Saturday, 28 June 2014

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to!

Well today is my 52nd birthday.

I think birthdays are a time for reflection and for weighing up the trials and tribulations of the past year.  This is the first birthday I have spent with any family for... let me see... last two years on the island with TexLOML...  2011 in Fort Worth TX with two virtual strangers... 2010 YES  in 2010 The Boy was with me and we were with another stranger in Northern California...  Of course there are a long run of birthdays where I have had the pleasure of The Boy's company but I think I have to go back to my 44th in 2006 to find any other family...  In 2006 I celebrated in St Paul Minnesota with heaps of my fabulous MN friends and my mother and my Gay Brother were in the US visiting me.

8 years since I had a family birthday...

Today I am going to have a party here at Str8 Brother and SIL's (sister-in-law) place.  My Str8 Brother called me a couple of weeks ago, when I was in Sydney, and asked what my favourite roast is... naturally I replied "Roast pork with lots of crackling!!!" and then he asked my fave dessert and I said Pavlova... now Str8 Bro doesn't have an oven so I said I would make the Pav at Gay Brother's place the day before.  Gay Brother is invited to my birthday and had accepted the invitation.  Here is where things get a little weird... I must declare that this is only my truth and that I'm sure others have different points of view...

OK so nearly 3 weeks ago these plans were made.  On Tuesday (the party is on Sunday) I called my Gay Brother and left a message asking if it was ok for me to come over Saturday arvo to make a Pav for Sunday and would it be alright if I had a bath while I was there (the last time I saw him I had asked about coming over occasionally for a bath and had been told it was fine.) Gay Bro called back but called Str8 Bro not me (said he didn't have my number)...  I spoke to him and he said he had people visiting for the weekend and that it wasn't convenient for me to use the oven or the bath.  I said "oh, ok that's fine" and then he said something about not being able to come on Sunday to the birthday lunch...  I was not a party to these arrangements and so I handed the phone back to Str8 Brother.  At this point I could see that my Str8 Brother was getting pissed off as he had made the arrangement a few weeks before and I started to have galloping anxiety at the idea of there being a conflict over my birthday.  Well Str8 Brother was fabulous on the phone while Gay Brother was heard (without speaker phone) yelling things about me "swanning back" into his life and expecting everyone to accommodate me (words to that effect).  My anxiety went through the roof.  Long story slightly shorter is that Gay Brother seems incredibly pissed off with me and isn't coming to lunch.

The next day I thought I should try to talk to Gay Brother and see what is the matter.  I popped into his work just before closing time and asked if he might come for a quick drink with me.  I was calm and kept my voice low but my Gay Brother was not.  After an exchange in which he told me he has a nice quiet little life and he doesn't want me intruding on it, and that calling and leaving the message about the pav was an intrusion.  He made it clear he has no room in his life for me.  He then demanded that I leave the office (I think he was struggling to keep his voice low and his anger in check.)

I came home to Str8 and SIL and I was very upset... I have no idea what I have done to make him so angry or to become an "intrusion" on his life.  The last time I saw him before moving back here was when I was on the way up the coast with TexLOML and we had a nice overnight visit.  Nothing horrible has happened in between... Anyway, I can't change anyone but myself, so sitting talking with SIL we decided that we would change the party from a small immediate family lunch to a big BBQ sausage sizzle with our Koori cousins and any assorted friends and relatives and some wonderful old friends of mine who are Koori girls too.

We won't be skulking around mourning the fact that Gay Brother is acting like brat, we won't be just 4 of us sitting around with long faces, we will be 10 or 15 adults and dozens of kids laughing and having a terrific time!  Bring on the good times!

(If Gay Brother decides to pop by and grace us with a few minutes of his time he will get rather a shock I suspect!)

Monday, 9 June 2014

Self Delusions of Good and Evil

I have been going through a VERY interesting period of my life lately.  A good phase I believe for the most part.

Let me catch up from where I was on the last post where I was embarking on a course of hypnotherapy...

