The Mask of the Wolf and the Sheep

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A wolf in sheep’s clothing has been a parable used for centuries.  Except the poor wolf has been labeled as an angry beast and only out for blood, meanwhile the sheep is innocent and prey to the wolf. Both used to describe humans as either predator or prey, the emotionally angry beast could cover up his gnashing teeth with a mask of emotionally lacking sweet innocence.  Is this where we humans learned to cover up our emotions with the proverbial mask?

Did you know that both of these creatures from God represent all of our emotions? Take a look at this wheel of emotions, the center emotions are our core base emotions. Moving outward are the next phase emotions generating from one of the core emotions.

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Wolves have our similar core emotions as humans, they don’t show all of it on their faces, but they do with body language and vocally without words.

Sheep also have our similar core emotions, again based on their physical and vocal actions.

So why does the wolf have to be the bad guy in this? He’s the predator plain and simple. Raw end of the stick I’d say!

The “bad guy” is the expectation that we must cover our true identity with a mask.

  • “Never let them see you cry”
  • “You have no right to be angry”
  • “What are you so scared of you pussy”
  • “You know you look stupid”
  • “What are you so happy about”
  • “Don’t just stand there”
  • “Look how you made me feel”
  • “I don’t understand you or where you’re coming from”
  • “Wipe that look off your face”
  • “Keep your chin up”
  • “You have to stay strong”
  • “You’re being dramatic”
  • “Your feelings aren’t fair to me”

Each of these common statements inflict shame, embarrassment, condemnation and conditional love. None of us want to feel this way, so we “put on a happy face” our mask, disconnect from our feelings and become someone we’re not.

Maybe this is why I loved Halloween for so many years, I could dress up and be and act the part of my costume. Freedom for one night of the year.

I took my mask off 16 years ago when the Matriarch of our family died. I was no longer ruled over by her, I didn’t have to please her any longer. I got to confront her destruction head on and find the lost little girl who was never good enough. I cried for the first time in front of my psychologist of 6 years!  I found my angry voice and let people have it who’ve hurt me. I was like a shaken can of soda opened for the first time, I exploded in emotions.

Ironically at this time a homeless wolf hybrid showed up at my house.  While most were afraid of her, I saw her pain in needing love. I took her in, I loved her, fed her, bathed her, took her to the veterinarian and gave her a home. She in turn protected me, saved me, comforted me and loved me unconditionally.  This emotionally connected creature was a gift to me from God.

The sheep in all of these parables, is the mask. The mask of being stifled. Such an interesting word to describe “the sacrificial sheep”.

stifle [ stahy-fuhl ]

Definition: prevent, restrain

Synonyms: asphyxiate, black out, bring to screeching halt, burke, check, choke, choke back, clam up, clamp down, constipate, cork, cover up, crack down, curb, dry up, extinguish, gag, hold it down, hush, hush up, kill, muffle, muzzle, put the lid on, repress, shut up, silence, sit on, smother, spike, squash, squelch, stagnate, stop, strangle, stultify, suffocate, suppress, torpedo, trammel.

 

I will no longer be insignificant in regards to my feelings.  This doesn’t mean some of my feelings don’t scare me. I do know for many getting into touch with real feelings is beyond painful and more than they can handle. Doesn’t make them weak.  I’ve always liked the song Bridge Over Troubled Waters, because the bridge is much like the mask, protecting you from unforeseen trouble.  That water represents so much in our lives. Crossing that water without the bridge is going to be very difficult, scary, unforgiving, you’ll get pulled under, swallow water, have stinging pain from the cold, you’ll trip, question yourself and your sanity. Yet after you get to the shore and crawl to higher safe ground, you’ll be physically and emotionally wiped out. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and relief you made it through all of it.  Then after you practice crossing the troubled waters more and more, you’ll learn how to survive the trek across again and again. Make sure though before you take this adventure with another person, you know this person is safe and won’t attempt to stifle you. I believe you know what I mean.

The stifling pig in my life has been sacrificed and my emotions and feelings are my own..my very own and no one can take them away from me again.

