Friday, December 31, 2010

Old Man 2010

Since its the last day of 2010, and my brother's 33rd birthday, I felt the need to recap the year. First, though, how crazy is it that my brother would have been 33 this year? He was 19 when he died. I'm 38 until my birthday in January. Jeff always teased me on his birthday that he'd only be 5 years younger than me until my birthday. My boyfriend is 6 years older than me, except between my birthday and his in May.

This year has been difficult with all the work on my PTSD and trauma recovery, sleep fears and nightmares coming to the forefront, and my hockey injury at the Vegas tournament in January 2010, but not as bad as last year. The biggest influence in my life this year has been JW, my boyfriend. He is helping me heal and work through a lot of my issues. The most dramatic success has been with my sexuality. For the first time, I feel totally physically comfortable with a partner. I was really surprised at how natural and comfortable it's been. Amazing since my first boyfriend in L.A. forced himself on me, and my brief foray into bisexuality with a physically aggressive closeted woman. I think a lot of it is that I didn't do anything with him before I was ready, and he didn't pressure me. It has been more complicated for me to deal with my difficulty trusting and jealousy. JW has been very patient, and it's got a lot better, but it was a slog at times, and I feel bad for dragging JW through my struggles. But we help each other, and our relationship is healthy and strong and worth working for and trusting.

Hockey continues to be a big part of my life, and my relationship with JW. Our first date was at a Kings game last December, and this season we took was seemed to me to be a big step, we are sharing his season tickets. He has a deal with another guy where JW officially has two seats and the other guy has the two seats next to him, but they pool the tickets and each get four tickets for half the games. I have one of those seats for half the games. I'm a season ticket holder! Before that, I got to experience playoff games in person for the first time, with JW, when the Kings played the Canucks in the first round. The Canucks were my team, my first team, but I decided that as an Angeleno and Lady King, I had to support the L.A. Kings in the playoffs. It was painful, but the playoff games were completely exhilarating and worth any team loyalty angst I had. Another first was going to the Vancouver Winter Olympics with JW, and seeing two men's hockey games and two women's games, including Sweden vs Canada where I got to see my friend and teacher Maria Rooth play in the Olympics! I spent the Olympics limping around in my full-leg knee brace for my MCL tear in the Vegas tournament, but by the Phoenix tournament, where I got really drunk and jumped into a pool at the hotel in my underwear.

I wouldn't say this was a major life disappointment, but one of my disappointments this year was the season finale of Lost. I was one of those devoted Losties who watched the show from the beginning and rushed home or to the nearest TV every week to catch the current show. It took me three months or more to come to a conclusion about the way Lost was concluded, but I finally decided that, as a long-time watcher and loyalist, the ending went in such a different direction and dropped so many mysteries without explaining them, that I felt screwed. Fringe filled in the gap left by Lost nicely. This season has been stellar, much more than the it seemed in its X-files influenced beginning. Being Human came back, and was pretty awesome until my DVR failed to record the season finale. Doctor Who also came back, with a new Doctor and companion. Frontline continues to be my favorite show, along with the other PBS news shows Newshour and Washington Week with my hero Gwen Ifill. I also discovered some entertaining, if not particularly deep, new shows- Hawaii Five-0, Burn Notice, and Community. I have to give a shout-out to Walking Dead, which started a little slow, but turned into the show I couldn't wait to watch and stayed up late for (along with Fringe). Damn, I love zombies.

More firsts- went to the House of Netjer annual celebration in Chicago for the first time (amazing, can't wait for next year), joined a new co-ed hockey team with much less drama than my last co-ed team which I quit along with one of my high drama women's team (still a Lady King of course). Some seconds- Comic Con and Christmas with my fantastic friend Beth and her adorable babies (a little over one year old). Also, I discovered Brendan Brazier's Thrive vegan diet, and got a couple days into it before I got super-sick and didn't have the energy to prepare the very nutritionally conscientious meal plan. I felt fantastic for those couple of days, so I can't wait to get back to it. Now, I can't wait to get back to New Years Eve with my sweetie. Happy New Year everyone! Happy birthday Jeff!!! I love you. See you in 2011.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Rat Dreams

I dreamt about rats again. I started with two rats, an older and younger one, but then a third, even younger, showed up in the cage of the original younger one. The older one was bigger and looked a little crotchety, and they were both in tiny cages that were way too small. Someone in the dream offered to build them a new cage. He started with the older rat, and used an aquarium. The problem was he actually took the aquarium concept literally and filled it with water, so the poor rat was swimming around with a pathetic look on his face. I knew he shouldn’t be in water, but I had to ask someone else in the dream just to be sure- “Rats can’t live in water, can they?” “No, you need to get him out of there.” So I drained the cage, which worked fine without the water. Then I worked on making a cage for the two younger ones, but I had to do homework as well. I was in school, and the classes seemed familiar. I think I dreamed about being behind in the homework for these same classes in another dream. The first class was for something related to history, or literature, or political history…protesting figured heavily. The political history of protesting? The literature of protest? Something like that. The homework was a combination of reading and watching documentaries. At some point someone from one of the documentaries, about farm workers, came out of the TV and tried to turn it off. I said, “Hey, I’m watching that for my homework!” He said, “You’re building a rat cage.” I said, “Yeah, that too.”

My parents were in this dream too. I was living with them. They didn’t figure prominently. My dad was annoyed that I was up late in the basement doing homework, and my mom was playing supportive. My dad was an additional stressor, but that was about it. I was hiding in the basement from him though. I was always afraid of the basement when I was a kid. I had dreams about being chased around down there.

