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August 29, 2012

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The Abused Becomes the Abuser

********

I’ll never forget the time he pushed me so hard I fell out of my chair. His palms hit my chest like a grenade going off.

SMAAAAACK.

then

BOOOOM.

I fell straight back.

It’s a good thing I was near the ground already. That’s the thing about having OI, you can break a rib by simply sneezing, but sometimes you fall out of your wheelchair and you’re perfectly fine like a non-disabled kid might be. Though most times it’s the former and not the later that happens.

I lied there in confusion. He actually hit back this time? He actually hit me?!

After the shock wore off, I sat up from the carpet, trembling. He knew never to lay a hand on me–or rather to be exceptionally careful– because if our parents got home and found out he’d hurt me, he’d be in trouble. He broke my arms and legs on several occasions but always on accident. This was the first time he’d put physical force to my provocation. It must have been difficult to play and deal with your little Tasmanian-devil sister who has a brittle bones condition and a serious anger management problem.

****

“Aaaaaah! Motherfucker! You could have broken my bones! And my back! You could’ve snapped my back!” I yelled. I was still trembling.

“Well, how do you expect me to act when you’re so fuckin’ mean all the time?! HUH?! Always hitting and scratching me, yelling and cursing at me and throwing shit at me! HOW SHOULD I FEEL!? How do you think I feel?! You need to calm down! You treat me… I’m just… sick of it. You treat me like shit, so how do you expect ME to feel and react?”

I listened to his lecture with burrowed brows, pursed lips, flaring nostrils and a lowered head. My heart beat faster and faster with every word and I just wanted to attack. But I listened to him go on about how I’d end up an old, lonely, bitter woman if I went on like that (yes, he was saying this to a thirteen-year-old Negative P). I listened to him go on about how he was sick of my abuse and how I needed to change. On and on he went. As his voice droned over me, I began to stare down with a passive, stark look as if it didn’t faze me. As if I didn’t care.

“Are you done?” I looked up.

“No I’m not done!”

“Well, why don’t you just hit me then you fucker, push me again and you’ll see! You’re not my dad! And you’re not my mom! You’re shit!”

“See what? What the fuck P? What’s your problem? Man, I ain’t doing shit to you! I’m only trying to make you see clearly! And you’re not even listening! I’m trying to teach you something so you can learn not to act like this.”

There was a painful silence as we both stared at each other in the hallway.

“You don’t care do you?!”

I didn’t answer.

He sighed and squinted his eyes as if to search for what I held so tightly in my chest. I would not let my pain show, not even in my eyes. The tears would come later when no one could see. He stared at me with indignation until the spell in him passed. Then he stormed off to his room and I was left sitting there alone with my thoughts and overwhelming feelings.

****

I went to my room. I cried and cried and hurt myself all evening–scratching, biting and banging my head against the dresser. I had to make up an excuse for the bruises when my parents got home. They actually bought it, or so I thought. I don’t recall much of that part.

And I didn’t apologized to him until many years later, but then again, neither did he. He was only trying to do his best as an older brother, despite the futile and misguided attempt.

I was in middle school then. And with middle school came rejection and isolation. I was a tiny bottle of nitric acid, fuming at the edges, bubbling at the brim ready to spill and corrode anything I touched. It was a matter of time before I’d self destruct–explode or implode and consume anything around me like a black hole.

****

Shortly after, sometime that same year, I discovered the band Orgy. They had just made a remake of New Order’s “Blue Monday” and I would get all giddy when the music video came on MTV. This week I chose that song because it reflects the transition I made from being the “abused child” to becoming “the abuser”. I’m sure my mother had the same transformation after years of being devalued, beaten and watching her parents nearly kill each other with kitchen knives, furniture and broom sticks. I don’t blame her for the violent ways she dealt with me; I know she had been traumatized, was a child herself. It still doesn’t make it right though.

****

We all have a punching bag. Some of us only need a small punching bag. I needed one much, much larger than myself, especially those years–my angriest, raging years–so I chose my brother and myself. Even that wasn’t enough for the beast that lay within me. Then Eloise came to live with us and, to an extent, I made her my psychological punching bag too. I’m thankful the two of them are still my friends.

And that’s how the abused becomes the abuser I suppose. How does it feel? Like fuckin’ shit.

********

Oh, I included both versions of “Blue Monday”. The first version represents that little abused and angry, explosive and bloodied thirteen-year old mouse bordering on psychopath-to-be mouse. It will forever remind me of that time he pushed me and the many times we fought and how he would often lecture me to no avail (it was the first time he pushed me but definitely not the last). I even made my poor brother cry on numerous occasions. If only he knew how much I was hurting though… If only someone had known, had told me I wasn’t a bad kid for feeling so angry, self-loathing, sad, suicidal, empty and alone.

