Sunday, April 29, 2012

In writing hell.

I find it funny that it is far easier to write on the internet and say over and over that my father raped me than it is to say just how much I loved Tom and why. Tom didn't know my story. I'm pretty sure he still doesn't. I don't think he has read the book. Ha. Tom just treated me how he would treat a person from day one. I didn't have to earn things. I didn't understand that then.

How different my life would be without Tom. It's hard to think about. I'm like 2500ish words into part two. This is slow and will be slow. I'm really struggling with how vulnerable I have to reveal myself as. I don't want to feel that way. I am really struggling with how stupid and ignorant and god damn vulnerable I was. I didn't feel that way then, of course. I feel vulnerable now.

How do I lay naked in public how disgustingly grateful I am because Tom did really awful things to me but he didn't have sex with me afterwards. He took the trauma out of sex. He didn't do it on purpose. He was just acting how he wanted to act. I'm having a hard time explaining in enough detail why things worked the way they did. I'm having trouble teasing out the threads from the weave of my life that were touched by Tom. He did a lot. I don't think he understands how much. It is hard thinking about laying that bare before him. It's not like doing so is going to alter anything in my life. I have ensured that I will never play or have sex with anyone but Noah. I have the safety of knowing one part of my future. It gives me a lot of peace. So what is the good in sharing any of this with Tom?

He owned me. Ultimately he didn't want to. He didn't want to be responsible for me. That was absolutely the right choice for him. But how do you get over that? This is going to be odd for people who don't know much about bdsm. We had an intense relationship. I want to tell this story in a way that shows what he did for me. I want this to be a sympathetic love story. I feel like I owe my Owner that. I am struggling with explaining this.

What does it mean that this part of myself is gone? I'm trying to figure that out in the story. I'm having a hard time showing what I want to show. I can't tell this story. It doesn't work. I want that pathos. How can I tell the truth and show what happened? Gah. Sensory input. Not just what happened. Ack.

Nooooooooooooooooo


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Trying to learn what my needs are.

Running in the morning is awesome now that there is pretty close to full light by six. I didn't cry today. Right now I am flirting hard with hitting 5.5 mph as my average. Not quite there, but close. I have just over five months to the marathon. Eek. I wonder how fast I will be then. Not that speed is the point. But this is really interesting. This running business is several journeys all in one. My body is changing shape again. Still? Other people hit "stable weights" and I never have. I rarely spend more than six months in a given shape. It's different this time because I eat any and everything I want. I haven't tracked in a few days because I haven't been on the computer much. Right now I have other things to think about.

For the past few days we have been choosing to not use any lights. At 6pm I get up and quickly tidy up the house and clean the kitchen so breakfast will be easy to make in a mostly dark kitchen. Noah and I both actively want more sleep and more sex in our lives. This seems to be the easiest way to manage that shift right now. We put the kids to bed at eight and then have the rest of the night to lie in bed and talk until we figure out if it is a sex night or not. That works better than going to bed at ten or eleven. I'm less likely to be hostile to his advances because can't he tell I am fucking exhausted?! I'm just less tired at eight.

Sex is such an interesting journey. I've been having intercourse (by choice) for more than eighteen years now. It has only been fairly recently that I no longer hurt most of the time. I started out thinking it was supposed to hurt. It was supposed to be agonizingly painful and you were supposed to take that in order to please someone else. You have to be a masochist to enjoy sex. I didn't use such language when I was significantly younger, but that is what I was doing. I feel like I am no longer interested in being that kind of masochist. Most people never do it at all so it probably seems weird that it is hard for me to stop. The thing is, I wasn't doing "scenes" with people. I wasn't doing SSC (safe/sane/consensual) bdsm per se. Sex hurt and I didn't know how to deal with that. So I let people hurt me. Mostly they didn't even know because I couldn't tell them. I had no language. I didn't understand what I was doing. I never felt safe saying, "Uhm, this is hurting and I wish it wouldn't". I still have trouble telling Noah. But he has mostly learned the signs. And he has mostly started stopping on his own. I feel such an out pouring of love for Noah that I feel like I will drown in it.

Noah cares if I am in pain. He will take active steps to stop hurting me. That makes me cry. It is probably true that other people have done it as well, but not like Noah. Certainly not with sex. Noah has paid attention to me for years he can tell when his touch is good and when it hurts by watching me. He modifies his behavior based on my reactions. This feels miraculous. This feels like an unlooked-for-gift. I didn't believe anyone would ever give a shit.

As life goes on I hold it close to my heart that I have had sex with significantly more people than average. I have given lots and lots and lots of people the chance to be nice to me. Noah has chosen to learn how to be nice to me. I want to be monogamous because I don't want to go back to believing that sex just hurts and it does with everyone but Noah. For one big thing, condoms suck. That's no one else's fault. And bareback sex with people other than Noah feels really emotionally bad and scary to me. I don't want to feel good that way. It makes me feel disgusting inside. Because no one else is going to bother to pay attention to me the way Noah does. I will always be hiding myself. I don't want to share my body that way with someone I am not genuinely close to. I didn't understand what that meant before I tried it, getting close to someone that is.

Noah treats me like I am actually important. Like my needs and wants matter. Other people want me to meet their needs and wants. .  .  .  .  .  Yeah. Don't care.

It feels like my "to give to" list is full. Shanna and Calli need so much from me that I really just physically can not care what any other adults need. Forget them. I'm busy. They need to deal with their own stuff. They are big kids now. Dating is about filling needs. Seriously ongoing relationships have to involve a balance of meeting needs. I can't do it. I am a giant cavernous hole of need. I don't have a god damn thing to give.

It's interesting figuring out sex with Noah. He has needs. I have needs I didn't know I had. I need to not be in pain. I need to feel physically comfortable. I need to feel respected. I need to feel cared for. I haven't felt these feelings during most of my sexual life. I won't say that I have been in pain every time, because that is hyperbole, but I have probably experienced pain significantly above 50% of the times I have had sex in my life. At least half the time. And it tends to go in batches where it will be just screamingly awful for weeks (I used to get raging yeast infections that have never been treated in my life) and then it will be fine for a couple of weeks.

My diet is radically different from what I ate as a child and young adult. I don't get yeast infections any more. Sex doesn't hurt as much. We will never use condoms again. That has probably played the biggest part in lessoning how much pain sex has caused, honestly. And I am firmly in the camp that says the foreskin is important to sex. Unprotected sex with circumcised men is far more painful to me than sex with an intact man. Yeah, multiple samples of each. I wasn't very smart when I was younger. Or older. Ha.

All of this feels important. Not to anyone but me, of course, but I need to understand how my body works. I need to actually know what it is like to feel good in my body. I have to not mask my body sensations with pills. I don't want to get up every day and take caffeine (I don't drink coffee so instead we have these mints--100 mg of caffeine. That'll wake you up.) and then have a sleeping pill before bed. I don't want to wince every time I sit down because sex tore the hell out of me last night. I want to wake up in the morning glad to be in my body.

I want to be touched in ways that feel good instead of ways that hurt me. I want that to be a fucking priority in the lives of the people around me. I can't believe how intensely I need this. And he just does it. He tries so hard. He pulls back if I wince. He stops. He will stop having sex and just hold me if I stop responding. He doesn't ignore me and get himself off. I am not a hole any more. It's really weird.

The thing is I don't think that any of my former partners would be happy with hearing me say that they treated me that way. Not really. I haven't had that many one night stands. I tend to have sex with people several times. I tend to be friends with them before and after. I don't think they would feel good about treating me that way. Some like to pretend but they don't really think of me that way. Not very many men are comfortable thinking about the fact that they are capable of behaving in a way that will allow a woman to feel that way. Notice the careful language in that sentence? I ain't accusing anyone of anything. So no panties in a twist.

