“Paint a Turd”

•May 10, 2012 • 14 Comments

A while ago my EMDR therapist gave me an assignment to “paint something hideous.” I was more terrified at that notion than if she had said “go memorize every muscle and bone in the human body and recite them backwards while hanging upside down from your pinky toe.”

What the hell?

I can’t explain it. Okay yes I can. I lied. I am a perfectionist. My inner critic hates everything I do, even if it admits later, that something came out alright. I am a nun, shaking her ruler, glaring and WHAP goes the ruler across the hand. YOU SUCK. So then how is it that paint comes out of my hands and out of the brush and onto the canvas and doesn’t look like the worst thing I have ever seen? Usually, because I am copying some other person’s work! Copying a photo. Beep beep. Robot artist.

But “paint something hideous.” Now that is impossible. That assignment has appeared, at least 7 or 8 times on my daily “to do” list. It keeps getting circled as undone. Scooted off the page of today. And the person rewriting it on the next day’s page is hiding a devilish grin, knowing, that this assignment won’t survive. No hope at being scratched out today. Better add it on to tomorrow. And the next day. And in June.

When I saw my EMDR therapist on Monday, and announced I had not yet painted something hideous, she handed me a pen and paper and said, “Here, draw something ugly. As ugly as you’d like.”

I just sat there. Mouth on floor. “I can’t” the snotty little bitch voice in me said.

Then I cheated. I drew something that had “appeared” mysteriously on my bathroom window. Something I am 99.99999999% sure I did not draw, but it was there, and no other ghost will cop to it. That is a subject, and a photo, for another post.

She crumpled up the paper and said “use your right hand.” At which point I drew big round eyeballs in the dark. The whites of them peeking upwards and slightly stage left. The eyes were under ground, blanketed in darkness. Yet open. Above ground was the sun. The eyes, shyly looking up at it.

ET says, “So, is that maybe someone who is in the dark, yet has the knowing, that the sun is out there?”

Man I hate therapists sometimes.

I left feeling agitated. The next night, I had dinner with a good friend of mine who invariably has me laughing even at the worst of times. And he gave me a new assignment.

“Paint a turd.”

A what?

“A turd. A big heaping pile of shit. Paint that.”

My face lit up. Oh my god! I WILL paint a turd! A hairy, moldy, steamy and disgusting plop of shit. I told him thank you. And now, that I felt I had “an assignment.” A direction. Something, yet nothing, to paint. A turd, I can do. Something “abstract” and from the heart, NOT. “Allowing my soul to speak through my brush?” NOT. Use the colors of my imagination? NOT. Let go, let God? NOT.

But a turd? That is something concretely hideous. Requiring no special blending skills. No deep knowledge of history of painting poo. No specific details. The sky is the limit! That I can do. Because that will make me laugh. And there is NO way to make a turd beautiful. Or is there? I don’t know. But the good news is, it doesn’t matter. I can’t “polish a turd.” Right?

That’s my next assignment. I promise to post. I want to share my hideous turd with you.

Thanks for being here,

The Cockroach

Copyright © 2018 Kissing The Cockroach All Rights Reserved.

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Soul Popsicles

•May 3, 2012 • 7 Comments

Caught a star shining brightly in the fire. I could stare at fire for hours and never get bored. It tells a story, a burning dance of details. Ever changing. Whispering in the night. Constantly moving. Making music. Boldly facing darkness.

After 3 months of EMDR therapy, it became time to help my boyfriend understand why I am putting myself through this. He has been home for the last few weeks, and therefore has seen “the look” I have after returning home from EMDR Mondays. Kind of like a wet paper towel that has been dried in the microwave. Crusty around the edges. No more soaking power left.

My ET offered to meet with him, and help explain what EMDR is, and why it is so important for a person to “process” past trauma in order to successfully live life in the present moment. If it were up to him, he’d hand me a 5 page instruction booklet called “Get Over It” and all would be grand.

But he went. He took my appointment on EMDR Monday and was there for nearly 2 hours. I felt sick to my stomach the entire time he was there. Waiting for a text, or a call. Some sign that he was coming home. Or perhaps instead bolting for the next train to Mexico. That bitch is crazy. I’m outta here.

When I saw ET yesterday, we debriefed on how things went with him. She started by telling me that he cares for me very much. (But?) And that he does not understand what “this” all means, and why I am continuing, what to him, seems like slow torture. More self inflicted wounds.

