Friday, January 27, 2012

What Were We Talking About?

I want to tell you a story.  I really do.  However, there's a problem.  My indecisiveness is overbearing-I can't choose the story.  Not only are there more choices running around in my head than I could ever chase down and dissect, but I just can't seem to focus long enough to finish an entire tale anyway.  My concentration is non-existent right now.  In fact, I can forget what I'm saying in the middle of a sentence.  I can't keep mind is jumping around this way and that way.  I'm plagued by memory issues, as you know, and this indecision is made worse by this fact (by the time the waiter has told me the specials, I've forgotten them and thus can't decide). This is something that I have to deal with on more days than not.  It's unbelievably frustrating to forget the subject of a conversation shortly after the talking begins, but that is my reality for much of my waking life.  How do I handle these instances?  Well, first and foremost,  we always make it a point to say something about how bad my memory is, so that it doesn't come as much of a shock to the people I'm talking to. (and if I happen to be in a situation where drugs and/or alcohol are in use, then that is a convenient excuse which I often give)  Anyone who knows me well can tell you how they've had to repeat things to me,  until they are fed up with me asking.  It's true, I ask the same questions over and over again, but I truly cannot remember asking before then, much less remember the answers to these questions.  That's just more than I can manage.  Most anything is difficult to remember.  ANYTHING.  Add to that our lack of concentration, and you'll find that I'm pretty much screwed.

I have to write things down, literally, or I will forget them. Everything.  Even simple everyday tasks that must be done by every person on the planet-things like eating and sleeping-are difficult for me to remember.  I will very often forget to eat, and when I lived alone I would sometimes go a few days without food; I'd eat once the emptiness in my stomach turned to actual pain.  Feeling empty is something I'm used to-I have an eating disorder and rarely eat so it's not uncommon for me to be hungry.  But the pain, well the pain will make me eat.  Same goes for sleep.  I can forget to sleep, and I'll just continue about my business until I get so exhausted that I'll just pass out for hours on end.  I don't know why I can't get myself on some sort of schedule, which would indicate when it's time for me to eat and sleep.  I guess the reason this won't work is because I have no sense of time.  I can't tell when it's morning or evening.  It all feels the same to me, I often don't know if it's A.M. or P.M. without looking out the window.

Damn.  I just read what I've written and it seems I've veered off course.  The subject was supposed to be  lack of concentration.  Hmm.  I guess getting off topic actually helps illustrate my point though...  I can't focus long enough to finish my train of thought.  I have to rewrite sentences, even whole paragraphs, because I am all over the place with my thoughts.  I just cannot concentrate.  I can't do it.  I try and try....but it's just not happening.  This is infuriating at times, and it certainly affects my quality of life.  I love to read, and to escape into a book...but with my lack of concentration, I'm unable to read much anymore and that makes me very sad.  I still try to read of course, as I'm hungry for knowledge as well as escapism, but it's exhausting; I have to reread every page several times just to absorb the information.  Often, I get stuck on one sentence, and I'll read it dozens of times, but can't make any sense of it.  I simply can't focus. I can't think clearly.  It's impossible.  Now this does not apply to all of the K's.  The smartest ones can read quite well and do so with a voracious appetite.  But today, at this moment, I am here, and I simply cannot concentrate for any period of time.

I don't even know if this rambling mess constitutes a blog post.  I can't tell if this is cohesive in any way.  I can't tell if I've actually said anything I really don't know.  I just know that I have this urge to write, this compelling energy burning inside me which is trying to move my fingers around on the keyboard, but I don't know what to type.  I'm dying to write, to empty my overflowing head, to get these thoughts out of my mind!  Damn.  This memory loss fucking blows.  I can't remember what I wanted to talk about.  Shit!  Did I already talk about it?  (sigh) I really need a personal assistant...

You're Making Me Blush

I get embarrassed easily.  This might not sound like a big deal-you probably get embarrassed too-but to me there is an all-consuming fear, a fear of humiliation, which makes it difficult for me to go out in public.  I'm so afraid of being embarrassed that I will have panic attacks in situations wherein I think people are looking at me.  They might not actually even be looking at me, but in my mind they always are, and I will see them staring and laughing at me.  I'm never sure if they're really laughing or pointing...  I don't know if these things I see are hallucinations or if they're true.  These fears of mine can be triggered by perceived or actual scrutiny from others.  Makes no difference, I'm going to panic either way.

"Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD),  is characterized by intense fear in social situations, causing considerable distress. The diagnosis of social anxiety disorder can be of a specific disorder  (when only some particular situations are feared) or a generalized disorder.  Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder typically involves a persistent, intense, chronic fear of being judged by others and of being embarrassed or humiliated by one's own actions."  Google coughed up this description of myself.  No big surprise there.  I don't remember when I was first diagnosed with this condition, but I've suffered from it since elementary school, roughly age 10.  It's gotten worse as I've grown older, except for that period of time in our mid-20's when The Kellie was usually in charge of our life.  (I really should tell you about her sometime-she's the life of the party-in real life and in my mind)

SAD is the main reason I usually stay home.  I don't venture out in public very often, and if I do I (usually) must have Husband by my side and I definitely must be doped up on anti-anxiety medications.  I can't go out in public unless I'm drugged.  In fact, I won't go until I have some sort of chemical thing happening in my brain.  If I think the pills are taking too long, I'll start drinking.  Sometimes at night I'll smoke some pot.  Whatever it takes to make me feel "ready for Reality", and able to handle the stares, the looks, the laughs, the whispering, all of which I perceive no matter where I go.  This even applies to situations, like parties, where the people involved are my friends; I still think they're making fun of me, and I get embarrassed.  It's incredibly uncomfortable to be in a crowded room-the jumbled roar of whispers contains my name and everything They are saying about me is negative.  They make fun of my clothes, my hair, my body, my face, my intellect, my personality, my whole being.  They point out specific flaws-like that mole on my face or the surgical scar I have-and torture me relentlessly with their insults.  I am humiliated, I feel like there's a spotlight shining on me and everyone in the universe is laughing at me.  I can't tell you how embarrassing it is when I actually do something physical-like spill a drink.  Oh dear God, now that really makes me turn red (and then I have to flee the room so I can cry).

This fear of embarrassment makes it impossible to relax in a social setting.  I am tense and on edge pretty much any time I'm out in public.  I try to hide as best I can-sitting in a dark corner whenever possible and wearing sunglasses indoors-but I still can't escape the feeling I have of being scrutinized.  Now not only does the SAD make it difficult for me to go out, but add to that the paranoia and insecurity I feel at all times... OK, now multiply that feeling by 100, and you might get an idea of what it's like for me to be around other people.  I'd move somewhere that had no people, but I'm afraid of being alone.  A walking contradiction.  Yes, yes I am.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hiding in Plain Sight

Since I have just snuck into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee-literally sneaking behind Mom's back-I thought maybe I'd write about hiding.  K hides in plain sight.  She literally goes out of her way to remain hidden in the shadows, unnoticed by others, even her own friends and family.  I think perhaps this is because she's always worried that she'll forget which K she's supposed to be, or else the wrong K will just show up unannounced;  either of these is possible of course, along with a thousand other potentially embarrassing scenarios, all of which K obsesses over and worries about.  K gets up in the morning (this is a subjective statement-she gets up if she's been asleep) and tiptoes up the hallway.  She crosses her fingers that her mother's door will be closed, indicating that she's still in bed, and she will be if K has gotten there early enough, that is before 6:30 A.M.  If her mother is sleeping, K will quickly but quietly race to the kitchen and put on a pot of coffee, hoping to pour herself a cup and get back into her room before anyone sees her.  If her mother is awake, K listens for the sounds of the television, and breathes a sigh of relief when she hears the morning news.  The TV helps us be stealthy.  If the TV is on, K can more easily move through the living room/dining room, which is at the end of the hall and to the right, and which has a door to the kitchen.  Her mother sits in the den, which is to the left at the end of the hall, and which adjoins the kitchen.  K's mother always sits in a recliner with her back to us, and K moves like a cat across the kitchen floor and to the coffee maker. 

 On an ideal day, K's favorite coffee mug will be sitting out, and she can just grab it, but most days she has to open the cabinet door, holding her breath in the hopes that the door won't squeak, and retrieve a mug.  Next she tries to silently pour the coffee into the mug, and then she adds her cream and such, (hopefully the creamer is already out on the counter otherwise we have to open the refrigerator and that is noisy) and if she's lucky she can stir it up without the spoon hitting the side of the mug;  the clink would alert her mother that she's in the room.  Coffee in hand, K then moves silently across the kitchen, back through the living room, down the hall, and into her room, closing the door tightly behind us.  Mission accomplished.  If K needs a coffee refill, she repeats this process of sneaking behind her mother to get it.

