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  • Mrs Chakotay 1:32 pm on May 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , assault, , complementarian, egalitarian, , , , , patriarchy, trauma,   

    Fractured 

    I would be a long way away from this episode if I was going to blog the episodes chronologically in order. But I feel as though this is an important part of who I am and what I’ve been going through, and how I got to where I am. So I will dispense with order and chronology and just go ahead and skip to the end.

    My lovely new friend, Christian Janeway and I have had to clarify on twitter that we are not the same person, just two ex-fundies who had a similar idea.

    It’s true.

    But Christian Janeway went on to say that whereas she chose her Janeway character and blog to catalogue her exit from complementarian theology around marriage, and I had embraced mine and later decided to become egalitarian.

    That’s not quite the case, and I’ll attempt to explain why. Firstly, the dichotomy between completarian and egalitarian marriage is not quite as polarised in the UK as it is in the US. Certainly, conservative churches would lean towards complementarianism where more liberal churches would lean towards egalitarianism, it is not such a big issue over here as it is over there.

    My Chakotay is not a religious man, and as far as he would be concerned, we have an egalitarian marriage. I happen to have stayed at home and adopted a more traditional role but not because he asked me to or because he forced me to (far from it). It was more a case of falling into it when children came along, but also additionally – because I had put myself under such very conservative teaching again as a young wife and mother – I forced myself into this role. I actually gave up my degree to follow him in his job. He would never have asked it of me, but I unselfishly submitted! (And I’m sure he never knew anything about it, just assumed it was what I wanted).

    Even the homeschooling, when it came along was not for any conservative or religious reasons – my eldest child seemed to have mental and emotional issues (which we thought at the outset might be ADHD and have turned out to be Asperger’s), which made learning at home seem to be the best option. But of course that was the route back into fundamentalism for me.

    Fifteen-twenty years later, I can see that forcing myself into a role for which I did not have adequate emotional resources or any outside support has done damage both to me and possibly to my children on many levels, including mental and emotional and academic. But whether going to school would have helped is debatable – my eldest child’s worst trauma actually happened at school when he went in aged 16 to complete his exam year, and I know that a lot of his Aspie friends who did go to school are now in the same position as he is – out of work and isolated.

    Looking at my facebook memories around this time, I see that 7 years ago I was planning to leave Chakotay for various reasons, which perhaps I will look at another day, but one of the biggest reasons was his Vulcan inability to communicate and show affection. All these years later, I realise that I probably chose him precisely because he was undemonstrative and not somebody who either felt intensely or would be threatening to me. He does have a temper actually which has exploded on occasion, but really he is very much the gentle man. I may talk about my ex another time, as that was quite a different relationship.

    I mention the episode ‘Fractured’ because, not long after our difficulties, I got pregnant with twins (which I was overjoyed about), but later miscarried them at 14 weeks in October 2010, and straight afterwards I was verbally attacked by a couple I knew who had just had a baby. Needless to say, being kicked so cruelly when I was at my lowest ebb was traumatic and impactful to my self-confidence etc. Chakotay’s response was to move us hundreds of miles away out of the city to the most remote place he could find. (Our New Earth)

    My response, odd though it may be, was to write but I did it by multiplying my accounts on Twitter and Facebook and WordPress. I ended up with 4 separate facebook accounts, 10 Twitter accounts and 15 sites on WordPress. Yep. Each account had a different name and a different theme. I felt as though it was indicative of my state of mind, as though I myself had fractured into a million pieces.

    As some of you will know, I was assaulted by a group of young men in a pub last weekend. It was not a very serious assault, thankfully. Having spoken to the police, it transpires that there was no CCTV and so I shudder to think what could have happened.

    But it does reinforce for me the idea that once you have a trauma – especially if it is a childhood trauma – it becomes compounded and almost invites new trauma. I have, over the years, attracted a string of abusive friends (and abusive churches), and I have often joked that I must have a target invisibly tattooed on my forehead that tells potentional abusers “Look, I’m vulnerable! Give me a good old kicking!”

    I was actually privileged on Sunday to preach and lead my first service at my current church (which happens to be a Salvation Army). I preached on the goodness and faithfulness of God. I feel as though I have so, so much to say, but this was the topic that impressed itself on my heart.

    Is it a coincidence that I was sexually assaulted the very next day? I don’t know. I don’t really know what to think about spiritual warfare, the devil, hell and spiritual things like that generally. The Pentecostal in me is yelling! Are you kidding?! Of course there’s no co-incidence! This was a spiritual attack, to remind me in no uncertain terms that I’m ‘just’ a woman, and probably shouldn’t be preaching. And that message is coming straight from the pit of hell!

    The Anglican in me however, a rather more rational, composed creature, can see that it really is probably more a case of having that deep seated vulnerability and unconsciously communicating it (body language? hormones/ pheromones?) as I go through life. The abusers are probably no more consciously aware of it than I am. I just need to learn, somehow, how to protect myself and communicate confidence.

    Is it healthy to continue in this fractured state or is there some way to re-integrate and become a whole person again? I don’t know. (I am probably going to delete at least 2 of the facebook accounts, if that helps!) Who do I want to be? Can I be homemaker and writer and preacher?

