Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nameless Hockey Grief

Well. What can I say? Obviously, I'm crushed that my Canucks lost the Stanley Cup in game 7. I've got nothing against the Bruins. I like Timmy Thomas, Milan Lucic, and Zdeno Chara. The last time the Bruins won the Stanley Cup was the year I was born. But after waiting 17 years for the Canucks to make the final again, all the bandwagon Canuck haters, the Keith Ballard defensive musical chairs, the brilliant team play, the not so brilliant play, Ryan Kesler's consistent amazingness, the hope, the expectation, the blue and green in my veins, it's a bitter pill to swallow that we made it that far only to lose in game 7. It wasn't even a good game. The Canucks looked tired and nervous the whole game. There were a lot of injuries. It was a long run.

Then there was the riots in Vancouver. The thing that annoys me the most about these, though, is the Vancouver police's claim that it was caused by a small group of anarchists. Really. Anarchists decided it would further their political aims to riot after a sports game? In my days as a punk rocker, I knew some anarchists, and the subject of sports never came up. I never heard any anarchist or punk express any interest in sports whatsoever. For one thing, none of us had televisions, or money to go to games. For another, I mean, jocks and anarchists? No. Not a lot of crossover there. Anarchists protesting a WTO meeting- okay, that works. Anarchists protesting the Canucks losing the Stanley Cup- give me a break. Anarchists dressed like frat boys in Canucks jerseys? Yeah, because that makes a lot more sense then hockey fans getting violent.

I'm a little touchy about this because I'm so sick of people using socialist as an insult. Anarchy and socialism are very different political philosophies,of course, but I find it really damaging when politicians are only expressing very narrow political views, and if you say something that doesn't conform to the ideas of the time, or are just outside the political norm, you're radical, unpatriotic, liberal, socialist, whatever. Anarchists, well they're just one of those groups we can blame the ills of society on. As someone who feels out of the mainstream, I find this name calling very offensive. It should not be a bad thing that people have different perspectives and different political beliefs. We live in a free society, and being free to see society differently is part of that. Rioting after a hockey game- not an expression of political beliefs. It's just drunk boneheads taking advantage of an opportunity to be destructive. Don't blame anarchists. I doubt many of those people could explain what anarchy as a political philosophy is. But maybe I'm wrong. So if you're a Canuck anarchist rioter, I would love to hear what you were hoping to accomplish last night. Let me know.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Soul Bunny

I decided I really like personalizing my copy of "The Courage to Heal Workbook", so besides doing the exercises in there of course, rewriting passages to suit me, doodling in the margins; the cover needed stickers. I love this book, and not just because my name is on the cover and it says "kick ass" on the back (and spine). The exercises are really interesting. I showed the book to my therapist, and she was so happy with it she wants to get a copy so she can support me. I read her the passage I quoted in my original post about the book, and she was so excited. She said she wanted therapy to follow the same principle.

Today I did some self-exploration at work. The Women in Business group at my company does Lunch and Learns, and today's was on Centered Leadership. The speaker encouraged us to work and play in ways that use our strengths, because that will give us enthusiasm and energy in our life. How do you identify your strengths? A quick exercise we did was to just think of what we thought our three top strengths are. Not skills, strengths. It helps to think of what you were like as a kid. Another way is to take the "VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire" at (You have to create a free account to take the questionnaire.)

I was very interested to get my results. Here's my top five:

1. Love of learning
2. Bravery and valor
3. Curiosity and interest in the world
4. Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
5. Citizenship, teamwork, and loyalty

I like those results. Now I'm curious about the strengths of all my co-workers and friends.

Consequentially, I'm going to a CalCPA Women's Leadership Forum tomorrow. There is a session on "Rising as a Leader in Your Organization" that I'm looking forward to. The whole thing sounds fascinating. I'm looking forward to meeting other female CPA's as well. Guess I should get to bed so I'll be well-rested tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Chasing butterflies

Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow. ~Mary Anne Radmacher

I started working on "The Courage to Heal Workbook" by Laura Davis (coauthor of "The Courage to Heal", the bible for adults who were sexually abused as children) last night. I am liking it so far. It is made to write in- it starts with a page to do your own table of contents with your favorite sections, and a dedications page where you and your friends can write encouraging notes. It's kind of exciting to be writing all over this book. I took the first quiz (why are you reading this book) and crossed out parts of four of the options and rewrote them. How many self-help books have a passage like this:

"As you move through the workbook, there may be moments when you feel inadequate, confused, or unable to proceed. There may be ideas that are new to you or that aren't explained adequately. That means there's a flaw in the design of the book, not in you. At other times you may find that your particular set of circumstances or feelings aren't being named or acknowledged. That's not because you don't belong; it's because of an oversight on my part." (page 9)

I'm already so attached to the book that I found a bag for it, with a pocket for my pens, pencils and highlighter, so I can carry it around with me. It's not that this book doesn't terrify me. I get a rush of anxiety when I pick it up, as I do when I look at my copy of "The Courage to Heal." I'm afraid it will be like "The Courage to Heal", which I keep trying to read and can't get farther than 22 pages. The workbook has sections to help you remember repressed memories, and I'm afraid of what I might remember. But I want to remember. I hate that part of my memory was taken from me. That is part of my life, a part that affects me but that I can't understand. I'm in a strange position because there is the sexual abuse that I have no problem remembering (my great-uncle) but I have repressed memories of what my dad did to me before age 7, that my mom threatened to leave him because. So when I read the book, a lot of different parts relate to me, except the parts for people who aren't convinced the sexual abuse is affecting them as an adult.

