Saturday, January 1, 2022

The post at the top

Thank you for reading my work.  Seriously.


  Thank you.  

I've decided to tackle this post early on to think through how to handle things before they arise.

There are some rules - basic stuff. Please take the minute to read over them.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

January 2020: An update

Hey folks.

Looks like 2020 is rolling. That's good. The "holiday season" is over, things are returning to normal.

The season of string is upon us. I'll spend endless dark winter nights looking at Phiala's String Page, and far too many YouTube videos by Bernadett Banner and Angela Clayton. (Ayup, just lost a half hour looking at a 1940s coat construction video.)

Dreams of sugar plums will be replaced by dreams of double-ply alpaca fingering weight wool and kilt-making.

While the days are crystal clear and brutally cold I will spend time writing, querying, and hopefully rounding this mess of a website into something new - or at least up-to-date. I'll be satisfied with that.

And, I'll be keeping folks informed of my path of recovery from #cptsd. So, stay tuned for more on the mental health cha-cha. 

(I don't remember where I got this photo. If it is yours, please let me know so I can attribute it properly.)

Friday, December 20, 2019

A Christmas Story for the CPTSD community

Once, long ago in a place far, far away from reality, there was a young woman and her new husband. Outside their home, in the dark of winter, the wind howled and the snow swirled forming little peaks across the fields.
Inside their little home, the cold was kept at bay by curtains and thick rugs covering the floors. And her husband kept a fire roaring so the whole house was toasty. But, the young woman couldn't feel the warmth of the little house.
Instead, the cold of the season penetrated her bones, and her heart and her mind. She could feel herself going numb. She kept her face pleasant so that her husband wouldn't worry. It was "the happy" time of the year.
And she wanted to be happy. To revel in the warmth that her husband provided to so many. But, even though she couldn't feel his cheer, she didn't, she couldn't be a burden to him.
Let him be happy.
So, she placed a pleasant mask over her face.
She smiled as her toes grew colder.
She smiled as her fingers became brittle with ice.
She smiled as her mind became numb.
These days were so important.
And she wanted him to be happy.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

I Am Found - Elsa's Journey as a Template for #cptsd recovery.

Recently I went to see a movie from Disney about a pair of sisters who have an adventure. And I'm going to talk about one of those characters in-depth today.

I see so many parallels in Elsa's story to that of someone with C-PTSD.

Hold on. Don't abandon the idea just yet.

Think about it.

As a child, she locked herself away to prevent herself from harming her family. Her father continued the pattern with the gloves and the words "Conceal it, don't feel it." He helped her freeze and withdraw. So instead of learning, she simply went into a pattern of being and fearing who she was.

So here we come to the first installment of the movie. (Frozen, in case you haven't guessed by now.) And in this film we see Anna reach out to her sister and at great personal cost save Elsa. Bet before we get there we see how Elsa is alone. Alone in her room. Alone in the palace. Alone even on the evening of her coronation. She has made herself singular so that her 'flaw' doesn't hurt someone she loves deeply.

Then her balance is upset. And in the moments that follow she is out of control. Everything that she has held so tightly finally escapes. At first, in the palace, in the village, she is terrified. And she sees that other people around her are also terrified and repulsed by what they see. Her flaw. Her power. Her true nature.

And so, Elsa flees to the top of a mountain, where once again she is alone.

With distance from her life, her responsibilities she can see the restrictions she has placed on herself.
When she sings "the fears that once controlled me, can't get to me at all" she's recognizing the limitations she has resigned herself to until now.

What follows is an ecstatic release of all the self-imposed restraints falling away. She recognizes that she is different, but in those first moments she is unafraid. And as she builds her castle on the hill she rejects all the expectations of those around her and her own skewed view of herself.

Pardon the language, but she truly "Let's it go."

To me, that moment echos the moment when I could stand back and see all the ways I had bent or buried myself in order to be accepted by my family. It was the moment I could see the cage I had constructed around myself. And, although I would have loved to have resolved all my issues in the length of a phrase of music, it was also the moment when I knew there was no going back.

The past was in the past. And Elsa emerges from that song changed, and not changed.

She is changed in that she has embraced who she is and accepted her 'problem' as another part of her. She is not changed in that when Anna finds her, Elsa is still terrified of what she could do to her sister. So, in that regard, Elsa is still frozen in the past.

By the end of the first movie, Elsa embraces herself and her ability to love, long suppressed, is the key to saving the kingdom from the icy clutches of winter. In this sense, Elsa is saved and drawn into the family. But, still unaddressed, is what she believes to be the fundamental reason why she is different.