Right now (in awake world) I’m eating a vegan breakfast in day one of my experimental vegan athlete diet (Vega). It is a twelve week diet from a book. I am trying it out. It is free from common allergens- gluten, soy, corn, as well as dairy, eggs, and meat. I am hoping I might get more energy, be sick less, and lose some weight. If I feel better in 12 weeks I’ll keep going, and if not, I’ll stop. It was time-consuming getting started. I spent several hours yesterday grocery shopping, on top of an hour last Thursday and many hours compiling my grocery list. There is a lot of fruit and vegetables, seeds and nuts, and things I’ve never bought before like hemp protein and brown rice miso paste. Then I spent about 3 hours last night preparing and cooking for today. I made yam pancakes (no flour), energy bars, a salad, salad dressing, and a smoothie. So far it tastes pretty good. I really, genuinely like vegetables and most “health” food, so I am lucky. It’s not such a stretch for me to switch to this diet. I do like preparing food too, although I hope it doesn’t take quite so long every time. This is a pretty serious diet.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

It's a hard knock life

I've got to a point with sleep that I just can't stand it anymore. I haven't been able to get up in the morning; my subconscious won't release me. I talked to my therapist about it, and we talked about what was going on for me when I woke up. She made some suggestions, everything from getting a coffee maker with a timer so it would smell like fresh brewed coffee when I woke up to writing first thing in the morning so I can access the things in my subconscious that are trying to get out in my dreams/flashbacks. JW helped me pick out a coffee maker last night after we had an anniversary dinner (since our anniversary on Tuesday I was on a plane back from NY and he was working). He cuddled me to sleep last night, and then I threw on my PTSD guided imagery mp3's for good measure. I set the alarm for 5:30 am, and woke up by 6 am (I am capable of hitting the snooze for hours so 30 minutes is fantastic) feeling great. I got some coffee and cereal (always ravenous in the morning) and wrote this:

This is day one of giving my subconscious a VOICE. I usually have very detailed and vivid dreams, but I woke up today sweaty but not in the middle of something. I listened to my guided imagery last night, so that might have helped. Last night/morning, I dreamt I was driving a really nice, red sports car, but I couldn’t control it. The brakes didn’t work sometimes, and sometimes they were VERY sensitive. The steering was the same way. I kept thinking how great it was that I had this fantastic car, but damned if I could drive it. Seemed like a pretty accurate metaphor for my life. I have a great life, my dream life in a lot of ways, but I often feel out of control and that it’s not quite working because I can’t get it to do what I want it to do. I’m afraid of crashing and destroying the whole thing. I want to reach into my mind and see what is going on in there. There is a primordial soup of pain and fear and longing that wants to get out. I want it to get out. I had a vision a while ago, in EMDR, of these feelings growing out my back into large, beautiful wings, anchored in my body by a core of strength and resilience that came from my earlier experiences. The wings are kind of a dirty white, almost grey, but they are stunning and gorgeous and strong, and they can do what I couldn’t do when I was a kid- strike back with incredible force or fly me out of there. My rats are like little envoys from that place inside me that the wings grew out of. They are creatures of survival, smart, clever, resourceful, adaptable, resilient, but also full of personality. They are funny, sweet, loving, social, and curious. They survive, but that’s not all they are. They are strong and persistent, but also cute and sweet. They are my spirit animal. We understand each other. A rat in human form has wings though. My therapist thought my superhero power was holding all the pain and anguish and despair of my childhood away from me, but my superhero power IS that pain and anguish and despair. It’s what my strength grows out of. It’s the primordial soup of my life.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


Welcome to December, 2010. Last year, I blogged every day of December because it is such a difficult month for me with visions of Thanksgiving and Christmas family horror and my brother's birthday on December 31. This December, I am still struggling with a lot of anxiety and flashbacks, but when I look back on the year I feel like I've made a lot of progress. I've done a lot, too. Besides continuing with my therapist, I started seeing a psychiatrist and taking anti-anxiety medication to "take the edge off". I tried EMDR therapy for PTSD. I got physical therapy on my shoulder that was damaged in a beating from my dad as a kid, along with therapy on my knee after tearing my MCL in a hockey tournament in January. I think if I had just continued working with my therapist I would have dealt with a lot this year, but throw in the other treatments and this has been an intense year.

I have a new anniversary in December this year- on December 7 I will have been with my boyfriend, JW, for a year. Our relationship has impacted everything for me- he's been my support system, my best friend, the person who is always trying to make me laugh and made the hard times so much more bearable. The man is a saint. He is so patient and kind, caring, and considerate. He's helped me feel less like a problem and a disaster and more like a strong and desirable person. He sees my moods and emotional struggles as normal and understandable. He is safe. I can be myself around him, even if myself happens to be confused, pulling my hair out (or banging my head against a wall), and wailing against the world. He still loves me just as much as when I'm sweet and lighthearted.

Plus, he is sexy, funny, fun, wicked smart, interesting, unique, goofy, and intriguing. He looks like a grown-up skater boy, which is a look I find totally hot. I love watching him play hockey, and he is the most amazing hockey geek and gear head. He knows so much and sees so much. He notices things I glaze over. When we go to the warm-up before NHL games he sees variations on the equipment I would never notice. He thinks I'm sexy and that makes me feel sexy. I'm free to be myself around him, and I've discovered that inspires me to odd animal sounds. I make dinosaur noises after we have sex and it seems perfectly natural. (I didn't even know I knew what dinosaurs sound like before I met him.) We connect with each other. I feel emotionally in tune with him, and his intellect fascinates me. I could learn about the way he sees the world for the rest of my life and it would never get old. He loves animals. I love animals. I love his dogs and cats, and he loves my rats. All these connections and comfort I have with him results in the most amazing physical relationship I've ever had. No one has ever made me feel the way he does. I've never been so present with anyone, so able to really be there mentally and emotionally when being physical.

So this month, December daily blogathon month, I want to write about this past year, how my life has evolved, and how wonderful my year with JW has been. I'm sure I'll still struggle this month with the holidays, but I know it will be a different experience because I won't be alone with it. I'm building a new family to share/survive/enjoy the holidays with. I was thankful for that on Thanksgiving this year and Christmas seems a lot less daunting because of it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fly, Little Monkey, Fly!