It turns out that I am NOT one of the people who is capable of relaxing enough to become hypnotized no matter how hard I try.  My busy busy brain manages to turn attempts to relax into yet another situation for anxiety to manifest...  Let me give you an example... the therapist is saying,
"focus on your toes and let your toes relax" and my brain is saying
"NO not ankles and feet TOES ... think about relaxing your TOES"
she says,
"you are in a beautiful garden" and I tell myself
"a garden a garden... NO not a porch, not a farm... a GARDEN dammit!"
etc etc I was so self critical, and beating myself up the whole time, and I could never really relax.  I was completely hopeless at it!  So my therapy sessions became an opportunity to self reflect and talk over the things with which I was dealing.  (that sentence is for my grammar nazi followers :) )  At first I needed to discuss the pros and cons of leaving the island and moving back to the town in NSW where I lived 15 years ago.  Both of my brothers live there and it also puts me only about 5 hours drive from The Boy.  Once that decision was finally made (a long story in itself) I began to use the sessions to work through the idea of re-immersing in the family dynamic.  Not something I approached lightly as my rather dysfunctional family has been at odds in various configurations throughout my life.  I also talked at length about dealing with someone who has been the cause of terrible trauma and anxiety in my life and who, arguably, has been the primary contributor to my having developed this bloody revolting, anxiety driven, she-devil bitch of a condition.  My hypnotherapist has become my friend and confidant.  She was a wonderful support to me in my last couple of weeks on the island and I'm really glad in some ways that the hypnotherapy didn't work because the alternative did!

It's interesting that when I was a child and I was exposed to an extreme level of volatility and quite frequent unexpected violence - when there was nothing I could do right and no way I could make logic when dealing with a fundamentally illogical, frequently paranoid, and highly explosive adult - I really seemed to not take it on board in my day to day life.  I was frightened and anxious when in her company and yet when thinking about my life I always thought it was wonderful - I was in some kind of denial that had emerged from my mother's Pollyanna attitude and from so constantly being told how fortunate I was.  So if asked, up to about the age of 40, I would always reply that I had enjoyed a charmed childhood; yes I had to deal with one crazy person but otherwise it was wonderful.  While this is true it is also seriously downplaying the crazy person and completely ignoring the impact that exposure has had on my psyche.  I thought I was fine!

I wasn't fine.  I was anxiety driven and desperate to please people who were never pleased by anything I did or said.  I was beating my head, and every other part of my body, against an immovable object.  I was imbued with an almost desperate desire to please, and a caustic and destructive leaning towards self criticism.  I was raised by a stoic and taught to suck it up and move forward and that's what I did!

I feel like an idiot that it has taken me so long to recognize the actual root of some of my issues.  I have a version of PTSD from the volatility and violence that occurred in my childhood.  I have serious issues about not being protected by the person who one would normally expect to protect a child.  I'm desperately critical of myself as a failure when my intelligent, adult mind, knows, for a fact, that no success would ever have been acknowledged and that no achievement would have been enough.

The long and the short of it is that lots of my crap was caused by childhood trauma and lots of my bad relationship decisions of my adulthood have been attempts to replay those situations and have a different outcome.  Unfortunately I was VERY slow to realize that logic doesn't work with histrionic crazy women!  Now I need to make it very clear that none of this has to do with my brothers or my mother.

An interesting thing happened when I was packed and ready to leave the island... my brother, let's just call him The Str8 One, and I were on the phone and I was telling him that my truck was so overloaded that I was concerned I might break a spring in a pothole on the way down the coast and he said something that very nearly brought tears to my eyes... he said "Geeze I'll have to borrow the money [from our brother] to come up with the trailer and get your stuff!"  I was overcome by this because for fifteen years I have had no one who would come and rescue me if I had a problem... the mere idea that someone would drive 1000 kms or more to help was mind-blowing to me!  When I rolled my Jeep on the way to Fargo and The Boy and I were hanging upside down in our seat belts I just handled it; cops, tow truck, motel, insurance, car hire, etc etc.  When my basement flooded I handled it; move stuff, rent pump, clean up etc etc.  When an ear infection was making me throw up and possibly eating through to my brain I took myself to hospital.  I have moved myself in the last 10 years, in my own vehicle, usually alone, or with The Boy, about 15 times for a total of something like 14,000 kilometres - with my possessions on my back I have traveled the same distance as from New York to Los Angeles and back three and a half times!  This does not include the move from the US back to Australia - also alone.  There has been precious little rescuing going on in my life for a long time!  I felt so warmed by his response - so hopeful for our future.

The move away from the island is worthy of its own blog - it was a monster!  A story for another time :)

This blog is about huge changes and huge self-revelations.  Wonderful things are happening in my life.  I feel like I'm part of a family again.  My brother and sister-in-law have been incredible and it feels so warm and hopeful.  I feel like I'm becoming more aware of my own influences and of just how much my physical problems have been precipitated by my anxiety and PTSD.  It really is such an obvious sequence.  The  Professor I saw at the Pain Clinic, back when I first started this blog, prescribed a low stress life and the wearing of sensible shoes.  I have the shoe part covered and now maybe I can really work on the life part!