Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Winter 1999

Is it gonna thunder?
She hates thunder.
She's in the Lady's house. They let Her take a nap when the Big People left.
It sounds like it's raining.
She peeks open her eyes just a little. She's supposed to be napping. She doesn't want to get in trouble for not sleeping. She knows how to pretend and be real still.

There's a window by the bed. It looks sunny outside. It's not raining but she hears rain.
She looks around the room with her eyes only open a little in case someone's looking.
There's no rain.
Where's the noise coming from?
She looks around the room. There's a lamp by the other window on a table. It's got beads in it and they're all floaty and making noise on the glass like rain.
It's pretty.
She peeks at the door. No one is there.
She sneaks over to look at the lamp.
She looks over her shoulder but no one is there so she touches the lamp.
It's so pretty.
The Lady comes but she's good and doesn't hide.
She thinks she might be in trouble.
The Lady talks to her. Her name is Misspat. She's the one who sang with her when all those Big People were being scary.
The Lady Misspat asks if she wants to color. She nods. She's not sure if it's okay to talk.
She doesn't want to get in trouble.
But she really wants to color.
She likes to make her own pictures. She doesn't know how to stay inside the lines and Her friends laugh at her.
When she's drawing with the crayons The Lady Misspat asks her questions. She doesn't want to get in trouble but The Lady Misspat is nice and so she answers.
She tells about the dots she's drawing.
She holds up all the fingers on her hand to show how old she is.
And she tells about the other Big Ones who are mean. They don't like her and she never gets to play anymore. The Wall was big and scary and it was dark for a long time and she is scared of the dark. She's scared of thunder too but it's not raining. Does The Lady Misspat know her light sounds like rain?
She sits on the floor and she colors and she talks but then her tummy starts to hurt.
She doesn't tell The Lady Misspat her tummy hurts.
She wasn't supposed to talk about the Big Ones and The Wall and the Other Ones. She's gonna be in trouble.
So she goes away again.

***

Another time, Her tries to talk to her. She can't see where Her is but she says "It's okay. You're safe."
Safe is when the Brothers are at school and not laughing at her and when the Mother is taking her nap and when the Dad is at work and she can play with her toys and no one yells at her.
Her says she's all grown up and has a Husband and Kids and the Other Family is far away.
She's afraid to talk to Her. Grown Ups don't like to hear kids talking. She tells Her she's not supposed to talk to her or else she'll get in trouble. It makes her tummy hurt.
Her says her tummy hurts too but it's okay to talk to her.
"It's okay to talk to me. I promise I won't hurt you."
Her isn't the one who's gonna get mad.
Her's voice isn't mean.
"Is your name Roo?"
Her knows her name.
She nods her head and says "Uh huh."
"Hi Roo. I'm Marisa. Maybe we can be friends."
Roo thinks that's good. She wants a friend.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

February 1999, pt 5

I've played the tape for Charlie. I didn't tell him I've been playing it over and over since I got home. That's what she sounds like. The Teenager. The one who can cry... the one who thinks dying would be easier.

They talked to her. Pat and Pastor R said she mostly stayed curled up in a corner of the couch, crying. They said she was scared. Shit. That makes two of us.

She identified as me... but I'm me. There can't be two of us for real. Not for real My head is spinning.

I go outside for a cigarette. I can't breathe and I know it's stupid but smoking helps. I sit outside the garage in my hiding corner and light up.

What would happen if I tried talking to them like I did when I was little? Pastor R suggested I give it a shot.

"Um, I don't know what to call you but I'm Marisa. I'm really scared right now. The stuff I read says you're around because you helped me not go crazy from the abuse when I was little. I guess in a way you've helped but I didn't ask for this and I'm scared as hell of you.

Silence.

I feel like an idiot.

I lean back against the garage door and take a long drag on my cigarette.

"If you have to call me something, call me Reese."

My head slams against the door jamb. No. I did not just hear that. I did not just hear an exasperated sigh.

"Look. I don't know what to do, okay? The Wall is gone and things are so different and... I don't want this either, okay? Do you remember Dominion? I do. I didn't ask for this either and I don't want to be here either and... it's like I don't have a choice, okay?.

Tears prickle behind my closed eyes. I'm shaking my head. Please don't let this be real. Please.

"Okay... Reese. Um... Do I have to talk out loud or can you hear my thoughts?"
"You have to talk."
"Why?"
"I don't know. It's just the way it works. And look, don't ask me anymore questions, okay? I don't know and if I did I couldn't tell you. I'm gonna pay for this anyway."

I want to ask why and who and what but the cigarette has burned down to the filter and my fingers. I drop the butt and stare at the ground. I still don't know what to believe. How many are there? Who is making her pay? Reese? Who used to call me that? I was a teenager. I remember that much.

Oh God. This really is real.


Friday, April 8, 2011

February 1999, pt 4

Written February 1999, this is the first time The Wall (Later known as Control and finally Levia) communicated with anyone. She wrote this after showing up at Pat's house and grilling her, trying to decide out if stepping out of the way would be of more benefit than continuing to hold the others back. That conversation with Pat is the only time she ever spoke with anyone outside of  The Crew and, I think, Charlie. Whatever she did in "my world'"she did in silence.
The "others" she refers to were, we believe, spiritual rather than mental beings.


