My New Life; Who Am I?

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Kohi

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I am going to post my Memoir here as I write it out in the hopes of finding encouragement to keep doing it, so I can heal and hopefully move on with less stress in my new life. Please, PLEASE give me your feedback. Good or Bad, I need to hear it all. I always think I'm on the right track when something brand new slaps me in the face, and I am over and over again having to re-think everything.

I'm not the best at writing, grammar, and what-not but I don't care about that so much as just getting it out! Please help me! Any input would help at this point. I have God, and he is a daily help, but I need people! So here's what I have so far. Thank you for reading, and just know replying, and posting back means so much.

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Preface



Before the events that ultimately lead to my craniotomy surgery to remove my life-long brain tumor, there had never really been a way for me to really explain to anyone--or even personally understand--my own perception of life the way I had always known it. I want everyone to know now that I see things clearly; what I remember happening to me from my warped point of view of it all.

Most likely certain details will remain incorrect when checking the facts of specific things, events, words, actions, or opinions of individuals from whatever the hell actually happened. I am still recieving information from people as--I'm sure I will continue to keep gathering details from individuals for a while about things I either didn't know for sure, or was not aware of during these occurrences.

I am going to write from my experience, as I witnessed things unfold. Exactly how I remember it all from my horrifying and altered state of mind. I am going to describe the best way I can specifically how I saw, heard, thought, and misread everything that I believed was happening to me, as well as things that were not happening to me. It will include views from Before Surgery (BS, ha-ha!), as well as After Surgery (AS).

I also would like everyone to know that I have forgiven myself, and I have forgiven everyone else for the things that we all did wrong to each other. This didn't just happen to me, it happened to a lot of people. We all suffered. We all struggled. We all handled it the best way we could have. We all made our own mistakes. There was no way for anyone to truly understand how stressed, manipulated, and confused on every possible level I actually was by my surgery date--not even me. So keep in mind my opinions expressed are no longer my current opinions of anyone. And once I get all of this off my chest, I am going to move on, now that I have finally been given the gift of freedom to live my life as just me without that tumor weighing me down.

I just hope that you all can do the same. I don't want anyone to continue to feel guilty for anything said or done anymore. I want nothing else than to start over with a clean slate with the entire world around me. I pray that each one of you will choose to move passed all of it with me. I ask you all to please be willing to forgive me, and hopefully one day I am hopeful you might be able to find it in your hearts to offer me the clean slate I think I deserve to be to you who I actually am. Who I always was, because I know I won't let anyone down the way I used to.

I am stronger than ever now. I know I can get through anything. I know I can handle anything that will come my way. I have learned to appreciate that my abusive manipulator was not a true sadist, and remind myself everyday when my mind wanders back to that trailer, that as hard as getting through everyday of my mental state was, that other aspects of my abuse could have been far worse.

I also know now that I am surprisingly more brave than I ever used to be. After hallucinating on every terrifying level you can think of, and being scared to the point that my every muscle would be tense from head to toe, I have been through Fear at its most extreme when it comes to internal torture. And I have noticed that hardly anyone can intimidate me anymore, and almost no scary movies give me the creeps anymore. Which kinda stinks because I really love spooky movies! I know that God showed mercy on me at times in order to learn what I needed to, because things were, and could have been so much worse.

My hope for writing this is not only to get it all out so I can heal, but that it might help teach some people what I learned the hard way. To see, appreciate, and focus our attention to the beautiful things in every single fraction of a moment that we ever have. To pay no mind to anything negative, and never let ugly things affect us or how we feel. I know now with absolute definitive certainty, that no matter what kind of situation you are in, or how bad something is that might be happening to you, there will always be something that is beautiful within sight for you to hold onto even during the most horrible circumstances that might surround you.

I remember my hallucinations would get so bad--at times--that they would be all over the room, the car, or outside, surrounding and scaring me to death. Visual, audible, perceptual, and sometimes physical--those were the worst. They would just get to the point where they were everywhere, enclosing me and paralyzing me with fear. And I learned that in order to keep from panicking, or scaring anyone, and to adapt to those moments of terror, I had to scan everything I could see, and desperately find something, anything, that I thought was pretty. Something sparkly, something cute, something pleasant; A flower, a design, a sound, a colored light, a kitten, a song, a star, just anything. I would find my anchor, and glance at it while trying with all my strength not to upset, worry, or let anyone know that I was hallucinating so vividly. Whether or not they would believe me, didn't matter. As long as I kept my fears to myself.

