Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Me, myself, and my yo-yo syndrome

Two steps forward, hop on one foot, three giant leaps back, spin around, and do it again! I spin through life like a ravaging tornado, no pattern to it's path, seemingly random destruction, one house destroyed, the one right next door perfectly in tact. Then suddenly, the storm disappears. It can be a real guessing game trying to establish when the stormy skies could reappear.

I have an cerebral chemical imbalance of the stress hormone Cortisol, my mind produces too much, this is common in people who have experienced childhood trauma. Another commonality is altered wiring of the brain. I, quite simply, instead of receiving "threatening" stimuli through the frontal lobes, I receive them through the lymbic system at the base of my neck. Apparently this is the oldest part of the brain, and is primarily focused on survival.

When Steve says something flippant, quite often I will misunderstand him, and completely overreact, because I am perceiving him with a different part of my brain, and it consequently, revs up the production of Cortisol. When I find myself responding completely out of line with the context of the situation, I am beginning to recognize this.

"You are being received by the wrong part of the brain" I tell him jokingly, let's try it again in five minutes. The good news is by being completely direct with him, he gets a better idea of where I am coming from, and can try to be more tolerant and understanding.

Because it is the stress hormone that my mind likes to create so much, there is a strong similarity between how I respond if I am trying to accomplish too much, and am overstressed. Again, I tend to respond as if it is a life or death situation. I tend to overreact.

I hope that this knowledge will help those who care about me, fit this piece into the challenging jigsaw puzzle that is Krystin.

Studies have also just discovered that trauma can be generational and transmitted neurobiologically. Big words, I know. In laymens terms, depending on a woman's mindset or physical environment she is living in during conception and inutero, the wiring of the fetus' brain is often affected.

I don't know much about my mother's situation before I was born, but I do know that she got married because she was pregnant with me, and I know that her family were not supportive of her choice to marry. I imagine that would have been a stressful year. Anyone facing an unplanned pregnancy is understandably stressed.

I am not sharing this information to assign blame, I am simply trying to lay all the information I have on the table, to try and give everyone more insight.

The degree of trauma and the degree of perceived threat is affected by the relationship to the abuser and the relationshiops of other people involved. I remember being so worried about my mother, and trying so hard to protect my little brother. I am sure that I stressed myself out more as a child, worrying about everyone involved. Hmmm, I guess you could say I was hoping to please everyone, and just pacify everything.

I have also learned that the brain does not hold all of the memories and reactions to stimuli, every cell of our being does, throughout our entire bodies. There are places within the body that store live, raw, whole trauma. My body is storing it- cellular memories. I am unable to leave it in the past, because I am still carrying it with me physically. Feelings buried alive never die.

It has been recommended that I receive some sort of therapeutic body work to release the energy of trauma. I have heard that over and over, for the last ten years, but until I learned more about how our bodies record experiences, it didn't make sense.

During an astrological reading years ago, I was told that I very much needed physical bodywork to be done. I just fluffed it off, but I recently stumbled onto the report that the astrologer prepared for me. Thought it was a very interesting "coincidence".
I realize I am beginning to sound new age and "out there" please don't roll your eyes or judge me or what I am sharing, take what you need, and leave the rest.

Part of the reason that I am having a particularily difficult time is the dynamic between my husband and my daughters. All my life, I never wanted a daughter, I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to trust. Life sure throws at you what you need to work on the most, doesn't it? I am tremendously triggered by the ages that my girls are right now. Trinity reminds me so much of how I was, that girl just doesn't ever stop talking! I find that little things that she does, or says, or how Steve may respond, I freak out. I am beginning to recognize this, and we are working on it together as a family. Trinity knows that I was hurt when I was little, she knows nothing more than that, she's too little. But she's perceptive, and knows that something is going on with me, we didn't want her to think it was in response to her, so she knows that I go to meetings, and talk to people, to feel better. To stop crying as much.

My mother me wrote me "I am trying to understand the source of all the anger and blame I feel is now directed at me." This is a very paradoxical for me, because I have sooo many feelings, so many conflicting feelings, I don't even know where to begin, and I am reluctant to, because I don't want to upset her. But it is like I have this knot of fishing line in my stomach, I just have to cough it up, and then I hope it will be gone.

