Tag: Addiction

Living With Anxiety During Covid…

Living With Anxiety During Covid…

I’ve been dreading checking in here because I truly don’t know where to begin. Like every one else’s story there’s pre-covid and then there’s whatever it is we’re all calling where we all are right now.

The journey continues on all fronts. Still getting my bearings after landing here on the south coast after a lifetime in Boston. Living and working in Boston’s Back Bay & South End are some of the best memories of my life. And therein lies the rub…

I arrived in Boston in the early 80’s fresh from L.A and landed in a shared apartment in Allston. Seven of us in some weird configuration of a three bedroom apartment on Kelton. We were L.A. kids winging it month to month using old pizza boxes to sled down the street during our first winter. My roommates worked in retail or coffee shops & salons and we all made enough to cover rent as well as n active nightlife in Kenmore Square.

I’ll visit my twenties another time though. Tonight is just a check in. A way to resume writing about what’s going on during this truly unprecedented time in all of our lives.

There’s been some clarity and progress in putting this puzzle together. And that’s definitely what recovering from childhood trauma feels like even after all these years. There’s no time table to when “it” all starts making sense. There’s no time table on when you’ll find the beginning of your own personal thread. You just keep working at them and eventually the burden is supposed to lift…right riiight?

Has my mental health improved? Yes. Has that been because of access to direct one on one in person counseling here on the South Coast of Massachusetts? Definitely not. The same can be said for routine medical care, a topic covered in previous posts and too painful to revisit. (I re-read one this evening and it gutted me. Funny how making progress works.)

I’m a party of one and I’m also among one of Covid’s scarier demographics. That is male over the age of 50 with at least 2-3 underlying health risks. Nothing like a pandemic to bring things into focus when it comes to “getting your affairs in order”. No no no, not that and not yet.

What I hope to write about is my putting all my legal and health paperwork in order. Things like trusts, wills, DNR’s etc. We all think we’ll complete them but in reality we just ignore it until a pandemic changes that for you. If I’m going to avoid one of the scariest things I could ever imagine happening to me at the end of life than I better get started. I’m not dying alone in a hospital and that’s that.

That means getting back to not only a daily routine of cooking, cleaning, litter boxes, mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters and on and on as well as and tackling more complex things like finding a notary during #covid. I’ve never had to file these things before and don’t make it a habit to seek out city offices. The #anxiety and thought of that pre-covid was already sky high. Add to the mix having to navigate public spaces where the use of masks by ‘other’ people is questionable at best and it’s downright terrifying.

It’s time to tackle the stack of childhood photos I’ve been avoiding yet carrying around a box all these years, in hopes that I can resolve the other side of my story. The story of my Mother through photos. Back to 1960’s Los Angeles and the Hollywood of the 1970’s & 80’s. Back to where it all began no matter how painful it may be and regardless if we’re in the middle of a pandemic.

So. I may be a little banged up and bruised up along the way but I’m still standing. I’d lost hope there for a bit but the #MeToo movement picked me up and gave me a reason to share my story. This is a continuation of that conversation with myself.

I gave up drinking 15 years ago  and I can honestly say that nothing has been harder than learning how to live with clinically diagnosed #anxiety in the time of #covid19.

If you’re struggling with the fallout from childhood sexual abuse please know that it does get better. If you have access to Telehealth I encourage you to reach out to your providers as soon as you can.

Telehealth has been a life saver. It’s allowed me to reconnect with a previous therapist from Boston, one I had to give up due to a grueling drive, but thanks to FaceTime I finally feel connected again.