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The Aftermath of Rape

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It didn’t take long for the symptoms to hit me after that night.  I went through a myriad of emotions that came at me like a deck of cards beings flung towards my head.

  • Depression
  • Flashbacks
  • Insomnia
  • Guilt
  • Anger

I pulled away from my regular friends, the other cheerleaders, my dad, step-mom and baby brother.  I kept replaying the rape but recreating the end result of me kicking his ass.  I’d get to a point where I’d want to tell someone, but then remember that I put myself in that situation and it was my fault.  I’d become embarrassed to say it out loud.  Instead I internalized it and decided to not tell anyone.

I then began to act out which was later suggested was Borderline Personality Disorder, with symptoms of:

  • Identity Crisis
  • Emotional Instability
  • Impulsivity
  • Chronic Feeling of Emptiness

I started to hang out with different clicks that were considered risky teens, back then they were labeled “Mods” also known as “Goth”.  I would sneak out at night and go to parties.  Cut off all my hair.  Wear different clothes.  Then became best friends with an extremely emotionally disturbed girl.  We started snorting crank and dropped acid once.

Then before I knew it, two and a half months had passed and I hadn’t gotten my period since the rape…oh shit!  I had a journal, but I never admitted in it that I had been raped.  Writing it down made it too real and scary, but I did journal my concern of being pregnant and “what if”.  I had no idea who to turn to or where to go.

After a couple of weeks I came home from school and my step-mom was standing in the kitchen with the bitchiest look of hate on her face. She pointed to the table where my journal was laying.  Well shit.

No questions asked, no sit down calmly and talk and no empathy.  All she said was “I’ve made an appointment for you at Planned Parenthood. You better pray to God you aren’t pregnant. I mean how stupid could you be?  You will have an abortion. Go up to your room I can’t stand to even look at you.”

I now know that because of my changes in behavior she and my dad decided to search my room for drugs and found my journal.  Then, all I felt was shame, guilt, fear, horror and sick to my stomach.  But with a crazy sense of relief, because I was going to get the help I needed. At least I got the physical help I needed.

By the grace of God I wasn’t pregnant.  The Nurse Practitioner said it must have been stress related since I had my first sexual intercourse.  She never asked if I was raped, I would have said yes, but she didn’t ask so I figured she didn’t care.

After that day my stepmother hated me.  I became her little bitch in so many ways.  My father never spoke to me about it until I was like 27 yrs old.

Also during this time, my stepmother Velma, her mother had moved in with us. Her name was Mary.  Mary was an alcoholic for 12+ years with moments of sobriety in between.  After a couple of months living with us, I was up in my room and I could hear my dad screaming at Mary and Velma.  Then he came to my room and came up the stairs and sat down on my bed and calmly asked me, “Katy. I know it’s been really hard on you lately and I need you to be honest with me. Have you been drinking hard liquor?”

Blew me away! Why? Because I hadn’t been. I hated the taste of it, especially the Canadian Club Whiskey they always kept a case of.  “No dad I swear to you I haven’t been drinking. I hate that stuff. Why do you think I’ve been drinking?” Then he told me that he and Velma noticed the bottle had been emptier than before, so they spoke with Mary to see if she started drinking again and she denied it. Yet she quickly pointed out my bad behavior over the past 5 months and it was probably me drinking it all.

That night ended ok for me as dad believed me, he knew I wasn’t lying. Plus I was terrified of him and he knew it, his temper was fucking scary! Mary on the other hand got her ass handed to her and Velma got her ass handed to her because she was quick to agree to blame me. That night I slept good, but it was the last of many sleepless nights.

From that point forward I became enemy number 1 for Velma and Mary.  Until 2 months later, after I finished my freshman year and moved back home with Joan.  Two alcoholic narcissists are WAY worse than one, I had to choose my battles and those two were more than I could bear.

I basically got to run away. I left the rapist and 2 narcissists, thinking I could start over and new.  I just didn’t realize that the emotional shit storm of the rape would follow me, coupled with being an insignificant pig to all women in my life…would exhaserbate the Borderline Personality Disorder.

