robinmcmd

Thanks for articulating our disorder so well… My warning bells for mania go off when people start telling me how funny I am. Then it’s time to lock up the credit cards and ask my friends to help me stay on this planet. My depressive episodes are long, dark, painful; and they don’t frighten me half as much as my manias do. I’m harmless depressed. I have become abusive manic.

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Yes, really. I never understood why women chose abusers. Until I discovered that I had. I only pick psychologically abusive men, though. Husband # 2: Demean and degrade anything and everything I care about. Invalidate my feelings. Call me lazy, worthless, and stupid. Seethe with anger while I wonder when it will finally boil into physical violence. We didn’t belong together in the first place. By the time I got kicked out 10 years ago, everyone (including me) believed it was ALL my fault. I was the crazy one. I was the problem.
Next fella just called me crazy frequently and made fun of my singing and meditation practice. I tried to get him to love me for 3 years. I finally saw the light after he raped me.
It’s been a long journey back to self respect. And I backslide on occasion. I run when I see/hear signs of abusive behavior today.
We all deserve better.

The View from a Drawbridge

My whole life I’ve looked at battered women with sadness and pity, but I have to admit that I always viewed them with a certain level of disdain. I’d never let that happen to me. Never. How do you get in that position? How do you let someone disrespect you like that, harm you like that, and yet not walk away? I could never put up with that from anyone.

But I learned a very hard lesson recently, one that makes me look at battered women in a whole new light. What I’ve never realized is that it’s a quiet, creeping progression. It’s not like a woman gets beaten on the first date and decides that she’s going to live with that person happily ever after. No. You start off as one person, and somehow, slowly over time, you change. Then one day you look up and you say to…

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So. It happened again. Despite my best efforts at avoiding emotional entanglement, I became attached to a man who I knew wasn’t “keeper” material. We’d known each other before.

He wasn’t the first man I cheated on my last husband with, nor was he the final. Back a decade ago, the best thing I could say about him was that I knew I wouldn’t fall for him. Turns out that sometimes time doesn’t change people.  

My bright idea as we re-connected was a “casual, monogamous, noncommittal, sexual relationship,” with my emphasis on monogamyI didn’t expect it to last very long. I figured I’d get sick of his hypochondria, or another skirt would catch his eye, and we’d part after a few months. I was wrong. 

Guess I needed to give ya the background to my most recent trigger to a feeling from 34 years ago.

Summer 1979: I was living with my Dad at his stream house on Cobbosseecontee Stream. I was with Dad because it had been decided that I couldn’t live with my Mom, Step Dad and brothers. (an even longer story than this one) 

The day after Daddy picked me up from the Howe Rd house in Fairfield, he marched me into my first Family Planning appointment. Though I will always be grateful that a teenage pregnancy is not part of my story, I sometimes wonder why no one thought to tell me that it was not normal for 12-13 year-old girls to need the Pill. It was presumed that I had already had intercourse (not true), and that I would continue to do so (prophetic). 

The timeline gets a bit fuzzy, I know my stay in West Gardiner began in early June, and ended by mid August. Daddy worked during the day. I’d walk up the road from his house to the Bridge. Maybe up a bit further to the home of a large family I’d known for about 5 years. I idolized the two older girls. The one closest to my age called me friend. I also had a crush on the Oldest Boy.  OB was super cute, I thought. I had spent quite some time day dreaming about him. 

The “grown up” kids, 15-18 year-olds, would dive or jump off of the Bridge into the stream. They enjoyed it a lot. There were stories of broken limbs from bad jumps, in fact one of my hero girls sported a cast that summer. I was terrified of heights, it wasn’t a a secret. So I could be found hanging out with my pals while they jumped and dove and swam. It was fun. 

There were summer camps and cabins around. Some unfamiliar faces were at the Bridge. One girl, and two incredibly sophisticated, good looking guys. MM and CC were from Ohio, and they were like gods to me. I was so happy that the cool kids let me hang with them. Probably had something to do with the fantastic stories I was weaving… I sounded so much more together than I was.

Shortly after meeting them, I somehow managed to end up at CC and MM’s cabin overnight. Probably had something to do with bragging about being on the Pill, pot, and beer. For years, I romanticized that night in my recollections about it. How sexy it was to loose what was left of my innocence to two super awesome, fabulous guys. There’s a song by The Eagles, and one from The Knack, that bring me back to that cabin every time I hear them. We had gotten to the cabin via a canoe. I walked a very long path back to my Daddy’s the next morning. I can’t imagine how awful I must have looked. And smelled. 

We spent a couple of weeks drinking Daddy’s booze, smoking his reefer in his bong, and making ample use of his waterbed with the lovely mirrored ceiling. Yes, I can still see what I saw in that mirror. I thought I was living large. 

