The Attic

Floating high above the pain
Turn away…
Don’t see
Don’t hear… don’t feel

Come, let’s play
Let’s forget about what’s happening below
Look, how many flowers can you see in the wallpaper?
How loud can we sing?

Many days past, playing near the ceiling
Then a tipping point…
Uncle came along
With needs and acts depraved

Floating high above was no longer enough
Singing did little to hush the screams

Come into The Attic
I built it just for you
White and pure
No shadows, no pain

I will protect you
Hide you
Keep you safe

This partial poem was written by Carrie (the protector of The Attic), before today’s emergency therapy session with Allison.  It was meant to tell how, and why The Attic was created.  It told us that, and so much more…  It told us where the current suicidal ideation is coming from.

Carrie guided the innocents into a place of safety within The Attic; all the while seeing the acts causing the dissociation.  Carrie’s whole world revolves around keeping those within The Attic safe from abuse.  So, when The Basement started to become involved in the healing process, Carrie saw healing as a threat.  She stills sees the world as an evil place – self-injury, child abuse, inequity, intolerance and hate all still occur.  Therefore, it’s a world still unsafe for those in her care.  The only solution she sees… suicide.

This is what I took into Allison today.  Because of the new clarity surrounding the issues, it was a really productive session…

We talked about the poem and image created about The Basement/Vault, and what it meant.  She was curious as to why the image was so imbalanced – with the box being so much smaller than the image representing hopes and dreams.  At first, we thought we had the meaning behind this image sorted, but her questioning made us rethink it.  In an image that I considered to indicate hopelessness and a sense of fear, she managed to show us hope.

Then our familiar nemesis… ACC.  ACC contacted us yesterday to tell us the final results of our latest assessment.  Immediately, M was wanting to fight the decision.  But by the end of the night, she was rethinking the need to fight.  She stood back and looked at the toll our interactions with ACC have had on us over the years… two suicide attempts and countless instances of self-injury.  Was that fight worth it?  In some ways, it is.  The fight gives M something to focus on, and something to be here for.  We’re used to fighting…  there’s a comfort in fighting something external.  But, it’s not healthy.  Allison asked what would happen if we directed the energy expended on fighting ACC into something healing… how’s that for a dose of reality!

Finally, how to help Carrie.  This was difficult.  Carrie has only ever come forward once or twice in therapy, and that was about 3 years ago.  We didn’t really get any sense of having resolved the problem, or the reason for the suicidal ideation.  But, we acknowledged that Carrie’s fears are real and tangible.  Allison tried to show how there is beauty in the world too… I’m not sure if she succeeded or not, but when we were walking back to work, we saw the blue sky for the first time in what seems like forever…

I’m not naive enough to believe that I’m safe.  But, there is a spark of hope that’s been absent for a long time.

Now playing: Creedence Clearwater Revival – Have You Ever Seen The Rain?
via FoxyTunes


26 thoughts on “The Attic

  1. This post reminded me of “The Yellow Wallpaper” and how I’d read it over and over and wish I could get lost in it, too, and never come out.

    Do you know what you will do yet about the ACC? I only get 30 visits per year, but then my therapist cuts her fee in half so I can afford it the rest of the time. It sounds like more pain is caused by fighting to get help, which causes more pain…..

    I love the poem and read it over and over. It really struck a chord with me. Thank you.


    • Hi Lisa,

      We’re going to leave ACC as it stands. We were given an updated diagnosis and an indication that our therapy would still be funded, that’s huge. The other stuff that M wanted to fight, is pretty meaningless. Yes, it would be good if the decision had been different, but it’s not worth the fight.

      I’ve never read “The Yellow Wallpaper”, I’ll track it down now… Thanks for the tip 🙂

      Take care,

  2. Wow CG, yo have so much going on internally and all of this creative expression coming out. The Attic poem is very honest and it shows how caring Carrie is. I’m sorry that your parts are in pain and I’m really pissed that ACC is giving you more stress. I looked at your post and I looked at roseroars’s and I saw to similar things that I thought were great: hope. You both talked about finding some hope that wasn’t there before and that makes me happy for you. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie The Neverending Story or maybe you hate it but, the hope part reminded me of the end of the movie when Fantasia’s been destroyed and all that’s left is one grain of sand. The Empress tells Bastian that the whole world of Fantasia can be rebuilt with that one grain of sand. I know that sounds silly but that’s what your “spark of hope” reminded me of. I’m glad there’s some hope in all the pain and please, please stay safe and take care of all of your parts. *Big, Big, Hug*

    • Hi tai,

      Hope is the key. Sometimes I struggle to find any, but I think I have enough to get me through the weekend and the wedding anniversary.

