SlutsUnlimited

Just a dirty girl from the dirty south…co-parenting a baby boy in New Orleans.

When it rains, it pours.

In the last 72 hours I’ve spent more time asleep than awake. I’ve succumbed to my bed many times, only to drift off into restless sleep punctuated by nightmares. I’ve learned the hard way that even if I try to mentally deny trauma, my body will still respond. Part of me wants to applaud the hard healing work my body is doing, the other part of me feels fucking hopeless.

It’s been over two months since my final MDMA/therapy session and honestly I had been feeling better than I had in years. I was going through an exciting phase of integration where I felt I was understanding myself at a much more intimate level. I was excelling in my time management and communication with others. For the first time in a very long time I felt incredibly excited about the future. Then something happened.

I can’t tell you how many times in my life I have wished that I had been born a male. This thought often crosses my mind in situations where I have felt afraid or intimidated by a man. I don’t climb on my soapbox often to highlight the drawbacks of having a vagina instead of a penis (more likely to be judged on appearance, less pay, higher likelihood of being sexually assaulted/raped, being held to completely different sexual standards, doing the majority of emotional labor in relationships) but I feel the pressure of these truths more often than I would like to. And sometimes it is too much.

I was verbally assaulted on Friday while tending bar. I understand that as a bartender, especially in New Orleans, I should have a thick skin and not take things personally. But the truth is that my body reacts very differently to a perceived or actual threat than the body of someone who has not experienced significant trauma. When an angry male customer who is larger than me and acting in an unpredictable and aggressive manner tells me to “go fuck myself” and then refers to me as a “cunt”  – it matters little that my brain is forcing me to not outwardly react and look calm in front of my customers, my body is going completely haywire. And in direct opposition to everything I have been learning in therapy, I refused myself the ability to feel and process what was happening and instead fell into the old, destructive pattern of denial and distraction.

I was unable to take a break from the bar (a stage of sorts, with several onlookers) when this happened. Even though I was physically shaking and on the verge of tears I couldn’t find empathy for myself and instead heard my old mantra “toughen up, stop being so weak.” A few of the customers at the bar who witnessed the incident showed me kindness and even stayed for quite some time to make sure I was safe. But the absence of anyone who could provide me actual physical support only further complicated the matter. I worked the rest of that harrowing shift as the sole bartender, which was several more hours. The weather was terrible, with intense thunderstorms that lead to flooding all over the city. This only served to make my job  busier and more challenging than it normally is. After the incident, I spent the remainder of my shift in a mode of hyper-alertness as I was afraid that this man might return to the bar.

What are we supposed to do in situations like this? Working in a corporate environment significantly limits the possible reactions. I downplayed the whole thing and tried to act like it was no big deal, but deep down I knew it was. Why do we tolerate behaviors like this? What does it say about our culture when people are allowed (and sometimes rewarded) for horrendous behavior? Are Yelp reviews more important than physical safety? Also what does it say about the way we value ourselves and each other when we victim blame by using expressions such as “you shouldn’t let things get to you” or “that’s just how it is.”

I spent the later part of Friday evening crying alone in my car. I felt completely overwhelmed with sadness and despair. I felt worthless and angry with myself for not being more prepared. I heard that insidious voice that has played like a broken record for years “This wouldn’t have happened if you had been paying attention. You’re only safe as long as you stay vigilant.” In the span of the shift I went from having this fledgling core of safety right back to the broken record of fear, panic and anxiety. I went to bed feeling terrible.

The weekend proved to be dramatically shaped by my experience on Friday. Even though I fought to keep denying the effect that the interaction had created, I understood that I wasn’t well by my level of anxiety and irritableness coupled with intense lethargy. Nearly all of my interactions over the weekend went poorly, no doubt somewhat shaped by my prior experience. I spent a lot of time crying and was extremely grateful that my son was out of town and I had the privacy to work through my emotions.

I went to therapy today and was grateful to finally discuss the situation honestly. I have always felt so ashamed by my PTSD. So much that I denied having it for the majority of my life. I have felt embarrassment and weakness over my uncontrollable physiological reactions to situations that may leave others somewhat unfazed. But I know that I truly don’t have a choice. I have learned the hard way that there will always be some setbacks. At times the world can be an unpredictable, scary place. But I’ve had to remind myself that it isn’t always this way. I have to remind myself and truly believe that there are people out there who understand and empathize with me because they have experienced these situations as well. I am not alone. And if I am not alone I know I can find the support I need to feel safe again. Feeling safe is the first step in the healing process. Here I go again.

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Billy Tipton & The Korean War

When my father was 21 years old he served in the United States Army and “fought” during the Korean War. In honor of yesterday, which would have been his 89th birthday, I’ve ( very modestly) edited one of the war stories that he recorded for me as part of his memoirs.  

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So anyway, after that they sent me to Korea. And, of course, I corresponded with Rosemary while I was overseas. Course I embellished the letters I wrote to her. I made it sound much more warlike than it really was. And over there, while I was in Korea I knew a guy by the name of Harry Probst Van Osdale, his momma owned a department store in Akron I believe, or someplace. Anyway, we got to be friends.

And I got with this UPS outfit, Unit Personnel Section, because when I first arrived in Korea, we were out there and they were assigning us to different companies. Most of them were going on the line. Finally, the Sergeant asks “Is there anyone here who can type?”

Well my hand went up like a Roman candle because I didn’t want to go up on the line, believe me. And so they signed me and I was the morning report man for the time that I was there.


The main thing I was interested in was the whores around the compound when we were in Chuncheon, and that’s where I met Sandy. Sandy was a good whore and had been taking care of this young boy named Kim. I think he was seven years old when I met him. I ended up taking care of him. It even got to where we had a cot for him in the tent. There were 8 of us to a tent. One was a football player who could reach over the barbed wire fence and pull him up where he could sleep safely in our tent at night. And of course we gave him cigarettes and, you know, we fed him. I knew that when I finally rotated back to the United States you could only bring so much Yen, which was the military money. So when I left there, I wanted to make sure Sandy would continue to take care of Kim. I gave her the sum of $750.

And the day I was gonna go, I’m looking through the barbed wire fence at Kim and he says “Tippo, someday me America go!”

I said “Well, I certainly hope so, Kim, cause you really deserve it. You’re a good little man.”

While I was over there this captain that Johnny, my step-father, knew in the Army called me on the phone and boy that pissed everybody off. Here I am, I’m up near the front lines and I’m getting a phone call from this jackass who just wants to know how I’m doing. This is the same guy that one time while he was driving down the road, he dropped something and he reached down to get it, stopped looking at the road and ran into a telephone pole. So, you know what kind of a brilliant son of a bitch he was.

