Reflections on Life Thus Far

My life. My story: Exploring mental health, spirituality, meditation & random thoughts I have


Feeling Overwhelmed

So I had lunch today with my dad and aunt at a restaurant nearby; it went okay as far as the food went but the conversation was less pleasing. My dad decided to run by my aunt a few things he’s been fixated on over the past year and I have had to hear about from him regularly. Honestly, I don’t know if I believe all that he says because it sounds like paranoid thinking to my mind. That being said he believes it and I have no way to verify what he said as true short of confronting the people thought to be involved and asking them what they said, which would be horribly awkward and offensive considering the content. Legal advice might solve the issues but I don’t know how to approach the topic since I only heard what my dad said and not the other people involved. Much of the discussion is really awful and makes me feel disbelieving.


I would like to consider the legal counsel route but I have trouble thinking on the situation since it involves some ‘touchy’ topics. The situation makes me feel quite ill really. I hate thinking about it all. If my dad is wrong and actually delusional than is a lawyer going to be able to help?

At first I was angry with my dad for being fixated on the subject but now I just feel overwhelmingly helpless and sad. Yes, I can maybe contact a lawyer or someone like that but I don’t feel like I have the right to interfere. My dad might be okay with me seeking legal advice for him but it makes little difference in how I feel cornered and pressured to be dad’s champion. My aunt asked me and I couldn’t think of a way to say no. It would be better if my dad was willing to address the issue himself but he tends to communicate poorly. He has a few learning disabilities and his ability to express himself is somewhat limited in more complex situations. Hence, the reason my aunt wanted me to talk for my dad. But I am not sure I can do it.


The main reason I feel a desire to help is I figure it might give my dad some concrete facts instead of what he believes was said orally between him and the others involved. I’m skeptical of the events occurring as he said they did but I don’t have any proof for either side of the claim. Also, I am concerned that any inquiry made by the lawyer (if I go that route) may alert the other people involved since it’s an argument over a will. All I want is to have the lawyer say whether there’s a will or not and if my dad was included in it as a recipient. Then I can figure out if more needs to be done or not. As it stands, I don’t have confirmation of anything so any facts the lawyer could give would help. Beyond that I am not looking forward to because I hate confrontation and conflict.

I wish I could hibernate for the winter and avoid any conflict until Spring when it’s not so dreary outside. Maybe I would have a brighter outlook by then and my dad might actually have figured out the situation wasn’t as bad as he believed. If only.

Thanks for reading.

©Natalya L., Reflections On Life Thus Far, 2016.


Epigenetics and family trauma A link to a short but interesting piece on epigenetics and healing trauma.



Speaking Out Heals Shame

Rev. Jordyn Morrison Clason, Ph.D. ~

Experiencing trauma can lead to shame depending on the nature of the trauma endured. When we’re filled with shame we retreat inside ourselves and fear having others know what we’ve been through; as though we were somehow to blame even though we intellectually know that’s not the case. It’s ironic really because if you experienced trauma from a person or group of people, they, not you should be feeling the shame. Yet they lack the moral conscience for this so the survivor of the trauma ends up with it instead. This seems terribly unfair in my opinion. But we see it all the time with abuse survivors; they think they were at fault somehow no matter what their head tells them. It’s difficult to reason with your emotions because they aren’t reasonable! So you have to muddle through the emotional baggage ’til your head and heart are on the same page. Not an easy task no matter who you are.

In my experience, speaking about my traumatic experiences sort of relieves the pressure inside me; it’s like the steam from a kettle being released. For all the years I carried around the shame of my past I believed keeping it to myself would be easier but it wasn’t. Instead I had unrelenting depression and anxiety never feeling at peace for very long. When I started psychotherapy I didn’t talk much about the abuse I’d suffered because I couldn’t allow it to surface. I thought if I did then I might fall apart (which I did later). So I wasted years talking about my symptoms never discussing the causes of my chronic depression and anxiety/panic disorder. All this because I carried so much shame inside me that I figured no one could accept me due to abuse. How sad that I had so little self worth and love for myself that I couldn’t imagine telling anyone what I’d been through. I’d also minimised what I’d experienced a great deal too so felt unjustified in feeling the way I did; like we need to have reasons for our emotions! Sometimes they are irrational but we aren’t robots so that’s just how it has to be.

