A brand new key ~ or not?

A brand new key ~ or not?

 

Had my initial session with the new therapist today and she’s very nice but ………………………………………It’s so damn hard to start over. It took nearly 10 years for me to develop enough trust in my previous therapist to bring up my childhood. Starting anew was more intimidating and stressful than I had envisioned. Plus when she asked me what brought me there today, I really had no clue what to say. Anxiety of course but over which thing? My trial in less than one month? Jury selection next week? The almost four years of depositions, mediations and mud-slinging that it’s taken to reach this point? The fact that the defense attorney wants to eviscerate me because of something that happened when I was a child? Or the fact that she can even introduce it? The suicide of a much-loved friend less than one month ago? The grief over the death of my beloved dog in November? Or the medical issue my German Shepherd is currently facing? Or maybe it’s just the constant growing fatigue coupled with absolutely no desire to do anything. The bone aching fatigue that develops after years of watching nearly everything you attempt  morph into clusterfucks of what seem like behemoth proportions.

Perfect example. I did my income taxes this year, plain and straightforward like every other year. I e-filed in mid January, pleased that finally something went off without a hitch. The months passed and my refund wasn’t direct deposited. I finally called the IRS at the end of March and after a few attempts, figured out how to reach a “live” person only to be told the most ridiculous thing by someone they obviously hired directly from the unemployment line. He was truly clueless and I honestly think he was just pulling things out of the air. End result? They would send me a letter within two weeks. When it didn’t arrive I called again, this time getting a polar opposite response along with the “letter in two weeks” promise. Waited until the end of the first week in May and called again only now I was really mad. Spoke to a woman who had no idea why I had not received a refund, why it hadn’t been processed, why it was in the “Review” section but hey! I would receive a letter in eight weeks explaining everything. Eight weeks??? Oh hell no! That would bring it close to July 4. The next day I emailed my congresswoman’s office and after several days of back and forth emails to provide requested documents, they were ready to roll on it. The aide from the congressional office found out what the problem was (basically there was none), reached out to the Tax Advocate’s Office and within two weeks the refund was deposited into my bank account. This begs the question but why? Why does everything have to be a battle? Why can’t things go smoothly ~ not every time but once in a while? I’d definitely settle for that.

So as I sat here tonight pondering the whole therapist debacle the phone rang. It was my original therapist. I let it go to voice mail. When I listened a few minutes later the first thing I noted is that she was rambling a bit, unusual for her. She said the reason she hadn’t returned any of my calls was because she didn’t have any openings. I realize she only practices two days a week but since we’ve had an extremely long patient client relationship, a return call should have been in order, even if she didn’t have any openings. Especially after the two teary messages I left following my friends suicide. She ended her message by saying she has a cancellation for tomorrow (Thursday) at 5 PM and to call her in the morning if I’d like it. Now I’m really in a quandary because the thought of starting over with someone new wasn’t quite as appealing to me today in her office as it was when I wrote about it last night. She’s also in a town that for some unknown reason I’ve had an aversion to ever since I moved to this state. I know I know. How can someone have a hangup over a town? I have no explanation for it other than I do. Usually when something like that happens it’s because the person or object triggers unpleasant memories from my past which is something I can understand, and rationalize. But a town?

Not really sure what I’m going to do tomorrow ~ take the 5 PM appointment with the old therapist or not. Frankly I wish I could just run away from ALL of this the way I ran away from my traumatic childhood but this time it’s not that easy. I just want SOME of it to be over so I can try to get back to figuring out my life.

Stay tuned because I have no clue what I’m doing!

Feeling Liberated!

Feeling Liberated!

I’ve been seeing a therapist since 2002 when I had a PTSD trigger that almost debilitated me. Before I decided on my therapist, I tried two others. While I’m sure they were highly competent, not everyone is a good fit. Perhaps a patient is more comfortable with a therapist of the same-sex, the opposite sex or a different age group. Whatever the reason, I think an integral component to productive, therapeutic counseling is trust and confidence in your therapist.