I have to tell you this now. The war, we’d been all over. And I’d had one night where I was guarding a gasoline dump. And they put me down there. The first night we had moved, our tents are not even up, I’m on guard duty. I gotta go and guard the gasoline. And on the way down there the Lieutenant that was taking me down there says “Oh yeah, well last night, the guy that was guarding down there, we couldn’t find him in the morning. All we found was his helmet and something else, but the rest of him was gone.”  So, that really interested me. That night it was, I don’t know, 20 below zero, one of them kind of nights. And when gasoline drums are in that type of cold, they crackle. So there I am, they have a tent with a small stove for the guard to be in. Well, I’m thinking about that guy that disappeared the night before, and my ass wasn’t going in that tent where they would suspect I was going to be. I was hiding out between the goddamn barrels.That was one of the scariest fucking things that I was involved in, in Korea.

Time goes on and now the war’s over. And we’re in this place on the side of a mountain and we’ve set up our tents. And we’re still doing business but kind of haphazardly because there wasn’t anything going on. There wasn’t anybody getting killed and all of that shit like it had been, which I knew because of the morning reports that I made out every day. I would know exactly who, if anyone, had been killed the night before.

Now we were there with the warrant officers. Three or four of us got into a poker game and we’re drinking Canadian Club. All we could get over there was Canadian Club. And it came through the Koreans. We were playing and we ran out of whiskey. And now we’re deep in this game and we’re about half drunk and we don’t have any whiskey. So, Mr. Hall says “Well Tipton, there’s a chogie camp about a mile and a half down the canyon. Why don’t you go down there and buy us four bottles? I think there about 10 dollars a bottle. Here’s 40 dollars, let’s cut it out of the pot here. We’ll do it up now and we’ll all pay for it.”

So, down the fucking canyon I go and I come to this place where they got a bunch of small tents. This was where the Korean workers lived. And in this one big tent, that’s where the commanding officer is. So, I talked to this Korean and I tell him I want to see the Cap-i-tan. And he knows what I’m talking about, we go in there, he then disappears and the Captain is sitting there behind a table in a uniform. And he says “How many bottle you want?”

I said “Four.”

And he called to a person that was in the other side, in another compartment of the tent evidently. And in a few minutes, he comes in. He brings the bottles and sets them down.

The Captain said “That’ll be forty-four dollar.”


Well, he was already beating me for a dollar on each one.  But anyway, I thought about it for a few minutes like I was gonna get the money out of my pocket and I says to him “My Captain would really take it good if you would give him this “presento.”

“Oh, no, no, no. I can’t do. No, no, no. You don’t understand!”
He told me I didn’t understand.

I said “Yeah, I understand. My Captain would appreciate if you would give him these as a  present.”

“Oh, no, no, no. Impossible. Not possible.”

I took my .45 out of the holster and I pointed it at him across the table and I said “My Captain would really like it if you make a present of these.”

“Oh, it’s fine, fine. Very good! Very good, very, very, very good!”

So now, I’ve got this. I’ve already made my deal and I’m backing out of the tent. It’s a flap and as I’m coming out the flap there was a Korean coming in the flap. So, I just took that .45 and knocked the shit out of him. He was out, completely I’m sure. I didn’t stay there long enough to find out because I’m out in the night and I’m running away from this chogie camp and I’m beginning to think that what I’ve done is really ignorant.

I’m running and I’m running and I hear behind me men yelling in Korean. These motherfuckers are jabbering and I can tell they’re on a dead run to find me. I’m running up this goddamn canyon and I look and there’s this little space that I would call a wash, but it had some brush and growth in it. Now I knew if I kept running that they were gonna get me and kill me. So, I got in that canyon as good as I could do it and I lied on my back and I had that .45 pointed up. I said to myself “Well, the first motherfucker that finds me is gonna meet his maker. After that I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I know that motherfucker is going to die from finding me.”

Well, here they come and they’re all around me. And they’re even standing on a little ledge on top of where I’m looking up at them. They don’t see me. Oh they run here. They run there. I don’t know how long I lay there, it seemed like an eternity and pretty soon they withdrew. After I was pretty sure they were gone – the majority of them, cause I figured I could kill one or two if I had to, but with all of them I wouldn’t have a chance – I got out of there as fast as I could.  

When I got back up to the poker game warrant officer Hall says “Well, goddamn. It sure took you a long fucking time to get them.”

I said “Yeah, well there was a bit of a problem.”

“Bit of a problem?”

And so I set the bottles on the table and I say  “The Captain down there made you a present of these.”

He says “A present? You don’t know what the shit you’re talking about. You really are drunk.”

And then I explained the whole story and they laughed their ass off. They thought it was funny as could be.

Oh, by the way, this Harry Probst Van Osdale deal that I mentioned earlier… the guy that lived in the same tent that I did. He was going with Sinclair Lewis’s daughter and he was writing to her, but he didn’t know what to write or what to say, so he asked me if I would write her. Boy, I really wrote her. I wrote her flowery letters and really told her how Harry was doing in the war, but like it was Harry. And Harry would copy them and send them to her. So, I thought that that was kind of interesting.



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View story at Medium.com

Don’t forget about the dogs.

My mother had an extensive collection of table decorations. A hope chest in the dining room held stacks of linens including tablecloths, lace overlays, placemats and napkins. There was also an absurd amount of napkin rings. At least one variety for every major holiday, and several seasonal selections as well. She adored this collection and I can’t ever remember seeing her six-seat dining room table bare. She justified her ever growing collection by her insistence upon hosting all holiday family dinners. For these occasions, the best of the best adorned the table along with copious amounts of artery-clogging food. My mother never ate much other than meat, prefering to chew on everyone’s left over bones and smoke her Virginia Slims on the back patio.

Setting up for these occasions caused a lot of stress in her home. More often than not a screaming match would ensue in which my mother would threaten Julie, her partner, and I with violence if we “wouldn’t get off our lazy asses to help.” I can remember one Easter Sunday when she wanted the extra folding chairs taken down from the attic immediately. When both Julie and I showed little urgency over the matter, my mother retrieved her .38 pistol and began wildly waving it around. Needless to say we got the chairs from the attic, whispering to one another about how crazy she was, but never taking it very seriously. It’s strange how quickly we normalized such irrational behavior.