When we don’t confront our past it tends to show itself in maladaptive patterns until we recognise where they’re coming from. For some this means abusing one’s self or others so it can be serious. Once the trauma can be remembered and processed it allows us to stop looking for distractions. Our minds don’t have to spend so much energy on repressing what happened to us. If you’re like me sharing what happened to us can be scary or even threatening; yet that’s what’s needed for one to end the behaviours destroying us or other people if we perpetuate the hurt inside us onto others. You can’t be free ’til the secrets are outside of you because that’s what loosens our abuser(s) hold on us. They wanted us to keep quiet and hope we took responsibility for what was never our fault to begin with. If we had had the coping tools to know better we would have done better but most abused children aren’t lucky enough to have the resources or simply are too young to process what happened in a meaningful way.

Ideally, our abuser(s) would recognise what they did to us as wrong and make restitution but too often this never happens. Usually it doesn’t happen because the abuser was also abused and can’t face their own painful past, it takes courage to confront painful memories and process our hurt emotions. So sometimes our abuser(s) just aren’t courageous enough to deal with their own pain and continue to make others suffer. Or maybe the abuser(s) aren’t alive so restitution isn’t an option. But you can still face your pain and know you are making a difference because you won’t be perpetuating abuse/pain onto more people. In fact you can also come to appreciate you are stronger than your abuser(s) because you’re choosing to confront your pain. This might also be an opportunity for you to see that your abuser(s) felt so awful they couldn’t bear to face what happened to them so took the ‘easy route’ by hurting other people. It really isn’t easier to hurt other people than face your own pain but I think it takes less effort because it doesn’t require that you challenge yourself. For that reason I consider it the ‘easier route’.

Anyhow back to my main argument of talking about your trauma or ‘spilling the beans’; personally, I prefer ‘airing the family’s dirty laundry’ as my preferred term because it just sounds ‘spicier’ and a bit titillating! But I digress… Once I finally told my therapist about the sexual, emotional, psychological, physical abuse and neglect I felt free. The shame had begun to dissipate like morning fog when you live by the coast. I still felt some shame when I had to hide my past in front of other family but it was beginning to be more manageable. Once you open the proverbial can of worms there’s no putting the lid back on. The secrets you protected from your conscious mind won’t be forced back into hiding. You can try to deny it happened for awhile but usually the truth wins because you can’t really ‘unknow’ what you know once you’ve confronted it. This is a good thing even though it doesn’t feel in the least bit good to begin with! I felt so awful I reverted to my eating disorder I’d been in remission from for a couple of years because starving temporarily numbed me and took my focus off the new awareness I had concerning my past. I think it’s fair to say any addictions you had in remission may flare up temporarily until you can ‘digest’ what you’ve learned. Mine gave me a respite from having to face things I didn’t feel capable handling. In essence it was easier for me to deal with my eating disorder and try to manage that then it was the horrible reality of my mother sexually abusing me.

Busyness is a way to escape ourselves. My family suffers a lot from this in order to avoid their childhood abuse coming to the foreground of consciousness. Idleness is not a ‘sin’ but an opportunity to go within and understand yourself better.

I’m feeling stronger these days internally but it’s been four years since I ‘discovered’ the type of abuse I’d been through and I haven’t been employed the entire time either. In fact I quit paid employment because I felt I’d been delivered such a huge psychological blow I couldn’t possibly continue my job. For quite awhile I worried about what I would end up doing with myself since I was no longer employed or a university student. My identity came crashing down. The pieces were flimsy to begin with so it’s likely for the best I had to reconstruct my idea of who I was again. What I’ve discovered along the way is you’re a lot stronger than you ever imagined. I didn’t think I could survive the distress I was in yet I did and I am healthier now than I have ever been. Yes, I am still unemployed but people should not base their value on their employment status. You are not your job, car, house, or any other material/external thing. It took me until recently to realise I could be worthy as a person without a paid job. I was always brought up to believe you had to be educated and wealthy to be worthy but that’s not true at all. What’s in your bank account doesn’t make you wealthy because wealth ought to be measured by happiness and love, not dollars and cents (or Euros, Yen, Pounds etc.). One can give back to society and/or their community through volunteer work or helping family. I won’t elaborate on this though because it’s too much for a post meant to discuss trauma and shame. Perhaps I’ll do a post on economics another day!

