The Wednesday HodgePodge (June 15, 2022)

Hi all! I am participating in the Wednesday HodgePodge once again. Here goes.

1. Do you wear your heart on your sleeve? Elaborate.
It really depends. I can either bottle up my feelings or blurt them out – there’s not much inbetween. I am not good at hiding my true feelings even when I try though.

2. A favorite love song?
I don’t tend to listen to love songs, so I’m naturally going with a parody: She’s My Girl by Tom Lehrer.

Tom Lehrer has many more parodies to different types of love songs and I love them all.

3. Do you consider yourself a trusting person? Explain.
No, not really. Like with wearing my heart on my sleeve, I tend to be quite black-or-white with this: I trust someone or I don’t. I also struggle to give people second chances when they’ve done something that feels as though it’s betraying my trust.

4. June 14th is National New Mexico Day…have you ever been to New Mexico (aka The Land of Enchantment)? Any desire to visit the state? Some of the top rated tourist attractions there are- Carlsbad Caverns National Park, White Sands National Park, The Albuquerque International Balloon Festival, Bandelier National Monument, The Georgia O’Keefe Museum, Santa Fe Plaza, and the Petroglyph National Monument. Of the attractions listed which would be tops on your list?
I’ve never been to New Mexico and, if I have to believe Tom Lehrer’s song The Wild West Is Where I Want to Be, I don’t want to either. Of course, that song’s a parody too.

If I were to visit New Mexico though, one of the national parks would likely be on my list to go to. As a side note, is there a national day for each U.S. state?

5. What’s something you’ve found enchanting recently?
I try to find delight in the everyday, so really anything can be enchanting. An example that comes to mind right now is the music I listened to on Spotify recently. Back when I used to go to the day center, I’d go to the sensory room and lie on the waterbed while listening to a CD by Don Gibson’s Solitudes called Songbird Symphony. A few days ago, I discovered several other albums by that same group. Listening to them on my music pillow is pure bliss.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
Speaking of enchantment, I’d like to mention an exercise I did a while ago in which I had to imagine my safe space in all its beautiful sensory detail. I tried to imagine being surrounded by unicorns, because most real-life places I’ve been carry some trigger one way or the other. I also love to imagine their beautiful colors in my mind’s eye, even though in real life I’m no longer able to see color. I know some blind people lose their memory of sight over time and I did to an extent too, but color remains with me at least to some degree, for which I’m forever grateful.

Yet Another Goodbye

One of Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop prompts this week is to show your readers your most recent photo and to let it inspire your blog post. This might not be an easy prompt for other people to be doing without cheating, but I rarely take random pictures. As such, I do have a clear story behind my most recent picture.

This picture shows a necklace I made this morning for a staff who’s leaving. Yes, yet another staff is leaving my care home. It’s the fifth or so within the past four or five months. At least as many people have looked around at my home to see if they might want to work here, but none do. Thankfully though, my care home has managed to attract a few new staff from internships and the other care homes that are part of my care facility. Overall, it all still makes me intensely sad.

This staff who’s leaving now had only been working here for six months, but I did kind of trust her already. Some staff say this means I can build trust in new staff too, seeing that I could develop a kind of attachment to this staff within six months. The reality is though, I don’t think I want to build trust in another staff, knowing that the reality of the current employment climate is they can leave when they feel like it and no-one can guarantee me they won’t leave within a certain timeframe. After all, originally this staff planned on working here for at least several years too.

I did feel kind of like I had to make something for this staff, so I made this necklace. The round-looking beads are actually hearts. The story behind the beads is also interesting: another staff found them while clearing out a fellow client’s cupboard and had no idea whose they are. They most likely aren’t hers or at least she isn’t able to use them because the holes in the beads are far too narrow. Ultimately, the staff decided to give them to me. I at one point thought I might be able to use them for macrame, but the holes are far too narrow for that too.

The staff who is leaving is the staff who got me Indonesian takeaway food, the best Asian food I’d ever had, last week. She said that, on Monday, when it’s her last shift here, she’s bringing me another meal. I think that’s really kind of her.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Ways in Which My Life Has Improved Over the Past Few Months

Lately, as I’ve been recovering from COVID and as the news of the war in Ukraine has been intensely scaring me, I’ve focused more than I would like to on how my life has seemed to have spiraled out of control. Staff changes at my care home also contribute to my feeling of insecurity. This combined leads me to feel that I am worse off than I was a few months ago and getting worse by the day. For this reason, a prompt that I came across in one of my journal writing books, is particularly compelling to me right now. It asks me to describe in what ways my life has improved over the past couple of months. Here goes.

1. I sleep better. I am pretty sure this isn’t entirely due to the lingering effects of COVID, though they do play a role. I am pretty sure the new medication, pregabalin (Lyrica), also helps. I feel a lot more rested when waking up, have fewer nightmares, etc.

2. I am less anxious. Though I still experience night-time anxiety, it has significantly decreased particularly over the past couple of weeks. I am pretty sure this is thanks to the pregabalin too.

3. I have been able to be more creative. I have truly discovered my artsy side over the past couple of months. I do still stay somewhat in my comfort zone, but am exploring ways to step outside of it just a little bit too.

4. I have started on a healthier food plan. This is hard, but it is more doable than I initially expected it’d be. Though I let things go a little when I had COVID, I only gained like 0.2kg from before I got sick. Overall, I’m not disappointed.