Because of childhood sexual abuse, I felt more comfortable with a female. We were both in the same age group which I found helped me to express myself more proficiently. The treatment modality she uses for PTSD is TRI (Traumatic Incident Reduction) which I’m still on the fence about. However, compared to EMDR I prefer it because EMDR did absolutely nothing for me.

My therapist had a quirk that annoyed me however; she often didn’t return phone messages. I don’t mean one message but several. She was also lax about getting paperwork completed – another annoyance. However I was able to overlook these two issues because I felt comfortable with her and I trusted her, both keys to a successful outcome.

After several years of weekly sessions I felt that I had journeyed as far as I could at the time so ended our sessions for a few years. Unfortunately, when I reported an employer for violations and they retaliated by accusing me of theft, I regressed in a matter of hours. Although my former therapist had changed locations she was still accessible so I began weekly sessions again. I really felt like I was making progress. Not as fast as I would have liked but with the childhood I emerged from I’d probably need therapy for a century so was content with baby steps.

The first thing that went awry was her session notes. She knew I signed a legal release for her to share her notes from specific dates with the attorneys involved in my whistleblower case. While I did not ask or expect her to withhold anything, I also didn’t expect her to make a random entry about my childhood – something we were not covering in therapy during this time frame. That was all the defense attorney needed and she ran wild with it, thinking the event my therapist had noted occurred when I was an adult when in reality I was 9. Her firm sent a list of questions and when I refused to answer, forced a hearing in front of a judge. They asked that he instruct me to answer and if I refused, that I be jailed. What she was asking for was a recipe for disaster because one of my worst childhood traumas occurred when I was 9. God was with me that day because the judge denied the request.

When I went for my next session I asked my therapist why she made that particular entry and she admitted it was an oversight. I was still angry at the defense attorney but respected my therapists honesty so as they say, life went on. A few months later I learned the defense attorney was still hell-bent on getting this information even though my attorney reiterated it was related to events that were literally decades old. I spent a panic filled winter because I knew that after 3.5 years, I would be given a trial date sometime in 2016. The defense attorney had waffled on the subject of settlement until she read that entry. After that it was definitely going to trial. My panic level rose when I learned the defense used a little known law to have my case moved from federal court to superior court. In essence, my trial will be in the town where I shop, walk, worship – you get the picture. Not sure how I’ve kept it together because I know as surely as the sun rises, the defense attorney will ask questions about an event that had zero bearing on what happened in the workplace in 2012. She is going to ask about the most horrific part of my childhood that I’d never shared with anyone other than my therapist. When I reached a certain age I left and never looked back. My own husband doesn’t know about my past! I asked my lawyer how the defense could do this to me, that I thought someone’s childhood was off-limits. He explained that the judge would make the decision as to how much latitude he would allow the defense.

I prayed, thought and prayed some more. With trial in a month I decided to tell my adult children and husband (a condensed version as opposed to every violent detail). I just didn’t want to take a chance of having them read something in the paper; I preferred it came from me. Telling my family, but specifically my adult children was never part of my life agenda as it had no purpose. Just because you give birth to someone doesn’t require that you share every detail of your life with them but in my situation I felt somewhat cornered.

At the same time my beloved German Shepherd, who is my Prozac with 4 legs, developed some major health issues which required treatment several hours south. I am a HUGE animal lover so opted to put my therapy sessions on hold for a few weeks so that I was free to travel with my dog to the neurosurgeon. The last week of my dogs treatment I planned to call and make a new therapy appointment when the unthinkable happened ~ our dear friend whom I loved like the brother I never had, committed suicide. To say I was devastated is an understatement. I was so grief-stricken that I literally didn’t leave the house, respond to emails or accept telephone calls. Suicide is always extremely difficult to process but when it’s followed by a complete lack of respect for the deceased or their life’s possessions it’s even worse.