Good news! My co-ed team, the Dirty Martinis, won the championship! The other team in the final, the Grinders, are actually very cool and were not shout-y and mean like the one in the playoffs. The game was just as tight though. It was 0-0 for a while, then 1-0, 1-1, overtime, and after no one scored in the 15 minutes OT we went to a shoot-out. Two of our guys scored, and only one of theirs, so we won! It was very exciting. That was the first time one of my seasonal teams won the championship. My one other winning experience was last January when my tournament team, the Hot Flashes, won our division. It is a very satisfying feeling, especially since my soccer team in high school never even won a game. I am used to being on underdog teams. VERY underdog teams. I'm all about the underdogs.

My co-ed team is great- we are about 50-50 male and female, so truly co-ed. The guys pass to the women and much of our defense are women, so it's not like one of those teams where they don't trust or include the women. We party before, (sometimes during) and after the game, so it's a lot of fun. We definitely cheer like crazy for each other, stick up for each other on the ice (sometime too much!), and enjoy each other's company. It's the kind of team you want to be a part of. (I would also say my Lady Kings team is like that too. Great women who appreciate each other and are super-supportive. Of course, 5-6 of us are on both teams.) The Dirty Martinis is also where I got my latest hockey nickname- Monkey. Monkey seems like a pretty popular hockey nickname, but it's the first one to really stick with me. I love it when I can hear my teammates yell "Go monkey!" when I'm on the ice. It's inspiring. I've had a handful of nicknames before- Garbage Girl (for picking up rebounds), Dirt (for picking up ice scum on my hockey socks sliding around), Ketchup (because I'm # 57), and Flypaper (covering the point). I think I got Monkey because when I'm on the bench I get excited and say, "Ooo ooo ooo ooo OOO!" I also kind of flail my arms around when I skate, and act silly. Monkey is a great nickname because it gives you license to act goofy and make funny noises and not care what you look like when you throw yourself around on the ice. I really do give it all I've got when I'm out there, and it's not exactly my most graceful moments that are the most effective.

It's lunchtime at work right now, and the reason I'm writing is that I'm having a panic attack. I don't know if it's work, or something health related, or personal, or what. I am very busy at work, so that could be a factor. Last Wednesday, I think, I was feeling really sad about my brother without really knowing why. We talked about awareness and meditating in therapy on Tuesday. Wednesday I went to a Kings game so that's why I didn't finish blogging. My boyfriend had to work so we had a girls night. It was a lot of fun. It just feels like a strange week for some reason. It may become more clear this weekend why I'm feeling odd. Right now I'm just trying to breathe and calm down so I can get through the day.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mission: Boring Life

First, the exciting stuff. My Lakewood team, the Dirty Martinis, beat the first place team Trainwreck in the playoffs and we're going to the final this Saturday! We played a tight game. There was a lot of jabbering and retaliatory penalties though. It was making me a little nervous because the yelling really bothers me more than anything. Verbal intimidation can give me flashbacks. With four minutes left, Will on our team told everyone to shut up and stop letting them draw us into fights. We were tied at the time, but I think calming down and focusing on winning rather than the rivalry helped us go strong into the overtime and win. The other team was definitely not expecting us to eliminate them, and they were pissed. Even though there was some loudmouths on that team, their goalie seemed cool and a couple of people on their team were trying to break up fights. We play the Grinders in the final. I can hardly wait. My Blue Lady Kings team has our third game of the new season this Friday. As if that wasn't enough hockey goodness, the NHL season started last week, and we're going to the Canucks-Kings game on Friday as well. The Kings beat the Canucks at their home season opener, Kings beat the Atlanta Thrashers at their home season opener, and right now I'm watching the Canucks at the Anaheim Ducks for the Ducks home season opener. It's currently tied. Long live hockey!

Oh, wait, Canucks just scored.

Also exciting news- I got my first smart phone. It is a Droid X, and he is quite the electronic goofball. I'll be working or sitting on the couch and he'll announce in his deep robot voice, "DROID". I guess that just means I got a message or something, but it sounds like he just wants to remind me of his presence. I like to give electronics and other devices names- my car is Penelope, my GPS is Gina, and my iPod is James. I originally named my Droid Smurfly, because I put a blue cover on him. I've been calling him Big Smurf, though, because of his deep voice. I also call him Superfly.

Ducks just tied it up. Oh wow, Ducks scored again. Bobby Ryan. I like him.

Okay, boring. I want a boring life. I'm so burned out on drama and struggle and chaos. I want things to be simple and orderly and clean. But I'm also afraid of that. I'm afraid that if I get everything the way I want it, some outside force will come make a mess of it. I'm afraid of getting too comfortable with stability, and then having it taken away from me and the grief that would cause me. I'm afraid of screwing things up myself. I felt for many years that I was cursed to have bad things happen to me, and it's hard to accept that maybe things are different now. I have these apocalyptic fantasies that we'll end up in a Terminator/Mad Max/Resident Evil type world, and I'll be forced back to a life of being hunted and fear. My apartment, and my office, continues to reflect my internal conflict. I want order and simplicity, but I'm more used to chaos and disorder. I'm afraid I'll lose my ability to deal with adversity, and get soft. I'm afraid I'll get too attached to comfort and predictability, and be devastated when it's taken away from me. I'm afraid of getting caught by surprise. I'm really afraid of that.

I talked to my therapist today, and she says I'll have to consciously challenge that part of me that reverts to chaos, that feels that order is pointless because someone will just come in and destroy it. The part of me that figures it's better for me to live in a messy apartment because if I'm not containing the chaos in my apartment it will come at me from a place unknown and beyond my control. My first concrete step is to spend 30 minutes a day cleaning my apartment. And generally, my goal is to be boring. Live a boring life. Let myself get used to a life without craziness. Accept comfort in my life without guilt or panic.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Constant refutation with myself I'm a victim of a catch 22

I had such a difficult therapy session today I don't know how to begin.

But first, Monday was the hottest day ever in Los Angeles. EVER. 113 degrees. When I can home, my rats were all flat. That's what they do when they're hot- they flatten out. They also lie on their side and close their eyes so they look dead. I don't like that. My thermometer only goes up to 90, so I only know it was hotter than that. I don't have air conditioning, so I opened all the windows and the sliding door to my balcony. By 11 pm, it was still hotter than 90 degrees. I knew I had to leave the sliding door open because it was the only significant source of fresh air (the fans were having practically no effect) and the little rats cage is near the door and they were still lethargic.

