Tag: mental health

Goodbye Dad, again…

Goodbye Dad, again…

my father has been leaving voicemails for a few months now. we had a falling out last year when he called me at 4am my time making accusations that were not only hurtful but also incorrect.

i’ve been blamed for everything when it comes to my father. i was never enough for him. me the person was never enough for their own father…and yes it hurts.

all of the numbers i have for him are blocked so they do go to a blocked folder on my phone. (i don’t have a landline and haven’t for well over 10 years.) new vm’s started showing up a few months ago and i ignored them. he never says anything other than “this is your dad…just trying to reach you…okay. <click>”

he finally left a vm that briefly mentioned something about having an operation and that he couldn’t walk for awhile but beyond that i didn’t much more so i called and chose to forego the fake talk and just stick to the facts. this was a few weeks ago, not today.

what should have been a perfect opportunity to say he was sorry for his horrible phone call a year ago, he chose to act as if things are just rosy and fine as they’ve always been. he’s done that his entire life. he’s not at fault. there’s never a need to apologize or take responsibility for his own actions. it’s always the other persons fault and when he doesn’t like someone telling him the truth he lashes out.

after our last call i left him a vm that said “i’m sorry you have to hear this over voicemail but please don’t call me anymore. there’s nothing i can do for you any longer. i have a new life. i live 3000 miles away in boston and i haven’t seen you in over 25 years. i wish you the best in whatever manner that means but please please please. if you respect me as a son, do not ever call me again.”

i thought that would have been enough but it wasn’t. more vm’s showed up. 5-10 second snippets of “just me, trying to reach you, again.” as if that’s my fault? i called the home phone to leave a vm that i had hoped his wife would hear. in that vm i said to her “do not allow my father to call me again. i don’t know what his health his like and if it’s failing there’s nothing i can do for him. so please. i know this will sound harsh but forget i ever existed and please leave me alone.”

i thought that was the end of it and i could finally breathe easy…until today.

today started as a good day so i was feeling pretty positive even though i had seen another vm that had come in late last night. another 12 sec version, more guilt and a sense of urgency. i tried to put it out of mind and focus on the other tasks i needed to get done today. and then i caved…

i figured if i was in a solid place and in a positive mood how could anything go wrong right? wrong.

as usual the phone call turned into him calling me names no child should ever have to hear from a parent. more blame and more name calling is not part of my daily life any longer and it was time i told him the truth in a calm and direct manner.

the statement i made to him wasn’t about the past. it wasn’t about childhood. it was about who he is today and his actions of who is today. he’s never learned that he’s the one who’s chased every person away from him in his life and now at 78 the truth is coming home to roost.

it must be scary to be 78 and not know where you failing health will take you. it’s a fate that many many people face on a daily basis so i don’t have any sympathy there. heck. he’s been kicking me to the curb since i was 2 years old and at my age now you think i’m still going to allow you to tear me down because your a selfish self centered old man?

i owe you nothing…

after he fired off all of the below the belt insults i simply told him “you don’t get to turn my life upside down because you think you’re entitled to call me your son. i’m not your son and i haven’t been for quite a long time. you’ve never liked it when people tell you the truth to your face but there it is. don’t ever call me again. pretend i never existed and i’ll do the same.”

he was still yelling hateful things when i turned off my phone. hateful to the end…

yes today hurts, things like this always do. the difference for me today is it won’t paralyze me any longer. there are no more emotional rubber bands to snap me back to those horrible years. those emotional times that zing you right back to being some submissive boy desperate for his father’s love that he’d let him call him any derogatory name in the book and cry alone behind closed doors so he’d never see the pain he caused.

i may hurt and that’s okay. the fact that i can push past the hurt and see that my life is still unfolding ahead of me is a huge huge step. just one of many but progress nonetheless.

goodbye dad. the mental health field has tried to make me conform to societies norms of “but he’s your father” and that’s not always a healthy viewpoint. sometimes the only way to survive is by letting go of childhood wishes and longings that will never materialize for you. in my case i’ll never know what it’s like to hear and feel what it’s like to have a parent acknowledge they’ve wronged you and show a genuine interest in rebuilding that trust. the trust they themselves broke which has impacted your entire life.

the requirement has never been some grand gesture or pubic flogging by any means. just that one simple phrase and look in their eyes that lets you know they finally get it.

as a photographer it’ll be hard to put away pictures of my childhood. photos of him and me before everything went off the rails. before i ended up living with my grandmother because he made home life so horrible my mother ended up in a mental institution. (the short version, my grandmother and the catholic church did the rest.)

anywho…i’m just letting all of this flow out as it happens and so i don’t implode keeping it all bottled up inside.