In someone who suffers from c-ptsd this might be reflected in all the work we do to make connections. To draw ourselves out of our own restrictions, and to distance ourselves from those who would make us less. But, while it makes us functional, it leaves us with that all too common sensation of emptiness. And from there Elsa in the second installment of the movie reflects our interaction with the world.

In Frozen II, Elsa is in the world, indeed she's a very important part of the world. She's the queen. But, at the same time, she is uncomfortable. She worries that she could fail. And she feels the pull, the need, the call to define herself. Accepting the role she was expected to fill is no longer enough.

So, with support from family and friends, she sets out to find the truth, and in the process finds her truth. Throughout the first part of the movie, Elsa is tested. These challenges don't just come from the entities of the forest that she needs to confront. They also come from Anna. Who insists that Elsa not shut her out again.

But, Elsa needs room to grow. Something that perhaps Anna isn't ready to accept.

When the sisters are separated each follows a path that is essential to their growth.

Elsa enters the glacier with anticipation and a growing sense of the coming connection. It fires her from within. And as she steps into the center of the circle that was made for her she proclaims - "I am found."

Three words that strip away the last of her doubt about herself. The moment she finds a purpose for herself. The moment that empty wound in her center is closed.

One day I hope that I can say those words. Or even I am healed that would do. But, for those of us out here in reality that moment won't transpire in a rush or a glorious shower of magic.

Instead, our path to finding ourselves and healing our wounds will come in incremental steps. One small victory at a time. A boundary set there. A refusal to accept 'less than.' A moment when we discover something new. Tiny victories that will string together to heal our centers and define us.

Elsa's tale, and her growth, in my mind, are reflections of the journey that many, perhaps most of us with c-ptsd need to make. One constant arc to reclaiming our lives, made of tiny victories, first to free ourselves and then to find ourselves.




Thursday, October 10, 2019

Paradox #2

The turmoil of having an anxious/ambivalent attachment style is in some ways worse than those these folks have in their relationship with others. The internal conflicts involving panic that a partner will leave them and fighting to contain the behaviors that ensue from that panic are horrendous.

They have an inner conflict going on all the time. 

Anxious/Ambivalent Attachment Style: An Examination of Its Causes and How It Affects Adult Relationships


The article above specifically addresses relationships and the way that a person with CPTSD approaches them.

But, this internal ambivalence isn't confined to relationships, it bleeds out and touches everything. In my head that ambivalence colors every corner. From core beliefs of my own worthiness and capability, to my value as a human and a host of other self-identification parameters.

For example:

I received a glowing compliment from an editor on my latest work. Most people would think this a good thing. It would act as verification that they were doing well, a pat on the back. Validation! It would spur them to continue their work.

However, in my mind, that initial rush of "Wonderful" is welded to the thought "That can't be right."

And from that well-meant compliment springs a host of worries. That all lead back to one option, and one option only. "Quit now, before it all falls apart."

Some people might look at this and think "imposter syndrome." But, it goes further than that. This example is just one area of my life. In truth that ambivalence is everywhere.

It plays out on two stages - side by side.


On the first stage in my head, I have this driving need to be perfect. Absolutely perfect. Flawless. I push and I strive for that, and whatever I do, or achieve it is never enough. For one simple immutable reason. What is going on over on the other stage.

This stage has one purpose, to remind me of one fact. The fact that I am not enough.
- not good enough
- not smart enough
- not pretty enough

Not enough in any measure, not possible. Not me.


Incoming compliments are equally fished for and avoided. And, if someone has made the mistake to think I have done something worthwhile, then I should not revel in their mistaken perception, but I should instead correct it. Because if they continue in this idea, when they see the truth of me, they will feel deceived, and then leave.

Being abandoned is my greatest fear. It is the fear that strikes at my core. So, to keep people from leaving me I scuttle out of the light. I linger in the fringes of the darkness, barely seen. Because if people don't know I'm there, they can't choose to leave me.

So here I stand divided, one foot in light, one foot in shadow. Torn in both directions because if I'm not good enough, people will abandon me and because if I allow people to think I'm worthy they will abandon me when the deception is revealed.

It's a no-win situation, that can only be survived by remaining unnoticed.






Thursday, September 19, 2019

Very Short Story Sept. 19, 2019 - Cavernous

The hole in my chest is cavernous. It should be impossible for a human body to contain this much emptiness. The echoes created there ripple out between past and present, creating confusion between the then and the now. I survive with one foot nailed in the past.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Dear America - you are genuinely fucking insane


Have you ever been so frustrated by what you see around you? I hit one of those points yesterday and just had to say something, anything.

This is a rant. I use strong language. It is not thought out, nor edited.
And, I am allowed a rant in my own space.
So, if this is not to your taste - skip it. Or try one of the literally millions of other blogs out there.


Twitter thread below: https://twitter.com/MStewartWrites/status/1157017414191788035