Our EMDR session was all about finding my voice. I told her that I feel “choked” when it comes to speaking my mind, saying “no” or making choices and decisions. I had always been good at it in business. A  solid persona who presented a face of fearlessness and confidence. In social circles, I was funny, outgoing and conversational.

But inside, I am mute.

She asked me to trace that back as far as I could in my mind. I didn’t expect to crumble into a hot mess of tears and candy cane posture. But I did. I hate thinking about my childhood. I don’t want to hate it. I want to be over it already. Where is that 5 page manual? I want it not to be about my “inner child” and growing up in a chaotic household. I want to not care about the men who took from me without my permission. I want to not still be affected by the bitches who bullied me in school. I want to stop blaming the past for the present. But the truth is, when I allow myself to tumble backwards into the body and mind of an 8, 11, 15 year old, I am wounded. My mouth is stitched shut with self-imposed barbed wire. I do not deserve to speak.

My jaw is clenched hard. I am making big heavy swallows. Swallowing the burden. Throat is cut off. Breath is held. My head turns inward, folding in on itself. My body is a crushed cereal box. Smooshed. I open my mouth but nothing comes out. No wonder I threw up for twenty years.

ET asks me to open my eyes. I can’t. They are cemented closed by tears and fear. “Is there anything in this room that makes you feel unsafe?” She asks. I answer, in 5 year old voice, “No?” Even my “No’s” ask permission to be uttered.

When I got home yesterday I made a promise to myself that I would SPEAK to my boyfriend about his visit with the EMDR therapist, and about what this was all about. It took about 30 minutes for any words to come out of my mouth. We’ve been together 6 years. You’d think it would be easier to talk. But to someone who has not experienced this themselves, none of it makes much sense. Why dredge up the past? Why re-traumatize yourself? Why do you let things affect you so much? Why can’t you just GET OVER IT?

Indeed. Why.

Because I want to help others. And before I can help others, I have to help myself. Cliche aside. I have to get through to the other side of the deep crack in the mountain. I can’t stop now. The ball is rolling. I have jumped. The wound has been slashed. The memories are coming. The recognition of just how long I have been buried underneath this suffocating blanket of shame and terror is burning brightly. Listen to me. See me. Acknowledge me. Then let me go.

The popsicles are beginning to melt. Their various colors are swirling amongst each other, sharing tales of their long frozen captivity inside my soul.

“I’ve been stuck in her throat, what about you?” Says Silence.

“I’ve been trying to wake her up by stabbing her in the back.” Says Pain.

“My name is Love. I have been lighting matches near her heart. I think the flame has finally ignited.”

And then slowly, a figure from around the dark corner turns in slow deliberate motion towards the fire. Soft light flickers on her face. It’s covered in thick scars, that in the orange shadows appear to be glowing. The color of bright burning embers.

She smiles.

“I’m the Cockroach. I’ve just been waiting for her to give me a second chance.”

Kissing,

The Cockroach

Copyright © 2018 Kissing The Cockroach All Rights Reserved.

It Takes What it Takes

•May 3, 2012 • 8 Comments

I never thought I deserved a diagnosis of Chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I thought that since so much time had passed, and since I had made so many mistakes and awful decisions in life, I “deserved” the punishment of being miserable. I managed to blame myself for things that I had absolutely no control over, while faithfully forgiving anyone who had wronged me. As if by purging those resentments, I might find healing and be able to let go of the sadness and self hatred. Of course, logically and intellectually, I could reason with myself that some things were not my fault. I could read about others who had had way worse lives than me and empathize with them as though I had gone through it myself. As though I had gone through it. Myself.

When I got into the accident with the bus, life as I knew it was turned upside down. All of a sudden, I could not use work as a hamster wheel technique of not thinking. Focus on work. Do a good job. Wake up and go to work. Work, work, work. I also lost my other crutch….the gym. Work work work, workout workout workout. Two of my major mind-numbing activities were knocked out from under me.

But then came the last mortal blow. Alcohol. Stuck at home and unable to walk, I still managed to drink myself silly. I had a huge case against the bus company. Little me against the government. And what did I do? In a black out, on pain killers, muscle relaxers and Two Buck Chuck, I got in my car and (apparently) drove to get more beer.

I woke up in jail. Staring up at the fluorescent lights and hearing the CLANG of the doors again and again. I was laying on a bench. Oh my god. What did I do? I sat up and looked around. What time is it? It took me a few minutes to realize I was not dreaming. Is this what it took, God?