Gettin’ pretty tired of being the bad guy…

Gettin’ pretty tired of being the bad guy…

another rough day including a crushing reminder why i’ve had more than one bout of ambivalence with AA. simply put. there are times for rote platitudes and there are times when it doesn’t advance or help the persons struggle.

after 14 years, this last time, and numerous attempts for the greater part of 30 years. don’t you think i already know “they can only help themselves when they’re ready.” or “all you can do is say a prayer for them.” and the real humdinger “just keep coming…” as if i already don’t know my fucking way around the recovery block. get bent mister i talk while other people are sharing and i scan hot chicks on my crap boost pos on insta cuz i’m above this whole meeting stuff. seriously? back the fuck off…now.

i drifted away from AA more than a few years ago because i got tired of not being able to find people who can simply talk without using the AA lingo and verbiage as a crutch. for a program that’s supposed to be about working from the inside out and finally coming to terms with actual feelings rather than numbing them. i truly fail to see the point in ‘talking around’ the real issue some is having rather than just being real. listen to the person for fuck sake, don’t just regurgitate some lame ass bullshit all of us old timers already know. that wasn’t the question when i said “i’m struggling with a friend and could use someone with experience in <X> please find me after the meeting.”

the stakes are that if i cut off all ties with the ONE neighbor i’ve connected to since moving here 3 years ago. i go back to being an island of 1. no more visits from her daughter, who i totally identify with in having an erratic and undependable mother, and yes, i do worry about her safety. i get that i can’t save her and she already knows i won’t support her actions when she’s on one bender of another. she learned she couldn’t come over and ‘nod out’ on me and leave me to take care of her 6yo daughter for instance. we’ve already had that conversation and for awhile she learned i’d only tolerate visits when she’s ‘with it’ and present. all good easy peasy… until today.

as much as my instagram feed shows a beautiful view, and seemingly tranquil life, nothing could be further from the truth.

i’m alone, in a town where i don’t know anyone. and i’ve been through heel and back in just 3 short years.

when you get sober you’ll lose a lot of people in your life. i was prepared for that and once i did get rid of the enablers things finally began to change. what i wasn’t prepared for is losing regular friends as well. people who’ve let friendships slip away for some unknown reason and just ghost you as though you’re the bad guy.

logic says i’m supposed to know that ‘that says more about them then me’ but that’s not how feelings and emotions work. you can’t logic your way out of hurt feelings and loneliness.

by cutting off someone i clearly cannot help, i do in fact end up being even more lonely than i was before. that’s the part no one wanted to listen long enough to hear. no one ever wants to stick around long enough to heard the ‘real’ stuff. instead…

“Here’s your platitude for the day. Keep in the 24hours and tomorrow’s another day.”

yeah…fuck you and no regrets either.

i’ve been here before and that’s ok…

i’ve been here before and that’s ok…

as much as I hate going off the rails at least it’s familiar territory, extremely uncomfortable but navigable if i just power through as best i can.

i’m only in competition with myself with it comes to depression and anxiety. i either work through my fear and keep my appointments with my therapist and prescriber or i end up increasing the odds of a spin out crash and burn game set match time out reset…..breathe…..just breathe….. ok…where am i again???

trauma work can be triggering and i gotta dig deep on this one guys. as terrified as i am about two upcoming appointments i’m just turning it over to the universe and inhale…exhale…you got this.

and yeah, i know the blog is a mess. lemme get back on some solid footing for a bit and then i can get back to some photography and cooking!

best ~rz

ongoing notes re: surviving childhood sexual abuse and the movement from victim to survivor

ongoing notes re: surviving childhood sexual abuse and the movement from victim to survivor

i’ve survived childhood sexual abuse and today it’s no longer about placing blame or making complete and utter sense of things from the past. i’m ebbing and flowing between moments of complete contentment and flashing shatters of utter chaos. i say these things from a comfortable place though. it’s taken awhile for my psyche and hardened shell to finally open up enough and allow me to finally forgive myself. forgive myself enough to finally believe that none of it was ever my fault.

