webcowgirl: (Tiger monkey)
I am writing this for the benefit of other people who are considering schema therapy, for those who are curious about schema therapy, or for anyone who's been abused as a child and wants to know that they are not alone and also not to blame. It's hard stuff. You're warned.

We started this week by reviewing a questionnaire I'd filled out (and having a brief recap of my week, which I think went well - I said though that I wanted counseling to focus on fixing the foundation and not patching holes and didn't want to talk about the week much). The section we looked at asked a bunch of questions about how you deal with your emotions, say "I feel numb," "I feel like I don't know where my life is going," "I hide from my feelings by drinking/taking drugs/watching TV." I said I had had some dissociative episodes in the last 6 years (starting on my first trip to Lyme Regis), but 1) mostly I didn't feel like I hid from my feelings, I did things to make myself happy that I considered adaptive, not maladaptive 2) when I did things (i.e. November and December) to stop thinking about my feelings, it was because there simply wasn't anything I could do about what was upsetting me and I thought it would be better to try to focus on some happy-making things and give myself a break from the brooding 3) I exercised to try to make myself feel better but I didn't think it was hiding. So ... I'm not sure where we got with this.

This got him to wondering if I'd had dissociative episodes when I was growing up. He asked how I'd dealt with negative emotions growing up and I said ... I really just couldn't remember any more. I knew I was sad and lonely a lot of the time but I don't remember trying to "deal" with it. I remembered I liked to read a lot, as I do now, but I didn't feel like that was really escaping, it was just what I did all the time. I also watched TV with my family. I just couldn't remember very much any more. This led to The bad stuff. I have been abused in the past. Don't read this if you don't want to hear about it. I've avoided the goriest details. )

I told him what made me sad is that after this I seemed to be contaminated. No one, my real dad, my mom, anyone in my family, would try to touch or hold or hug me anymore. So I was starved for physical affection. Read more... )

Anyway, so when it comes to "have I picked up some maladaptive behaviors along the way," well, yeah, I'm willing to cop to maybe having picked some up (though I still don't know what they are), but you know what, I've tried really hard to deal with what life has dealt me and still be a person I can be proud of. And I told him at the beginning of the session I didn't want to talk about how my "anger" drove away people, because I feel like I've only really lost my temper maybe three times in the last ten years, so it's a bit of a non-starter. There are other issues for me to look at more urgently.

Then I walked home along Tooting Common and thought WOO is it cold and thought about the gorgeous Chinese food dinner [livejournal.com profile] wechsler and I had at San Xia Ren Jia on Goodge Street tonight and how deliciously sore I felt from Pilates and that, people, was my Monday.
webcowgirl: (Default)
It's the end of the trip to Inverness. It's been really busy. We did a nearly 3 hour walk along the Ness River and Caledonian canal yesterday; we saw the Mugenkyo taiko drummers Sunday night; we did a cruise of Loch Ness (a short one only) and explored Urquhardt castle; we did the fun steam train (the Strathspey railway) on Saturday. Our evenings have been spent in the good company of [livejournal.com profile] noirem and her honey C; they've spoiled us with good food and wine and we've taught each other games (Zombie Fluxx and Phase 10 got a lot of use). I got to make tacos for them last night and had C's fantastic grasshopper pie; their kittens finally came out to play with us. The weather has been generally good, and the autumn colors of the hills have been lovely.

I've still been up and down like a roller coaster, though. I'm suffering from a lot of Things In My Life That Aren't Right, some of which are going to take a long time both to undo and then to patch the damage left behind. My current focus is Christmas; this does look solidly to be the worst one on record, but the amount of money I'd need to spend to make it otherwise is prohibitive. I just want to stay in the country, not break the bank, and be with people I love who love me. I don't even like Christmas all that much; it has always been an emotionally trying time and God knows I don't believe in the "reason for the season."

Times like these make me realize how easy it is to become an alcoholic. Really, why not just drink enough that you can't even remember what day it is, much less care? I keep thinking this was the kind of thing that got my mom started and eventually broke her. Me, I feel like looking into the long future, I don't really have anything to look forward to: the closest thing I've got is some project I'm doing at work. Now, how sad is that, for the sum total of your hopes an dreams being "and I'd really like to see this work thing happen?" It's just pathetic. And that's how I feel, pathetic, bottomed out, not seeing a tunnel but a well with a lid on top. I've been crying a lot, I'm not able to trick myself into cheering up, and [livejournal.com profile] wechsler is limited in the support he can provide (if at least sympathetic).

This post is brought to you by Keeping It Real and What Goes Up Must Come Down But It Doesn't Seem To Work In Reverse.
webcowgirl: (Jizo)
Oh, one of those mornings when I understand my mother better.

