The Triumphant Return Of Mistress Renee.

For a very short period in my life, I allowed myself to try something wild, unusual, and very far outside of my comfort zone.  I was in my first year of law school, had recently divorced, and was living alone in Los Angeles.  I was meek, lonely for friends, searching for myself, and decided that regardless of how crazy it was, I was willing to put in the time, effort, and emotion to train to be a Dominatrix. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life, and, surprisingly, one of the best things I ever could have done for my mental health.

I Can’t Believe You Are Sharing This – Have You No Shame?

You know, this is something I thought a lot about. And at the end of the day, I don’t think I have anything to be ashamed of here.  I trained so that I could put on shows at clubs. It’s performance art. I wasn’t a prostitute or anything. I never did any sort of house-calls or had a stable of submissives who did whatever I wanted them to because I gave them the kind of pain they wanted to feel. I didn’t touch anyone sexually or inappropriately, nor was I ever naked or partially naked in any situation that the training or performing involved.

In all honesty, I put on one show, on one night, and decided, “It’s not for me.” and quit.  But I didn’t quit before I learned some important things about myself and about how to tackle life.

Crafting Who You Want To Be

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my Master was teaching me how to like myself — how to actually be the person I most wanted to be in life — by allowing me to create an alter-ego. I first had to come up with a stage name, which felt ridiculous: but what appeal is there to “Rachael”? Does it really inspire any “oohs” or “ahhs”?  This alter-ego allowed me to play make-believe and act differently than I usually did – because it wasn’t me… it was her doing those things. It allowed me to demand respect. It allowed – no, required -me to stand taller. It allowed me to spend money on myself, when I never normally would. It allowed me to spend time reading books on psychology and sexuality and not just spend all of my time on law.

It made me a better version of myself on almost every level, because “Mistress Renee” was not afraid of anything or anyone, where “Rachael” was afraid of her own shadow.  I learned the importance of having the courage of my convictions, the importance of follow-through on threats, the delicacy of negotiation, and the necessity of attention to an infinite number of details for safety’s sake. I learned how to not appear intimidated even when I was almost ready to throw up right where I stood. I learned how to crack an 8 foot signal whip, and the importance of not doing it inside. 🙂 And I learned that I look good in corsets, and I love them.

Hanging Up My Boots & Crop

Fun times with the “Mistress” moniker didn’t last long at all.  One of the first things I learned about myself was that, regardless of the desires of the submissive I was working with, I don’t like physically hurting anyone. It’s just not part of who I am.  It also didn’t help that I had just met a man named Adam who made me smile all the time… and he didn’t particularly enjoy the idea of his new girlfriend publicly performing like that.  Those two things made the decision to quit very clear.

Power & Control

Being a Top is all about power and control. And you have to have it over yourself before you can have it over anyone else.  You have a responsibility to whoever you’re working with to know exactly how the show is going to go.  You have a responsibility to yourself to know that you’re clear-headed, and that you’re acting in line with the agreement you’ve made. You are always on the hook. It is up to you to make sure things go right – not just for yourself, but for your partner, and for the crowd that is watching.

Power & Control are also two things that I feel that I have lost in my life over the years to MS and seizure disorder… and that I am taking back, along with my self-esteem.  I have, for some time now, felt like I am at the effect of my body and my circumstances, and been woefully depressed, convinced of my own impotence to make life better.

The Triumphant Return of My Second Self

Last night, when I told my therapist about having gone through training, she lit up. She said, “You already have all the skills you need to be okay, then. You just need to dust them off.”  And it was in that moment that I could feel my psyche lacing up a pair of high-heeled patent leather boots, and saying to me, “You know how I am to be treated.” and I knew that I would be better than just ok.

It was in that moment that I realized that I have to start thinking of myself as the person that I want to be, and not as the person I judge myself to be.

There are going to be some serious changes in how I take care of myself.  I’ve forgotten that inside of me, there’s a person who doesn’t take any shit, who deserves to be treated like a goddess, and who actually thinks rather highly of herself.  I think I deserve to fully integrate her… and maybe, if he’s agreeable, to go out clubbing with my husband.

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I’ve Gotta Have Faith.

Suicide Isn’t All About Me.

One of the pitfalls of suicidal thinking is that it is inherently self-centered. It happens as an answer to panic, as a self-soothing mechanism, to make you feel, for a time, as though you are somehow back in control of your situation.  Granted, at the time that it is occurring, the thoughts are not nearly that clear. Otherwise, you’d attack the source of your panic and not focus on ending life itself.

