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life lessons

I’m Sorry

for all the things I forgot to tell you when you were here

for being so impatient with you

for wanting you to go to bed so I could have some time alone

That was written not long after my Dad died. It seems to be that no matter how you try to care for your terminally ill , so that every single want, need, wish and prayer are covered, there will be regrets.

There will be “what-if’s” , “why-not’s” , “why-didn’t-I’s” galore. So, in a note to my past self I say, “It’s OK Susie. You did your absolute best. YOUR ABSOLUTE BEST. No regrets, just love. Love for you, Susie. They are gone, they do not hurt anymore. They don’t remember the time you stole a dollar out of their coat to buy a coke. Memories like these are for people who did not love, Susie. You loved. YOU loved. YOU LOVED. And you are still loving them today. That’s good, to be loving them still, to feel that empty space in your heart for them, still. That is real and it’s grief, and it has no timetable. But guilt? SUSIE, GUILT IS NOT A LIVING THING. IT’S A THING THAT BRINGS DESTRUCTION WITH IT. LOSS OF HOPE. PAIN. SO MUCH PAIN. PUT DOWN THAT GUILT YOU HAVE AIMED AT YOURSELF. JUST DROP IT… That’s a good girl…put it down. Give it here, give it to me, let’s take those awful bullets out…that’s a good girl, Susie… Come here, Child…Yes , I know you still Hurt, yes I know…it’s OK to cry…I will comfort you till you can carry yourself again…Just leave all that self hate and guilt lie, I will throw it away for you. Yes, shhhhhh…I know you miss them, that’s alright, love…”

But missing them won’t kill you. Guilt will.

And somehow, by writing that, and feeling it, and seeing it on the page, I feel relief. I am grateful to my God, at this very moment. Goodnight.

sunset in paradise

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life lessons

Happy.

I made a conscious decision to be happy . So I am!

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life lessons

When Does Abuse End?

When?

I still can not recognize my pain. I still blame myself for not being good enough. I have been hurting for months , this time…listless, inert, loathing myself, feeling so lost and alone, believing that no one loves me. Feeling so distant from God. From humans. From happiness.

I remember feeling like this for months now, not sure where it exactly began. I keep hiding my true feelings from everyone who knows me, telling them I’m fine. When I work up the courage to reach out and tell someone how low I am, when the moment comes I blow it off, say that I’m feeling better, or that I’ve worked it all out by myself.

Even when I pray, I’m afraid God doesn’t want to hear from me, that I just keep making the same mistakes over, and over…and over. I think that he’s angry now, for me writing that. How can I be unhappy? Haven’t I got more than alot of others in this world? I have my little home , my little car, my little yard, my little dogs…

I have no one to share them with. I live a life of pushing aside the cobwebs, trying to see the sun. My whole self worth must have been based on the people I cared for, my Husband with his alcoholism and addiction, then Mom, with cancer, then Dad with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. I’ve even lost my jobs of caring for the horses I so loved, and all the puppies I raised. What a horrible whining sob story.

I was watching , earlier, a small film about suicide, that of a lovely teenage girl. Her friend made the movie, and she herself has attempted suicide, and she wants to help people understand mental illness. So I was feeling many of the old feelings I would talk about when I was in Western Psychiatric Institute, and how they mirrored what these young women were feeling. The suicidal girls had been sexually abused as children…

AND SO HAD I… HELLO! Light bulbs began going off!! All those same issues I have lived with for the past 47 years, that I have stuffed down and buried-SINCE THE LAST TIME I FELT SO DOWN! They have not gone away just because I pretend they have! I can’t pick and choose when these nightmares hit me, or when I feel so childlike and vulnerable, or when the flashbacks come!

It was years of abuse I lived through, sexual molestation, emotional degredation, years of parental dismissal, of skepticism, until drug addiction and alcoholism and gang rape, and more physical beatings than a man should ever endure, let alone a Young woman. There is so much I don’t understand about what all this abuse has done to me psychologically , I do know this: I am not a “regular” “healthy” “normal” person, and I don’t respond the way “regular”people do.