      I saw The Neverending Story, and remember reading the book intently. I’m not sure what I was looking for, but it feels like I was searching for something in it. I might see if I can track the movie down today and watch it again. Although, aren’t there some scary parts in it? Maybe I’ll leave it for a week or so, I don’t think I can handle scary at the moment.

      You don’t sound silly at all…

      Thanks and take care of you too 🙂
      (((warm safe hugs)))

      • Yes there are some scary parts involving the “Nothing” etc. I definitely felt my younger parts responding to the movie as I loved it when I was a kid. Mostly it was happy feelings but you might want to wait until you can handle it. 🙂

        • Thanks, I remember being scared and then seeing the Empress cry. I’ll leave it for a couple of weeks…

          I might order it online and by the time it’s arrived, I’ll be alright to watch it… Not that I’m looking for an excuse to order stuff while there’s a long weekend sale here or anything 🙂

          Take care 🙂

  3. How wonderful that everything came together at just the right time for such insight to begin! I love when that happens! I have found that knowledge and understanding bring change, so I’m hoping you experience postitive healing from this.

    • Hi Ivory,


      You’re right, everything coming together like this is huge. I walked to therapy and all I saw was the traffic lights and the pavement; walking back to work, I saw the greens of the trees and the blue of the sky. It was so different and very positive.

      I’m not silly enough to believe I’m safe, but I took a huge step in the right direction.

      Take care,

  4. Maybe Carrie needs a comfortable chair in the living room of your inner world. A seat where she can see the door to the attic, the door to the basement, and a clear view of the entries to the front and back entrance.

    Location, location, location.

    Big hugs,


    • Hi Meredith,

      Carrie never leaves The Attic, unless things are really bad and she needs to talk to One in The Basement. She doesn’t like this world or the evil that some people are capable of – I say “some people”, but she thinks everyone is evil. She seems to have calmed down after the session yesterday. So we are going to see what happens this weekend, and be very sure not to do anything that reinforces the view of the world being an evil place…

      Take care,

      • It makes sense that her place is in the attic, all in all. I understand a perspective of living in attics, and it makes complete sense to me.

        Does Carrie like birds? We think the birds help calm down the evil… and we lived for a long time in the trees, so we learned a lot about connecting sacred sky to painful earth by feeling the rhythm of the leaves in each season. And the rhythm of all the bird feathers and the strumming of squirrel tails helped me… us… to calm down about Earth. But it took a long time. And we lived at the topmost parts of buildings for years and years. Physically. And it never bothered us to climb stairs to get to our high, safe place. It was always worth the climb, because we felt very, very safe living in the top of a building. Life felt manageable from there.

        So… from all my innards… apparently… I/ we think that it’s really cool that Carrie does The Attic. We just didn’t understand what you were saying, at first.

        (Hi Carrie. The leaves are red, here, and yellow… and green. The views from My Attic are beautiful, right now, because it’s fall. ” )

        Beautiful poem. Beautiful.


        • I think part of the reason we studied the applied sciences, was to get a connection to the Earth. I’m not sure. It was definitely about seeing beauty in nature. There’s beauty in things many people don’t see, they become blind to the detail and beauty around them. That is sad.

          Take care,

        • Sorry, I answered you yesterday just after I got some triggering news, so I wasn’t really with it.

          I understand what you mean about being comfortable high up… we lived in a small town where there were no high rises, but we would often climb up on a bookcase and read. It felt safe up there, curled up beside the books. Our other favourite perch, was on top of the fence which bordered our house and our neighbour. It felt safe… you could see anyone coming to get you from every angle.

          It’s beautiful here now. All the spring flowers are in bloom and the sky is brilliant blue. The world can be a beautiful place.

          Thank you and take care,

  5. Your tweets a few minutes ago, I had a thought but couldn’t quite put it into words and a book I am reading gave me a curious idea…

    After reading your and other survivors who have or had blogs. It seems ACC is a common problem and a cause of frustration. That is of course obvious as they provide or did provide a service to help survivors heal and have managed it poorly. But reading your blog entry above in respect to Alison comments to you and your paragraph about ACC, I think I know what I want to say, but I am still not sure if I have portrayed it accurately.