What I hadn’t realized, over the many years that suicidal thinking has fucked with my general life, is the numerous messages that I’ve been sending to the people that care about me — especially to my husband, who constantly is by my side, helping me fight against the thinking and the panic… or that the longer that it’s gone on, the more ingrained the messages have become.

Messages like, “I don’t care about how much I hurt you,” or “I don’t love you,” or “I didn’t mean it when I said I’d share the rest of our lives together, because I’m planning to end mine while you’re still young.”  Suicide says, “I don’t appreciate how much love, attention, and care you give me.” It says, “You don’t matter to me. Nothing does.”

But those messages aren’t truth. I wish I knew how to erase their stain.

Doing The Hard Work To Heal

I’m doing everything I can think of to end my suicidal mindset — not just for myself, but because I do love my husband and want to be happy with him.  I’m taking medicine. I’m going to weekly counseling. I’m owning my problem, doing all the work that’s given to me, and am trying, every day, to become a better version of myself.

I am so deeply ashamed of my behavior. It may seem as though I’m proud of it, since I let it all be shown here on my blog, but that’s not the case.  I use this platform as a way of relating to other people, since I spend so much time completely alone in real life.  It’s how I reach out.

I wish I knew how to fix the damage I’ve caused and make everything better.  I feel like the cycle of suicidal thinking has poisoned my best relationships and hardened my heart.  I keep pushing people away. I’d push myself away if I could.  I wish I knew how to forgive myself for being so consistently mean to everyone. I wonder if I even deserve forgiveness.

Where Is The Undo Button In Life?

I swear, if there were a Ctrl-Z function for activities in the real world, I would “undo” all the suicidal bullshit.  It’s so immensely counterproductive.  It doesn’t even achieve what I’m actually after…  and that’s a feeling of peace.

At the end of the day, what I really want – what I really am trying to get, but am fumbling like mad for and am entirely fucking up is basic, run-of-the-mill contentment.  I just want to be okay.  I just want to not flip out, feeling lesser-than or unable to do.  I want to not be constantly afraid or feel like I’m under scrutiny where every little thing I do has to be perfect.

And no one puts me in a position to be judged like that.  I’m the one, very harshly judging myself, every minute of every day. I’m the one causing my panic. I’m the one who is pissing all over true love because I’m too afraid to believe I could actually have it, and in some sick way think its safer to pretend to be tough, while I know the whole time, I’m just hurting both myself and the man I love. I know I’m fucking up, all the time, and I don’t know how to stop it.  But at least I know, at this point, that the way to stop it is not by killing myself, or even fantasizing about it.

So What Does Faith Have To Do With It?

Quite a bit, actually.  I have to believe — have to let myself believe — that things can be okay. I have to stop letting my fears and perceived inadequacies rule my life.  I’m afraid right now even to imagine what life would be like if I weren’t in crisis.  It doesn’t feel safe. I don’t even remember what a normal life is like, I’ve been going through high-stress awfulness for so many years.

I know that I have to stop ruminating over the idea that Adam is going to leave me, and have faith that he really does love me and want to stay with me for the rest of his life – and I have to stop thinking that means he’s going to die soon. He’s told me about a million times that he’s not going anywhere. Worrying about it won’t make any difference, and not believing it only robs us of happiness.

I have to stop being afraid – truly, palpably afraid – every damn day about how I’m going to fill my time so that I don’t think about suicide, and just spend the time actually doing things – whatever they may be.

I have to have faith in myself to change my ways of thinking and acting, faith in my therapist to help me make those changes, and faith in God to sustain me through all of it.

I have to dare to hope.

Catastrophizing is a Catastrophe.

So, this week, my therapist gave me a task that’s been really difficult to endure, but that’s shown me a couple of consistent errors in my thinking.

The Daily Mood Log/Thought Chart For The Win

The way the daily mood log/thought chart works is that you first write the thought you had (preferably without judgment of that thought), then you write the intensity of feeling, then you identify the error in thinking (the kind of automatic negative thought it is), and then you write out a rational thought to replace the negative thought.

There have been times this week that doing the exercise has caused me a great deal of grief because I was busy judging myself for having the negative thoughts to begin with, and further was annoyed that I noticed the repetitive nature of the kinds of ANTs that I was having… but today, I see the point of the exercise.

