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Archive for the ‘Psychology’ Category

I’ve been toying with this blog post for a long time. I have been, well looking at my blog, I’ve been quiet for significant length of time. I have not written much in the way of fiction. I’ve actually found it difficult to focus on the words on the page. I know what I want, but cannot seem to get the words out right. I read what those around me have written and I cringe at my own prose. And I fall behind as I angst over this lack of style and I fall behind in my writing schedule and then I angst over it.

I angst a lot. If you’ve ever read any of my personal musings over the years, this is not news.

This might be news to you:

My parents were abusive. Even now as I have started accept this as truth, I feel uneasy saying it. There were very few incidents of physical abuse in my childhood home, but abuse is not merely bruising a child’s skin. I still have trouble expressing this at all. I want to say that my mother is not a bad person because she treated me poorly. That she came from an equally abusive home. That my father was mentally ill and when he was cognizant of his actions, he was a wonderful father.

The truth is that my father’s mental illness made everything more difficult. Losing my keys could lead to hours or days of constant interrogation and supervision. Locking my keys in the house, even if I could walk into my room and produce the keys, meant changing all the locks in the house. Did my father mean to be so unreasonable or harsh? I don’t think so. When his illness kicked in, fear could drive him to say horrible things. He never beat me, though I did get a belt to my fanny on a few occasions.

He was generally an understanding man, but I learned to deal with his eccentricities. I learned to lie, though never well. I learned how to pick locks and to deny everything, when being an only child made that seem foolish. I never doubted that my father loved me, that he valued his difficult opinionated, diffident daughter.

I wish I could say the same about my mother. I can’t think of a single time I got unmitigated praise from my mother. I can’t remember a time when I could disagree with her without it being an over emotional mess. I can’t remember a time where I got more than a quick hug. Hell, I can’t remember a time when she and I ever spent time together that was enjoyable without my father being present.

Anger and disagreements were not allowed in my childhood home. To be angry with my mother was not to love her. My father would withdraw whenever things got heated, when my mother hauled out the large emotional guns to batter me down. Where her parents used physical violence against her and her brother, she used words. They were very effective.

I was an angry child. I acted out. I slammed doors. I bit classmates and got into fights. I attacked everything as if it was a fight. I had all this rage and no idea how to deal with it. My parents sent me to a counselor and when my anger became an issue, they ratted me out to the couselor, who then wanted to talk about my rages. The therapist told me that when I was ready to be helped, I could call them. I never did. Even at twelve, I was stubborn. My angry fits grew closer together. I punched my mother and then ran away because I was horrified at my actions. They tried to get me into a “reform” school. They told me that I was rejected because I was too violent.

Surprisingly, the one thing that never happened was the family counseling. Instead, they turned to their pastor. Their pastor who threw me down on the floor of my own home and beat me. And then dragged me around day after day, when he went on this pastorly visits and announced that I was a bad kid. He was determined that by beating the word of God into me, that I would straighten out. And he wanted to make sure that everyone in the congregation was going to help. Community wide shaming of a adolescent.

I suppose it worked in way. I vacillated between anger and terror. My parents would be five minutes late getting home from work and I would go into a panic. The rapture had come and because I was a horrible child, I had been left behind. I was bad, I knew I was going to get left behind. I lived in terror, since this was the end of days. (Don’t think shit like this is important? I STILL have to check myself from wondering what I did wrong when people are cruel to me. Because in the back of my head is the constant whispering about how I am a bad kid.)

You might notice one thing missing here. By this time in my life, we knew my father was ill. And now I was bad. My mother? She was a strong Christian woman, stubbornly sticking to her family because it was the biblical thing to do. She had heroicly overcome her difficult upbringing to marry my father. She had defied nature and doctors to give birth to her only child, when she had wanted six. She valiantly stood by my father as he suffered and stoically suffered through the childhood of her very difficult daughter. She was a role model, a sweet gracious woman, a hero in the eyes of the community.

She was horrible to me.

