Conjured Reality


One tends to construct their reality with a balance of the actual situation and its assimilation into a framework of experiences.  Being a highly logical person I needs to understand the relationship and context of the event to fully process the information.  For years I struggled with the lack of logic in behavior, continually looking for patterns to begin to create a foundation of understanding. If one searched long and hard enough a criterion or pattern can be found within anything, although it may lack the needed reasoning. One can conjure a reality from nothing for I had no experience with the behavior I came to find in my home yet I found a pattern to predict it as well as a means for me to process the ramifications.  For years I struggled to discover the reason, the root cause, and the rationale convinced if I found it I could better understand and possibly forgive.  It took so very long to realize there is no logic to mental illness. While there may be a pattern in the behavior, a means to predict the next incident, there is no rationale or reasoning to it. For so many years I worked to accept this and to forgive, which released an immense burden. Forgiveness was such a gift to myself.

I was truly shocked at my reaction when I found that the reasons and foundations for the abusive behavior were not necessary true.  What occurs when the framework you have developed for your reality is based upon lies? When one’s perception of the reason for behavior and the rationale for acceptance was based upon a farce? When that conjured reality was built upon a foundation of falsehoods that are ever shifting?  Does one delve into the real truth at a risk of more pain? Would I really want to consider those moments and revive the memories I had worked so hard to reconcile?

I suppose that is a very personal response and for myself it is yes. I process my reality through knowing the answers and applying any relevant logic, somewhat personal journey to the truth. I had to look long and hard at my forgiveness to see if it was contingent upon this conjured reality or independent of the fact. Although my initial response may have appeared dismissive, it was not based in denial but fear.  I needed to take pause to evaluate both my ability to maintain, my desire to know and my recall of the reality.  While it may be difficult to discuss the incidents and all the pain; physical, emotional and spiritual, I feel that this will be the final step to fully release the burden from that portion of my life.



“Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.” – Nikos Kazantzakis



The Saboteur  


It exists within all of us.  When is speaks with the right tone and intonation, it can help us soar by offering word of encouragement. It can offer us guidance and security when that little voice speaks up, if we would only listen when she spoke.  It sings in joy and happiness and reminds one to be grateful, in those small silent moments when life comes into perfect focus. If only that was the extent of  the voice.

We all know the strength the voice of another can have, the soothing words of a mother can calm an upset child, the words of inspiration at a moment of change, or words of compassion and love.  The same power can be wielded by words in anger, judgment, or hatred. Words that are small in stature yet yield such force they can cause a scar that runs deep.  The strength of those words can fuel that voice which speaks in moments of weakness, the voice which undermines our confidence, which works to alienate and derail us. That voice carries the notes of those who have criticized us, taken aim at our greatest weakness, undermine our confidence and damaged our psyche.

When my saboteur decided to speak, it was with a ferocity that could not be ignored. A vehement call that came with a reminder of all of the scars.  She spoke of the fact all of my choices, no matter what the rational, were wrong. That I not only made them incorrectly but I could not ever overcome the error. I did not stay to protect but I stayed out of fear and weakness.  I was a poor parent who could do little to balance the damage to which I had exposed my children. She reminded me I was broken, beyond repair and my damage rippled out into the lives of others. With a continual outcry of the words of others, she chastised me for all my shortcomings.


“Is there no way out of the mind?”  ― Sylvia Plath

Deconstructing my Fortress


I had worked diligently to shelter myself from many things in life.  I log ago developed a structure to emotionally protect myself, to disengage, to process in solitude.  While I had often written of a fortress the reality is much more like existing within a fallout shelter.  This started early in my life working to protect my emotional balance, seeking refuge within my thoughts.  I learned to be very self-reliant.  This can be both isolating and exhausting as well as a means of survival. I truly understand the role my past has in my present yet it makes it no easier to overcome.  I understand the common civility of a response of “doing well” or “yes, I am alright”; I am the epitome of chin up and bully on. Vulnerability is one of my challenges, seen as a weakness in the armor, I have learned to not show the slightest chink.

This was a challenging week with moderate to excessive work stress, I faced the challenge of single parenting from each of my children, started a new course in my PhD program and worked on a few small home projects.   During the middle of the week, add a sleepless night, a bit of hormonal imbalance to the mix and the little diminishing voice that whispers of all my faults and I was feeling pretty low.  I decided to be open and honest and was  gifted with nothing less than wonderful friendship,  a supportive nonjudgmental ear to listen.

