Sharp Objects – Put Them Down

scars2

I have had a win that I would like to share.

I have not self harmed for over 3 months now. My legs are finally beginning to heal. There are scars – angry red and pink bumps – that remind me every day to stop. Go do something else. Meditate, read – anything other than ripping into my skin and watching it bleed.

It hasn’t been easy. The last year has been incredibly difficult. But I’m a 55 year old woman who self harms, and I’m tired of being mortified every time someone catches a glimpse of what I’ve done to myself. It’s ugly and the scars will never go away.

But the feeling of control when I can stop myself from hurting myself is truly empowering. It simply occurred to me that I was able to stop biting my nails when I was eighteen after gnawing them down to the nail bed throughout my childhood. I was able to stop smoking after an entire lifetime of sucking down poison. I’ve hurt my body enough.

Can I keep it up? I’m giving it my very best. I’m proud of coming this far. My legs are still ugly, but the wounds are healing. There are no open wounds or infections. This is a win.

I’m grateful.

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A Stroke of Relief

insomnia

It’s been a tough week.

I’ve been waiting for ML to fall apart, get angry, shut down…something. I’m actually worried by the fact that he simply carries on.

Until Thursday morning.

ML makes light of it, and has learned to live with it, but he had a stroke when he was 11 years old. It occurred in the right hemisphere of his brain and was caused by a faulty heart valve (since repaired), and means the left side of his body is compromised. Without going into a lot of detail, he has no feeling down the left side of his body, and had to relearn all the basics of life after the age of 11 – walking, talking, reading…everything. His parents spent hours working with him, and if you met him and didn’t know, you’d have a hard time picking it.

I see it. When he’s tired, the left side of his face droops, his limp is just slightly more pronounced, and he has more trouble with his left hand. All things I look for daily.

brain

You see, I live in terror of him having another stroke or heart attack. He’s been well cared for and tested all his life by a couple of great cardiologists and for the most part, it doesn’t worry him.

It worries me. Every. Single. Day. It also made him the man he is today. It made him the man I fell madly in love with. Kind, compassionate, honest, caring, and self deprecating. It was an accident that brought sorrow, pain, and these gifts.

Thursday morning – 3:00 am – he came stumbling from the bedroom toward the toilet – sweat pouring from every inch of his body. He was incoherent, and passed out on the hall floor – falling face down on the hard cold tiles. Terror much? I don’t move too fast these days so it took me a minute (it felt like an hour) to get to him. He was in agony – but couldn’t tell me what was wrong.

He was finally able to stand (leaning heavily on me), and I got him to the sofa. I went through the FAST list. If you’re not familiar with it – get familiar. Please.

F.A.S.T. stands for:

  • F – Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • A – Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S – Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • T – Time to call an ambulance: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call for help and get them to the hospital immediately.

He was fine. Nice even smile (well it was a grimace actually), arms up, knew the date and who our current PM was – all good. Just horrible stomach cramps, felt extremely ill, sweating like crazy. Not a heart attack either, so I started breathing again.

manflu

We think he had a case of food poisoning. ML very rarely gets sick, but when he does, it’s bad. Man flu is a real thing in this house.

After several hours and some tea and toast he was fine – tired and sore, but fine.

Me? Not so much. That feeling of absolute terror of losing this wonderful man is just under the surface every day. We have our issues, our ups and downs, just like everyone else, but the thought of losing him to a stroke or heart attack at such an early age turns me into a mess of anxiety. And with everything that he’s been through over the past year, one could almost expect him to implode or fall to pieces.

I know I can’t spend life holding my breath, expecting the worst, but I do. He brushes it off as though it were nothing, and I’m just being dramatic. Probably. It’s my personality. But he has to realize that losing him would be catastrophic for the people who are relying on him right now. And yes, I do know it’s wrong and selfish of me to think this way. I hate that I do.

