“Protection Mode”

For all but maybe two years of my life until the age of 38, there was at least some sort of abuse to which I experienced.

I am not one to banter about the past without there being a solution to a problem/ / fault about myself that I have learned. In other words, this is not a “Woe is me,” hand-wringing post.

Again, I survived and experienced abuse of every sort over the first 38 years of my life except the 2 years I was single.

This bred something underneath my awareness.

My mother did not like me writing, so I would hide my papers that I wrote in various places in my closet: in pockets of my clothing, etc. This was because I wanted to not be so robbed of me totally losing a facet of my life that was both therapeutic and exercising my individuality.

My first husband was physically abusive, so I hid my keys and cell phone in similar ways. The whole purpose was to have a way to leave if things were that bad based on my assessment.

Then, I left my first husband. Abuse ended with him. My parents were mostly out of my life, so that was less likely as well, not to mention, Dan (my present husband) knows and knew and guarded against anything happening to me or my children.

After I left my first husband and later connected with Dan, I WOULD STILL hide my keys ad phone! I was STILL SCARED even though my environment was immensely altered. I slowly shifted when my trust grew, and I realized everything was okay.

THEN, I fell twenty feet and obtained a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). On a side note, I loathe mentioning this as I do not want to have it sound like AN EXCUSE. THE THING IS THE BRAIN CHANGES after such an event. FURTHERMORE, it often relapses with memories, emotions, etc. I will say I did not lose my memory of the present; however, my emotions relapsed.

What does this mean? Well let’s go back in time, BEFORE my fall, I did try to protect Dan, the love of my life of… disappointments, etc. I did not share all information with him that I had come to know or of what I was in control.

Was this maniacal, and was I attempting to be deceitful? No, believe it or not. You see, I love this man far beyond what I ever felt for my first husband (note to those who do not know me: I did not say I loved my first husband). Finding Dan has been the best part of my life, and I value finding him and his love for me so much that I ERRONEOUSLY was not straightforward with all of the woes life brings. It’s like… I wanted to protect him like one of my eight children.

BECAUSE this was so much a part of my life in the past before Dan MIXED WITH the cognitive / cerebral transitions, I took this “Protection Mode” regarding him BEYOND what should be. More and more I am believing that “Protection Mode” should not exist so much amongst life partners.

My point in this post is to communicate one of the errors in my ways along with provide insight into how others may also have learned to cope and survive.

Please, if you are with your Soul Mate and he / she is good to you, this way of living should not be a part of how you operate. IF YOU DO NEED THIS to survive, please consider how unhealthy your life is and seek a way to create a new pay.

Changing Oneself Alters Perception of Others

It has been a little over twenty-eight months since I obtained a TBI, traumatic brain injury. Within the first year of my return to my family, it was apparent to other close loved ones that I changed; but it was not so evident to me. Upon returning home, I was given a list of restrictions, etc. which was very difficult to appreciate. The goal of the medical staff was for me to continue to improve and not have another “unhappy surprise.” Outside of being directed to wear a brace, I physically felt largely the same. Furthermore, my wittiness was as strong or grew stronger, meaning that it was EVEN LESS evident that there were changes.

I am very honored to have my husband, Dan, to have ever been a part of my life, let alone to endure through all of our trials and tribulations. One of the most traumatic and dramatic hurdles has been my recovery physically, mentally, and emotionally. (Note: I AM NOT claiming I am recovered to the point of being exactly the person I was before I fell.)

Through this time since my return home, my husband has, on occasion, told me what I “need to do,” whether it’s based on emotional changes or financial struggles. He and I have always been a team, but somehow, I lost part of “the we” (not to be confused with the Wii). In essence, when I have been told what I need to do, it has felt like there is / was a focus upon how I have changed, etc. I LOST SIGHT OF THE WE. This means that I lost sight and perspective of he and I still being a team. It has, until this week, always seemed like just another way to articulate how I am different and what I NEED TO DO to improve things.

