Friday, August 23, 2013

I can make it better than what you could buy.

You can ask anyone who knows me personally.  I am a craftswoman at heart.  I crochet, knit, sew.  I can throw clay for ceramics and have a basic understanding of basket making.  I craft things with my hands because its my addiction that keeps me sane and a measure of freedom from my issues.

About two years ago roughly I think, I picked the crochet hooks back up, hardcore and serious like.  At the same time, I was picking up the bottle.  Alcohol was providing the same time of numbness that finishing projects was.  Only it didn't take as long with the booze as it did the yarn.  I don't honestly think anyone noticed I was drinking more for any reason outside of just because it was something to do.  Working at a dive bar for a couple of months, did help curb it.

2011 saw me drinking a lot.  I don't think anybody really noticed enough to say anything, as no one mentioned it to me.  That was before I admitted to the PTSD.  I just wanted to be numb.   I didn't want to deal with people and I was trying to gain weight to join the National Guard. I needed yarn though too, and was spending money on beer that I didn't have to spend.  So I hit a friend who I knew had access to a large stash of yarn that he had instructions to make shrink and go away.  

Huge haul of yarn later, and I was too busy crocheting to drink much.  It was yarn or the bottom of a bottle.  Since late 2011, when I moved to the middle of nowhere, I've not drunk much.  Just enough to feel the buzz and compliment a dinner I had made sometimes.  It was skeins of yarn instead six packs of hoppy goodness.

Yeah, I hide it pretty well because I kept pulling away from people.  People that were reminding me of what happens when you trust too many or the wrong kind of people. I don't think anyone really knows still, even after this, how much I drank because I hid it. 

It'll be good to with my fiance, because he drinks in moderation and I know that'll rub off.  I also know I'm going to keep crocheting or knitting or quilting or whatever the hell I feel like making.  Only its more now.  It's not just the numb inducing high from finishing a project now that results in a sweet deep sleep.  It's the satisfaction of knowing I've made something that will be last decades longer than that shit you could buy in the stores.  

It's the feeling of being just a little bit more alive.  Just a bit more back to being centered, reworked into a stronger woman.  I mean hell, I can even crochet or knit, an Ace bandage for wrapping sprains and twisted joints, etc.  Yes, you read that right.  Gauze bandages are woven threads.  Guess who knows how to weave?  Yeap, me.

With every passing day in 2011, I felt myself die.  I lost so many pieces of my humanity it seemed like.  I honestly stopped caring about most people save my closest friends.  And they can tell you, it showed.  As 2011 came to a close and 2012 started, it was still a black hole.  But each tiny piece I made, it felt like I was forging new pieces of myself.  You get a lot of time to let your mind wander when you've memorized patterns.  In thus, my mind wandered a lot.

I craft because it helps me feel alive.  I work yarn in patterns of color, not the level of perfection like a painter, but yarn is my paint.  It is the threads of myself and a level of self-correction.  Every piece I make has a few tiny flaws.  But every piece is a level of order, from chaos that I have wielded into a form that many can recognize.  It is my addiction that keeps the PTSD from getting the best of me.  

Friday, August 9, 2013

No attempted title witty today

It's been a very rough last two weeks.  I've lost track of how many days I'm going on now of little to no sleep.  Roughly two weeks ago, I walked past my younger sister who reeked of cigarette smoke.  And I mean reeked.  Guess whose PTSD triggered at the scent?

They smoked.  Heavily.  They reeked.

A week of nightmares and little sleep.

Past few days, I can blame on nerves partly over my upcoming move. But the nightmares are still there.  I've been having to keep my distance from my dad.

One of my more... feminist minded female friends has been in a tirade lately over the military mismanagement of punishing rapists within the ranks.  I've been trying to get it across to her, that the same people wearing the uniform violating folks...are the same fucking people as the civilian pieces of shit that do the same things.  Mindset is the same.  Just because someone is wearing a uniform, doesn't mean they aren't human anymore and not prone to the same problems and types of behavior that a civilian is.  Is just more pronounced, because the uniforms (military, police etc) place them within a very highly visible portion of the population.

That being said, I'd still trust someone from the military before I would a fucking civilian.  Why?  Hate to tell ya this cupcake, but they've always been the most honest.  At least with me.  There have been a couple that were absolute worthless Neanderthals, but they didn't stick around after getting things figured out.  See, down side of being a Witch... you get louder signals if something is wrong than most people.

The nightmares make it hard though.  The number of people who smoke is still rather disgusting to me.  Though, very rarely anymore do I let contact with a smoker happen.

My fiancĂ© quit smoking.  Before I had told him what the scent does.  Like, two months before I knew the scent could trigger.   (Yeah, you could say I love the man.)