Since I usually knew when I was hallucinating (for the most part) up until the last two weeks or so before surgery when I literally couldn't tell what was real and what was in my head anymore--I would practice finding the beauty no matter where I was taught me after surgery that everything around us literally is so unbelievably beautiful in its current form of reality. I wanted this personal quote (that I tried to write) put on my tombstone--that I designed even though I can't draw--when I was completely sure that my surgery was going to end my life:

"There is always something beautiful within every single moment we have,
but we can only find them if our hearts and eyes are open,
and willing enough to actually see them."

So here is my life story. My life-long trauma. How I learned to put forth the exhausting effort necessary just to be me. How I found hope when I felt my most desperate and alone. How I learned to choose Love and Happiness over negativity and pettiness. How I learned some of life's lessons in the most strangest and unlikely ways. To appreciate anything and everything I ever gained. To let go of pride and enjoy to share. That material things are just things, but people are irreplaceable. And to laugh at some of the dumbest things that most people don't really find funny!

Italic text will be MY inner thoughts. Bold Italic text will be Kathrine's inner thoughts (my tumor).
---My best friend Kyle and I had never named the evil voice and personality in my head until the tumor was discovered. And around that time I had already been watching "The Vampire Diaries" for a few months or so prior to finding it. I related to "Elena", and I thought she was the perfect role-model for me (or anyone). BUT--this horrible personality inside me was actually more identical to Elena's 'evil twin' Katherine. So much so that it was frightening. She was so much like this evil character with how she would be so vicious, hateful, selfish, mean, distrustful, and so so SO vengeful, that the more we watched this show together, the more we both agreed that even though she was less intense than the girl in my head, Katherine would be a good name to refer to her by since she never had been named before. So we named her after "Katarina Petrova" or "Katherine", and we still call her it to this day, even though she's now, finally dead and gone for me!---



Chapter One
Waking up Sane


I slowly open my eyes, and blink a few times as my eyesight comes into focus....

That was fast. I think to myself. Am I dead? Alive? Paralyzed? Are they finally gone? Did it work? Did it not work? Was it cancer? Did they remove it? Where is everyone? I look all around the ICU room I had woken up in. No one is here. The room is dark, but there is a bright hallway and a big thick curtain covering my "room" which is lighting up enough of it that I can see around me. I see I am hooked up to machines, This looks so much different than my beautiful, nice, big hospital room that I had 5 months ago when I was....

My heart sinks into my stomach as I hold back the tears forming in my eyes. ......when I was alone. Had I really been that horrible and hurt that many people to the point that no one cared or even wanted to be here to hold my hand when I woke up? I shake the thought from my mind as my tears retreat. It doesn't matter. I tell myself with a heavy sigh. I am just happy to see nothing is moving on its own, nothing is changing into something it shouldn't be, no strange noises or impossible sounds, nothing is touching me that isn't there, and there's no random shadows or figures. In fact there isn't ONE hallucination in this room at all! A small smile comes across my face and I giggle to myself as I look a it over a second time, and then a third to confirm. I put my hands over my mouth as my smile gets bigger and bigger, I almost start laughing out of pure joy as I appreciate the room around me for being as dull, boring, and undeniably real that it actually seems.

My nurse comes in and I scan her face. My eyes widen. Wow! A REAL face! I smile at her and
---Act Normal--- as I make small talk here and there as she takes care of me, giving me meds and making sure I was comfortable. All while thinking to myself: Unbelievable!! I almost can't stop staring at her beautiful face!! Its a real human's face!! Nothing creepy, demonic, or threatening about it at all.

