A Shaman Daughter
Monday, April 14, 2008
I was thinking this morning at work about the myth of Psyche that Howard had so much to say about when I was in grad school. Psyche on the beach meticulously sorting things out. “The work of psyche.”
But what about the work I am doing right now, preparing cloth and then cutting it up into small things, earrings, sun catchers, etc.? Is that the reverse of psyche’s work, or part of psyche’s work that the myth doesn’t talk about in the first place?
Who mixed up and dumped all that stuff on the beach for Psyche to sort in the first place?
When ER was friendly this morning when I took the dog back over, and walked up to me and gave me a sideways hug immediately “as if he was glad to see me,” I didn’t know who I was in relation to that unusual response of his.
People have to be consistent in order for my brain to process myself in relation to them. He surprised me. It would NEVER be that big a deal for normals, but it threw me – and now I so wish I could have just enjoyed it. It is that rare.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
I try to tell my truth to ER, but he cannot change it…he says I wrote a mean letter that I can’t ride in the new truck, never could go out with him all dressed up. He said he could never live with me. I know no man could.
I just called and told him I am thinking of what my mother did to my father, and I am sorry for what I do to him. My mother could never do that, apologize to my father. I guess that is a big difference between her and I somehow.
But I still hate it when I feel like my mother, and when I further complicate things with ER and drive him away – further than he already is. He is strong, and he certainly knows how to keep his distance from me.
Roxy called, and comforts and encourages me. She says I have to be strong to be her friend – that water seeks its own level.
It’s not only who I am, but HOW I am.
I think with a dd [disorganized-disoriented insecure] attachment that my attachment system is activated most of the time – because no rupture is ever fully repaired, it can’t be – and activated too frequently because of distress and duress that is chronic.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Today I would say there are three classes of us: those that are wounded, those that were wounded and damaged, and those that were wounded, damaged and broken. I believe my sister Cindy, and ER, were wounded, I was wounded and damaged, and my mother was wounded, damaged and broken. Perhaps?
Where does that expression come from, “coming to terms” with something? I am coming to terms with the fact that I cannot live with a man. I do not have that place of peace in my soul that a peaceful life and a peaceful relationship come from. ER is not at fault for my wound or my damaged-ness. If I had been whole, I bet we could have been together. I believe we have that quality of love and affection and attraction for one another.
But I can’t do that, and he needs and deserves that person in his life. I need to let go of everything related to what he chooses to do, as hard for me as that is. Because my coming to terms is about me confronting and understanding my own “ball of wax” and working with it.
Something or someone gave me the desire to make beautiful things with my hands.
Something or someone gave me the desire to move forward, even through the darkest storm, to continually search for my own truth, for THE truth of what happened to me and what the consequences of that are.
I also have remarkable people in my life that love me, even if the cord seems broken that would allow me to FEEL their love. I see the image of two people sitting, facing one another, one with a full glass of water, one with an empty glass. The dd attachment person’s cup can never be filled, no matter how much others try to reach across and pour some of their water into my cup.
A huge question: Can this breach be healed, and if so, how? It has to be an inner job. An internal one.
The truth has many levels and we operate on whatever level we can tolerate and understand at any given time. Ramona says part of the reason that my children turned out OK is that I made more good decisions than bad ones as I was raising them.
Dissociation and the storm
We disconnect and let it blow around us because we know there’s nothing else we can do
When we try to actively engage in surviving it, our resources are incomplete and our efforts often misdirected. But we are always taxed. Our resources are taxed. We are surrounded by a sense of foreboding and threat, not a feeling of well-being and security.
I am warping the small loom, and thinking of “don’t go off half cocked” only it becomes “don’t go off half warped.” If brain development is faulty in infancy, that person will never have a chance to fulfill their full potential because the loom of the picture of their life was never warped correctly.
But nobody tells us this. Yet we ALWAYS know deeply that something is wrong. My book could give these people an important rung on the ladder of “continuing on –going on being” as the experts put it. Maybe the first rung so these people can get on the ladder in the first place – that other rungs, other things will make sense once the pattern is made clear.
The patterns of our lives, the picture of our lives – bad warp, faulty picture, even as we try as hard as we can.
