Friday, November 26, 2010

The first step to better times is to imagine them.

            Today before sitting down to dinner this Thanksgiving I was checking on my Facebook page, when one of my friends had posted a fortune cookie which said click here to read. So, I clicked the button to see what it said and the phrase “The first step to better times is to imagine them” came up. I looked at my fortune and thought a little bit about what it said and how true it was for me, including every survivor working so hard on their own recovery. Imagine them as if to say set some goals and reach for them. Once you reach your goal you will find better times. Make one think and realize just how true that statement is.

            When I was working, the team I was on was always working towards one goal. When we reached that goal we would then set another set of goals to reach and this was how we moved through the day and this is how we stayed focused on the job at hand. Suffering from Depression and PTSD it becomes a struggle to do the littlest things such as even get out of bed. My therapist had me set a goal to do some type of work around the house for fifteen minutes twice a day and strive to pull myself to do these. This is a good goal and a great way to motivate myself into getting out of bed and moving about the house and not going from just the bed to the couch as I normally did. But the one thing that this really did not do was change my mind, in fact the thoughts and memories would still continue to pop up or in the background I would be thinking of something other then the task at hand. No matter what the thought was, be it owing on bills, the cars that are broke down, the things that need fixing or my past all together the little movements around the house did little or nothing to change me, or my mind which I really need to do if I am going to survive. And even as I type this I am reminded that for the past nine months my only goal has been to get out of bed and spend time with my family.

            But images as a goal bring up a whole new kind of reason to go on. Yes, to reach better times the first step is to imagine them the second thing is to go and do them. My interpretation is that to find a better time either for the day or longer is to imagine my goal rather then think of my goal. Instead of doing something fifteen minutes twice a day not really knowing what I am going to do when I wake up, picture myself like cleaning the windows with cleaner and then add the element of good into that image. A clean glass window allows all the sunshine into the room which brings light and warmth, and it also opens the world with a better view. Then once I get out of bed I now have a goal with a reason not just a goal. Once that is done rather then looking to the poor things in life is to stand back and admire what I had done that was not only for me but for anyone who looks out the window. What once were fingerprints and smudge marks is now a wonderful view of the world and would be something that was good I have done and not just a cleaning job. Same can go for other items in the house like the refrigerator or counter tops.

            Take this thought and take it once step further and imagine doing something on the weekend like I get to pick the movie that gets rented or pick the movie and the snacks. Use a mental image to focus on and see everyone sitting watching the movie and for once being in control of the remote and handing out snacks. I know it sounds funny but you know if I were to work on that it might actually stop my mind from going to all the places that it has been going. I believe the Beetles sang a song once about Imagine, in fact as a survivor on a road to recovery there are a ton of things we can imagine that could be good thought. All the people who could be affected by our healing, the children we might save if we reached the point to speak about it and better yet all the places we could go without being triggered and if we were able to just laugh them off. To set a goal of one day being free from the life that brings us down, that causes pain and tears to a life of freedom and happiness. It all sounds good on paper, it all sounds good when someone tells you that your going to reach this place but until you actually imagine what this place is going to look like how will you know your going in the right direction or more important when your there.

            Setting goals is very hard for me to do when I am really down and out, moving, feeling and even thinking become a major chore for me however I wonder if I train or force my mind to look into the direction of imagery goals it might make it easy to get past it rather then sit there and let my mind take me further down. What my thinking is also this, when it is hard to imagine an image, allow someone talk to you and help you build an image. This could also help relationships that are troubled by a person who is suffering allowing their loved ones to actually become a part of their healing which could in a way make the relationship even stronger. I have no idea if anything is out there like this, but it is worth a try. Until Next Time….

Thursday, November 25, 2010

We get by with a little help from our Family, Friends and Support Groups.

            For the past month, I have been sharing parts of my past, present and thoughts. It has been a hard month as it has been over the past nine months when this volcano erupted causing a massive flux of memories. I have learned many things on my road to recovery but the one thing I have learned is that what I have done during these nine months is not what someone should do. I gave up friends, I deleted everyone from my Facebook, refused to talk to people on the phone and let emails go unanswered. Just as the beetles sang "you get by with a little help from your friends" I found that the most important things in surviving are friends and family. My family here, my sister in Florida, friends from work and groups such as MaleSurvivor.org and Betrayed Boys where meeting other people who share a past in more ways then one. Sure, it’s not like sharing your favorite color, or car, or ice cream but a past that was created at the hands of others. It is family, friends and groups like these where one can ask questions and find those hard to find answers that get you by. If it were not for everyone who as stood by me, I would not be here today.

