Monday, February 28, 2011

A Sense of Belonging

I have been struggling lately to post anything here, I cannot seem to find the right words. Things have been really well for me lately - I have been spending a lot of time with some new friends and have even started dating someone. For the first time that I can remember I felt like I belonged somewhere.

Its not that I haven't had friends in the past, because I have and I genuinely care about them and know they care for me. However I never have felt free to be completely myself and I have never felt such unconditional acceptance. They are okay with me - all of me - they do not mind if I switch and have began to get to know each part and they treat each with respect. It is a relief not to have to constantly be on guard or being worried about what will happen if one of the little ones comes out.

I still get anxious, and there is a part of me that is still really worried that we will be rejected or hurt. But my general feeling is one of belonging and that is the most amazing feeling.

Tiger is a huge part of that, he is a good friend who introduced me to this wonderful group of people. Recently the littles 'adopted' Tiger as our big brother - which he seems to take rather seriously. He really wants to take care of us and that amazes a lot of the less trusting parts inside. He is just so generous with himself and so loving, he really is a wonderful example that there are good people in this world.

All of this socialising, while does wonders for how i feel, hasn't helped with the Chronic Fatigue. I really struggle to give myself enough rest while still getting out and enjoying my friends and boyfriend. For the most part I make light of it because I don't want anyone to worry or fuss. However I do realise that its a big problem that I have to be careful with or else I am going to end up really bad again and I really don't want to go back there.

I am travelling to Sydney this week to see a nutritionist/homoeopath who has experience dealing with Chronic Fatigue and has helped others in the past. I am hopeful that she will be able to help. But I still recognise that I need to find a better balance.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Expressive Arts Carnival Febuary Entry

This month's Expressive Arts Carnival theme is "your truth", the above picture is my submission. When I first planned this picture it was going to be a landscape, which changed under the magnifying glass. One day I started drawing and the tree came about instead. While it was unintentional, I am very happy with the out come. I found the theme particularly challenging as when I read it I realised I do not know what I would consider "my truth".  I have spent a lot of this month contemplating what truth is in relation to healing and to DID.

Recently I have been making an effort to be more positive in the way I look at things and for the most part I have been really getting better at it. This month has been particularly positive for me, but that could also be to do with the me getting out more and spending time with some wonderful, kind people. This drawing is a representation of me taking a closer look at my life and trying to find a more positive truth.

Truth is largely influenced by perspective, it probably why two eye-witnesses will never give the exact same story. Each person sees things a little differently. The way a person is feeling at the time can change it too. In a post I wrote about a week ago, I talked about different things that had been happening lately and how I could chose to see them as a good thing or a bad thing. Both would have been *true* interpretations but they are very different things. What is comes down to, 'is the glass half full, or half empty?'

I have a lot I wanted to say on this topic but I have been really worn out this week and I am struggling to find the right words. So I think I might finish up on this post and come back to this topic when I am thinking more clearly and better articulate my thoughts on the subject.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Poetry from the past

High school was never a particularly pleasant time, and my final year was made worse as that is when I first began to consciously lost time. I say consciously as I am aware that I was 'split' before that but I have no memory of losing time. I do not remember being bothered by it or any other signs of DID until my final year.

Recently I was going through some old art dairies from high school and I found plenty of art, writing and poetry that I don't believe I did. Two poems really stuck out at me and after a little asking around I discovered that Nadia wrote them.

I thought I would share them with you:

The Hive

The hive vibrates, a constant hum
A reminder of the conglomerate
Each part fading into the collective
Nuts and bolts that keep the system one

Each bee works tirelessly
Perfectly in time, like clockwork
All to achieve the illusion of unity
To achieve the unachievable


I Am Here

Walking alone in the crowd
The lines fade to blurs
Each person forming a never ending ocean
Voices, shouts, footsteps, notices
Each sound, once sharp and distinct,
blend to form a constant drone.

I am the candle in the dark room
Red, in a sea of grey
I refuse to join the crowd
I fight the masses
I want to scream, to shout, to yell

I am told during this time that our system was really struggling to stay together and hold me together so that I could finish high school. Nadia was particularly struggling to connect with the others.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Big Brother

Before I was born, my parents had a baby boy, Graham. He would have been 3 years older than me. However he was a trisomy baby and died when he was 5 days old. He should have been a miscarriage. My mum has never really dealt with it - not that I can blame her - how can any mother deal with losing her child?

For me, I have always said that it hasnt effected me. Graham died before I was born, I didnt know him and never had the opportunity to grow attached to him. And for the most part I believe that is true.