I find myself in what seems to be an odd situation. Never before have I questioned my role or responsibility. This has changed and I find myself asking "Who am I?" I suppose I have been aware of my existence always but that existence was defined by function only. I am not of flesh and blood. I am without spirit or emotion. I am a creation of her mind. I am a barrier intended to separate her world from another creation of her mind. In being that barrier I have protected her but now it seems that may not be true.
I protect her from the children she wishes to forget. Children who, like me, are not flesh and blood but emotion and memory. I keep them from her at her command because they prevent her from living the life she wants to live. Yet, if I understand correctly, the only way for her to live that life is if I cease to be the barrier.
Until the departure of Death, things were as the were. WIthout thought or question I did as I was there to do. Even as the others and then the children were recognized, I did as I was there to do. Even as the taunts and threats of the others caused chaos for her and for the children, I did as I was there to do. I prevented, at times with great difficulty and limited success, her life being disrupted by what is kept hidden in the children. Until the departure of Death, I saw only what I was supposed to see and knew only that which she wished me to know. With some regret, I know that has now changed.
Never before have I come forward to her world without circumstances requiring it. It was my duty to protect that drew me to speak with Pat, but it was an act of my own will which made it happen. My own will. If I can choose to come forward as I desire, can I also choose not to? Can I choose, of my own will, to no longer be the barrier I was created to be? In doing so, will I have abdicated my responsibility? Has my role changed that in order to protect her I must now allow the children their freedom to speak? If so, how did it change?
Why did it change?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

February 1999, pt 3

Rocking
Rocking
Rocking

This can't be real.
I've looked it up online. It's called D.I.D. now. Dissociative Identity Disorder. Why change it? Multiple Personalities at least tells you what it is without a medical dictionary.
But I don't think I fit all the criteria... and there are so many websites about it.
And then there are the False Memory Syndrome people. They say it's all a lie.
This can't be happening.
It can't be real.

But what about the Mirror Girl? I remember talking to her. I know I couldn't have been much more than 2... I was still in diapers. I remember walking back and forth in the upstairs hallway, holding the round crib mirror and talking to my reflection. I knew it was reflection because my game was watching the ceiling while walking back and forth. Not being able to see where I put my feet made my stomach do flips. I was being Brave and Adventurous. Especially when I passed the stairway.

But the Girl. I talked to her and she talked back. When Mom made me cry, I'd talk to her.

I remember other things around then but... I don't think about those.

What about the dots? I felt stupid telling Pastor R and Pat and now Dr. P about the dots.

It was a dream. A bunch of black dots that talked to me. I'm sure it came from some Sesame Street sketch but I had the dream for years, even after I started school. They would talk to me in my sleep.

And then later... after Tommy started taking me into the woods... they talked to me outside my dreams. Playing in my room, I'd hear them. First a babble and then I could hear them like a crowd all saying different things. "No." "Stop that." "Stop it." "Bad girl." Over and over and over. They spoke in a harmonic cadence and I would play or walk and sometimes rock to the rhythm of the voices. Somehow I knew, even then, not to tell.

But then I'd already learned about not telling.
And I kept learning.

I remember running away and telling people my name was Stephanie... and when I was Stephanie I wasn't afraid... and I was always afraid.

Waking up and not remembering the day before. But I never told anyone. Stein made sure no one would believe me.

When Charlie and I had our first real fight and I pushed him enough to make him yell... he found me in the spare room curled up in the pile of teddy bears and said I couldn't talk.

And
All
Those
Other
Times

Please God. Don't let this be real.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

February 1999 cont.

I hand the photocopied pages to Charlie and wait, my right knee jiggling up and down, keeping time with my pounding heart.

He's taking forever to read it. His face is inscrutable.

Finally he looks up at me. "Does this mean we can talk about it now?"

My heart stops. "What do you mean? You think they're right?"

He half-smiles. "I mean I've known this since the first year. I knew what I was getting into when we got married. So now it has a name. I didn't leave you before and I'm not leaving now. Does this mean we can stop pretending and admit it's real?

My hands start to flap and my breathing quickens. I sink from the arm of the couch to the corner seat. Charlie gets up from the computer chair and seats himself next to me, taking my hand.

"It's okay. We've been through so much already. We'll get through this. Think about it. We know what it is. That means we can fight it."

"You believe me then? You don't think it's bullshit?"

"Baby, I've talked to them. I've seen them since we first got married. I know Stephanie and Roo and the one who cuts..." He wraps his arms around me, pulling me close. I should feel safer. I should feel relief. All I feel is terror.

"I thought they were demons." It would have been easier if they were. This isn't something we can tell to go away. It's in me and I hate them. They've ruined my life. Why is everyone so freaking happy and relieved about this?

The last thing I am is relieved. It's going to get worse. I know it.

February 1999

"You think I have this?"

I'm holding photocopies of a book Pat is reading. She was reading about deliverance ministry and this is one of the chapters.

MPD. They think I have multiple personalities. Haven't they been listening? This is a Borderline thing. I have to be screwing with them somehow. I know what happened in January. They talked to a little girl... but I'm not. I mean. No. I told them before, it's like that but it's not. I can remember too much stuff.

