Archive for August, 2012

Slave mentality, vulnerability, trust

Posted in health, mental health, morbid, personal with tags , , , on August 29, 2012 by theweirdphilosopher

I´ve just read a series of slash fics set in an alternate universe where people still have slaves. It is admittedly bizarre, but at least it is more intriguing than the stuff I´ve usually “just read” when I start a new entry. The story deals with a very benign, gentle and fair master working with slaves who have been traumatized by their previous masters. It is intended as erotic fiction, so it is not supposed to be realistic. I noticed, however, that the stories tend to end whenever master and slave are getting on too well, when the slave is finally trusting the master. And that I find remarkably realistic. Because at some point crossing the border towards friendship would turn nasty in such a setting. The slave wouldn´t know how to behave anymore. And that somehow resonates with me.

I can oddly well relate to the feeling of never being quite an equal, but having to pretend I am and that I´m doing whatever everybody else wants out of my own free will. And yet sometimes I feel like they know exactly I´m not their equal and that they have a right to my submission anyway and I feel resentful over the cynicism of asking my opinion. Based on this general feeling of inequality, I am chronically scared of people. I must not displease them. Yeah, I could relate to those slaves.

When reading about the master giving one of them a present, as a way to say sorry for having punished him too harshly, I was starting to feel a little anxious. I thought about why I was feeling that way, and I realized that I feel like kindness requires some kind of payback on my part. I have to be extra pleasant now, or else there will be terrible rage for tricking the “master” into being nicer to me than he needs to be. It will happen inevitably, because I will always fuck up at some point. So actually being punished seems less scary than receiving kindness. It starts with me never knowing how to react to presents. I feel like I ought to be grateful, but I also feel silly for showing gratitude (for reasons which I will explain later). I feel like presents are not really about me, and my feelings, but about the feelings of the ones who give them to me.

Say my parents give me a present. I know I need to be happy about it, but I must not show too much happiness, leave alone gratitude, or else they will question its authenticity. Always in a playful way, like: “Come on, we´ve seen through you, you can be yourself with us!”, but it makes me feel just like that: A plaything. An experiment. I feel so watched that I don´t even know what I´m feeling anymore and the pressure to respond and to appear authentic (quite a paradox, this) puts me under a great deal of stress.

I often feel like I´d be more comfortable if there was a strict set of rules which I have to obey, and if I don´t, there will be consequences; but I never have to fear anyone´s spontaneous anger. I´m being treated without too strong emotions, but by adhering to the rules and doing a good job I can gain the “master´s” appreciation.

This, however, is not how social interactions work. Sometimes I think I´d do well in a monastery or such a thing. In everyday life, even at work, things are more complex than that. There are no easy, absolute rules, and consequences are all too often not about you breaking a rule, but about you pissing off someone important. The exact thing I dread.

I walk through life consciously and subconsciously fearing that anyone notices I don´t demand the same level of respect others take for granted. That anyone notices I´m easy to push around or manipulate. That, if approached in certain ways, I´m downright submissive. Like one time during a concert when a guy started a conversation with me and simply put his hand on my knee. It took me a few seconds to realize I ought to object, rendering my protest unbelievable. Guys and boundary issues…don´t get me started or else I´ll reach 2000 words quickly. Way too often I simply freeze. I don´t know what to do, how to assert myself, so I pretend I´m not there. Thankfully, so far the guys I´ve encountered were spooked off by it. It´s only a matter of time, though, until I encounter one who´ll take advantage. This is why I get so stressed out whenever I have to be alone in a pub, or sometimes on my way home on the train at night, or when I´m waiting for someone. I don´t want the insecurity, the shame, knowing how much of a fool I´m making of myself, knowing how other parts of me will batter me for this later.

Then, sometimes I encounter people who see my insecurity, neediness and lack of self-protection and, instead of taking advantage of it, tacitly give me what I need.

Last year I went to the dentist after staying away for three years. I went to a new dentist because the old one, who had always been a tad nasty, had really gone all the way to complete asshole the last time I´d consulted him. There were several elements that made visiting him so harrowing, but one of them was his schadenfreude. He´d give me a dental cleansing and, when I whimpered, told me: “If your gums were healthy it wouldn´t be bleeding!”, without even giving me a little break. When he had to cave out one of my teeth he delightedly told me to sniff, as it already smelled rotten. I actually tried to, as I was in my “I must not displease” mode (understandable when someone is working on you with sharp instruments), but he didn´t seem to notice my efforts, as he told his assistant in an amused tone: “She can´t, she´s in too much of a panic!” Of course I was, he had investigated my tooth, told me: “Yeah, we need to cave it out!” and gotten started, telling me I didn´t need anything when I frantically asked him for some kind of anaesthesia. Typically I started to dissociate and feel dizzy as soon as I entered the treatment room. Not because of the pain, but because I felt I was at the mercy of someone who couldn´t care less about how I felt.

Well, I was starting to feel very unhappy with the shape my teeth were in, so I decided to be courageous for once and see a new dentist. Indeed I needed a dental cleansing and, not having seen a dentist for three years, I knew I was not exactly in for a treat. I entered the treatment room feeling a little nervous. The lady in charge was extremely nice, showing me how to take better care of my teeth (my old dentist had just barked at me to floss without showing me what exactly I was doing wrong), then telling me how she would proceed and how bad it was going to be. This knowledge was kind of comforting, because now I could estimate how long it was going to take. It is something I never could with my old dentist, and feeling like it would never end was part of what made it so torturous. Then, she said something beautiful. She said: “I´m afraid this is going to hurt, but I´m not hurting you on purpose. There´s just no less painful way of doing this.”

You wouldn´t expect a dentist to say that, would you? Because most of them would take it for granted that their patient doesn´t assume he hurts them on purpose. But somehow, for some reason, she must have known that I would feel like that anyway, and that, on a deeper level, it was not the procedure itself I was scared of. Maybe her statement was not cut out for me specifically, maybe most people will hurt less if you tell them you´re not doing it to punish them. But the best thing about this was that it abolished pretense.  I didn´t have to pretend I was a tough grown-up who is scared of nothing. I didn´t have to save face. And if I had looked tougher and less afraid she would probably not have said it because it would have seemed out of place. She spared me the plight of having to play a role that didn´t fit. I could just be nervous, and, paradoxically, I relaxed.

