mckarlie

I have happiness in my heart and a thorn in my soul

Holy child abuse

So another “celebrity” has been found out as a child abuser. Recently there has been Rolf Harris, Jimmy Saville, a couple of actors off Coronation Street, the Dad from Hey Dad, and now the Pastor Dad Stephen Collins from 7th Heaven. Yes it’s a crap show, none of the aforementioned men have the most incredible body of work, but for some reason this last one has pissed me off. Yes, it’s because I was abused as a child, and because I have children no doubt.

It’s been somewhat of a joke for a long time now that there are high instances of child abuse amongst Priests but can we now add actors and entertainers to that list? Why is there an apparent flourishing of sex offenders emerging from the entertainment sector?

I watched Hey Dad and 7th Heaven when I was younger and felt some affection for these men. I grew up without a Dad and the men that stepped into the Fatherly role in my life were not good experiences, so i would watch these shows and see these “Dads” and I would feel genuine affection for these fictional characters that were these great loving Fathers.

So sure, these men have an illness right? And we have to be understanding of other people’s mental illness’ but when a person’s mental illness causes them to act out in a way that destroys the lives of children, is understanding really what we have to be? Yes, my mental illness causes me distress, it has caused distress to those closest to me, but when i have a bipolar spending spree or whatever else i may do because i’m bipolar, it doesn’t destroy another person’s life. I suppose at the end of the day i do have sympathy for anyone out there who has urges towards children and is fighting them, but for anyone who has actually acted upon said urges, cannon fodder as far as i’m concerned.

Yep, cannon fodder. I know i should have respect for all life but i don’t. If you choose to abuse a child you lose your rights as far as i’m concerned, and the fact that i feel so coldly towards these people does make me question my morality somewhat, but it is what it is. I have so much love and respect for humanity, and i also fear for it at times, but i just can’t feel bad for anyone who acts upon these urges, it just does SO much damage to the victims.

Peace xo

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Adjusting expectations

I spent years in emotional turmoil, my Mother issues were rampant, so were my Daddy issues to be fair. I was just so angry at my Mother, so angry at my Stepfather, so angry at my cousin, so angry at my husband. Everyone had let me down and I was pissed. True, my Mother let some pretty terrible shit happen to me when I was younger, my Stepfather has done some pretty terrible shit to me when he’s been drunk and raucous, and my husband and I have had our issues but I held onto every little slight, and let it fester.

I would look at my friends and the relationships they have with their Mothers and I would feel this ache in my gut, such sadness that I will never have that. After not talking to my Mother and extended family for about 3 years we started seeing each other again a year ago, and I’ve learned a lot in this year: if you expect the world from someone they will surely let you down.

Basically, i realized that i was holding people to an impossible standard and expecting them to jump through hoops because of their previous fuck ups towards me. I had to let go of the past, the anger and the pain and realize that yeah, my Mother and I will never have a normal relationship but who says we need a normal relationship? Why can’t we just be what we are, slightly dysfunctional but both trying our best. She tries her best with my kids and they really enjoy the sunday night dinners we have at her house, we don’t really do much else together but that’s ok, dinner once a week and the occasional lunch or shopping trip is enough for me now, now that i’ve lowered my expectations.

I guess at some point we are faced with the question of whether we can let go or not, and until very recently my answer would have been no, but thankfully i’ve started uprooting the pain that has itself so deep inside my psyche, it’s a work in progress but it’s so so worth it. I was so scared to let go of the anger and pain because I feared there would be nothing left, no link to my Mother at all, but instead there is love and understanding and patience. Just let go.

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Guilt

I was abused sexually/emotionally as a young child by my Mother’s first husband. As a teen I was abused physically/emotionally by my Mother’s second husband. For years I would find, whenever referencing any of the abuse, that I would always be sure to mention my part in it. For instance, I would say ‘yes my Stepfather physically abused me, but I was an incredibly difficult teenager’ or ‘he would beat me, but then I was such a nightmare when I was younger’, there was always the default reaction of mentioning how terrible I was. For most of my life I genuinely believed that I was an active contributor to my abuse, that essentially I deserved it. I have spent so many hours of my life reeling in guilt, guilt over shitty things I have done to people, guilt over shitty things people have done to me just bathing in it and letting it swallow me up. When I was younger I would go to bed and lay there in the dark for hours thinking about details of things I have done to people, like running out on ex boyfriends or being a dick to a friend or whatever, any mistakes I have made have been played out in my mind over and over and I have let it cause so much anxiety it’s incredible.

