In My Rearview Mirror

My Story

The Facade Has Broken Down

Written By: plethora - Apr• 12•16

If I wasn’t right in the middle of the most psychologically and mentally challenging stretch of my adult life, it would be pretty amazing, I think. In fact, maybe one day, even one day soon, I might be able to bask in the success I’ve achieved here.

But right now I’m just trying not to drown and there doesn’t seem to be a lot to celebrate.

During all of the horrific things that happened to me while I was growing up, my brain was scrambling to just keep me alive and functioning. I wasn’t thinking about a healthy life and certainly wasn’t thinking about happiness; I was focused on survival and whatever it took to make that happen.

There were two major things my brain did…on its own with no conscious thought—just to protect myself from the horror I was experiencing. The first was to forget most of everything that happened to me. But not just the bad stuff; I forgot classmates, teachers, events, camp, games, etc. Because I was living in such intense fear, there was no moment I was safe so my brain never recorded so much of my life growing up. The problem is even though the horror is actually over, my brain doesn’t really understand that and still forgets so much of what I experience in this world in the present. I remember more now that I ever have of things that happen to me, but I still forget more than I’d like.

The second thing my brain did was to recreate a fantasy of my childhood as it was happening. After my grandfather abused me, I told myself we had a special relationship, that I was important to him. When my mother abused me, I did the same thing, recreating a life where my mother was special and loved me and cared about me and was good to me–even though the truth couldn’t be farther away from the reality of my childhood. Because if I was actually aware of what was happening to me, I most likely would’ve ended up in a psychiatric hospital or would’ve killed myself. Instead, I created a fantasy, a powerful firewall, standing between me and all of the utterly horrific things I was experiencing.

Between not remembering and recreating this fantasy, this facade of my childhood to hold back the hundreds of terrible memories, the 6,785 days of terror I experienced, it was really difficult for me to realize what had gone wrong. In fact, even once I finally knew something was extraordinarily wrong with what happened to me, I still believed my mother was good and special and loved me.

Until just a few weeks ago when I realized with a horrible shock that by the time I was nine years old, I had been abused by my mother and grandfather and probably a baby sitter. My mother was already screaming at me for reasons I could never understand or she was withdrawing her love from me for whatever she felt I had done wrong.

I also began to delve into the personality disorders my mother has, Narcissistic as well as Borderline Personality Disorders. My mother was pretty fucked up and wasn’t capable of being a good person. She was incapable of loving me. She was quite a cruel and heartless person who never really was concerned with my needs.

By realizing these two major things, the fantasy of my mother being a good person finally seemed to crack in a profound way. There are still remnants left, but it can no longer hold back all of what I went through as a child.

Unfortunately, it means I am experiencing a tsunami of the worst emotions I could possibly imagine experiencing; the pain of being hurt by her almost every day, the loss of having a childhood, of having parents who cared and protected me, the utter isolation of when she would withdraw her love for me, the terror of her screaming at me for no perceivable reason, the abhorrence of being sexually abused by my own mother and grandfather, being molested by a baby sitter and raped by a camp counselor. 6,785 days of pure terror, of some of the worst things you could possibly imagine happening to someone, all flooding me now all at once with the breaking down of the fantasy and facade of my mother and childhood.

It is too much for one man to bear all at the same time.

But I’m trying my best to get through it, to survive it all over again, so that when I come out on the other side, I will be free from fear, free from the constraints of my childhood. It will never stop hurting me, but it may stop controlling me.

Holding On In The Middle of A Tsunami

Written By: plethora - Apr• 07•16

“What are you trying to do, Plethora?” I asked myself.

“Just trying to hold on,” I replied. “Just trying to hold on.”

In all of the years of therapy and dealing with my past and trying to overcome it, I’ve never been through anything like this. I am completely consumed with 18 years of emotions, of pain and suffering, of terror and isolation, of confusion and consuming emotions.