It’s been a few weeks since my last experimental session with MDMA and the insights are still continuing to unfold. Life hasn’t been all rainbows and cupcakes no matter how much I wish this were the case at times. There is more balance though, and I’ve noticed that my reactions to situations aren’t as immediate as they have been in the past. I’ve been actively trying to maintain a state of openness. I keep reminding myself of the limitation of expectation. As much as I discovered and processed during the experimental sessions, things are continuing to be revealed to me.

For the last few years I’ve struggled with an ongoing uncomfortable situation. It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly when it started but it’s become a daily struggle. I love dogs. I’ve always had a dog as a pet, and usually more than one. I have rescued several dogs off the streets here in New Orleans and helped them to find homes. We currently have three of these rescue dogs. Our dogs are well behaved for the most part although the youngest has a lot of energy. When I get home, especially if I am by myself, the youngest of the dogs is extremely excited to greet me. I can often hear her nails (along with the other two) hitting the wooden floors inside as I approach the door. Occasionally she will bark with excited frenzy upon my arrival. This creates a horrible trepidation inside of me. I cannot stand the feeling I experience. If I know that Andy will be home soon, I will often drive around the neighborhood waiting for him to get inside before I go home. It has become a strange reaction that I’ve normalized enough to live with.

I had a talk with Andy a few weeks ago about this situation. Now that I’m more aware and present to my physical reactions, I’ve taken note of the ones that feel uncomfortable. I was heavy-hearted and confused as to why I was having these feelings towards our dogs. I asked him what I could do about it, admitting that sometimes I hate to come home. I couldn’t understand or explain why I have this reaction. He listened but there was no solution. I tried not to dwell upon it and instead opted to give it some space.

Coming home from the gym the other morning, I had a revelation. If that word seems dramatic that’s because it is fitting. As I was approaching the front door of my house I could hear the dogs on the other side, and along with the feeling of fear/anxiety I had a loud thought which was “don’t forget about the dogs.” Accompanying this thought was the immediate remembrance that my mother had two miniature dachshunds at her home on the day I found the bodies. These dogs were confined to a room adjacent to the the kitchen in which the floor was tile. When I discovered my mother, Julie and Lark’s bodies the background noise was that of two excited dogs tip-tapping their claws on the floor and barking with frantic energy. I had completely forgotten about them being there. I had no recollection of the sounds they were making until the very moment I was approaching my own door just days ago. I have told the story of what happened that day many, many times and not once can I ever recall mentioning the dogs. What a complete and utter mind fuck.

My beautiful brain has been gracious with these disclosures lately. I spent an afternoon under the influence of a lovely substance with a few close friends of mine. At one point I asked one of them about their childhood which opened up a space for us to talk about past traumas. In listening to this person talk so openly with me about the things they had encountered I was able to feel such immense empathy because I saw so much of my own experience in theirs. In that moment they had become a living mirror to me. I saw how the things that we both suffered forced us to develop certain coping mechanisms that worked as suits of armor against the unpredictability of pain. I also saw how as time progressed in both our lives these suits of armor became cloaks of oppression, holding us back from our own potential and happiness. It was such an honor to share those feelings for someone I love. This is the kind of intimacy that transcends some sexual experiences. I still want to fuck, but I also want to get high and get real.

That same evening while relaxing in my bathtub eating strawberries, I contemplated some of my actions and motivations. I recognized that I have a strong desire to be desired and to feel power and control over some of my relationships. I asked myself why I seem to be so attached to this. I came to the conclusion that because I rapidly lost many of the people that I loved very unpredictably, I find a false sense of power in the belief that I can somehow control the love that others feel for me. That by controlling this desire and these relationships, I won’t have to feel the pain of loss. I had to laugh at myself. Staring at my fingers as they danced on the waters edge, I felt completely relaxed in the knowledge that the whole thing was futile, as I would surely eventually lose every single thing that I love. The people I love will grow and change, as will I. Death will happen to all of us eventually and we have no real way of knowing when. By trying so hard to cultivate and maintain certain states of permanency, I am missing out on precious moments. And any of those moments could potentially be the last. Cliff notes version: attachments equal pain and suffering.

I am immensely thankful that throughout these discoveries, one lovely thought has grown — I am no longer afraid of what is in my brain.

I want you to think about the times you feel uncomfortable. What are you telling yourself then? Is the way you are perceiving a situation truly the way it is, or is it drastically shaped by your own past experiences? I want you to think about the times you feel wonderful. What are you telling yourself then? Or are you telling yourself anything at all? I think that those of us who have experienced trauma (nearly all of us) don’t necessarily understand just how much it has affected the way in which we see our worlds. For years I had normalized feelings of fear and anxiety so much that I denied the strangeness of hating entering my own home. That’s incredible. Now that I understand why I have these feelings, I am allowing myself to be open to the hopeful shift in my reaction. Once we can acknowledge something, we no longer have to simply react to it, we can recognize it and change the narrative. We won’t forget about the dogs.

Copper & I
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https://medium.com/@LoriTipton/dont-forget-about-the-dogs-6887c949ccf4

Where the Magic Happens

Fourteen years ago today Andy ended our relationship for the first time. It was messy and he said a lot of cruel things. “We have nothing in common and if I wasn’t fucking you I wouldn’t want to be your friend.” Oh, and my personal favorite “The first time we had sex was a ten and all the other times have been like five’s.” I  was devastated but also relieved as I had expected things to fall apart. I remember even after he said all of this and assured me that we were done, I still gave him a blow job. It was on the rear balcony of my uptown home and it was raining outside. While on my knees I could hear the droplets hitting the metal overhang. Today, this same man who my therapist at the time said was “uncaring, completely immature and emotionally unavailable” put rose petals in with the snack I brought to work. He has no idea that today is our weird “first breakup and farewell bj” anniversary. Women tend to have a better memory for these occasions. Still there were petals with the snack that he prepared with the same care as our son’s school lunch. He is an amazing father, partner and even after all these years much better than a five as a lover. I’m not mad at all about what happened fourteen years ago. I can actually find so much hilarity in it.  We were immensely different then. Some would say that just wasn’t our time. I might say that my bj’s are just that good.

Timing is everything. Part of me has always hated to admit this because in it’s acceptance there is also a sense of our own powerlessness. Months before I even had an inkling that I would be participating in an FDA clinical trial for MDMA- Assisted Psychotherapy, I kept fixating on the idea of being in the right place at the right time and it’s unfortunate opposite. It bothered me that a person’s complete life experience could be altered simply by timing, beginning with the precariousness of our existence based on the design of ovulation. I’ve had to balance out my fearfulness of poor timing with my inherited belief in luck. My father would regale me with tales of his youth in which he would often just barely avoid a terrible circumstance by sheer luck. He told me that he was lucky, and he believed I was as well. A productive placebo perhaps, but reassuring regardless. Occasionally though we all need a little more than luck.

