Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Myomectomy and betrayal

I met with my surgeon, and with another surgeon for a second opinion. Even though a hysterectomy would heal more quickly and painlessly, I'm having a myomectomy: the surgeon will dissect out the fibroids and sew together what's left. Because what's left is enough to keep, and I am not ready to lose my uterus. I know, rationally, that I will probably never have a child, but that seems hugely different from saying I will definitely never have a child.

I emailed an aunt about my mother. Actually, she emailed me first, to say she missed me over Passover. At first I didn't know what to say. Then I decided to tell her the truth. After all, I was the victim, not the sex offender. It's not my fault.

I'm sorry, [aunt], but after speaking with a leading expert in abuse and trauma, I have confirmed that my mother's boyfriend committed incest with me when I was a teenager. This was a significant trauma that led to tremendous problems for me in forming intimate relationships. I will never have a baby and I might be alone for the rest of my life. She refuses to get rid of him. So I can't be around her right now.

She wrote back,

I am so sorry to hear this.  I understand how u feel. 

To me that was inadequate. More evidence that my family thinks I'm making a mountain out of a pile of Penthouse magazines.  And a coffee-table photo book about people masturbating (I Am My Lover.) And all the other atrocious trash I was fed.

I don't think you do. I don't think you know how it feels to have 
your family embrace someone who abused you.

I don't know what I was hoping for her to say.

You are correct, I do not know how it fees to have your family embrace someone who abused you. I"m sorry if you thought that was what I meant. I meant I understand how u felt about not coming to pesach at Jerusha's house because of it.

I didn't respond. It's dawning on me that my family will never hold my mother accountable for what happened to me. Or feel at all upset that I was molested.

Not all abuse victims have to prove their victimhood to family and friends. I'm not saying I would have preferred to have been abused more violently. But everyone needs to stop telling me to forgive my mother, reconnect with my family. I can't do that. It would be lying to myself. Pretending that I'm something that I'm not.

You wouldn't tell someone who is gay to pretend not to be gay around homophobic relatives, or to spend time with them and not be bothered by the vitriol they spew. You wouldn't isolate someone who married a person of another race or faith because some family members disapprove. But my family is never going to confront my mother with the heinousness of what she allowed to happen in her house.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Incest and hysterectomy

I used to think it was okay for my ob/gyn to be an asshole because he was a good doctor. Turns out I was wrong. He wasn't a good doctor. I should have had fibroid surgery years ago. Now it's too late for anything but a hysterectomy.

So that's that. No babies. I knew I couldn't breastfeed, but I will never give birth to a child.

My friends have helpfully pointed out that I'm not the only woman in this situation and are urging me to join support groups. I'm really not ready for that. I'm basically covering my raw pain with a very thin skin of normalcy. when I'm not working and focused on other people's problems, I am devastated.

I know that I can't really blame anyone else for this situation, so I'm still trying to figure out what I did wrong to get here. Besides being too picky about potential mates when I was young and an attractive mating prospect.

But I've been having dreams about my mother. Almost every night. Dreams where I'm with her, in her house or elsewhere, but I don't want to be there. Once she made me sleep in the bed with her boyfriend. Another time I climbed up a kind of jungle gym trying to get into the house, only to find that the window was too small. (I think. Dreams are weird.)

I'm connected on LinkedIn with a very Prominent Sex Addiction Expert (PSAE). So I thought I'd ask him if I could get some advice about a "client":

Hi PSAE, thanks for agreeing to a consult.

Let's call her Jennifer. Her father died when she was very young. Her mother moved a boyfriend into the home when Jennifer was 10 or 11. He was a former hippie-type who had done tons of drugs and considered himself a poet, although he worked as a custodian. He brought a great deal of pornography into the home -- several books and many, many magazines, which Jennifer read. And reread. And masturbated to. Sometimes the boyfriend would try to talk about sex with Jennifer; when her mother was around, her mother would stop him from talking about sex. He also smoked marijuana in front of her during an unsuccessful fishing trip on his friend's boat.