This is what it was like when I was a kid, this tsunami of emotions bombarding my system every day. It is why I disconnected from my body and heart. It is why I quickly developed the ability to forget anything that happened to me. It is why I stopped talking when I was nine years old.

But I am now 45 and I refuse to disconnect from my heart and body. I am now 45 and I desperately want to remember. I am 45 and I am still holding on for dear life because 18 years of pain and suffering and terror are too much for even me to bear. I’m holding on because 18 years of terror is forcing my heart to beat way too fast in my chest, it is causing the adrenaline to coarse through my body, making me feel like I was almost in a car accident many, many times a day, feeling that panic, and even though nothing happened my body reacted as if it did and this feeling throughout the day is utterly draining. I’m holding on because I feel like I could easily be pulled out to sea and never recover. I am 45 and I am the strongest I have ever been in my life and I don’t know how I will get through this. I know I will, but it doesn’t seem possible.

Someone suggested I take a break…but how do you ask the tsunami to pause so I can rest up for a moment? Besides, every second I deal with this is another second I am closer to the end. Every delay postpones my healing and keeps me stranded in this tsunami of emotions.

In the meantime, I have finally understand why people drink and do drugs. I think about drinking almost all day long, the desire to ingest something that could make these feelings go away is incredibly powerful. I just don’t believe–I know it is not the answer. However, maybe it is a temporary reprieve of the intense pain on those nights when it is entirely too much. I’m already taking medicine to help me sleep, medicine to help me deal with all of the fear I feel and now I’ve begun to drink more regularly. It’s scary to me, like playing with a dangerous tiger and thinking I have it all under control…but so far I do. I’m not getting drunk. I’m not using too many drugs.

I am just trying to hold on as hard as I can until the tsunami of 18 years of pain and suffering washes over me and I can once again stand up on my own two feet and experience feelings from today with my family than from yesterday with people who don’t deserve to be called my family.

My Many Mes

Written By: plethora - Apr• 04•16

I can’t see them clearly, because I have such trouble seeing things inside my head (safety mechanism to help me never see what was done to me???), but I can feel them there, all of mes.

It’s funny, Nintendo just came out with an app to let you create your own Mii, your own avatar so to speak. What I really need is a way to show all of the Mes inside me. I need to be able to see what I looked like at two years old, when I could barely ask for what I wanted, but began to “not behave appropriately” when I began to think on my own, more than likely the beginning of everything bad that happened to me. I want to see what I looked like when I was six, already traumatized, abused by my mother on a consistent basis. I want to see what I looked like at nine when I was no longer talking because the trauma had already been so horrific I couldn’t communicate anymore. I want to see what I was like at 13 when Bob raped me and killed one more part of my soul.

I can feel all of them. Today, as usual, I feel their fear, my fear, from all of those years ago. I also feel our anger and rage and desperation and terror and so much of the intensely negative, toxic emotions I felt growing up. I can also feel our isolation, there was no one for us, to care for us, to take care of us, to protect us against all this horrible world threw at us.

I’m trying to look at my LPs, Little Plethoras as I like to call my younger selves, but I can’t see anything, but I can imagine.

I can imagine my two year old self, adorable, curious, trying to figure out the world and how I fit into it, before I started making “mistakes” and she would start to yell at me, getting so frustrated that I wasn’t doing anything right. A two year old, just trying to be loved with no understanding as to why my mommy was yelling at me, but knowing it must mean there was something wrong with me. There was no way to know she was mentally ill at that age. I think that’s when I began to fully focus all of my energy on her. How was she feeling? What did she need or want? If I could figure that out maybe she wouldn’t be mad at me, maybe she wouldn’t yell at me.