Teen Rape in the 80’s

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***WARNING MAY TRIGGER RELAPSE***

In the middle of 8th grade I decided I could no longer live with my mom, I yearned for a home where I was included and loved…significant.  My dad moved to California with his new wife Velma.  I visited them over summer and spring breaks and it was always so wonderful.  Always had dinner at the table together, took day trips to tour Cali, cleaned house together, worked in the yard together…real family stuff.  I felt included.

 

I took the leap of faith and left all my friends to move from an area of mountainous beauty to the ocean.  Moving to a new area at 14 is scary and invigorating at the same time.  I didn’t know anyone, I stuck out like a sore thumb.  I came from a place where you wore Levi’s 501 button fly jeans to miniskirt central.  Yet I was a friendly survivor able to adapt to any situation at hand, a core trait I learned at such a young age of alcoholism and narcissism.

 

By freshman year, which was still considered Junior High School, I had friends from all circles and clicks.  The teachers loved me, I increased my GPA from 2.1 to 3.5, I was a teachers assistant, the administrative office hung my artwork in their offices, I played softball AND was 1 of 6 girls chosen to be a cheerleader.  Cheer leading in Cali is competitive, not about popularity, flat-out skill.  I felt like I was on top of the world.  Yet I couldn’t seem to get a boyfriend, I was a virgin and I didn’t dress provocatively.  Velma and dad made sure I always looked classy and fashionable.  Most of my friends weren’t virgins, spoke of sex a lot, dabbled in drugs, had parties, etc.

 

There was one boy I was interested in and I’m pretty sure I made myself look like an idiot each time he was around.  By January of that year I know he knew I liked him, then all of a sudden he took interest in me.  Talked to me, sat with me at lunch, flirted, kidded around and showed me interest.  It meant a lot to me.  I wasn’t the prettiest in school, extremely skinny and underdeveloped.  I considered myself pretty enough, many of the other boys flirted with me and were awkward around me; but this other boy….I was drawn to him.  On a Saturday night he invited me over to his house for a movie night with a group of friends.  WOW!  I was so excited an all giddy to go, dad was okay with it…so I went.

 

I dressed cute.  I wore a jean-skirt, kind of mini but not too short, tank top with a button-up sleeveless shirt over it.  When dad dropped me off, he was to come back and get me at 11:00pm, no problem.  I thought I was one of the first to arrive.  Because it was only Jake and this other boy Jon.  We all sat in the den, drinking sodas and talking.  An hour went by and no one else showed up, I asked Jake where everyone else was, he said they all must have changed their minds or their stupid parents wouldn’t let them come over.  In my mind, okay no big deal, lets watch a movie.

 

Then he offered to give me a tour of his house. In my mind his parents were there, most likely in their room allowing the teenagers to chill together.  He took me to his bedroom, it was covered in posters of Depeche Mode and The Cure. He closed the door and walked straight up to me and started kissing me. My heart was fluttering and beating so fast. He sat me on his bed, kept kissing me and leaned me backwards to lay down. I don’t remember how long we were kissing for, I just remember the force.

 

In a flash he was sitting on me over my waist, hands above my head and wrists in his grasp.  With his free hand he shoved a sock in my mouth and then shoved my skirt up and ripped my panties off.  I tried so hard to straighten and squeeze my legs together, wiggling around.  I was just to small and had no ability to fight.  He kept saying, “Relax. This is what you wanted.  Just let it happen.”  I couldn’t scream, couldn’t say no and had to stop fighting it. It seemed like forever, but it was only like 10 minutes at most. I just don’t remember.

 

Then he got up and was buttoning his shorts. Told me to clean myself up and come out to the den when done.  My panties were ripped so I shoved them in my skirt pocket. I was shaking. Frantic and just wanted to go home.  This was all my fault, I should have never flirted with him, I should have not let him kiss me or sit me on the bed.  I put myself into that position.  It was like 10pm and if I had called my dad to come get me he would have asked me why along with 10 other questions. I went and sat down on the couch back in the den and watched the clock as if it were in slow motion get to 11pm.  Jake and Jon were sitting there talking like nothing had happened. Did Jon know what Jake did?

