Thursday, January 31, 2008

It’s a Good Thing

When I started this blog way back when, I was in the deepest part of the dungeon of despair. But I saw the window. This let me know that there was life outside. I know I’m lucky, that some don’t even see that window and think that the damp and darkness and self hatred and confusion is all there is. But I saw the light and knew where I wanted to be which is why I called, in tears, at midnight, for a psychiatric referral. Then, I did nothing with the number and lost it because I was scared of what it said about me that I needed help. However, over a month later, I found myself after three days of crying and tortured thoughts and flashbacks realizing help isn’t something bad to ask for and called again, crying at midnight, and started regular therapy.

Goals were set. I wanted to recognize triggers, to get methods to deal with them, to discover what set me off. I wanted no more flashbacks, night terrors, to get the voice of my mother telling me how worthless I am out of my head. I wanted to stop her continued control over me. I wanted a feeling of self-worth.

Things weren’t easy. The first few sessions involved me reliving the worst moment, the one freshest in my mind, the one where a lot of guilt started – when my mother killed my cat but blamed me. I had to keep going into the memory, to stop looking in as an outsider, but begin to look out of my 12-year old eyes and remember how she was the one that performed the actions. And it's not like stuff didn't start way before then. Hell, I remember her ripping my clothes off my back and dragging me by my hair way before then. But that's the moment that stuck, especially with the whole Bobo situation.

I had to take control of my past to take control of my future.

The thing that is the worst for me is the feeling of being trapped, because I was trapped for so long. Crowds, elevators, etc., I don’t freak out but don’t like them. Then, with both feet broken, I was trapped.

I worked with my therapist for well over a year and have slept much better. In fact, the last bottle of Ambien I got, in January of 2007 was for 30 pills. I still have some left. That’s a good thing.

Anyway, during that time at home I was faced with a lot of triggers. I was mostly immobile, my mother e-mailed me, I needed to rely on other people. And I handled it. I lived through that time and saw that people can be trusted, dependable.

So now, I’m phasing out of therapy. I meet with her once in February, and then we discuss the final session. It’s a good feeling, to regain control. Just as good as when I first got the diagnosis and realized I’m not alone, and more importantly, am not crazy like my family. Sure, some things come up. Right now the news is all over the Nixmary trial. To those not informed, she’s a little girl that was killed by her parents. They abused her horribly, forcing her to use the cat litter box, constant beatings, among other things. These stories are truly upsetting, and do bring up old feelings and memories. It’s sad that such abuse continues all too often.

Another big help was this blog. I started it to help me face things, to help me face therapy. I never really thought it would get the positive reception it would, the wonderful people that would appear, converted from the binary of computer language to support and aid, both in support of my blogs and my own escape in theirs.

But for now, it’s Victorya phasing out of therapy and wondering where my life will lead. Where ever it does lead, I know I’m the one doing the leading. It’s a good thing.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Cats of My Life: Bobo

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In terms of my journey, this is the last cat. She was a foster that I didn’t want. I had been searching for something after Penny died and got in touch with a local rescue group to help them. Basically, what I wanted to do was sit with them during the adoption events, take photographs for the website, etc.

This guy I met ended up being a manipulative bastard, and I was an easy mark. He told me of how many cats were dying in his cramped apartment, how they needed someplace else to stay – just for a few months. Some place like. . my apartment After a month or so of guilt trips I relented, and he brought over two not one cat—and the trouble began.

That first night Bobo shredded the bottom of my box spring and climbed in. Now, this was the first bed I ever bought. This was the first bed that was purely MY bed, not a hand me down, not my mother’s old bed, not an air bed, not a futon. I was livid, I had to get the cat out (ever try sleeping with an animal climbing around inside your mattress?) then duct tape the box spring.

“When are you going to adopt her out” was a common phrase with me, but he didn’t even bring her down to show her on weekends, where I was still helping out. Then, I think as he realized my guilt associated with the animals he began to delve deeper, telling me how all his money is spent solely for the good of the felines, and how the money I spent on my camera (which I was using to take photos of the cats then edit for the website) should have been given to him instead, as he wouldn’t be as frivolous as I obviously was. Luckily, I saw that as a warning sign and stopped helping him. Up to that point I had been donating a lot of time and energy, after that, I just wanted the cats out.