I once asked her why she was so viciously mean to me, when she acted so merciful to others. She expected more from me, than she did anyone else. I was to be a pinnacle. I was to be perfect. I was to have no faults. But of course I had faults, I was a bad kid. I was the reason she was going to drive her car off a bridge. Or I was too much for her to deal with, so she was fine with me taking a bus going anywhere far away from her. Or I am mean because I would not call her new husband “dad”.

I am very much like her in ways that I do not like. I can be vindictive with people I care about, even when I don’t mean to be. I have had to work hard to respect my husband as a man, which he deserves. I struggle with believing that I deserve to be praised, or succeed or even be happy.

I have been very blessed that this late in life, I have found people that have reached out to me and tolerated my quirks and bad temper. People willing to tell me what I had trouble acknowledging. People willing to tell me that I was abused. That I did not deserve what had happened to me. That I was not a bad kid.

It has been very hard to get to the point where I can admit that what was done to me as a child was wrong. To actually say out loud and to write that the actions of my parents were wrong and there is no excuse for the way I was treated. It has now been six months since I have spoken to my mother. I am not sure when I will be able to speak to her again.

Right now, I am working on being me. On changing those thoughts in my head that plague me. I’m working to be able to focus on writing stories again and not be crippled by my interior monologue. Thank you all for being patient with me.

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I got into a discussion today on twitter about writing. I stopped calling myself a writer right about here. It took the wind out of my sails hardcore when it come to writing and I have been struggling to regain my personal footing when it comes to writing and how I feel about it.

This is not a call for anyone to harass the people involved with that contest (all of whom I consider my friends). The person I talked to about the contest was not mean, bitchy, dismissive. She’s someone I talk to about things. And, usually, manages to get the worst of me in a bad mood out of left field. And handles it DAMN WELL.

Mostly, it was just a thing in a line of things that made me second guess everything.

(And reminds me that I miss writing for a workshop, with good feedback. We tried that once with the Riders. And I wish we still did it.)

I’m being Debbie Downer here. Talking about writing makes me sad.

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Life Update

I’ve been pondering a lot of things lately. I won’t say that I have been in the best of moods. Work is extremely stressful. I am trying to not screw things up and balancing a ton of things. I feel like I am failing at everything. I am not, mind you, but I feel the stress and being constantly tired makes things feel very uneven.

I don’t want that to be the focus of this post. I just live a lot in my own head at times. I am fighting the urge to log into Rift, fighting the fear that I will be left behind, that I will miss something. That tomorrow I will log on and all the connections I have made will vanish.

Meh, most of it is tired crazy talk. I am really tired and stressed. That will make people be stupid. It makes me very stupid.

This will be my second night not in Rift. I need to make time to write. So, I am writing easy stuff first. Journal entries, little pieces like this. I need to remember how to write. I need the practice and, I fear… well I fear a lot of stupid things I would rather not talk about. I already feel like I am walking the thin line towards crazy.

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As my readers know, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm went live last week. I took four days off from work, pushed two toons through to 85 (Thenliath and Dorri) and generally was a slug for a week.

You might think that this has been the reason for my silence on the blog, but it really has not been. There have been a few things that have happened over the past month that have greatly thrown me off my stride in terms of writing and general well-being. Before I go into this, I want to make it clear that this is not a boohoo poor me kinda thing. For the past three or four years, I have used this blog to do more than just show off small bits of my writing, or my noobishness. I have used this as a way to explore lots of things about myself. Anyway, enough of the explaining, onto the stuff.

1) Friends of mine started a blog. It looks spiffy, they have decent articles. No one asked me if I was interested. No one even said they were starting it. It stings. I have to admit that I have not asked any of them about it. And I admit that I would probably not be able to dedicate myself to the blog the way I could. And that I would have arguments with some of the people writing on that blog. It was weeks before I could make myself go look at the blog. I’d see people tweet about the posts and feel just awful. So, I avoided the blog.

It’s actually an interesting blog. It has some fascinating articles. (There are some pieces in there that make me very angry too) I enjoy reading it now that I have had the time to get over the bad feelings. But the sting is still there. I find myself wondering what I did to get excluded. How I failed in being valued enough to be considered. You see where this is going? Yeah. You do.