Don’t think badly of me please. I did spend a lot of years working right alongside ML – living life on the same level and building a life and a future. I know I’ve done what I could. I wish I could have done more, been more of an equal partner, but my body and mind won’t let me be who I was 10 years ago. I hate being this dependent on anyone. It makes me crazy. And angry.

exhale

I not only love ML, I need him. Too much. Am I becoming too much to bear? This past week has made me rethink how we’re living our lives at the moment. It’s not fair to expect one person to carry this massive load of unhappiness and pain.

For now, he’s OK. He has simply picked himself back up and has carried on. Lunch with his Dad today and any errands that need doing. No, he’s not superman or a saint, but he is pretty damn special.

I AM grateful.

Chaos Theory

chaos

In light of the state of our lives at this time, I’ve been wondering if there is something we’re doing – or not doing – that keeps flipping us into further disarray.

I had a light bulb moment a few years ago – while in Psychiatric hospital actually. It was something Jane Caro had written in an interview she had done with Marie Claire. She believes that order is never guaranteed in life, but chaos is. Danger is guaranteed, safety is not.

It’s something I think about a lot now, and realize just how true it is. We can do everything possible to safeguard ourselves against the raging storms inside and outside our lives, but we cannot keep them out. The key to survival is how we react, act, and adjust.

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So perhaps our current chaos is a result of our emotional states. Both ML and I are only just barely dragging along. We’ve lost our joy, we’ve lost our cohesiveness. We’ve forgotten what we promised each other when we were first starting out as a couple. Improvise and compromise.

Do we lose out ability to improvise and compromise as we age, or is it something we’ve lost little by little after each car crash we’ve weathered? More importantly, how do we get it back?

I was far more easy going at the beginning of our marriage. My life changed so dramatically I simply had to roll with the punches or I would have lost my mind. I let things roll off my shoulders then that make me crazy now. Am I allowed to expect things to go my way now and again after years of keeping my mouth shut?

I do know I feel incredibly guilty for being an energy absorber rather than an energy giver. I suck the life out of the room a lot. Pain and depression will do that to a person. I’ve been looking to ML to create a balance – make more energy flow to make up for my lack of “up”. I now realize that’s a pretty shitty thing to expect of him right now.

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I lost my parents 18 (Mom) and 8 (Dad) years ago. I’ve been living with that grief for years now. It hasn’t got any easier for me, but I have changed slightly to accommodate that sadness. ML has only just dipped his foot in that horrible painful pool.

And he certainly has not had time to grieve. He’s far too busy juggling the 143 balls he juggles daily, all while keeping sane and not falling into a sobbing wet heap. He’s not allowed to. I did. I was allowed. I was given the time.

So, into all this garbage swirling around our heads right now, more garbage is bound to be attracted and join the flow. Chaos attracting chaos? Or personalities attracting chaos? How do we stop, or at least slow down the flow.

I truly believe if we just had a chance to stop for a little while and catch our collective breaths, we could get ahead of the storm just enough to stock up on supplies. We’re both exhausted. We’ve lost each other somewhere along the way. We need to find our way back home, back to each other, back to improvising and compromising.

dance

We need to laugh together again, to dance together again, to hold each other up when the storms blow. We’ve lost our way somehow in all the chaos.

I’m sure we’re not alone in this. The difference is that I’m going to fight to get back to a place of some peace and joy. I have to. I have no alternatives. Til death us do part. I meant those words. I’m standing by them. I’m going to give it my best shot anyway. But I need to figure out how to do it without losing little strips of myself along the way.

 

 

Breathe

blackmoon

We thought we had a moment. ML and I thought we had made a start on getting everything sorted after a very bad year.

After losing ML’s Mum and grieving our way through that, him drowning in paperwork and logistics, putting his Mum to rest while holding everything and everybody else together, we thought we had some time to breathe.

Dad was finally in his new unit, the family home was sold, years and years worth of “stuff” sorted and dealt with. It was finally slowing down a bit. Not quite “normal”, but what’s normal?

Then on the weekend Dad had a fall. Quite a serious fall, but he didn’t call ML. He simply went to bed, and when ML showed up for lunch on Sunday he was greeted by a head wound, two black eyes, a half dozen bruises and abrasions, and a man who could barely breathe he was in so much pain.

