I realised today that I am not ashamed to be an alcoholic. I am proud that I discovered that alcohol affected me differently than others and that I could not control my drinking. It was ruining my life and I managed to find a solution to get on top of the destruction it was creating. I can feel strong within myself that I was able to overcome a massive problem in my life and if anyone asks why I don’t drink, I think I can now just confidently say “I am an alcoholic and it is not healthy for me to drink”.
I read in a book recently how EMDR helps the brain process trauma quicker through reliving the memory and playing it out in different ways, so that eventually the memory loses its power. In the book, the woman’s son had witnessed the 9/11 attacks on television and then spent weeks playing it out with building blocks and toys. Initially he had a plane crash into the building, then later people were rushed off to hospital and so on until the situation had in a way “healed” itself and the matter could be closed in the young boys mind. The writer commented that he was in some ways doing his own version of EMDR. I thought about how for years, that is what I have been doing – reliving my trauma to make sense of it – to close it. For example, dressing up as a gothic when I was young. I think I was trying to make sense of the darkness. I wore long black coats like my abusers did, perhaps trying to reclaim the power of their costumes and the fear that it embedded in me. I had lots of sex with random people, again trying to dominate the exchange – if I choose to have sex with them first, then it is me controlling the situation rather than being powerless in the abuse. I felt drawn to becoming a dominatrix in my early 30s. Thankfully it didn’t last long, but again I can only think that I was wanting to relive the sadistic abuse, in some ways master the sadism so I was in control, again, not the powerless one. Lately my husband, who is a very good man and treats me very well, has become reminiscent of my father. A culmination of my father and brother actually. I hate it when he touches me, I feel terrible that I feel this way, but it is who he reminds me of. The feeling gets stronger and stronger and I am withdrawing. It is not helped by the fact that I am seeking refuge in the arms of a female lover, where the exchange of intimacy feels safe and alive, beautiful, natural and sexy. I am so satisfied and turned on when she touches me, and on the flip side I want to disappear inside when it is my husband. Have I relived the trauma by marrying a man 20 years older than me? I, the younger woman, desperately seeking a father figure. Gets what she desires and then withdraws, perhaps punishing him for what he represents? A way to gain control over the past trauma? My passion for boxing is also a way of me reliving the trauma. The desire to get hit, to hit back, to defend, to attack. My desire for movie making – filmed as a child, wanting to reclaim the moving image. I am in control of what is being filmed, not you, you fuckers. No wonder the industry has not given me the real passion I was looking for. It was only in the making of my own things that the true connectedness existed. Otherwise the experience often felt empty and shallow.
I relive the trauma through my negative thinking and suicidal ideation. If I keep telling myself I am disgusting and ugly and that I should die, one day, the outcome will be different… maybe. The one time I did experience EMDR with my therapist, I ended up having a breakdown for a couple of weeks and it was very difficult to get through life. I haven’t done it since, but maybe I will again soon. I seem to just keep reliving things anyway.
Last week was difficult as I was in parts for most of it. I just had a feeling on Sunday that it would be a bad week and what do you know, it was. A few things came up as I dissociated on Monday evening after being triggered at boxing. A part revealed that they think husband hates them because my dad (their dad) used to say he hates me (them). So the part or parts believe that everyone hates them, because for them to be born and not loved properly makes them feel as though they are not worth living and worthless. They also hate the concept of love as for them it is the same as sex and they don’t like sex. The part revealed “they” used to whisper in her ear “I love you” while having sex with her and then later say “they” hated her. It is no wonder the parts beliefs are skewed. The thing that confuses me is that these parts belong to me, so these are beliefs I must hold unconsciously. And because the unconscious drives us so much, how much am I playing out these belief systems in all that I do? Like is this stuff separate from me or is it ultimately in control of me?
On Monday at boxing I found myself in the usual spot of “freezing” whilst sparring. I was getting hit quite a bit but couldn’t defend myself. I just froze. I ended up in tears that night and then dissociated later and I worked on some stuff with Patricia in prayer ministry. She helped some parts expose negative belief systems that were getting in the way. Eg “it’s not safe to fight back”, “I deserve to be hit or beaten”, “I can’t fight back”. So even though my kids aren’t out whilst I am boxing, these beliefs are under the surface and I think the cause of the freezing. My trainer said today that he has never had to deal with anyone who freezes in boxing before. People usually fight back when they are being hit in boxing lol! I thought that was strange and realised how my responses are so connected to my trauma. Anyway I felt a shift today when I was sparring again so I am hoping the work I did on Monday night has cleared some stuff.