    I understand that some of ACC’s policy decision makers have done wrong and their decisions do need to be fought. Neither am I trying to demean the position you and others are in, but it seems a lot of energy is expended fighting ACC. As I have said it is understandable, but I feel it is also a reaction of frustration at the current circumstances and stress caused by past trauma.
    It is a normal human reaction as I have seen similar reactions in business from all forms of managers and front line staff. AKA “The blame game” We blame a tangible single entity for frustrations we don’t totally understand or situations which are vastly complex.

    The difficult part in a survivors case is therapy in most cases is needed to find the answers and one organisation has the means to provide it in a cost effective manner.

    After saying all that, my question is can we help each other out? i.e. survivors and non-survivors help each other out to understand? It should not be a lonely journey.

    • Hi Chris,

      You’ve hit on the issue that Allison and talked about yesterday…

      As a survivor, I’m used to fighting for everything. I know it may sound melodramatic, but many survivors had to fight for even the most basic of needs. What Allison was talking about yesterday, is that many survivors become so used to fighting, that it’s scary when they don’t have anything to fight anymore. It’s like we’ve become stuck in a fight mode, and we need that energy and adrenaline to be directed somewhere. When it doesn’t have an external target, we can become lost.

      I see this in so many of my behaviours. I worked full-time while doing my masters part time over two years. It was all about fighting through the assignments and using that stubbornness and determination to get something done. I fought ACC, because it was a tangible, but anonymous, representation of something external controlling me. There’s a huge power dynamic for survivors when dealing with ACC. It can be incredibly destructive.

      In answer to your last question… I’m not sure. I don’t know how I present on this blog, but in real life I’m incredibly shy and quiet – yet also loud and assertive 🙂 But the shy and quiet is the typical presentation. So only a couple of people around me know that I experience any difficulty with daily life. I use a fake name in FaceBook for all of my mental health related stuff, just so that people won’t find out about me. All of this is because of the intolerance from the people around me towards mental health issues. This is possibly the biggest barrier…

      So for me, the thing that non-survivors can do to help, is not be so judgmental and intolerant of differences. It makes it sound like we’re in two camps, and while I don’t mean it in a negative way, that is how it can feel sometimes. I’ve sat during staff meetings and sunk back into my chair as the rest of the staff joke about weight issues, whether people have had their pill today… Just basic lack of respect stuff. I don’t have the strength to say that I have a mental health issue. I don’t even have the strength to say that “according to the statistics 1 in 5 people will suffer from a mental health issue during their life… there’s 14 of us sitting around this table – do the math”.

      Talking to people such as yourself Chris, helps me realise that there are good people out there. I don’t know you. But, I’ve seen your photos, heard of your empathy towards kangaroos that were being swamped by tourists… they’re all signs of a good person.

      Thank you. Thank you very much.

      Take care,

      • OK that answers some questions and obviously it is very complex subject and it seems there is very little information for the general public unless you are compelled to read medical journals.

        A lot of those jokes in the staff room are born from ignorance and insecurities with the problems they are joking about. That is part of why Billy T James was so successful, he made jokes about NZs ignorance of Maori culture and our insecurities about our image.

        How people receive information about these issues is the difficult bit. We hate change, but some people accept valid arguments. We are in a time of change of acceptability to peoples differences. i.e. a few years back it was not acceptable to be gay and it was OK to drive drunk, we are now starting to do the same with depression. Unfortunately our somewhat overly PC society is making it difficult to air these issues.

        In a way people are in two camps and it goes for any mental disorder or “life style choice”. My aunt is a nurse and could not explain depression to my parents as the concept seemed foreign. My flatmate also cannot understand it. However, my parents could understand the medical explanation of bi-polar disorder, but not how that affected a persons daily life.

        As much as you don’t like coming out of your safety zone, the general Joe public does not either and the initial response is denial. Nobody should be afraid of reaching out, but we are as it is a survival instinct to hide our ‘weaknesses’.

        • I agree that it seems so much easier for people to accept something that has a definable “medical” reason ie: a chemical imbalance. I’m bipolar too besides the DID, PTSD and all the other lovely letters, and even though people here are still weirded out by it and can act like idiots, they have an easier time accepting that because it’s “chemical”. The other stuff? People don’t handle that well at ALL. It makes me angry, but I can’t fight every person on the planet, I can only try to help the people I know to stop being idiots. 😀

          • Simply it is a difference between a condition described by a Doctor and one described by a Psychologist. In a persons perception, a Doctor has more authority so their definition is easier to accept even if we don’t understand it. They have just been around longer than Psychologists.

