What does that look like for you? I want you to give it a color.
Peace is purple.
Now I want you to visualize releasing the painful feelings and replacing it with purple. Cover your whole body in purple. Let it radiate inside and out.
Little bubbles of red hot anger evaporate. Blue bubbles of sadness and despair evaporate. As they are released, the bubbles burst. The blue and red mix together. Purple peace rains down on my black and white world in brilliant color. My body is glowing purple.
Now I want you to embrace your inner child.
But I want her to be gone like the red and blue. I want her to take her pain, pack up her baggage, and never come back.
You must realize that cannot be done. Do not reject her like her dad did. Embrace her. Bandage her wounds. Wipe her tears. Accept her broken as she is. After all, she is you.
I had a visit with my counselor to try brainspotting as an attempt to heal from the trauma I’ve experienced in my life.
I wanted to tell you about it before I forgot. It was a strange, almost mystical experience. My counselor asked me to bring in an item that would remind me of something tragic. I talked about the experience and then she had me follow a pointer with my eyes until I felt the strongest amount of emotion. I also had to focus on a part of my body that I felt that emotion in. I picked my stomach, because when doesn’t it hurt?
I was asked to visualize the negative emotions leaving my body. I thought of my grandma, that she was with me although she has been gone over 10 years now. I imagined blue birds taking the negative emotions from the top of my head from my straw like hair. Later I imagined that all of the negative emotions and pain that I experienced were worms that spilled out of my mind to feed the birds.
There was a great outpouring that the birds carried away, then later balloons came to assist the birds. I told my counselor that it felt weird. I was very skeptical and thought it was rather stupid at first. I am a very logical person, structured and rigid. There is no room in my mind for fantasy, make believe, imagination, playfulness, and magic. My world is not sparkly, it is black and white. My counselor said that is how I dealt with the trauma in my life.
After the appointment, I felt a sense of peacefulness that I can’t remember experiencing before. I did feel some brief intense anxiety that the birds flew in and took away. I slept for threes nights in a row without insomnia or nightmares. I even slept through a storm. I can’t remember how long it has been that I slept for three nights in a row without insomnia or nightmares. It was amazing.
But then it went away. The sadness settled back into my mind. Every time the balloons wanted to carry it away, the birds popped the balloons with their sharp beaks. Then the insomnia and nightmares came back.
There were two other times after that when I felt like the birds were taking out the worms and decay, on my first run after the 50k and when I was getting a massage.
Now, several weeks later, I am on lock down. The rational and logical part of my brain took back control. It is all rules and structure. There aren’t any feelings, good nor bad. I am back home where I feel safe.
But now I know there is another world of childlike wonder locked away somewhere in my mind. There is hope that one day I will once again be able to find the key to peace and serenity.
For a long time I’ve outrun my demons and wondered how they could still catch up to me.
Writing this blog has been a great first step in making peace with my past. If that wasn’t enough, I started writing a book. I’ve found the process to be very therapeutic.
In a few months, I will start the process of public speaking about my experiences.
In doing all of this, I realized that I missed a very important step. I need to be open and honest with the people that care about me even if I get hurt. It’s not like I didn’t get hurt in the past and move on with my life.
I spent my whole life pretending to the outside world that everything was alright in my life. Life is good now. But I want to be able to tell people I am close to that things are not alright if they aren’t. I want to be able to ask for help instead of pushing everyone away and dealing with things myself.
Right now I’m trying to look back without having blinders on. Hindsight is not always 20/20. Sometimes I tend to wear sunglasses when I look at the darkest days. I make excuses and cannot face things as they truly were.
I tell myself that what happened in my life was completely normal. It wasn’t that bad.
Sometimes I think I will just be able to throw all of my painful memories into a book, then close the book and walk away. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to do that. But I do think that my story could help others and that I will be able to make peace with my past.
Geez, sometimes I wish my goal was to lose 10 lbs. Revamping myself on the outside sure seems a lot easier then stoking the demons within. But I feel like this is what I was meant to do.
Last night I dreamt about Matt for the first time that I can ever remember.
Yesterday I went to the mall shopping with Arabella and my mom. My mom spent most of her time worrying about getting back home because she had to give Matt his medicine. Frankly, it didn’t bother me much because I wanted to go home early because I hate shopping. It was my daughter Arabella’s choice for a girls day and she picked shopping.
As I mentioned before, my brother Matt is autistic and most likely schizophrenic as he hears voices that tell him to hurt people.
As a child Matt would:
Have psychotic fits out the the blue where he would be violent towards himself or others. I don’t believe that this was within his control.
Have episodes of anger where he would be violent towards himself or others when he was asked to do something he didn’t want to do. I believe this was within his realm of control.
Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference between the first and second scenario. Matt did not have a lot of chores besides unloading the dishwasher. When asked to do that, he would sometimes hit himself on the head. Matt did have a lot of trouble in school. When asked to do his school work, he would often attack his teacher or his aide.
There was a time when Matt was schooled at home due to his extreme psychotic outbursts. The district sent a retired school teacher to our house. That woman was a saint because she was strict while loving. Some days Matt didn’t cooperate and she had to leave early.
Later Matt went back to the public school. At one time, my best friend was his aide. When asked to do work, he often attacked her just because he didn’t want to do it. One time after he attacked her, she called the police. They came to the school and hauled my brother away in handcuffs.
After that incident our lifelong best friendship dissolved. And I wonder why I have trust issues with friends??
I had a dream that Matt and I were at an amusement park. I was watching him. I told him that he couldn’t go on any more rides because he hurt me physically. My mom overruled me and said that Matt could go on the rides. I told her that if she wanted to have Matt go on the rides that she could take care of him. Matt was angry at me for saying no to him so he hurt me. He spit on me. Then Matt hurled himself off of the cliff. He landed grotesquely on the pavement below. I was afraid that he was dead or seriously hurt. But the feeling that I felt the most was guilt.
I woke up realizing for the first time that Matt hurt people when he was having a psychotic fit and when he had to do something he didn’t want to do. I feel angry that he was never told that his actions were wrong. It would’ve made me feel better, like there was justice, even if he had absolutely no control over it.
Matt had total control, but no one else ever saw it that way. Was I wrong? I don’t think so. Matt was in control of our house and he wanted things his way. If we were all packed up ready to go and he wanted to stay, we stayed. If we were all too hot to sleep but he wanted the fan off, it was turned off. Anything that could set him off was taken away. One Christmas a boyfriend gave me perfume, I threw it away because I wasn’t allowed to wear it because it might set Matt off. We had to live our life around the god of what might upset Matt. Matt had to have things his way or somebody was going to get hurt.
You have no idea what it is like to be forced to worship that kind of god or how it messed up my life. I am just beginning to realize.
Chaos reigned which is why I need to live in a controlled environment today. I like my schedule, routine, and organization. It is my security blanket. I like to control the temperature and lights in my house, etc.. I learned to have control over the little things to find comfort. The things that most people don’t care to have control over like the placement of an object on the shelf. It is safe. I go absolutely crazy if someone tries to take my control away which is not even a bit logical. It gives me extreme anxiety. Turn on the lights right after I turn them off and see what happens. It makes no sense.
I have also learned to have a great amount of control over myself. Me. No one I know can beat my self-discipline with the possible exception of my brother Mark. At times I make myself hard to love. I am tough. I have high expections on others and even higher expectations for myself. I embrace pain and deny myself pleasure. I guess that is what attracts me to long distance running.
I am too old now for a baby security blanket. I have to learn to be able to rest without it. But I can’t relax.
I’ve made a tremendous amount of progress on my self-therapy.
Last year, at about this time, my brother Matt was taken off of his anti-psychotic meds. Slowly, the docile Matt that we came to love disappeared. It started with a grunt and a few twitches. The Tourette’s was back. Then he started flapping his hands again, the Autistic self-stim. It all would’ve been tolerable for his liver’s sake, I guess.
But then the old Matt came back in full force. He talked to my mom about wanting to kill my niece, my brother Luke’s daughter. He fantasized over scenarios of killing or harming her. The voices were back. He laughed at the things they told him to do. He had conversations with himself as he flapped, grunted, gagged, and twitched.
He had to go back on the medicine. It took months to wean him off and it would take months until it was fully effective again. In the meantime, Luke had to keep his little girls away from Matt.
All of this happened before…
He attacked my daughter at her birthday party when she was 4. That was before he was medicated and in a group home. After that happened, I cut myself off from my family for years.
Before that, it was me. It’s okay if he hurt me, we were the same size. It happened day after day for year after year.
I was told not to feel. Don’t feel…don’t feel…don’t feel. I got pretty good at not feeling.
My dad never told me he loved me or said that everything would be okay. He could sit in the next room laughing over something stupid on TV while I cried. He didn’t care. He looked at me with vacant eyes. He wasn’t there.
He didn’t hug me, nor did he hit me.
Then there was a switch that would go off somewhere in my dad’s mind. He would become angry. He screamed, he swore, and flailed out at everyone. He laughed at our fears and tears. He ridiculed us, called us stupid, and told us how much he hated us. My brother Luke got the brunt of my dad’s anger. But Luke rattled his cage.