I consistently overgeneralize, catastrophize, and use emotional reasoning to tear myself down.  Because I feel embarrassed about my current condition, I put myself into panic mode and believe that things are as bad as they can be and use those negative feelings as evidence for why I “should” kill myself. (“Shoulds” are another automatic negative thought!)

Looking over 2 full pages of automatic negative thoughts from the past week, it’s clear as it can be that what’s “trying” to kill me is intolerance to my own sense of shame. I hold myself to some ridiculous, unattainable standard of who I believe I ought to be, and because I am not living up to that standard, I tell myself that I ought to die.

The Real Shame Would Be Dying.

A few days ago, on Facebook, a friend of mine nonchalantly offered $1000 to anyone who would be willing to shoot him in the head because he isn’t able to kill himself.  My response to him was “Fuck you” and unfriending him.  That lead to a really good talk over messages and re-friending, when I was able to convince him that he didn’t really want to die yet.

The hardest (and probably best) part of the conversation we had was when I had to read some of the exact same things that I say to myself consistently, and realizing how totally full of shit we both are when we’re in the thick of suicidal ideation.  Seeing someone you care about talk about how they push away the people they love because they think it’s for their own good makes you realize how backwards that thinking is.

Trying to push away people who love you doesn’t make those people love you any less. It just stops you from accepting their affection into your heart because you don’t feel as though you deserve it. And when it comes to love, you don’t get to choose what you deserve and what you don’t. The people giving the love choose whether or not you’re deserving.  So, at the end of the day, pushing away people who care about you is just another form of self-harm.

Everything Is The Worst Thing Ever… But Not Really.

Earlier this week, on this blog even, I overgeneralized. I said that I never leave the apartment, when in reality, I make it my business to try to leave the apartment at least once a day, at least to go to the gym, and if not to go to the gym, then I go to Walgreens or the grocery store or *something* so that I don’t go absolutely stir crazy.  But the fact of the matter is that I catastrophize and overgeneralize till the cows come home.

To illustrate my point, I think the silliest thought that I wrote on my log that shows how badly I catastrophize and overgeneralize, that I’m willing to share is this one:

“I’m too fat and ugly to exist.”

Now, I’m willing to share this one, because I’m pretty sure every person has had a similar thought to this at one point or another, and when you think about it, discreetly, it’s actually really amusing.

First, I exist exactly as I am.  If I were actually too fat and ugly to exist, I wouldn’t be here. So that’s 1 very clear logical inconsistency. Secondly, I am not that fat or ugly. Overweight? Sure. I work out consistently because I know I’m 70 pounds above my goal weight. (And oddly, I have no problem admitting that to the world. It’s honest. I own it.) I could be fatter and guess what — I’d still be alive. Am I ugly? Not really – in fact according to OkCupid, more people than not think I’m hot. That’s objective reassurance I could never have asked for, but love that I got. So the thought was, in actuality, total bullshit.

I say all this not to suggest that I’m some kind of hottie, but because I think it’s important to recognize that when I wrote the thought down, I was, momentarily, sold on the idea that I was so fat and ugly that I should kill myself. And that’s just silly. 

(Re)Learning to Be More Reasonable

What I’ve noticed, as I’ve read through things, is that with every insult I give myself, I inevitably end it with, “I should just kill myself.” or “I should die.”  And I realize, I’ve been through this before.

The first time I checked myself into a mental health hospital for suicidal depression, in 2003, I was ending almost every thought with, “I should just kill myself.”  Like, “I burned the eggs; I should just kill myself.” or “Fuck, I have to fold clothes – why don’t I just kill myself?” And that’s where I learned the term “suicide addiction,” and learned that the truth of what was going on was that thinking that way gave me some kind of sick feeling of control over my life, when I felt like I had none.

I am sad, noticing that I’m right back in the same place I’ve been before… but I’m glad for 3 things: (1) that I got help and powerfully chose to stop this way of being (2) that I am certain that I can can overcome it, and (3) I didn’t let it get as bad as it was the first time before I chose to stop it.

Addiction, regardless of the type, is never an active choice, but ending the behavior always is. I’m strongly considering joining a Suicide Anonymous Skype meeting on Monday.  I figure it can’t hurt.

Making Progress, Slowly But Surely

I am super sad and lonely today.

