Of bad nights and good ones

I had a therapy session yesterday and it ended fairly intensely. My therapist wants to work on some of the more painful and humiliating moments from my past. She cited two specifically. She wants to do an iteration of EMDR because actual EMDR might trigger a seizure. She also wants to wait until I’m in a slightly better mood and not in crisis. Goodie. I know it needs to be done. I know exposure therapy makes things easier to handle. It’s one step closer to my past not having a stranglehold on my present. After I got home, I remembered another incident that could also be worked through. That one had been buried very, very deeply. It wasn’t necessarily any more painful or humiliating than the ones I’ve opened up about, but it’s definitely on the greatest hits list. So I cried. And then got angry. And then cried some more. My heart quite literally hurt as I replayed this whole scenario. And then that voice in my head kicked in again.

It took me until last night to realize, and truly accept, that it’s his voice in my head. You’re not worth it. No one will want you. You’re not worth loving. It’s been quiet for a long time, but kicked into high gear last night. For example, I’ve been feeling really guilty about asking people for rides. They all understand I can’t drive. That’s not my fault. It’s for my own safety and the safety of others. I haven’t asked people to drive me to circus classes and yoga. Both meant a lot to me prior to this and really helped my mood & epilepsy. I can’t do aerial work until I can drive again, but ground based classes or hammock classes that are held fairly low are okay as long as I can bail easily. Yoga was highly recommended for my condition because it also helps with anxiety and other mental side effects of epilepsy. Even though it would be easy for someone to drive me both places, I’ve been afraid to ask. I’m an imposition. I’m a burden. I shouldn’t lay my problems on someone else. That’s not my voice, though. There’s still that tiny voice that tells me to trust and believe. It’s the voice that fights the seeds of doubt and guilt. I have living, breathing proof that all of that crap isn’t true. It’s just really hard to hear over the screaming negativity. This is only temporary. I will get through it. And I’m a hell of a lot stronger than I think I am.

I read somewhere that positive people are the ones who get back up. They don’t let crappy situations get them down. They get back up and keep going. If there’s one thing I can say about myself, I do get back up. I’ll cry. I’ll get angry. I’ll kick and scream over it. But I will get back up and keep going. In spite of the pain, I got up this morning. I put on nice clothes and make up. I paid my debt to society and had a very pleasant conversation with the receptionist. I never really thought of myself as a really positive person or optimistic. I can be that way without being perky all the time. I don’t have to be putting on a show and obviously happy and positive. I can do it in my own way. I can get back up. I didn’t hide under the covers. I didn’t refuse to face the world. I actually felt remarkably better this morning. I wasn’t convinced I would when I got in bed last night. I never thought I’d say this, but it was nice to have somewhere to be and know I couldn’t just phone it in. I had to pay my fine. I had to come into work. Speaking of work…

I have an interview for a serious promotion on Friday. Best case, I’ll get it. Worst case, I stay where I am where I’m perfectly happy working for my current boss. I’m really not that emotionally invested in it. It’s a pretty significant jump from where I am now. If nothing else, it’s just a matter of time before I get a promotion and it’s interview practice. It would certainly be nice to get the vote of confidence and the pay raise that goes along with it. Selfishly, it would be nice to have a certain 2 people reporting directly to me. It would be a delightful turn of fate. He wants me to sell myself, so I’ll sell myself. I know how much I’m worth. I may not have managed people in an official capacity, but I’ve managed actors, both professional and at the college level, and volunteers. I would argue that’s a lot harder than managing people who are paid to be there. I suppose we’ll see how it all shakes out. I’m looking forward to the fallout from this one.

XOXO!

Furry Cuteness Friday!

3

 

3 red panda

 

2 lion

 

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SlothBaby_002_LG2

 

So, so glad it’s Friday. I really need to get my head back on straight. This weekend is filled with date night, firearms, and more experiments in cooking.

Hope everyone has a fab weekend.

XOXO!

Of misconceptions and ignorant statements

:::TRIGGER WARNING:::

I had a rape dream last night. About the coworker who drives me to work. I can’t say I’m surprised. He reminds me a bit of Will (similar coloring, frat boy attitude), but it’s not overwhelming. It still left me pretty uncomfortable when I woke up. As we’re riding in this morning, we got to talking about my actual abuse. It became obvious that he totally doesn’t understand that rape is more than just a stranger in the bushes grabbing you. I tried to explain that’s a fairly rare occurrence. In support group, we would talk about the ignorant things people would say. I’d never really encountered that because I’ve told very few people what happened. Those I have told are very supportive and kind. His line was “well, why didn’t you just break up with him?”. Because I was 19 and I thought that’s what good girlfriends did, idiot. I’d like to see the life choices you made when you were that age. I convinced myself that I wanted it so it would be easier to handle (not to mention I wasn’t sober enough to realize anything beyond that). THAT’S NORMAL. You do what you have to do to survive. If I don’t want it, it doesn’t matter if we’re dating or I’ve never met him before. That’s the bottom line.

