Trust. Embarrassment. Fear

Yesterday was rubbish, PTSD symptoms, fears, feelings of vulnerability. I slept very little, a combination of symptoms -dissociation, hyper in general, then a flashback in the early hours- and now I am experiencing the crash that follows.

It was a difficult day for reasons I cannot and do not want to go into here. The nightmare yesterday certainly did not help, but it wasn’t the reason for the struggles.

 

I am now feeling embarrassed at my reaction to the situation and for showing that reaction. I am going through that emotional roller coaster that seems to hit when I realise I have gone and trusted someone way more than I ever planned or thought I could (or even once thought I should).

Trust after abuse is so, so hard. I keep hoping it will get easier, but if anything it seems to be harder. More people than I could have imagined and a growing, deeper trust with a couple of those individuals- it is a scary, scary thing.

It’s good to trust isn’t it? Why can’t it feel good? It is safe to trust now, I choose the right people to trust and even then I am very careful..yet there’s always the fears that accompany any new deepening of trust. I have experienced it with my T many times as our relationship has grown and changed. Though those fears always pass somewhat, a deepening of trust feeds the fear of rejection and abandonment issues that are oh so very big right now. I hate that. Neediness is not OK, not for me. I am not OK with that.

 

Despite the fears, worries, embarrassment and exhaustion, I am doing better than yesterday. Calmer, apart from a bit of precautionary grounding that is necessary since the flashback early this morning (they tend to hit in waves), PTSD symptoms are not so bothersome as they were.

 

 

I guess no one said this journey would be easy. Life after abuse, is not easy is it?

Perhaps today will be better. At least I see my T tomorrow.

 

 

The nightmare of all nightmares (possible triggers).

was waiting for me last night. Oddly I am calm right now, no grounding necessary, which normally follows nightmares. I am not shaky, I do not have hyper vigilance or even dissociation.

It should be shock, why isn’t it shock? I feel as if my insides have been ripped out. Raw in a way, but without the horror. Am I grieving? Is this grief? I am not sure I know.

 

To keep myself safe, to be sure I do not not over share, I have sort of a rule, to tell only my T and a friend about my nightmares. And if I write them down, I only ever write about them in my journal.

I considered writing in my journal this morning, however circumstances today mean that is a scary process I just cannot risk right now. I have to remain together, without being specific, I have responsibility today and feel a vulnerability that cannot be avoided. My journal is not an option right now.

So, today, I break my rule, I cannot keep this to myself.

I have experienced trauma dreams for years, these decreased about 6months ago, to increase again when we moved house. I have had a lot of dreams lately, about the past, but different to the trauma dreams. They are often about me and him now, not as a teen. They are scary, but in a different way.

Last night, I had a very detailed and (what felt like) lengthy dream. I was me, now, at 31. I was forced to return to his flat, except he wasn’t there, he didn’t (and doesn’t) live there anymore. The building was disused, falling to ruin. Despite my anxiety and a sense of dread, I was compelled to be there, I did not have a choice. My limbs were heavy, I had little control, as if I was a puppet or a doll. Even though I was fighting against it, I was still moving forward, climbing the seemingly everlasting stairs.

Everything was dark, daylight, but dark. I could almost taste the damp surrounding me. The walls were lined with  faded graffiti, the “artists” long gone. I felt increasingly constricted with every step I made, as if the stair well was gradually closing in on me, like a giant hand, slowly curling into a fist around me. It must have been cold, because I could see my breath in front of me, yet I could not feel it. I could not feel anything at this point it seemed.

And after walking miles, it seemed, I finally reached his floor, the door on the right, the faded pink hiding such horrors within. I felt relieved, to escape that stair well, I did not fight as I was propelled forward towards that door.

Then the door was open and it looked so different from reality, the living room in front of me with murky green carpet and depressing yellow walls. It was empty when I entered, but I found myself on a couch. I was seated, staring around, talking to myself. I knew I had been there before, but I couldn’t put my finger on it, something was missing, someone belonged here and they seemed to be long gone. It was eerie sitting there looking around.