This will go on until the time comes when K-whichever one is in charge that day or rather at that time (hopefully it'll be The Good Daughter)-feels capable of seeing her mother face to face.  This may sound odd, but K has to prepare herself to be in her mother's presence, she has to literally muster up the strength and courage just to walk into the same room with her.  Writing that down, I notice that it looks weird, and sounds crazy, and I find it hard to believe that I do this every day.  But we do.  I am not afraid of my mother and we love her very much.  We just don't like to be seen until we are good and ready to make our appearance.  We have wardrobe and makeup to deal with before that can happen, not to mention the fact that we must "get into character". (This is my movie, after all.)

So much hassle just to get a cup of joe!  Yet this is how each morning begins, and the process will often repeat itself throughout the day and evening, although instead of coffee it might be Diet Coke or a Slim-Fast bar.  K sneaks around all the time, in front of her mom, in front of her husband, and especially in front of the public.  It's like K is a ninja and she's going about her day in stealth mode, silent but deadly. (instead of weapons we use words)  Sometimes (a LOT of times actually) we wear sunglasses indoors; K believes people cannot see her if she keeps these on.  I can look at the situation logically, and I realize that the sunglasses make us stand out even more,  (it's ironic when you think about K's fear of being noticed)  but logic is not something K uses very often; she has her own special logic, which to anyone else is completely illogical.  You can laugh here if you want.  I know that it all sounds ridiculous.  But K is a strange girl, always has been.   When she was a little girl, she was always hiding.  She'd climb up on the roof and sit behind the chimney, or crawl into the lower kitchen cabinets and get way back in the far corner so that she was invisible to her parents.  When her mother changed the sheets on the bed, K would lie on the piece of foam that was on top of the mattress (it makes the bed softer) and she'd roll herself up in it, like a taquito.  She would stay like that, tightly confined inside the foam mattress pad, until her mother came back into the room and made her stop.  It's interesting to note that when K was younger, she loved being in small, dark enclosed spaces, and now that she's an adult, some of the K's are afraid of the dark and of being unable to move. (Is it also interesting to note that at least one of the K's is into blindfolds and bondage? Is that important?)  Sorry if that's too much information; as I've no doubt said before, we are brutally honest. 

We hide when we go out to bars or restaurants, always taking the darkest booth, the seat furthest away from everybody else, preferably the corner.  We like to sit at the bar, where we have our back to the public, and so we don't have to talk to them or acknowledge them in any way unless the mood strikes us (some of the K's are very outgoing however).  We only have to talk to the bartender, and even then just to order a drink, a drink which I will nurse for as long as is possible.  (well, actually one or two of the K's can and will drink more.)  I wear my hair down in my face, with bangs, and I often wear hats...anything to help me remain anonymous and unnoticed when we leave the house. (This doesn't apply to The Kellie; we'll tell you about her some other time.)  What's interesting to note here is that K, beginning at age 13, had a "look" which drew attention to herself, a good deal of it actually-this completely contradicts her desire to be "unseen".  At 15 she shaved her head and wore a mohawk and from then on she had a fashion sense that screamed "Look at me!" This is part of what makes K a living contradiction: she usually dresses to be looked at but she hates to be seen.  Make sense? No?  Such is our life with least, some of them.  It's quite confusing, even to me.  I am different people with different styles on different days, and some of these look "normal" and some of them stand out from a crowd.  There are days in which we will change clothes repeatedly, for at times we look into the mirror and the reflection looking back at us just doesn't look like me, so I have to change.

I don't know how else to put that.  Sometimes, I look in the mirror, and I don't recognize the person I see looking back at me.  A lot of times I find the reflection to be ugly, hideous even, and this always frightens me, to think that I might actually look so horrible.  Sometimes when I look, I will see a young girl, and other times an older woman. Sometimes the reflection is pretty, and I'm always pleasantly surprised, as well as fascinated by this occurrence. There are times when the reflection is that of an angry person, or an innocent child, or a sexy siren.  I don't recognize any of these reflections as being my own, not really; they seem more like masks I wear or costumes I put on, except I don't always get to choose which one I don.  Somehow, the right K seems to show up at the right place, and no one ever notices (how can they not?!) that we are not quite the same person as usual.  There are terrible experiences wherein the wrong K has shown her face to others around her, and this is always embarrassing and confusing and difficult to explain so we usually run away when this happens.  (sigh)  K always ends up running away...she just doesn't know where she's supposed to go.  Hopefully, someplace where she can hide.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Mystery of Marriage