I know I told them about the hospital when I was pregnant with Becka. A girl there who was borderline too had said it was like parts of us stopped growing emotionally and were stuck at different ages. I react with the emotion of a little kid but... that just means I need to grow up and stop acting like a kid.

No.

I remember the lady who came to visit me with the director of the hospital program I was in. She said looking at me was like looking at a broken mirror still in it's frame... as if my soul had somehow been broken in pieces. When I'd tried to talk to the doctor, he pretty much blew me off because it was a faith thing. Morrow never did want to hear about my faith. He never got how that made it hard to talk to him.

I look at the pages in my hand. Pat looks concerned but almost excited. She really believes she's found the answer. Pastor too. Don't they get it?

Don't they GET it? I've been here before. I told them about Stein at Dominion who said not being able to remember tearing up my arms in the bathroom was bullshit. I spent days in a quiet room because I refused to admit it.

I told them about Larry. No more inner child bullshit.

They might think this is the answer now but in a few months, they're going to call me a liar just like everyone else.

Have they told Charlie? He's going to shit.

"Isn't there something kinda like, in between? You know, not... this but just mimics it?

They've been studying and wrestling with this since we got together for prayer again in January.

My stomach knots up. January. I barely remember anything. They say they talked to a little girl... and I have 3 really long cuts on my right arm. I can't believe that happened right in front of them.

I don't remember sticking a razor blade in my sock. I don't remember the little girl singing "Jesus loves me" and I really don't remember standing in front of a whole group of people and cutting my arm.

Maybe I just don't want to remember. Maybe I'm lying even to myself. This can't be real.

My right arm. I've never cut on the right.

What if they're right?

I tell them my mom teased me for reading Sybil. I tell them when I read The Exorcist she'd made a comment about me growling and spitting pea soup next. Don't they understand this is just something I read years ago and I'm trying to imitate the story? That's what I do. I'm a liar. Everyone knows it or eventually figures it out.

What if they're right?

Are they going to tell Charlie? Are they going to tell the doctor I started seeing in December?

Pastor R is going to call Charlie and talk to him. He's meeting my doctor for lunch next week.

They're standing there, looking so expectant. What if they're right?

They can't be.


Monday, April 4, 2011

April 1991

Larry looks serious.
I'm scared.
Something is wrong.

I sit in my chair in his office, the one closest to the door, and wait for him to speak. Already the urge to run is powerful. I want to run out the door and go home. But it's been like this for weeks.

I glance at Larry. He sits back, further back that usual. He crosses his leg over his knee. The body language barrier.

My heart does flips in my chest.

He speaks but his words seem jumbled. I realize the sudden rushing in my ears is making it hard to understand him, like he's talking to me under water. He says he's been talking to Dr. B, who oversees his internship.

"... Borderline Personality Disorder..."

Immediately, everything comes into crystal clear focus.

Dr. B says Borderlines are demanding and manipulative. He told Larry he needs to stop letting me control sessions and make him go over time. I am abusing Larry's time and playing games.

Oh my God. I tried to tell him. I told him what would happen. I shouldn't have told him about the teenager and the little girl. I shouldn't have let it happen. Oh, God. What now?

Last week, Larry leaned in closer and spoke kindly. I can see that is gone now and there is an edge to his voice. He doesn't say it but I know he feels used... and I've screwed up again.

I'm trapped in place by the shivering. It's so complete I've turned to stone. All I can see is my knees. The rest of the office is gone. Just my knees and Larry's accusing voice as he lays down the new rules.

"This inner child nonsense needs to stop. I will not talk to anyone but you from now on. You need to stay in your seat and control yourself during sessions."

***

I'm driving down I-40, heading back to Durham. I can't breathe. I'm going to wreck. Oh please, God. I'm pregnant. Don't let me hurt this baby. I want to swerve and hit the trees.

NO

Pull over carefully. Stop the car.

I'm going to die. This pain is going to kill me. I TRUSTED HIM!

Every time.
Every time I took a chance.
I trusted him.
He doesn't believe me.
I thought he would be different. He was different. He seemed to care when no other person I've tried to talk to has seemed to care.
Borderline.
I manipulate.
I just want attention.

I'm sobbing uncontrollably. The last time I cried like this was in the hospital back in January. For over a week, I cried non-stop. Even when I wasn't sobbing, the tears fell all the time. I couldn't stop it.
Until they told me to stop attention seeking.
I hid in my room to cry.
I sat alone to cry.
I stayed away from others so they wouldn't be upset by my distress.
But that's isolating yourself.
Just another way to seek attention.
I can't win.

A driver on the interstate slows and looks at me with concern. I wave him on and try to smile.

I have to stop this. I'm making a scene. I can't pull back onto the road. I'll never make it home. Oh God, I want to die!

Five months pregnant. This child will not be harmed. How she's stayed healthy so far, I don't know but I will not let her be hurt. I will not kill myself and murder this child. I will not cut. I will not hurt this child.

The cigarette lighter. Push in the knob. Wait. It pops out and I pick it up and look at the red hot circles of metal inside. Hot enough to light a cigarette.

Roll up my left sleeve. Hunch down in the seat. Place the lighter on my arm... high enough up to be hidden by my shirt sleeves.
Deep breath.
The tears stop.
Focused only on the lighter as I roll it on my skin.
Push in the knob.
Take it out.
Roll it on my skin.

