Alter Post: Follow Up on Posts from the last few weeks

*Caveat 1 – This is a journal-entry style post so it looks like a first draft with errors, etc. *

*Trigger Warning: This post may contain triggers; read at your own pace*

*Warning: this is a long post with lots of information. Take your time reading through everything. Come back and re-read as needed*

Background

It’s been 3-5 weeks since the first post about this topic. I shared my current challenges with punishment, self-harm and explained what it means for me to be an empath. Then I explained why coping with these triggers feels hopeless sometimes and frustrating most of the time.

And yes, these triggers still feel like new territory. My mind and body are not reacting to the triggers or responding to the coping strategies in familiar ways. The panic attacks are more frequent and worse than they have been in a long time. Plus they manifest differently than before (more info later). The frequency means less recovery time between panic attacks, so I am constantly on edge.

All parts of me have been scrambling to find coping strategies that work long enough for us to recover from the panic attacks and find internal balance again. Along with explaining the coping challenges, I/we will also share some of the coping strategies that are helping right now.

This is why we all agreed to wait until now to write a follow up post. The learning curve takes time, and none of us wants to share something before we are certain of its effects on our systems.

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  • ADMIN: Internet Issues & Other stuff

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    Untangled Connections is on Twitter!

    July 15, 2020 by

    Hello All. I’ve added a Twitter account to Untangled Connections. You can use the link here and in the Social menu at the top of each page to view. Fair Warning: all future posts will be automatically linked and published on Twitter. But I will not be very active beyond that. AlterXpressions

View all posts

Coping Challenges

There’s so much going on in this post, we all agreed that headings and subheadings are useful to us and our guests. Feel free to skip around and read whatever interests you.

Empathic gift challenges and labels

I wrote a post explaining my position on labels, so will keep this short. I prefer not to label myself or others on purpose. We are multi-dimensional, unique individuals with many parts coming together to create a whole person. However, sometimes a label is useful in conversations or posts to help the reader relate to the topic.

The label gives the reader a frame of reference or starting point that makes sense so she or he can follow the rest of the conversation. It DOES NOT identify or categorize or group people with similar characteristics into a stereotype. So when I talk about being an empath, it’s only so that my guests have a starting point if they ever want to learn more about the topic.

What does this have to do with empathic gift challenges? Well, one thing I’ve been encountering more often is being stereotyped and harassed on the street or in stores because of my physical appearance and choice to go places alone all the time. Or, conversely, to not go out often at all. While I don’t consciously pay attention to the people around me when I go out, my hyper-vigilance and senses are always sensitive to the environment.

Because of that, I always know when people are being rude to me – obviously like with the harassment; or not so obviously through their energy – wherever I go.

Have you ever walked into a room or store and suddenly felt uncomfortable or out of place or judged?

Unfortunately, I notice that without even meaning to do so. And there are a lot of insecure, unhappy, resentful people in the world happy to blame others to make themselves feel better. I’ve been getting this from females more than males lately, but also from males too because of my choice to be single and friendly instead of flirtatious.

Why a challenge? It triggers shame from my past and makes me think “I suck” and “why am I doing all this again?”

Panic Attacks

My panic attacks have changed. Instead of the typical process:

anxiety feelings + headaches/dizziness + chest tightness or physical pain + hot flashes + cold shakes = pass out from tiredness and sensory overload (aka overwhelming feelings)

pass out = shut down until my whole self recovers

From alterxpressions

I get this process:

anxiety feelings + headaches/dizziness = pass out from tiredness and sensory overload (aka overwhelming feelings)

pass out = shut down until my whole self recovers

From alterxpressions

The worst part: I never know when the panic attacks will manifest. Or how to cope with them/stop them once they start. Or how to effectively recover balance once the panic attack is over.

How do I feel now? Cranky. Tired. Grumpy in my digestive system. Frustrated. Hungry and thirsty, but not always able to feel it in my body and remember to eat/drink regularly.