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I don't think I stopped smiling every single time my ICU nurse was in my room taking care of me. We spoke breifly when she would come check on me, and she told me that my mother and sister had been in my room a few hours earlier, but I wasn't able to wake up. I thought about it and remembered a short moment of slight conciousness where I did feel my mother's hand holding my right hand. I heard them talking back and forth and I had tried to open my eyes repeatedly. All I could do was pull my eyebrows up, but my eyelids just wouldn't open. I thought I heard Alisa's voice there to, but I wasn't totally sure. I just remember trying so hard to open my eyes about four or five times, but I felt so tired that I just fell back to sleep. It did comfort me some knowing someone tried to be here when I woke up, it helped to ease the empty feeling I had gotten earlier when I had woken up, and no one was there.

I ate a lot of hospital food and thought a lot about everyone. Where's dad? I thought, wondering how things had went in the waiting room. I just hoped my dad was alright, and that my mother's new boyfriend Dean hadn't taunted, bullied, or initimidated him just to be his usual impolite and petty scumbag self. I had asked my mother to please not let them near each other during all this stress if he was going to be the one who drove her to Portland for my surgery. He had no right to be in my waiting room, or even be in the hospital's main floor waiting room where I was concerned. His actions from my point of view, and his entire attitude were that he did not give one flying f*ck about me or my well-being. So, my only request was if he wanted to support my mom--not me he could very easily do that by staying in the parking lot and doing his best not to cause anymore emotional damage or stress within my family than he already had. Especially regarding my dad, he had done more than enough to both him and myself by then. I brushed off my worries and assumed everything had gone just fine and assured myself that my mother would have respected the only thing I asked of her which wasn't hard - just to keep those men seperated from each other.

I slept more on and off, tried to watch a little bit of TV, took my medicine as it was given, but mostly slept and listened to my music. In fact, at one point I had to ask my nurse if she could somehow find a triple A battery for my MP3 player that had died by that night. She happened to find me one or two, and I listened to my music as I rested. Music had become a main part of my survival as well. The logic I had used was that I knew all my songs from beginning to end, so hearing it grounded myself to reality. If the song ever changed (which it never did along with the stars at night) then I knew things were real around me.

I think it was the following morning that my mother, and sisters came to visit me. I'm not sure if I was already awake when they showed up, or if they had woken me up. But I do remember their faces very clearly. My hallucinations of the faces of people were morphed differently depending on the relationship state between myself and whoever I was looking at. And--I also think that however someone made me feel in the moment of talking with them had a major factor in the way their faces would be distorted. For instance, If I had just met someone, they would hardly look scary at all. NO ONE looked normal by any means--or even sounded trust-worthy--but if I had felt betrayed, hurt, hated, nervous, or intimidated by someone in the past, their faces would be the most terrifying. Strangely, the same thing would occur for the people whom I was very emotionally attached to, desperately clung to, trusted deeply, or I felt would protect me. Their faces wouldn't be as bad as the worst, but they could almost get just as awful in a strange way. I couldn't look at anyone's face directly for more than a second or two by the last week approaching the surgery. The scariest looking people ended up being: Kevin, Dean, My Mother, My Father, Alisa, & Kyle. Everyone else was still freaky looking right along with them, but those were the people whose faces had changed the most dramatically by the end.

I smiled when I saw my mother and sisters walk in. They finally looked like real PEOPLE should look! No more demonized and menacing expressions that defied looking natural, they're faces looked so... pretty!! So much better I couldn't--not tell them. I think I just kept talking and went on and on about the immediate differences while they visited me. To this day Alisa tells people that I had a "glimmer" in my eyes that she had never seen before.

They had brought me some flowers, I think a get well card, a very soft, stuffed, grey and white bunny rabbit, and a fuzzy, warm zebra blanket!! At one point while visiting them I remember my mother mentioned how she couldn't wait to go shopping at the Lloyd Center while she was in Portland. That hurt my feelings a little bit, because not only could I not go and was obviously not invited by default, but it made me feel like I was her "good excuse" for her to be able go shopping. I'm pretty sure she did this anytime I had to go to OHSU. For tests, appointments, scans, and other crap. But, at the time I let the comment go. I was too happy and determined to stay positive and enjoy the visit with them and focus on their new beautiful faces, voice tones, and expressions over anything negative that might not have even been meant to be mean. I smiled.

