How have my voices been this week?
Following last week’s ‘date-deal‘ with Vanessa and Meadhbh, this was the first week since I began going to the HVSG where my people never once tried to talk me out of going.
In fact since causing me to have a freak-out on Wednesday, they’ve all been reasonably well-behaved. Which, truth be told, is a little un-nerving!
For the last few weeks only Meadhbh has been accompanying me to the HVSG. However, following our lengthy conversation on Saturday last week – where I reiterated to her this endeavour was not about erasing her, but finding ways to build better relationships – Audrey decided to come along to find out for herself what it was all about. Fortunately for me she decided to bring her own bike – as cycling with two hallucinations perched on my handlebars would have been a mite difficult!
Thus – because of the three-way conversation I was engaged in – I didn’t have time to become anxious or nervous about the coming events. Meadhbh was telling Audrey about her life as a Dragon Slayer, Audrey was doing her best to ignore Meadhbh whilst asking me questions about the group and what she should expect and I was doing my best not to ride into any cars, walls or inconveniently placed trees with so many distractions around me.
As a result I was late to the group. As the three of us walked into the room we were met with a circle of fifteen people all sitting in an uncomfortable silence.
“Has someone died?” Audrey asked.
For those of you who haven’t worked it out yet, Meadhbh can be a bit ‘childish’. There’s nothing wrong with this, in fact, her wide-eyed excitement over the little things in life is one of the things I most love about her. So, when this week’s warm-up game revolved around saying zip, zap or boing with excited glee, Meadhbh was in her element.
The object of the activity was to move around a circle saying one of those three words. If you said zip, you kept going around the circle. If you said zap, the direction changed and you went back the other way. If you decided to use boing, you bounced to the person opposite you and it resumed going around the circle.
It was kinda weird, and a little boring, but goddamn did Meadhbh enjoy herself. She was adamant that I had to do whatever action she decided and was having a gleeful time of it.
Meanwhile, Audrey sat back wondering what on earth she had got herself involved in.
Record breaking time!
By the time we finished the warm-up game more people had arrived, meaning the group was now bulging at its twenty-person strong seams.
As regular followers of my HVSG posts will know, this section of the group is the one most likely to create immense (at times uncontrollable) anxiety. As I have stated frequently in the past, the larger the group, the less likely I am going to say anything. So when my time came I pulled my “I’m not in a very communicative mood at the moment so I have nothing to share” trick and sat back to listen to everyone else.
Part of me thought this was for the best. If I had forced myself to share there could have been a repeat of week two’s babbling ramble that precipitated a panic attack. Plus, due to the size of the group, I thought the less people shared would mean we could get around everyone without it taking up the entire group. The problem was, pretty much everyone else seemed to have the same idea!
Less than thirty minutes later everyone had had their chance and we were left wondering how we’d managed twenty odd people in such record time!
Cue a smoko.
For those not familiar with this term
“Smoko” (also ‘smoke-o’ or “‘moke-oh’) is a term used in Australian English, New Zealand English and Falkland Islands English for a short, often informal, cigarette break taken during work or military duty, although the term can also be used to describe any short break such as a rest or a coffee/tea break.”
The history of my people…
You may remember that in week 02 of my HVSG adventure, I began working through a workbook that allows me to explore my voices from various angles. In that week, I looked at my dreams, whereas this week I tackled the ‘history of my voices’ segment of the book, which asks: “Can you describe for each voice, the circumstances you first heard them? E.g. where, when, how old were you? What was happening in your life?”
Now, I’ve stated in the past that my initial meetings with my various voices is something that I struggle to recall. So much has happened over the years that remembering every last detail is something I can no longer do. So, as I sat down to complete this section of the workbook, I didn’t quite know where to start. Until Audrey began to nostalgically reminisce about our first meeting…which prompted Meadhbh (still a little jealous over the time Audrey and I have been spending together) to do the same.
