Sunday, January 26, 2014

It's Retro Flashback Time

... but not in a fun way.

If we are supposed to learn stuff from facing challenges, then I'm right on track.  Apparently what one learns from being an adult in conflict with an aging parent is that all the crap from your childhood, the issues you thought you'd so successfully left behind in the dust, were actually just waiting for an opportunity to re-assert themselves.  Dammit.

In case anyone needs a refresher: I work with my step-dad, and due to incredibly complicated and nasty business politics we are currently opposed on some major issues.  This would be bad enough if he were only my boss.  Being opposed to one's boss who is also one's dad (with whom one has had a highly emotional and unharmonious history) is a recipe for psychological disaster.

The force of my reactions caught me off my guard.  I didn't realize how deep in over my head I was until I had my first serious panic attack in two years.  By "serious" I mean that in the middle of a friend's New Year's Eve party I got overwhelmed, went cold and sweaty all over, and had to run to the bathroom to clear out my gastrointestinal tract in the most efficient way possible (i.e. from both ends at the same time).  Yay I am so fun at a party!  Small mercies: the only bathroom in a house full of people and kids was actually free when I needed it.  Also, better a panic attack than my other thought: "I've come down with the stomach flu and all 30 adults and kids here tonight will catch it from me!  I am the spreader of terrible disease! *guiltguiltguilt*".

Poor Ken, who had been enjoying himself, had to leave the party to drive me home, but he was a very good sport about it; as were my friends, who didn't hold any grudge against me for ralphing into their wastebasket.  (I did rinse it fully before I finally surrendered the bathroom to another guest who was outside, knocking to be let in.  I advised my rather shocked hostess, on my way out the door, as to what had transpired and "you might want to disinfect that".  Lo, the shame!)

I have been back to my friends' house several times since The Incident, however last night was the first official party with lots of people and even some I hadn't met before since New Year's Eve.  I was a little nervous.  But I was fine.  In fact, I had a great time.  Yay, sometimes I actually am fun at a party!  I think it helped that since that panic attack I invested some quality time into figuring out where the hell my head is at.

I find it helpful to remind myself that I am 41 years old and no longer at anyone's mercy.  Yes, my future somewhat depends on the decisions of a man who is widely agreed to be moderately loony, but ultimately I can take care of myself.

In the wee hours of this morning I woke myself up screaming from a nightmare in which I had discovered my mother's body hanging from a noose in my childhood home.  There was also a scene in which a little girl was being gripped by a parental figure by her upper arms as the parent dangled her threateningly out of a second-floor window.  (Neither of these things physically happened in my childhood.  Still, the symbolism was apt.)

So, that's how I'm doing.  Grappling with a shitty past that has been resurrected to haunt me.  I'm telling myself what I learned in New Age class: these old injuries come up in order to be healed.  I'm working on it.


DarcKnyt said...

Gosh, aren't family histories fun? I have a bunch of stuff like that too. The problem is, I don't have the mental agility and the IQ to figure out my dreams, symbolism, closet skeletons, or whatever else I encounter. I just...don't ever get it, I guess.

This is hard for you, and I"ll pray, Spark. Let us know if you need anything additionally.

Jenski said...

Ack. Glad you have been working on figuring out what's in your head so you can be the Spark who likes to go to parties! I definitely have looked to my dreams to explain to me why I feel a certain way. Hopefully your anxiety can come to you that way instead of the intestine-emptying way.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

I have dreams hoards of rabid squirrels... what does that mean??? Hope you sort out your demons and avoid more panic attacks.

Granny Annie said...

I was in a therapy group at about your same age. For some reason I would go by my parent's home after the sessions and my mother would always ask, "What horrible thing did you learn this week that I did to you as a child?" Now that my children are your age, I wonder what goes through their heads about how I afflicted them as kids. My recurring dream in my 40's was that I lived in a glass house and all the furniture was glass too. I stood in the middle of a room with one of those spiked balls on a chain and swung it round and round screaming and breaking everything in sight.

Sparkling Red said...

DarcKnyt: Thanks. Yeah, I think it's safe to say that one's family can be an extreme environment. Can't live with 'em, wouldn't want to live without 'em. (Except a little bit sometimes.)

Jenski: Yes, I am willing to face up to life's challenges, but being able to do so without flu-like symptoms is definitely preferable.

Ron: It means that your totem animal is a rabid squirrel. Maybe you could let these dreams inspire your next painting!

Granny Annie: Woah, that's some dream! Okay, I feel better knowing I'm not the only one who has cracked-out dreams like that. ;-)

Lynn said...

Oh my goodness - that dream was terrifying. I hope that's the end of that one and that your issues ease up.

G. B. Miller said...


Hate it when life throws you multiple lollipop curves that hit you in the same spot over and over again.

Vanessa T said...

Aw Spark. :( I'm so sorry. Those seeds planted so long ago seem to be coming up weeds for you. The panic attack, the dreams - yuck! I'll be praying that all these issues get resolved for you asap so they don't rear their ugly heads again. *hugs*

LL Cool Joe said...

Oh I should have read this post first! Sorry it didn't show up in my reader. I too suffer from panic attacks but have to say so far I have avoided the vomiting aspect, but not the other.

Sounds like you are having some tough times at the moment, I'm really sorry, I hope you manage to work through all the crap and feel better soon. I'll pray for you.