The Train (trigger warning)

Everytime I stand on the train platform, I have the urge to jump. I picture my body flopping around like a rag doll, and honestly there’s something oddly satisfying about it. About it all being done. And dealt with. And over. Nothing left to protect. No secrets left to hide. Nobody relying on me. The ultimate fuck you.

It started two summers ago, after I had been home for a particularly awful visit. The next time I tried to get on a train, I visualized jumping in front of it. That time scared me so much I hospitalized myself. I didn’t want to die, and couldn’t understand why a part of me did. Of course I understand those things better now, but not a day goes by where I don’t have the urge to kill myself by jumping in front of a commuter train. By becoming another one of those faceless ‘medical emergencies’ that stops rush hour traffic. 

Instead of being surprised by the urge to jump, as I once was, I would now be surprised if I didn’t feel it. I’ve learned to live with it. Some particularly bad days I’ll re-route and walk an extra 20 minutes. Otherwise I grab on to the cold handle of the railing behind me, or visualize myself like a tree growing roots into the ground, or turn around so I don’t see it coming, or press my back up against the wall and pretend I’m glued there. I think about the kids who love to ride at the front of the train and how scarred they would be. And then the train comes, and I get on it, and everything is fine.

But there is this part of me that just wants to die. And it shows up there, every day. So today, I tried talking to it. It appeared, and I thought, why not. 

“Just jump, or let your foot get caught. Or just trip onto the tracks. Make it look accidental.”

“No. We’re not doing that. Why do you want to die so badly?”

….

“Because it hurts. Because that hurt so fucking much. And I’m so done with hurting.”

“Oh, I know, I know it hurts. But there are other ways to deal with it that also bring happiness back into your life. I honestly believe we’re almost there. I also believe the closer we get the more afraid you become.”

“I don’t want to share because nobody ever hears me. Nobody cared. And every time you trust someone they let us down. And I don’t trust this. I think you’re being careless.”

“I know. But I want you to know you don’t always have to hurt. More importantly I want you to know that we aren’t jumping. Not today. Not ever. So the way I see it we have two options. One – continue talking. Two – continue hurting. I like option one.”

“Three – jump. You won’t see it coming. You didn’t see the self harm coming last week. Your precious coping mechanisms failed you.”

“You caught me at a bad time. I don’t leave the house when I feel like that. There are only two options. Bottom line.”

“You’re a fool for trusting her.”

“Are you sure it’s not the other way around?”

“I’m not going to talk to her.”

“What are you protecting us from. Why are you so scared?”

……

Silence from within. And I got on the train. Like I do every day. And like I will do every day until that part of me is addressed, and healed, and integrated. I honestly have no idea what it’s protecting me from. But it’s something.

Detoxing

I didn’t realize how much I had been drinking this time around until I stopped. I’ve only kept track of it for two weeks or so, but it’s been too much for that time frame. In the past 14 days I’ve had at least 10 bottles of wine and multiple ciders. At least a glass of wine a day, sometimes at lunch. 

And I didn’t drink yesterday, at all, and immediately have felt like absolute ass the past twenty four hours. I want to drink. Badly. But I’m not. Cause fuck the life that did this to me. I’m spending March sober and after that I may stay sober.

Because lying in bed alternating chills and sweat, the worst nausea I’ve had in a while, a headache, and the shakes – this fucking isn’t worth it. I drown myself in alcohol when things get too hard because thats what I was taught. But I don’t have to. It doesn’t have to be that way anymore. 

I have so much work to do today and I can barely function, so I’m taking a nap. Then I will push through and do the work. And yes, I know the symptoms of DT, and I’m on the look out. So far I think this is a withdrawal I can manage at home. My husband thinks I have the flu, but he is keeping an eye on me. So I’m not alone. 

I wanted to write about it so I could bookmark it and come back to it the next time I want to drink. It’s just not worth it. It’s what I learned to do, but it just isn’t worth it. And even if it’s what I learned, it doesn’t mean I have to keep doing it. 

I can choose a different path. I’m strong enough to choose a different path. 

A New Nest

I am not going to get what I need from my Mom.

She is always going to be in disarray. She is always going to be unable to see me for me. She is always going to be in the thick of her own emotional and mental turmoil, with a sticky layer of alcohol, and she is never going to be able to see things from my perspective. 

I am never going to get what I need from her (and fuck that hurts) and I haven’t decided what to do about that and her presence in my life. I don’t need to know right now.