Here’s the thing. Before I began this trial I didn’t truly believe that I had PTSD. I understand how ludicrous this sounds when the tragedies I’ve experienced are put into context. Nevertheless when told by my current therapist whom I trust very much I would nod my head in agreeance but not accept what she was saying inwardly. It wasn’t until I went through the first battery of psychometric testing did I realize that I was really fucked up. Before then the timing hadn’t been right. Even if someone I loved and trusted had told me “Hey the way you view the world isn’t really the way the world is,”  I would have been incapable of believing them because I had made the world the way I truly believed it was. I now understand that no one would have had any luck in challenging my convictions. I needed to see, absorb and understand the truth that I had come to believe so intensely was not the truth at all. I needed to also understand that I had been powerless in this mode of thinking and reacting. I wasn’t choosing to be the person I had become.

The disconnect that I had developed over years between my mind and my body, became the disconnect between me and the world. I used to sit in therapy and cry. I would tell my therapist of how incredibly lonely I felt. I would explain that losing my nuclear birth family left me feeling desolate and untethered. I would question – if I was less intelligent, would I be happier? I felt exhausted all the time from either suppressing my sadness and discontent or faking my joy and happiness. I had been working so hard to give everyone the reaction they expected that I had forgotten that my reactions were mostly fabrications, straw men. I was going through the motions and believed I was holding it all together. But now I know I wasn’t. Now I realize just how close I was to the edge. I had spent years pretending. Years of thinking that what I was experiencing was reality. Years with very little truth and understanding. My mind was in control – planning, protecting, diligently on guard – and my body was dangling flesh. My body felt nothing but occasional sadness and pain. Tiny bits of emotion that would make their way past the high guard. At the time I didn’t know or understand any of this. I just knew I was different, alone and incredibly unsatisfied with all that I had worked so hard to attain.

Being a part of this trial has allowed me intense introspection that I feel would have been possible through therapy, but would have taken decades. Andy’s analogy of the trilogy is actually quite fitting. In my first experimental drug session, I was figuring out what was available to me. My trust was being built, not just with Shari and Ray, but my trust for myself. In that first session I was able to recall memories that were not necessarily related to a specific trauma but memories that allowed me to feel things in a way that I had forgotten I could feel. This set a precedent for the second experimental drug session. In the second session I was open to a lot more of what was coming up.  The dosage of the drug was higher so I felt more of the effects of the drug, but more importantly I was able to access more feelings than before. Most of those feelings were sorrowful and after that session I was no doubt depressed. In reconnecting with my body, I was riddled with fear and anxiety including: lack of self-worth, guilt over the past, projection into the future, and the quiet desperation of loneliness. Thankfully I made it through which proved to me that the darkest wasn’t nearly as terrifying and defeating as I had believed it would be for years. This gave me hope and strength and moving into the third session my team and I devised an intention.

I knew there were specific things that I wanted to focus on including the death of my mother and my rape. In regards to my mother and the circumstances surrounding her death I had always been able to discuss the tragic events that occurred with a feeling of removal from the situation. It was as if I was telling the story of something that happened to someone else. I had always been able to remember a good amount of specific details but I had never been able to connect to my feelings. While on 180 mg of pharmaceutical-grade MDMA, I placed myself into the memory of that day. I replayed the tragedy and not only did I remain present in my brain, but I also allowed myself to feel what I didn’t allow myself to feel that day. As one can imagine, it was very sorrowful and the sheer terror of the truth reverberated through me. Incredibly though, in the experience I was able to find shocking amounts of empathy for my mother. I considered how terrified she must have been once she had killed Julie and Lark and felt that she could only end things by killing herself. It was a profound experience to mentally go back into that space and remain present to my feelings and not just my thoughts. It has significantly changed me.

Shari and Ray were my support system. They held the space for me to go into these memories and allowed me the safety to do so wholeheartedly. Reminiscent of the scene in Poltergeist where the mother has to rescue Carol Ann and the family and psychic tie a rope around her, Shari and Ray were my rope. I knew if things got too intense, I could tap out. That they would be there to pull me back if I needed them to. They did not need to. Thankfully. After I went through the traumatic event of my mother’s death with the loving support of my team, I decided to tackle the trauma of my rape.

For the first time in over a decade, I told the story of my rape aloud to two individuals who actively listened and showed incredible amounts of empathy. When I finished they were both struck with how dejected I had sounded and had physically presented. I had discussed with them how my rape has continued to affect me specifically by causing a visceral, unpredictable reaction in my body during times of intense arousal. I have described these reactions as feelings of being smothered, suffocated and silenced. In order to process this tragedy, Shari and Ray implored me, asking about triggers that elicited that feeling of panic within my body. I had admitted to them before, and did so again during the session that certain yoga poses immediately cause that reaction within my body. These poses being shoulder stand and plow. For over a decade I have avoided doing these poses even when I was teaching yoga. So there I was, high as fuck, and I suggested that I put myself into a physical posture that I knew would make me feel completely terrible. I had to find the levity in the situation in which then after deciding I would go into the poses, I came up with the short list of things I needed to do beforehand. Hello avoidance. I needed to blow my nose, have a drink of water, eat a mint, have another drink of water. I was like a child avoiding bedtime. Finally I made my way to the mat and after some simple stretches I carefully got into plow pose.

Immediately I felt  intense panic, fear, shame and sadness. I struggled for my breath, from the panic as much as from my tears. Shari and Ray were right there with me holding the space for me. Even so, I felt terrified and paralyzed. Shari calmly and lovingly asked me, “What does that feeling need?”  So I asked the feeling, and simple enough it just wanted to be heard. I just wanted to be heard. Me, Lori Tipton, lying on a mat in a building on the campus of a mental hospital, high on MDMA, just wanted to be heard, believed and empathized with. Bada bing, bada boom. There are so many circumstances surrounding my rape that caused me to be silenced at the time. I never realized how toxic that silence has been. Being in that miserable pose and allowing myself to feel everything, and being seen and heard by people who I have grown to trust and care for immensely was incredibly healing. I stayed in that first plow pose for a few minutes. Then I came out of it and relished every moment of easy breath. I went back into the pose two more times. And by the end of the third time, it was uncomfortable, but it wasn’t unbearable. For me that’s no short of a miracle.