I haven’t been to see my therapist for over a month, I cancelled my last appointment because I couldn’t get out of bed. I remember speaking to her, and she said she’d call if there was a cancellation, but I hadn’t heard, so I called today. But the automated directory said that wasn’t a valid request, so now I am imagining that she is gone forever. (a little of my all or nothing thinking) The reality is that I feel like a ten year old whose parents and brother have left alone in a strange house, and who is now supposed to know how to do all the adult stuff….It’s so overwhelming. One thing I am realizing today, actually this minute, is that this awful worthlessness I feel , and this crippling exhaustion and depression are stemming from things that happened all those years ago.

The last 30 years have been spent trying to heal, learning to love and care about myself again. I must have done well, because along the way I learned to love others in a selfless way, and that has been huge for me. Perhaps now that I have had this awakening I can start to rebuild again, to care again, and move again.

I am so glad I found that video, I am grateful to the people who shared their experiences of such heartbreaking tragedy in their hopes that it would help others. I am going to keep on trying to get well, I don’t hate the little girl I was before the bad things happened, I must learn to love myself again…I know there are many people who have loved one’s who struggle with flashbacks and PTSD and Bipolar Disorder and Suicidal Ideation, please keep being a listening ear, a port in the storm, a shoulder to cry on. We need your love so much…

Lo

losing my wits, bit by bit

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I Will Tell the Truth Now

I will make a huge effort to tell the truth. I always fluff things up, until I am not even sure what my truth is. My Dad was a SUPER Exaggerator , and an Embellisher of the highest order, and I hung on his every word. I could see others staring up at him, eyes widened with amazement, intaken breath ready to burst out at the first opportunity… Then the woosh of exhalations and nervous laughter, trying to hide their excitement , pretending to their girlfriends that they already knew what he was going to say. They would kind of nudge each other and tilt their head at Dad, like he was their trick pony. But he had them ALL wrapped around his little finger, they couldn’t wait for his next story to start. And neither could I.

I wanted to have people hanging on MY every word, I wanted to be the hero in MY stories, and I wanted my Dad to love me more than anyone else in my life. It just seemed that part of his over-the-top charism hinged on his elevated status in his own mind too. He never had time for me, for any of us kids, or even Mum. He revolved around his own Sun, and basked in His own glow.

We just floated past like tiny moons.

a rainy day…missing you.

When I finally realized how little truth he told, it was years later. I was a grown woman, and my life had taken a long, arduous detor into hard drugs, hatred and homelessness. I had tried to destroy myself in every way imaginable, and nearly succeeded in some instances. There was a gradual awakening to the fact that I could never run far or fast enough to leave my memories behind, nor could I continue to carry the loathing I felt for myself and keep living.

I loathed my Daddy too. It was all his fault , really. If he had just NOTICED me. Or spoken to me, besides “good morning” and a whack on the back as he passed by. Maybe then I would have turned out different. …No. It took all those years on the outside to teach me how to live. To learn that he was as broken as me. That everyone is broken, and that the act of living is an act of mercy. To allow ourselves to heal, honestly. Peel off the Ugly Sweaters of years of Selfishness and Isolation. Take off the Dirty Overcoats of Lonliness and Shame, Step out of the Heavy Combat Boots of Hatred and Self Harm, Skin off the Sweaty Tee Shirt that holds our Sadness in, and let our Hearts breathe.

Let my heart breathe again, let a little sunlight into my greyeyes greyskies. I’m telling you the truth, that I hated my own Daddy, that I LoVe him madly down to this day. I hated myself because I let myself down. I blamed myself for all the badness that found it’s way on top of me. I never told my Daddy that I was Hurt, that I had been raped, that I had been beaten like a dog. How could he know?