I'll be honest.  I don't want to find out what other triggers might be.  But I know I'm going to.  :-/

Yippee skippy.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

That feeling you get

... when it seems you've done nothing but bloody your hands against a brick wall.

We've all been there.  That moment in time when you are going about your business and next thing you know... you run into a wall.  Be it one because of physical limits, mental ones that have been placed by religious restrictions (aka brain washing and punishment for deviation from that religions approved types of behavior), emotional ones due to past traumatic events or because of never having been exposed to a new experience in any way.  You bounce off it.

How you respond depends on past experiences in your life and how they've shaped your knowledge and skills or you're flying by the seat of your pants because you don't have a foundation to work from. You've holes.

Most people will whack away at the wall, for a little bit.  First sign of blood (discomfort) and they give up and throw up their hands, crying it's the will of the Gods and avoid dealing with it all. (Yeah, I have a bit of disgust for that.)

  I've hit a lot of walls.  Placed by the upbringing I had. (A combination of very asinine patriarchal bullshit disguised as a religious sect and an abusive home environment.  Yeap, same parents I'm putting up with right now.  And people wonder about my sanity.)  Experiences from only one real friend growing that I've known since I was 9 up until I was 16.  Experiences from being bullied, even in the homeschool groups and 4-H.

I was an Odd and an easy target, as I didn't fit in.  Couldn't fit in actually. I preferred books to people.  Though these days I prefer yarn to most people.  I was always a baseball cap, hiking boots, jeans and a t-shirt wearing tomboy.  Still am actually, but age has taught me how to balance womanhood and my rather "masculine" inclinations better.  

Masculinity is not nothing that should be feared really.  I get shit from a lot of people about my mustache.  (Yes, I have facial hair.  I've never really seen it as something that I should worry about.  It's just hair for crying out loud.)  So yeah, my body tends to produce a bit more testosterone than the average woman.  Big deal?  No... not really.  So if I want to have a matching set of power tools and wrenches, etc; I'm going to have a damn matching set of tools.  Tools are great.  Yeah, I've been in quite a few situations where I had to figure out how to fix a lot of stuff myself.  I'm okay with that.  I learned how to fix plumbing, build simple things, etc.  I'm cool with that.

Why?  Because yeah I could get a man to do it, but I know what it feels like to step back from a finished project and survey it proudly knowing I HAD MADE IT.  It's a lovely thing to taste honestly.  People who don't understand why people insist on learning to make things and fix things themselves, are going to be 9 times of 10 not worth the effort of trying to make understand.  It's a flavor of fulfillment that many people don't get to taste anymore or they've tasted something similar, but it's not real.  It's fake, like so many juices and foods these days. (That's a different damn rant.)

So despite all those skills, there are still times when I "look" at my hands and they are covered in my blood and the wall is still there.  Many walls have fallen in the past two years.  Starting in May of 2011, walls started falling.  (Can't thank my sister Lila enough for that.  I still owe her so much and it'll take a long time to repay that debt.)  

There's was a maturation I finally reached in my Witchcraft, where I found the rest of the right elements and those pieces fell into place.  When that clicked, that's when the other walls began to fall.  Though many of those, I used "C4" on.  They didn't want to fall after I destroyed their foundations to even exist.  So I blew them up.  Still don't regret the decisions to do so.

That's led other... more interesting walls.  Among them a few fears, that can not be reassured.  But I have only one major wall left, that has been insurmountable.  This is the wall, I bloody my hands on.

Part one: The PTSD and trust issues.  Fear, losing my beloved fiance.  Not being able to re-learn to trust another after him enough to be able to love again.  Ending up alone.  I hate being alone.  Been there, in that boat, far too many times.  

Part two: Not being useful.  I have minimal "employable skills" by today's society standards.  Trust me, I've tried to change that.  I've compensated with learning as much as I can about skills that most call "prepping", "Domestic" or "archaic."  I call them fun.  I call them, fulfilling.  Satisfying.  

Part Three:  The biggest piece of all.  Not having a purpose that I've been able to discern so far.  No purpose.  

That is the wall that has resisted everything I have ever thrown at it.  That is the wall I battle daily, weekly, monthly.   

This lack of purpose, gnaws a very hole into who I am.  It causes pain.  It causes grief.  It causes anger.  It causes me to seek skills and advancement of those skills out of an attempt to compensate.  Perhaps over compensate   

Though be re-assured by multiple sources that I have one, its not manifested yet.  And sources have assured, it's not a destiny.  Just a purpose.

I admit I am envious of these folks who a purpose.  You're lucky you found one or were given one at an early enough stage to give it the attention and commitment it deserves.  You people who can once one purpose is fulfilled, move onto the next.  You don't know how lucky you are.

Don't feel pity for me.  Whatever my purpose ends up being, you can bet I'll kick ass at it.