Jennifer has had difficulty establishing healthy relationships with men and has always rushed into having sex early on. Throughout college and her 20s and 30s, she had few long-term relationships but numerous one-night-stands or brief sexual relationships. Part of the hypersexuality might be attributed to bipolar disorder (type 2), which was diagnosed when she was 26. Despite knowing that was a symptom, she hasn't been able to bring her sexual behavior under control. She is now still single at 46 years old.

After I read your article, I wondered if her mother's boyfriend's behavior could be considered covert incest. She has struggled not only with intimate relationships but with work as well, having been fired from several jobs (I think the bipolar is a factor there as well). I can't tell if she's a sex addict, but I do know she's desperately unhappy, having wanted very much to marry and have children, which, thanks to an impending hysterectomy (fibroids), is now impossible. She has stopped speaking to her mother, since the boyfriend still lives in her mother's home and is financially supported by her mother.

Any insight you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

He wrote back in less than a day, suggesting that we speak by phone to discuss the case and adding:

Actually - fyi- this is not covert incest. His showing her those magazines and talking to her about the content -is actual incest. Covert incest is just that -not appearing to be sexual- like using your child like an EMOTIONAL husband or pal. But once the overt sexual piece is added, it becomes plain old incest.

This woman has a profound, early, chronic sexual abuse history by an abusing stepfather and emotionally absent mother. No wonder she is where she is today.

I would like to get a bit more info about her current life -and then I think I can help here as it falls directly into my work.

Hopefully we'll talk soon. I'll let him know I'm Jennifer, and if he agrees to keep talking, maybe I'll get some help. He's wrong about my mother being emotionally absent--she was only selectively absent, turning a blind eye to something that might have forced her to get rid of the degenerate pervert. But at the very least, PSAE has validated my decision to cut my mother out of my life.

The last time I spoke to my mother, I tried to tell her how wrong what hr did was, bringing pornography into the home and trying to talk to me about it. I said to her, "I am damaged."

She said, "I'm damaged, too."

I'm not a parent, but I thought you were supposed to want your children to have a better life than you did, and that you wanted to protect them from harm.

She is asking me to forgive incest.

And I will not.

UPDATE: PSAE called.  "Incest produces intimacy disorders in adult women," he said. "Your stepfather is a predator. This was overt incest--it was reportable, arrestable, and I would report him if he's involved with other children." And, for the record, he does think I'm a sex/intimacy addict.

He suggested some books I should read and workshops and meetings I might want to attend. I'm going to talk to my therapist about this when I see her next.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Mindfulness in a nutshell

After two mammograms and two ultrasounds (one done by the tech and another done by the radiologist "just to be sure"), it seems like I have a large nonmalignant lump in my right breast. "It doesn't look malignant," said the polite radiologist (before she sonogrammed she delicately asked, "May I examine...?" and then palpated me very apologetically). But I'm having a biopsy next week just to be sure.

So it looks like I don't have a Get Out Of Life Free card, and I'll have to find ways to make my life tolerable.

Therapy is helping. I've broken down the mindfulness process into three steps: notice, acknowledge, distract.

First, you notice what you're feeling and where you're feeling it. Anxiety in the belly. Anger in the shoulders and chest. Heat, tension, burning -- any sensations and emotions.

Second, you acknowledge: "I'm feeling really angry about X." "I feel anxious and I'm not sure why." "I'm sad and there's a heaviness on my shoulders." Recognizing the emotion and how/where you feel it can attenuate the intensity of feeling.

Third, distract. With something comforting or just different. Touch a piece of soft velvet. Grip an ice cube in your hand. Smell some perfume. Suck on a lemon, like I did in grad school.

I need to put together a comfort drawer. With perfume to smell, lotion to put on my hands, and something very tactile -- maybe a child's spiky rubber toy to grip. Because I got a job offer, so I might soon be back at work.

