Alice would really love to give an update on how things are with Carl, but she's feeling like it is a moot point.
She poured love on his wounds, exhausting herself.
She thought everything was all better.
They had a magical evening watching a Doors cover band with their good friends.
Then, when she was writing Part 5, he came into her studio and told her he "came down to tell her she's done writing."
Someone once said that is what a woman says when she says "Fuck you."
Then he denied saying what he said.
And when he finally admitted to saying it, he said it was a joke. Why does she have to be so sensitive? She is so unreasonable.
And there was more, but... Whatever.
Let's just say that lies and head games are not fair play.
Her heart is chop suey.
She couldn't write the whole thing out if she tried, because her brain feels like pudding.
And it's not the first time she has felt this way.
One of the groups she was on was called unschoolingpartnerships. On it, the importance of family was stated over and over. Divorce was a four letter word. In an anti-authoritarian group, the energy was insanely authoritarian. Parents acting in their own best interest was never seen as a good example for children, rather narcissistic behavior leading to trauma in the children.
Unschooling is an educational strategy which trusts in the inherent goodness of children, and espouses unconditional regard for those children, and has the best interests of the children at heart.
Is it good for a woman to give up all of her hopes and dreams? What if, in giving up those hopes and dreams, her daughter is not capable of pursuing her own hopes and dreams? Children learn by watching a parents' actions. Furthermore, if a spouse is against a mother's freedom to choose what she wants to do with her life, isn't that an inequitable arrangement?
When Googling "marriage autonomy," Alice discovers that the jury is out on whether or not codependency is a necessary component of marriage. She shares this information with Carl.
Taped on the wall next to her computer monitor is a piece of copy paper with the quote: "The most important work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes." - Harold B. Lee
Alice spent years feeling badly for Carl that he was married to her. She felt like a burden to him in many ways. She had many more healthcare needs, need for stability, need for lots of sleep, need for food, need for personal space, need for independence, need for organization, need for reliable transportation, need for shelter, need for functional appliances, need for utilities, need for clothing, need for mowed lawn, need for birth control, need for trust, need for communication, need for emotional intimacy. It was a lot to ask.
Because Nolan had sensory integration issues as a child, Alice threw herself into the world of alternative medicine. It was an expensive pursuit, but her degree in neurobiology had her convinced that environmental factors were at work in Nolan's hypersensitivities. She made all of her own cleaning chemicals, she bought only organic food, she drove to several farms a week to get milk, eggs, vegetables and meat. They ate out only one night a week. The rest she cooked meals from Nourishing Traditions and Julia Child.
She sneaked liver and other oddball organs into their meals.
The children became gastronomes.
She made her own yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchee and kefir.
She attempted to keep a garden (this is apparently not in the cards).
She used cloth diapers.
She got fired by two doctors - her primary care physician and her husband's neurologist.
She figured out their special nutritional needs from genetic testing.
This troublemaking took a lot of money, time and energy. It hurt to feel like all of her efforts were regarded as selfish somehow. Alice understands now that it must have been difficult to live with someone who is unpredictable, expects unconditional trust, and who also will go down any rabbit hole, no matter how expensive, and against any authority. She's a little bit reckless (or is it creative?) when she is desperate for solutions. As long as it doesn't hurt others, she always thought, but she didn't think about how it hurt Carl, because everything she did was out of love for her children.
The biggest issue with having PTSD are the triggers everywhere. It's possible to be mindful of and avoid triggers, or use therapy, meditation, square breathing or cannabis to mitigate the effects.
When the person you love has become a trigger, it's hard to know what to do.
For Alice, cannabis helps a lot, but then she also thinks that is no way to live.
She knows she does not need cannabis when she is away from people who trigger her.
And now she thinks maybe she might know a thing or two about addiction.
But really, cannabis also helps her to think of her situation from other perspectives and also see things in a more positive light. Not take them so personally. Things she can do without cannabis outside of her home, with ease.
Hans Selye described a medical state called "Generalized Adaptation Syndrome (GAS)." In it, animals reared in conditions of chronic stress suffered from shrunken vital organs. The stress hormones released in a challenging environment, over time, cause the organs to atrophy. Stressful environments directly impact a living being's health.