I sat there with my bruised head thinking, How should I feel? No one asks me that. How the fuck should I feel? Everyone tells me how I should feel but no one really asks.

********

Orgy’s remake, 1998

New Order’s original version, 1983

Those of you that have been with me here on WordPress since the birth of this blog are already familiar with the rare connective tissue disorder I was born with: Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) aka Brittle Bone Disease.

As I started writing this blog, I realized I wanted to explore the relationship between chronic illness and mental health. I wanted to share how the two have blended in my own experience. To an extent, I’ve done that, though not as much as I’d like. And when I found out about the BPD diagnosis, I began to look deeper at how my medical condition has been a factor in my development of “BPD symptomatology”.

****

The first therapist I went to see in 2008 was more of a general counselor at the university. Her specialties were not relevant to my mental problems. But it was because of her that I was able to accept the fact that I’ve dealt with a lot of traumatic experiences.

“Your mother has been abusive to you P,” she said quietly, “and on top of that, you’ve had to deal with a lot of medical trauma. Give yourself some credit! You deserve it. Don’t you think?”

I’ve always refused the thought of being a “trauma survivor”. In The Buddha and the Borderline, Kiera Van Gelder says something I completely connect to: “And while I still resist seeing myself as a victim of trauma, it’s becoming clear that I have some lingering unresolved issues…”

Lingering and unresolved. Don’t we all have some of the lingering and unresolved?

I think about what I deal with on a day-to-day basis–the triggers, the anxiety, the high-voltage electric current of emotions and suicidal ideations. I start to connect things. For example, I’m easily triggered and flinch with certain things that remind me of past fractures. If my brother does a sharp turn while pushing me in my wheelchair, my heart leaps, then stops. And I instantly get a chill up my spine. When I protest, he reassures me by saying, “Don’t worry. I got this shit Shorty. How many years have I pushed you?” I know he won’t drop me or let me fall, but my reactions are like clock-work despite my best efforts. I’m beginning to think I may have a form of complex post traumatic stress (C-PTSD), something very common with those who also have BPD (borderline personality disorder).

I think of these last seven months.

When February hit, I was already suicidal again. But then I came down with Bell’s Palsy. And then I broke my T-Rex arm less than a week after playing a prank over at Monkey Man’s apartment. All hell went loose in my head after that. I mean, the Pretty Little Demons had their way with me, leaving a wreckage in my head. I’m glad and lucky to have survived this last “episode” thus far. And though it feels like it’s lessening, it’s far from over. I’m not out of hell yet; I’m just in the suburbs now. Hopefully, I’ll be able to drive farther out of it when I start therapy Thursday (yeah, we rescheduled yet again).

****

It hit me hard, the fracture. Those first two months after the fracture coupled with Monkey Man L’s death were too much. And it hit me not so much because of the physical pain. I deal with chronic pain; it fucks with your life, but it is what it is. And what’s funny is I can talk about that pain with people but I can’t talk about the mental/emotional pain even with those closest to me like my brother.

So what hit me most about the recent fracture was the inability to do certain things on my own, things I’ve grown accustomed to doing. I’m pretty independent and mobile despite the physical limitations, so not being able to do things as simple as getting into the shower on my own ( it was hell waiting on my mom to help me wrap my cast in a bag and carry me in everyday), plunged me to the bottom quicker. I hadn’t broken a limb since I was sixteen, so even though I’ve fractured dozens upon dozens of bones, it all seemed new.

It’s amazing how quickly we forget the intensity of the pain once it’s gone just as we forget we ever experienced joy when in the midst of deep depression. I also find it amazing how a new life seems to emerge out of these deep dark cracks in our lives. Mine has many, like the Grand Canyon. I don’t know what life I’m in at the moment. Life number ten or eleven?

********

Anyway, as I mentioned in Whiskers and Lashes, I’ve had a ton of cartooning ideas milling around my head but the Mouse hasn’t been able to catch one, even with my rebirth and the PLDs quieting down some.

One of the ideas I have is a little comic strip explaining OI, like “OI 101: Adventures of Mr. Healthy Bone and Mr. Brittle OI Bone” or something silly like that. Then I started thinking about the mad anxiety I’ve been having lately–the damned morning panic attacks that have been waking me.

Little P and Little T circa 1993-4. my dad left this on my desk last week. He must’ve found it while working in the garage. The furry guy riding behind me is Tito, the one I found huddled with pigs in a pen at the Mexican flee market.