I called my therapist and tried to control my tears as I left a voice mail. When several days passed without a call back I tried again. I was a wreck over my dear friend’s suicide but was unable to process my grief in a constructive way because of all the “craziness” in the wake of his suicide. I’d tried (6) times and was shocked when I suddenly said to myself “No more”. In the interim I made an appointment with another therapist who, although I’d only met socially, believed we could mesh well together. As an older gentleman in my parish says “I can feel it in my bones”. Heck, she returned my call! That in itself is worth points.

Before I can continue in my journey however I had to close out the chapter with the first therapist, a chapter that with the exception of a few years lasted over a decade. I called this afternoon and as expected, reached her voice mail. When It was time to speak I just calmly said that all of my calls had gone unanswered, even the two where I was crying about my friends suicide. Since she chose not to respond to them, I could only draw the conclusion that she was either no longer able or willing to be my therapist and as such, I had found a new one. I thanked her and hung up.

I thought I would be upset or at least heavy-hearted but in reality I was quite happy. While I like her very much as a person and to a degree will miss our sessions, I can’t help but think if she hadn’t admittedly made that “oversight” I might not be sitting in a courtroom next month, being questioned about things that should never be discussed outside of a professional therapist’s office.

However, at the end of this day, as I look forward to my first session with the new therapist tomorrow, I AM thankful for everything my original therapist did for me. Grateful for her patience, understanding, kindness and most of all for helping me find the key to unlock coping mechanisms that I never realized I had, coping mechanisms which I’ll carry forward in my journey. Thank you J.

Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt

Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt

What do you do when you’re involved in a whistleblower case that has taken four years to reach court? And during the interim you’ve lost whatever financial foothold you had in the world? Savings account ~ gone. Both you and your spouse’s pension funds ~ cashed in with a hefty penalty. It seems as if overnight you went from being comfortable to having no safety net what so ever. It’s a horrible feeling. You beloved pet becomes suddenly ill and you have to beg and borrow to get the money to provide for her. Upkeep becomes expensive on your car so you take it off the road, leave it parked in your driveway and change the insurance status to “in storage” which lowers your premium considerably. You try to consolidate errands to town (a 32 mile round trip) to save on gas and wear & tear on the only vehicle you haven’t taken off the road. And in the middle of all this penny-pinching and stress your brain is on fire because your former employer accused you of theft, the one thing that can reduce you to a rubble of nothing. Your’e emotionally stuck, unable to move forward yet your mind has no difficulty taking you back at any given moment, back to when you were a child, back to when you lived in a house with an alcoholic father and a psychotic mother, who in time you learned weren’t even your parents; they adopted you or rather, they purchased you from an unwed mother who became pregnant when she cheated on her boyfriend. Ever the prince, her boyfriend forgave her, said they would get married and raise the baby together. Sounds like a dream come true but dreams are often like houses made from popsicle sticks, ~ they fall apart. He still wanted to marry her but he didn’t want another man’s child so when I was two he made her choose. Guess I don’t have to tell you who she chose. Somehow she learned about an older couple who wanted a child and for the right price, a private adoption was arranged with a local attorney working out the details. I was turned over to my “new parents” at a diner in NJ. I can’t even fathom something like that happening today.

The one constant through everything is that in previous generations, children did not have rights. Historically, children were considered the property of parents, they were merely chattel. Child abuse? It had to practically happen in public before anything was done and even then, most of the time the family stayed intact. It was completely acceptable for a father to backhand his child. How society has changed since my childhood in the 60’s. Now we read of situations where a child will threaten a parent by saying, “I’ll report you”. They sue for emancipation, sue to have tuition for an ultra-expensive school paid, or go to live with a friend or relative but take their parents to court for full financial support. As a survivor of horrific child abuse I think it’s wonderful that society has evolved to the point where they recognize the rights of a child as a human, a sentient being. I am extremely glad that schools, courts, and healthcare professionals understand that children are people, not merely possessions; that social service agencies were created to protect children. In the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s (and long before) many children were mistreated and abused physically, emotionally and sexually yet it was allowed to continue because society either chose not to or refused to acknowledge it. We were our parents property, we were a disposable commodity. Teachers turned a blind eye to bruising and fractures, which today would be investigated as potential signs of abuse. We usually passed through school without one single adult questioning cuts, bruises or frequent fractures. Looking back, I think that teachers believed if our grades were good, surely our lives were.

