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, December 30, 2012

From a Once-Ghost to a Now-Ghost

My support worker suggested that I might find it helpful to write a letter to my 12 year old self whose mother sent her to live with her (abusive) father after a fight.

Everything in the letter below is true and accurate as my perception of the events (and I'm fairly sure, true and accurate as to the facts as well), although I did take slight creative licence on the ages as I won't actually be 30 for another two weeks. My niece, though, really is 12, and does shout the same thing I told my mother.

This is, at this stage, still a first draft. I promised my support worker I wouldn't edit the original minus small rearrangements until after she had read it, and I find that after such an emotional outpour, I'm reluctant to reread and edit just yet. I wanted to share it, anyway, though.

You are twelve years old, a ghost and a memory, but that doesn't stop you being here with me. You view me as a wisp, an ethereal image hazy with what might be but I can see that you are a stamp of yesterday as indelible as octopus ink. You are in my eyes, and under them, in the depths of who I am. You will be changed, soon, by a moment that falls heavy around your shoulders even as it darts away.

When it happens, you will know that nothing will ever be the same, but you won't know how much this moment will become part of you. You won't know that for another 15 years, when you will revisit this moment in the hospital, undressing yourself and folding the adult part of you on the chair for later. Nakedly you will tell the nurse how it feels to be vulnerable and left to his mercy.

You will remember what you shouted, and you will remember slamming the door. You will remember the first time you ever heard her swear was that day, and she was calling you a bitch. You will remember the terror you felt when you realised she was calling your father, and you will remember begging her not to send you away. You will remember that you heard your little brother plead your case, and though you won't remember her reply, you will remember the tight way she speaks, and the sinking of that balloon of hope in your chest as she gets on the phone and tells him to come and get his daughter.

Unaccountably, you will remember the day when you were small and one of your brothers had placed a sandwich into the VCR. You will remember another phone call, to the Police (or so you still believe), and the certainty with which she tells you all that they are coming to fingerprint and take away the guilty party. You remember knowing it wasn't you, deducing it was one of your brothers and not knowing which. You remember you begged them each separately to confess, that you would not be torn through the middle; two magnetic poles no longer touching. Years later, when you remember that other moment, you will remember this one, and you will also remember that picture in your mind, of a small face peering out the back of a terrifyingly large vehicle. In your dreams, that face will be yours.

You won't remember whether it all happened slowly, as if you are stuck in time; or if the inevitability of it all sped you through to its conclusion. You won't remember what this fight was even about, but you'll remember that you didn't mean what you shouted and you both knew it.

You will remember her giving you a bag and telling you to pack your things, and you'll remember only that you sat stiffly in the car, cradling your stereo, and that you cried the whole way to your father's.

Years from now, you will remember, also, some of the aftermath as well, like the day your mother tells you she has antidepressants now. By the time you are 14, you will know this is your fault, and she will confirm it.

By then, you won't remember whether you gave any thought to the friends you left behind, but you will discover that when you return, most of them will remember you. Some of them will reclaim you, but Kylie, with whom you shared a birth month and with whom you were close, will never forgive you for leaving her behind. You won't mind because you aren't the same girl anymore, but you will regret the bullying that follows as she gradually steps up the levels of violence.

Still, you will survive and you will believe you are mainly unscathed. You will believe for many years that your mother is the good one. You will believe that all of this will disappear, fade into the background of who you are. You will believe that it is all your fault.

You will believe it, but it won't be true.

You are twelve years old. Twelve. You don't know it now, but when you are 30, you will have a 12 year old niece, and you will see in her the same streak of independence you had at her age. You will hear her shout those same words to her father, to her mother, to her grandmother... to you. You will see past them and know that they are words that come from a place of anger, but mostly from a place of hurt and confusion.

You will know that if anyone tries to send her away, it will not be her fault, and it will not be a reflection on the value of that 12 year old girl trying to make her way in a world that is often confusing and scary. You will know beyond any doubt that she is beautiful and amazing and wonderful, and that even when she makes mistakes, she is still all of those things.

You will know that no matter what the world throws at her, she will always have value. At 30, you will begin making connections between that 12 year old and the you that was 12. You will write yourself this letter, and in the writing, you will begin to let go of the shadow that has followed you for 18 years, because you will begin to see that at 12, you are still a child. At 12, you are a child who cannot be responsible for the actions of an adult. You are not the cause of your mother's illness, and though you may have exacerbated it without knowing or intending that, it is still not your fault.

You are twelve years old, a ghost and a memory, but that doesn't stop you being here with me. You have been changed by this moment, and you will be changed by many more that are to come, until you become the 30 year old writing this letter. You will look in the mirror one day and though your hair is greying and your skin wrinkles like unironed sheets, you will see, still, the stamp of who you were; the stamp of moments; lived, loved and regretted; all over the solidity of who you are.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dichotomous Christmas

I know I'm now too late to wish you all a Merry Christmas, but I hope everyone had a wonderful day yesterday, whether you celebrate Christmas or not.

My day... was a day of firsts, and a day of tradition. It was a day of great happiness, but it was a day edged with grief and regret. Unusually for me, it was also a day of healing and growth - though I don't expect to see concrete results of that any time soon. Finally, it was a day of learning. Most of the things I learned were small things, it's true, but small things add up and gradually become bigger things.

Although Bumface and I began dating shortly before Christmas last year, I spent most of the day with my biological family, only meeting up with him at the end of the day. Normally, we would go to my brother's for Christmas, but this year I made the decision early on that I wouldn't be doing that. Bumface isn't comfortable with my family (and given the way they've treated us both, I certainly understand why), and I didn't want us to be apart for Christmas, so we decided to have it here -- that way, too, we could invite Baby Bear to join us, as well as any other friends/chosen family with nowhere else to go. We did invite my mother and Jerry, (her best friend who has been like a father to myself and my brothers) especially as it's the first Christmas my younger brother hasn't been here for, but they declined to join us. As a result, not only was this my first real Christmas with my partner... it was my first Christmas ever without a single member of my biological family.