I don't know why it's been so hard for me to stick with "The Courage to Heal", but it is hard to go from reading, to doing writing exercises, back to reading. I seem to drift away in the transitions. I like that the workbook is mostly interactive. There is reading, but more exercises. I like writing. I'm already learning about myself. I did the exercise on safety, and learned that I feel the safest when I'm wearing black clothes and have my hair covered. I don't really know why, but it makes me feel more solid and contained. So now I know some ways to feel safer.

I'm afraid tonight

I'm afraid to go to bed.
I'm afraid of what I might dream about.
I'm afraid of remembering things I can't handle.
I'm afraid that healing will take so much of me that I won't be able to manage my regular life.
I'm afraid of regressing.
I'm afraid of getting worse rather than better.
I'm afraid of losing my mind.
I'm afraid of suicide.
I'm afraid of dying before I'm ready.
I'm afraid someone will come in my apartment and kill me.
I'm afraid that I am too stupid to get through this.
I'm afraid I will be alone.
I'm afraid no one understands me.
I'm afraid I will get stuck in my childhood trauma.
I'm afraid I will get to the end of my recovery and still feel unhappy.
I'm afraid I will always feel incomplete without my brother.
I'm afraid that if I remember everything that happened to me, I will feel such hopelessness and despair that I will want to die.
I'm afraid I can never be healed.
I'm afraid I will still feel as lost and alone at 71 as I did at 17.
I'm afraid that people might be more bad than good.
I'm afraid that I am hopelessly damaged and will always be broken.
I'm afraid I can't bond with people.
I'm afraid that my wounds run too deep to heal.
I'm afraid I'm too stupid to figure this out, since I was too stupid to handle the abuse better.
I'm afraid I'll always feel like a freak and an outcast.
I'm afraid I don't know how to be happy or live without chaos.
I'm afraid I'll spend the rest of my life with an empty aching inside me when I think of my brother.
I'm afraid that what got my brother will get me.
I'm afraid I'll struggle with depression my whole life.
I'm afraid that my life is limited, and I'll never live up to my potential or feel like I've reached my dreams because the abuse set me back so far I'll never catch up.
I'm afraid my dad will find me and finish beating me to death.
I'm afraid my ex-boyfriend will find me and kidnap me.
I'm afraid that child abuse and sexual abuse will never go away.
I'm afraid that the US foster care system will only get worse.
I'm afraid my dad might kill someone.
I'm afraid my great-uncle is still sexually abusing children.
I'm afraid my dad raped me when I was a baby.
I'm afraid of remembering what my dad did.
I'm afraid if I remember what my dad did to me before I was six, I won't want to live.

Monday, June 06, 2011

The Silence

What is the silence? Dull, exhausting, heavy- I feel it in my throat as if it's a weight on my neck. You think about talking or writing about it, and the words don't come. When you are around other people, it is like a veil that blocks you from connecting. Your feelings seem buried and far away, and your reactions are lifeless and slow. Everything seems far away, who you are seems far away.

The silence descended on me last December. When I try to write, I feel numb. I feel numb a lot. I stare at the phone when it rings usually. There are no words. I know it's the PTSD, but I don't know what to do about it. Creative, innovative, progressive thought is especially hard right now. Therapy is a struggle. It's so hard to talk about it, I alternately want to strangle my therapist and myself. (I don't really want to strangle her, but sometimes I can hardly stand the sound of her voice.) I understand why some people just don't talk about what happened, for decades or even their whole life. Besides the fear of rejection and/or judgement, every cell of my body screams "shut up! shut up! shut up!"

My dreams, though, just get more and more vivid. It's not just the images, story lines, people, or "traumatic remembering" as my therapist calls it. It's really the feelings. I feel those dreams. They are raw as hell. I feel like my skin's been slowly peeled off through out the night when I wake up in the morning. I go to work an emotionally mutilated mess. It's hard for me to believe that everyone I see at work can't see how twisted up I am. It's also hard to believe that my friends can't see how wrecked I am. But then I can't talk about it. When I'm awake, I push the feelings down so far I'm only really aware that things are very wrong. I've had a lingering migraine off and on for the last month at least. I just keep wondering if this is going to get any better, like, ever. I know it sounds silly to wonder if it will get better, but the silence is inertia. It's like trying to swim to shore in a sea of quicksand. It seems totally plausible that you really are stuck in this misery forever. All your progress seems to fade away when the solid ground under your feet disappears.

On a completely different note, my hockey team, the Vancouver Canucks, are in the Stanley Cup final. This is only their third time in the final, and they've never won. The last time they were in the final, the 1993-94 season, was my second year of hockey fandom. Trevor Linden was my hero, and after that final, the New York Rangers, and Mark Messier were the enemy. When my brother died, I stopped following hockey. It seemed trivial, and it also felt selfish for me to enjoy something like hockey when my brother couldn't enjoy anything anymore. It was also a painful reminder of my life before everything was destroyed. So it's been 17 years, and the Canucks are back in the final, and I'm back into hockey. Kind of strangely for me, the Canucks are seen by some as dirty, classless fakers. Eh. They seemed like the classiest team around when I first became a fan. And I used to be afraid for people to not like me, afraid they'd come after me as a result. Now I've mostly accepted that plenty of people don't like me, for ridiculous, grey, and perfectly reasonable reasons. I guess that's life. and hockey.

Seriously, Palin is rewriting history now? Ugh.