Failed dreams and a graduation

I technically graduated college in December of 2015, in the middle of the academic year. There was no celebration. I got my degree and award in the mail and that was that; I didn’t think much of it. In many ways, I still felt unworthy. I felt like I didn’t truly earn it.

At that time, I had no intentions of attending the graduation ceremony that would be held in the Fall. It wasn’t local, it was nearly a year after I finished, and I’d have to go alone, because I had no family. The whole thing seemed like more of a burden than anything.

It also wasn’t how I dreamed I would graduate.

Growing up, my academic prowess was the only good thing I had. I was intelligent, and it was consistently recognized. While in high school, I had dreams of going to an Ivy League school. I dreamed I was going to graduate as valedictorian. I dreamed of finally being free.

Going to college was supposed to be my ticket out. I applied to colleges all over the country. I got accepted into some of the best schools. I had full scholarships. Any reasonable parents would have been thrilled at their child’s achievements, and thankful that scholarships would relieve the financial burden.

But my parents weren’t reasonable. They took my achievement as an insult, that in some way the acceptances and awards made me think I was better than them. I never said or acted like I was, but that didn’t matter. Nothing I ever did was good to them, even when it was good to everyone else.

My college dreams fizzled away.

My mother started hiding my acceptance letters. I found a collection of them after I had graduated from HS, mysteriously “lost” in a convenient, hidden away pile. Every letter was an acceptance. Every school I applied to was ready to welcome me. Yet I ended up at a school I never wanted to be in.

I was disillusioned to think that my parents would ever let me go away to college. I couldn’t even leave the house. I didn’t have any choices. My mother decided my college career for me. I had to go to a local university, one that I could still be within my parents’ control. My father drove me to class, and picked me up as soon as I was done. I didn’t have any freedom, but I should have known that was going to be the case. I was foolish to think otherwise.

Even though I hated that school, I made the most out of it. I excelled once again. In my second year there, I was already receiving honors. I was top-ranked. My picture was in the papers. I was on track to be valedictorian. A part of my dream started to come back. I can still be something.

And then I lost that dream again. I forfeited my scholarship and gave up my academic achievements when I dropped out of school with a 4.0 GPA. My father was sick, and it was selfish of me to think of my education when my family was struggling. It was just another failed dream.

Whenever I thought about this recent graduation, all I could think about were those failed dreams. I should have been graduating at 22. I should have been up on stage, making my valedictorian speech. I should have been surrounded by family and friends who were just as proud of me as I was of myself.

Instead, I’m graduating at 30 years old. I won’t be making any speeches, and there won’t be any family in the audience cheering for me. I am alone. Why would I want to celebrate that?

But part of me did want to celebrate. Part of me knew all it took for me to get my degree.

Through it all, I finished with a 3.9 GPA. And when I say all, I mean it: several long-term hospital visits for pneumonia, a surgery, and four psychiatric inpatient hospitalizations. I had no breaks. I couldn’t take any sick leave. I had to get it done. I wrote my thesis in the midst of my escape to freedom. Through the chaos, I still did it.

I earned that degree just like I earned my freedom.

But I didn’t want to celebrate alone. I had no family. My new friends were too new. My old acquanitances were distant. I didn’t think it was possible, so I gave up my plans. Then, just weeks before, I decided I needed to do something positive for me, and this was my chance. I (hesitantly) asked my best friend from my old life if he would like to go, and to my surprise, he said he would. So I spent the last two or three weeks scrambling to get everything together.

This Saturday, my friend and I traveled to my graduation ceremony. It was overwhelming at first. Within minutes of entering the arena, I started to panic. There were hundreds of people around. I was in a new place, and the noise was so loud I couldn’t even hear myself think. I had to calm myself. I tried to find a spot away from all of the people. I wanted to put on my headphones and drown everyone and everything out, but I couldn’t. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t. It took everything in me not to have a meltdown right then and there.

But I got through it. I put on my cap and gown, and my honor cords, and walked out to the arena. I tried to look down at the floor instead of up at all of the people. It was the only way I could stay calm. I thought about what name I should use. Do I use my old name, or my new name? I hate my old name, but it’s still my legal name and the name I went to school with. I can’t just go up and give an alias. 

I debated with myself for an hour. I finally got up on stage, walked up to the microphone, and announced both of my names. It felt right that way, recognizing both who I was and who I am becoming. I shook a few hands and made my exit off of the stage. It was done.

