Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Last night was a slight change in how we have been doing therapy. I told her I needed to take a break from history because I am struggling with boundaries in a few places in my life and I need help.

About the doctor--she says that I should carefully rehearse exactly what I need to say about this specific stomach pain, "It started right after my second daughter was born about two and a half years ago. It is a very specific sore spot that often feels like it is pulsing. It is usually in the 1-3 range of pain with it being more intense while I lie down. It isn't majorly painful but it is tender and prevents movement in some directions and it causes me to be stiff and awkward so I don't twist which is hurting my back. So yes, this spot riiiiiiiiiight here probably needs an ultrasound."

She said to very consciously and deliberately decide for myself that all of the other parts of my medical history are a distraction to dealing with this problem and I don't need to mention them until and unless I want that doctors help. She said if they try to shunt me off to psychiatry give them her number and she will deal with them.

I will feel like a deceitful liar but that is the least anxiety-producing way to get through this. I will actively feel like a lying liar but oh well. It will be ok. I can probably live with being a lying liar with people in the medical community.

We talked about friendships and how those are working for me. How I feel very obliged to offer help and assistance and compensation--essentially--in order to beg people to be my friend. I have a bad habit of "giving till it hurts" because I don't tell people on day one that I can't do what they really want to have someone do. Everyone needs support. I am not in a good place to support people. Not really in any way. I have to be ok with the cycle of life I am in and not beat myself up for how little I can do for people.

We talked about how when I think about people in my head and I kind of do the weighing and measuring sort of shit that I do I can think I am "higher" on 99 different topics but I will always be able to find some specific thing that makes this person is "better" than me. More essentially valuable or useful. More lovable. More worthy of help and assistance.

If I can't handle driving I need to not feel like a pathetic person who is unworthy of relationships just because I can't drive to people. I need to just deal with where I am.

We went through people in my life and made specific lists for her records of "I react to this friend like my sister. I react to this friend like my mother. This friend reminds me of my brother (now deceased). Etc. I did that because I feel like I put people in categories and then I just react to them without examining what I am doing. It's not positive.

Side note--P, of course you are grandmotherly. You are extremely grandmotherly and wonderful. You are part of a small pool of women who kind of interchangeably provide similar sorts of interactions with my kids. You do it when you have time and space and energy--not when I need it per se. WHICH IS OK! This is what I am trying to figure out how to accept emotionally. My kids don't have a "grandmother" who is specifically invested in their welfare. They have wonderful and kind women who for whatever reason love me and by extension are nice to my kids--absolutely. We have good and kind people.

There is a difference in actual family and people who are good friends who visit once or a couple of times a year. For one thing, I can't talk about most of my friends with my kids. I don't know stories about my friends lives that are appropriate to share with my kids.

My adopted Dad sent me an sms asking what stuff he should send to the kids. I called him back and left him a voicemail saying he isn't getting the easy way out of this. He needs to talk to me. I'm not sending an sms list.

We had a lovely phone call over the weekend. I told him the best thing he could do for his relationship with my kids is to send them pictures of himself and his life along with little stories explaining the pictures.

The only stories I know about my Dad are stories I can't tell my kids. They don't want to hear about how hilarious it was that Dad went to a leather con in Denver Colorado and his biological brother ended up at the same event and found him while he was doing a labial inflation. And his wife was on stage (with me) screaming her fucking head off while I beat on her like a piƱata and tried to all but rip her nipples off. It was a heavy scene.

Those are the kinds of things I know about my Dad. I can tell you his entire Leather history start to finish. I can describe who he has played with and what he specifically did. I know his partners and their partners and and and.

Not things I'm telling my kids.

Most of my friends come from sex communities. I have pretty much the same situation with most of them.

P--when I talk about the lack of grandmother I am not trying to demean our friendship nor how kind you are to my children. I am trying to explain that there is still a hole for me. You are good. You are wonderful. I am so grateful that I have you in my life that I would quite cheerfully kiss your feet. Please for the love of shiny green apples don't decide that I am an ungrateful bastard who is unworthy. It may be so but I hope our relationship is little enough work for you that you can overlook that flaw.

