Category Archives: blog

Stop Hitting Yourself. Stop Hitting Yourself. Stop Hitting Yourself.

I know the feel, Supes.

My father was the target of an International Conspiracy. Every time the man approached an empty intersection “a friggin’ parade” would pass by. Pulling out of the driveway? “Everyone and their mother” had to pass by our house.

Furthermore, someone was attempting to kill this man at all times. “Jim, you’re killing me.” “Frank, you’re killing me.” Even parts of the Trinity got in on it. “Jesus Christ, you’re friggin’ killing me.”

If only I had it so good! I am in league with myself against myself. The center of my own conspiracy. I am friggin’ killing me.

I don’t begin my days thinking, “How can I hurt myself today?” Maybe I should start. Maybe I could plan it out better? I am open to suggestions.

Allow me to list this last week’s round of self harm. I cannot even believe the first one because it was straight out of my Father’s Greek-o-vision.

If you are unfamiliar. Take the story of Oedipus. A young man runs away from home because of a prophecy that he’d kill his father and marry his mother. What’s the worst that could happen? Oh, if you’re thinking being sold into sex-trafficking, bless you darling innocent!

Oedipus travels, is forced to kill a man, becomes King and marries a Queen. And now for the twist! He was adopted! And he killed his bio-dad and married his mom after all. Then Oedipus gouges his eyes out. Like ya do.

So, that’s true Greek thinking. That and making sales people cry.

Long ago my father pointed out a dangerous bannister he was positive one could catch a pinkie finger on and tear it off! 😳 Yeah, right…OK, yeah I just did that thing. My pinkie is still attached, but my body continued forward. First down me!

I have also been cutting myself. Most recently with a soap dish! (I get creative.) I literally asked for it. I asked Stan to get a not-for-camping soap dish. He got this cool stainless steel thing. First time I used it, I dropped it. It bounced off my head before somehow gashing open my pinkie toe. Hitchcock would have been pleased with the blood in that shower, and the bathroom floor, half a roll of toilet paper, gauze, bandaids, towels. Finally I taped it tight, put on black socks and went to bed. Try practicing Sun Salutes without the top of your foot!

Truly, my Dad had a long list of things “you haven’t lived until” they happened. Like a burning cigarette butt between your toes, “cauterizing” one’s toes with boiling water, etc. Only the annoying part is that — while I may have laughed at his warnings — since his death I have either experienced any and all of these, or met people who have.

In life and in death, the man insists on always being right.

So the right pinkie finger I balance my phone on and use to pick my guitar. And the pinkie toe I also need to hold a plank. Oh, and then there is the right thumb and arm I almost jammed up roller skating, but was wearing guards! Too bad I wasn’t wearing them the next morning when, walking my dog, she bolted across the street and I fell on the same hand, jamming up the entire right side of my arm, including the thumb!

I have managed to harm every extremity and the attaching bits on the right side of my body in one week. Just by going about my life. And yet I expertly pulled my dog back onto a dock after she thought swimming might be a good idea, and I can hit a forearm stand!

Maybe it’s how I rush around. Or maybe I just need to develop my Greek-o-vision. Whatever it is. This is my cry for help, as I balance my phone on my right pinky finger, and type with my jammed up thumb to elbow to shoulder situation to write this. Help me. Maybe bubble wrap? Didn’t work out for Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes, but I’m not dressing to impress. I just want to stop hurting myself! Wait…maybe it’s a conspiracy! Everyone and their mother is friggin’ killing me.

– JL βœŒπŸΌπŸ’™πŸ’›πŸ––πŸΌπŸŒ»πŸŽΈ

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Trauma Therapy II, This Time it’s Personal

Can I cry now?

If you have been following this blog, you’ll know that I spent nearly a year coping with and escaping from evil people who made hating me a lifestyle. You’ve followed my story to our New Year’s Eve escape to a hotel where we lived with our dog and cat for three months. So, it is time for an update.

We have moved! And I love our new home on the Chesapeake Bay. My neighbors don’t seem to be actively out to get me, which is a pleasant change. In fact, there is quite a town atmosphere, with lots of neighbors of all stripes, nice restaurants, art galleries, and every dog on the street barks just like mine does! It also has a contagious sense of civic pride. And Harriet Tubman lived here. Freedom for me meant moving South. Go figure.

My favorite housewarming gift from my (almost) MIL. (Although I love the stick vac, Mom!)

But one of the million pieces of fallout from my move to freedom was that I had no therapist for months. My therapist was not licensed to practice in this state.

I have done everything I could think of to keep my emotions in check. I failed a lot. But I just needed to gut it out, I knew. Once I had a permanent address here, and became a resident, I got the help I needed to find a new therapist. I found her through Psychology Today (the best way to find the specific help you need). She turned out to be a woman from Poland. Who better to understand trauma than someone from a nation that spent a lot of time not existing, or being tormented by Nazis and then Soviets?

I saw her this Monday past, and it was a revelation! She loves the book my previous therapist and I used, spoke about Jung, and didn’t blink when I spoke about Camus’ The Plague and being an Existential Humanist. Ah. Eastern Europeans, you know what we Greeks have been on about for ages.