A few years ago I did therapy and actually made some progress, the therapist was talking to me about my children and asked me if there is anything my children could do that would warrant me hurting them physically as a response and I said no of course not, and through this I realized that I was a child when my abuse occurred, and badly behaved or not there is no way, as a child, I could have actually warranted my own abuse. I know it may sound simple to most but for me it was a revelation, I started to let go of so much guilt and anxiety and began seeing things perhaps a little closer to reality.

The fact of it is that all of us do shitty things sometimes, whether you’re bipolar or not, whether you’re depressed or schizophrenic or any number of things, every human being has done shitty things to another human being. It’s just life, we all screw up and make mistakes. What I tell my children about mistakes is that everybody makes them, it’s ok to makes mistakes so long as you learn from them and do your best not to repeat the same mistakes. I tell them this often, so why can’t I take my own advice eh? Why do some of us hold ourselves to this impossible standard of human behaviour where we feel like we’re letting the entire world down if we step out of line? The fact is, the entire world really doesn’t care about our trivial screw ups and we need to cut ourselves some slack.

So, I guess I just need to remind myself that it’s ok to make mistakes, I just need to make sure I learn from my errors wherever possible and try not to repeat poor behaviour. Beyond that I need to relax and focus on healing, when all your energy goes into feeling shitty about yourself you really can’t heal any of the past trauma that’s happened, but now, I can begin.

Peace xo

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The many masks of mental illness

Sometimes i feel like a vapid fraud. I think all of us adjust the way we act or speak depending on the company we are with at the time, but it doesn’t usually adjust one’s actual sense of self. For instance, around one’s parents you’re probably less inclined to discuss your sex life and how you got so drunk friday night you may have peed yourself a little. You may have friends that you tend to use more colloquialisms with, more relaxed syntax and what not, you probably have friends that you swear more around and so on.

See for me, the issue is that my sense of self is as fluid as the company i keep, and i have determined that it’s predominantly because of my mental illness and the trauma i experienced in my formative years. I wont bang on about what happened to me because many of you already know, but in a nutshell – i was sexually abused by my mother’s first husband from ages 7-9 then physically emotionally and mentally abused by her second husband from ages 11-26, true, i was 26 the last time he got drunk and had a go. Added to the abuse i have abandonment issues with my mother, we are trying to resolve all of this now but it’s a long and drawn out process. I am bipolar and have ptsd, boy am i fun at parties!

I feel like my masks run deeper than most and that it’s dysfunctional. I feel like almost an entirely different person depending on who i’m spending time with, it’s bizarre and exhausting. I’m trying so hard to look like i have it all together, there’s no one that sees all of the real me, not even those closest to me. I hide my pain, I hide the ways I deal with my pain, i try to look like i have it all together but i’m really just treading water, no matter which version of me i’m being at any given time, i’m always treading water. My sense of self is skewed, i know things about myself that are definite, i have opinions and views and inclinations but no true character, no definite being. Maybe that’s what your 30’s are for? Figuring out who you are?

xo

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Why do men and women fight?

This question, why men and women fight, has plagued me for some time. Relationships can be tough, we all know this, and yet there’s no definitive answers when it comes to why so many of us find it hard to maintain relationships and why fights happen. There are obviously many options and answers when it comes to this question, but recently during an argument with my man i sat there and analyzed what was happening, what he was doing and why, what i was doing and why and i came to somewhat of a realization: priorities!

Different priorities are often the root cause. If you think about the last few arguments you had with your partner, you can probably trace at least some of the cause to a difference in priorities. Basically, if something is important to me but not deemed as important by him, it causes issues. If he wants to do something and finds it important but i don’t feel the same way, it causes issues. I genuinely believe most problems in relationships boil down to some version of this, different priorities.

I have been married for nearly 13 years now, at the start of the marriage i was still a kid really, packed full of bipolar wonder (many many years before i was diagnosed and understood my patterns of behaviour at all) and ready to take on the world, i got married on my 21st birthday. It was whirlwind to say the least, we had known each other for a while but barely, and then within six months we were ready to walk down the isle. We were married in melbourne and moved to england about six months after the wedding. I was, to say the least, incredibly selfish at the start of the relationship. I was so infatuated with butterflies and this big passionate love and when he disappointed me in any way i turned it into a big drama. The amount of silly fights that ended in me throwing my arms up in the air and declaring ‘i just can’t do this anymore’ was ridiculous. Basically, i had grown up with my mother having a string of dysfunctional relationships so my model of how men and women worked together was skewed. Everything i knew about relationships was either from my mother or movies, probably more so movies, and we all know that movie love is so very very different from how things actually work in life.

