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.