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?

Pardon the mess

I am at a functioning level right now.

When I say functioning, I mean I am able to get out of bed and go about my life in the most minimal ways.

I’m back in graduate school. It’s been a little hectic. With a professor missing in action for two weeks (due to a death in the family), it’s now a rush to get three weeks of work done in the next week. I was a little overwhelmed at first, having never used SPSS analytical software at all before, but I am getting the hang of it.

I’ve also been co-authoring a book on DID. The rough draft will be finished in just a couple of weeks, so it’s crunch time to make sure everything I want to say is included. Some of the chapters are intense. While writing about my abuse and struggles is tolerable in small doses, writing with deadlines on specific topics that I can’t avoid has sucked some of the energy right out of me. I’m well passed the halfway point now, so I’m not giving up.

I am going through some physical health issues. I should be used to it by now, but I am not. It’s anxiety-provoking. I have been fortunate enough to find a primary doctor that understands my PTSD and anxieties. Even though it takes me hours in travel just to get back and forth to her, no other doctor was willing to work with me, so I endure the trouble. I’ve got a lot of specialist appointments in my near future, and that scares me. We are taking it one step at a time, but even that one step seems like a leap across two mountains.

My mental health is shit. I’ve been managing to stay out of the hospital, but it’s been difficult. The only thing keeping me in check is all of the other shit I have going on that I won’t be able to complete if I’m in the hospital. That’s probably not the best motivator, but it’s working for the moment.

I have a lot to write about, a lot that’s on my mind. I just wish I had the energy right now to do it.

Letter to My Younger Self

Dear younger self,

I’m so sorry for all the feelings you’ve been having all this time. I’m sorry no one listened to you. It must have been so hard to keep it all inside. But I want you to know now that it’s okay to feel. You deserve to have feelings. Your feelings are valid, and they are yours. No one can take them from you anymore.

It’s okay to feel confused. Mommies and daddies aren’t supposed to hurt their children. There’s nothing wrong with you. There never was. Mommy and daddy told you that so they could keep hurting you. It was all lies.  I’m so sorry they confused you. You may never understand why all those times, daddy chose to hold your hand instead of pushing hers away. He was wrong. She was wrong. But you were not wrong. You were just a child.

It’s okay to feel afraid. Instead of fearing monsters, you feared mom and dad. It must have been so scary for you. You had nowhere to hide. I’m so sorry you had to live in constant fear. But you were always so strong, even when you felt afraid. You are one brave little girl.

It’s okay to feel scared. Mommy and daddy made you believe that the world was scary and full of bad people who were going to hurt you. That wasn’t the truth. That’s what mommy and daddy told you to make you stay. The real scary place was home, and the scariest people were mommy and daddy. I’m sorry you feel so scared. It’s not fair. You don’t ever have to go back home again.

I know you feel empty. Mommy and daddy made you believe that you had no purpose, that you were worthless. That must have hurt your heart so much. I’m so sorry for your pain. But the truth is, there are so many good things inside of you that mommy and daddy never wanted you to see. Now you can let those good things free.

I know you feel lonely. Mommy and daddy kept you away from everyone. You were never allowed to talk to outsiders. Mommy and daddy told you that no one would ever understand you, that no one could be trusted. But that was all lies. I’m so sorry they lied you. It hurts to be alone. But there are people here to help you now, to help you feel less lonely. You don’t have to hide anymore.

I know you feel small. All of the bigger people around you didn’t help you. They didn’t notice you were desperate to be saved. It must have hurt so much to feel invisible, to have no one see your pain. I’m so sorry no one let you know how important you were. I see you, and you’re not small. You’re a little girl with a big heart, and you matter. You always have.

It’s okay to feel angry. You can be mad at mommy and daddy. They hurt you, and you didn’t deserve to be hurt, ever. You can be mad at the other adults who didn’t listen to you. They should have helped you. You can be mad at world. You deserved to have good parents, and you didn’t get that. I am so sorry for all of the hurt they caused you. I’m so sorry for all of the anger you’ve had to keep inside. But it’s okay to be angry. You deserve to be angry. I’m angry, too.