i dunno. this october will mark 13 years sober and after everything i’ve been through setting up an entirely new life here in a small town i knew nothing about, and my mother’s passing during all of this as well. i’d say i’m holding up pretty well.

today i had firewood delivered which is a PERFECT mindfulness exercise for focusing on the task at hand rather than all of this other ugly stuff. i don’t care how wet i get. i don’t care if it sucks. i don’t care if i get eaten alive by mosquitos.

school psychologists would always as me about home life or family life and i’d always say the same thing. “we’re like dandelions.” “in what way?” “well, you know how when you blow on them they scatter all over?” “yes” “we’re like that. as soon as you’re old enough to fend for yourself, we all scatter as far away from each other as we can get.”

during the summer i’ll have my coffee on the deck and when it’s dandelion season i’ll hand pick every last one of those suckers until they’re all gone. my inner dialog going…

“nope…nope…nope…not in my yard you don’t”

get rid of the weeds in your life. they suck the energy out of you and they leave nothing beneficial behind. ~R

Winner Takes All…

Winner Takes All…

From one of my favorite stories of the Big Book of A.A. Winner takes all is about a young woman born legally blind but keenly aware she was the lesser wanted child of her siblings. This is the last chapter of the story and it was the one that gave me my Aha moment. Regardless of how things do or don’t turn out with my Father. None of that is relevant. Today is relevant. What I choose to think and feel is relevant. How my actions reflect those thoughts and feelings are relevant.

It’s hard when you have to say goodbye to a parent, especially one who’s still living. I don’t hate my Father but I don’t like him either and that’s a very valid feeling. I wish him the best in whatever capacity that might mean for him today. For myself? I’m moving forward to continue my healing process.

Hope for me are the positive things I can see on the horizon. Those in the front window of my imaginary car. The rear view mirror serves me no purpose any longer. It’s utility is reserved only for short and subtle reminders of where I’ve been and where I never want to return.

Although my Father may have been the primary cause for stuffing and swallowing my feelings of guilt and shame all these years. That doesn’t mean it’s a permanent state of being. The choice is mine, on a daily basis.

Today. Today I choose to be happy and I hope you’ll do the same. ~R

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Enough…

Enough…

For anyone new to the site I’d like to offer some insight to my Twitter and #SurvivorCulture tweet. My site needs work so you’re probably seeing a happy post about getting back to my previous therapist. Which definitely is good news…especially given the current circumstances.

My father and I tried to forge or repair some sort of relationship last year and it blew up in my face pretty badly. That’s always been the history when it comes to my father and me. When in doubt, blame the kid.

My father has an anger and mental abuse problem and he’s never owned it. I owned it for him by swallowing every single form of abuse he chose to dish out. Verbal, physical and the worst of all. Complete shut out and denial. If he didn’t want to hear something he made sure he got his way and never ever had to live with consequences.

Well. Here we are today. Him leaving me voicemail after voicemail playing the aging old man and I’m sick card. Uh uh. That’s not how life works.

The last time I saw my father was over 25 years ago. We’ve had sporadic phone contact over the years and always at my reaching out to him rather than the other way around.

My usual role as the hurt little boy wanting the love of his father has been a hard role to live through and it’s come at a great great cost. No regrets though. Truly. Because that life is no more…

The #MeToo movement came along at a time in my life when I was already trying to unravel and make sense of my childhood. What I had planned on was it accelerating my having to deal with my own childhood sexual abuse. Not only was my childhood traumatic and painful, he’s still coming from this utterly disgusting catholic altar boy silence and denial upbringing.

I’m still working through the dynamics of an older female family member having been my abuser. Not entirely sure where I’m going with this blog but I hope to get back to my photography. All of the images on the site are mine now and I still have a whole other site to convert over.

Thank you for reading and thank you for being here. ~R

 

Thursday’s With Karen Resume…

Thursday’s With Karen Resume…

I decided to reach out to my previous talk therapist and see is she was willing to work me in some how. To my relief and amazement she said yes. Is insurance a fit? Check. What about Video Conference? Check. What a relief… I dunno. It’s such a huge change in service of basic comfort level I guess I’m a bit overwhelmed, in a good way.

This means not having to start from scratch. This means safety on all of the topics I’ve ever needed to discuss in therapy, including the most sensitive of them all. One layer deeper in fact and well, I’m just grateful.

This means having to rely on the commuter rail but that might not be such a bad thing. The ride is scheduled to be an hour give or take so it’s just figuring out the stop to park I guess.

With my discount the rail and subway passes are affordable. I thought it was going to be much more but now park and ride seems like the way to go. Gives me that chance to work on public anxiety both good and bad. (Oh and get that frigging lens fixed jackass!! You want real photos, not just iPhotos!)