5. I have developed some more trust in some of my staff. This is still fragile and it is even more so with the staff changes. For this reason, we have let go of the word “trust” for the most part when referring to my relation to the staff and called it “acceptance”. I feel proud of myself for admitting that I am beginning to trust a couple of staff members rather than just accept them.

Though some of these things seem to be outside of my control, they really aren’t. I mean, I have to thank the pregabalin for my decreased anxiety, but I also do practise relatively good self-care by sleeping with my music pillow when stressed, for instance. I think, by the way, that it helps to hold the view that, though my life isn’t in my hands, my choices are within my control.

How has your life improved over the past couple of months?

Basic Mistrust

I have been compelled to read up on emotional and psychosocial development. One theory is Erik Erikson’s theory, which states that, at each different stage in life (from infancy to old age), a particular conflict is present. In infancy and early toddlerhood, this conflict is basic trust vs. mistrust.

I initially thought that this stage corresponds pretty much to the first adaptation phase in attachment theory, which takes place between birth and age six months. When I checked it though, it includes this stage as well as the first socialization phase, age six to eighteen months. This may be one reason why I relate strongly to basic mistrust even though, in attachment theory terms, I function in most areas consistent with the first socialization phase.

One thing I’m facing lately is a chronic feeling of anxiety and distrust. In my care plan, my emotional development is outlined and in the fear domain, I am said to function at an age comparable to somewhere between zero and eighteen months. This includes all of Erikson’s first stage of psychosocial development. By contrast, it encompasses both the first adaptation and first socialization phase of attachment development. The reason my development in this area isn’t pinpointed to either of these two phases, is that I experience both basic fear (consistent with the first adaptation phase) and strong separation anxiety (consistent with the first socialization phase). Apparently, a baby under six months cannot yet express separation anxiety.

I have little idea why I might experience such strong anxiety, as in, what in my early development contributed to it. I mean, my parents claim I didn’t have these issues until I started to lose my eyesight at age seven. Seven is another important age in both cognitive and psychosocial development, but I don’t think that one is particularly important in my life. The earlier stages seem to make far more sense to me.

Of course, I do know that I probably didn’t have optimal care in my early life. This isn’t anyone’s fault. I was, after all, born prematurely and spent the first three months of my life in hospital. Though my parents visited me often, I don’t think I could rely upon them for meeting my every basic need. After all, they cannot possibly have been in my proximity 24/7, like the mother of a typically-developing child usually is at least for the first few weeks to months. My nurses must’ve provided me feeding and comfort at least part of the time.

As for affection, I have absolutely no idea. NICU nurses aren’t likely to be able to provide any significant level of affection to a baby at all, but I guess my parents would’ve made up for that. I went into this when discussing mother as source and mother as place of attachment. The truth is, I honestly mostly rely on my current feelings to guide my ideas. I, after all, don’t have many early memories of affection. My first memory related to it is from age four or five and it involves my mother using a nickname for me that referred to her needing to be at my side all the time. Then again, most people don’t have many early memories at all and remembering is still a form of reconstruction. In other words, because I experience a lot of basic mistrust now as an adult, it is easier for me to remember the memories that point to this.

This post was inspired by Fandango’s one-word challenge (#FOWC), the word for today being “Basic”.

Dealing with Some High School Memories

We are struggling quite a bit. We hardly know why, but yesterday, a memory appeared. It’s not like we weren’t aware of this having happened before, so it’s not a repressed memory. However, it still feels as though only certain insiders can “own” the memory, if this makes sense.

This is hard, because we got told last Thursday by our nurse practitioner that it’s good people aren’t validating our experience of dissociation. For example, they’re reminding us that the body is 32 and we’re all Astrid. That may be so, but it’s only getting us to further disconnect from ourselves.

He told us that being a child at heart is not wrong, but claiming to be a child is. Or something like that. He more or less told us to look beyond the emotional parts’ words to what was actually troubling us. For example, Jace saying she has to move out by age eighteen meant we’re afraid we won’t get long-term care funding. Fine by me but I think it’s not that simple. I think this may be an actual memory bothering Jace and it was just triggered by the long-term care stuff.

Anyway, yesterday evening we started experiencing high school memories. Our high school tutor was our safe person at the time. We trusted him more than we did our parents. Our parents weren’t okay with this. When in ninth grade, we had been struggling and our schoolwork was suffering. Our tutor asked us to tell him what was going on. We wrote it down. Then our tutor told our father, who worked at our school. He refused to disclose what we’d written though. I understand this, but it got our parents angry and led to an incident of bad mental abuse.

Anyway, like I said, this tutor was our safe person. He was the first one to know about our being multiple other than a handful of readers of my online diary at the time. He wasn’t impressed by it as much. In fact, he told us we’re just manipulative. This got us to go in denial and not tell anyone else.

It still upsets us that we could’ve had a chance for real help if we hadn’t been in denial at the time. I mean, the tutor told our first psychologist about our experience. This psychologist suspected DID, but we denied everything. It’s understandable, because we were still in somewhat of an unsafe situation at the time.

We trusted our high school tutor, but he betrayed our trust in some rather overt ways. He told our parents that we suspected we were on the autism spectrum. Not that there was no other way for them to find out, as we wrote about it in our public online diary. However, he told them that we’re a hypochondriac for it. In this sense, he was on our parents’ side. And yet, we didn’t see it.

Then again, is it okay for me to think in terms of being on someone’s side or not? I mean, our parents were supportive in some ways. Our mother was at least. Our father was and still is too self-absorbed to actually care about anything other than his intersts and opinions. It’s not black-or-white. People can be good and still do bad things. Or something like it.