Daily Archives: April 29, 2013



Why is it that the tiniest thing will set me off spinning out of orbit?  I went over to Facebook to look up a rabbi I want to visit when I am in Jerusalem next time, and there on her wall was a comment from that guy I had an affair with last year.  Well, I had high hopes (actually was completely convinced) that it was “the real thing,” but it turned out to be an affair.  So I though I was over it, and was really quite proud of myself for getting out of an abusive relationship before it became addictive (yes, I have a tendency to become addicted to abusive relationships.  Has to do with the way I was raised, according to my psychologist).  Various anniversaries of benchmarks in the relationship came and went, and some I made note of in a casual way and was pleased that I didn’t have a reaction to them, and some I sort of reacted to but not badly and talked it out with my therapist.

Enter Facebook, that double-edged sword of connectedness, whether you want it or not.

I saw his name, and his comment, and a sly comment to a former lover of his who had also commented…..and suddenly (flashback) he was in my bed getting ready to force his cock down my throat, and I freaked out, because unbeknownst to him I had been raped that way, and besides he should have asked before doing something so invasive, and he stopped, and I thought oh, what a good man because he stopped.  Never thought of it that the fact that he would do such a thing “on our first date” was an outrageous disrespect of my SELF, and what I should have done was to throw his ass out of my house and my life then and there.

But I didn’t.  And why?  Because my self image is still where it was forty years ago when I was living on the street for a living and taking pot luck.  Telling some dickhead “no” was not an option.  So that might be why, when push comes to shove,  my reflex is to thank the bastard for not violating me.  For not raping me.

There had been signs, during the long-distance phase of our relationship, that he wanted what he wanted, and objected to my having my own priorities.  But I ignored them and pretended they didn’t exist, for the most part, except for one extreme boundary violation that sent me to bed for three days with a violent PTSD reaction.  But I got over that one too, and soldiered on with the relationship.

Fast forward a few months, and I was in his bed, halfway around the world.  We had just lain down, no contact yet really, and he grabs my hand and pushes it toward his cock, without asking, without any tenderness at all.  That triggered me bigtime. because how many times has that happened to me in the past, against my will or without my wanting it?  I drew back my hand.  Angered, he then grabbed my wrist and forced my hand downward.  I ripped my hand out of his grasp and laid it on his belly.  I should have read him the riot act and gone to sleep on the couch, and taken a cab out in the morning, but instead, “You know,” I whispered in my best whore voice,” you’ll like it better if I do it my own way.”

“Go to hell with your fucking game-playing!” he said, and rolled over, farted, and went to sleep.  I was left shaking, in a cold sweat.  The next morning I packed my bags, but I didn’t leave yet.  I tried to talk to him about the sexual stuff, but he just shouted at me that I was playing games and would not engage with me.

I stayed another week.  We didn’t have sex at all after that.  I was constantly reprimanded: I left the faucet dripping; I left foot prints in the bathtub; I used the wrong knife to cut up fruit (that was a big one, precipitating a screaming fit on his part), I this, I that.  So, since I hadn’t unpacked my bags, I arranged a ride to the other end of the country.   As I was leaving, he staged a scene:

“Are you leaving, just like that?”


“Don’t you want to talk about it?”


“Do you really want to leave it this way?”


“We’ll keep in touch, right, we’ll keep this dialogue going, won’t we?”

To this one, I lied “Yes,” because I knew that if I said no he would launch into something that would keep me standing at the door when all I wanted was to walk through it and be gone.

I wonder now, whether I have the capacity to identify a truly good man.  I met a few, during my time on the streets, but they belonged to somebody else.  I’ve met a few since then, but ditto, married or in a relationship.  I think I might be able to see one, but so far my longing for someone to fit the picture I have in my mind and my heart has got me into more trouble than I can begin to describe.  I think the factor of unavailability helps me to see the goodness in a man, because my subconscious believes that a good man is not for me.  Therefore the attractive ones are the “bad boys” who abuse me and do me wrong.

