Monday, September 28, 2009


Television has become an integral element of my recovery process. Yes I say that a bit tongue in cheek, but it's true, I've come to really rely on it when I'm on the brink. I was feeling absolutely horrible earlier and after three episodes of Lost and a pint of ice cream I'm okay.

I want to write down for posterity the shows that I've been keeping up with. Not all of them are good, but they're there in a pinch!

  • Lost (up to season 5 now!)
  • Scrubs
  • Lie to Me
  • True Blood
  • Weeds
  • Breaking Bad
  • Entourage
  • The United States of Tara
  • 30 Rock
  • Dexter
  • Heroes
  • Chuck
  • Robot Chicken
  • Family Guy
  • Futurama (Going to get new seasons soon!)
  • Bleach (...embarrassing taste, I know.)
  • Mythbusters

To watch:
  • Mad Men
  • Glee
  • This American Life
  • Strangers with Candy

Maybe I'll try it:
  • Ugly Betty
  • Better Off Ted
  • Dollhouse 
  • Community
  • Secret Diary of a Call Girl
  • Monk
  • Eureka
  • Nurse Jackie
  • FlashForward
  • V

I've seen a few episodes and didn't like it / get hooked:
  • House
  • Californication
  • Grey's Anatomy
  • 24
  • Fringe
  • Leverage
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  • Psyche
  • Stella
I'm looking forward to:
  • Caprica
  • New Futurama!
No longer on the air but liked:
  • Spaced
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Arrested Development
  • Dead Like Me
  • Firefly
  • Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

at risk

I'm considering going inpatient again. It's so expensive, I'd feel awful about it, and that's counterproductive. but I'm at risk and really feeling awful. I wanted to write more, but I've lost interest. I just want to like, not exist right now.

On Atheism

I spent 22 years of my life as an agnostic.

Pronunciation: \ag-ˈnäs-tik, əg-\
Function: noun
Etymology: Greek agnōstos unknown, unknowable, from a- + gnōstos known, from gignōskein to know — more at know
Date: 1869
1 : a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god

So it was a very big step for me when, a few months ago, I made the big leap to atheism.
Pronunciation: \ˈā-thē-ist\
Function: noun
Date: 1551
: a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.

 For some time I believed that atheism was level with theism in the unsupportable assertion that there is or is not a supreme being as defined by theist organizations as an omnipotent and omniscient conscious entity.

Function: noun
Date: 1678
: belief in the existence of a god or gods; specifically :belief in the existence of one God viewed as the creative source of the human race and the world who transcends yet is immanent in the world
\ˈgäd also ˈgȯd\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old High German got god
Date: before 12th century
1 capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality: as a : the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe b Christian Science : the incorporeal divine Principle ruling over all as eternal Spirit : infinite Mind
2 : a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship; specifically : one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality
3 : a person or thing of supreme value
4 : a powerful ruler

I find it interesting that Merriam-Webster dictionary places a special subsection of the definition for the capitalized God, as opposed to the lowercase. God the presumptive supernatural creator as opposed to the idea of any supernatural being.

Pronunciation: \ˌsü-pər-ˈna-chə-rəl, -ˈnach-rəl\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Medieval Latin supernaturalis, from Latin super- + natura nature
Date: 15th century
1 : of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil
2 a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature b : attributed to an invisible agent (as a ghost or spirit)

So, as an agnostic, I was defining myself as impartial, that I was incapable of making an informed opinion on whether God was a realistic idea I could pin my beliefs on or that it's an unsupportable claim with enough evidence to the contrary to disprove its existence. God, ghosts, spirits, bogeymen, angels, tooth fairies, goblins, unicorns and any other mythological creature have the same amount of empirical evidence as the other. I do not believe the tooth fairy exists because I found out my parents were the ones putting money under my pillow and they were lying about it. That wasn't incontrovertible evidence of its nonexistence, but my faith in the tooth fairy was shattered by that breach of trust.

A few months ago I realized that deep down inside of me, no part of me is capable of believing in the uppercase God.

This has been an important part of the whole 12 steps thing -

  • Step 2 - Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  • Step 3 - Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
  • Step 5 - Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
  • Step 6 - Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
  • Step 7 - Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
  • Step 11 - Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out.
     I think it's very well-established by now that I have trust issues. Why should I trust the same creature who I'm told put me through all these "tests of faith" that have had such horrible lasting effects on me, just because he wants to see if I can trust him afterward? That is an abusive relationship, and so I am avoiding it and having faith in myself instead.

    I have faith that I am greater than I have allowed myself to be, and that everyone is greater than they are told they can be. I believe strongly in the power of the individual person and feel that if any 'miracle' occurs it has less to do with a supernatural god meddling with our lives and more to do with the individual person who made that miracle occur.

    Accepting a power greater than myself is a poor wording at best for what I will need to do to make it past step 2.

    And then, now that I have humbly accepted that I am an inherently inferior creature, for step 3 I need to turn my will and my very life over to this very same entity that has been supposedly responsible for all the trauma I have been through? Why should I trust it? Because I have no choice? Again, the power dynamics of this relationship make it inherently abusive and I need to escape it, not embrace it.

    But let's say that I do give in, I do stop fighting the fight because I see that it's not getting me anywhere, I do accept that I am broken and inferior and that I need guidance from something greater than me, greater than anything human, and that I can define it however I see fit so long as it's superior to me. I need to then make a moral inventory of myself to find every single way I am inferior to it, humbly ask this entity to remove my defects, and then somehow accept that this creature has a specific 'will' for me, a purpose, which is to spread this message to other defective people.

    I understand that there's a much more humanistic interpretation of these steps hidden between the lines, and that there is group empowerment in individual disempowerment, and so long as one is associated with the group one gets the benefits of empowerment because the individual was clearly unable to handle the power themselves and became an addict.

    This whole process is ultimately what made me realize that I am an atheist. I am absolutely unable to even humor the idea that there is a conscious supernatural being watching over us all. If I could it would be much, much easier to accept the 12 steps and work through them. Instead I have to fight the wording and find what it is that is conceptually beneficial to it all, what it is that they're really meaning for me to feel, and then move through them with that in mind. As a side note, that approach makes it much more likely I'll really integrate the lessons into my life as opposed to lip servicing them which is a major issue in AA.