I desperately need what you have to spare in your life. But beyond that I still have this cavern of need. You aren't available to fill it. That is appropriate. I try very hard not to be bitter or demanding or difficult about the fact that my friends are clearly giving me the limit of what they have to give.

I am at a place where I don't think any friendship can give me what I need. Having a mother is simply different from having a friend. That does not mean my friends are not doing their jobs. They are wonderful and kind and supportive.

You are still supposed to have a mom. And I don't. And it hurts a lot. I know my whining gets old. I know that I am over thirty and I'm not supposed to still be whining about how much I miss my mommy. But I do. I started missing my mom when I was three and have never stopped.

I can only do what I can do. I have no one to catch the ball if I drop it. Thus I need to decide for myself what I can and can't be responsible for. I can't feel like I owe people things. Not reassurance, not comfort, not support. I don't have enough reassurance or comfort or support for me. If I turn around and hand off what I have that is actively self-sabotaging myself and that's not ok for me to do to my kids.

Even though my inability to follow through on relationships feels to me like absolute proof that I am a piece of shit I need to ignore that. I have to leave a lot of run-off room for my kids' needs. They spike unexpectedly sometimes. I have to just have slack sitting around. I can't run near capacity all the time. I just can't.

My therapist and I talked a fair bit about how I value other people for having knowledge but I devalue everything I know. She asked me if I think a professor is a low status position. I laughed and said that I try to give occasional professors respect but mostly I'm not real flattering in their direction.

I read a lot and I know a fairly ridiculous array of things. Sometimes, like yesterday in my kitchen, I get to show off. I am perceptive. I can listen to under two minutes of a conversation other people are having and then go through and fill in the blanks on a whole bunch of behavior patterns in the life of someone I have never met before. That's kind of cool.

That's why I talk so much and so loudly about rape and incest and ptsd and all the other things I talk about as loudly as I can. Because I am not actually a special snowflake (Even though Lisa made me a very nice special snowflake ornament to argue with my premise.) because the things I experience are textbook and happen to other people too. And those people rarely have spent as much time reading about it as I have. Not very many people are as dedicated to studying their body as I am without getting into a profession where you settle in to one specialty and become a specialist in how you deal with people and their issues. You narrow down what it is you know.

I'm not a specialist. I can't dive deep into one subject and immerse myself in the way that true professionals do. I'm not a doctor. I don't have the memory or attention to detail. I will frankly say that when there are two things that have perhaps vastly different functions but nearly identical names... I'm almost certainly mixing a lot of those up. I'm sure I have mistakes in my brain. I am sure I read so fast that I kinda skim sections and miss important details.

I am not a doctor. I am not a psychologist. I am not any kind of specialist. But I'm good at recognizing my tribe. I can recognize our behavior and smell. I think it kind of weirds people out that I meet them and talk to them for a few minutes and decide, "Ah. You are my tribe. Ok." because then I speak very familiarly. I make predictions. I talk as if I know things about them. I'm usually right.

I do get it wrong. Not everyone is my tribe. I have shitty luck predicting people who are not my tribe.

I obviously derive a lot of feelings of positive self-esteem from this knowledge. I obviously feel an elevation in worth or value or status because I really and truly can, occasionally, make peoples life better just by talking about things that I like to talk about.

Tell me there isn't a career somewhere in that.

Bucket List (first draft in this journal)

run a marathon
have kids
travel for a year outside the country
live for one year in one place in a foreign country
hike a substantial portion of the Appalachian trail
drive cross country with my kids studying historical sites
do the training to be a first responder
reach at least the penultimate belt in a martial art
someday I want to read a whole new book every day for a year. this will have to be fluffy shorter books, obviously--yay for libraries.
I want to write a novel--like... fiction.
I want to write a graphic novel series. No, I'm not trying to be Neil Gaimon. I see pictures in my head and I want other people to see them and that is probably the best format.
I want to write a childrens book.
stop smoking or needing any anxiety medication--I will fucking shrink my life.
go to the Michigan Womyns Music Festival with my kids
go to all of the Disney parks in one year, err... maybe not Paris again.
go to all 50 states (I have seen 27 so far)

Those are all things I have already told Noah about. Well, I'm not sure he has been told about the hiking part. He has this magnificent coworker who did that after college. She has no idea how much she inspired me. As much as I overall am not in love with Noah's current employer I have to admit that his coworkers here are way cooler than average.