It did hurt, and at some point my eyes were watering, but I didn´t even whimper. It simply didn´t feel so bad. I could take it. She kept on talking to me, at some point remarked on how brave I was, which was flattering but untrue. I can take pain if and only if I trust the person who´s inflicting it. Not exactly a hallmark of bravery. I need a lot of emotional safety cords before I let someone hurt me. And she gave me those. At some point she even wiped away my tears (not with her hand, no. That would have been a little too intimate.). In the end I had to spit out some paste she had put on my teeth. I wasn´t allowed to use water and immediately I was starting to gag. To my surprise she just put her hand on my back reassuringly, and I calmed down straight away. And this from someone who has a phobia of vomiting…

When I went out there, I was sort of high. I felt strangely close to that woman, like we had some mutual affection for each other. Not as persons, since we didn´t know each other, but…on a different level. Something about this encounter had been incredibly soothing, as if I had been cradled and hugged like a little child. I still hated the procedure, but I sort of enjoyed the memory of it, of that feeling. I even thought fondly of the painful parts, as I had felt most cared for then.

It´s funny, this would never have worked on me if it had been a man. Or maybe it would have, but I would have much greater problems with it. It would have felt sleazy. I feel some kind of resistance building up inside of me just thinking about it. I wouldn´t have wanted that with a man. It would have been one step away from taking advantage of my fear in order to cross my boundaries. Indeed, this encounter was just that little bit dodgy, though in a nice, non-awkward way. I do recognize the similarities to my BDSM experiences. Especially with regards to my own reaction, of course.

It reminds me of something else, though. It reminds me of how I imagine transference is supposed to work. The positive type of transference, where you develop a crush on your therapist. Just like my resistance reminded me of how gross I found the idea to be that emotionally vulnerable to Dr. Stoneface.

I hate to break it off here, now that I can finally write again (I don´t know how many entries I started and never finished over the last week), but I desperately need to sleep.

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Am I just normal?

Posted in health, mental health, personal with tags , , , on August 21, 2012 by theweirdphilosopher

My girlfriend went home today (first night in more than half a year that I spend alone), and even though we are fine and her going home has nothing to do with our relationship, I feel like I might break down in a complete panic attack any moment and just wail like a baby. I´ve had rushs of terror already, wanting to reach for her and feeling like I cannot live or breathe if she isn´t here for me to hold.

I felt similar the day Athena just left without a word, although the two situations don´t compare. Well, I did feel worse then because I could not contain those feelings at all. Now I´m busy keeping them down. Not really consciously, it´s something I do instinctively.

I don´t want to exacerbate the feeling by dwelling on it. I tended to think it must be the absolute truth and that abandoned little kid is my sad, broken true self so I must not silence it, but maybe that is a fairly destructive point of view. I don´t want to ignore my sad feelings, otherwise I´ll just start to feel sick, but maybe I shouldn´t just give in to them, either. Maybe I shouldn´t make too much of them. Maybe I should try to put them into normal, everyday life terms and simply integrate them. Accept that they are there and that they are not a desaster.

So. I´m sad that I´m on my own right now. It is odd to be alone in a place that has been inhabited by two people for such a long time. I miss my girlfriend.

Now is that so abnormal? Is that indicative of doom? Wouldn´t it be weird if it didn´t feel wrong to be alone, wouldn´t it be worrying if I didn´t miss her at all?

I´m not overly dependent. I´m experiencing ordinary human feelings. This is a trait I would not have attributed to myself a while ago. Seems I´m not an alien from outer space. Others feel like that, too. I´m not crazy.

Whenever the terror and the abandonment is welling up inside of me I try to put it into those same old words: “I´m sad that I´m on my own right now. I miss my girlfriend. It just feels a little odd to be alone in my room after months of not being alone. Others would feel the same. They would totally understand you. You are actually not alone. You are part of the human race.”

Funny what it takes to make me not freak out completely, huh?

I used to hate thinking of myself as normal. But right now I´m starting to see where I might have missed out by having to understand myself as special: Human connections. Ordinary feelings of belonging. The feeling that others can and will understand me.

Maybe that idea is not as absurd as I always assumed?

I´ve recently posted something on some online forum which might have been regarded as controversial, it was about therapy and whether disliking one´s therapist is always resistance (which I, of course, denied). I was very civil and very moderate, but I always anxiously expected to be flamed. So far that has not happened. Heck, maybe I can even be liked just the way I am, huh? Over the months I posted lots of stuff on this blog which I thought would cast me in a pretty dark light. I posted stuff which I thought was complete gibberish. What I got was readers – and a whole lot of understanding. I wrote (and often still write) with a “well, fuck it” attitude. I don´t expect to be liked or agreed with, I envision malicious readers interpreting everything I say in the worst possible way – and then I feel almost ashamed when I get friendly replies.

Maybe if I can accept that I have feelings and that feelings are something everybody has I won´t feel as lonely anymore. There might be a chance I can make myself understood, after all. There might be a chance I can deal with my feelings if I understand them for what they are. Feelings. Not: Messengers of doom, destruction and abandonment.

I feel stupid. Shouldn´t I have figured this out ages ago? It´s hardly rocket science, is it? In fact, it is so banal that I halfways expect my readers to laugh at me. And then, as much as I might have been pushed into the role of the special snowflake, I also defended it. I took great offense when somebody suggested my feelings might be normal. Then again, that in itself might not be completely out of the ordinary. It all depends on how it´s done, right? If people call your feelings teenage struggles in order to defend their own role as the queen of darkness, why should you bend over for them? Maybe I should just assume that I had normal, understandable reasons?^^

I´m starting to realize that I have zero life. I could live with the fact that my life largely takes place on the Internet, it just shows how important writing (and reading) is to me.The forums I frequent, however, are largely self-help boards. I do surf them for “entertainment purposes” at times, but what the hell has happened to my understanding of entertainment??? What about other places, other topics? What would it be like to sign up somewhere where I´m just a normal person? It might make for an interesting comparison. You really don´t find out how ill you are by only reading mental health forums where absolutely everything is put to scrutiny, where everything might be branded as abnormal.  Well, at least I don´t. I´ve given it a year and I haven´t learnt shit about how pathological my feelings and attitudes really are. Not that blogging didn´t help me, last but not least as an outlet… Still, I feel like I might need some kind of comparison. How do I behave on a board where everyone assumes I´m normal? How do others behave? Can they relate to my feelings and attitudes? If so, then either we´re all crazy or I´m not a complete headcase after all.