I am also reading a book about a survivor of ritual abuse and really identifying with her story. She talks a lot about the unfathomability of the abuse and how it took her so long to accept the memories. I really identify with that. I feel like I have had memories two years ago but still have not fully processed them. I have done this work through prayer ministry and believe that God has soveriegnly dealt with the negative effects, but it still feels like there is stuff there. Memories are important to me because I want to piece together my story. I feel like I am missing pieces of the puzzle without them and that makes me sad. I would like to have a clearer narrative and fear I won’t get this. I understand that I am quite well functioning and perhaps remembering would mean that I don’t function as well. Who knows. Having said that, I realised I am dissociative about two weeks out of each month so that is quite a lot of not being “me”, whoever that is. There are many good things about being dissociative but not really knowing who I am or what I want is very difficult at times.
Quite some time back I reflected on why I liked making films and I realised that the reason was somewhat more sinister than I had suspected. I had been moved by art, by films, by stories since I was young. In fact, I often remark that my love of the arts saved me from a life of humdrum boredom and meaninglessness. It kept me curious, engaged and active. I liked making things, creating things, thinking about ideas. When I discovered media in Year 11 and 12, I was hooked. I didn’t understand filmmaking as a craft, I didn’t have time for story, I just wanted to make and create, plan and do. I had a relentless desire to tell experimental stories – an unconscious urge to grapple with the darkness of my past, that I was completely amnesic to. And so when it hit me one day, many years later, as an adult, a somewhat failed filmmaker, as to why it never really turned out the way that I had dreamed it would, in my drunken haze, it was hard to face and this is the first time I have ever really written about it. You see, they would film me. Naked and stuff. Doing things, with other small children. And so for me to get behind the camera and control it, to produce the images, meant in some way that I was in control, they weren’t. And so of course I have not known what stories to tell, who I am, what type of producer I am, because they split me and exposed me and shamed me and all I have really wanted to do is find me, to know the truth. Someone told a quote today, the said “the atmosphere of the team gets sucked in and projected through the camera”. And they created sickness and evil and it got projected for years and years and years. It makes me sad.
Our subconscious mind responds to pictures, not words. It is therefore no wonder that movies can be very triggering to abuse survivors. My background in ritual abuse makes me very sensitive to certain images, symbols, music and even colours. Just last week I got very triggered by the new Terence Malick film, “Song to Song”. It was a woeful experience, long, indulgent and fragmented. But I stuck with it, regrettably. The film was shot with an anamorphic, fishbowl lens, which was very disorienting. It was set against the backdrop of the Nashville country and rock music scene, known for producing mind control puppets in the music industry (see Cathy O’Brien’s “TRANCE Formation of America“). There was lots of referencing to selling your soul to the devil (represented by a music producer in the Industry) and the film also featured a lot of sadomasochistic sex. The main bit that triggered my parts was the Satanic chanting music that fuelled a montage about 3/4 of the way through the film. I had to block my ears because it became way too much and that was when I knew that I had dissociated. It was so quick! I drove S home and I had the most pounding headache come on (a sign of switching) and by the time I got home, I was very little. I wrote something in my online diary and a little one will share it now, but please note definite ****TRIGGER WARNING****
August 8, 2017 – It was the worse when they chopped their heads off. What people don’t understand is to get that fame and lifestyle you have to murder people and hurt babies. Plus eat them and stuff so it isn’t everything you think it is. I only did it coz they made me do it. Sometimes I wish I had my head chopped off so I didn’t have to remember it.
Not nice. It took me over a day to come back to normal. Scary memory.
Other movies that have set me off in the past, include ‘Irreversible’ – horrid anal rape scene and a disgusting, disorienting movie all round. Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ because of the ritual scenes. ‘Changeling’ made me cry as it brought stuff up because of what they were doing to the kids. That was definitely SRA.
My parts also don’t like movies that feature babies, blood, hospitals, witches or bodily fluids. Kids movies are okay, but it is not super easy for my little ones to watch kids movies yet because there has been so much bad stuff go on in childhood, it is hard to see happy things. They know the truth about badness and movies are either scary or work to hide the truth. That’s what they think anyway.