I am still processing all that has happened to me. I feel like I’m standing on the shore of openness and action. Part of me wants to feel the tug of the waves and allow them to take me wherever I am supposed to be. To trust in the pull, the process. The other part of me wants to dive into them. To thrash against them and feel the power of myself, my desires, my volition. I’m walking that shoreline like a tightrope. This walk is the integration, the practice.

To reconnect with my body has been one of the most harrowing and rewarding experiences of my life. I have had to mourn the loss of myself, my time and my potential. I have had to accept the parts of Wilder’s life that I was physically there for but not emotionally available for. I have had to treat myself with kindness and patience, which have taken time to cultivate. It has been a reconnection lubricated by immense sorrow and a plethora of tears. But it has also left me with something more beautiful than I could have imagined. Feeling. Presence. Awareness. My truth has released me from the guilt of my past and allowed me to acknowledge that great things are still available for me. Right now. In this very moment. Andy confessed that over the last few weeks he has found immense satisfaction in silently watching me experience mundane things as if for the first time. And that is how so many things are feeling right now. Awkwardly delightful.

I am falling more in love with my life every day. I am finding it so much easier to laugh the way I used to years ago. I feel lighter, calmer and less agitated. This is not to say that I’m now free of all fear and anxiety. I still have that voice that so badly wants to question everything and constantly self-criticize. Thankfully, it’s not nearly as loud. I have a new, small fear that I’m listening to but limiting its growth. This fear worries that I’ll wake up one day just as crippled by my PTSD as I once was. I hold this little fear close to my heart and whisper soothingly “that’s impossible, because you can never unknow the things you’ve learned.” And when it wants to sweep me away to that oxymoronic comfortable place of feeling bad, I bring myself back to the moment. My son’s laughter, the tenderness of my husband, the taste of my lover’s skin, the love of my community. These moments are where the magic happens. And I want to be open to all of them.

 

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Third time’s a charm.

“What if I’m no longer myself when all this is over with?” This question persistently troubled me when I first began my participation in the current FDA clinical trial for MDMA- Assisted Psychotherapy. As I have progressed in this study, it has transformed from a serious inquiry to a meek whisper. I have nearly altogether dismissed it due to the realization that before beginning this treatment, I really didn’t know myself. I mean I thought I did, in fact, I was sure I did. But as revelations occured and contemplations followed, I found that the identity that I was so afraid of losing was not at all the true essence of who I am.  Both my therapist and my tarot card reader answered my initial question with the same words, “When this is over you will be more of yourself.” I am finally understanding what they meant.

If parts of my story have mirrored yours, that’s because we aren’t that altogether different. Now that I’ve made it through some of my most intense personal moments and felt the reward of sheer survival, I have returned with some remarkable knowledge. The discoveries I’ve made have been both monumental and at the same time incredibly simplistic. It’s a similar feeling to when you’ve finally been shown the proper way to do something you’ve been doing wrong for a very long time. Perhaps the proper way is even incredibly easier than what you’ve been doing and while there is a joy in finding a better way of doing this thing, there is also a bit of guilt and frustration in the acknowledgement of the time you’ve wasted doing it wrong.

Here’s a very abbreviated synopsis of what I’ve learned about myself thus far. I experienced a severely traumatic childhood. My mother was mentally ill, and because of her illness she was incredibly unpredictable. Before I even had words, my interactions with her often left me feeling afraid. This fear began and continues to manifest in issues of abandonment, and doubts of self-worth. Specifically because my mother had a very dualistic personality and was able to present to the majority of people in her life as a sane person, I was left feeling not only sad but also extremely frustrated. My child mind reasoned that she must have had a choice in her actions and that something that I was doing wrong was the cause for the often bad times I experienced with her.  As I grew older and her illness progressed, her interactions only served to continue to feed my fears of abandonment and my lack of self-worth. Perhaps if these interactions had been all that occurred, through therapy and through having a very loving and respectful relationship with my father, I would have been able to understand, empathize, and not internalize my mother’s mental illness. Unfortunately, that is not how things played out. The traumas that occurred during my adult life only worked to solidify my fears and my beliefs that I am not worthy or lovable. Beginning with the tragic loss of my brother and my guilt over being unable to help him. Continuing with my mother murdering two people and herself, followed by a natural disaster of magnificent proportions. And further progressing when I was raped by someone I loved and trusted which ended in pregnancy and abortion. As slowly and as steadily as Pangaea’s separation, each one of these events helped to solidify and reinforce my fears and beliefs. Slowly building them silently inside of me, allowing them to rob me of my ability to feel, to be in my body comfortably, and to accept what had happened to me.

Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Most of us suffer from some fears of abandonment or doubts of self-worth. I believe that most people reading this will be able to relate. So it seems nearly ludicrous to me that I am only now able to draw the parallels between these circumstances and my PTSD. I have come to believe that my ability to deny what was happening to me was partly due to the vast separation between my mind and body. Something that I have become consciously aware of.

While working at the bar a few weeks ago I was visited by a friend who works nearby. He has a quiet, caring demeanor not unlike a trusted priest or a favored school nurse. He provides an easy intimacy in which I’ve felt a security in telling him things. Even secrets I normally wouldn’t discuss have had a way of easily rolling off my tongue. His response is always one of tender indifference, as if to reassure me that he values what I’m saying but he’s not disturbed or even attached to it. I’m not quite sure how it had come up one day but I blatantly told him, “You know I really love sex but I’ve faked a considerable amount of orgasms.” He continued listening unfazed and the conversation progressed. Later when discussing my thoughts on non-monogamy I joked with him stating, “I really don’t care how many lovers a person has, as long as I’m the best.” He smiled back and with the nonchalance of Yoda replied, “Well, that’s why you fake it. You’re too worried about giving an experience to someone else that you don’t allow yourself to enjoy your own experience.” After stating this he hustled out quickly to make an appointment leaving me the rest of the shift to consider what he had said.

I brought this up in therapy because I believe my faked orgasms are the perfect analogy for how I’ve been moving through my life. So often I have chosen to sacrifice my own complete fulfillment which I know I am capable of, for some smaller representation of that experience that at times is a complete mockery. I have faked something that I was perfectly capable of actually achieving, and at the prompting of no one but myself. I think at first this faking “it” was a necessity for life. In the aftermath of several horrific experiences I tricked myself into believing that I was just fine. As I have written about in the past, I locked my feelings deeply inside of myself, and just as my mother mastered her dualistic nature, I also presented one side of myself to most of the world. In doing this I greatly increased the chasm between my mind and body. Not allowing myself to experience my feelings and suffering the intense destruction of them when they would find a way out (generally during periods of intoxication or overwhelming depression.) My own denial of my experience and the emotive response to it, was no doubt a factor in the development of my PTSD. Once this disorder began to manifest, the subsequent changes in my brain structure and my interactions with the world only furthered my desire to upkeep the farce. While at first it seemed like the easy thing to do, and the thing that would allow me to persevere and survive, it has proven to be exhausting and unfulfilling. Much like a relationship built on disingenuous pleasure. If I have to fake it to make it, I don’t want it anymore.