What do you think about the ‘truth setting you free’? Does sharing what happened to us with someone we trust heal us from our shame? Have you experienced abuse/trauma you kept hidden from others (perhaps yourself as well) then discovered/shared it and experienced relief?

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®



Reactive Attachment Disorder & Me

No, I’ve never been formally diagnosed as having RAD but I definitely fit the criteria and identify with it. Most know of it as something only in children but reactive attachment disorder doesn’t cure itself with ageing. I come from an emotionally neglectful home and can’t find any photos of me smiling as a baby when being held by someone (including my mother). If I smiled it was when I was alone, playing on my own. Thinking about RAD makes me sad because I know how many of the problems I had in life are related to never forming a healthy attachment (secure attachment) with my mother. How do you form an attachment with someone who has serious issues of their own and no insight to get treatment? Small wonder I failed to develop a secure attachment with mom and never wanted to be held by her. I didn’t even like being touched so hardly got used to liking it.

Today I saw my counsellor and brought up my feelings of sadness and grief connected with RAD. Most of the session I simply cried and let out my pain from not feeling like I was secure with my mother. Mom was abused as a child herself and never went through therapy so passed her trauma onto me. Often I felt completely alone and helpless-not to mention uncared for. Naturally I never knew what I was feeling because I had no mirror or person to helpfully teach me what I was experiencing. This lead to a lot of anxiety because I didn’t know what was going on in me. Mom sometimes offered comfort but other times she neglected me and I felt ignored, like my emotions didn’t mean anything. This taught me to not express emotion overtime which lead to much pent up anger.

"Love is unconditional and 'knows' that our psychological pain comes but from our ego. Attachment 'thinks' that our pain comes from other people. Attachment dissolves when its object does not conform to what our ego wants. The pain we feel then is created by our frustrated ego, which calls these people toxic, whereas it's our own ego who acts toxically. This is called projection and precludes our development.~JY Besle"

“Love is unconditional and ‘knows’ that our psychological pain comes but from our ego. Attachment ‘thinks’ that our pain comes from other people. Attachment dissolves when its object does not conform to what our ego wants. The pain we feel then is created by our frustrated ego, which calls these people toxic, whereas it’s our own ego who acts toxically. This is called projection and precludes our development.~JY Besle”

The erratic expression of concern contrasted with indifference or anger from my mother when I was upset gave me no security upon which to build my emotional immune system. For a long time I felt numb or like I might emotionally bleed to death. Mercifully, numbness was more salient than any other feeling but it didn’t help me to mature properly either. As a result I isolated myself or spent time in unsatisfying, dysfunctional friendships that met none of my needs. Romantic relationships were a non starter so I am horribly stunted in this area. All that I know is what I have read from psychology and self help books. Having RAD meant I didn’t want to be touched because my earliest experiences were negative with few positive experiences to even out my perspective.

I wish I could reach out to people and tell them what I need but it’s really scary for me. I’m so used to trying to function as though I need no one but it’s painful because I am left dealing with everything on my own. The exception being when I see my counsellor. Just imagining trying to tell a friend what I am feeling or need has never been something I’ve managed to do. My thought is that they would not respond kindly or would reject me as my mother did. Since many of the friendships I have had have been with emotionally unavailable people my fears were not without warrant. Now I am wishing I could wave a magic wand and have friends in real life who accept me as I am-not as they wish for me to be.

This is a real grieving process. Knowing that I have spent so much time feeling alone with no close relationships hurts. Maybe if I’d realised my issues were attributable to RAD I could have avoided unnecessary treatments or at least not wasted my time exploring stuff that had little to do with my actual problem, attachment.

Perhaps the silver lining in my experiences is that I am wiser than I’d have been if I grew up in comfortable surroundings without any conflict. Although I didn’t enjoy going through what I have gone through I know it has given me insights and perspectives that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Pain can be a teacher and hopefully I will continue to see the messages in whatever it is that happens, not just what has already occurred. As the saying goes “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”.