    So, I can no longer claim not to have taken sides. My trust issues made that decision for me.

    I'm definitely an atheist, and it would take one hell of an amelioration of that broken trust for me to think otherwise. And since I don't think that sort of thing is really what this God creature is known for, I'm just cutting it off. Agnosticism is humoring it too much for me.

    Thursday, September 24, 2009


    I've been awash with anger today, and can't sleep. I tried to distract myself with Lost, but as soon as I was done I just started up again thinking about every single person I know and coming up with exactly what it would take for me to say that would really deeply hurt them. I'm posting here because I don't want these things in my head just in case I lose control and they slip out.

    I'm just furious, at everything, and I know right where it's coming from. Today I was treated without an iota of trust by someone who I was depending on. He didn't listen to me, and I didn't have a chance to hear him out to see if he has a good reason, and I can't see him again until Monday. I know what's best for me, and when I'm not in a position to make good decisions I do something about it, like check in to a hospital. What's triggering this anger is a lack of basic trust, stemming in part from my constant need to make a case for myself. People presented with the cold facts of my life too often treat me like I'm subhuman. I've watched people dropping their capacity to empathize with me, like blowing out a candle. I've been forced by circumstance and humiliation to try to talk to them until things changed. These memories have a lasting effect on me, they aren't going away.

    This guy had better be right about what he advocated, but I need him to sell it to me. I want it so much, it would make things so much easier for me, but I can't operate like this.

    I need to sort out my trust issues, badly. I'm hurting myself the most here, by all this rumination on other people's insecurities.

    Wednesday, September 23, 2009

    Opening up

    I often find myself lost in conversation, losing all concept of time. I become immersed in the dynamics of the dialogue. I analyze so much in the other person and in myself, and in how the other person's thoughts and perceptions and attitudes affect my own, and how I might be affecting him or her. When I'm talking to someone interesting, it's like I move to a different plane. Outside of the conversation and the thoughts and memories it evokes, nothing exists, including time. Just mentioning time snaps me back in reality, which is often unsettling.

    A recent conversation brought the realization that I'm opening up more, that I'm asserting my own identity, which up until recently I was entirely unaware existed. This may be a bizarre rhetorical question, but really, is this what it's like to have a personality? Because it's foreign to me. I've always just given back what people wanted from me, I've been entirely reactionary in conversation. To go one step further, if I pushed myself to do something it was because of someone else's perceptions of me or my fear of their judgment. I asserted myself as independent and free spirited not because I was, but because that's how it seemed I was best off being perceived. It's what it seemed the right people would admire in an art student. It was all subconscious, I never set out for such dishonesty, but because I absolutely loathed myself I denied my identity and personality the right to influence my behaviors.

    A friend of mine wrote a powerful, fantastic poem called Safety. I hope she doesn't mind my excerpting it, I just feel it expresses exactly what I want to say right now.

    "... pretending
    is the only piece of me
    I have left.
    So insincere, so empty, so necessary
    submissive stilettos staring a thousand miles away
    the real me
    is seeking and hiding from me
    and the world
    and for now
    I stay on the door step
    locked out
    without the key..."
    I'm going to do an animation around that poem, maybe this spring. I'm still working on how I want it presented, trying to go past the words, to express the images behind them more than the ones in front of them if that makes sense.

    Here's a quote from Judith Herman's "Trauma and Recovery" that's obliquely related.
    Her desperate longing for nurturance and care makes it difficult to establish safe and appropriate boundaries with others. Her tendency to denigrate herself and to idealize those to whom she becomes attached further clouds her judgment. Her empathic attunement to the wishes of others and her automatic, often unconscious habits of obedience also make her vulnerable to anyone in a position of power or authority. Her dissociative defensive style makes it difficult for her to form conscious and accurate assessments of danger. And her wish to relive the dangerous situation and make it come out right may lead her into reenactments of the abuse.
    The key to the whole complex was empathic attunement. It was deeply rooted in my subconscious, impossible to unsurface, but it dictated all my behaviors, all my personalities. I occasionally wondered if I had dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities), but I was conscious of the behaviors of all my 'alters'. And I wasn't completely at the whim of whoever I was talking to, just to people I respected. If a person was in a position of authority or otherwise earned my trust and respect they won me, in whatever form they wanted me to be. My identity was fluid. My personality was intangibly malleable, pliant, versatile, adaptable, plastic. I said I liked to keep people on their toes when I surprised them with something seemingly out of character for me, but really, they were just seeing a glimpse of a different personality intruding. I think everyone does this to some degree, but I feel like I achieved a certain appalling, subconscious virtuosity to it.

    I was at the bottom rung of the totem pole - I hated myself the most. My self loathing was to such an extreme that my mind felt more at ease having deleted myself from my mind, resulting in a sort of autonomous denial of my identity's existence. I truly felt like I was a series of shells, of personalities, and that some were closer to this idea of a 'core' me, but in reality they just kept getting smaller and smaller to infinity, all of them hollow, with yet another shell inside each.

    It's difficult to describe the feelings behind that belief - the intense psychological numbing required for it to happen wipes out all related emotion.

    Anyway, what matters is I feel that I'm opening up the bottom shells and they're somewhat less opaque than the others. I can see a solid form in there somewhere, I've just got to break a few more walls down and maybe I'll see it.

    Maybe I'm on the congo river, seeking out my Kurtz. But I don't believe in a 'heart of darkness', just like I don't believe in original sin. Nothing inside of me now leads me to believe in any form of inherent evil. I wonder what it would be like to be a true sociopath.

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    Long day

    Today was a long day. I couldn't sleep last night so I did five loads of laundy, blankets and all, and managed about five hours of sleep. I had a few nightmares as always, but it was okay. I got up at 9:20, after hitting the snooze button a dozen times, threw on some freshly washed clothes, looked in the mirror and saw that my hair was like .. insane. I looked mentally challenged, and yes, I was going to a place for the mentally ill anyway, but I didn't need to look the part. So I used a straightener and some gel and rushed out the door. I just barely made in time it to group.