It's not the job offer I was dreaming of, but that job interview is scheduled for more than two weeks from now. I'll keep it, just like I'll keep another I have in a few days. I'm looking out for what's best for me; even though I've provisionally accepted another offer, I'm still keeping my options open.

Still, I do have an official job offer in hand, in part because a friend of mine from the methadone program came through with a reference.

After I was bullied and harrassed but before I was fired, I asked several co-workers if they'd give me a reference. They all said they would, and then they all stopped answering my calls and emails. I can't entirely blame them -- they work under my former boss, and they know what a vindictive bitch she is. Still hurt, though. But my good friend Vic didn't let me down:

It is not that easy for me to be brief about my friend, co-worker and colleague but I will do my best.

As a person she is very personable, very easy to be with due to her fast wit, good nature and engaging attitude.

As a colleague, when working together on an individual project or seeking her opinion or advise with our patients she has a tendency to really digest the information before giving me her thoughts on the subject. I liked that.

And I always admired her good knowledge of medication, mental health and mental health issues.

When working with Ayelet she demonstrated a high level of clinical and administrative skill as evidenced by some of the presentations and solutions to staffing concerns that our office had prior to her coming on board. We had to deal with a lot of inefficiency until she created some substantive solutions to the problem. Ayelet is detail oriented and a problem solver.

I heartily endorse not only her work but the person for the position. Knowing her, If she is seeking the position with you, it is probably because she has already researched and concluded that she could be an asset to the position.

Please feel free to call me with any questions or additional information that you may need

I don't have a lot. But I do have some good friends. They support me when I'm feeling low, they always believe in me, and they help as much as they can, which is a decent amount.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, September 20, 2015

How was the bar mitzvah? Horrible.

I went to my nephew's bar mitzvah. He did great, I did not. I forgot my lithium, so I missed a few doses and then got a few doses fromr a different manufacturer, so I was physically sick, and the whole event was just miserable for me. Largely because I really can't stand being around my mother and my sister.

My cousin Yaffa has been trying to support me, but ultimately I don't want her support if she's going to act like I've imagined all the harm and insults my sister and mother infliected on me. It's easy to say "forgive" or "accept" when you're not suffering physical pain and tens of thousands of dollars in medical costs..The easiest way for me to not be constantly angry and resentful is not to be reminded of them.

If I were feeling better, I'd try to describe the interactions I had with Yaffa, Jerusha, and my mother that upset me so much. But I'm not. I'm feeling lower than I've felt in a long time. I can't say I'm depressed, because I don't think I cry this much when I'm actually clinically depressed. I'm just miserable. To top it all off, my doctor found a mass in my right breast and my insurance won't pay for the imagining until I meet a $4000 deductible. Good old Aetna. I'm fighting with them over it but I doubt they'll concede.

Whether I've screwed up my life on my own or whether I've had help, I don't see it getting much better. Especially now that I'm 45 and wanted only as a sex object by boys under 25. I'm tired of the pain. I'm tired of the loneliness.

Here is the email I want to send my cousin:

Yaffa, it's great that you're able to forgive my mother and my sister for the harm they've caused me and the pain I endure every day, but I guess I'm just not as serene as you are. Not that Jerusha thinks she ever did anything wrong, because it's always all my fault. Even though she promised to pay for gym membership and personal training and then left me on the hook for thousands of dollars, on top of the injury and continued pain for 10 years. Not to mention the thousands and thousands of dollars I've spent on treatment and pain medication, and will most likely have to continue to spend as long as I live. None of this is her fault, of course.

Neither of them has apologized or tried to make it up to me in any way. So it's just too difficult for me to be around them and around people who don't think they've done anything wrong. Thus, I need a break from you. I'll let you know the results of the scan and biopsy, if there is one. But if you're going to act like Jerusha  hasn't done awful things to me, and say she's "afraid" of how I "irrationally" react to the pain she helped put me in, then I don't want to be in contact with you.

