TV addiction, comfort zones and ambush from the past

I’m addicted to TV.

Neurotic comfort zones.  They’re so prohibitive of life.   What bothers me the most about it is that I have lots of things I want to achieve – piano, singing, blog, bio, script, novel, plus all the other, lesser things – and they take time.  Unless I give the time to them, they’ll remain dreams, and frustrating ones at that.

I have no desire to become an expert TV viewer!  Why do I do it?  The generic explanation is “loneliness” but that encompasses a lot of different specifics.  The thing is, if something interrupts my viewing at night I go absolutely beserk inside with rage.   If I don’t let it out, my experience is a nightmare, I want to kill somebody.

That rage, it’s actually masking fear and pain.   TV just anaesthetizes it all.  And here’s the scary thing.   I don’t want to replace the TV with real people.  I want to hide.   Maybe it isn’t about being lonely, maybe it’s about a time when I wasn’t left alone.  Suddenly I feel light-headed.  I have a physical sensation happening, that used to haunt  when I was a child.

It would happen as I was falling asleep.  A white fence would rise up in my head, and something would come over it, towards me.  I couldn’t see it, couldn’t identify it.  Then my tongue would get bigger and bigger in my mouth, and the world would start spinning.  If I opened my eyes, it would eventually subside, but as soon as I tried to go to sleep again, it would start again.

I can understand the implications, but I have no memory to explain that experience.  Many times I’ve thought it’s impossible for something to have happened.  But when these emotions rise like they are now, a part of me knows.  But what do I know?  I can’t say.  Not yet, anyway.  I remember being molested but this feels different.

I breathe in and out, and don’t let myself panic.   If there’s something to remember, I’ll remember when I can deal with it.   If it’s just jumbled memories of the sexual things that were done to me which I can remember, mixed up with the twisted, distorted psyches of some of the men in my child’s world, it will clear itself up.

The past is over.  I look out my window and see a sunny day, waves breaking at the shore.  Whatever happened, I made it out intact.  I’m here.  It didn’t destroy me then.  It can’t destroy me now.

No wonder I’m addicted to TV.   I think about all my various addictions in my life.  As I’ve learned more about what drove me to them, they’ve become increasingly benign.    Slowly you peel away the outer layers of your fear, anger, sorrow.  Slowly you get to the core.

I can do this.  Gently, carefully.  It doesn’t have to be traumatic.

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Nightmare Part 3

So I haven’t had nightmares for a while.  But last night I did again.  I was in a foreign land and I had no money, nothing for food, and I had to get out of the place I was staying in.  I had to go back home but I didn’t have money for the air ticket.  My whole being was in danger because of it.  My mother wouldn’t help me. I don’t how to explain the terror of the place that takes me to, in my dreams, and in reality.   No money, no way of getting it, lots of people who could help but nobody wanting to.  Everybody else around me being okay.  Just me who isn’t.

I woke up at that point, my world pressing in upon me.  It’s just a dream. But when I fell back to sleep, it continued.  Then I realized that I had a small piece of land I could sell.  Somebody said they’d help me – it was a man.  We looked at it, and it was small, but it had a fantastic view, and I knew I’d be okay.  I’d be able to sell it.  Relief. It’s going to be okay, it can happen for me to. Then, cruelly, I realized that I’d been inside somebody else’s place, and had just been looking out from their view.

My heart fell, and all my relief turned into heaviness and  threat, a monster’s cloak of darkness wrapped around my heart.  I can’t breathe, it’s not okay, it’s never going to be okay. I realized my piece of land was somewhere in a horrible block of flats called Shadowland.  At first I couldn’t find it, there was no place for it.  Then I saw that it was tucked between tall ugly buildings, and had no view.  It was nothing.  I’m not going to be able to sell it.  It isn’t anything. I woke up gripped with a fear that felt primordial.

I know that it was about the shadow of my past.  I know that.  But today that doesn’t help me so much.  Today I just want some relief that lasts.  I want to know what it feels like to have a community of people say we want to help you so that you don’t have to have this fear.  We’ll support you in your writing, in your music, we’ll stay with you; we’ll love and support you unconditionally until you’re on your feet and can support yourself, we’ll keep you safe.  We won’t leave, we won’t punish you, we won’t let anybody else punish you.  We will show you that it can happen for you, that it won’t suddenly end.

I don’t want to have to be perfect before I can experience that.  I don’t want to have to have figured every last psychological thing about my past and my present, my psyche and my consciousness.  I just want relief and love for being who I am, incomplete, imperfect.  I want to feel safe in the world.  I don’t want to just know that I’m loved by the universe or god or whatever name you call it. I want the experience of being loved by people.