I can imagine what I must’ve looked like at six years old. I was short and probably hadn’t started to play sports yet. School was just beginning and it was a scary place for me. Every place was scary for me. I was already really scared all of the time, because whenever I did something she perceived as wrong, my mother was yelling at me as if I was the worst person in the world. At six years old the full fury of my mother was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. Her mouth and face would turn into a sneer and she really looked like a monster screaming at me for whatever horrible thing I had done wrong at the age of six. I think the more she lost her shit and screamed and yelled at me, the more she felt badly afterwards. Her screaming was so scary I would run into me room and hide in my bed. But because there were no locks on my door, she was able to come in whenever she wanted and ask my forgiveness, telling me she loved me and was really sorry, by touching me sexually to make me feel better. What was that like for me at six? How confusing and terrifying it must’ve been to have my own mommy screaming and yelling at me as if I was a horrible person and then running to my bedroom hoping I would somehow be safe there (what other options were there???), but then she came upstairs (laying in bed and hearing her walk up the stairs is still an absolutely terrifying sound to me) and came into my room, sat on the edge of my bed and pleaded with me to forgive her, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean it. I love you.” And to prove it she began to sexually abuse me, which seemed to make her feel better, but only served to make me feel more confused, more overwhelmed, more likely to hate who I had become because so many terrible things were happening to me and it had to mean something about who I was, right?

I can imagine myself at 13, fighting with my mother more regularly–we couldn’t even practice for my Bar Mitzvah together. I was quite athletic by then, going to sports camp every summer and playing sports every chance I got. I know Bob ruined one of the best places in my childhood. By raping me after pretending to be my friend, pretending to care about me, to take care of me, to make feel special and not alone, he took advantage of me and broke something inside me. This young boy, already abused by so many people, trusts that man and he violated that trust, he violated me and didn’t seem to care how I felt about it.

I’d love to be able to lift my two year old self up and hold him in my arms, letting him feel my strength and protection, letting him feel my love and affection, the way I have loved my own son. I would whisper in his ear that he will never be hurt again by that horrible woman. That I have and will continue to do everything in my power to protect all of us from her. That finally we are safe and surrounded by people who actually love us unconditionally. That we have people who want to be part of our family because we’re so loving. I would hold him until he fell asleep and then I would gently place him into his bed and I would stand guard so he could get a good night’s sleep. If he woke up in the middle of the night, I would be there, his Night Watchman, making sure he had someone to care for him when he awoke and could help sooth him back to sleep.

I’d love to hold the hand of my six year old self and say, “I got ya, buddy.” Take him for a walk, let him lean up against me as we walk together. Let him breathe the fresh air, maybe play catch with him. I’d give him lots of hugs and let him also know that it was going to be okay. “This may be a terrible time, but it will get better at some point…longer than it should, but sooner than you think.” I’d make sure he understood in the meantime, that I was on his side, that I had his back, that I would be watching over him and that she couldn’t hurt him anymore because I was there. That he will never be alone again, no matter what it feels like, I’ll always be there for him, have literally spent my entire life so he can feel better, so he can feel safe, so he can feel the joy of being loved.

I’d love to meet my 13 year old self, watching him play sports (because my parents almost never watched), complimenting him on how he plays and maybe giving him tips if he wants some. I’d love to remind him that he got sick so much not because there was something wrong with him, but because what was being done to him, what my poor 13 year old self was experiencing was so horrific that he couldn’t process it all and it infected his body in many different ways. I would warn him against Bob, who seemed like such a good guy and paid so much special attention to me as a boy. But maybe more important than reminding my 13 year old self that he is a good boy, on his way to becoming a good man, that he is finally loved and safe even if he never was back then, I would find Bob and I would punch him repeatedly in the face until I saw blood pouring down it. I would kick him in the balls as hard as I possibly could and I would promise him if he ever touched another little boy ever again I would hunt him down and kill him like the dog he really is. I would make it impossible for him to hurt any other boys–especially my 13 year old LP.

I can imagine myself standing in a circle with my younger selves, like I’m a teacher of little Plethoras. We’re holding hands and I’m trying to help them feel connected to each other, to feel connected to me. I am the answer to all of our problems. We don’t need to wait for my mother or father to finally start acting like parents, or reaching out to adults like Tucker or my grandfather or babysitters or Bob to love us in the way our parents never did, to treat us the same way our parents treated us. No, I am the reason we will finally feel safe. I am the reason we will finally feel loved. I will protect us, the way I have been for so many years, the way I have protected my family and my own children.