But I can get pieces of what I need elsewhere.

And it is never going to be enough. There is always going to be a hole where only the directive and attuned love of a mother should live. But right now the hole is SO large that all that can fill it is grief. I have to patch that hole.

I had a phone conversation yesterday with the Aunt who made my wedding miserable. We haven’t spoken about it, the fact that her telling everyone else she was upset messed with me for months amidst the chaos. But, she did reach out and send me a package for Valentine’s day. She sent me a letter and a card. And then some emails. So I reached back. And yesterday we connected on the phone for an hour and a half. And she listened to the story of my life, to the worries. She identified and only related back to her when appropriate. In essence, we had the conversation I always want to have with my mother. And at the end when I said I should call her more she said “oh darling, you go live your life, and call when you can. Don’t feel like you have to make me a check mark. I don’t want to be a source of stress for you.” S’cuse me what? I’m under no obligation to talk to you? 

From my Aunt, I can get someone in my real life to tell day to day stories.

I crave kind and loving touch. Not from a lover, that’s my husband’s job and he does well at it. But from a mothering perspective my Mom’s touch has always been borderline aggressive. Like she doesn’t know how to do it. Her shoulder squeezes are too hard, her pats just a little off. She is really good at the hair stroking but that’s not something I expect to get from anyone at 28. Replacing that touch is hard. However, my physiotherapist, C, is really kind and gentle and you can tell she cares. My massage therapist, R, is a trauma focused massage therapist and I swear love emanates from every pore of her body with everyone. I get hugs from N (yoga therapist) and A that vibrate with care. As N says I have to surround myself with people who give me what I need in a way that changes the harshness of the hurt. It dulls the ache. And this will never be able to be fulfilled by my mother – but I can have some form of positive touch from my practitioners.

From my practitioners, I can get positive, mothering-esque touch.

I have been scared to go back to the doctor since I was sexually assaulted. It’s time for my pap (OK I’ll admit its way overdue) and I find myself panicking at the idea of it. My doctor is an adorable stout middle aged Asian man who is lovely – but he is a man. And I don’t feel like going to see a new doctor solely for a pap. So I’m returning to my naturopath. I remember wanting her to be my mother two years ago when I first met her. She is warm and nurturing and kind and I cried and she listened. And I feel like she will hear my worries and assist with the sudden overwhelming fear I have about my pap.

From N I have a partner in my therapeutic care. Someone who holds space for me and allows for the messiness to emerge. Someone who is a bit of a straight shooter but understands the difficulty of what’s going on. Someone who has walked the path I’ve walked and reframed her relationship with her mother and has survived. 

With A I have an incredible relationship. One designed for me to attach to her. She offers corrective (although fucking painful) experiences to the experiences I had as a child. I genuinely believe her when she says she cares for me. 

So from these three I soak up the idea of being held in a safe container of care. And yes, I do pay them all, but in my head that’s how I take care of them, and appreciate them. Because for the relationship to work in a way where it’s modeling the care I would have received as a child, it can’t be about them. For it to be safe for everyone, there have to be boundaries.

From A, N, and Dr R. I receive the gift of unconditional love based on my worthiness simply as a human – where I am free to be me, in space held specifically for that purpose. Space nobody else is allowed to invade.

And that last one, having space held for me and my needs, is what I was missing the most as a child. Privacy and space with my adults. Space and time to connect with them that nobody else was allowed to be a part of. To form a relationship that didn’t rely on the actions of others to exist. To form a relationship that was about me. And not about me supporting them in their relationship with my brother. 

Because ultimately I have to find it in myself to believe that I’m worthy. I have to create that nest within – that home, inside of myself. But it was never modelled for me. I never had the ‘fly from the nest’ moment where you know the nest is safe to return to and even though you may need it less you trust that the nest will be there. That it will be safe and warm and welcoming. 

I was pushed out of the nest too early and spent 18 years trying to claw my way back in, occupying whatever space I was allowed but craving more. And when I got the first chance to fly, I flew as fast as I could away from the nest. But that home base, that anchor point of ‘home’ has never really existed. I never did the returning to home when I felt unsafe dance. I never did the push/pull of coming and going. Because home was never safe. So I just left it, and never experienced safety and belonging in an environment designed to allow my growth.

So I will allow myself these replacements without judgment. I will call my Aunt when I need to, I will take the positive touch and soak it in, reminding myself I’m worthy. I will attach to N, and A, and Dr. R and let them love me, and I will continue to try to trust them.