            On many occasions when I would feel like the world was caving in on me, it was the people around me who picked me up and got me back on my feet. But it has not been an easy road to say the least. When the memories first started flowing in I could not deal with it, sometimes even today I can’t deal with my past. Visions, objects or even words can trigger a reaction and even thought I may have seen that object a hundred times it takes one time for it to become a trigger, and it may never trigger again. I believe that my mind processes what I am looking at different at that moment and the object may become something other then what it was. Just like when I was yelling at my son, if I had a dollar for every time I yelled at my son I would be up living next door to Donald Trump. My question is why the last time I yelled and he yelled back again his face turned into my brother at a young age. I seem to feel that subconsciously memories and visions are always spinning around just waiting for something to trigger them out into the open. It has to be something because I don’t understand how the littlest things can cause me to lapse into depression and fears.

            What also puzzles me is why depression hits me so hard that it also gives me the impression that the subconscious plays such a major roll in memories and recovery. I have shared for over a month, I have talked about it with my counselor and even discussed it with other survivors yet it only feels like my conscious understands and knows what is going on yet somewhere inside me the battle continues. I have yet to find a way to allow my subconscious understand that I am safe, and with that my three alters are also unaware of the safety I am in that no one is going to harm me. What really needs to be done is I need to find a way for my mind to be reprogrammed to believe people are not out to get me, they are not watching me, authority has it’s proper place in society and that my body is mine and not for someone to take advantage of. I mention this after thinking and reading the blog from yesterday about the men’s room and how I react to being in one. I also started to think about how I react when speaking to a man who is a homosexual and feeling the need to be in front and not behind or hidden from his view. It was the sexual acts that I was taught and raised with because of my brother and feeling the need to be around him all the time to in someway feel safe and to have the feeling of some control over my abuse. My last counselor referred to this as the Stockholm syndrome.

            Sometimes when I look at all my fears, feelings, actions, thoughts and reactions I begin to wonder if I will ever truly recover from my trauma or if the path I am on is going to take longer then I expect. I know that on all my medical reports to my insurance company they have me out of work longer then twelve months. That scares me, but it makes sense because if anything I agree with is the lack of sleep, constant depression, physical shakes and lack of memory. I most times can’t remember things that I am told just 10 minutes ago I am afraid I am going to forget my job, how to do it and how to use the special software in completing my job. More little fears that pop up, that and the low funds of disability with eight children. Needless to say, this proves that PTSD can come on to someone at any time, any place and with varying degrees. It is also shocking to understand that Dissociative Identity Disorder is real and that as a result of my type and length of my abuse that it is something that I have to deal with. So much, that during conversations of my past, during typing in my journal and when triggers hit that they actually will come out and take over my body and will explain things that I am not aware of or remember. One night I wrote in my journal and the style of my writing changed, the way the sentences changed and things came out that after I read it I actually cried for the first time in my life. At least I believe it was me, but it could have been another alter who when comes out seems to cry. Me as a person, the last time I remember truly crying was the beating I took from my mother, I never cried again.

            Well, I do know that a majority I wrote I have written before yet what comes out is not always what I intend to write or comment about. The point I wanted to say was how important it is for someone with PTSD to hold onto the people around you no matter how hard it is. Try not to give into the acting out while in that deep depression, with help you can over come that part of the depression but it does not mean you will not become depressed. Seek out friends, groups and family and get the information you need and the support that you and I deserve. On this one month anniversary of my blog I realize that I have such a long way to go, and I will continue to blog as it does help. Until Next Time…

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Abused to Abuser, is it a myth all the time?

            This coming June will mark twenty one years since I got married and thirty four years since we have met in an old fishing camp on the shores of Oneida lake. She was eleven years old and I was thirteen at the time but when your camping friends are easily made, and they always come and go unless they return the next year and you get to meet again. Our friendship started out as a telephone relationship until she was about sixteen years old when we were both able to spend the night at each others home, go camping or meet up to do things.