Today I again found myself facing a struggle and I was being  asked if I am alright; my reaction was my typical. Why was my initial response “yes”?  Will I ever not struggle with being vulnerable? Why do I find myself again seeking the security and safety of that shelter? I suppose it is akin to a cat whose tail has been repeatedly stepped upon, he learns to keep it tucked away from the danger, even where none exists. How long does it take that mutt to learn to not fear others?

“It is there within the momentary darkness you can breathe.” ~Brown Bird

The Weight of Complicity


I am perfectly aware that I only control my reaction to situations yet I feel there is some level of accountability on my part.  I struggle with it regularly. Why did it take so long to gain the strength to leave? Why did I change that path and return? I am continually conflicted by the fact that my complicity implied consent.

This is an ever present argument in our society. If the victim didn’t fight hard enough, how their actions lead to the incident, were they in some way accountable? If she didn’t say no, does it imply yes? I am perfectly aware of the logical position and the role victim blaming has in this feud; of course they are in no way responsible. Victim blaming marginalizes the one preyed upon and dismisses their attack to a mere number in a list of casualties while empowering the perpetrator. We have seen this in the media with the why did she stay questions.   Why does the assumption that the victim is accountable the foundation for justifying atrocities? Herein lies my conflict; I would quickly defend a victim and their lack of accountability in any situation yet in my own, I carry a great burden of guilt. Why can I forgive the perpetrator but but myself? Why do I hold myself to a standard I would expect no one else to attain?

As a student of psychology, I understand the foundation of self-blame, being rooted in the need for control over circumstances beyond one’s control.  I truly understand that I did not perpetrate the actions, the hatred and anger was not mine yet I still struggle with my interaction in the situation. I continue to cycle back to this point where I analyze the fallout from my former life. I see the ripples of my past in those in my life. It came to be the clearest recently when I saw one of my children treat the other just as I have heard the father do to me many times before.  Was I not able to buffer then from the situation? Did they see more that I had known? Is this a product of their present interactions with him, independent of me?

The weight of my complicity is such a heavy burden to carry at times a devastating punishment.  I hope that my continual focus on living with compassion, love and forgiveness can continue to lighten what feels like a herculean task.  Will striving to teach my children to live with respect and love serve then better than what they have when they are not with me? Will all of my efforts be in vain?

“Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.”     -Voltaire


Details in the Darkness  


A recent recurrent dream made me think of other incidents from my past. My initial lack of knowledge and experience with PTSD, I was unaware for years that some of the behavior being exhibited were classic symptoms. A small situation, which was seemingly insignificant to many would result in a catastrophe. Many of the mild symptoms can strain even the best of relationships; distance, lack of interest, detachment, irritability, being guarded but the escalation was unimaginable.  I think of it as a perfect storm, not knowing and later not acknowledging he was struggling with PTSD, a refusal of treatment, self-medication through drug and alcohol, extreme self-loathing and guilt would all collide creating psychological and physical wreckage, some of which could never be repaired.

Although I learned many of his triggers, there were some that I never figured out.  One small incident, insignificant to many would precipitate a series of event based on a past of which I was originally unaware. At times I was unaware of the cycle even beginning until it was too late to attempt to diffuse it, although it was often futile. Sometimes it was a dream or recurrent memory that arose for no apparent reason. I often discovered it when he was drinking heavily, typically including other inebriants.  The longer he drank, the darker his mood became. Often at the bottom of a bottle, I would learn his motivation through hatred, anger, and wrath. In that moment of extreme darkness, I learned all the details of his past, the reasons he loathed himself.  In those moments all his emotions turned to rage, generally resulting in extensive time to recover and reclaim what was destroyed.

I suppose my recent recall was founded in the details but my thoughts shifted to the implications, some of which was instant while others took time to see the damage.  I also have thought often of why I tolerated such behavior.  I know there was a very long time where I could have never left yet I still consider the why.  I also understand the psychology of this type of relationship yet it can still make me analyze and question. Maybe there will never be an answer.


“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.”
~Mother Teresa



Damaged Goods


I have struggled with this post for months, revisiting and editing it over and again.  Therefore I will make one final edit with the hopes of setting it free.

I find myself at this junctions again, the point where the voices within my head can undermine my confidence and even force me from my path. I know some of those words have taken roots deep within the foundation of my psyche. Being raised in a house where expectations were high and criticism quick I learned to judge myself before others had an opportunity which is why I moved easily into a relationship where although the motivations were different, the interactions were the same.