But for now, I'm stuck with bloody hands against this wall.  This wall will fall eventually.  Hell, it may even vanish completely in the blink of an eye.

  And then there will be other walls... the other walls are smaller than this one wall. And they will always be smaller than the One Wall.

However, I can't hate on the wall, too much.  It has taught me lessons, that I wouldn't have learned otherwise.  

The One Wall, sharpens me.  Its toned my mind in ways that I've observed most to not have.  I've been tempered in many ways by the One Wall.  I would even hazard to strengthened in some ways. 

And its given me... a great right hook and left jab.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

PTSD: My forever challenge

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

     This was a hard article to write.  Hundreds of thousands of people here in the United States alone have this disorder, and probably at least half are un-diagnosed, if not more.  I myself have it.  Though... mine happened and complicated other disorders that I may have. I can't afford to go get diagnosed.  I can recognize the symptoms and know how they are triggered and then deal with being able to handle the triggers. But I've also owned up to having PTSD and that it's not going away.  I have to be able to live among people.  I want to be to give my future husband everything that I can give him, with as few scars attached as possible.
  
  Understand this, PTSD has several symptoms.  Everyone who has PTSD has several, some or all.  To different degrees.  If and when, I talk about it, it's me relating MY struggles.  The challenge that it is for ME.  My symptoms can (and most likely some of them are) at a different degree of severity than yourself or someone you know.  Just remember that. 
 
    I want a family.  A home in the country, with several cords (it's a type of measurement that has seemed to fall by the way side, I have it linked to a definition at dictionary.com though) of firewood aging, milk goats, rabbits, alpacas, a few sheep, chickens and turkeys.  I have goals, for myself that I'm going to achieve.  However, I've not kidded myself on the time frame.  It's going to take slow, steady work and there's going to be many many failures.  Failures equal learning though.  I'm okay with failing at something, depending on what it is.

    This is because of a large number things that have happened, where I was following other people's advice...and their ideas didn't work.  So you boil away everything except the core idea and tactic, and then apply it.  Then try the next thing.  I'm a huge proponent of everyday application of the Scientific method. 

    Why?

    Because it works.  Yeah, you end up at points in time wishing people to live long and prosper, but you end up sincerely meaning it.  Honestly, it works one problem at a time.  And being honest with yourself, and the reasons why you don't want to face your shadow self is a good place to start.

    Shadow self, is a term used in several circles of thought, sometimes referred to as the It.  (If you've never had the chance to see the very old film Forbidden Planet, I highly recommend trying to.  It explores this concept, and how truly dangerous not coming to terms with it can be.)  These are the negative emotions or memories that are repressed by a person.  Like that of what a person's PTSD stems from.

    This is in the mind though.  PTSD affects not just your mind.  Those wounds go deeper.  We humans are strange creatures, really.  We have minds, hearts, souls, spirits and bodies.  Scans of PTSD diagnosed individuals, show brain damage.  It's a type of shrinkage.  This does seems to make some things harder, but it's doesn't make an individual brain dead.  (I repeat, they are NOT brain dead.)  The events that cause PTSD inflict wounds on your spirit, your soul and break your heart. 

    ANYTHING CAN CAUSE PTSD.

    Bad car wrecks, seeing a friend commit suicide, being raped, growing up abused, being in war, being in a tornado, etc.  Anything traumatic... can cause it.  Hell, you (yes you dear reader) may have a mild case of it.  You just don't realize it, because it's attached to something that happened years ago or it's from a only mildly traumatic event.  It can happen.  How many people do you know though that, after being in a car wreck, had a difficult time getting back into a vehicle?  Maybe even terrified for a few to several weeks?

    Some traumatic events, are easier to deal with.  Ones that are spawned by natural events likes storms or earthquakes, can be a lot easier dealt with.  Those are faceless entities.  Those are things that can not (and should not) be controlled.  They happen to everyone at some point.  Other events like war and rape... those haunt the people for the rest of their lives.  Because every face, is that human being that did that horrible thing to you.  Or jihadist.  I can't write from the perspective of a vet fully.  I write as a rape induced PTSD. 

    It took roughly a year to acknowledge that they had happened and there were a lot of mistakes made.  Many of them complicating the initial trauma, though had I realized it sooner, I could have avoided most of them.  Had a car wreck in that time period too.  Took me weeks to be able to get into a car without wanting to vomit. 

    However, I share a few things with a vet/active military with PTSD.  Among them being, is this person a threat?  Whose around me? Where are my squadmates/fire team/battle buddy? You get stuck into high alert.  Anyone and anything could be a threat.  What's worse, is when you start seeing those faces of those who you saw hurt you (or someone) start appearing on the bodies of people you know aren't them.  You become hyper-attentive.  And exhausted, which means the nightmares and insomnia.

