stitchwhich: (Lego Viking Woman)
About that "it is not spinal stenosis, your back is fine" news...

Academically, I know it is good news. I'm still digesting it. I'd spent the last couple of months working hard to accept the previous diagnosis and come to terms with it, and had moved past anger and rejection of it into plans for how to adapt, how to keep active, how to change my exercise patterns to enforce strengthening all that I could - and how to sidestep the depression that the assumed inactivity was going to engender.

I was almost at peace with it, you know?

That is why I was thrown. That and a string and immediate throwback to days of being a child around my mother. She'd invent weird and severe medical problems and use them to manipulate people, to curry special treatment. Suddenly there at the doctor's office, hearing the news that there was nothing wrong with my back and he had no explanation for the problems I was experiencing, I was a middle-aged replacement for her and I hated myself. What if I was just doing this to myself? What if there is nothing wrong with me at all? What if it is all in my head or I'm going crazy like she did? What am I doing to my husband, my kids? What if I was a worthless piece of humanity who was only torturing my family with imaginary woes because I was too lazy, too weak, or too something to live like a normal person?

It all came down hard and I just caved in. Scared of the uncertainty, frightened by fear of insanity, the whole gig.

I'm still a little shaky but it will pass. I know that I'll be grateful that my spine is doing just fine. It IS good news. And it looked fantastic on the MRI. Bossman was the one who pointed out afterwards how much the surgeon was grinning as we scrolled down the views. I had been one of his first patients when he opened his private practise. Just think - if he did work that well in his first year on an active and obese woman that it was so strong and clean 10 years later, imagine how much better he is now with his skills honed and what he is bringing to his elderly patients. My spine is strong. His patients have no idea how lucky they are.

And I've reminded myself that for the last couple of years I had been aware of the odd symptoms as they occurred and had been fighting to deal with them without letting anyone notice, trying to avoid yet more medical-drama-stuff and using my private fear and uncertainty about them to encourage myself to work harder on getting in better shape. That is not the way my mother would have acted. I haven't been "imposing" this on my family. The closest I've come is to stick to the doctor's advice about my activities since Bossman insisted that I consult him. So I'm (slowly) convincing myself that I'm not becoming my mother. (It is probably a ruling fear in my life.)

I'll see the vascular specialist in a couple of weeks. I'm going to laugh and feel very, very stupid if he tells me that I'm so fat that standing up and walking around is putting point-pressure on my femoral veins or arteries and that I'm going to have to wear a girdle or something until I lose more weight. That would be about as humbling as a diagnosis could get! (But it would rock, wouldn't it? "Keep working on that weight loss and you'll get back to normal" would be grand.) I've done some online research and it appears more likely that I've got that old-fashioned 'hardening of the arteries/veins', a buildup of plaque in there which is reducing circulatory flow during times of exercise. If so, I'll assume that a daily dose of "Plavix" is in my future, more exercise of a specific style will be needed, and (best) I'm damned lucky that it was caught in this manner rather than building up to give me a stroke some day down the line. I can be very, very grateful if that is the diagnosis. There will be a lot of candles of thanksgiving burnt at my altar if that is the case.

So my worldview is on its head right now and I'm just trying to maintain calm while it gets done spinning and I can pin it down again. In the meanwhile, our willow tree is budding, neighbor's flowers are coming out, and yesterday I left doors and windows open to air the house for the first time since autumn. Spring is here and my heart is lighter. And with the cessation of concern about a failing back... when I'm actually aware that such is true, my head and heart just swell with joy. It is overwhelming. By golly, I'm going to get used to it, I am. I have no reason to fear half of the machines in our gym any longer.

(Oh - and I'm telling my PT folks that my goals are to be able to pedal a bike, which I haven't been able to do pain-free since the surgery, and to get down into a squat and back up again without losing my balance or feeling pain, as the same holds true about how long it has been since I could do that. If there is nothing wrong with my spine, then it is just weak muscles in need of retraining and strengthening. I'm going to need some expert guidance.)
stitchwhich: (Autumn)
The recent re-spat of abuse posts has me thinking about chess.
Yes, that's not a typo.

I'm a singularly brillant chess player. I will lose almost every time - but you will have to fight for your win, every time. Why? Because the man who taught me how to play chess, one of my stepfathers, loved to play it - and loved to win. But not win easily. So I trained myself to not think ahead too far, to challenge my opponent but ensure that I would not actually win the game or drag it out more than an hour. It was a survival skill since Jay wore a 2" leather belt and used it to beat me if I disappointed him (lost too easily, won, or any other reason he could think up).

