Thursday, February 20, 2020

I'm NOT melting.

Hello blog! Long time, no write. I was in a writing workshop quite a while ago where some people talked about how they struggled to think of themselves as writers. I so don't have that problem. I can go years of not writing and still think that being a writer is fundamentally who I am. Writing is my calling in life. I've never doubted it. I have got down on myself a lot because I wasn't writing, but quitting entirely is not an option. To be so sure of myself in that part of my being is having a beautiful, glittering jewel that is always inside me. Glittering wildly.

The reason I haven't been blogging is that the whole thing with co-workers at my job in L.A. finding my blog and telling other co-workers that I was "bad mojo" really hit a nerve. Some people thought it was the loss of anonymity that was the problem. It wasn't. My name is on this blog. I have no problem with other people knowing about it. That's kind of the point. Otherwise I wouldn't be sharing it with potentially anyone in the world! (Except China. My blog is blocked there.) It's because it touched on my most agonizing fear - that deep down inside I'm a bad, broken person. That I was abused and raped because I was born with something unspeakably vile inside me that made those things happen, or that the abuse made me so damaged that I will never be okay. 

There were some, with good intentions I realize, who told me I shouldn't have made my blog public in the first place and should immediately take it down before it causes me more harm. Which, surprise! That made me feel even worse about myself, like writing about myself is revealing the rot inside me. It made me feel like the things I lived through and that are part of me, and how I think and feel about them, is something to be ashamed of. Which, again, goes directly against what the blog is all about. I started it because I was trying to stand up to the shame that had kept me in denial and numb and not able to share myself with other people. 

Blogging was the thing that did the most for me when I started dealing with how dead I felt inside. It was like how the Wizard of Oz movie went from black and white to color when Dorothy arrived in Oz. Sure, there was a dead wicked witch, and another wicked witch willing to kill for a pair of shoes, and a fraud was running Oz, but Dorothy went on a journey and made friends and successfully overcame her antagonists. (In the books she also goes back to Oz again and again and ends up living there with her aunt and uncle, so it wasn't a dream or escape from reality that the 1939 movie makes it out to be.) Isn't that what life is all about? That was what I wanted. A life that I could experience rather than hide from. Friends I could rely on and they could rely on me. Being able to grow emotionally rather than being stuck in the same place. 

People say it all the time, but it's true. Being able to talk about these horrible things that were done to us is powerful. It subverts the powerlessness and shame we feel. Holding it inside is like carrying around rocks in your pockets and you keep needing more pockets, more room for rocks until you're wearing five winter coats stuffed with rocks and it's a sunny day and you can barely move with the weight you're carrying and you're sweating like crazy and trying to hide it because you want to walk in the sun with everyone else. You're a weirdo in five winter coats, but the rocks are hidden. You think if one rock falls out, then another will, then an avalanche you can't control, and the other people out walking will freak out and run away from you, or stop and stare at you while you cry and lose your shit and want to melt into the sidewalk. Which, not gonna lie, does happen. 

You may find yourself in front of a huge room of people and cameras talking about the most painful and humiliating experience of your life. Then this huge room of people are like, there there, we believe you, but we're still going to put the person responsible in a position that will influence the lives of everyone in this country because we don't think what he did to you is relevant. Theoretically. People could see you differently and feel uncomfortable with who you really are. You may lose friends. You could lose your job. You will probably cry a lot more and lose your shit a bunch more times and feel humiliated and exposed again. Your life and how you thought about yourself could change irrevocably. Some people decide that carrying the rocks is a better option for them. You could drop some of the rocks and decide to keep holding the rest. There really are no great options when someone dumps a bunch of soul-crushing rocks on you, just the one you can tolerate the most at the time. 

So yeah, I got overwhelmed with all the pain and insecurity that came up when I was exposed as the blogger with yucky victimization all over her, and retreated into myself. I couldn't stand feeling judged and found to be damaged goods. I was mortified that my co-workers believed I would get my bad mojo on them if they talked to me. I lost my dream job that I had been fighting to get to for the previous ten years. I felt broken, unsure of who I was anymore and where I was trying to get. It probably would be accurate to say that it broke me - not permanently though. It was more like a serious injury that required surgery, but the first one wasn't entirely successful, and I had to keep going back to the hospital for more surgeries and to try different therapies. It didn't feel like it would get better but then it did start getting better. In actuality, I had two surgeries during that time. I had my appendix removed while I was still in L.A. and my gall bladder removed after I moved back to Seattle. I also worked on different types of therapy. Most recently, I went through a cognitive behavioral therapy program that was specifically designed for child abuse survivors with PTSD. Can you imagine?! I never thought that would exist when I was diagnosed. 

I'm still slogging through it and making discoveries about myself and untangling my own web of confusing emotions and reactions and defense mechanisms. It's frustrating. I wish I didn't still have that part of my brain that interprets the bad stuff as being my fault and sees myself as undeserving and unlovable. I wish I didn't have a vast expanse of subconscious motivations that drag me into re-traumatizing situations. I wish I could be done with these dysfunctional patterns of behavior and thought. I wish it was as straightforward as dropping the rocks, taking off the coats, flipping off the people staring at me, and walking away. The yellow brick road is just ahead. 

That makes me think, 1) damn, I love the Oz books so much, and 2) maybe I'm at that part where the Wicked Witch of the West captures Dorothy, which means I'm pretty far into the story and will get back to the Emerald City in no time after I escape. The book is a little different from the movie - when Dorothy is captured by the Wicked Witch of the West, the witch keeps her prisoner while she schemes to get Dorothy to take off the silver shoes (ruby slippers in the movie) so she can take them. The witch eventually tricks Dorothy into taking off one of the shoes, which makes Dorothy so angry she throws a bucket of water on her. Because she's pissed. Like the movie, the water unexpectedly melts her away.

Just to stay with the metaphor, my blog is not the flying monkeys or the Munchkins or even the Good Witch of the North. My blog is the ruby slippers/silver shoes. They've been with me since I started this journey. They are the most valuable things I have and I will not take them off no matter how many wolves, crows, or swarms of black bees come after me. They take me places and while I could walk without them, they do so much than regular shoes. Because my blog is magical. It's powerful. I have never regretted anything I shared on this public blog. It's not the blog's fault I got off track any more than it's the magic shoes fault that Dorothy was captured by the witch. The blog set me free. The blog did more than anything else to fight the shame that kept me hidden, even and especially from myself. The blog got me here, which is not the final destination but it's a world away from where I started. The blog helped me connect with other survivors. The blog is everything.

I generally have a rule that I won't apologize for my writing. It came from that writing workshop, where people who didn't feel like writers gave speeches about how terrible their writing was before sharing it. It kind of annoys the crap out of me. But, this is the first time I've really written about my recovery in a very long time. I feel out of practice, but surprisingly comfortable writing again. So I'm not apologizing, just noting that it's been a really long time and I'm not going to edit the hell out of this before I post!

Just kidding, I did do a bunch of editing. I can't help it.