This year, I pulled together some of my favourite Christmas traditions from my childhood, and I made a few changes where appropriate, to create a Christmas that would work for us. I decorated, with the help of Baby Bear and her friend. I put together 3 stockings (one each for myself, Bumface and Baby Bear). I made my favourite Christmas recipes (minus the trifle which I'll be making once we've eaten some more of the food we already have left over). Baby Bear joined us and we enjoyed plenty of nibblies as we exchanged gifts. After a brief rest, we had my family's traditional salad lunch. All my favourites from my childhood were there, and a few others I've picked up through the years were added as well.

It was a good day, but there were still things I missed. Mostly, I missed my nieces and my nephew. Without them, the chatter of children was missing, and the magic (and the laughter!) that brings to Christmas was a small wound in the day. It left me aching a little for my own little girl and boy.

I didn't miss calling my father and wishing him a Merry Christmas, but I wish I could say I didn't feel guilt over it.

This year, I learned, as I learn over and again, that some wounds don't heal. I learned, as I learn over and again, that family is about so much more than who gave birth to whom. I learned, as I wish I'd realised earlier, that coleslaw dressing and caesar salad dressing are not interchangable (worst coleslaw EVER). I learned, as I think we all wish I'd learned before making the pasta salad, that regular peas should be shelled. I learned, as I learn over and again, that just as there can be sadness in the midst of beauty... there also can be beauty in the midst of sadness.

This year, I was shown that there are some truly amazing and wonderful people in my life, and I am blessed to know them. I was shown that there are some people in my life who maybe don't deserve the amount of time and love I offer them, as they are unwilling to offer much in return... but there are some who deserve everything I can give and so, so much more.

I hope I do enough that those people know who they are, that they see I understand and appreciate just how much they enrich my life and how deeply grateful I am for all they do for me. They are my chosen family, and although not all of them could join me physically for Christmas, they were all in my heart yesterday, as they are every day, and are ever welcome at my table.

Happy Holidays, my friends.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Even A Knife-Wielding Maniac Can Illustrate Growth

Yesterday, I went to an event held by Open Minds, and came home expecting everybody to be out. After I turned around and locked the door, without even having a cursory look around the room, I turned back to discover a "knife-wielding maniac" standing right in front of me.

Confronted with a similar situation a week ago, the 18yo daughter stood still and screamed. And darn near wet herself. I would have expected that to be my reaction as well. Instead I stood stock still with quite a surprised look on my face and just froze. Completely and utterly. And then my eyes adjusted, I saw who it was... and I laughed.

Since the "knife wielding maniac" was, in both instances, Bumface, I posted about the prank on Facebook as I internally processed all the positive things I had learned from it. Unfortunately, some of my friends seemed to feel that because they didn't find it amusing, I couldn't (or shouldn't?) have, either and I now have a lot to process around that.

But.. between the prank and the Facebook fall-out, I've learned and cemented a few new/emerging thoughts and truths for myself.

1. My eyes might be getting worse and I should probably have them tested. To be perfectly honest, I didn't even *see* the knife until after I recognised Bumface. :p

2. I have grown so much, emotionally, over the last year. I knew that, but this prank really illustrated to me just HOW much, and I'm so proud of that in myself.

3. Despite this growth, in an emergency situation, my instinct is still to freeze. This is probably not the best plan in most situations, so I need to practice forms of self defense (or at least fleeing!) enough that they become second nature as much as freezing.

4. Some of my actions when I believe I'm alone put me at risk. It is a good practice to be aware of my surroundings when I enter a room, to at least make a quick check that everything is in order. I don't mean a paranoid examination of every corner of the house, but a cursory check that there isn't a crazy man less than two feet from me is probably a smart move. ;)

5. I have a great deal of deep trust for Bumface. Not many people could stand in front of me, holding a knife, and still make me feel safe once I recognise them.

6. I don't believe in "if you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all" - but I believe in something that (I feel) fits that grey a little better. "If you can't say something constructive, then you shouldn't say anything at all" because, let's face it, sometimes it's necessary to say something that isn't nice. If your best friend is dating an abusive jerk, you should probably tell her you can see that he's abusing her and you're there for her. Now, that's probably not the nicest thing to say -- but better to say it than let her think what he's doing is okay because everybody's seeing it and nobody's speaking up!

7. I don't need other peoples' approval as strongly as I used to. I am still deeply hurt by the disapproval and rejection I felt/feel about reactions I received to my post, but there is not so strong a sense of "well, maybe I did something wrong" - now it's a sense that I'm sad that people can't just be glad that I'm in a relationship that makes me happy, is good for me, and has allowed me to grow so much. Still, out of pond muck, lillies grow.

Most of all, I cemented that this relationship really HAS been very good for me over the past year. I didn't doubt it, but it is still nice to have solid confirmation of the ways in which he has helped me to grow. I only hope I've been as good for him as he has for me.

(And that I can come up with a damn good retaliation prank...)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sanguine Satur-Sun-Monday: 7 Shades of Gratitude

Sanguine Monday doesn't have anywhere near the ring of Sanguine Saturday or Sunday. I should let that be a lesson to me and make sure I post these things up on the weekends so I don't get stuck with a title devoid of such fun alliteration.

(But, let's face it, I probably won't. I'm just rubbish at remembering what day it is most of the time.)

It's been a while again, hasn't it? Luckily, I am much practiced at jumping in where I left off, no matter how long ago that was, so without further ado, here are today's 7 Shades of Gratitude.

1. Decorating with others who enjoy Christmas as well.
2. Productive quiet time.
3. Deliciously warm weather.
4. Exploring new forms of poetry.
5. Grocery totals that come to less than expected.
6. New shoes! (Even if I do need to dye them black.)
7. Exploring new/old places with people we love.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

30 Tuesday Truths: Two

While wandering the internet awhile ago, I came across a 30 Days of Truth blogging challenge/project over at As The Pendulum Swings. Instead of blogging every day, I've decided to take it on on a weekly basis, posting a new question & my answer every week.