Then he admitted it was his tactic, to get people to foster but with no intention of adopting them to someone else. “After a while people get used to the cats and generally keep them,” he told me. So I figured, fine, I’ll keep them then send them to another adoption agency and told him I’d adopt them. “Then you owe me $200” he told me. “What the F*ck” was my reply. I’d given tons of time and energy, these animals were supposed to have already been wormed and yet the first week worms crawled out of one’s rear end (in full view of me, and on me) and I had to pay for worming, leukemia testing, etc., to the tune of over $300 already. Plus, the contract stated he could sue me if I got rid of the animal (like the recent Ellen debacle) and he had such a big ego, he would do it.

One of the cats then got adopted, but Bobo was tougher. She was unstable. She’d be sweet and cute and cuddly, getting up on my lap, and then turn and bite me or scratch me. She liked to snuggle up in my armpit at night, but half way through she’d grab my arm and kick, and the scars still aren’t fully faded. This was the cat that drove me over the edge.

I had her for over a year, I was trying to anticipate her moods. What did I do that caused her to act out? I bought her a cat condo, she took my favorite silk pillow as her bed, she was fed only organic cat food. I tried everything, but her mood would shift without provocation. Things would be good for a day or two, and then she'd attack me again. It got to the point where I’d just look at her and cry. For three days straight I cried, even missing work.

And that’s when it hit me – She was just like my mother, and I needed help. That’s when I started asking around for a psychiatrist and told the guy to get her out of my house that weekend (I also called other shelters, but all were full). That’s when I decided “screw it, I’m being railroaded and manipulated by a cat and an ass with a God complex that just uses other people to deify himself as some savior. I need to put myself first.”

Bobo was the bottom I reached before realizing I needed to find that rope to climb back up and find myself. That was when I started therapy.

And the first thing the therapist said?

“Geez, do I really need to tell you that she was your mother?”

Nope, I had figured it out, and that’s why I called for help.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What's On My Mind

I realized there are two posts I still need to make. One is the last in my feline series and then one more. Of course, today is neither of those posts. They are still swimming in my mind. Today is about yesterday.

Yesterday I had to have an endoscopy. That’s when they stick a camera down your throat to check on your stomach and esophagus and take biopsies and other fun stuff. But that’s not important either.

After the biopsy, my friend came to pick me up. The doctors told her to hold me that I might be woozy. She wrapped her arm around me and asked if I’d mind that people will think we’re a gay couple. She loves to hold hands on the street with her female friends, hug them, be affectionate in public. I told her I didn’t really give a damn. But again, not that part of the day that bugged me.

Heath Ledger died, that wasn’t good, but that’s also not what is on my poor brain. Well, it’s there, but not predominant.

Coming out of the ‘Specialty Center’ as they like to think they aren’t a hospital, my friend and I, arm in arm, watched a man get beaten by the cops. We weren’t the only ones, there were people all around.

At first, we just saw the three cops and a guy behind them, then we heard the screaming, “stop resisting arrest, stop resisting arrest” and noticed that they were billy-clubbing a guy on the ground. This man had on a hat (it was snowing yesterday) and was clutching a duffel bag tightly, he was on the ground, but not fully – more like kneeling (or being pushed as, again, three cops and a fourth guy were on top of him).

The cops kept yelling that he was resisting arrest, he was screaming, “I didn’t do nuthin!”

Then one of the cops yelled for the spray, and this guy got it about three times in the face. Enough that my friend and I could see the white foam running down as he screamed. The cops continued to yell, and one was now livid about getting some of the residual spray as apparently there is a dispersal pattern.

This was in a matter of seconds, and my friend took me across the street. We walked around the block and when we came back, there was an ambulance.

“Why do you think they need an ambulance?” she asked. “Maybe because a guy was just beaten and maced by three cops?” I replied way too snottily. Luckily, she blamed it on the time being after 4 pm and me not having eaten since 6 am.

Friday, January 11, 2008


Okay, so here's the deal, the real deal.

My mother contacted me.

Now, she has me address, my name, my info. It's not like it's easy to move around from house to house in my city, living space is a high commodity.

In the past she's sent cards, every few years or so, and I've ignored them.

But this was an e-mail. And, she dared to talk about my beloved cat, my REAL mother.

The therapist asked what was so wrong about that, as the sentiments were simply, "I'm sorry she passed" but the meaning is deeper to me. It's like someone who killed your child telling you they understand how you must feel, as they lost their child too and asking for a hug of understanding. It doesn't fly with me.

