Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.

26May/200

Resilient Always

I was writing something else, will use tomorrow.

Trauma Therapy Tuesday was my big day out. I enjoyed my little post-session walk and was glad to keep working a little at integrating a terrible memory from age 4.

It's one that had unfolded new memories, it was worse. The last few sessions have me appreciating how remarkable I was as a child. I was brilliant at figuring out the least terrible option then getting through it and getting myself out of the house for a while.

I'm also marveling at how well I am, considering what examples were put before me as a child and what I endured.

I was, and am, a resilient bad ass.

22May/200

Harvest

The garden gave us Sugar Snap Peas today. Just a handful we ate while playing a game together this evening. They weren’t amazing, the way very freshly harvested produce is sometimes, but they were good.

I picked up the mail. It contained a handmade card and a linocut print, both made by students. “That’s a pile of fan mail”, CK commented when I got home.

I am, again, deeply moved at the offerings of my students. I’m also really impressed at how well people are adapting and growing.

Now that I’ve spotted the backdraft of shame in response to these mail days, I’m hoping that will begin to ease. Sometimes recognizing, then articulating these insights to CK, a friend, and/or my therapist, starts to break up the hold the Childhood Logic has on me.

Tomorrow is Dinner 70 and I have no idea what it will be, nor do I have anything thawing for CK. It might end up being very easy if we garden a lot. We’re also spending a bunch of the weekend playing games and discussing more ideas to make CK’s 40th extra special.

18May/200

Exhausting

Same calendula today. Taken during a break in the rain.

A friend is dealing with complex rental issues and asked about moving and school districts online. They're from another country and were surprised at the way a move disrupts schooling and how you have to plan moves around it.

Well, that's why summer parents think about it.

My Mother was never satisfied. Once she got to something she wanted she'd immediately start in on all the things that were not living up to her expectations. She also burned bridges often. Usually all of this would result in us moving to a new place that would fix everything.

Between first grade, age 6, and graduation, age 17, of attend 17 schools. There's a couple middle-to-high-school transitions in there, but even with that it represents 15 moves. We also moved repeatedly before age 6 and experienced a period of homelessness when we sheltered with my Mother's sister.

Another friend shared thier high count. We comiserated over being asked if we're from a military family and having to respond with, essentially, "No I had a terrible childhood."

The original friend noted they were sorry I'd gone through that, it sounded exhausting.

"Yes!", I thought. Life with my Mother was exhausting. She was an energy vampire. Years after her death I’m still remembering new, terrible things and still resting to recover all the energy she stole from me.

All this is so heavy, when you layer on the pandemic it explains why I have days like today where my body feels like I’m made of rocks.

13May/200

Mothering

For most people the word mother has pleasant associations. Mothering is a special kind of nurturing, "a mother's touch" confers special care.

Unless it didn't.

I realize that my Mother was good at what I've taken to calling "Performative Mothering". When they're was an audience to see how good she was, she left there impression of being a good mother. She'd terrorize me where no one would see and when they were watching she'd shine.

I said to my therapist it feels like she was setting me up to be gaslight by everyone. "Your Mom's great!" I so often heard from friends.

If CK finally hadn't witnessed the mental/emotional abuse going on I'm not sure I'd be able to articulate it. It feels like that was there key to unlocking the secrecy.

Day 60 of sheltering-in place.

12May/200

Eighty Thousand

While the rate seems to be slowing, the ever rising number leaves me breathless with despair.

The rest of this is about therapy and alludes heavily to child abuse.

⚠️

Therapy was hard. I brought up how I'd thought of the Childhood Logic that last year I'd found lurking within me last year around this time. The lie I'd told myself because the truth that I was terrified of my Mother was too awful.

The closer I get to integrating this memory, the easier it is to notice when I’m searching for proof that something was wrong with me, that it was my fault. I was a terrible child with a good Mother. This is the false logic that hides the awful truth; she was cruel.

The drive to make my Mother good is so strong. My therapist brought it to my attention again today when I said my Mother was "out of control" in the memory I'm integrating.

While it absolutely felt that way to my four year old self, my therapist pointed out how in control my Mother really was. How she had a pattern of getting me alone so she could abuse me without any witnesses. It only felt out of control because she wanted me to feel that way.

11May/200

Therapy Eve

The night before trauma therapy the day after Mother's Day; I feel really tired. Have had the heavy feeling much of the day, wading through tar pits in order to do any work, physical or mental.

It's all that and the USA death toll at nearly 80,000 and rising. Even as the rate slows, states reopen and keep the danger high.

Then there's this brave act:

I shared in an online community of adaptive teachers today that I may not return to teaching in person until there is a vaccine. I specialize in helping older adults; I can't encourage them to gather in even a small group! It's the first time I've shared it publicly. It's so sad; I miss seeing my students so much.

10May/200

Self-Mothering

It’s been Mother’s Day today and a nice benefit of physical distancing is the lack of exposure to all the usual merchandise blitz.

I didn't have a meltdown today. I am grateful.

I planted Atomic Red carrots, encouraged the sugar snap peas up the trellis, appreciated the flowers, used both video games & yoga for soothing, did chores, and made us food.

So many meals made! I’ve never cooked so much! I’ve also never gone for such a long stretch without take-out, fast food, or restaurants. I find myself thinking about supply chains and what winter will look like.

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7May/200

Pride

I have a hard time feeling proud of my accomplishments. I'm sure it's part of the deep feeling that I'm not worthy of care, but in the case of teaching related accomplishments it really hits hard.

I could be happy about bonuses and raises when I was in the tech industry. There were trackable evidence that I worked my ass off. This monetary reward for good behavior didn't flip me into shame and misery.

Teaching though, humans telling me that what I'm doing is life changing is hard. Hardest still, people giving me money and wanting to support me. It creates cognitive dissonance between the evidence of my value and worth against the message that I’m not worthy of care or protection, my needs are potentially dangerous, and my opinions are subject to derision.

6May/200

In Retrospect

After feeling so terrible yesterday I had some insights I’m still integrating.

Trauma Brain "works" according to Childhood Logic. Here is what seems to happen:

Students send me beautiful notes and donations for teaching online and keeping community going. Related: contribute money for my training.

I meltdown in anxiety, shame, despair, and feeling like I’m a failure and a terrible person until I'm nauseous, can't eat, & get weepy.

Further compounding the misery, I can’t ask for help. Trauma Brain is constantly reminding me that asking for what I need is A) Dangerous physically or mentally or both, B) No One Will Help, because C) You’re not worthy of having you needs met.

And then comes despair.

Today was better. I discovered a great photo I got of a bee butt in the garden and I did a hard thing successfully, I even felt successful!

5May/200

Terrible Tuesday

Today felt hard.

It didn't matter that I taught and it made people feel better. They sent me money and I began worrying; will I have to give back unemployment because people give me $2.50 a class?

Food felt hard and then I burned my dinner and CK's was dry.

I felt so weepy and despairing. I'm less so now, now I just feel angry.

It wasn't even like I read or watched any news. I didn't do any errands. No anniversaries that trip me up. Nothing other than living during a pandemic with a Federal government that keeps gaslighting us while behaving creully.