Day 02 : Something you love about yourself

This one is harder than I thought it would be, to be perfectly honest. Don't get me wrong, I figured I'd have trouble with it -- but I thought I wouldn't be able to think of anything I even like about myself, let alone finding several I had trouble choosing between!

I could have gone with the colour of my eyes (blue-grey-changeable). I could have gone with my ability to enjoy things I'm not good at (like backyard spots, or singing, or dancing). I could have gone with how family oriented I am or how much love I have to give/share with people. There were several other ideas I entertained as well, but I am starting to feel a bit like I'm 'tooting my own horn' here, so I won't list them all. The point is, there's actually a fair bit about myself I've learned to, if not love, at least like. And some days I do even love those aspects of myself.

I could have gone with any of those things above (or the unspecified ones, of course) but instead I've chosen to go with my innocence, (child-like/childish ness) and naivety, in most of its aspects. I know a lot of people don't appreciate this in me, and others see it as a wall or mask I wear, but this is, quite frankly, one of my favourite things about myself.

I love that the small things interest and amuse me because I haven't let go of that part of myself. I love that it takes so little to make me happy (aside from my mental illnesses). I love that this part of me allows me to see beauty in things that others look right past. I love that I get excited about big events like Christmas or seeing snow for the first time, and that I also still get excited about the little events like seeing a puppy being taken for a walk or receiving a letter in the mail. I love that I haven't lost the ability to create, imagine and play.

I love that I have not allowed my past to blind me to the love, happiness and beauty that is in this world.

How about you, what is it you like or love about yourself? I challenge you to find at least one thing and either comment it or write it on your own blog (and comment your link!). :)

Friday, November 23, 2012

(7 Years After) Losing A Baby

As a woman, when a pregnancy ends and there is no baby to hold, it can feel like your world has literally exploded into nothingness around you. It can feel like there is no hope left in the world. It can feel like you'll never know happiness again.

I know because it happened to me seven years ago when I miscarried and lost my daughter, Elyssami Faith. It felt like my soul was being torn from my body along with my baby.

After 7 years, that morning and the first few days that followed are still etched in my memories as vivid as if it were happening now. It's not something I think I'll ever forget, just like I won't forget how much love I felt for that little life growing inside me.

There are some things I wish I could forget, like how I went to work that day and all I could do was cry; or how the physical agony ripped through me as my body let go of everything that had kept her alive; or how my own husband created deep emotional wounds asking if I was "over it" two days later and told me he was glad I had lost our daughter. Some things are better forgotten but they stay in my mind anyway.

There are some things I hope I'll never forget, like how it felt to have that little life growing inside me; or what a miracle it was; or how it felt to love so deeply and wholly even before meeting that little person.

And then there are the things I couldn't keep hold of, just the way I couldn't keep hold of her. That's the thing about a pregnancy that ends without a baby - you don't just lose a baby (as if that wasn't enough on its own). You lose all the hopes and dreams you'd had for her. You lose your sense of safety. You lose some of your innocence. You lose confidence in your body's ability to create and sustain life.

You lose a part of yourself.

And then... nobody wants to talk about it. Nobody wants you to say you had a baby and she died. People don't even want to hear you call a miscarriage a baby, let alone help you honour and remember her. Nobody wants to acknowledge you as a mother, like you don't deserve membership into that special club because your baby never kept you up crying all night -- but they don't realise, she did. The only difference is that it wasn't her crying, it was you.

I've been told that given enough time, all wounds will heal. I don't believe it. After seven years, though, I do believe that we learn how to live around the wounds. You don't get over losing your baby - it's not a hill you get to climb and when you're at the top you get a great view - that's not how it works. It isn't a gap you can fill, a wound you can heal - there is a piece of you and a piece of your life that is and always will be missing.

The thing is, though, you don't have to get over it. You just have to get through it, accept it, learn to cope with it... and live around it.

I'll never forget my daughter. I don't want to. However brief it was - she lived. She was loved. She deserves to have her name spoken, to be remembered and loved. And she will be because I am her mother and I will always love and remember her.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chrysalis Gets Political

As you all know, this is not a political blog, it never has been and it never will be. Part of that is that, as loathe as I am to admit it, is that politics generally bores me. It's complex, there's maths involved and it involves aspects of the human race that I prefer not to think about in too much depth (like hypocricy and lies!). Another part of the reason I don't usually write about political things is that they generally pass me by. I don't watch the news much, I read newspapers sporadically (and when I do it's usually just the local) and without a car, I don't even listen to the radio.

However, today I am moved to write about something very political, because what's going on in the world right now makes me both sad and angry. Now, whatever side of the argument you're on, or even if you're smack-bang in the centre - if you don't want to read about women's rights, or feminism, or abortion, then this is your out.

I want to get one thing straight before I start. I'm not a feminist. I'm not, and don't think I ever will be, a proper activist or strong advocate for women's rights. Despite what some women have tried to tell me, this isn't a slap in the face to women who ARE feminists. It's like saying I'm not an animal rights activist. I believe in the cause, and I'm grateful for the work that people who are those things do -- but I'm not doing the work, so why should I claim the title?

It's not that I don't think women are oppressed.
It's not that I don't think there needs to be more equality between genders.
It's not that I don't think things need to change.

It IS that I am only one person who has other things to focus on.
It is that there are things that are equally important to me that I am more capable of fighting or doing or advocating for.
It is that I do what I can with what I have - and that includes my energy.

Now that all of that is said and out of the way, I want to talk about how abhorrent I find the situation in Ireland right now. I kept silent all through America's big election - though you better believe that once I heard about the whole rape/abortion side of things, I followed it more closely than I have ever followed an election before, despite not even being American. I kept quiet about that - although not to Bumface, who got to hear a rehashed version of every update I heard - but I cannot keep silent on this.