 

I was embarrassed and humiliated. I took complete ownership for what happened.  I lost my innocence and identity in one night.  Dad honked the horn and I’m pretty sure I ran out of that house.  Got home, took a bath and cried into the hand towel.  I told no one.

 

On Monday at school I created a facade of happiness and fun, had to pretend to be me.  I never spoke to Jake again. This is when I started to change for the worse and started to create an alternative identity.  No longer innocent.  Clearly not wanted by boys unless I’d have sex with them.  Insignificant AGAIN!

Insignificant Pig

 

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After daddy left I was the proverbial red-headed step child of my home.  During this time I watched a movie on HBO titled “Mommy Dearest” and became obsessed with wanting to understand more.  This movie is why my mother’ name used in my blog is Joan. Joan Crawford, movie star, classic narcissist, center of attention, gas lighting, mental & physical abuse, alcoholic, insecure, many men in her life, required the best of the best of everything, unrealistic expectations of others, always looked glamorous and had the facade mastered to boot. This was my mother, except for the movie star part.  Everyone loved my mom, her facade was unbreakable.
I was mothers proverbial punching bag.  I look just like my dad Clint, spitting image. I do things like him, we have similar hobbies and interests and mannerisms.  I was told daily in a condescending tone “You’re just like your father”.  Which was basically telling me or as I heard it “I hate you, you disgust me, you’re not good enough, change who you are, get out of my sight, don’t look at me that way, you disappoint me”.  Fantastic words for a preteen girl trying to find herself and her place in this world.

 

Along with this was also the deep pain of abandonment I felt when daddy moved out. He left me with her. Joan’s right, I’m not good enough or even a good girl, because maybe he would have stayed with me or took me with him. Why did he leave me with her?  I wasn’t mad at him though, just sad and hurt and scared.
I was insignificant.  How does a preteen get approval?  What’s society teaching her?  Who and what does she turn to?
First, she over compensates for approval from everyone.  She becomes friends with EVERYONE.  Jocks, stoners, geeks, pre-madonas and outcasts. I loved the movie Breakfast Club because they were all of my friends. I wish they casted a character like me because I know I’m not the only person whose life was like this.  The mommy issues I had made me afraid of women and the positive mom influences in my life were too hard to be around. I was jealous of my friends who had mom’s that cared, mom’s I wanted to have.  Which caused me to be leery of all girls or women, mom always said to “never trust another woman”.  Did she know something I didn’t and am I supposed to follow her words?  Maybe if I follow her words she’ll approve of me.  She trusted men, except for my dad, so she had plenty of male friends.
Daddy issues were abandonment and if I was better he’d approve of me and ask me to live with him.  Okay so how do I get men or boys to like me or approve of me, what do they want? So I followed mom’s lead; I dressed proactively, flirted, hung out with them, fawned over them, and tried to date as many as I could. This was all before the age of 15.  I drank with them, smoked weed, made out and became like a groupy.  They loved having me around and that’s where I got my start of feeling accepted and approved of. I felt significant and needed.
This was the beginning path of many of my traumas in life. I mastered this behavior, but the older I got the more they wanted from me.  It scared me, but the curiosity of having acceptance became my demise.
It became my pig.