Each time it gets easier to breathe. Each time, I can feel my heart relax a little more.

"No more."
I'm speaking aloud.
"No more."
I roll the lighter on my arm.
"No more."
I will never let it happen again.
"No more inner child nonsense."

I repeat the words, feeling a steely resolve build. I will lock it up. Shove it away so it can never happen again. I'll die before I think about pretending again.

No one will ever believe it is real.

I have to have made it all up. I've lied to Charlie. To every pastor we've gone to for help. Every doctor. Every hospital. Stein at Dominion called it for what it is. Bullshit.

No more bullshit.

No Stephanie.
No Roo.
No teenager trying to hurt herself.
It's all me and a lie.
I'm a lie.
No more.

I put the lighter back in place.

I'm calm now.

Charlie is going to be upset about the burn. I hope he understands. I had to do something that wouldn't hurt the baby. I had to find away to get home.

It is worth it.
They are gone now.
Charlie will never find me curled in a ball in the shower again.
Kristen will never find Mommy banging her head against the wall again.
No one will ever hear those eerie little voices I've known so long.
It's over now.
No more inner child bullshit.
I'll die before I let it happen again.






Saturday, April 2, 2011

December 2, 1998

*This was written Dec. 2, 2004. It was the first time I had written or talked about the day since is happened.*

I don't know what triggered it. Maybe it wasn't anything specific. It had been building for months. I wandered in and out of my days, shifting from mind shattering panic to near catatonic states. Somehow I still managed to get kids up and dressed, drive the girls to school then get them picked up and fed... but it was like an empty shell going through the motions. Between getting home from school with the girls and making dinner, I lay sprawled across my bed, awake but somehow unconscious... lost in listening to the noise in my head.

It could happen so fast... I'd go from just dragging my leaden body around to flapping my hands, nodding my head or using any number of other odd little movements which were the only things keeping me from taking on of Charlie's belts and hanging myself in the garage. I was taking the Xanax the internist prescribed. It took the edge off the panic but did nothing to quiet the noise.

I remember Daniel asking me to play cars with him that morning... I sat on the floor and burst into tears because I didn't know how to play. This had happened before. I couldn't even play with my four-year-old! What about John? Did he get any interaction from me at all? I know he did but I can't remember one moment of enjoying my own children during that time... You're a horrible mother. You're destroying your family. look at yourself. You're worthless and a failure. You can't even play Hot Wheels with your son. I'd never been so numb.

I had a burn on my arm the size of a plum... the result of several days using lit cigarettes to stave off the panic... but that was weeks ago and it was almost healed. The cuts on my ankles and calves were tiny but precise... not long enough for stitches but each deep enough to allow for a pint of relief. I remembered doing them but... it was so odd to watch myself act and have no power to stop it... and the gallery of hecklers and screaming voices just kept getting louder by the day.

The boys were napping. There was just enough time before they woke and it would be time to pick up the girls.

It wasn't my leg this time. I took off my sweater. i'm sorry. i can't do this anymore. i'm sorry. i've ruined everything.

Standing over the sink. Water running. When I hit the vein, causing a small geyser, the relief was overpowering. I just stood there and watched.... pouring out the pain.

Ringing in my ears. Sick to my stomach. I can't staunch the flow... I don't want to. I'm scared. I'm relieved. I'm scared. I'm determined.

I turned off the water and pulled my sweater back on... stuck a towel on my arm and found a phone. "Pat, I cut my arm. I can't stop the bleeding. I'm scared."

She was twenty minutes away. I dropped the towel, leaned over the counter with my arm in the sink and rested my forehead against the cool mirror. I needed to wash away the mess but couldn't turn on the water.  

Things are fading. I'm going to be sick. I can't stand up any longer. i'm sorry. i'm sorry. I scoot around the corner of the sink and sit on the toilet. Pat will be here soon. She'll help.

I can't breathe. I can't move. I don't remember anything. What's happened? I can't breathe!

I'm on the floor. I see a shape in the doorway. It's Pat. She's called an ambulance. She's pacing back and forth in my bedroom, praying.

"Oh God! I'm sorry! I didn't mean to! This wasn't supposed to happen! I'msorryI'msorryI'msorryI'msorry." She kneels at my side and brushes my hair from my face. She's crying. I can't breathe. I can't move. I'm scared. I'M SORRY!

WHERE ARE MY BOYS? They're with the next door neighbors. They're okay. Charlie's been called. The Pastor is on his way.

i'msoashamedi'msoashamedi'msoashamedi'msoashamed
ashamedashamedashamedashamed
shamedshamedshamedshamed
shameshameshamei'msosorry

The paramedics arrive. There's no room in the bathroom. They remove the shower doors so they can all have room. Oxygen. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean this. I'm so sorry."

They're so nice. They shouldn't be. I was stupid. How could I do this? They should be angry and condescending. They should be sarcastic and cruel. This can't be happening.

How could I let this happen?

