Happy Solstice

Today is the morning of the shortest day of the year.  A time when I usually clean up, simplify, tidy, pray.

I’m grateful for my blessings this year: learning to persevere, my friends.

I’m also grateful for something that happened recently.

In the place cleared by recognizing that I’d already lost my older brother, I found I have other relatives.

I talked to my aunt yesterday, my mom’s sister. She’s had therapy so is pretty real to talk to. We’d made a date (she’s in another time zone) to talk about my father as a young man and my mother and whatever context she could tell me.

She told me some useful things and gave me a lot of support.

Apparently I was right that my father acted out with other women – he’d ‘gotten fresh’ with my aunt (which I think means he made a pass that was more than verbal) and she’d had to kick him hard on the leg to get him off of her. After she told me this, I remembered, I’d seen the scar and heard the story from his perspective, which was mostly in the line that my mom’s crazy bitch sister had kicked him in the leg and left a scar. It’s a big scar, maybe 4 or 5 inches long, and pretty wide and red. I told my aunt “good for you” for giving it to him.

She told me she made a point of telling her sons to keep their kids away from my dad, and why. She confirmed the story I’d heard about my other aunt and my dad saying something awful to her too, but said I’d have to ask her directly for the details.

She explained a bit about their upbringing, and how they’d been raised to do whatever your husband wanted, and that their mom would be very angry at any show of disloyalty by her daughters to their husband. This tells me a bit about how my mom might have been cut off from support for leaving my dad. I also was able to explain to her what I wanted from my mom. My aunt and I agreed that my mom probably wouldn’t be able to face the enormity of what happened, that she’d be stuck in this workaholic avoidance for a long time. I told her I felt it was loving to not write her off, to believe she could do it, even though it was unlikely. I think she got it. She knows my mom better than I do.

She asked me essentially if I would ever heal, as if she thought I hadn’t, and I told her in one sense I already had, probably ten years ago. I gave her an example of a person getting in a car crash as the driver, where the passenger was killed. I said “would they think about it, on and off for the rest of their lives? probably. It’s not something you’d even want to forget, something that important. Would they still have feelings come up about it from time to time when they were reminded? Of course they will. What happened to me was many traumatic events like that, so there are more reminders and more feelings. However, essentially it’s as healed as it would ever be.  I think I’m getting better at explaining it.

She asked me about confronting my abuser. I told her I’d reported him to the police and how that had all gone down. I said I didn’t think I wanted to talk to him personally about it, because he’s so creepy I thought he might make it worse by telling me something more that I didn’t know. I told her about the scar tissue, and about planning to sword dance on his grave. She said she’d be happy to come and hold the circle for me when I did that, and so would her kids and my uncle and his family. This brings tears to my eyes even today.

So I seem to have lost a brother and gained some aunts and an uncle and some cousins. Not too bad, actually. I had dinner last night with my other brother, who is a good guy. He works in the alcohol industry and his job essentially requires him to be a party guy, so I worry a bit about his alcohol consumption, but he’s a stand up guy, and I avoid judging him as much as I can.

I had a birthday party this week, and eight people were able to make it, which is a miracle, really for December. We had a really nice time, just having dinner in a restaurant, but with lots of good food and talk. I felt connected.

Yesterday one of my friends gave me an drum lesson on the Irish hand drum (the Bodhran) which was fun and I did pretty well at. It seems like a good bardic instrument.

So today, I am grateful for my family and my friends.

Happy Solstice and Yule Everyone.

Blessed be.

Hard time

I’m having a rough time. Losing my older brother has really sent me into grief. First my mother hasn’t responded to my letter in over a year, and now my brother seems to have written me off.  My wife and I sent off our ‘solstice letter’ to a bunch of people with Christmas cards, mostly her relatives, and to my mom and brother and a few of my relatives as well. I got a birthday card from my mom with some cash in it. This, from my mom’s perspective, is an insult, as she loves to shop and makes a big deal about buying gifts.

I’d really rather she never give me anything at all, and actually we’re not buying gifts this year, just donating to charity in honour of both my wife’s family (this is what they want) and my own (who probably will hate it, since they’re materialistic, but whatever). One of the charities we selected is one that provided me with free counselling and help making my police report about twenty years ago, so it feels good to be in a position to give back.

My rough time is just the grief, and the feeling of being relatively alone with it. It’s not like anything major has happened recently, like someone dying, or losing a job or being injured, it’s just old grief catching up to me.

One thing I wanted to ask about. Do any of you other survivors have trouble with exercise?