I know, I know. Things have been up and down health wise so timing has been an issue. It’ll turn into one of those random first thing I think of one morning and then obsess until it’s done all last minute. Ah yes, thank you ADHD, gotta luv ya…said no one ever.

Tonight I take a deeper breath and rest a little easier knowing I now have a safe place to land.  That’s not only a huge piece of the medical puzzle out of the way it’s also a way to reclaim my identity. I haven’t shot with my Nikon in ages and that’s definitely gotta change.

the lens robert…

yeah i know…

do you want to miss this opportunity? you know, back bay, south end, down town, all of your favorite architecture?

no, no i really don’t actually. i’d like to build a darkroom at some point. i have a story to tell…

then get your ass moving…

Thank you Universe. As usual your timing was impeccable.

 

 

Trying to keep positive…

Trying to keep positive…

these flare ups suck when then take me out of my routine. you know the drill. something triggers that familiar ‘un-happy’ gut feeling. not yet excruciating but you know it’s just a matter of time.

today i was finally able to run errands after being in bed for the past 3 days. the familiar dull painful and mentally distracting headache. more than that actually. eyes, forehead, ears where the psoriasis patches ache 24/7. then the joints kick in and your spine feels achey but can only be soothed temporarily and for unpredictable durations.

however…

i’m blessed to have learned the chef skills i did in my twenties and i’m blessed to have this period ranch style kitchen to spread out and feed myself. with my putting off seeing a PCP appt. at least i’ve gotten better at my diet which removes a huge variable once i do see a dr.

it’s allowed me the space and ability to experiment how to reverse, as much as i can, some of the effects once they begin. bone broth is an amazing gut recovery for instance so now i always keep shelf stable varieties on hand when i need to calm things down a bit.

with the availability of things like flax milk and flax wraps it makes it pretty easy to incorporate those omega-3’s for organic fruit smoothies, add in Garden of Life plant protein and that’s a great way  to start the day.

so… while i still try to work up to going to the dr’s i can at least reduce some anxiety that i’m eating the best i can.

the fear of the dr. thing is proving to be more challenging than i thought. i do have a G.I. dr. appt in Nov. and i know i at least need to get back to regular colonoscopies. with my families history of colon cancer that’s pretty much a non-negotiable. my fear comes with the exposing of my body and the fear and vulnerability of those feelings that trigger memories that are very terrifying for me.

while i’m grateful for the breather i have between now and November to try and prepare myself. it’s tough to find a balance between how much thought you need to give to your symptoms. diet alone isn’t allowing me to manage things now it just buys me recovery time post flare up. it’s the trigger that’s been elusive.

meaning, yes you have to pay attention to IBS but you also have to manage your anxiety and depression. i may not be able to control whatever auto-immune issue or A.S. issue is out of my control and beating me up physically, but i am able to shape how i view my situation.

today was a post flare up recovery day. let’s hope it lasts as long as my last 10 day up time window. fall’s coming and this yard work never ends. lol.

xo ~r

It’s been awhile…

It’s been awhile…

just checking in and i want to be clear when it comes to my previous therapist you asked if you could follow along and i had said yes. at the time i didn’t see the harm, in hindsight it would leave me feeling too exposed.

i’m not truly sure what made things change course so abruptly and while a full and honest explanation would be respectful i certainly won’t hold my breath. when a man discloses something as sensitive as childhood sexual abuse, it can be a very delicate balancing act i’m fully aware. if it was a subject you didn’t feel comfortable with or capable of fully embracing than i wish that had simply been said.

at any rate. please do not read or follow along. i’m not good at being a unicorn remember?

#PTSD is still part of life, the anxiety of medical and prescription transition number three has now been completed. with my exchange plan i was afraid to get routine services, with medicare and BCBS medigap i can finally start to relax a bit. Prescriptions are what they are. I think the days of $5 copays, unless it’s very generic and widely used, are starting to become a rarity. unless i’m in some deductible period or the dreaded donut hole. Egads….

mental health wise i think things are proving to have a symbiotic effect. when my body isn’t aching from every square nodule, i’m up and about and i don’t need 1/2 hour epsom salt baths to get going either.

my recent bout with #IBS, or at least that was what we ‘thought’ it might be two years ago, knocked me offline for 4 days straight. so you’re in bed in agony because you’ve been tossing and turning for 4 days and nights, your hips hurt, you feel like you can’t bend or twist enough to get down to that last itsy bitsy stetch of muscle that will finally make you say ahhhhh….it eludes you and you beg for more sleep.

my last flare up with 3-4 days of no eating and/or just bone broth really let whatever was in my system pass out of my gut so my stomach finally felt normal. with the malaise of aches pains coming and going so i dropped 10 pounds, not a bad thing, i’ll take it.