I tried, my friends tried, a co-worker tried to see how she could have gotten that e-mail address and no Google combination came up with it. We did get a number of sites offering us all my info for a mere 29.95USD and figure that's what she did.

So I was entirely pissed, I was angry, I was afraid. If she found my e-mail (and the other site that I used to run that she mentioned) how soon until she found this one? How soon until she infiltrated other parts of my life? Plus, I've already been told that she's harassed a couple other people I have contact with (albeit sporadically) so who else will she hunt down? How much MORE unstable is she now? I like my life, my school, my job - how will she attempt to f#ck it up in her goal to bring me down?

My neighbors were put on alert - pictures went out and everyone instructed to call 9-11 should she show up. Then I calmed down.

So I talked to my doctor who wondered if I wasn’t still giving my mother too much power, which probably led to me reading the book about owning your shadow and realizing, yeah, I was. I don’t want to swing to far the other way and cry, ‘just let her try something!’ but I did have to move on from that initial fright and ponder how a. She’s still trying to f*ck with me and b. it does still affect me. But then, that is what I’m working on, why I’m in therapy, why I started the blog. To deal with the fears I have, and her, as the absolute worst one.

Here, let me be completely honest. My therapist asked what I would like to hear from my mother, and I said the first thing that came to me – “I don’t want to hear from her at all, I want to hear from her lawyer telling me she’s dead.” And I suppose, in the end I’m realizing that the way I felt with that contact was like an aftershock, the main drama is over, the earthquake gone, all that’s left are the occasional tremors.

(censored, but unedited, sorry. In a state where if I don't post I won't.)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Owning Your Shadow

Recently, while cleaning my house I found this book, Owning Your Shadow by Robert Johnson. It was a Harper Collins book, so I figure I most have nabbed it while I did a rotation through there. They had a great benefit (if lousy pay) and that was in the basement they'd put out books that employees could nab. You'd see us all down there just waiting for new books to be put out, and I was more than happy to run any errand that would bring me past that treasure trove.

Anyway, I'm not generally one for self-help psychobabble type stuff, which even when I picked the book up again recently, I felt it was. Just the title kind of irks me. Calling the dark side 'the shadow' isn't my thing, but it's my understanding he takes this from the Jungian philosophies the book attempts to 'bring down' to proletariat level.

But, it has made it's way into my bathroom reading rotation, and I'm about two-thirds through it now. And I have to say, I'm digging parts of it, or parts of it make sense.

I've always been about the unity of self, which this book promotes. It talks about making some ceremonial gifts to the 'dark side' once in a while to feed it and keep it from rearing it's ugly head (and it uses Mass as a perfect example of ceremoniously appeasing dark forces, what with the eating of flesh and drinking of blood and worshiping capital punishment and all that).

The part that stuck out, was where it talks about OTHERS shadows and how parents who don't want to deal with the darkness inside them, split and send their 'shadows' onto their children who then have to shoulder the burden of not just their own disunity, but their parents as well.

Which made me think - before I started this book things came up that brought back old fears (part of why I haven't posted in a while). All growing up, I felt my mother had the power, and technically, physically, she did. She was huge and imposing, taller than me, could throw my brother and I around. She crowed about how strong she was (on more than one occassion she also jumped kids that bothered my brother, a notable one sent her sliding down a snowy hill). She talked about her strength of character and physical strength that could cause us pain.

But she was weak, so very weak. She couldn't handle the burden of pain that her parents put on her, she couldn't handle her own darkness, so instead, she thrust it upon her children. She crowed about her perfections and her strengths and frequently commented on the weakness of her children. But we were the stronger, for we (or at least I, I like to think my brother has succeeded in unifying our fractured selves as well) had to deal with her by ourselves, while she just shoveled burden after burden on us so she didn't have to deal with it. We were like her own emotional garbage cans.

I'm just jotting stuff down freehand here or else I know I won't, so please excuse if this sounds to self-helpy or just incomprehensible (or badly spelled) but it pisses me off to think about it now. More than the physical abuse, all the mental ills that she forced on us just prove what a *insert swear word here* whimp she was, and that as always she put her own immediate needs over the long-term ones of her children. And all this time I thought she was strong, but only because she kept saying she was. I guess that proves that no matter how many times you repeat a lie, it still doesn't make it true.