Holding hands in a circle, looking into each other’s eyes, getting to know each other, letting them get to know me, feeling my commitment to them and their safety and mental health, feeling my certainty in my beliefs this is finally almost all over.

We’re on the homestretch, my little Plethoras. We’re not giving up now. No, we’re going to get closer to each other and grow together. Live together. Die alone. We’re going to start living together rather than by ourselves and in our togetherness we will find comfort and safety.

Finally.

I Am Safe

Written By: plethora - Apr• 01•16

I am safe.

I AM FUCKING SAFE.

I been had been safe…for over 26 years now.

I.

AM.

SAFE.

I’ve built a life as if I am safe…because I am.

I love my family as if I am safe…because I am.

I love my friends as if I am safe…because I am.

I take risks, I put myself out there as if I am safe…because I am.

I created a sense of safety for my children as if I’ve always been safe…because I have been for 26 years.

I face my fears as if I am safe…because I am.

I face my past head on as if I am safe…because I am.

The evidence is extraordinary…I haven’t just been free from danger and abuse for 26 years. I’ve been building a life of safety for myself and for my family…because I am and have been safe.

I am and have been safe for a long time now.

It’s okay to believe it…because it is true.

It is more true now than ever before in my life.

It is more true than anything else in my life except for one thing…that I am loved.

I am safe and I am loved

I am safe and I love with my whole heart

I am safe and I love it

How To Turn The Switch Off

Written By: plethora - Mar• 25•16

One of the biggest challenges I am facing right now is the reality of my present versus the after-shocks of my past. There are two primary ways this is playing out right now. I’ve touched on this before, but I’m still working through it.

The first is that I don’t feel loved and I don’t remember that people in my life love me, which obviously connect together. How can you feel loved when you can’t remember that people love you?

When I was a kid, through 6,785 days of horror and trauma, I always felt my parents never loved me. My dad was depressed and literally never around even though we lived in the same house; he may have loved me but he never showed it or even said it. My mother has Borderline and Narcissistic Personality Disorders and thus actually was incapable of loving me. Of course, as a kid, I didn’t know she was mentally ill. I didn’t know, as I have come to get a perverse joy in saying, that her plug couldn’t quite reach the outlet, or that her operating system kept blue screening. I thought my mommy didn’t love me and there is pretty much no worse feeling than that when you’re a kid. There were times when she seemed like she loved me only to withdraw her love from me as if she was snatching the very oxygen I needed to breathe.

But now, I live in–scratch that. Now, I created a world with my wife and family and friends that is filled with love, a love like nothing I ever imagined in those horrible years growing up. My present family and I will sit together at dinner, talking and laughing and sharing our days and frequently one of us will be so overwhelmed with love that we’ll just blurt it out and everyone will respond in kind. That is probably the best example of the exact opposite of what my childhood was like; love overflowing versus love absent or withdrawn.

Almost every day I am reminding myself I am loved. I am reading emails from friends and from my wife to help me remember I am loved. I look at pictures of my family to trigger that feeling of love inside of me. I think I am making progress. I can imagine a world where I actually feel loved without forgetting, I think.

The second challenge, however, has proven to be much more difficult and it exacerbates the first. By the time I was nine years old, I’d experienced such horrific things that I was incommunicado–I had literally stopped talking. B the time my mother took me to therapy, this must’ve been going on for several days or even a couple of weeks. And, I have come to realize, something must have been the trigger for my shutting down like that. What was it? What finally pushed me over the edge? By nine years old, I had already been molested by a baby sitter. I had already been molested by my grandfather, who was a rabbi. I had already been sexually abused on a regular basis by my own mother while my father was in the next room. I had already experienced my mother screaming and yelling at me as if I was the worst person she had ever known. I had already experienced her withdrawing her love from me as punishment for whatever perceived thing I had done wrong. By the time I was nine, I was in full-fledged survival mode, desperately trying to figure out how to navigate the minefield of my life, thinking there must be something I could do to stop all of these people from hurting me, that if I just could do better or behave better or figure out the right thing to do, maybe all of these people would stop hurting me, maybe my mommy would love me finally. By the time I was nine, I was isolated and utterly alone, dealing with every horrific thing that happened to me all by myself, inside my own head. I had no one, because there was no one.