On the one hand, I understand that most people have a very narrow and well defined view of rape, especially men. On the other hand, you don’t say shit like that to someone who is telling you they’ve been there. I’m sharing something that was incredibly painful and traumatic and you’re acting like I’m exaggerating. All that did was back up my opinion that he hasn’t progressed past the age of 20. He said he didn’t think the epilepsy and the rape were connected. I didn’t have seizures until late in our relationship. I doubt very seriously that’s a coincidence. I’m sure many a medical professional would back me up on that. The brain doesn’t know the difference between physical and emotional pain. Pain is pain regardless of origin. I would argue emotional pain is worse. And takes a hell of a lot longer to heal.

Boy sent me an article a little while ago about recovering from rape. The author had been raped 4 times and taken a different tactic each time. One time she reported it, one time she didn’t, one time she convinced herself she wanted it (my category), and the last time she said no, then yes (also happened a few times). Like me, several times she was drunk. That doesn’t absolve the offenders from what they did. You have to be pretty sick to get off on doing things to a woman who is sloppy drunk or unconscious. It doesn’t matter if I’m drunk or sober. Yet somehow, I get labeled as a drunken slut for someone else’s psychotic actions. She said that it’s time to change the perception of rape. It doesn’t fit into a perfect little box. It comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s under reported because women (and men) think people won’t believe them if it doesn’t fall into that perfect little box. It makes us doubt ourselves. It makes us feel like what happened wasn’t as bad because we weren’t dragged into the bushes by a total stranger. We can’t let other peoples’ opinions make us doubt or second guess ourselves. They’re working off narrow minded assumptions. My guess is most non-traditional victims find themselves wondering if it was “real” rape. I know I did. I just buried it in the back of my mind until someone asked me the right question. The pain was there as was obvious by my self destructive behaviours, deep seated hatred of my own body, and self harm. I just didn’t know where it was coming from at the time. I wasn’t worth loving. No one would want me after I’d been with him. I was broken. I was damaged goods. I wasn’t worth or deserving of anyone else’s time or affection. Over time, I began to believe him. So I did what any damaged goods would do. I stopped caring about my own well being. After all, who would want me? Now I see that was a bunch of bullshit. A rapist’s opinion is certainly not to be taken to heart.

In a perfect world, we’d all fight back. We’d all fit nicely into that box and every rapist would see the inside of a prison for the rest of their lives. In a perfect world, people would understand that it’s more than just what you see on TV. The world isn’t perfect. The paradigm needs to shift. Perhaps more people would report it in that case. Of the women in the support group, only two saw their rapists go to trial. They both fit into the traditional category. The rest of us didn’t fit that mold. Our attackers never got their day in court. I can only hope that he’ll get his. If he did it to me, he’ll do it to someone else. That’s certainly not to say I wish it on another woman. Even if he doesn’t have to answer for what he did to the legal system, somehow, some way, what he did will visit him tenfold. Karma is a real bitch. I’m sure whatever the universe cooks up will be better than I could imagine.

So that’s my rant for the day. I would’ve loved to dump my cappuccino in his lap, but that’s a waste of a perfectly good cappuccino. And maybe punch him in the nuts to proverbially drive the point home.

XOXO!

Of programs that work and programs that don’t

Lately I’ve been reflecting on my stints in AA. Once I dried out a bit the first time, I realized I didn’t really fit in. I didn’t sound like any of these people. I tried a number of different meetings and never found a common thread. I always had the voice in the back of my head telling me I wasn’t really an alcoholic. My sponsor(s) insisted that everyone’s story was different and I should keep praying and working the program. And those voices were a hell of a lot louder than the one in the back of my mind. I bounced in and out of the program for about 2 and a half years before I got the DUI. Trying to be proactive, I started going to meetings again. It was then I realized I wasn’t really an alcoholic. I was heavily self medicating all the pain. Part of me already knew that. I’d quit the tattoos and the sleeping around first. The last of my unholy trinity of self medication hung on. When I would bring up doubts or disagree with various sponsors, they would all tow the party line. Pray more on your knees. Write a gratitude list. Go back and work the steps again. None of them would listen to what I was actually saying. Alcohol *had* to be the problem. Not the rape. Not the abuse. Not the PTSD. I even found a sponsor who had a similar history to mine and she didn’t get it. For everyone who saw results from AA, that’s great. But it’s not the only solution.