I don't think Dan believes he is a rapist. But if you have sex with an unconscious girl it's rape. Someone cannot consent if they are not awake. Even if they want to have sex with you when they are awake it isn't the kind of thing that is permanently transferable. Consent has to be actively given or it doesn't exist. If I don't have the option of saying "no" then I can't actually say "yes".

That is where a great deal of my problems have happened during sex. I don't feel like I can say no. I was conditioned to sit still and not respond while enduring sexual pain. It's pretty crazy to think about. I watch my daughters now and I think about it. I think very hard about what I want them to experience in this lifetime. What do I want them to be conditioned to expect from life?

I was conditioned to have sex with as many emotionally distant men as possible. Woo.

I want to know in the core of my being that I will never ever let someone who is not close to me emotionally into my body. My body deserves better treatment than it has been given. I want to set the bar so high that Noah really is the only person who will ever be part of me again. I know this is something that other people take for granted.

I'm afraid that I will cheat. I'm afraid that I will be afraid to say "no". I'm afraid that I will hide behind my long-standing excuse of being crazy and impulsive and self-destructive. I'm afraid of being the person I was conditioned to be. I don't want to try to set personal "hit this number" goals in my head. Because I totally would. I'm a tiny tiny bit miffed I didn't get my "triple digit party" like I was promised.   (A close friend I lived with told me she would do it. I actively discouraged it at the time because I felt uncomfortable but now I kind of wish it had happened. I am lame like that.)

Not every person who is nonmonogamous is a slut. But I am. I don't want to model that for my children. What do I want to model?

Ack. The dryer repairman will be here in ten minutes. I've never been the first visit on a day before. Time to go.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Food comes from a can

Today was the kind of "running" day where I mostly walk. I try to consciously go slower when I am crying. I don't want to trip and injure myself. Today I thought about my mother. I thought about the way Shanna begs me to never leave her. Maybe she will go to college, but she plans to come right back and "take care of me".

I remember promising my mother that once I was an adult her life would be better. I could help. Things would be better. I suppose that depends on what you mean by "better". My life is better. I have no idea how her life is going. I have no idea. I wonder if she is proud of me. I wonder if she knows that I grew up into a strong, good person. I wonder if she is glad that I can defend myself now and I can stop being a victim. Somehow I doubt it.

I don't know how to reconcile in my head that my mother, the person who was responsible for taking care of me when I was helpless, prefers that I not grow up to be strong enough to defend myself. She thinks I should be defenseless. At least within the family. Should I fuck my sister too so she can finish moving through our family? Maybe she isn't bi. Maybe I should just be fucking my sister's boyfriends. They all tried. They tried long before I hit adult height. Watching my kids is hard. I'm not sure how to explain this.

I want my kids to travel so much because I want them to actually see how different the world is from their home. I mean the whole bay area. It's fairly safe here. We have managed to create this little bubble where we are safe from the natural world and even the other humans aren't that dangerous. The police are far more dangerous to us than our neighbors because I take my kids to protests. Welcome to modern America. My kids are white, upper middle class, and female. Other than sexual assault, which won't fucking happen on my watch, my kids don't really have much to fear. Cars. Abstract concepts. Stories. The unknown.

I want my kids to understand what it means to survive. I feel like a privileged asshole. I want to take my kids to other countries so they can play tourist on actual hard lives. I want them to not have to have hard lives but still understand the spectrum. Me telling them stories and showing them pictures isn't good enough.

I want to know what it feels like, as a rational adult, to have to eat what food is put in front of me or go hungry. I want to change how I feel about this. I'm terrified that it means learning to eat seafood. The texture fucking bothers me. I don't want to be that American. I don't want to feel like a snob. I don't want to deal with that rejection pattern. I don't want to go to other countries and come home to hide in my house and declare that every one every where in the world dislikes me. I'm too difficult. I shouldn't bother trying to do anything with my life. Obviously I suck. I can totally see me doing that. I could be that asshole.

The problem is, that means I didn't really survive. That means I died a long time ago and there is nothing left in me. Because it's just not true that I am disliked and reviled.

I am thought about.

If that is happening, and a lot of it is positive, that means maybe I'm not too hard. It's ok to be different. It's ok to have preferences. But when I am imposing on people I need to learn how to accept with gratitude what people choose to give me. My needs are my own to meet. I need to not act like other people are responsible for meeting them. It's my problem. If the best I can do is a fish and rice at a given meal I need to eat the fucking fish and smile.

I want that for my kids. I want to show them what that is like. I remember my mother and feel sad and anxious. Food was so hard for me as a kid. It was bad. As an adult I'll say that my mother was a fairly bad cook but everyone we knew loved her food. That makes me wonder. My family has all gotten to the point of heating up preseasoned food at every meal. We didn't eat produce, and certainly not good produce.

I feel like my life is consumed with my body lately. I am trying to learn how to meet my needs. I wasn't taught. I wasn't taught to check in on my body and see how different parts of me felt. I was taught to ignore my body. My body wasn't important. Anyone was allowed to do anything they wanted to my body and I was expected to just accept it. Food was what I could control.

I don't think I've ever thought of it that way before.

My food life is unlike any that I have ever experienced before. Since I had kids I have radically changed how I eat. But I'm not interested in getting to a point where I'm supporting my family on my farming efforts in my backyard. Just to put a scope on this. I recently read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and all I have to say is sweet sunny Jesus NO. I felt anxious pressure reading the book. I'm an idiot. She grew up farming and married someone with a similar background. That's just not something I will ever try.

So that leaves me in a weird position of feeling like I don't know what I want to accomplish. I swear to G-d this post has a cohesive theme. I have to actively decide which of my behaviors in life are about what I was taught to do by my mama and which things are right for me. I also need to think about what is right for the other people in my family. We all have different needs. I wasn't taught to think about people that way. I'm training for a marathon. My body is going to have different needs than the other members of my family. Why do I plan to feed us all exactly the same way? Because when I try to do that I end up snacking in the garage.

I resist eating the food in the house. I don't actually like the crap I make my kids eat. I really honestly think vegetables and fruit are pretty gross. I only like the heavily processed with corn syrup version of fruit because that is what my mama likes. I don't really want to teach my kids to be like my mother. Her version of surviving looks a lot like death to me.

I have less than eight years to really get my shit together so that I can take my kids around the world to find out how other people live. My kids will find out what it means to have to work in order to eat. I will find out what it is like to have to work in order to eat. I want to show up and not feel ignorant as a pig. I don't want to show up ashamed of myself for my ignorance. But neither do I want to show up and act like all they need is a honky.

I want to feel like the labor of my body and the work of my mind has some value. I can accomplish things. I can work. I am not fucking useless. I try not to bullshit myself. I am not going to learn what it is like to have to do manual labor to survive. That is the understanding of a lifetime of work I have not had and won't have. I feel weird about that. It is hard to keep in mind. I can't keep my yard weeded--yet. I think that is probably what I have eight years to build towards. I need to be able to physically do all of the labor in my yard. I probably should get a bit more ambitious in that department. I want to be able to do farm labor. At the moment I would be annoying and useless.

In eight years I will still be very ignorant. I will be moving to different climates. I will be moving to different plants. I will know nothing. All I will be able to do is go out and try over and over and be publicly bad and I will probably be laughed at. I need to have that experience as a rational adult. I need to learn to not break down in tears just because people are laughing at me.

