May We Dance Upon Their Graves

Incest Survivors, Spirituality and Ceremonies of Justice – the story of a woman living a rich, fulfilling life while waiting to dance on her sociopath father's grave.

Staying present and moving at the same time

Unladylike
I have two books on the go right now. Writing, not reading. One is a novel I wrote about three years ago, which I’m trying to polish and complete. The other is a self-help book for survivors based on this blog. Both are well along and both have a lot of promise.

I’m having a hard time getting to them and working on them.

I like to write, but it’s so solitary. I’m not an introvert. I’m a highly sensitive extravert. I think about things deeply, but then they don’t really have lot of meaning for me until I share them, understand them by talking about them with others. I like to connect with other people, but I’m happiest if they are people I feel good around and connected with. My skin is not so thick.

The novel has three main characters. Two are recently broken up lovers, who don’t interact much with one another during the book. The other is the new lover of one of the women. I have the plot mostly mapped out, and am just working on improving the dialogue.

I’m feeling a bit dead and hopeless right now. Not that my life isn’t great, objectively speaking, but I’m lonely. My introverted, asexual wife is not really meeting my needs for socialization and intense connection, as you might imagine. She’s also highly sensitive, but in different ways from me. She’s picky about touch and smells, while I’m sensitive to sound mostly. It’s not that I don’t love her, I do, but I need more intense and engaged physical and emotional connection. I’ve been getting out and meeting new women, but nothing has gelled yet.

The self-help book is about reorganizing the material from this blog, identifying gaps and then writing material to fill them, also putting in transitions to make it flow and make sense, changing the voice from time to time. I want it to still stay immediate, a conversation between me and other survivors, but to flow like a book.

What has all this got to do with staying present and moving at the same time?

Well, it’s all about resistance. As a survivor, I learned to close myself off from triggers, from memories, from anxiety, from feelings. I have a hair trigger avoidance process that’s hard to turn off or sometimes even be aware of. If I’m feeling anxious about my skill as a writer or what will happen to my book(s) once they are complete (who would want to publish them, for example, and all the rejection that might involve), I just avoid writing, almost without being aware of it.

If I’m anxious about whether the cute girl from my poly group is actually interested in me or just being friendly, and realizing that I probably need to make a move at some point, I can just pretend to myself without even realizing it at first that being a sexual person isn’t really necessary after all, and that the corresponding loss of life energy is just a normal part of being middle aged. Eventually I might forget what it felt like to have an actual interested, engaged lover and even believe that. [By the way, if you're new here, (welcome!) I'm not talking about cheating, I'm in an ethically open, polyamorous relationship]

So I was re-reading a book – never mind the name right now, it has the word ‘bliss’ in the title – that talks about two reactions to things: expansion and contraction. People do both all the time, and often alternate between them. However, people get locked into the contraction and it turns into resistance, or as I think of it, the survivors old friend avoidance. Anyhow, the author’s solution to this is to ask oneself two questions:

1) What is happening right now? and then
2) Can I be (present) with it?

The idea is that by accepting what is and then allowing oneself to experience it, it shifts a person from contraction to expansion, and opens them to being able to respond more capably and happily. I should note that being with something doesn’t mean you’re endorsing it, approving of it or interested in that thing persisting, it’s just basically our old friend acceptance, the last stage of grieving. Once I accept reality, I can make choices about it.

So I’m trying to get into the habit of recognizing and accepting what actually is.

I’m afraid of what will happen when I finish my books – won’t I want to try to find a publisher? show it to other people? What if they reject me / my work?

I’m feeling protective of my heart and worried about judgment, but impatient to connect deeply with another woman again. I’m still feeling sad and angry about being rejected by my last lover, and questioning whether she was faking how she claimed to feel and think about me. If that was the case, then was what I felt any less real? Does it mean I made a fool of myself to bring my authentic self into the relationship? No. I stand by what I did and said. But it makes me feel a bit naive and cheated.

I don’t know how to express this, but I’m a rich handful to be intimate with. I’m grounded in a way that makes other people grounded. This brings them in contact with themselves in ways that they may have been avoiding, but which feel like a completion. I think people connect with their own wholeness, because I give myself permission to connect with mine when given the opportunity. People like it but they can’t always handle it. I can’t always handle it either, which is why I dip into my own richness and then avoid, but I hunger for it and I think I do a better job of being present than most people. This is particularly odd given my inherent survivor spaciness, but perhaps it is the discipline involved in undoing that which has given me this skill.

