Art by Rob Goldstein

Being Switchy

The most disruptive of my dissociative symptoms is that I become switchy when I’m triggered.

There is a difference between being “switchy” and having a complete switch.

Switchy is often the result of emotional arousal, usually anger.

Opinionated Man blogged the question of what is the hardest part about blogging.

His question nagged me because blogging really is a struggle.

When I’m fully triggered it takes an entire day just to get five minutes worth of writing.

My blog is a modified form of Narrative Therapy.

I say modified in that the primary approach is psycho-dynamic.

My therapist does not bring her own narratives to my stories, which is part of the process of true narrative therapy.

To be honest, my therapist and I spend a lot of time working on safety issues.

I never know what the next trigger will be.

I went to a CPTSD group on Thursday.

I started switching the moment I entered the group room.

This blog is a comfort.

I love engaging other bloggers in conversation and I enjoy banter.

I think we learn from each other.

Laura P. Schulman remarked on my sensitivity in one of her comments to me.

I have always considered the idea that I can sense a person’s psyche in a piece of writing completely delusional.

But her clarification of the source of the quote she had used confirmed the sense I had of its intention.

I can sense the intention in the way people choose their words; that’s how hyper-vigilant I am.

Much of the hyper-vigilance is the result of my childhood in the violently
racist South.

I want to clarify what I mean when I talk about the South.

I know nothing about the modern South.

I left the South decades ago and I have never returned to it.

The South that I live in does not exist anymore, at least I pray it doesn’t.

I do not hate the South that you live in.

It is the one that I live in that I can’t abide.

So my answer to OM’s question: What is the Hardest Part about Blogging?

It is the switching.

Establishing consistency.

I didn’t sleep well last night.

I haven’t really slept since Thursday but I did get a few hours between 3 AM and nine. I woke up but didn’t open my eyes. My brain was flooded with thought and I sensed anxiety.

I don’t have panic attacks but the one we call Rob Goldstein does.

I have no memory of the AIDS epidemic.

I left when the epidemic began.

I am Bob. Not the redneck Bob. That one still lives in Charleston.

I’m Gay Bob. ๐Ÿ™‚

Rob Goldstein was born one afternoon while I was walking to a dance bar.

I loved to go dancing, to get lost in the beat.

I had just moved to San Francisco from Hawaii.

I was a certified fitness instructor and I worked as a towel jockey at a gym in the heart of the Castro.

To live in the Castro was to be a soldier in the Gay Liberation Movement.

We wore a uniform to make it clear that we were everywhere.

The clone look was the use of clothing to establish a kind of ethnicity, so that gay men would be visible wherever we went.

Many of us wore a button on our leather jackets that read: How dare you assume I’m straight!

We were warriors.

We were winning, we thought.

No one wanted to believe that the party was ending.

The assassination of Harvey Milk was still fresh in the minds of the people.

I walked a Candle Light March to mark the anniversary of Milk’s death.

It was an amazing sight; thousands of candles raised and flickering in the night fog.

There was chatter about a Gay Related Immune Deficiency Disorder that some people thought was a virus that had already infected everyone.

I was relieved when I heard a news report that GRID might be caused by the abuse of Amyl Nitrate.

I hated poppers and never used them.

If GRID was caused by poppers than GRID would soon be gone.

But some of the guys said it had to be a virus. Some said it was like it had been designed to target gay men.

I listened.

I couldn’t believe that such a thing could happen.

It was so science fiction.

So, the day Rob Goldstein was born I was walking to the End Up after listening to a news report that confirmed that GRID was caused by a virus, that no one knew anything about the virus, and that it targeted Gay men.

The news report added that Fundamentalist preachers were calling it God’s wrath.

I felt trapped. Why did it feel as if this virus was closing in on me?

And I heard a voice say: because it’s killing people like you.

Suddenly, I felt wrong as a person; it was as if I had been punched hard in the guts.

The last thing I remember is that I doubled over and fell to my knees.


Rob Goldstein found himself on San Francisco’s Sixth Street with no memory of how he’d gotten there.

He knew that he lived in San Francisco. He knew that there was a virus that was going to kill him.

The certainty of his impending death terrified him.

He was terrified of dying without fulfilling his mission.

His mission is to write. It is his only reason to live.

He turned and walked back to the flat that he shares with some guy who works at a gym.

He’s a flighty little queen who is always out dancing.

Rob Goldstein doesn’t dance.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2017 All Rights Reserved

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26 thoughts on “Being Switchy

  1. I found this article interesting, Bob. I can empathetize with you. I live with someone like you, who travels the world in his own mind. He is also a devout Christian. Meanwhile, the other roommate plays lots of video games and goes on job searches. He is much like Rob. ๐Ÿ™‚ And I am glad Rob let you talk today.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Is Texas part of the modern South? Because when I crossed over the state line into New Mexico, I suddenly felt a little better to see that state in my rear view mirror… Yeah, I think Texas is part of the South (just like New Mexico).

    And guess what? You guys actually were (and are) warriors. I have always been in awe of the gay pride movement, and wish it was as active now as it was back then.

    One more thing… you realize your brain is switching as a protective measure, right? I really hate pain, but I realize its purpose is to warn me of danger, and to protect me. I’ll probably never really understand why my brain and nervous system went wacko on me, but you may be able to figure out why your brain went switchy on you, so that’s something… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment on Gay Pride. Most people forget that the Gay Liberation/Rights movement began in a culture that had made same sex sexuality illegal and actively imposed sanctions that were designed to destroy the lives of the men who were caught. We were sneered at, spat on, and when so many of us sickened and died we had to fight bigots who saw the AIDS epidemic as an opportunity to use the fear it caused to take over the government and to dismantle it…and to try to have us rounded up and sent to camps.

      We were warriors. We need a new generation of warriors who won’t tolerate being used as scapegoats and slaves…and who undestand that we need a governemnt to protect us from those who are opposed to an open and evolving democracy. Thank you for your comment…:) I may never get over having the DID but I do understand that it has protected me.

      Liked by 1 person

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