I’m afraid of exercise because I often have a strong emotional reaction when I do. Lifting weights, I get really angry afterward, and feel volatile. Doing Kung Fu, it gets hard or stretches the wrong thing and I break down in sobs. Trying to run, I get scared. Doing yoga, I break into tears, not gentle quiet tears I can hide, but wracking sobs I have stuff down until I can sneak to the bathroom to let them out. I don’t do much in the way of exercise as a result. I can go for long walks with no bad effects, and can dance, and that’s about it. Anyone else have issues with exercise?

I’d really like to find a bodyworker / massage therapist that I could work out the stuff stored in my body with. They’d have to be someone who knew about the abuse and would be able to be compassionate and not shut me down if I went into a flashback, but instead actively chase down the stored gunk and process it.

I felt near tears all day, and am a bit better now. I took some B vitamins, which I haven’t been doing lately, and which seems to help a lot. I feel better, now, a few hours later. My wife is working on her health stuff, but doesn’t have a lot of comforting to spare, and I don’t have much in reserve for myself right now. Thank Goddess I’m not a mother. I think I might be depressed – I feel foggy-brained and stupid, as well as teary. I’m just over my period, so I don’t think it’s hormones.  This week is my birthday, and I’ll be seeing some good friends, so that’s good.

Anyways, I wanted to explain why I haven’t been writing or commenting much lately. I’m going to be okay, but I just don’t have much extra right now.

Body Memories of Strangulation

I haven’t been on this blog much lately because I was writing my novel. I did it! I finished 50,000 words in one month. Yay for me. I took a break from the singing practice during novel writing month and hope to come back.

[Abuse triggers]

Lately the big issue for me is strangulation.

I’ve been having body memories from when I was strangled. I wasn’t sure at first if it was a body memory (I don’t have a lot of them) or just a sore neck in a place that made me think of when I was strangled when I was about 6. So being the kind of person who likes to know what I’m dealing with, I did some internet searching on long term effects of strangulation. I was wondering if the pain I was feeling was some kind of long term effect.

Kind of a mistake, although maybe not.

I remember being strangled into unconsciousness from pressure on the front of my throat. I was fairly young, maybe 5-7. I remember the pain, struggling to breathe and not being able to take in air, and passing out. I passed out long enough that I was disoriented and he was gone. I was in shock or quite disoriented for a day or two afterward.

What my internet search told me about this is that I survived attempted murder.
My air was definitely cut off, and perhaps blood to my brain as well.

Here are some immediate effects:

  • Abrasions, lacerations, contusions, or edema to the neck, depending on how the patient was strangled
  • Subconjunctival and skin petechiae cephalad to the site of choking (Tardieu spots)
  • Severe pain on gentle palpation of the larynx, which may indicate laryngeal fracture
  • Mild cough
  • Stridor
  • Muffled voice
  • Respiratory distress
  • Hypoxia (usually a late finding)
  • Mental status changes (short term -restlessness or combativeness, long term  – amnesia, psychosis (hallucinations))
  • I definitely had the larynx pain. I don’t know what else. Hypoxia is a shortage of oxygen in the tissues. Cerebral Hypoxia which can cause confusion and fainting. I have these constant, recurring nightmares where I am trying to get help but am confused and can’t successfully do whatever I’m trying to do, usually get away or call for help on the phone or some other way.  I think when I came to I was very confused.

    Apparently depending on how much blood supply is cut off, a person can lose consciousness in as little as 10 seconds, if the strangulation happened for longer, I’d have been dead. Strangulation, according to the sources I looked at,  typically has very subtle marks, even when it is severe. Even people who were killed by strangulation might not have much in the way of marks. There might not even be bruising, which tends to lead law enforcement to underestimate the severity of the attack. Women are far more likely to be strangled by men than men are by men, since the person doing it has to be a lot stronger.

    I can’t find the reference now that really hit home for me. It said something like if the victim was strangled for a short while they might lose consciousness and then regain it quite quickly when the strangulation was released. If the person was strangled for a little longer, and lost consciousness for longer, then they were very close to serious brain damage and death. That was me.

    What was different for me this time is that I’m feeling less separate from what happened to me. I used to feel these things as happening to my child self, with an intellectual sense of it having happened to me. Now, I think it is finding the scars on my vulva. These things happened to me.

    I told my therapist my full memory of being strangled, went into the body memory and described it to her. The pain in my throat was bad, and over the course of the session it dissolved. My larynx still aches from time to time, when I get triggered, but is a lot better.

    No WONDER singing has been such a struggle for me. No wonder I’ve had these constant dreams of being confused. I sure hope I’m going to have more of these body memories. I know there’s more, unfortunately. I guess the only way out is through. They’re validating but painful.