When I was put on the anti-seizure meds (AEDs to those of us on them), I literally lost all desire to drink. I had already been put off it because of the DUI and I knew one of the stipulations was to not drink for a year. Once the drugs got into my system, I didn’t want it any more. I would see someone out at a restaurant having a cocktail or a glass of wine, shrug, and move on. To me, that says the AEDs are doing something in my brain that stopped the problem. I’m sure AA would disagree. I was reading an article on the way up to Virginia before my cousin’s wedding. It was about addiction recovery and how painfully behind they are in researching alternative options to going to meetings. Can’t stop drinking? Go to a meeting. Can’t stop doing coke? Go to a meeting. Trying to quit meth or heroin? Go to a meeting. I screwed myself a bit when I did my drug and alcohol assessment (one of the many requirements after getting a DUI). The guy who was evaluating me had been in AA for years. I made the mistake of mentioning that I’d tried it a few times. He didn’t require me to go to meetings regularly, but he “strongly suggested it”. He also gave me the maximum number (12 sessions) of “risk reduction” classes for first offenders. I chose a different program to complete that requirement. When I finished my classes and was having the counselor fill out all the paperwork, he said he would’ve given me 6-8 sessions (6 is the minimum under the current laws). He said he knew I wasn’t an alcoholic, I didn’t actually enjoy drinking, I was doing it to numb the pain. I’ve never even tried any illegal drugs. It’s not like I didn’t have the chance. I just chose not to. I think that was a big clue to him that there were other issues in play.

Court mandated meetings are even more ridiculous. I understand the basic idea behind it, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Some people need medication and that will control their behaviour. I lost a friend to a heroin overdose a few years ago. We met in AA because she was court mandated to go to meetings 3 times a week. She was self medicating bipolar disorder. By the time we met, she’d been shooting up since she was 14. She was 24 when she died. Maybe if she’d gotten the right help from the outset, she could’ve recovered. It’s things like that which irritate me about the paradigm of addiction recovery. For some people, they need that accountability. They need someone to babysit them. They need a group situation to keep them from drinking. Other people would benefit more from medication or some combination of drug and talk therapy. I’m sure there are other options I haven’t considered that would work as well.

I had no interest in drinking before I started dating Will. I’d tried it a few times before then, but never really enjoyed it. As I’ve said before, he bullied me into it. As things got worse between us, I drank harder. He fancied himself a beer snob and mixologist. He would pressure me into trying his concoctions, most of them pretty strong. It became a habit. I didn’t enjoy it, but it was just what was done. I think I fooled myself into believing I enjoyed it because it was easier that way. So I kept doing it. As my tolerance went up, I lost a lot of my judgment. For most of the worst moments, I had at least twice the legal limit in my system. But it was easier to drink and not remember all of it than it was to stay sober and take all the abuse full force. Even then, I still remember a lot of it. Blacking out was rare in those days. I often say my co-author my senior thesis in college was a Cosmo that was 80% vodka and 20% cranberry juice. I have vivid memories of trying to write that paper, getting up and refilling my glass, and continuing. I wonder what my grade would’ve been if I hadn’t done that. By that point, it was pretty apparent that our relationship wasn’t working. Once we finally broke up for good, I had booze, boys, and ink to keep me occupied.

I’m not trying to take cheap shots at AA. It helped me at the time. It helped me stay sober long enough to examine my choices. It helped me stay accountable in those early days. Once I moved beyond that, it was a chore. Now I know my drinking days are over for good. I’d rather stay seizure free than have a glass of wine. I know where my priorities are. I’m perfectly content with that.

XOXO!

Of seasons changing and holding hands

So apparently there are 99 days left in 2013. When the hell did that happen? Though the past 6 months have felt like 6 years. It’s funny how a certain amount of time can feel like no time at all and forever at the same time. I have no idea what the last 99 days are going to throw at me. Currently, things are on an upswing. I’m still standing. My favorite season is starting to peek its head out. The pain associated with this time of year isn’t as bad. I don’t feel like I want to crawl in a hole and hide every day. I have my moments, as is to be expected, but they’re easier to bounce back from. I still won’t be able to drive come the end of the year, but I should be well on my way. My two favorite holidays are coming up. There are pumpkin spice lattes to be had (in moderation, of course). There are cute boots to wear. There are blazers to be tailored and worn to their full advantage. The parties will be fewer and further between because of all the babies / toddlers in the group. Honestly, I’d be happy spending New Year’s Eve curled up on the couch with Boy watching a movie and changing over to the obligatory network show 5 minutes to midnight. And non-alcoholic champagne of course. That feeling of no time passing at all and it feeling like forever brought up a memory I haven’t thought of in a long time.