I just celebrated my 2-year wedding anniversary, so I've decided to write about our feelings on marriage.  K never wanted to get married, in fact she was very much opposed to the idea of marriage; she found it to be an antiquated notion which was only useful for tax purposes or naming heirs in the current day and age.  She thought it was old-fashioned as well as obsolete, so she decided by the time she was a teenager that marriage was NOT for her. (Insert horrible mistake at age 19 here, but it was only 8 months before K kicked him out so that hardly counts as a marriage)  She didn't fall in love, not really, until she was 24, and it did seem that she was going to marry that guy.  He appeared to be everything she wanted, and The Kellie was madly in love with him, but he was evil and the relationship was toxic.  He proposed three times over the course of five years.  Once we said yes, once we said no, and once we said yes and then he changed his mind and broke our heart.  That's a story for a different day.

K moved around a lot, and she'd always end up with a boyfriend whom she'd inevitably dump just as soon as marriage was mentioned. It was a fairly simple task, since she never "loved" any of these guys anyway.  I don't know how or why this happened, (I'd be scared to even date K) but K received 7 marriage proposals from 5 different men over the course of her dating career.  That doesn't count the one she finally accepted and followed through with, the one from her Husband. (I never group him into any of K's categories, for he is the exception to all our rules)  She was engaged four times, but even during those times she knew, on some level, that she wouldn't get married.  Perhaps the logical K's knew it would be a disaster, and they were trying to protect all the K's, or protect the guys she was hurting.  K broke a lot of hearts, and in the end karma bit us in the ass, but after a lifetime of nothingness, we finally found true love and happiness. It was a long and difficult journey with a lot of good scenery along the way.

I think K wasn't so much opposed to marriage as she was terrified of it.  Her parents were married only to each other for 50 years, so you'd think she'd feel good about marriage.  The truth is, K's parents were part of the reason K didn't want to get married.  She grew up watching them...and she didn't like what she saw.  Now there was no substance abuse or violence or infidelity in their marriage, it was strong and dependable and could weather any storm.  Mom and Dad loved each other, of that I am certain, but they never seemed to K to be in love.  K never saw them kiss, or hug, or hold hands.  K used to joke that her conception was probably the last time they ever had sex and they were probably drunk when it happened.  We never heard them speak lovingly to each other, or even say "I love you", except maybe on special occasions.  The one instance of romance that K witnessed between them occurred when her father was on his death bed; he asked K's mother for a kiss, and K witnessed them peck each other on the lips for the first time as well as the last time. It brought tears to her eyes.

I have gone off on a tangent, and have yet to tell the story of how I came to marry Husband.  We met in fourth grade when he moved to the area from a state about 800 miles from K's hometown. We weren't friends, we just knew each other from school.  After fourth grade, his parents sent him to Catholic school, and K remained with her classmates and she didn't see Husband again until they ended up at the same high school.  They met for the second time in 9th grade, and as it turned out they had both gone down the "alternative" path, meaning that they dressed "weird" compared to the other kids and listened to different music and had different interests.  They ended up in the same small circle of "freaks" and became friends and remained so until junior year, when K broke the heart of Husband's best friend.  Naturally, this split the group up and thus K was no longer speaking to Husband, as he was on his friend's side.  K didn't really care about losing friends, she packed up and fled to another state, and was alone for her final year of high school.  (Coincidentally, K moved to the same state and even the same city that Husband was from) She focused on school and her job and had good friends and so she didn't really need a boyfriend.  She wouldn't see Husband again until she was in her 20's and had moved back to her home state but to a much bigger city to go to college.  Husband had moved here and there from state to state, but had ended up in the same city as us, and once in a blue moon, he and K would run into each other at parties or a bar.  It was rather awkward for K (since their friendship had ended abruptly) and so she never really spoke to him.  He ended up moving back to K's hometown and that was that.