She died at 53, in 2001. Not my goal, you understand; my goal is to live as long as either of my grandmothers, about 89. Maybe longer. But I don't think dying at 53 was my mom's goal.

Anyway, for all of high school and even junior high, I would come home from school and my mom would still be in bed. I guess it didn't register to me it was abnormal. She'd get up after a while, and make dinner, then sit up late watching tv. I think she'd probably break into some wine after I went to bed, but I don't remember ever seeing this, just the empty bottles in the garbage, which mostly never registered as having an meaning.

Someone convinced me at some point that all of this was due to my mom being an alcoholic. Sure, her yelling at us to keep things down on Saturday mornings was probably a hangover talking, but not this staying in bed until 3. I get it now, this morning, laying in bed until 11, letting myself fall asleep again and again, feeling gravity pulling me down so strong, urging me to stay there on my back, on my side, eyes closed, letting the dreams come and go and time pass, and pass, and pass.

Yeah, it's my mom. And it's not alcoholism, it's depression. I hate how I'm getting to understand her better and better as I get older. I worry that I'm replaying her mistakes, too, but I'm seeing now that so many of them weren't really about having bad taste in boyfriends or a feeling of entitlement (that a man should pay her way through life) but probably so much more about being depressed to the point of near paralysis, and then just finally giving up.
webcowgirl: (gramma)
I had Wechsler ask me this week why I wasn't the least bit optimistic. And tonight he said he thought I worried too much sometimes, in this case, I think, about how I think people feel about things (often me), feelings which they are not always comfortable expressing (I believe). J thinks this, too, but I don't think I'm paranoid. I think I'm right. I think I had to learn to be attentive to people's moods and the subtle clues they give long ago as a survival tactic.

I find I've written before about my mother's moods, about how she treated me badly when I was in high school because she was trying to drive me out of the house (at her boyfriend's instigation). Coming home was making me get stressed out because I was being attacked all the time for I knew not what. It all made so much more sense when I realized that he'd told her I was the one standing between them. I only found this out after he'd broken up with her ... once she'd managed to get me out of the house and discovered it wasn't really me keeping them apart, it was his wife and baby.

And then there's totally triggering, be warned ), but suffice to say I had to be very aware of the clues of when it was safe for me and when it wasn't and I needed to go straight to my room and lock the door.

Conclusion: paying attention to people is a survival skill. And while it's nice to assume the best, it's no way to protect yourself from a world which is actually full of a lot of nasty people. I don't expect the worst of people, even though I do know more about the bad things they're capable of than I'd like to. I do believe that life is full of disappointments, though, and it's better to shield yourself with low expectations and the hope that you'll be surprised with something nice, someday. (Like not getting that Tripadelic job? If I'd got my expectations high, I would have been crying when they told me no.) And, well, it's good to be the person who does nice things for other people when you can, because God knows there's little enough of that going around.

And also, today has been missing my grandma day, so I've changed my user picture to one of her. I always knew that she really loved me, even though I made her really mad sometimes.
webcowgirl: (Jizo)
Sad is having someone you see as family make fun of you ... to other people. And not in the nice/ pulling your leg/teasing kind of way. In the mean way.

Sometimes I think I need to extend my chosen family by at least one, because there are days when I wish I had the calming feeling of knowing, "Yes, there are people who would welcome me into their household any day, no questions asked, and would be delighted that I was there for meals." It hasn't been like that for me since the day my grandma died (though technically it hasn't been like that since she moved into the nursing home, but I bet if I'd shown up with the car and said, "Hop in, lady, I'm bustin' you outta here!" she would have gone for it). But in some ways I've never really felt like that, at least not since my mom kicked me out, but she made it clear to me long before the day after I turned 18 (and got the boot) that she was looking to move me on because I was getting in between her and her boyfriend.

Anyway. A little more about me and what makes me my own special trainwreck. I've often felt like people who knew they had that place to go, those people to welcome them are a little bit mentally better off than I am.
webcowgirl: (gramma)
I avoided reading a letter from my aunt for, er, about a month after I got it. I finally looked at it tonight. I guess it wasn't too bad. On the other hand, for some reason, I think ... you might ... enjoy ... reading it. It's like a whole novel on six poorly written pages. Sadly, it appears to be by Steinbeck rather than some more uplifting author.

Background: my family mostly lives in Arizona, my aunt raised her kids in a trailer park near Roosevelt Lake, where the lodge (for trout fishing tournaments in the nearby lake) and the gas station were about the only jobs. My grandparents (her folks) moved there when they retired; both of them are now dead and my aunt got their property as she was the only surviving kid of the four they had. My aunt had two kids, Dena and Deland. Dena and I were very close growing up - like sisters. I haven't heard from her in, what, seven years or so now.