    The first half of group was sheer agony. I think the rush in got my blood pumping, because my anxiety was through the roof. People were talking about their families, meds, pot and all sorts of other anxiety triggers for me, and I felt like I was under attack even though they weren't talking to me. I tried to surreptitiously cover this wolf on a magazine cover that was eyeing me, and this lady on the back of  vanity fair, and this horrifying picture on the counter that was some hindu design of a black multi-limbed god surrounded by flames and skull-like shapes and dancing scary things. At that point it got less surreptitious so they made me talk about it, and I was so self conscious I couldn't make eye contact. I don't remember what I said but I know I was talking for a while. After the break things were better. Someone was talking about her mother, who seems very comparable to my dad. That was interesting.

    Anyway, I had drawing class at 3. I had to buy some supplies - new sketch pad, pencils, etc. I burn through pencils like you wouldn't believe. I think the shopping excursion gave me some confidence, I felt good in class. My first few drawings sucked, but I got into the swing of it, and Gaffney gave a fantastic chalkboard lecture that I found really enlightening. My drawings were immediately much more round and weighty. Also we changed models, which may have helped. We spend the whole class just drawing from a nude, and I draw women better than men. I'm a little averse to looking at the male nudes, it's a little anxiety provoking, which I think contributes to that. Also it was an older guy, and the female model is absolutely gorgeous and fabulously talented. I'll post pictures of my drawings at some point.

    Oh, and I got a poster. It's Klimt's "Tree of Life"

    It's striking, isn't it? I needed something for my walls, and I've been passing by a gorgeously framed print of this for the past few weeks, at a framing shop nearby. I saw it was gone and went in and talked him down to a decent price on it, sans frame. He had The Kiss too, but I've seen that one in a museum and it's awful to know how much better the real thing is. It also makes me uncomfortable and lonely.

    There's something really engaging about The Tree of Life. It's mesmerizing, and there's so much in the details. There's a story in the characters. Klimt is known for the use of the femme fatale, but that's just one interpretation.

    The concept of the tree of life is seen in almost every culture, representing the interconnectedness of all things, and in some cases the idea of everything coming from the same root, be that God or whatever. It actually matches my concept of God fairly well, thinking about it. I mentioned my affection for trees in a previous post. It's such an apt symbol.

    The lone woman on the left is tied to the pair on the right by the sensual curves of the tree, while a blackbird, symbol of death, stands guard between her and the pair. The woman seems to be shying away from the bird while staring at the pair, which brings out a feeling of intense longing, maybe for one of the people, or maybe just for the sense of loving fulfillment they seem to have. They've almost melded into a single form and look at peace, with sumptuous round shapes making up the majority of their design, while the lone woman is all sharp angles and triangles, bringing a sense of anxiety. The inverted triangles, symbols of femininity, are vibrantly colored with horizontal stripes which lessen some of the strong downward direction they would otherwise give and lead more focus parallel to her. They're surrounded by eyes, which could be the eyes of God. The pair especially is covered in eyes, while the lone woman has just a few on her dress, each with round pupils. The eyes on the pair's robe have sharp, snakelike pupils, which evokes the idea of temptation. It's like they're a personified form of the apple of knowledge. That blackbird is so troubling, though. And just the alignment of the focal points is a very distinct inverted triangle, which could reflect klimts views on women.

    There's just so much to see, and to appreciate. The blackbird bothers me a lot. I guess I could see it as a non-real threat - like anxiety, it's just a bird. It's not death itself. I may be terrified, but I need to move past it. It reminds me of Shortbus in a way. Actually, thinking about it, the painting is very in tune with the major themes of that film.

    I need to get a shortbus poster and put it next to it. I really like that connection.

    Sunday, September 20, 2009

    My Computer

    I've been thinking seriously about getting rid of my computer, or maybe leaving it at my parents' house for a while once I get the courage up to go back.

    I know that sounds strange, considering anyone who reads this blog likely only hears from me through this keyboard, but I'm beginning to recognize the negative affect it's been having on my life.

    These last few months the vast majority of my time has been spent on my bed, typing and clicking. It's so easy to lose myself in it, to let my eyes go out of focus yet feel like I'm accomplishing something. If anything says to me that I truly am an addict, it's my behavior here.

    On the one hand, information is so easily available. I'm fantastic at finding and sharing things online - I use facebook, twitter, aim, blogger, vuze, netflix, youtube, gmail, wikipedia, notcot, stumbleupon, webmd, livemocha and google every day. Google is my calculator, translator, dictionary, map, phone book, encyclopedia and thesaurus. Everything is so easy, and when you use these tools enough you learn tricks to finding what you want, like searching site indexes for specific filetypes and the various techniques that increase your likelihood of getting what you want. I use Kayak for flight searches because I can find and compare different days of travel and get the best deals. Bing has a great comparison engine too, and is better for tracking the ups and downs and predicting when is best to buy tickets. I like knowing when there are good travel deals, despite knowing that I can't actually buy them. Occasionally I'll roll the dice and hit up priceline's travel bidding service, I'll lowball a ticket to Paris, Milan, Orlando, Rome, Brussels, Berlin, Madrid or wherever, just to see if I land it.

    It's all just escapism, yet ultimately I'm not escaping anywhere. In fact, I'm hardly moving.

    I think about the things I value in myself, and the top of that list is my ability to express my feelings through words and art. Yet, picking up a pencil attracts that ever present cloud of anxiety, and in shallow breaths I let it build up inside of me until I spontaneously toss the pencil across the room and crumple up my paper.

    Lately I've been having an exceptionally hard time maintaining interest in anything for more than a few moments. My thoughts wander immediately after they crystalize. I try to catch things that I think might spark a long, meaningful and thought provoking entry in this blog, and I end up scrapping many more than I post. I think I've erased more than I've written on here. If a post isn't going anywhere, and I look at it and realize it never was to start with, I just cmd+a and hit delete. Sometimes I'll save it as a draft and walk away, without a real intention to return to it.

    It's not that I'm overly critical of my writing or my art. I just recognize when something doesn't matter, when it doesn't say what I want it to or doesn't say anything at all. Sometimes a blank canvas says more than one filled with marks.

    I think that knowing my computer is there for me to turn to for a quick fix, a quick distraction, a quick 'update', is bad for my concentration. Maybe I should just convince myself to go to the park more, I always appreciate it when I do, but it's so hard just to get dressed sometimes.