Being personally insightful, self aware and philosophical has without question helped me along the way. I know I am

Adult attachment styles & romantic relationships

Adult attachment styles & romantic relationships

lucky to be 32 and unpacking trauma now instead of a decade or two later. I feel grateful for the opportunities I have been given and want to be mindful of all that I have, not the things I’ve lost. Yesterday, when I went to counselling, I was feeling sad with grief but being open about my feelings with my counsellor gave me healing. Today the sadness that had been hanging over my head is gone and I feel uplifted.

So often all that I require is the space to be open with my thoughts and feelings without fear of being shamed. Not all of my therapists have helped me but those that did I am immensely grateful to. It’s been a long road I’ve been on (this healing road) not always knowing if I was making progress or not in therapy. At 17 I embarked on a journey, a head shrinking journey, that has been successful in the last half or so more than the first when I fought merely to stay alive. Those early therapy years I struggled against suicidal thoughts and anger that I had “failed” in my attempts to kill myself. I wasn’t able to get very far then because I felt depressed and anxious constantly. Psychiatrists unwilling to take the time to get to know me threw me out with the proverbial bathwater labeling me as Borderline Personality Disordered. Now, I have concluded they were not the a**holes I used to think of them as, but rather lazy and too comfortable in their practice to take on any hint of a challenge. In other words, they had their patients already and were established enough that they didn’t want “bothersome/trouble” patients with BPD. They had lost any compassion they might have started with in favour of seeing only those with “easy” diagnoses-aka drug treatable conditions.

My attachment disorder is not cured but I see half the battle as having identified the root issue behind my troubles. Overcoming the rest of my attachment related issues won’t be easy but I feel confident I have what it takes to get through it.

Do you have attachment difficulties and if so, how have you dealt with them? Please share.

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®



Skin Picking or Dermatillomania

Well, I am coming out of the skin picking closet. That’s right-I pick my skin. Primarily on my scalp as I have eczema and I dislike the uneven quality the eczema gives. Thus, I end up trying to “smooth” it out by picking until I think it’s “even”. I’ve been picking for 13 years compulsively with periods of intensity variant on stress/anxiety. Apparently, skin picking qualifies as self-mutilation but I don’t do it to hurt myself intentionally anyway. The skin picking became compulsive as soon as I noticed the eczema on my scalp at 18. It showed up not long after two serious suicide attempts from overdosing. The area has often changed in size over the years based on my anxiety and stress levels.

When I pick I enter a trance if I allow myself any more than a benign scratch or rub to the itchy eczema. Although I have tried various creams and shampoos the urge to pick often defeats the benefits the topical treatments might have provided. Sometimes I can go the whole day without picking then will need to examine the usual area the eczema is in for imperfections. If I am not stressed or anxious I can usually leave the area alone but if I even have a tiny bit of anxiety or stress the scratching begins. At times, if I’m mindful enough, I can stop to ask myself what I am feeling that’s causing the compulsive urge to pick. Other times I am not mindful and just allow myself to succumb to the compulsiveness.

Sometimes I can cause damage to my scalp so it ends up being quite sore for anywhere from less than a day to a couple of days. This happens when I have become too intent on removing the eczema in order to “perfect” my scalp’s smoothness. At these times I can cause bleeding and a lot of shame.

Invariably, the picking causes me a great deal of shame. I know it is disgusting and unhealthy but I have a difficult time resisting the compulsion. Skin picking is a form of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). I do take anti depressants that have helped me a lot but not 100%. When I was at my worst in my late teens, early 20s I would pick out in public if I had a moment of privacy. Generally I’d go to a washroom and stand in front of a mirror examining the skin until I’d hear the door and I’d dart into a stall locking the door. These were days of immense shame because I sometimes got caught and would “slink” away hoping to never run into the person again who’d seen me. It was very embarrassing and humiliating for me yet the compulsion would override my awareness of socially acceptable behaviour and I’d do it anyway. Fortunately, it improved when I was started on different anti depressants and I “only” picked at home. Often, I’d be out somewhere and have the urge to scratch but resisted. This was a great improvement from when I was unable to control myself enough to wait ’til I got home.