On the train yesterday I was at the part of The Moral Animal where he talks about low self esteem as a survival trait. Ha. It is very probable that this pervasive belief that I am worthless is my way of trying to convince people that they no longer have to kick me to knock me down any pegs. I'm at the bottom. It's cool. I know. Just leave me alone.

Then I came home from therapy and talked to Noah. I asked him to explain what kind of intimidating I am. Once a student (who was a large football player who dwarfed me) slowly backed away from me and told me that I looked like I was about to rip his head off and piss on his neck. What in the hell do I do that causes people to say things like that to me?!

He told me it isn't that I am that intimidating looking. But I am very unpredictable and startling. I don't fall into any of the obvious patterns for people who look like me and I very carefully mask how far off from the norm I am until I explode because I have carefully learned how to mask all the small distress signs. There is no sign whatsoever that I am feeling even slightly off until I am hysterical or screaming or something.

He said it is kind of like if a big guy was kind of vaguely menacing in the direction of a little bitty old lady and she turned around and snarled like a tiger and pulled out a large knife.

Clearly the guy is no longer in control here despite outward appearances of being more intimidating. Now there is no obvious script to follow. Oh shit. He says I'm like that old lady.

I didn't say thank you.

I am so difficult to predict and when I explode it is so intense that people can't handle it. They have no coping methods for people like me other than avoidance. And by the time the old lady pulls the knife--should you have been running thirty seconds ago? oh shit.

When I was a child I was literally taught that there is no such thing as a fair fight. If you fight you fight to win. You fight to cause as much injury as possible. You have to escalate with as much force as you are capable of instantly because otherwise someone will want to slowly escalate and walk up the ladder to find out what you are capable of and they will eventually find the ceiling. If you come back with an overwhelming show of force they don't try again.

I want to learn a martial art because I have been practicing my physical approximation of the movements I will need since I was a child. Stomp their toes. Everyone has weak feet. If you are close enough and the need is dire enough pull your fingers in to make a hard line on your hand and you have to hit really hard to break their nose and hurt them enough to let you get away. Knees are weak.

When I used to walk through the mountains past kids who gave me shit I carried a stout stick. I took out several much bigger kids by hitting their knees.

I'm not trying to make it sound like I won most of the time. I didn't. I lost. I got the shit beat out of me because there were almost always more of them and they were bigger. But I made sure they fucking hurt.

Now, as an adult, if someone attacked me I would find a way to rake them with my fingernails. That's DNA. Even if it does result in a more severe beating. No one is getting away with it again. I will have evidence.

Sometimes I don't like where the rabbit hole goes.


  1. i would love to see all 50 states, and drive across the country looking at the landmarks. that sounds totally awesome.
    and special snowflakes are awesome too, just like you :)
    and i hope i never piss you off to where i feel i should have started running 30 seconds ago...i'm not that fast.

    1. I haven't attacked anyone since junior high. You are probably safe.

  2. I have to just have slack sitting around. I can't run near capacity all the time. I just can't.

    This really resonates with me. I'm in the process of reducing my out-of-the-house obligations by a large percentage. Thankfully the people I've had to have awkward conversations with about this are socialized to accept "self-care" as a valid reason. Others won't be, I know. (That's why I'm starting with the ones I am.)

    I would dearly love to have more time at home to clean and organize, more time with my new wife, more time to myself to experience sunlight and rest and stuff I WANT to do (like Fairyland with you and the girls). Heading into my final semester of grad school, I am consciously trying to arrange my life so that some of that is possible. Slack is IMPORTANT.

    On a different note -- bucket lists are cool. :) I do better with a set deadline and smaller tasks, so I'm participating in Day Zero's "101 Things in 1001 Days" challenge ( It encourages me to do fun stuff as well as challenging new stuff.

  3. "He has this magnificent coworker who did that after college. She has no idea how much she inspired me."

    Was that Jess? She's amazing.