Olfactory triggers

My sense of smell is not as acute as my hearing. In fact, I’ve had a lot of problems with nasal congestion and allergies and head colds that clogged up my nose on a regular basis since childhood. Sometimes I wonder if this was/is a coping strategy my body put in place to block out the stinky basement smells from my past.

But these days, scents are among my most common and destructive triggers. I live in a no smoking building on purpose. Maybe I’ve explained my postition about smoking in the past, but it bears repeating again:

I believe in an individual’s right to choose what he or she does – that includes smoking, using drugs, drinking – as long as it doesn’t harm or negatively affect other people.

That said, I don’t care if my neighbors smoke cigarettes or pot or whatever. They smoke outside and the smell comes in the window, that’s okay. I shut my window or turn a fan on to blow it back out. If I smell cigarettes in the building, I won’t say or do anything even if they are breaking the rules. At some point, someone will complain or report the issue.

But when people smoke pot in the building and the smoke gets into my apartment, that is a problem. I get immediately triggered and start the spiral into a panic attack. It’s happened the last two nights in my building and made recovery from the panic attacks that much harder. I am sleep-deprived, anxious, hyper-vigilant, grumpy, distracted, and unable to complete all of my weekend tasks because of the constant state of panic. Not anxiety because I can cope with general anxiety every day. Panic.

So yeah I didn’t get to read any guest comments today. I will try to do that next week. Appreciate your understanding 😉

Coping Strategies

Like I said before, my usual strategies are not working. Lately, I spend a lot of time curled up in a seated position or lying down trying to relax/sleep as my muscles contract and stiffen up because I haven’t moved enough. I just can’t get comfortable or feel comfortable in my own skin right now. And leaving for a while is not an option.

So here are some strategies that have been helping take the edge off my panic symptoms.

Aromatherapy diffuser blends for sleep

A couple weeks ago, I hit my sleep deprivation limit. Meditation and relaxation did not help with my sleep debt. The flashbacks, negative self-talk, and disturbing dreams kept interfering with everything whenever I did manage to sleep. And I smelled pot in my apartment for the first time in months – most of the tenants who smoked in the past left – just as I was starting my sleep hygiene routine.

That disrupted me so much that I couldn’t calm down even after a hotline check-in. Plus I was feeling paranoid about insects in my apartment. So I decided to clean the diffuser and try using essential oils proven to help with insomnia/sleep issues, anxiety, and insects. My particular diffuser is water-based, comes with specific water-to-eseential oil ratio use instructions, and has an automatic turn-off setting.

My mind and body tends to react to essential oils, herbs, and so on in unexpected ways. I try to only use these strategies when I can focus with a mostly clear mind so that the risk (getting oil on my skin, mixing a blend incorrectly, burning myself when I make a tea or soup) is minimal. But I was desperate that night.

You can imagine how surprised I was when it worked. I slept deeply for 12 hours and woke up feeling refreshed with that first blend and used it 3 nights in a row. Then I decided to try a different blend; that one worked okay, but not as well as the first one. Next, I gave myself a break to see if I could sleep (or at least relax) without using aromatherapy. It worked okay, but not great. I woke up tired and grumpy. The last one I tried before this post worked really well and had the benefit of reducing the pot smell.

Here is recipe 1:

Ingredient list:

  • 3 drops of Melissa essential oil
  • 1 drop of Bergamot* essential oil
  • 3 drops of Siberian Fir** essential oil
  • 8 ounces of water (filtered preferred, but I use tap)
  • 1 electric diffuser with an automatic turn-off setting***

*Bergamot oil is extremely phototoxic to skin (human and animal). Phototoxic means that the oil will cause a rash or burns on your skin when exposed to sunlight. If you want to use this blend during the day, please omit the Bergamot essential oil

**Siberian Fir essential oil may cause lung irritation or respiratory discomfort for people with asthma, allergies, or other related issues. A sniff test (sniffing the bottle cap or bottle first) is advised before using the oil around people with respiratory problems.

