War inside, war without

Well, that was not fun.

“That” being my weekend. Not fun for a number of reasons, first and foremost the unavailability of my drug of choice. I ran out on Friday. The rest of the weekend was spent dealing with the symptoms masked by my drug use. Saturday, I slept for about 15 hours. This is one of my ways of dealing with stress: I’m not stressed when I’m asleep. And the memorial Friday night *really* stressed me out.

Bryan and I had a difficult discussion/argument. We did come to an understanding and meeting of the minds, but it still put a huge strain on my already depleted reserves. Sunday, he took Bri to his parents house and I tried to relax. Then the guys showed up to clean out the gutters. Instead of ringing the doorbell, they banged on the door, which was only chained. This caused me to wake up thinking someone was trying to break in.

(N.B. This is not as paranoid as it sounds. There are a couple of “drug houses” on our block. One is empty and boarded up and the other is across the street. It’s not even close to what Capitol Hill in D.C. was like, but there are plenty of young punks wandering around.)

On Monday, I got the notion that I wasn’t going to get my new job after all. This was a thought that I could not get out of my head. The technical term is “ruminating”. This was followed Monday afternoon by compulsive thoughts of self-harm.

That sounds rather clinical. What really happens is this: images come into my head. I’ll be minding my own business, reading, watching tv, whatever, and I will have an image of a knife cutting into my arm. Then another. Then another. Then it switches to an image of me cutting my femoral artery. Then my wrist. Then in a bathtub. Then in a pool. Then in a quiet stream in the forest. I can’t stop them. I don’t want them. I simply have to let them run their course.

Now, really, I think I have better things to do than spend my time being subjected to images of self-violence. Like being worried that I’m going to be spending my time being subjected to images of self-violence. Do you see why suicide starts to seem like a viable option?

The problem with suicide is that it does not end the pain. It’s the law of the conservation of suffering—suffering does not end with suicide, it is merely transferred onto the family and friends of the suicidee. And as much as it hurts me now, there’s NO WAY IN HELL I would transfer this pain to my husband and child. Hell, I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy, why would I intentionally inflict it on those I love?

Fortunately, my buddy came through for me last night and I was able to smoke some pot and break the cycle of that crazy thinking.

I’m not just giving up and giving in to my addiction. A few weeks ago, I contacted CAMH (the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) and have been seeing an addictions counselor as I get “processed” and wait for a placement. The waiting lists are long—about six months to get into the Trauma group of the Concurrent Disorders program. In the meantime, my counselor, Dan, is seeing me one on one and trying to get me into another program so that I will continue to have support during the waiting period—I’m scheduled for an assessment (a critical step in the process) in September. I saw Dan yesterday and told him everything that is going on. He is of the opinion that this week is perhaps not the right time to give up self-medication. But I’m also keeping a log of my drug use and doing a cost-benefit analysis of this behaviour.

One of the hardest parts of this whole process is the complete shame that I feel about both my drug use and my mental illness. Bryan’s right: I’m too hard on myself. So I am trying to release the guilt and shame and just be where I am right now, trying to make slow and steady progress.

I won’t give up. This *will* get better. Somehow.

How do you accidently bomb a clearly marked and well-established outpost of the United Nations? Why do I hear George Bush cackling “Hehehe–good one Olmert. Give the UN a nice kick in the ass on your way to destroying Hezbollah. That’s what we call a Texas-style can of whoopass!”


behind the blade
pain wells up in a red line
seeping out of my body
with a palpable sense of

i hate the cut
even as i make it
needing release
not knowing
any other way

this pain i can understand
i cut, i bleed
the equation is simple
even if the motives are obscure

maybe someday
i won’t need to bleed
in order to feel

Ooo what to do, not a sausage to do

So here I am enjoying my last week of freedom before becoming a captive employee. I’m a lot more excited about it than I thought I would be. There’s also no small measure of pride—it’s been a long road for me and I have been plagued along the way by many doubts.

That’s putting it mildly.