The other thing that helped was learning mindfulness meditation. Reducing my anxiety and becoming aware of my inner state helped a lot but didn’t eliminate the behaviour totally. I am at the point now where I have a small area of eczema on my scalp I don’t scratch unless I am home and have some privacy. Still, it is a problem for me and I would like to stop yet I have never admitted that I have a problem until now. Of course I knew I had a problem in my own mind but I didn’t admit to anyone else that I had a problem. My hair covers up any sores I might cause from scratching and I make sure I avoid the front of my scalp where a sore might become visible.

I remember, as a child, I use to pick my skin on my body but gave it up when my body image issues became stronger than the skin picking on my body. That is to say I became more focused on how I appeared outwardly and didn’t want to make myself uglier than I already imagined myself to be. For a few years my eating disorder became my compulsion and the skin picking stopped but at 18 the eczema on my scalp appeared. I attribute it to stress from trying to kill myself three times and starting university. My eating disorder didn’t disappear but it was more of a ED-NOS so not as severe. Anyhow, I continued my skin picking on my scalp but I have already told you about that and won’t gross you out further!

Why am I telling you all this? Well I have never told anyone I pick the skin on my scalp (eczema) and wish to rid myself of shameful secrets. Also, I found there are others like me when I did an internet search on skin picking. Actually I found a free e-book I am going to read that may help me too. It’s written by two psychologists in practice who help skin pickers with emotional issues (FYI most skin pickers have psychological issues of some sort). The website for the free e-book is here: The direct link to the e-book is here:

If I manage to read the e-book soon I’ll let you know if it helped me or not. I haven’t mentioned it to my counsellor because I don’t know if she has experience in OCD related conditions such as dermatillomania. Perhaps I’ll mention it next time I see her and see how she reacts! I feel very ashamed. I never go to the hair salon until I absolutely need to because I don’t want the hair stylist to see my scalp. Sometimes I mention I have eczema but only if I have managed to avoid picking long enough for the sores to heal (this requires lots of willpower). Other times I avoid mentioning it hoping the eczema won’t be noticed if I have been “good” lately and not caused damage to my scalp.

Well I am grateful if you read all the way through my post and aren’t too grossed out by me now.

©Natalya, 2013.



A Bit Disappointed

My counselling appointment got cancelled for tomorrow as my counsellor is ill. At first I was okay about it but then my dad had to go phone my aunt to check on his mother in-law who’s in a nursing home near my aunt. Well, she couldn’t talk tonight so is calling back tomorrow and I am stressed because I hate talking to family. It’s always the same awkward conversations interspersed with small talk. I hate it and would have benefitted from a pep talk from my counsellor tomorrow but she’s unwell. My appointment got rescheduled but not ’til Tuesday which won’t help me with tomorrow’s phone call. The thing is I just don’t enjoy talking on the phone period. Doesn’t matter who it is I just don’t like it unless I am in the right mood which is not very often. I tend to worry about what to say and how to answer uncomfortable questions-of which there tends to be a few with my family.

So I am not feeling relaxed now in spite of the knowledge worry never does anyone any good. It was only an hour ago I found all this out about my aunt phoning tomorrow so I haven’t had much time to settle myself. You’d think by now I’d be better at handling family conversations but I always end up anxious to some degree. Even if I am reasonably relaxed there is always a tiny amount of anxiety lurking when family is involved. This means I’m not staying present and am thinking too much about the future that hasn’t happened yet. Mindfulness is helpful because then I know whether or not I am staying in the moment or mentally checked out thinking about the future. It helps if I can take a few deep breaths to re-oxygenate my brain after I have gone into anxiety/future mode so I can return to my surroundings.

The other thing about my anxiety is it means I am attaching value to someone else’s opinion of me. If I was totally okay with myself I would not be somewhat worried what my aunt might think when she finds out I am still unemployed and am not doing anything productive. Yes, I am usually helping my dad as well as doing the housekeeping; I even have several online shops I make designs for that I could potentially earn some money from (not much though). But these are things I have not yet accepted myself as being 100% valid so I fret about what my family will think of me. I so hate worrying about what my family thinks.