Somehow I´m actually clinging to being abnormal and broken and dysfunctional. I´ve understood myself as “special” and “other” in many different ways, but not being entirely alright was and is part of them. Which is easy to do because I really am not. I feel like right now I´m going on a “I´m just a drama queen who seriously needs a life” trip and that doesn´t do me justice. I just think that it might do me some good to make the experience that I´m not completely different from the so-called normals. They can understand and appreciate me.

What other interests do I have which do not involve scrutinizing my psyche?

WRITING.

Writing is a really big one. It can be satire, it can be something atmospheric, right now I´m working on some slash projects, but: WRITING. I basically spend all my day writing. It´s what I do, online and offline. So why not sign up on a writers´forum, if I want to communicate with people?

Then, there´s football. Yesterday I was reading a lot about tactics and tiki-taka and it was actually fun. I´m tired of not knowing why we lose games. I´m tired of relying on others to judge if my team is making any progress. The thing is: I´m totally surprised I understand any of this. I´m surprised I can do anything other than analysing my own – crazy or normal – psyche!

Maybe I should try to see myself as similar to other people, not entirely different. It might turn out I´m wrong at times (believing everyone is like you is just the other extreme, after all, and not necessarily superior), but it might have interesting effects on my self-esteem and my feelings of loneliness.

 

 

 

 

Messed-up fantasies (not half as interesting as it sounds)

Posted in health, mental health, morbid, personal, rants with tags , , , , on August 20, 2012 by theweirdphilosopher

It would be far easier fighting through emetophobia and all my other problems if I felt there´s anything to fight for. As long as life is pleasantly boring we might just take it as it is, but if you feel like you have nothing in particular to live for you can´t help wonder what you´re fighting for when fighting becomes necessary.

There´s a small, tiny little entity inside of me who is desperate for something. For being seen, heard, loved, you name it because I cannot quite figure it out. I only know that as soon as I feel like someone close to me doesn´t love me or is mad at me that entity starts crying helplessly and tries to reach out for that person. Please, please love me; what do I have to do to make you love me again?

There´s no pride, no reason; nothing but the absolute necessity to feel loved and sheltered. To feel like I belong to someone. The ambiguity in this sentence is not arbitrary. I crave a connection, a bond; something that cannot be separated. It´s almost as if I wanted to be an extended part of someone else.

That entity is fine with being small and little and dependent. Doesn´t want to be a being of her own, doesn´t want to have a will of her own. No loneliness, that´s all that matters.

I´m starting to feel more and more that whatever it is I want I won´t get it. I´ve touched upon this in the last crazy stream of consciousness. So on some level I simply want to die because I don´t know what the fuck I´m still doing here. All the fighting amounts to nothing. All fighting seems to be a fight for independence and I don´t need that independence for anything. I don´t want anything, remember? No goals, no real ambitions, just that terrible loneliness to bear, an abyss opening up right under my feet and I will fall if I ever look down. What´s walking the earth is just a ghostly shell, an image of my mother, a despicable pointless smiling machine that pretends it is moving anywhere but in circles! I can accomplish things, I can make it look as if I have lived my life (maybe, I tend to overestimate myself here), but that´s that. I´ve never really felt at home in it. Nor in myself. So why don´t I just die?

That entity won´t let me kill myself. The idea feels like stabbing a toddler in the face. As if my loneliness would go away! I´d be dying alone, going into some grey nothing where definitely no one will be holding my hand.

So I dream about being murdered. I´ve stated before how real murder is different from what I imagine, and indeed I see it more as a mercy-killing. There would be this connection present, a mind-to-mind hotline allowing my killer to take all my feelings away from me, make them part of who he is and then dispose of the shell that is left. What he´d kill of would be my empty consciousness, void of all contents like thoughts and feelings. Just my awareness that I exist. The needy little child would be saved, as part of someone else´s mind, while I no longer have to feel anything or lead a meaningless existence. I guess if any feeling would be left in my mind before I die it would be gratitude.

I feel a certain fear that someone might be using this as an excuse to just attack and murder me. Use me as an outlet for aggressions. I just have that image in my mind and I feel like I couldn´t object. It´s what I wanted, isn´t it? I´ve offered myself up for this.

No wait, I didn´t. It isn´t part of the good fantasy that the killer is fulfilling an emotional need of his own. I didn´t offer myself as a punching bag, did I? But yes, there more or less is such an element. I assume that he will meet me with kind feelings, that he will want to do what he does. He will want to take in all my feelings, he will welcome them in. So…I feel like I am giving him something. He is taking something from me that he wants. He´s not just doing me a favour.

Or is it more like: If I ask for something I have to take the consequences? Like: YOU wanted to be murdered, YOU wanted me to rip those feelings out of you, so now don´t complain if it´s scary and it hurts?

It´s like I can never really wish to get what I asked for because it will always somehow bite me in the ass. I just feel incredible aggression coming from that second, ill-natured killer. Maybe it´s a good metaphor for how my wishes were dealt with, I don´t know. Like: Nobody will just try to do for me something good I´ve been asking for, they will always make sure I regret asking them. And I´m starting to wonder why, seriously. Is it that hard or horrible to do something for me? Do I always have to pay some lunatic price? If I ask something from someone, does it mean he can do to me whatever he wants?

 

Terror and isolation – another stream of consciousness

Posted in health, mental health, personal with tags , , , , , , on August 17, 2012 by theweirdphilosopher

Once again I feel so sick; and I´m ill, too, which doesn´t make things any better. Everything is completely unreal, I´m not sure there´s anything in this life that I want, anything that could make me feel safe and secure and soothed. I must have quite a temperature, I realize that as I sit up. The nightmares I get from being ill are the worst. I don´t even want to sleep. As soon as I feel any better I need to take sleeping pills.

It´s like I never WILL feel better. I just want to scream until I black out for a lack of oxygen. I feel so dizzy already, why can´t my damn body ever just finish the job and send me to the floor? I can´t even escape into thoughts of suicide. I´m too tired, comatose, apathetic.

It must be that story I just read. Actually I started reading slash fics in order to distract myself from the fact that I´m miserable. It went well until the author mixed some broken hearts into it.

The great tragedy of break-ups is not always one person not wanting the other, but two people who want to be close but can´t overcome a destructive, hostile, distrustful dynamic or mood neither of them wants. The inability to talk and express their real feelings. It sounds so easy, but people can be walls. Hoping for someone to call who simply won´t do so.