I sat and waited for the other graduates to finish, not really feeling anything at all. Then the president of the university made his final speech. He took time out to acknowledge and thank students’ families for helping the students get to where they were today. I watched the audience as mothers and fathers stood up to be applauded. Then spouses, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, etc.

In that moment, I realized I had no family out there for me. Not just at graduation, but in the years leading up to that very day. My family didn’t help me get an education; they took it away from me. My family didn’t push me to succeed; they wished for my failure. Everything I did was on my own. I never had support.

I started crying because I realized what I had lost. I thought about all the shit I went through getting to this point. I thought about all the slaps to the face, all of the put-downs and the insults my mother threw at me just because I was trying to be a better human being. I remembered how my mother used to always tell me, “You think you’re better than me? You think you’re smarter than me because you went to college? You’re nothing.”

Her voice replayed in my head just as if she were there, sitting in the chair next to me. I stopped crying. I wanted to yell, but I knew well enough that my mother wasn’t actually there to hear me. Her voice wasn’t going away; it was like a broken record repeating the same part over and over. I couldn’t take it any more. I wasn’t going to let her ruin the moment.

As I stood up to take the final walk down the aisle, I closed my eyes and answered my mother’s voice back, in a way I could never answer her back before. I am better than you. I am a better person. I am a better human being.

I always was.

Dear Brother Explained

The other day, I posted a letter I had written to my brother: Dear Brother.

It wasn’t very well thought out. It was Sunday afternoon, and I found myself still struggling with my emotions about the situation that happened on Friday. I felt paralyzed by them, in a way. I couldn’t get anything done because my mind was set on thoughts about my brother. I needed a way to get my feelings out, because they weren’t serving me well by being bottled up inside.

I walked to the card store, still not set on what I was going to write. I walked through the card aisles, and came to the sympathy section. Loss. That is exactly what this felt like. My brother was still very much alive, but everything else about him was gone. My image of him: gone. My hope for him: gone. I lost him. He died in my heart.

There were only five or six cards dedicated to the loss of a brother. I picked up each one and read it. Unfortunately, none of them captured the type of loss this was. Then there was this card, describing the brother I always wanted: a brother I could depend on, a brother I could share good memories with, a brother I could love.

I started to cry as I looked through the card. I knew this was the right one. I put it in the envelope, wiped my face, and went to the register to purchase it. I left it in the bag until I got home, because I didn’t want to get emotional in public. Even so, I was already going through some of the things I wanted to write in my head. It wasn’t until later that afternoon that I sat at my desk, pulled out the card, got my pen, and wrote what I needed to say to him.

Even though I knew this was going to be just another card left unsent, like the cards I wrote to my father and to my mother, I found it oddly therapeutic. I didn’t need him to respond. I didn’t need him to give me an answer. I just needed, for myself, to say what I needed to say in the best way I knew how: through writing.

I didn’t always feel this way towards my brother. In fact, I struggled with feelings of guilt over leaving him behind. Every so often, the guilt would come back full force. It got especially bad after my father died. I knew that with my father gone, my brother was the only person my mother had left. I was scared for him. But there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t financially help him — I am barely surviving myself. I couldn’t risk my own safety by directly reaching out to him, because his closeness to his mother made it too dangerous to even attempt. I was (and still am) a mess myself. I needed to focus on me. I didn’t have the energy to devote to his cause. And I felt horrible for it.

Then the situation on Friday happened, and everything changed. I realized he didn’t care about me at all. He never once called me, but he still had my number. He couldn’t even contact me himself to ask for what he needed; he had someone else do it for him. And he didn’t even need to do what he did. He wanted to trade that Jeep in so he could pretend like it never existed, just like my family pretended like I never existed.

He could have offered me back even some of the money I put into buying that Jeep. Instead, he used all of it to get something bigger and better. The money from my father’s life insurance? Nothing. My brother and his mother have kept it for themselves. Because that’s who they are.

I realized that my brother is just like her. He is an adult. He can make choices. He chose to spread lies about me after I escaped, just as his mother did. He could have denied it, but I know that would have been hard to directly defy her. He could have said nothing at all and been okay, but he instead chose to fuel the fire his mother set for me.

He could have reached out. He knew my phone number, and my e-mail address. His mother would not have found out. But he chose not to try.