I’ve struggled with loads of anxiety since I was a child; it’s only now I’m beginning to realize it. Chronic indecision is often reflective of high anxiety levels. When I was fitted to get my first electric wheelchair (see picture), I remember sitting in a physical therapy room with a giant binder full of samples and a tall man (all men are tall to a tiny girl) flipping through sheet after sheet of fabric colors. I got dizzy looking at what was to me a monolithic block of color. I got physically ill from looking through. I wanted to cry because the choices overwhelmed me as they do now. Would I make the right choice? Who was I do decide? Pink is always for girls, why? No, I like the blues! Why do they keep asking about the pink?

“Can’t I just have all of the colors!?” I finally yelled. They had a rainbow-colored option for the belt which the man kindly suggested!

But I digress.

For the last few weeks, maybe a month or so, the deep depression–the core of it–seems to have lifted, mostly. It has lifted to the extent that I feel as though I’m emerging from that hell, shedding a layer of skin and climbing back up from the grave of that ninth life. But with this emergence something else has come up–increased awareness of the jaw pain.

Funny enough now that the emotional pain isn’t at a constant crisis level, I feel the physical pain coming back. It could also be the anxiety that’s tightening the muscles on my face and causing the pain to return. (My arm still hurts but that’s not as disturbing as the jaw pain.)

Ugh, the fractured jaw and nerve damage incident! Talk about fuckin’ trauma. They jacked up my jaw! I’ll have to write out that story some other time.

****

Several days ago, I ran into a comment on one of the Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) Facebook groups.

“Any of you have horror stories from the past, from the hospital, from doctors and nurses and such?” the group’s creator asked.

Replies came in almost immediately. I replied that I’d waken up during the end of a surgery in my femur, among other things. It’s a surreal experience being a twelve-year-old, waking up naked (with the exception of a tiny towel over the crotch), surrounded by half a dozen doctors and nurses covered in blood and tubes and beeping machines closing in above your head.

I sat there thinking, Horror stories? Hell’s yeah I got them. I got Post Traumatic Stress up my ass! (Literally, my bum’s been messed with.)

A mom in that Facebook group has a little eight year-old girl with type II OI (I have type III). This lady is on there chatting away as much as I’m here in WordPress. She’s constantly talking about her little one. The girl has broken over 500 bones! Jeezus! I think I just barely passed the 100 mark. But 500? I can’t imagine, or rather, I don’t want to. I wonder how many of us have PTSD from just the fractures alone! Monkey Man L was having his leg turned for an X-Ray when, BAM, they SNAPPED it in two. It was already broken and they just added another break! All more reasons for me to think of this PTSD and BPD correlation.

So, on Sunday, I started researching: “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Osteogenesis Imperfecta” and “Trauma and Borderline Personality Disorder”. I found some interesting things, but more on that later. 🙂

Yep, that’s me. I think I was three years old in this one.

I have a bisphosphonate infusion to look forward to tomorrow. It’ll be the second time I get one. Wish me luck!

Much Love from the Mouse

********

Oh and here’s some info on bisphosphonate therapy for osteogenesis imperfecta.

Life is beautiful, it’s precious, it’s [insert other euphemism]. It is the only one we know we’ll get. So why waste it? Why throw it away?

Sure, there are tsunamis that claw over, killing hundreds of people and hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes all leaving ravage in their wake; there’s disease and famine, and worst of all, the man-made stuff–if you don’t count some of the natural disaster stuff being partially an effect of some of the man made stuff.

But still, why throw it away?

I have often wondered “How does one get to that point?” of taking your own life, of constantly being bombarded by thoughts of suicide. I wonder about this, even when I myself have been there countless times. So I can only imagine how incomprehensible it maybe for someone who’s never dealt with chronic depression and chronic thoughts of suicide like I have.

I say take this as a trigger warning, please: I will refer to suicide a lot in this post. Read the rest of this entry »

The Rapper

March 13, 2012

Note: This post isn’t really all about a rapper; it’s a rant, a bit of angry rambling even. But I’m settled down now, really. I’m settled, so much so that I can focus on typing with my (currently) one useful hand.

Rant commences now…

(Just a heads up.)

Ahem.

Ok.