            For someone who has been sexually abused for just about their entire life, the acts and the situations almost become normal and this is one reason that the question comes about as to if I asked for it or not. My wife and I at that age had already been talking about things that happened during my life as she was starting to see how my family was and acted. What seemed to be normal was not exactly normal in her eyes and while I would make comments that it’s no big deal looking back now it was and I feel as if I brought her into my abuse through acts of love but not in a normal way. Normal was what happened between her and I however something’s did happen that to me was not a big deal however she was bothered by it and asked that I ask my Father to stop his actions. My fathers actions were when ever she came to visit, he would grab at her breasts in his demented mind as a way to say hello. In fact when I did approach him and asked him to stop he became upset and from that day forward stopped really liking her. Looking back now, I can see that she was being sexually assaulted every time my father did this and to me, I did not see a problem with it as to me it was normal as I lived it my entire life. It is amazing however that my brother never made any sexual moves on her or talked her and I to engage in anything in front of him so he could watch.

            For years while we dated she saw a whole lot of my family and their actions, and by being around us she started to become more comfortable letting her guard down not to be attacked but when sexual acts happened around her she would laugh just as the rest of the family would. An example of this was my brother would stand on the outside of the sliding glass doors and press his genitals up against the glass for everyone to see. It became a joke and it was called the Doughnut, as that is what we referred it to. She was there and saw this and other acts that my family gave no respect to her and I never stopped it because it was normal to me. My father and brother would walk around the house in their underwear, my brother would walk from the bathroom downstairs nude with no towel covering himself and other little that I did not think anything about it. One Christmas we had her parents over to the house and I had gotten a pair of underwear and I was made to fashion it off in front of everyone including her parents. By the time she had reached seventeen years old, we made love for the first time which everything in that was normal. What became not normal however was very normal to my sister and I, yet on some occasions when my wife was over to visit my sisters boyfriend would also come to visit. Because everything was normal to me, and it had become a normal for my wife the four of us would engage in sexual behavior (Not as a foursome) in different parts of the living room where we could see each other, there was no sense of privacy and it was not something that was important. My sister and I had been abused all our lives and what we did was to transfer our poor morals into my wife where she too became so comfortable that she thought nothing of it. One time, when I had my own apartment and we were making love a friend opened the door and came in to talk. Yes, we had been drinking at the time but we were not embarrassed at all and continued after he left the room.

            Being that my wife grew up with me, she also saw that my father was an alcoholic and that he was abusive and always drinking. She also had seen how my mother would control my life, charging a credit card I had to the max and refusing to pay it, She would also at the last minute refuse to allow me to leave the house which once left my wife stranded at her work once with no ride home and no way for me to contact her. Many times things like this would occur and even though I old enough to do things on my own my mother had this control. We were always told what to wear, when we could do things, where we could go and if she did not want anything to happen she would make sure it did not. During this time my father worked at a Bar on the Polish side of town which was about a 10 min ride. It happened almost every weekend but the most embarrassing was when my wife came to spend the night or weekend. My mother would always was me up and my wife to go with her at three or four in the morning to go searching for my father because he had not come home. She was there for a lot of what happened but not there for the severe sexual abuse at the hands of my brother yet had in a way was passed down to my sister and I as normal activity.

            Several days ago my wife had disciplined one of my children as she has done to all seven of our kids since they were able to start getting into trouble or touching things they should not and we were teaching them how not to do things. I don’t know why this one time it triggered me back to when my mother was beating me with the wooden spoon and as I was trying to stay grounded I had asked her not to spank him again. Her reaction was to become very upset going to the bedroom and slamming the door behind her. I asked her what her problem was and she said I was making her out to be a child abuser and that she is sick of having to be worried about triggering me in everyday life that she could not deal with it anymore. My problems and reactions that I live with everyday was and is becoming mental abuse to her because life is changing and it is a result of what I am going through and putting the family through as well. Just tonight my eleven year old son woke up my six year old and when I spanked him as he climbed into his own bed he referred to me as my mother. This is not the first time the kids have tossed my past into my face since I became disabled and I cannot express the pain I feel hearing that I am and have been abusing my wife, to hear my problems tossed into my face. My wife even stated that I had asked her where she was during all my abuse, which in essence was placing some blame on her that I was abused. I do not recall ever asking this and this in not something I would ask but I must have because she feels that she could have stopped it had she known what the full extent was.