Alice finds it much harder to sink into meditation when there is stress in her environment. She noticed, over time, a pattern. Monthly, because she cycles so closely to the moon, she needs time in solitude before she bleeds. Every February and August she goes through an adjustment from ovulating with the full moon to ovulating with the new moon, and vice versa. So those months were usually a little rougher, energetically. Those times also happen to coincide with Alice and Carl's birthdays. The winter holidays were also highly stressful, trying to navigate the energies between Carl's large family, and her small one. She always thought she would have been happier to see everyone more during the year than spend money on a bunch of stuff none of them needed out of obligation. Their clients also typically had a little kiniption fit right around this time, requiring emergency plane tickets around the world during the height of flu season.
So, if we're being honest, spring and fall are pretty awesome time of year, and then because of the stress of birthdays and holidays and small business ownership, the winter and summer are kind of rough.
Alice tried a lot of different things to help her anxiety and depression over the years. She tried the "everything free" diet - which was gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free, egg-free and soy-free. She was vegan for a week. They had energy healing treatments. Acupuncture. Gym memberships. Running. Personal trainers. Tanning and red light therapy. Infrared sauna. Avoiding environmental chemicals. Yoga. Emotional Freedom Technique. Meditation. Art.
That's what finally worked.
She's sure she's forgetting a bunch of stuff.
It was all annoying and expensive.
"Oh my god, you have to see this, " Carl says. He is watching a Netflix special about a father of two girls whose wife passed away from breast cancer. The man was detailing the dangers of environmental toxins, and Carl was having a Come to Jesus moment about Alice having been in her right mind all those years that she wouldn't buy polyester pajamas for the kids because of the flame retardant chemicals, or how she was trying to eliminate carpet from her life.
Or all those hours she spent reading the Superfund website and the Toxic Release Inventory for all the places they lived.
Or how she warned all of the painters in her group of friends that odorless mineral spirits are a neurotoxin, and got them to go solvent-free or use natural turpentine.
"What I said, what I said," Alice says. When Nolan was one year old, he used to say this when they didn't understand what he said and asked him to repeat himself.
Alice reaches over and grabs a random book about environmental toxins off the bookshelf in her sitting room. It is nestled between books about dietary cholesterol, unsaturated fatty acids, menstrual cycles, education, and of course David Sedaris and Sherman Alexie, who she can now file with Matt Lauer and Tom Cruise. She tries to hand the book to Carl, but he doesn't want it.
"I just got it - I just realized that the environmental toxin panel you had run on yourself wasn't just a reflection of your own exposure, it was a reflection of your environment," Carl says, obviously wondering about his own exposure, now. Now that a man lost his wife, the word has made it into mainstream media. Netflix. Only a man can legitimately question corporate interests. Women are just troublemakers. Don't you know, we all benefit from better living through chemistry?
"Yeah," she says, thinking about her elevated barium levels back in 2006, and her elevated lead levels back in 2014. The levels weren't high, but the toxicologists at CU were rightfully concerned about any ongoing lead exposure, and blood tests typically indicate recent exposure. She didn't use any lead in her artwork. She asked them if it could be from bone turnover, and they thought that sounded plausible. Later, she realized it could have been from all the stock she was making, since lead gets stored in bone. Or maybe it is solder joints in the water line in her house, which would really irritate Carl. So, nevermind.
Once upon a time, she had a bunch of books about low-carb dieting, but she donated them to the thrift store after trying that experiment for a couple of years.
Much to Carl's dismay - because he was doing quite well on that regimen. He thrived under harsh conditions - weight lifting six days a week, running 10ks several times a week, fasting - what didn't kill him made him stronger.
Alice, however, was a bit more delicate.
The cardboard boxes arrived from Mexico with a green postcard taped to the ends, the contents handwritten in blue ink. Liothyronine, they said. Thyroid hormone.