Part of this discombobulation is that this was not articulated as a mindset of teamwork until very recently. For there was no onset focus stated in a way that kept me feeling secure and calm as I am coached on what I need to do for THE TEAM.

My reason for focusing on this is, just like with anything else, there are two sides to every coin. Furthermore, as my husband states, “What you focus on, you create.” I felt isolated along with feeling that there was focus on how much I need to change versus new goals for us as a team. This is because this was how I placed my attention. The flip-side of this is that my husband did not remind me that we as a team STILL ARE A TEAM.

I feel that with many physical changes that  there is a tendency to feel isolated. The thing is that the one feeling this way is often the one causing it him/herself, taking away the union that he/she has with someone. We mustn’t lose sight that we still are the same person, even if we have changed. Furthermore, those people who are advising us down a different or altered road means that those persons ARE STILL ON THE JOURNEY WITH US!!!! It is even good to inquire about that team still remaining. This would help the caregiver understand part of the fight; furthermore, it offers emotional support along with confirmation logically that this IS NOT something lost. (Otherwise that person or people WOULD NOT be communicating with you, let alone offering advice as to what should be done to improve life (for all parties involved.)

When we can become more in touch with whom we have not lost and not thwart ourselves away from them, due to feeling rejected, this adds to the comfort we have along with help the supporters to not lose love or appreciation for us.

Redefinition, Reinvention, and Stumbling on the “Old Me” Who is Still There

In many ways, there are injuries and events that change who we are. I could write about TBIs and all the changes that occur physically, emotionally, behaviorally, and more. However, I am going to slant this outside of the medical world before formally venturing there.

Twenty-six years ago I was a waitress/server. After I became pregnant with my oldest, I quit work so I could be a stay-at-home mother. After that, her father and I eventually visited the restaurant franchise where I was a server. Even though I was not in uniform, my mind and emotions took on that role, as if I was on shift at that very moment. I heard the orders being called to the cooks, the salad bar’s containers that needed to be refilled and more. I could not relax. Here I was a server and could not be a leisurely patron at this restaurant. I even found that at many restaurants I would still mentally be working. It was void of being able to relax.

After a while, I thought to myself how ridiculous this was and how I should place myself in the role of being a patron/customer. It developed to the point that every once in a while I request the server for something I would prefer, which took some gumption, as I always saw it as making the server be put under more demands and stress. In other words, I had to reinvent how I saw myself along with my actions at a restaurant. I have always been independent and have never reveled in being served. That waitress is still in me.. the older version of me is still there. I stack the plates, etc. when my party and I are preparing to leave and pay the bill.  Actually, it is comforting for me to do this for the server. I have had that sort of job.

So, I have a new me, whether I want her or not. When you have had a brain injury, things change. For some, there can be loss of limbs or ability to move a portion of their bodies in the same way they could. I have that a little but not as much as emotional, psychological and behavioral changes. I used to keep my thoughts and feelings totally to myself. I still do that some; however, I don’t do it all the time. I have come to learn that some of these changes are healthy for me, whereas “stuffing” all thoughts and feelings may be more amiable to everyone else, it is more unhealthy for the person doing this. So, the first step is to see the good sides in the “new hand” that life has given.

My injury took place August 24, 2014. My battle for the “old me” unknowingly began around October 3, 2014, as that was the day I was released from the hospital. I did not know I was fighting until around May 16, 2015. All I saw for so long is everything I am not anymore. It is as if anything I appreciated about myself seemed to be gone. HOWEVER, this is not true. I was a daredevil from the time I was a little girl. I pushed the bar with the restrictions with my return home. Yes, I know that going beyond what is recommended/advised by the medical field is not the wisest choice. I wanted to be free, and felt like all of these rules were caging me. Upon a recent conversation with my husband, I revealed all the different ways I have crept beyond the line or attempted to do so from decades ago. These are all fun moments to remember BUT NOT ONLY THAT! Just speaking about them HAD ME REALIZE SHE’S STILL THERE!!! Sure, I’m more vocal and I see how that can be frustrating. Yes, my daredevil side is there; however, THAT’S PART OF THE OLD ME! What that means is I’m not an alien to myself. Sure, there are facets about me that have changed, but I have loved music and singing since I had a gym set. I have been a daredevil for most all my life at least a little. So, I have changed. The grief is a lot less coming to grips with the facets and characteristics/traits of me that HAVE NOT CHANGED.I am not saying all my “old ways” are the safest or even advisable to maintain; however, there is more inward peace and acceptance of myself between the combination of understanding the good things that have developed and the fun ones that are still there.

