June 12, 1996

So, this is recovery, huh? If you say so. I can't tell. I wouldn't have been able to connect this constant empty ache behind my breastbone, this perpetual feeling of nausea in the pit of my stomach, to any kind of recovering. For the past six weeks I've felt so miserable, so nearly constantly on the edge of tears, worse than I've ever felt except during Chris's and my breakups. But then I had a reason to cite, a reason I knew in my mind and in my bones was causing my pain. Now I have a tenuous intellectual connection between something that last happened nine years ago and the way I feel now. I'm not sure I believe that this is part of recovering from abuse, except that it's more comfortable to think that than to look at books on Borderline Personality Disorder, a phrase my shrink once mentioned but takes pains to tell me is not a diagnosis. BPD on its own is a lot more scary to me than being an abuse survivor. Abuse survivors are people who've had bad things happen to them; they can heal. If that's not why I'm messed up, then my situation seems even more hopeless than it already is. I don't know why I look at the two as such a dichotomy. I know, it's perfectly possible that both labels are applicable to me. But if I have to be anything, I'd rather just be a survivor.

So I try and convince myself that I feel like crap as a stage. I've had more intense after-effects. Just none that keep on, and at me for so long, consistently. The sense-flashbacks go away in short order. The feeling that the breasts are a target and I need to find clothes to squash them flat only shows up periodically. That funky jabbing pain around the walls of my vagina doesn't happen often at all. I know what touches from a lover bother me, and they learn, or they don't stay lovers. I squick sometimes in the movies, but doesn't everyone? Other little things happen. But they go away, and I can deal with them, knowing that.

The future has always bothered me. I desperately fear being alone, and most of all I fear the stopping of my existence that I cannot convince myself will not happen when I die. I hated the times when those thoughts attacked me, and I tried to get rid of them. But with sufficient distraction, they went away until something else happened to trigger them. Once a previous therapist and I talked about my fear of death and lack of faith in a Higher Power, and he said it seemed as if it might come from having been abused. At the time it seemed to be "Yes!," a big resonance that made me think, yes, that's exactly what it is, it must be. But it doesn't seem so sure a connection anymore. And even if it's true, it doesn't help me feel more comfortable with knowing I will die, or to believe in a Higher Power to gain some comfort.

Right now is an oddly quiet moment emotionally; I am sitting on a shaded bench by what an ex-boyfriend called "The Karma Fountain." I don't know if I am truly feeling tranquil or just numb. I do know I don't want to leave here. Hunger will probably drive me away, or darkness in two or three hours. There's still an echo of the pain in my heart here, which is why I don't want to leave for fear it will engulf me again.

June 13, 1996

I just want to feel normal again. I'd cry, if I could have any faith thatit would stop on its own. I hate to go to bed even when I feel good because when I wake up in the morning the fear skin slithers back up onto me. Today my relative normality was interrupted by my best friend mentioning that he hates the apartment complex we both live in and if he had the money would move out. Panic ensued in me as to what I would do if he weren't within walking distance, where I could come see him and his roommate, another close friend, as often as I needed to, which for six weeks has been almost nightly. I'm tired now and would go home if I didn't fear tomorrow, though it is just a normal Friday with nothing special planned. Because nothing special is planned. When will I not be paralyzed by fear of being alone and feeling bad?

June 15, 1996

Someone on a mailing list I'm on referred to his wife, an abuse survivor,as "having a part of her soul taken away from her that she can never get back." I know that feeling. I feel incomplete; can three-fourths of a person get through this life? The choice is that or dying. I'd like to believe that like in Piers Anthony's Xanth novels, the partial soul would regenerate. Butit doesn't seem to be. I still am surprised sometimes when I'm outside and there's a breeze, that it doesn't pick me up and carry me away with it. I feel that insubstantial. Perhaps that's why I'm suddenly, unusually for me, spending so much time outside. The sun warms me as nothing else can, and the breeze reminds me that I'm still solid, whatever that counts for. I'm lying in a chair beside the pool, next to the window into the exercise room. Perhaps I should start using it. But then, I'm going home next week for a few days, and maybe I'll feel normal once I get out of that cursed apartment.

But I feel like a one-legged person in a society where crutches haven't yet been invented. I can hop around from one piece of furniture to another, or lean on people to venture out into scarier waters, but my balance when there's nothing to lean on is not at all sure.

I think about mental hospitals. I feel like I belong in one. There I wouldn't feel selfish for needing people. I try not interfere with the lives of the people I need, but at times like now, when the breeze is getting colder and it will be dark soon and no one is home, I get scared. Not that I blame them for going out and living their lives, but what will happen to me if no one is there to help me escape when the sun goes down? If I have to go back to that apartment? I stood it last night. Yeah, but last night I was throwing up and exhausted and willingly went to bed an hour early even though I hate going to bed and throwing away that day's stability. I think the bug has gone away; at least everything I've eaten today has stayed down, though I've eaten fairly little. Maybe I'll have an appetite at Mom's when I visit her. Maybe I'll have an appetite when I get my new place. I don't know if I can last till then. Only fifteen days, and four of those will be at Mom's. I just hope she won't spend the whole time nagging me about how I just need to keep a stiff upper lip. Hopefully I'll feel enough better while I'm there that she won't feel the need to nag me.

I almost feel tranquil when I come outside and write. I feel like there's a me again. Writing inside almost invariably makes me cry. And I feel like the crying will never stop. This, outside, is like when I was younger and would go outside and climb the dogwood tree in front of our house. People would walk under me and never know I was there. In 7th grade I remember praying to Hecate there. I wanted so badly to be a witch, with power over my life. It seemed like the only way.

June 22, 1996

Mom doesn't understand and she's not even trying. It's so hot in here that I'm sweating, but I still want to huddle under blankets to maybe feel a little protected. I've been fine, even happy, for three days, all the time I was here, but the first thing that grabbed hold of me this last morning here was "Please don't make me go back there!" My mom says I can stand it for the week until I move out. Well, if I could stand it there, would I have called her in tears saying "please, can I spend some time at your place?" If I could stand it there would I have spent seven weeks in crisis? Crying incessantly, attacked by miserable fears, unable to feel safe at all? All my mind can repeat now is "Please don't make me go back!" I don't know if this is some kind of projection, being able to say I don't want to go back to that hellhole of an apartment, when at earlier times in my life I couldn't say "I don't want to, don't put me in these dangerous situations." Though the current one isn't dangerous in that way on its own, just unpleasant. Physically and emotionally. Don't leave me, Mom. You'd actually been pleasant to be around for a while. I guess you'll never give up on the idea of sink or swim. It'll toughen up your little girl, right? You never realize that constant dunking only increases the fear, and you only learn enough dog-paddling to get to the shore without ever wanting to enter the water again. Is that what your dad did to you, same as he did to me: here's sex, deal with it!

She tells me I need to learn to deal with stress. What, does she think I've lived through sexual abuse, parents divorcing, a high school honors program, a college honors program, and a year of graduate school without ever encountering stress? This is not just stress.

Just stay with me during the afternoon. It's all I've asked of anyone. Don't leave me there to pass the time all alone, because I don't think I can without slipping into the abyss. Just stay with me.

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