Oh god help. I mustn´t even think about it. Sometimes I need somebody else´s support, comfort so badly that I want to yell at them and shake them, but what they can give me doesn´t nearly make up for my disorientation and panic. It´s like holding the hand of a person who is about to be executed and expecting this will alleviate the fear. Sometimes I would like to have a gun held to my head just to know if fear of imminent death feels any different from what I experience in moments like these. At least that way I´d know it can´t get any worse.

I wish I could cry and scream and bang my fists against the walls, but if I do so people will notice and they will either be angry or try to comfort me and fail. People. Don´t. Get. This. They don´t know this kind of fear, when absolutely everything is falling apart. A person about to be murdered can at least scream. I have to keep up a fucking facade!

Normally I´d fight down the fear, I´d read, I´d breathe calmly, I´d lie as still as possible and try to relax. Now there´s so much rage, so much I don´t want this anymore someone fucking help me, that I have to snap into action and manically type type type. As soon as I stop I feel how nauseated I am.

There is this cloud in my head, a fog of tiredness and apathy that makes even this manic writing hard to do. I want to lie down and just sleep. I want to drug myself up, take whatever sleeping pills we have – I wish somebody else did it for me. Just shoot something up my veins and make me sleep. Or slide away into complete, relaxed apathy.

Maybe I haven´t made it. I haven´t survived a thing. Maybe I´m finally going crazy. I could live with that if crazy meant unaware. But crazy is aware. This feeling is a state of craziness. It means to be locked out of this world, locked up inside myself forever. Absolute loneliness because no one can give me the comfort and safety I´d need. There is no coming back from this black pit of fear, nobody can reach down there and pull me up. Or pull me down, back to earth. It´s like everybody else is feeling at home in their lives, on this planet, unaware even that the world is larger than the spheres in which they move daily, while I am staring at all this from outer space, knowing how utterly small and alone we are, and while from the earth´s perspective it looks like there are days, like there is light, I know we are floating through an infinite darkness in which the sun has the impact of a little candle. It is the truth, and there is no remedy against the truth.

So what if I throw up, what then? That question doesn´t cut it. I don´t want to calm down, I don´t want to tell myself everything is alright and my fears are bogus. I want to yell out into space, everything I say here, and see if just about anybody is down in this darkness, too. There must be someone in this same dark place, somebody who can make me cry. I only have to cry and everything will be alright, but it´s like nothing can touch me. Just any goddamn miserably sad story, please.

I read a story about stillborn babies once, and a photographer who took pictures of them. Did I write about this before? It made me cry awfully, but now it does nothing to me. I wish somebody would hit all my sore spots at the same time so I can just break down and sob. I wish somebody would destroy my wrecked psyche and turn me into a robot with very limited, externally controlled feelings and the intellect of a five-year-old. I don´t care about my life, my personhood or my autonomy as long as there is someone out there who can understand me.

Stop demanding that I be someone, achieve something, live up to whatever values and expectations the human race as invented this era. I´m so far out of this world and out of normal peoples´spectrum of experience. And they don´t realize it! They have no clue that their fixes won´t work on me. They genuinely don´t. They and I are two separate circles which do not overlap. Just that they don´t know. They look at me and feel like they understand me, like they can hold me and contain my feelings, like everything is alright. There is no evil intention; the place I´m in is just beyond their imagination. This is worse than being tortured on purpose for if you were your torturer would understand you.

I know this is a misconception of mine. I know it from bloody experience. I know what it´s like to choke someone and I know what it´s like to be choked. When I was little and my father and I would get into a playful tussle sometimes things got out of hand. He was sitting on my back, tickling me and I couldn´t escape. I started to panic, told him to stop and he simply didn´t. I know what it is like to realize there is fuck all you can do. Sometimes I couldn´t breathe, thought I was going to suffocate and tried to tell him this. Make him understand this, somehow get through to him. I knew how drastic the consequences would be if he didn´t hear me, I knew I could not bear this for another moment. But I couldn´t make this known to him. We were in two different universes. When you are the one on top you know you are going to stop, maybe in 10, 9, 8…, but you mustn´t lose sight of the fact that the other person doesn´t know when or even that you will stop. And it´s easy to forget. It is easy to forget that the other person might not be feeling as good as you are. My father was probably just that clueless. He was having fun, so how was he supposed to know this was serious?

Again, what is creepy is not his evil intentions. It is his complete lack of awareness of my perspective. Of the universe I existed in during those moments. That often I was actually unable to speak. I couldn´t scream, so I couldn´t show him how serious it was. So, yes, sometimes the thought of somebody knowing exactly what he is doing to me is very comforting. Makes me feel safe, because I childishly trust they wouldn´t do anything that isn´t ultimately for my benefit. Or something I can take without going crazy or dying or throwing up. Or if I would, they´d stay with me and be still just as close, emotionally.

I want somebody to carry my emotions, take them off me for a while. I do that with others, for a while I crawl into their heads and just understand them. Read their minds and tell them what they are thinking and give them exactly what they need or want. Sometimes I feel like the only thing that can save me is somebody doing just that with me. Someone who doesn´t ask me what I need because I don´t know that myself; the big problem is, after all, that I have no clue what on earth could help me. I need someone to just decide, not in that cold, pressuring kind of way, but someone calmly stating facts. “You will need to sleep now. Take that pill, I´ll stay with you while you swallow it, I´ll stay with you if you throw up. I´ll stay here until you´re sleeping, and I´ll be awake all night in case you need something.”

Oh fuck. Now I finally know why I cannot sleep at night anymore, why I feel so much safer going to bed in the morning when the sun´s gone up already. People are awake then. Help is available. I can always go somewhere, exchange a few words with someone (and be it the lady at the cash point). There´s a world out there which can bring me back to reality. I can risk to let my guard down and sleep for a few hours. And people tell me my sleeping disorder is at fault for my anxiety!

All my imaginary allies had traces of this. They were caretakers. Very often they were more powerful than me, they could even be my kidnappers or prison guards, but somehow we were able to form an actual connection. Ever since I can remember imagination and daydreaming was my way of self-soothing. I could make myself feel cozy, safe, tired and comfortable by thinking of myself as a captive, a passive object, someone who didn´t have to make any decisions, someone who was responsible for nothing that happened, someone who was being taken care of. I withdrew into myself, lulling myself to sleep by imagining someone was holding me. Or even beating me up.