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Many children who experienced abuse at home performed extremely well at school because it was our sanctuary, a place where we were safe, if only for the day. I became a professional clock watcher, silently counting down to the dismissal bell. I dreaded spring because I knew it led to summer, a time filled with fear and countless hours on a bar stool while my father drank and played pool. I was always excited to see summer end because the change in seasons signaled a return to my beloved school where I became a sponge, trying to soak up every lesson, no matter how difficult (math comes to mind). Because I was never praised at home, I strived to do well because earning an “A” validated me ~ if only in my own mind. I remained socially awkward in that I wasn’t able to talk to my classmates about extracurricular activities, television shows, toys or my family. So I remained painfully shy and an introvert, the latter trait still holding true. Looking back, I can’t remember if it bothered me that I was one of the last picked during group activities but I’m going out on a limb by saying it didn’t. From my earliest memories of home, I inherently knew it was best to stay “invisible” and I think that carried over to school. I was a bit of an oxymoron in that I loved getting good grades, winning a spelling bee or composition contest yet hated hearing my name announced as the winner. Even now, decades later, I still don’t like calling attention to myself or entering a room late where all heads turn and look. Yet strangely enough I enjoy public speaking, an area I first delved into during high school. Why would an awkward introvert enjoy speaking before a room full of strangers? Because as one of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut wrote in Slaughterhouse-Five “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.”

 

Slaughterhousefive

Bare With Me ~ I’m Not Creative

I love simplicity. I’m not an art deco type of gal, preferring solid colors to abstract floral prints and vertical or chevron strips. My clothing style would probably fall into the Minimalism category.   I love black & white and often flip my color photographs.

Im still looking for the “perfect” WP theme; simple, black with maybe a pop pf color like BlackandWhiteDigital.com. I’ve looked but can’t seem to locate one so for now I have the Syntax theme. If anyone knows of a “user friendly” B&W theme that might work, please let me know. Not too complicated though!

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Sasha

And So I begin. Up First? Pancake Makeup…

And So I begin. Up First? Pancake Makeup…

In addition to being a mother & “Gammy”, I’m a nurse. I need to establish that because it figures prominently in the next parts of my journey; a journey I don’t want to make because it terrifies me to the innermost core. Unfortunately my back is in a corner and I have no other choice. In addition to the heart wrenching grief following the April 21 suicide of my dear friend, I’m plagued with anxiety and nightmares over the upcoming trial. The only time I’m not a wreck is when I first wake however within five minutes my internal clock reminds me that this new day brings me one day closer to trial and I usually  begin jaw clenching within the hour.

In six weeks I’ll be sitting in a courtroom because I dared blow the whistle on an employer. In hindsight if they had simply corrected the issue of patient rights being violated, none of this would have happened. Instead, when I went to them following the proverbial chain of command, they waited a few weeks then suspended me for theft. Not just a random run of the mill theft but of (4) anti-nausea pills; a medication so benign that it will probably be over the counter in a few years. What they didn’t know was that just the mention of that word threw me into a complete state of panic; intense emotional flooding so severe that it caused physical pain. To this day, nearly four years later, I don’t know how I drove the 16 miles home nor do I remember the drive. All I remember is being called a thief, which for me is an absolute recipe for disaster. Violent memories which had been safely under control came flying out and surrounded me like a swarm of bees, each sting worse than the previous. Memories that had taken me years to seal deep within individual compartments in my mind were now loose and running rampant. I was a child again and I was branded a thief. The one thing I DO remember is that I couldn’t stop shaking. It was so violent that I was banging my teeth together. How does one get up in the morning, happy with life, at peace with themselves, and in the blink of an eye hear one word, ONE LOUSEY WORD, that has the power to turn their life upside down in ways they never thought possible? I’ve been triggered before. Actually many times. None however had this type of effect on me. No triggers had ever reduced me to being a complete and utter emotional cripple.

