Being born -hopefully positive

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Just getting a few things out. Two big early events stick out.

The first was literally being born which feels weird and hard to emotionally define. It wasn't birth itself, but the fact that the birth was a c-section in young mother who was inadequately prepared to be an adult, much less a mother. Her c-section diminished many dreams and perceptions of her self, making it impossible for her to bond with a firstborn. My trauma was not having a mother, leading, in part at least, to a sense of alienation and isolation in myself which has persisted for much of my life. It's hard to stay mad at her when I realize some of what she "lost" by giving birth. I feel like I've gleaned some insight into the dreams and aspirations my father must have sacrificed as he struggled to be an adult and a father. It's a bit harder to find forgiveness for him, but I keep trying. Does that qualify as a personal trauma for me? I don't know. It certainly feels like it explains a deeply gnawing sense of guilt and alienation within myself.

The second one seems equally sad and is less triggering to me with greater understanding. A single mom without much of any familial or societal support got sick and was completely bedridden for about 3 days and 3 nights. That meant the three year old got to feed himself crackers and water for 3 days because the casserole was cold and unappealing. He quietly watched tv for 3 days, didn't make a sound, put himself to bed and stayed quiet. And the first sign of genuine affection that registered from his mother was an expression of gratitude and something that looked like affection for being such a good boy. By being invisible. This one I feel like qualifies as a bona fide personal trauma. I try to talk with that kid and thank him for being so brave and strong and trying to be the adult, all while letting him know that he can put down the load and have a little fun. Very uncomfortable conversations to be having for a person of my background, age, and life circumstance.

The second seems like such a bizarre issue for mental health. It should be addressed at a societal level. I guess it is better managed these days, but support networks back then were primarily familial. My perspective may be skewed.

This feels like odd subject matter for a trauma diary. The emotional and cognitive significance of the events feels like it should be minor considering later-life traumas. I'm pondering it because it feels like understanding these early insults to the developing ego may somehow inform or improve the processing of the later events. Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated, but I honestly don't know how much deeper I want to get into any of that at this moment. It feels like good stuff to understand, but it's important to know when to put it down. So, I'm going to do that.

Thanks for listening.
Thank you littleoc. :) Think I'm going to run with this a a bit more. I'm reminding myself to watch the barometer. Such a...fitting analogy....I think I'm stuck at a steady 7-8 and have been there for quite a while. It's good to laugh at knowing and not having known this is what exposure therapy is. I'm running with it because I already experienced the big critical event for the night and it didn't lead anywhere bad and I don't feel horrible for it. I'll be a little sad shortly and that will be appropriate.

Like with any process, I guess you start at the beginning and end with the present. It's important to maintain distance from some of the big ones, but maybe a small one and one particular big one will help if and when the next panic attack makes an appearance. Thinking and talking helps deflate the wounded ego. It's weird how the mind reacts to defend itself by turning so many experiences, despite their objective "weight", into monumental burdens that become impossible to put down.

Breathe. And, breathe again. Think. Find words.

Not thinking too heavily about the process, it seems odd to me that I somehow managed to rearrange the steps to exposure therapy. I just read them. They all make sense. It feels like I'm at the journal/diary stage and yet I know I've skipped steps. It's wonderfully weird. A little bit scary too, and not as scary as I anticipated.

The big one seems to need to come first, so I'll go there and finish with a small one that takes some of the sting out of the earlier ones. I do ask anyone reading to please think twice before continuing. It's horrible and not horrible, but it's deeply personal and I don't want my trauma banging around in other people's heads. This is all hard and it's helping me to use a stutter-stop for handling the cyclic 1 dread; 2 fixation on the emotion; 3) understanding the "thing" in the abstract; 4 finding words that fit the general shape of the idea; and 5 settling on words that accurately describe the scene without picking up an ominous tone or heightened inflection.

This is not a victory for the ego. It's a bandage for a person whose been hurt. Not putting extra words in sentences takes effort. I like simple words.

Breathe. Breathe again. Think. Find words. Sorry, this may be my personal point of reference for healing. It's neither a good nor a bad place to start, but it's a human place to start.

So, the big one. It's big and not big. It's honestly kind of small. It would help a lot if victims of biological rape would stop reading. Comparison of personal trauma is unhealthy and I don't want to offend anyone struggling to deal with their own pain. If you continue reading it may hurt. It already hurts me. That's the last thing I'm going to say in my own misguided attempt to protect everyone from my issues.