Sorry if this sounds petty or small-minded, but it was also pretty small-minded for Jerusha to delete my friend requests instead of just saying she didn't want to be connected on Facebook. And it's too painful to watch her be actually nice to other people while struggling to be even polite to me, so I'm done with family events.

The same goes for my mother. I realize that I am an adult and responsible for my own life, but I can't help but wonder how different my life would have been had I not been exposed to so much pornography at such an impressionable age. I have no doubt I would have been messed up somehow, but I don't think I would have been messed up as badly. And I'm alone while that disgusting pervert has a comfortable retirement in her house. I refuse to forgive and say it's okay, because it's not. I have to live with the consequences: I'm alone and I will probably always be alone. So I don't want to be around people who act like my mother hasn't done anything wrong, when she let him sexually traumatize and warp me. Even now, she has more compassion for him than for me. So I am done with her.

I don't want to be around anyone who acts like my mother and my sister haven't hurt me. Acceptance is difficult when you're in constant pain and the unrepentant source is in your face. So I think for my own health I need to distance myself from them and the people who love them.

Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Ayelet drives off another man

If you follow me on Faceebook and/or twitter, you may have deduced that I was recently terminated for taking an ethical stand at work. I don't want to go into the details, only to say that after months of aggressive nonsupport, I am no longer a clinical supervisor. At any particular agency. I'm still a good supervisor, and what happened -- what led up to my firing -- was almost not my fault.

That's the deduction from my social work mentor group. They were incredibly supportive as I described the circumstances leading up to the termination. Clearly my supervisor was retaliating unfairly and unethically against me.

However, I was "provoking" her. Not because I was doing anything inherently wrong, but because I was highlighting areas of disagreement with her. The mentor in my group thought I should examine why I felt such a strong need to do that, if I knew it would piss her off and little good or difference would actually come of it. Especially since a few of the decisions I made included deliberation of whether I would regret the action -- and I proceeded anyway.

Why do I do things I might regret? My therapist and I explored this yesterday. I engage in confrontations over abstract principles. Often the only outcome is negative for me, which I recognize, yet I stick to my guns. Why? Apparently I'm sick of people bullying me, hurting me, being nasty to me and not suffering any negative consequences. I need to point out their error, even to my own detriment.

It has happened so much in my life. I've been bullied in numerous jobs. Hurt by men, family members, personal trainers. There's never any retribution. So I keep fighting -- even though at this point, the outcome of my actions only hurts me more.

That may or may not be the reason. It's the first time I've engaged in such deep introspection with this therapist. We also discussed my mother, to make it almost entirely psychoanalytic, and I'm happy to report that she told me it was okay for me not to talk to her after what her degenerate pervert boyfriend did. And yet I dreamed about them last night.

As a behaviorist, I'm uncomfortable with this much subconscious, so back to the here and now: I was fired, and even though I felt ashamed to admit it to the mentor group, they were incredibly supportive. They believe I'll be okay. They believe I'm a good clinician. They believe I'll get another job.

I sure hope they're right. I've actually already turned down a job offer. I applied for an LCSW position and was interviewed for a program director position. I turned it down after being offered the job because 1) I don't think I'm ready to be in charge and 2) they changed the terms on me.

When I interviewed, I was told that Angela would be my supervisor. She's a mid-level administrator in the agency. The offer letter, however, said that I would be reporting to Corrine, who is much higher in rank.

I like Corrine. I met her at my first interview for the position. She told me, "We think you're a brilliant clinician, and we want to train you to be a superlative manager." (I might have forgotten the adjectives but the nouns are the same.)

I was flattered. But I was also flattered by the last two people who hired me -- who then turned on me for not being what they wanted or expected. And I just am not confident enough in my management skills to trust myself to do well in that kind of position yet. Also, Corrine is exponentially more busy than Angela. Even though she said I'd get supervision -- well, I was promised supervision and support by the last two people who fired me.