The other beauty in this is the ability to dream and not only be redefined by the event itself but also to reinvent oneself. Part of my reinvention is to write about such things to help others.. not for accolades, just to help others in ways I may or may never know. In the past, I only had hats relating to my family (friends are family too) and not others. Now, I have invented the idea of creating a firsthand voice and responding to those I know and do not know. I would not be writing about anosmia or all these changes if it were not for that TBI. However, there is NEW compassion and NEW comraderie along with a NEW zeal to write my positive experiences to help all those others out there fighting their own battles. As aforementioned, no accolades are sought. Giving with no expected results is quite wonderful.

Overcoming CoDependence Regarding My Parents

I have not lived with my parents in over twenty-seven years. I remember the day I was made to leave.  It was February 14, 1989, with a  verbal “Happy Valentine’s Day” wish from my mother.

I was never allowed to have my own thoughts or feelings when I was with my parents without being chastised. It was considered “disrespectful” EVERY time. This is not to mention all the forms of abuse that occurred in their house.

My family consisted of my brother who was seven years younger than I along with my sister who is two years younger than I. When she was born, she was a normal, cognitive baby girl. However, nine months into her life, she had a TBI before it was as well-known as it is today, causing her to be both autistic and mentally retarded. She does not even know me or recognize me. My mother was caring for her at the time of this… “accident.”

When I ventured on my own, I craved my toxic mother and passive father, who had his own means of administering abuse. I cannot tell you why I missed them. Maybe because I wanted approval. I WANTED and CRAVED to feel loved by them, and that dream did not come true.

I am a military brat, although my father did live a civilian life for about five years. Within my eighteen years, I lived in four states and eight residences that I remember from the ages three to eighteen (there were more relocations before this, but I do not remember the houses or even the names of the towns).

When I was fourteen, we moved from Georgia to Alabama. Sadly, it took me until the fourth  year to adjust to Georgia, and it crushed me to move. I even begged for my parents to let us live there until I graduated, as it was spring of my freshman year of high school when we moved. At this time, my emotions were already on a downward spiral. That summer, I lost my virginity, and my mom walked in on me at the end of this act. In essence, MY PARENTS KNEW. About half a year or year later, we moved into another house in the same town. Between the move and what seemed to be my father not giving me attention at all, let alone he’d wipe my kisses off his face, it caused me to feel very unloved.. that he didn’t love me. My response was an occasional cry-out to my mother asking her if he did. She would always say “yes.” I never really believed it.

Around the age of sixteen or seventeen, it’s been too long to remember exactly when, my father finally started giving me attention. At first, it was innocent. I would get to sit by him in his chair while watching television. Then, it slowly changed. He was giving me the wrong kind of attention, as fathers should not do. I was quite confused. I craved and craved and craved to be loved, and now… it’s wrong. It’s the wrong kind of love shown. But how was I to stop his caresses and kisses? How? How could I turn down attention from this man who was my father, when I pined to be his daughter emotionally for two to three years?

One night he tried to take things too far. He wanted more than to caress me. The blouse I was wearing wound up with a button popping off of it, and I never repaired it. I could not. I told my father to leave my room. I think he understood this was passed the bar of weakness. To my recollection, he never made another advance at me.

A short time later, my father had to attend an NCO school, as the military aim to keep their enlisted educated. At that time, I wrote my father that these sorts of things would never happen again. On top of that, I told my mother what occurred. Eventually, it was blamed on me.