So there’s this chick who’s in a jazzy, hip-hop trio from the Rockies terrain. Let’s call her K. Miss K is the MC/beats-maker of the three; there’s also a saxophone player/soulful singer and a live drummer. She’s about two years younger than I am and also has OI. She’s also nearly deaf in one ear, but not nearly as deaf as me–hearing loss is a common thing with us OIers. I think Miss K is also type III but I don’t know, she could be type IV (she uses a wheelchair like I do but looks like she may be an inch or two or three taller and that’s not saying much). And get this, she also studied audio engineering and music production (yeah), only she went to  a four year program that offered a B.A in it. I went to a two year program then transfered to a four year university to complete a broader study in media arts and whatnot. The similarities are just wonderful.

Anyway, I’ve never met her in person. I’ve only chatted with her on Facebook. After all she’s from one of the Grand Canyon states and I’m down below in the plains of larger-than-life-Tejas. We “met up” in one of those rare coincidences. I don’t even remember now. But as it turns out, L. knew her from years ago when his godfather would take him to national OI conventions. What are the odds? When she came up in one of our conversations, L. was the one that told me what she was going to school for which prompted me to ask her, and thus, sparked a mutual connection.

I finally got on Facebook yesterday and there she was telling me she’d be in Houston today for a performance before heading to Austin for SXSW–a four-day long music and film festival–and that she wants to meet up.

“Hey, I’m in your hood! Let’s meet up!”

I really want to meet her, so I hastily replied by saying I’d do my best to make it out tonight (I even forgot to ask if there’s a cover charge for the show).

**********

Yesterday evening I asked my mom if she’d give me a ride (I don’t have easy access to transportation). I earned a little bit of cash from my brother for another favor I did this past weekend and I offered to pay for gas with the little I have. She said she would. Problem is, I’m not sure I wan’t to go. I don’t really. I just want to meet her.

I keep thinking if I had my own means of transportation then situations like this would be easier. I could just drive up there after the show, go to some quiet cafe to meet her and drive back home. But I know, I know “maladaptive, wishful thinking”.

I’m already dealing with a lot of anxiety. I just started Sertraline last Wednesday, even though I’ve had the script for over a month, and it has me on edge. Being in a crowed right now would only make me reach my peak. Just thinking about it makes me tremble. I know because I’ve put myself in situations like this before, situations where I have to wait in a crowd in a rough side of town with nobody to talk to but my shivering, shriveling mind. Sure, there are people to talk to, but a shivering, shriveling mind doesn’t see that.

Besides, my ears can’t handle that level of noise anymore. It’s one reason why I’ve avoided shows the last two years. And who would I invite on such a short notice? I can’t push myself around with a broken arm. I’ve hardly talked to anyone since I’ve been back from Florida, not even L. I already asked L bit he’s in a worse mental state than I am. He’s not picking up these days, and when I text, he tells me to leave him be. I could ask B., a good friend and all around great guy, but then again I don’t want to talk to anyone.

“Hey how you been? How’ve things been?”

“Good. Good. Well…”

Nah, I’m not up for that.

People don’t want to hear it. If they’re your friends they will, you may say. But there’s only so much they can take at a time. I just hate being a downer. Besides I tend to be an introvert and keep my feelings to myself, even in the presence of a close friend.

If I go, they may see my grimace. Sure they may also see what I have of a smile. Oh no, they’ll see my crooked smile, my palsied out face. I look like a grinch not being able to smile.

**********

This morning I was at the hospital with my dad. I had an appointment with the geneticist today. The thing about these community hospitals is there’s always a really long wait and you only see the doc for about fifteen minutes–turns out my bone density is very low, but more on that later. So we eventually get called in and as the doc finishes up his final remarks, he adds, “Are you still seeing psychiatry?” I guess he must’ve read it in the charts. I only started “seeing psychiatry” there in December, though I have been seeing psychiatrists off and on since 2008.

“Yes,” I reply.

Then out of nowhere–no, no, right behind me–my dad makes some snappy remark. But even with my hearing aides on, I couldn’t make it out clearly. I was still in a bit of shock from the doc’s unexpected question. Whatever my dad said must’ve been a joke ’cause everyone chuckled. I chuckled too, instinctively and half-heartedly. The awkwardness in the air filled my lungs and I wanted to gag. I felt so piercingly uncomfortable. There was another doctor in the room, one I’d just met. Too much for one morning.

Later, we were in the car leaving, and I asked my dad what it was he said.

“I told the Dr. ‘but she’s crazier than ever,'” he replied.

[insert laugh track]

“Oh. ha. ok”

Now, I think I’m someone who can take a joke, but really? That’s mildly amusing at best. It’s uncalled for. Wrong time pops. Bad, bad timing.  He needs a comic coach.

