The dream where I was found guilty of neglecting my child self as well as not protecting my siblings still haunts me. I go back and forth about my sister, one minute managing okay and the next minute standing still in a locked stare. I’ve sketched, painted, cleaned, eaten and slept feeling vulnerable and strong enough for that vulnerability. What was before the feeling of ‘strong enough’ can only be described at chaotic, second to second existence.

I have been in patient psych over 150 times since 1992. Two hospitals are designed to treat dissociative disorders, one was a state hospital in Kentucky and the others were short-term stays in across Indiana, Texas, Michigan and Kentucky. Early on I was in a group home and then bounced around from apartment to apartment in an unstable existence. I had zero control over my personality disorder, zero coping skills to help with self harm of cutting and abuse of food. For the first ten years or so of therapy I was clueless about caring for myself physically or emotionally.

I’ve seen some really good doctors. That was a total blessing! Two of them are known internationally and should be! I’ve also had doctors who wouldn’t know what a boundary was if it slapped them in the face. As a matter of fact, one of my old psychiatrists called a patient in the waiting room a female dog. That patient got up and began arguing with the doctor which lead to the patient dragging the doctor’s scrawny self across the counter to deliver much deserved slaps to the upper torso and head! That doctor was cruel to her clients and often behaved that way. I’ve had some messed up therapists and doctors but the good ones gave me information I kept and now build on.

Despite having quality care I still acted out because I didn’t have a lot of self-awareness. In order for me to gradually make changes, it took blunt questions about how my behavior came across and made people feel. Some of the things I said to my care takers over the years was down right horrible and I should have been called on it. I’m happy I was. The thing is, I couldn’t stop the behavior just because I had the information. I couldn’t change anything until I stopped running. I had to lay down roots, stop moving from apartment to apartment and say out loud that life sucked and I really needed help. The first step was to stop running, stop finding reasons to run.

Loneliness and anger loomed heavy in my world. I went back to school and worked my butt off. I did well working as a Chef but the trauma began to flood everything and destroyed everything. I believe my mind was in a race with my body to see who could fail first. I ended up on disability. My psychologist at the time said he worried I’d stay on it forever. I though to myself, he has underestimated me.

Only for a short period of time did I see being on social security as something to be ashamed of, then I saw it as the best thing that could happen if I was ever going to get back to being what I was born to be and that is a Chef. I wanted that back. The doctor I had pressed me in ways that I’d never put up with, but back then it actually pushed me forward to prove him wrong. He said some horrible things and crossed major boundaries. He told me as an adult I let my mother abuse me and that I act like a deer in the headlights when her name came up. He had me do therapy with him and her with questions asked about why I pushed away when she tried to kiss my cheek. He was a horrible doctor, the worst I’ve ever had. I finally picked up and moved away. Before I left his office for good he claimed I was ungrateful. No, I’m grateful I was able to leave my mother’s abuse and then leave the other abusive relationship, him.

There would be other doctors to slowed down my healing process or added to grief. but sometimes I’d see an inpatient doctor who gave advice that I’d keep in my treasure chest (my head) to pull out at a later date when I knew how to use it.

I eventually got past the crisis years and moved to the beginning of trauma treatment. The crisis years saw a failed marriage that included domestic violence and losses related to that.  They included two serious suicide attempts and a lot of acting out. After all that running and at the beginning of trauma treatment I found myself right back in the city where the original trauma was born.

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