One day, it was time for OB to finally take his turn. I was thrilled. By the time he was finished, another dream had shattered. No matter, I deluded myself into thinking everything that was happening was cool, that the guys were my friends, that somehow everything was going to turn out wonderful. The routine continued, every day they’d show up, and every day I’d play my roles. 

One afternoon, when everyone had headed back up to the Bridge to hang out, CC and MM started teasing that they were going to throw me off the Bridge. I was a strong swimmer, the water didn’t scare me. I was only afraid of the height. Everyone knew. It wasn’t a secret. The verbal play continued for a bit, then one of them grabbed me. I begged them to at least let me take off my watch and my sandals. Either OB or one of the other boys who had only hung out at the house stuck up for me at that moment. My sandals and watch were removed.

I dissociated. I have no memory of the fall or hitting the water. I came back into my body as I was stepping back onto the shore. I walked back up to where my stuff was, put it back on, and walked back to Dad’s house, grateful that the ordeal was over and it would never happen again.

The next few days everyone acted like nothing had happened. I still played hostess, I still hung out at the Bridge. I still thought they were my friends.

And then it happened again.

This time, no one took off my sandals and watch. This time, I remember hearing someone yell, “leave us alone!” as others laughed and I fell into the water. This time, I felt the pain of betrayal and abandonment. I felt the absolute loneliness that was inside of me. This time, I realized that I wasn’t cool, liked, or wanted. I was just convenient and easy. 

For 34 years, every time a boy or man mistreats me or leaves abruptly, my brain pulls me back to that second drop from the Bridge.

Last Sunday, when I saw the picture of my most recent mistake draped all over another woman on FaceBook, the Bridge feelings came back. I picked up some of my coping skills, and was able to sleep that night. I awoke Monday morning, though, with the old tapes playing in my head.

It took a good part of the day to realize that the most recent betrayer didn’t deserve all of the anger I was feeling, that I could handle the situation differently, that just because I’d been disappointed didn’t mean I wasn’t capable or worthy of a good relationship.

I am just not ready, yet.

There’s so much I want to do. For the next 362 days, I am going to give celibacy and abstinence a determined trial.

I don’t think I can bear another trip off that Bridge.

 

“Eighty acres, a backhoe and a swap. No body, no crime.”

I am absolutely positive that I heard my now ex-husband utter that statement at least 20 times during our marriage. He’d say it in private, he’d say it in certain public situations. He said it BEFORE my Bi-Polar I and alcoholism took off. He said it while my behaviors were endangering my children’s lives, as well as my own.

There was a lot of violent behavior and abuse in the house ex hubby grew up in. His brother spent about a year in jail for gun violence. Brother punched out at least three windshields of vehicles prior to his jail time. Brother was arrested before that for choking a girlfriend. Ex got the calls to go get his kid brother out of the pokey.

Family counseling was recommended once. In-laws backed out and cancelled the arrangements. What if the family secrets came out?

Ex was different, I thought, from his Dad and Brother. When he punched out the windshield of his truck in a drunken rage one night, I could see how my jealousy over the passes a friend’s wife made at him provoked the outburst. {did you know I’m a genius?} He was a “good man”, a hard worker, he said he loved me. Our relationship caused a lot of distress in our families, it HAD to last. {the rest of this sordid story another time.}

The windshield incident happened before he was given his grandparent’s house.

We were only living together, at first. I was just divorced from my first husband. We moved into the house, and we bought my first brand new car. 1988 Mercury Tracer. 4 door, black. I was working. He was working. He hated when I talked about work. I listened when he talked about work.

“I’d never do anything to hurt you!” That’s what he screamed at me after I had called Brother to give us a ride home one afternoon when Ex had had WAY too much to drink (he was slurring words). He stormed into the truck, I climbed in beside him. ?why?

His pager went off as we were climbing RTE 143, and he was sputtering about my over-reaction. He was a Fire Chief. He picked up his radio, and said, “________car 1 responding.” The next time he keyed the microphone, all of the scanners in my County got to hear my scream as he lost control of the truck and drove us into “the ledges.” We refused medical treatment. The town cop didn’t even ask if Ex had been drinking.

I married him less than 2 months later. If I do everything right, it will all be ok. Right?

“Eighty acres, a backhoe and a swap. No body, no crime.”

He was a “good man”, a hard worker, he said he loved me. Our relationship caused a lot of distress in our families, it HAD to last.

Ex wasn’t too bad for quite some time. Brothers’ troubles were amping. We planned two pregnancies. Brother’s big stuff happened while baby #2 was gestating. I lost weight during the trial. We visited Brother in jail a couple of times. Then Mom in law said Brother didn’t want visitors anymore.

After ten years, and lots of dramas, I was kicked out of the home with “eighty acres, a backhoe, and a swamp.”