Let me make the joke, please, or let me participate in them. A warning at least–would’ve been nice. And this kind of remark is exactly what creates stigma. What’s most inflammatory though is that I sensed some passive aggression there. My dad has many good qualities about him, he really does, but he completely lacks discretion. I know he’s been taking a lot my shit lately. I know it’s not easy on him these days being in a not-so-good financial situation. I know it’s been a hastle for him to still have to care for a household at his age and then drive me around to the hospital every week for the last two months. He’s sixty-eight. He’s tired. I know.

Whatever.

I let it slide like water. Slide on down, drip on down my head, my body, my legs. Let the carpet soak it.

**********

Then about two hours ago, my dad and I get back home from the hospital. I’m in the kitchen about to eat ’cause I’m hungry. All the while I’m deciding on whether or not to go to this thing K. invited me to. I start telling my mom about K and how I miss being in the music scene. I miss recoding, miss making music–my number one love.

“You know she looks really jovial, really cheerful and happy, a go getter” my mom interjects. (I’d shown her pictures online the night prior when I asked about the ride.)

When she said that, I don’t know what came over me. No, I do know, I took offense. It must’ve been my shattered pride, that demonic ego. I guess I got on the defensive because I’ve been a hard-working, jovial, go-getter too. I’m just not right now. I felt she was implying something, like she was comparing, criticizing. So I start saying how L. mentioned that she K. a big temper. Why does this all even matter? Why would I say that about her in my defense? I too have a big temper. So what? Great comeback PAZ.

My dad passes by as I’m making these remarks about K. and interrupts, “one thing is having a temper, another is being afflicted and sad all the time.”

Ok. Now I’m perplexed and angry. But I do my best to maintain my cool. Keep cool P. Keep cool.

“What do you mean by that?” I ask. He doesn’t reply and walks off. I look over at my mom, “What does he mean by that?”

My mom then starts a lecture about how she learned to let things slide and that’s how she avoids being miserable these days, these dog days . She tells me that sometimes, it’s difficult to let it go, to drop it, but it’s best to.

She’s right. She’s right in many ways.

Alright then.

And she learned this after she had been in therapy (referred for mandatory therapy by APS) a short while as a result of the last serious fight we had three years ago, the one where she slammed me to the car floor, nearly choked me to death, and had to be pulled off of me while clawing and lashing at my face and hair and everything. I’m not even going to say all of the angry nonsense she was yelling at me while all of this was going on.

So I start to think that if I didn’t “let things slide” or “let things go,” I wouldn’t be talking to her right now. I’m not so bad then. And I know what she means. I know she means well. I know my mom is concerned. I know she loves me. She has done a great deal of change since then. I guess one could say she sure has benefited more from her brief stint in therapy than I have in my four years of it. But who’s to say? In the end what does concern alone do? And what was this all about? How did it get started? What am I doing?

I’m frustrated. I’m confused. It’s beyond me. My mind is in a swirl. Whatever.

I don’t want to be bitter.

“Oh you’re gonna end up bitter like your grandma if you don’t change” I hear that a lot. (This is the grandmother that lives in Colombia, the one I haven’t seen since I was four.)

Have I not been trying?

I’m not going to be bitter. I know better. I’ll continue trying.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t hurt; it doesn’t mean things like that are cool to say. How do I get him, my dad, to understand? He doesn’t even know the half of it. He doesn’t even know half of half of half of it. I will not burden him with my madness. This isn’t sadness. I am not “sad”. I do not want this. 

Pride is spiraling down. It’s all just piled and avalanching within. Idiotic pride. And this, this situation’s gotta change. Something’s gotta give and I’m ready to make  way. Otherwise, I just may…

Well… I guess it wasn’t so much a rant after all. Or was it? Don’t tell me. I’m not in the mood to argue.

Jesuz. I’m really sensitive these days.

**********

So in the end, I listened to my mother until she was done, then quietly rolled back to my room to cry for a bit. I calmed myself with this song. It’s on replay.

(I normally wouldn’t embed videos but Fiona is an exception, an extraordinary exception. Oh Fiona, my platonic wifey.)

I know I can be self assured. I’m just not right now. I want to be so again because I’m pretty fucking extraordinary.

Will I go see K. perform? I still haven’t decided. Probably not.

Fuckin’ done.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

As you may know, I am a girl prone to low-days. I don’t know how many times I got to soundcheck, in a grumpy, nasty, teary rut.. ~Fiona Apple

And after all the folderol 

What did I learn?

I am likely to miss the main event
If I stop to cry or complain again
So I will keep a deliberate pace
Let the damned breeze dry my face

Oh, mister, wait until you see
What I’m gonna be

~Better Version of Me, Fiona Apple