They told me that my surgery had taken 4 hours, and that my surgeon had come out between that time once to let them know that my tumor was not cancerous, and that it could be removed, and they ended up taking out as much of it as they could, but that a tiny bit remained because of the dangerous area they couldn't get to. I thought to myself --PHEW!!! NOT CANCER! A weight lifted off of me. Thank GOD!! Wait... four hours? It felt like 2 SECONDS! Oh man, four hours.... "Where's Dad?" I asked Alisa. She looked a little sad to have to tell me, "He left." She replied. I nodded a little bit. That hurt to. It was predictable considering he's always been more concerned with his well being over anyone else's. My father also has a patience limit, but I couldn't deny that it hurt. Especially after all those times I had defended him, and hurt other people in order to stand up for him.

Alisa told me he had been holding his head in his hands crying in a chair away from everyone else while in the waiting room, and that she had sat down next to him, rubbed his back trying to comfort him and she said "Don't worry, Ashlee will be alright." and he had responded "I'm not crying for her, I'm crying for meeeeee!!" She said that made her feel so disgusted that even then--at that extreme circumstance concerning his child, and someone he supposedly loves, he still couldn't think of anyone else but himself. I bet he would have been more worried if I had been born a boy.

I believe I spend the next night with my new rabbit and blanket alone, except I did call Kyle and spoke to him about the changes for as long as I could talk with him. They told me that I would need to rest quite a bit after such a major surgery. And I remember being very tired. It took them another day or two to move me from the ICU room, and into my own hospital room where people could actually stay overnight with me, they had said no one was allowed to in the intensive care unit. My mother took pictures of the back of my head and of me in recovery while I ate ice cream and other treats. I just couldn't believe the immediate differences already. I remember I had once told Kyle, "I am willing to see what happens with this surgery, but if things get worse, or if I can't dance, I'm letting go." He had nodded and understood. Kyle, the only person who was there for me during it all. Everything. Where others would leave my side, he always stood by mine. No matter what I put him through, or how badly I would hurt him. Even if I was being crazy, unreasonable, or downright in the wrong! He still made me feel unconditionally loved and that I had rights to feel anyway I ever crazily-felt, even when I really had no rights.
Poor Kyle, he would have been there holding my hand when I woke up if events hadn't ripped us apart.

I wondered what would happen once Kevin and Dad came to get me, and if things would be this different in my 'comforting' surroundings. At the time, I just wanted to recover in a safe, secure, cozy place without anyone picking on me or messing with me. I couldn't predict Dean's bullshit as much as I knew Kevin's. So I chose to recover in the surroundings of a more familiar of two evils. I had also been staying with Kevin long enough to prepare a cozy recovery area. And by that time I was so far brainwashed by Kevin that I couldn't really step back and see that I was headed right back to the very place where I was beaten by the monster who put me into the hospital in the first place. The violence that caused them to want to scan my brain to check the damage he may have done, and happened to find the tumor in the first place. That decision tells me now, just how manipulated I actually was by that evil creep.




Chapter Two
Growing up Insane


Ever since I was little, as far back as my memory goes, I have always felt different. I always knew something wasn't 'right' with my mind. I was the overly-hyper kid. There were lots of other kids like that growing up. My parents described me as the 'Devil Child'. I was. My father's side of my family has always been very openly "crazy" with "known bi-polar disorder" and the "family's inherited chemical-imbalance" in our brains--as they still put it. So I grew up being okay with being 'the crazy one', and I never really took offense to it, because it was my label, and I wasn't alone. My dad was 'crazy' too. So I would rationalize my behavior as being okay and nothing to worry about. I watched my father while growing up, and he would behave in similar ways. So everyone around me would kind of brush it off as 'no big deal its who you are', so that's how I always looked at it, no big deal, I'm the crazy one!

I now believe that ALL of my father's family members should get an MRI to be sure they don't have a family 'inherited tumor'!!! I believe in my heart that my father has one, as well as my grandmother, I can see it in their eyes now. And I think it forms in different areas of each of our brains. I think anyone on that side of my family tree that feels 'not quite right' and no medicines prescribed have ever helped or solved issues--that they should get an MRI scan done immediately to rule this out as a missed diagnosis, when its a PHYSICAL disorder. Not really a mental one what-so-ever.