So I left the door open and tried to sleep in my room, but I kept coming out to the living room to check for prowlers on my balcony. I live on the second floor and there's really no way to get on the balcony without a ladder, but my fear of rapists coming into my apartment is exceedingly strong. Finally, because of that and because my bedroom was still so hot, I ended up sleeping on my couch clinging to a pair of scissors. I figured I could stab someone in the eyes with them, but I wouldn't cut myself in my sleep. Welcome to my world.

Actually, one of the reason I write in this blog is to try to let some of this out and try to explain to someone, anyone, what it's like to have PTSD. This is what we talked about in therapy today. Not the balcony door, rather, my therapist gave me a questionnaire that was designed by one of her mentors who works with Vietnam vets. It does three things- gives you a global distress score, a PTSD score, and scores you on the three categories of PTSD symptoms- re-experiencing trauma (nightmares and flashbacks), avoidance/numbing (emotional numbness, avoiding situations that remind you of the trauma, difficulty trusting people and expressing feelings, memory problems), and increased arousal (panic attacks, difficulty falling asleep and with concentration, anxiety, irritability). They also developed a scale for comparison, so my score could be compared to the averages for battered wives, children who have to go through surgery, people in car accidents, etc.

I've been working with my therapist for a year, and I feel like a trust her and try really hard to be totally honest with her and tell her what's going on with me, and explain how I feel, and she was still completely shocked by the scores I got. I wasn't. My global distress score was 90, and my PTSD score was 50. That doesn't really mean anything on it's own, but the group I have the closest scores with were Vietnam vets. Think about that. My therapist explained it by saying that most people with the severity of PTSD that I have are acting out in very serious ways- getting arrested, addicted to drugs, coming into the VA looking completely psychotic, beating their spouse and/or children, etc. This is what my therapist said. She was stunned. She expressed that she was and I could see it, and I, having filled out the questionnaire, was not surprised at all. I knew my score was going to be very high. I live with these side affects every day. My scores were high for all three categories-re-experiencing, avoidance/numbing, and increased arousal. Again, not surprised although I thought I was doing less numbing now than I realized.

As far as the categories go, if I could get rid of the symptoms in any one category right now, I would go with increased arousal. If I could get through my days (and nights) without panic attacks, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, heart palpitations, and insomnia, if I was calm and well-rested, the numbness and re-experiencing would be a lot easier to handle. Not easy, but easier. Potential the most complicated symptom is the numbness though. I go numb when I get emotionally overwhelmed. It's like my internal version of taking emotional painkillers. It happens involuntarily, which is both a testament to my subconscious ability to take care of myself, and the most frustrating side affect to try to use willpower to change. It really does happen involuntarily, without the participation of my conscious mind. My conscious mind likes to think it is in control, so this can be a little disconcerting. It can also make me feel disconnected from my life and passively depressed. It can cause real problems too, like when I should be acting or reacting and I've just checked out. The more stressful the situation, the more I can block it out. The can cause me to feel trapped in something that I could walk away from. It can also do the opposite, keep me from really experiencing my life or connecting with someone because I'm just not emotionally there.

It is a disability of sorts. I am limited in how much I can handle other people's emotions because of the difficulty I have managing my own. My best friend in Seattle has been going through a really trying time, I was there for her whenever she needed me until she told me she was feeling suicidal. Then I just couldn't go there with her. I feel like a world-class heel. This is when she needs support and understanding the most, and I have experience with depressed and suicidal people, including myself. But the idea of losing her to suicide is so terrifying to me that I had to distance myself. Of course I'm questioning myself and thinking I'm the worst friend in the world, but I just can handle the grief I feel even considering her death. I broke down weeping when I tried to tell my therapist about it. It feels like an endless chasm of pain that I can't look down for fear I'll lose myself in it. When Jeff took his life, the life that I knew ended and it took me 10 years to feel like I was starting to get my legs back under me again. I can't go through that again. I just don't have the capacity. I really just can't. I love her so much, but I am limited. I can be a superhero when it comes to surviving and coping and getting through really bad things, but I've taken a lot of damage along the way. I am not healed yet. My emotional stores are scrapping the bottom. I hate to feel impaired like this. I want to kick ass all the time, be the best person I can be, move mountains, laugh in the face of danger. I want to be larger than life. In some ways I am. But the reason I learned to fly was that my legs were crushed. It's taking time for me to learn to walk, having never done it before.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thrown under the bus!

Not to repeat myself, but I am still really tired. I was actually feeling so bad that it was affecting hockey. I felt so burned out that I quit one of my teams. Don't worry, I still have two teams. I'm a baby blue smurf and a dirty martini monkey girl. My smurfs are in between seasons, but I'm a new co-team rep with my good friends Lori and Jamie. I think being team rep has actually invigorated my passion for hockey, although my passion for the team never waned. We are underdogs and I love underdogs.

The Dirty Martinis are still playing our summer season, and we have our second double header this Saturday. I am excited. Doubleheaders are fun even though I feel like I could collapse any second. The only thing I really have going for me is that I try really hard, so it can be hard to balance my energy level for that long. I feel like I'm either giving it everything I've got or about to keel over, and that doesn't work very well when I have to keep it up over two back-to-back games. But I love it. One of the reasons I quit one of my teams is so I'd have more time to practice. I find that I play kind of crappy when I don't practice, and I haven't been practicing. I haven't been to Monday night pick-up in ages, and I love Monday night pick-up. It is one of the funnest things ever.