Before Boy and I were dating, I went with his brother and him to one of the big haunted houses here. It’s been on the Travel Channel. It’s well known all across the country. It’s one of those quintessential experiences if you’re in town in the 6 weeks from late September to early November.  I’d already been through twice that year, so I stayed in the parking lot enjoying the interactive characters outside. Part of the show is when you walk into the parking lot outside the house, there are people in costume to get things going. As we were walking to the car, I went to hold Boy’s hand. He gently brushed it away because he didn’t want his brother to notice. I actually didn’t even realize what I was doing until I felt him brush me away. Looking back on it, it felt the same way. It felt like I’d known him forever even though we’d only really gotten to know each other about a week or two before. I was totally comfortable around him and didn’t give that gesture a second thought.

In other news-I talked to my doctor yesterday and she increased the Keppra again. I think I was doing the best at this dosage of both. Currently, I’m on Day 19 without a full blown seizure. I’m hoping this will be the optimal mixture and I can kiss these things good bye for a while. Fingers crossed, anyway.

XOXO!

Of words to live by and garlic bread

I’m so glad I have Boy. He has a way of calming me down when I get myself all wrapped up in my own head. I’ve been having some minor seizure activity this past week. I haven’t had a full blown seizure, but I’ve had the beginnings of one. I’ll still get the aura, but never the seizure. I was getting upset because it started again. He reminded me that 6 months ago, I was having seizures every day or every other day. I was having seizures in my sleep. I haven’t had a full blown seizure in 17 days. I’m worlds away from where I was. Everything is a process. There’s still some tinkering to be done with my medication. I’m still not drinking or eating anything with artificial sweeteners. I can’t point to one thing in particular and say “this is the problem” (other than my brain, but I can’t do much about that, now can I?). The doctors were amazed I was seeing results at 50mg of the Lamictal. Now I’m at the lowest therapeutic dose and seeing even better results. I’m tapering off the Keppra and that’s bound to cause some changes. I’ll be totally off it by Saturday. I called my doctor and let her know what was going on. Whenever she gets the message, she’ll tell me what to do. Then we’ll go from there.

The cafeteria at work had lasagne and garlic bread for lunch today. I wanted garlic bread, so goddammit, I had some garlic bread. And lasagne. And caffeinated tea. It’s probably laden with stuff I should avoid, but I don’t care. I ate healthy for breakfast and I’ll eat healthy for dinner. I eat healthy 80% of the time. Everything I cooked yesterday I screened for stuff I should avoid. I even made my own mashed potatoes. I can have a slice of garlic bread and tea and it won’t kill me. A pumpkin muffin won’t kill me. As Boy said, it’s not worth it if I’m miserable. True success is when I can live my life the way I want to live it regardless of the seizures. That life can include driving (when I’ve passed the time limit, of course). That life can include tea and garlic bread and Chick-fil-a. That life can include staying up past 1030 and not worry about having a seizure. That life can include going to movies and concerts. I can watch TV without seizing for the first time in years. I can watch football again because the movement doesn’t bother me any more. I love me some college football and it sucked to not be able to watch it. I don’t get anxious when I sit down in front of the TV, relax, and watch something.

In fact, I’m rarely anxious at all any more. I’m slowly starting to feel like myself again. When I am anxious or upset, it’s a lot easier to calm down. I don’t go straight to the worst case scenario. Bad feelings are normal. No one feels good 100% of the time. I lose sight of that sometimes. There was a time when I didn’t feel anything. I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t laugh. My range of emotions was minimal. Now I feel everything and that’s way better. Though it’s hard to remember when I am upset, in pain, or triggered, it’s better than feeling nothing. Slowly but surely, I’m getting back in the game. I’m no longer that numb, hollow shell of a person I was 3 years ago.

And now, some current words I’m living by:

There are no rules in fashion. Wear whatever makes you feel good and if people don’t like it, screw ’em *Talk less, act more* Not everything has to have a reason behind it* Try something new. The worst that will happen is you won’t like it* Other peoples’ opinions of me is none of my business* Gossip and negativity don’t accomplish anything other than making me look bad* Doing nothing isn’t a bad thing* Stick with someone who makes you laugh. It’s good for your health and sanity* Everything is a process* It’s normal to hurt, be upset, get angry, or frustrated. That’s called being human* Just because someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t mean they’re wrong* Making new, positive memories won’t leave room for the bad ones* The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step*

XOXO!

