The Masks We Wear.

So many masks, which one to wear today.

I wear masks. Not the real kind. Not the ones that make our faces into monsters, but the other kind. They suit I wear when I go out, depending who I will be. Maybe it’s one of the many legacies my parents left me, or maybe we all have them.

I’ve been working a lot on myself, the face behind the masks, because I know that the masks I wear feel more fake with each passing day. They get so hard to hold into place and maybe one day, they’ll disintegrate until I am left with one. Maybe that one is a mask I don’t like.

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I have the parental mask, maybe that one will never leave. There is the student mask, the one with me all the time at university. I have the lover mask, the one when I am with my other half, but the one I hold the most, is the happy mask. The happy face.

I realise the more things happen, like my dad for example, him being unwell, I hide. I hide my upset. I hide my pain. It’s like my parents made me ashamed to feel anything, so to the outside world, I don’t.

It makes my life hard, this mask, because as well as not showing the sad emotions, I can’t show the really happy ones either. Someone gives me a gift, I hate it, not because I hate the gift, but because I hate the fact I know the giver is waiting for a smile from me, or a thank you and any words I utter feel forced and fake. But inside, in there, my real mask, I am beaming. So damn happy that someone did something for me.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to wear masks, and other days, I know I’ll never part with them.

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So Far …

I thought I would do a check in. Before I started to take my medication, I did a lot of looking online for reviews. I wanted to see if it actually worked. I think I am maybe 2 months in now and I have to say it is going pretty good. I am glad I gave in and got this help. Although I don’t like to say I am on medication, but it is a lot easier than feeling like I just need to die every day.

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I have also read the book called a Miracle Morning and have been working on that for about two weeks. I am sure that it is helping my healing, although I have my moments. I haven’t been totally self-harm free, but it has only been once or twice, which 2 months ago, it was every damn day. So I would say that is a bonus.

It hasn’t touched the OCD part of me yet. Maybe it has made that a little worse, but then it is end of my final year at University and I am about to hand in my dissertation, so my increase in symptoms could well be my anxiety at getting that right. It does mean my hands are very sore and they bleed like I have been punching a cheese grater. I think maybe my doctor will increase my dose when I go back. That’s a little bit scary for me, but we’ll see.

The Plunge and Life

happy-pills-istock_000001056304mediumSo I did it. I took the plunge and tried medication … I never thought I’d say that. If you know me and have read my books, then you know that taking any form of medication was off my list. I refused Decided that I could deal with my mind and I’d get through it.

I’ve been on a downward spiral for a while now. A good few years I just couldn’t get off the damn slide and I was slipping farther and farther down it. It’s been really coming to a head these last few months. Over Christmas time I struggled so hard just to get myself out of bed and I’d have these arguments with myself almost. Like why was I feeling this way? But no matter what I did I couldn’t shake it. My self-harm has been so bad. I’ve had so many stitches. I’ve landed myself at the hospital. It’s just been a total nightmare with this monster in my head.

I’ve been on my medication for four weeks now. I started at a lower dose and then my doctor doubled it, mostly because I was afraid of taking this leap, but my god. I know these meds take 2-3 months to work, but I already see the benefit from it. I’ve not self-harmed in four weeks. Four Weeks!!! That deserves those exclamation marks, because before I started, I would be lucky to say four hours.

I’m not saying the medication has fixed me, or cured me, but it’s certainly had a great effect on me and my mood. I’m still struggling with my anxiety. That’s increased a little bit. It’s such a strange thing. My anxiety has increased, but I can cope with it better. Rather than having a full blown out episode, I can stop and say to myself, okay. This is my anxiety. Let’s deal with it.

I have some side effects too, but nothing I would say are overly adverse. I’m grinding my teeth to the point that my jaw aches and I have to stop it. Sometimes I feel a little spaced out, so I take my medication before bed and seem to sleep that off. I can’t multitask like I used to. My mind seems to want to focus on one thing and if I try to add more, then it has a freeze up. Not really a bad thing I guess. Multitasking is bad for you anyway. I have to most weird vivid dreams. They feel so real. Sometimes they’re horrible, actually more often than not they’re horrible, but I am sleeping. I sleep all night I also find that I need to get the full eight hours now. If I don’t I get sluggish the next day. Also not really a bad thing. But so far so good. I can’t really say they’re major bad things really. Just things that I notice.

I feel a lot of anger recently, though. I’m not actually sure if that is my medication, or that is stuff that I’ve held inside for so long coming out.

My father has had a do not resuscitate order placed upon him. He wanted me to take it off. He was quite upset about it. But he isn’t of sound mind. He was upset because he believes himself to be going to work every day, and he isn’t. he can’t even get to the bathroom now. It was very hard for me to fight this because I felt like I was holding his life in my hands. And ironic all at the same time, that I am the one with these choices. I am the one who suddenly has come control on my father’s life and he has to trust that I will do what’s best for him and that I’ll care for him.

