Sunday, September 19, 2010

Why I write and why I don't

I came upon a PTSD blog today and instantly fell into the cauldron of flashback turmoil- I wanted to comment and tell the writer but then chose not to stir it up any more than it already is.

Sometimes when looking into the pain, I find I spiral down into this place where it takes over and I'm unable to do anything else but 'feel the pain'.

At other times, I seem to be able to feel 'normal' and function at least on some level of control and self-determination and in those times I choose to stay in that place rather than deliberately step back into the introspective pain-filled one.

I don't know if that's good or bad- right or wrong- maybe it's none of those things.

I just know that I've spent the past many years trying to avoid the pain - it just overwhelms and takes over - hurts so much and cripples me into utter "bound-up-ness".

I hate that place and want to avoid it at all costs.

I read about others' recovery and wonder at that - it's amazing to me. I have no idea how to get to the place where they are.

Oh well, that's the way it is today.

Talk to you later,

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Man Who Fell Among Thieves

by Maribeth Wright Curry on Sunday, August 29, 2010 at 3:22am

The sermon of the Good Samaritan
Is always about the Rescuer
And the awful people who ignored
The Man Who Fell Among Thieves.

Why doesn't anyone talk
About the man?
The man who lay there
For who knows how long?

No one talks
About his fear, his loss, his pain.
About how hard it was to watch
People ignore him again and again.

Is this the first example of abuse
By those charged with protection?
The priest, the Levite- and all the others
Who pretended he wasn't there?

No one preaches on it
Because no one wants to admit
The person lying there,
Distraught and in anguish- exists.

People ignore those in pain,
Or they gossip about them,
Or 'correct' them, try to
Disciple them

But no one seems to bother
To put themselves in their shoes
And experience the loss and pain
They feel again and again.

Are Christians the worst?
Maybe, maybe not-
But the pain they inflict on
Others is excruciating.

When it's doled out to those
Who were ministers
Whose lives only existed to serve others
Who knows, who cares?

It's so easy to 'forget'
The ones who lie on the road.
To let the weeds grow up around them
Pretend they aren't even there.

Then along comes a Samaritan?
Who is that?
Is there a Samaritan somewhere
For me?

So when I'm done
And nearly gone
Who hears my cry
Or shall I die?

Why "Becoming Me" ?

Here I am, almost 60 years old and again am asking, "Who am I"? I thought I figured that out in my late teens... but so much has happened since then - so much life- so much abuse, so much pain, PTSD, so much loss. And while there have been wonderful blessings in my life: my 3 great sons and a husband who just never stops giving- over the past few years so much of my existence has been circumscribed by the pain of my daily life.

I have fibromyalgia so there is pretty much pain somewhere in my body all the time- but I can cope with that except when there are hurricanes or big weather changes- then I need a pain killer of some kind.

But there's no pain killer for the emotional pain that wracks my life. So many things trigger the PTSD- many of them even still catch me by surprise.

One theory says to ignore all that and get busy with something else and it will go away. Another says, be honest, admit what you've experienced and pursue healing.

Who really knows?

What I tend to do when the emotional pain is too much is play mentally challenging computer games that force me to sidestep the pain to concentrate on the game- eventually the pain seems to dissipate- but what kind of life is that- always running for the computer - or a book to read?


New Blog Name

I had a couple of others Blogs I started long ago. Having changed considerably since then I want to start fresh- hence the new blog name and look.
The last 2 posts from my 'At Home with Maribeth' blog are below because they are part of where I'm at now.
I welcome comments and new friends.

Older posts:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Why do I talk too much?

You talk too much!
Your mouth is your worst problem!
Don't tell anybody!
Little Miss Chatterbox!
Maribeth, maybe your name is really "Merry mouth"!

These were just a few of the demeaning things repeated over and over to me, pretty much from the time I could talk!

Even now I am a blurter- I inadvertently tell things I shouldn't and get myself into all kinds of trouble, not the least of which is the awful embarrassment of remembering how stupid I sounded and how much I talked.

I've been trying to figure this one out since recently I became aware of how this problem in me was affecting others whom I love.