It’s okay to feel sad. Mommy and daddy told you it wasn’t okay to cry. They told you that you had no reason to be sad. They hurt you. But they were wrong. I’m so sorry. It must be so hard to hold that hurt in your heart for so long. But it’s okay to be sad now. No one will punish you. It’s okay to cry. You won’t get hurt. You can cry for the childhood you didn’t have. You can cry for the mommy and daddy you wished you had. You can cry for all the times they hurt you. You can cry. You can be sad.

It’s okay to feel hurt. You were wronged, in so many ways you were wronged. The grownups in your life failed you. Your mommy and daddy hurt your heart as much as they did your body. You had to learn to live with the pain. You deserved to be comforted and supported and nurtured, and instead you were hurt over and over again. It wasn’t fair. I’m so sorry that you are hurting.  I wish there was a Band-Aid I could give you that could make your hurt go away. I want you to know now that mommy and daddy can’t hurt you anymore.

I know you feel hopeless. Mommy told you that you would never be away from her. You thought that she would keep hurting you forever. I’m so sorry that you were hurting so badly that you wanted to die. You were just a little girl, in so much pain. Someone saved you from drowning, but no one saved you from what led you there to begin with.  I want you to know that you are safe now. Mommy can’t hurt you. You don’t have to die anymore.

I know your heart is broken. My heart breaks for you. You are just a little girl. A beautiful, intelligent, strong, kind, amazingly courageous little girl.

I know you feel unloved. Children are supposed to be loved by their parents. But something was wrong with mommy and daddy and I guess they missed that memo. It’s not your fault they didn’t know how to love. It doesn’t mean you are unlovable. You are so loved. There are good people out there who want to love and care for you. You deserve love and care. You deserve to feel good feelings, too. You deserve so much, and I want you to know that.

Thank you for being so strong. Thank you for being you. Thank you for helping me get here. I love you.

The mug is broken

You drop your favorite mug. The handle breaks. It’s a clean break, so you grab some glue and dab it on, let it dry, and your mug is good as new again. You can’t even tell it was ever broken.

This time, you drop your favorite mug and it’s not such a clean break. Instead of just the handle, the mug breaks into four or five pieces. You try to glue it back together. It looks good, but it doesn’t hold water so well anymore, slowly leaking through the smallest cracks. So you repurpose it, you put it on the shelf so you can still admire it every day. It still lives on.

Now imagine that same coffee mug. It has taken a plunge from seven feet high onto the hard linoleum floor and broken into a hundred pieces. Chunks of porcelain here, flecks there. You can’t even tell where the pieces belong, they’re so broken.

Some pieces have to be thrown away because they have been so damaged from the fall, they can’t be saved. That leaves empty spaces in the mug, holes that cannot be filled. That means the mug has lost its purpose, because with all of those holes, the mug won’t be able to hold any water.

You make a wholehearted attempt at gluing the mug back together. You take your time, you glue the pieces back with precision. But as you’re trying to fix it, it breaks even more.  As you focus on putting the pieces together on one side, the pieces you glued on the other side are coming undone. Nothing seems to be coming together right. None of the pieces are fitting back together like they’re supposed to.

Then you realize there’s too much missing, too much irreparable damage done. You can’t save that mug, no matter how hard you try, no matter how much time you take, no matter how much patience you have. It’s all a fruitless effort. You need to give up on it. It needs to be thrown away.

Because even if you spent all the time in the world gluing that mug back together piece by piece, there’s not any glue in the world that could ever make it whole again.

I cannot be whole again.

Changes

I am going to have to make some changes to the blog.

I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to go about this just yet, but I need to disconnect my blog from my identity. I need to be anonymous, if you will.

I don’t want to stop writing. I’m a talented writer and my writing has helped so many people.

I don’t want to privatize my posts because so many of the thousands of visitors to my blog are able to access it because it is public.

I don’t want to censor. I don’t want to hide who I am. But I almost feel like I’m being forced to if I want to get where I want to be.

Grit

I managed to make some progress on my graduate school essay. I sat in front of my computer last night for an hour and managed to write three pages (the limit is five pages). I answered two of the four questions and then I hit a roadblock.