My brother could have just paid off the Jeep. Money was not an issue. Instead, he chose to trade it in, and trade it in for something better. There is something symbolic in that. He traded in that Jeep just as he traded me in.

My brother could have gotten away. He always had more financial resources than me. He worked full-time for a long time. I figured out a way to get out. He could have figured out a way, but he chose not to. He could have taken my father’s insurance money and left, but he chose not to. He chose to stay with his mother.

Together, they have chosen to take what isn’t theirs. They are opportunists. They are takers. They are liars. They are users.

My brother is just like her. Her training didn’t work so well on me, but it has worked on him. I didn’t see it before. Well, no, I did. The truth is that I didn’t want to see it. I wanted my brother to be a true and good person. I wanted him to be the brother I needed, the brother I always wanted.

But I realized he’s not that person. He never was, he’s not now, and he won’t be able to be. I can’t change him. I can’t show him something he refuses to see. I can’t save him. So I have to let him go.

It’s another loss. But sometimes, losses are for the better.

 

Dear Brother

Dear brother,

I wish you were the brother described on the front of this card. I wish I could have depended on you. I wish I could say “I love you” without it feeling so complicated.

You were my big brother. Seven years older, taller, and stronger than me. I looked up to you. You were the only friend I had. You were the only person that knew my reality, because you were living part of it, too.

I wonder how hard it was for you to stand by and watch me get hurt. You were there all those nights she came into our bedroom. You knew what she was doing to me in the shower. But you had to close yourself off from it all, you couldn’t help. I understood that. You were just a child, too.

I grew up and watched you struggle. I watched you get beaten, just like I had been beaten. I watched you slowly self-destruct. I heard you crying in your room at night. I was crying, too. I watched you make yourself bleed, and I bled, too. Those scars on your body that you still bear, I know how you got them. I have those same scars, too.

I still remember the night you locked yourself in the bathroom. You banged your head against the wall until you were bloodied and bruised. You couldn’t even speak. All you could do was cry. Hurt and cry. I understood, because that was the language that I spoke, too.

We didn’t know any better. We weren’t allowed to have voices. We shared the same silence. We shared the same hurt. We shared the same pain. I understood you. I thought you understood me, too.

But then you turned against me. You became her adjutant. You pretended to be my brother only to report everything back to her. You helped her terrorize me. You stood by her side as she treated me like a prisoner. Why? You are her son, but you were also my big brother. I needed you. You could have protected me, but you didn’t.

I wanted so badly to help you. I felt horrible leaving you behind. I was weighed down with guilt for over a year. Did you ever feel any of those things when you chose to work against me? You never reached out. You never once showed me that you cared. You told lies about me just like she did, when you could have just said nothing at all.

I used to envy you. I wondered why she loved you so much. Then when I got older, I realized that’s not love. It’s abuse, too. I hope one day, for your sake, you will see that she doesn’t love you. What she’s done to you, what she continues to do to you — it’s not love. It never was.

Part of me fears that it’s too late for you. You’ve become so much a part of her that you don’t even know who you are without her, and who you could be. There’s a great big world out there waiting for you to see. I hope you see it one day.

We have chosen different paths. I chose to be nothing like her. I chose to be free. But you’ve chosen to follow in her footsteps. You’ve chosen to stay.

I’m grieving your loss, because I’ve realized you will never be the brother I needed you to be. I held out hope that you would make the right choice, but you haven’t. I don’t blame you, but I hope you understand why I have to let you go.


The last connection

After my escape, I was still financially tied to my family. They had a few of my credit cards (it was too much of a risk to take them back before I left). I wasn’t overly concerned about that. I had been paying my family’s debts for years, and it wouldn’t be much of a difference. Credit cards can always be cancelled. But there was a bigger connection, one I couldn’t quite run away from; I had a vehicle I left behind.

Let me start off by saying, I don’t even have a license. I never did. Driving was a privilege I was not worthy of having. But my family needed a vehicle. The minivan they had was 14 years old at that point, and doing what old vehicles always do — it was falling apart. My family never had money saved. My father was out of work and in a nursing home at that time, my mother was working part-time as she had been for years, and my brother worked full-time and blew every paycheck on video games.

They knew I had money. I had no choice. I could spend all of my savings buying them a car (and in turn sparing myself some infliction of pain), or I could tell them no and experience the horrible backlash. The guilt trip started before I even made a decision. I was told I had to pull my weight in the family. Realistically, I already was, but it was never enough.