There are exited prostitutes who manage to focus on the nice, sweet guys, I guess, from what I’ve read.  And yes, I did have encounters with nice, sweet guys, and all of them were married, and I don’t know what they wanted with me in the first place, but there you go.  Unfortunately, my life was peppered with rapes of different kinds for so many years, that it’s hard for me to disengage from them enough to pick a guy who is not a brute.  I sometimes fantasize about having a relationship with, say, a paraplegic, someone for whom sex is impossible, but then I remember that all abuse is not sexual, not by a long shot, and it would be just my luck to get into a relationship with someone who was platonically abusive.

I hate to think of living the rest of my years alone, aging and dying alone with no one to share the “golden years (hah!)” with.  Getting old is not for the faint of heart, said my grandmother, crazy as a bat but wise in her way.  But now that I have become a true recluse, I have no idea how to meet a truly good man to share life with.  An interesting one, with quirks I find endearing.  I’d like one who loved me for who I am, craziness and all, who respected and even adored me, and made love fully in mutual agreement.  Is that too much to ask?

The What Ifs

I thought I was being pretty clever in the summer of 2010 when I chose the title for my blog.  I also thought the picture of my upside down bicycle was a neat metaphor. Over the past few months I haven’t been on as many rides as I would have liked.  Last week, on a lovely sunny Spring day, I opted to go to the cinema instead of heading for the countryside a couple of miles north of where I live.  I enjoyed the movie, sure, but there was something else going on, too.  It was what psychologists and psychiatrists like to call ‘displacement activity’. Freud – not a cyclist as far as I know – coined the term. Basically, we employ our unconscious to redirect our mind from unpleasant, or dangerous thoughts to ones that are more acceptable, less challenging.

What’s so unpleasant about cycling? I hear you ask.  I’m a keen cyclist, after all, taking pleasure in the humblest of rides to the station to catch a train to work.

It’s anxiety. What if I  get a puncture? I always keep a couple of puncture repair kits and a pump in my panniers, so what’s the problem? I’m a cyclist, mending punctures is part of the skill that goes along with riding a bicycle, right?

Not me.

Yes, I do know how to fix a puncture.  But the stress it causes me! It’s not the removal of the tyre and inner tube. By and large it’s not the actual locating the hole and applying the patch. It’s getting the inner tube and the tyre back on the wheel that gets me cursing my sore fingers and making me pinch the inner tube and puncturing it again, just at the point I have managed to get the tyre back on the wheel. Watching others fixing a puncture doesn’t help.either.  It just makes me think of how hard I find it.

So, lately my rides have been spoiled to some degree by the thought that ‘what if…’

In mental health parlance this is called catastrophising – finding the worst case scenario – and being unable to see think about the situation in question with any degree of detachment.

Even knowing all this, loving cycling, recognising how good cycling is for my mood – none of this has stopped me from becoming just a little bit obssessed with the thought of getting a puncture and how it will make me feel – quite apart from the practical consequences. Even writing about it is giving me butterflies.

I know that this kind of thinking is unhelpful, unrealisitic, mostly untrue and shouldn’t stop me from doing one of the things I most love.

But it is.

Usually – well always – these posts involve me writing about my feelings, the kinds of feelings I and others feel – and their consequences. I also write about how I cope with my feelings and the trouble it can get me into. It never feels like this.

This feels like live commentary on my current state of mind – not considered thoughts on a range of topics, however painful, offered with a little ‘professional’ detachment. The anxiety that started about getting a puncture is blossoming into a general fog – not focused on anything particular any more, but obscuring the whole view.