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So, back to the hospital. After being checked over, no head injury, but bruised ribs, and after a CT scan, a “mass” on his lung. A lifelong smoker – we’re worried. But as it was a public hospital, he was sent home and the “system” ground to a halt – waiting for more tests. And we worry. So now, it’s fighting the medical machine again for something – anything. And ML’s life is tossed into stormy waters once again.

But that wasn’t enough. Yesterday, due to cuts in government funding, ML lost his job. On the way home, he had a car accident. He’s fine (well, unhurt), but the car’s a mess, and here we are again – treading in dark waters – trying to keep our heads up.

holding

I need to hold it together. ML needs me to be small, not needy. But all the normal shit goes on. I need to see a Dr this week to get my pain meds. I’m seeing my Psych in a couple of weeks. I need more help with the darkness. I’ve got an appointment with the Pain Clinic at the end of the month. It never stops.

We thought we had some time to reconnect, concentrate on us for a while. We were looking to buy a house. We were moving forward again. Two steps forward and three steps back.

I don’t know how ML keeps going. He goes off to bed at 9:00, up at 7:00, and out the door. I can’t move. I actually made a start on getting things clean and organized yesterday. I have a room full of crap, a garage full of crap…I got two loads of laundry done. It’s now sitting here on the chair beside me waiting to be folded and put away.

It’s not happening today. I’m in pain, I’m spiraling back down into the darkness. I can’t stop it. I haven’t slept. I can’t breathe. My heart is pounding and I can’t think.

crackedWhat now? I don’t know. I want to disappear for a while, but I want to be as supportive as I can be. I don’t want to be needy and useless. I want to breathe. I want to help ML breathe. We need to keep going. But where are we going now?

All I know is that I need to hold on tight to the man I love and do the very best I can. And wait for a break. Something. We’ve earned it haven’t we?

Breathe.

Fragrance Friday – Fruity!

citrus

With Spring and Summer just around the corner, I’ve been putting my heavier winter scents away – my comfort scents – and pulling my lighter and brighter sunny fragrances.

I have a couple of favourites but I’m finding them all a bit too light and fleeting for my new nose. I’ve evolved, and I’ve learned to love heady blends, full of spice and dried fruit, some woods, and yes even some strong florals.

I suppose as I’ve started taking a few chances on fragrances I would never have spritzed before, some of my old friends are feeling a little weak and fleeting.

bottles

Bright citruses are beautifully refreshing on a hot day, but hard to get right. I love a strong grapefruit note, but they’re really hard to find, and often a citrus or fruit fragrance done badly can end up smelling of candies or, worse, cough syrup.

I suppose I will still need some of my heavy scents for bedtime – I need to still be able to smell the final gasps of drydown when I wake up in the morning. Nothing makes waking up easier than the gorgeous ghost of last night’s fragrance.

And because most of the truly pretty summery scents tend to be a bit weak, I find myself spraying A LOT – which means the contents of these precious bottles disappear much quicker.

So, do I stick with cheap and cheerful so I can spray with abandon, or keep trying to find a summer fragrance with enough heft to last through the night and only requires a small spritz or two.

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I recently won a discovery package of fragrance samples from a Niche house – Metascent. Niche means $$, so they’re generally out of reach on my budget, but one of these samples stood out and I fell a little bit in love.

It’s called Chandra and features osmanthus and peach on a lovely creamy bed of tonka, benzoin and tea. Osmanthus smells of apricots – freshly picked not dried up and wrinkly – and peaches…well the smell of a true peach is divine. This peach note is just the right balance of sweet and tart, and you can almost smell the warmth of the sun in the fruit as though just plucked from the tree.

peaches

When I was a kid in Canada, we’d spend a couple of weeks each summer in British Columbia – usually during stone fruit season. Apricots, peaches, cherries, nectarines, plums – all in abundance and ready to feast on. I can still clearly recall the sensation of eating a still warm peach, the slight bitterness making my teeth tingle, and the juice running down my face and arm. Fruit heaven.