***

I had to write this. I have to get it out. I don't talk about that day... not really talk about it. Never have... not since 2 days after it happened. I don't talk about the mess that Pastor R and Pat cleaned up by themselves so Charlie wouldn't have to deal with it. I don't talk about the lies we told the kids so they wouldn't have to know what really happened to Mommy. I don't talk about the humiliation of being wheeled out of the house on a stretcher, seeing neighbors staring at my blood soaked body... or the whispered gossip for weeks after. I don't talk about it. I don't talk about the ER nurse dismissing the paramedic's estimation of blood loss because if it had been that bad he'd have hooked up an IV en route... or how he tried to explain they'd not had time and he couldn't do it over bumpy roads... or passing out in the bathroom when they asked for a urine sample... or shitting myself while unconscious. I don't talk about what a very close call it was... and I don't talk about the shame... the paralyzing, choking shame... for all of it... that day and every day of the next 18 months. I don't talk about it.

Because I shouldn't feel ashamed, right? I shouldn't want to crawl in a hole for what I did to my family, my friends and myself, right? I should be able to look back, be grateful I'm alive and got help and move on, right? Because no one wants to hear or see such raw emotions... no one wants to feel uncomfortable in the face of such pain, right?

So I don't talk about it. 





Friday, April 1, 2011

November 1998 continued

*Written in 2005, this is an account of the the events that led to The Crew being seen and recognized. Diagnosis wouldn't be official for several months.*

Day in, day out nothing changes except I'm getting worse. I realize now that cutting is only one of the things I do to hurt myself. In all the years since I've used a blade, I've done other things like not eat, purge, punch walls and push my body past its limits just to feel pain. It's all about punishment and control and my body is the target. I realize I've known this and it's the only reason I've gone so long without cutting.

Somehow, understanding this makes it easier to pick up the blades again.  I tell myself at least it's honest and not hypocritical. The least I can do is stop denying my insanity. I've never really gotten better. I've just gotten better at lying.

I'm apart from it all now. Numb to everything but pain and shame. The family I love more than life seems so distant. They're not mine. This isn't my life. How did this happen? A family just means there is more to lose when I ruin everything again.

The blades are hidden in my drawer. Rubber tubes, used for exercising an injured shoulder... gauze... band aids... measuring cup.

It's easier to hide on the ankle. It's not like the wrist where people can point and judge. I've learned from those years in and out of hospitals. They laugh at you when you have cuts on your wrist. It's harder to do what I want to do there anyway.


Don't run the water over it. Measure what you lose so no one can call you a liar if you're caught. Only a pint. More than that is too much and too dangerous if I need to do it a lot. Less won't help enough. Be careful to clean up and never, ever leave evidence.


It's the only thing that quiets the noise. If only for a little while. Besides, it's the only thing I'm good at.

***

I don't know what to do. If I tell someone about the self-injury, I'm seeking attention. If I don't I'm not being honest with them. Isn't it important not to keep secrets? I need to tell them it's getting worse. I need to tell them how much I want to give up. This isn't fair to my family. I'm hurting Charlie and the kids. They deserve better. I'm destroying their lives. I don't know which is worse, killing myself and leaving them with the belief I didn't love them enough to fight or ruining their lives by staying. It's getting easier and easier to believe if I die, at least they have a chance to heal and move on without me there to make their lives miserable.

They were right all along. All those doctors, social workers, nurses and mental health workers. All those supposed professionals who said I'd never get better. They were right. I was stupid to believe I could do this and make it. Now more people will be hurt when I fail. How could I be so selfish to try to have a family and a life? All I can do is drag them down with me until I die or they finally give up and lock me away forever.

I call Pat every day. We talk for hours. I go to her house when I can't stand to be here. I can hide there and don't have to be alone. Pastor R is afraid to meet again. They're trying to arrange a day when more people can be there if I freak out again. Don't they get it won't be enough? Don't they get it's a losing battle?

I can't control my actions, my thoughts... things just happen and there's no one to blame but myself. I don't mean to yell at the kids. I don't mean to hide all day. I don't mean to hurt myself or panic. I don't mean any of it but I can't stop it.

She was always right. I am selfish. All I have to be thankful for and I'm miserable. Nothing is ever enough and I can suck the good out of everything. I should have died years ago. I was never meant to make it so long. Soon enough, everyone will figure it out and give up on me like everyone else has always done. Maybe then, I'll have the guts to give up myself and set them free.



November 1998

*Written in 2005, this is an account of the the events that led to The Crew being seen and recognized. Diagnosis wouldn't be official for several months.*

I've managed to keep the burn on my arm hidden for several days. It gets a little bigger each day. I knew how upset Charlie would be when I told him so I waited until we were already arguing. It was another of those fights that ended in him leaving the room and me hysterically sobbing on the floor. Still no tears. I'm driving Charlie away and I can't seem to stop it. How can he stand it? In all this time, nothing has changed.

I still can't eat. I'm losing weight hand over fist and am ashamed for being so glad. I have Xanax for the panic but it barely takes the edge off. The kids are all walking on eggshells but also somehow running wild. It takes very little for Mommy to go running to her room. On bad days, I go about my daily chores and responsibilities even as I rock and flap my hands. This must be what it's like to be autistic. Everything is a threat. Any stimulus is too much and the rocking helps to keep me from flying apart. Nothing seems real anymore and I'm watching my life unfold as if on screen.

I'm meeting with the group from church again for prayer. I want it to help but know it won't. No amount of prayer has ever helped. All that happens is things get crazy and I'm told it's my fault. I can't go to the doctor and wind up drugged out of my mind or locked up. I don't see any other choices. Besides, I like these people. I want to believe.