More than 35 years later, I am still struggling in survival mode. More than 35 years later, I still live every day in utter and abject terror. Even though I have realized this, even though it has been almost 26 years since my mother last hurt me, I still find myself using language as if it is still happening right now. I am the most aware person I have ever met. I have faced fears most people can’t even imagine. I have done more work in therapy, more work on myself than anyone I’ve ever known…and yet, my brain is still fighting a battle that has been over for 26 years. My brain still thinks she’s right outside my door, waiting to come in, because there were never any locks on my door. My brain still thinks she (or anyone important in my life) can withdraw her love from me for no perceivable reason, and I will be left utterly alone facing some of the worst living nightmares you can imagine. This is how these two interconnect; when I was my most scared was also when I felt the most alone. So even if I remember now that I am loved, I still feel in terrible danger and thus also feel terribly alone.

I get it. I spent the most important, formative years of my life being abused and molested and screamed at and unloved and alone. Even as I got older, my mother continued to abuse me verbally, emotionally, psychologically, sexually and so much more and I was raped by a camp counselor, because I couldn’t say no, not to strangers or people who were nice to me and certainly not to family members.

The reality is, the fact that I am remotely “normal” is quite amazing. But I have always wanted more. Right now, more than anything I want to feel safe. I know in this world, my present, I am safe. I know I have created a sense of safety not just for me, but because of me, my wife and children also feel safe. That’s pretty amazing considering where I came from.

But I don’t feel safe, can’t seem to feel safe. I desperately want to feel safe, to let down my guard and just be in the moment. Constantly being prepared, constantly being hyper vigilant is an exhausting way to live. I’ve been trying to remind myself I am safe, but it is kind of like trying to sleep with the lights on. Sure you can use a sleep mask, but the light is still on and it peeks in behind the mask.

I think I must’ve turned the switch on for survival mode somehow when I was a little kid. The problem is I don’t know how to turn it off, to convince myself the threat is over. My mother is in her early seventies now–even if I had still had any contact with her, which I don’t, she couldn’t hurt me. I am stronger than her–both physically and mentally. I can take her now in ways I never could as a little kid.

But having turned the switch on to save myself all those years ago, how do I turn it off to save myself once again all these years later?

I’ll Still Be Loved No Matter What

Written By: plethora - Mar• 04•16

I realize now, after this trip to Israel, that so much of my life is spent scared of doing something wrong and losing the love of bosses, friends, and worst of all, my wife and kids.

It crystallized for me when my anxiety about traveling to Petra in Jordan got so out of control and I was freaking out, terrified something was going to go wrong and what that would mean.

“Sweetie,” my wife said to me. “If something goes wrong, we’ll figure it out together. We always do.”

I realized in that moment that I wasn’t scared of running into problems. I was absolutely terrified that I had made a mistake. I had organized this trip, chose the company to guide us, picked the day, etc., and what if it didn’t work out.

It would be my fault.

My fault?

If I made a mistake when I was growing up the consequences were always severe for me. Sometimes it was terrible yelling, sometimes it was abuse, but it always meant my mother would stop loving me.

Just like that, I would be alone and loveless, a scared little boy emotionally stranded by myself because I had not done the right thing, whatever the right thing was, which frequently was never very clear, but I had to figure it out anyway.

If the bus didn’t pick us up for Jordan in the morning or we couldn’t get visas or something else went wrong, it would be my fault, my mistake…

…and my wife and kids would stop loving me.