To this day I will have a raised level of anxiety if I try to play the game. Years ago I attempted to ease that by learning other strategy games, thinking that if I could learn to enjoy them I could perhaps learn to enjoy chess. It didn't work but I particularily enjoyed Goh, especially with Hanashi as our instructor - the sessions were relaxing, kneeling in front of the board, playing in our 'ranks', drinking tea. His praise of my ability was a balm and the very-not-American environment of the gaming classes took it out of context for my memories of abuse. I can play Goh and enjoy it very much but I've found that only with a few select men can I let myself see beyond the first few moves. Still.

I cannot play any form of Tafl. As a Viking-era reenactor, that sucks rocks but there it is - it is actually gut-wrenching to sit across the board from a guy and try to learn it. And that saddens me since there is a friend who would love to teach me the game and who probably has no idea that it is old ghosts that keep me from playing it with him. In fact, it is difficult for me to play anything requiring concentration and skill one-on-one with a man*.

It is in the little things, sometimes, that past abuse makes itself known.

*Oddly, that is not a problem with "Navy Battleship", which I played a lot while on late boring watches as a Radioman. But we didn't usually face each other across a table for that. And while it did require strategy, it mostly required tabulation skills. Unlike 'regular' Battleship, the Navy version had a mutually-agreed-upon grid size and fleet, and each player "shot" a salvo of 5 missiles at a time. The opponent would merely report how many hits were in each salvo - it was up to you to figure out where the hits were and concentrate your next salvo there. A fun game... if you're a pencil-geek.
stitchwhich: (Eyore the Grey)
After reading [ profile] attack_laurel's latest entry I thought I was okay but as things go, my mind went down the memory-path of childhood and I've been brooding about one particular time. So I'm going to write about it just to see if that will purge the recording for me. Only click here if you want to read icky stuff about long ago in my life that deals with molestation by a relative. This may be too triggery for some. )

Originally I had this on a very tight filter but then the thought occurred that it may be relevant to someone not on that filter so... And remember, I'm just fine with you not reading it - I know it is a downer of a subject.
stitchwhich: (Default)
... I don't hug because I'm broken.*

Recently "hugs" have been high on my radar. The subject has come up amoung my friends and in my daily interactions. Pointed remarks have been made about "we have to force you to hug us" with overtones of "there's something so wrong with you, you cold person". Guilt has been flung in my direction for 'denying a hug' to a friend or acquaintance. In front of me, discussions have arisen about how they will 'just have to teach her better'. Those were apparently bonding moments for them. They were moments of shame and anger for me.

I am comfortable casually hugging a very, very small pool of people. My husband and sons, Treestone, Gaffer, Ro, Kevin of Thornbury, Mungoe, Nick, Kiri, and, and... um.... I think that's it. Anyone else, no matter how close and I'd have to do an internal comfort-check before I could do it.**

I grew up in a world where public shows of affection were reserved for family. Blood-kin. And they were rare even then. We showed our affection and love for each other and others with our smiles, our eyes, a soft touch on a hand or arm, a tone of voice - no more than that. It is the language I am comfortable with. We respected the personal space of our friends and it was a special and rare instance when an offer would come to be welcomed into that space for a hug. Physical contact is very, very intimate in my world even when it is non-sexual. When you speak a language where a shrug, a special smile, a fingertip on the back of one's hand is significant, a hug has far more consequence than it does in the world of "lay one on me, baby!"

I have am having issues with personal space right now, more than ever before in my life so the subject is especially difficult for me. Force me to hug you and you may walk away feeling like you've conquered something (I guess) but I will be struggling with emotions you never meant to invoke. And those emotions may spiral and deepen throughout the hours until I will be sitting up late at night in an emotional windsotrm, hearing my grandfather's voice saying, "You're just so beautiful I can't help touching you." Boy's and men's voices echoing, "but your body was made for pleasure, I can't help it. You have to let me. It doesn't really hurt, it can't, you were made for this!" An ex-husband saying,"but you're my wife, how dare you not let me touch you any way I want to, whenever I want to - I love you! How can you spit on my love by denying me right now?" ***

The lesson, "Your body is not your own." will reverberate for days.