I will build my own, adult sized nest. It will have holes, but the structure will be sound. It will be made up of a mish mash of materials from multiple sources. And I will stay in it, and emotionally live there, until I feel safe knowing that it exists and is solid and isn’t going to leave. And then I will test the waters. I will step away from these providers and come running back when it doesn’t feel safe. And they will be there. And I will do that over and over again until I trust in my new nest. Until I’ve made a patchwork quilt of love over the grief hole in my heart.

Because the old nest one wasn’t big enough for me, and nobody made room, and that sucks, and that will always hurt. Because as much as I want it to be possible, nobody can change that.

But I’m building myself a new home. One with space held for me, people to listen, people to care, and unconditional love despite what I believe about myself. 

It may not be the prettiest nest. But it’s mine.


The Therapy Dance

I honestly don’t know how she does it. I marvel at our relationship sometimes. How perfect it is. In that finding a good therapist is hard. Finding the right therapist is nearly impossible. And yet, I’ve done it. I really believe I’ve done it. And that is terrifying in and of itself – which I told her at the end of session, and she acknowledged. The idea that I have this, and it could go, any second. 

It was like a dance. My pushing, her pulling and redirecting. My isolating, her refusing to accept that and clawing her way into my bubble. My diversions and dismissive statements, her firm but gentle corrections. Each move she made pulsed with the underlying message of “I care, I’m here, I’m not going” in 4/4 time. And eventually, eventually, I concede.

I started completely closed off. And she was relentless in pursuing attachment. I was debating if I should focus on the cleaning thing and OCD or on the phone call… and landed on the phone call. My emotions have caught in my throat since it happened, whenever I think of it. But I couldn’t speak to her about it. I didn’t want to speak to her. For one thing, it was literally like her compassion and care illuminated all the relationship between me and my mother lacks. After one year of knowing me, she knows me better than my mother of 28 years. She knows how to care for me and be there and when she is attuned, especially when she’s firmly directively attuned, when she knows what I need before I do – it’s like living in a dark room and then suddenly experiencing light. Her compassion is blinding. Secondly, I just existed without her for a long time (for us), and to build that connection again… to have coped (albeit rather poorly) and withdrawn and isolated without her… having that care back is so – temporary. I couldn’t hold on to it for two weeks, I’m not there yet. And A pulled and I pushed and she kept asking me how things felt. She kept trying to get me to look at her, and I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. 

And I was like “I don’t want to talk about it. It floored me. I was already out of coping mechanisms and it floored me. So I’ve buried it.” And she said “you should let it out, PD.” And I said to her “maybe I would have let it out if there was somebody here to talk to last week.”

And she sucked in her breath momentarily – what I said seemed to surprise her (I’m rarely that forceful) – and then seemed to regroup and said gently “okay, so there is anger here at me being away. And I’m really going to lean into that, and tell you that it’s okay you’re sharing that. That you are allowed anger. It hit me for a moment, and affected me, but it’s so important you feel safe saying that, and it’s valid. You wanted connection when you were hurting, and I wasn’t available, and that made you angry.” 

And I told her that I felt awful for being angry, because my choices aren’t her fault ever and I felt like saying I was mad was saying that it was her fault I was upset. And she said “of course you feel that way. Because someone’s actions in your life, even when they weren’t your responsibility, were your fault.” And she was right, I was so worried about projecting that on to her. I told her it wasn’t so much that she went away, but that she didn’t give me warning, or space to talk about it. Which I had already told her but she reconfirmed that she will be doing better in the future. And I told her I trust her. And I do.

She asked why I trust her, and I said because she does what she says she will. And she said “like come back from vacation when I say I will.” And I said “so far”. And she said “I haven’t given you any evidence to the contrary, have I?” And I said “no, you do come back when you say you will”. And she said “what else do I do, that I say I will. What else can you trust about me? What are things that I do that differentiate me from other people in your life, maybe people you don’t trust.”

And I looked up at her. And we talked about her boundaries being so clear and firm that I never have to worry about if she’s holding them, and how she lets me be angry and doesn’t respond in kind. But how she also doesn’t just agree with me at every turn. She will correct me and tell me what she actually is seeing or believing regardless of what I think. And that there is room for compromise. And this is how she connected with me. And it was fucking brilliant.

So she rounded back and asked me the same question she had opened with – “what happened. I can see something happened, there have been tears under the surface since you got here, and I’m here to witness it. Can you let me in?” 