What skills, abilities, and personal qualities do you possess that prepare you to succeed in completing graduate-level work?

Oh no. This is one of those questions that requires you to think positively of yourself. Acknowledging positive qualities and strengths is still something I struggle with. I mean, I’ve made some progress over the last few months, but I’m definitely not in a place where I can just freely talk about myself in a positive light.

I mentioned my essay progress and subsequent roadblock to my therapist in our session today. She tried to help me, but for every positive thing she mentioned, I came up with an opposing, less positive answer. She brought up my thesis, and how in the weeks before it was due, I insisted that I was never going to finish it. But I did finish it, on time, with a near-perfect grade. She said that has to prove that I have some abilities. I told her it was just luck. She insisted that it was not luck that I managed to finish all of that work in such a limited amount of time.

“Well, you’re right. It was the Adderall I took that allowed me to finish.”

“Well don’t write that in your essay,” my therapist responded, as if it needed to be said. We both laughed a little and by that point I think we both realized that this back-and-forth battle could go on forever. I wanted her to give up, but she finally said something that rang true for me.

“You’ve got grit. Yes, you’re intelligent, but I’ve seen many of my intelligent students end up accomplishing very little because they lacked the ambition and the grit needed to succeed. You’ve got both. You continued to fight when the odds were against you, and it got you to where you are today.”

Damnit. She’s right. I do have grit. Grit got me through school. Grit got me through my thesis. Grit got me through life. I could have given up at so many points, but I didn’t. I struggled, sure, but I never gave up entirely. I’ve always had an end goal in mind. Sometimes it gets a little muddled in all of the bullshit, and sometimes some of my parts can’t or don’t want to acknowledge that goal, but it’s always been there. It will always be there.

Now let me go write about my grit.

Hitting too close to home

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but I am in my last semester of college.  At my school, students in certain degree programs are required to complete an undergraduate thesis in order to graduate.  You are encouraged to choose a topic that relates to your projected career path, conduct research, and write a five chapter thesis on that topic.  I had thought about a few different topics I would possibly write about: the lack of adequate mental health care for the elderly population, the complexities of PTSD, or the legitimacy of Dissociative Identity Disorder.

In addition to those topics, I also considered writing about mother-daughter sexual abuse.  This topic had a lot of pros and cons.  It was a topic I had experience with, so there was the benefit of familiarity.  I already knew where to look to find information and research.  I had direct access to reputable sources.  On the negative side, this was a topic I had experience with.  Would I be able to handle it emotionally?  Would I be able to separate my own experiences from the facts and approach the project without bias? Would I be able to find enough information on a topic that is still very much kept quiet about?

Ultimately, I ended up choosing MDSA as my topic.  I started my thesis the second week of June.  Six weeks later and more than half done with my thesis, I am hitting a mental roadblock.  I need a break.  I’ve been able to write three chapters with much success.  But now, I think I am mentally exhausted.  I am working on my own recovery of MDSA and then researching and writing about MDSA; my days consist of MDSA and not much else.  I don’t have much time to think about or focus on anything else.  It has taken a toll on me.  It’s too late to change my topic now, as I have less than one month before the thesis has to be handed in.  I just have to figure out a way to get over it.

I’m sure a lot of you would ask me why I even chose this topic, considering everything that’s happened.  I felt like I needed to write it for personal reasons and for a larger purpose.  I feel like in learning about the topic, I can learn more about myself, and help myself in some way.  I also want others to learn that MDSA does happen.  In the last 27 years, only 10 books have been written exclusively about MDSA, and most were written within the last 10 years.  I’ve read a few of them, and while I can say they were great books, they are also lacking in a lot of areas.  How can we increase awareness of the topic if people are refusing to even write about it?  I want to write about it.  I need to write about it.

I’ve always been told I had a gift for writing.  I never thought I was all that great, but whatever.  I’ve also been told by several people that I should write a book about my experiences someday.  I don’t know if that will ever happen.  I can barely get myself through this thesis.  But maybe that is because I am still working on myself.  I want to get to a point where I can help others, through counseling and through my writing.  I guess this blog is a start.