My world is crashing in on me

My world is crashing in on me, and no one sees. That’s ok, because I am one of many.

My world is crashing in on me, and no one sees. That’s wrong, because I am a person, and people are meant to matter.

Nine years ago today I wore red as I walked out the door to get married.  My future mother-in-law could barely contain her scorn at my attire.  I didn’t wear red by deliberate choice, but when you leave the preparations for the wedding until the day before, you get what you can.

Memories of the wedding are sketchy, at best.  We had a picnic the day before the wedding with the mother and two friends.  We did this because we were expecting my future husbands family to ruin the wedding day… they did.  One thing I remember clearly, is when the small gathering threw rose petals over us after the toasts, none of the petals went into my drink; so my mother-in-law picked some up off the ground, threw them into my glass, and made a smart comment about that being better.

Many weddings are about the expectations of the bride… mine were of dread.  In many ways, the wedding was not my own… my sister-in-law has such a dominating personality, that she overshadowed everything – my hair, the photography, directing people around, etc.  The sister, whom I hadn’t communicated with in over ten years passed sarcastic comments onto the mother about her not receiving a wedding invitation… yes, there was the double whammy of her sarcasm, and the mother’s need to inform me of that sarcasm… My future in-laws played games regarding whether they were going to attend, or not.  They only came because their other son paid for the entire trip.  Then on the day, my mother decided that her outfit was too similar to my only invited friends, so I had to help her find an alternative to wear…  Many of these things are run-of-the-mill issues associated with wedding days; but, they increased my anxiety, and therefore levels of dissociation.

The drama didn’t end at the ceremony, but continued through to mix-ups with the billing of the hotel room for the wedding night… We met several very nice police that day…

Did I mention that I didn’t want to get married?  I didn’t.  The only reason the marriage happened, is because he needed to marry.  He needed that security.  Later, as the marriage was falling apart, he often said that if we separated that it would be the end of us both… that I would commit suicide, and that he would be devastated with grief as he returned to the comfort of my mother – note, that he was wanting to gain comfort from my mother, not his.  That sentiment alone indicates his level of dysfunction, pain and confusion…

Marriage was never my thing.  During school, when introduced to the concept of debating, I was on the affirmative team arguing that marriage was an outdated institution.  It was rather amusing, as we drew a picture of marriage as a physical institution… the teacher changed the wording for the debate the following year.  We did get an A though…

I’ve usually seen marriage as a tie to someone who would hurt you.  My marriage didn’t dissuade me from that opinion.  Saying that, I have seen happy marriages… marriages where a combination of compatibility, hard work, and a variety of other factors, have meant that everyone involved has grown in positive ways…  At times, I wish I had that… But, I know I’m too broken for such things.

So yes, my world in crashing in on me… I have failed to work with Eating Disorder Services because I couldn’t meet the directives they established… I have failed at creating any sort of working relationship with my new team leader, and am now building a reputation as being difficult within the workplace… My continual poor communication skills have resulted in my withdrawal from my support system, and causing hurt to those who have braved staying around… Allison is left in the dark as to the reasoning for my behaviour, as I continue to withdraw and become less communicative… Then, earlier this week, the final straw, this chain email from the mother…

I remember the cheese of my childhood,
and the bread that we cut with a knife,
when the children helped with the housework,
and the men went to work not the wife.

The cheese never needed an ice chest,
and the bread was so crusty and hot,
the children were seldom unhappy
and the wife was content with her lot.

I remember the milk from the billy,
with the yummy cream on the top,
our dinner came hot from the oven,
and not from the fridge in the shop.

The kids were a lot more contented,
they didn’t need money for kicks,
just a game with our mates in the paddock,
and sometimes the Saturday flicks.

I remember the shop on the corner,
where a pen’orth of lollies was sold
do you think I’m a bit too nostalgic,
or is it….I’m just getting old?

I remember when the loo was the dunny,
and the pan man came in the night,
it wasn’t the least bit funny
going out the back with no light.

The interesting items we perused,
from the newspapers cut into squares,
and hung on a peg in the outhouse,
it took little to keep us amused.

The clothes were boiled in the copper,
with plenty of rich foamy suds
but the ironing seemed never ending
as Mum pressed everyone’s duds

I remember the slap on my backside,
and the taste of soap if I swore
anorexia and diets weren’t heard of
and we hadn’t much choice what we wore.

Do you think that bruised our ego?
or our initiative was destroyed
we ate what was put on the table
and I think life was better enjoyed.