I had to do it. I couldn’t take any more guilt. I couldn’t take any more threats. I spent all of my savings and paid for the down payment. The Jeep was in my name. No one in my family had any credit — I was the only one with good credit history. Because I didn’t have a license, my brother had to be secondary; it was the only way to get the rest of the balance on the vehicle financed. I put everything I had into that vehicle.

I didn’t think my family would pick up the payments after I ran away, but they did. They had no choice, really. My brother needed a vehicle. My mother hated that my name was on the papers. She tried to commit fraud by asking others to forge my signature to take my name off the title and the loan, but no one gave in. I didn’t know how to get my name off, so I’ve spent the last 14 months sitting on this last connection I had to my family, with no way of severing it.

Then on Friday afternoon, I received two phone calls from a number I didn’t know. There was a voicemail, so I sneaked away to the bathroom and listened to it.

“Hello, this is (whoever) from (wherever), and I’m here with your brother.”

My heart sank. Before I even heard the rest of the message, just hearing my brother’s name sent me into tears. I had to replay the message multiple times before I could understand it. My brother was trying to trade in the Jeep for a new truck, and they needed authorization from me since I was the primary.

I sat on the toilet for 10 minutes trying to compose myself. Thoughts were running through my mind. I couldn’t stop crying. It wasn’t just about the truck. It was about everything.

One of the many stories my mother and brother told people was that I changed my number after I left, so they were unable to contact me. I never changed my number. They never contacted me. But yet, by some miracle, my brother was able to give the dealership my phone number and they were able to get in contact with me. How could that be since I supposedly changed my number?

The only point of contact since I ran away was this phone call from a middle man car dealer, because my family once again needed something from me. I only matter when they need something from me. And that still hurts.

It bothers me that I poured all of my money into a vehicle that my brother was now trading in for a brand new (and a much more expensive) truck.

It bothers me that even though I had a choice to say no, it really wasn’t much of a choice at all. And I wanted to say no. My family doesn’t deserve these things. But if I say no, I’m the one that loses out. I’m the one that gets fucked over, because everything is in my name. Even though they can afford to pay off the loan and get my name off that way, they wouldn’t do that. They would never do the right thing.

So I had to be the bigger person and give my okay. I severed the last connection I had with my family. I had to make the most logical decision, even though it hurt (and still does hurt). I had to keep my emotions out of it. But part of me felt like I was in my mother’s control again. Here she was, controlling me from afar, without even needing to look at me. It makes me sick.

It makes me sick that I am struggling to stay afloat. It makes me sick that those thousands of dollars I put into that Jeep are the thousands of dollars I could be using right now to put food on the table that isn’t just rice and cheap chicken, thousands of dollars I could have used to pay off my mother’s credit debts that I am struggling to pay down.

My mother and brother don’t have to struggle. They now have a brand new truck, in addition to other vehicles that they don’t even need. They are blowing through my father’s life insurance payout like they’ve won the lottery, profiting from the death of a man who my mother hated and told to go and die. They have everything, and they don’t deserve any of it. Where is the fairness? Where is the justice?

It seems like the worst people continue to be rewarded, while the good people continue to struggle. My mother should be in jail. Instead, I’m the one living behind the bars she created in me.

My good friend told me “you got what you wanted, you have your freedom.”

And I know that. But I want justice, too.

Why do I write?

When I was a senior in high school, a friend introduced me to DeadJournal. It was my first and only outlet at the time. I knew my mother would never allow it, so I created it in secret. I wrote very obscure posts about my pain. I never wrote anything specific, for fear of my mother finding out.

And sure enough, my mother walked into my bedroom one night and searched my computer. DeadJournal popped up. She interrogated me, asking what it was. I told her it was an online journal I was looking at. She flipped. She told me I was not allowed to write about feelings. I was punished, thankfully less severe as I would have been had she seen what I actually wrote. But I never wrote in it again.

That journal was supposed to be for me. It was my opportunity to write how I felt, and that was taken away from me. Just like everything else was taken away from me.

I started writing after I ran away, because I knew my mother wouldn’t be able to take that away from me again. I could write what I felt, without anyone telling me what I should or shouldn’t write.

I didn’t go into this blog expecting anyone to read it. I did it for me, as a way of getting things out that I held in for so long. That was the purpose.

