This blog is part of my recovery, and I would like it to remain a safe place for me to share parts of myself and my life that people close to me may or may not know. As a result, while I'm not going crazy with privacy settings, I do ask that if you find this on your own and suspect you may know me, please respect my privacy by checking with us before reading any further. This obviously doesn't apply if one of us has given you the link!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sanguine Saturday Again

Success Stories:
I've had a couple of days alcohol free.
I've gotten up every day. Some days I've even achieved a little more than that. ;)
In session with Carol, I was honest with her about what's going on for me - including discussing something that was terrifying for me to admit to. (Facing fear/avoidance)
I also told Carol I would read my poem at the candle-lighting and even said I'd read two, and any others that people don't want to read themselves, if they want.
I followed medical instructions on care for my graft, even when I didn't want to. (PLEASE)
I made attempts to include positive experiences in my week as well as practicalities. (Emotion regulation)
Faced my fear enough to send off a few emails that needed to be sent.
Have continued efforts to get my stuff sorted for moving. Sometimes that means something as small as taking out the trash, other days it's been as big as cleaning off my desk.
I attended a workshop for Reclaim The Night (though I won't be going to RTN this year because I, hopefully, will no longer be in Brisbane by then).
Supported causes that are important to me - by wearing Red for Ruby yesterday, and writing "love" for Australian TWLOHA. (And yes, anyone who reads this who doesn't have me on facebook is welcome to add that account.)

Gratitudes/things that make me happy:
My lovely friends.
Enterprise themed household goods.
Canberra zoo.
Pretty flowers.
Taking photographs.

Cheer-leading statements:
Feelings are not facts.
It's okay to feel the way I feel.
I deserved better and it's more than okay to acknowledge that.
It's okay to ask for what I need.
I am not a bad person. Not because of x, not because of y, and not for any other reason, either.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Father's Day Phone Call

Nightmares are, for me, a regular thing. Generally, assuming I sleep, I have at least one nightmare every day. Every so often, a nightmare will be particularly powerful, and it will leave me feeling off kilter (or worse) for the entire day. Last night, I had a nightmare like that, and it has served only to highlight the fact that I really need to sort my head out about my father.

My father's birthday falls right on the tail end of August, and I made the decision not to call him and wish him a happy one. I challenged my guilt and refused to bow down to it, but when Father's Day came around a week later, I didn't keep it up. I gave in to my fears, to my guilt, to my desire to be viewed as a "good" person-- a good daughter.

I think, above all, that's what I wanted. I want(ed) my mother and father to be pleased with me, to be pleased and proud and to tell me I was good. Silly, isn't it? Rationally and logically I am aware that neither of those was going to happen.

In fact, what happened is that my father and I discussed my move. (Since my stepsister found my old Facebook account and messaged me about the impending move, I knew he would already know.) I expected he wouldn't be pleased. I expected to hear how irresponsible I am and so forth, and I expected anger at the fact that I am moving so far away -- far enough that I will finally (I hope) be safe from him. What threw me was the hurt in his voice.

I've heard other survivors say that hearing their person sound afraid or hurt in that way was quite healing for them - it helped them see their attacker as human and infallible; it gave them a sense of power over the person who had hurt them. I didn't feel any of that - I felt, I bet you can't guess! - guilt. Deep, burning guilt.

I had hurt my daddy's feelings so deeply that it showed in his very voice. How dare I? Who am I to hurt my father that way?

And more than that, I felt deep guilt/shame for feeling guilty over hurting him, because, after everything, shouldn't I be glad about it? (And if I'm not, then maybe it provides more evidence that I deserved it, that it was all my fault.)

I have struggled daily with both lots of this guilt ever since, though I have tried to challenge the thoughts and use my skills to handle this situation and these emotions. I have tried as much as I can to take myself out of the situation ("what if [acquaintance] felt this way?"). Unfortunately my counsellor has hurt her back and has been unavailable since before Father's Day, so I haven't been able to discuss it properly, but I have been trying very hard to keep this from becoming an implosion.

I believe in the power of words, the power of visibilised thoughts, so in the absence of Carol, here are some challenges and the like to the situation/emotions.

Who am I to hurt my father? What about who was he to hurt his daughter? I may have hurt his feelings by planning to move, but I might not feel the need to move so far away if he was a safe person to have in my life! At least I can say that my actions (moving) weren't done with intent to hurt him. I wonder if he can say the same?

As for the second half...
Feeling guilt for hurting someone's feelings just indicates that I'm compassionate - it definitely doesn't mean that I deserved what happened to me as a child. And how I 'should' feel is however I do feel!

Challenges/cheer-leading statements:
I am not a bad person.
It's okay to do things that are for my health and well-being, even if those things do upset others.
I'm not responsible for another person's emotional health.
All emotions are okay and valid, even the ones I don't like.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Another Sanguine Saturday

No babble today, just going to jump straight into it.