So finding this note so beautifully replicated in a fragrance was like finding an olfactory treasure.  But at a niche price, I just couldn’t do it.

chandra

Until they put it on sale. Then my peach was within reach. Warm, fuzzy, juicy and refreshing, but with the heft of a quality fragrance. And yes, it’s still there in the morning.

I’m grateful.

#BLOODNORMAL

Not sure whether to laugh or cry. In a world where the news is so graphic at times that it sets off a panic attack. This – THIS – is making news!?!? Really????

When women – and especially young woman (oh yes I remember) are too ashamed to talk about their periods, how on earth are they going to get the help they need? If you can’t talk to your Mom or a friend, then you probably can’t talk to a Doctor.

https://lovelibra.com/au/blood-normal/

Ad Standards has dismissed a variety of complaints regarding Libra’s #bloodnormal campaign which shows women going about their everyday lives whilst on their period and includes shots of a woman showering with blood running down her leg, a pad demonstration using red liquid, and a woman removing a pad.

Ad Standards confirmed to Mumbrella it had received over 600 complaints about the ad, putting it above the previous leader for the year – a trailer for the horror film Us – which had 244 complaints. The most-complained-about ad of 2018, a Sportsbet campaign featuring a man ‘man-scaping’, had 793 complaints.

The list of complaints against Libra largely revolved around the appropriateness of showing representations of menstrual blood during prime-time television hours, with many concerned about their children and teenage sons viewing the ad. Complainants used the terms ‘appalled’, ‘offensive’, ‘degrading’, ‘confronting’ and ‘explicit’ in their complaints.

One complainant also wrote: “Bodily secretions shouldn’t be shown on TV ads. I wouldn’t expect a toilet paper advertisement to show faeces on toilet paper, or an advertisement showing nasal secretions for tissues.”

Another complainant stated that the depiction of young women in the advertisement may appeal to paedophiles.

“It is also extremely offensive and inappropriate to show young teenage girls, between the ages of 12 to 16, getting their period, with blood dripping down their leg and of them peeling off a period stained pad from their underwear. It appeals to pedophiles to see young girls in this manner and is exposing to young females and extremely dangerous for young girls,” the complaint said.

Libra responded to the accusations of sexualisation directly, stating that “The images of the young women in the TVC are at all times tasteful and sensitive to the relevant audience”.

Libra also stated that the TV broadcast version of the ad received a ‘P’ rating from clear ads, which allows it to be broadcast at any time except during children’s and preschool programs. It also clarified that all of the talent in the advertisement were over the age of 18 at the time of filming.

Libra also defended the intention of the campaign to normalise discussion of periods in society, referencing research it conducted that found 3 in 4 Australian women say there is a stigma attached to having a period and almost 70% of young Australians would rather fail a subject or class than have their peers know they are on their period.

The company said of the ad: “The TVC is encouraging women, men, boys and girls (with guidance from their parents) to imagine a world where women and girls don’t have to hide anymore, where there is no shame attached to changing your pad in a toilet, asking for a pad at a dinner party or carrying your pad without hiding it.”

Issues addressed in the complaints that did not fall under the Ad Standards Code of Ethics included people’s aversion to blood, images of blood that made viewers uncomfortable under the guise of ‘bad taste’, and the hypothetical scenario of toilet paper ads showing images of faeces.

Within the Code of Ethics, the Ad Standards panel addressed complainants concerns that the ads were ‘offensive’ as menstruation is often an issue women like to keep private. The panel ruled that the topic of menstruation is not discriminatory or vilifying, and the women depicted in the advertisement appeared comfortable with themselves and their situation.

The panel noted that the fact there were people who felt the ad was ‘humiliating’ supported the #bloodnormal campaign’s concept that women are made to feel shame about the periods.

The panel was split in considering whether the ad was broadcast at an appropriate time. A minority of the panel considered that in prime time viewing in which a woman could be with her partner, children or parents, the ad could “cause embarrassment and emotional distress”, and proposed after the 8:30 pm time slot to be a more appropriate time for the campaign.