Cut to save you depression: public so other people can see they're not alone. )

This is why I don't go home for Easter, or Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or my birthday, or ever, really. It was nice to hear from her, though.
webcowgirl: (Pink poodle)
I've spent the evening sneezing and blowing my nose, sewing, fiddling with LibraryThing (under Webcowgirl), and reading the New York Times. Thus these recommendations.

For my dog loving friends: a story that will leave you wanting to scratch your dog's head and let them know you love them.

For my friends who are interested in the question of class in America: an article about a woman who teaches classes on class. I found this very interesting, especially since Americans tend to pretend we're all one big happy family, but some of us have lots of money and some of us have lots of family members and friends in jail and tend to die young. This paragraph was particularly thought-provoking:

Payne believes that teachers can’t help their poor students unless they first understand them, and that means understanding the hidden rules of poverty. The second step, Payne says, is to teach poor students explicitly about the hidden rules of the middle class. She emphasizes that the goal should not be to change students’ behavior outside of school: you don’t teach your students never to fight if fighting is an important survival skill in the housing project where they live. But you do tell them that in order to succeed at school or later on in a white-collar job, they need to master certain skills: how to speak in “formal register,” how to restrain themselves from physical retaliation, how to keep a schedule, how to exist in what Payne calls the “abstract world of paper.”

Of course she is getting a lot of crap for stereotyping, but, in my mind, if you won't admit there are any differences, how can you start having a conversation about it at all? And teachers really are in the front line for making a difference. I know they did for me. Marilyn Lenz, where are you when I want to thank you for how much of an effort you made for me?

Hmm. [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy's uploaded our pix from the trip to Tunisia. There are currently no captions or anything so they're fairly mysterious. Basically, if it's the desert and rocks, it's Carthage, if it's the ocean, it's probably the Mediterranean, and if it's food, you know it was something we ate.
webcowgirl: (Roxie)
Well, it was a really good night singing songs at [livejournal.com profile] trishpiglet's house tonight. [livejournal.com profile] 1songstress was great, really a pleasure for me to see in action - I felt a bit like I'd brought a ringer, she's such a brilliant singer! Fortunately we did some duets that sucked ("Funkytown," "Take a Chance on Me"), and "Baby Got Back" went down in flames, so we were in no way making people feel like it would be too hard to follow us. It was also nice to see [livejournal.com profile] thekumquat, [livejournal.com profile] ellbie and [livejournal.com profile] nickmc, [livejournal.com profile] werenerd, [livejournal.com profile] some_fox, and co-host [livejournal.com profile] babysimon ... you guys all rocked out! I know that a night doing karaoke with friends wasn't exactly the brilliant London nightlife scene you'd hear about in the magazines, but it was definitely exactly what I moved here for - a night with good friends, enjoying each other's company and being silly and supportive all at the same time.

Our big excitement ("ooh, visiting London, must have Experiences") of the day is going to the James Turrell exhibit, which, for the uninitiated, was projections of light against walls, or of holes in walls and light showing with no perspective at all. Though I'm in no shape to explain his art (there was some drinking at the karaoke, not that I need Dutch courage to sing), I did get a couple of great reactions from little kids at the exhibit. So, James Turrell as seen through the raw eyes of the under-five set.

Kid one: (walks up to blue screen on wall)
Me: (walks up to the blue screen)
Kid one: (slowly puts their hands closer, closer to the elevated screen ...)
Me: (watches. Will she leave a spot on the wall?)
Kid one (as her hands pass through the screen into the hole that is actually where the light is coming from): SCREEAAAAAAMMM!
Me: (laughs hysterically)

Kid two (about four, walking into a dark room with another hole with light shining out of it): It's so dark.
(pause)
A bit too dark.
(pause)
I prefer the other one.
(leaves the room) (this one was good enough that I wrote it down)

Oh, what did we do the rest of the day? We left the house at 1:30, we wound up at Debenham's at about 4:30 (slippers were purchased), and gave up on shopping just in time to miss the cafe's opening hours. Then we hit Clark's (all cute red ballet flats now sold out), BeardPapa's (today's flavor: capuccino; total purchase: three puffs and three hot teas), then some place about half a block closer to the Tottenham Court Road tube that sold sparkly hair crap that [livejournal.com profile] 1songstress and I were able to avoid like magpies on tinfoil. I got a red diamante giant hair clip and tiny red diamante ornamented bobby pins; [livejournal.com profile] 1songstress got three actual buttefly clips in white and opal and some butterfly hair dangly. All in all this made us late for getting to Tooting Broadway, but it was a good evening anyway, and no one was mad at us for being late.