Some background:
My mother was the youngest of 3 sisters.
I'm assuming because she missed her sisters after she got married and moved from Toronto to Kentucky, she sort of put me into the place of a sister rather than a daughter. She talked to me as though I was her peer, rather than a child and told me all kinds of stuff about people that a kid shouldn't know- indeed sharing stuff she likely used to share with her sisters.

Then she'd end with, "Don't tell anybody". Actually she'd often start by saying, "Don't tell anybody", and then end with it too.

I always thought that the reason I seem to blurt out things I'm not supposed to 'tell' was due to the pressure of the "don't tell anybody". You know, the way when you tell someone not to think about a pink elephant, that's all they can think about?

I thought that the compression of all those "Don't tell anybody's" just spilled out of my mouth in the very things I wasn't to tell.

Beyond that, it was a heavy burden for a kid to know all these secret adult things about people I knew.

For example, Mom told me the complete story about an aunt who'd had 3 children but no husband, before I was old enough to start going to school. The horrible thing was that those kids didn't find out the truth until years later. When they did, they were really angry to learn that I'd known for so long. You get the picture. I had managed not to tell them that one but had talked about it plenty with my little friends. It was like a soap opera to me, that story!

I was a precocious child, a first-born to people who lived mostly among adults. I had a few youngster friends but in those days, with the level of poverty they lived in, my parents rarely left me with a sitter but rather took me wherever they went as they ministered in the mountains of

Mother was a city- girl, born and bred who'd had a great job in an insurance company in downtown
Toronto. She went to Bible School to be with Dad, then married and together they moved to one of the most backward places in America- Appalachia. She had no electricity, had to cook on a coal stove, encountered bugs and snakes, had to pluck chickens Dad had slaughtered- gifts from church people who were to poor to give monetary offerings. In her defence, the trauma of her life- trying to toast bread over a coal stove whose heat she couldn't regulate, trying to make pies with self-rising flour and encountering scary bugs and other 'things' - it had to have been utterly overwhelming.

Her mother didn't teach her housewife arts and Mom saw herself as a career woman in the post war era. What a shock for her! She used to think I was so afraid of spiders because when she was pregnant with me, she jumped every time she saw a cockroach in her home. In fact, she told me they moved every time they could find a place with less rats in it! She was a great Bible teacher, child worker, etc. Bible college trained. But she was utterly unprepared to be the homemaker and mother in that milieu.

She had to train herself not to see the bugs and dirt in people's homes, to eat the fried lettuce and other 'delicacies' and not get sick and while having absolutely nothing in common with the hill women other than her gender, to somehow survive. Dad was off on his mission of 'reaching the lost' and building a church so she was left alone to figure it out. Dad was never one long on patience so she would have received little support from him and knowing her as I did, she was likely too proud to ask for it anyway. (The acorn doesn't fall far from the tree 8^)

No wonder she turned to me for comfort and support. I was safe- didn't know enough to betray her- IF ONLY SHE COULD KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT!!!!! How critical that must have been for her! If I blurted out things she'd said about church people, not only would I destroy the work Dad was trying to do, but she'd be utterly humiliated. This was a BIG DEAL!

It was always a proud story of Mom's how by the age of one, I would go around the home of the person we were visiting, with my hands clasped behind my back, bending over and looking at things, saying, "Pretty, Momma, pretty"! I never touched those pretty things...

... says something about how far I would go for approval doesn't it?

My point is, I lived with adults, interacted mostly with adults and was expected to 'be' a little adult.

A few years later I had a conversation with several people from a later parish outside
Toronto. I can still see it: 3 or 4 adults listening intently to a 3 and half-year old child. Mother was very 'great with child'. I think there were 2 ladies and Mom plus maybe a man, sitting on a screened porch. It must have been early June, warm and sunny, with lovely flowers outside. I was adamant that I wanted a baby sister and was going to run away if I didn't get one! Everyone gave me the floor, held the discussion with me and thought it was cute that I was so sure of what I wanted. I don't remember anyone actually suggesting that I couldn't pull it off!

I got a brother and funnily have no memories of how I felt about that when he was brought home. I have a vague recollection about being told how lucky I was to have a brother but I don't know if that was for the first or second brother, nor if it was even spoken to me or my brother about the 3rd baby. I don't remember regretting his gender.