The things that always pisses me off about you, Addy, is you always get it wrong! Did I really mean so little to you? Piffs. You weren’t thirteen. You were twelve. Twelve years, five months, eighteen days and four hours, to be more precise. You were sitting on the playing fields at school after playing football, gazing lustfully at that vixen’s ass. Remember? How her knickers peeked out from her netball skirt as she cartwheeled across the grass? C’mon! I know you do! Don’t you? You must. You do. Piffs. Anyway, I told you that you should just waltz the fuck over there and say hey, great ass and take it from there. You were hot, she was hot, you both were hot, what’s the prob? Piffs. But I didn’t know you back then, not like now. You wouldn’t ignore me now like you did that day
The problem is I don’t remember that. I (rather blissfully) recall sneaking glimpses of Natalie’s posterior during various gym classes (god bless netball skirts!) but I have no memory of hearing Meadhbh during those times. However, as I would often think back then that everyone could hear her, perhaps I thought nothing of it.
My own first memory (of sorts) of hearing Meadhbh was much later. After I’d started slicing my leg with compasses, after I’d started writing self-hate fuelled messages into my flesh with scissors.
So, your first memory of me was that night? The night with the fork? I don’t want to think about that. Don’t make me think about that. I’ll fucking hate you if you make me go back there. Makes me wanna cry. You were such a beautiful boy. So kind. So sweet. So passionate. So I told you that. And you heard me. Didn’t you? Admit it. So why didn’t you believe me?
What I did with the fork was heat it up with a lighter before pushing the burning prongs into my heel. That’s when I first remember Meadhbh coming into my life; her petite form lying with me on the bed, soothing my tears with her infectious Scottish lilt.
Not much of a fairy tale, is it? Piffs. But you were so sad. So lost. You always were. And I hate you for that. Sometimes I want to watch you burn, Addy. But. But. What was happening to you wasn’t your fault. Not back then. Your sister’s illness, the bullying, your mum’s pain. See. I can answer the questions. None of that nor the neglect or shit you had to deal with was your fault. Not always. You thought no-one cared but I cared. I did. Yes. Piffs. I still do.
Like you cared in oh-seven?
Unfortunately, I had spent so long reminiscing with Meadhbh I hadn’t noticed everyone else had finished their section and gathered back in the main group. Thus, in order to not piss Audrey off, I promised I’d let her tell her story later in the week.
Don’t give her ideas!
By the time I rejoined the group I realised for the first time how many people had left early. In the space of ninety minutes we’d gone from twenty odd people, to eight. This meant that when we began discussing the workbooks and soul-searching we’d been undertaking, I was able to speak a little more freely. The simple fact is, the smaller the group, the easier I find it to open up.
So I spoke about how the workbook is similar in many respects to the interview I’m working through with my support worker regarding my voices. I admitted that I had been using it to write (as yet unpublished) blog posts and that so far, the hardest section has been the ‘triggers’ section. For some reason, even though I am aware of my major PTSD/anxiety/bipolar triggers, I’ve never been able to put my finger on the things that set my voices raging.
One of the other members of the group then shared a story in which a woman who had undertaken the same interview process as I am currently doing was much like me in not being able to identify the triggers. However, one of her voices could, so sent an email to the counselor to explain them.
This immediately set Meadhbh off: I want an email…I want an email…you have to set me up an email…I could email you…I could…ohhhhhh, I NEED an email!
So, in order to appease her, she now has an email address!
Under the bridge (reprise)
On the way home from the group we decided to stop under the same bridge Meadhbh and I had stopped under two weeks ago. As I rolled a cigarette, Meadhbh told Audrey about the scolding I’d given her in this spot, something that amused Audrey no end as she’s long believed Meadhbh gets away with way too much.
Whilst Meadhbh sulked over Audrey’s curt words, Audrey apologised for her initial reaction to my HVSG attendance. She told me that the initial introduction (in which the group leader welcomes any voices who may be present and tells them they’re in a safe place) made her feel all warm and gooey. The zip-zap-boing game, although geared more toward Meadhbh’s childishness, was amusing. Whilst the workbook helped ease her fears over her belief I was trying to eradicate her. She’s still not one-hundred percent sure about the group and believes it will ultimately lead to my humiliation and destruction (so I should reconsider my attendance to protect myself!)
I told her I would think about it; but that because I’m (slowly) beginning to feel less anxious about attending, the group may very well help, rather than hinder me.
Things I learned from the group this week:
- Meadhbh’s memories of the first time she talked to me.
- Audrey is the most well-behaved of my voices.
- I (still) really don’t like playing the warm-down ball game (that sounds dirtier than I mean it to!)
- You never know what’s going to happen at a support group.
- An undeniable truth: the less people around me, the more I talk.
- I still haven’t died as a result of attending the group.