After spending the first 18.5 years of my life with my mother withdrawing her love, cutting me off emotionally more frequently than my heart could bear, in the end, that’s exactly what she did to me, but permanently. She cut me off, withdrew her love and herself completely from me and never really looked back. While that was beginning of everything good in my life, it remains my worst heartbreak.

That’s what I was so terrified about, so scared of, losing the love of my family, just like I always did when I was a kid. My lovely wife held me while I cried over that realization.

The next morning, when my anxiety started getting out of control again, I reminded myself that my parents would still love–oh shit.

I really thought that. In that moment, really believed I was trying to get my parents to still love me. Crazy, right?

I reminded myself that my current family loves me and that’s not going to change, no matter what happens that day.

The irony is that day was the worst day of our vacation. We got jerked around for 13 hours, driven around Jordan to Petra even though it had been closed all day and wasn’t going to open. It was a terrible day and on top of that it was raining and very cold.

But we got through it just fine…and we got through it together. No one was mad at me and even I knew it wasn’t my fault.

I really look forward to when these things don’t make me so terrified of what could go wrong, because in the end, my family will still love me and we’ll figure it out together.

That’s what healthy families do and that’s what we are. Considering all I’ve been through, that’s a miracle. And I deserve it, this feeling, the love from my family. I’ve earned it and it feels great.

Wait For It

Written By: plethora - Feb• 11•16

We’re pretty obsessed with Hamilton in our family and we were listening to it this morning while getting ready. When Wait For It came on, I could feel it was affecting me.

“This song upsets me,” I said out loud.

Then we got back to getting ready and I didn’t think about it again until I got on the train about 15 minutes go when I put the song on again.

If there is a reason
I’m still alive
When everyone who loves me has died
I’m willing to wait for it
I’m willing to wait for it

And I started crying hysterically on the train, couldn’t stop, it caught me so completely off-guard, curling up into the window, pulling my hood over my head as low as it would go to try and hide me while I was crying and crying and crying. When the song ended, I played it agin and it was just as bad. I played it a third time and it was even worse, my heart literally aching inside my chest. I must’ve made noises, screaming silently, my sleeve was dripping with tears, my body shaking, losing my breath, pressed up against the window hoping no one would see me, but also praying someone would ask me if I was okay and praying they would leave me alone, feeling exactly what I was feeling from the song, being so alone in my enormous pain, without family, without anyone while I was tormented and abused for so many years.

I usually know when these things are coming, but this came so fast, happened out of the blue. I think a lot of that is because I am so raw, so exposed to the world right now, that things are affecting me more profoundly than they normally would. I also think I am hyper aware of the sense of being alone, of feeling alone and isolated from people in my life, both then and now, and this song fucking triggered that like it plugged my heart into a power outlet.

My neck is still damp from the tears that slid down my face. My undershirt is sticking to my skin because the energy I consumed while crying like that and while every muscle in my body clenched and roared caused me to sweat. My throat sore from the strain of screaming silently.

I’m exhausted and we’re now pulling into the station, to start my day.

I look forward to when I am less susceptible to the ferocious pain inside of me. I know I won’t ever be free from it, but the intensity will definitely lessen when I’m on the other side of this process.

That will be nice.

Combatting My Two Negative Core Beliefs

Written By: plethora - Feb• 10•16

Last week, after spending more than 20 years in therapy and my whole life trying to understand myself as much as possible and the last 6 months in the most intense therapy of my life, I was able to determine the two things that drive pretty much everything I do in my entire life.

1. I am terrified and scared of the entire world, everything I try to do and every person I interact with.
2. There is something fundamentally wrong with me.

How do you combat those two things?

I’ve also realized something else that is a major problem in my road to recovery. My lack of memory or my struggle to remember.

For instance, when I emailed my closest friends last month about my realization that I had believed I was still in danger and that I realized I am finally safe, they all wrote back to me. Knowing I would forget what they wrote, I read each one over several times. In fact, I even collected all of the emails and put them in my OneNote to make them easier to find so I could read them over and remind myself that my friends love me, that they care.