A while ago I was badly creeped out for no reason (just sitting on my bed, but suddenly everything seemed to have eyes staring at me) and my girlfriend offered me a hug. I accepted and suddenly I got that similar tired, good, safe feeling. Like it didn´t matter if something attacked me because I was far away. I hadn´t experienced before (at least not that I can remember) that you can get that same type of comfort from being hugged, that you can melt into somebody else and lose yourself. When my family members hug me it feels awkward; I just feel their body parts crashing against mine and we don´t seem to fit together properly. It´s not really comforting. I don´t feel “held”.

Maybe holding someone´s hand can alleviate the fear of death.  Not the reality of death. Just the terror and isolation. Maybe death itself is nothing to be feared, anyway.

My mother as an emotionally battered wife and my relationship with her

Posted in health, mental health, personal with tags , , , , , , , on August 14, 2012 by theweirdphilosopher

I´ve been in abusive friendships / relationships. And I remember what it felt like to be around people who might suddenly explode right inmy face. My sister is such a person. My father is such a person. And this had me think about my mother, who is very much not such a person. How does she feel about her relationship with my father?

I sometimes suspect that she is secretly scared of him. Of my sister, too. Even of me. She never shows any genuine feelings. But maybe that´s not because she is evil per se; maybe she has grown that same thick layer of numbness that dulls me down. I remember how I felt about Athena at times; in the middle of a crisis I suddenly started to feel very tired and indifferent. I knew that actually I cared very much about our relationship, that a break-up would devastate me, but somehow I couldn´t feel it anymore. It seemed unreal and far away. I could only see the immediate situation, and saying “Fuck off, I´m breaking up with you!” would have gotten me out of it immediately, which was all I could think of. How to end the situation. It´s the same state of mind that prompts suspects to make false confessions after being interrogated and messed with for hours. I was always aware, though, of the finality of such a statement, and I knew that as soon as I´d hung up on her I would fall apart. So I had to resolve the situation in a different way. I didn´t have any particular feelings for her anymore, least of all respect; I just knew I had to find out whatever she wanted to hear and then say it, so she could forgive me and I could finally go to sleep.

It was a state I found myself in after only a few months. My mother has been married to my father for more than two decades.

This state of perceived indifference is not free of aggression. There is a dark, subtle satisfaction in this; sucking up to someone while withdrawing all love and compassion from him, knowing there is one part of your soul he won´t get and he will never know it. Acting normal while you´re still holding a grudge can feel powerful. If you learn to walk on eggshells successfully you might feel like you are the one in control.

With your walls up like this, though, you are also emotionally unavailable. Your emotions are a show. Not necessarily a lie, but an intentional display. You don´t simply have emotional reactions. You can control them; it is up to you what you show and how much of it.

You lose sight of what you really want and need. You are completely focused on the people around you. Wants and needs are for the weak. You don´t want or need anything. You don´t get emotional support, you´ve had your feelings trampled upon often enough, now you base your self-respect on not needing care and respect.

***

I cannot prove that this is true for my mother. She would, of course, deny it. She denies being scared of my father, and indeed sometimes I´m not sure who has the upper hand in their relationship. My mother must have excellent manipulation skills by now. She probably knows him by heart, which gives her a sense of power; while he displays the stereotypical male cluelessness regarding women and their feelings. I guess she knows more about him than he knows about her, which might indeed shift the power; particularly as his temper seems to mellow with age. Which might explain why she is moving in with him again: Now she has the upper hand. She has ultimately won. Indeed now my father is sucking up to her; or rather telling me in an oddly castrated tone how great and brave and strong my mother is and how I should “be nicer to her”. Which is funny, as it is exactly what my mother tells me when I have trouble with my father: “Be nicer to him.”

How might this have affected the relationship between me and my mother? She was emotionally unavailable. While she was not (or very rarely) openly indifferent her behavior towards me seemed artificial. Something was always wrong, and I guess I just felt that. Then, of course, she never defended me against my father or sister. Instead, she implicitly taught me her coping strategies. That pleasing people can be some kind of revenge because it is a way to get power.

On other occasions, though, her bitterness and resentment showed through. When I was depressed she sometimes said that maybe I just expected too much from life. There was a slight, tiny note of satisfaction in her voice, even though she seemingly sounded so matter-of-factly. I have no business being happy. Recently she said that maybe it was about time I move out because I´m alone at home so often and she doesn´t want me to get used to having a big flat at my disposal since I might have trouble later coming to terms with living in a small flat. She didn´t sound as if she was worried about my well-being, though. What she was saying there was: 1) You are spoiled. 2) You won´t be able to maintain or regain the life standard you have now (which is probably why I attend college, so I´ll never be able to afford anything decent). 3) Better get used to it soon, ha ha. All that while she is about to move into the house of her dreams.

Then, sometimes, even her aggression showed through. Very rarely also physically. Like when I was little and we were at the beach. I wanted to go play in the sea with her, I wanted a playful fight. She, however, went at it with an odd, scary aggression I had so far never seen in her. She was actually hurting me, and when I complained she was almost disdainful, like: “I thought you wanted to fight, I´m only doing what you asked me to do.” My memory is fuzzy, it might or might not have been exactly like this, but this is the atmosphere I remember. She was taking something out on me, she was scary, she was, in a way, brutal.

On another occasion we´d had an argument and I wanted us to be alright again. Most of the time she made the first step, even earlier than I really wanted to. Now I was trying to get the message across, but I didn´t know how to go about it. I must have been looking at her in a way that annoyed her because she suddenly snapped at me: “Well, why are you staring at me like a wounded puppy?”

Apologizing to my mother was never easy. She never seems to be holding a grudge or even be angry, but somehow she doesn´t accept apologies, either. Similar with the situation where I had accidentally left school early. I am often very rude to my mother (much to my friends´dismay; my current girlfriend once said at first she had been shocked, but then when she spent more time with my parents she was starting to understand my behavior), but whenever I try to be nice and helpful, even apologize for stuff she suddenly gets cold and distant (in a deniable fashion). Somehow being nice to my mother just doesn´t work. I don´t know if it pisses her off in some way or if she is indiscriminately angry for being in the weaker position in the family and as soon as she senses vulnerability or even the willingness to compromise/consider her needs she tries to get as much power out of it as possible. I get out of everything easiest by being bratty and acting crazy.