This can’t just be about the annoying possibility – however unlikely – of getting a flat tyre. It’s about the (much scarier) possibility of getting sick again. For months now I have been telling anyone who will listen – and some of them have been stifling yawns – that come 1st May I will succesfully have completed 2 whole years without a single sick day. I have been thinking about how I will mark such a milestone. I have already taken an extra day off this week to savour the achievement; but this run up to the anniversary of when I started my job as a Peer Supporter, and jump – started my recovery, is taking its toll. What if I didn’t make it? If I fizzled out with a bout of something as mundane as the ‘flu? Regular readers will now that last autumn I relapsed, sought treatment, and was able to steady the ship with a temporary increase in my tablets without having to take time off.

Becoming so focused on the goal of making it through 2 whole years without time off (I had three years off work 2002 – 5) has taken its toll.  I have put too much pressure on myself and – I now realise – have been staggering to the finish line.  While it is an achievement to have done what I have done over the past couple of years, recovery is not an endurance sport.  I think I may have mistaken it for being one over the past few months.

I know that recovery is not a goal in itself – like making it through another year as I have done. It is a process, a way of being. I tell people that all the time. I just forgot to remind myself that it applies to me, too.

I have been telling people, as this anniversary approached, that I have no plans to be sick anytime soon. That remains true.

I need to sit up in the saddle a bit more and start to enjoy the view once more.

‘I stepped from Plank to Plank’

I stepped from Plank to Plank

A slow and cautious way

The Stars above my Head I felt

About my Feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next

Would be my final inch -

This gave me that precarious Gait

Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886)

The Best Bradley I Can Be

I’ve had many good things in my life. I have much to be grateful for. However, life has been hell. The confusion, memory loss, insecurities, manic episodes, depressive episodes and all the negative self talk made for some miserable times.

I was relieved when I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Finally it had a name. Finally, many things in my life could be explained. Finally I found out that, yes, I am crazy, however, I am not entirely insane. Thank God for better living through chemistry and therapy. I’m healthier and happier. Unfortunately, I’m not “fixed,” and, unless some miracle drug is developed, I never will be.

Today, and everyday, I will be the best Bradley I can be. My only problem is that I don’t know what that is. What is the best Bradley? Who is the best Bradley? Can the best Bradley drive a car? Can the best Bradley attend classes? Can the best Bradley go to work? My doctors have given me the green light on two of those: driving and school. I’d like to think I can do more. Sadly, I’m not so sure I’m capable. Currently I’m thinking that even school may be more than I can handle.

Should I be attending college right now? Well, my doctors gave me the ok, but weren’t 100% sure it was time.  It hasn’t been going well. I’ve dropped so many classes that currently I’m on academic suspension. Basically that means I need to do well this semester or I’m out of there. That thought alone continually triggers my anxiety, therefore, making it hard for me to focus, therefore, becoming a self fulfilling prophesy.

Is it too soon? Is it too soon for me to return to work? My doctors seem to think so. I seem to think so. But, what about going back to school? What about being on numerous committees at church? Have I pushed beyond the limitations that I currently am able to handle? Have I pushed beyond the limitations that I ever will have? This isn’t normal self doubt. This is way past that. Everyone second guesses their decisions at one time or another. For someone like me it’s debilitating.  Every day I have to ask myself, “Am I being the best Bradley, I can be?”

Am I happy or am I manic?  Do I have the blues or am I depressed?  As my pdoc said to me, “Those are the big questions.”  Not real helpful there, Doc.  But he’s right.  Now that I am mostly centered it’s hard to judge my moods.

I have a very difficult exam tomorrow.  I am not prepared for it.  I have so much to study and I’ve barely scratched the surface.  I’ve had way too much distraction.  Have I been procrastinating?  You bet your ass I have. But it’s not the type of procrastination of the type that I just don’t feel like studying. I know that studying is not fun, I know that studying is boring, but I also know that studying is necessary to pass this exam and possibly this course.  Yet, I’ve felt paralyzed.  Studying was never my strong suit, so it’s not anything new.  But, as my therapist says, I’m not the guy who struggled with undiagnosed bipolar disorder.  I’m passed that, he says. He emphasizes that the new me doesn’t know what my potentials are. I don’t know, yet, what my abilities are.