I had crashed my car into not one, but two parked cars. Thank God I did not kill anyone. My car was totaled. When I saw it the next day, I could not believe my eyes. I thought I would be able to zip out of the parking lot. It was beyond totaled. And so was I.

So the stage was set. Physically disabled. Unable to work. Unable to drive. Unable to numb out through exercise or bulimia. I dropped the case against the bus company, much to the horror of all in my life, because as soon as they found out I had a second accident and it was a DUI, the defense attorney smiled a slow, Grinch-like grin, saying “See you in court, young lady.” I had no idea at the time that I had an eye witness of the bus hitting me. I was too involved in my own shame to understand that the bus accident had nothing to do with my past. I could not face being dragged through a hearing and having my life picked apart. If you have read any other parts of this blog….you probably know why. My secrets were too many. I had no idea that the law worked differently than my mind. I thought I would be burned at the stake.

Sizzle.

Now… two and a half years later, and I am still sober. I have had 3 spine surgeries. I am seeing a therapist weekly, a trauma/EMDR specialist weekly, and a psychiatrist monthly. I don’t throw up anymore. And most shocking of all. I am writing about it.

Sigh. Life has a way.

Kissing,

The Cockroach

Copyright © 2018 Kissing The Cockroach All Rights Reserved.

Still Here…Echoes of EMDR

•April 25, 2012 • 28 Comments

It’s only been 3 months that I have been seeing the EMDR therapist and my entire life seems to have changed. Coincidence? I don’t think so. All of a sudden I started to let myself paint. All of a sudden I am having flashbacks. All of a sudden I understand that I have been”missing” for many years inside my own carefully constructed walls.

On EMDR Monday this week, my therapist sat me down and I could sense she was going to give me a little…speech? It went something like this:

ET: “I have been doing a lot of thinking about the last 2 sessions we’ve had, where things got kind of…”

Cockroach: “Insane?”

ET: “No, not insane. Intense. I want you to know that I really admire your courage and willingness to continue forward with this process…”

Cockroach: “But?”

ET: “Well, I really think we should dial down the intensity this week, and try to get a little more grounded. The last two times you were here, you completely left the room. (She means my soul went whipping out of the room as my body sat there on the purple couch.) I don’t want you leaving here feeling like you are all alone with so much intense emotion that it causes you to shut down, so today let’s focus on…”

Cockroach: “I totally agree.”

And then? All of a sudden. It started happening again. I could feel it. Imagine if I were one of those vending machine balls, and someone had thrown me down against the ground so hard, I became a blur when I bounced back up. Psshhhheeewwwww.

Did you know cockroaches could fly?

I was pummeling towards the ceiling. Even though I walked in feeling very calm, and even though even ET said we will keep things safe and grounded, Psshhheewwwwww….off I went. My spirit sky rocketing out of my body. Let the simulated heart attack begin. Carnival music. Is this really real like for reals?

ET began calling my name. “Can you please try to open your eyes?” I was unable. By now, crying hysterically. Spine hooked down into a candy cane. Head lowered. Sobbing so hard I kept thinking “This is what Gut Wrenching” means. What is wrong with me? Am I more fucked up than I even imagined or knew? I open my eyes for a second and see her sitting there. Slam shut. I can’t look. Must leave. Maybe I need to quit. Maybe this was all a mistake. Maybe I am not really here.

ET has this little plastic toy”thing” she throws at me when I’ve dissociated and left the room. It is yellow with a hundred little spindly red protrusions. Looks like a sea anemone. She throws it at me and I catch it. Clutching it in my chest like it was my bleeding heart and I needed to get it back inside.

ET tells me it is not uncommon for her clients to “wait” or “store” their emotion until they get to her tree house office, because we know it’s truly safe to express our feelings there. I guess it is like having the worst toothache of your life. Only for it to go away when you arrive for your root canal? Similar. But backwards. I wonder? Does she have other clients? Am I the craziest one?

ET asks me to look around the room and name 5 shiny objects. Another attempt to bring me back into the room. I am mute. I have lost my voice. My jaw mimics a bear trap, closed down on it’s invisible prey.

I force myself. I feel like I am channeling a child who has just gotten a bad boo boo. The parent is sitting there, trying to get the child to focus on something else besides the boo boo. Like the colorful boo boo strip or a stuffed dinosaur. I’m sniffling like a child who can’t decide if it’s okay to stop crying, or to keep going. I decide to play along.

“The vase.” Sniff sniff. “The silver frame.” Sniff. Mewl. More crying escapes like the sound a helium balloon makes when pierced. “The glass.” Looking around. “Your computer monitor.”