I'm still belly dancing (cross-training). It's a lot of fun too, although I'm not very impressed with myself. I'd have to give myself a "C" for both hockey and belly dancing. It's a good thing I don't mind sucking at something if it's fun. I'd have to give myself a "C" grade at being a girlfriend too. It's fun even though I feel like a disaster a lot of the time. I really don't know how to be a girlfriend with a guy who is not a jerk. My boyfriend is very patient and kind and sweet. He is truly a good guy, and super-sexy. The poor guy seems to like bitchy women, though. His ex-girlfriend won't even look at me, which gets a little humorous since they are still on a hockey team together and just the other day I was at their draft. I was impressed that she managed to go more than an hour without looking at me, even when her and my boyfriend were talking to each other and I was standing next to him. I don't think I would have that kind of control. Myself, I spent a good portion of the time looking right at her, staring-contest style only opposite, trying to get her to look at me. She won. It kind of floors me since she wants to be friends with him, and I never did anything to her besides date her ex, and they have join-custody of the dogs, and she has a boyfriend (who's on the team too) so you'd think she'd get over herself and quit it, but I guess not.

I have to admit, though, that when I'm watching their games and she gets knocked down, I snicker a little. I really don't like her. I don't like how she treats me. I don't like how she treated my boyfriend. I think she's crazy for breaking up with him, although that's definitely to my benefit. I don't like that she acts like she still has some kind of hold on him, and I really don't like how jealous that's made me. That's one of the reasons I'm giving myself a "C" as a girlfriend. I have jealousy issues. I'm so afraid of being left/abandoned that I get all emotional and irrational and I'm embarrassed that I need so much reassurance. I am trusting him a lot more now, so the jealousy has calmed down. It only took me 9 months. My trust is like a baby.

My mom keeps calling me because she wants to talk about, get this, how my crazy, stalker ex that I broke up with almost 8 years ago contacted her on Facebook. He contacted me a while ago (at least a year) on Facebook and I blocked him. I also, somewhat regrettably, kind of flipped out on a friend who ran into him and kind of indicated I was on Facebook or something. I was a little pissed. This guy is a nightmare, and the message he sent me let me know he hadn't changed at all. It's embarrassing that I dated such losers. No wonder I had such a hard time believing my current boyfriend was as wonderful and trustworthy as he seemed to be. Now I'm pissed at my mom. She's doing my ex's dirty work for him. He just loves terrorizing me and she just can't say, "Obviously, my daughter doesn't want to talk to you, so leave her and me alone." As if she would ever stick up for me, or do anything to protect me. No, it is always up to me to protect myself. No, she never feels any responsibility to shield me or defend me or think about how her actions, or lack thereof, affect me. Oh no, I'm her daughter but I'm supposed to be caring for her. Yes, I'm bitter.

At work, one of the most popular phrases is "throwing someone under the bus". It happens in meetings a lot, where someone told you one thing, but says something completely different in a meeting in front of superiors. Or, something gets put on you in a meeting, like you get blamed for something or called out for something or someone tries to deflect blame from themselves by pointing out something you did or didn't do. One of the things I love about my boss, and about my whole team, is that we do not throw each other under the bus. Yesterday, I was thrown under the bus by someone in another department, to her superior who has no authority over me but seems to think he does. Actually, you could argue that she tried to throw one of my staff under the bus, but I was not about to let that happen. I told my therapist about it yesterday, and about my mom calling me, and the session came full circle when I reflected on how much I hate being thrown under the bus because my entire childhood was about getting run over repeatedly by that bus. So I'm mainly pissed at my dad for being the bus, but of course I'm more than a little resentful that it was my own mom throwing me under. Just to clarify in case you didn't catch this in the many pages of ranting in my blog so far, my dad was abusive to my mom before I was born, and then she was perfectly content to let it transfer to me when I became the target, and then the second me and my brother were out of the house, she left to protect herself. But not us. No, not to protect us.

Yes, I'm bitter. I really want to cut these throwing people under the bus, and buses, out of my life for good. This is how I'm starting to see people- there's buses, and people who throw you under, and people who are indifferent to your screams, and those wonderful people who come pick you up, or prevent it from happening in the first place, or, amazingly, will throw themselves under to protect you. I love those people.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Monkey girl don't pole dance

It been exciting here lately. I went to a Dodgers baseball game with my co-workers. JW got his season tickets for the L.A. Kings, which kind of makes me a new season ticket holder since I'm going in with him for my own seat. My bottom feeding for Kings tickets days are over. No longer will I be sucking up freebies and counting on the generosity of others to see NHL hockey. I feel a little weird about my status as an NHL fan. Do I still get to call myself a Vancouver Canucks fan since I cheered for the Kings against them in the playoffs? Will I still wear my Canucks jersey when they come to town even though I'm (sort of) a Kings season ticket holder? I tell you what, I'm not making one of those hideous frankenjerseys so I can wear both. No.

So for me, a true blue Canucks fan for almost 20 years, I feel a little strange. Even stranger, I went to Monday Night Football at Sharkeez. Sharkeez is a sports bar/restaurant with 4 or 5 locations in Southern California. My boyfriend and his friends are regulars there for Monday Night Football, and it is quite a production. My previous experiences with Sharkeez was going there with co-workers for lunch, drinks, parties, and once to dinner with my boyfriend. It usually ranged from pretty mellow to moderately hopping, but mostly I was focused on the fish tacos (extremely good, actually, especially with this crazy good rice they have) and watching hockey on TV. Probably my most memorable experience was successfully talking a waiter into turning all the TVs to different NHL games, and then finding out he had never heard of Wayne Gretzky. Seriously, he had NEVER heard of Wayne Gretzky. I could hardly believe it.

But Monday Night Football, oh boy crazy. They have trivia, and prizes, beads, free shots, all the staff are wearing football jerseys, the women's customized in various ways to go with their extremely short skirts and stripey socks, and it is LOUD. And a meat market, something I usually avoid. I've never in my life met someone in a bar, and I don't really get that scene. Of course I was there with my boyfriend, so mostly I just enjoyed watching his friends try to play hard to get with women they were interested in. I tried to watch the game, too. I don't really get football. I definitely get hockey, and soccer, and I can watch just about any Olympic sport and get into it. I used to follow NBA basketball. I'll even watch cheerleading competitions, although I agree with the recent court ruling that cheerleading is not a sport for the purposes of Title 9.