Writing that, I’m wondering if learning myself how not to avoid can help me better recognize who I can be intimate with? It seems obvious that the better I am at being intimate with myself the better I can be intimate with others. It also seems obvious that if I’m attracting people who hunger for connection but can’t provide it, I may be ambivalent about that process myself. Do I really want to be intimate with myself after all?

One of the recommendations I read online for self care for highly sensitive people is to make sure you get enough sleep and alone time, to meditate for an hour daily and to exercise outside daily. I’m trying to implement that, which should perhaps help. Meditation, after all, is about being present with what is and just accepting it.

I know this all is a bit of a ramble, but I hope some of it makes sense. Perhaps I’ll write more when I’ve figured it out a little better.

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6 comments on “Staying present and moving at the same time

  1. butterflysblog
    July 27, 2012

    I love that you are writing some books! How wonderful!

  2. kate1975
    July 27, 2012

    I don’t think that you ramble. You have a wonderful flow, even when you are writing on your blog, it all makes sense, has a purpose, a direction, and you make very valid and important points. And then of course there is your honesty, your courage, your personality, and your healing path; all wonderful to read and experience. Any book you write is bound to be much better than that. I understand your worries and concerns. They seem valid to what you are going through. But I don’t see how anyone wouldn’t be lucky to read your written word. Putting yourself out there, in words and in potential relationships, is hard work. As always you show yourself and your integrity. Incredible.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.

    Kate

  3. penpaperandcrazy
    July 30, 2012

    I’m new here and just wanted to say that the books you’re writing sound lovely and I would totally pick them! You’re probably already further than any writings we’ve done :-)
    Though I’m passionate about writing and I have many stories (half-completed, of course), it’s really hard as a single alter in a system to really find that quiet secluded sort of time for writing. I admire that you’re able to write about such topics as well.
    It’s lovely to see a fellow Pagan, and though I certainly to not want to express a positive feelings over a fellow abuse victim, there is that sense of camaraderie that is uplifting to our spirit.

    I’m sad to hear you’re having a bit of a down time of it lately. I do hope it gets better soon. And that you find someone to match your relationship needs!!
    One of our very good friends is poly and she’s trying to discover another partner (for similar reasons- her current one is very emotional and she needs that physical aspect).
    I think it’s beautiful that you can share yourself multiple times. We can’t manage to do that- though we have no problems with the idea of polyamorous relationships.

    We look forward to reading more by you!
    -Claire

    • sworddancewarrior
      July 30, 2012

      Nice to meet you, Claire. Nice to meet another pagan too. Don’t worry, I get it, validation is good, even if you don’t wish an abuse history on anyone. Thanks for the well-wishes.

      I had a look at your system’s blog just now. It sounds pretty challenging right now with your host in hiding. I’m sure you’ve already considered it, but it made me wonder if she was staying away from Army, and if she might come back to the awareness of the group if you were no longer living with him? Anyhow, I wish you lots of luck and hope you get some quiet time to write.

      Have you checked out Blooming Lotus’s blog? She’s Christian not Pagan, but she’s DID and writes well about it, with lots of useful tips. Here’s an example: http://faithallen.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/series-on-integration-from-dissociative-identity-disorder-did/ Her take on integration fits with my own experience with my (admittedly less numerous and developed) split off parts, that I had to be willing to embrace what information, qualities and feelings that part held, which restored something to my core that made me more complete. I’d be interested in your opinion.

      Wishing good things to you,
      SDW

      • penpaperandcrazy
        July 30, 2012

        Yes, we follow Blooming Lotus closely! Actually, we’ve been reading it even before we started blogging ourselves. She is an amazing woman that we all admire greatly.