When I was eighteen, three months and three days old, I was banned to live with my parents and brother. Again, I would crave them. I would crave time and conversations with them. I have eight children, and I craved this relationship to be something wonderful for over two decades.

Recently, I had a dream that my youngest child, my son, was violated. My husband and I then talked about my father and my mother. My mother has tried full force to prove to the state of Florida what a bad and unfit parent I am with every claim being “Unfounded” by the representatives who investigate. Within our many conversations, my husband and I have deduced that my father has “covered” for my mother regarding my sister becoming brain damaged. My mother has covered for my father with his indiscretions (if I was at fault, why would I ever tell my mother and not just “keep quiet”?) He then told me  how I have placed my parents on pedestals, perceiving them to be “better” than they are. He talked of how unhealthy this was and how foolish it is for me to keep hanging on to them.

I take walks every day Dan works. It is an outlet. It is a way of “finding myself,” especially since my TBI and also to help me stay even keel emotionally. On the next day’s walk after his insight was bestowed, I settled on letting my parents go. After all, if my father loved me, THAT would have never happened. Also, IF MY MOTHER LOVED ME, she would have defended me. She would not defend the perpetrator, my father. She would EVEN understand the boundaries I placed upon my children, her grandchildren, regarding them not being alone with my father. HOWEVER, that never was the way it was. LOVE is not only sweet little words. It is actions… As my mother taught me, “Actions speak louder than words.” Their actions were not full of love. Even though I still, for whatever reason, love them, I am no longer going to emotionally be connected to them.

This story is not written out of spite. There is much humility that I felt before deciding to write this. This is for those cases THAT DO HAPPEN to adolescents, as they have enough battles with love and acceptance, let alone THIS SORT. I have not come across any stories regarding adolescents and family members and the emotional struggles it causes that young person. Adolescents are considered to be “young adults.” I agree with this; HOWEVER, EMOTIONALLY, I do not. This is based on a firsthand experience that I wish I had never had. I think it would have been easier and less befuddling if my father had never displayed such unacceptable behavior and, instead, just shrugged me off and have me keep feeling there was no love. I am not saying it would be a cake walk to live that life either; however, what I endured without even understanding from an adult perspective what transpired on emotional level, not including my own mother saying it was my fault, I have battled guilt off and on. The truth is I never wanted that sort of attention from my father. I wanted innocent hugs and pecks on the cheek.

It is sickening to think of how he heard I didn’t feel he loved me and then that being what he considered his “open door.” It’s sick that he would always make jokes that I was attracted to Charles Schwab, who was born in 1937… 9 years before my father was born. He would do this in front of my mother every time a commercial for his corporation aired.

My point is for readers to understand that adolescents are not emotionally adults. Loving one’s child has the above not even consideration, whether it’s blaming the child or preying on that child… NO MATTER the child’s age. That is still the parents’ child!!!!

I’m letting go, and I hope if there are any victims of this out there that you can let go too!

Overcoming Denigrating Self-Worth Begins

My life has been filled with many hurdles, as I believe everyone’s life has. I do not believe that one person has an easier life than another. However, there is difference in where the difficulties exist.

I was raised in a way that if I had a different opinion, even if politely stated, it was labeled as rude. Within my childhood, I was beaten both with a belt and thin branches from outside, forcefed to the point of regurgitation, along with being a survivor of child molestation. Furthermore, there was much sexual abuse in many ways, for which my mother blamed me. In my adult years, my former ex-husband physically caused two miscarriages along with reinforce my parents’ grooming that I must agree with him. He also forced himself upon me sexually.

Throughout my teenage years, I noticed that my dad would talk about all these good-looking women with desire and curiosity, from Wrigley’s Doublemint twins to Baywatch babes. I felt awkward as I would never look like that and neither would Mom. Hearing my dad desire voluptuous women made me look down on myself physically, as I did not understand what beauty was and that inner beauty is more appealing than outer beauty.