For my mother food comes from the freezer and cans. I was not taught how to cook food. I have a hard time eating seasonally. For many seasons of the year there aren't very many products I recognize as food. I've learned to shut up about this and eat what is put in front of me.

I need to learn how to eat more food. I want my kids to have more options than me. I want them to develop a broad palate so that we can be polite guests who do farm work in exchange for being allowed to learn about people. We can be company for a while. We should be polite, grateful guests. That is hard to think about.

I have to believe my labor is such that it is worth putting up with my company. I want to have something to talk about other than what a sad terrible life I have had. I want to have something to talk about other than what a devoted slave I was. I want to have something to talk about how much I enjoyed that short stint of teaching. I want to talk about something other than just being a mother.

What else am I? Food is going to be a big part of this journey. I want to find out where food comes from. I want to teach my daughters where food comes from and I feel ashamed of myself for knowing so little. I think food comes from cans.

We should be learning languages. I suppose that means picking areas already. Oh goodness.

I cry when I run because I wonder if my mother will feel proud when she hears about me some day. This valley isn't that big. I tremble in fear when I am in San Jose. I'm terrified of seeing her. Will I pass her in silence like somebody that I used to know? Will I introduce my kids? Will I introduce her as Vivian? I have trouble saying her name without crying. I haven't said it much in my life. She's my Mommy.

I do have to think about things like this. I have to decide in advance what I will do. I have to play it in my mind so that I don't freak out. I have to decide in my head and in my heart what an appropriate adult reaction is to my children. What is it going to be like to move through the world for a whole year that I don't have to check over my shoulder for my mother?

My mother knows where I live. I wouldn't put it past her to show up some day. How do I want to behave? Do I want her to show up? No. Not really.

If I showed up she would pretend to be nice for a while. Then she would feel comfortable. Then she would proceed to talk about how disgusting the food is.

Learning this is too hard. I have to take feedback if I want to improve but not from her. She can never again be allowed to weigh in on any part of me. What she thinks of me is not my business. Never the less when I run I cry so hard I can barely see because I want her to be proud of me. I hope she is proud that she did manage to raise kids who can survive even if she couldn't keep them safe.

My mother drove adult men to my house when I was a young teenager because those men wanted to have sex with me. My mother manifestly didn't care for me. She did not teach me survival skills. She taught me skills that will kill me.

Why? Why did she do that? Is that all she knows? Was I really so hard to teach? I can't know. I expect I was nearly as high needs as Shanna, maybe more given the abuse. Do I really want to model how my mother dealt with it? Now I understand it more. It's complicated.

All of this is so complicated. How do I stop looking at all of life as one big mass of things that I don't know yet and therefore I can't know and I am trapped? When do I learn how to fail in front of other people? When will it be safe to try things in front of people without being told I am pathetic for being bad on my first try? I don't have a safer audience than my kids. I feel bad that I don't get to teach them very many things that I am already good at. I feel kind of sad that their entire lives will be a journey through my learning experiences.

I wish I had "become" a bit more before having kids. I wish I had been less resistant to learning. I wish I didn't feel humiliated when I don't know the answer. Maybe that is how my mother felt. How do I want to feel?

This is all so very complicated. And I should go in because Noah has to go to work.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Home repair

Ack. My screen looks different. It's annoying how these geeks keep wanting to "update their look". Despite being married to someone who cares about such things I still don't really get it.

I have updated my "profile pictures" most places to reflect my current hair length. I look quite butch. It feels weird. People keep telling me that it looks good on me. And then I uploaded pictures to here in separate short posts because I am not awake enough to figure out embedding today. I'm really tired. I had therapy last night and then Noah and I stayed awake talking until 10:30 and then Shanna woke up. She was hurting. I think she was growing. She had a rough night. Then I had my normal every night interruption of needing to use the bathroom. I wish that my "regular" as a grown up wasn't 3:30 am. It's annoying. Then I decided to spring sex on Noah. About twenty minutes after we finished Calli woke up and needed me for a while. By the time I left her room it was after 5:00am. I might as well just be up. When did I become this person?

I feel increasingly perplexed by myself. Who am I? What am I capable of? What do I actually need? What do I want? How are these things different?

My therapist doesn't interrupt my ranting much. I get the impression I am intense for her. Ha. Last night she interrupted me once to say, "That was an interesting question." I had just asked "When will I stop missing people who have never and will never be in my life?" She doesn't interrupt me much. That makes it a challenge for me to remember that question and think about it.

There are so many things I'm afraid to really jump in and do. Humble, stupid shit. I really need to fix the grout in my bath tub. I can watch videos online and read tutorials. It's really not a complicated task. But I feel this inner resistance. I don't trust myself as an autodidact. I always feel like I need a teacher for the first time I do things. I want to be an assistant. I want to be the competent assistant who helps someone build things they can't build alone. I feel comfortable in that role. I can't serve an idiot. I really liked my scene shop boss in college. He was very talented and he taught me how to work hard. No, that's not true. He was a hard worker and he was happy to have me keep him company. He can't teach the skills very well though. It's a different kind of skill to teach. Anyway.

I am not behaving how I think I should behave. I am a deeply social animal. Despite the fact that I loathe group work in a class room setting I really long to work with people. I just don't suffer fools well and very few people want to work as hard as I work. That sounds pretentious. Other people work hard at things that are not the things I value and as a result they do not meet the speed I want them to meet on most tasks and that is frustrating.

I have a physical need to get things done and see visible progress in my life. I have to think, constantly, about the fact that I am a dynamic and changing individual. I can have some lasting effect on something. I can become strong enough to do all of the tasks that need to be done in my life. I can gain those skills. It is an education process. It is an education process I think my kids should have. I have so much stupid fear about doing things wrong. I believe in the back of my lizard brain that people who come to my house will think worse of me if I try to repair something in my house and it looks less than professional. I don't really make straight lines very well. I make up for it by using the brightest fucking paint Home Depot sells. There is nothing neutral in my house.

I write sitting next to a palm tree book case that is strung with bumblebee and dragonfly lights. I'm annoyed by the splotch of green on the ceiling. My hand slipped when I was painting the bookcase. I should really get around to fixing that. How many years will I sit here and be annoyed by that mark? Hopefully less than a year. That would be great.

There is never an end to the things that must be done on a house if you want to maintain it in a state of good repair. This house hasn't been maintained very well and it is more than fifty years old. It wasn't made high quality when it was built. I guess I have my fixer-upper. And I have to do it all by myself. And we won't have a lot of money. These projects are going to drag out. I have to figure out a triage list and do them as the money exists in the budget.

I have to be someone else now. I'm having trouble learning this job. I'm having a hard time envisioning what I will look like in ten years. I keep coming up on this problem I have over and over again in my life.

I learn by watching people. I learn by mimicking behavior. It's a lot of how I pass the way I do. I pattern myself off of whoever I am talking to as much as possible for as long as possible. I had to learn to do that when I was young. I don't feel like I have much of a me that I know how to be around people on a consistent basis.

I keep going through my mental roster of people I admire. I have no desire whatsoever to be like any of them. I'm not sure what I want to be like. No, that's not true. I know what I want to be like with my kids. I'm getting closer.

I'm learning how to mother myself as I mother my children. I'm learning how to pay attention to subtle signals in how my body moves. I'm learning how to listen to what it says. It is hard to find compassion for my frailty. Often I don't start tasks because I am afraid of the physical difficulty. I am not as strong as I might wish. I know that the answer is to become stronger. I'm trying. It is hard that the answer to most of my problems is simply become stronger. You have to become stronger in a way that balances the system as a whole or you risk injury.