Movies teach women that we can act however we want to act and if he really loves us he will fight for us through all of our batshit crazy nonsense. He will stand outside our window with a boombox playing peter gabriel love songs, or he will chase us down at the airport as we’re just about to get on the flight to paris, he will confess his love in front of a mall full of shoppers over the public announcement thingie. You get where i’m going with this, it gives us this sense that love should be manic and passionate and impulsive and a constant battle. If you’re not feeling something big at all times, then something is desperately wrong and it’s not true love. That’s all well and good for movies but it doesn’t help us much in real life.

After a few years of marriage we hit trouble, my behaiour was all over the place because of my silly expectations and ideals and he started to withdraw and play video games more and more. We stopped actually talking to each other, neglected each other and nearly stopped working as a couple all together. Then, something occurred to me. One day i caught myself making an unrealistic demand of him, and thought to myself ‘if he said this to me, how would i feel?’ – this became my new map, a new and better way to navigate my relationship, and it was something as simple as ‘do unto other as you would have them do unto you’ ha, i knew all those years of sunday school would someday have a use to me.

So armed with my new weapon, let’s call it logic, i started to consider my actions towards him more. I tried to put myself in his place, i started to care more about his feelings and the effect i had on his feelings. I had spent so much time concerned with MY happiness and MY love and MY feelings that i didn’t know how to put someone else before myself. But i learned, slowly and with many mistakes, how to monitor his feelings and try to be a loving positive thing in his life instead of a constant stream of stress.

This is not to say i’m the perfect wife, or that i have it all figured out at all. I don’t. But i’m bipolar, and there aren’t many bipolar people who get to have long term marriages, so i must be doing something right somewhere, right?

So i would encourage anyone out there who is having relationship issues or finds themselves arguing a lot with their spouse to have a think about what’s underneath the yelling and screaming and throwing and nonsense, what the REAL reason for the disagreement is. It’s usually something as simple as the other person feeling bad because you don’t care about something that is important to them or feeling like they’re not being heard or respected. It’s easier than you think to show love and respect in a relationship, and as cliche as it may be, communication truly is key. It’s easy to stop trying, to go from arguing to nothing at all because you just can’t be bothered having one more fight, but talking is so important. If we spend a little less time consumed with getting OUR point across or having OUR feelings heard and focus on the other person’s feelings and needs then we will probably have happier love lives. If two people in a relationship are both looking out for the other person’s needs then you have two people looking after each other, which is ultimately the whole point.

Peace xo

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How do you deal with conflict?

I analyze mine and others behaviours quite a lot. One of the hardest things for me is drawling a line between what is a ‘normal’ reaction to conflict or negativity, and what is a bipolar reaction. Sometimes I feel like an alien, watching the human population and trying to assimilate their actions and feelings and trying to look like just another person going about their business and not the bucket of crazy that I am.

There are a few bloggers I have had sporadic contact with via comments, some via email, and I usually find people to be interesting and supportive and lovely. Recently, a person who comments a lot on my posts and has always been very friendly seemed to take exception to something I’d written. It was a post about how I find that as you get older and have kids and settle down that your ‘dreams’ from when you were younger seem to fall by the wayside. I don’t believe I was whining at all I was simply musing about how I used to have all of these goals and now I simply tread water. She left a comment cutting me down, basically saying that I should be happy with being a mother and a wife and why isn’t it enough, some people don’t even have that and effectively I got the idea that she wanted me to be thankful for what I have and stop my bitching. It was unexpected, I’ve always found blogging to be a fairly safe place to share my feelings and thoughts but suddenly, this person who had always been quite lovely to me seemed to be attacking me for expressing myself. After her initial comments she then made another bitchy comment and when I confronted her about it she simply didn’t respond. I suggested that her issue she had was more about her than me and if it wasn’t she could unfollow me easily. No response.