My point is, I was used to talking to adults in an adult manner. I started singing for Dad's services when I was 4 years old. In fact Mom used to do my hair in long ringlets à la Shirley Temple. I wasn't afraid of adults and just talked to them the way they talked to me.

Soon enough I was in trouble for that.

I can remember being a real adult- in my early 20's and acting the way I thought I'd always acted as a child. I was being the life of the party, telling stories, jokes, laughing etc. in the presence of my parents and NOT getting into trouble for it! I then decided that all that was different between how adults and kids acted was that kids got in trouble for doing the same things they got away with as adults.

I'm rambling- sorry.

I don't remember when I first got into trouble talking too much. Maybe it was when I was 18 months old and my mother felt she had to take me out of the service, every night for a week of special meetings, in order to spank me for my misbehavior. I never knew what that misbehavior was, but I'll lay money it had to do with my being bored and talking!

Had little 'miss perfect one-year-old' grown horns in 6 months and become a demon child that had to be hauled out of church in front of everyone, spanked- so everyone could hear, then dragged back in and plonked down while Mom went and played the closing hymn?

I remember other times where Mom and I quietly played little games in church: she had a pin that had a half pearl about an inch across with gold wires about 1 mm across with diamonds ends, bursting out from the pearl to make a flower. For some reason the pearl was our 'refrigerator' (likely because we'd just got one to replace the ice box) and the diamonds were things we would put in the fridge. We played that one a lot. She also used to make rock-a-bye babies from a hankie and 'this is the church, this is the steeple' with our fingers and so on. So what happened that I was a terror for a week?

I think that what I began to learn was that there wasn't a lot of rhyme or reason as to when I'd get spanked or not.

Dad used to 'bank' or save up spankings for me. From the time I was around 4 years of age to 6 maybe, he'd give me the 'hairy eyeball' wherever we were- from the pulpit or in someone's home- and I knew that meant I was going to 'get it'. Then we'd get home and he'd go through my behavior, piece by piece and tell me why I had earned a spanking. Then he'd ask if I wanted it 'now or later'.... Being a child I ALWAYS chose later- I mean, really, what did he expect? Often I'd have 3 or more spanking due so that the pressure I was under was enormous. Always wondering what small infraction would garner me all those saved up spankings... horrendous!

Even to this day, after every conversation, in person, on the phone, whatever, I go through and re-examine- all the stupid things I said, what I shouldn't have said, how the person might have misunderstood, was I right or wrong?- Such a destructive thing.

In first grade, my teacher used to make me lay across her lap for talking out of turn. I was in the position for spanking but never got the strikes. It was so humiliating! She'd just keep on working, having kids come up to her to get help etc and there I was impotently laying across her knees...

In 3rd grade, I changed schools. The first day I asked the girl behind me what time the bell rang for school. My father had insisted I must not forget to do that. We got caught and the teacher sent HER to the corner. I was appalled- and knew right away that I was not in a safe place- AGAIN! I spent a lot of time in the corner that year for talking when I wasn't supposed to.

As I listened to Darlene talk about her teacher's abuse, ( )
I flashed back to my own fourth grade year. I was required to wear tape across my mouth, to ostensibly remind me not to talk to those around me. However I was also required to answer questions and participate in class as though the tape wasn't there. I wore one piece of tape til all the stickiness was gone, then got a new one. It went on for a long time- several weeks. It was so humiliating.

I don't know if it was ADHD or just that I was smart. I had a battery of IQ tests that year, then was called to the principal's office to be told my grades should be much higher! How to take something positive and make it a guilt trip of negativity!

The thing was that I was always thinking ahead of where the teacher was talking. She'd ask me a question, and because I'd figured out the next 3 or 4 questions, I'd answer whatever one I'd been thinking about, earning myself a discipline for 'not paying attention'!

I've always been a multi-tasker so would be doodling or something while I listened to her teach. Of course that would garner me more anger for not paying attention again!

I was punished for just being me.
LOT's of detentions from that year on right through high school- always for the same things, talking too much and supposedly not paying attention.

No one ever realized how paranoid I was about being obedient and 'good'. I would never have been the person they accused me of being because I, at all costs, did whatever I could to avoid rejection and humiliation.

No wonder I had trouble finding real friends among classmates when the humiliation communicated that I was worthless and did not deserve friendship!