Sitting in the sanctuary near the front, I'm in one chair and Pastor R, Pat and Mona are sitting in a semi-circle in front of me. We talk awhile and I show them the history I wrote for them. I tell them about my birth mother and some of the things that happened when Krys was a toddler. When John was in the hospital I told him I felt like there was a mark on my kid's lives. He'd given me a funny look. Now he gets it.

They've been told about my past experience with prayer for deliverance. They know it's been tried and the destructive words and actions of those who didn't get the results they expected... but we believe and hope our understanding is enough to make it different.

Please don't let it be like it was before.

We start to pray.

I don't know what they want to happen but I don't think it will. No sudden tears or sloppy catharsis. No spontaneous joy or uplifting emotional moments... just terror. I want to scream and run. No. I will sit quietly and try. There's nothing else to do.

I'm shaking from the effort to remain in place... to keep my hands still and not twitch, shudder or rock but the panic is so strong. I can't keep still. It's like trying to contain a volcano. It's too much.

Pastor moves his chair closer and touches my hand. I jerk away. I can stay still. I have to. Just do what I'm expected to do. I understand about laying on of hands. Why am I so afraid? He touches my hand again.

"DON'T FUCKING TOUCH ME!"

I'm not in the chair anymore. All the way on the other side of the room, on the floor against the wall with knees pulled up to my face and hands over my ears. I can hear Pat begin to cry in empathy. nonononononono go away. i can't hear you nononononono I'm terrified. The Pastor is there, standing close, his hand outstretched.


"You're safe here. No one will hurt you. Please let me show you it's safe. Take my hand. We're here to help."

nonononono you'll hurt me and yell and tell me i'm bad. nononono i don't want to be here. go away. don't touch me.

He stands there with his hand held out, patiently waiting. 

Slowly, haltingly my hand reached out to his. His hand is warm, gentle and strong. It's hard to stand. My body wants to stay curled there on the floor. He puts one arm around my shoulder and holds my hand as he walks around the perimeter of the room, describing it and assuring me it's safe. I won't open my eyes. I'm too frightened. He sends Mona to lock the doors. I can hear Pat, still in her chair, praying. Pastor R says no one can come in and hurt me. We're halfway around the front of the room. He's talking about God and prayer and protection from harm.

"BULLSHIT!" My arm slams into the wall again and again. "You're a liar! You can't protect me!" He tried to stop me slamming into the wall and I turn to fight him. Punching, kicking, wrestling. We're on the floor. He's praying. He thinks he's dealing with a demon.

"You DICK! You think you can pray me away? Fuck you and your God. You have no clue what you're dealing with. Bring it on, asshole!" I lunge at him, hands around his throat. I'll kill him if I can.

I'm pinned and can't move. Calm down. Wait for him to let go. He'll get tired.

He finally relaxes and I pull away, slouching around the room and swearing at him, teasing him. He doesn't know anything. He wants a demon, I'll give him one. Growling and snarling, spitting and swearing. I'm playing with him and enjoying it. I hate him. He'll figure out soon enough he can't do anything to stop me and he'll lay the blame. He'll do it. I'll make him do it now. He's still quoting scripture and telling me what to do. I laugh at him.

"Guess what? Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, was crucified, died on the cross and on the third day He rose again. Jesus is Lord. Is that what you wanted to hear? Making me say it won't get rid of me you stupid asshole and if you call me a demon again I'll rip off your fucking head and shove it down your fucking neck!"

No. No more. I have to make it stop.

I'm shaking again. I'm so sorry. Oh no. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry." I'm in the middle of the room. My arm hurts. I'm tired and scared. All I want to do is go home and sleep. I'm embarrassed and ashamed. 

They aren't angry.

I sit down in the chair again. We talk and they tell me what happened. Almost three hours have passed. Yes, this has happened before. I'm so sorry. I tell them about the burn. We pray again but nothing else happens this time. I'm so sorry.

Pastor R moves close again. "I want you to look at me. Look me in the eye."

I can't. I'm too ashamed. I manage to meet his eyes for just a second.

"You don't have anything to be sorry about. You haven't done anything wrong. We'll help you through this and no one will turn their back on you this time."

Such nice words. I wish I could believe them. 

History

*This was written between the events of the last entry and the next. October 1998.*