I’m truly invested in authenticity. I am devoted to allowing myself the time and energy to be present to all the things that are coming up. With an incredibly hectic life this hasn’t been easy, but it has been rewarding beyond measure. I have had to evaluate some of my automatic reactions. I have had to acknowledge my triggers and be present to the horrible insecurities they often manifest. I have had to let go of relationships that I hoped would blossom. I have had to be open and willing to let love change me. I have had to accept that I’m still learning who I am. I have had to trust that all of this will be worth it in the end.

On Saturday I will attend my third and final experimental drug session. I’m ready to go all in for this one. I have discussed with Shari and Ray my intentions, and they are loving supporters. There are still portions of my mother’s death that I have an inability to recall. I can remember in vivid detail the events leading up to and even most of the aspects of the discovery of the bodies, but there is something integral that is still missing. I continue to be able to talk about these occurrences as if they happened to someone else. I feel as if I witnessed them (which I most certainly did) but that I was completely emotionally removed from what I was experiencing. Even my 911 call from the house that day is calm, considering what I had discovered. I am hoping that by revisiting this experience while under the influence of the drug, I will be able to emotionally access things I have been unable to in the twelve years since this happened. Either that or it’ll be the worst roll ever.

I am also interested in processing my rape. I have talked very little about this trauma and it took me a decade to write about it (https://medium.com/@LoriTipton/one-decade-down-2383c81f446f)I know that it still affects me though, as I often have unwanted physical and physiological reactions to certain types of touch or intimate situations. It has been the trauma that has caused me to feel the most shame and in turn the one that I have been most reluctant to work through. It has often been eclipsed by the larger, perhaps more significant tragic events that have occurred in my life, but I know it needs to be acknowledged. Regardless of the level of pain, I am apt to recognize the effect it has had on me.

Saturday sounds like it’s going to be a riot, doesn’t it? The most exceptional aspect to these plans is that I’m no longer afraid. I know that this work isn’t going to be easy and it might not even be fruitful, but at this moment I don’t fear it will kill me. And that alone is worth whatever happens this weekend. I’ll report back from the other side.

As always, thank you for your continued support.

 

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“Baby, if I don’t feel it I ain’t faking no no.” – Rihanna

F*ck the weather, THIS is what I always want.

On Mardi Gras day I found myself at a bar standing next to a pulchritudinous woman who was clutching a bottle of champagne. She looked over at me and bemoaned, “I’ve been holding on to this for so long.” I tapped the bar and said, “Put it down, take a rest.” As she sat the champagne on the bar her face flooded with instant relief and she glanced past me at a group sitting by the window. “Oh,” she cooed, “look at her headpiece, it’s so beautiful, she’s so beautiful.” I glanced over my shoulder in agreeance, and as we both turned our focus back to the champagne in front of us, she caught a glimpse of her own reflection in the mirrors behind the bar’s liquor selection. She gasped, reaching her hand up to her head, “I’m wearing a headpiece too. And I’m beautiful.” It was as if she was just noticing these things for the first time ever, and her sense of delight and wonder were enchanting. I smiled, “Yes, you are. Isn’t is funny but that’s how it works, we forget how beautiful we are.” She laughed grabbing my arm tenderly, “Yes! We often just need someone else to be our mirror, and then maybe an actual mirror.” We laughed together as I intimately said to this stranger, “I really needed that reminder, not to get too deep but I’ve been going through it.” She grabbed my hand and said, “Go deep. Fuck the weather, THIS is what I always want.” And in that instant, I realized it’s what I want as well.

After my last MDMA experimental session I began to integrate the severity of the separation between my mind and my body. It seems rather ludicrous that someone who has completed yoga teacher training and even has an online account with the website “mindbody” would be so dualistic, but I’ve been. So much of my trauma has been sequestered to my brain/thinking self and the avoidance of feeling my body’s reactions that it’s as if the bridge between the two was deconstructed over time. I was given an abundance of opportunities to get in touch with my physical feelings, all of which seemed to be incredibly uncomfortable, leading up to Mardi Gras.

I found myself at times overcome with profound sadness. Beyond this sadness, lurking in the shadows were my old friends self-doubt and fear of abandonment. Now that I’m not in what I lovingly referred to as “the bog of despair” it’s difficult to convey the hold it had on me. I was significantly struggling with immense insecurities. My mind was playing every failed relationship over and over in my head, like a 24 hour projection of my inadequacies. I was dreaming about past friendships and love affairs that I haven’t thought of in years. If we have ever fucked, please note I was thinking of you a few weeks ago. Things bordered on obsession, as my mind was fixated on proving to me that I was indeed unlovable. I understand how bizarre this sounds. As Patanjali says in the Yoga Sutra, “Vitarka Badhane Pratipaksha Bhavanam” meaning when disturbed by disturbing thoughts, think the opposite. But sometimes, this just isn’t an option. My mind was racing, my sleep was broken and I was existing in a cycle of insecurity, sadness and shame.

I felt as though I needed a vacation from my brain. I wanted a drink, a fight or a fuck. Instead I stayed with these thoughts and tried my hardest to be present to the feelings they would manifest in my body as I desperately tried to remind myself that this was just a temporary state. I made it through several shifts at work, although I’m not entirely sure how. After one of my shifts I completely broke down in the locker room. A friend walked in and I lost it, ugly crying into her shoulder, broken sentences escaping between sobs. Definitely not my finest hour. And this wasn’t a solitary occurrence. I cried so hard one night that I broke blood vessels in my eyes. I must admit in the midst of these tortuous circumstances I did question if my participation in this trial was worth it. I had to wonder if this breaking down was going to be fruitful or if this was all one big mistake. It’s easy to have these misgivings when you’ve reached a twist in the tunnel and you can no longer see the light at the end.