The majority of the panel reflected on Libra’s intention to normalise discussion about periods, and also noted that the average age of girls to begin menstruation was 12. It subsequently ruled that the ad “depicted material in a manner that is sensitive to the relevant broad audience which would likely include children”.

The Ad Standards panel also ruled that the depiction of blood was justifiable in the context of an advertisement for feminine hygiene products.

In addressing the complaints surrounding the sexualisation of the women in the ad, the panel noted that in the scene in the shower and bathroom, only bare legs were visible. Subsequently they ruled that “most members of the community would not consider the depiction of women’s legs in combination with menstruation to be sexually appealing”.

The panel stated that the opinion that the ad would be appealing to paedophiles “was highly unlikely to be shared by most members of the community”.

Subsequently, the panel found that the advertisement did not breach the Code of Ethics and dismissed the complaints.

My Guilt and Why I’m a Crappy Friend

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I have a book with a list of subjects to write about here. Things I think about at 3:00 am when the world is sleeping and I’m having panic attacks and sweating buckets.

First of all – why is it I can’t sleep at night, but I can sleep during the day – albeit in little “snippets”. The sleep is usually fraught with horribly frightening and realistic dreams – full of colour and stories that relay slightly to life at the moment, but make no sense at all. It usually takes me at least half an hour to calm down.

I can’t take valium as I’ve generally had to take pain killers at some point close to “bedtime” which is when my pain really ramps up. I can’t mix the two – I probably could but I just don’t want to go through the possibility of repercussions.

So, big breath….here goes.

jealous

I’m achingly jealous of my girlfriend who has a beautiful grandson. My arms are empty, I want to hear that baby giggle and smell that baby smell and look at that face and think…this came from me. I can’t tell her (although I guess I just did), but it makes me feel like a monster. I want that so desperately. And like a petulant child, I do find myself thinking “it’s just not fair”.

Another very dear friend has a beautiful, clever and willful 16 year old daughter who thinks she’s 30 and can handle it all on her own. We were all like that at 16 weren’t we? She was brutally attacked and raped, and for over an hour my dear friend told me the details and I tried my very best to be caring and supportive.

I think I did OK. I held up through the phone call, gave some advice, listened and cried for this wonderful young lady. Then I hung up the phone.

rapeshame

My life has been full of crossed boundaries, pain, attacks, and trying to do the right thing. It all came crashing in as soon as I hung up the phone. I curled up into a little ball and cried for hours. I can’t explain it to ML. Too many stories, too much pain and guilt and misery. It never goes away and this young woman will never be the same again. It changes you.

My attacks started at four, then at seven, eleven, thirteen….and on and on and on. Yes, I took a lot of chances in my older years and put myself in stupid situations. But I truly believe what I went through as a young girl changed me forever. I didn’t get any therapy until I was in my 20’s, and by then it was well and truly too late.

The worst part of all this is all the times I didn’t report an attack, or harassment, or bullying – or whatever it was – and I know in my heart that the aggressor most assuredly went on to reoffend.  Being a victim, reporting it and going through the process with the police and the court system is like being attacked all over again.

But I couldn’t tell my friend that. Her daughter is in for a world of frustration and torment. But does she need to go through the process to regain her power? Or is it better if she just learns to be more careful and walk away. I truly don’t know the answer.

So I haven’t contacted my friend since and I feel like a total shit. I just don’t know what to say and I can’t deal with this. I want to sit in a chair with my grandchild, read books, sing itsy bitsy spider, and hold on tight.

baby

This week I am a shit. I have done NOTHING around the house. I have not showered. There is an enormous pile of laundry to fold. I barely spoke to ML tonight. He wants me to get excited about the possibility of buying a house, but I truly could not care less.

I want peace. I want wisdom. I want a small slice of joy.

 

 

testamentsMargaret Atwood’s book The Testaments is on hold and waiting for ML to pick it up for me at the library. On Thursday.

I’m grateful.