  • 1981- Took a couple of dozen aspirin and planned to cut my wrists. I had been scratching my arms for weeks without relief. Told a friend. She told a teacher. Was sent home from school for a couple of days. Assistant principal asked if I was aware I would burn in hell if I "offed myself". Came back to school an outcast and the butt of jokes. Started pretending to faint and talkig of suicide. Took a couple of minor overdoses and made a few trips to the emergency room.
  • 1982-83- Started carrying a small penknife and using it to scratch my wrists. Took ipicac to feign illness and get out of school. Mum took me to the doctor to prove I was faking. Kept my grades up and my behavior at school was good but started taking large doses of cold medicines and falling asleep in class. Kept gin in a thermos in my locker for the last two months of school and stayed drunk as much as I could get away with. I'd given up on home and put my focus into school.
    Two months into my freshman year of high school, I started smoking pot. Started writing poetry and short stories. Stephanie Anne Ross was born. An alter ego 3 years older and far less afraid of authority than I was.
    Created problems at school. Set fire to my jacket accidentally in class. Principal reminded me he knew who I was, hated Quintanas and was watching me. Started running away for a day or night. Spent one night on the roof of a the middle school taking the skin off my left arm with a piece of broken glass. Got so cold I started walking. Was picked up by a couple of guys in a truck. They saw the blood and called an ambulance. Spent the night in the police station. Tried to reuse to go home. Parents decided to try family counseling. Counselor at the Mental Health Department told parents I was a discipline problem and my attention seeking behavior was to be ignored or punished. He told my parents I was simply a liar and to treat me as such. Dad was furious. We did not go back.
  • November 1983- Cut my wrists in the school bathroom during lunch. Ran from the emergency room. After I was caught, the principal, who had come with me to the hospital, threw me into a wall. I was then arrested for assault. My father came to the police station and the charges were dropped. He asked if I wanted to go to a hospital. I did. Stayed inpatient through the week of Thanksgiving.
  • 1984-85- Started seeing the psychiatrist I'd seen at the hospital. Managed to convince him within a few weeks that I was delusional and hallucinating. After running away a few more times and threatening to jump off a building, I was admitted to Dominion hospital in Sleepy Hollow, Virginia. It didn't take the doctor there long to figure out my stories of dementia were untrue. He called me a compulsive liar (true) and nothing I sad was believed again. Was initially diagnosed as Bi-polar and put on Lithium. After the side-effect continued to intensify rather than subside, it was decided that was must not be Bi-polar. I was then diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and put on new medication. I took 150 mgs of Tofranil and 50Mgs of Mellaril.
    In the hospital, I learned how to break my hand from another patient. Learned about self-starvation and how to hide it. Learned how to turn off the world and how many different everyday items can be used for self-harm. I also learned how to pull myself together when the insurance ran out and it was time to go home.
    Was place in an alternative school. Got caught smoking behind the building and when told to put out the cigarette, I put it out on my arm. That was the beginning of burning. I spent most nights in my bathroom with a razor, cutting the same places on my wrists under running water. Found that if I cut a little each night it would leave a huge scar and that should I get caught, it couldn't be stitched up. Also started burning myself with other things. After putting a 3 inch burn on my face with a curling iron, I was sent to a neurologist. He found nothing wrong aside from attitude. The next several months are a blur of nights in the bathroom, drugs, drinking, running away and minor overdoses.
    Sometime during that summer, I cut into a major blood vessel for the first time. I got scared and called a friend. She called an ambulance and I took off for the river close to my home and hid until they found me. The EMT asked if I had been drinking and spoke to me about alcohol abuse. He suggested AA and gave me the times and places of meetings. My parents were furious at the idea but allowed me to go with the understanding that it was only as a support system for me outside of the hospital.
  • 1985 continued- Ran away to Vienna, VA to visit a friend from the hospital. I thought I loved him. He didn't feel the same way. Went to a July 3 concert on the Mall in DC. Got really drunk thanks to beer provided by a mental health worker we knew from the hospital. Wound up in the back seat of a car with my 'friend'. By the time he acknowledged my "No" it was too late. Ran to another friend's house in Fairfax. Told her what happened. She didn't believe me. Called my Dad to come get me. Told him what happened. He drew back to hit me and told me it was my fault. Took me straight to a party at the pool club without letting me go home and change. Spent that day in the locker room drinking.
    Ran away to DC for 2 days. Was picked up by a guy who offered me a way to make some money. Stayed with him until I realized what he meant for me to do. Cut my wrists in his bathroom and told him not to waste his time on me. He drove me back to my hometown. Spent the next couple of weeks with a friend and my older sister.
    Became a Candy Striper through the recommendation of my Youth Leader After it was decided I didn't enjoy working with people, I started working in Central Supply. Found it to be a good source of surgical blades, xylocaine and suture kits. (I'd learned how to do stitches staying with my sister, a medical student) I could cut to my heart's desire without feeling pain and could stitch myself up, saving myself from being caught and my parents from more medical bills.
    AA was of little help. My primary problem wasn't drinking and I wasn't physically addicted. No one could relate to my other efforts at self-destruction. I did meet a man named Jim who invited me to baby-sit for his wife and family. Jim became a very good friend and before long, I was showing up at his house on Fridays and staying until after a meeting on Sunday afternoon. Jim's house is where I met Charlie. We were not instant friends but he was the only person who could make me laugh. Before long, I started showing up at Jim's hoping to see Charlie's Nova parked outside the house. I didn't know it then but he was coming over in hopes of seeing me. After I treated him really badly for no reason, he was the first person to show me what true forgiveness was. I had never before seen a person put a wrong so completely behind him and never remind me of it again.
    There were a couple of other overnight hospital visits and a week in a local hospital's psych unit. The it was back to the hospital in Sleepy Hallow by police escort. My parents were told that I would need long term care and to start looking for somewhere that could take me for years rather than weeks. After discharge, I refused to go home and moved in with Jim and his wife. My parents gave Jim and Brenda legal guardianship and paid them for my room and board. I became their live-in babysitter. It quickly became a nightmare and when Brenda pimped me out to a friend, I realized I'd traded one troubled home for another. I walked away one night, swallowed 150 aspirin and hitched a ride out of town. When the ringing in my ears was so loud, I couldn't hear, I made my way back to their house. At dawn I told Jim what I had done and he made me apologize to his wife. By the time their kids were ready for school, I was ready to go to the hospital. My parents were told I could lose kidney function.
    After another few days in a hospital and convincing a judge I didn't need commitment, I went back home.
    Within a couple of months, I'd had enough and spent several days saving my meds. Over 2 days I took a massive overdose of Tofranil. By the time Mum realized I'd OD'd it was completely in my system. I was air lifted from the local hospital to a Children's Hospital in DC. My parents brought my younger brother and sister to say goodbye in the ICU. The next 5 weeks were spent in the psych unit of Georgetown University Hospital. Before coming home, I told Dad about all the sexual abuse I could remember from childhood. I made it home days before Christmas. (I don't remember a Christmas morning after I was 10)
  • 1986- January I was taking anything I could get my hands on. I was punching walls, walking out of school, threatening teachers, running away, cutting and burning my arms. Mom became desperate and took me before a judge for commitment. When I was given the chance to be hospitalized voluntary, Mum was furious. Had I accepted the involuntary committment, they wouldn't be stuck with the bills. Mum had, for the past couple of years been leaving hospital bills on the table outside my room so I could see what I was costing the family. Once more I was taken to a hospital by police escort. It was a state run institution and very frightening.
    3 days after my admission, I got a call from Jim to tell me Charlie wanted to visit. Charlie started visiting a couple of times a week and I started spending my day passes with him. I was discharged in March. In April, Charlie asked me to marry him. I moved in with him in June and we were married in August.