The big "thing" at this moment boils down to being born a little too smart at a young age and having no immediate family or friends to help guide and/or nurture a scrawny little kid. He wasn't even that smart. It wasn't knowledge that did the damage. It was how scarily fast his mind was at processing sensory input. Perhaps, more importantly, the absence of sensory input. Learning to be quiet is self-harm. And, I now suspect, that we each have a scary amygdala and each one is just as fast as the other.

Nobody beat the young kid. His fundamental "needs" were actually covered, if only due to the convenience that family units provide for the "family" unit. So, scared kid thinking too much alone or in company with few avenues available for gaining supportive care. Of course he excelled at standardized tests (and, intermittently, through advanced education). And, of course, the various members of a fragmented family just had to find that attribute be be the one thing they could kinda like. Not enough to make graduation(s). That's a long, unfinished story, which is okay for now.*

Slowing down for a minute or two. The hard part to say will be out and saying the words is part of the process. It honestly felt like being mentally defiled in a way that I consider akin to rape. That's something that happens to too many people and I feel shame for making the comparison. I'm sorry to and for anyone who has endured that injury to your sense of dignity and self-respect. What should it be called? I simply don't know. Women and children and even men don't deserve that. It twists human emotion and turns it into something that looks ugly and shameful. It's isolating. Self-isolation is self-harm.

That, I think, finishes that, if only for now. Talking helps.

I can finish the small one here with a hint of anticipation. If you've read this far, I hope you can find insight that you find useful. It feels weird trading a lesser pain for a greater pain, but I'm trusting a bit of intuition here. One set of grandparents wasn't that bad. They were even caring in their own way. My father was probably a decent person. He just couldn't find a way to love me because he was delayed in emotional development. He suffered and survived polio during an era when that was highly unlikely. His parents, of course, chose to give up every non-devotional act in their shared life in a bargain with the church. And he almost never called me by any name. He'd use a nickname when he could spare the emotion, but it was generally "boy." Even in my 40s.

That feels like it would be a sad place to stop, so I'll be done writing for today after sharing an insight I find useful. I find it difficult to face family traumas. The "kinda cool"/"almost kinda cool" thing is it just isn't my baggage. Being born wasn't my choice and it's not my fault. I didn't ask for it and I'm choosing which traumas to accept as my own. Childhood traumas are often casual mistakes, small errors that damaged people make when interacting with damaged people. There comes a point when it doesn't matter who caused it. I'm responsible for dealing with it. And...I'm grateful to the generously kind people who showed me kindness. Those acts contribute to my being able to see the range of human emotion with a healthier perspective.

I'll be bundling up and I think I can get a little sleep. Thanks for listening. This is definitely good, but hard work.

*relearning the basic principles of language, communication, thinking, and feeling is scary stuff. I'm glad for the opportunity to share thoughts. I'm glad exposure therapy works. The process and the feelings both seem a little less scary
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Feedback is appreciated.

Small observation for the day. Some music, favorite songs in fact, have become things I need to take in small doses. Repetitive segments in certain songs produce an emdr-like effect. It brings about a release of old traumas which can come too fast. It's not too bad though. There will probably come a day when it will be possible for me to listen to a mix tape and not re-experience the outdated emotions.

Almost time for a mild dinner.

Welp, that sucked a bit. Managed to work myself into a crisis state and ended up going fetal on some stranger's porch. Lasted a few minutes and I returned home safely, but ow.

It feels like things are opening up. Just too fast. I'll be approaching this more cautiously,

The thing I'm left to ponder is: how do I manage trauma when there is a real danger that is inescapable for the moment? Distinguishing between real and present danger versus manufactured/residual fear is challenging.
Brief thought. Stacking traumas seem to have "weaponized" my thinking process. Even simple things have taken on double meaning. A walking stick is a walking stick, but somewhere in the recesses of my mind it is also a sabre. That mindset manifested weirdly and early in life, leading me to become pretty good at chess years ago.

Anticipating moves and countermoves gets in the way of exploring options. Goal-oriented process thinking leaves room for "total" victory or "absolute" defeat and really resents the hell out of a draw.

A nihilist might say "stop playing the game." A CBT therapist might suggest playing "a different game." Maybe the answer is to stop playing games at all and do something different? If a person can learn to enjoy something new without weaponizing it, maybe it might be possible to enjoy chess again as an entertaining way to pass time.

Bleh. And dammit.
This sucks. The hour sucks to be thinking about anything. The timing sucks for reasons.

This feels horrible and ugly and man, I may let loose some anger, but this has to come out now. I am lucky in some ways and I need to remember that.

