Monday, March 15, 2010

Shattered Girl and The Sound of Breaking Glass

Hello Friends:

The inevitable preamble to this post is this; I had a rough day today.  The kind where I'm in bed and not really functional.  It was rough enough that I couldn't find anything to eat, since my OCDs were running too high to open the fridge.  So I was not only depressed, but low blood sugar, not enough sleep depressed.

This is a very bad state for the Morpho, let me tell you.

When spouse came home he found me in bed, still in jammies, working on my computer.  And the fact I was actually working on the computer was a big plus.  I felt useless and worthless and blah blah, you know it yourself.  He agreed to make emergency oatmeal just to get something in me.  He brought it up, and then went back downstairs.

And now the post ...

Just as I was finishing my oatmeal, I heard a crash.  Not a super loud crash.  Not a dangerous crash plus yelp of pain.  Not a multi-smash that might indicate the dropping of a tray or the failure of tables or cabinets.  Just a smash like the shattering of a single ceramic dish.

I was instantly out of bed, panicked.  I was not thinking at all.  Only reacting.  I crept downstairs in my nightgown slowly, looking over the railing.  I was terrified, arms wrapped around myself like you'd imagine a cold child would do.  I stopped a few steps up, looking into the kitchen where I could see my husband shaking his head and picking up the pieces of a broken tea cup.

He looked up and saw me, and realized immediately that Something Was Wrong.  He tried to be reassuring, "I have all the pieces.  It broke cleanly.  Sorry I busted one of the tea cups."  This made absolutely no sense to me.  And yet, part of me processed it, and thought, "Good.  No small pieces of glass hiding around.  Check."  But OCD was apparently not the issue.

I shot out, "I don't care.  Are you okay?  Are you mad at me?  Was it my fault?"  He looked at me strangely, "I'm fine.  No, I'm not mad."  He walked over to the bottom of the stairs and held up the pieces, "See, they fit together.  I have them all.  There's no problem."

I was shaking a little, "I don't care.  Are you mad?  Did I do something wrong?"  He tipped his head and took two steps up to stand next to me, and said, "Are you reacting to something?  Something else?"  I thought that this was his bizarre sense of humor in action again until I realized what he was really saying was, "Are you having a flashback?"

It took a few seconds, standing there and breathing, to realize I could hear someone screaming.  A woman yelling hysterically.  It was a 'real' sound.  I knew it was in my head, but I could hear it for 'real.'  I tried to articulate, "I ... if she broke something, it was never her fault.  It was my fault.  Our fault.  You would be in your room playing, or more likely hiding, and then a smash.  You would hear it and then the yelling would start."  He nodded, being all nice the way he is, and letting me talk.

I closed my eyes and spoke the words I was hearing, words from many, many incidents all overlapping, "Get down here right now!  Who put this cup here?  This doesn't go here!  Who was supposed to clean the kitchen?  What is all this mess doing here?  I told you never to leave these on the counter!  Why are you wasting time?  What are you doing?  You should have been down here!  Now clean this mess up!  This is your fault!  Do I have to do everything around here?  You're old enough to see when something needs to be done!  If this had been put away it wouldn't have broken!  You never listen!  You aren't cleaning that up right, get down on your knees.  That had better be cleaned properly; if I find one piece of glass on this floor ..."

I stopped and opened my eyes.  He was nodding.  I felt shakier, but better.  I couldn't hear the voice for 'real' anymore.  I sat on the stairs because I was feeling light headed.  He said, "You don't think that any of that is rational, do you?  You realize she was crazy, right?"  I said, "Yes, I do.  She was wrong.  She treated us badly.  If someone did that now I'd be angry, I'd get them out of my life."  He said, "You don't really expect I'd feel that way, say those things, do you?"  I thought about it, "No.  I don't.  But I'm still afraid you will.  But if you did, I would get mad.  I'd see you were acting badly.  I would get really, really pissed off at you.  It is just a cup for crying out loud, getting as bent about it as she did is completely irrational."