Football though, eh. But I tried. The funnest part was watching my boyfriend, who is from New York and is a NY Jets fan. In an effort to encourage an interest in football, he suggested I become a Baltimore Ravens fan, because they're, like, all Edgar Allen Poe and goth. So even though I've never been to Baltimore and know nothing about the team, I was like, sure, I'll be a Ravens fan. So guess what? The Jets were playing the Ravens. JW didn't even mind me rooting against his team (even when the Ravens won). He was totally in his element, answering Jets trivia questions and collecting swag. It was fun to watch him having so much fun. I love that I found someone who is even more enthusiastic than I am. He is really the free spirit in this relationship.

My extra fun lately has been taking belly dancing lessons. I am taking them from Aisha Ali, who is a very impressive woman all around. She is a wonderful dancer, and taking lessons from her is truly a cultural experience since she tells us stories about when she spent 20 years studying dance from the Fellahin gypsy tribe in Egypt. This is one of the amazing things about L.A. Where else could I study dance with an internationally known dancer and scholar, for $15 a lesson. In every class, I'm remind that really great dancers make it look so easy, but when you try to imitate what she does, it's so hard. For her, though, it looks like no big deal. It is anything but.

So while I continue selling my unwanted stuff on eBay, I've found zills (finger cymbals) and jingly coin scarves to buy there. Zills are pretty hard to do well, but the cool thing about wearing the jingly coin scarves around your hips is that it makes it seem like you know what you're doing. At least it sounds that way. It all leads back to hockey, though, because I was hoping the body control and being able to do isolated movements in different parts of my body would help with hockey. My hockey teacher is always telling me to separate what I do with my upper body from what my legs are doing. In belly dancing, you do a lot of separate things with your hips, legs, hips, shoulders, arms, and head. Like an type of dance, it's crazy hard to do well.

In other adjustments to different cultures, the rats have really jumped to the forefront. First, Miroslav managed to infiltrate Jason's cage and attempted to evict him. The littles (Miroslav, Zeus, and Keith) share a cage (mind you, a rat mansion!). Jason has his own cage. I used to have them right next to each other on a table. Before I got the littles, I used to keep Jason's cage door open so he could hang out on top of his cage and, I hoped, feel a little more free. The new cages, the Bel-Air Rat Mansions, have a door on the top and the side. So one night, I left Jason's cage open and he got off the table and had an excellent adventure cruising around the apartment while I was asleep. I spotted him when I woke up, and he ran away initially but then came when I called. Then Miroslav tried his hostile takeover, which involved a very traumatizing amount of squealing and blood and mayhem. So, after dipping Jason in soapy water with hydrogen peroxide, scrubbing his cage clean of Miroslav smells, and attempting to comfort the poor freaked-out older rat, I moved Jason into my room. So the littles now have the table in the living room to themselves.

I naively thought that Jason getting off the table (which is 2-1/2 feet off the ground) was just a fluke, so when I left the little's cage door open so they could cruise around the table while I slept, I was a little surprised when Keith showed up on my living room floor the next morning. Keith does not come when I call. Keith is fast and wants nothing to do with being picked up by me. It was an all day ordeal. I chased him around the living room for almost an hour in the morning until I had to go to work. Then I came home and chased him around the living room for another hour, finally lost him, fell asleep on the couch, stumbled into my bedroom and found him in the corner under my dressing table. Then I chased him around the bedroom for another hour, finally luring him into a plastic tube using a juggling stick that belonged to my brother.

So now I have two escape artists, one rat who is living up to his name (Miroslav Satan), and sweet Zeus, who still licks my fingers and loves me. Jason still loves me too, and seems a lot calmer now that he's hanging in my room. Keith sort of tolerates me but is still trying to jump off the table any chance he gets. Miroslav, well, I still love that fearless rat even though he attacked my beloved gentle spirit Jason. I don't trust him though. His morals are questionable.

Finally, I got rear-ended on the 405 freeway yesterday. My car seems undamaged. I don't know if I got whiplash yet, but it was loud and shocking and I was pretty rattled. I did get to completely stop my car, turn off the engine, and not care in the middle of rush hour traffic, so that was fun. Mostly, I'm just glad it wasn't worse. I've seem some unpleasant accidents on the 405. So I feel lucky. Very, very lucky. My L.A. experience is evolving. I wonder how long you have to live here to be a real Angelino? Does it count if you just really love it here, despite the traffic and questionable air quality? If you realize that this place is full of so many cultures and subcultures that you could walk into a mind-altering cultural experience at any time? That you don't think that Hollywood and celebrities is all L.A. has to offer the world? As my boyfriend says, if you don't like L.A. get off the freeway and see what L.A. is really all about.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Box-shaped Heart

"There are times when we should put our hearts in a box, so that we are not immobilized by it's desires." -Anatomology

I have been attempting to sell some of my clutter problem on eBay, and had some success, i.e. I've sold 3 pairs of shoes. I also sold 12 books on Amazon, which unfortunately I can no longer recommend as a book selling tool. They have increased their rates and decreased their shipping credit. I'm not sure exactly how much I've made after subtracting shipping costs, but I know it's not much. (I am behind on my personal number crunching.) So I've listed some books on eBay to see if I have any success on non-shoe sales. So far, my selling percentage on eBay has been less than stellar- 50%. It is kind of fun though, sort of in a trying to figure out which lane on the freeway, and combination of lanes, will get me home faster during rush hour in L.A. There's a lot of people popping on and off, and you're trying to predict the human behavior of a diverse group with a lot of different aims. I've speculated with my co-workers that L.A. freeways are a giant experiment on human behavior, and I could make the same argument for eBay. It's a fascinating and somewhat unpredictable place.