Fourth grade was the year I started having migraine headaches. I was off for several weeks with them. Granted that was one time my mother really came through for me and took good care of me. She suffered migraines as well; they were inherited down several generations on her mother's side of her family. She taught me how to cope with them, darkened room, cold compress, aspirin etc. but when I went back to school I had to face the abuse all over again.

My care givers and nurturers punished me for talking.

So what does this mean?

I was incredibly uptight about talking.

Muddling through this week:
Last Monday, I had a conversation with a friend who I've known for 25 years or so. She's the kind of friend you can be apart from for years but the moment you speak to each other it's as though you were never apart.

I was talking with her, trying to sort through why I betray people by telling their secrets or their 'stuff'. She has gone through years of recovery from abuse much like mine and understands me pretty well. Anyway as I talked about how I thought it worked, this extreme pressure NOT to talk and it's impact on me perhaps inciting me TO talk, she had another idea.

Her comment was that while Mom told me what not to 'do' (don't tell anybody) she modeled the exact opposite- 'telling' things she should have been respecting and keeping quiet about - things that no child should know or have to know. Jan explained that kids tend to do what they see rather than what they are told so her thought was that I was just doing what Mom had modeled to me... That relieved a shit-load of guilt but didn't help me figure out how to change.

(Interesting how I likely would have seen that immediately for someone else, but I was so bound up in the lies of my belief system that I was a bad child who can't control what she says this never occurred to me.)
Mother disrespected her sister's boundaries and mine by telling me those secrets. She did this regularly about most of her friends and relatives. Somehow it seems I patterned myself after her.
Does this make sense?
I thought about it more this week and came up with something more.

When Mom was telling me these intimate things, (intimate to her or to others- there was no respect for anyone's privacy in what she told me), I realized that during the time she was actually sharing that stuff, that was one time when I felt really loved by her. She was not much of a nurturer and often she made it clear that I really didn't manage to do whatever she wanted, the way she wanted, so I was always trying to garner approval from her...

I thought that her treating me as a friend rather than a daughter, actually made me her friend. It made me feel warm and loved and accepted where most of the time I felt cold and rejected.

I used to say, especially in my teens, that she was my best friend.
Now I see how inappropriate that was. However- that feeling, the intimacy and warmth during those times were what I craved.

Somehow I think that with other people then, I try to recreate that feeling of intimacy and warm comfort- by sharing inappropriately intimate things, as she did with me. That leads me into telling other peoples' stuff when I should be respecting it and keeping it quiet.

I also have a propensity for leaping in and getting too intimate, too quickly and then thinking because I shared intimate details, the person to whom I was talking has engaged in the same level of friendship as I did- with often disastrous results.
Does this make sense?
When I look at other more healthy families I see that they too share about each other to some degree. For example, when I get together with friends who have children, they tell me what's going on with each of their kids and family members so on one level I conclude that sharing about loved ones' lives is pretty normal.
The problem comes when I share things that are supposed to be kept confidential.There seems to be no 'this is inappropriate to share' button in my talking impetus.
You can probably see, just from how I've written so far, how I love telling stories. I think that weaving other people's 'stuff' into stories gets attention focused on me and makes me feel accepted and loved. It hooks into that warm, loved feeling I used to have when Mom shared that stuff with me.

To me, in many ways, silence = rejection so I rush to fill the silence.
One other thing that Jan said was then when one has weak boundaries, sometimes they will become loud and funny to distract people from those boundaries as a way of self-defence.

Since I didn't even know boundaries even existed til I was over 40, nor that I had a right to enforce them, and that other people DID NOT have the right to breach them, it makes sense to me that this thought of Jan's may have merit.

I used to keep talking because I felt that if I kept talking, I'd be able to distract people from thinking bad things about me and rejecting me. Stupid eh? While I'm busy talking, they can think whatever they like and I'd never know! Yet, to a child, it made perfect sense.

Similarly, my mother told me I was not pretty so I thought if I kept the bottom half of my face in a smile, people wouldn't notice the rest. I would tell jokes, puns, stories, whatever it took to keep my smile on. If I could keep one on my listener's face, so much the better!

Now how to 'put away childish things'....

I think I've managed to parse much of this but haven't got the golden key on how to keep myself shut up!