Less than six months later the news broke that one young man had brutally murdered another. The now convicted murder is the son of the woman who moved into the home with “eighty acres, a backhoe, and a swamp,” on the same day I moved out.

My sons stopped speaking to me. My former home made the news. My children testified in a murder trial. I was there for part of the oldest ones testimony. Hard to watch your child lie.

Yesterday, on the eve of Brandon Lee LaBonte’s 30th Birthday, the front page of my newspaper shouted the headline that his Murderer is appealing the conviction on grounds that he was denied a fair and public trail. The murderer has a Facebook page. Apparently life in prison comes with internet access.

Brandon doesn’t get to have a facebook page. Brandon’s family will never have a body to bury.

“Eighty acres, a backhoe and a swap. No body, no crime.”

Toxic.

Posted on: July 26, 2013

Toxic..

This blogger nailed it!

It hurt so much in 2008 when all of my “friends” abandoned me after my suicide. Maybe it hurt more because one of ’em said I asked for the rapes that happened right after I was released from the hospital..

No Matter.

My life is FULL of people today who love and support me. People who may not always “get” me, but they tell me that I’m accepted even when my symptoms are NOT.

I would have never had the courage to face the deep healing work I have done and continue to do if the ones who call me crazy and toxic hadn’t left.

I decided to start writing here after a suggestion from a person I consider a friend. Well, I like to think we’d be friends if our paths had crossed differently. She’s inspired me in many ways, and she helps me rein my craziness in when I get too far off the ground.

I can’t clearly remember our first meeting. What I do recall is that I thought she was super-cool; I envied her beautiful hair. Also, she was the instigator of what I derisively called arts and crafts at an outpatient treatment program in my area.

I met her on my first trip through “Partial.” Turns out that typically patients (?clients?) get there after a stay on one of the psychiatric wards above it. Even when I am not conscious of it, I have to be different. I went through the Partial program, ten weekdays of great structure, interesting groups, and awesome folks, several times before my first hospitalization. I haven’t revisited dear Partial since my {please God, I hope} last hospitalization in November of 2010.

So, there was this woman, one of the clinicians, with great hair, awesome smile, sharp wit, and artistic talent. I couldn’t stand arts and crafts group. Not the first time I went through Partial. Not for quite a few times, in fact, if my distorted memory isn’t playing tricks on me.

Sometimes, I wouldn’t act like a complete jerk about the collage group. That’s really what the art was, making collages. {It was goal setting, and other stuff, but it took me years to grasp that.} The first one I actually “did” was only words. I couldn’t do pictures. I like words. Black and white. Why put color? Who needs shapes? No pictures appealed to me then. Kinda sad, looking back…

I remember thinking that I wasn’t artistic in any way. I was in an art class every day in 9th and 10th grades; I’d locked that part of myself up long ago. So long that I forgot it was there, at least until enough dumb arts and crafts groups at Partial.

So, I’d periodically go to Partial, participate as best I could, watch this arts and crafts lady run other groups, admire her spunk, wish I could be like her, and secretly long to be able to actually do a collage with pictures. Other folks made awesome collages, yet I’d sit there, only finding words that appealed to me. Words that I didn’t really want to have to explain to anyone else. 

Eventually I changed. I think it was after I stopped ALL medications. I made a collage for a place to live, as I had become homeless. I made a goal list for a job, since my first hospitalization and subsequent drama left me unable to return to the job I had.

Then I made 3 collages that I still have today. They’ve been up where I can see them in the last three places I’ve lived. If I ever figure out how to get pictures from my phone onto my MacBook, I’ll post ’em. I imagined things I wanted and needed. I was able to find pictures that represented those things, and I allowed myself to dream a little. 

Healthy foods, travel, pretty clothes, exercise… I really liked the collages I made, though I figured they were really just expressions of my fantasies, not things that could become reality for me. Plus, they were proof that art could be back in my life. mmm, I owe another woman a debt of gratitude for my return to art as well, she introduced me to mandalas before I was able to collage.

One of the first visitors to my current home saw my collages and called them vision boards. That’s when the full impact of the work I’d done on them hit me. I’d been patiently guided to envision better things for myself. Subtly encouraged to believe that not only was it ok to want good things, it was even possible to obtain them.

Today I took my boards down, rolled then up, and brought them to an Al Anon meeting to show a friend. Other people looked at them. It was only a little uncomfortable.

“Does it work?” someone said.

Almost everything on those three boards exists in abundance in my life today.

{And I have a couple more I am planning on creating!}

I’m still not sure how, exactly, I survived yesterday.

I prayed. I talked to friends. I reached out to help others. I asked for help. I even followed some advice. I attended 2 1/2 meetings, and shared honestly at 2 of them.

I’d be wiped out from all the emotional stuff (I’m sure you can hardly wait to hear all the details), but I got an extra challenge when I arrived home. 