The women in my life. Not the ones I married, the babysitter, the first sexual experience at age 14, and the one who got away. FML.

It was innocent enough. By 13 or 14 years of age, I'd separated from mom. The bullet fired through the front door at her drinkin' buddy asshole who wasn't even as good as the Viet Nam vets who wanted to be-son me saw to that. Her parents took me in. The neighbor's daughter was 23. She'd been my babysitter circa 4-5 years of age. That period gets fuzzy, though I know nothing happened. I think maybe that place felt safer than before or after, so its place in my memory is scattered. Of course in the 80s we became friends as neighbors and then more than that. Voila, the tale is done.

Not so fast, brain.

Yeah, I learned skills and hate myself for it. And I hate myself a little for helping her find mental healthcare when her life collapsed. And I still let myself get drunk and fall in bed again so many years later. And my younger self even had the nads to hit on her drunken mother, though nothing came of that. That may be okay though. That child-man wasn't stupidly brave like I've been saying for so long. He was just terrified out of his ever-loving mind. He still is, but he's me and by extension he is mine to protect. Funny how words matter.

There's a lot to unpack there over the next rest of my life, but it ain't happening tonight.

The one that got away, and man do I really not like that phrase. I pray I don't need it anymore after vomiting this sad and painful truth up.

And that's a big NOPE. Those memories are a bit too much for now.
Spending summers wandering farmland was quiet. There was beauty everywhere for anyone willing to look for it. Birds flitted about. Woodsy the woodpecker pecked the wooden pole throughout the day and crickets filled gentle evenings with ambient noise. In the ambient noise, you found some peace at a young age and occasionally prayed. During private late night vigils you explored other continents with Tarzan and sped across Mars with John Carter. Later you visited Venus just before falling into an unfortunate relationship with an older woman who did actually care. And here's a hint: you did too, you were just too young and too inexperienced to know how to express or receive love. Come back to this as often as you need, this lesson needs to be understood.

Those brief summers were a taste of youth. It was a small taste. It looked nice. It almost felt like home and the people were willing to pretend to be family. But they needed you to be dumb and pretend-innocent to fit into that world. Hell, they debated letting you see Star Wars when you'd already seen worse movies and much scarier things in life. It basically ended when your father insisted you make a decision. Which life would you choose, the woods or the city?

aaaaaannnnd....pausing here.

The grandparents. It's sad for me because they seemed to love their church more than they loved their son. They sacrificed their reserves in the name of Polio, hollow be its name. If they couldn't love their son, how could they ever really love you? You cried and eventually tried to die for the third or fourth time? How many was that? The ant bites weren't on purpose.

No, they weren't.

So maybe that was the first time after all. Huh.

You rejected them, they rejected us, and it was a massive circle-rejection of bukake with me in the middle. You sucked down the pain and swallowed the tears and insisted that made us a man. I still pay the price.

It wasn't stupid, it was just silly. And sad. That seems to mean I'm just a saddened silly guy. That's okay for now.

Pausing for a bit.

Back into hell, that's probably where the path spiraled down.
Afternoon update.

Reasons to be happy.

Mind is slowing down.
Breathing is easier for now.
Potentially bad things may be less bad.
Sleep was nice.
It's quiet outside, if only for a few seconds at a time. That's reassuring.
Back into the big NOPE and her.

Yeah, it's time to talk about it a little bit. Time to dive deeper.

This was so NOT Annabelle Lee. She was a fiery spitfire at 15 working the streets when she should have been home studying or doing homework. It was just that kinda town and it was a rainy night. You were not much older, but you thought you were big and bad enough for the both of you. You knew what it was like and you were drunk and incarnating as an aspect of parental wrath. Or was it simply the desire to provide shelter to a scared child putting on a brave face? I think I'm okay with that. It felt like Annabelle Lee because we WERE children, but that's exactly where our story diverges. We were both kids, hurt, scared kids trying to survive in an ugly world. Kids, NOT dedicants to dying while sucked into the gravity well of the black hole of death. Dying was never the goal. Sure felt like it at times. That was then though, and this is NOW.

So, how did it go? That band and those songs have resonated for years. Yikes.

Okay, the scene...she wandered in to exit the rain and spotted me perched at a table drinking alone. A prime target. And she was silly enough to hit on us, and sillier still to engage in banter. Smart woman, but a dumb move and I was prepared for this. When you gave a curt nod of the head and a "no, thank you", of course she HAD to engage. We offended her, we made her feel bad about herself in a way those other guys never did no matter what they did. And we did it with f-ing words. Kinda stupid for a smart guy.

mental pause...

