Monday, August 02, 2010

Therapy.....Or, Don't Cry For Me Copacabana...



She's got eyes of the bluest skies,

As if they thought of rain,

I hate to look into those eyes,

And see an ounce of pain,

("Sweet Child O' Mine", Guns & Roses)


Night before last, at the stroke of midnight, I awoke in the middle of a nightmare, and I experienced one of the worst panic attacks I've had in weeks. The panic played out like a piano doing scales.....going up and down throughout every single secret thought which haunts me....

My nightmares are always the same....I'm in a foreign country during my childhood and I'm re-experiencing the same thing over and over...

I had been remembering a bloody political riot on the famous Copacabana Beach when my parents were stationed in Brazil. That day my family had been at the beach. I was a small child, as was my younger sister, and we were playing at the warm water's edge where the waves lapped at our legs and we were laughing at something silly. My parents were located way up the beach, near the street, sunning themselves on a blanket stretched out, a picnic lunch packed in a cooler.

All of a sudden, seemingly coming from nowhere, there were hundreds of people fighting on the beach directly in front of us..... fighting to the kill. The beach went dark with scores of people battling each other. My sister and I stood stock still in the water, frozen in horror, each of us dropping our little sand buckets, which floated merrily away, never to be seen again. My sister and I both saw machetes and knives in people's hands, attacking and dueling it out in the riot---and blood was flowing freely. My sister and I couldn't run to safety because our parents were on the other side of the riot. The only other way was back into the water---and neither of us could swim.

And then I saw him.

It was my tall, dark-haired father. Unbelievably, he was forcing his way through the riot--and I had never seen such a frightened, but determined, look on his face. As he made his way through the thick of the fighting hordes, he used any means or tactic he could to get through, shoving people out of the way with both arms. I even saw him kick some people out of the way. My father was a powerful man. When he was almost to the water, I saw him vault over a dying man who had fallen onto the sand, bleeding his life away. And....unbelievably, my father made it to my sister and I without any injury.

He grabbed us girls up, one with the right arm and the other with the left, and as he gripped us tight with his powerful arms, he courageously began wading back through the riot, us small girls each held like a football clutched under the arm of an NFL football player running for a touchdown. As we traveled wildy through the riot, I was inches away from people getting their throats slit and other people reeling backwards from being fatally stabbed---and I watched in horror as the mortally wounded people fell to the sand, which by now was running red rivers of blood.

But my father heroically made it back to the street, both his daughters safe, where my mother stood crying with relief when she saw us girls. We ran out of the area as fast as we could, among crowds of others trying to get away from the riot, my parents holding my sister and I tightly. And I'll never forget, as we made our way home, my mother crying piteously the entire time.

And there's other panic flashbacks...but let's not talk of them now...

Where was I?

Oh yes....the LRRH and my studio.

Anyway, I got up from bed and took a sedative, Klonopin, to try and diminish the panic attack. (Which only helped a little bit). Then I went back to bed and tossed and turned all night, sweating and waiting feverishly for the light of day, too afraid to go back to sleep in case the terrible nightmare returned.

I've had these panic attacks all my life. And the PTSD flashbacks can occur at any time without warning. No therapist has ever been able to help me cease having them, although the meds they have put me on have helped diminish the number of occurrences. I feel bitter about these attacks--and I also feel cursed and envious when I see all the normal people around me who don't experience panic attacks.

And then I get angry and ask God: "Why me? Why have you given me all this crap? Don't I have enough on my plate without things like alcoholism, absolutely no self-esteem, and anxiety 24/7 that sets off these panic attacks? And would it have been too much to ask that you didn't give me this horror-filled life, which caused my psychiatric breakdown and the subsequent need for intense therapy 3 days a week? WHY WHY WHY! Why did you pile all this stuff onto your creation called Bo???"

In the morning, I called Jack, my therapist, and he talked to me awhile to get me to stop crying so hard. Eventually I calmed down a little and then he gave me an assignment for that day to help distract me from the lingering effects of the panick. He told me to work on the Little Red Riding Hoodie--- and to work on them faithfully for the next few days. Through my tears, I promised to do just that.

So I did as he asked, and the results you can see here.

First, I worked in the studio. My hands still shaking from the after effects of the panic attack, I grabbed a big piece of black clay, wondering what to make out of it. And then I started working....

After conditioning the clay by squeezing it awhile till it was soft and pliable, I rolled it out flat.

Then, still trying to calm myself, I stamped the piece all over with words like "hope", "peace", "passion", "truth", and "love". And then I used a cookie cutter to stamp out heart shaped cut-outs from the clay. I had decided that I was going to make buttons.

I still had leftover tears rolling down my cheeks as I worked. I had to keep wiping them away so they wouldn't drip onto the buttons-in-progress.

Per the advice of my friends at the polymer clay list, I applied sparkly blue Pearl Ex powders to the heart cut-outs before I baked them, just brushing the top of them with the glittery Pearl Ex, which made the stamped words more noticeable. I decided that I loved the glittery blue on black. And then I baked them.

While the buttons were baking in my convection oven, I worked on the Little Red Riding Hoodie. Right now I'm currently crocheting a thin black line of single crochet on the button band area. As I work further on the LRRH, you'll see why I did that.

Below is it's pic---sorry the picture is upside down but I had to take the picture that way to avoid putting my shadow on the garment.