It creates a lot of anger for me I’m losing my dad and I’m fighting with my emotions inside. The part of me that is his child wants to grieve at the coming loss and the part of me that is so angry at the things he has done, doesn’t understand why I am upset. It’s almost like I can’t comprehend that I am upset about him. And all these years, all the family has ever seen is that we’ve been at war with each other He’s seemed to hate me all my life and I’ve done so well to wear a mask that shows it doesn’t hurt me, that I don’t know how to take that mask off now in front of my family and show that I am upset. Somehow even the right to be upset has been taken from me and if I try to take it back, I feel like a fraud.

That’s Why.

I have been meaning to write this post for a long while now. I know I don’t post so much here any longer. A lot is trying not to bore people, trying not to sound like I am whining all the time and some is just trying to stay afloat in my own mind.

I was in a class a few weeks ago, we were studying sex offenders. I was a little anxious when the class began, I didn’t know what to expect and worried the class might trigger me. It maybe did in a way, but perhaps a good way. We studied people who sexually abuse children as part of this class. I am not going to call them paedophiles. I feel that is like saying that is all they are, but I am not defending them either. The act they commit is wrong.

We were learning about why. Why do they do this? Because when people here about it, the first thing they think is that sick bastard. Should be shot. Should be hung etc.

Why is probably one of the hardest questions I have. Why me? What was it that caused it? Why not my brother? So many whys that plague me for so many years and the answer came in this class. It is hard to explain, but I will try.

Many people who sexually offend against children lack social skills. I don’t mean that they can’t be social, or can’t talk, but something about them is different. They lack that thing that connects them to another. So their relationships feel empty. Usually this comes from things in their own childhoods. Not abuse, but maybe an overly strict parent, maybe a parent who didn’t hug them. Something that meant they didn’t quite learn how to connect with others. So they feel different.

My father’s parents weren’t abusive, but his mother was a gambler and his father worked a lot to pay for that habit, this meant that my father didn’t have much parental time, which meant that these skills never developed in him.

So he met my mother, and what he got was someone who was domineering, didn’t listen to him, wasn’t the same as him. People like my father have problems with peers. They just can’t fit in with them. Then this child comes along. Not just any child, but one that the adult can connect with, intimately and when I use that word, I don’t mean sex. I mean like a close friend. That’s what the child becomes. And this was where my why is. My father likes to read. He likes science. He is intelligent, but he had these parts missing and then I came along. Someone who is so similar to him in mind. Quiet, a reader, someone who likes to think. I was reading by the time I was five, suddenly my father has this connection with a human that he has never had before. Someone he can talk to, but also because this someone was a child, there was no fear of rejection, he was at the top and I was at the bottom in the hierarchy. So he had control. And this is generally what it is. So how does it get from having a friend to sex? I guess this is the part where it gets screwed up. Where the adult wants to get closer and closer to the child and they do, the child becomes like a relationship partner and sex is generally a part of that. Suddenly the child is no longer a child, not in the eyes of this adult at least.

I realised in this class that it wouldn’t have mattered if I was the first born, or his tenth child, he’d have picked me every single time, because it was something about me, but not something that was bad. It was because I was the one he connected with the most, because I was the one who was most like him.

In some sick twisted sense, it feels like a compliment.

I am not saying what he did was right, but this, if you can understand what I am saying, it is the answer to that question. Why?

Why am I here?

Why am I here?

It is truly a great question. I don’t really know. Why am I here? Why is anyone here at all? What is the purpose to be alive? This question always sends me into a tailspin of depression when I think about it for too long.

How do you find meaning in your life, in the future of it, when it is impossible to find meaning in the past?

Sometimes, I stand over a dark hole just teetering at the edge. Why don’t I fall in? Jump? It wouldn’t matter really. I could curl up, close my eyes and sink into the darkness and be gone.

Instead, I stare at a man. I look at him and ask, why are you here? He is old and frail now. He is waiting to die. His mind flits back and forth between the years of his life and one moment he is in the past and the next he is in a world that never existed. Why is he here?

You, my father – the decrepit old man who no longer walks. The man with the face of confusion and fear and helplessness.

I should laugh at the way your life is ending. I should rejoice in it. I should relish in the hand that karma has given to you. As I watch you die, I feel loss. A deep intense loss in the depths of myself. I’m losing my father. Not you. Not the one I have, but the one in my head. The one I hope for. The one that I hope will emerge one day and tell me he is sorry and it was all a mistake. I’ll lose my hope. My chance for answers that I don’t really want. I’ll lose that chance that one day you might wake up and realise you want me. I’m losing that part that maybe one day you’ll tell me it wasn’t my fault.

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But I am losing something I never had. All I am losing is things that I hoped for.

Why are you here?

I stare at you sometimes. You’re almost bed ridden now. Your skin hangs loosely where age and sickness has stolen your muscles. You have legs that don’t hold you. A mind that doesn’t guide you. You have frightened eyes and I a gaze that maybe I once had. One that’s innocent and lost and needing something, yet so many times all that stared back at me when I had that face, was you. You and your anger and your wants and desires. Not once did you stop. Not once did you look into my eyes and see my tears. Yet I do that for you.