Then he said, "Did it help to talk about it?"  I nodded, "Yes.  I'm freaked out, but I do sort of feel better."  Then I said, "You and I, we don't want to be the kind of people who care so much about a broken cup that we'll get upset over it.  What's one cup, more or less?  And yet I know sometimes you break things because you are not thinking ahead.  You always try to carry too much.  You just ... don't think."

But then I said, "Of course, the other option is to be afraid of breaking cups, and then spending extra time thinking about the process of getting them out and filling them and carrying them.  I'm always doing that kind of thing.  Over and over and over."  He said, "So you make a choice, break more cups and do less thinking, or fewer cups and more thinking."

So we agreed that we are both the kind of people who would rather not do so much thinking about cups.  He succeeds, and occasionally breaks one.  I still ruminate over cups, and break them less often.  Still, they break.  And I would rather, much rather, stop worrying about it.

And then I went back upstairs and he brought me tea.

Observations from me:
1) Dear God, I love my husband.  Marriage choice = 100% mission success.
2) When will her voice ever shut the $#&% up, anyway?
3) Once again blindsided by flashback because mine are almost never visual.  This one was auditory.  Hubby spotted it before I did.
4) Can I just get over my childhood, please?

Observations from you?

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info:


BeatOCD Blogger said...

Wow, that's an intense post. I'm sorry your childhood was so sucky, and I'm glad you have an awesome husband.

Andy said...

It is very unfortunate how these things can follow us into adulthood. :(

Generally speaking, does learning you're flashing back help it pass more quickly? Does it take time for the realization you're flashing back to make sense to yourself?

Hang in there. I hope today (and every day) is better than yesterday was.

The Blue Morpho said...

Hey there BeatOCD - Flashbacks do sucketh, but at least this time we spotted it and were able to do some reprocessing. Thank you so much for the support and good wishes!

The Blue Morpho said...

Andy dude - I wouldn't say that recognizing that I'm in the middle of a flashback changes how long it lasts. It seems to have its own timetable. But realizing does help reduce some of the distress. You can at least tell yourself intellectually, "I am not reacting to the present, this is the past I'm upset about." I have had plenty of flashbacks that never did make sense. But as I get more understanding of why they happen, what my triggers are, what they feel like, how they differ from anxiety/panic attacks, etc., they do start become more well-known, and less terrifying. Again, thanks for the comment!

Amy said...

All I can say is I know exactly what you're talking about. I feel the pain welling in my chest just reading the things she used to yell. Even now, loud noises=danger.

The Blue Morpho said...

Hey Amy - Yeah, exactly. Any loud sound, or any sudden noise at all. But a few in particular, eh? Breaking glass. Vacuum cleaner. I also react to the sound of kids laughing, because I 'know' that it will end with yelling. Thanks for reading!!!

twirl unabashedly said...

i totally freak out about personal space... dont stand too close to me uninvited.

and being pulled on... the way someone would grab your elbow and say "hey, come look at this!".
...yeah. dont do that.

and, displays of anger from a man. even healthy, non threatening ones. makes my ears ring and my stomach lurch into my throat.

i'm sorry things are so hard for you sometimes. i hope you have a good weekend.

Marj aka Thriver said...

This sounds like some PTSD responses I have had. My husband has learned, over the years, to say something like: "Just dropped and broke a tea cup. It's alright. I'm cleaning it up!" Sometimes that helps me.

I've had those days in bed. I'm sorry. I know it is hard. I just got a laptop fairly recently. Never thought of bringing it into bed with me. At least, that could be something productive, sometimes.

The Blue Morpho said...

Hello Twirl: Thanks so much for reading! Yeah, displays of anger; actually I don't like them from anyone. Very triggery. And thanks for the good wishes - we all have it tough sometimes but MIs make it more often than not. But I was looking at your blog - dealing with terminally ill cancer patients? Well there's some perspective. Oh yeah, excellent green typewriter :)

The Blue Morpho said...

Hey Marj: My laptop is like my security blanket. Since I'm a writer, it goes with me everywhere and is my literal shield when the environment is too crazy. I flip it open and try to make my own mental space. It's a great that your husband knows to give you a quick shout so you know immediately what's going on. I think I'll discuss that with spouse, myself. Thanks so much for visiting and commenting!

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