Last week, Savita Halappanavar died of blood poisoning 3 days after she began to miscarry in an Irish hospital. This happened because in Ireland, abortion is illegal under all circumstances.

In case you missed that, let me tell you again. After 3 days of agony, while her body attempted to expel a baby with ZERO chance of survival (she was 17 weeks along), a woman died because hospital staff were not allowed to perform an abortion, despite her pleading.

Anyone who knows me knows how badly I wanted my daughter, and how devastated I was to have lost her. They may also know that I find abortion a difficult subject to discuss/hear about, and that I have some pretty strong views on it - even if they don't necessarily know what those views are.

But even with my daughter's anniversary looming, that time when I am most vulnerable and least likely to accept abortion, I still cannot understand how anyone, on either side of the fence, cannot see the contradiction inherent in "we believe in the sanctity of life" and "we will risk your life for the sake of a foetus with no chance of survival".

This is not okay. Women's health should not be medically forced to be placed at risk simply because they are carrying a baby. I honestly cannot see how, no matter where you stand on abortion, it can be rationally justified to take away her power to make decisions on her body and the baby/foetus she is growing inside it.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sanguine Saturday: 7 Shades of Gratitude

Apologies on the lack of "promised" blogs - my session with my support worker on the Tuesday following my last post was tougher than I had expected, and by the time I had bounced back enough to blog again, I had other things happening in my offline life that kept me busy and distracted.

However, things have settled down on that score again, and though I can't promise I'll be diligent about posting in the next little while, especially as November is always such a difficult month for me, for today, I'm here and I'm ready to go.

I don't think I have explained on this blog yet, but my partner and I have been under a great deal of financial and emotional strain this year as our pay decreased as soon as we moved in together, leaving us with less spare money than was very comfortable. We were managing up until the point where everything started to need replacing/fixing -- and it really does feel like "everything" is the case! When we were accepted for support with Open Minds, Bumface and I were given a separate support person/case manager - and it just happened that Bumface's support worker, (D), has a special focus on housing. Very quickly he began to work with us on getting us into more appropriate housing, and we are now renting through social housing -- which means our rent is almost $150 less per pay, which is a HUGE weight off our shoulders. And, as a side benefit? In this new place, we're allowed to have a pet of up to 10kg... so guess who's planning to get a puppy next year? ;)

Here are today's 7 Shades of Gratitude.

1. Turning a house (or unit) into a home.
2. Care and concern from unexpected quarters.
3. Unexpected wins on the Melbourne Cup! (Not to mention excitement and cheer!)
4. Opportunities to discuss and pursue a project I've been toying with for a while.
5. Catching up, however briefly, with old friends.
6. Friendly neighbours.
7. Quiet mornings.

See you next time.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Wave of Light

Anyone who's been following a while probably knew what this post was going to be the instant they saw I updated today, but for those of you who don't know what the Wave of Light is, let me explain.

Approximately 25% of all pregnancies ends in miscarriage, which when combined with rates for stillbirth & deaths that occur shortly after birth, means that 1 in every 3 pregnancies ends in loss. One out of every three families that are beginning to prepare to welcome a new life into the world and their family will instead find themselves saying goodbye far too soon. In honour and remembrance of all the babies lost to pregnancy loss or shortly after birth, people all around the world light a candle at 7pm local time, and leave it burning for at least an hour.

At the beginning of this post, you can see my candles, rose quartz crystals and a simple 'ornament' I made in grieving the loss of my daughter. This year I have four candles -- the butterfly shaded candle is for my daughter, my son has the simple (undecorated) holder until I find one more suited to him, and the pink & blue butterfly holders are for the female and male children/babies lost around the world.

For many years this has been a day of heartbreak for me. Such a pointed reminder of the children I've lost has, in the past, left me a little bit broken as I grieve all over again. This year, I'm pleased to say that although the sadness is there (leading me to be perhaps a little more irritable than usual), I am not broken. I grieve but there is peace and hope there.

And for those of you with Facebook, you're welcome to use this last one as a cover photo if you'd like.

In love and memory of Elyssami Faith and Mykelti Noah, and all the little children taken too soon.

Have you or someone in your life suffered a pregnancy or or early infant loss? Please feel free to share your child's name and their story in the comments and know that my heart goes out to you.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sanguine Saturday: 7 Shades of Grateful

This week I'm grateful for:
1. People who go above and beyond their jobs in helping sort out problems.
2. Validation, confirmation and encouragement from my old nurse.
3. Jokes, laughter and easy conversation.
4. Group activities that allow me to socialise while developing new or old skills.
5. Unexpected opportunities.
6. Sunshine and warm weather.
7. Possibilities, excitement and enthusiasm.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

30 Tuesday Truths: One

While wandering the internet awhile ago, I came across a 30 Days of Truth blogging challenge/project over at As The Pendulum Swings. Instead of blogging every day, I've decided to take it on on a weekly basis, posting a new question & my answer every week.

Day 01 : Something you're working to change about yourself

Originally, today's topic was "something you hate about yourself", but I wanted to put a more positive spin on it. I don't need an indepth written explanation of what I dislike about myself -- I already know my flaws and would rather work to accept, improve or change them than to continue hating myself for them!

One of the things I've been working hard to change is my reflex to perceived/actual abandonment and rejection. I don't think I'll ever "get over" it, but it's important that I learn to work with and around it. When I feel like someone's pushing me out of their life, instead of going quietly without questioning it, nowadays I try to at least confirm it first! I still have a long way to go and a lot of work still needs to be done, though.

One of the things I've been doing to bring about this change is to challenge my thoughts and beliefs. If someone appears to be pushing me out of their life, I like to do a reality check -- does it seem that way to others whom I trust? If I were to see it from the outside, such as watching a friend go through it, would I expect the friend to react/feel similarly?