At some point things seemed to change, as if the flat was waking from a long slumber. Panic rose in my throat as I was suddenly pushed to face a door. The door I seemed to know led to a bedroom, an aging white painted door, already open, beckoning me to enter.

And though I made it to the entrance, I was unable to go in, because somewhere from inside, something began to scream. A scream so powerful it blocked the way through. Then the walls were like screens, showing projections of the horror that room had seen.

I  was trapped on the spot, forced to watch what was unfolding before me. With the scenes of the past flashing before me and the screams of terror passed. I could see it as if it were happening, terror and pain. The screams continued, louder and as if from multiple entities. Strangely, they were like solid objects aiming for me, as they reached me they did not stop, instead they went right through. They seemed to bounce off the opposing wall, before ricocheting back towards me to have another turn.

And somewhere in the chaos, I could not help but remember. I was forced to accept that the horror playing out before me, didn’t happen to a stranger. The girl in those pictures was within me, the woman standing in that room.

It felt as if the room had been sleeping, waiting for me to return. That room remembered me just as I remembered it.

There as a little more, I won’t bore you with.. but WOW, what a dream. I am exhausted now, hurting lots and way to aware of what was. As I said, it isn’t trauma. It is something though- pain I think, I am not sure. I don’t have time for this, I have too much responsibility today, why did it have to be last night? Why do things always have to happen when circumstances mean things are already difficult?

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling unreasonable

Tomorrow we hope to be out for the day, therefore, I set aside some time this evening to do therapy prep for Friday.

A short while ago, I opened my journal but found I couldn’t pick up the pen. So, I switched to my mini journal, but couldn’t bring myself to open it. Then, I logged onto my online journal to see if that would help – nothing. Too much chaos, too many things to think about, I don’t know where to begin.

There is so much, how do I prioritise? Things I know I should say, worries about him and us I need to share. The thing is though, I DON’T WANT TO.

So how about the recent memories, or even the triggers today? Or maybe I should talk about this damn pain, the dull ache that is my fucking unwanted companion right now. Or how about I just call him and cancel, because all that stuff, memories, pain, I should talk about? Well I DON’T WANT TO.

I am resentful, frustrated. I want the good moments, the good days. The enjoyment and peace I find at home, the joy and the love I have for my family, the excitement and plans for the future- those things I want and those things only. No past stuff, no pain- none of it.

I know what my T would say and will say if I still feel this way Friday, let us sit with those feelings of resentment and frustration. ARGH- I don’t want that either!

 

I am angry. I want this done, I want this over. I don’t want to hurt, why should I have to hurt? This was not my fault, I didn’t deserve this. I want to get on my life, free of this, beyond this and without this. I am not feeling reasonable and rational, I just want it gone, all of it erased.

I don’t want to do this anymore.

Reconnecting. Letting go? Some positive thoughts.

I have been thinking this for a while, I have just been too nervous to discuss it very much. As if by uttering it out loud, or writing it in ink (or typing it online) it would somehow make it untrue. It’s good, positive and therefore, I am terrified and paranoid. Can it possibly be the truth?…

It seems to me and perhaps, maybe (hopefully), to those around me, that I am starting to reconnect with the real world somewhat. Sure, things have been changing slowly, I’m doing the school run, I am able to go to the shop alone or with the children, I go to work each morning, without a panic attack or a few tears in the car park. But it’s only very recently that I have felt able and really willing to reconnect with other people- new people, but more specifically people I knew before I started this therapy journey a little over two years ago.

I have friends coming over this Saturday.Two weeks ago, my cousin and her family visited.

I had my parents visit for lunch 3 weeks ago and over again for the day today. My brother and his family are visiting in two weeks.

I could not have even contemplated those plans a year ago.

 

I never thought this could happen. How could I have people from the past in my life, when I was striving so hard to move away from that aspect of my life. How could the past be part of my future? At one point, I thought it could not. I went through weeks of therapy discussing how I move forward without those people from my old life. It was a heart wrenching, difficult time. It was a very possible reality, I was terrified would come to be.