And then a shit eating grin. “My eyelashes….”   I burst out into a maniacal laughter laced with tears and snot. My lashes are shiny. I wear a different color glitter on the lower lashes every day. I am laughing now and she is laughing too. She sweetly just says “Oh, okay?” (As in….whatever you say, psycho. Just name the shiny things.) Only she didn’t say that. I did. That is where my mind goes. Immediate finger pointing. Self bullying.

The shiny things game has worked as I am now focused on my eyelashes and the glitter on the bottom ring of Dante. Why do I do this? Because every time I catch a glimpse of light throughout the day I remind myself that God is here. And to keep shining….no matter how dark it seems.

Okay woman. Deep breath. I am here now. Let the games begin…

Forever kissing,

The Cockroach

Copyright © 2012 Kissing The Cockroach All Rights Reserved.

Quiet But My Heart Still Glows

•April 18, 2012 • 8 Comments

Hey Word Pressers….

Believe it or not I have been thinking about all of you, every day! I found myself PARALYZED in the last couple of weeks. Two super rough EMDR sessions left me somewhat speechless, stunned, and in my lifelong default position…FROZEN.

I am reading a book called “The Body Bears the Burden; Trauma, Dissociation, and Disease” by Robert C. Scaer. In it, he explores the three responses to mortal threat. We all know about Fight and Flight. But what I had never heard before I started EMDR…was the 3rd response…

FREEZE.

In the wild, when an animal is faced with a perceived mortal threat, and they can not, for whatever reason, fight OR flight, they freeze. (Think, playing possum.) After the perceived threat has passed, if the animal has survived, they have a “freeze discharge” where they expel the extra energy by shaking, trembling or some other rigorous physical activity. They then return to their normal grazing state. As if the threat never happened.

Humans, however, often do not have this ability to discharge. Our minds complicate the process and often, memories get buried, numbed out, denied.  The unresolved trauma becomes “stored” in the body and re-presents itself in various ways. Addictions. (check) Eating disorders. (check) Chronic Pain. (check) Panic attacks. (check) Hyper-vigilance, phobias, mental illness, nightmares, various dis-eases. (check, check, check, check.)

Sigh. There is something beautiful about now understanding all of this and something unsettling at the same time. It means it’s time for growth, understanding and moving through the freeze. It’s as though I am learning in a molasses classroom. Each word I read, or allow myself to speak out loud, hangs there for a moment, suspended in time and space. Inertia.

The little hummingbird in the picture (above) was in the street one night while I was out walking. This was long before I would ever acknowledge I had any trauma in my past. I saw the bird and stopped, crouching down on the street to say hello. He was just standing there. Not dead. Though not “alive.” It was the first time I had ever been so close to a hummingbird. I wondered if he ran into something and was stunned. (Ohhhhh, Frozen.) His chest, each time he’d take a breath would GLOW in the brightest most electric red ever. Like he was his own private beaming Lite Brite that fell out of the game.

I carefully picked him up, and moved him onto the grass. Then, afraid a dog would come along and eat him, I moved him again, off into the bushes. I still stood there, staring down at him. Or did I stand still there. Worried. Sad. Frozen. Amazed. He glowed red as I walked away.

Later I went back to check if he was still in the grass. He was gone. I hoped he had flown away instead of being eaten. “God will take care of the bird.” The thought came to me like a voice from above. This is part of nature. God has a plan, and will take care of the bird.

I think about that little hummingbird all the time. God will take care of you. How his heart and chest still glowed even though he was essentially frozen in time. Unable to move. Temporarily paralyzed. Dead for a minute.

I’ve been temporarily paralyzed but my heart still glows. It feels like some kind angel has come along and swept me up in her brilliant Lite Brite arms, telling me it will be okay, that God will take care of this little bird, too. She set me aside in a safe place until I regain my senses. I think I just woke up and found that I am safely grounded in the grass.

Kissing,

The Cockroach

Copyright © 2012 Kissing The Cockroach All Rights Reserved.

~*~*~*Angel Dust*~*~*~

•March 31, 2012 • 13 Comments

“Pati’s Heart” in acrylic with glitter….it’s too bad I couldn’t seem to capture a photo that catches all the sparkles. Tonight while we were making dinner my boyfriend asked, very sternly, “Why do I keep finding glitter everywhere?” I don’t think I will ever stop smiling inside….I am glitter. I shine and show up when you least expect me. **KISS**

Jekyll and Hiding…

•March 29, 2012 • 11 Comments

Saw my regular therapist today. She is so amazing. I can’t tell whether I just happened to stumble upon two out of this world therapists, or if the timing was simply right. I told her about the EMDR session on Monday, where we faced the “inner child” stuff. UGH. And the panic attack of yesterday. It occurred to me that the last panic attack happened on a Wednesday also. Wednesdays are my hermit crab days. I actively plan to stay inside the house and do “nothing” or at least, get caught up on writing, reading, watching Court TV. Evil grin.