I'm not the only person with a reserved upbringing or even with those internal voices in your social circle. There are likely more of us than you are aware. The next time you open your arms for a good ole hug from a friend, think about the person you are approaching and be ready to acknowledge their right to decline without making them feel like they are sub-human and defective, cold and unnatural. It may not be they way they express their caring for you. There is nothing wrong with that. Or them. Look for the 'I treasure you" sparkle in their eyes or the smile on their face. Learn their language and give them the opportunity to choose to speak yours.

And for God's sake, if you know they are a survivor of abuse - back the fuck off of them if they can't hug you the way you want. It's not that they don't love you. It's that your demand to be in their personal space and handle their body is causing them emotional pain by triggering a cascade of feelings they cannot control easily.**** It may be a little thing to you but I can assure you that it is a big and bitter thing to many more people than you'd expect.

---- -------- ----------

*And that statement shouldn't be true - NO ONE should have to chose between surrendering control of their personal self or hurting the feelings of others. A hug, like a kiss or shared seat, is a gift - not a right.

**Part of the shortness of the list may be due to the fact that some of my favorite people aren't huggers or are sensitive enough to not push it so it hasn't come up.

***Yeah, Yeah, I'm not beautiful now and ain't no-one gonna say that to me any more. I know that. Every ask yourself why I grew that protective layer of fat? And those same old voices are making it danged hard for me to shed it now that I'm old enough to not be on anyone's 'sexy baby' radar!

**** If they hug you against their will, they are surrendering control over their bodies to another (you), ceeding authority over the one possession they should be able to have control of at any time. If they don't, they are hurting the feelings of the people they care about in order to maintain that control = 'being selfish'. They are stuck with a negative outcome no matter what. They must instantly chose between their sense of personal integrity and your pain/scorn. Your demand, your expectation, is triggering their fight/flight/freeze response. You may notice this if you pay attention to their body language. Not everyone forces themselves to be public in the way that I am with this post so the signs may be very subtle - few folks want their friends to know that their customary 'bonding ritual' is uncomfortable to them. We teach our children that it is okay to say, 'no' but we rarely extend the same basic right to our friends.

A Poser

Apr. 22nd, 2009 04:21 pm
stitchwhich: (Default)
In a recent discussion I asked a question that drew a blank look followed by one of near-panic from my therapist. So I thought I'd ask it here and see what sort of insightful responses it might draw. First, some definitions:

Humility – the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance, rank, etc.

Self-worth - the sense of one's own value or worth as a person; self-esteem; self-respect.

So my question is, when you are an adult long past adolescence and lacking a positive sense of self-worth, how would you reconcile attempting to build that while at the same time valuing and wishing to attain (retain) humility at the same time*?

I know it is possible - look at the Dalai Lama. But barring being able to go back to one's childhood and choose a different method of upbringing, how does an adult in today's society build their self-image while avoiding the trap of going too far into conceit?

*Note to Catholics - my patron Saint is St. John of God, chosen for me by my sponsor, a very sweet, very stern member of the Order of the Sisters of St. Mary of the Valley. He has been my example for a very long time...
stitchwhich: (Default)
[This is a self-awareness post. It is not a cry for affirmation - y'all have given me plenty of that. But I need to write this, and own it, make it solid so I can force myself to step up and change. And I thought, if you are a parent, you might appreciate the warning inherent in this entry. Although I can't think of a single person on my friend's list who would need it.]

resources and the internal dialogue )
stitchwhich: (Default)
This is an open entry but I'm putting it behind a cut - I'm trying to come to terms with the idea of it so would welcome dialogue but at the same time, I know that many of my friends would rather not read about it. Thus, the cut )
stitchwhich: (Default)
My hands are shaking, I am so, so... I can't describe it. I can't.


It will pass. I've had plenty of practice making it pass, centering, remembering that it is far in the past and not my present. Not my present.

I have a loving husband. Beautiful sons. Supportive and talented friends far more than I will ever deserve. I can see the joyful moments and hold them close, closer than those other times. I have long outlived the bastards, by god. They are not in my life any longer and never will be again.

But every once in a while something comes up out of the blue and reminds me that for a good part of my youth I was a helpless and abused girl who had to live without justice, whose family and friends said, "If you won't tell the grown-ups, the teacher/the police weren't called, it wasn't real, it doesn't count. You're not really hurt" or "Stop being a goody-two-shoes. It's not that bad. It's not like you were really hurt. No one would believe you anyway."

Or even, "You must have liked it since you never told."

Fuck them.

And (to whoever) thanks for the returning nightmares...
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