But a small part of me is angry that I didnt have big brother there to look out foor me. I know this is irrational and that it is something that cannot be changed. It is why I have never told anyone. I didnt even tell myself. It has only been recently that I have started to feel the anger inside, and it has been since then that I have started to discover this anger.

I have several cousins, but I was particularly close with my 2 older cousins - Sarah, who is 6 months older than me and Joel, who is 2 years older. Joel and Sarah fought a lot, but Joel always looked out for her. I was so jealous of Sarah - she has the most amazing father - who, when I was a child, was the only example I saw that showed men were decent. She has a big brother who looks out for her.

My grandfather never touched Sarah - because Joel was there. He didnt even know it and he was protecting his sister. And that is probably a huge part of why I am angry - where was my big brother to stop Papa? But it is more than that. I have always wanted a big brother who was there for me, protective of me and a friend who would always be there.

 I truly cannot believe I have just written all this. I have never even said any of this allowed - to anyone. But the last two days it has been in my mind - I am not even sure what triggered it. I needed to let it out, to share it - because, no matter how irrational it is, it hurts.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Measuring Progress

When discussing healing I have often heard the saying 'one step forward, three steps back'. It is something I have said myself, there are times when things are so confusing that you feel you have been spun in so many directions that you don't know which way you face. There are plenty of times when the set backs are so easy to see, but it is rare to see the progress until you look back and realise how far you have come.

How do we measure progress? what is considered a step forward? what is considered a step back? There are definitely times when it is obvious, such as being able to handle a situation that I couldn't before. However, this week I have realised there are plenty of things that can be considered either - it is just a matter of the way you look at it.

About a week ago, I found out about a new part, Laila. I still don't know much about her - she seems to be an adult. However the way she speaks reminds me a little of Elsie or Sasha so I wonder if she is another non-human alt. I do know she is nocturnal, this is something she has told Stacy - and so far she has only come out at night.

When I first found out about Laila, I was disappointed. I felt that I had been making progress lately and felt that a new part was obviously a set back. I definitely thought along the lines of 'one step forward, three steps back'. Later, days later, I started to really think about it differently. In the past many of my parts have been around a long time before they have become known to the system and I believe this is the same with Laila. A new part doesn't mean I have 'split' again, it is just a part as surfaced that I didn't know about before. This could be because she has a skill we need, because she carries memories we are ready to face or simply I am in a place where I can accept something new.

Laila appearing now can be taken as a sign of our progress - of my own acceptance of our system. It is all a matter of perspective - the way I choose to look at it. I still don't know why Laila is a part, or why she has come forward now however I am choosing not to see it as a set back.

My last session with Margaret (my psychologist) was a hard one, it left me shaken and I really struggled with the things we discussed. Ever since I have seen Margaret we spent very little time discussing the past, my childhood or any of the abuse. Not that Margaret hasn't tried to get me to talk about it, but I am a master at avoidance and changing the subject and Margaret will only push me so hard - I need to be ready. My last session was different, we discussed my last visit to my grandparent's house (after Nana had died, but Papa was still alive). I talked about how it felt, the fear and the need to get out. We discussed other things but I will go into that another post. I have mentioned in other posts that I can actually talk about the abuse to some degree however it is like telling a story - I am detached from the memories and don't feel any emotions about it. This was different - I talked about my memories, my feelings - I didn't just tell a story.

Being a hard session could be taken as a bad thing, a set back but the truth is I managed to start to face the emotions, to talk just a little about the past. That is a huge step and Margaret made sure I knew that before we ended our session. The 7yo didnt flip out at me talking either - which is a big thing for her (she is the keeper of secrets).

This weekend has been a wonderful weekend, I was simply happy. There was nothing particularly special about this weekend, I did have lunch with a great friend who I haven't seen in ages, I went to church, I cuddled my friend's new born. These are all simple things but they brought me so much happiness. I came home from church on Sunday night and I was happy. I am happy. content and just simply in a good mood.

I could look at my great mood and say that it is of little consequence, I just had a good weekend. However when I think back to 2008, I was so depressed, I didn't think I would ever be happy again. Even just reading my blog at the end of last year, I felt that I wasn't living life. The fact that I am happy is such a great thing and is evidence of the progress I have made. It is also a reminder of the great things and people I have in my life.

I don't believe I have suddenly turned a new page and I am going to be always happy and making huge bounds forward in healing. Life doesn't work like that. There will set-backs. There will be bad days. However I can see I have made progress and that I am making progress. More importantly, when difficult things cross my path I can choose the way I look at them. I hope this reminds me to look at things more positively, to recognise even the baby steps forward.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Healing Art

Art has been a great means of healing, both for me and a number of other survivors I know. Personally, I believe art is so helpful because it allows me to express how I am feeling - even when I am unsure of what I am feeling. Art allows me to work through issues, to explore how I feel about something and often leads to self discovery.