It was my burden to carry. You carry your own water…you carry your own water. I wish I could have told him back then. He was my hero. My broken hero. I didn’t know that Daddy’s could be broken too.

I wonder sometimes what will become of me, who can I be a hero to? I think God is telling me something, wait… Oh, yeah, He’s Right! You know what he reminded me? That He is my Father, He is my Hero, and He’s taking care of me right now, and I will be with my Daddy one day soon.

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life lessons

Up at 9am!

Wow…momentous day! Even though I was up and down 3 or four times, ie:cat out, pee, drink of water, pee, help my blind dog find his bed, pee…You know the deal, my fellow insomniacs.

I do feel back in the light, which is splendiferous, warming the little cockles of my heart. I’m going to look cockles up in the dictionary, they sound like a type of marine life. I finished a mural commission yesterday , it only took me a month to complete ! I was “sick ” more days than not , whether it be physically or emotionally, hence the prolonged finish date. I know the client was glad to have it done, albeit I still have to clear coat it for durability . I will post a good picture soon .

We discussed a commission for a painting/photo portrait of her horse, which was the subject of the aforementioned mural , and I am very excited by the prospect. I love to paint and draw and be near horses, they center me and ease my mind. My time working with horses has been the most rewarding work I have ever done, right under serving my God. He certainly expressed his wonderful love when he created horses!

I will make this brief , but oh, I came home right after the conversation about the horse portrait and freepainted a beautiful portrait of a Friesian Stallion racing thru a winter night. I am so pleased. It showed me how far I’ve come, and the beauty I can express when I let it flow, instead of agonizing over each brushstroke!

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life lessons

When Will I Feel Good?

Self sabotage…Setting myself up to be even more discouraged and sad…Do you think it’s possible? I KNOW IT IS BECAUSE I AM DOING IT! I stay up all night painting , knowing how guilty I will feel when I sleep till 2am. Not going to my Therapy appointments and making lame (and untru) excuses, even though I am absolutely certain that seeing my therapist would be so healing. Refusing to go to the pharmacy for eye medicine when I KNOW I will feel bad for not giving my dog his eye drops. I refuse to do dishes for days, and am sickened by the sight of dirty dishes… And on and on. When I finally allow myself to snap out of this zombie -like hate ride I’m on, I will go into a cleaning frenzy , one that will over-reach my physical condition’s limitations. Then I can feel guilty about that! AAARGH! The torment is endless it seems! I build my own fire, tie myself to the stake, and stand writhing in the flames with scissors in my hand…

Just maybe I can step out of the bonfire soon, if I could put my finger on what is really bothering me. I think it may be the fact that I botched up my finances so badly last month, and am suffering for it this month. I feel so overwhelmed and frightened that I am losing control . I am too ashamed to tell my Aunt (who I chose as an emotional replacement for my dead mother) that I bounced three transactions in October and had to pay 7 thirty six dollar fees, plus the money to cover the mistakes. All because I accidentally paid a bill 2 times online… So I owed half of my Disability Check before it even came.

I had to go to the County food pantry last week, and I am maxed out on my 2 new credit cards… But I sit here with a house full of things and art I can sell. I have myself convinced that I’m an awful artist, even though I just went to Chicago for a prestigious award for one of my works! I must really hate myself. However, I do believe that knowing the cause of my emotional upheaval will help me get well again soon… (at least start functioning again, and quit punishing myself for a while).

I think I am on an upswing… things don’t seem quite so dark. Perhaps using my new Cpap machine is helping. But the past 2 weeks I am just SO tired, I don’t want to get up at all. I am such a fatalist that I imagine all sorts of physical ailments just sucking the life out of me. Also, I think wild , depressive thoughts about how sinful and hopeless I am, as far as being a better Christian. Even though I believe and know that discouragement is one of the Devils most successful tactics to Hurt a persons relationship with God.