    I had grown up in an abusive situation, so I never could stand a large number of people in my personal space.  I hated being in public.  I was one of those tomboys that wanted left alone in her hammock and with her books.  Still do, but I don't wear the baseball cap all the time nowadays.  But after the rapes, I couldn't handle groups of three or more people around.  I used to hang out at the Science Fiction conventions.  That can't happen anymore.  Some of my most awesome friends, that's the only time I could see them.
 
    It's hard to touch people.  I have lived at home for the past year or so.  I've given my dad maybe one hug and my mom, maybe a dozen.  I can't even hug my dad.  I can handle one person touching me, and that's my fiance.  But he knew what he was getting into with me.  (Marine for the win!  Damn I love my man!) Yeah, the rape victim with PTSD is marrying the vet without it.  Hey, I never said my life's been normal.  He's learning what my warning signs are.  There's not been a time where I've had to separate myself from him for a couple of hours to decompress yet, but I know it'll probably happen. 

    Because I know that something will act as a trigger, that seems innocent and harmless to someone else but to me it sends me into a trip onto memory lane that I didn't need.  Triggers are a pain in the ass.  So is the insomnia.  Most of the sleep I get, it's because I just got that exhausted.  24 hours a day, I sleep maybe 2-5 of them.  Hell, some nights none.  I just lay there, eyes closed, keeping my over active imagination on positive happy things.  Meditating...oh boy.  I had to re-learn the basics and am still re-learning them.  It's good for you, because once you nail the basics you can take those steps and sped them up to help yourself calm down.

    Here's the thing.  I know mine...won't go away.  The terror I felt at first once everything had sunk in, lasted for months.  I would double, triple, quadruple checked door locks and window locks.  I was terrified, a mutual friend would let it slip where I was and here we go again.  I had/have knives of several sizes and types.  I always have a knife.  Except when flying. (YOU BASTARDS!)  And yes, I almost committed suicide.  I know what that darkness looks, feels and smells like.  Why am I still here?  Friends, that talked to me day in and day out.  Friends, that gave me a cat.  She's a wonderful little momma cat, that is my PTSD animal companion. 

    PTSD service animals, are good things. (There's BattleBuddy.org , if you'd like more information on the PTSD service dogs for yourself or to help other vets gain such an animal.)  If it wasn't for my cat, I wouldn't have made it in the shape that I did.  Even as I've written this, she's been nearby occassionally trilling at me when I've gotten too serious. 

    PTSD, in many cases, doesn't go away.  Period.  You get stronger and it gets easier to deal with, but everyone has bad days.  Days where you're better off taking an animal to the back yard and tossing the ball or catnip toy for them.  Ignoring the internet for the day.  Avoiding TV, movies, books that stirs up your emotions and just dealing with it.  Yeah, I'm suffering at times.  But suffering, as I've learned from the myths of Old in my study as a Witch, makes us stronger. 

    I won't let my PTSD rule me.  Oh, believe me, I fell apart horribly until I started accepting the fact that:
A) Yeap, that shit happened.  Damnit.  
B) I'm losing parts of my life to this.  Aw hell no.  
C) A part of me is dead.  That can't come back, that's not going to change.  It's gone.  
D) I will not let this weaken me.  I will become stronger and it will help me do so.

    I became stronger, when I admitted I had this.  Because at that point, it became just another challenge to pit myself against and overcome.   It lost it's power over me.  The mountain, became just a long set of foot hills and small ridges.  I will always be careful of whose at my back.  Of whom I'm around when I'm eating out or drinking at home.  I will always have that small fear, that it'll happen again.  But, I will always have that anger that I have that fear and I will let it drive me forward to being able to have the life I choose. 

    Trauma can poison you.  Kill you completely.  It can become a sheer cliff, that you're stuck at the bottom of.  Or, you can become you're own antidote.  Yes, you have parts of yourself that are dead.  Lay them to rest as best you can.  Grieve for yourself.  Grieve for what you lost, but look forward at what there is to gain.  There is always something to be gained.

    For me, it was a different perspective.  A dangerous one, for a civilian female to have according to some folks, but a different one none the less.  For me, it was strength to be able to stare back at life and tell it, you hit like a sissy boy.  For me, I gained my freedom back.  You learn powerful, difficult lessons from trauma.  They can be powerful guides to other people, as long as you're willing to acknowledge them and accept that you learned them. 

    From teaching others, you will find yourself again.  I know it's like looking at a broken mirror, and you want the cracks to go away right now(!) but it takes time.  It takes you being patient with yourself.  I know my mirror is still cracked...but not as badly as it once was.  And those cracks are still healing, will keep healing and only I am have the power to stop their healing or keep it going.  Just like everyone else with it.  

It. Can. Be. Done.