I don't really get runner's high. Just like I rarely got endorphin rushes while being beaten. I don't get it. When I do these activities I am miserable and I hate them. A good run is one where I am so lost in my thoughts I barely notice the time passing. I am slightly worried about being hit by a car so I try not to get too lost in trance. Most running days involve actual whining. I do this because I have an end goal in mind. I want to run in a marathon with my brother. This is for me. This will be the closest I have to doing something with my family. I don't really care if other people understand. I fucking want it. I hope that will be enough closure for me. This is my last chance. I need to get buried in the minutiae of my life. I need to paint the damn ceiling.

I need to stop feeling bad that my life is this small. I have taken to projecting a lot of my guilt on my misperceptions of Noah. I feel manifestly unworthy of him. I worry that I try too hard sometimes because I am trying to impress him. I feel like he made a bad deal. I'm trying to do what I can to mitigate the damage. It's really stupid. Even though I think that Noah deserves better than me I can't even define what that means. Sluttier? More virginal? What? Why am I bad? Why don't I feel like I am a good wife? Mostly because I need so much from him. I've been told over and over and over all my life that my needs are not very important. Mostly the problem is that I don't meet my own needs consistently enough. I don't know how. I don't really even know what they are.

Luckily I live with two people who are loud and demanding about getting their needs met. They are showing me that it is ok to have the needs I have. And oh man they are teaching me who I want to be.

Early in marathon training

I feel like I have become a different person. Someone I don't even know.

38 Weeks pregnant with Shanna

This is how I think of myself. Ok, not quite that large most of the time, but I think of myself as a fat person. I have always been envious of women with long hair.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Family and friends


I think today is the day to finally write about how I feel about “family” I think that will involve a lot of changes in perception in my head. I'm going to have to wrap my heart around how alone I feel. It's a question of definitions. I have a lot of friends. I have fiercely loyal friends. I am blessed and lucky in my friends. It's different. People don't return to me as the default experience of "of course you have to be with your family on this day." That means I'm not family. I am not invited. I am not part of your family. "Oh, you could come if you asked" is not being part of the family. No one is doing anything wrong or bad. I'm not angry. I'm just not part of your family. That's ok. That is life. Not everyone is family. I kind of feel like this focus on "chosen family" is because the word "friend" is used for people you have barely met. We have lost the experience of having acquaintances.

I'm aware that I have had a lot of extreme thinking for the past few days. I'm aware that this feels much worse to me than usual because that is just the mood swing I am in. People spend holidays with me when they "don't go home". People spend time with me rather be alone, yes. People spend time with me. They spend time on their "hang out with friends" days rather than their "hang out with family" days. I have a rotating queue of people who spend a holiday or two with me before going back to their families.

Why do I think that people are my friends instead of my family? Because I have spent very little time with most people and I unable to usefully predict how they might feel, talk, or act in any useful way. I almost always feel uncomfortable because I have no way to predict how that person might feel about things I might say and do so I am always tense. I don't know what I'm allowed to say. I really hate how people tell me that I don't censor. You have no fucking idea how much I censor. Noah gets more of it than any one else. After tipping the bucket he is getting a lot less of my internal monologue than usual and he can tell. It's weird how good he is at reading me.

(Side note: I feel like I am going to start using the phrase "tipping the bucket" a lot to talk about tests of trust. A friend told me a cool analogy: trust is like water dripping into a bucket. When there isn't much water in the bucket it is hard to spill water out if the bucket tips a little. If the bucket is full it is easy to dump water out.)

Anyway.

I'm not very good at expressing my needs on a day to day basis. I will work myself to exhaustion and tears before asking for help. My experience of life is that there isn't much point in asking for help. If I ask for help it is because I am fairly desperate. That's not always true. I usually only ask for help if I am ok with being told "no." If I need to hear "yes" then I am fucked. I can't ask because I can't deal with possible rejection. The issue is too important to me. I can't risk being told that my needs aren't important. So I won't ask for help. Until I'm in a bad spot and then it all comes out in a rush and people can’t really help me even if they want to—it’s too late.

Noah is willing to flat out tell me all the ways in which I am hard to get to know. I am very picky and specific about a wide variety of topics and life situations. He can fucking list things off. He knows how to make me feel comfortable because he has taken the time to learn. I don't have that with anyone else. It feels very much like he is the first person in my life to know me. It's bittersweet. I don’t expect my friends to know my “triggers” or care. But I will start avoiding people if they hit too many of my triggers.

It has taught me what family means.

Shanna is so polite because I model that all day long. We are both quick to ask to help one another. We are both quick to get up and do something for someone else. I teach Shanna how I want to be spoken to. It means that she knows how to get under my skin, of course. She generally doesn't want to though. She likes how I treat her. She wants to be nice to me. I like how she treats me and I want to be nice to her. Even when I'm feeling not-nice. I feel safe with asking her to do things for me. Of course they are stupid, little things. "Will you please get me a diaper?" She often just does it. It's not like I want everyone to follow me around fetching for me.

That's not it. Family is full of people who understand one another's needs and try to meet them just because they want to. Just because there is a long history of mutual support and care. Needs are quirky things. Everyone is sensitive in different ways and to different degrees. With your family you don't have to constantly be defensive and give the long stupid story about why you are defensive. You get to just relax and know that people won't say ________________. I'm hard to get to know. It takes a long time before I trust people enough to give them all of my stupid defensive stories. Mostly I just get my feelings hurt and figure it is my problem and other people don't give a shit. I don't give people the opportunity to know me.

I don't think I will ever have family beyond Noah, Shanna, and Calli because I don't think there will ever again be anyone who considers my house their home. I think I am too hard to live with. I am too difficult to get to know and I blow up when people get things wrong too many times. I don't blame people for not continuing a close relationship with me. People want to drop in to my life. They want the highlights. They don't want the grinding need. I understand. I don't either. But opting out makes it a friendship, not family. Which isn’t to say that I think my family should or could meet all of my needs. They are not responsible for doing so. Full stop. But they have a good idea of what my needs are and they help me have the space to take care of myself. I know that a lot of people don't like to define their relationships the way I do. They need to let things be fluid. That is how they set their expectations so they can have a happier life. I have to define my relationships so that I can set my expectations. That is how I can have a happier life.

Depending on people is a bad choice for me, by and large. I can depend on random one off acts of kindness from people who are strangers. If I scream out my need into the void there are enough people who want to do random acts of kindness that I get a remarkable amount of help. My friends are generous and wonderful people.

I really have good friends. They try very hard. Dear god I don't understand why they try so hard. They give me what they have to spare. I know that I am lucky. It's a bittersweet kind of lucky. I get to know the kind of people who have family. I get to hear about it. I get to see what kind of amazing people come out of families. I get to see what I am trying to create for my children. I have wonderful models in my life. I am so grateful to have them. My friends come through in consistent ways when I ask them to. My friends show up when I invite them—most people are even shockingly punctual. I have the best friends a person can have. They really care about me and work very hard to understand me. But I am an alien creature. They don’t get me and they probably never will. They love me any way. I am very lucky.

I think, given how much I plan to shelter from my kids, Noah will be the only person who ever gets me. And I’m not sure that he does. People often comment on how not-sarcastic Noah and I are with one another. We both heavily use sarcasm with other people but not with one another. No. I don’t want to deal with sarcasm in my family. In my family I know that people will speak the truth to me the best they can at all times. That does not include mocking me. Ok, we have our moments—they are deliberately rare.