I told my mother about my father’s incestuous ways, and she blamed me. The consequence of this was for me to lower my opinion of myself further throughout my life far passed those years as a child. Here, I told my mother about this event knowing I was possibly going to lose my father with the surprising result of my mother turning her back on me from then on to eternity.

When I married my first husband, he talked of how he wished I was taller than he. He would kiss and compliment me hoping it was foreplay every single time. I felt like a sex object early on, and this along with the physical abuse led to me filing for divorce.

The thing is that until I returned home from this traumatic brain injury, I had never faced the fact that I was abused. I faced the events and could speak of what occurred; however, I never looked at myself as a victim/survivor of abuse.

Am I going to plead innocence? No, not on everything. I could have eaten the revolting over-easy eggs. I could have kept drawing the line to my former ex-husband regarding how to treat and how not to treat his wife.

What does now stating that I was a victim and am now a survivor cause? It causes me to make boundaries. Stating that I was abused by my parents makes me really not want my underage children to ever see them again. For now, based on this new label, it is a deeper meaning. I, as a mother, do not want my children to have the chance of being exposed to this.

This statement has also begun the process of me feeling these various misdeeds with the ability of letting them go. It is a chance to give myself compassion for all the ways I feel I have failed along with a new understanding as to why my self-image has been six feet under.

Furthermore, due to the sexual abuse that I experienced, that diminished having a man make love to me and me understand it is more than a physical act but an emotional tie shown. Even after this has been stated to me time and again by my husband, it is JUST NOW BEGINNING to sink in. I have been questioning physical intimacy with my husband since the beginning. Now that I have labelled the past as mostly abuse, it is having me look at the past and present under a new precept. Have I ever felt my husband was demeaning to me? No; however, I have wondered his motives more than I should. Sure, we as a married couple are allowed lust. However, if sex is only from lust and the goal of release, then it no longer falls under lovemaking.

Who knew that there could be such positive things from a TBI? Who knew that having the past flash before my eyes would be another way of letting go of the horrifying experiences to prepare for the beautiful present and future?

Living Life Like I am Human

Note: Some of this has been written previously;however, I have added new insight to this post.

As aforementioned, I have been living a life according to my own expectations along with the hopes of others. When one does this, it can be quite robotic. I have always resisted feeling much negativity, whether sadness, anger, depression, etc. However, since my accident, my inhibitions have been lightened and freed. The consequence is that I am more connected  to my deeper emotional side and less inclination to hold onto my old or present luggage. Being that my world is far more emotional, the managing of these feelings is at times quite complex. However, focusing on the present aids the ability to feel weighted and loaded with antiquated drama. There are many parts of my life on which that I could visualize, and it would be stifling to experience the memories. Howbeit, fixing my attention on the present allows me to retire these old memories that torpedo my effervescence. Mindfulness helps avoid emotional debilitation.

Another aspect is learning and creating one’s boundaries to oneself. It has been easy for me to create boundaries for the children; however, I have never outlined to myself what is beyond what I should expect myself to do. For instance, when it comes to doing things that are strenuously arduous, BREATHE and take a break in between one goal and the next. Otherwise, I become quite irritated and grumpy. I have rewritten “These Boots are Made for Walkin’.” The content is my old poor habits followed by me creating ones that allow me to live an emotionally healthier life. For instance, instead of pushing my workload when it is stressful and no more productive than me taking a breather, I have begun to understand my weaknesses to the point of “taking breathers.” This does not mean procrastinate for a nonsensical amount of time. However, taking the time to breathe deeply and settle my emotions from intense task to another makes the next job easier with me in a more amiable disposition than pushing myself to the point I am stressed and more cantankerous.

Brain Injuries Birthing Old Issues Causing PTSD

I am a domestic violence survivor and was formerly a victim. My middle son, Joshua, was also mistreated and abused by my former husband, his biological father. Joshua’s father detested my brother, David, so much, and here Joshua looks and acts like him so much to this day. I remember my five year-old son being pinned against the wall and hearing him scream. My response was high decibel levels of pleading for his father to stop torturing our son. A decade has passed since this occurrence of which I speak, and I left his father for many reasons six years ago.