        It’s really hard for us to even talk about integration. I mean, I understand the intent of it (and some of the other alters do too, but not all), but I don’t think it works with a system like ours.
        There is one thing I’ve noticed in following all of these blogs that have splits and alters- we have such developed ones. I think part of the reason for that is:
        1. We did a LOT of “absorbing” of more fragment-type alters over the years (especially during our numerous times in hospitals).
        2. Kit did this hibernation thing once before when we were dumped by an abusive boyfriend in early college. I think that forced us alters to seem more complete and multifaceted, unlike most DID systems, while we struggled to substitute for a host-type personality. We did all start out very one-dimensional type personalities (Rika’s probably the most unchanged, haha). I don’t know if you read our entry about naming ourselves, but that was right around when we stopped being so one-dimensional and didn’t like being called things like “the protector” anymore.
        3. Armes is our only little that isn’t a “shadow” (shadows don’t communicate with any of us, don’t really have any substance or look and pretty much just possess a single memory). We used to have others, but our last long term hospital stay caused them all to do this voluntary integration with Armes, who is way more brave than she knows.

        There are more, but I don’t want to bore you or ramble on too much. I think part of the problem with the accepting and treatment of a DID type diagnois lies in the extreme variety of each DID-er.
        I mean, this is an amazing coping technique that is created by a child in order to function in the face of something so horrifying and so awful that it would just have killed lesser people. Children are so creative and so amazing that each system is just a study of mental processes in itself. If that makes sense.

        I find myself more and more pleased with having made your acquaintance. This is very enjoyable discussion :-)
        -Claire

        May I ask a bit more about the Pagan aspect of your life?
        I do apologize if you’ve already covered this in one of your posts, we haven’t gone through all of them yet. The body is actually family-tradition (our mother is a Buddhist-influenced Kitchen Witch).
        Did you “discover” your Pagan beliefs later in life or is it something you’ve known your whole life? It seems to have played such a big part in your healing and journey away from your trauma and I was so curious about seeing that perspective, especially if you are not fam-trad. Although you are certainly still an awesome woman if you are fam-trad!
        I find your story of doing a sword dance on your abuser’s grave something that is the equivalent of smelling baking cookies, but for my mind. It just makes me (well, all of us) smile.
        I imagine incestuous-type abuse is especially hard. Though “comparing abuse” it absolutely pointless and just damaging in my book, I can’t fathom experiencing that kind of abuse from a relative.
        But I do sort of envy the fact of you being able to know when your abuser is dead. And that beautiful idea of dancing on their grave. I wish for that sort of security. The most we have is that we now live in a different city from where our original abuser lived, and this is a big world.
        Thank you for sharing your journey
        -Roms

        • sworddancewarrior
          July 31, 2012

          Hi Claire,
          I think that most of my parts are like what you call shadows, and integrated/absorbed fairly easily (If you consider hearing and feeling traumatic material easy – it’s not easy, but it is pretty straightforward…). If I have any separate parts that have more autonomy, I’m not aware of it, I don’t seem to lose time, although I do have some internal conflicts that suggest I still have a few in there – mostly a kind of inner child that stalls to prevent me from doing things that scare her. Negotiating with her does feel like speaking with someone separate from myself, perhaps I need to look at that more. However, mostly I experience myself as one person.
          SDW

          Nice to meet you, Roms.
          No, I’m not fam-trad. I was raised loosely Christian, but we didn’t go to church much. I depended on my connection with nature as a child to give me comfort. When I was about 19 and away at school, I started going to Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings, and they want you to have a higher power. They say you can make one up if you want, as long as it’s real for you. I decided that if I was going to believe in a deity, it would be female, feminist and ecological. I basically started with mother nature as my higher power. After awhile I discovered that there was a whole religion with a central Goddess who was feminist and connected to nature. It evolved from there, but was always closely intertwined with healing. At first I practiced on my own, then I was with some other pagans for ritual, and now I do both.

          Yeah, I’d sure like to know he’s dead and I hope someone will tell me. I’m sure they will eventually if he dies. Perhaps he’ll be the kind of guy where no one discovers him till he’s rotted a bit and his pets have eaten him. One can hope.

          If you know your abusers name and figure he/she/they are old enough to be dead now, you could probably get a private investigator or a librarian to look up death records. I’ve thought about hiring a PI myself to see if my abuser has any current access to kids I don’t know about. Thinking of dancing on his grave makes me smile too.

          The hard thing about incestuous abuse is that I was essentially trapped for a long time in the same home as my abuser and needed lots of coping strategies for that. It also means that most of the family was at least initially on his side in one way or another, complicit. My mom is a good example, being an accessory after the fact (there’s stuff in my blog about it).

          SDW

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