So I said no. Regretfully, and apprehensively, because I don't know when I'll get another good job offer. But I can't afford to flame out a third time in another six months. I am so tired of being on probation. I want to be at my next job for a very long time. (If you're a bit confused, I confess that I was too ashamed to admit I was fired from my last job. You should hear how I spin that on interviews.)

More importantly, I want to work in a psychiatric setting. I'm tired of trying to jerry-rig a treatment regimen with outside psychiatric practitioners, which is what happens at almost all substance abuse programs. Eventually New York State will merge its substance abuse and mental health oversight agencies (New Jersey did that years ago, which is kind of embarrassing), but for now, while most treatment focuses primarily either on substance use or psychiatric issues, I want to focus on the latter. It's why I sought training in substance use -- to better serve people with psychiatric disorders, almost all of whom use. I need to make the switch, and now is the time.

So I'm interviewing again. I guess it's good not to take the first job you're offered and to trust that there will be others. Although that was my dating philosophy for decades, and that was quite a debacle.

Speaking of dating debacles, I had another recently. Low-stakes, since the guy's not Jewish and arguably not desirable. His OKCupid screenname is XChristianGreyX, and here's a sample paragraph from his profile:

l am Gods gift to women, I was sent down from heaven for the sole purpose of providing womens pleasure, so consider yourself to be extremely fortunate that I am talking to you and privilaged should I allow you the opportunity to meet me. After a lifetime of being a debonair international playboy, I have decided to abandon that lifestyle by hanging up my James Bond tuxedo, throwing my Hugh Hefener smoking jacket in the garbage and look for my ONE TRUE LOVE.. 

His profile picture is a smiley emoticon. Not someone I'd usually be interested in, but he wrote me:

I eat melted mozzarella by the pound......literally by the pound. Amazingly my cholesterol is normal as is my in proportion to my height. How I don't know (smiley smiley smiley big smiley)

Now I don't feel like tigger anymore !!!

Why am I interested in communicating with him? I just want to see if I can keep his interest. If I can flirt successfully. I didn't know how to respond to his initial contact; I do say that I love melted cheese in my profile, but how do I keep the conversation going?

Genetic luck, most likely. OKCupid is warning me not to transfer funds to you and to keep my conversations safely on OKCupid.

My cholesterol is terrible. Really, really terrible; you'd think I live on steak and heavy cream.  Since I don't, it's either the result of bad genetics or one of the antidepressants I'm on. Obviously I'm not going to cop to being on antidepressants. Also, OKCupid was giving me that warning, so I might as well use that, right?

It's a day later and I'm still not sure why I wrote that to him. I guess I didn't want to engage with a scammer, but otherwise it looks like I'm.... highlighting a disagreement of sorts. Like I always do.

Ahhh I know why they do that.......because I have an option to contact me on kik in my profile. But thanks for the heads up luv

Okay. Now what do I say?

Well, that's a relief. I thought you were some kind of deranged pervert masquerading as a normal guy ;)

Because of all the Christian Grey references. Sarcasm. Is that flirtatious? A day later, I'm thinking not.

Lmao. I'm a regular guy luv. I am actually a little offended that they would even put that up there.

I don't know what to say. I'm so bad at flirting!

You do look a bit jaundiced. Have you seen a doctor?

Because the emoticon is yellow. That's clever, right?

Maybe it's from the melted mozzarella!!! Lol

What do I say? What do I say? I know, I'll spring a mini-truth bomb on him.

Now I'm hungry ;) I actually have to watch my melted cheese intake, sadly.

Aaaaaand.... crickets. I could have stopped at "hungry." Why did I have to admit that I'm either inclined to fat or high cholesterol?

Again, it's low-stakes because I wasn't actually interested in getting involved with him. But why did I think I had to disclose something negative so early on? Because I'm afraid that nobody will accept me and my diagnosis as a package deal?

Any psychoanalysts reading this are welcome to comment.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"