Mad Like Alyce

This Shaking Keeps Me Steady

Last time I posted, I admit, I was pretty bushed. It was almost funny, but I don’t think I was able to disengage from the pressure to keep posting on a daily basis! I had gotten into this crazy momentum and without it, I almost felt… lost. I put up the last post after waking up from my 3 hour evening nap, and proceeded to remain awake until the wee hours of the morning. Which I spent searching Pintrest like mad for ideas for my apartment, which had been miserably neglected during the month of October.

It reminds me of a stanza from a poem by Theodore Rothke:

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls aways is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

When you have PTSD and Chronic Pain, you get used to living in this unstable world, and so we feel the need to provide a balancing whirlwind, a force to keep us steady. I often think of this poem when I realize how far I have come. Gone are the days of constantly feeling like I have just outrun danger, but that it is just around the corner. The strange unfamiliar nature of the steady foundation I have been building over the past two years. Perhaps it will just take time. I spent nearly 10 years living with that shaking. Maybe it will take just that long to feel comfortable being steady.

Put it in a box

See, keeping up with this mad schedule helped me ignore some of the frustrations I was feeling. I felt like I HAD to keep going, otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to face it. Two major triggers happened in the past two months, and because I had committed myself to the exercise of writing and creating the DIY Halloween posts, I was able to shove that stuff in a box in the back of my mind, to be unpacked at a later date. But it was now the later date, and I just didn’t know how to deal with it.

So, what happened? Without going into details, I was physically assaulted by someone who lost control of their anger. Someone I trusted (This someone is NOT  my boyfriend, just to clarify). I found myself emotionally shaken for far longer than the bruises lasted. Just a few weeks later, I had my first real relationship fight. But, I want to point out the key difference here. Not “Real Fight” but “Real Relationship” fight, if you get my distinction. I was a bit stunning for me to realize I had never been in fight in a healthy relationship. Though it took me a while to really grasp that everything was ok, it was actually a healthy experience. The fight happened. Nothing bad happened. We came to an agreement, and forgave each other. We are human. We moved on.

A “Healthy Relationship” Fight?

See, the sad truth I hadn’t quite known is that I had never been in a healthy relationship fight (or for that matter, a healthy relationship). I’ve never experienced a fight where things resolve, you learn, and move on. I had never experienced a fight where it wasn’t a control tactic.

Perhaps that is why when the fight started, my head went to a darker, frightening place from nights long past. Ones that ended with me curled in a ball on the couch, begging for it to stop. Hiding in the bed with my cell phone in my pocket, just in case I needed to dial 911 in a pinch. The horror of hearing your nose break.

See, you just followed me there, didn’t you? But all of this happened YEARS ago. None of it happened this time. Not even close.

Breaking the cycle… Mentally

It honestly, was a relief. See, with PTSD we get into this mode where we are always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Waiting for the spiral to shift, for the balance to tip. We got used to the cycle of increasing hostility and pressure, followed by the silence where you held your breath, working so hard to try to maintain an impossible balancing act. The pin drop, and impending explosion, shrapnel of the incident tearing through you. The reckoning, with sweet gestures and gifts. Words you have long since grown numb to. Flowers at work where everyone asks humorously…. “Ohh ho ho, what did he do this time,” but having no real idea how terrible this time really was.

So perhaps, even though I am no longer part of this cycle, I look for it. I’m waiting for that flag to wave, signaling another go around that abusive racetrack, pushing faster and faster towards the impending crash. I was expecting to see this cycle again, but when I didn’t, it really shook me. It was so jarring to have a fight that didn’t end in violence.

I was able to see that I have truly left that racetrack forever. I know what a fight looks like in a healthy relationship. I know what to expect. I know I can handle it. I broke free from this cycle physically years ago. But I was just breaking free of it mentally now.


So, in a way, I am so thankful I had this blog. It was my distraction, a place to focus my energy until I was ready to unpack that baggage. And once I started do try and sift through those thoughts, evaluate those emotions… I realized that I was not in a happy place. In the past few months, I have found myself triggered by the slightest things. I get through the day, only to crawl into bed fully clothed, curl around my dog in a fetal position, and focus on breathing in the scent of her fur. I can’t handle anything else. Additional sensory input is too much. While the blog gave me the drive to get out of bed and work on a project, I still wasn’t in the best mental state.

Finding my new normal

So, after a six month hiatus, I’m back in counseling. At first, I thought this was a huge step back. That I had been unable to succeed on my own. But in reality, I was able to do it for myself for six entire months. It felt like no time had passed, and I was a bit shocked that it had indeed been half a year. In truth, I am just in another stage in my journey. I can see that my life is so cataclysmically different than it was in fall of last year. While I have moments where I am overwhelmed by fear or panic attacks, or moments when the effort to keep that fear and panic at bay drains my energy and leaves me as a husk on my bed, those are just moments. Moments that are no longer the norm. Moments that I immediately recognize as something that while familiar, are no longer a perpetual state.