I know that I am forgiven for my past wrongs up to the time I was baptized, and that God’s Son came to this Earth as a Ransom for sinful mankind, and that as long as I am TRULY repentant and turn away from a bad course and beg for forgiveness on the basis of Jesus sacrifice that God forgives. I know and believe that God IS love-but I STILL think I am just SO BAD and I flog myself mentally all day long.

How much of this is Mental Illness? Why does a person torment themselves? Van Gogh did it, and I’m sure other sensitive souls do it. All the head knowledge I have accumulated over years of study and self examination and research has not helped me to quit condemning and unfavorably judging myself as worthless when the darkness overtakes me,

All I can do is pray and pray and hang on by the thinnest of frayed threads, until the light floods in again. I am hanging on, and I think I see a glimmer of a new dawn in the eastern sky…Oh, I hope so… I do hope so…

t

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life lessons

I Don’t Know Where I Am

That may sound strange…but I am lost inside my head now. All seems dark and dismal, and pain is all around me. I just want to sleep, but it brings no relief . I know that I must hang on , hang on to my faith, hang on to all I have learned about my illness.

It has been a while since I have felt this dark, and I must use all my strength to get back into the light. I want to run thru the woods and feel the sun on my face. I want to feel love again, and loved. I want Susie to come back, to feel hopeful and kind again. I know this will pass, I will white-knuckle my way thru…

Follow the bouncing ball…I don’t feel sane at all…

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life lessons

Down and Dirty(again and still)

Aargh! Roll this way and that, faster,faster…shake my legs, stretch-my back arching, muscles cramping….Then a few minutes respite, before the next wave of anguish hits me.

“What will it be this time?”, I muse, “The sweats, the chills, the nausea?”

My body answers swiftly with new cramps, this time deep inside my lower back. There is no escape. Not this time. The oxycodone 10/325 tablets I have been eking out to myself to soften the withdrawls from the fentynl are now officially gone…and the one patch I have left has to last me 96 hours. This, of course , is why I am now in agony. The “pain doctor” has even admitted to me that they know the topical fentynl patches are only really effective for 48 hours …but they refuse to prescribe them any more often than one every three days. Knowing that the suffering patient will suffer even more moves them not at all, they must appease the lawmakers.

It is my misfortune to have lost a patch, that is why I am in acute withdrawal now. My appointment is tomorrow, I will receive a new script, hopefully, unless they are really merciless… But I cannot fill it until the exact 30 days are up, hence my current dilemma .

I do not want to be dependent on this medicine anymore. I do not want to go through this physical cycle of brief relief then extreme discomfort ever couple days. I was able twenty years ago to get off of a huge cocaine and rock and alcohol active addiction that had lasted 23 years, from the time I was 13 to the age of 35. I was able to build a life out of the ashes of self destruction, and was working on my dreams when my past physical escapades began catching up with me…

Old injuries were raising their heads to scream at me, and I lost a dream job because of this. I was devastated, and my sobriety was nearly lost. After being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia my doctor took pictures of my painful places, and he was shocked to see the condition of my spine. I remember him coming in the room looking so sad, and taking my hand ever so gently while apologizing for the fact that he had been sceptical of my descriptions of intractable pain. I was only 35, but he said I had the spine of a 70 year old , and said that my injuries were as those of one who had been in a major car accident…

I then told him about my past , all the physical abuse I had endured, the violent assaults, the car accident, the bike accident and all the other crazy injuries from a life spent stoned. That was the day he prescribed a very mild opioid pain reliever…just a souped up aspirin, I thought… I know it seems so innocent now, but that was how this cycle began.

The medicine worked brilliantly, and I was able to function and go back to work! Yay! This time period was like a magical cloud, in retrospect, my mind never looking into a future of dependency. I wasn’t using drugs to get high, just to get well, so no worries, right?