This is a challenging time of year too because students have returned to classes and I am not in any academic programmes currently. So I struggle with feeling like I am okay the way I am. If I am busy all the time doing housework I sometimes feel like that makes up for my unemployed status and not being enrolled in anything. But I don’t have the same motivation to houseclean all the time like I did in the Spring because there isn’t as much junk to clean like there was then.

Ultimately, I know the answer to my anxiety is staying in the moment and trying to become more accepting of myself regardless of what I’m doing. But it isn’t easy so I need to write what’s on my mind at times like this. It sort of helps me get a bit of perspective like I get in my counselling sessions. I’ll be alright.

©Natalya, 2013.


New Counsellor

A cute monkey 🙂

Tuesday I met my new counsellor after my last one had to leave because her internship had ended. The new counsellor seems good so far. I felt a connection so that’s a positive sign since I don’t like having to ask to see someone else. Unexpectedly, I ended up crying quite a bit as I recounted what I thought by now would be ‘routine’. Instead, I sat crying for a fair portion of the session. It’s a good sign if I am able to be emotionally vulnerable on my first meeting with a therapist or counsellor. Otherwise it means I am guarded. So I see the crying as a good thing.

I won’t get to see my new counsellor again until the end of the month because she’s going on vacation. Hopefully things will be okay and I will be alright. The only thing plaguing me is what do I do next? I thought by now I’d know what I want to do but I am still clueless. Thus, all I have been capable of is housekeeping and yard work. Both things that aren’t very much fun but they do give me a feeling of satisfaction when I can make a space look nicer than before. I’ve also been helping my dad sell his car. So I have been keeping busy but I feel like I ought to have a better idea of what I’m doing when and where. Right now I just see myself as doing things that need to be done but maybe aren’t important. They’re things that need doing though. Living in a messy and unclean environment doesn’t make me feel positive. In that sense, then, I am contributing at least to the maintenance of my home. Also, I try to provide an ear to my dad and help him out.

It was warm and sunny today so I got outside and trimmed the rose bushes a bit more. Otherwise I stayed indoors because the sun was actually a bit much for me. Even though it was only 20 Celsius it was humid. It’s hard to feel like doing much when you’re warm. Mind you in a month or two this will feel cool! Already the mosquitoes and black flies are out-I could live without them though!

©Natalya, 2013.




A Mixed Bag

426283_384264288265634_70141815_nYesterday was my first portfolio workshop session. We had a good turnout compared to the few who came for the information session a few weeks ago. Our group is about 8 people of different ages and backgrounds. It was a humbling experience to see some had not managed to have an easy life but were doing their best. I felt that many of the things I’ve done and took for granted were actually more than some manage to accomplish. So I suppose it was a reality check that provided me with a sense of greater perspective. Perhaps it was a feeling of gratitude for what I have been able to do in my life even if I don’t always feel successful.

Later I ruined things a bit by eating dairy and having egg salad not long after. Both things can give me trouble digestive wise. Dairy more so though. My stomach felt awful and I didn’t enjoy my afternoon at all. By evening I was feeling a little better once the Gravol had done its job.

556890_516649315021559_1692846626_nToday I had my first appointment with my new counselor. She’s a lovely person that I immediately connected with. She reminded me of my last psychologist I had before leaving university. Unfortunately she’s an intern half way through her time at the place I go so we have three months together. I’m going to go twice a month because it’s $40.00 each appointment so more than that would be too much for me. My dad is actually the one paying so I am very grateful he is doing this for me. Hopefully the six sessions I have with my new counselor will help. I felt like I was able to open up and shared quite a lot about my history, including abuse I’d suffered (although not the specifics). It felt good to have my concerns and feelings validated.

Actually, come to think of it, that appointment I had today with my counselor was probably the only time I’ve ever been able to comprehensively tell my ‘story’ on the first meeting. My trust levels have increased a great deal so I felt like I could share a lot and didn’t feel anxiety. In the past, when my mom was still alive, I’d go to therapy and have anxiety about disclosing certain things. There was a lot of shame and secrecy left in me then so sharing wasn’t always productive. I often withheld information and repressed a lot. This time I felt a willingness to disclose as much as I could in a cogent narrative. The fact I managed to recall as much as I did and the dates to go with the stuff surprised me in a good way.