Locked Up Without Chains

This housewife thing is old and lame. It feels like solitary confinement: a sort of indefinite punishment for not having a job. It’s like my mind has bought into this lie that, “If you hadn’t gotten that seizure disorder, you’d be doing something worthwhile and emotionally fulfilling right now.” Instead, I am sitting on the couch, in the same spot as always, feeling very badly about myself.

It seems pointless to be home when you don’t have kids to care for.  Any work I do, cleaning the house, doing the dishes, doing laundry, making the bed — it’s all invisible. It all disappears so quickly. Sitting here in the silence, all I can hear are my negative thoughts, beating up on me. I know I should put on music, but I’m too sad right now. The fact that I have the lights on in the house is win for me right now.

But I know that I am making progress, however small it may be.  How do I know I am making progress?  I have been doing work for a friend, and I have songs to practice for a final audition with a band.  That’s 2 out of the 4 things in my “goals” areas. Working towards having a job and working towards having a band. Hell, you could say it’s 3, because my 3rd goal is to like myself, and I like that I’m working towards my goals.

Furthermore, I’m working towards having positive mental health because I’m recording the negative thoughts in a daily thought log, followed up by the column where I acknowledge the dysfunction in thinking (categorizing it by the type of ANT that it is) and then in a final column, writing out a more rational thought.  It’s not easy staring down at a page full of truly horrible thoughts about yourself and having to admit, “Yep. This is how I feel about myself. This is the way I talk in my head.” But at least I have documented proof of what an abusive bully I really am, and can continue the process of retraining myself to be more friendly.

Practicing Good Self-Care?

I think the hardest thing for me to do right now is practice good self-care. When you’re in the thick of change, something happens – sort of a pushback from your psyche, like saying “No. I’m not going to let you get better.”  and all the basics fall to shit.

For a while there, I was doing really well. I was showering daily, brushing my teeth twice a day, flossing, styling my hair, putting on clothes as if I were leaving the apartment (ha! That’s a good one! Like I have anywhere to go.), taking my pills on time, and making sure to eat all meals.  But that’s not happening right now.  Even as I write this, I am thinking to myself, “Hey, it’s almost 1:30. You should eat something today. Seriously.”  Yesterday’s shower was a serious victory after 4 days of overthinking my way out of taking one.

Adam wants to go to the gym tonight when he gets home from work.  I know if I don’t make myself eat something within the next hour, I’m not going to be able to do that. So, I’m going to make myself eat… and I’m going to get into gym clothes so I don’t have any excuses.  Part of the reason I’ve been feeling so bad recently, I think, is because we stopped working out due to illness.

I’m Not Quitting

At least, if I can say anything about myself that I’m proud of, it’s that I am not a quitter.  I’ve been down like this before, and I’ll probably be down like this again.  But I’m not staying here. I’m not going to wallow. I’m going to finish this blog entry, eat some damn lunch, get dressed in something other than pajamas, and start cleaning the house… not because I like it, but because I have discipline (which in most cases is more important than motivation) and I have the desire to feel some amount of pride in myself.  That’s worth a lot.

I’m finding, more and more, that the path to happiness lies in self-discipline.  I just have to find a way to get there without being so mean to myself. Maybe I’ll get there one day.

A Wizard Did It.

I love 3 day weekends. I’m always stoked to have an extra day to hang out with my husband. You may be wondering about the title of this post… well, it all ties together because in every situation that ties to this weekend, somehow or other… a wizard did it. It’s the only rational explanation.

Two earths?!

We finished watching the entire series of Battlestar Galactica on Friday night, and holy crap, am I glad that I never ever have to watch another episode of that depressing, histrionic crapfest that constantly begs the question, “Who’s the real monster?”. But we made it through! Every minute of every frakking episode! So I have the legitimate geek cred to say, in awesomely funny situations, “This has all happened before, and this will all happen again.”  That alone makes it worth it. 🙂  (What? There’s no merit badge for my sash? Oh well…)

A Pub Crawl. Really??

Then on Saturday night, we headed down to the Gallery Cabaret to see my long-time friend Andy perform stand-up comedy, like he does every Saturday night. And we magically landed on the one night of the year that happens to coincide with a pub crawl. The place was jam-packed. It was insane – but the comedy was good, so it was totally worth it.

A THIRD audition?!