After I was hurt in 2008, I just could bring myself to paint or do any form of art - even though water colours had always been a calming activity and art in general has been something I was passionate about. It was too hard and hurt too much. I didn't really understand this response - at this point I didn't really understand the idea of using art as a healing tool. The images that did come out during the few times I tried were very dark and frightened me. For a long while Margaret (the psychologist who I see) encouraged me to get back into art but I resisted for a long time. It wasn't until the end of 2009 that I really started to try again.

Starting to paint again was a slow process, having stopped for so long I found that I was out of practice and often would get frustrated that I couldn't get my art to be what I wanted due to a lack of ability. I was still learning what it meant to use art as a healing tool and so I was mostly trying to paint images like I always had, rather than letting it come from within. I would often give up trying for a while, or would get destructive with my own art. I kept coming back to it though and while my skill is still not what it once was, I am discovering I don't mind so much. I am now creating art for the process and not the end product and that is much more satisfying.

Paul's blog, where he often shares his healing art and the process, as well as the Expressive Arts Carnival have both been something that has really helped me to understand what healing art really is. When I discovered them in November 2010 I really started to get into art in a healing sense. It was like a door finally opened and understanding of what Margaret had been talking about made sense. I began to start to really trying to use art to explore my feelings, and to sort through my emotions and express them in a safe way.

One of my little ones, the 7 year old, doesn't speak, it is her role to keep the secrets and make sure we don't tell. She struggles to understand that we don't need to keep those secrets any more, that it is safe to share our story. She is getting better, she has allowed us to open up more and slowly is learning that it is safe. However it is still a scary thing and there is still a lot she wont let us touch on. This can hinder our healing, particularly since she often stops us speaking in therapy. Art has become a way that she finds safe for all of us to express our feelings about the past without telling the secrets.

Art is an extremely personal thing, and the way one person chooses to create is not going to be the same as another. However it doesn't matter, their are no rules with art and while there will always be critics, there is no wrong way with art. I think I have always found this very appealing, particularly when I grew up being in fear if what would happen if I got something wrong. There are several ways I go about healing art, each one is as productive as the other, though the outcome is usually very different.

When I am in a really bad way I usually reach for which ever medium I am drawn to at that moment which is easily accessible. I just let whatever is inside out onto the page. Sometimes it works out as a picture, other times its more abstract, just colours and patterns on a page. It gets how I am feeling out onto a page, it is simply an outlet to the mass of emotions I am feeling at the time. This is something my littles one do more often than I do, I find it hard to just let things out. It feels out of control and that scares me. However I am getting better at simply letting go of how I am feeling and letting it flow on to paper.

More often I simply draw with pencil, without particular focus. I usually do this when I have something on my mind and I am trying to work things through. I find these pictures rather enlightening as I don't usually have a plan of what I am going to draw, its simply like doodling while letting my mind wander. Quite often the picture turns out to be a face, or an eye usually crying. This is my most common 'doodle' when I draw like this however all sorts of things come out.

There are times when I have a particular picture in mind, there is an idea that I want to express and I usually plan the picture out on paper before starting on the actual artwork. When I first started to learn about healing art I never thought that this form of artwork would be very healing. It wasn't until the first time I participated in the Expressive Arts Carnival November 2010 that I really found that this could really help me grow and explore an issue. When I work on art like this it usually takes at least a week, as I will work on small parts at a time and keep coming back to it, adding to it, changing it and improving on it. Often it will be in my mind even when I am not working on it and it really allows me to explore the issue surrounding the art.

Sometimes the process is a mix of these three, I will have an idea in my head of what I want to do, usually a theme of some kind based on what I am thinking or feeling but I wont have a specific plan. This kind of art I find very meditative. I am focused purely on what I am doing and I let every thing else flow away. Collages are a great example of this, usually there is a theme that the collage is based on but the actual structure is based on the pictures found. I find sorting through the various pictures, editing them to fit into the collage and placing them to be very relaxing and I believe my state of mind is very similar to what it would be if I were to meditate. Often I am so caught up in the process and the individual components that I don't actually see the entire picture until I am finished and sit back. I think this is why I have enjoyed Polvore since I found it, it can be very relaxing and a great way to express myself when I don't feel like other mediums.

On a slightly different note, Paul has posted the latest activity for February's Expressive Arts Carnival. This month's theme is 'Your Truth', read more about it here. As I do each month I really want to encourage any survivors to submit their art. I have found that the activities often help me to grow and explore myself and being part of the carnival gives us a voice in a safe and loving community.