The thing is, I knew I so badly needed to put my past behind me, I thought that those relationships may just be the sacrifice I had to make. In order to move forward, I needed to let go of the past.

That is still true, but it’s not quite how I expected it to me. You see, it isn’t about leaving people behind at all.

To continue relationships with people from back then, or people from the years after (but pre therapy), does not mean I am staying in the past. I think can find a way and in fact I think I already am finding a way, to have these people as a part of my life now and in the future.

That is huge, is it not?

I have also rejoined Facebook (though to be honest after 5 minutes I was bored, not much has changed in the last 7 months!). I have deleted many people- anyone that causes me upset, triggers or anxiety. I was very relieved and excited to reconnect with some old school friends, particularly one. In a private message, she was the first to welcome me back and told me she had missed me. The feeling was mutual. I could not see her name without guilt less than a year ago. Last week, to see a message from her brought sadness and pain- a sort of memory jolt, but at the same time there was also joy. I missed her a lot, she is very dear to me.

Who knows if I will stay on Facebook, should it cause me anxiety or stress at any point, I will leave again, for now though, it is good to reconnect with my old friends.

 

Aside from people and relationships, there are some other ways I feel as if I am connecting to life now and planning life in the future.

I have been considering returning to Church. It is unlikely in the near future, but no longer a “no way” thought I have had for the last year or so.

I have also been reading at times. The PTSD and therapy has the ability to fill up my head. So often it has and sometimes still does, feel as if I do not have the capacity to retain much information. Anything slightly complicated or even just trying to remember a story line and I can end up anxious and stressed out.

With the relief from PTSD more and more often lately, I can read books that are slightly more challenging than a 2 page short story about something “light and fluffy.” Sure, the stuff I am reading is hardly War and Peace, however, it does mean that I can actually read a little of the Bible (where the religion triggers allow) at a time without brain fog and resulting distress when I forget everything I just read. It also means I can get (and already am getting) my teeth into some of the books written by some  awesome feminist authors that I have had short listed for some time.

I can read sometimes! Now that is amazing, isn’t it?

 

There are still things I avoid; people, places, websites, newspapers, live TV in general. Triggers, news, politics, debates. I still feel as if I need things to shield myself from those things for now. So, I cannot have a conversation about current events, because other than the odd news story I happen to hear on the radio at work or in a shop, I have not read, heard or watched the news in many, many months. I worried about that for a long time, I did not want to stick my head in the sand about the tragedies and horror in the world, nor be ignorant to the mess the government (so I hear) is busy making. I am actually quite comfortable with that decision right now.

I have not been and have no intention for now at least (and who knows if I ever will again) to go to my home town, where the abuse took place. I cannot tell you how much better I feel for that. That is not a challenge I will be facing any time soon and I am OK with that.

Reconnecting with people from the past does not mean going back to places or people that trigger or upset me. In fact, it is not about going back in any way at all. I feel as if I am sort of waking up, I guess. It is like real life has been going on all around me all this time and I have been dipping in and out where necessary, but seemed to remain firmly rooted in the past. Now, I can see that shifted. I am present more often and some days it feels like it is completely the other way around. I am dipping in and out of the past, but firmly rooted in the present.

That’s a huge victory for me isn’t it? Another battle won against him (though the resulting anxiety that thought causes is something to ponder/ explore sometime), right?

I have talked with my T about how things shifted a few months ago, where I started to feel that it was no longer him causing this stuff. It no longer felt as if he still had hold of me and was pulling me down. Instead, I could see I was holding on (through no fault of my own) and it was about finding a way to let go.

I think that letting go isn’t just a decision, where I suddenly decide “no more, I am done”. That oversimplifies it, I think and begs the question, well if it were that simple, would I not have done it already? No, it isn’t that. It is a process. And this feels a bit risky to type, I think I am already in that process and further on than I could ever have imagined.