Another thing that helps me is, as I mentioned earlier, confirming it with the person or people involved. I prefer not to do this until after I've had a 'reality check' because I worry that people will find reassuring me too much work if I need it too often, but there are definitely times I would have done better to ask straight out. I'm finding that there are certain circumstances in which I can more easily accept the person's answers as truth/honesty rather than suspecting guilt has played a part (either subconsciously or consciously), so I try to make sure I ask in ways that don't push those buttons, that way I can trust the answers I receive.

Ultimately, I think I'd like to be able to say that I always check in with others and weigh up their possible/probable motivations before I respond to abandonment (perceived or real), and that the negative 'trigger' responses are controlled in their intensity and duration. For now, I can say that there is some progress in coping with the abandonment and the internal responses, but I still definitely wouldn't call it controlled in intensity/duration.

What have you been working on changing for yourself and how have you been doing it?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sanguine Saturday: 7 Gratitudes

As you've no doubt noticed, Sanguine Saturday is still around. ;) I've decided to change it up a bit, though. I don't need to detail my accomplishments in a list anymore because it's time to focus on bigger things. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to let myself forget that the smaller accomplishments are what lead to the bigger ones, and I've not lost sight of the value of those small things -- I just no longer need to write them all out to see that I'm accomplishing things, and I imagine a list of accomplishments doesn't make for particularly interesting reading. ;)

However, Sanguine Saturday is a really important thing to and FOR me, and I've found it a valuable recovery tool to boot, so I needed to find a way to keep it. Please bear with me as I design and redefine a new version of Sanguine Saturday that works for my life as it is now.

This week I'm grateful for:
1. Opportunities to meet beautiful new people, like Bumface's friend's mother.
2. That quiet time in the mornings before Bumface wakes, when the day is fresh and new.
3. The gorgeous beaches on Bribie Island.
4. Support people who go above and beyond and really add to my life.
5. New perspectives and opportunities to see things in a different light.
6. Change, growth and strength.
7. The ability to take steps to improve our financial situation (not that it's dire - we don't go hungry!).

Monday, October 1, 2012

From Recovering To Living

I mentioned a while ago that I've been thinking about this blog and what direction I should take with it. Now that I'm starting to really delve into recovery in a new way, moving from a focus of recovering and into just LIVING (the difference is small, yet simultaneously creates a big impact), I think it's time for my blog to reflect it. My life is very different to how it was when I began this blog, and lately that's meant no updates because ... well, I haven't known what to say that I could say in a way that suited what I felt the blog to have been.

What does this mean for Dialectic Dichotomy? Hopefully more updates! I want to keep the blog positive, but allow myself a space to learn and absorb the lessons that life has for me, much like I've done in the past. I intend to bring in more aspects of my life as it is -- as time passes and I embrace more of what life has to offer, I hope that DD will become more than a mental health blog. After all, I am more than my mental illnesses, why should my blog be less than its author?

I also want to write some more about my relationship and the effects it has on me, as well as the ways my mental health affects my relationship. I want to write about my partner, our daughter, our friends, the ties that I'm building & the activities I'm engaging in within my new community. I want to write about the changes that happen in our lives, the positive things that are happening for us and the challenges we face. I want to write about the people and causes I support and why I support them.

I want to continue growing, and I want this to be a place where that is plainly evident...

...and I hope you all know how much I look forward to continuing this journey with you alongside.

Friday, September 21, 2012

An Outpouring of Love

A few weeks ago I got it together and I spoke to a GP about changing my medication. After a short discussion, he agreed that it was for the best, even though the Paroxetine has been very helpful and effective.

If you've ever come off an antidepressant, especially one that was working quite well, you are probably smacking yourself in the forehead or at least giggling away to yourself, because you know what's coming. You're right.

I fell, surprisingly quickly, into a pretty bleak place. I needed all of my skills to keep my thoughts from running away from me, and even with that, I found myself crying a lot again. Sometimes over bigger things, sometimes over silly things. Still, I kept fighting and doing my best to use my skills and cope, if not constructively, then at least not destructively. And it worked, to a degree -- I wasn't destructive. I didn't fall back into my old patterns of self harm or drinking.

But still... thoughts and worries plagued me. Some things have been on my mind for more than a year, others that are more recent. Finally, after countless hours of writing and rewriting in my head what I wanted to say and yet also was terrified to say, I posted on facebook asking for the people who care about me to remind me that they do. I needed so badly to hear from someone other than just my self that I wasn't kidding myself, that there really were people out there who cared.

And my friends came through for me. Some of the messages left for me made me cry. Some of the messages left for me made me laugh. All of the messages left me in awe of knowing such a wonderful bunch of people.

In all honesty, I was overwhelmed with the amount of love people shared for/with me. Some people I haven't talked to in ages left a message telling me I still matter to them. Some people (from whom I particularly didn't expect it) told me they think of me at random or in certain situations. Some people, with whom I developed a friendship through the suicide of a mutual friend, reminded me that though distance makes things harder, hearts are still open.

Some people told me the things they love about me. Some people just quietly slipped in and left their love. Another of my friends, my Eeyah, wrote a lengthy message about how I am like "The Little Train That Could". I'm going to share this next bit of her message because she's absolutely hilarious as well as awesome.

"You've had a shitty life (I'm sorry, but you have!), life has not so much handed you lemons, but chopped down all the lemon bushes, made a bonfire and danced around it. And you're still fighting!"

I wish I knew how to show everyone who left a response how much it all meant to me, and how deeply grateful I am.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chrysalis Stirring

Dear world,

I've decided I'm worth more than the names people call me. I've decided I'm worth more than the names I call myself.

I've decided I'm worth more than the value attributed me when I agree with an unpopular opinion. I've decided I'm worth more than the value attributed me when I don't agree with someone who thinks I should.

I've decided I'm worth more than the way I'm treated when someone is hurtful towards me because they don't like me. I've decided I'm worth more than the way I'm treated when someone disrespects me because they don't like me. I've decided I'm worth more than the way I'm treated when someone acts hurtfully, even when I can find a reason to excuse it.