***All diffusers have different settings with instructions. Electric and gas diffusers use a heating element to turn the water into steam for diffusing. Purchasing a diffuser with an automatic timer and/or turn-off setting is recommended for safe use during naps or sleep periods.

Directions:

Make sure the diffuser is clean and working properly. Add water to the diffuser’s container.

Add the essential oils one drop at a time. Use the diffuser guidelines for adding essential oils. Some oils come out faster than others, so be as accurate as possible, but don’t worry too much if you add too much. Accuracy takes practice.

Cover the diffuser and turn it on for a set period of time or until the water has evaporated (auto-turn off setting).

Sit back or lie down and relax as the blend diffuses through your room.

This recipe is a guideline only. Please follow the instructions that come with your diffuser and adjust the oil amounts accordingly.

Check Ins

I called the hotline for a check in almost every day the last few weeks. The negative self-talk and intrusive thoughts have a strong hold on my mind and keep the spiral of body trigger + emotional trigger = panic going. Once it starts, I can’t make it stop on my own with known coping strategies.

In the past, I called the hotline for help remembering grounding strategies or practicing different kinds of meditation/relaxation techniques with a partner. Sometimes to help me make a plan of 3-5 coping strategies to use after the call ended. That always helped because I live in the maze all the time these days. To be honest, I’ve never actually found an exit from the maze. Instead, I find sanctuaries within the maze of my mind that offers a break from the trauma and allows me to feel grounded enough to live in the outside world. But that’s something for another post.

These days, I don’t ask for grounding strategies. I ask the volunteer if she or he is willing to talk with me about the situation and help me process the triggers. We talk about what set me off and the strategies I’ve already used. The volunteer listens and helps me understand if what I am feeling is “normal” or extreme in one way or another; in other words validation.

Then explains why and how so that I understand the emotions and sensations in my body too. From there, I can relax a little and fend off the negative self-talk because I understand it’s okay for me to feel the way I do; and for my body to experience these sensations. Eventually, they will not feel so intense and go away.

Funny and Silly movies

Laughter is still some of my favorite medicine. I have a Netflix account and use Amazon Prime until my membership expires in a few months to find funny children’s movies or teen movies…sometimes even adult movies. They can have a “happy ever after” ending or not.

The goal is to find movies that warm my heart, bring out positive feelings (even if I cry a little), and make me laugh. For people who can’t access movies, radio shows and podcasts, TV or cable, or YouTube probably have similar shows too.

My current favorite movies are a children’s series about golden retriever puppies going on adventures (starts with Air Buddies).

Changing my schedule/staying in (agoraphobia)

I’ve discussed my agoraphobia in past posts, so not going to dwell on it here.

Summer makes me want to go out more often and enjoy the nice weather. Longer days means more sunshine and safe times to go out after work. People spend time outside. Children play and laugh in the city’s public water features on hot days. So much to enjoy outdoors.

But my panic attacks keep me inside. I never know when they will hit or how long I have to get to a safe place before I fall asleep. Or how long I will sleep once it hits. Work has been a bit of a challenge, but not as bad as when I had to work in an office for regular hours. One home office perk is being able to work flexible hours.

So until this panic attack phase eases up, I stay inside more often and work my sleep in around the triggers. My plans often change depending on how tired I am or if the panic feelings stop me from accomplishing tasks I planned for the day. That allows me to work my 40 hours a week, meet deadlines, do homework, keep house, pay bills, and write blog posts. Everything else happens when it happens.

Dietary changes

The more I heal, the more in tune or integrated all parts of me become. I can listen to my body and understand what types of food and drink makes it feel healthy and full or sick and uncomfortable. I can listen to my mind and understand how certain foods look/smell/taste/feel affect how my body feels after consumption and digestion.

Sounds like food triggers, but not the same.