Success Stories:
I've managed to go through my bookshelf (all except the bottom row that I can't actually get to properly yet) and pulled out about a third of the books to definitely go in the garage sale.
Posting my Sanguine Saturday every week.
Talking to the doctors at the RBH into letting me have a different type of dressing so I only have to go there once a week instead of twice.
I've been doing some serious walking (distraction & PLEASE) and trying to eat better (PLEASE).
I put in the entry forms to enter some of my creations (4 photographs, 3 photo & writing collaborations, 2 craft items and a collection of writings) into an exhibition at the women's violence centre (CASV).
My Centrelink social worker (Gail) and I tried to contact the psychologist my GP referred me to a while ago. (It turned out that she is no longer working though, so I definitely won't be starting with her before I go to Canberra.)
I have decided that I would like to read my own poem at the CASV candle-lighting ceremony this year, and in order to practice, I read it for Gail.
Even though the idea of going into MH with a dressing still on my leg terrified me, I faced that fear in order to ask Cameron about the art workshop that I had written down for Friday. (Unfortunately, he'd had to cancel due to lack of numbers.)
Faced my Fear about talking on the phone and called a friend who needed someone to talk to.
I used a little bit of planning skills and forward thinking when I paid my phone bill so that I won't need to pay it next month when I'm moving.

Gratitudes List/Things that make me happy:
My friends.
Being creative.

Cheer-leading statements:
Not burning doesn't mean I'm not hurting, all it means is that I'm choosing to make better choices for myself.
It's okay to be who I am rather than who someone else wants me to be.
Whatever I feel is okay.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Moth To A Flame (Lunch With The Ex-Husband)

Sometimes I get too caught up in trying to write well and don't end up writing at all. For days I've been puzzling at a few things I've wanted to write, but perfectionism has reared its ugly head so much that everything has been deleted instead of posted.

Have I thought a lot about why I made the choices I have, lately, in regard to my ex-husband and my father? Yes. Have I come to any helpful conclusions? Not so much.

I knew, from the moment I arranged to see my ex and meet his daughter that I was going to do this. I knew, also, that it was probably not in the realms of the smartest idea I'd ever had. I remember saying to a friend what my plans were and she told me straight up, "cancel it". I rationalised all the ways it could be good - and I think we both knew that's all it was. Rationalisations. Cancelling just wasn't on the cards.

So why not? Why, when I know the kind of person he is, when I know that the situation is a tricky one for me, did I do it?

Curiosity certainly played a part. I wanted to know what his child was like. I wanted to see for myself whether she was cute (she is), what kind of a father he made (a good one). I have a lot of unanswered questions about the way things ended up - part of me hoped that if I asked my questions (I didn't), he'd give me those answers (he couldn't).

He treated me much the same as always, though I admit he was quite toned down. For my part, DBT has obviously influenced me as I called the shots a bit: I chose the area we met in and when I didn't like the restaurant he chose, I asked for us to go somewhere else. Otherwise, I slipped fairly well back into my old role (I'm working on it).

What did I get out of the experience? A heightened sense of guilt. I'm not pretty enough, not smart enough, not thin enough, not good enough... and I never was. Sadness for what was, what could have been... what has been lost. Anger. He has re-written our history in his mind so that he doesn't have to feel bad about what he did. He repeatedly tells me that I left him, and while this is technically true, he ignores the fact that I seriously contemplated staying, after everything, until he left me stranded in the middle of a breakdown and lied about why. His staunchest supporter took me home to her place that night and told me that I was an idiot if I so much as thought about staying with him.

Did I get anything good out of it? I'm sure I must have. I believe that there is good to be found in every situation, but sometimes it's very hard to see. I haven't seen it yet in this one. I wish I could say that, at the very least, what I got out of it is a renewed determination to stay away from him, but it would be a lie. Like a moth to a flame, I am drawn to him.

Still, perhaps next time I will be able to stand more in wise mind. Even the moth has a choice...

Cheer-leading statements:
I am not a bad person.
Every day is a new chance, new beginning.
Criticisms levelled at me without constructive intent say a lot more about the other person than they do about me.
It's okay to feel whatever I feel.
The world doesn't have to be divided into black & white.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sanguine Saturday

Woah. Big day today. For my niece's birthday, I asked her if she wanted to go to DreamWorld or if she wanted a toy, and - big surprise - she wanted DreamWorld. It's been months, but I finally got to take her today. She's a great kid.

I didn't manage to meet the two challenges I set for myself this week, but I've decided to go easy on myself about it. It's been an extremely hard week. This new week is a new chance, and I'll keep taking it a day at a time and putting one foot in front of the other. I do believe that I'll see the other side of this tunnel, and I'm trying to keep going in the best way I can so that when I reach the light, I can still walk towards it under my own steam.