I realise that she is reminiscing about her childhood… But, she also knows that I experienced sexual abuse within the environment that this poem glorifies… Oh, and yeah, she knows about my eating disorder too…  The irony is that her childhood wasn’t perfect… if it was, she wouldn’t be this unaware of the potential impact of this poem on me…

So yes, my world in crashing in on me…  Oddly enough, I don’t think it’s going to hurt.

Now playing: Audioslave – Doesn’t remind me


Hurt and go

As a warning, the following poem could be triggering because of abuse and suicidal ideation related themes.

I’ve had a few rough weeks – visiting the town where my ex-husband lives, work related stress, inconsistent messages from the Eating Disorder Service, and an emotionally traumatic assessment by the Eating Disorders psychiatrist… It has stirred up so much in me, that I’m barely coping. Well, to be honest, I’m not coping…

Hurt and go

Hurt and go
Hurt and go
Hurt and go
That’s all they ever did
Even when they were smiling
Hurt and go

It was worse when they smiled
You knew it was going to be bad, real bad
They wanted you close
It was all on

They taught me my worth
No matter what anyone else says or does
My worth was proven long ago
Everything since that time is an illusion
A pretense
A play on words and thoughts

I am nothing
No, not nothing
A thing
An object
A toy for amusement
An aberration

If I was anything else
They wouldn’t have done those things

If I was anything else
It would’ve mattered

If I was anything else
It would hurt so much I’d rather be dead

Oh wait, it does.

Hope is a thing with feathers

I’ve never really don’t understand poetry.  I don’t understand the hidden meanings, and I get lost very quickly.  But, as I was reading the following poem about hope by Emily Dickinson, the tears came.  I could easily see the bird as a metaphor for hope…

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Emily Dickinson

I could do with some hope…

Now playing: The Fray – Be still

Never a child

This is the start of something written last night…

I was never a child
I never played
I never laughed
I never talked

I only watched
I only hurt
I only played
I was never a child

I’m finding it increasingly difficult to write, reflect, or do anything artistic… as soon as I try, anxiety hits, and I doubt myself.  I think that the main reason for this, is the continued compartmentalisation, and disconnect that I’m experiencing… On the surface, I appear to have everything “together”… yet, I’m struggling with feeling so overwhelmed, that I’m again in the suicidal abyss.

It’s easy to list off the things that are causing me to feel overwhelmed… it’s more difficult to address them.  My ability to verbalise anything during therapy is near zero.  I’m constantly assaulted with images of graphic self-injury, as I sit in silence…  What torture the mind can put you through, never ceases to amaze me.  A combination of my worst fears, horror movies, and flashbacks are now a regular Monday morning occurrence…

In theory, I know that the inability to write, speak, and the compartmentalisation, are all symptoms of the overwhelm… but, I’m very aware that I’ve been like this for a long time now.  It seems as if my “good moments” are further and further apart.  When people ask how I am, the only words I can say are “I’m ok”…  I’m not able to say anything that would explain what’s happening in my head.  Part of this, is my continued need for invisibility; but a larger part is that nothing I do seems to connect with reality.  In so many ways, I seem to only exist in the moment… not in a positive, mindful way; but in a space where I have no sense of anything as being real… I’m just “there”, with no connection to anything.  Intellectually, I know this isn’t good… it’s always been a precursor to serious bouts of self-injury… but, I’m at a loss as to how I can ease it.

Allison also seems at a loss as to what will help.  Considering how little I’m able to verbalise what’s happening, that’s understandable.  Last week, Allison had assumed that I’d put her back in the “useless” basket… but, I know that she can’t work with someone who can’t talk.  This is all on me, not anyone else.  In case you hadn’t noticed, my self-loathing and intolerance are at new heights…  But, I know that unless I can start to communicate, I’m going to continue down this negative path.  I need to stop isolating, and reach out… I need to start caring…  I need to stop playing the game…

It hasn’t escaped my notice that I’ve reverted back to the dysfunctional behaviours of the past… outwardly appearing fine, and hiding the chaos.  The piece I wrote last night was about never being a child because of that disconnect… if I’m not able to make any positive changes soon, I’m not going to have a life because of that same disconnect.

Crossed Cultures

I recently came across this poem, which although being about trying to fit into a culture that is not your own, I identified with strongly…

Crossed Cultures

A child, I skipped alone
over cracks in concrete

not daring to look behind
not daring to fall. I was the
dark shadow

that moved
beneath my uniformed body
a shadow stamping its rhythm
on my skin

the threads
of my mother’s tongue reaching out
to furl me in close embrace
her hot orchid breath

you are not one of them.
but I am! I cried, jumping higher,
running faster

but still
the shadow curled its wily
blossoms about my knees, my hands
my throat

and others
saw and shook my hand and welcomed me
to my own country and asked,
how does it feel
to be you?