And eventually I told her that my Mom shared my husband’s email. With my brother. And she latched on it and asked me how that felt even though I tried to change the topic. I swear every other sentence she said today was either “PD, stay with me” or “PD, come back.” Holding everything so contained has me exhausted and I can’t imagine how much work it was for her. She said that she got a big emotion from the fact my Mom shared the email and so she couldn’t imagine how I felt and I told her that I didn’t know, that I didn’t want to talk about it. And she said, “can I tell you what I felt? I felt betrayal.” And I cried and I kept telling her I shouldn’t be crying and she kept saying “I am so relieved to see those tears, they are good things, I am so happy to see them and they are so welcome here. I know I’ve really pushed today, but I felt like you really needed this.”

And I just sobbed. I sobbed. I sobbed the way I should have while I was shaking and silently screaming on my bathroom floor two days ago. And I let out all I can’t tell my husband and all I was afraid to say and the grief, it poured out of me. I snot-dripped ugly cried – tears streaming down my face sobbed. And somehow she knew, this time, not to move, not to come closer, not to say a word. She let me cry until I was finished crying. Observing. Being there. At one point she said “do you feel me here? Do you know I’m here?” And I nodded. And she continued to just let me sob.

After I was done crying she emphasized again it was so important to connect. She continued to be relentless, ensuring I didn’t float away. There was no way she was letting that happen. 

You’re so important to me PD. This relationship is important to me. It is unique. It belongs to us. Only we could have created it. And I think it’s important to emphasize to you, again, that you make me feel so valued by showing up, and giving me immediate feedback. I thought of you last week, when I was away because I noticed the lack of contact we had.” 

I looked at her

How does that make you feel”

Warm and fuzzy, duh, is what I wanted to say. Instead I said “I never think of that. I assume you spend the hour with me and don’t think of me again.” 

“Well I do think of you, I did.” 

We talked about one year and I said I was so grateful for her. I really struggle with positive emotions and I immediately changed the subject and she was like “wait, that was important. I want to thank you for saying that. It means a lot to me, you know. It means 100x more hearing you say you think I’m good at my job than it would a colleague or a friend. Thank you” 
And then, because she was relentless in forcing presence today, she said “and how does that make you feel” and I told her I felt valued. I felt like we had a partnership in my care. Eventually I was silent for a second. I ended up sharing my husband’s feedback, which she also really appreciated. She asked how I felt, again, cause, A. 

And I felt connected. I told her I didn’t really want to leave, that I felt like if we had another hour and a half we could get somewhere really good. I looked at her as we wrapped up and said “you were relentless today, in pursuing me, in forcing me to be present. In being directive. In keeping the container really small.” And she said “I know. I knew this morning. Something told me it was so important for me to be that way today. I knew you had something to let go of.” 

And she was right. And I am home now, by myself, and it’s kind of nice. I made dinner and sang some songs from the Hamilton mix tape and I’m exhausted. But I feel as though I’ve stepped back into myself.

I spent the last two weeks – the intense cleaning, my brother’s business launch, his birthday, fucking ‘family day’s holiday, and then the damn phone call – holding it together. I was so far outside of myself when I got there today I didn’t even realize how far I had gone. 

And I sat on the counter watching my homemade sauce bubble and took a deep breath and suddenly it was like I was okay again. Like I had physically stepped back into reality. Like I had stepped back into myself. 

I’m crying again, but they’re tears of relief. 

It Is What It Is (& I walked into a cannon)

I’m home alone. And I’m drunk-ish. Had dinner with Dave tonight and he, in his usual way, managed to break through the emotional and get straight to the intellectual. “What positive net value does discussing your husband with your mother provide.”

Zero. Absolutely zero.

I have no idea how tomorrow is going to go. I see A later, 6p. Which means she has to come downstairs to get me. That disrupts my pattern. And I see my Physio at 7am (currently it’s 12 so I’m going to get a great sleep tonight) and then have a call with a difficult personal client at 1pm. 

I went to a fitness class today for the first time and it was pretty good. It definitely shook me out of this fog I’ve been in since seeing A last. 

The conversation I had with my Mother yesterday was so fucking infuriating. And I don’t really want to discuss the self harm with A. I don’t really want to discuss anything with her. I haven’t seen her in 14 days I’m not quite sure what to do about all that. 

My mom sent me $400 to help with counseling and I don’t know how to feel about that. Do I get to talk about her if she paid for it? 

She suggested my husband was abusive. I can’t get over that.