Invisible Preteen

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Growing up I thought Wonder Woman’s invisible airplane was BADASS!  She could go anywhere and see everything yet no one could see her. It looked like glass on the t.v. show and was so shiny, and she was….beautiful! Perfect figure, hair, face, lips, eyes and boobs!  She was clever, physically fit and tough. She knew how to walk into a room and hold her own as Diana Prince, confident, smart and flirtatious.  I wanted that.
Ironically I got what I wanted, well almost got it all.  In 9th grade I mastered this Diana Prince. Except the figure, hair, face, lips and boobs. Yes I was a slender young thing, underdeveloped until I was 26 years old. Pretty enough but not heart stopping.  I stayed physically fit, had no fear, witty, flirtatious and radiated confidence.
Little did anyone know who I really was inside; a scared, insignificant, zero confidence little girl who fought to be noticed.
I didn’t get the invisible plane, but boy was I invisible.  After dad left and moved out-of-state with his new wife, my life was altered greatly.  My mom became a “born again barfly”, meaning she found her calling at a bar. It’s where she could escape being a mom, dress provocative, flirt, dance and most of all drink.  Her social life was way more important than me and Sis and our lives. Except Sis was her favorite and she gave her everything she ever wanted. Clothes, jewelry, muscle car and was a “yes” mom to her. I reminded her of my daddy and she gave me clothes from K-mart. She was never a “yes” mom to me, she was a “I don’t care what you do, where you are or who you’re with” mom.  She never spoke with me about sex, drugs, rape, caution, morals, guidance or family values.
Between the ages of 11 to 14 adolescents with healthy self-esteem may be least vulnerable to peer group pressure. When they are faced with difficult decisions, they are best able to call on values learned at home. I had no one to turn to in my preteens.  I learned it by watching movies, the at risk trouble makers in school and didn’t understand what peer pressure was.  I made friends with similar girls in my shoes. Absent mom, traveling dad, divorced parents and risky childhoods.
We got ourselves into so many moments where we should have been kidnapped, raped, murdered or addicted to drugs and alcohol. In the 8th grade we would throw parties that all the high schoolers would come to. We drank a lot of alcohol, smoked weed, made dance routines to Billy Idol songs, dressed proactively and went strolling the streets at midnight. Get into cars with strange 18 to 21 year olds and cruise. How we are both alive today is a flat-out miracle.
By the time I was 14 I did more in those previous 3 years than either of my parents ever did.  The friends I had before my parents divorced were an anomaly to me at that point. Parents still married, mom cooked dinner every night, mom did their laundry, drove them to sports practice and grew them up on solid Christian values. Between 11 to 14 is when I became an adult by force. I cooked my own meals, washed my own clothes, wasn’t allowed to do sports because it cost money, got myself up and to school when I did go to school, cleaned the house weekly and was substantially independent.  Mom always told me to be independent and to NEVER trust a man or woman ever!
Men are cheaters, women are ruthless and back stabbing and hopefully you’ll marry rich because you aren’t smart enough to have a career.
How does a preteen girl survive the 80’s when she’s invisible, scared, alone, confused, misguided and insignificant?  She discovers fight or flight, she survives.  She spins as fast as she can and she becomes Wonder Woman & Diana Prince all in one. She becomes an actress in her own life movie with the facade to boot.
How long can this girl survive like this? How long can she keep putting her lipstick on?

The First Decade

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I look back on my childhood and I can say to you that it was pretty good. We wanted for nothing, clothes on our backs, roof over our head and food in our bellies. It’s more than what most children in this world have or had.
We grew up with what appeared to be a normal childhood. My sister was mom’s little girl and I was daddy’s little girl. I hated dolls, Barbies, cooking or being frilly. I was more interested in building things, painting, yard work, music, riding my bike fast, playing dodge ball, talking to neighbors and working on the cars with my dad Clint. Then in the summer, it was camping, fishing and road trips in the camper.
It’s either because it’s part of my DNA or because my dad loved me “outwards”, showed and said his love for me. He has always been special to me and there is a bond there that cannot be broken.
My mom, Joan; was a frilly, Christmas cookie baking, up to date fashion with perfect hair type of gal. She despised camping, fishing and road trips. Everything had its place and had to look a certain way.
My mom loved me, I know this, but her love was distorted. It was a conditional type of love that had great expectations. With Joan I was either “the best daughter in the world” or “not important enough to waste time on” or “you WILL love me and respect me because I AM your mother and I deserve it”.
For example, I won a huge competition at a young age and was in the newspaper for it. She told everyone about it. How she has the best daughter ever and it’s because of her hard work as to why I won.  Typically at “field day” I would clean up with blue ribbons, I loved field day; but if I got anything less than a blue ribbon then that’s all she would focus on. Telling me that I shouldn’t be happy because I didn’t do my best. On her birthdays, if I didn’t wake up first thing and acknowledge it was her birthday, didn’t “buy” a card or bend over backwards for her, then I was a rotten child. That I should respect her more and do better, because she was in labor with me for 15 hours and endured a lot of pain for me.
I remember nights where she and my dad would fight, and I could hear him yelling at her for treating me so poorly. Or asking her why she didn’t love me like she loved my sister. It was extremely difficult to be the cause of their fights, but worse when she’d blame me the next day in her own passive aggressive way with the silent treatment. I all of a sudden…didn’t exist.
My childhood was “normal” to me; but back then people weren’t honest about real life at home. We didn’t speak of these things, and if we did, it was brushed off. Better to pretend “it’s” not there or happening because no one wanted to cause any problems.
Putting lipstick on THAT pig was utterly exhausting, but it was a normal childhood to me.