What does family look like to me? What do I see in my head when I think of the word “family”? I see comfort. I feel the anxious ball in my stomach relax. I know I am allowed to take up space here. I don’t have to carefully count how many words I have said because I have to “leave time” for the other person to talk because we will only spend about six hours in one another’s company this year. I can say all of the things I want to say instead of only the things I think this person wants to hear. I am allowed to cry whenever I need to. I don’t need to worry about “socially appropriate” times because it makes other people feel uncomfortable. In my family people know that I am sad and I cry sometimes. In my family it is ok that I like to talk a lot because we all talk a lot and we all take turns listening because we have enough time to talk that we don’t have to rehearse in our head while we pretend to listen. That is a weird sentence. I have so many words in my head. It requires a lot of talking before I get to the still place where I can really listen to someone. Here in my home with my family I talk and talk and talk until I find the still space. Then I can really hear Noah. I can listen to minutiae of computer stuff and not feel angry. He is trying to involve me in his thinking process not his hobby. He doesn’t care that I don’t share his hobby. He wants to think out loud and I like being his black-box-in-life. I want to know everything that goes on in his head. That is family to me.

Family knows which facial expression goes with which topic in your head. I am told constantly how hard I am to read. I’m difficult to predict. My mother complained constantly about having to walk on egg shells. You have to be careful around me. If you aren’t careful I will stop holding back and I’ll tell you how I really feel. Do you know why people have to walk on egg shells? Because they don’t want to know how I really feel. They want a polite masquerade. They want to have a relationship with the nice and patient side of me.

The problem is that with my friends I decide how much energy I have to go spare and I see them only when I have that much energy left to give to someone. With my family I need there to be sufficient reciprocation that our relationship can survive me opening the flood gates. I don’t have the same kind of boundaries with my family. I take care of them and they take care of me. There is a lot of inter dependence with Noah. With the kids it is different; I am actively working towards inter dependence, but of course right now they are still quite dependent on me.

There are exceptions though. I have dumped heaping lapfuls of need on people and they have come through for me. Doesn’t that count for anything? Don’t they get to be grandfathered in forever? Kind of? Maybe? Jenny is grandfathered. I still talk to her nearly daily. I know all about the antics of her cats even though she lives in another country. She hears anything and everything I want to say about any topic. She doesn’t let me in to the same degree and I constantly fret about offending her. I just haven’t yet so I keep going and pray I never hit the wall. The Godmamas are certainly working on being family for my children. They show up.

This is something else that is bothering me. Children count time differently than adults. Shanna is nearly four. Not very many people have spent much time with her. That makes me sad. The Godmamas want her company and seek it out. I’m grateful every single day that she gets to have this relationship with them. Family is not made of blood. Family is made of time spent. They are learning one another. They are learning how to manage one another’s needs. No one is doing anything bad. None of my friends owe my children a relationship.

And I think that is a lot of the difference. My children are people with personalities and spirit. My family would know my children. My family would take delight in talking about how my daughters do _____ like me and _______ like my mom and _________like Noah. They would understand why I want to feel like I am part of something. Instead I only comment to my children about these things. My knowledge of my relatedness in the world is limited to the people in these walls.

These are the things that never get said with friends because there is never enough time. With your family you spend so much time together that you get all the thoughts out. With friends you search your brain for the highlights, because that is all anyone wants to hear anyway, and you gloss over these small things. They aren’t important enough to talk about. So they become invisible. Meaning that these people do not have the opportunity to even know my relatedness in the world.

If I come and write about it, does that change it and make it better? Err, no. Writing is a false intimacy. True intimacy is reciprocal, not one sided. I am alone in this room. I will never be able to stop noticing that.

Why is it important that I think about this now? Why do I have to decide to kind of roll back a thinking schema? Because this isn’t serving me any more. I have a lot of needs. I have a very high intensity life. This will always be true. I am just that kind of person. While I leave space in my head and my heart where I am supposed to be considering the needs of people I love because they are family and with family you want to help meet other peoples needs then I am over-drawn. I can’t do this. I can’t meet my needs this way. I need more space in me. I need to understand that most of the people in my life have very little to give me in terms of support. What I give to them has to be a gift with no expectation or need for reciprocation. I do have expectations of family. I need to stop thinking that the people in my life are reliable sources of support. They aren’t.

That doesn’t mean everyone I know is a flakey bastard—far from it. But my friends give what they can when they can. They feel no obligation to be here every week. I promise you that I have needs every week. They go unmet. This parenting gig is hard. I picked the high intensity version. I’m just that kind of person.

I have to stop looking outside of myself for support. Well, I need to stop looking outside this house. Noah and I need to figure out a way to go through this life together where I have the ability to meet my own needs. I can’t expect that from anyone else. No one else will try to help meet my needs in a consistent and predictable way. That means I need to slow down what I give to other people. I have far less to spare than I thought. It will all be okay in the end.

I have always poured a lot of emotional and mental energy into my “chosen family”. What could I do in life if I put that energy into me in a consistent way so that I can benefit instead of other people? I think I should probably find out.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

No social skills

Today I went and talked to a man who does things. I feel like a lazy slacker when I hear about what he gets done. He's running a little farm. He works a computer job 80 miles away from his farm and deals with that commute. He is high up in management for a variety of different annual events like historical re-enactment events and Burning Man. He has an intense life. I'm not going to bother to talk about his 15 active hobbies.

Just the thought of having to deal with that many people gives me the shivers. I can do a fairly heroic amount alone but having to work with people is hard. I don't trust people. I never believe that any one else will deliver on what they promise so I can only plan for what I can accomplish alone. It's rather limiting.

I will never have a family the way I picture in my head. I have Noah and Shanna and Calli and that's it. And I'm god damn lucky to have them. There are people who love me. There are people who care about me a great deal. There are people who will try hard to help me. But they all go back to their families. I am not part of their families. I am a spoke person they can have a one on one relationship with occasionally but I'm not a big part of any one's life. Except for Noah and Shanna and Calli.

I've been calling K every day because otherwise I can't get through the afternoon without crying. I'm glad she lets me do that. I miss days occasionally because I don't hear the alarm on my phone. I go through periods of talking to people daily or nearly daily on IM. They never seem to last very long.

I don't really have people to share my life with outside of this house. I have people who want to see me once a year and get an update on how I am living my life. I'm impressed by the people who slog through this blog. I write because I am shouting into the void. I don't know who or if anyone other than Noah is actually going to read any of it. The fact that people catch what I say bewilders me. I say so much because I have to see the words outside of my head but I know so little about the people who read. Even the people I "know" I don't really understand. I rarely spend enough time with people to see past my projections onto them. I am not good at meeting people and treating them like a blank slate. I am always looking for patterns.

Patterns are important for my survival. At least they have been in the past. Patterns are causing me problems now because Noah doesn't follow many patterns. He's kind of weird. But he understands when I talk about the people in my life like characters in a story. He understands why I look for clues for how to react. Many of my assumptions are wrong. Why do I assume that people who come over to my house dislike me? Why do I physically react to them as if they were threatening? I can like someone and enjoy their company and still not know how to have a positive conversation with them. I always feel like I am being mean and they must think I am bad. (If you are thinking, even me? Yeah, probably.) I feel like I talk too much. I am rude. I dominate conversations. I take up too much space and I should shut up and sit in the back. My turn is over.

Ok you know how people talk about how homeschoolers "won't be socialized"? Well. I went to public school so I got my socialization there. I think I had five or six teachers over my educational career tell me point blank in class to stop raising my hand because other people needed to have a turn. Teachers and people who are older than me and people in "authority" trigger me heavily. I have very strong internal meters that tell me that pretty much any talking is disrespectful. And I always say weird or wrong things.