2) Back in June, I posted on the forum for the ten man I had been running with that I planned to continue with them in Cataclysm, provided that any time they chose did not conflict with the Anvil raid. (I’m technically the raid leader. I should probably be there for my own raid.) A person I know told me that they had already set a day and time. In fact, they were nearly full. This came as a shock to me. I had been checking the forum waiting to see if there would be any follow up to that thread. It made working on Heroic Sindragosa an annoying and hazy dream (we beat her, earning the rest of that raid their heroic ten man drakes.)

I could not understand why no one had said anything. True, I had not gone to play league of legends with them a lot of times, because the game just didn’t interest me the way RPing in wow did. The fight just drained out of me. I had seen and ignored other ten man inquries because I had been waiting on these guys. I could not figure out why I hadn’t made the cut, why I had been kicked to the curb. I thought they were my friends. I spent a lot of time angrily sobbing, which made it very hard for Wes because he still hangs on skype with them and plays other non wow stuff with them.

Even after I spoke with some of them, I am still at a loss. It seems that they decided en mass that I would not be able to have a toon ready to raid with them and have one ready for the Anvil. One of them made the constant point that I wouldn’t make their ten man a priority (which is probably true. It would not trump ALL THINGs WoW for me.). Still, I knew I could have had a toon ready. So, once again I was trying to wrack my brain to figure out why I didn’t make the cut.

3) I turned 40 last week. I got many Bday weekends, the husband surprised me with candles and cake. It wasn’t a horrible Bday, but it is still startling to think that I am 40.

All of that combined into a storm of just horrid ick that made it nearly impossible for me to focus on writing or pretty much anything that was good. So, I buried myself into Cataclysm for a long while. Now, however, I have a ton of stuff to write and things to organize.

Expect to see more story stuff.

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This world will never be what I expected
And if I don’t belong who would have guessed it
I will not leave alone everything that I own
To make you feel like it’s not too late, it’s never too late

I once heard someone describe OCD as missing that little voice in the back of your head that tells you that you are being ridiculous. As strange as it sounds, that has always been an extremely reassuring thing to keep in mind. Even though I have not talked about it recently, I have to admit that I tend to judge my feelings pretty harshly. Part of that comes from a nagging suspicion.

When I was seventeen up till about twenty one, I was convinced that I was going to go crazy. My dad was well into what would be his final breakdown. The one that would rob him of his ability to even hold any kind of job. The most dependant pillar of my life was crumbling.

Even if I say it’ll be alright
Still I hear you say you want to end your life
Now and again we try to just stay alive
Maybe we’ll turn it around ’cause it’s not too late
It’s never too late

The obsession with my own sanity was frightening to everyone around me. Worse, the only person who really understood what I was going through with my dad. Not surprising really, after all, he had gone through something similar himself. Looking back on it, I can see how hard even knowing me must have been. Even though I do not get along with my mother, I admire her pure stubborness. What must it have been like to watch both your husband and your only child unravel before your eyes?

There are so many wounds between my mom and I. Things that make the chasm between us impossible to cross. Neither of us are very good at this sort of thing. When I think about the situation, one incident in particular always comes to mind.

I was at one of my darkest moments. I had agreed to leave college. My grades in my last term were abysmal. I had never failed at anything I had actually tried to do, but college eluded me. And this failure combined with everything going on at home made everything hopeless. My mom tried to fix things. It is hard for lots of people to understand that there are things you cannot fix and that even trying only makes things worse.

It got to that point, I had decided I was just going to go away. That my parents would be better off without me. Mom tried to talk to me about it, but nothing she said could change my mind. Finally, she just left me walking. I know she never meant for her venting of her frustration to mean a real rejection of me, but at that moment that is what it meant. Depression can be self-fulfilling.

I don’t know how long I walked, sobbing because my mother had rejected me and convinced that I would just get to the bus station and see how far the money I had in my pocket would take me.

No one will ever see this side reflected
And if there’s something wrong who would have guessed it?
And I have left alone everything that I own
To make you feel like it’s not too late, it’s never too late.