I was called a thief by my “mother” from the time she entered my life when I was about 3 years old. I was adopted at age 2 by a man and his wife, both in their 40’s. While the wife had grown daughters from a previous marriage (she was widowed), this was her husbands’ first marriage. Sadly she was diagnosed with bone cancer shortly after the private adoption and was dead within a year. Her husband, now my father, had no idea what to do with a 3-year-old so he found me a new mother ~ in a bar. They married in Atlantic City and voila! Instant family. Of course I didn’t learn all these details till many years later so as a young child thought they were my “Mommy & Daddy”. I thought beatings and being alone all day were what people did. I guess to my child’s mind, my life was normal.

My father worked all day and I was home alone with Mommy. I never remember her engaging in any type of game, physical contact or conversation with me. The rule was that I would stay in my playroom for most of the day until my father came home from work. I was not allowed to go back into my bedroom nor in other parts of our rather large house. I don’t know what she did while I played in the toy room because I never recall her having any friends, only a widowed sister (a lunatic named Viola). My mother rarely watched television and I’d never seen her read a book. Looking back, I believe she had a little world going on in her head so had no need for outside stimulation.
She saw herself as a victim which played prominently in my childhood. She would appear in the playroom and tell me to come with her. She’d take me to her closet and show me one of her “cocktail dresses” as she referred to them. She’d say “Look at this Bunny.” as she pulled out a navy blue dress. “This looks like my cocktail dress but it isn’t. My dress was expensive. This dress is cheap. See that pancake makeup on the shoulder? You know I don’t wear makeup. I don’t need it because I’m Daddy’s child bride. Somebody took my dress and replaced it with one just like it but I’m smarter than them because I saw the pancake makeup. They thought they could fool me but they can’t”. I remember looking at the dress, thinking that it looked like hers. I also knew she used something for her face that she called pancake makeup. She had two tubes, one black and the other white, which she would occasionally remove from her purse and apply. Yet I stood silently while she rambled on. This happened frequently and was usually centered on her clothing being replaced with an identical item but of inferior quality. In my child’s mind I “thought” the items she would drag me out to see looked like hers but she was Mommy so I believed her. So began my introduction to years of fear, fear that the nameless, faceless people would come to steal from us when we were home. What would they do to us? Would they shoot us like on the movies my father watched on weekends? Would we die like the soldiers in those movies?

I’m not sure when the exact transition began but Mommy stopped accusing strangers of stealing her clothing. Instead, she began to target me. She would accuse me of stealing her makeup (the same pancake makeup that she denied using because she was a “child bride”), my fathers razor, just about everything. I remember crying and telling her I didn’t steal anything; that maybe the people did it. It fell on deaf ears as she reiterated that I was the thief and that she would tell my father when he got home from work which always ending with “and you know what that means”.

I knew exactly what that meant. I was going to be beat, the severity dependent on whether he had stopped at a bar for a few drinks. Drunk Daddy was ruthless when he was mad and when he finished pummeling me, would kick me while I was on the floor crying. I would try to reason with him, pointing out that his razor was up high in the bathroom medicine cabinet and that I was too small to reach it but my words fell on deaf ears. In time I began to realize that Mommy enjoyed this almost as if it was a game because I’d often catch a glimpse of her standing nearby with an ever so slight grin on her lips. Shortly after my father left for work in the morning she would appear at the door of the playroom to announce the latest item I’d “stolen”. She’d smile and say “You just wait till your father gets home. Daddy knows how to handle bad girls’”. I think it gave her a perverse sense of pleasure knowing that I was going to have the hell beat out of me. In time, I learned exactly what this psychotic woman was capable of. The beatings were only the tip of the iceberg.