I was at a party this weekend and two women were talking. They were doing that "build you up" sort of thing. Life is hard and we must be brave. You can never be too brave. You can never be too balanced. You can never be too strong.

I interrupted there and said, "Actually you have to be careful how you get stronger. Like right now I'm running and I'm learning a lot about how the muscles around the knee work and..." I went on for a while. I felt like a party pooper. "Oh hey, you know how you are trying to build her up and convince her to reach for the stars? Well here's a cup of ice water in your face. You're welcome." I don't mean to do it. I feel like such an asshole.

I don't think it was actually that bad. I'm really not good at the art of conversation. It's a skill and I'm sorely lacking in practice. The real problem is, Noah doesn't mind if I'm an asshole and I point out things about him that sound rude as long as they are true. I think I grow more unfit for human companionship by the day.

I'm not sure why I have had such an upsurge of pervasive negative thought for the past few days. Is this my brain's horrible reaction to Noah saying that I was out of the emergency phase?

Anxiety is energy that wants to be put to use but is instead being held in. What energy do I want to expend? Why do I feel so bad? I feel like talking about Sarah would be horribly disrespectful and rude. I'm having a lot of big feelings. I'm not sure why I think it would be disrespectful and rude, but I do. I'm not processing my emotions and it's not working for me.

It's not about a list of done-me-wrongs. We tipped the bucket. Lots of water came out. The drip isn't starting back up again. I'm scared. I don't get to control what happens in life. That's hard. I feel sad. I miss my Sarah. Am I emailing her? No. Does that make me a passive aggressive bitch? Maybe. Things were said. Not all by me.

I'm scared and I'm sad. I hurt people.

I have had so many people tell me they were my "family" until I said or did something they didn't like. I don't see those people any more. They broke off contact. That's just how life works. Some, many, of them resurface every few years for a phone call or dinner.

I got really good at lying to myself that I would have what I see in my head as how a family works. I'm too mean and I drive people away. I sit here and wonder why I am so broken. Why don't I deserve what I see other people having? I missed that life path. It's just not really an option for me. Pity party: table of one.

In my head I hear this rough amalgamation voice saying, "Don't you realize that no one gives a shit that your mother didn't love you? Get over yourself." I should forget my shit and go out and join something. Subsume my identity into a group identity and stop thinking about my shit. Because my shit isn't important. But when I get to the meeting or social event or class or or or or or or or I don't know how to talk to people. I don't know how to form relationships that go beyond a surface level. Because NOT BEING TAUGHT THOSE SKILLS IS PART OF MY SHIT.

It isn't any one else's problem. Well, that's not true. What am I going to teach my children? Fuck. Who knows. We'll see. I should go in. I should stop crying again.

Friday, April 13, 2012

You are good. You are smart. You are kind.

Noah agreed to be married to me for better or worse. I think he might actually mean it. I think that even though I've been miserable and mean and sick for almost five years he shows a remarkable resiliency in cheer. All I have to do is have sex with him and he's suddenly good to go again. It's kind of weird. I don't have quite the same system. I need so much support in so many areas and I am deeply ashamed of that need. I feel like my need is a sign that I am pathetic and lazy. I feel like I am a failure because I cannot completely do every thing in my life by myself. I'm a stay at home mom. I don't have a job. All I have to do is keep the house clean, the kids fed and clothed, and at this stage... play with them. It's not exactly hard. Right?

It's really fucking hard because it takes so much patience. I am not a very patient person. I am a very demanding and exacting person. I don't like delays at all. I spend most of my days wanting to bash my head through a wall as a pressure relief. Instead I take a deep breath, count down from ten silently, then I try to smile and say, "Let's try again." That's my fucking job.

I have always been very clear about the fact hat I behave differently "at work" than I do "in my life". In my life I do a lot of things I have to hide from my work. When I was teaching I was not particularly "out" about talking about my queerness or sexual history. I didn't talk about going to raves and doing drugs on the weekends--although I did. I think that being in the closet about those things was wise. It meant that when kids started talking about things I understood the language but I wasn't their "buddy" because I wasn't an obvious peer. I'm not sure I am phrasing this right--I need to make my mistakes past-tense. I can't talk about them while I'm doing them because then I get muddled up and unable to be honest about my mistakes. I know that I am doing stupid shit but I can't admit it yet because I want to keep doing it for a while. I didn't need to tell students I did that.

Noah came in to talk to me so whatever train of thought I had was gone. As Calli likes to say, "Whoops!" She also spreads her arms and yells, "Ta da!" I can't wait until she can really talk. End sidebar.

And a new day dawns. I still don't know exactly where I was going with that train of thought. I'm going to keep going instead of hitting post because I don't get comments anyway. So what if things are long and complicated. I'm apparently just writing for me. And Noah. He talks to me about my writing. That feels like a manipulative ploy but I don't mean it to be. People talk to me about my writing when I can get them in person. I'm not subtle in asking for feedback. I really like finding out what my writing makes people think about.

My wonderful complication was over for dinner recently and she told me that she thinks about me. It was said in the context of, "I'm glad it is ok that we don't IM very frequently because you just know I think of you." No, actually I didn't know that you think about me. Wait. You think about me? Oh shit. What do you think?! When I get to that point I am trying to learn to reference something I got from Ashley Judd " I hold that it is none of my business what people think of me."

That's hard for me to wrap my head around.

I was taught that it is my responsibility to influence and control what other people think of me. I should be careful what I reveal. I should tell different people different stories so that I evoke the right reactions from people. It's a lot of why I do large information dumps on people and then run away. I believe in the core of my being that I am "doing it wrong" and I am bad for what I am doing. It is bad for me to be rude and inflict my inner stupidity on other people. No one wants to hear about how pathetic I am. No one wants to read the same whiny bullshit year after year. Grow the fuck up already. Stop being sad. But I can't. I can't stop. I wish I could stop. I don't know how to stop being sad. I am sad. I just am. And while I am sad I have to make believe that I am happy and cheerful and that we live in basically a good world. That's my job.

I need to have some place where I can say over and over again that I was hurt very badly and it still hurts. I would give anything to make this pain go away. I would give anything if I no longer needed to sit in a room by myself and cry every single day because I am so fucking sad. I cry and cry until I am dehydrated. I drink nearly a gallon of water a day. I shouldn't be able to get dehydrated. But that pee doesn't lie. (See, there I go with the tmi.)

It hurts. I miss my mom. I'm horrified every day because I look at Shanna and I think, "I was out having oral sex with multiple children already." My mother didn't keep me safe. I look at Shanna and wonder what I would be like if I had been allowed to be innocent. What would I want in life? How would I feel about the world? How would I be different? And it bothers me. It bothers me all the time.

I feel like I am a dirty, bad, mean piece of shit. I'm really glad that other people tell me, often, that they do not have that experience of me. I feel pathetic and stupid for needing to be told that. I'm told that you have to say ten nice things to balance out every bad statement to a person. That's kind of the way it affects your sense of self.

I spent my whole childhood being told I was stupid and bad and a whore and little bitch and worthless. I'm thirty years old and I still sit alone in a room and cry about it. Because it still lives in me. I was told those things so many times that I agreed. I thought they were true. If fucking everyone tells you the same story how can you believe anything else? If it walks like a duck and it sounds like a duck and it swims like a duck? It's probably a duck--right? If one person tells me to buy horse shoes I'm going to look at him funny. If two people tell me to buy horse shoes I'm going to think about it. If three people tell me to buy horse shoes I am going to get moving towards the store; I probably need them, right?

I spent my whole childhood being told I was stupid and bad and a whore and little bitch and worthless.