I started vomiting violently, and the first round didn’t stop for about 30 minutes. It frightened me. I don’t get sick like that. I’d say “ever,” but I have, and I’m-a-gonna bore you with the memories.

 

7th Grade: Mr. Tansy’s Social Studies class. I’d raised my hand because I felt like I was gonna hurl. Mr. Tansy was ranting about something, and ignored me. Until I spewed all over my desk. {One of my first lessons in “you can’t die from embarrassment.”} Never figured out what caused that…

15, after drinking Baccardi 151 to extreme excess. {yeah, 15 shouldn’t be drinking, but I “picked up” when I was 12, typical response to molestation.} Anyway I christened a “friend’s” home with my stomach contents, and had my first hangover. That hangover kept me away from booze for a few years.

20: Had started drinking again while beginning an adulterous relationship with my cousin. But even when I wasn’t drinking, I was having awful nausea and heartburn. After a couple of weeks of progressively holding less and less food down, the kind Doctors at Mid Maine Medical Center discovered my gallbladder was packed full of stones, and removed the offending organ. I weighed 86 pounds. The surgeon told me that I probably wouldn’t have lived 24 more hours.

Sporadically in my 20’s: Usually only when I drank, so I would not drink for long periods. Had no morning sickness with first planned pregnancy. Made up for that with number two. 

In my 30’s: Used to happen every night when I stumbled in from the bars and illicit rendezvous. I finally learned to just not bother going upstairs to my bedroom. I’d end up passing out on the bathroom floor, and that’s where my sons would find me on way too many mornings. I haven’t had to drink, thanks to the miracle known as Alcoholics Anonymous, in over 9 years. 

I’d like to say I haven’t been that violently ill since, but I have had one or two tummy bugs since Jan. 1, 2004. Really, though, they were nowhere near as demoralizing and degrading as when my body was trying to expel all the poison I’d poured into it while trying to escape myself.

Then there was March 15, 2008:

I’d been on Bi Polar meds for most of the time I’d been sober. I’d switched to a different mix because I thought the Depakote had “pooped out.” {Hindsight, nothing was gonna help me be okay with the immoral way I still insisted upon living.} I was also on several other meds. Had developed lung disease, a very painful ovarian cyst, and a bunch of other stuff. I was full of shame and grief, and wasn’t able to share my true feelings with anyone, even the therapist I’d had for years. I tried. I did. But the emotions regarding those two kids mentioned earlier were just too powerful. No one got it. No one understood what it was like to carry the memories of what I did to my kids. Or the fear of causing them more harm. Or how hard it was to not know how they were doing. And no one, not even me, understood how deadly the pent up rage and anger inside of me, toward me, and to others, was.

Until I woke up the morning of the 15th, at a job where I was supposed to be taking care of people who can’t completely take care of themselves. And I was consumed with a desire to cause them harm. I am proud of myself that I didn’t. Though I do look back at the months prior to the event and see that I certainly hadn’t been doing my job to the standards I began with. But I knew, I KNEW, that even though I was no longer drinking, I was still a danger to innocent bystanders.

So I finished my shift, tidied up a couple of details, and went home and swallowed 102 pills of one of my medications. I swallowed them in handfuls. Didn’t know how many till the police counted what was missing from the freshly opened bottle. The intent was to eliminate the problem, the problem was me, and I really thought I would succeed. My body doesn’t like poison, though. It wasn’t long before the retching started. Then the stuff started coming out of me EVERYWHERE. so flipping gross. I didn’t think it would ever stop.

I turned my phone back on, it rang, I told the person on the other end the truth, that I was vomiting up an overdose. He called 911. I spent over 24 hours in the ER. My veins collapsed from the med. I experienced some of my worst nightmares come true. I was committed to a psych ward for 4 days. 

I stopped ALL meds for over 2 years.

Nov. 2010: After a horridly deep and long depression, I tried a new med. After taking it daily for a couple of weeks, I ramped up into a mania that included my first psychotic break and hallucinations. I tried to eat in the morning, but the food all tasted super salty. Just before the shots of Haldol at the ER, they gave me food which wouldn’t stay down. 

I ended up on the psych ward with the patients who are medicated into stupors.

Guess I understand now why I was so freaked out last night. Glad I made it to today.

 

 

 


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  • Cheri: I hope you don't mind, but I too was a battered wife and recently wrote this: Take Your Power Back: Life After Abuse http://cherispeak.wordpress.com/?
  • Cheri: Thank you so very much for sharing this. Yes, mania is where I get into all of my troubles as well...I wish us all health and some semblance of sanity
  • robinmcmd: Thanks BigLizzy! Your blog is great. All the writers on BlackBox Warnings inspire me, and give me courage to tell my stories. I found it easier to pos

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