It wasn't until K was 26 and visiting her parents one weekend, that she actually had a conversation with Husband.  She was in town with that guy who kept proposing, and they ended up at a restaurant and as it turned out, Husband was the manager of that restaurant.  At some point, he spoke privately to K, and apologized for anything he'd ever said or done to offend us, and said that he hoped we could be friends again.  And so K forgave him for taking that other guy's side way back when, and they were on friendly terms again, but they wouldn't be real friends, and hang out together, for years.  Here's the irony: it was Husband's best friend, the guy whose heart K had broken in high school, that brought K and Husband together. Years later, this friend discovered K on MySpace (even though she wasn't using her name) and sent her a message. (He worked in the same city in which K lived)  They ended up dating casually and K went to visit him where he lived in her hometown and that is when she discovered that this guy's roommate was Husband.  This was the beginning of a new chapter in the book of K and Husband.  She became good friends with Husband, as she was often visiting his home to see the other guy.  Well, it wasn't very long before K decided she was bored with that guy and so she stuck him in the "friend" category, but she continued to hang out at his house sometimes, when she was in town,  and she became better friends with Husband as time went on.

At some point, K's mother got to where she could no longer live by herself.  Her health had been deteriorating since the death of K's father, and she had trouble getting around and needed someone to help her with cooking and cleaning.  She did NOT want to go to a nursing home.  At the same time, Husband's roommate needed a new place to live, a place closer to his job.  K just happened to have a condo which needed a tenant, as she'd decided to leave her life behind us and take care of our mother. This is how it came to pass that K moved back to her hometown and in with her mom. Husband's roommate rented K's condo and everything worked out splendidly.   She began to spend more time with Husband, and he ended up being K's best friend.  Everyone always joked that the two of us should be a couple, (we did everything a couple does except for the sex part) but K never thought about him in that way-she never had in all the years she'd known him.  She loved him as her best friend and their relationship grew stronger for the next 2 years.  They spent time together nearly every day and talked on the phone for hours, sometimes 'til sunrise.  One day, he wrote K an email about his true feelings for her.  When K saw the email she knew what it was about before she opened it, and so she was scared to read it.  She didn't know how it was going to affect their friendship, and so she let the email sit in her inbox for about 24 hours.  Finally, she had a few drinks and smoked half a joint and read the email.  It was the most romantic thing ever-Husband is a writer and has such a way with words!-and K began to cry.  She was thrown into a situation which she couldn't control and she was confused and scared and excited and a million emotions all at once.  She didn't want to talk to Husband after that, not for a while, for she had to digest his words and think long and hard about whether or not she was willing to take their friendship to the next level and go out on a date with him.  Husband tells us now that the period in which I made him wait, after he sent the email, was torture...but I had to do it.  I had to think, and on some level I think I must've known that our decision would affect the rest of my life.

A year later,  miraculously in our mind, he proposed. By that time, we, the K's, had fallen head over heels for Husband and couldn't understand how we never noticed it before then. The next thing I knew, we were in Las Vegas at a chapel.  And I've been in a different place, mentally, ever since.  I think perhaps these unknown feelings I have been experiencing are called security and contentment and I am slowly beginning to accept them as valid feelings.  The thing we haven't spoken about, and which seems really important, is how I went about dating and marrying and living with Husband without him ever knowing about US.  It was no secret that K had always suffered from depression; Husband knew her when she hospitalized at age 16.  Also, once they became friends in adulthood, she gradually began to trust him enough to open up and, when she was drunk or stoned, she'd tell him little bits of information about her mental illness, without ever going into specifics.  He knew I was on a good deal of medication.  He knew I'd been diagnosed with a chronic mental illness, and he knew about the voices and hallucinations.  He did not know about all the K's (even though he'd met more than one of us over the years) and I never told him out of fear.  Plus, I suppose I thought I was such a good actress that I could hide it from him the same way I hid it from everyone else my whole life.

It worked for almost the first two years of our marriage.  In fact, it was only weeks before our anniversary when K had a severe episode and switched to a K that Husband didn't recognize.  We tried desperately to explain to him what was happening, why it happens, how it happens, but I didn't have the words.  How do you tell someone you love that you are not the person they think you are?  (at least, not all the time)  I cannot put into words how difficult and confusing and stressful the situation became after that incident, and there was a lot of crying on both our parts.  He couldn't believe we were married for 2 years and he never knew about it.  He couldn't believe I hid this from him for all these years.  Truthfully, the talk I had with Husband about the different K's was the very first conversation of its kind in K's life.  She had NEVER told anyone, outside of her therapist Patty, about Kellie World and our existence there in various forms, on different planes of reality.  Suffice it to say that Husband's mind was completely blown, and we feared that he would leave us...but it turns out that this love is True Love and he has promised to stay with us and take care of us and accept and love us, no matter what or who we are or may become.  That, my friends, is what we call a happy ending.