***

Then, of course, my mother also identified with me. She and I used to be the weaker ones in the family; those who aren´t as good at winning a shouting match. She always branded me as “particularly sensitive” because I couldn´t take it when my father and sister were yelling, even when it wasn´t directed at me (though, of course, that could change any second if I made a noise or asked my mother a question). She said that approvingly, like it was something special to have a problem with angry people.

It was my mother who, for much of my life, made me feel like I was special in a good, slightly mystical way. When my father moved out my mother and I became very close. I pretty much claimed her for myself. We went on walks together, we went on holiday together (though sometimes we did that before, too), we talked a lot. It was a bit as if I was an adult; I often felt as if I was already a grown-up. It was not like she was doing the talking and I had to listen. It was more like me talking, telling her things, and her nodding and listening. Maybe it wasn´t so different from her relationship with my father. She had those talks with my sister as well, so I might just be imagining that I had a special role. During that time, I envisioned the three of us (at least from an idealistic point of view) as three adult friends or sisters. I felt like I was not a kid, but not a teenager, either. I had simply skipped that phase. I didn´t have to rebel against my mother and throw all those silly temper tantrums. I could just be mature.

I think my mother dropped me when I was 16 and decided to become an immature teenager after all. I´m still that teenager in many ways, or at least I want to be. I´m starting to understand growing up is not adopting the set of behaviors and attitudes I showed with 12 or 13, so I might find a way to do what I have to do and still feel free. At the moment I see growing up as: I´m financially independent so the world can kiss my ass! It´s the kind of growing up my teenage self can live with.

I think that identification thing is actually the most painful part. It started long before my father moved out. It started with me clinging to my mother because everybody else in my family was scary. The worst thing is really how much I depended on her. I have to be grateful she identified with me and made me feel special. I hate myself thinking of it. It seems to justify everything she did. Everything she turned me into just seems to be a result of my weakness. Maybe I cannot be anything other than the emotionally dead people-pleasing control freak. Why couldn´t I be like my sister who grew some balls (thanks for the visual, I know) and just openly and honestly bullies others? I feel like she is more likeable than the sly, secretive person I am who never even dares say she is pissed off (this blog being the exception). I am so much like my mother than I feel I deserve to be disliked. I´m not even angry at people who don´t like or actually despise me. I can understand them. How pathetic is that? Couldn´t I at least think they are twats?

Sad thing is, if I thought so I would be betraying myself just as much. I would be thinking so on behalf of my mother, in her very own voice. She loved to tell me others were just jealous of me. In a way, self-hatred was always a method to feel just a little bit of integrity. Maybe this is why I am holding on to it so much.

There is this line in a song by Nightwish that goes like: “It is the end of all hope to be someone like me.” I´ve always sort of identified with that line, but now I´m starting to understand why.

Spooky stuff

Posted in health, mental health, personal with tags , , on August 9, 2012 by theweirdphilosopher

Where the hell do I start this? Right. I recently read two novels by Tana French, The Likeness and In the Woods. Actually I just finished The Likeness and I´m on the brink of an anxiety attack.

SPOILER ALERT!

The Likeness is about an undercover detective investigating the murder of a young woman. The detective is getting the victim´s housemates to tell her what has happened: One of the housemates has stabbed her in an argument, she ran away and died somewhere, they found her, erased their traces and returned back home, waiting for the body to be discovered. Then they talk about what they did that night, after they´d come back home: They played poker.

Something about this situation, having a secret with which one will have to live forever, a burden which will never be relieved again, all while having to be normal and go on with life feels terrifyingly familiar. Each and every time again. This is a common motif in crime novels, after all, and I read enough of them. Knowing that the fear, the hypervigilance, the jumpiness will forever be there. The fear of some kind of revenge. A hostility that seems to lie in everything around you and might jump at you at any moment.

But also the guilt, like a stone in your stomach. You can never be happy and careless again, for as soon as you are, you will remember what you did and be alert and watchful again. Watch out for the revenge, the attack which one day will come unless you remain on the look-out. It cannot get you if you keep it in mind.

This last thought is probably at the root of my constant worrying and my perpetual anxiety. It cannot get you if you keep it in mind. Constantly keep an eye on it, though what complicates this is that I don´t know what “it” is.

For all I know I never murdered anyone. Never even did anything that was spectacularly wrong. So what is it that I´m keeping an eye on without seeing it?

Reading about people trying to get away with murder always stirs something up somewhere in my unconscious. Like I said, it feels familiar. It makes me wonder if I´ve ever been in some similar situation. Nothing quite as bad, but trying to cover something up together with others. Other kids, obviously, since I remember my teenage years (14 up) in a way in which I don´t remember my childhood, maybe but not just because I kept a diary since I was 12. And when I try to remember if anything like that happened something inside of me responds, but what I get back is not a memory, not even a picture, just murmur and a certain feeling. It´s like seeing bulky shadows moving behind a curtain. I couldn´t tell who, what, when, why or even if. I might as well be getting this from a movie, a book, a newspaper article or whatever. But it is creeping me out, it is drawing me faster and faster into some maelstrom of seemingly harmless pictures, impressions and memories which always ends in complete fear.

And that leads me to In the Woods. The main person is a male detective who has lost two of his friends when he was in his early teens. The three of them were going into the woods some sunny afternoon, and they didn´t return. The protagonist was found clinging on to a tree, stained with his friends´blood. The other two were never found, and the protagonist does not remember anything about the incident. As an adult he decides to spend a night in the woods, hoping to retrieve his memory. Indeed he starts to remember things. He remembers a day in the woods with his friends, them running along before him, and then:

Gradually I became aware that under the sleeping bag I was drenched in sweat; that my back, pressed against the tree trunk, was so rigid I was shaking, my head nodding in stiff convulsive jerks like a toy`s. The wood was black, blank, as if I had been blinded. Far off, there was a quick pittering sound like raindrops on leaves, tiny and spreading. I fought to ignore it (…)

He keeps on pushing for more memories, but they are interrupted by the eerie atmosphere which seems to be intruding on him –

The darkness in front of me was shifting, condensing. There was a sound like wind in the leaves, a great rushing wind coming down through the wood to  clear a path. I thought of the torch, but my fingers were frozen around it. 

– and suddenly he gets so terrified he simply runs away. He is too shaken to drive, he has to ask a colleague to pick him up.