Food triggers have a trauma-experience aspect that causes flashbacks or panic sensations throughout my self.

This type of sensory information tells me how the food and drink affect my physiology. Like with dairy intolerance or gluten intolerance. Eating nutritious food that heals and feeds the organisms keeping me healthy makes more sense than doing the opposite.

So I’ve been experimenting with my diet and different cravings that come up. Lately, I’ve been craving fennel, leafy greens, fatty fish, sausage, and carbs. Dairy too, but I think I’m going to try eliminating dairy for a few weeks to see how it affects my digestion and elimination issues. And maybe help with the low energy feelings

What can you do to help your mind and body feel better?

If you want more recipes, resources about aromatherapy, herbalism, being and empath, etc…Please follow these instructions

Part 1: do one of the following

  1. Like this post
  2. Leave a comment below (on this post)
  3. Write to me using the contact form

For options 2 and 3, please also include what topics you want me to write about.

Final Thoughts

This weekend was tough because of the pot triggers and lack of sleep. Plus some digestion issues that came up unexpectedly. So I am behind on my homework goals for this weekend and have to start that next.

If you wonder at the lack of tags or polish on the post, that’s why. Thanks for keeping me company on the long post.

I hope your week goes well.

Thanks for reading

Alter Post: A minor procedure in the future…Fear of Success…and contact

* Two posts this week because there’s a lot to share.* And both are long

A minor procedure

If you are new to the blog, you might not have read the posts discussing choicespregnancy, abortion, or relationships. There are quire a few as sexual abuse is one of the main reasons for me being the way I am, so don’t feel bad if you skipped them. I don’t wish that information on anyone and only share those experiences here as a way of sharing knowledge, resources, support, and hope with others.

Last week, I had my pre-op exam with the gynecologist who will perform a bi-lateral tubal ligation on me in 1.5 weeks. What is that? basically I’m getting my fallopian tubes permanently removed as part of a sterilization procedure.

In layman’s terms, I’m getting my tubes tied.

And I’m so excited that my emotions and body sensations have been yo-yoing all week. It’s finally happening. Yes, I am concerned about the anesthesia and some post-op requirements like the antibiotics and pain meds. But otherwise, everything is all set and ready.

Some OT this week and part of next week allows me to meet deadlines. Taxes today and next weekend will take a big load off of my mind. Some extended time off: 3 paid vacation days + compensation time from when I did OT + 2 weekend days = plenty of recover time.

My family has already sent some care packages too.

Other than some housekeeping chores – and I hope to get those done next weekend too – when my body feels less shaky, I am as prepared as possible.

Fear of Success

It’s been mentioned before. I fear success almost as much as I fear abandonment, rejection, and loss.

That said, I’ve been reluctant to write about (or even speak about ) my recent coping strategy and trauma recovery successes outside the safety of therapy or hotline calls. Sure, I might mention it to family or friends in passing, but they might not realize the significance beyond the task. Not like you, my  guests, might understand.

All my life, I’ve wanted to serve – not in the sense of being a slave or trod upon or giving away stuff for free, but to help others learn and achieve their goals through empowerment, knowledge, and access to resources – and work in a career that allowed me to help others while also learning a variety of skills to feed my curiosity about..well…life.

To start in reverse order, here goes:

  • Last week I presented updates about a task I took on for the team and asked for feedback from the managers group. The vp of our team and my boss were there too. Everyone asked questions, and there was a lively discussion.
    • The big success: it was the first time in all of my 36 years I spoke in front of a group without switching personalities, having a panic attack, dissociating, not talking when I thought I was (or the opposite), or getting triggered into reacting from a past experience instead of the present one
  • This year, my manager approved 3 goals that included me writing internal user guides for our team documentation
    • technical writing has always been a goal/dream of mine in terms of an alternative career path based on my college degree. After 15 years and many people telling me I couldn’t do be a writer, it’s finally happening
  • At the end of 2018, my supervisor supported me in working with HR to update my job role/description to match what I actually do so that I have a future career path at the company
    • This goal is all about self-acceptance and feeling confident enough to advocate for change after being told for so many years that you are not enough and don’t deserve to be heard.
  • Finally, my aromatherapy lessons are progressing to the point where I’ll be doing case studies and a research paper soon. That brings me one step closer to my career change goal. One that is re-defining itself even as I write this.
    • Insecurity that I am not enough (skilled, experienced, intelligent, capable) to create a successful healing practice that supports others on their journeys using aromatherapy as part of a trauma-informed, integrated healing support strategy
    • quite a mouthful, but all  true. I am not and never will be a doctor or medical professional.
    • I cannot and will not ever be able to heal people on my own or tell them what to do or cure them.
    • I can and will offer them choices and empower them to take control of their health in order to heal themselves by offering support, resources, and knowledge to work with what they are currently doing.

It seems like every time I think I know what I want to do when I grow up, life steps in and makes me rethink my conclusions.

Contact

I’ve come to the conclusion that people will have issues with contacting me no matter how obvious I make the links.

Same with the RSS Feeds, subscriptions, etc. 

  1. There are 4 RSS Feed or subscription buttons/links on the Sidebar to the right of every page on this site
  2. One button/link is for WordPress members to use
  3. The rest area for non-WordPress members to use
  4. Many web browsers do not support RSS Feeds anymore, so you may need to download/install an RSS Feed collector like Apple News to subscribe and get my blog or comments on your feed
    1. Apologies, but I am mostly ignorant about this topic. Only learned about Apple News when doing some research on my sites’s home page to address a guest comment earlier
  5. Some web browsers, like Opera and IE are not as compatible with WordPress integration systems (from WordPress support) based on code and software topics beyond my pay grade.
    1. WordPress is happy to work with you to address these issues if you email them questions through their customer support portal

I feel your pain, honest I do.

As someone who is not on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, etc. I miss getting updates from my favorite authors and news about new book releases, videos, etc. now that they moved all that info to their social media sites.

And so, I’m conquering another fear (of exposure/vulnerability./visibility) by moving the contact form to a public place on t he top menu bar.

If you really want to contact me, you can fill out that form. I do respond to those feedback emails as long as they are not obviously spam. The blog rules don’t apply to the comment form.

*All I do ask is that you be respectful and polite if you do send me an email through the contact form*

If you’ve gotten  this far, thank you for your time.

As always, thanks for reading.

Alter Post: Mother’s…Daughters…Secrets & Confessions

Trigger warning…this post discusses what many consider a taboo topic related to sexual abuse. The post is written by alter personalities, uses a journal format, and is shared unedited.

I have a confession.
A secret not yet shared here on the blog.
One that I have accepted, am not ashamed of anymore, yet still have trouble talking and writing about anywhere.

I’m not trying to tease you by drawing this out. I am trying to be careful, considerate, and kind to myself as I write this and share it with you.

Have you ever heard of mother daughter sexual abuse?
It’s real.

So if you want to know learn more, use the “Read More” tag below.

Read More »

Alter Post: Reclaiming My Body…struggles, steps & successes

Trigger Warning: explicit details and word usage about past sexual abuse and body image issues

Ramble Warning: this long post is written by many alters and might not be very coherent…read at your leisure

A Continuous Struggle

This is not a subject I talk about often on the blog. Thinking about my body feels scary more often than not. I still experience a lot of physical pain from tight muscles and body memories. And what I see in the mirror often reflects my negative self-image.

Different alters control different parts of my body; each of us hold memories in those places. Sharing the burden is easier now than it was before. Yet all parts of me cringe at the thought of ending celibacy or trying to date now.