Following suit, I was riding the bike to nowhere in the she-cave downstairs, and reading parts of “Yoga Anatomy” and “Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga.” It was like an instant replay of the previous Wednesday. I felt fine, but suddenly my sweat turned to ice water. “Oh no” I thought, spinning my wheels. I got off the bike and stood up, blinking my eyes trying to get my vision back.

Body? Are you mad at me? I spoke to the air.

Deep breaths. No oxygen going past my chest. Hyperventilating now. Numbing lips. Crap. Why is this happening again…I lower myself down to the pink yoga mat on the floor and lay on my back. Looking up at the fluorescent lights.

Little me, are you in there? What do you need? I ask out loud again.

It’s too chilly in the she-cave now. Basement floors, cold earth. I walk slowly down the hall and keep my right hand on the wall for balance. Ticking off the necessary thoughts. I ate. I have had plenty of water. I wasn’t over-exercising. Do I need sugar? Crap. Slowly up the stairs, hanging on to the rail with left hand now. Shallow breathing.

It’s okay baby. I won’t let you fall. Go slow. Listen to your body.

My fat kitty, that bitch, she is laying on my heating pad on the couch. I must have left it on. What an opportunist. I laugh for a second and yell “kitty!” but feel dizzy so continue to the kitchen. Bowl of sugar. That’s what I need. Am I diabetic? Is this a fainting spell? Do I have vertigo again? Did I forget to take my meds? What is WRONG with me? Your body and spirit fragments are integrating. Terror. Joy. Relief. Worry. You are crazy.

Little me is frowning. But not in a sad way. Ever since I wrote about her, I am aware of just how much I have been hiding from myself.

Kicking kitty off the heating pad, I assume my position on the couch. Laying down, but with shins and feet draped over the arm of the couch. Kind of like sitting position, but on my back. Head on pillow. Bowl of candy and water by my side.

Court TV. Or is it TruTV now? I don’t know. But thank God for Casey Anthony. She kept me company last year while recovering from the spinal fusions. I am watching the Dalia Dippolito trial. She hired a hit man to kill her husband. Talk about a true Jekyll and Hyde. I secretly delight in other people’s troubles. It helps me feel better about my own. There is a slight self-indulgence factor that leaves me feeling empty. Almost like this bowl of candy will.

My therapist today asked me to “rate” how I was on a scale of 1-10 (I HATE scales) from before the bus accident in 2009, to now. One being the least Jekyll and Hyde and ten being the most. I am amused because anytime I answer a scale question it feels like a big fat lie. Or a complete guess. But this one, I am prepared to tell the truth. “Before the bus accident? I was definitely a ten.” Ha. Not very often I get to make that self assessment.

And now? “Now. Hmmm. (Pursed lips. Eyes dart out the window. I’m embarrassed to admit it. But I must.) Well. I have to be honest with you. I would still say I am about a 6.” I blurt. Her facial expression says it all. I am sure she wanted to hear a lower number. I am sure people who “know me” would expect a lower number. But…having just begun the soul excavation project of EMDR 2 months ago, I am fully aware of how compartmentalized my life is. Still. And more so than I thought.

We discuss. I am painfully aware of her surprise, and concern. I am walking a tight rope. Like I can see the other side, but it might be cut at any moment. It’s thinner than a spider’s web. It’s that much of a fine line between freedom and light, to bondage and dark.

Part of me wants to run as fast as I can, quit all therapy and retreat into more Wasteful Wednesdays. But are they wasteful? I wonder if my body/mind/spirit “waited” until Wednesday, to emote. Hence the panic attack. Much like when I used to bottle up my feelings, hold in anger or hurt, and “wait” until I could get home to lock the door, drink or binge alone, and shut out the world.

Of course we all know that when we cut off anything “bad” we are also cutting off the “good.” So I feel just as awful, or uncomfortable  and outside of skin, now that I am healing…as I do when I am hiding.

Does that make sense?

Thanks for listening,

Kissing,

The Cockroach

Copyright © 2018 Kissing The Cockroach All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 
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