Now, what does that scene remind me of? This, maybe?  Sitting in my living room, a cascade of memories rolling over me, feeling like there is some black hole in the middle of them, a riddle, I try to get a good look at it until I´m sucked in, struggling to get out again? A couple of harmless memories (the memories the protagonist had were harmless, too) and suddenly there is this nameless terror like something is about to attack?

When I read that passage I got so creeped out I actually had to put down the book a few times. Not just because of the similarities, but mostly because the atmosphere hit me so hard. I felt myself being sucked into that maelmstrom, just that it wasn´t my own but his. I had a hard time remembering my surroundings, or perceiving them as real.

Here is something odd I notice. Above I wrote:

You can never be happy and careless again, for as soon as you are, you will remember what you did and be alert and watchful again. Watch out for the revenge, the attack which one day will come unless you remain on the look-out. It cannot get you if you keep it in mind.

In my old entry, though, I said:

So, “what if there is a fire behind the door?” I didn´t picture the hall to be ablaze. “The Fire” is a very confined thing, and its existence does not depend on any flammable objects. I guess you could imagine it to be a demon. So if it was there, it was standing behind the door. “The Fire” is not a chemical process. It is an semi-conscious entity, something with a will, though maybe a programmed, pre-determined will. Something that might notice I´m right here on the other side of this door if I should think about it too loudly. It is like a sleeping dog which will wake up if you stare at it or even think about it for too long…like…NOW!

On the one hand, you must always keep it in mind, and on the other hand you mustn´t think about it for too long? Maybe you have to keep it in mind in order not to think about it? In order to not let your thoughts wander to whatever it is, stumble upon it accidentally?

Whatever it is, it is asleep. I must keep it in mind in order to remember to not make any noise, but sensitive as it is I can wake it up by thinking about it “too loudly”, by being too aware of it. And then it might look back at me. Become aware of me. And I am prey for that thing.

If it even exists.

I don´t even know how to title this

Posted in health, mental health, personal, rants with tags , , , , on August 6, 2012 by theweirdphilosopher

A while before I started this blog I was a member at a major Internet forum that deals with mental health issues. In fact I still am a member, but I hardly ever write anymore. I got my blog for that; at least here I don´t have to worry about writing too much.

On that forum, there were various subforums for all kinds of illnesses. There was one subforum for each major personality disorder, there were forums for dissociative disorders, for depression, for trauma, for sexual issues and for anxiety. There was more, but for the purpose of this entry those examples should be enough.

I was never quite sure in which subforums I belonged. I read many of them trying to figure it out, but I found I could identify with some elements of each of them. I noticed certain characteristics in style and content in each or at least many respective subforums and, to be honest, after a while this was starting to look like a great stage show at the theatre.

I cannot help but feel a certain disdain, even ridicule which will probably show through in my description of the various styles. Like: Everybody looks for the label that suits him best and then he starts to talk/write in a way and about topics which support the label. The folks in the Schizoid PD subforum make short, distanced, blasé posts because they don´t like social occasions. The folks in the Schizotypal PD sub-subforum talk gibberish because hey, they are almost psychotic. Those with BPD constantly talk about emptiness and what it really means, or about their fear of abandonment. They keep on saying they have trouble with empathy even though they constantly prove the opposite is true as they all excellently understand each other. This is where I feel the diagnostic criteria really distort peoples´perception of themselves. I have BPD, so I must lack empathy. I hereby dutifully accuse myself of that, even though it doesn´t feel true, but my perception must be distorted because I´m ill.

Then there is the subforum for those with Antisocial PD. The conversations are a mixture of one-upmanship and weird camaraderie. Typical thread title: “Thoughts of homicide?” Then they play a subtle game about who is more hardcore; those who enjoy killing or those who do it with complete indifference. I didn´t know the death row has Internet access lately…but maybe their chronic bragging is just totally in character with their (alleged?) AsPD diagnosis?

Enter the forum for Histrionic PD. It is filled with men who accuse their ex of suffering from the condition because she cheated on them. From a woman´s perspective it sort of sickens me. If a guy cheats on a girl, it is almost normal because, hey, they have a greater sex drive, right? But a woman who cheats must definitely be ill in some way. I found it almost intimidating.

Then the narcissists. Similar to the AsPD forum, just that the subject is not homicide but causing emotional devastation. This is alternated with musings about the complete inner deadness of narcissists, such as: “Do they have hobbies because they like them or in order to show off?”

Then there are other forums, like anxiety, self-esteem and so on. In those forums people tend to speak more freely, but what is stereotypical is the replies: “Have you thought about xyz, consult a therapist, I know it is hard but you can do it!” And be damned if that doesn´t do it for you. Because that is as much as anyone will offer. It is the zero risk reply. Telling someone to see a therapist is “the right thing to do”. Ordinary users have no right to act as psychologists after all. They cannot give their unqualified opinion on their fellow users´problems. That would be totally irresponsible.

Oh, and while we´re at it: Responsibility. Almost everybody in those forums is constantly busy “taking responsibility” for their problems. To this day I´m not entirely sure what is meant by that. I only know the conversational style it entails. “I will…I have to….Now I must…” and all kinds of prospects for the future. “Taking responsibility” in those forums is the public display of making a firm decision to do what the majority thinks is good. “I will no longer hide from my problems!” (Whatever that means.) “I will consult a therapist.” (At least that´s a concrete thing you can know you have or haven´t done.) Or, of course: “I guess I´m still in denial about…” I´m pretty sure there is a real, relevant mental state which people try to capture by using this phrase. But the phrase itself is highly illogical. And when I analyze the power structure behind that phrase I come to the conclusion that it means: “My gut feeling says you´re wrong, but you must be right so apparently I just don´t want to see it.”

My sarcasm has me wonder if I´m seeing something the authors of such posts don´t see (or maybe they do and they don´t know how else to express themselves; it sure has happened to me as well), or if I´m so cold and deranged that I simply don´t know what “not hiding from one´s problems anymore” means. I feel like it should be obvious, like everybody else knows what is meant by this, but I don´t. Well…sometimes I feel like I know it, but I find the expression “hiding” pretty unfair. It sounds like unless I yell at myself in the mirror each afternoon: “You´ve been sleeping till noon and your room is in a mess, you complete wreck! Look at yourself! LOOK at yourself! Your life is going down the drain!” I must be somehow in denial. I often feel like this so-called “taking responsibility” is just an exercise in drill and mercilessness towards oneself. You´re already on the ground, but you constantly remind yourself of your complete fucked-up-ness because that´s the responsible thing to do.