from 3rd to around 6th grade i have vivid memories of being overwhelmed during class and i would panic until i found a way to sneak into the coat area or closet and hide under all of the coats. i’d pile them all on top of me so that i’d be in complete darkness, mentally clamoring to shut out the world, my inner voice begging for the din to stop and for ‘it’ to leave me alone. i use school grades to recall my childhood rather than actual age or year.  3rd grade, mrs. glassman, u shaped alcove and pegs. 4th grade, mrs. millet, step in closet, row of pegs. 5th grade, mrs. wolf, u shaped alcove, hooks and shelves for lunch boxes overhead…

the weight of them felt so so calming…i hated it when they would find me. there was one particular classroom that ‘was’ an actual closet rather than the other communal alcove types. this one I had to step into and close the door behind me. one day i saw a boy looking at me trying to figure out what I was doing while I fumbled with the latch. i didn’t have time to process embarrassment or shame, panic to escape overrode all else. it was also the same classroom where we grew green beans in dixie cups had a guinea pig and learned about dinosaurs. mrs. millet was so nice and comforting. pronounced like ‘Edna St. Vincent Millay.  lots of color block pant suits, creme lime green like a perfect nonpareil candy, contrasting vests too with large pockets for keys and whistles. dark hair with curls from those really big purple plastic rollers, the ones with the holes in them, all layered up in a semi bouffant and a scent of jean nate’. she reminded me of my mother, she loved jean nate’ but my favorite was windsong. mrs. millet always knew how to coax me out until my mom could come and get me. we only lived a few blocks away and i would mostly just sleep after that…

eventually i was diagnosed with petit mal seizures, epilepsy runs in the family, as well as ADD, allergies and a calcium deficiency. i had to have allergy shots daily, first riding for hours in the car with my father until he learned how to do them on my shoulder. i was never sure why i had breathing problems but with so much going on it’s easy for mental health needs to get lost in all of that. when i had to have a kidney operation, things were pretty serious health wise for about 6 months…this also granted me a reprieve from my father’s verbal abuse. lucky me…

nature vs nurture, the lines blur for me and no longer matter.

childhood trauma reverberates throughout a lifetime. i don’t remember what the ‘trigger’ was back then other than an overwhelming urge to hide in complete darkness, warmth and silence. it’s only recently that i’m coming to terms with the fact that my challenges today with flashbacks isn’t actually a new thing. it’s been with me my entire life. i still have them and that’s the challenge i’ll have to make adjustments for. life doesn’t owe me anything, i’ll make the best of what i do have and there’s nothing more comfortable than that.

as I sift through the fog and haze of a childhood that never should have been… sometimes i’m comforted in remembering those amazing teachers, school counselors and mental health professionals who did actually recognize me and who also tried to help me directly along the way. my parents weren’t equipped to step up to the plate and assume even the most basic challenges of parenthood which is not okay and that’s not my fault. i forgive myself and begin anew…

sexual abuse isn’t something a family likes to talk about. certainly not if you’re a boy of 6. just prior to that i witnessed things no child should ever have to see or experience. yet i still managed to maintain my composure that fateful day. i bundled up my infant sister, found the diaper bag and knew that i had to call for help. you see, if not for my mother’s suicide attempt, my life never would have taken the turn it did that awful day. a day so seared into memory i could paint it, draw it, recreate it or even photograph it in amazing detail. complete with smells angles of light, color of furniture…it evaporates…it’s also a movie that plays on a constant loop in my head but without any sound…i only hear “mommy needs help.” everything else that judders back and forth in and out of focus is dull and muted…

what the real professionals knew and understood what was underneath all of that mental torment and acting out. what they saw was just a scared little boy looking for some encouragement and who just needed a little structure and support along the way. i craaaaaved stability so much it would ache and crush me from the inside out sometimes. stomaches were part of daily life, they did what they could for as long as they could.

i’ve been twirling this stuff around for awhile now and…well…i guess i finally felt the need to spit it out. why tonight is beyond me but I’ll roll with it.

the solitude of small town life agrees with me. peaceful yes, easy on the body, eh not so much. lol. if i’m going to get through shoulder, knee and potentially hip surgery, i’m gonna need to ‘travel light’ as it were.

i’m glad i’ll be starting start back with my therapist jerre tomorrow. she’s a cool woman who’s also an amazing artist. she specializes in addiction and oddly enough that’s kinda what I need right now. we took a few months off of therapy last fall which was actually really good for me it turns out. i was able to get through the holidays with a sense of peace that I don’t think I’ve ever felt before and i’m beyond grateful.
~R

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