And I lied
and said, fine, the words
like sandpaper on bare skin
and I said

fine, kia ora,
no worries, yeah, gidday mate
and they told me my English
was amazing.

So I took
my shadow home with me. I stood
so the shadow
was smaller. I opened my eyes,
stared directly at the sun.

I wanted to be blind
so at last I’d fit in.

By Renee Liang
(Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – NonCommercial – ShareAlike 3.0 New Zealand License).

The themes of acceptance, alienation, and conflicting messages are powerful.

I came across the poem through the Mix & Mash Awards, with this poem being part of the winning entry in the Literature Remix section by Allan Xia, and also called Crossed CulturesYou will need to click on the image of the poem to be able to see it properly, but I found it to be a worthwhile extra click.  The image that Allan used within his remix associated with the line “not daring to fall” was what initially caught my eye; but I think he did a brilliant job of mashing the two media and incorporating his own artwork.

Now playing: Missy Higgins – Stuff and Nonsense
via FoxyTunes

Sports, pack mentality and abuse

Note: This may trigger due to talk of abuse and the Sandusky abuse scandal.

Cold, hard concrete floor
Wooden seats, newly stained
Cicadas singing
Tree silhouettes dance across the window

This is the first verse of a poem that I wrote today.  I won’t share the rest of it with you, because it’s too raw and personal.

Raw is probably the best way to describe how I’m feeling at the moment.  I’m struggling to make sense of what is going on, and there might not be too much of this which makes sense, but I’ll try to keep it coherent…

When the news of the Sandusky scandal broke, I wasn’t surprised to find that this man had been protected by those around him.  It makes sense – power, loyalty, pack mentality, morality, etc; all play a part in people staying silent about abuse for so long.  This, I understand.  I even understand the anger that some of the students exhibited at the firing of Joe Paterno… when your illusions of someone are shown to be false, it’s difficult to cope with.  I know that this is only an assumption about their motivations, but it makes sense to me.

It also makes a certain amount of sense that the photos I saw associated with the scandal headlines, were not those of Sandusky; but instead of Joe Paterno.  He was the more well known of the two.  But it also shows another sign of how the real tragedy of this scandal gets lost… where is the talk of the victims?  These boys (some of whom are now men), were vulnerable and allegedly abused.  As far as I can tell, they have yet to determine the identity of the victim in the showers.  I realise that identifying this person might be difficult after all these years; but to me, he’s symbolic of how anonymous and vulnerable these victims were.

This is where it becomes difficult to separate my own experiences from the ones surrounding the scandal.  I often describe myself as being invisible and disposable; and this is exactly how these boys seem to have been treated by Sandusky.  They were vulnerable, and he was in a position of power… he is described as paying attention to them, giving them gifts and opportunities that they wouldn’t have otherwise had – that is, he groomed them.

The cynic in me says that this invisibility and disposability has spilled over into some of the media coverage of the scandal, as the victims take a back-seat to the careers of football coaches…

I’m the first to admit that I don’t know anything about football, but I do know a bit about the sports pack mentality that can contribute to this sort of cover-up.  I grew up in a small town where the weekends were dominated by sport.  It was a crowd that you were either a part of it, or not.  If you were part of the crowd, then your life became intertwined with these other people to such an extent, that your children would call your friends “uncle” or “aunt”; you would laugh as you watched your drunk friend stumble towards their car when the bar closed; you would laugh at the racist and sexist jokes, then tell a few of your own…  It was very much “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”.  Admittedly, this was 30 odd years ago, but some of that sport culture still remains.  Even if the acts have changed, the camaraderie and sense of community remains.  When things get bad, you talk to one of the crowd, you don’t involve outsiders…  So even though I don’t agree with his actions, I can understand why the graduate assistant called his father, and then talked to his superiors within the organisation.  He failed that boy in the shower; and in so doing, kept his position within the crowd – it takes courage to stand up to the crowd… isn’t it sad that it takes courage to do the right thing?

The problem is, that understanding the potential reasons why people failed those boys, doesn’t help.  Firstly, it’s only conjecture on my part; but secondly, and more importantly… those boys were allegedly abused.  All of the reasons why, won’t take that away.  Nothing will reverse these events, all we can do is support the people who need it… the victims.

Now playing: Natalie Merchant – My skin
via FoxyTunes