Of experiments in cooking and thoughts on body image

I read a really fascinating article this morning linked through one of my favorite blogs  (she’s great. I highly recommend giving her a read) about having the perfect model body and the idea that women can eat pizza, drink beer, and still maintain a size 2 figure. I was capable of this in high school when I was dancing 15 hours a week and had a metabolism that ran like the Indy 500. Gentically, I’m pretty thin. I can easily wrap my thumb and forefinger around my wrist with room to spare. In the past 6 years, I’ve gained and lost about 40 pounds. I always knew a healthy diet and exercise were something I should do regularly , but most of the time I didn’t care. Until I stepped on a scale and saw that number. Yes, yes I know I shouldn’t associate my self worth with a number, but I did. And to be frank, sometimes I still do. I’ll go through phases where I’m getting regular exercise, enough sleep, and drinking green smoothies once a day. The weight will come off. Then it’s back to the pizza, pasta, and cupcakes. And the weight returns. In my recent weight loss, it was entirely without effort. After I got the DUI, I was so anxious that I couldn’t get myself to eat actual food for days. I quit drinking immediately after that even before the law said I couldn’t drink for a year. Around the same time, we moved into our new building at work. To get to my desk, I have to walk up 2 flights of stairs. If I want to go outside, I have to walk back down said flights of stairs. I don’t get cell phone service at my desk, so I have to walk outside to check my phone. I’ll end up doing that 2 or 3 times a day. They built a walking trail to make it easier for the employees to get a little exercise during the day. People started commenting how good I looked. I weighed myself and I’d lost 15 pounds. Then I was officially diagnosed with epilepsy.

Since the epilepsy diagnosis and finding out what’s really bad for me (alcohol and artificial sweeteners) and what’s recommend to avoid (caffeine and MSG), I’ve been relearning how to cook for myself. My mom has always been an excellent cook. To this day, she still makes dinner for my dad and me at least 5 nights a week. I learned to bake when I was 11 or 12 and started out with the boxed mixes. As I got older, I expanded my horizons to experimenting with more complex recipes, both dessert and actual meals. I went through a brief paleo phase when I was doing CrossFit as the program encouraged cutting out carbs. That ended up working out well in the long run as a ton of bread products have “enriched” flour in them. Currently, an egg, cheese, zucchini, and spinach frittata is cooling on the stove. Pasta with tomatoes, garlic, seasoned mozzarella balls, and olive oil is on the menu for lunch. I still have caffeine on the weekends. I’ll never be able to completely cut out MSG. That’s an impossible goal unless I only eat vegetables. And I’m not down with that. I love my cheese. I love pumpkin muffins from Trader Joe’s. I stock up on that like crazy when they have the mix in the fall. We went out to a sushi restaurant last night and I didn’t give the ingredients a second thought (though I did avoid the soy sauce). I actually enjoyed it more without the soy sauce. I discovered new things that I liked. I was surprised by things that I thought I would enjoy and didn’t.

As Boy pointed out, it’s not worth making myself miserable to decrease the chance of having a seizure by a small amount. I love food. I love to cook. I love to try new recipes and see what works and what doesn’t. Somewhere along the way, I forgot that. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a personal chef (Mom) since I moved back home. Whatever the reason, I’m back on the proverbial cooking wagon. The weight is still coming off. I have no idea where I’ll finally end up, but I’m not going to deny myself. I’ll have the cake if I want it. I can have the pasta. I’ll jump on a trampoline once a week for half an hour and call that my cardio for the week. I’ll have my green smoothies. As hard as it is to retrain myself to not care about calories in vs. calories out, I’m getting there. I don’t restrict like I used to. I don’t purposely deny myself things I love for the sake of losing a third of a pound. I do my best to eat healthy most of the time and have only the best when I’m not.

I put an effort into how I look. I take time picking outfits and knowing what looks good on me. I put on make up daily now. I started using eye cream and daily sunscreen last year. I make an effort with how I present myself to the world. Sure, I’ll lounge around in an old shirt and shorts that are inappropriate for public when I’m around the house. But I’ll put on real pants if people are going to see me. Other than the epilepsy, I’m actually pretty healthy. All the basic metrics they use to measure health are on point or lower than average. Funny how life works sometimes.

Now time to try out the frittata and ignore putting on pants until it’s time to leave.

XOXO!