(to be continued …)

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life lessons

Back to Dirt (continued)

I get to this point, late at night, when my eyes burn from staring at my tiny detailed artwork. And this is the time I want to stop and write to you my musings on the day. So, here I am, bleary eyed and hurting, attempting to communicate something meaningful from my storehouse of wisdom….Perhaps this is why my entries are all centered on pain! If I read something I wrote a year ago, it all sounds like the same Song, the same endless litany .

That is no way to treat you, is it? Your time is valuable, as is mine. What burns in me is this need for a primordial scream of anguish, a voice from my depths against this physical ball and chain. I dream of jumping up and running away, fast enough and far enough to leave my physical being behind. Oh, Dear God, please hear me beg for a way to endure…I know that my faith and prayers are heard and known by you, and that You continue to uplift and sooth my troubled mind…

I don’t want to wish for the pain to end, because the only thing that ends it is blissful death, or the oblivion of street drugs. Both things that would destroy my relationship with you, my Father…So All I ask is to endure, to know that one day pain and death will be gone forever.

I know I cling to sanity by a tendril…You, my God, keep that tendril from snapping. Thank You. thank you. thank you.

Plugged. Digital painting by Susan T. Martin2018

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life lessons

Back to The Dirt

“The Sentinel’s Prayer”, acrylic on canvas, Susan T. Martin2017

The Writhing has begun, again. Every night, every day, every waking moment I try to get away from the pain that traverses my physical body. When I say “every waking moment” it can be misleading, because there are no “sleeping moments”. There are brief moments of unconsciousness , in between taking my sleeping pills, muscle relaxers and mood stabilizers, when I drift away…then the pain pushes mercilessly against the wall I have built, the door I have barred shut…pushes its throbbing needles of anguish thru the cracks and into my stream of consciousness . The veil is torn away, the glimps of oblivion is now stained with the reality of butcher knives cutting into my muscles.

Years immemorial have passed with this entity sapping my sanity, draining my endurance, strangling my joy. After the street drugs and alcohol stopped deadening my senses, the culmination of years of self abuse, hard physical labor, domestic abuse, many falls, fights and accidents(ie:wrecking a sportster into a tree, riding in a little truck that slammed into a telephone pole, having a quarter horse drop and roll while I was riding it and having a riding lawn mower flip over on top of me as well as falling in a hole, breaking both ankles, being stabbed and my right lung partially collapse, being choked unconscious, having numerous head injuries, two nose breaks, 4levels of lumbar fusion and 4 levels of cervical fusion, a tear in my right hip labrum and 2 venomous snake bites(a pygmy rattlesnake on my right index finger and a copperhead bite on my left hand)and having my rotator cuff injured and having 3arthroscopic surgeries(right hip, shoulder and left knee)as well as an accute pulmonary embolism in my right lung and other major surgeries…) has left me now coping with this chronic pain condition.

I started taking prescription pain medication in 2002, three years clean and sober, to keep working even with my back injuries. I had developed degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. I was finally diagnosed correctly as to the Bipolar Disorder that had ravaged my mental state, and also diagnosed with PTSD as a result of the physical and sexual abuse I had suffered from the age of 8.

Did the medicine help? Yes, at first. And it was mild medicine, no opioids yet… I tried heating pads, Topical ointments, hot wax therapy, massage, Ben Gay, Biofreeeze, Tens Units, Steroid Injections, Physical Therapy, Diet changes, weight loss, exercise…

But slowly the pain crept up the number scale, a 5; pulsing, burning, a 6; throbbing, radiating, a 7, an 8…until all the treatments were not working and new medicines were necessary…I worried aloud at my 12 step meetings, “Am I using again?” No, was the general consensus, not if you are not getting high, not taking more than prescribed, and you have real pain.

I asked the doctor’s …”No, these medications are NOT addictive”, was the firm reply. The meds went from non-opioids to the now household names: Oxycodone, Morphine, Oxycontin. Now the relief was real. (To be continued…)