Alice had tested her reverse T3 in 2010 to see how badly the low carb diet had harmed her metabolism. She had elevated prolactin, maybe from the years of breastfeeding. Taking T3, which she could purchase online from Mexico, would help reduce both these problems. It was cheaper to doctor herself than to go to the doctor.
She took a sixth of a tablet every 4-6 hours. It immediately helped feelings of depression and anxiety. So, she stayed on the regimen, retesting her own lab values periodically so as to not make herself hyperthyroid.
However, she made herself hyperthyroid.
This is why her doctor fired her.
Getting yelled at by your doctor is not a lot of fun.
And it has to be difficult to be a doctor for a scientist with way too much time on her hands.
She has a new doctor now - a woman - and she talks about the difficult things with her doctor. She has told the doctor about her cannabis use, about how she surreptitiously took thyroid medication, and also her supplementation regimen. She talks to her about her depression, and also about the stress in her home.
Her new doctor recommended biofeedback for her anxiety, and that is what got Alice to pay attention to her breath. She got a little device called a Spire, which looks like a little rock that she was able to fasten to her bra. If she began to breathe too fast, it would buzz, letting her know she needed to take a deep breath.
She would learn some interesting things from the Spire, the most important being that she had stress reactions watching other people receive criticism. This happened when she was taking sculpture class. Siggy remarked at what a tremendous sense of empathy Alice had.
This is was led Alice to learning more about Mirror Touch Synesthesia, and low vibrations.
She is wondering if on some level, people who need healing automatically know how to trigger someone with Mirror Touch Synesthesia in order that they get a supply of empathy.
As a person with PTSD and Mirror Touch, she's wondering if those things go hand in hand. Does abuse cause Mirror Touch?
She's wondering if, when you live with someone who violates your trust, if over time as it finally dawns on you that you can't trust this person to change, do you eventually lose the ability to trust anyone? Alice is worried about this, as she has been hurt by a few other people of late.
What if you still enjoy sex with this person?
What if they still feel like home to you?
What if you can't stop forgiving them, because you understand their brokenness too well?
What if, maybe, on some level you are conditioned to find validation in masochism?
Have you heard of the four horsemen of the marriage apocalypse?" Siggy asks Alice. "The last one is contempt."
Alice's heart sinks. Contempt has been on the docket for years.
Maybe they are too far gone.
Am I too far gone
For you to save me, save me
How couldn't you see that I was crazy?
Can we start from the beginning now?
It feels like I'm really living now
Maybe, maybe, everyone's a little bit jaded
Can we start from the beginning now?
It feels like I'm really living now
- Sir Sly, Too Far Gone
This brave and idiotic musing is brought to you by a lovely Tropical Fruit-flavored hybrid CO2-estracted distillate, a Blue Dream distillate, Bethesda Entertainment's new release of Fallout 76, and Camille Dungy's excellent advice to "write into the pain."
Carl knows Alice is going to write about her actual life. They argue and she says to him, "You know I have to write about this, right?"
He nods. They have talked about how she needs to write to help people.
Still, she's scared that he will have forgotten.
But she's always a little scared on some level, so...
Things are okay between them. She thinks. Except, just like the tarot reading said, she is still clinging to the past. This is the problem. Things are as she chooses to see them. She knows how to choose her own reality. So as long as she is using cannabis, everything is okay. It's a positive mental filter. She can try to do the work of re-healing the wound he re-opened, but she is, honestly, too tired this time.
Obviously, she opened one for him, too, in trying to get some freedom. At one point, this was a wound for her, too, but years and years of his business travel, in places with lots of alcohol, and apparently sometimes even call girls (who he never touched, he says), helped Alice trust him.
What he doesn't understand about trauma is that the wounds are amplified by estrogen. Estrogen is highest right before menstruation, when she needs to be alone.
That's what her dissertation actually showed. She thought her dissertation was about estrogen protecting spatial memory, but what it actually did was potentiate the formation of trauma lesions. Cortisol, the stress hormone, can be converted to estrogen. So when cortisol is high, say, from a recent argument, and one is re-traumatized not once, but twice in just a few days - the effect is -
<Click here to go to Part 5: Mordor>