Most of all, I've begun to realise that I'm worth at least the basic respect owed to everyone else in this life, and I'm no longer going to settle for less in order to give more.

I know this will come as a surprise to some people, and I'll try to remember that and be gentle as people around me adjust to this new me who is emerging from a cocoon of self-censure.

I'll try to remember that and be gentle with both others and myself as I discover that some people won't like the new me, that previously good friends will struggle to come to terms with this person who no longer accepts what has always been the status quo.

I will remind myself of my own worth as I gently bow out of relationships that are no longer healthy or helpful for me, and I will endeavour to do so gracefully in as respectful and kind manner as I can, without letting go of my goal - to be true to myself, my goals the life that is mine to live.

And world, I will remember to be grateful, even to the people to whom I am letting go, and the people who don't want to treat me the way I now realise I deserve. I hope I will allow those people to fuel my desire to respect and be respected in turn.

Thank you,

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Returning from the mists -- & a question re friendships

Hello world!

It's been a long while since I posted, I know. I want to reopen this blog, but I'm not sure exactly what direction I want to take it in. I am, for the most part, doing quite well these days. I've been working very hard on myself and my issues. Don't get me wrong, I still have BPD symptoms that I need to get or keep on top of, but I'm not sure I even still meet the criteria.

My Sanguine Saturday posts have stopped, partially because I think I don't need them anymore, and partially because I just kept forgetting to post them once the internet was back on. A bit of shuffling may make these useful again, or I may abolish them entirely now that they have served out their usefulness.

My last episode of self harm, a minor cut to my shoulder, was in April (?) and it remains the only instance of self harm this year. That feels somewhere between a miracle and an amazement, and at the same time I'm a little bit proud. It's a big achievement for me. And although I have had a couple of drinks (few enough that the bottle of Vodka I bought at New Years still has alcohol in it even though I've shared it with both my partner and his adult daughter), my last problem-drink was in September.

Most of my problem behaviours have settled at least somewhat. As I said, I've worked hard.

My thoughts and emotions continue to need a lot of work, though, and although I've cut back on my therapy sessions, I have signed up to be included when DBT becomes available here. They're trying to make sure they have large enough numbers before they tell us when it's going to start, but I'm hopeful it'll be running by next year.

My partner and I are quite happy still, though of course we have our moments like any other couple. We have strong communication (I bet nobody expected I would be able to say I have strong communication with anyone!) and respect for each other - despite using nicknames like Bumface for each other. ;)

The one big thing missing, for me, is that I still have very limited friendships and "regular" support network. I have ceased contact with my father, and contact with the rest of my family has also been drastically reduced; and I simply don't have much in the way of friendships offline. I've been able to reconnect with one of the girls I went to school with, with whom I was close for a few periods after school, and that's been good, but I really need more friends locally.

My volunteer position didn't work out - I just wasn't ready yet - so I'm wondering if any of you have any suggestions on how I can meet and make friends, especially local ones? I spend some time at the local mental health community facility (with workshops and activities) but I'd really like to make friends with people who're functioning better in the real world than I am. There's a games store opening up locally that sounds like it'll run board game nights etc, so I'll check that out, too, but any other suggestions would be very welcome.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sanguine Sunday

Sanguine Sunday is here again! Also, if you missed it, I made a post about invisiblity & responsibility yesterday. I wanted to put it up separately to Sanguine Sunday last time, but it's taken until now to get it written.

Anyhow, in the last few weeks I've hit a few milestones for myself as well as spending time working on some areas that've needed it - like getting to know my new (local) psychologist! I've had a few goals that I've not made, like going back to shelter where I volunteer, but on the whole I've done pretty well at staying on track of things - and most of the things I haven't followed through on have been influenced by outside factors (like the weather and my health). I've made some discoveries and explored a lot of thoughts, feelings, experiences and realisations that needed visiting.

More testing with the new psychologist has pointedly very strongly to DID and depersonalisation in particular (surprised? Yeah, me either), but of course the BPD label stays with me too. Therapy will be focused on what's causing the most problems in my life -- which at the moment is the old abandonment terrors and tendency to panic at the suggestion of rejection.

Success Stories:
I hit my six month sober date a few weeks ago.
I also made a full year with no suicide attempts.
Handled a couple of rough interpersonal situations.
I've been practicing a lot of thought challenge.

Gratitudes/Happy Things:
My beautiful niece had a great day out for her birthday. And so did I!
Giraffe tattoos.
Poppa bear & baby bear.
Silly games.
Fry's Planet World -- must see this!

Challenge and cheer-leading statements:
There are people who care about me and want my company.
I don't believe in "good people" or "bad people" -- which means I can't BE a bad person.
I deserve the good things people say about me.

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

Saturday, May 26, 2012

On Invisibility & Responsibility

Apologies for the very late Sanguine Saturday post -- I wanted to complete this one first, and it has taken me this long to get it done.

Over the past little while I've been exploring the concept of invisiblity (in the symbolic, rather than literal, sense). What is it that makes some people more visible than others; and how much of that belongs on which side of the equation?

For myself, I've felt fairly unwelcome and invisible in several layers of my life recently. I suppose unwelcome isn't necessarily the right word, but certainly invisible is accurate. I've had times where I've wondered if I actually even still exist; if I dreamed my half of a conversation or if perhaps I simply forgot to say what I thought I'd said.

At first I told myself I was being silly. I told myself I was blowing things out of proportion and overreacting. I had, afterall, just come back after a bit of time away -- and before I went away, I often felt unwanted (possibly due to things in my own head). However as time went on, I began to speak about it a little with one or two other people -- people who had noticed the ways I had seemingly faded, and gave me confirmation that it wasn't all in my head.

Reassured that this wasn't entirely a case of borderline 'paranoia' or personal misconception due to insecurity etc, I began to explore why it might be so. What is it that I am doing that is leading to this response? IS it something I'm doing? I asked a few people in a general sort of way and I gave thought to their responses, however as they were responding in general terms (my own fault, as I'd asked in that capacity!) it was difficult to see what to apply to my situation and what not to.