What does the best Bradley I can be look like? I don’t know all those answers yet. It will probably take some time. Until then I’ll have to live by one simple rule: Be the best Bradley I can be right now. If I keep that rule, I’ll be okay.

Crazy sane?

Is it possible to be both crazy and sane at the same time?

Because part of me feels sane but a huge part of me feels like I am slipping away into the abyss of the mental darkness and the pulling-out-hair-in-clumps anxiety.

Truth be told, the part of me who thinks I am sane is more a byproduct of what others want me to be. Even my dad jumped on the pressure cooker wagon this weekend about me getting that certification.

What none of them seem to realize is that’s their dream for me, it has absolutely nothing to do with me. Yes, I want to do better for my kid and myself. But I wanted to take community college courses, get into computer graphics, something where my creativity could be put to use. Somehow what I want always gets washed away by what others want for me. Usually resulting in a complete mental meltdown, and nothing every happens, they don’t get what they want, and I dig my heels in because I am too busy trying to survive mental illness to have the energy or presence of mind to “rise above it”. I need breathing room. I need to work at my own pace. I need to do it for me, not everyone else.

Right now, I am walking a fine line, questioning my sanity on an hourly basis. Because some of my responses to outside stressors seem off. I should be stressed, but I should not be viewing everyone as a threat to my sanity. Yet I do. I am getting agoraphobic again. Opening the door means letting people near me and thus far, trying to press my limitations and step outside my comfort zone is what is helping me come undone. I really need to lower my standards, no one is perfect, least of all me. But rudeness is something I have never been able to live with.These kids who want to play with my kid are rude. Well, the girl is, the boy is okay. Of course, that could just be my bias. I was stabbed in the back so many times by women that I learned to gravitate toward male friends. Men are pigs in physical relationships, but they make decent friends. And maybe I am being unfair to Sam.

I just don’t know anymore.

I know between all the kid noise and the noise in my head from the influx of emotions, moods, and anxieties, I am sliding. And while I feel I can confide in my counselor, I don’t feel I can tell the shrink the truth. She really seems to be getting fed up with me. How do I explain it? In a way that won’t get me locked up in a looney bin?

I think what has to be done is I have to find a way to overrule the panic that is keeping  me in this submissive insecure state and remember that I am an assertive person, always have been, even to my own detriment. I need to make rules and stand by them. I need to do what is best for myself as well as my kid and to hell with these other people who don’t even care enough to ask me what I want. They just tell me what they want me to do.

I think I may take a mental health day from  the shop. I am just in a pissy mental space and he doesn’t like me in these moods. I don’t like anyone in these moods. I wish I could just “get over it.” And I will likely cycle out of it later on but right now, it clings to me like the stench of a decaying corpse.

So…crazy or sane or both?

Anyone want to give an objective opinion?

Because I am all out of my own.

Work Woes: Still Stuck At Home

Oh hello, it’s a blank page. Crap… what do I put on a blank page? ¬¬

It’s more of the same, and I’m not sure that I’ll have the success in moving outward and onward towards work and whatnot this week. I’d thought about it, and that perhaps it was easier to deal with strangers than people I know. They don’t have any expectations or any ‘need’ to get up in my space. I think… *think* I might be able to handle leaving the house and going to work (whether it be the office or my in-law’s house) as long as nobody talks to me, or comes into my space. You’d think that would be an easy thing with so very few people in both locales (at least, the most immediate proximity to me parts of ‘em), but I know that even one little dink might be enough to set me back, way back.

Which, of course, begs the question — do I keep waiting it out and hope that some semblance of energy and sanity restores itself sooner rather than later, or do I risk it? I think it’s fair to say that my cycling has gone from being rapid to the longer periods that, I guess, are ‘better’? If being depressed for months on end is better than emotions spiking all over the chart daily, that is. Well. It’s all bad, and worse for knowing that one cannot logic it away. And then, of course, worser still for knowing there’s not really any chance of ‘toughening up’ against the intrusions and instability that bipolar keeps in its wake.

