Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Someone chided me today about not posting - soooo

Tomorrow I get to see my psychiatrist and my therapist. I haven't had my bloodwork done as a baseline for the psychiatrist; so I'm not excited about seeing him.

As I enter into a deeper kind of therapy with my counselor, I have filled out innumerable pages of information about me and my family. the last three pages are divided into little sections - one for every five years of your life. You are supposed to note everything that was important to you in that five years - in less than 2 inches of typing paper space. I don't usually write small. Ha!

And, How do you remember what happened of importance when you were 36-40 when it's twenty-two years later? I completed this section and laid the paper aside. As I thought of important things in my life, I wrote between the lines and in the margins. I don't know if she'll be able to read all the jabbering, but she will have a fairly good picture of my life...well, except for some childhood years when I remember very little - and there's lots of space left to write in those blocks.

And, why does this matter?

I've been having emotional and mental flashbacks to bad things that happened in my childhood. For instance, we were eating our usual Sunday evening supper of bacon, eggs and biscuits (sometimes pancakes), and I remembered as I chomped on a good piece of bacon that I didn't particularly like eggs in my childhood. We always had eggs; somebody in the neighborhood had chickens even after we got rid of ours. And, I always had biscuits, bacon(sausage or ham) and molasses for breakfast. However, some mornings we didn't have meat - some evenings we didn't have meat. And, Mom would offer me an egg. I don't like eggs without meat. Bleah. So, I'd eat my biscuit and syrup and catch the schoolbus.

Okay, this memory took about 10 seconds or less. And, I jumped into wondering if we were that poor - and, yes, I remember Mom buying me a new dress so that I would look like everyone else at times when we probably didn't have meat. She wanted us to look good even if we were dirt poor. Then I realized that I must have gone to school hungry sometimes. A biscuit and syrup isn't really enough breakfast for a schoolkid. But, I don't remember being hungry. And, how many other families were as poor as we were. I could think of only two that might have been.

Then I jumped from there to other times when Mom tried to keep up appearances. Dad was a drunk...a very talkative, and, by the time I was 13-15, a very verbally abusive drunk. He had hallucinations and delusions by then. And, he would declaim in a loud voice right after supper that he had seen me in some juke joint having sex with some guy or in a car by the juke joint. Places that he might have been at some time in his life, but long ago.

So, Mom would give me her car keys (a little 49 Ford named Freddie) and tell me to go away and come back after he was asleep. That was usually around 9 pm. So, I would drive the back roads of Quitman County, Mississippi, from about 7 until 9 - just to avoid my father's verbal abuse. Fortunately, I discovered that others were in similar situations - not people in my school, but other schools and other ages. We often gathered on the side of a road to shiver when it was cold and to talk and laugh and avoid talking or thinking about why we were there. But, sometimes, the roads were long and lonely, and I felt very homeless.

In the space of less than 30 seconds, I went from enjoying Sunday supper to crying and being afraid of being homeless (not likely to happen now - not sure about then).

There are other less graphic times of flashbacks when a word, a look or tone of voice triggers the emotions of "then" and I respond in "then" not "now". I'm getting better at recognizing some of these times, but mostly they catch me (and often my partner) unawares. And, they hurt. The feelings I feel hurt, and the way I respond hurts my partner. And, I want them to stop.

So, I've tried to write the important events of every five years of my life down on paper. And, I've cried a lot. I've hurt a lot - for me, my brother, my sister-in-law, my cousin, and my Mother. I don't know what pain they had. They are all dead except my cousin. I can't know what caused Mom to be as she was about appearances, but alcoholism wasn't really a word then - My Dad was the town drunk. He wasn't sick. No one knew about Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and what World War II might have done to him. They only knew he was drunk. And, that was shameful.

That shame is punching me in the gut occasionally. It hurts as much now as it did then, and I want it to stop.

So, if I'm silent a bit, I'm just working on getting better and not hurting.


Cecilia said...


I know what it is like to have a spiral or a chain-reaction of memories overwhelm you. It's hard, it's painful. I'm sorry for what you are going through, but so very full of admiration at your choosing to address it directly.

Pax, C.

Anonymous said...

I know this is weeks ago now, and I've been consumed with my own drama, but I'm saying a prayer for you right now. Life is so hard sometimes, and then we go and get these brains that store information by sensory input, and then get all messed up when it gets triggered.

I know this is hard work for you....