    Chakotay has told me on many occasions that I have freedom, I just don’t take advantage of it. My prison is of my own making. Part of me, certainly, really wants to be a ‘homemaker’ – The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie still look like the ideal life to me. But I’m not very good at it, and actually I think that my trauma comes into play there too. I’m just a little bit dysfunctional.

    I’m part of a group on Facebook called ‘Radical Homemakers‘ – a group of (mostly UK) women who have purposely chosen the domesticated life for various reasons, but who are also committed feminists, determined to smash the Patriarchy from home. I do wonder how I got to 40 without realising or understanding what Patriarchy is or how damaging it can be. But I suspect that it probably has something to do with the nature of the debate in the UK. Whether we realise it or not, the churches here are deeply influenced by American theology, but when it is communicated over here, it tends to be more subtle. We don’t even notice it.

    What is the way forward? In the episode, they have to inject the bio-neural gel packs with a chroniton-infused serum to take every part of the ship back to the point of the original trauma.

    In real life? I think that means going back and facing all those demons, bringing them out into the light to see what they’re made of, and finally defeating them. Obviously it’s a little bit more complex than that, but I think that is the gist of it. I suspect that, if childhood sexual abuse had been involved – which thankfully it wasn’t, it would be a different matter and I don’t know enough about that to know how that can be overcome. But for me, untangling my background of spiritual and church abuse and dysfunctional family is the only way I can be made whole. Will it make me a better homemaker? I don’t know.

    I’d like to thank you now, for putting your doubts aside and helping me to put mine aside as well. Good luck to each of you.

    LLAP

    Kathryn

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  • Mrs Chakotay 2:32 pm on April 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , trauma   

    Here we go again 

    Mum was with us for 6 months while I attempted to function as her carer. For various reasons, it did not work out, and we took her home again in March and have arranged for professional carers to be on hand to look after her. My caring duties have not completely finished, but I now have a buffer of 250 miles or so between us, which really is much better for my own mental health (and hers, it would appear, although there are issues with her not taking her meds for bipolar which I can’t control from a distance and that is a frustration and a worry).

    I expected that, when the stress of looking after mum was lifted, that I would get well again quite quickly but in fact the opposite has happened and I have retreated and isolated myself again with agoraphobia.

    My physical health is quite bad at the moment, but issues have arisen (conversations on twitter and with my eldest child, mainly) which have make me realise that in fact my physical ill health may in fact be due to early childhood and repeated trauma.

    The ACE score is a study which looks at Adverse Childhood Experiences, and uses it to predict a number of outcomes related to physical and mental health in adulthood. Out of a possible total of 10, I score 4 on the ACE quiz, and my resilience score is low (3 out of 14) when it should be high.

    I am going to come back and look at this in detail, but it is such a hard subject to look at, I don’t really know where to begin. I feel as though I am having to force myself to open a Pandora’s Box of evil that I thought was long dead and buried.

    In the first instance, though, I am told that the way back to health and wholeness (other than the standard pharmaceutical and CBT) is:

    1) Talk about it.

    2) Write about it,

    3) Talk to other survivors and finally

    4) physical exercise.

    Due to the agoraphobia, physical exercise outdoors is not an option right now, it’s just too overwhelming, so I have brought the running machine in from the garage, and it’s set up in the bedroom, so I’m heading there next. I am annoyed with myself that I’m missing the beautiful sunshine and blue skies of spring in Cornwall, but it can’t be helped at this stage.

    Also I have made an appointment to see my GP in two weeks to discuss the possibility that all my mental and physical illness is actually manifestations of Complex PTSD.

    Just to clarify, the trauma that I received was not physical or sexual, but mental, emotional and spiritual in nature (church abuse amongst other things). I mention that, because for years I didn’t see it as abuse even though I knew I had been traumatised. What I hadn’t seen at all until this week was that I had unknowingly perpetrated some of the same kinds of abuse I had received on my eldest child. I can’t tell you how deeply I regret that.

    Next time I will talk about the symptoms of Complex PTSD. I have given myself license to use that term although at first it felt a little bit wrong (because I associated the term with other types of abuse that are more serious and more damaging) but I think it fits, and in the absence of another term.

    I don’t know who might be reading this, but if you have recovered or are recovering from mental/ emotional/ spiritual abuse and have Complex PTSD, I would be interested to hear from you. I can’t give any advice other than what helps me, and perhaps that can be another topic for another post.

    Bye for now.

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 1:23 pm on April 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , cortisol, , , , , survivor, trauma,   

    Dark Frontier 

    We took mum home about six weeks ago now. Since she has been gone I have tried really, really hard to relax and largely failed for some reason. I don’t ever seem to be able to properly relax.

    I thought that reducing stress would help my physical health but instead, somehow, it has just got worse and worse; despite which, all the results of all the testing I was sent for, and all the various referrals to different consultants have come back negative. My MRI showed no obvious evidence of damage from my bike accident. Endocrinology didn’t find significant evidence of Cushing’s. There would appear to be an intermittent excess of cortisol, but there doesn’t appear to be a tumor either on my pituitary or my adrenals. The non-significant levels don’t justify more testing.