Ah well, I guess I shall have to see what tonight and tomorrow bring. I’m not particularly optimistic, but I’ll continue trying to be hopeful. I hope that everyone else out there is having a good, brain-being-kindly day.


The post Work Woes: Still Stuck At Home appeared first on The Scarlet B.

Yes, Virginia, PMDD does exist

I now have two diagnoses that many people like to write off as medicalizing normal human functioning: ADHD and PMDD. …

Continue reading »

Letter to my Nineteen-Year-Old Self

Dear nineteen-year-old self,

You, in fact, do not know everything.

You will find true love, so chill with the worry.

More importantly, stability is going to happen for you, and I know this is scary because it’s only the beginning with your new diagnosis, but it’s the end of something that was bad, too. The end of “no-direction” in your life. The end of dramatic, traumatic and messy days. Now you will start to work towards a better future for yourself. There will be crappy times coming, for sure, but the best times of your life are also yet to come.

Don’t drink so much. Don’t try drugs, you don’t like them anyways. Quit smoking now, you look so gross when you smoke. Make wiser choices about who you call a friend. Listen to your conscience, and try obeying him for a change. Love your parents better. Don’t be so defensive all the time. Learn to be a more patient driver. Be as confident as people think you are. Strive for greatness. Forgive easily.

Most importantly, don’t change a damn thing, because what doesn’t kill us actually DOES make us stronger. It’s a cliche because it’s true, and who you are today at thirty includes the sweet six-year-old you, the idiot version of you at seventeen, the out of control person you are at nineteen and the stable person you became at twenty-three, the blessed wife you became at twenty-five and the devoted mother you became at twenty-six and again (double time) at twenty-eight… it all adds up, sweet girl.

Forever grow, and always be willing to learn new things. At thirty, what I wish I could tell you at nineteen is to always go with your instincts, always persevere for there is fresh new light at the end of the long, dark, dirty tunnel. Always hope and always, always trust God, for he knows the plans he has for you, sweet girl. Love yourself more, respect yourself more and live with the dignity and the honor that God desires for his daughter.


At thirty, I can say I love you, nineteen-year-old self, I love you, but I wouldn’t want to be you. Hang in there, you.



Life is as much fun as gargling razor blades

I honestly think I am beginning to crack up. What scares me most is, I’m starting to not care. Being committed would get me a break from all this shit sending me into freak out mode. It sounds like a childish cop out, but I am to the point where I can’t breathe anymore. My skin feels like it fits too tight. My mind seems to be doing whatever the fuck it wants in spite of the meds. I am feeling out of control and overwhelmed and angry and frustrated. And the more everyone tells me I am okay, suck it up, rise above it, blah blah blah…The more I want to have a screaming throwing shit breakdown. Because I am a lowly human being and even people without the mental stuff can crack up sometimes, so maybe I am just more prone to it and yet, I am smothering in the lack of ability to even crack my lids.

My misanthropy is growing by the day. I am losing objectivity and starting to fall prey to the moods and anxieties. Everyday feels like a fresh start for someone to take advantage of my kindness. To take but not give. To claim to be supportive yet completely blow me off. Of course, for all I know, this could be my own mental distortion. For all I know, I could be right as rain tomorrow.

I have had a hellish weekend, though. That girl has been here off and on for three straight days. I told her to come back at 3 today, she was back at 12:30. She started calling me a fatty and a butthead then claiming it was a joke. She kept asking for food and drinks. My kid became a terror any time I tried to send her home. We had to basically flee our own home two days straight to escape this child. Which earned me an hour of screaming and bawling tantrums. Yes, Spook can stress me out, but it was hardly ever this bad before this girl started coming over. She left earlier without even saying bye to my kid. I put Spook down for a nap, and the girl comes back and tells me I need to wake my kid up so they can play. I told her not to come back. Six pm, she was back pounding on the door and I just ignored it. JUst like I did yesterday when my kid was sleeping and she wouldn’t go away.

