Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Still Crazy After All These Years...

Well, I have tried pretty much not to make this blog into a diary asking others to contemplate my navel with me, but I have had a profound revelation of sorts in therapy this week and it's one of those things that's purely about my own damaged psyche.... but also maybe something that will speak to someone else, so I'm going to share it.... with some history too.

Starting from when I was a very young child, my mother never believed me when I said I was unwell. If I didn't have a raging fever or blood dripping from my forehead, she accused me of lying. Years later, at the workshop where I injured my legs and I was in agony, barely able to walk and in so much pain that I was literally seeing stars... I had trouble believing that I was truly suffering. I continued pushing through extraordinary pain. I even did a series of trust fall exercises despite my agony and only finally stopped doing physical things when the limitations of my pain would have impacted someone else's experience. Despite the fact that I knew I was in agony, I also doubted the reality of my own experience. Was I just being a big baby? Everyone else was sore too...

In the days and weeks that followed, one of the big questions I struggled with was: Why did nobody seem able to recognize the degree of my injury and my physical agony. The answer, I realized, was because I couldn't... or at least there was a war between reality and my mother's voice whispering in my head that I was making it all up. In the midst of all that pain, I had the revelation that others doubted my pain because I myself didn't believe it. Thank God for my therapist then and now. He saw the agony on my face. He saw the difficulty with which I took every step. He saw. He believed. And that helped me believe. That's how crazy I am. That time in my life was one of profound revelation. That workshop had been like a journey into my childhood. And from the experience there and afterwords with my friends, I realized that the person who most didn't get how much pain I was in was me and that it was therefore no wonder that others didn't get it. I was giving a very mixed message.

So what does this have to do with the here and now? Well, as a rule, I like to think that the demons who have wrought havoc with my thought processes for much of my life are relatively under control these days. And I certainly have a better handle on them than I did for most of my life, but.... the miracle of the promised gifts from Delaware Opportunities of a new bathroom and front entrance for my house (and now maybe some kitchen improvements too) has set the crazy in my head to jumping up and down and shouting. I call the voices who echo my mother and other childhood insanity Demonalians and that part of my mind Demonalia. I have to tell you... it is party time in Demonalia. I am getting all this incredible bounty and have done nothing to deserve it and the inner whispering has raged into a roar.

As a result, I'm realizing that that the debate I talked about above still rages (or at least whispers) in my head. As my therapist pointed out. It's so ever present that I don't really know I'm hearing it, but it rages on anyway. As you all know (well, I assume you all know), I'm physically disabled as well as agoraphobic. I don't walk very well and I can't stand for long. So many things that I did for most of my life without thinking about it twice, are now little Mount Everest events. Changing the sheets on my bed is a major undertaking full of physical challenge and anxiety. Getting the vacuum out is a major accomplishment... by the time that's done, I'm too exhausted to use it. What vacuuming I do, has to be done sitting down, moving a chair around the room. It's very difficult. It raises enormous anxiety. It makes me ashamed and angry. It IS possible to do some amount of cleaning... and because it is possible, my failure to do it as though it were as easy as when I was 20 and could walk and run and stand and that then translates in my head to me being lazy... a cheat. I'm not disabled, I'm lazy. If I were a better person I would not need help. I'm not tied to a bed screaming in agony; therefore my disability is a kind of sleight of hand perpetrated on an unsuspecting world by a wicked lazy woman. To this part of my psyche there is not enough suffering in the world to make me worthy of any kind of help.

So what I realized during my therapy session the other day - I can be very slow sometimes - is that I'm still struggling with the same war about whether my pain is real or not. The context is somewhat different, but it's the same argument. My mother's voice is so much in my head that even though I thought I had made myself conscious of its whispering, it is still slipping past me.

I will say to you here and now that I'm truly disabled and as I type the worlds part of me wonders if I'm lying. Part of me thinks I'm criminally (not an overstatement) lazy and worthless. Another part of me knows that's not true, knows that my pain is real, that my struggles are real. My demons are strong. I like to think I'm stronger. I'm going to focus on gratitude and on my blessings. But here I am still waging the same inner struggle disguised as something else.

I will probably never silence the internalized voices of my childhood. I was already in my 40s when I began the slow process of looking at my life, sorting out the voices who tanked so much of my hope an my potential. I was a highly functioning human being, holding down two jobs, going to school, helping family and friends. I had agoraphobia issues but they weren't crippling me. I pushed past them. Hindsight is a waste of time. My life has unrolled in the way it has and that is as it should be. Still, if I had a genie, I would wish a good therapist for every human on the planet, or someone who would begin working with us when we are young to help us become aware of the crazy lies we internalize, the mean, cruel voices so many of us carry on our backs. My demons many not be silenced. But they aren't in control any more... I give them a run for their money anyway. That may not be everything, but it's a lot.

I hope this doesn't just bore people, that maybe it speaks to even one person who is being ruled by inner lies. I'm not sure why I'm posting it. I guess because something in me says that I have to. In any case, thank you for listening.