Some alters never want to engage in sexual activity again. A few dream about having a husband, lover, or partner to share our life with. Most others are intellectually curious about the connections between sexuality, femininity, masculinity, and vitality or life force. All wish for platonic friends or family members to share physical contact with – i.e. hugs, pats, cuddles, holding hands, kisses on the forehead, gestures of intimate yet platonic affection. Maybe a pet some day? Cats probably as our body is not physically healthy enough to care for a dog yet.

Many of us in the alter system don’t like how our body and face looks. Some of us feel shame and embarrassment. Others feel frustration or sadness. Both tend to bring out feelings of or negative attitudes in others. Or attract unwanted attention.

The Coping Challenges

In spite of the many positive steps I have taken to improve my body image, holiday season brings out all of my insecurities. Going back home for the holidays – seeing my parents and sibling for the first time in many years – could be part of that. In general, though, I often get flashbacks of having to “dress up” or “being dressed” and “put on display” by my mother for different holiday get-togethers. And it makes me feel down about my body.

For me, the hardest part about having this negative body image and these feelings of insecurity is not feeling like my body and face are mine. For most of my life, my face and body were under someone else’s control. Other people decided what I looked like, how I dressed, when I ate, who I interacted with, and the types of activities I could participate in alone or with others. Even after I got out of that place, there were family obligations and cultural expectations that told me how to look and act based on my place (bottom) in the hierarchy.

In my head, I still hear all of those people (owners, predators, offenders, abusers, slavers, customers, teachers, class mates & age mates, friends, or relatives) calling me a slut, a whore, a prostitute, a dirty lesbian or bisexual cunt, a chink, slant eyes, beautiful temptress, satan’s get, evil witch, and submissive bitch. I hear them telling me I am fat and scrawny or slender and beautiful just before they rape me or attack me.

Acknowledge the Hard Truths

Well, I was a child prostitute. And I was a beautiful, gifted child turned awkward teen who found ways to hide in plain sight by being an outcast nerd in ugly clothes as an adult. I did have sex with both genders – if rape and forced prostitution count – and multiple partners. So maybe that technically makes me a lesbian and bisexual instead of heterosexual.

Clarification of Insults

But it does not make me a slut or a whore. For one thing, the sex was not my choice. For another, I only engaged in sex when being raped or pimped out. Once I had the choice, I stopped all sexual activity. So while I am okay with being called some of the names listed above, the words “slut” and “whore” really push my buttons.

Sure, I tried to date a few times in college and later on, but it never went past a first date or got physical. I ran first. Or fought second. Eventually, I simply shut down whenever someone tried to flirt with or hit on me. It felt like giving up, but it was also safer for everyone involved.

Expressing Femininity & Vitality in Healthy Ways

I’ve mostly come to terms with the sexual abuse. But I am still working on hating my femininity and sexuality. Still working on hating my face and body. Still working on seeing an over weight, flat chested, pimply girl in the mirror. Or seeing a skinny, straight, flat, weak girl who can’t control her own body in the reflection. Still working to reclaim my sexuality or vitality without having to engage in sexual activity.

My Fear and Hatred of…

I fear not having control over my reproductive system – choosing to get pregnant or not – if some day I become sexually active again before menopause. Considering how quirky my body is about everything, typical birth control methods might not be enough. Plus, I’ve been pregnant. Just the thought of that happening again sends panic signals through all of me. My family history is a mess. I really don’t want to pass on my genetic material. Plus, if I ever do want children, adoption and foster care are options.

I hate not being able to get regular health checks and dental exams without anasthesia. My triggers around medical and dental professionals are among the strongest and most vicious coping challenges. The automatic defense mechanisms and system shut down protocols get triggered every time I start working with someone new. And they bring out my most dangerous alters.

And I hate how often I get triggered by other people giving me nasty looks or making rude/insulting comments about my body parts. People used to pity me and gossip about my awful taste and weird habits behind my back, but were relatively polite and/or friendly unless irngoring me before I stopped hiding. After I stopped hiding, though, lots of people felt justified making nasty comments about my appearance and judging me based on my large bust and curvy shape. Being petite and Asian just made the cat calls and pettiness worse.