Sometimes Joshua’s siblings and other loved ones get under his skin. His response can be just as frantic as when he was five. When I witness such things along with Joshua’s behavior it is as if I traveled back in time to moments I wish never occurred. I’m barely able to breathe or speak without wailing or weeping.

The interesting thing about this injury or what seems to be a result of this injury is that old memories can seem as if they are occurring in the present. At times, this means a lack of weight in my baggage. However, at other times it is as if I need to get back in the time machine and travel back to present life. The result of these types of moments is to tell myself that the past is the past, and there are no present effects of this being a detailed account of Einstein’s definition of insanity (” Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”) Life is not the same, but sometimes the feelings of the past are surfaced, and life can feel just as threatened as it was years ago. However, there is enough proof that life is wonderful with caring children, a loving husband and faithful friends filled with love that contradict my life’s past. Focusing on such things are how I have come to find my way out of the maze.

As aforementioned, I have quite a rocky past. About seven years ago, I was about three to four months pregnant with a baby when I was married to my abusive ex-husband. I do not recall the details of our argument or his anger. However, I do remember what he did. He picked me up and threw me onto the floor of our home. The result was that I passed out. According to our older children, he mocked me as if he did not believe what the consequences of his actions were. I did not miscarry the next day. Instead, the baby and placenta stayed within me for about six weeks, thereby causing a massive deterioration until I expelled. The result was that it was approximately a fourteen-hour process, as I laid on a blanket on the main bathroom floor.

My second oldest daughter checked on me regularly. I remember one time feeling like I was phasing out and to the point of near death. Rachel asked if I was okay, and I said “yes” in a hazy manner. It was not until she asked if I needed to be admitted in the hospital that my senses returned to me, and I decided I needed to be alive for my children.

One of the things I detest in life is medical invasiveness. I have very little if any appreciation for any tube to be installed in me for whatever logical reason. I had a feeding tube from August 24, 2014 to November 7, 2014. I started eating food again on September 17, 2014. Furthermore, I was released from the rehabilitation center on October 3, 2014, so there was two and a half months that the feeding tube was being irrigated and available for removal. HOWEVER, I had to irrigate it when I was home. In itself, that is not an awful procedure UNTIL I started seeing brown matter that was draining out of the tube when I opened it to perform cleansing of it. When I would irrigage the tube, I would talk quite loudly and even wail, for it reminded me of this life-threatening miscarriage that WAS FULL of brown matter in the expelling process due to the waiting for the brown matter to drain out of it before I began the irrigation process.

When this happened the first time, I called the rehabilitation center to seek understanding. I was told that everything was okay. After about the fourth time of this occurring, Dan helped me shift. He talked to me about this not being the past. From that point on, I pretended to be Joe Friday, who always seeks “just the facts” (without the drama). Once I did this, I was more at ease with this occasional event of having this matter ooze out of the tube into the bathroom sink before I irrigated it. I simply would tell myself what was occurring at that very moment to moved passed my horrific past.

In writing my life’s travels to victories, I have veered away from agonizing topics like domestic violence, as I do not wish to create woeful stories. Instead I aim to offer encouragement to those with an extensive amount of hurdles over which they are attempting to jump. My main contribution to convey at this time is why I withstood the mental, psychological, emotional, and physical abuse. Here in the state of Florida, if an individual calls the police and files a complaint or report regarding domestic violence, SOMEONE IS GOING TO JAIL. That, to some, would seem like ceasing the problem. HOWEVER, the accused returning after thirty days is a vastly fearful thought. You see, it’s not like I would expect that individual to return happy to see me and to change his behavior. My thought process was that he would be more intense and vengeful. Thinking of that is more fearful than coping with things as they were. Luckily, that is my past reality and I have a beautiful, healthy life now.