Good bus ride home in the magic 270, some talk about family matters, along the lines of WTF mom, WTF our aunt, WTF the other cousins, WTF women who think they can do nothing but be pretty and expect someone else to take care of them.

*yawn* Decidedly feeling good about living here. :-) I like that I'm sitting here getting my hair braided. Night, all.
webcowgirl: (ActionFigure)
There's a scene in The Entertainer, the play I saw last night, where the stepmom is berating gramps for going into the kitchen and eating some cake. "I was saving it for Jimmy! I spent eight shillings on that and now you've ruined it! You nasty old man!" She continues berating him and says he's not going to be allowed into the kitchen anymore.

It was really a painful scene and reminded me a lot of my childhood, specifically an incident when I was living with the Odhners, a family of eight. I snuck a piece of cake (made from a mix I'd bought) because it seemed silly to hide it and I wanted some, and then was told because I'd had some, Stephen wasn't going to be able to have any. It was just such a sign of poverty, that to have any would be denying someone else, that the simple act of eating was taking away from someone else. I'd never had a cake that had more than two people to eat it, so I didn't see it as a situation of scarcity, and yet, with a change of environment, suddenly I was a thief.

This situation of scarcity and subsequent hoarding problems is a hallmark of growing up in the environment I did. You don't want to take something you're not supposed to have. Similarly, anyone giving you something is suspect. Will you owe them? Will they hold it against you? In retrospect, getting to a point where I could give without expecting to receive, and, more importantly, receive without having fear of what I would be expected to pay in return, has been one of the great pleasures for me of getting out of that environment. I can still see it in my family, that fear that any favor accepted, no matter how desperately needed, will put you into a situation of indebtedness that you may not be willing to experience. Being really poor is saying no to something you need badly because you can't trust that it would ever be offered to you without strings attached.

Rambling, I know. I may try to clear it up later but it's 1 AM and I must get some sleep. I know I misquoted all of the dialogue (including the name of the son and the cost of the cake), but hopefully it's enough to convey the idea - the script is unfortunately not available for free online.
webcowgirl: (Cthulu cozy)
More sick insight into how I turned out the way I did. The Swingers, "Give Me Love," from Starstruck.



It's still a pretty cool video after all these years, and I still like the music. I wonder what ever happened to the guy I lent it to, way back in the day, in Phoenix, Arizona?

This one is a horrible song but it is really great to look at the people in the background. Just tell yourself you're watching an incredibly pretentious, bad performance, and you can probably live through it. Seeing this movie, Liquid Sky, as a double feature at the Valley Art with Diva was doubtlessly the moment where I really left the mainstream. (The music in Diva is much better but I'll let you look for that yourself if you're really interested.)

webcowgirl: (ActionFigure)
Some two plus decades ago, I was a junior in high school.

I was not living at home.

My mom had been dating a man I'll call "George" for some time, and things had become increasingly tense for me at home. He kept a smile on his face when he looked at me, but it was tight and his eyes burned with anger and loathing. With my mom, I couldn't seem to do anything right. I did well at school, I was what most parents would have thought of as a good kid (though prone to wearing a lot of black), but at home I was just seemingly a constant irritant.

I wound up living with a family of a friend of mine for about five months. They had six kids and my friend was off at a religious boarding school for whatever sect they followed. Things were financially very tight there and they didn't have a lot of sweets around the house - they just couldn't afford it. At some point this put me into a food hoarding mode, but this is another story.

One thing they did have was a box of tiny pots of jam they'd been given as a Christmas present. It wasn't very useful as the pots were quite small, but I was okayed to have the ones they hadn't already finished off. One of these was a pot of gooseberry jam, and I loved how deliciously tart it was.

It was years and years after before I found gooseberry jam again, at a QFC in Seattle. It seems it wasn't as tart as I remembered it, but still, I was excited to just be holding a jar in my hand. And I bought a pot at the Sainsbury's a few days ago, and sat eating a scone with this delicious jam on top Saturday morning while I was watching the seagulls sliding down the Thames with the current. "We eat them by halves," Wechsler told me, and though I'm normally not concerned with doing things the English way, I couldn't help but see the advantage in arranging my scone so as to increase the surface area available for jam application.

Some time after I'd come back home, I found out that my mom had wanted me to leave because George had told her that I was the thing keeping him from moving in with her. I guess he thought she would never kick me out. I left, but he didn't move in. It turns out it wasn't really me keeping him from living with her; it was just an excuse for him to buy time. Later I found out he was married. By the time I was back in the house, they weren't dating any more, and my mom was depressed but didn't seem to hate me so much.

Later they started dating again. I moved out for good two days after I turned 18.

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