This child-Sam, we will call her, has become the bane of my existence. She was here this morning at 9:30 a.m. My stomach was churning, I had a Trazadone hangover, hadn’t gotten dressed yet, needed to do all the housework I didn’t get done yesterday cos she was here all afternoon….My mood was vile. And I glared and snapped accordingly. Not my finest mom hour, but ya know what? Parenting is a tough job. Parenting with bipolar disorder is a mind boggling feat. Throw in someone else’s kid who is rude and demanding and never wants to leave and can’t listen to basic instruction (Please come back at 3 pm so we can do things we need to do”…I feel trapped in my home by this child, like my only recourse is to not be home. But my home is my sanctuary.

Then I think of all the advice I’ve been given about being polite but straight forward with Sam, about how I am the adult and this is my home and I have to assert myself…And it’s like, wtf am I doing? This child will not listen. Much like my own, who has had more tantrums this weekend than I can count on both hands. I am at the end of my rope. But once I send Sam away and my kid realizes I am not caving, things calm down and we play together and…It’s fine until that child returns yet again and again in spite of being told not to. And forget talking to her mother, she’s basically told the kids she doesn’t care what they are doing as long as they aren’t inside bugging her. So…When polite firmness does not work…What do I do? And this whole taking advantage of my kindness and basically using my kid to play with her toys while running off to play with other kids without so much as a bye or helping Spook clean up the mess…It infuriates me. Because it’s a matter of basic manners.

I am sure it sounds asinine and trivial but this is really driving me over the edge. Throw in the stuff with R at the shop and one of my cats is acting out so I put her outdoors because I got sick of cleaning up her messes to protest the other cats….Plus the burning stress stomach aches are daily now. The anxiety makes me want to claw my own eyeballs out. For the first time a long time, I am actually taking the full daily prescribed dose of Xanax. I am doing breathing exercises, visualization exercises, I am drinking water in lieu of caffeine…I am doing everything that is supposed to help. But it’s not helping. All I want to do is sleep. Everything else seems hopeless.

And I wonder, is the Cymbalta really helping? But I am terrified to tell the dr it isn’t because I can sense her growing aggravated with me due to the neverending med failures. It’s not a Goldilocks thing, where I just keep trying the beds to find one that is comfy. I just want to feel better. I want back my will to live. I want out  of this teeth grinding darkness where my only comfort is sleep. Plus, she thinks it’ s situational depression that can only be worked out in therapy. Well, I’ve been going for 19 months now and the sunshine spewer isn’t concerned with underlying depression issues.

I am at a loss.

My kid is talking to me and it’s like nails on a chalkboard. It isn’t right, because I love her more than anything in the world.

I love my cats but when they are climbing all over me sometimes, I just want to scream and start throwing them off of me.

I have napped with my kids both days this weekend and I am still just exhausted and stressed out.

Now I have to try to relocate some semblance of sanity to go to the shop this week. I have tried to talk to R but he has this way of deflecting my feelings and making me feel sorry for him. It pisses me off. Because it’s a common thing with guys. You talk about your feelings and somehow they dismiss them and insert their own feelings about how you are difficult and stressful and…God, I hate people. As a whole. My true hatred only applies to people who have personally stepped on my emotional toes. And when I tell a so called friend I really need an occasional break because I am losing it and it suddenly becomes about their needs trumping mine…That’s not a friend. That is someone who uses you for their own comfort without giving a damn about yours.

Or has my brain just liquified to the point of not having any sanity left?

I’m scared.