My dad never said ‘I’m sorry that you have to go through this’. Instead he called us names like wimp, baby, or worse if we cried or showed any signs of weakness. I built a tough exterior around myself that wouldn’t even allow empathy in. For every punch, hit, or bruise from my brother, my mantra was that the physical pain would make me stronger. The bruises and scars have long faded, but the inner scars will always remain unseen to most.
My mother was the perfect mom. Except she had one weakness, Matt. She favored him over everyone and everything else. If Matt wanted to go, we went. If he wanted to stay home, we stayed. If Matt was hot and we were cold, she would crank the A/C. Matt couldn’t help it, she said. We had control over ourselves, he didn’t. Sometimes she was so blinded by Matt, that she would put other people at risk by his behavior. But, she cared.
A few months ago, my mom brought Matt up north for my niece’s birthday. I’m not sure if it was a miscommunication or if she was trying to force Matt back into Luke’s life once she deemed Matt as better. Both situations happened before. Luke and my mother got into a huge argument. He wasn’t ready to trust Matt around his daughter. My mother left crying.
This takes us to a couple of weeks back…my mom stopped by on a Friday night. I asked her why she was over. On Friday nights she goes to the group home to pick up Matt. She said that Matt wasn’t coming home because Luke was coming over the next day to talk…something about therapist…repressed memories…
I felt very anxious the next day. For a brief moment, I wept. I know how Luke feels. I’ve been there before. It rips you apart.
It’s been almost a year and a half since I had my last what I call post traumatic stress episode.
It started out innocently enough. I was decorating the Christmas tree. Then this memory came back, almost like an image in my mind that I couldn’t get out. With this memory came intense emotion…stronger than anything I have ever felt before. It lasted almost two days. I couldn’t sleep and when I did I had intense nightmares where I woke up crying and frightened. I had several nightmares a night. I felt intense fear, panic, and rage. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t think rationally or otherwise. It was very horrifying.
I fell into a deep dark depression. I drove around aimlessly in my car. I had this strong desire to end it all. If I drove fast in my car and missed a turn…well…oh well. I screamed at anyone that tried to help me and pushed them away. I remembered. I felt the feelings I tried to repress 100x’s more powerful than if I would have felt them before.
I am afraid of this happening again.
My childhood…the flashbacks…those are the times my feet have swept the bottom of the ocean floor. I honestly don’t know how I survived, thrived in fact. I am completely ‘normal’, but my experiences in life are far from it.
The meeting with my brother was all very hush hush. He talked to my dad for 3 hours and my mom for 2 1/2. It sounds like there was closure and healing. At this point, it is hard to say.
Maybe I should talk to my parents too while I still have the chance.
When I first met my future husband, I had a jar full of pills on my dresser.
It contained the remnants of unused anti-depressants…Zoloft…Prozac the pill that made me crazy…Anafranil the pill that made me sleep more than I was awake…Paxil, Pemelor…the list goes on…Dexedrine I couldn’t focus at school…Lithium…I remember getting my blood drawn. Weight gain, weight loss, a pill that I needed to eat extra salt…I had round red pills, small white pills, and capsules…even at the highest doses, none of them helped.
Apparently a pill couldn’t cure a crappy childhood.
Paul wanted me to throw the jar out.
I said a lot of negative self talk out loud. I am so stupid. I am so dumb. I am a klutz. I am unlovable. I echoed the words that my daddy said to me. Paul said for every negative thing I said about myself, I had to say 3 nice things about myself. I broke that habit with his help.
I had a tendency to self-destruct. I gravitated towards pain and denied myself joy. I was a harsh taskmaster. I was angry. I was depressed. I am still like that but I express it in healthier ways…like running.
I saw therapists. To be honest, some of them were a joke. How would you feel if you didn’t have an autistic, schizophrenic brother that liked to hurt you? Geez, I wouldn’t know…What would you do if you had a magic wand?…Is that a realistic therapy goal? Maybe I could get a fairy godmother too…Oh, don’t forget the frog that turns into a prince. With me, reality has always been the best approach.
I had one therapist that was really great. She made me talk about feelings..What feelings? I don’t have feelings. I feel nothing…not happiness nor sorrow. I am completely numb. When the memories and feelings came back I was completely devastated by the mess I found.
I went to college with the intentions of becoming a therapist. I wanted to fix my family. I wanted to help others like me. I am 43 years old and have not found one single person in this world that grew up with an autistic/schizophrenic violent brother to help by my experiences.
One day I got rid of the jar of pills on my dresser. My brother asked what I was on because I seemed normal. I was on my own…No more therapy, no more pills…just the love of a person that cared enough to listen.
I slowly started the healing process of recovering from a difficult childhood. It has made me a stronger person. I am no longer outrunning my demons…I am facing them…slowly at my pace…one step at a time…
Since those first few unsteady steps, I must’ve ran a million miles.