    Today's day 31. I've passed the 30 day mark. And I want pot. I want alcohol. I want oxy, I want benzos. I want hallucinogens even though I know they're an awful idea. As a friend said, if you find yourself wanting to claw your eyes out when you're sober, you really will if you do acid. Mushrooms are safer, though. I just want to escape my head, it's weighing me down too much. My neck hurts. I could really use a massage.

    Dandelions is running a contest asking people to leave a comment describing their favorite 'symbol/icon/etc' and what it means to them. What a fun little exercise! The symbols people are choosing say so much about them, especially if it came to them without their needing to overthink it.

    The symbol that immediately came to mind for me was the dandelion. For the past few months I have been occasionally considering getting one as a tattoo, but I haven't really spent a lot of time trying to understand why it is that I identify with them so much.

    For starters, when I was a kid, I absolutely loved finding the little puffy ones and gently blowing the seeds to watch them be carried off by the wind. People always called them weeds, which is a racially insensitive term among plants, and they killed them off with all sorts of nasty chemicals. 

    I'd sometimes blow them over to my neighbors clean, green lawns. I tried to be furtive about it, because I knew they were on the other team, and when I saw patches of little yellow lions roaring from their yard I was so excited! The yellow looks so pretty against a thick green lawn. But I stopped doing that when I realized I was sending them to a premature and painful death by chemical warfare.

    My sisters liked them too, though I don't know if they got the same excitement I did from finding the patches of white clouds. They probably considered them on a par with the violets, which our yard had plenty of and I certainly appreciated them too, but did you know that when you squeeze a dandelion stem, some white gooey milk comes out? It's just like the stuff that you find in milkweed - another exciting plant, though not as common.

    And then there are the not quite ready dandelions, with their modest green heads squeezing around a patch of soft, gently forming seeds, accented with the crunchy remains of the flower petals peering out the top like a little tuft of hair. When I was feeling curious, I'd pull the seeds out from the top. They came in one big cluster, with a sound like velcro ripping. I always felt a little guilty because they never could float on the wind like they would if I'd been more patient, but I'd try to loosen them up and toss them up in the air to see what would happen.

     That feeling of adventure, of the curious pursuit and experimentation, is the reason I'm an artist. I just find so much creative inspiration after so many years of playing around with everything I've come into contact with. I've found so many things that make me feel happy to be alive, and I have this fear that if I don't start making them myself the world might run out. I mean, the internet has shown me so much, from how to blow a shofar to how our children can benefit from the acknowledgement of racial issues rather than trying to make them 'colorblind'. I always find something new that interests me, and that often sparks new interests in things I never would have looked at before, so I suppose there's plenty left for me to find and I'd have to live a million years to see it all. But there seems to be a finite number of cool things in the world, and I want to contribute to that number.

    I'll make another post some other time on why I'm an artist. That's a big topic, and I was totally sidetracked off dandelions. I'm not really interested in writing about them anymore though, so I guess I'll leave it at that.

    Saturday, September 19, 2009


    Seriously, I'm one step away from DTs over not having those darn online games to turn to.

    Friday, September 18, 2009

    Desperate Times

    Facebook is death.

    I seriously had a problem with that site. Five minutes ago I deleted half a dozen life stealing apps from my account. I was completely addicted, to the point of having a second account so I could spam my wall with "Help me with this challenge!"-type posts without feeling like an idiot. I had over 1100 friends on that account, and we were all in it together, a bunch of spamming, gaming, time wasting sacks of potatoes.

    I'm glad to be rid of it. I wish it were as permanent as pouring a bottle down the sink. Unfortunately I can reactivate my account, and the games all store my data for a few months. Chances are I won't. I'd hate myself too much if I reactivated.

    My hope is that this will motivate me to read more, or draw, or write. I looked myself in the mirror today and saw my messy, unshowered hair, my mascara-spotted cheeks, my visible ribcage and slouching posture and recognized just how much of a mess I am, as if I was seeing myself from someone else's perspective.

    A friend and former boss mentioned on facebook that he was working on a production budget today, and I started to write, "Got any room for me in there?" But it turned into, "Got any room in there for an anxious, depressed, unreliable, barely functional addict with a history of mental breakdowns and way too much drama in her life?"

    Claro que no lo envié. Maybe I'll get back to studying french. Probablement, je vrai étude français. I'm not sure if that was right.

    I was driven to learn French, and continue learning Spanish, by a strong need to run away from everything. I know disappearing into Europe was always a fantasy, but I bought into it and didn't want to admit to how unrealistic it is for me. It's so romantic an idea, and it's so depressing to be stuck here. It's oppressive! It's all strings, they're attached to everything, they tie everything down to be buried.

    Suicide isn't really an option for me, but sometimes that's a nice fantasy too. That sounds kind of disturbing, I know. It's more extreme than doing whatever it takes to get to a foreign country with a foreign language and have no home, money or backup plan. That's really my first option if I'm looking for a way out. It certainly carries a decent chance of finding myself turned into a skin-sweater or being raped or worse, but it does have a higher survival rate than suicide.

    I remember in high school, when I was severely suicidal, I'd leave the house at 11pm and wander down to the dirtier areas of Lowell, hoping to find myself as a statistic. It was like sky diving, but a lot more depressing and frustrating.

    This is me on a down note, when I'm more depressed than anxious. Generally, especially while I'm alone, I'm either like this or I'm totally freaked out and am trying to calm down. Middle ground shows up from time to time, especially when I'm distracting myself with good conversation or company. Sometimes, some people have this fantastic soothing influence on me, I feel safe, my anxiety diminishes and I can't feel so depressed. It's the people who don't come with so many strings attached, who are interested or care about me without expectation.

    This is one of those posts that toes the line between public and private. I'll leave it public, but maybe some day I'll hide it away.


    Going home is such a challenge for me. Every Friday I try to convince myself it's worthwhile and I fail. It's paralyzing, the idea of it. I'm honestly terrified of Chelmsford, my old home town. Before I had that life-changing hospitalization I would go back mostly to work, and the occasional family function. I'd drink, distract myself with work, friends and drugs, and try my best to connect with my family.