First and foremost, let me say, that I love my mother very much. I love her as much as I love myself, as much as I love my children. But the remaining spectrum of emotions are enigmatic and puzzling to me. It is a complex dynamic. I am frustrated, because I was reading in a book earlier, a paragraph that summed it up, or perhaps gave insight, so articulately. Of course, for the life of me, I cannot find the page. So instead of searching for hours, through more than 400 pages, I will try to summarize it as best I can.

My mother gave me life. My mother was young, fun and playful. I have so many positive memories of her in my early childhood. But imagine the conflict, that the person who loved me, tucked me in at night, snuggled me, and read me book after book, she failed to protect me.

Here is what confuses me the most, I have empathy for the situation my mother was in. I have compassion for the situation my mother was in. I appreciate, that she was naive, and simply did not recognize, or perhaps allow herself to believe, what was really happening.

This is so difficult for me to try to explain, my heart grows heavy, because I do not want to cause her any more pain. I feel guilty when I upset her. When she cries, I feel bad for causing it. When she expresses guilt over inadequacies, I feel terrible. Told you it was paradoxical! Unfortunately, the words that I am presenting do not adequately explain the conflict I feel.

Since the passing of my father, I realize that there was some sort of safety for me in having it all neatly compartmentalized for the last twenty years. I could direct all my anger and my rage in his direction, and I did. Believe me, if you think that this blog is scathing, you should have read the package of letters that I mailed him years and years ago. A package of letters that I wrote to him over a period of three years while pursuing counselling. When I wrote them, the intention was never to mail them, more just an outlet for me to express. But after quite sometime, I did mail him the letters, well, after I found him that is. A month after he received, and claimed to read the letters, he left the country with no forwarding address.

I feel tremendously insecure that if I upset my mother, I will be abandoned. I am scared that if I express all of this, even though I am, I am scared that I will be cut off from her life. Years ago, when I was having a tremendously negative reaction to an injection of Depo-Provera, it was voiced to my husband, that if I didn't clean up my act, I wasn't welcome any longer. Perhaps that compounds my conflict and turmoil. I am afraid that she won't love me any longer. Now, as a mother, I realize that wouldn't be true. But I still don't believe it in my heart. On some levels, I am still just a very scared little girl.

I feel very enmeshed emotionally with my mother; I have difficulty establishing where my emotions end, and hers begin. Perhaps that's why I find it so distressing when I continue to upset her, because by doing so, I upset myself again for having upset her in the first place.

Ultimately, I want to be a good daughter. I want my family to be proud of me, and I know that this is not an easy topic for my family. It causes alot of grief and angst, and contradicts me wanting to be a good daughter (hmm, more conflict!) but I need to express this. I truly believe that this is the next stage of my healing.

Thank God, the healing comes in waves. Years will go by, and all is fine, but then something happens, and the drama begins again, as I have to address this issue. It is an ugly cycle, and it never fails to continue. From all that I have read and learned from others in the professional field, this will be a life long cycle for me. I have to accept that, and it's frustrating. Because believe me, I don't enjoy this. It may seem on some level as though I do, I assure you, it's not the case.

It is maddening also, to know of people who have to continue with counselling into their seventies. Fortunately, it's not a constant and continuous process, it comes in layers. This, it appears, is another layer that I have to work through. I say "have to" because if I don't, it is not going to go away on it's own, and it takes more energy to carry the burden silently, and deny it, then it does to stand up to the ugly monster and engage it.

"Action, using the anger as a motivating force, is a critical part of healing. If you listen to what your anger is telling you, if you allow it to be a guide, then it becomes a valuable resource moving you toward positive change" The Courage To Heal, Ellen Bass and Laura Davis.

Mom, if you are reading this, I want to expand on our relationship. I want you to support my healing, even if it upsets you. I want to be able to be completely honest with you, without fear of reprisal or being divorced. I know it will not be the easiest in the world, I am sure that we both have some very intense emotions, but I am doing this only with the intention, and the desire, to create positive change in my life and within my entire family. I am sorry that it is a rocky period right now, I am hoping that as we walk through this, together, we will be closer and more empowered.

I am truly sorry that this is causing difficulties for everyone. Perhaps though, I have to remind myself, that I didn't do this to "us". He did. I am just trying to come out from the shadow of it.

There may be anger, tears, sorrow, regret, but more than anything, there is hope.

Thank you for reading