And suddenly, my dad was there walking with me. He did not try and talk me out of my plan. He was just going to walk with me and let me know he cared. My dad knowing what to do that day saved my life.

And every time I start to feel that way again, I remind myself of that moment. And even now, it makes me cry, because I miss my dad so much in the dark moments. It also gives me hope and helps me remember that things aren’t as bad as they seem.

Even if I say it’ll be alright
Still I hear you say you want to end your life
Now and again we try to just stay alive
Maybe we’ll turn it around ’cause it’s not too late
It’s never too late.

Still, in the moments I feel the most alone, it is often not easy. I do not always manage to suppress my feelings from coming out of my mouth or fingers in ways that are productive or even right. Of course the counterpoint to that is that every time I lash out or I slip, I am quickly overwhelmed with guilt and shame. It’s a real kicker.

The world we knew won’t come back
The time we’ve lost can’t get back
The life we had won’t be ours again

This world will never be what I expected
And if I don’t belong…

Sometimes, the best I can do is remind myself that my feelings aren’t always the most true of things. And Sometimes, I can’t even do that but I manage to keep from acting on those feelings. Even to the point where I need to walk away from whatever I am doing right at that moment.

Even if I say it’ll be alright
Still I hear you say you want to end your life
Now and again we try to just stay alive
Maybe we’ll turn it around ’cause it’s not too late
It’s never too late

Maybe we’ll turn it around ’cause it’s not too late
It’s never too late
It’s not too late, it’s never too late.

But the problem with feelings is that it is really hard to change them.

This horrible overwrought song is by Three Days Grace and is called Never Too Late

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My Dad was Crazy

When I talk about my father, that is what most people are likely to hear.  It is a very flippant answer, but it explains a lot.

I have some memories of my father from when I was young.  I remember a smiling man with a huge dark mustache.  Someone who took his daughter to play basketball (Okay, he shot hoops and I chased balls, but that was his way of including me) and wrestled and threw snowballs.

But when I was nine, that mad vanished.  My dad had a complete break.  He went into a hospital.  My mom tells me he was unresponsive for a few weeks.  I remember the hospital.  It had decorations for St Patty’s day.  When we were going through my dad’s things after he died, mom and I found my father’s evaluation sheet before he was admitted into the hospital.  It was his reasoning for wanting help.  Even now I am tearing up over it, because in the two pages he mentioned me a few times.  He wanted to get better for me.

My dad went through shock treatments.  My mom, stubborn woman that she was, stood by him despite everything.  I went to therapy.  It was a traumatic time.  When my dad got out of the hospital we moved to Florida.  The idea was that the change in situation and being close to his mother, who had moved to South Florida earlier, would help him.

I guess it did for a while, but not for very long.  In a few years, it all went to hell again.  My parents were really good about not letting me understand why things were so strange for us.  I am not sure that was such a good thing.  I really did not understand what was happening and I acted out.  I also had my own medical and psychological problems at the same time.  It was a bad time.

But Dad recovered and I grew a little more balanced.  I survived High School, but it was already growing apparent before I left for college that things were going kinda odd with Dad.  How odd?  Well, I learned to break into our house while in junior high and high school, because if I did not know where my keys were, we had to go buy locks, right then.  Even if I could have walked into my room and found them, we had to go buy locks.  He would check the door to be sure it was locked over and over and over again.

By the time I went to College in 1988, it was obvious that something was very very wrong.  When I dropped out of  college two years later, we had finally found out just how wrong things were.  After more than a decade of suffering, my father was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive disorder. 

This is not to say that things were easier once the diagnosis was made, but it made it easier to understand.  The decade that followed was not any easier but at least we had a better idea of what was happening.

Drugs never helped, except to make my dad more of a zombie.  One of my father’s doctors actually prescribed more medication to keep my father from calling him.  It was a maddening cycle of drugs and stress and insanity.  During that time, my dad’s mother died of cancer and I suffered and recovered from the worst bout of depression in my life.

And through it all, my dad got worse and worse.  Twenty years before he died, I lost the smiling man.  Five years before he died, I lost the thinking man.  The man who pulled me back from the brink of they abyss.