            So basically even though the person who is dealing with PTSD from CSA, it affects everyone else who is living around them. My greatest fear all my life that I was going to become an abuser as this is one of the myths of abuse has actually come true in the fact that through this all and my flashbacks, depression and the triggers has put a great mental strain on my wife and that by all my actions I am in fact mentally abusing her. I looked back today at all the things she talked about which I wrote above and what I was actually doing without realizing it was abusing her sexually and making it normal just as I was taught to believe. She cried today asking if she was a monster because back then she thought it was normal and truth be told it was my Sister and I who were the monsters that took this innocent girl and brought her into our life. Today, it is my actions that are abusing my children mentally the same way. I am not the father they need, my one daughter even told me that I should kill myself because of the way I am I will not amount to anything, Just as my son said by spanking him I am becoming my mother not thinking about how a slap would be something just as my mother did. So the real fact is that I am dealing with my own past of being abused and because of this I have now become the abuser. I always vowed to never do this to my family and that it was going to stop here, with me however in all my stress I am loosing sight of what I did not want to become. I do not know how well I am dealing with all this and I will be honest I think it is better that I leave this house until I am better enough to come back. I don’t want to take my own life but then again to live knowing that I am what I am it would be the only way to stop the cycle which I vowed so much to break and if I cannot break it now, that may be the only option which I do not want to do.

            For now I am going to end this posting because even as I write this my mind is racing faster and faster and I am falling deeper into a state of depression. One thing I know is that I can no longer turn to anyone to discuss how I am feeling. She is sick of me having bad days which happens 99% or the time. The kids don’t even know how to deal with me being down. I just don’t know anymore and I don’t know how to get over this one. Until Next Time….

Monday, November 22, 2010

I just don't know today.

            Today is Monday November 22nd and I type the date because it has been 2 days since I posted a blog. I am feeling very depressed and withdrawn and tonight I don’t know what to write about. I am back on the downswing of this roller coaster and I do not even know why. I spent most of today sleeping, I just could not wake up to save my own life if I had to. Sometimes the depression gets so deep like today, just like the last blog I stated it was one of the top 10, which this is going into that top again.

            Over the weekend, we took our foreign exchange to New York City and it was horrible for me to say the least. Leaving for the trip I normally feel save in the car with my wife however as we drove further and further from the house the more uncomfortable I got and scared, I was stepping way out of my comfort zone and had no real safe place to run to if I needed to. The hotel room did provide comfort as long as I was in the room, which I did have my laptop with me and that is one way I relax myself however I was unable to type very well due to my shaking. There were several things I did notice that I do that I was not aware I was doing, and that is something I have always done before but just did not notice. I spoke before how I was afraid of public bathrooms, but I realized that I act in certain ways while in them. When I first enter I walk rather slowly as if I am scoping the layout in order to find the safest place. I would expect that I would use the stall that was closest to the door but I realized that I never do and the reason is that it is like running to the corner. The one thing I noticed was that I spend the whole time looking through the door jams to make sure the area was clear and no one was looking through as well as listening to the times the doors open and close to see how many people walked in and that the same number walked out. I know this was something I normally did however I can see the reasons now why. Going to the corner makes it so that when people walk in they are only coming from one direction and I can pay attention to the one way.

            One thing was a trigger and that was train to take her into the city to meet her mother and that was the actual ride. I knew that I would become afraid during the five minute because I was not going to have that easy way out but a trigger was not what I was expecting. I was staying very grounded handling my fears but I was taken back to riding a trolley car in Philadelphia as a child. I remember when I was with my brother and a friend of his from the air force base we lived at. I remember him picking on me which was normal but having to run because they had a high power pellet rifle and shot a man from across the street of a path we were on. I do not remember why we were on this path or what it had to do with anything but the flashback was one that placed a fear inside me for a reason I have no idea. What made this fear and what the fear is was one that I do not really know. It was a fear that I don’t and can’t say I remember or can say every having before.

            This is going to be a short entry because I am really not able to type, my mind is so cloudy that I can’t stay focused on a topic. I can’t think and I feel so drained. I am going to go to bed tonight early even though I got over 17 hours a straight sleep and then took a 4 hour nap. The weekend took such a toll on my body and mind It is one that I will not be able to do for anytime soon. Going out will be something that is going to take a little bit to get back to trusting again. So, Until Next Time….