After several days and nights of these fears and anxieties building, I finally talked to Andy about them. “I feel so irrelevant and unlovable. I don’t love myself so as RuPaul says, how can anyone love me?” He was so incredibly kind to me that he didn’t even point out my misquote. We talked for a few hours in which I regalled him with all the evidence as to why I am not deserving of love. He listened patiently and then presented his theory. “Your mind has been fighting some really big, heavy shit for a very long time. Because of that you have this mental army that’s prepared for the end of days. And maybe now you’re starting to see the end of days might not be coming, so your army is scrambling for something to attack. Now your mental army is doing what everyone’s does, its focusing on regular insecurities of relevance and worthiness. You’re not alone in these thoughts and fears. You’ve just been fighting the bigger stuff for so long, you’ve forgotten what normal stress is like. And your army is stronger than most, so it wants a bigger fight.” I don’t know if there’s any truth to this, but it was so much more eloquent than saying “You’re fucking nuts.”

Andy wasn’t the only person to assure me in my time of despair. Nothing short of a miracle occurred when a dear friend from out of town found the time to have dinner with me during Carnival. We met up and immediately I felt truly seen by her. I was overcome with gratitude for the relief I felt by having someone to discuss my innermost fears and anxieties with, who has also shared in these miseries. We sat for a few hours taking turns talking, me crying nearly the entire time. My tears felt incredibly productive though and I can hardly remember a time when I have felt so close to another person, outside of my relationships with Wilder and Andy. She showed me immense compassion and understanding, as well as the acknowledgement of where I currently am in this process. By the time we parted ways, I could feel the knot starting to loosen. I am immensely grateful for her love and support and hope to move through this world with the same care and honor that she does.

After that meeting, things drastically improved and I have to say that this past Mardi Gras day may have been my favorite of all time. I was able to wander around freely, thoroughly enjoying the company of several different groups of people, laughing, dancing and falling in love over and over again. It was a truly magical day, punctuated by the love of my family, lovers and close friends. I surprisingly found myself in the company of strangers in a beautiful home that overlooked the gardens of St. Louis Cathedral. The view was breathtaking, and the company was delightful. I was reminded of the amount of beauty, magic and open-mindedness that is a normal part of our culture. I had some great conversations and plenty of delicious kisses. It was the perfect day to be in touch with my body, as well as the bodies of others.

Speaking of, there has been one significant benefit to bridging the mind/body gap, and that is the magnitude of my orgasms. You know when you think you’ve had good coffee and then someone makes you really good coffee and you think, “Jesus, this is what I’ve been missing out on!” Well, that’s how it’s been for me these last few weeks. Praise be to ones who’ve helped. Perhaps this is the cosmos giving me a very well-deserved break. Tears do make decent lube after all and Heaven knows I’ve had enough to spare. If the motto is there can be no pleasure without pain, then I’m ready for all the pleasure. Bring it.

Follow me on IG at l.e.tipton

Thanks to all of you for the support, especially to Andy & Angel, my darlings.

 

The Show Must Go On

During my second experimental MDMA session on Saturday there were moments when I felt I had solved some of the mysteries of my universe, and yesterday I could barely get out of the bathtub. I was exhausted, feeling immense sorrow and hopelessness to the point I had to skip my favorite parade because I accidentally napped for over three hours. A few weeks ago I looked across the room at Andy and asked him how he was feeling. He replied, “You know when you feel like all the fun is gone, like it’s all been used up and will never return? That’s how I feel.” We both laughed that day because the idea was both ludicrous and acceptable. Right now I’m finding it hard to laugh, and I can’t wait until the day when the humor returns. I know it will, so I’m holding out.

On Saturday I received a total of 180 mg of MDMA. The days leading up to this session were punctuated with anxiety, fear and sorrow. My nephew, whom I love very much and who is also a heroin addict popped back into my life. He arrived on the Greyhound bus at 7 am on Thursday and told me that he had been clean for the last few weeks. It felt so good to hug him, but I could feel that he was holding back. I know the sad predictability of loving an addict and I’m never truly surprised when it is eventually revealed that he has been dishonest to me, but that understanding doesn’t negate my sorrow. I have been consciously trying to allow myself to experience my emotions, instead of distracting myself or trying to rationalize them. It has been a devoted effort to allow myself to be with my feelings, even when I fear that they will destroy me. My nephew’s return provided an opportunity to work on this practice.

That Thursday afternoon after he was no longer with me, I received a phone call that confirmed my fears and suspicions, he had indeed once again lied to me. This phone call occurred fifteen minutes before my scheduled Skype date with an independent rater for the MDMA study. Because of the protocol, I understood that rescheduling this interview would completely disrupt the schedule of the experiment. I did my best to pull myself together and then endured nearly two hours of discussion and questions in which I was asked to describe and consider the most traumatic event in my life. It took everything not to simply burst into tears and slam my computer into the wall. As one can imagine, I was not in a good mental state when we finished.

As soon as I logged off, I broke down. I felt desperate and hopeless. I cried profusely, but my tears didn’t provide any relief. I felt as if I was drowning in this helplessness, and that there was no way out of this darkness. I believed that my pain was futile. This is the danger zone. This is when I know that isolation can become deadly. It is hard to describe this mental state to those who have never contemplated suicide. There is a moment when death feels like the only option that makes sense. I was in abject misery, and I considered what it would be like to kill myself. My handgun was a mere three feet from me at that point. I imagined punching in the code, removing the gun from the safe. I thought about the taste of the cold metal in my mouth, and how Andy would find me. My blood and bits of brain splattered across my art collection that I loved so dearly. And in these thoughts I saw my son. That is when I texted a friend. Just the action of typing the words of my despair helped to pull me out of it. A balloon, a life preserver, a weak tether to sanity, but a tether nonetheless. I tricked myself into getting up. I told myself that I couldn’t die in an unvacuumed house, and decided I would vacuum the entire house and then see if the feeling persisted. By the time I finished I wanted a bath and it was in this more relaxed state that I asked my friend to come over because I knew I shouldn’t be alone.

This is an important development. After being with this feeling and not acting upon it, I didn’t turn to my normal routes of distraction. I did not go fuck someone, I did not start drinking or take something to calm me down, I did not instigate a text or telephone conversation with the purpose of avoiding my current mental state. I texted someone who was able to provide me with what I most needed- empathetic, active listening. He arrived not long after I asked him to come and we sat for a few hours on opposite ends of the couch. He drank apple juice while I cried and talked. He listened, only commenting when necessary to help me process what I was going through. If this had been a date, it would have been the worst date ever. I felt ashamed that I had been so weak. It was a challenge to allow myself to be that vulnerable in person, as this has always been hard for me. I am eternally grateful to him for his willingness to support me and in turn potentially saving my life. It’s true that we often don’t understand the magnitude of our compassion.