Meanwhile, Little Baby, as usual, wants tuna. But sometimes I just can't drop what I'm doing, especially since she wants it all day. I mean, sometimes I'll put a big glob of tuna on her plate, and she'll eat hers and Leonard's, too----and then she'll start asking for it ALL OVER AGAIN!!!!!!

So now she has a new tactic---she just sits by her dishes all day with a disgusted look on her face in order to shame me into putting tuna on there. It doesn't bother me in the bit.

But it is unnerving.....

Well, I finally finished the heart buttons. After they cooled down from being baked, I painted some of the words or partial words on them red (one on each button) and then I finished by applying a nice gloss coat. (This picture of them is weird. In reality they are more blue---I think the flash of the camera blinded them in light.)

Now all I have to do is drill the buttonholes.


You're waiting for someone to understand you,

But you've got demons in the closet,

And you're screaming out to stop it,

Saying life's begun to cheat you,

Friends are out to beat you,

Grab onto what you can scramble for....

("Hide in Your Shell", Supertramp)




kg said...

I like how the LRRH is turning out!
And the buttons! Maybe someday I'll have time to try something like this, thanks for giving me ideas!
Little Baby's front paws crossed just so completes the impatiently waiting for tuna look!

Bo... said...

Thanks, kg. After I finish this line of black on the button band area, I'm going to have to pin the trim around and see how much more I have to go. Then....the wrist trim using the mitten needles, aaargh!

Maren said...

the hoodie and buttons are just beautiful Bo!
good job!!

Anonymous said...

as usual I am floored by the amount of work in that gorgeous LRRH!
It looks wonderful.

I was really saddened by your post about that hellish scene you witnessed as a child. I can only imagine the terror that caused and how it would leave you with PTSD. I hope that over time the panic attacks will diminish and that your therapists can help you through all the feelings you are dealing with.
I agree that working on your knitting, your beadwork and even writing on your blog will all help you and always know that your friends are "out here" willing to lend and ear or a shoulder when needed!
lovin' those buttons...

Bo... said...

Thank you, Maren!!! I finally finished the LRRH and am working on its trim now. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel....

Bo... said...

Thank you, Donna, for understanding the PTSD. You know, throughout my childhood and adulthood I didn't understand why I was like that, and then when I finaly did understand exactly what it was, I felt like a total wimp. I felt like I ought to just pull myself up by my bootsraps. The therapists say it all came out after I stopped drinking and no longer had the alcohol to "self-medicate". I mean, it got really bad when I stopped drinking. So that's what they're helping me with now---healthy ways to deal with it instead of the booze! It helps that a friend like you understands. And I have to admit, I have the greatest therapists in the world---I see them 3 days a week and even on the days I don't see them, they're available by phone.

Anonymous said...

The buttons are simply beautiful. Nice work.

Bo... said...

Thank you, Anonymous!

Jenn said...

Oh, Bo!

I wish you less pain! Your story breaks my heart.

The LRRH hoodie is beautiful. Keep on creating. The things you make show that beauty can rise from pain.


Kali said...

The LRRH is the most amazing creation! I have watched it grow and marveled at the persistence, patience, and sheer design genius you have used to produce it. Kudos and admiration!

I, too, suffer from anxiety attacks out of the blue. Rational thought does not contain or control them. Creative coping skills such as button-making (yours are so gorgeous!) and knitting help me as I see they do you. Another coping skill, for me, is music. You, too, I see.

You're doing good, no, great! Applause!

Sue Hoppe said...

Oh Bo - I am so proud of you. You were able to talk about the horror of the beach and then make some beautiful things while recovering - the buttons and LRH. I'm eternally grateful that I don't have your demons but I don't have your creativity either.

I really appreciate you sharing all of you ~ and Blaine :-)

Bo... said...

Thank you, Sue, Kali, and Jenn! You have no idea how much your comments cheer me up! And I'm going to be working on the LRRH's trim today. That's all I have left is the trim for the buttonbands and the trim for the wrists.

Luba said...

What a horrific story. I'm so glad you are surrounded by supportive people & that you have a creative outlet which to allow you to concentrate for many hours. I truly hope you can be rid of your panic attacks as it's all about the right balance of environment, medication, therapy - but I'm sure you know that already. Wishing you the best.

Bo... said...

Thank you so much, Luba. Your support means a lot to me.

Cindy/KS said...

Bo, If I were there I would give you a hug! That is so much for a child to deal with!And now to continue dealing with it as an adult has to almost be worse.

We got the wedding done, I have been trying to get rested up this week. Glad the week is over & hope to get some knitting done this weekend. Have even been too tired to do that.

LRRH looks great! Glad you went back to it & have finished the main part. I did get another pair of socks done for 1 of my brothers, all except the weaving in of ends. Just have to see him to get them to him.

Take care & I hope to get in touch more again!

Bo... said...

Thank you, Cindy! Yes, definitely give yourself a rest! And knitting is the perfect relaxation! It's true, I have the body done on the LRRH, but I am now working on the trim. I need 44" of big leaf trim for each side of the buttonband edges---and then a wrist's length of the tiny leaf trim for each wrist. I've got a string going for all 4 of those locations except for one of the wrists.

Grannie said...

Tears in my eyes for your pain Bo, that you are surviving so beautifully is inspiring to many. With the burden you bear comes a blessing in the guise of this great creativity you are blessed with.

A little prayer going up for peace for your soul.


Bo... said...

Thank you so very much, Marlene! Your comment has brightened my day. I hope you and yours have a wonderful New Year!

Grannie said...

Thanks Bo for the good wishes, the same to you and yours!