 

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Her “pancake makeup”was identicle to the two tubes on the left

The End of One Road…

The End of One Road…

A simple thing really. I ran out of cloud space while filming my dog today. I began to check settings and deleting unnecessary things. Then it happened. My eyes filled with tears as I saw an email from you. You’d sent it to me after my beloved Callie died and I was on the “crazy train of grief”. I’d cut inches off my hair then the next day  cut even more. I can still see the look of shock on your face when I pulled in your driveway a few days later; you’d never seen me in short hair, never knew that I had curls resembling drunken corkscrews. The email began with your usual sarcastic wit that I’d come to love. You offered to lend me sheep shears for my next cutting adventure but warned they were the “manual type”. You suggested a mohawk for less upkeep with a matching one for my hubby. You made a point of telling me that your cat’s had “no comment” on my hair. Then you shifted gears and wrote a beautiful letter about my loss. You mentioned little “Callie-isms” that I never knew you’d noticed. You spoke of her as you did of your cats, with love and kindness. How the first thing you recognized when we’d met years before was her uncanny devotion to me, a devotion you never saw waver even towards the end when her body was weak.

I’ll never forget you nor will I ever stop loving you. Our friendship transcended the usual male female relationships. I never knew exactly how to describe either of us ~ gender fluid? Intergender? All I know is we had a wonderful, platonic friendship built on trust, an emotion that doesn’t come easily to me. We felt so secure, so safe with each other that we shared many dark parts of our lives. You will always have a special place in my heart because death ends a life, not a friendship.
I will always hold your memory close to my heart but I must move on now. I can’t weep during the day and toss and turn at night. I can’t continue to forget to eat and stay sequestered inside my house. I wish I could have saved you; I wish I could have convinced you to return to counseling, renewed your prescriptions, insisted you promise that you would call me before you picked up a gun. Hell, I wish I had searched your house for a gun!

Sadly, I can’t change a damn thing and even though it’s causing me severe anxiety and heightened depression, I HAVE to pull myself together. I have a legal matter looming on the horizon. Jury selection is in two weeks. It’s been a long four years which I don’t think I would have gotten through had it not been for your support and unwavering loyalty. I’m terrified and wish you were in the courtroom every day as you promised but in hindsight I realize your own pain was simply too great to carry any longer. But I have to see this through, not just for me but for you as well. The defense attorney took one sentence from my therapist’s session notes and as you know, she ran with it, thinking she’d found her “smoking gun”. Her questioning of me is going to be brutal and I have to find a way to prepare myself. I was supposed to go to counseling every week beginning last October so I would be prepared but after only two sessions life got in the way when Callie was diagnosed with lymphoma. Then it was one thing after another and I never went back. Now it’s too late. The attorney is going to bring up things that happened decades ago, events that have zero relationship to the crux of the case. She’s going to question me about my darkest hours, about secrets that I haven’t shared with my own family and I don’t know if I have the emotional stamina to get through it. How can the horror I suffered decades ago be relevant to what happened in 2012? How can the legal system allow me to be excoriated over events that happened before I even began school? Events I had no control over? The only way I can prevail is if I begin to address each nightmare now in the safety of my home as opposed to in a public courtroom. All my life I’ve been running and hiding but your suicide made me realize that running isn’t the answer. It’s time to bring the memories out, address them for the evil they were, then lock them away so that they can never hurt me again. You of all people can understand this for even though you’re gone, I want to believe your essence remains.
I’m going to win, but first I have to search deep within myself for answers. 

I know you’ll understand…

 

 

 

See You There My Friend – Count On It!

See You There My Friend – Count On It!

Finally…Exactly (3) weeks after his suicide our dear friend was picked up from the Medical Examiner’s Office by a local funeral home. I called to see if he had been cremated but the funeral home does not discuss end of life services, only if you are “shopping”.  Just another step in a truly bizarre & tragic event.

I have struggled with the aftermath of his suicide daily, trapped in an emotional limbo much as his body was trapped in a cold metal drawer. Now I can hopefully begin the healing process. We who loved him so very much are comforted knowing his earthly body has made the final step towards the end of his life journey. We miss our friend every day and I pray that he has found the peace that he so desperately sought.

“Joe’s Bar & Grill. Your dime. Go ahead.”