I often feel as if I will always be damaged goods.  I suppose I have always felt a bit uncomfortable in my skin, never quite sure where I fit in the world. I am happy with my life, blessed to have people I love deeply, things I enjoy doing but when I leave that security, I do not feel confident in my ability to navigate. Early in life, I learned to observe as to gain an understanding of the social norms as a way to mimic the interactions I was about to try.  I suppose that my life experiences have both helped me learn to navigate the world and find a way to take respite from it too.

I do find comfort with myself, in those moments of silent solitude, I find Peace.Yet I cannot exist solely within those moments, the weight of isolation would be crushing and I seek others.  At times through those interactions, I have moments where the voices in my heart and head begin to speak are no longer stilled.   I understand that some of my voices are mine and mine alone, there to guide me, encouraging growth and reminding me of my journey. Others are the voices of the past, a portion of which was to make me a good person, self sufficient, determined which helped me survive in the moments of darkness. Yet there are still those which were said in moments of vulnerability, as if a strike being delivered at the most inopportune time. Those are the ones which can speak with the greatest volume carrying the power to  discredit and disparage.

I struggle with the contradictory fact that others see me as an ever-constant point of strength yet I often hear that undermining voice reminding me of all the reasons I lack fortitude.  Friends have informed that they never see a reaction and I was always viewed as a bastion of stability and reason.  I suppose that is a result of not been in a healthy relationship for several years, learning to emotionally disengage and search for a logical solution. This can be a  quite useful a skill in many situations, even an emotional survival mechanism yet I want to do more that just survive.   I struggle to remain present, emotionally engaged through the fear all the while the voices are reminding me or my err, my inadequacy.  They remind me  of lessons I have learned; that I have little worth, that despite all my effort, there is a futility in my attempts to build relationships for I do not belong, and   through objectification and inequality I learned to appease to ensure smooth waters.  The voices reminding me of the dysfunction in my previous emotional and physical relationship is an always present thought which continually encourages me to analyze my relationship to others while casting an enormous shadow of self-doubt.  I struggle to silent the voices, to  be present in my listening and not rush to offer a solution, I am challenged to face exchanges and interactions as an opportunity for growth as opposed as a means to assess my short-comings, and I have immense uncertainty when I face intimacy. I have faith that I can love with an open heart, fully and unconditionally yet I fear I am not aware of the subtleties of interactions. I fear that the voices within myself will cause me to miss the voice of another.   I hope and pray I can quite the voices and leave the self-doubt along my journey at some point.

“None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward.

Because we trust. Because we have Faith.”
― Paulo Coelho

Safe Distance


The perpetual feeling of anxiety that comes from living with an unhealthy relationship can be quite pervasive. One does not realize how it permeates every corner of your life until there is distance from the cause. Having lived with an emotionally unstable spouse the cycle ranged from extreme anger directed at me to an attempt to overcompensate for the outrage to extreme distance and isolation. Guilt among other triggers caused a need for him to try and control the situation, typically beginning a cyclic spiral down into the darkness. While I didn’t realize it, I had become hyper-vigilant, able to see many of the clues of the initial stages of a cycle.  I have developed excellent skills at the ability of de-escalation. While I understand the patterns, which is a logical approach, I have never been able to understand the emotional approach to the behavior. How one can treat another person with such hostility and strive to damage their psyche, their dignity, I will never understand.
So today I found myself projected back into the anxiety and fear by a single text. The father of my children, my ex, has had little interaction about their well-being since prior to the divorce so years of little to no interest. His last consistent interaction was when there was a guardian ad litem involved; he quit the asking questions the day the report was filed. When I received a text inquiring about the well-being of the children I instantly felt an overwhelming sense of dread. Any normal situation, which would be perfectly acceptable but knowing history of this behavior all normalcy is out the window.  I inquired, “Why do you ask?”. He responded with his typical attempt to be dismissive when he was attempting to rebound from his guilt and cover his actions, “No reason”.
Being instantly faced with overwhelming anxiety, dread I have not felt for so long,  I realized that the distance has allowed me great perspective.  At that moment I realized my skills has become lax.  Distance from the behavior has afforded me the ability to relax and while I do tend to prefer a bit of planning, I no longer need to weigh the intention of every interaction, no longer fear the intention of every word.  I need to learn that I am safe and secure. I no longer need to fear the fallout from someone else ‘s actions.  I wonder how long a single interaction will project me back into those emotions.
“ It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.” -Aesop