not sure if it’s the yoga and stretching i’ve been doing on the deck but the more i move the better i feel. now that i’m down to 185lbs from 220;bs i can definitely feel a difference. well, when i can move anyway.

for now i’m just keeping busy gardening which really is a good workout i have to say. whipping a 100ft garden hose around is pretty fun and great arm and shoulder work. the constant up and down around the deck helps the legs since it’s semi-uneven down to the pond level.

i’m getting better little by little. mindfulness, meditation, stretching, healthy eating and super baby steps yoga seems to be bringing a much needed rhythm and routine to things.

now. time to get my damn Nikon lens fixed, i need a trip to NYC… ~r

 

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

too many record players…

too many record players…

Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 8.28.49 PMmy familiar place, i hate you with every fiber of my being…

my mind has always been a series of flashbacks and memories, record players always playing nonstop day in day out…relentless

i’ve never been good at juggling them, like a plate spinner without a break…a slave to keeping them all in the air until they aren’t…

i’m stuck for the moment yet unsure as to just how many lows i have left in me. it’s exhausting and discouraging.

all of the shades are drawn tight, doors and windows locked. i feel safe for now and cross my fingers it passes soon. i misjudged the repercussions of allowing myself to begin the process of opening up about and truly thinking through my early childhood sexual trauma. it may have been a mistake, i’m not sure…i just know i’m shutting down and withdrawing. it’s my way of coping, to avoid the pain, the pain of people even ones who may want to help me.

when all the record players come crashing down its like a mental onslaught of every single fucking negative feeling and emotion i’ve ever had in my life flood back all at once and i can’t control any of them. zero to rage and confusion in a nano second…hateithateithateit

the darkness and heavy blankets help me relax. i can’t be worried about the outside right now. noise hurts, people hurt, everything hurts right now…bed is safe.

i’m shut off from postal mail and voicemail, at&t blew up my vm during a blizzard and used a sledgehammer for the other. it was a daily land mine so i had to remove the variable. self protection mode engaged.

had to delete three people from fb today too. i’ve been let down enough in my life that after reaching out to people over and over again to simply have a cup of coffee, i just don’t need that kind of rejection right now. you can’t keep telling me i matter to you yet it be so difficult to spare a hour for coffee?

truthfully, that’s been really really hard to take.

i’m aware this isn’t normal, i just don’t know how to turn it all off…or at least turn down the volume on the chaos until i can dust myself off long enough for a breather…yet again.

 

 

thursday…8:37 PM

thursday…8:37 PM

…bad day today. one of those days where my body let’s me know how much it hates me by making every inch of it ache. brain fog pushing against you while trying to string together sequential thoughts.

coffee first, no, not coffee…which…backtrack, cats…yeah cats first…no no not that either…bathroom definitely bathroom…everything hurts. back, shoulders, neck, legs, feet, knees, hips. i want to crawl back into bed but have to try and keep moving.

on these days i measure my accomplishments by task completed and in as few steps as possible. i hate being physically winded when my brain is overloaded, makes pushing back against the rage and frustration of simple things a lot more difficult.

8:54pm the tv just came on by itself. happens every once and awhile and doesn’t bother me oddly enough. must be vern or my sister having some fun, nothing to lose sleep over.

cuckoo clock strikes early and the gentle tick tock resumes… funny how they speed up or slow down depending on the humidity. the living room humidifier needs refilling and i think i need a fire tonight. soothes the arthritis.

flashbacks can come in all sorts of forms i think. like dreamscapes that seamlessly work their way into your thoughts and before you realize it you’re transported right back to that particular moment in time…

i have tunnel vision and i’m looking at a long concrete walkway, it dips down at the middle and then leads to a set of steps. patches of grass but mostly dirt to the right, tallish grass along the rusty chain link fence to the left. a long row of identical single story apartments were on the other side.

i never liked the concrete stairs, too granular and hurt your knees and hands when playing. we must have had a front door but i never recall one. my film only ever sees it with through the screen door, shafts of light coming right filling the small living area.

a faux avocado finished console style record player was front and center. can’t remember where she got it but she was happy trying to refinish it. some combination of avo green pain and black and somehow you got some wood grain. lines of black mingling with the more predominant and shiny looking green. one large round speaker on the front with some gold’ish fabric for a cover. i’d play my peter pan record on it over and over.

9:21pm tired, exasperated, frustrated. trying not to let my depression and anxiety get the best of me so i’ll pick this up later. writing about things does seem to help.

like unpacking a dusty leather bound chest from the attic and taking things out one by one. in a place of silence and calm without distraction. even if my body isn’t cooperating, i still know i’m one of the lucky ones.

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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