It still hurts. I'm not a fan of that old saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." I have healed from every broken bone I have had. My arms work fine. My hand works fine. I have been hit with sticks. I have been hit with stones. Those things heal. I can forget that kind of pain. It isn't important. I believe I am a worthless piece of shit. I believe I am dirty and bad.

Noah gave me shampoo and conditioner for Christmas. This is kind of funny because I haven't used such products in years. Since my hair is hella short I've been using them because it really doesn't matter if my hair frizzes. I'm discovering something I had forgotten when I switched to baking soda and vinegar. It doesn't matter how many times I "soap" my hair it always feels dirty to me. Dirty in that way that indicates "not washed". I feel like there is no way to get the dirt and the bad off of me. It is a physical feeling. I remember my mother complaining about my hair. The only way my mother liked my hair was about an inch long so that she could ignore taking care of it. She was very resistant to me having long hair even though she complimented me on how I looked far more when I had long hair. Hair has such a weird place in my life. My mother was always thrilled when I wanted to play with her hair. Sissy loved to have her hair brushed. I don't like having other people care for my hair because no one ever wants to be gentle enough. It hurts when other people touch my hair. My mom and sister liked it when I did their hair because I was more gentle than them. I was taught to touch my head and hair roughly. To treat it like something gross. Because I am dirty. When I switched to baking soda and vinegar I had a feeling of at peace with the feeling of my hair. It didn't feel "clean" but it did feel soft. It's interesting to use shampoo and conditioner again. My hair feels rough and dirty again. Specifically dirty. And I think it is making my dandruff worse. See, more tmi.

I feel stupid because I want to talk about how bad I feel about being an animal and having hair and being dirty. I need to talk about this because I don't want to teach my daughter to feel this way. My brother is a stupid moron because he thinks the way to break behavior patterns is to not talk about them and pray they go away. Yeah. That doesn't work. Not talking about things creates a festering wound because GUESS WHAT?! It is still a wound. It still hurts. Just not talking about it isn't working.

I have to work very hard every day to decide what I want to teach my children because what I was taught was that I am bad, dirty, worthless, useless, and a whore. I know that I must be something else. I must be other than just what I was taught to be. Somehow I did that. How did I do it? Where did I do it? What should I do instead? I don't know what to do. You can't deal with a problematic behavior by just "not doing 'x'" you have to replace 'x' with something. You have to have some idea of what you are moving towards. I don't know. I don't have very many good examples.

I don't get to watch other parents very often. When I do I spend most of the time thinking, "Oh they do ________ better than me." Of course this means that I offer criticisms. Because I'm like that. I expect that they are judging me so I start first. Just to get this going. I guess. I need to hear peoples criticisms of me. I suppose this is why I am asking people for feedback in person. I don't need to hear the random criticism of people on the internet who don't know me or what I actually do. When you only know me through my writing you are hearing a very random sampling of things from my brain. It's a poor example of my life. That's the joy of mental illness. I can be totally fucked up in my head but life just keeps plugging right along. I'm doing my best to be functional at my job and how that works is going to change over time. I'm trying to figure out the right way to act. I'm trying to figure out my idea of the best mother for my kids. It's not exactly like me. I'm having a very hard time figuring out how it will interact with my sex life. We have a lock on our bedroom door.

I feel disgusting for needing sex. I am developing more of a complex as time goes by. Noah is, understandably, not thrilled. This is going to be hard to work through. For some strange reason he seems to be willing to go through this with me. I ask so much of him. Far more than I should ask. I know that it isn't ok to need as much support as I need. That doesn't change the fact that I need it. And he is willing to give it. He says. We'll see. I'm so scared. I hurt so much. I need so much. I know I'm not supposed to talk about it. No. That's not true. I'm supposed to talk about it one hour a week in a therapists office and then be all better. Right?

I hurt so much. I cry so much. I am so fucking sad. But my personal time is long over. Really I'm being kind of an asshole to Noah right now. I need to cry though. I have to. I can't not cry today. And I don't like doing it in front of the kids more than necessary. They will see enough sadness from me this lifetime.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Attachment and set patterns

I've been slowly working my way through the Wikipedia article on Attachment Theory for about a week. It's a beast. It makes me sad for some very specific reasons. I'll start at the beginning. Attachment theory mostly focuses on what happens during the infant/toddler stage. Babies require stable care givers who respond promptly.

"The set-goal of the attachment behavioural system is to maintain a bond with an accessible and available attachment figure.[16] "Alarm" is the term used for activation of the attachment behavioural system caused by fear of danger. "Anxiety" is the anticipation or fear of being cut off from the attachment figure. If the figure is unavailable or unresponsive, separation distress occurs.[17] In infants, physical separation can cause anxiety and anger, followed by sadness and despair. By age three or four, physical separation is no longer such a threat to the child's bond with the attachment figure. Threats to security in older children and adults arise from prolonged absence, breakdowns in communication, emotional unavailability or signs of rejection or abandonment.[16]"

We went to our local breakfast place on Easter, partially just to see the waitress. We like her a lot. This time she had an excited story to tell. Her daughter, seven years into a relationship, suddenly called her mom out of the blue and announced she was getting married and would mom like to help with stuff? Obviously this made our waitress' year. She was so happy. She got to buy her daughter a dress and get her a bouquet and take pictures. I spent the rest of breakfast crying. I'm very glad she got to have that experience. There are a lot of reasons why Noah and I got married in a room with a drive-in-style preacher and no one else. There isn't a picture of us. We had a wedding pint of Häagen-Dazs. I ask Noah fairly often if he ever feels weird about how alienated he is from his family. He doesn't have much more of a relationship with his family than I do but he doesn't have any specific reasons like I do. He just didn't bond there. It's weird to me. For me to maintain relationships with my mother or sister would involve me choosing not to see huge problematic behaviors. Noah has a different situation. I don't really understand it.

My parents divorced when I was three. Supposedly up to that point I should have had a reasonably secure attachment. My mother was a stay at home mom. She breastfed me for more than six months (only partially--I always had bottles too). I believe that she coslept with me early on and moved me to my own bed fairly late by societal standards. She's a light sleeper and always has been. I can't imagine her ignoring my needs.

As Ann said, "You were clean, well fed, and well dressed. What was there to report?" But my mom ignored the fact that my father was molesting me. If you go further into the Wikipedia article you find:

"The most concerning pattern is disorganized attachment. About 80% of maltreated infants are likely to be classified as disorganized, as opposed to about 12% found in non-maltreated samples. Only about 15% of maltreated infants are likely to be classified as secure. Children with a disorganized pattern in infancy tend to show markedly disturbed patterns of relationships. Subsequently their relationships with peers can often be characterised by a "fight or flight" pattern of alternate aggression and withdrawal. Affected maltreated children are also more likely to become maltreating parents. A minority of maltreated children do not, instead achieving secure attachments, good relationships with peers and non-abusive parenting styles.[9] The link between insecure attachment, particularly the disorganized classification, and the emergence of childhood psychopathology is well-established, although it is a non-specific risk factor for future problems, not a pathology or a direct cause of pathology in itself.[40] "

The specific behaviors in a very young child that indicate disorganized attachment:

"Stereotypies on return such as freezing or rocking. Lack of coherent attachment strategy shown by contradictory, disoriented behaviours such as approaching but with the back turned."

I'm not sure why it uses the word "stereotypies" but whatever. I can remember rocking; I still do it when I am very upset. And I have always frozen upon return of the person I am most attached to. I hold back. I am terrified of touching them. I need to be approached. Noah comes into the house and comes to me for a hug and a kiss. It's nice. I know that my mother talked about these kinds of behaviors when I was small. Yes, one shouldn't self-diagnose. Whatever.