    But without those distractions there's a palpable wave of anxiety constantly washing through me that brings an absolute certainty that at any moment something monumentally awful is going to happen. Every corner of every room is a trap. Every moment I'm forgetting something vitally important and trying to figure out what it could be. Every word I say, every opinion I have and every action I take is under close scrutiny and assumed to be wrong. When I'm there, I know this like I know my hand is my own: there is no possible way to doubt it, and the longer something bad doesn't happen the more the anticipation builds. I think that's among the reasons why my nightmares are always so much worse there.

    I can't handle those feelings, they're too much for me, way too much. It feels absurd, looking at what I wrote in that last paragraph. I recognize how crazy it is. Generally the only way I can handle it is if I dissociate or derealize. The last time I went home I lost my ability to remember anything over a couple years past. I couldn't remember my grandpa's name, I couldn't remember my teachers when Lauren talked about them, I couldn't remember the names of the sidestreets next to where I lived for 20 years. Everything seemed new and surreal, like it wasn't my life, like people had confused me for someone else. There was a funny little fear in the back of my head that there had been some sort of weird mix up a couple years ago and I had usurped someone else's life and never realized it.

    It wasn't so bad originally, even when I was fresh out of the hospital and staying sober. It was when I had my major dissociative episode and people tried to convince me to go back to Chelmsford. They made me feel guilty for being in New York because they were so worried for me, and they would feel so much better if I went back to safe old suburbia, where they could keep closer tabs on me. It was one friend in particular who brought this out, but I got it from a number of people back there. I didn't want them to worry, and I felt sick, that people were afraid to let me live on my own. It made me feel claustrophobic. I had images of them digging into me with their claws, grasping at me, dragging me toward them and swaddling me in their secure nest in the suburbs. It was for my own safety, they were trying to take care of me, because they believed I couldn't take care of myself. I felt like I deserved more respect than that, that I deserved more trust.

    After coming to grips with the idea that I might be forced to live in Chelmsford, I haven't felt at all safe there. It will take a while before any sense of security there comes back.

    The next thing I need to talk about is my relationship with my family.

    Thursday, September 17, 2009


    Sexuality has frequently been a puzzle for me, throughout my life. Even after having dated both women and men, I don't see much of a difference. If someone asks me my sexuality I tend to answer bisexual, but there have been periods of my life that I've found myself saying I'm straight or gay. I guess I'm an active participant in the process of bisexual erasure, or so I might be accused. Being bisexual is such a complicated position to be in, because discrimination comes from all sides.

    There are a bunch of bisexual stereotypes. Often even gay-friendly people think bisexuals are ..
    .. gay and in denial.
    .. only experimenting and will eventually just settle for a straight relationship.
    .. hypersexual and having sex with whoever is willing.
    .. thinking it will make them more sexy to their boyfriends.
    .. lonely or desperate and will take whatever they can get.
    And then there are the typical religious gay bashers that just call them sodomites the same as homosexuals.

    I can of course understand why some of these stereotypes exist. Pornography is bi-friendly - straight guys apparently don't always like to see dicks in their porn, and like the naughty idea of girls fucking and letting them watch. So a lot of guys fetishize lesbians, Katy Perry kisses a girl (and then compares it to "kissing [her] own elbow" in an interview), Madonna and Britney kiss, and the image of girls making love is made to seem sexy, loose and adventurous because it's taboo and they all know it.

    A woman's sexuality is expected to be somewhat less strict than a man's. Dan Savage says female sexuality is fluid where male sexuality is solid. I'm not sure how much biological truth there is to that. History is littered with examples and norms of men having male sexual partners while marrying women, from the Far East to the West, so maybe both men and women have somewhat fluid sexualities, and the rigidity is just due to our repressed puritan culture.
    All this just makes me really uncomfortable with admitting that I feel bisexual. If I'm with a guy, it doesn't seem to matter so much and leads to awkward situations if he knows. If I'm with a girl, it will just put this little spot of doubt in the back of her mind that maybe one day I'll decide I'm straight and dump her, especially since I'm rather femme.

    So, even now, when I know I'm bi, I still will sometimes just let people assume what they want and then act accordingly. If they assume I'm gay, I stick to that. In fact I'm more comfortable with that than if people assume I'm straight. I guess that assumption bothers me because I identify so much with gay culture, and tend to gravitate toward the lesbian crowd if I'm alone in a group.

    It's not so comfortable for me to be out loud and bi proud. There's the rarely spoken but obvious truth that if you're bi, your life will have a lot less adversity if you have a straight relationship. Gay people don't have that choice. They're stuck only loving the people that will get them called sodomites, stuck having to deal with all sorts of prejudices that bisexuals can choose to sidestep if they so desire. Although to a certain extent one can't choose who one falls in love with, so it's not quite so simple.

    To add to the complication, right now I'm not dating men. I've made that an absolute rule. I've had too many bad relationships with men, so I'm much more interested in women these days. I want to develop that side of me, as my only relationship with a girl was really wonderful, long and complex. We didn't have sex - it was an early high school relationship. So, I've yet to have sex with a woman, despite so often wanting to.

    So, since I'm choosing to not date men, I may as well be gay. Should I say that I am? I already do to the guys who hit on me that I want nothing to do with, though it doesn't always avert them and occasionally makes them worse. It's still not true though. If I'm being honest, I should just say, "I'm not looking for a guy, I'm looking for a girl." or something along those lines, because it's true that I'm not looking for or interested in men right now.

    Anyway, sexuality is sure to come up again in this blog, since it's such an interesting topic to me.

    All Apologies

    Apologies can be really important to me. I'm currently ruining a great friendship because the guy hasn't apologized for his actions, when all it would take is for him to say he's sorry. To accept having been wrong takes a lot of strength of character, and it's so hard for so many people. My father has apologized to me maybe twice in my life, but he has never truly been genuinely apologetic to me. It's always been turned around on me to make me feel guilty and make me apologize for his bad actions. When I was in a hospital, bedridden, he made fun of my catheter. I was hurt, and plainly asked for him to please not mention it because it's really embarrassing to me. He steamed for a good fifteen minutes, and then he snapped and unplugged my tv, which was among my only sources of entertainment in the room since I wasn't supposed to stand up, and then he marched off to a far corner of the other room in the suite so I couldn't talk to him about it. I walked over to him in excruciating pain against the doctor's orders, and was sobbing and apologizing to him and begging for his forgiveness. I apologized to him over and over and felt very guilty, and what had I done? I was embarrassed by his teasing me and called him out on it, and he saw it as disrespectful to him, and unappreciative because he had taken his time out to be there with me in the hospital.