The missing piece that none of the other books talk about…
As with this warp I am working with, I made mistakes in spite of being as careful as I could be. But with work they were repairable and the entire warp was salvaged. I could sort and uncross and straighten tangles. If a thread was broken, I could tie on a new piece…………
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I have to enter these notes written at work today
That I am and was as a tiny child determined, had no choice, stubborn, strong willed (mother used to punish me for this and the memory about pounding my fists down the hallway when grandma was visiting and mother sent me to my room appears). I forged ahead all of my life – to “make do” with what I had – never knew something was wrong.
Like words that are missing in a sentence. We can look both ways and can figure out what’s missing, figure it out. Jumping gaps found my way – like Hansel and Gretel if someone stole huge chunks of their bread crumb pathway/trail, but left enough if they looked really hard and with effort they could find their way back home.
Now like I forgot how to do this and all my past tricks have been erased and I would have to start over again.
I go so far and get stuck and can’t make any further connections or progress, and have to keep going back to the beginning but end up in the same wrong place.
Like last night trying to figure out the correct length for my weaving. Ramona had written 3.33’ and I kept reading that as one yard, 36 inches and then a third of a yard or another 12 inches. I could not figure it out, yet mentioning it to her on the phone this morning it was clear….the measurement was in feet, and a third of a foot is 4”, hence her summation that it would be 24” by 40” to be proportionally correct.
Now chemo has erased all that I figured out going down my pathway since childhood. I taught myself to think in alternative ways and in an alternative fashion. I had to learn differently in the first place, and then was abused for being slow and stupid. My way has always been different. But there’s too much tension and anxiety now as I have to deal not only with the difference in my thinking abilities and process, but with the forgetting how it worked, how I figured out to make it work.
The bridges are out that I built as I taught myself to think. Erased, like those magic plastic slates or etch’a’sketch, or the metal magnet on a stick create a face and then shake it toys of my childhood.
Friday, April 18, 2008
I put on my morning resurrection of a brain, pieced together for my day’s endeavors. It is disoriented and disorganized in the morning after sleep. Like I wrote before, sitting on the edge of the bed and standing upright like a needle about to stitch itself through time.
I don’t care what Dr. Schore says, it is not only about how our brains interact in a dyad. It is about how we carry our brain into each day and have to organize and reorganize it as we go along. Pulling our thoughts and their patterns closer around us like putting on the clothes I am going to face the world with today. Knowing the effort to think adequately is flawed, but also knowing it is the best that I can do – while I at the same time hope for no surprises.
Each day being like a commute on a swiftly moving and dangerous freeway, always trying to be prepared for the sudden and unexpected. Knowing we are missing skills, resources and abilities that most others have. That makes us not as confident or competent as others, therefore we cannot have their competence to make it through equally.
Like perhaps a loud ringing in the ears that makes it so we cannot hear as well as others. We are always under strain because we are always straining to make sense in the world.
I pull myself together and reinvent myself for today the best I can. Without the connected flow of a coherent story because I do not have a coherent mind/brain. Because our PTSD makes us react to triggers constantly from the past, we lack the same control over our reactions (hence less confidence). We are reactionaries, like Reactive Attachment Disorder.
In reassembling ourselves each moment of duress and trigger – reminds me of putting on makeup during chemo, I couldn’t remember the steps. I have to remember – re-member – myself each day, sometimes many times.
The simplest things startle us – and trigger the startle response.
Like dementia when someone grieves all over again because they don’t remember their loved one is gone. Our memories are not stored correctly or triggered normally.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Interesting to find something I actually have a passionate opinion about. I think we as a nation are allowing KGB tactics to be used against the “illegals” holding jobs and already established within our boundaries. If we can’t keep them out at the border, then they are
PEOPLE AMONG US
and are us. Electrify the border. Landmine it. But if they are here, they are us. Catch them within 100 miles, or leave them alone.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Imagine how difficult and unsettling it would be if your brain had to reorganize itself for a world after the sunset, to adjust to a world without sunlight, only to have to totally and completely reinvent itself every morning to a different world with sunshine in it.