    It would appear to suggest that my cortisol levels are likely related to anxiety. Anxiety that I wasn’t consciously aware I had.

    I have reverted to my previous agoraphobia. Agoraphobia of course is a sign of anxiety, but somehow I didn’t connect it. Now that I don’t have a group to go to, I pretty much don’t go out unless I have to. I go to church on a Sunday (and once I went twice!) and I go out if husband drives me somewhere. But largely, I am hibernating and hiding.

    I hadn’t realised until recently what the source of all my issues were, but a chance conversation on twitter, together with a conversation with my eldest child has forced me to confront some very dark and disturbing issues from my past going back to my childhood.

    I’m not sure whether I want to dwell on that here. I have other places to talk about mental health and spiritual abuse (for that is what it was, if anybody is interested to look at that).

    The question is, how to move forward. I know that I have to confront my past if I’m to get through it and get well and recover mentally and physically. Talk about it, write about it, meet with other survivors, they say. But just thinking about it has made me more physically ill than ever.

    I prayed at the end of last year that God would reveal the true source of my illness so that I could get well. I really thought I was on to something when I the doctor suggested Cushing’s. I think she was right that cortisol is a big issue. But the cortisol is actually (probably) in response to trauma. I wasn’t ready to consider that, but now that I do it all makes sense, and I just want to cry. I have to open up a whole Pandora’s Box I thought I had long buried. It makes me feel vulnerable, like a little girl again.

    If I still have any Star Trek fans following me, you will recognise the name of the Voyager episode in which Seven is confronted by her past – in which her parents took the risk of studying the Borg, thinking they wouldn’t be harmed, but not only are they harmed but they allow their daughter to be harmed, taken by the Borg and raised by them, and in turn Seven goes on to commit atrocities on others as a Borg herself. It’s a very good metaphor, for me, effectively being raised in a cult-like church, and later going on to do harm to others in the same vein (in particular, I regret, my eldest child).

    It’s not easy to face.

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 2:48 pm on January 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , brain injury, hypersexuality, , , , trauma   

    Disturbing Dreams 

    Warning for possibly inappropriate content, depending on your sensibilities…

    I had two dreams last night, both of which included disturbing content, but on reflection I think I will share them anyway.

    In the first dream, I was visiting with a family that I knew in childhood. There were three boys, all much older than me, I’m guessing the oldest was at least 15 years older than me. But I was on the verge of teenage and ‘fancied’ them all. «Blush»!

    The dad was a bit of a tyrant, did a lot of shouting and thought he was right about everything, and he was telling us the very strict itinerary for our days out on this holiday, and then he sent us all to bed, and everybody had to be immediately silent.

    The next day, we boarded a coach, and I sat at the back with the eldest of the boys… and secretly had sex on the seat at the back of the bus while his dad sat at the front and thought everything was under control.

    «Blush»

    In the second dream, I found that my period had started, and I was stranded without a pad or even panties, but bizarrely I had a towel, so stuffed that between my legs and started walking to find somewhere to stay.

    I came across a commune where I was invited to come in and stay, but I had to sign some paperwork which I signed without reading.

    Inside, I was looking for a room, knocking on doors, climbing flights of stairs, walking down corridors, but I couldn’t find anywhere.

    And then there was a crash, and apparently some dangerous people had broken in – nobody knew whether they had guns or what – and somebody opened a hatch and invited me to hide there with them…. I still hadn’t sorted out my problem, but we had sex anyway.

    «Blush»

    So… A couple of things here. I’m much more attracted to my childhood friend than I realised? No! (Hope he’s not reading as I think it would be easy to identify himself! Lol!)

    Firstly, the period thing – as a miscarriage/ babyloss survivor who still wants babies, every monthly period feels like another loss, and given my age and my state of health, it’s really very unlikely I would have any more babies. I can give mental assent to that, but emotionally I haven’t accepted it at all and to be honest I don’t know how to ‘move on’.

    Secondly, the sex. Well, you know, I like sex as much as the next girl. But sometimes I feel a little bit obsessed and insatiable, and I suspect that it’s not just having a big sex-drive, but rather that it’s a symptom of neurological disorder which makes me wonder if hypersexuality commonly occurs with ME (or MS even?). I know that it can be a feature of Bi-polar disorder, which I have previously mentioned (as I said, I don’t think I have anything like full-blown Bi-polar, but it’s in the family and I suspect I have Bi-polar tendencies). But it can also occur as a result of brain trauma or injurt, or as a result of degenerative neurological disease.

    How do you know if your sex-drive is ‘normal’? Apparently the American psychiatric establishment won’t classify hypersexuality as a disorder because that would be prejudiced against people who enjoy sexuality outside the norm. But surely if it becomes problematic, that’s enough to say it is disordered.

    What about hypo-sexuality? At what point does low sex drive become an issue? (Perhaps if you’re married to somebody with hypersexuality?)

    And, as a society, can we still not talk about this without getting silly, or attracting loonies? Really hoping that I don’t get spam comments now, but anyway. There it is.

     
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