My neuro-surgeon told me that I had that tumor growing in my brain since I was born, and there was no way it was caused by Kevin's violence, because of the area it was at. He said it was in the very center of my brain. From right-to-left, top-to-bottom, and back-to-front. In the absolute dead center of my head. Since surgery and recovering I have analyzed my state of mind before any hallucinations had ever begun, and I have now concluded that while growing up I did not have a hyper-active-attention-deficit-disorder, bi-polar disorder, or a chemical-imbalance. I grew up only having four emotions during my whole life. From my childhood, teenage years, twenties, every single day until I was 28 years old and opened my eyes on that day I now consider to be my true birthday. February 25th 2014. ONLY ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR.



Four 1. Happy 2. Sad 3. Fear 4. Anger


The four I always knew felt exactly like they do now, but the difference was that they would feel WAY WAY more intense and unbelievable. They made some days physically draining. Any positive emotion was immediately transformed into overwhelming happiness. So when I was happy - it was like GOING TO DISNEYLAND HAPPY!!!! Or I JUST WON THE LOTTERY HAPPY!! Feelings of sadness would become suicidal thoughts, despair, and utter loss and devistation. Sadness felt like - Someone I loved had just died, or I had just watched someone torture something innocent, it would be just this sickening, intense feeling of being overwhelmingly SAD. Feeling fear was complete panic, but not a panic attack, more like a feeling of being paralyzed, and I physically couldn't move at all out of pure FEAR.

Growing up with such intense and limited emotions, I remember that traumatizing fear would mostly occur if I'd gone through a more calmer day instead of a regular hyper-active one. If I had not expelled too much energy--which was rare--because most nights I would pass out of exhaustion right when my head hit the pillow. The common days of intensity, too much excitement, or Katherine's raging fits would take a lot out of me and I would normally fall right to sleep just from being so burnt out. But on the rare nights when I would have a harder time falling asleep, Katherine would make me so very afraid that I developed a bedtime habit that I still have to this day. I am still working on breaking it all the way. Its where I feel like I can't relax enough to get to sleep until I have every single body part tucked under the covers, up to my neck, except for my head. No matter the weather, how hot or cold. And it is so frustrating.

The way Katherine would frighten me at night was relentless. I mostly remember this happening while I was growing up between the ages of 6-9 years old, and she would scream horrible things and do her best to fuel my Fear until I was so afraid that I couldn't move. No panic attacks back then, but she wouldn't let up until my thoughts and emotions reached the highest and most terrifying levels that she could get them to possibly be.

She always spoke (or screamed, rather) using my voice, but she sounded more mean, and SO LOUD compared to our everyday normal voice that everyone has. She would also use words that seemed to be more intelligent to me at that age, and as if she was definitely the one in charge. She would say things like: If you don't have all your body parts tucked underneath the covers ALL night long, the bad guys will come in while you're asleep and chop off anything that's uncovered, everything except for your head!!!! She would laugh at me whenever I would believe her about things like that. She would get very detailed in the rules of her games to scare me.

She would explain things extremely specificly, as if she knew for 100% fact that this was true. She said that these "bad guys" would be fair with the game even if I was going to lose and end up getting something chopped off of me. She would go on and on for what seemed like hours. She would keep her voice in a really screwed up, extremely LOUD, and freaky tone just non-stop rambling about details of these guys and how they would sneak into my room. How they'd break in, how they looked and what they'd wear, how they'd only chop off what was uncovered from the blankets. Such as a toe, a shoulder, or a finger or a whole leg, didn't matter. Then she'd just continue screaming, ranting, in an absolutely UN-IGNORABLE way. Sometimes she would repeat details that I may not have believed a few times to make sure I ended up feeling like it was true, or could possibly be true.