Our brains make this adjustment automatically for us. It has “learned” that both the world of sunlight and the world of darkness are the same world. Yet for those of us with altered brains many less obvious adjustments require an effort similar to this in order for us to accommodate ourselves and try to do it appropriately. In our world it is like the sun just falls out of sight instantly and without warning. We cannot predict which reality we will find ourselves in at any given time – both inwardly and outwardly, usually the latter is a problem for me any time I have to organize myself around people. They are not predictable to me.
But nobody’s brain can operate without some ability to predict. Total chaos is avoided by a prediction that the world is malevolent. Our brains were made in such an environment, so fear is at our baseline. So we are always suspicious. How could it be otherwise for us?
So if I have to reinvent myself and reorganize myself minimally every morning, if not many times in a day, imagine what a disorienting experience having cancer has been. I can no longer even trust my body.
This is, no doubt, basic to a reactive attachment disorder. Sometimes I can feel myself having to reinvent myself just because someone asks me a question. I have to stop and take a detour, rather than answer automatically, searching for an answer as if it is a set of lost keys. Do I even own the keys? Do I have the information inside of me to even answer? Questions require state transitions. They surprise me. They are coming out of “left field.” I don’t know what the person expects to hear, wants to hear, or how they will judge me when I respond with anything at all. Let alone, how to I “get the answer right?”
So exactly how do we be “appropriate?” Let alone conscious? Yet our operating systems require of us far more consciousness than the average person’s because their brains were created to respond naturally to the benevolent demands of the world that created them. We respond automatically from a brain made to deal with danger. Chronic, constant, unpredictable danger. We would have to be able to in effect magnify the world, which to me is the same thing as slowing it way way way down. In slow motion we could see the tiny minute details that others see and respond to automatically.
Like the new fast speed photographic possibilities than Schore talks about that now let us see the extremely rapid interplay of facial cues that are exchanged between a mother and infant as the brain is being “programmed” in the beginning. Our brains did not get that regulation (and socially required) programming then, so how can we respond appropriately now?
We have to realize that the process of building a human brain, nervous system and immune system evolved over time in a world where infants were the most absolutely prized resource for the continuation of the species to be promoted. We will not be “normal” if we do not get what our species required during those brain-building years.
Trepidation – related in origin to Greek for pressing grapes
Monday, April 21, 2008
It’s not only about us having “good enough” mothering or parenting. It’s also about us getting the message from SOMEBODY that we are “good enough” ourselves. I’ve never seen it put that way, but that is what it is.
If we don’t get what we need and we suffer from that, someone might say, “that’s a shame,” which we end up feeling is “shame on us” or that we are shameful because we couldn’t stop the abuse. What a shame. I KNOW they aren’t talking about us…..but if we weren’t “good enough” then how do we exactly become good enough now?
I think it ties in to being fundamentally disappointed when we are born and the world is too harsh. And being made to feel that we are the disappointment. Like I want to ask ER, “Did I disappoint you today? Am I a disappointment to you? Was I disappointing today?”
It all ties into worthy, worthwhile, worth something – and it IS good or bad when you come from a borderline’s body and a borderline’s brain.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Today I am thinking about associations, how we string things together in a chain that are related together in our minds. There are choices being made somewhere about what goes well together, something like picking out an outfit to wear, or like combining things together in a recipe. There are priorities going on in this selection, patterning and arranging process. If it were random we would be in chaos.
Yet most of what people accomplish in a day appears to happen automatically. It is a slow and cumbersome process to have to be conscious all of the time, or even most of the time, of how this process is occurring.
Sometimes I think those with dissociative identity disorder are the lucky ones. Their brains have found a way to organize that does not require any conscious thought. It just happens. I wasn’t lucky enough to form and define a single identity, let alone multiple ones. So today I am left, after the disorganizing affect of chemo on my brain, with a faulty system of reacting to and with anything or anyone.
This sense of being small, confused, disoriented, vulnerable and fragile doesn’t help. It is a sense of a lack of ability to competently and confidently manage all of what goes on around me in a day. I am left wanting to keep the stimulation and opportunities for “bifurcations” at an absolute minimum. No surprises. No chances of making a mistake. Doing something wrong. Misinterpreting, being at a loss for words or for a “proper and correct” response. It makes me tired, and I am in my body already tired. Rupture and repair, the name of the game in life, but rupture without opportunity for repair tires a person right out to the bone.