    He never has and likely never will apologize for that, which is always going to bother me. One thing he has apologized for is cutting down that mulberry tree, though my mom had to push him into it, and it was an, "I'm sorry, although there's no way I could have known you would be so irrationally attached to a tree, so of course I have nothing to apologize for, just stop crying" type of apology.

    I remember the first time I noticed him apologizing, it was a shock to me - he was carrying something and it was heavy and he put more weight on my end than I could handle so he said, "Sorry, sorry! Let's put it down."

    I was floored by it, and then I was stunned that it would be such a shock. I had accepted the fact that he was never, ever wrong, never made mistakes, and took it for granted - he never had a reason to apologize, if he did something wrong it wasn't his fault. It was probably mine. I'm sure he apologizes much more to mom or other people he considers his equals, but he just doesn't to his kids, or at least not without cutting it by saying things like, "Sooo sorry charlie!", quoting some old tv show. It saves him face by making it insincere, as if it's silly to be upset over whatever it is he's apologizing for.

    He just has too firm a belief that he's always right to ever ask for forgiveness.

    That's all probably not so far out of the ordinary. Or is it? And does it matter? I mean, why do I accept such clearly unhealthy behavior just because it might be somewhat normal? His never apologizing and constant blame gaming has left me with some severe complexes.

    Ugh. Those movie and tv jokes about incidences of bad parenting that say things like, "That'll make for good conversation with her therapist twenty years from now," used to be funny to me, but they so aren't anymore.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009


    I went to the NA meeting, and was the only person there that didn't speak. It wasn't that I had nothing to say, I just was afraid to say it. That doesn't really happen often for me. I generally am able to speak up and say what's on my mind. But somehow I just clam up at NA and AA, I guess because I never shot heroin or did crack or coke or most of those other narcotics, I never sold my mom's jewelry for a fix. But I do get a lot from hearing them talk, and I'm going through so much of the same stuff. It's just difficult to open up there, despite how open and nice the people are. After the meeting I hung out with a few of them for a while, but I got super anxious and left.

    Tomorrow morning I get to go to group again. Because I skipped it today it feels a little awkward, but at least it's just the morning group. Or wait, no it isn't, it's also the substance abuse group. That's going to be a trigger for sure, both for anxiety and for wanting to drink or get high.

    I'm so upset by the required urinalysis. I don't want to have to do that, and I may have to twice a week. It's very telling that it upsets me, though. I'm trying to be sober, it should be a good thing, they're keeping me honest. But that's just it, on the half full side I guess what bothers me about it is that I don't like being thought of as untrustworthy. If there's anything that causes me to rage, and I've thought about that a lot, it's when I'm treated as the things I've always been called.


    Even (or especially) when it's true, those labels make me so blindingly upset I can't handle myself rationally. I have to show my student ID every time I enter my own home, and that really bothers me because it makes me feel untrustworthy. I've been called those things so many times, I can't even write about it without feeling the need to go smoke.

    The less pretty side of why I'm so bothered by requisite urinalysis is that it feels safe to be able to lie, to not have forced honesty. What's the big deal with a little drug use? What's the big deal if I slip and drink a little? Sometimes I just need it, and I don't need to be judged for it! That's the little voice in my head, the one that says I'm special, that they won't understand, that I don't have a problem and I can handle mild usage and it won't hurt, that it will just loosen me up and actually help me.

    I have to face the truth. I am untrustworthy, and they need absolute honesty on whether I'm using, which they can only get through drug screening. The fact that I've built up such explosively negative emotions around being thought of as untrustworthy or irresponsible makes it much harder to accept. I've spent so much of my life trying so hard to prove my dad wrong about me, especially when he calls me an airhead, which was one of his favorites. That one bothers me the most because it's the most blatantly disrespectful of me and plainly wrong. I'm the opposite of an airhead, if there is one. I always have way too much going on in there - I'm only ever absent minded when I'm high, and that's a fantastic relief for me.

    I'm not able to commit to staying clean for the duration of my time at columbia, much less the rest of my life. I can't imagine always being sober, forever. I think of all of my treatment as just a temporary roadblock in my ultimate goal of being able to use responsibly. I don't know if roadblock is the right word, because I do acknowledge treatment as being necessary to that goal. That's all so unrealistic anyway. Using is inherently irresponsible, I'm an addict, I can't use in moderation. If I use at all, if I allow drugs to be my crutch, then I'm cutting off my own legs. And I don't want to be on crutches for the rest of my life, I want to walk on my own.

    It's just so much easier to disappear into drug use, and I can accomplish so much when I'm using, I really did do so much work. But I was so unhappy, it so wasn't worth the cost, and I don't think I have it in me anymore. I don't have the same panic-driven burning engine that pushes me through the night to prove myself to everyone. That was a horrible time of my life and it sickens me to remember that feeling, that need to perform.

    Change, change change. Too much of it, all the time. Seven years ago I was 15. Six years ago I was 16. Four years ago I was 18. Two years ago I was 20. Last year I was 21. This year I'm 22. I've lived so many lives in seven years! My brain hurts.

    New Life

    I've set up an entire new life for myself.

    Two classes, Animation and Life Drawing, on Monday and Tuesday 3-9pm.

    Five days a week of group therapy.
    • 'A' Group every morning, 10-1230, which is 7-10 people my age, male and female, who have similar issues to me. They have addiction problems, trauma, depression, anxiety, and seem like they're really able to understand some of the things I'm going through.
    • 'Anxiety Management' once a week, 2-430, which teaches bunches of ways to cope with anxiety, including breathing exercises and stretches, nutrition, exercise and various skills
    • DBT Group (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) twice a week, 2-430, which I haven't been to yet. I do like DBT though, it's essentially a toolbox that helps you reconfigure the way your mind handles various situations and help you to approach occurances in a healthier way.
    • Substance Abuse Group, which I haven't been to yet but likely will have to attend. I have to speak with my sponsor/coordinator to figure that out. It's strange that Jack uses the term 'sponsor', which is so clearly related to AA/NA. If I do have to go to that group they urine test me and apparently administer breathalyzers, and if you get a positive they do a swab test. Not sure what happens if you're back on the wagon, but I know there are two groups, one for people with less than 90 days and one for more. I don't think they'll have as bad consequences as there were at the Realization Center, which yanks you out of all your other groups and tosses you into all Relapse Recovery groups full of court ordered wife abusing 45 year old assholes.
    I have a therapist who I see once a week, and I meet with the Disabled Students coordinator weekly as well.