So now that my month of Halloween is over, and all of my new decorations and costumes are being packed away, I’m unpacking many other boxes, both in real life and mentally to remove unnecessary clutter. Starting with completely blank slate… my first assignment since returning to counseling… stay tuned.


Hi! I'm Alyce.
Welcome to my journey towards living a happier and healthier life while living with PTSD and chronic pain... and never letting it keep me from my passion for Halloween, cooking, and way too many DIY projects... all at the same time!


  • How appropriate that I dressed up as Sally at the haunted house last night, because I was featured as Sally on @liquidcosplay in the same day... Halloween no less! I love love love this costume, and it’s the one that got me started in cosplay and makeup. #halloween #cosplay

#Repost @liquidcosplay with @get_repost
If you've got it, haunt it. Here's @madlikealyce as Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas. 🎃 Visit her page for more great cosplay!
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#nightmarebeforechristmas #nightmarebeforechristmascosplay #sallyandjack #sallystitches #sallyragdoll #halloween #halloweencosplay #halloween2018 #happyhalloween #EverydayIsHalloween #CreepItReal #repost #cosplay #cosplays #cosplayer #cosplayers #cosplaying #cospositive #cosplaylife #cosplaygirl #cosplaygirls #girlswhocosplay #cosplaybabe #sexycosplay #cutecosplay #womenofcosplay #girlsofcosplay #curvycosplay
  • You would think that I would have done makeup on all of my family at this point, but sadly that is not the case, however, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to do my brother's makeup after the haunt had opened Saturday night! He managed to pull together an incredible maroon clown outfit, and I am really pleased how the makeup looks! I personally like the messier clowns, and it worked well to have brighter pink-ish hues toned down by smudges of black and watering down the paint overall. 
#clown #clownmakeup #hauntlife #hauntedhouse #halloween
  • My first ever zombie for Halloween was a shotgun bride, and although it was a real bridal gown with real shotgun damage, I just used 3 or 4 latex bullet wounds. It was fun, and a great introduction to using prosthetics, but it wasn't really accurate to what I would have had for damage with an actual shotgun wound. So years later, I made up for it by re-creating a more realistic wound of where the shoulder and partial face would have been torn up by the blast. Personally, this is my favorite zombie creation to date! #zombie #zombiemakeup #zombiebride #shotgunbride #zombiecrawl #woundmakeup
  • Ready for my closeup!!! Getting ready for Sioux Falls Zombie Crawl tomorrow!!! #zombie #zombiemakeup #zombiecrawl
  • OK you guys, this is where I love the internet. I created this zombie 2 years ago and had (kind of) forgotten about it until just this week when someone re-created it... and she is on the other side of the globe! Seriously, it made my my entire day/week/month, and reminds me why I love doing this. <3 <3 <3
#zombie #zombiemakeup #zombiecrawl #halloween2018
  • Its GO TIME PEOPLE! T-Minus 7 days to HALLOWEEEEEEEEEEN. Im running on fumes and caffeine, but it is 100% worth it. I love working at the haunted house, and am beyond thrilled about this coming weekend. I still have 2 costumes to finish and 2 zombies to do, plus some donut deliveries (a great fundraiser... friends scared of clowns? Send them donuts a-la-clowns). One more look at this first clown because I was obsessed with this wig from Rockstar wigs... I WILL find a way to use it again in the near future. #hauntlife #hauntedhouse #clowns #halloween2018
  • I had a request to recreate a clown mask as a makeup so it wouldn’t be as hot to wear in the house (swipe to see said mask), and it was quite the learning experience. I made this about a month ago when I was still trying to use the cream paints that the haunt had, though I’ve since decided to buy more of my own water paint to use on my actors. The base here was the basic white clown grease paint, and while I loved the coverage, it felt awful to wear, and it was incredibly difficult to add fine details with cream paint or shadows. So my first and last grease paint clown! 🤡 I still think it’s important to share our failures as well as the successes... this is still far better than what I might have created even just a year ago! #clowns #hauntedhouse #halloween
  • Hey Guys! I've been quiet on Insta so far this October, but its because IM SO BUSY and i'm pretty much in Halloween Heaven. Between finishing my first commissioned costume (its super simple, but I completed foam armor for the first time!!!) and doing makeup at the haunted house, i've hardly had time for sleep... and I wouldn't have it any other way. 
This is one of my first clown practice runs. I tried doing 30 minutes or less, and initially I wasn't planning on posting. Having a few days of the crazed makeup chaos that is getting ready for house open under my belt, I have a new appreciation for what details you can and simply cannot complete in such a short time period, and kind of like the grunge this clown pulled off. Not everything you will create is perfect, but thats how we all learn! #clowns #hauntedhouse #halloweenmakeup #halloween2018
  • I think this barrel look could make a great clown character.... am I going over to the dark side and starting to like clowns?!?! Only time will tell, and there are still 20 days until Halloween! #nightmarebeforechristmas #halloweentown #lockshockandbarrel


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