I stopped documenting here because the Pastor had known us for a few years and had been filled in on our history after marriage. Hoping to fill in those blanks as we go.
 



October 1998

*Written in 2005, this is an account of the the events that led to The Crew being seen and recognized. Diagnosis wouldn't be official for several months.*

Things aren't getting any better. I'm pretty sure they never will. I've met with a group from church... the Pastor, Pat and Mona who is trained as a lay counselor. We're supposed to get together again soon. It's supposed to help but so far is only making things worse. It's the first time I've told these people about so much of my past and the believe me. They've never known someone who cuts or hurts herself the way I do but they weren't revolted. It seems like trying to bail a sinking boat with a thimble. It's too little, too late.

I tried to write out some of my history for the next meeting. It's long and hardly complete. Maybe if they see the list and realize what they're dealing with they'll know it's a losing battle. I'm just waiting for someone to tell me I'm too messed up to help and I like being this way. I know they will... it happens without fail every time. I'm too messed up to help and everyone just gives up eventually. I wish they'd do it and get it over with. It's better than just waiting like this. I hate myself for hoping anyway. All the time I hear the echos of how it's always been. "You're just trying to get attention. It's all manipulation. You don't want to get better."

I haven't eaten in days. I know I'm taking something in but can't remember my last meal. I'm hungry but not. It hurts to eat. I started purging again in August after we got back from visiting my parents. I've been obsessing about my weight and I tell myself the purging is just to get rid of the baby weight from pregnancy with John. It's a quick fix and I know it's unhealthy but I don't care. In my head I know it's an effort to stuff down the feelings and feel in control but the lie is cozier. It makes me feel better and right now, nothing else matters. It's the only thing I know how to do that leaves no outside marks or scars. I'm hurting myself and I know it but don't see another choice. I watch the scale. It dips a little lower each day and I tell myself something has been accomplished. It's stupid but it's something. While everything else falls down around me, while my world crumbles and my mind disintegrates again, at least I have this one thing I can control. It's the only thing keeping me alive and it's not helping enough anymore.

***

One of the phones is missing. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I was talking to Charlie and when we were done, I set the phone on the hood of the can and forgot about it. It must have flown off the van when I went out later and I can't find it anywhere. I've driven all over the neighborhood and it's gone. Charlie is so mad. He's so mad. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I screwed up again. It's all I do. Why can't I do anything right? I'm crying again and now he's frustrated. He can't talk to me when I'm like this and he hangs up.

Slump to the floor.
Rocking.
Shaking.
Can't think.

I almost drowned when I was twelve. It was an accident. The other kids were so busy wrestling with each other they didn't realize I was being held under. In the last seconds before the lifeguard pulled me up, I thought I would die there, lungs burning for breath, hopelessly fighting a tangle of legs and hands only inches from the surface. I feel like that now.

Call Pat... call the pastor. Take me to the hospital. Something. Anything. I want to kill myself over a stupid telephone. What is WRONG with me? My husband has a right to be mad but I'm freaking out. Please, please help. I can't do this anymore. Lock me up. I quit.

Pastor R tells me to call my doctor. I can't. Please I don't want to. All he wants to do is put me on drugs anyway. I call the doctor. He calls the pharmacy with a prescription. I'm tired of panicking. Tired of being afraid. I'll take a pill of that will make it stop. Pastor calls Charlie. Pastor's wife picks up the girls and brings them home.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Go outside for a cigarette. It's the only way to be able to take a deep breath. It happens before I even realize it. I've pulled up my sleeve and burned my arm. I can't stop it but don't want to either. For the first time in hours, I feel relief. It's like the panic is draining away... it's easier to just watch. As long as the cinders are touching my skin, I am not afraid. I've come to the surface, if only for a moment and I can breathe again.