I'm sure the current economic climate is not the best for selling unnecessary stuff. The real struggle is with myself though. It's hard to let go, both of stuff and behavior. For example, I tried to sell the shoes pictured above, going so far as to take lovely pictures in natural settings and start a posting on eBay. While describing how great they are, I waffled. The picture doesn't do them justice. They are British punk rock boots made into heels. Now, I'm not a fan of heels. I think it's kind of a crazy concept to wear shoes you can't walk significant distances in and that cause poor posture and mess up your feet. That's why I quit ballet at the end of 8th grade. But my job pretty much requires me to wear heels, and these shoes are beautiful. I just can't quit them.

After going through my books, filling two packing boxes of ones to sell and filling an entire bookcase with unread books that I still intend to read, I resolved to stop buying books (at least until I read all the ones in the bookcase). I have a book addiction. I am perfectly capable of whipping through books at lightning speed too, although the PTSD and abuse books are definitely more slow going. The siren call of Borders was too much for me though, because I found myself casually perusing through the discount books before my therapy session last week, and walked away with "feeling fat, fuzzy, or frazzled?" by Richard Shames, M.D. and Karilee Shames, Ph.D., R.N. Not particularly obvious from the title, the book is about addressing too low or too high thyroid, adrenal, and/or reproductive functioning. Ah, self-help. You have ensnared me again!

To explain my draw to this book, in the late 90's I had a lump in my thyroid. Nothing unusual came out in my blood tests, and the lump was non-cancerous, but it was quite large. You could see it, and definitely feel it, so I was put on thyroid medication. The medication did nothing. I asked what the point was, but I was told to keep taking it and it would work. I went to a homeopathic doctor about my migraines. (This was about a year after my brother's death and I was having debilitating migraines.) He gave me something to take, and a week later, the lump in my thyroid went away completely, never to return. The migraines didn't go away, and the homeopathic doctor was stumped. The doctor prescribing the thyroid medication didn't believe me. I stopped taking it. About a year later, I was suffering from even worse migraines, exhaustion, panic attacks, uncontrollable vomiting and searing stomach pain almost every time I tried to eat anything. I was taking about 6 different medications for anxiety and depression, and none of them seemed to be working. I was at the end of my rope, completely miserable, when I talked to a friend who was in acupuncture school. She recommend "Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions with Modern Nutrition" by Paul Pitchford. This book changed my life. I learned that I could feel better by eating better. This is when I verified that I had issues with dairy. I quit taking all the drugs and focused on improving my health. Later I discovered my problems with gluten, and I've always done better with very limited meat eating (although I get iron deficient very easily if I go off meat entirely).

Flash forward to present day, dealing with the abuse memories straight on, taking anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication for PTSD, feeling exhausted a lot of the time, stressed, migraines, not sleeping well, nightmares, feeling nauseous, using coffee and sugar to try to regulate my energy levels with limited success, etc. It feels very familiar. So a couple weeks ago I started trying to get health again. I pick up this book 5 days later, and I'm thinking I've had thyroid problems in the past, and the adrenals are what regulate the stress hormones that are involved in fight-or-flight and PTSD. If those aren't worn out after the life I've had, I'd be completely shocked. So I power through the book, take the quizzes, come out with low thyroid and low adrenal functioning (no shocker), and note these recommendations:

-Get enough sleep and rest
-High fiber, low calorie diet
-No meat or dairy
-Do eat fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts, sprouts, avocados, and olives
-Avoid fluorine and chlorine

-Reduce stress
-Avoid sugar, simple carbs, food additives, chemicals, preservatives, caffeine, alcohol
-Eat complex carbs in small meals
-Don't avoid salt

Besides that these are very similar to the things I did before to get health and feel better, there's a lot of random things that I had no idea was connected to my thyroid or adrenals, like migraines, low blood pressure (mine is so low nurses think I'm the walking dead), noise and temperature sensitivity, trouble waking up in the morning and going to sleep at night. Plus, the vitamins they recommend are a lot of vitamins (and amino acids) recommended by other books I read and have had some success with in the past. It all comes together.

I discussed this development with my therapist, and my personal observation that it takes a lot of effort, time, research, luck, and various types of doctors and other professionals (who need to be open-minded and sympathetic) to try to figure out how to holistically recover from child abuse trauma. Most of the PTSD literature out there mentions child abuse but doesn't really get into how repeated, long-term trauma from primary caregivers during one's formative years and not knowing any other reality presents additional or different challenges to recovery than trauma that happens to you as an adult and is not a condition of your childhood. I have never seen any mention of the adrenals, but it stands to reason that chronic trauma and the stress of child abuse would be expected to burn the crap out of anyone's body relating to stress response. Long-term trauma during childhood causes emotional damage, but what about the damage to one's thinking and physical responses. I have had serious sleep problems for as long as I can remember. This is a physical problems. I have a multitude of physical problems that are generally tied to stress- migraines, digestive issues, panic attacks. (I even wake up with them. I did this morning.)

Not to whine, but it is a pain in the ass to try to compile information on recovering from all the things child abuse does to you. Hell, I was WIRED differently because I grew up this way. I still don't know if it is really possible to rewire myself to be a post-trauma being. I don't know how much of this I can change and how much I will just need to adapt to in a more healthy way. Thinking is probably the most changeable, although it is persistent. What about the way my body developed? What about the stress responses that are baked into me by now. Why the hell isn't there a book about that? A book with the current science, and also other options that go beyond conventional medicine and take a holistic mind, body, and soul approach. If I wrote a book, that's the book I'd want to write.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Happy Death Day

Today turned out to be my last day of questionable eating (and the day I fixed, hopefully all, the multitude of grammatical errors in my last post). This was the third and final day of IFRS training, and I was taken in by temptation. I drank coffee with cream and ate a croissant for breakfast, ate cheese and meat for lunch (sandwiches without the bread, a croissant is one thing but regular bread scares me), and a coke. By the end of the day I had a horrible stomachache, headache, and gas.