Somehow it is the other way around and you are the scared one. You are the crying one. You are the one needing someone to come in the dark and make it all okay. You ask me to do it and I do. Guilt tugs so damn hard in my chest that with everything, I can’t turn away. I can’t do it. How did you?

After everything you have done, I cannot hate you.

Why am I here?

I have no idea, but why are you?

Loss

I lost myself.

Isn’t that a weird thing to lose? Yourself? I mean, I am right here. I can see myself when I look in the mirror. It’s me – same eyes, same nose, same scars, same smile. Even my hair is the same. But I am lost. Me – the one who is inside.

It may be the strangest thing that has ever happened to me. Years ago, maybe five years plus, I was different. I was…me. But how was I me, and how did I lose myself? Well, that’s maybe the oddest part of all, and maybe a little hard for me to fathom.

One day – at the end of 2009, I think – I created my Facebook account. I had fun on there; played, made friends. It was probably a really great time for me. But the catch was I had a pen name for my writing. Yet, oddly, the time I wore a mask was when I was able to be me.

I realise that I lost myself the day I released my first book. It wasn’t fiction nor fun, but it was me. The real me. It was about me and my life. Somehow, when I sent myself into the world without my mask, I got lost.

Maybe it is better to write under a pen name. Maybe it is better to hide a little. Isn’t it weird that when we are unknown to the people around us, we are more ourselves than with the people who know us and love us dearly?

I miss my jokes – not that they were funny.

I miss my daily writing – not that it was ever good, but it was fun.

I miss devouring book after book and not coming up to view the world.

I miss laughter…my own.

I miss music and my endless searches for another great band or song.

I miss that writing spark inside – it’s there, I can feel it sometimes, but I fail to ignite it.

I miss drinking beer while sitting on my decking outside.

Mostly, I miss myself.

Facts of Shame

Sometimes I have to be brave when writing these blog posts. Sometimes I want to say things that I think might make people hate me or find me disgusting. Sometimes fear keeps me silent.
This one probably falls into the hate me and disgusting category, but I have tried to write it before and feel it is important, especially to those like me.
There are three facts that I have struggled with since I was a child. Three facts that used to make me think I was the evil one. That everything that happened was my fault and that in no way was anything that happened to me abuse. I want to write this post for those who still think those things, but it is going to be very hard to write, and maybe a little odd to read.
My body would react to what my father did. I enjoyed what he did. Sometimes I can find that thoughts of rape/abuse/incest arouse me.
That sentence was so hard to write. Even harder to see and leave it there. Will you think I am disgusting? Will you think I deserved what happened? Will you think I am sick?
For a long time I thought that about myself. People talked of child abuse and give this image of a crying or screaming child. And there I was with my father, and my body would climax. It had to be my fault, right? It had to be, because if it wasn’t, then I would scream and cry too, and I wouldn’t have this feeling that felt nice. I was 7 years old the first time it happened. After that I craved that from him. I went to him with the purpose of that feeling. I didn’t understand. Someone said to me once, “Congratulations. Your body works.” I stared at them as if they had gone insane. Was that really the answer? I wasn’t sick? I was shaking so badly that day.
I remember reading after that, having it likened to be tickled. No one really likes being tickled, but when they are, they laugh. Laughter is something of a pleasure, right? So why would you possibly have a pleasurable experience of something you neither like nor want…? Because the body is designed to have these reactions.
Does a child who orgasms during abuse, or an adult during rape, hold some of the responsibility? No. It’s exactly as I was told. Congratulations, your body works. shame-child-face-hiding

I also once read somewhere, and this was a post from a woman, but I think it still applies. She stated that the sex with her father was the best she had had. No partner since had ever come close to it. You’d be inclined to think she was sick? Twisted?
I stared at this when I read it. Is it really normal to feel the way I do? I took this then to a counsellor. He told me that we learn everything from our parents. Lessons that we take into our adult lives. These things become the “right“ way to do things. They teach us how to cook, how to write. They teach us what to believe in, the way we should act, the norms of the society we live in, and in our minds, these are right. So what happens when your parent is the one teaching you sex? It becomes the thing that you gauge every subsequent encounter with. If like me, the sexual relationship with my father is probably the longest one I have ever had, maybe it was the same for that woman too.
Perhaps the last part of the statement is the hardest to get across without sounding as if I will repeat what my dad did, because I won’t. It would never enter my head. In fact, I often feared dressing my own son when he was little in case someone thought that of me. But I know I am not alone in that violence and sex is arousing, even in the worst forms. There’s a whole world of BDSM and erotica out there that makes a fortune. It is just the same, except… I guess it links in with the first two things. My father was doing something that my body liked and he did it for a very long time. My experiences with him became the foundations. Most teenagers have this period in life where they explore. They take things at their pace, try things out, fumble, mess up. All the things that are normal. People like me, we never had that. I was taught that sex was violent. That it involved incest and secrets and shame. I still fight with this one. I don’t know how to put it across properly without sounding like I might be a monster, but I just want people to know they aren’t alone. And they aren’t monsters either.
Remember the child only had the tools he was given.