Because I forget. I literally forget they care about me and begin to think they no longer care and love me. Then I feel alone, which is tied into the fear. When I was a kid I was terrified, but I was also alone. There was no one in my life there for me, so when I feel my fear I also feel alone.

I don’t want to feel alone now–especially since I know I’m not, even if I forget and feel so isolated and alone.

Well, it turns out I read it over once and then I forgot about it for several weeks until I remembered today talking to one of my closest friends.

I even forget the things I do to help me remember that my friends love me.

Actually, this past weekend, I was talking to my wife and told her I had this idea about trying to reach out to one friend a day, maybe I would schedule this friend that day and that friend this day or just cycle through them, reach out to one friend a day and see how that goes.

She said that’s a really good idea, but, you know, you’ve had that idea before.

I don’t even remember the good ideas I have about trying to remember to keep connected to my friends so I don’t feel so alone.

I can’t explain about upsetting and frustrating that is for me.

And I realized today one more reason it is upsetting for me. It is bad enough what they all did to me. It is utterly cruel that what they did now makes it so much harder for me to remember people love me, makes it harder to even remember to try and remember.

So this is what I need to focus on. In order to combat the two negative core beliefs I have, I need to two positive responses.

I need to remind myself every single day, several times a day, that I am safe and have been safe for 25 years or more than 9,125 days.
I need to feel connected to the special people in my life, at least one of those people every single day.

The challenge, of course, is how do I remember I am safe and that my friends love me, if I keep forgetting to even try and remember?

I don’t know yet.

Okay, a couple of thoughts.

– A slogan or mantra
– A routine

I need to set up a special set of articles and/or emails to read every morning on the train or at home that will help me remember I am safe and I am loved. I’m sure I’ve done that before and don’t remember, but hopefully I can do it again (or remember where I stored it the first time).

I also need a mantra or slogan about being safe or being loved that I can say to myself throughout the day as a simple reminder, almost like a code word, I can try to use throughout the day.

If you have any ideas on that, feel free to share with me. I’m going to start on creating my Safe and Loved routine.

Dying Is Easy, Living Is Harder

Written By: plethora - Feb• 10•16

Today started off well. I slept okay, didn’t wake up afraid, which is nice. Took a shower with music, which turned something scary and a time I usually dissociate, into something more fun. The rest of the morning went fine and I started my walk to the train station, listening to Hamilton.

While I was enjoying the incredible genius of turning the history of our country’s creation into a series of raps, all of a sudden I got that bad feeling.

Something was wrong.

“Dying is easy, living is harder.”

Those were the words I heard that changed my mood.

I often am amazed I survived what I went through,. There will be a moment in therapy when I realize something else or another piece falls into place and I stop, stunned that I could’ve survive what I experienced.

People who have been through what I’ve been through have become addicted to drugs or alcohol or they have became depressed or scared of any kind of intimate relationship or so riddled with fear that they can’t function.

People who have gone through what I’ve been through have ended up killing themselves, believing that death was the only way out. When your whole life is horrible, painful, abusive and you don’t feel anything good or ever feel safe, death seems like a viable solution.

I know I thought about it, but I was always too afraid of death, more afraid of death, thank goodness, than I was of trying to live. Dying is easy, but this living, trying to experience my life and be healthy is certainly hard.

But maybe I just need to remember that it has been worth it. Somehow when I was much younger, I didn’t take the easy way out, for whatever reason. I did know my life could be better, unlike my parents and their parents before me, but didn’t know it could be like this.

I try to show that little boy inside of me this life we created together. I hope he can feel how incredible it is after all we went through growing up. We went through so much and we held on, fighting to live, surviving some of the worst things you can imagine and then my mother cut me off, told me she didn’t want me in her life anymore, after all of the horrible things she did to me.

After that I kept moving forward the best I could, fighting through depression, through my fear, through my sense of abandonment, the constant pain of being cut out of my mother’s life, through my challenges in functioning, believing all along that there was just something so horribly wrong with me (when what was horribly wrong was what was done to me).