White Knuckling the Suck

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Have you ever had to drive in a storm or situation that scared you so much, you grasped the steering wheel so tight your knuckles turned white?
After driving through a gnarly blizzard up the mountain to a church event, I realized how white my knuckles were. Which seriously surprised me, as I have been driving for a few decades in this type of weather. In fact, I am an excellent driver in snow and have a four-wheel drive. But this current situation caught me off guard and made me question…why?
To be honest with you, I’m afraid to die, it’s that simple. Not because I think I’m going to hell or hades, I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I’ll be with Him. I just can’t bear the thought of leaving my toddler, my 21-year-old nor my husband. I know in heaven I will be forever happy spending eternity with my one true Father. My fear-is how will my family survive without me? Not because I’m a perfect being and the be all end all, but it’s how I’d feel losing any of them.
My little guy, Calvin, would be lost without me. I am his everything. I can’t pee alone EVER, because he fears losing me. If I am out and about for more than five hours, he’ll be glued to me for 2 days straight.
I also have agoraphobia, I fear going places. I fear running into the stalker, the DV nightmare or being at the right place at the wrong time; like the Aurora Theatre massacre.
“What if” scenarios can play out in my head ALL day. I have no control over them at times. I simply panic and that panic takes over me and paralyzes me.
I’ve recently been white knuckling everything in front of me. Such as the drive up the mountain, leaving my little guy for a couple of nights for the first time, going to an event with well over 500 people and stepping up and “going first”. Paralyzing fear which results in and pounding heart, increased heart rate, sweating, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, abdominal pain, tears, confusion and thirst.
This white knuckling is not to be confused with nor compared to “white knuckling addiction”. THAT is a whole other topic of blogging I will get to. That type of white knuckling will get you into trouble one way or another.
White knuckling the suck is courageous, heroic, adventuresome and horrifying. It’s taking on your fear, giving fear the middle finger and turning your back on it. However, know that after being so extremely brave, you might transgress a bit. The shock of your courage might keep you hulled up for a bit afterwards, DO NOT LET THAT UPSET YOU!
My psychologist gave me a tip recently on when my panic or anxiety steps up to the plate to jack with me. I have a 5×5 box with a lid, little note pad and pen; whenever I have to or want to go somewhere, yet fear is trying to stop me I write my fear down. Then I put it in the box put the lid on it and say to it “I’ll deal with you later”. Simple. It’s not the perfect antidote and doesn’t always work, but it’s helped me through small steps.
Each small step I take is celebrated. I shake in my shoes afterwards, trembling a bit. Yet I bring myself back and this huge accomplishment, even if it was to simply walk down the front walk to the mailbox.
This “suck” is growth, don’t minimize you’re accomplishment. Be proud of yourself, stop shaming or doubting yourself. Sometimes just getting out of my bed is a huge accomplishment.

 

We CPTSD-ers are a continuous work in progress, we are forever unique; even if we feel like lipstick on a pig.