Along the way, a lot more people started reading my blog. Mostly strangers, and people who started out as strangers that I now have come to care about. And then people from my real life started reading. Then I wasn’t so anonymous. I couldn’t hide in my writing anymore. I was exposed. I learned to be okay with that, because people were supportive. In some ways, it reconnected me with people from my old life who were forced away from me by my mother.

Even with all of that, my writing never changed its purpose. I wrote for me. I write for me. If you don’t like it, don’t read what I write. If you feel the need to decide what I should or shouldn’t be writing about, don’t read it. This is my writing. This is my life.I write about my struggles. I write about my PTSD and DID. I write about the things that affect me.

I don’t write about my morning coffee. I don’t write about mundane shit. That doesn’t affect me. My writing isn’t sunshine and rainbows, because I’m not sunshine and rainbows. I’m not here to make anyone look good. I don’t even make myself look good.

I don’t want to hear anyone telling me what I should write. I will not be controlled again. This is MY space. If my mother ever came to me and told me to stop writing so negatively about her, I would tell her to fuck off. Perhaps she should have not done the things she did in the first place that led me to write in such a way.

This sentiment applies to anyone who thinks the same. If you want to read my writing and be supportive, rock on. If you want to read my writing and criticize, you can go away. I have enough to deal with already.

Now, since I got that all out, I have a dilemma.

My therapist asked me last session if I thought it would be beneficial for her to read my blog before our sessions. On an intellectual level, I understood her reasons for suggesting that. I wrote about my issues with communication before. It’s still a problem. I can write much easier than I can speak out loud, even with my therapist.

My therapist knows about this blog; she has since the beginning. But she told me in the beginning that she would not read it, and I was okay with that. I didn’t really think my writing was all that substantive back then anyway.

For some reason, when my therapist brought it up this time, I had a strong negative reaction. Perhaps it was the timing. I have recently been dealing with some people who feel the need to dictate what I should and shouldn’t write in my blog (hence my mini-rant just before). I think I may have transferred my anger about that onto my therapist.

I know my therapist is not out to criticize or judge my writing, or even my life. But I feel like I am losing my safe space a bit. I started out being able to write whatever I wanted, and now I have people in my life trying to change that. What if I wanted to hide here? What if I wanted to write something really horrible? Can I do that without receiving backlash?

I trust my therapist more than any human being, past, present, and probably future. I have told her things I would never tell another person, things I would never even write about here. But what if something came up that I didn’t want to tell her? I wouldn’t have a place to put those thoughts anymore. I’d have to keep them inside, like I did for most of my life. I don’t want to do that anymore.

On a realistic level, I see the benefits. On an emotional level, I feel invaded.

I just want to be able to hide. But do I really need to?

Failure to communicate

I struggle to get my words out of my mouth. People assume it’s easy for me. I’m decently intelligent, I can write well. But I can’t always speak. It’s hard for me to communicate.

I didn’t have the best resources growing up. My parents didn’t communicate anything to anybody, even within their own extended family. Little socialization gave me little opportunity to learn from others. I didn’t have very many options, and I ended up being socially stunted. Then there was the regular threats not to speak to outsiders, which after a while just made me fearful of speaking to anyone.

My brother was nonverbal for a few years. He had extra help in school to catch up. He eventually did catch up, but it really set him back quite a bit (and I think that, in many ways, it allowed him to be manipulated to the severe degree that he was). Even so, everyone sort of just accepted that he wasn’t the best or the brightest. He had that rough start. Whatever he tried, he would get coddled and encouraged.

But me, no, it was different for me. I was the smart kid. No excuses. Whenever I couldn’t get words out, I was called dumb and stupid. You think you’re so smart, but you can’t even speak. I’d freeze in school, not because I didn’t know the answer; the answer was in my head the whole time. But I couldn’t get the answer from my head and out through my mouth. It would get muddled up in something — I don’t know what exactly — and wouldn’t come out right.

People didn’t understand. They just made it worse because their words hurt so much and only made it harder to speak. I’d say things only to have people confused about what I was saying. Then I’d get frustrated and give up. I felt like I was speaking a language no one else spoke. I felt alone. I’d tell myself my mother was right; no one understands me

It’s no different now that I’m an adult. I can hold conversations sometimes, but other times, I am quiet and don’t respond. I’m not being rude, but unfortunately that’s how most people take it. I want to respond, I so badly want to respond. But I can’t get the words out and I don’t want people to think that I’m dumb. And seeming rude doesn’t hurt nearly as much as being dumb.