After the Tim/Kate end-of-marriage debacle, followed shortly by my getting laid off in merger/acquisition much like the one I’m now facing, my self esteem was ground into dust. I really didn’t have a clue as to how much I was really hurting. Much like Friday night.

Friday evening’s memorial service for Tim/Kate was crowded. Aside from Tim/Kate’s extended family, there were a number of Kate’s friends, some of whom spoke kindly to me, some of whom I studiously ignored and avoided. When Chris got up to read a little piece that he’d written, I lost it. I cried for what was and what might have been. I cried for me, for Tim’s mom, for Tim.

You see, what everyone seemed to forget was that I loved him. I truly loved him. And he betrayed that love in the most profound way. Love and anger is a heady mixture at the best of times. It was too much for me as I realized that ten years ago, at that very spot, I had been planning my wedding to Tim. Where we said goodbye was going to be my home someday, because I know that Tim wanted nothing more than to live at the cottage (well, nothing more after a sex-change operation that is). I cried because it wasn’t supposed to turn out this way.

And surprisingly, I held my temper and my tongue when Lisa, Kate’s current partner, told me that I didn’t have a clue as to the nature of her loss. No, I know nothing about losing the person that you love to circumstances beyond your control. I know nothing about having my spouse disappear from the face of the earth. I know nothing of loss.

Yeah right. As Tim would say, people are carrots.

But enough of the past. I have a future. And if Bryan and I can work through our difficulties (I’d pray to god about that if I believed in one), we should be okay. More than okay. I hope. That’s assuming that the universe doesn’t decide to throw me yet another enormous curve ball, as it is so wont to do.

Bryan tells me that I am an optimist, that I always believe that things will work out for the best. I have to. If I don’t have faith that the future will be better, then I would truly be damned. So here’s hoping!

The Roller Coaster Continues

There’s been a hugely weird co-incidence occuring. When Tim (my second husband) and I first got together, he was working at CompanyA and got me an interview (this was circa 1996). CompanyA soon hired me as well. After a couple of years, I left and went to CompanyB. Then Tim became Kate and started wearing skirts to CompanyA.

Fast forward to the present. On Friday last, I had an interview with CompanyA. On Monday, Tim/Kate died. On Tuesday, CompanyA made me a job offer. Today, I signed the documents and am now an employee of CompanyA (even though I don’t start work for a week). Tonight is Tim/Kate’s memorial—basically a gathering of family and close friends of the family.

Is that not weird?

I’ve been in a bit of a fog all this week as a result. Tim/Kate’s death has affected me, but it’s not the usual “someone I loved died and I’m distraught”. That happened six years ago. This is a grieving, but a very confused one. It’s not easy to pin down what I’m feeling, beyond raw and tender. A state, by the way, highly recommended by Chögyam Trungpa in his book “Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior”. To wit

If you search for awakened heart, if you put your hand through your rib cage and feel for it, there is nothing there except for tenderness. You feel sore and soft, and if you open your eyes to the rest of the world, you feel tremendous sadness. This kind of sadness doesn’t come from being mistreated. You don’t feel sad because someone has insulted you or because you feel impoverished. Rather, this experience of sadness is unconditioned. It occurs because your heart is completely exposed. There is no skin or tissue covering it; it is pure raw meat. Even if a tiny mosquito lands on it, you feel so touched. Your experience is raw and tender and so personal.

I ain’t saying I’m enlightened or anything (gods forbid!), but my experience this week has been raw and tender and so personal. And tonight I will try and be present and help my former mother-in-law as she mourns the death of her eldest child. Then I will hug Brianna very tightly.

Another Death

Yesterday afternoon my ex-spouse died. I married Timothy Peter Ross in 1996. It was four years later, in August of 2000, that he told me he wanted to be a woman. Over the next six–eight months, he changed his name to Kathleen, had vocal chord surgery, suggested that we share a boyfriend, and had gender reassignment surgery, which made him legally a woman. Our divorce was final in 2001, before same-sex marriage was legal in Canada.