I walked into a cannon. There’s an army base near my work and it has historical cannons out near the sidewalk and in my disassociated haze I walked into it and fucking gave myself whiplash. Hence the Physio appointment tomorrow morning. SERIOUSLY. I’m walking into cannons now. I honestly have 0 idea what to do with myself. 

I’m clearly jumbled. 

I need to see A once a week, but to do that I need money. I need $900 a month. And I don’t have that. I just don’t. And part of me is wondering if seeing her twice is more harmful than not seeing her at all. 

Does it count as self harm if you don’t break the skin?

I think I was holding on to hope that she would hear me. That just once, she wouldn’t make it about her. That just once, she would say “I get it ”

She thinks my husband was disrespectful and rude, selfish and abrasive. That she asked for honesty but his response came in a form she didn’t like so… he is wrong.

It killed me today. I said “he was right Mom, brother was behaving like a little shit” and she said, “well I guess we see things differently.” And then went on to tell me all about his growth and how he’s making progress and he has a new record label interested and that’s when… that’s when I realized she’s never going to hear me. 

“Well I guess we see things differently” is her way of dismissing my reality. She sees my brother as holding it together. As doing the best he could under the horrible time for him that was my wedding…

She shared my husband’s letter with my whole family. My Dad, I understand, but also my brother, my SIL, my extended family. And I can’t tell any of this to my husband so I cry, alone. Here. By myself. She doesn’t understand how wrong that is..  how she told my husband she will only communicate with him face to face, cancels her trip, and tells my whole family everything he has said. Giving my husband no room to defend himself. She said my brother ‘hacked’ his way in. That fucker hasn’t actually hacked shit in his life. He knows her password. So do I. I just respect her privacy.

She keeps making things up. I understand now why my husband BCCd me on the email because she says he called them bad parents and said my brother was a shitshow. He didn’t say those things. But like my brother it doesn’t seem to matter what is actually written. Facts don’t matter. It’s what she ‘inferred’.

She told me today she cries herself to sleep and had ‘so much anxiety’ around my husband and that she constantly thinks about his email. That she can’t sleep because my brother and I won’t talk. She won’t talk to him but keeps insisting ‘he could reach out if he wants.’ WHAT IS IT WITH MY FAMILY AND NOT SAYING WHAT THEY MEAN!? YOU TOLD HIM TO STAY AWAY AND THAT YOU WOULD ONLY TALK IN PERSON… THEN YOU CANCEL YOUR FUCKING TRIP. AND NOW HES WRONG FOR NOT SPEAKING TO YOU!? WHEN YOU ASKED HIM NOT TOO?!

She kept rattling off all the reasons why he should care about them. And that he hates them (nope, not true but fuck if she listens to me). They were all things like ‘we paid for the wedding’ or ‘we got you a limo’ or ‘we have always treated him well’. There is no winning these arguments. 

She said he is disrespectful for not going to visit them when he is home for three weeks and only having dinner there once (alone, might I add). He is the worst, she says.  I point out how I don’t hang out with his family when I’m home. But it’s fine. I try to tell her I am the one who caused these issues in the first place but she puts all the blame on him. He’s the new scapegoat. 

My husband will always be wrong. I will always be wrong. Especially when it challenges my brother. And I am heartbroken, my rose coloured glasses shattering into a thousand tiny pieces on the floor. And A’s words about how I am never going to heal until I accept what I am experiencing right now, that nobody is coming to save me. That I don’t have a mother and father in the way I desperately need and want one… in the way I did, at one point. They blame my husband for it all.

I am destined for superficial conversations and no real connection with my mother. And all I want is my mother. All I want right now, is someone who can’t give me what I need.

I don’t know whether or not to make my new self harm anniversary today or to leave it as August 14th. Does it count if you don’t break skin? Because I have been scratching up my arms all night.

I did my best. But I can’t do it anymore. I am so fucking alone. 

I can’t do it

I can’t do it.

I can’t deal with his birthday – with the pressure. I was fine until they said something.

I don’t know where I went wrong. I’m trying to find it, what I missed, I’m looking for it and crying because I don’t know when the happy child I knew turned into the monster I know.
It’s fucked – that all I feel today is absence. The absence of what I knew. I am no longer a part of that codependent fucked up relationship circle that is my immediate family and they never cease to remind me what I left.

My father fat shamed me on my wedding day.

My mother guilt trips me into behaving a certain way.

And my brother..  

I don’t know how I’m going to get through this night.