It’s a problem. Because no one wants to deal with my verbal vomit.

It’s a problem. Because I have so much to say and don’t know how to say it.

It’s a problem. Because I can’t ask for help when I need it, so I suffer in silence.

My therapist and I have been working on communication for some time now. There are many times I don’t speak in session because I don’t know how to say what’s inside of my head. My therapist knows that I’m thinking (apparently it shows on my face), and gently pushes me to speak about it. I tell her no, I can’t, it doesn’t make sense. She always assures me that it doesn’t always have to make sense.

Eventually I muster up the courage to talk out loud, but even still, I apologize profusely at the end of every sentence. My therapist sits and listens, and encourages me to keep going. But it’s dumb, I tell her. I’m not good at talking. She reminds me not to judge myself. She reminds me that there’s no such thing as being good at talking.

I’ve reached a minimal level of comfort with my therapist, a level at which I don’t always feel so afraid to speak out loud. She never judges me. She never calls me dumb. Sometimes it takes a while for us to translate what I’m saying, but other times she understands what I mean right away.

But how can I take that out in the real world? How can I get people to understand how hard it is for me to communicate my thoughts, to communicate my needs?

I need patience and understanding. Society doesn’t have time for that.

Asserting myself, Part 2

I woke up the next morning, not looking much better than I did the night before. The swelling migrated downward, pushing my eyes outward towards the sides of my face. I looked like one of the aliens you see in movies. I put my glasses on and brushed my hair in front of my face. No one could see me. Though I couldn’t see anyone else, either.

My legs were shaking as I sat in the waiting area of my therapist’s office. My therapist came out to get me like usual. I kept my hair blocking my face, hiding the disaster underneath.

I don’t know how I thought I would get away with it. My therapist noticed the different style right away. She asked me if I was hiding. I told her I was. She thought I was hiding to hide. She didn’t know I was hiding the disaster on my head.

My therapist continued to prod. She needed to see my face, and I needed to be able to see hers. I told her I was scared. She said it was safe, that I didn’t need to hide. She asked if it was related to what happened on Monday, but I told her it wasn’t.

My therapist kept telling me it was okay. I told her I was afraid of getting in trouble, I was afraid of her sending me away. I started crying. She said she wasn’t going to send me away, and that I wasn’t in trouble. I finally told her I was hiding something on my head.

Now my therapist understood what was going on. She asked if it was a wound I was hiding, and I nodded yes. She asked if I could pull my hair back so she could see. I hesitated, took a breath, and pushed my hair over. I felt overcome with shame. I felt like a failure.

She assured me she wasn’t angry with me. My anxiety started to subside. She asked how it happened. I told her I didn’t remember it all. I told her everything that happened before. I told her that I finally stood up for myself. I finally did what my therapist had been encouraging me to do for so long.

But it failed. My therapist could sense my disappointment with the situation. I had this false sense of hope that I would assert myself and that it would work, and all would be right with the world. Instead, I asserted myself and it failed. I put all of the blame on myself.

My therapist reminded me that I can’t change other people’s behaviors. It’s not my fault that my roommate didn’t understand. I did what I needed to do. I stood up for myself.

Don’t let this be a reason to stop standing up for yourself. Yes, it didn’t work this time. That doesn’t mean you stop doing it. It won’t always work out this way.

As we continued to talk about it all, I noticed my therapist wasn’t focusing on the fact that I completely self-destructed. She focused on the positive. I finally asserted myself. One thing I have been struggling with for so long, and I overcame it.

Sure, I could have done without the likely concussion. I could have done without the bruises and scrapes, and the half-blackened eyes. I could have done with the horrible headache and eye pain. I could have done without that all, but I can’t change that it happened. I can only work through it and try to prevent it from happening again.

We discussed what led up to the issue, and how I could work on changing it. It’s difficult once I get in that place, to get myself back out. The reason I asked my roommate to stop is because those words are reminders of things my mother said to me. When I hear them, it triggers parts of me. I start to get confused, not realizing that it’s my roommate and not my mother saying those things. Younger parts can’t tell the difference. It causes chaos that I would rather not deal with (and I shouldn’t have to).

I know all of the things I can do to distract myself. I know how to ground. That’s not the problem I have. I just don’t know how to put that all into practice when I am already on the edge.

I wish my experience ended up a little less painful. But damnit, I asserted myself. Let’s focus on that.