Success Stories:
Asking for things a couple of times.
Even though I didn't do something towards moving on every day of the past week, I did actually manage it on most. Challenge set again for the upcoming week.
I've been trying to do the right thing re sunscreen and zinc cream in regard to my burn scars now that I know why it's important not to get them burnt.
On Monday, when I heard that an appointment I was counting on had been cancelled, instead of falling apart, I decided to follow through with my plan to talk to Centrelink about my situation.
On Thursday, when things were collapsing around me at the shops, I kept my cool instead of turning to avoidance behaviours. (Yes, I know it didn't last after I got home, but I'll take anything I can get.)
When I recognised that I'm struggling a lot, I tried to do the right thing and make a phone call asking for more mindfulness that might help.
I have worked really hard to be sensible with my self harm, so that even if I am self harming, at least it has been controlled self harm.
I faced fear a little bit to take my niece on a ride at DreamWorld that she wanted to go on. (So what if it ended with me crying and my niece playing the adult telling me it was going to be okay!)

Gratitudes List/Things that make me happy:
New Terry Pratchett novels!
My beautiful nieces and nephew.
Knowing that my niece is a beautiful, compassionate person who knows that her aunt loves her.
Wise friends who, instead of just giving me the answers, help me find them for myself.

Cheer-leading statements:
It's okay to ask for help when I need it. It's okay to ask for help even before things are "out of control".
I'm not perfect and I don't have to be.
I am not a bad person.
When someone says something about me, it says a lot more about them than it does about me.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Taking A Look At My Choices

The last few weeks, and particularly last weekend, have been an uphill battle for me. In many ways, I can see how I am a world from where I was; in others I seem to be running headlong down the trail to where I was. I've made some good decisions that have worked out, some good decisions that haven't and some really phenomenally poor decisions (that, unsurprisingly, mostly didn't work out well). I'm learning that all of those are okay.

So, in the interests of being honest with myself on where the decisions I've made lately lie...

Healthy decisions/actions (whether or not they worked out in the way I had hoped):
Putting an online acquaintance on psuedo-ignore.
Not calling my father on his birthday.
Putting Serenity on to distract myself.
Going to Riverfire with some friends.
Working hard to do healthy things (like drinking lots of juice and having vitamin C tablets) to help my body heal faster.
Posting my regular "Sanguine ..." post, even though I think it was painfully obvious that I wasn't doing very well at the time.
Going in and talking to a social worker at Centrelink.
Asking the hospital if I could make my visits less frequent and get my nurse to do dressings in the meantime.
E-mailing a domestic violence place in Canberra about my options to gather information for when I move.
Getting my nurse to sort out a dressing and check out some things.
Having an apple and a banana instead of chocolate.

Unhealthy decisions/actions:
Calling my father on Father's Day.
Arranging to meet up with my ex husband so I could meet his daughter.
Not turning Serenity off after it became clear to me that it was extremely triggering.
Putting Law & Order SVU on after calling my father.
Reasoning that because I'd had an apple and a banana I didn't need breakfast or lunch.

Uncertain decisions:
Not talking to people about how I feel.
Not asking for support.

(I know these two seem to be clearly in the unhealthy decisions 'box' but due to circumstances I can't seem to word coherently, I'm not sure that applies in the instances this refers to. For example, if I know or should reasonably know that you haven't been trash-talking me, I don't think it's necessarily healthy for me to tell you I feel betrayed; or if someone else's support needs are higher than mine, it's not necessarily a healthy or fair decision for me to request support at that time.)

Having done this, I'm surprised there are so many healthy choices on the list! It's a nice surprise, though. I think I want to look in more detail about why I made the unhealthy choices I did. Some of them are easily explained ("I wanted to self destruct more than I wanted to get better" or "I'm feeling too lazy to be sensible") but things came of a couple of the things on that list that I want to explore in more detail. I think I'll make that my goal for this week. At the very least, it'll give me something to discuss with Carol!

I'm going to make one other goal for myself this week; and that is to do something related to moving house every day. Even if it's something small (like sending an e-mail or finishing some paperwork that needs to be done). I'll check in on Sanguine Saturday with how well I've gone with this one!

Cheer-leading statements:
My emotions are valid and acceptable. Even the ones I don't like!
It's okay to make healthy choices.
It's also okay to make unhealthy choices sometimes - they give me a chance to grow and learn.
My past doesn't have to define me. My present doesn't, either.
I'm not responsible for anyone's feelings or actions except my own.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sanguine (Sun)day

Please forgive any abruptness. I'm exhausted, I have a cold and this weekend is full of some pretty large events/triggers.

Success Stories:
Getting angry about the way certain people have treated/are treating me. It doesn't sound like a good thing (or, come to that, feel like one!), but I think it is actually a step in the right direction.

Trying to make the right choice, even when it turns out (through coincidence/bad luck) to be just as triggery as if I had deliberately made an unhealthy one.

Even though I met with my ex husband and his daughter, I made attempts to use DEAR MAN and other skills instead of just letting him call all the shots. I chose the location and when I didn't like the restaurant he chose, I spoke up and asked if we could go to a different one. We did.

Gratitudes List/Things that make me happy:
Pretty fireworks (like these, these and these).
Getting some photos that I was okay with (like this one).
Fresh squeezed orange juice.

Cheer-leading statements:
It's okay to feel whatever I feel.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.