Anonymous said...

Hi Raven...I wish I had the answer for you and I wonder if anyone really does. I can't say that I have these inner demons because while growing up I don't ever recall my mom saying what you mom said to you. However I do think, and this is just me, that there is the power of positive thinking. I so strongly believe in that it has steered me away from religion. And it was a long time ago that this process started. I don't need to believe in any higher power or anything but myself. Strange I know and I'm opening up myself to a barrage of criticism but it's just me and that's how I am and will always continue to be. Every morning when I wake up I start from the tip of my fingers and go to the end of my toes and visualize me cleansing my body for the new day and bring resharpen and electrify my positive thinking. Weird I know. But it works. So all I can say to you my friend is think positive. It really does work!! :)

Raven said...

Thanks, Thom. I actually do something similar to what you speak of. I start and end each day with gratitude - reminding myself of all my blessings and giving thanks for them. And I'm a reiki master. I do a lot of healing work. This post wasn't intended as a cry for help. More a sharing of how tricky the battle with our inner demons can be and maybe an awakener to someone else who has not yet realized that some of their pain is coming from voices in their own heads that they don't actually know they are listening to. As for the higher power thing, sounds to me like you are connected to a "source," you have just not anthropomorphized it.

peppylady (Dora) said...

Sorry to hear about your mom. I know it painful when someone doesn't believe you.
My dad was that way.
I don't believe most parents want to do damage to their children.
I tried to be a good loving parents to my boys but I'm far from perfect.

As for your disability can you get home care.
I know all state has it and I can see the cons and pros about it.
I do it.

Felisol said...

Dear Raven,
I have been thinking of you ever since the day you sent me healing Reiki.
I wanted to than you. "Thank you ever so much. It did help. Gave me
inner calm, the eyes stopped aching, and that was a thrill.
The Doc will us the sight Friday."

Some harsh story you are carrying around. You know they say that our bodies are carrying the history of all part of our life, also the ones the mind tries to oppress.
No wonder you have troubles walking, with your heavy burdens.
You have been wrongfully mirrored at a time in your life when mirroring is essential.
It is wonderful that you now are seeing yourself and life as it is. Trust your own visions.

If or when you are getting these gifts, it is because they truly are deserved.
Somehow somebody has understood your needs and will give you what you deserve.

Oh, the words are failing me. What I have to say is just repeating yourself.
Trust your body. When it hurts, it's true.
When it's aching, it's for real.
You are a wonderful human being.
Carrying all these traumas and being able to be empathic and even giving a whole hour of your precious time to help healing me.

If there should be anything you think I might do for you, please do not hesitate to tell.
I'll promise to do my very best.
That's all I can promise.
And pray.
I will not stop praying.

One more word.
You are, despite your hard self judgment, developing in a right direction. Keep on fighting those demons, they are illusions and shall not have power over you, like your mother once had.
You are, to quote, Bob Dylan, (my hero)BUSY BEING BORN.
Isn't that a miracle. And now you are able to influence your future.
Be blessed.
From Felisol

Carletta said...

I liked your comment to Thom. I think our inner demons sometimes get the best of us but as you so eloquently say - we have to recognize those voices we're listening to and somehow push them away.
I, for one, will listen anytime Raven - anytime.

Anonymous said...

I graduated at the top of my class, and still consider myself lacking in intelligence -- because my elders dispaired of my stupidity as a child. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I often lapse into "I'm not smart enough" mode, and have passed so many things by because of it.

Anonymous said...


I just stumbled onto your blog and I don't feel so alone anymore. My mother has a similar story to your mother's - she was one of 6 and severely abused mentally and physically. She did pretty well with me the first half of my childhood but succumbed to mental instability when I was a teenager and then proceeded to make my life a living hell. I chose not to have children because I was so afraid I would do to them what was done to me. I am in my 40's and have only just finally been able to break away from her and live my own life without the guilt of "the bad daughter" and I am slowly weeding out, one by painful one, all of the horrible messages about myself that she planted into my brain. It is a worthy war I wage.

I enjoy your sense of humor and your self-deprecating way of writing, and you are certainly NOT boring, but I also want to wish you healing, self-acceptance, love and peace.

Kris said...

Raven, I find your blog impossible to resist, your stories ring to true to my own, I happened across you via the blog of note. I see why you were given that esteemed title. I will climbing up the tree to peer in your nest often.

Anonymous said...

thank you.

at the end of the fighting demons post is, in the previous post, a picture of our galaxy. the two coincide for universal connection, and you are lovely spiral arm of outreach.

best to you.


Raven, thank you for this brave revelation. It's easy not to believe in pain which doesn't cripple us, but it takes a powerful internal message to make us not believe in that which does. I have often shared your wish that we could find a way to give young people the emotional tools to overcome the lies we internalize about ourselves, sometimes from external messages, sometimes from internal mesages. Sometimes we even take these internal lies from our own misunderstanding of the events that happen. It would be lovely to have the tools to work through these things as we encounter them rather than years later.

Bless you in your journey.