I hate how uncomfortable and defensive I feel talking about my “single on purpose” and “celibacy by choice” thoughts with friends & family. And both stances are choices. But it’s even more difficult trying to explain this to males and females who are flirting or coming on to me. Or who think my being friendly is flirting, etc. Confusing for someone with zero experience flirting, dating, etc.

Coping Strategies & Reclaiming My Body

It’s easier now to cope with many of these triggers and obsessive thoughts when the flashbacks come. All parts of me have made personal and life style changes to foster a loving, positive self-image and body image. Next year, I will finally be in a position to take other steps towards reclaiming my body as mine.

Steps like:

  • sterilization (aka tubes tied),
  • safely & confidently interacting with people in social situations,
  • herbal and aromatherapy remedies to support my health without making me sick,
  • (maybe) breast reduction surgery

Now that I am physically healthy and able to maintain a healthy body weight with job security and decent benefits these options are possible. I am not sure what is in my future, but at least now I have more options to feel safe and in control of my self and my body.

What kinds of steps could you, would you, are you willing to take in order to reclaim your body in a positive, safe way?

Thanks for reading

Alter Post: A story about anger, pain, and suicide – beware of triggers

Beginning of September always brings back memories and flashbacks because it’s the time when school starts.  Summer was easy.  I was me or some version of me all the time.  Bud during school, I was one person in public society (elementary school, activities, etc.) and someone else in the private society that occupied the rest of my time.

I didn’t have friends in the public society world.  Everyone there looked down on me, bullied me, and pretended I didn’t exist.  I helped by being rude, annoying, and quiet as possible to avoid attracting attention.  But it didn’t make school easier.  I thought school would make life easier because it took me out of the other world.

But it turns out, I enjoyed being in the other world more.  The other world – the world of pedophiles, traffickers, dug dealers, predators, and other monsters – is where I made friends and learned life skills.  It’s where I found family, a soul mate, and a purpose for surviving/living.

Those life skills and experiences may have turned me into a monster not fit for “regular” society in the legitimate world.  But they gave me a secure and valued position in the criminal world and the gray world between legal and illegal.  After I was freed – no longer belonging to the cult or human traffickers as a slave – I spent a good part of my life in  the gray world while trying to forge a life in the legitimate world too.

Part of me didn’t want to give up the gray world.  I had friends and family there.  I had a purpose and helped many people.  My job was exciting and fulfilling even if it was dangerous and involved lots of violence.  Most important though, the people in that gray world accepted me as I was.  I could be my real self with alter personalities, a quirky sense of humor, a bad temper and so on.

But in the legitimate world with my corporate job, I couldn’t be my whole self.  My connections to the gray world and the criminal world put it in jeopardy.  And as that personality, I didn’t recognize or have access to my friends and support network in the gray world.  I couldn’t remember that other life without causing migraines and intense body pain.

But then my soul mate made a choice to leave on his terms.  Other friends died or moved on.  Instead of being free, keeping those friendships and connections made starting over more difficult.  The criminals who remembered me kept harassing me and trying to recruit me.  Kids I taught or helped before tracked me down and asked me to help again. My body gave out on me; I was in so much pain all the time.

Work wasn’t fun anymore.  I tried to retire.  I referred these people to the organizations I worked and volunteered for instead.  And I focused on keeping the promises to my soul mate.  To use my second chance at life wisely; be happy and free; and start fresh as my authentic self someplace else without the anger and pain holding me back.

I met my soul mate in a punishment cage when we were 3 or 4 years old.  His family was rich enough that his parents  traveled or worked a lot and paid people to take care of him.  His parents trusted the friend who referred the caretakers not knowing or realizing where their son was all the time.  Sort of like my parents  trusting references from my pediatrician and taking advantage of free babysitting from local organizations.