The last five years of my dad’s life were miserable for us all.  My father struggled with drugs that dulled his mind and slowed his body.  He struggled with other health issues that made treatment of his mental problems worse.  My mother and I were at odds.  I moved in with them, briefly, wanting to help as best I could, but my schedule, which kept me out until late hours disturbed my father’s schedule.  Eventually, I moved to Oregon.  A year and a half after I moved, my father died.

It seems odd to say how much I loved him when I think about it.  After all, I really did not know him much at all.  Sometimes I wonder if this lies at the crux of my inability to connect to people, why I constantly feel like an outsider.  Sometimes, I just think I am crazy too.

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So, a few people have wondered about why I am so…  hostile (there’s a nice word) towards my mother.  It’s sometimes hard to really pin it down.  I cannot remember that many times where I really felt warm towards my mother.  That might be part of it.

I try to think about this every so often, but I can’t really say there is ONE THING that really set it all in stone.  I can use a story to illustrate what things were like when I was young.

I have to make some caveats here.  I do have some respect for my mother.  She’s damn tough and stubborn (I get that from both of my parents.  You should pity my husband.)  She managed to survive and eventually thrive after a horrible childhood.  She struggled to raise a daughter and keep a marriage together in very difficult situations.  She is no saint, however, but she deserves some acknowledgment of that.

In those moments when she wanted to talk, mostly between the time of my father’s death and her marriage to her new husband, my mother and I spent some time talking.  I learned things that seem disturbing now, but make sense.  I learned that my mother had a habit of buying jewelry instead of things for the family when I was very young.  That she was jealous of the attention my father got when he left the military and went to college.  That when I had therapy sessions after my father had his first breakdown (he had three), my mother heard things that probably broke her heart.

This is not to say that my mother was a cold hearted bitch.  She tried, I know she did, but forced to deal with a husband with issues and a daughter with issues made things crazy for her.  I know that she considered killing herself at least once (she was going to drive her car over a bridge) in the middle of the worst part of it.  My family was fucked up.  Being crazy will do that too you

I am not paragon of virtue either.  I had issues, especially as an adolescent and teen.  I had severe anger management issues.  My parents did not know what to do with me.  They consider sending me to reform school, but the school wasn’t sure they wanted me because of my tendency towards violent behavior.  I stole things.  I lit things on fire in the bird bath in our back yard or in my room.  I was depressed.  In 1990, during my second term at Stetson University, I started randomly crying for no reason.  By 1991, I became convinced that I was going to be as crazy as my father.

My boyfriend at the time was rightfully concerned for my sanity and safety.  At his insistence, when he was in Russia for six months, I moved back in with my parents.  That move might have doomed our relationship (though we still chat from time to time) but I think it saved my life.  Between his long rambling taped letters to me and my father, I managed to pull through hell and start rebuilding something.  My mother was there, but she was often frustrated by me.

All that build up just to tell this story.  Honestly, I cannot remember if this happened before or after I moved to Gainsville (I suspect before) with the goal of doing everything my parents didn’t want me to do, include having sex, but it is indicative of the way things are between me and my mother.

I was lost in depression.  I had some money.  I felt worthless.  I was going to buy a bus ticket to anywhere and just vanish.  No one needed me.  I was a drain on all those around me.  It is really hard to explain how real those feelings can be, how overwhelming it can be.  My mother was trying to talk me out of it.  She finally pulled over the van and told me to get out.  She couldn’t deal with it anymore.  She told me to just go.  Depression can be self-fulfilling, really.  My mom wanted to fix me, but she couldn’t.  So she gave it.

I started walking to the bus station.  Somehow, my dad caught up to me.  He walked with me.  He didn’t try and talk me out of my plan.  He just walked and told me that he loved me.  Eventually, he got me to come home.  He understood, after all, he felt that way himself.  He didn’t try and fix me.  He was just there.

That is really where the difference was and I think that may be part of the reason why I resent my mother so much.  She is always trying to fix me.  Maybe, I’m not the one broken.

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