I think my senior year was the first time I had an anxiety attack concerning water. One particular day that stands out is a day I got there late. I got off the city bus and walked toward the school. It had been raining and there were puddles outside. I was so anxious. It felt as if I’d lose my mind. I tried to keep control, tried to talk myself down but I ran inside the school, went into a restroom and bent over with excruciating pain in my stomach. I could breath but the pain was incredible. I remember hearing inside my head that I should try to hang myself, do anything to get away from what my body was doing. It took awhile to get calmed down. I didn’t know why I reacted that way to mud getting on my shoe and the bottom of my paints getting wet. That emotional meltdown would not be the last.
I’ve been out of high school since 1990 and I still have to talk myself through getting water on my feet or pant legs in the rain.
In addition to water being feared, I couldn’t eat chocolate nor could I even look at mud without anxiety. As I sit here writing this I remember during my sophomore year sleeping in the basement of a home (without knowledge of the owners). There was a heater in the restroom and I got in and slept down there. One night the basement had some sort of sewage back up or something and I woke in several inches of filthy, nasty, stinking water. I stood there naked while my clothes dried beside the heating vent.
Part of my homeless experience was being able to get in the school early so I could take a shower. A teacher let me in with the condition that he could watch me shower. He gave me breakfast and we chatted before school started. I told him all sorts of stuff, he asked all sorts of stuff but he never touched me… he just made a trade. I shower, he watches. I did this after the Florida experience where the scale had already been tipped.
Ya know, quite a long time ago I started working on a PTSD issue concerning needles. I couldn’t sew a button back on a shirt without shaking, crying and then letting someone else do it. I decided it was time to tackle the needle situation so I started doing my clothing (which I cried through the entire time) then eventually progressed to creating the therapy dolls. The whole therapy doll situation came out of me needing desperately to overcome the damage done concerning abuse with sewing needles. I sew by hand mostly and hardly ever do I use pins to mark the lines. I don’t use a pattern because they confuse me. This year I’ve been able to take the step to use a seam ripper. I will never, ever use one of those tomato pin cushions. All sewing materials have to be done with colors that are PTSD friendly. I made my own pin cushion and recently made a travel sewing kid from an Altoids can. All sewing materials like pin cushions, needles, pins, seam ripper, all that has to be on my terms to allow me to create anything or restore a button.
It has taken forever to get to where I am with the sewing issue. I’ve been trying to create a woman who isn’t chained to her past and can walk in freedom. Being beaten up by flashbacks and nightmares is exhausting but so is trying to manage it with professional care. I needed to manage the chains.
A few years of working to manage the chains isn’t long enough to say, okay, all done, I should be better now. I need longer to work through, process, divide and heal what several people took their own sweet time to destroy, snuff out, obliterate. I wasn’t pushed this far into emotional turmoil by just a few acts of depravity, just a little bit of neglect, just a few nights on the street, sporadic beatings, a time or two of physical torture, hunger, fear. No, not just a few times. Understanding the gravity of what took place helps put in perspective what is ahead of me to work on. When I work to be unchained, when I work for emotional freedom from my abusers I get a life I never thought possible. I get a chance at happiness. That, my friends, is worth fighting for.
written February 11, 2017 – 12:25pm EST