I’d gone to my counselor today worried about what would happen and had a very positive experience, apart from the tears (crying) and jamming my middle fingernail in the door to the counseling office. Although I’d been concerned about who I would be working with I realized those concerns didn’t impede me from sharing my history once there in person. My worry was about if I’d like the counselor and if I’d have to ask to see someone else; luckily, my experience went well and I feel quite comfortable with this new counselor I have. Too bad she’s only around for three more months (end of April). All the same I think 6 sessions will go a long way toward me feeling better about myself. I’m feeling hopeful.

©Natalya, 2013.



Sometimes I realize I behave rather poorly, insecurely I guess. It gets in the way of me

Armadillos have built in boundaries!

having “normal” social interactions. I’m not asocial or unwelcoming of people but I struggle with my boundaries being crossed. My mom used to invade my personal space and not allow me any privacy when I was growing up so now I’m standoffish if I have to interact with someone (in a way that causes me to remember those boundary violations). I feel guilty that I can’t behave like a “normal” person and just accept people in my space. But, like I said, it creates anxiety since I never had any of my boundaries respected when I was a child. Now I can be a bit rigid with my boundaries, as opposed to flexible. How do I get past this rigidity and become comfortable with a more flexible set of boundaries?

Why can’t I just wipe out the past traumas and be like other people? I really don’t know how to get myself to the place inside where I’m alright interacting with people not concerned with my safety. I’m so used to not having my personal boundaries respected that these past four years since my mom’s been dead have been the only years of my life where I’ve been permitted privacy. Prior to her death I dealt with her walking in on me in my bedroom without knocking on my door, walking in on me in the bathroom without knocking and so many other instances where she didn’t act like I had any rights-rights to not be touched or looked at inappropriately, rights to have my possessions left alone and not taken or used without permission. I feel like I’ve spent my whole life on guard against being violated because of my boundaries being continuously disregarded.

Keep Out!

Now I have the privacy I always wanted but I am sometimes too quick to shut people out in order to protect myself, whether there is a threat present or not. My mind wants to have me forever hiding so I’m finally able to relax and let out my breath I’ve been symbolically holding in for so much of my life. It feels bittersweet being granted this privacy whilst being on-guard all the time just below my conscious awareness. Much like, I imagine, a prison camp survivor would feel after being freed and worrying about food and potential punishments-despite being away from those problems.

How long is it going to take me to feel safe enough in my personal space that I can allow others in without disregarding my boundaries? It’s been 4.3 years since my mom died but sometimes it feels like she’s not gone at all. I know in my head she’s dead but my hyper-vigilance hasn’t completely left me either.

I’ve had dreams where she’s still alive and I get scared and think it can’t be true because I know she died. But I have these dreams sometimes and they feel real to me. Then I wake up and remember she’s still dead but I hate those dreams. They’re not nightmares but anxiety filled dreams where my mom is still alive and sometimes recovers (from the Alzheimer’s) but she’s still dysfunctional. I’m left unable to say anything as everyone around me acts like it’s perfectly normal my mom’s come out of her Alzheimer’s and is no longer dying. Yet she never returns to how she was when I remember her as functional, she returns to a state where she’s still disturbed but has her wits about her. It’s profoundly disturbing when I have these dreams because they really do feel incredibly real to me.

Has anyone else had the experience of dreaming a dead person was alive again in your 213498838557069941_M7zJXQU9dream/nightmare that you had a bad relationship with? Am I trying to ‘fix’ my relationship somehow through my dreams at night? They don’t typically resolve anything but occasionally my mom and I get along in my dreams. Some of them are actually good but others leave me panic stricken unsure of what’s true or reality as she seems to come back to life again (but not happy and healthy). Why do I dream these unsettling scenarios over and over again but in slightly differing ways?

Shortly after my mom died I dreamed a lot of distressing dreams involving her trying to attack me. Those dreams stopped but the ones with her alive have been a mixture of positive and negative. Some she’s nice to me in and some of my dreams she’s indifferent to me. Am I supposed to be getting a message from these disturbing and surprising dreams? The number of times I’ve woke up to think my mom is still alive is too many. I’m tired of this. Tired of feeling like mom isn’t dead and tired of feeling she’s still around at times.

©Natalya, 2013.