I went to get my waxing and nails done after work because I thought it would be relaxing. Funny how getting hot wax smeared on my crotch and having the hair ripped out, and then having someone scrub my feet while I try not to flinch or squeal or kick her is something I interpret as relaxing. The massage chair can wipe away a lot of discomfort. The woman I try to get for my waxing, Amy (probably not her real name) I've been going to for 3 years. She is quite perceptive- I told her I was single and she never asked about it for 2 years, and then as soon as I started dating JW she asked me if I had a boyfriend and said I seemed happy. Anyway, she commented on my pudginess. She managed to make a comment about my belly sticking out more than before not seem completely insulting, but it still strengthened my resolve. That, and half the women who work there wear these cute jeans and I currently can't fit into my cute jeans. Being told by a tiny Asian woman in cute jeans that I'm "curvier" is really motivating me to lose weight.

It is over though. I am ready to attempt life improvement through healthy eating. I had brown rice and vegetables for dinner. I am nervous about tomorrow, mostly about going all day without coffee. I will drink black tea though. I will drink black tea and celebrate my commitment to the new diet. I will also celebrate that tomorrow will be the day after the anniversary. My brother died 13 years ago today. I have been experiencing waves of sadness at random times during the day. I came home and finished unpacking his stuff that I still had boxed up in the corner since moving into this apartment. It has been haunting me all this time, but it is done. The possessions of his I treasure the most is the pottery he made himself. It is all out on the table with his pictures now. Tomorrow my boyfriend is coming over to help me sort through some of my piles and start listing things on eBay and Amazon. Mostly, it will be good to work on my organizational plan together since I'm starting to feel isolated and weird, looking at my brothers things and all sorts of pictures and objects that remind me of the past. I want to get back to the present. That's one of my main reasons for wanted to get rid of a lot of this stuff. It ties me to the past, a past I don't want to feel like a weight around my neck. I don't want my past to feel like a burden anymore.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Unpimp my life

I've been feeling pretty crappy lately. Of course, it's kind of hard to tell if I've been feeling worse than before, and determining why I feel crappy is nearly impossible. Is it because my sleep is bad, anxiety, other PTSD symptoms, my notoriously poor digestion, coffee addiction related to my sleep problems causing stomach issues and headaches and migraines, food allergies, my body struggling to process the antidepressant and anti-anxiety medicines I'm taking, dealing with my emotional backlog... I could go on. I do know that usually when I'm having a lot of headaches and stomach pain, going on a very restrictive diet usually helps. My theory about my body is that the anxiety and PTSD causes my poor digestion. It is hard for my body to focus on processing food when I have so much else going on, and things like adrenaline screw you all up because when you are afraid your body figures digestion is a low priority. So when I eat "normally", that is, how most Americans would eat, my body practically shuts down because my digestive system just can't handle it. Even now, avoiding gluten (i.e. bread, pasta, flour tortillas) and dairy, it's better than it would be but I still feel tired and sluggish a lot. I'm really not a big fan of meat and would prefer to be a vegetarian except that I get iron deficient easily. I come close to being a vegan if I'm a vegetarian since I can't eat dairy anyway. When I was on the streets, I knew a lot of moral vegans, so I know that being a vegan is a lot more challenging than just not eating meat and dairy. A true vegan doesn't wear or use leather or wool, consume anything that contains animal products such as gelatin (including some vitamin capsules), or otherwise make use of anything that comes from an animal. On top of all that, I am chemically sensitive. MSG = very bad. Artificial sweeteners = very bad. I am already dedicated to only using makeup that doesn't have freaky chemicals in it.

I am also dieting right now = pain in the ass. I still haven't lost the weight I gained when my knee injury kept me from playing hockey, which was 10 pounds. I don't like it. My boyfriend's mom suggested I go vegan, and ever since I moved to L.A. I've been wanting to get back on the kind of diet I was on in Seattle. I ate out less and ate less meat and heavy foods. So I've decided to do vegan-lite, at least for the next month. I am going on a super-strict diet to see if I have more energy and feel less wretched. So here it is:
1. No coffee (dreading the major withdrawals)
2. No fried food (hard to digest, and heated oils are bad for your body)
3. No dairy (already know this messes me up, i.e. digestion shuts down, I get constipated, tmi)
4. No meat (hard to digest, makes me feel lethargic)
5. No gluten (kind of gives me the opposite reaction as dairy, more tmi)
6. No sugar (just screws up my blood sugar and makes me yo-yo, bad for yeast overgrowth in the intestines too. Vinegar and yeast is bad for this too, but lemon juice is actually good.)
7. No carbonation (makes my stomach hurt)
8. No chemicals (ditto)

I decided that I should avoid going out to eat during the month, since it is such a challenge to find something that's okay and I usually end up cheating in some way. I have to say, even though I've done these kind of diets before, I am nervous about how hard this is going to be. I am a total coffee addict even though I know it is bad for me, and I have been going out to eat a lot. I have been in IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) off-site training this week, and I am not doing well since all the meals are provided and they are pretty much all bad for me. I am planning to throw myself body and soul into this on Friday after work. Wish me luck. I am hoping to feel much better, but I may feel worse before I start feeling better.

In other news, my desire to simplify my life has really kicked with my apartment de-cluttering project. I am on a tear. I am getting rid of at least a third of my books, 14 pairs of shoes, half my purses, bags, and snow globes, and any number of random things. I am really motivated right now. One of my biggest fears is becoming a pack rat like my dad and grandma (it's pathological, I'm convinced). I have been firmly down that road and am trying to drag myself away from the abyss. I have this fantasy that getting rid of my extra stuff will help me let go of emotions and angst over my childhood I no longer need. Symbolism. Plus, I just think of all the women who totally kick ass in movies. They don't need a bunch of crap weighing them down. Seriously, for someone with so many apocalyptic themed books, comics, and movies (wildly apparent that I have some kind of obsession when I weeded through my books), I am not ready for the apocalypse. I'd be packing my stuff for weeks after the zombies had turned half the country. I'd be like, "Just a second, I can't join your army of the undead, or join the small, outmatched band of survivors, until I figure out which of these knickknacks goes to Goodwill. Please come back in 6 months when I've lost enough weight to fit into the leather pants and tiny top that is the uniform for women who sexily scowl as they chop the heads off zombies. Carry on."