One difficulty is that I am alone much of the time. At the same time, I am very verbal (Did you get that? Duh!)

I was told by a friend once that verbal people 'need' to say a certain number of words a day for their mental and emotional health... Yeah well.... that doesn't happen unless I am writing. Perhaps that's why I post so much on Facebook etc.

So then how to balance my need to talk and respect confidences and boundaries?

Interesting that if I want to keep my own secrets, I absolutely do. They virtually NEVER get blurted. In fact, they are extremely difficult for me to share. So how to impress upon myself that others' secrets are as sacrosanct as mine?

Still working on that one.

So there it is for tonight.

Any comments would be gratefully received.

Good nite all- and be blest,

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A New Day, A New Time?

So much has happened in the past week- I realized I need to be blogging so here I am! I'm feeling very vulnerable and wondering if it will last but think that if I don't speak it forth and acknowledge where I'm at, I'll lose it.

I've been in a very bad place for the past 8 years. Here's something I wrote about it awhile ago.

The Silent Sparrow

A silent sparrow's what I am
Who never sings a song.
The music is all trapped inside;
It always comes out wrong.

What good to earth's a sparrow
If she never sings?
She has not beauty otherwise
In dull and dusty wings.

She seems to hop when she should fly;
She seems tied to the earth.
Why can't she soar above the trees
Whose nest gave her birth?

I hope this little sparrow
Finds her song again.
Perhaps when she can sing her song
She can fly again.

Back story:
There was a little sparrow who sang her heart out.
Many times unkind people, with sling shots came and shot stones at her. Many hit and wounded her but she would limp back to her nest, recover and sing on.
Then one day, a stone knocked her right off her perch.
It broke her wing.
In terror she ran along the ground, seeking safety until she spied a rabbit hole.
She darted into it and was safe.

She healed, sort of, but the hole was safe so she made her home there.
She watched other birds fly and sing but in her fear, she had forgotten how to sing and fly.
Her home was dark, dismal and ugly but it was
She was afraid to leave the security and safety it had become to her.
No one ever came to her her; her house was too ugly.
They all forgot she even lived there.
But she was safe.

Longingly she watched the other birds and felt guilty because she wasn't acting like a bird but like a rabbit.
She had no idea how to rejoin the birds.
So she sat in terror, wanting to fly and sing but afraid of getting shot down again.
She didn't think she could survive one more injury from people with sling shots.
Now the rabbit hole has all caved in.
She has survived by eating bugs and worms that accidentally came into her hole.
But, how to get out when the way is now gone?
So having been in that place for 8 years, I was blest to have a long conversation with a fellow abuse survivor on Monday. We talked for 3 hours.
I think the biggest blessing was her active listening and her reflecting back to me what I was saying so that I could process my thoughts in a safe place.
For so long I've been pretty much alone and any processing of my 'issues' have been done while part of my brain is preoccupied with computer games. It seemed that was the only time the person inside felt safe enough to be real and admit what was going on.
Anyway, all that being said, my friend's assertion, in the face of my "God's going to be really mad at me if I ever get to heaven because of the 'putting my hand to the plow and looking back' thing and the 'burying the talents' thing, that God isn't mad at me, sees my pain, and understands my coping mechanisms.
I guess someone inside knew that, but the hurting one didn't. It was really liberating. There was much more - obviously if we talked for 3 hours- but after I hung up, I told my husband that I felt like I'd had an emotional bath. I felt clean and light.
What does that mean a week later?
I've had courage to post on facebook pages of other survivors, expose my pain and open myself to seeing that I'm not alone- (abandoning my "I am utterly alone" position) and giving and receiving into this pool of people. And amazing to me, I've been loved upon by people I've never met in a way that I've not known in many, many years! It's been great and so encouraging!
Also I gathered up my courage and commented on a blog about a political situation that in my eyes was being presented very falsely. I was able to be rational, allow others to disagree without going into that deep well of rejection and spoke my mind, owning my own thoughts. That's also HUGE for me. ( Even better were comments to my posts that communicated that I'd presented myself and my thoughts the very way I'd wanted to and that was HUGE for me!

So that's it for now.

Baby steps.
Anyone who's read this far, welcome to my world and any comments would be lovely.
blessings all,