Many theories have bounced around inside my head. Some combine both parties; others are concerned mainly with others' impressions/beliefs about me or focus on my failings. None of them have made me happier or bought me closer to a resolution. I wanted to talk to the people concerned directly, particularly the ones who matter most to me, but it's not the sort of thing I want to bring up in a Facebook message, and I haven't managed to catch them when I've been around online in order to really speak about it -- especially since I'd rather speak to as many people at once than deal with going through it individually.

Instead, I continue to theorise, to remind myself that there are people who do consistently choose to have me in their lives (in whatever capacity is possible at the moment) and to remind myself that these people wouldn't make that choice if I were fundamentally flawed to such a degree that I am not worthy of any friendship/caring/love.

And so... I bring this to you, dear blog friends. Have you ever felt this way? If you did, how did you handle the situation? How did other people respond to your management of same? And/or, what do you think makes some people more invisible than others and how much of the 'blame'/'responsibility' for that lies where?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wednesday Sanguine Saturday

Sorry for the delayed post, I'vre been busy and a bit reclusive since the weekend. To be honest, I'm doing it a bit tough just now. But I'm still moving forward, and that's always a positive thing. Last week is a bit vague in my mind, so these will probably be pretty short.

Success Stories:
No self harm.
Medication as appropriate!
I made changes to a plan I'd had with my brother, so he came up here and we had a picnic at the park; we'll be going to Movie World with my eldest niece next time he has her, instead.

Gratitudes/Happy Things:
My partner.
My sister-who-isn't.
My partner's daughter.
All the iPhone games I play.
My three little monkeys.
Knowing it's okay that I'm struggling, because I have supportive people in my life.

Challenge and cheer-leading statements:
Who I am is much more important than how I look.
It's okay to make healthy choices for myself.
It really is okay to not be perfect.
Just because something is scary doesn't mean I can't do it anyway.
I AM worth it.

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

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sanguine Saturday returns as Sanguine Sunday!

Hello world, I'm back!

The internet has finally been turned on here in our new place and that means Sanguine Saturday can return - as Sanguine Sunday, though. I missed you all and hope that things have been as calm as possible and that you're all doing well.

While I was away I achieved a number of things, some of which will probably be fairly evident and others that you may never know -- but *I* know I did them (even if many have now been forgotten in specifics), and that's pretty important.

Success Stories:
Since mid-December, I have only self harmed once, and it was minor.
I've been taking my medication appropriately.
Even though I supplied my pension card when I handed in my prescription, I was charged a non-pension price, so I went back and sorted it out! I got an apology and the excess money back.
I set myself a "productivity goal" and stuck to it.
I went to an induction to begin volunteer work at the local animal shelter. One more and then I get to start volunteering!
I've been working on building a support team for myself up here.
I handled a situation that was very upsetting for me, and I handled it in a manner that was appropriate.

Gratitudes/Happy Things:
Having our own place.
Getting the internet on again!
iPhone games! (Does anyone play PetHouse, Fluff Friends, Dream Zoo or DragonVale?)
Books, movies and boardgames -- the things that kept me sane while I was internetless!
Housework, and knowing nobody's gonna yell at me if I do it the "wrong" way.
My nieces and nephew.
Shiny kitchens!
The apparent existence of Dogopoly.

Challenge and cheer-leading statements:
Who I am is much more important than how I look.
It's okay to make healthy choices for myself.
It really is okay to not be perfect.
Just because something is scary doesn't mean I can't do it anyway.
I AM worth it.

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

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sanguine SeaWorld Saturday!

Happy Saturday my friends. :)

Well, I have what I think is great news -- in the next couple of weeks, I'm moving! Adam and I have now confirmed that we have a place in Caboolture, which is way on the North side of Brisbane, almost on the Sunshine Coast. It's a two bedroom ground floor unit in a secure complex that has a pool, and I'm thrilled. We're just waiting on them fixing something up so we can move in. :D

Today's is a quick post as we're off to SeaWorld for the day. :)

Success Stories:
Still no self harm!
I stood up to my fear and went on a ride I've wanted to go on for years. As it turned out, I didn't like it and won't be doing it again, but I still stood up to that fear!
I set boundaries with a friend and stuck to them.
I've been working on telling myself that I look good.
I talked to my doctor and because I was well prepared, I got the medication I wanted prescribed to me.
I'm taking my new medicine appropriately.
Been getting lots of decluttering done and throwing out lots of things I don't need.
Threw out several SI tools.
I also threw out stuff I was holding onto from my wedding -- not because I felt like I "had" to, but because I honestly didn't want it anymore.
I swallowed my pride and asked my mother for a loan so I can attend my brother's wedding. She's thinking about it.

Gratitudes/Happy Things:
Pocket Frogs (iPhone game)
Good friends

Challenge and cheer-leading statements:
I look great!
It's okay to make healthy choices for myself.
It's okay to do things that other people don't approve of, too. It's my life I'm living, not theirs!
I have strength, determination and persistence. If I set my mind to this, I CAN do it.
I don't have to be perfect. If I make a mistake, people will still care about me.
Even if I don't feel it, who I am really is 'enough'. I don't have to make up for it.

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

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sanguine Saturday :)

Aww, things didn't quite pan out the way I was thinking with my news to share, so fingers crossed but it's looking likely for some time in the next couple of weeks. More to come later! ;)

Success Stories:
Still no self harm! I think we're in record territory again here. ;)
Because I know I don't always have the most realistic view on things, I arranged for Adam to be present during a doctor's appointment (tomorrow) to discuss a couple of things my doctor needs to know before I go on some OTC medication I want to take.
Managed to get a bit of stuff done in my room this week.
I've been reading again - a good sign for my concentration!
One thing I've been trying to do lately is downsize the amount of "stuff" I have, and I've been able to get rid of a fair bit this week.

Gratitudes/Happy Things:
Pocket Frogs (the iPhone game).