I don’t want any more nightmares. I have R120 left.  How am I supposed to not be scared.  How am I supposed to translate that into “life supports me”?  This is too much for me.  I can’t do this alone any more.  I don’t feel brave today.  Is there anybody out there

Nightmare Part 2

In another nightmare that’s stayed with me, I was in a field at the bottom of a hill with my oldest sister (6 years older than me).  I was about 10.  In the distance was a fire.  She was standing behind me with her arms around me.  At first it was for protection, then it became about holding me down.  A man with a fire hose started spraying all over the place, and the hose got out of control.

I broke away from my sister and ran past a bush.  A man with a huge hook nose leaped out of the bush at me.  He was a priest.  I ran up the hill to my parent’s house.  Inside, they were having a party, but it was only men, my father’s friends.  I remember thinking “no wonder I didn’t realize, he’s my father’s friend”.  I woke up in a sweat.

Often my nightmares would be that I’d be somewhere with my family, and I’d just be left out.  Nobody would care about me.  I’d be alone and scared in a crowd of people laughing, enjoying themselves.  Nobody cared.  I’d move from one person to the other.  They wouldn’t see me or they’d ignore me, or they’d laugh at me.

It was all about the reality of my psyche, and whether I was being threatened with guns and knives or just being excluded my conflict and disempowerment always made my nightmares vicious.  I’d wake up exhausted from the battlefied of them.  Sleep wasn’t my friend.  Plus I had nocturnal epilepsy.  No respite, not when I was awake, not when I was asleep.

Even when I changed therapists, and came to be with the one who has helped me turn things around so much, at first the nightmares continued.  Gradually, as my self esteem healed and I began to experience what it was to have unconditional love in my life, my nightmares changed.  I began to be the driver in the car, I began to have some small amount of money if I was in a strange land, I could get to the window or door and almost close it, somebody in the crowd would notice me.

My dreams still turned into nightmares, but something was shifting, very slowly, over years, as I learned about my ego states, how to differentiate the natural me from the conditioned one, how to express my emotions and meet my needs, and how to be vigilantly aware of my inner dialogue.  As I faced the choices I was making about giving it authority or not.

Then one night I had a dream where I was in a threatening situation but I was able to make the right choice to protect myself.  The first one in my life.  It was about 6 months ago.  I’ve had many nights lately when I don’t remember my dreams any more, and I haven’t woken up feeling like I spent the night on a battlefied.

Nightmare Part 1

I had such horrible dreams last night.  Since my mid-30’s I’ve had nightmares every night.  Illustrating to me the reality of my psyche, my self esteem and entitlement.  As if I didn’t know.  Sometimes I want to scream I already know about it, you don’t have to torture me like this.  Who would I be screaming at?

Being trapped in a room with a door or a window open.  Savage men coming at me with knives or guns. The closer they got, the more paralysed I became, my limbs wouldn’t move fast enough, I couldn’t close the window or the door.  Closer, closer, the knives and the guns.  Because I knew something I shouldn’t. I would try to scream, the inner pressure of my terror unbearable, but my voice wouldn’t work.  I’d feel a hideous lethargy sweep through my body.

I’d wake up sweating, heart pounding, the sensation of being totally disempowered still alive in me, the world still terrifying.

Or I’d be in a strange land with no money for food or a place to stay.  People would turn away from me.  I’m going to die, I’m going to die. I don’t have words for how terrifying it was.  Or else I’d be in a car which would go out of control and start speeding down hill, faster faster.  The brakes wouldn’t work.  Death coming to meet me.  Nothing would work, not my limbs, not the car, and always the speeding out of control, the brakes not working.

Once I’d started my paint effects business, my nightmares included me starting a job and the walls distorting, slipping out of my control, my work hideous they’re going to kill me.  The harder I tried, the worse it got, the more out of control.   Or I’d be running from somebody trying to kill me and suddenly I couldn’t remember how to use my legs.  I can’t remember how to do it. My body would become all distorted, and sometimes I wouldn’t have any legs any more, or any arms.

Or I’d be standing somewhere, water all around me, rising inexorably.  I wouldn’t be able to move.  It would become a tidal wave coming towards me, rising up above my head miles high, looming.   Or lions would be on the loose.  Or I’d be in a contained space with my two cats, and they’d get out – and be in terrible danger.  I can’t protect them, I have to bring them back in. But I couldn’t.

In one terrible dream I was with my younger brother.  I was about 10, he was about 3.  I was his protector and needed to take him somewhere urgently.   We were in the bush, on a dirt road.  There was nobody about.  Then a man drove up in a white Nissan.  We got into the front seat.  As he began driving, I realized he was taking us to the wrong place.  I was afraid to tell him, so I didn’t at first, and by the time I was able to, we’d arrived somewhere I knew was dangerous.

I said please can you take us back, this is the wrong place.  He turned to me with a vicious grin and said you can either do this or this.  I can’t remember what his actions were, but he meant I could take it in the vagina or the anus. I had to do one or the other, or he’d hurt my brother.  I was tormented.  I couldn’t let him hurt my beloved brother.  I couldn’t choose.  He loomed, laughing. Trapped.