But, most importantly, she is older than I am. I am too far gone to be seeing therapists working on their doctorate. Besides, as late Gen X, Millennials are well, like they actually think like shit should work like it should, ya know? And they like trust people? What-ever…πŸ™„ #trustno1

I am happy about our first meeting. It’s always rough to start with a new therapist. But I felt good about her. I think she will challenge me more, too. I speak and write a decent game, but it doesn’t take too long to realize I have some “issues.” But I am not often challenged. I hope she challenges me.

I felt incredibly sad after our first meeting, and it took a day or so to work it out. I need a place and person to break down to. I’ve held myself so tightly, and continued to function as well as I could. But I need permission to let it out and let go of the trauma of Buttface Becky and her single-celled organism of a husband. I NEED to cry.

Only after I have let this go, can I truly begin to heal. Hopefully, this woman can help me. Until then, I hope she just lets me cry.

May the Force be with you, always.

– JL βœŒπŸΌπŸ’šπŸ––πŸΌπŸŒ»πŸŽΈ

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Calmer Than Your Are. Losing my Cool, Walter Sobchak, and PTSD.

Me, always.

“No, Walter. You’re not wrong. You’re just an asshole,” The Dude (Jeff Bridges) admits to his bowling buddy Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) in The Cohen Brothers 1998 Noir film meets the end of The California Dream, The Big Lebowski.

I would accept that description of myself. If I also were not wrong and an asshole so often. I get it often enough, but my reactions need help. I am not to the point of pulling a piece in a bowling alley, yet. But my anger response to a perceived wrong, lack of set rules, or disruption is not too far from Walter’s.

Walter is a damaged Vietnam Vet with PTSD. He is divorced, yet still cares for his ex-wife’s dog, and strictly observes Shabbos, the Jewish day of rest. He is a man trying to cling to structures with meaning. They ground and reassure him. And when his routines, rituals, and structure gets disrupted, he lashes out as only John Goodman can. Big and loud.

In an early scene we see him casually talking with The Dude, the old hippie, and Donny, their ex-surfer friend, when he screams “OVER THE LINE!” to an offending bowler.

Calm but deadly serious.
To pulling a piece.
To threatening a bowler at gun point.

Walter clings to structures for comfort. His reaction is to overwhelm others by enforcing the rules, at gun point if need be. He even needs to control when his friend Donny speaks and corrects The Dude’s use of an Asian slur. By the end of the film though, we realize that under all that camo and tactical gear is a scared 18 year old kid who lived through “a world of hurt.” In fact, it turns out he is not even Jewish. He converted for his ex-wife.

But it is Walter who quickly realizes the solution to the mystery of the rug that really tied the room together. He even mentions how “Un-Dude” his friend is being for getting hung up on the “ins and outs.” And he goes whole hog in his attempts to help The Dude on his quest. These are all traits of PTSD. The clinging, whether to habits or routines, rules or people. The shit-losing when anything pops its head into his life with an unwelcome thought. And yet he stares down arch-rival bowler, The Jesus, while Dude stammers. And he will mess up a couple of Nihilists who killed your car with a quickness.

His tears at the end signal the restoration of order and peace for him. The Dude needs Walter. But Walter also needs The Dude. Because The Dude is the one man chill enough to give Walter the grace to forgive himself. When Walter apologizes, The Dude says, “Fuck it, man.”

What the movie doesn’t explicitly show, however, is the embarrassment of being Walter. We with PTSD are simply not cool like The Dude. We tend to be rigid, hold ourselves rigidly, follow routines, and construct a framework to hang the point of life on. And that protects us from the scary truth that our suffering was and is pointless. As all suffering is.

The end result is sometimes you just lose your cool and freak out in a diner over the accessibility of a severed toe. Then Pride holds him in that diner seat long after he has embarrassed himself and The Dude.

Embarrassment, shame, self-loathing, or disgust generally fill the calm after the fit has passed. And it is something I have had to face down fiercely as I do my last days to week in this hotel room. All of my life is uncertain right now. All structure is gone. I have formed habits already to keep me sane in this room. But after living in fear and uncertainty for seven months now, I have had my share of outbursts.

But I have come to realize that I do not have to sit in the diner where I embarrassed myself. Walter eventually breaks down in tears, admits how wrong he had been, and apologizes to The Dude, and to Donny posthumously. “Fuck it.” Says The Dude, as they head off into the sunset to the lanes.

Feeling the shame, getting unbent, and apologizing are the keys. And if you are lucky enough, you will have friends who tell you to “Fuck it” and go bowling. I mean, in the end, all that is wrong — and there is plenty to go around in this world — sometimes flips our asshole switch. And it feels awful. Nobody wants to lose their cool. Good thing all those cool Dudes need us as much as The Dude needs Walter. Because we will do anything to get back your goddamn rug that really tied the room together! Eh, fuck it. Let’s roll.

– JL βœŒπŸΌπŸ’™πŸ’›πŸ––πŸΌπŸŒ»

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