I met with the doctors the following day and was able to further examine my feelings toward my nephew. The truth is I don’t see much difference between the two of us. We have both chosen means to distract ourselves and avoid our pain. Over time I was able to cultivate techniques that are more socially acceptable, whereas he is younger and turned to opiods and became addicted. My nephew lost both his parents to drug overdoses and then suffered the same pain caused by the loss of my mother and the women she killed. Instead of society understanding that his addiction has been a means of survival, he has been labeled an addict and criminal. He has served time in extremely violent prisons for non-violent offences and has discovered there are little to no social services available that can offer effective help to him. I feel disgusted and guilty that this is his reality. While I am incredibly grateful to be a part of this study and I do believe it has already caused some changes within me, I feel at times that it is pointless. What’s the benefit to feeling better if my counterpart is still stuck in the same cycle of pain? My nephew has been my lifeline at times. He has been the one who “gets it.” I am terrified when imagining a life without him. There is also guilt mixed in my intense love because needing someone desperately is not a burden I want to place upon them. I feel as if he and I have gone to war together. Not against one another but with one another. We can tell other people about the battle but they can’t truly know what it was like, because they weren’t there. I have to admire him for everyday that he chooses to live. As fucked up as he is, he’s still here. And that is more than the rest of them. Maybe he will read this and it’s meaning will be more than a paragraph in this essay. Regardless, his random arrival created an intense emotional environment for my second experimental session.

This time around, things were a lot more profound. I was given more of the drug which I think helped to facilitate the process more quickly. It’s difficult to recall all that I spoke about and to find words for the things that I can aptly remember. I believe the drug helped to place me in a state of well-being where I was more easily able to be open to my feelings and create a space between them and my ego. I was able to witness more of my thoughts and emotions instead of feeling tied to them. The process felt similar to descriptions I have read of deep meditation, although I’ve never experienced anything like this. The environment, including the Shari and Ray were conducive to a sense of safety and openness. I did not feel as though there was an agenda, so the possibilities of my thoughts and reactions were endless. The session was approximately eight hours and I would say that I cried for five to six of those hours. I also urinated a lot. I joked at the end that I had probably lost over ten pounds in water weight. The crying was cathartic though, and at times mixed in with joy and not just sorrow. I spoke a lot of my family and my perceptions and beliefs as a young child. I talked about some of the people and animals I had lost through the years, pulling out my phone at one point to make everyone look at pictures of Brando. I experienced memories that I hadn’t thought about in years. I was able to witness situations and events from a different perspective. While a lot of it was very hard work, there were a few moments of levity where we all found laughter.

I had put on the headphones for a while and was listening to music when all of a sudden I had an epiphany. I asked for a notebook and pen and began scribbling madly. I wrote for quite a few minutes and then took my headphones off. In my memory I said something to the effect, “Ok y’all, hear me out, I think I’m onto something now.” In reality, who the fuck knows how I prefaced it, or how this knowledge came out, but I’m going to try to explain it. In my first session I talked about my experience with a local medium in which I had been so depressed afterward because it was presented that my mother and the other people she had contacted were still stuck in the same mental state as when they had died. She claimed that my mother’s energy was unpredictable and sickly, and that no enlightenment had occured after her passing. This had been a real bummer, and I wrote about that experience. So in this heightened state of awareness in my second session I wrote the following statement: “Perhaps the way we hold space for the memories of people, keeps them locked in that state of energy.” Meaning that the medium had not been reading my mother’s energy from the afterlife, but that she had been reading my perception of my mother from within my own energy. The current question for me in the session was, how had that perception affected me over years of harboring it? It’s about to get even deeper. Next I had written, “Liberation comes from the ability to respect and accept the memory without allowing it to create the same reality.” There’s truly so much going on here in the ways I’ve recently been able to draw specific parallels to trauma experienced as a young child and my current PTSD manifestations including lack of self-empathy and crippling fears of abandonment. I’m trying to allow space for these thoughts to develop, without judgement or impatience. I understand that these thoughts may not seem profound at all, but for me they were like peeking behind the curtain.

I feel like I’ve viewed the world through dirty lenses for years, and in these moments, the glass has been wiped clean. I also was once again able to be in my feelings and experience them fully without fear or judgement. And while the session only lasted for a quarter of a day, the effects no doubt continue to manifest. That evening after Shari and Ray left and my night sitter and I ate some food and watched horror movie trailers (which is a brilliant thing to do when you are sleeping on the campus of a mental hospital), I checked my phone as I lied down to go to bed. I had received a text, and upon reading it I immediately felt a sudden sense of despair in my solar plexus. This text had triggered my fear of abandonment, and I was able to come to that realization by staying within my body and allowing myself to explore what I was feeling. It was certainly uncomfortable, but as I stayed with it, and continued to breath, I felt it slowly dissipate. I was reminded that I am not just my feelings or just my thoughts, and that there are reactions that are sometimes beyond my control. I refused to distract myself by either waking my night sitter, or engaging in a conversation via text. I allowed myself some time to witness what was occurring, and in those moments I realized the reaction had nothing to do with the text at all. My limbic brain just did what it has done for years, but this time I acknowledged it and asked it to politely shut the fuck up.

On Sunday before I was released into Andy’s care, I had a follow up session with Shari and Ray. I explained that I was feeling extremely exhausted and that I hoped this was partly due to catharsis. I told them about feeling triggered the night before and the visceral reaction I had to such a non-threatening occurrence. I also talked with them about how I feel somewhat defeated that my brain can do this to me whenever it wants to. We discussed how in the past my reaction would have been to latch ahold of the trigger and try to “fix” it with little acknowledgment of how it is tied to the deeper issue of abandonment. Meaning as hopeless as it feels at times, I am making baby steps. I explained how frustrated I am with myself for not being able to figure out the puzzle that is my brain. They explained that the paradox is that there isn’t anything to actually figure out. You just have to be the witness.

When Andy got home on Sunday evening he found me in the recliner where I had been for hours. When he asked how I was doing, I began to cry. I can’t help but admit that since I’ve been allowing myself to feel things, I have found myself incredibly sorrowful. I looked at him through teary eyes and said, “I hate to say it, but honestly I feel hopeless.” I was partly afraid of his reaction, as my instinct has been to protect him from my vulnerability. He quickly responded, “Of course you do! This is a trilogy and you’ve just finished part two, you’re going to get to Return of the Jedi and then it will make a lot more sense.” I thanked him for a perspective that I had not been able to find. In order to build something new sometimes you have to destroy what is there, down to the slab. My slab is in a million pieces presently, so please handle me with care.

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