A world without earthquakes is a different world than one without them. An earthquake moves things around and changes their position, and by nature makes a mess of human organization of things. It is important to know where you put things, where they are located, where you can depend on them being. Our internal landscape is probably similar to out external one, and seeing that the brain operates (as the experts are noticing) by formulating first a nonverbal image of things, and then keeps them as metaphors, one can say that a dissociated internal landscape might be very similar to living on a planet where the deep internal foundation is volatile and unstable, unpredictable and fundamentally dangerous. It is not a safe world.
Is it that simple? That a secure attachment happens in a world basically free of earthquakes, and that those of us raised in a malevolent world life in a world where the earth quakes most of the time? That the inhabitants of each world cannot fundamentally imagine the world of the other because it would require that each have the foundation of the other – which of course is not a logical possibility?
Those with attachment difficulties could form a brain that knows where the basic fault lines run, and they react to those areas of life but have a “main base” that is stable. Those of us raised in complete chaos have no “main base.” That “main base” is related to what they call in attachment theory the “secure base.” Same thing. I have absolutely no “secure main base” other than “nature” and “making things with my hands.” I guess I fundamentally accepted that my body was a “safe and secure main base” until the cancer hit. I don’t make that fundamental assumption anymore because it no longer FEELS true.
I can’t even get up and move away from this chair without experiencing this strange sensation that I an my body are not connected together, that it has a life of its own separate from ME, whomever and whatever this ME is – which I do not know. The body is more known than the ME because it is made up of physical elements. The brain houses the ME, true, so it is essentially physiologically based in this material lifetime. But the perceiving and “responsible for itself” separately from the body ME is far less definable, intangible, perhaps versatile – the one that “uses” perceptions to its own ends. Or tries to. And is SUPPOSED to.
Perhaps I can describe this sensation not only a “floaty” but like ME floats alone near and with the body like a piece of dandelion fluff or a feather might follow an object that moves and creates an air current that it remains in separate from the object that created the draft, or the air movement.
Makes me think of my Indian name, floating around in the air like the eagles do, or the clouds, or a dry leaf falling from a tree as it follows an air current.
Strange perception and realization.
It’s sort of a simultaneous ME and NOT ME experience. As an infant’s brain is forming its interactions with its mother, with its caregivers, and then with the larger world are enabling it to make these fundamental distinctions in the brain: What is ME and what is NOT ME?
The indigenous cultures had a very different assessment of this fundamental “problem” of being alive. The Western cultures seem to have evolved a way that very finely distinguishes what is ME from NOT ME, and in a way that is harmful to life itself. And if it is harmful to life overall, it has to be harmful in the end to the individual who operates under this illusion – delusion.
Magical thinking stage – separating out illusion from delusion, I might note here. This is as per the book on borderline that I read where the writer talks about this as a flawed stage of development for a borderline who never accomplishes a “normal” transition through it.
So this has to merge with a consideration of boundaries, where something starts, stops, ends, begins. Only so many boundaries are not hard, rigidly defined, concrete or absolute. They are fluid, perhaps indescribable. So when someone talks about “boundary issues” or “boundary problems” the full complexity underneath the surface, the whole assumed structure has to be considered. And we also have to realize how culturally “bound” the concept of any boundaries is.
I cried all the way through the 2 hour interview I went to today in Douglas with Ramona while she did all the talking with the woman behind the counter.
I later told Ramona it’s like in times of stress/distress like that, as if people are speaking a different language that I do not know. The words are not synchronized correctly with their lips and they are talking really fast and I am under stress with a demand that I MUST understand and get “this right.” I cannot do it.
Now that we are home I had another metaphor come to me. It’s like everyone was born into a world where the “game of life” is played with a deck of cards that they all share in common. Not me. Not those like me. We were dealt not even a different, difficult hand. We don’t even have the same deck. Then how are we supposed to compete? Like with ER. It could never have worked with him like it has between him and all the other women he has had and does have in his life. They all share the same deck. Not me.
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*Age 57 – Dec. 2007 – July 2008 – (A Shaman Daughter Pages)