    Also, Wednesday nights I attend an NA meeting. Well, I attended one last week, and I intend to attend one tonight. The people there are really great. I'm just .. well, super freaked out by it all.

    The upside of all this treatment is that it's all free to me. My therapist is paid by the school, and she's also a great help as a social worker, setting things up for me. The Columbia University Day Treatment Program is paid in full with no deductible by Aetna Student Health, which happens to be the only insurance they take. And NA is free, clearly. With the classes, that's all done in loans.

    I'm way too busy now, though. I can't really deal with the fact that I have to be on a train every weekday at 9. It's like having a 9 to 5 job, and as worthwhile as it is, it's mentally exhausting to me. And they're trying to make me change my diet up, which is costing a lot more because apparently peanut butter as my only protein isn't healthy, and they think that my diet of mostly carbohydrates is contributing to my poor mental stability.

    It's very overwhelming. I can't even recognize my life anymore. NA? Day program? Where is this coming from? Seriously, I've had my life uprooted again, and it's hardly recognizable, again. This is too much change in too little time, just like the hospital was. I have a hard enough time accepting the fact that I have any form of addiction much less mental illness - it's surreal to apply those words to myself. It somehow doesn't seem honest, like people are all rushing to judge me or help me and in doing so I've lost my sense of who I am once again, so I'm just going with it. I'm not able to own any of those words yet; I've been close, there have been moments where I have reached a sense of acceptance, radical or not. But right now I just feel too exhausted by all these new responsibilities, and I want to go to a bar and get drunk instead of going to the NA meeting tonight. No one will check up on me if I don't go. Lucia might be disappointed, but not really. The little crowd I played poker with last week might wonder where I am since I said I'd be at the meeting, and they seemed to want to play again.

    I think right now I need to just get up and go, while I can convince myself it's worth the trip.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009


    Here's a passage from this book I've been reading, "Trauma and Recovery" by Judith Herman:

    This malignant sense of inner badness is often camouflaged by the abused child's persistent attempts to be good. In the effort to placate her abusers, the child victim often becomes a superb performer. She attempts to do whatever is required of her. She may become an empathic caretaker for her parents, an efficient housekeeper, an academic achiever, a model of social conformity. She brings to all these tasks a perfectionist zeal, driven by the desperate need to find favor in her parents' eyes. In adult life, this prematurely forced competence may lead to considerable occupational success. None of her achievements in the world redound o her credit, however, for she usually perceives her performing self as inauthentic and false. Rather, the appreciation of others simply confirms her conviction that no one can truly know her and that, if her secret and true self were recognized, she would be shunned and reviled.
    This is almost verbatim something I've talked to my therapist about and now, because it's in this book and is so precisely accurate to one of my biggest issues, I've spent a lot of time thinking about its roots. This is in the context of child abuse. What other roots can cause this intense a complex? When I was a kid, were my parents' behaviors abusive?

    I know they love me, and I love them. They've been there for me, at least financially and in terms of bringing me to therapy and such. But they rarely show affection or pride for me, and often seem very emotionally distant. Because they treat affection toward me like it's something awkward, limited or even shameful, I have a hard time reciprocating anything. Both of them remind me now of another few passages in the book:

    The abused child is isolated from other family members as well as from the wider social world. She perceives daily, not only that the most powerful adult in her intimate world is dangerous to her, but also that the other adults who are responsible for her care do not protect her. The reasons for his protective failure are in some sense immaterial to the child victim, who experiences it at best as a sign of indifference and at worst as a complicit betrayal. From the child's point of view, the parent disarmed by secrecy should have known; if she cared enough, she would have found out. The parent disarmed by intimidation should have intervened; if she cared enough, she would have fought. The child feels that she has been abandoned to her fate, and this abandonment is often resented more keenly than the abuse itself.
    ... In her desperate attempts to preserve her faith in her parents, the child victim develops highly idealized images of at least one parent. Sometimes the child attempts to preserve a bond with the nonoffending parent. She excuses or rationalizes the failure of protection by attributing it to her own unworthiness. More commonly, the child idealizes the abusive parent and displaces all her rage onto the nonoffending parent. She may in fact feel more strongly attached to the abuser, who demonstrates a perverse interest in her, than in the nonoffending parent, whom she perceives as indifferent.

    ... In the course of normal development a child achieves a secure sense of autonomy by forming inner representations of trustworthy and dependable caretakers, representations that can be evoked mentally in moments of distress. ... In a climate of chronic childhood abuse, these inner representations cannot form in the first place; they are repeatedly, violently, shattered by traumatic experience. Unable to develop an inner sense of safety, the abused child remains more dependent than other children on external sources of comfort and solace. Unable to develop a secure sense of independence, the abused child continues to seek desperately and indiscriminately for someone to depend upon.

    ...Thus, under conditions of chronic childhood abuse, fragmentation becomes the central principle of personality organization. Fragmentation in consciousness prevents the ordinary integration of knowledge, memory, emotional states, and bodily experience. Fragmentation in the inner representations of the self prevents the integration of identity. Fragmentation in the inner representations of others prevents the development of a reliabe sense of independence within connection.

    ... The sociologist Patricia Rieker and the psychiatrist Elaine Carmen describe the central pathology in victimized children as a "disordered and fragmented identity deriving from accomodations to the judgments of others."