Here's the thing. Words are not a coward's weapon. They're not a weapon at all. Words are a tool. We use them to communicate and show that we care. And I do like the compressed thought communicare. It's cute and appropriate. Let's get back to the point though. Words express emotion. It's one way to bring feeling to life. We talk. Sometimes it gets loud, sometimes it gets scary. That's only sometimes though, and words can be used gently with compassion. In this one case we used our words to hurt and she was hurt....but we've seen how those words helped lead her to where she needed to be. That's not with us, but it's where she needed to be. Back to the show.

It was just sad and brutal. I ripped this kid into emotional shreds hoping the shreds would act as bandages for both of us. It was sad. In maybe an hour I broke this hardened child-woman into free-flowing tears. And they had to be free-flowing because that is how you get poison out of the soul. And sure, she went to her pimp and he sent thugs to chase me down hoping to kick my ass, but I made it home.

I can forgive myself for hurting her feelings. The sting of that stuck with her, but she found a better way. I did too, though it took a while.

I guess the rest of this, a big part at least, comes easy. I came across her years later. I didn't recognize her because I'd gone home so many years before and gotten snockered off my ass (hard with my tolerance) begging to forget the night. Damn. But, there she was being cocky as hell and full of life demanding to learn. I was cocky because I thought I knew things and offered to teach her a few techniques.

It turned into the great love affair of my life and I don't regret much of anything up til the end many years later. We kissed and fooled around. She amused herself making me bashful and giggled when I glowed. It was really a precious and precocious moment in time. We got to make out in a dark room and one time she even sat quietly when I fell asleep. She found a way to be gentle with people. I played a tiny part in that. That is simply something to be happy about.

It did get dark. She was forcibly raped by some random asshole at a rest area when she was off on her own. How could I protect her under those circumstances. She chose to go and I could only accept her choice.

Yes, part of the reason she was on the road was because she became pregnant on the one occasion we got serious in bed. I wasn't ready for it. I didn't even consider it a possibility so I didn't have protection. And neither did she. We both f-ed up. It's sad, but that was nearly 30 years ago. It's time to let it go. She lost the child without telling me. She just fell apart and she couldn't stand to be around any man. Certainly not a good man also in pain. I needed to cry too, preferably with her. I had to run. There was no other option, not any option that wouldn't have made it worse in some way. Leaving was the only option that I could see that was honorable and minimized damage. And it really hurt me. It hurt her. It hurt her later, but it still hurt her. I am so sorry for all of that. I was brash. I was foolish. But I was what, 27? It simply just started so f-ing young for you and the ladylove of your young life. How the hell can I expect myself to know that? Nobody expects anybody to understand that kind of lifelong agony.

I need to cry about this, but after that it is time to let this baggage go.

Ladylove, I am so sorry you saw me looking so shattered all those years later. I thought I was doing the right thing by leaving you to find your way out of the dark. If I knew the truth, I would have come back. I probably never would have left. So now I feel like an outcast. That one night so many years later was truly glorious for me even though you can't get it without the explosion. I'm sorry you don't understand and I can't tell you. And my sexuality has been broken ever since 27. I'm no good for you now even if I'm doing better. You have people who love you and you don't need me reminding you of anything. It was such a beautiful time and I don't know which decade I'm referring to. The good outweighed the bad. For me, at least and, I think, eventually for you. You gave me so many good memories and I thank you for that. You are loved.

I am done for the night and it is time to cry. Shit.
Okay, maybe not done for the night. Looking around and learning to feel safe sounds like a very productive thing to do. To anyone caring enough to have wiggled through that wormhole in my brain, thank you and I am sorry for the gibberish. I think that finished rearranging some boxes in my brain. There are many more doors and rooms and larger rooms (even gigantic rooms) to explore, but that chapter may be done.

It is weirdly interesting to me how much of major lasting trauma seems to be self-inflicted. I do NOT mean to victimize the victim. I just mean that internalizing painful experiences somehow amplifies them and turns our best intentions and feelings against our selves. Maybe this is just really personal and I'm seeing that as something I've done to my self. It gives me hope though. We've all got some kind of work to do. It's really different for each of us, but there's enough in common that we can communicate. And maybe by communicating we can help each other figure out the themes in the convoluted chapters of our various and varied lives. That's just a good thing no matter how you look at it. I hope I get to communicate with some of you where the threads of our lives intersect.