My T said that I have to be very careful about what I see and that sometimes I just need to walk out of the movie or experience because otherwise it can be way too triggering. She is right and I think I need to ground myself before I see things and give myself the choice to leave if it seems like it could set me off.
Boxing is like a metaphor for my life. Today I sparred with a girl and got beaten up. Mentally I felt weak. Granted, she was more experienced, she was tougher and fitter and stronger, but I gave up. I cried. Sparring can be emotional. There are so many mental and physical blocks you have to work through, push through and sometimes it is just so exhausting. I was affirmed later when she told me that she too had to have the shit beaten out of her quite a few times and that was what made her stronger. I was moving back a lot during the sparring, so I was on the ‘back foot’. She told me that you use up more energy that way. It makes sense. Being on the ‘back foot’ in life is exhausting too – so much energy used to just try and keep going. I have felt like that all my life. The pang of living overwhelming me, that my way out was to fantasise about death. I guess that goes back to my past, my abuse. To die was the way out of all that. It sure seemed like a better option. I remember writing a letter to God at the age of 9 years, asking him to take my life. He didn’t respond. I have so many parts in me that don’t want to live, to keep going is a definite choice, a commitment. But the urge to live must be stronger, surely, because I do keep going and moving forward. Today reminded me it is is a battle to do so. My instinct is to be on the back foot, to freeze (to dissociate), but when you are in the ring, you can’t do that. In or out of the ring, I don’t have a choice. I am thankful to God that I have found boxing. This great metaphor for my life. An odd recovery tool, but one that works for me. I want to get better, I don’t want to give up. I know that it is smarter, better, wiser to be on the front foot. To respond, to watch, to listen, to learn, to act. I want to focus and to achieve. I keep going, even though sometimes daily it is a struggle. I know that I will get through this rough patch with boxing and life. I do have faith in that and I am glad I keep pushing through and not giving up. I don’t really have a choice I guess. Because the pain and misery wants to kill me, but that means the darkness wins. Deep down, I am an optimist and I know that God has already won. But the battle is real and it is hard and it doesn’t always feel that way. As long as I keep showing up and moving forward, even if only inch by inch, I know that things will be okay and will have meaning.
Last night in bed my parts came out and didn’t know where they were. Most had taken over by then so it was difficult for me to do much other than just lie there and listen to the chatter in my head. I woke up and hubby was a bit grumpy and I didn’t need much to set me off. I was feeling quite dissociative all morning and day and my niece was really dismissive of me. She really ignored me and it hurt my feelings so much. Maybe it was a moody 14 year old teenager thing, but wow, it made me feel terrible! When I am dissociative I can pretty much just focus and get on with work which is a good thing. So that’s what I did all day on my computer, but then about 3:00 pm, there was a knock on the door. It was my mother. I hadn’t seen her for over two years, nor had any contact with her, via my own volition. I had written a letter long ago saying I needed to cut contact whilst I was healing and doing memory work. My sister had warned me she might turn up but I had forgotten and today caught me by surprise. It didn’t help that I was in parts all of the day. So it was awkward and I was amicable and said I was well and spoke of why I was in Perth (presenting at a conference) and of my new job. I asked about her health (she is fine), I didn’t ask about my father. Then my sister came home and played the niceties, but she cannot stand being in the same room as my mother, so when my sister asked mum a question, she basically left the room briefly whilst my mother waffled the answer into empty space, not looking at her, not even noticing she was gone. It was weird. And then my sister hurried us as we had to go to a gym class and my husband made my mum a cup of tea and I knew she would enjoy talking to him as he is very warm and responsive and carefree. He told me later that she said “I know nobody wants to see me, but I don’t care, I want to see them”. I think she was genuinely glad that I looked okay and perhaps a little surprised that I did look healthy and fine. I went to the gym but just felt depressed and sad and bad – as though I shouldn’t have cut off the relationship as it was mean and as though I am probably making everything up as she looks normal- kinda (my parts thought she looked like a witch) – and that I am a bitch and horrible person. Anyway, I am at the airport now and will be back home soon and I get to see my dogs and I cannot wait. I love them so much and I like the life I have set up. Perth has beautiful weather but I don’t think I could ever come back here and live. There is just too much sadness.