    I think that in a way, I thought of both of my parents as how this book describes the 'nonoffending' parent, though I certainly spent my entire 20 years of living with them in constant fear of offending my dad, who was prone to flying into fits of rage over the tiniest things, and when his anger was even remotely justifiable he really lost it. One time I recycled a box of something, and the bag of recyclables was next to the stove, which had a burner on boiling water. It was maybe a foot away from the flames. My dad screamed, "Everybody, wake up!" at the bottom of the stairs, stomped up them two at a time, and I remember being so scared to admit it was me, but I did and he was absolutely furious. We went downstairs and found that the bags had been ripped apart and tossed all over the kitchen. At first I thought the dog had done it and found it a little awkwardly funny, but I was horrified to find out that my dad had done it in a rage, and that the mess was my fault because I had been so irresponsible. He made me clean it up. My mom helped, I think. Anyway, that's one of my clearer memories. I also remember him wrenching the keys from my hand after I tried to get in the back door once, and locking the door on me, locking me out of the house. I walked several miles in the rain without a coat or my purse, to a friend's house, who wasn't there, so I spent the afternoon crying in a sub shop, Kastore's. They gave me tea and a jacket while I was there, free. He was mad at me because he and I got into an argument, I think over how he had been drowning squirrels in the back yard, and I was too upset to handle it so I said I needed to take a walk to collect myself. He saw it as disrepectful. I can remember a lot of times that he would be screaming at me over this or that and he'd hold my shoulders and force me to look him in the eyes, which I often couldn't do. He was rarely physically violent, but that one bothered him enough to throw me into a door once.

    Reflecting on this, I'm reminded of how much I admired the trees in my back yard. I used to talk to them, and saw them as living beings, as friends. I guess they were the idealized people in my life. They just constantly grew and were so strong, and I was the only one who could climb them all the way to the top, a hundred feet above everything. I'd climb up in them and read, or just relax and appreciate how it felt to be rocked back and forth by the wind in the summer. I knew, deep down, that they would always be there - they had been there before I was born and would be there long after I died.

    One of them, the biggest and strongest, died because the neighbors put a salt pile next to it, so we had to cut it down. Another died after a big gust of wind blew it over and it crushed half the back yard - I can remember the sound, I was bolted awake by it and instantly found myself in the doorway of my room by the time it hit the ground. Several others were cut down with it because they had been damaged by the fall, or because .. my dad wanted to? I'm not sure. They must have been damaged by the fall, or were otherwise dangerous, or he wouldn't want to waste the effort and money cutting them. Although I remember we had to fight to convince him not to cut down the last beloved maple tree, one which Kim had particularly liked and which I had spent a considerable amount of my childhood sitting in. It was damaged, but not severely.

    Our cherry trees died of fungi or rot, two more trees died probably because they were too close to the street and our town salts too much and cuts away indescriminately branches that go near the phone lines or over the street.

    The latest tree to go was the Mulberry tree. It was like my last childhood friend. The other maple tree has always been more Kim's friend than mine, though I like it too. My dad decided one day that it had been bothering him for too long - the birds that ate the berries pooped purple on his car, and the berries fell in his swimming pool which he never uses and never cleans but takes care of the chemicals and the equipment. So he tried to force me into helping him girdle it. I didn't realize what he was doing until I was outside, and I freaked out. I was sobbing pathetically about it to him and of course he couldn't understand what made me so upset. I didn't even really understand. This was just a few months ago, and it still hasn't been cut down. He just girdled it so it would die a slow death. Earlier that day I had been thinking happily about how the berries were just starting to come in, and I was so excited for when they were all ripe. Most of them were green, but a few were purple and I had eaten a couple. I guess what excited me brought dread to my dad.

    Sometimes I think I'm just too sensitive, too emotional, too this or that, but that's just putting the blame on me. I shouldn't try to take responsibility for what bothers me. That's a whole other post, though.

    New blog, new everything

    Today I start at the Columbia University Day Treatment Program, I'm not sure what group I'm going to first, but in the afternoon I'll be going to an anxiety management group I think. Or that might be starting next week. I got a phone call yesterday that outlined the rough treatment schedule but it was too confusing to follow, since I think they wanted to get me in early and then stabilize the schedule as groups become available over the next two weeks.

    I'll be going five days a week, which is a lot. Like, a lot a lot. But that might be good; structure can be.

    Yesterday I went to my first drawing studio class of the semester, Advanced Life Drawing. It looks like it will be great, but I couldn't handle it, I dissociated and derealized hardcore when the male nude came out at around 7:30. The class runs from 3-9, so it's going to be tough staying .. well, together, for that entire time. Seeing the male nude model triggered my derealization after having spent the entire class prior to that one foot out the door just trying to convince myself it was worth staying instead of just freaking out. Gaffney, the professor, saw me staring vacantly at the model - I had sort of hyperfocused in on the guy's leg, which had these bizarre muscle movements going on since he was holding a tough 5 minute pose - and he said I could take a break if I wanted, so I did and I sat in the bathroom for a few minutes before coming back and trying to draw again. It was very strange to draw in that state, none of it mattered, I just made lines and didn't care about them at all, didn't care if it was nowhere near accurate. I stopped lifting the pencil when I finished making marks. After a few minutes I stopped even looking at the paper or the model, I don't know what I was even looking at. I just doodled with my eyes unfocused until the model broke pose and I packed up and snuck out of class an hour early.

    Today, depending on my Columbia schedule, I may be late for animation class. I don't really care, but Marty, the prof, seems to be a little unsure of himself and I don't want him to think I'm blowing it off. If I'm late it's because of an anxiety management group, which to me seems far more important. I plan to talk to him about maybe working it out so every other week I'm an hour and a half late. It's another six hour class, it shouldn't matter that much.

    Those are the only two classes I'm taking this semester, and I'm glad, because I don't think I could handle much more. I'm really, really unstable. It's so awkward to accept that I am at all mentally ill, but a century ago I know I would have been placed in a hysterical women's ward under lock and key. I got close to that when they brought me to bellvue, which was the first time I got to try out handcuffs. What I remember of them wasn't so great, which is too bad. I've always been curious what they'd be like with sex, but the thought of it totally freaks me out now.

    That reminds me. Last night I had this song stuck in my head after I left class. It's funny to me now, but last night 'stop freaking out' was like a voice on repeat in my head and I kept trying to change it to something more soothing like, "it's okay" or "calm down" or "bejuyfhakjhdsskjkasfkj" sorry, just started mashing keys there. I hate having to deal with this. If I could just drink it would be so much easier to deal with.