Challenge and cheer-leading statements:
It's okay to make healthy choices for myself.
It's okay to do things that other people don't approve of, too. It's my life I'm living, not theirs!
I have strength, determination and persistence. If I set my mind to this, I CAN do it.
I don't have to be perfect. If I make a mistake, people will still care about me.
Even if I don't feel it, who I am really is 'enough'. I don't have to make up for it.

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sanguine... Wednesday? ;)

Oh dear, another very late Sanguine Saturday post. Things here have been a little bit crazy and a large bit busy, plus I was a bit ill with a headache for a couple of days. I've something big in the works, but I don't want to write about it until I know for sure what's happening, but hopefully by next week I'll have some good news to share.

I'm relatively stable at the moment, despite the crazy reasserting itself around the newness of my relationship and a few things going on with my physical health; I've fallen in love with a new song -- Beautiful by Bethany Dillon -- and become somewhat obsessed with an iPhone game called Pocket Frogs. If you have an iPhone you should definitely try it, it's adorable. :D

Success Stories:
Still NO self harm!
I'm working on some stuff that is a bit of an issue for me right now.
My weight has remained fairly stable despite the Christmassy eating I did.
I'm working on my boundaries still.
I'm still working on changing how I deal with things.

Gratitudes/Happy Things:
Pocket Frogs.
New music.
Having things to look forward to.
Teasing (in a nice, fun way).
Mario Kart
Whoopin' people who think they're going to win at a race... :p

Challenge and cheer-leading statements:
It's okay to explore who I am. It's okay to have likes, dislikes and even *wants*.
Letting myself be loved and cared about isn't a bad thing.
It's okay to make healthier choices for myself.

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

Monday, January 16, 2012

Very Late Sanguine Saturday!

Oops. I forgot to take my laptop with me when I stayed over Adam's after my birthday... then didn't make it home until last night, whereupon I forgot to post!

Things are still going okay for me, despite "reality" and "the crazy" reasserting itself around the new things in my life - which is as expected. And for once I'm taking a much healthier approach and actually *talking* about things with my partner.
There were some hurts around my birthday, but on the whole the day was probably the best I've had in many years, for which I'm very grateful. Now it's the aftermath and that's not as bad as normal either, so I'm feeling more positive than I usually do about how things will go over the next little while.

The one big blight on things at the moment is that my unlimited sessions with my psychologist ran out and I'm now only able to get a maximum of 18 sessions with her this year - maybe even less. However, plans to move are stepping forward, with a few small changes that I'll be discussing with Sonia next time I see her before implementing, but if she thinks it's doable, it's something we'll look into within the month.

Success Stories:
Still no self harm
When a situation was upsetting me, I spoke to Adam and we left.
I spoke to the nurse about something very uncomfortable for me.
I'm continuing to explore and push at my boundaries (carefully)
I'm changing how I deal with things (into more constructive/positive coping techniques).

Gratitudes/Happy Things:
Feeling safe.
Fairy floss.
Beating Adam at the car racing (arcade). :p
Teasing and playing and having fun.

Challenge and cheer-leading statements:
It's okay to explore who I am. It's okay to have likes, dislikes and even *wants*.
Letting myself be loved and cared about isn't a bad thing.
It's okay to make healthier choices for myself.

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

Monday, January 9, 2012

Another Late Sanguine Saturday

Oops! I got so distracted I completely forgot it was Saturday... and then that it was Sunday! Oh well, better late than never, and since I've not been to sleep yet, I'm considering it still Sunday. ;)

It's been another lovely week, though I've noticed my usual birthday anxiety is beginning to rear up again. Never mind - on the plus side, most of my supports are back this week, just in time. ;)

Success Stories:
Still absolutely no self harm. Is this something of a record?
I followed the agreement Adam and I made -- even when he didn't! :p
I followed medical directions and since that didn't work, I'm going to follow through and speak to the nurse again tomorrow.
I'm continuing to explore and push gently at my boundaries in safe ways.
I handled some uncomfortable moments and difficult conversations instead of hiding and pretending nothing was going on.
I'm giving myself the opportunity to learn who I am.

Gratitudes/Happy Things:
Feeling safe.
Fruit mince pies and custard.
Beginning to learn about me!

Challenge and cheer-leading statements:
It's okay to let myself be cared about.
Just because someone is frustrated (or annoyed, or angry, or whatever emotion!) because of something I did doesn't mean that they don't like me anymore.
It's okay to allow myself to be vulnerable.
Exploring as an adult says nothing bad about me.
It's okay to be not comfortable with some things. It's okay to say no to those things.

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

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sanguine Sunday - New Years Day edition. :)

Happy New Year, everybody! I was going to post this up yesterday, but I was busy, and figured it was better to wait until today anyway so I could properly wish you all a good new year while I was at it. ;)

Things are continuing well for me, despite a few small hiccups. I'm doing better than I have in a long time, and as an added bonus, I'm actually happy! I'm feeling safe, in general, and it's really showing. Last night I kicked back on Adam's couch playing DDO and had a single drink -- with probably half a nip of vodka -- and felt no desire to get completely blind. It was lovely.

Success Stories:
I followed my plan on keeping myself as safe as possible while my support team are away.
No self harm.
Survived Christmas at my brother's place.
Continued exploring and gently pushing at my boundaries.
I spoke to my nurse about a physical concern I had, even though it was very embarassing for me.
I followed medical direction instead of pretending a problem didn't exist.
I'm giving myself the opportunity to learn how to be loved.

Gratitudes/Happy Things:
Cinnamon nuts.
Falling asleep on Adam's lap/in his arms.
Feeling safe.
Catching up with friends.
Feeling loved.

Challenge and cheer-leading statements:
It's okay to let someone love/care for me.
Exploring my boundaries as an adult says nothing about my childhood.
It's okay to say no to things I'm uncomfortable with. Nothing bad will happen because of it.
It's okay to let someone in and be vulnerable.

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