Now, this kind of thing pisses me off and has me wondering. Did i just happen to fall into her bad day or are people reading what I write and assuming that I’m having a big complain about my existence? If I’ve given that impression I’m slightly mortified. Blogging has helped me figure out so many things about myself because I don’t hide here, it’s the one place on this earth where I can be completely me, crazy, silly, odd, opinionated etc – I can talk about being abused when I was growing up and how I love being a Mother but would like to achieve other things in life as well. I have found a lot of people through blogging who have had similar experiences to myself and have never felt so understood, and when you have a mental illness, feeling understood is half the battle won.

I’m not claiming to be perfect by any measure, I have a temper and sometimes I’m completely unreasonable. But I would never go on someone’s blog and attack them for expressing their thoughts and feelings. Even if I was having a terrible depressive episode and was feeling horribly sorry for myself, I would never shit on someone elses picnic. Now is this me denying her the right to be annoyed at what I wrote or am I right in thinking she was bang out of order having a go at me? See now, this is where things get confusing for me. I ponder and ponder, trying to figure out what’s reasonable and what’s not.

I’m not under the delusion that everyone can get along and world peace is just around the corner, but I believe that we should treat other humans with a basic level of respect and kindness and we should NEVER take out our own shit on other people especially if they are simply trying to figure their life out and have a happy existence.

My temper is worse when I’m manic, I’m probably at my absolute worst while driving. I’m a terrible person in the car when I’m manic, I get quite aggressive and people cutting me off or pulling out in front of me then going slow make me want to tear my hair out. I’ve heard from quite a few people with bipolar that they also turn into crazy beasties while driving, so it’s nice to know it’s not just me but it’s terrible. But when it comes to my person to person interactions I tend to try to avoid conflict. I believe that things should be addressed, and if you have a problem with someone or something they’ve done you should talk to them directly about it, get t out and clear it up. I hate passive aggression so much that I stopped using facebook, as I believe it’s a breeding ground for passive aggression, haha. Seriously, I couldn’t cope with all the bullshit associated with facebook so I packed it in. People having snipes at each other through status updates but never mentioning names, people being horrible to each other, it was just really unpleasant and I couldn’t be bothered with it anymore.

My way of doing things quite often gets me labelled cray cray. If someone is being passive aggressive towards me I will simply ask them straight out if there is an issue, and 9 times out of 10 the person will deny there being any issue, even though they’ve been making snide back handed comments that CLEARLY relate to me or a situation I’m involved in, I’ve learned that in your 30’s and for those in their 40’s, most people will smile to your face and then expose their true feelings about you when your back is turned, But talk openly about an issue and you’re considered inflammatory or weird. And it’s not like I’m looking for a fight, it’s quite the opposite. I believe if you address things and find out if there’s an issue by simply discussing it, then it negates the need for brooding. So many of us get upset with people and let it fester, we get more and more angry over an issue instead of just talking to the person about it.

Anyway, I’m curious to know how others deal with conflict and what your thoughts are on being open about things or just letting things go. Quite often, just letting things go is impossible for a person with a mental illness, so what else should we do? Hmm.

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Do dreams die from reality?

I’m 33. When I was younger I had many plans, travel, become a psychologist at some point, buy a house. I hadn’t planned on having a family, didn’t have any interest in having kids and when I was 19 I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome and told I’d need assistance to get pregnant.

So, I rent, I have two kids and a man of 13 years, i have partially finished 3 different bachelor degrees and am nowhere near buying a house because they cost at least half a million these days. I have given up on having any kind of extraordinary existence and seem to be treading water. I consider it a win when I have a day where I don’t feel utterly shit about myself, I have definitely settled.

Yesterday on Ellen there was a 64 year old woman who has just swam from cuba to the florida keys, she was banging on about inspiration and never giving up and the cynic in me cringed a bit as she spoke of her woes, but part of me was desperately jealous of this older woman who is out there kicking arse and not giving a shit about conventional boundaries. It made me think that maybe there is still time for me to be something awesome, maybe I can have an extraordinary existence. But then I quickly shoot myself down, reminding myself that I am afflicted with bipolar and basically that means I can have buckets of good intentions, but when a depressive episode hits everything stops. Study, relationships, life in general just goes into pause mode and I try to just survive.

Part of me thinks that I just need to keep writing novels until one of them is really good, but then I’m so neurotic that finishing a novel is almost impossible. The one i’m working on now has interest from a friend’s literary agent but that ultimately means nothing, it’s not a guarantee of anything happening, it’s just potential and at this rate who knows if I will actually finish it because I keep over analyzing details and whether I should have written in a certain character before killing them off or if I should have started from the impact of their death and blah blah blah. You get me, I procrastinate.

