life for any and all to see. There were a few (well, more than a few) moments when I thought to myself, “Are you nuts?” It’s possible and completely subjective. Honestly, I’m scared. Being vulnerable is, by far, not one of my strengths. There are some incredibly painful experiences in my past which I’m not too eager to revisit, but I’m committed to the road for which I’m being lead, and this is part of the journey. When I initially sat down at the computer this morning, I began with the title, “Freeze, Flight, or Fight.” As soon as those words hit the screen, I felt an overwhelming sense of fear take hold. Immediately, I removed myself from the situation. I went inside and began preparing the spaghetti sauce for tonight’s lasagna, checked to see if I had any “Words with Friends” to play on my iPhone, texted a few folks, checked the laundry in the dryer that’s been sitting there for two days (as if another two or three hours is going to matter), and then I headed toward the back porch and began stocking the recently purchased Diet Pepsi’s into the outdoor mini-fridge. About half way through the Pepsi pile, I realized what I was doing. I had taken flight. I didn’t want to dive into today’s thoughts; so instead, I opted to create a diversion…admittedly, several of them. I immediately stopped what I was doing, went into my husband’s home office and proceeded to get down on my knees in front of him and ask for a big honey hug. You might be asking yourself, “On your knees?” Well, I’ve learned in the past year that when I physically get down on my knees assuming a position of vulnerability and submission and allow him to wrap his arms around me, I succumb to a sense of overwhelming peace. I am allowing him to comfort and reassure me. I’m not talking about submission in the sense of superiority; rather I am reaching out to the Earthly man who loves me more than anyone and allowing him to exercise his role as protector, provider, comforter, and encourager. Not only does it feed me, it nourishes him by allowing him to serve in a manner for which he was designed to by God. I was now ready to face me. Based on what I know today, I exhibit two major behavioral flaws; fear of vulnerability and stuffing and/or masking my emotions. Trust me when I say there are many more flaws than that, but we have to start somewhere. I have always viewed vulnerability as a weakness and weakness resulted in being a victim; therefore, I must not allow vulnerability in my life. Am I hitting a nerve yet? Maybe so, but what I have come to understand is by being vulnerable you not only open yourself up to hurt, you also open yourself up to love. Somewhat of an oxymoron if you ask me. But in order to heal, you must allow yourself to feel – that’s where stuffing my emotions comes into play. I cannot heal from the wounds of my life unless I am willing to feel the pain resulting from those injuries. It’s a vicious cycle. I just caught myself checking “Words with Friends” again. “Don’t run, Elle. Stay in the moment!” April 2011, I began working with a phenomenal therapist named Diane. There’s been more “ah-ha” moments in the past several weeks than I can begin to explain. In one of our sessions, Diane asked me to recall my first memory when I experienced fear and vulnerability. I had to think about it for a moment… “I must have been around four, maybe five years old. My parents had taken my brother and me to some friends of theirs’ home in the Indiana farmlands and left us in the care of an older child while the adults went out for dinner. This was not uncommon practice in the late 60’s. I don’t recall who these people were, but it was not an uncomfortable environment as there were other kids there to play with. As the sun set and the dark of night fell upon the house, a very loud knock coming from the front door rattled the small house. I could hear a man yelling on the other side of the door at us to let him in. I now recognize that he was intoxicated, but up to that point in my life, I had never witnessed anyone in a drunken state. My parents were never much to partake in alcoholic beverages, even to this day, so intoxication was not a state of being I was familiar with. We gathered together and crouched down behind a large chair as to not be seen through the window. I can remember shaking with fear just wishing he would stop. As his patience grew thinner, the banging grew fiercer, and the yelling escalated. It seemed to go on forever. In my little girl voice I can remember thinking, “Daddy where are you? Please come back. I’m scared. Daddy? Oh, please Daddy…I need you.” My thoughts went unanswered and little Elle remained frozen in fear. Eventually, the man exhausted all of his attempts at entry and decidedly left. While the incident may have been over, the fear remained at the forefront of my mind. To this day, I can still feel the fear of that fateful night. Who was he and what did he want? That remains unknown. But what I do know is that my first memory of fear and vulnerability was met with having to self-protect, self-comfort, and swallow the fearful tears that so desperately wanted to flow. Inside was a little girl who wanted to scream, “Go away and leave us alone!” but the undeniable terror that he could possibly unearth our miniscule hiding place was more than enough power to shatter the innate desire to fight. Instead, I internalized my fear and remained frozen. It was at that moment the critical, fear of vulnerability; behavioral flaw set itself in stone and continues to plague me to this day. As Diane and I processed through this event, it became clear to me how a single moment in one’s life can set in motion an emotional and physical response to life’s tragic events, no matter their significance. I challenge readers who are struggling with the fear of vulnerability or stuffing emotions to examine their first memory of such experience. You may be surprised at what you find. As for today, it has taken me four hours, two loads of laundry, five stirrings of the spaghetti sauce pot, four glances at my iPhone, three trips to the bathroom to address the over consumption of Diet Pepsi, and eight cigarettes to get through this first look back…but I did it. And for that, I am proud. The journey continues…and I am not alone.