"Over the short term, the stability of attachment classifications is high, but becomes less so over the long term.[9] It appears that stability of classification is linked to stability in caregiving conditions. Social stressors or negative life events—such as illness, death, abuse or divorce—are associated with instability of attachment patterns from infancy to early adulthood, particularly from secure to insecure.[46] Conversely, these difficulties sometimes reflect particular upheavals in people's lives, which may change. Sometimes, parents' responses change as the child develops, changing classification from insecure to secure. Fundamental changes can and do take place after the critical early period.[47] Physically abused and neglected children are less likely to develop secure attachments, and their insecure classifications tend to persist through the pre-school years. Neglect alone is associated with insecure attachment organisations, and rates of disorganized attachment are markedly elevated in maltreated infants.[40]
This situation is complicated by difficulties in assessing attachment classification in older age groups. The Strange Situation procedure is for ages 12 to 18 months only;[9] adapted versions exist for pre-school children.[48]"

Since I'm an adult none of this is exactly relevant and I'm just pulling things out of my ass. Awesome.


"Significance of attachment patterns

There is an extensive body of research demonstrating a significant association between attachment organisations and children's functioning across multiple domains.[40] Early insecure attachment does not necessarily predict difficulties, but it is a liability for the child, particularly if similar parental behaviours continue throughout childhood.[47] Compared to that of securely attached children, the adjustment of insecure children in many spheres of life is not as soundly based, putting their future relationships in jeopardy. Although the link is not fully established by research and there are other influences besides attachment, secure infants are more likely to become socially competent than their insecure peers. Relationships formed with peers influence the acquisition of social skills, intellectual development and the formation of social identity. Classification of children's peer status (popular, neglected or rejected) has been found to predict subsequent adjustment.[9] Insecure children, particularly avoidant children, are especially vulnerable to family risk. Their social and behavioural problems increase or decline with deterioration or improvement in parenting. However, an early secure attachment appears to have a lasting protective function.[51] As with attachment to parental figures, subsequent experiences may alter the course of development.[9]...

One explanation for the effects of early attachment classifications may lie in the internal working model mechanism. Internal models are not just "pictures" but refer to the feelings aroused. They enable a person to anticipate and interpret another's behaviour and plan a response. If an infant experiences their caregiver as a source of security and support, they are more likely to develop a positive self-image and expect positive reactions from others. Conversely, a child from an abusive relationship with the caregiver may internalise a negative self-image and generalise negative expectations into other relationships. The internal working models on which attachment behaviour is based show a degree of continuity and stability. Children are likely to fall into the same categories as their primary caregivers indicating that the caregivers' internal working models affect the way they relate to their child. This effect has been observed to continue across three generations. Bowlby believed that the earliest models formed were the most likely to persist because they existed in the subconscious. Such models are not, however, impervious to change given further relationship experiences; a minority of children have different attachment classifications with different caregivers.[9]
There is some evidence that gender differences in attachment patterns of adaptive significance begin to emerge in middle childhood. Insecure attachment and early psychosocial stress indicate the presence of environmental risk (for example poverty, mental illness, instability, minority status, violence). This can tend to favour the development of strategies for earlier reproduction. However, different patterns have different adaptive values for males and females. Insecure males tend to adopt avoidant strategies, whereas insecure females tend to adopt anxious/ambivalent strategies, unless they are in a very high risk environment. Adrenarche is proposed as the endocrine mechanism underlying the reorganisation of insecure attachment in middle childhood.[46]"
I describe myself as being "bad at monogamy" not polyamorous. (Not anymore! Just monogamous.) I am not all that familiar with the music of Amy Winehouse (and I didn't hear about her until well after her death) but I have had people push a few songs at me recently. In particular: You Know I'm No Good just seems relevant to me. When I try to talk about "what kind of girl I am" that's a lot of what I am talking about: That. She is compulsive sexually and very self-harming. Crying on the kitchen floor because you feel disgusted with yourself for your behavior, check. Sex you don't even really enjoy, check. But you owe these men. They understand you. If you don't put out then you are being part of The Embargo and you are bad. It's just my place in life. He wanted to get off. What was I supposed to do other than get him off? (This is when I wish I had a guest post by Noah explaining the Embargo for me. I would link to it even though I think being self-referential is kind of hilarious.)

Back to this Attachment Theory stuff. Being sexually assaulted by one of my primary caregivers from toddlerhood (or earlier, who knows) means that I was pretty primed for not-perfect-attachment. And things in my household were far more chaotic than they appeared to the neighbors because my father was a raging alcoholic and drug addict. I think it is reasonable to assume that I am on the problematic end of things. I don't think I have Reactive Attachment Disorder even though it is uncomfortable to read.

I had so much repeated sexual contact with neighbors over the years because I went out looking for some attention and affection anywhere I could get it. It wasn't safe for me to ask for affection or attention at home. My sister has issues with being touched like I do. If I approached her at the wrong time I would end up in a lot of pain. It would always be phrased as my fault or an accident. I wasn't supposed to say out loud, "You hurt me on purpose" because then she would actually slap me to "show me the difference."

My mother was always preoccupied. Always thinking about other things, other people. I'm sure Shanna feels that way about me. I make up for it by spending many hours a day focusing on the kids. I only let my thoughts wander at pre-selected times. It's hard to control. Back to the Attachment Theory stuff. It has only been applied to adults in terms of their romantic relationships. The basics of adult styles are:

"Securely attached adults tend to have positive views of themselves, their partners and their relationships. They feel comfortable with intimacy and independence, balancing the two. Anxious-preoccupied adults seek high levels of intimacy, approval and responsiveness from partners, becoming overly dependent. They tend to be less trusting, have less positive views about themselves and their partners, and may exhibit high levels of emotional expressiveness, worry and impulsiveness in their relationships. Dismissive-avoidant adults desire a high level of independence, often appearing to avoid attachment altogether. They view themselves as self-sufficient, invulnerable to attachment feelings and not needing close relationships. They tend to suppress their feelings, dealing with rejection by distancing themselves from partners of whom they often have a poor opinion. Fearful-avoidant adults have mixed feelings about close relationships, both desiring and feeling uncomfortable with emotional closeness. They tend to mistrust their partners and view themselves as unworthy. Like dismissive-avoidant adults, fearful-avoidant adults tend to seek less intimacy, suppressing their feelings.[7][52][53][54]"

I really like to date dismissive-avoidant men. (love) I kind of go back and forth between being anxious-preoccupied and and fearful-avoidant. Which means this isn't something I can self-diagnose well. Regardless of which of them it's pretty clear I'm not secure if you know what I mean. There is hope though.

"Some authors have suggested that adults do not hold a single set of working models. Instead, on one level they have a set of rules and assumptions about attachment relationships in general. On another level they hold information about specific relationships or relationship events. Information at different levels need not be consistent. Individuals can therefore hold different internal working models for different relationships.[56][57]"

So even though I am pretty clearly fucked up I could probably, with enough time and effort, learn how to have a secure relationship with Noah. He keeps assuring me that as long as something has the possibility of success, even if it is a low possibility, keep trying. I don't understand why he picked me. I make it as hard as possible to have a relationship with me. I ask him to do very hard things all the time.

A friend told me a cool analogy: trust is like water dripping into a bucket. When there isn't much water in the bucket it is hard to spill water out if the bucket tips a little. If the bucket is full it is easy to dump water out.

Every so often Noah and I tip the bucket. I want to say more. But it's time to go in.