I got an email on Saturday — the band I’ve auditioned with twice still hasn’t made their mind up about me. Part of me thinks that’s a bad thing, but of all the “wants” they could have of me, what they’re asking for is “more emotion.” This boggles my mind. I’ve never, in my natural life, been asked by anyone to emote more. If anything, I’ve been asked to tone it down. The words “drama queen” and “ham” have been thrown around since I was a wee babe. They want more? Come the 27th (the next time we meet), I’ll give em as much as I can handle.

The Invention of the Sewing Machine: clearly.

After owning it for 2 years, and looking at it longingly in the box, we’ve decided to finally learn how to use our sewing machine, so we’ve been watching a lot of video classes on Craftsy.com. Tonight, we’re jumping into the pool with both feet and are making throw pillows for the couch. We’ve cut the fabric. We’ve wound our first bobbin. Adam’s threaded the machine.  It only took an hour and a half for our first try at a stitch. Hey, you. Stop laughing. That machine is kinda scary… and besides… we’re pretty sure it’s magic.

Good Things All Around!

The Assistance Fund Came Through For Me! 🙂

I’m so super happy!  I got a call this morning, and the Assistance Fund got more money as of this morning. So, I’m going to be able to order myself some Copaxone this afternoon and will be back on medication very soon!  This is a huge weight off my (and my family’s) shoulders, and I have to say, I have never been so excited about being able to give myself nightly injections. 🙂

I had a very happy Valentine’s Day!

Yesterday was a lot of fun. Adam and I tried a new-to-us restaurant that’s near where we live, called Ruk Sushi and Thai.  Neither of us was particularly pleased with our meal, but I’m always happy when we try a new place. I got sushi, which I tend to save for special occasions, since it’s so pricey — and their maki rolls were surprisingly tiny! I ordered 2 different types of rolls, thinking that would be plenty, but I was still really hungry afterward. Adam’s red chicken curry was almost nothing but bamboo shoots… to the point that he started picking them out because he couldn’t handle eating them anymore… so that left us in a situation that demanded that we continue to eat. We made the best of it by having ice cream! And that’s a treat that is rare for this household. 🙂 Chocolate chip cookie dough, oh, how I love thee… ❤

Adam also got me some beautiful flowers: stargazer lillies and some purple mums. It’s funny to me to see them being their gorgeous selves inside a Folgers coffee can.  One of these days, I’ll go to Goodwill, spend a whole dollar, and get a proper vase. 🙂

Tonight, we get back to the gym!

Yes, I am actually excited about this. For several months, Adam and I were going to the gym at least 3 times a week, regularly, but for the last 2-3 weeks, we haven’t gone, because we’ve been alternating on who’s sick.  And you can’t go to the gym when you’re coughing up a lung. Well, you can. It’s just really not polite to spread your germs that way.  Adam and I have both been missing the stress-relief and mood lift that comes with working out, not to mention, our bodies need it.

It’s sunny outside AND it’s a 3-day weekend, people!

As if things needed to be better, the weather is fantastic today, and it’s a Friday before a 3-day weekend.  I mean, you really can’t ask for better than that.  You just can’t.

This weekend, Adam and I are gonna work on that sewing project that we started about 3 weeks ago (and by “that sewing project,” I mean learning how to use the sewing machine and then making pillows using it) — and we have a 60% off fabric coupon from JoAnn Fabrics because it’s President’s Day weekend.

Add to that the fact that yesterday, I totally cleaned the house from top to bottom, so there’s not much for me to do today, and you’ve got a recipe for a completely happy Rae.

Life is good today, folks. Life is damn good.

Life: It has it’s ups and downs.

DOWN: I still have no MS medicine.

The monthly copayment for my Copaxone is $1,790.53. Needless to say, I cannot afford that, so I’m looking for help.

Copayment Assistance Programs for Copaxone

The Assistance Fund – They’re out of funds, but say to check back online daily.

Patient Access Network – They’re also out of funds, but say to check back online daily.

Chronic Disease Fund – must call daily to check if they have funds. I’ve already been approved. They just have no money…today, anyway.

It has been tough asking for help repeatedly and being turned down, but I’m not giving up. My neurological safety is at stake!

UP: I had a great second audition tonight.

The second audition with the band went really well tonight. I had a fun time making music with them and am looking forward to making more music in the future — especially since they are interested in hearing some of my songwriting.

I am looking forward to making music a bigger part of my everyday life. It is clearly key to my happiness.

I am also stoked that the members of the band and I have more in common than just music.  I found out tonight that most of them are attorneys, which tickles me, since I was so close to becoming one myself.

Overall, things are hopeful and good.