These "bad guys" would be precise, and she'd explain all the ridiculous rules of how exactly the covers had to be aligned against the "revealed" body part in order to be considered "showing" enough to be chopped off. Then she'd describe every single thing of every single scenario of how the rules would be carried out, or how they wouldn't. So depending on how much of something was out would be examined, and they'd ensure they would be precise and exact with very sharp knives or axes to chop it off with one swing. And by the time my parents heard me scream, how they would be long gone.

It was SO FREAKING ABSURD, and at the time it would always scare me until I couldn't move--or breath. Being so little and unsure, I would end up playing all her games and tuck myself up all around me to attempt to get her to just stop screaming and maybe shut her the f*ck up so I could get to sleep. Even writing this right now makes me feel really sad and very disturbed, because I haven't really thought about these things until now and it never made any sense to me as just a young kid. I never thought of Katherine as a seperate voice or personality that was torturing me while growing up. I just thought it was normal when everyone went to bed to get scared and assumed everyone experienced this as well, but maybe we all just didn't talk about it.

I could never get her to shut up when she'd start this shit. Sometimes if I woke up in them middle of the night, and my arm or foot was uncovered I would panic to get back under the covers, and she'd scream in my head: You better hurry up! They're coming to get you! Chop! Chop! Chop! Its gonna hurt sooooo bad!! Chop off your hands and toes!! You would hate the pain! IT WILL HURT SO MUCH!! It will bleed and BLEED!! She would make me panic more and I'd rush to cover myself up as fast as I could, and she would laugh wickedly, and call me stupid, an idiot, or retarded.

I remember begging my mom to scratch my back as HARD as she could before I'd fall asleep, that would help me focus on the burning feeling on my back that would feel like a weird shield at night. Almost like a painful protection as I dozed off to sleep, and I could drown her out by focusing on that. There was a lot of stress to sleep soundly, while keeping in mind the rules of a illogical game that I should have known wasn't real, but I would be worried about it anyway. This is only ONE of her strange games that she would make up and scare my young mind into being a part of. I don't understand it much even now.

Katherine would be the rage in me and she would scream in my head, but only when anger hit me during the day about someone else until I would throw a fit. But she would only say belittling things to me personally at night. Sometimes during the day, but not as often at that age. As I got older, her abuse directed itself at me more and more from the nights into my daily thoughts as I would grow older.

Although fear was not an easy emotion to take at the intense level that I would feel things, it was actually not the hardest one. I could sometimes come out of fear if I really tried to ignore Katherine, or dodge her with anything I could, but I wouldn't conciously try to dodge her. I think I avoided that crap more subconciously back then, because there was never a thought before bed like 'how can I avoid that happening tonight'. I thought it happened to everyone. Anger was by far the hardest one to control, and once it hit me, there was NO coming out of it. My anger would be so intense that it was an immediate switch to pure Rage, and that's the times that Katherine herself would actually manifest and step out of me and take over. My mother and a lot of other people I talked to, as well as family members at the time who witnessed my outbursts all would say the same thing. That when I would go into a rage, my eyes would glaze over with a white-ish, foggy color, and no one ever knew what to do to get me to come out of it.

One time I remember while living in Salem with my family and my grandmother, a neighbor walked from across the street and knocked on the door while I was in a fit, and they threatened to call child services if I didn't stop screaming. My grandmother grabbed my arm and looked me straight in my eyes. "Do you want to be taken away? You have to calm down." That got me to snap out of it. There were certain people who could reach me faster than others, like my Aunt Shelly, but it usually had to just run its f*cked up course.

I want to make it very clear these were never "blind rages". Ever. I was always very aware of what was happening, there was no blacking out, never a time that I "didn't remember" things or lost any time. There was never any denying the things that Katherine chose to say and do to my family. But I felt at that time like it was something that I just couldn't help. I didn't associate it with 'no control' or being 'taken over'. It felt more like an emotion that felt so intense that I just went with things the way they came.

After Katherine would lash out, and say the most hurtful things she could think of, and attack my family physically as well as verbally--the same way she would to me at night, I always felt bad. It never felt like I ever had a choice in the split-second hurtful decisions Katherine would choose during a rage. I would always feel so f*cked up and I'd cry, attempt to apologize for what was said and done. I would feel horrible after my fits, and I remember intense regret and sadness.
 
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