Do you still have dreams? Do we get to have a mental illness and aspire to be great? Or do we just settle and try to survive?

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Low Bits

So the last couple of weeks have been really unpleasant. I’m really stressed about moving and it’s effecting my mood quite poorly and so I’ve really struggled recently. I get to a point where I can fight it and blog and comment and share and catch up with friends to force myself to feel better, force myself back into the world from the safety of my bed or sofa,where i stare numbly at the tv or read if I’m able. I do this to keep my mind occupied so I don’t lose my shit. I get negative mantras in my head, when I’m alone they get so loud I sometimes vocalize them but stop myself from saying them out loud in their entirety as it feels like i’d be giving these words too much power.

This is the inside of my head, it’s a strange place to be and I’ve been fighting really negative feelings and thoughts but I know I’ll be successful. Well, honestly….I sometimes doubt if I’ll be successful, but figure saying that I know I’ll be ok eventually makes me sound less crazy lol

I am bipolar….it’s not who I am but by golly it sure has a lot to do with what I do, how I think, how I feel and how I effect others. It’s very close to being who I am isn’t it? But it’s not always the way, as I’ve gotten older my manic episodes have become less destructive and actually really productive. I don’t get delusions of grandeur or too much trouble sleeping these days, I just feel happier and more productive and good. So my “manic” episodes are what I feel to be my real life, and the depressive episodes, which last longer, are basically life on pause, life in sepia. I find myself treading water most of the time just to get by, all my energy being poured into just being ok for my kids that I literally feel exhausted just from such simple things. I hope I don’t sound sorry for myself, it’s hard not to when explaining the inside out of feeling utterly shitty, but it is what it is, many people suffer every day, my suffering is no greater or less than most people’s, but I try not to measure such things, comparing one’s sorrow to another and convincing yourself that you’re feelings are insignificant compared to other people’s problems and woes, well it’s really reductive to mental health but so so common. I am trying my best not to do that, we need to be feel of some worth and part of that is realizing that our feelings DO count and we ARE having a hard time and we deserve good things and not this shit we feel we’re wading through.

I’m going to try and get some writing done while I’m feeling so clear of mind, I hope you are all well xo

 

 

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Assigning blame

I’m not sure if it was growing up being told I was shit, growing up being treated like I was shit, the abuse, the bipolar, who knows…but every time something would go wrong with a friend I would always spiral a little. Firstly I would over-analyze the crap out of it all, mulling every details over in my head. It’s a given that I blamed myself entirely for every interaction I would have that was in any way negative. I was always sensitive to rejection in any form, in fact most of my twenties was spent obtaining and then evacuating affection before I could be rejected, convinced it was inevitable I always got in first.

Now, I’m slowly learning to see things in a more rational sense. When I can see full well that I have done absolutely nothing to warrant negative feelings towards me, I’m becoming more indifferent and accepting that everyone acts like a douche sometimes, and sometimes it has nothing to do with me. It’s always been hard to decide what is reasonable behavior and what is *my disease*, sometimes I feel like an alien trying to act like a human, not quite sure what is acceptable expectations and so on, and what are not.

I think a lot of us go directly to blaming ourselves, it’s how we’ve been conditioned either through abuse, PTSD, or whatever mental illness we may have. The older I get the more I’m learning to cut myself a break, I don’t expect my beautiful kids to be perfect I teach them to just try their best, so in teaching them that nobody is perfect, how could I possibly expect myself to be perfect?

We go through this cycle of blaming ourselves, feeling like shit, writhing in guilt, and over and over again. Let’s just chill out, if it’s our fault then say sorry or make a gesture to fix things, if it’s not our fault then accept that sometimes people act stupidly and sometimes it truly has nothing to do with us, it just is. Assign blame only where it should be assigned and even then, be careful, blame is a hazardous thing when dealt with too often, like most negative things.

So hopefully I will continue to relax and learn what is worth the worry and that most things truly aren’t worth the worry. Let’s cut ourselves a break hey people!

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Overkill acoustic – Colin Hay

Today’s mood is much lighter than yesterday’s, and this video is so lame it’s kind of adorable. I’ve chosen to be happier today, it’s working thus far.

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