It was my third day in training, and I was back in the punishment cage for talking back or not following the rules.  I can’t remember exactly.  Anyways, he came up and started talking to me.  That became our pattern.  I got punished (a lot).  He came to talk with me. Then his trainers took him away.  If he got punished (rarely at that time), I would walk over and talk with him.

Our friendship bloomed from there.  Both of us were prostituted and raped, so our relationship never involved sex.  We cared about each other too much to want to be involved that way after our shared experiences with human trafficking and cults.

Unfortunately for him, though, he didn’t share my  problems with chemicals and other substances.  Nor could he continue to separate his mind like I did to survive  living two lives.  The medicine, dugs, and alcohol did work on him.  He got addicted and tried so many times to clean up.

But the memories, the shame, the anger, the pain were all too much for him.  He couldn’t cope with our shared past.  And he didn’t want me be stuck in that gray world forever even though that kept both of us safe.  We made plans to get legitimate jobs in the real world and fulfill our dreams after college.  We laughed and pulled each other out of trouble, but more often it was me finding and taking him home after a night of drugs and booze.

Sometime in our software year, we had a spring break that matched up – same weeks off – and decided to hang out together.  But spring break has always been hard for both of us.  My other family found him at a party with a bunch of people from the old gang – kids and adults who did jobs for the traffickers and the cult hoping to move up the ranks one day.  He was still sober, but had the needle in his hand.

We talked.  The others interfered.  There was a fight.  One that finally convinced those people wasn’t involved anymore; that I didn’t want to be involved and would stay out of their way as long as they didn’t target my loved ones.  After the fight, my soul mate handed me the full syringe and asked me to help him get through the rest of the day and evening.

He wanted to spend one last day with me sober and clear headed because we needed to talk.  I took the syringe and tossed it aside.  It wouldn’t go to waste in that room.  Then we left for my other family’s house.

He and I, we spent the afternoon talking and cooking our favorite snack food.  That’s when he told me about his choice to leave on his terms.  He wasn’t as strong as me, strong enough to live without the haze of drugs to take the edge off of his memories.  But he didn’t want me to be stuck in our shady life or to see him spiral down into addiction.  He wanted me to fulfill our dreams and keep my promises to live every moment with joy.

My soul mate wanted  to leave in a dream where all of our wishes and ideals came true.  I chose to support his choice.  After all of his struggles, he deserved peace.  The only promise I asked of him was that he wait until after college graduation to leave.  We graduated college in 2004.  He overdosed and died a year later.

I never saw him again after that spring break sophomore year in college.  But I knew he kept tabs on me.  And after my failed suicide attempt in 2004, he sent me a message reminding me of my promise to get help if I survived.  I got help.  Graduated.  Started seeing a mental health professional and putting my life back together.

So you see, I can’t condemn suicide or people who want to commit suicide.  In my mind, in my world, suicide is a legitimate choice – a fail safe option when nothing else feels right or good or safe – for people who’ve tried everything and anything and lost hope.

But I can’t support suicide – not the way it’s discussed these days – either.  My soul mate lost hope.  He didn’t want to drag me or the others in our circle down either when we still had chances to change.  He made his choice after hours of talking (not just that day) with me and our circle, months/years of rehab and counseling, and working out issues with his family.

I couldn’t go through with any of my suicide attempts, but I never stopped looking at suicide as a fail-safe option until about 5 years ago when I decided to change my name and implement hazy plans to move across the country based on a recurring dream I couldn’t quite recall.

More than 10 years later, in the first two weeks of September when school starts and training started, I finally remember my soul mate and our friendship.  So I guess the last two weeks of sleep deprivation, flashbacks, panic attacks, and pain were worth it.  This story (with some details omitted), came to me between Friday and this morning.

We met 33 years ago and became secret best friends for over 20 years.  I like to believe and have complete faith that my soul mate moved on to a better place where he can work on his plans for the next life.

Thanks for reading.