Dying is easy, but living is harder. It is also more exhausting and draining and utterly consuming…

…but I wouldn’t change my choice. Living is harder, but it is better. All of this work, building a new me essentially from scratch, recovering memories, feeling pain and anger and emotions so intense I don’t think there are words for them, connecting to myself and finally experiencing all I’ve been through, but also experiencing what I’m feeling right now…the love of my family, my friends, watching these two amazing beings grow into teenagers, enjoying them sharing their obsessions and passions with me and sharing mine with them.

Definitely The Last Time

Written By: plethora - Feb• 09•16

When I was in college, I didn’t see being able to live a long life. In fact, and I remember this so clearly, I didn’t believe I would survive life past my 30th birthday.

I was 20 years old and didn’t think I was going to be alive in 10 years.

I didn’t know how I was going to die or what was going to happen to me, but I was pretty certain that my life would end soon, that my existence would not go on. It was a scary feeling, but I remember being resigned about it. This was my fate in life and I was just going to keep going until it was over.

I also live in a world of “What if?” every single day. What if I run out of medication? What if I don’t have enough food? What if my phone loses battery? What if the charger I have loses battery? What if I can’t charge my phone because I’ve used the extra battery too much? What will I do then? I actually won’t charge my phone with my extra battery (which I bought for the very purpose of charging my phone), because I’m so scared of running out of power in the extra battery. I will stop taking medicine because I’m scared of running out–even though not taking it is just like running out (but at least I have some just in case!).

Sometimes I get paralyzed in the process of trying to make a decision. What coat should I wear? Should I wear shoes, sneakers or boots? My wife wants yogurt, but they don’t have the kind she wants…do I buy nothing or risk buying the wrong thing?

In my head, there has always been the right way to do something, the right jacket to wear, the right way to ask for my lunch order, to get my haircut, to write an article, to live my life. There is a right way and it is my responsibility to figure it out–without asking for help, completely on my own. It is why it is so hard for me to do something new, to make decisions, to function like a “normal” person in society.

But I’ve also been constantly preparing, trying to be ready just in case, for the What if.

Recently at work I found myself freaking out over our backup systems, what happens if we have some kind of disaster? How is our network? How will we work? Even while I was trying to get these answers, I knew this had more to do with my mental space than reality.

The reality is, what I’ve been through was so horribly traumatizing that I suffer from a serious form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, like soldiers who come back from war. Except my battlefield was my childhood and the house I grew up in and my enemy was my parents and the others who abused me for 6,752 days, the first 18.5 years of my life.

I still think I’m in that war, still fighting for my survival against the very people who were supposed to love me and keep me safe.

The thing is, when you’ve been traumatized for 6,752 days, you think it is going to continue forever. I never imagined it would ever really end. So, even though there were days when no one actually hurt me, I was waiting, preparing, just to be ready for when they hurt me again.

The last time they hurt me was more than 9,125 days ago, more than 25 years. I didn’t know it was the last time, though. The last time my mother hurt me, I didn’t know that was the end. I didn’t know the war was over, that I had gotten out alive.

I’m still waiting, preparing, getting ready to deal with the next time they hurt me. And I’ve been preparing for 25 years without once realizing it was over, without once realizing I am safe.

Because I wasn’t for so long.

But I’m actually still alive (well past 30!), living my life, loving my family, becoming (have become!) the man I want to be, the most true me I wanted to be.

I haven’t really spent the last 9,125 days waiting to be hurt again. I’ve actually spent the last 25 years being free from abuse. I’ve spent the last 25 years building a life of safety, not by closing myself off to the world, but by connecting to special people and bringing two new special people into the world.

I’m not waiting anymore.

This isn’t a temporary break from abuse.

I don’t know the last time they hurt me, but they have definitely hurt me for the last time.

My life is free from abuse, from the horrors I knew growing up.

My life is filled with love and laughter and “Happy Chaos.”

My life is safe. Permanently safe.

I did it.

I made it.