            Finding out about mental illness is a learning process, some take longer than others and others get annoyed and cannot learn it at all. Also you have the primal reactions to ignore and deny. The emotionally based (non-physical??)disorders i.e. PTSD, Depression, DID… are more difficult as they are emotional I would assume each and everyone displays the characters of it differently and to some people on the outside it may even seem illogical.

            In all reality Psychology is a new science. We only really diagnosed PTSD after Vietnam and in the general population later (80s/90s)??

            Like most things you are currently dealing with it is small steps and don’t give up on the people you are close to who don’t understand, it will take them time. However some may never understand, but hopefully they can accept that. Humans are stupid and intelligent all at the same time.

          • Yes tai, most people can accept the chemical and medical issues… but things like trauma are too uncomfortable for many people. Odd how someone sexually assaulting me can make them feel uncomfortable. Again, possibly feeding into their own insecurities, vulnerability and mortality… I don’t know, but it’s sad.

            Btw… I think you could take on the idiots of the world. But some people are happy being idiots, so will never change.

        • I agree Chris…

          Billy T. was brilliant at the sort self-depreciating humour that could show up the average insecurities and ignorance within our culture. Yet, I know that my father used to watch his shows and use it to further entrench his racism.

          It’s a difficult dynamic. How to challenge the current intolerance in a safe way. In some ways I do this through this blog, but that’s pretty small and meaningless really. No one at work will ever read this, and even if they did, they’re not in a position to change their way of thinking. The other week during our weekly meeting, we were talking about the new volunteer who is hearing impaired… when the manager said that we would now be a diverse workplace, I said we already were because I am hearing impaired. One staff member immediately started talking really loud, asking what they could do to help me, and a team leader sitting beside me yelled at me “can you hear me now”. It was ridiculous! I’ve been at this place for nearly four years, but they found out one little thing about me and they all went overboard.

          I know we’re changing slowly as a society. That does give me hope, but it feels really slow and clumsy. JK and others, have done great things in placing a human face to mental health issues in this country. At least it’s a start…

          My mother is a nurse, and she doesn’t understand mental health issues. She’s used to physical things where you take a pill or do an operation. I think as a race, we are uncomfortable with others weaknesses… it causes us to reflect on our own imperfections and mortality.

          Take care,

          • I disagree with your statement that your blog is small and meaningless. Any change to society’s intolerances and perception is done by many people doing small things to make a larger presence. i.e. Nelson Mandela did not stop apartheid in South Africa by himself, neither did Martin Luther King for the USA.

            In aviation there is a saying ‘No incident is made of a single problem, but many smaller problems leading up to to that incident’ I believe the same goes for change. I use that analogy a lot at work… the difficulty is making a one tracked management understand that.

            This blog and others are getting survivors together and gives them a voice and validation within themselves. It will slowly lead into something bigger and SOSA is a good start at making a safe community which will then be able to attack and change society’s fears and misconceptions.

            It won’t happen overnight but it will happen :p

            • Have you heard of The Starfish Story – which was originally The Star Thrower by Loren Eisley but has been adapted and simplified on the net? It’s that same principle… we can make a difference.

              The greatest thing I’ve found through blogging, is the online community. I’ve met some amazing, courageous people who have inspired and helped me. I greatly appreciate that.

              Take care,

  6. Hi CG! That poem rings so many familiar bells for me. You are brave to be entering and defining all of this! I love that you found hope…it may seem small but it will grow bigger and bigger. I don’t know about you but I found the world outside of my family and home to be a better place. I was so afraid of the world but then I found it was my family I had to fear more. That was a biggy for me. Keep up the good work…again, you are brave.

    • Hi Nansie,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂

      Hope sort of feels like an unobtainable Mecca for me at the moment. I glimpse at it, then it’s lost again.

      I’m glad you’re free from your family. To be free of your abusers is a huge healing step.

      Please take care,

  7. Sorry I am so late in writing.

    This is a huge leap forward for you! Really great! Sounds like more of you is on board with trying to change things. The first step is to explain what it is… and this poem and the talk with Allison and the last one (and the art) are all huge positive steps.

    I do remember that when you did similar poems back many many months ago, you also had some significant gains. Tells me that this kind of expression is helpful to you.


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