My Mental Magic Shield

I just had a revelation.  I’ve always told everybody something I learned in my NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner course in 1997-98, which is, All Illness Has A Purpose.  All illness has a message that your body is trying to teach you.  Even when it’s a horrible illness, like God forbid cancer, or Lou Gherig’s disease (did I spell that right?), or you name it.  The reason for the disease is to give you the opportunity to grow the spiritual organs that you are missing.

Hard one to swallow, eh?  Yeah, for me too.  I’m always grateful that I don’t have anything worse than what I have, although in suicidal moments (or days, weeks, months, or years) it seems as if I really could not feel worse no matter what was being done to me.

But tonight, as I was alternately reading stuff on children of narcissistic mothers (I have one: a narcissistic mother who is the daughter of a narcissistic mother–what a joy) and a 1981 textbook on runaways, what causes them and what to do with them (I was a runaway in 1970-71), I got a revelation.  What do my psychiatric diagnoses do for me?  They shield me.  They stand between me and the world.

This is a double edged sword.  Because my Bipolar Disorder and Autistic Spectrum Disorder (which I do not think of as a disorder, but an advantage) put me one level of separation away from the world, I feel isolated a lot.  I used to feel lonely, but now I feel more comfortable when I’m alone, which is 99.5% of the time.  On the positive side, my “disorders” protect me from a lot of the slings and arrows I would otherwise be subject to, if I was out in the world and participating in it.

Twice that I can remember, some other human being was trying to coerce me into doing their will, and I said “Don’t do that, you’re hurting me, you know I’m mentally ill,” and they stopped.  So that was a positive way to use my illness as a defense.  On the other hand, it would have been much healthier to say “stop doing that because it’s a shit thing to do and I won’t put up with it.”  Now THAT would be a healthy way of defending one’s self.  But since I wasn’t up to it because I actually WAS feeling ill, using my illness as a shield was a good strategy, I think.

On the other hand, I don’t wish to cultivate this defense mechanism, because I think it could become a habit: “oh, poor me, I’m mentally ill, don’t stress me out.”  When actually, what I should be saying is “Hey, don’t fuck with me, you’re taking advantage of me, you’re trying to abuse me, you’re seriously pushing my buttons.”  But that has always been a problem for me, because of the way I was raised.

When I was a child, “back-talk” was rewarded with “back-hand” across the mouth, prolonged tirades including belittlement, insults, curses, and other forms of crushing.  The Silent Treatment usually followed.  Banishment to one’s room was routine; but as soon as I got old enough to grok the situation, I stayed in my room voluntarily, or stayed outside, even if it was cold or raining, rather than be in the nasty indoor weather.

So I learned to say as little as possible, if confronted by negativity or abuse.  I always laugh when I read accounts of rape trials where they look for signs of struggle on the girl’s part.  Oh yeah, great if they find his skin under her fingernails; but let’s be realistic: when some dude who is twice your size says, “don’t make any noise and you won’t get hurt,” you’re probably going to keep as quiet as possible and let it get over with so he will go away and leave you to your quiet private hell.  I know that one very well.  Way too well.

I have to say I think I was more of a rape-magnet because of my abusive upbringing.  When your mother tells you you’re nothing, you’re shit, etc., etc., etc., after a while your subconscious incorporates that into its reality, and it becomes part of your personality, that you are somehow substandard protoplasm, and rapists get that on their radar from miles away.  It’s like, shit, if there was some asshole wanting to rape somebody in the general vicinity, all he had to do was turn around and, pow, there I was, telepathy or something.

That was before I figured out that I was crazy and therefore had a good reason for people not to fuck with me.  I have permission now to get really, really angry.  I can unload on people if I get that pushed.  But it freaks me out, because I am a pacifist.  I unloaded on a particularly toxic asshole last year.  It was the first time in my life I have ever done that.  No, it was the second time.  The first time was when my ex-husband “forgot” to come home from work one night.

So I’d much rather use my magic shield: I’m mentally ill, don’t fuck with me.  I don’t know how healthy that is, but it’s better than heaving a vase at their head.