This publicly displayed taking of responsibility looks like an act of appeasement to me. “I know I have no right to whine and have problems, but I´ll pay your listening to me with a commitment to taking responsibility for myself and changing, okay? Now please don´t be too harsh on me!” I´ve noticed that whenever I´m tempted to assure my readers that I´m working oh so hard on myself I´m simply scared of their response. I´m scared they will tell me, “weeeeell, if you don´t like the place your in, you will have to make some changes! You alone are responsible for your happiness!” Yeah, alright, but I really just wanted to rant, okay? Share with the rest of the world how much life sucks?

The above-described mental health forum is not the place for that. There is only one way to escape the demand to take responsibility: Portraying yourself as a narcissist or as a psychopath.

I´m not sure how many of the people in those forums are what they pretend to be. Some may well  just be your garden variety full-of-shit-teenagers. At least those in the psychopath subforum. But by claiming those diagnoses for themselves they have a great advantage: They can behave however they like and nobody will say anything about it because this is part of their illness, right? It is a very convenient way of claiming a label for themselves without having to do anything about their real or alleged condition. Nobody expects them to take responsibility. They are stronger than the “helpers” who always know exactly what the ill person must do.

Thing is: I could easily copy that attitude. I´d know what to say and do. Just as easily as I can copy the “repentant mentally ill person” attitude. Or present myself as a “helper”. I could probably copy most conversational styles I find in those forums. I could work with traits and experiences of my own to present myself as a schizoid, narcissist, psychopath or compulsive stove checker. I could start with posting this paragraph in the histrionics subforum.

I don´t because I´d feel fairly guilty. I feel guilty even thinking about it. The mods are volunteering to create a place where people can talk about their issues, other people might be reading what I write looking for help while I´m bullshitting them – neither of them deserves that.

And yet somehow there is this desire to just slip into another role, be somebody else; maybe present myself as a more colorful person (BPD, HPD), or as a total badass, or as an innocent victim. Experience what that is like, and what it is like to be talked to in an entirely different fashion. Be interpreted in ways different from how I´m interpreted now. Be seen as a person who is/has this or that. Allow myself the luxury of being a cliché, of belonging into a certain group of people.

Maybe this desire isn´t such a negative, evil thing. Part of it is the triumph of proving how easily reality can be imitated, how much I could look like the original. But part of it is also the wish to explore new, paradoxical sides of me. Test several identities, find space for little experiences which seem to be out of character. Find new narratives of my life.

Who knows, maybe it would turn out that I´d completely fail. Maybe people would tell me: “No, you´re definitely not a…” But I doubt so. The typical conversation goes like: “OMGZ, I THINK I MIGHT HAVE…”, followed by list of symptoms. “Do you think I might have…?” Reply: “Maybe, some symptoms point into that direction, only a therapist can diagnose you.” I´ve never seen anyone say: “You know what kid, I think you are completely sane.”

If you post on that forum, it is already understood that you have issues which are not normal. And if you ask whether or not you might have a specific illness and list symptoms in medical jargon, is it really much of a surprise if people confirm that you might have that illness?

What happens on that forum, no matter who all these people are in reality, is incredibly constructed. It is, in some ways, a show. People find themselves in certain roles and they start to behave differently. I find myself doing this. I once posted in the AsPD forum and immediately I was trying to sound indifferent and cold. Then I replied to someone´s post in the self-esteem section and I started to sound like I was terribly wise and far ahead in my “healing process” (healing from what?) – simply because now I was the one replying to someone else´s “rants”. It is creeping me out. So much for being oneself.

I guess my desire to go on an “undercover mission” or two might also be a way of wanting to play with those roles and free myself from them. No longer mistaking myself for them. “Give a man a mask and he will be honest.”, or however the saying goes in English. Who knows what I could do if I was wearing a mask. What I would learn about myself.

It is tempting. If I didn´t invent any facts or experiences and simply said I “wonder if I might have this or that disorder” I wouldn´t even be lying since there´s hardly any disorder I haven´t been wondering about. There wouldn´t be so much of a risk that I´d confuse people who are seeking help.

What else is this temptation about? The allure of bad behavior and having points of view that run contrary to ordinary ideas of what is right while refusing to justify them? Refusing to justify my feelings, because if I´m mad then I don´t have to justify myself for being irrational? Embracing the demon; identifying with diagnoses which would scare or upset me in real life?

Plenty of possibilities. The odd thing is: It felt like liberation – until I actually took a look at these forums a moment ago. One quick glance at the board rules and immediately my authority issues kicked in again. When all I wanted to do was learn to contradict, eh? Maybe I should aim to be kicked out? Maybe that would be a practice in self-esteem?

I feel extremely stressed out when I get into arguments. On my German blog a guy once got into an argument about homosexuality with me. He wasn´t the run-of-the-mill religious fundamentalist, but he had a psychoanalytic approach which somehow stated that homosexuals are ill and immature. I stood my ground during the discussion, refused to justify myself (and my lifestyle) and eventually said we´d better agree to disagree because we would never find a common ground. And that was it.

Sometimes I´m still scared he might return.

But this sure is something I have to learn, isn´t it? Saying my own opinion instead of using appeasement techniques and telling everybody for the umpteenth time that of course this is just my own personal view and everything is total different for everybody yada yada? I´m so tired of relativizing everything I say just so everybody will like me. It feels so dishonest to do so when in fact I have very strong feelings about a subject. Isn´t that part of establishing boundaries? Daring to have an opinion and taking one´s feelings about something seriously? Refusing to constantly justify oneself?

Given that I´m in the mood for experiments: What would it feel like to write about myself without a trace of masochism? Without the constant self-criticism? Writing while taking my feelings for granted and assuming they are legitimate and normal?

I don´t want to become a jerk who is not open for any opinions that differ from his own. I´d just like to become a jerk who dares utter an opinion. Vagueness actually helps nobody, or does it? I´m not even sure it is possible to not have an opinion on something, ambivalent as it might be. So neutrality is mere pretense. My mother is great at that, and what´s the result? I am! And my coach wouldn´t have helped me for shit if she hadn´t been a person who says what she thinks.

Maybe this is what is so tempting about the “undercover mission”. Writing about myself (and everything else) in a different way.