I can see now, clearly, one day soon, he will truly be in my rear view mirror and I will be able to say “I did it!! I let go!”

 

While I am being honest, open and daring, I will admit, writing this made me cry- three or four real tears, tears that feel so precious, I barely dare to wipe them away.

There is hope, there is a future and I am already living it.

 

 

 

Home

This week, I am off work!

It feels like it has been a long time coming. I don’t remembering ever feeling this desperate to have some time off before.

Work is fine, I like my job, I am good at it, I like my co workers, I love that I work just a few minutes drive from home. Work is good a lot of the time. It’s just the more I get into this awful, horrible and quite frankly unwanted, feeling stuff, the more I feel I need some time out. My T has suggested time off therapy when I need it, to process, to think, to feel, to just be. Aside from the whole rejection issues when he says that- it’s not something I want or need right now. Time off from therapy seems to me, to just be prolonging the agony. I am probably wrong, but that’s how it feels right now.

Work on the other hand, well that I need a break from. Not because of stress so much, I just want some time at home. I feel safe here, I feel (mostly) grounded at home. I feel like I can breathe. There are also added complications of inappropriate and upsetting topics at work and also working with someone who often triggers me. I need a break from that too.

I just want to be home and today, I am. Four days off work, or six if you count the weekend that has just been. It was a crappy weekend to be honest. I tried hard, really, really hard, to do some holiday stuff with my family, swimming, playground etc. PTSD was dragging me down all weekend though.

I am still bothered by triggers this morning, but definitely feel better. Things felt like they were spiraling yesterday. I found some time to write during the evening, which helped me tease out some more of the underlying issues. Sometimes writing can be a scary and incredibly painful process, but often it helps me to feel as if I have taken control again and that always brings relief.

So today, we stay home-at least in our home town. The weather is good, I have a hot drink, I am seated in my rocking chair with the doors flung open wide onto the garden. The children, well I’d like to say it’s all very idlyic and they are playing beautifully, but actually in reality, they are charging after one another with swords. Aside from that, it is calm, it is comforting. It is home. And home is where I so badly need to be right now.

I am tired and I am hurting, more than I like to admit, even to myself- especially to myself. I am hoping this week will help some. I am hoping for relief.

Perhaps this week will be healing? Maybe I will find a little peace?

 

Choice

 

This has been on my mind a lot over the last few weeks. It came up in my therapy session a few weeks ago and frankly, it left me feeling confused.

 

I think choice is the wrong word, but I am lacking in an alternative right now. It cannot have been choice, not true choice, not when the only options were rape or rape, but my abuser was so clever and cunning, he made it seem as if it really were my choice.

Yet I knew if there had been a third option, one without any catches or danger, if that had been a choice that gave me  a true and safe way out of that truly awful situation, I would have taken it, no question.

 

You see I knew I wanted neither, but because I still chose, in my young and naive mind, I assumed I must have some control. And that is exactly what he wanted. He wanted me to believe I had an option. It was those difficult choices that I had to make every day that left me feeling so deeply ashamed, I couldn’t possibly tell anyone what I felt I had done.

 

For so very long, I believed I had been complicit in my own abuse.

That is a horrible place to be. Such a deep self loathing that I carried all these years because I believed it had been my choice and therefore, my fault. 

 

Things have changed, I am working damn hard at undoing all that grooming, changing all those poisonous thoughts he planted in me. Now I am at the stage where I mostly know that anything I agreed to was not by choice. There was no choice, he forced me, it was not (at the start at least) as is depicted in movies or in general by society, but sill force.

Grooming, training, pressure, indirect threats and eventually direct threats.

I did as I was told, when I was told. I was brainwashed. I was afraid. I was naive. I was ashamed, and I was utterly alone. Where on earth was the freedom to choose in all of that? I was not free in any way at all.

 

 

I have really been struggling with  how much I thought I preferred it when I didn’t have choice. I thought the guilt was less, the shame too and there was no added fear of making the wrong decision leading to a painful and violent consequence.

 

It was a very difficult and even shameful thing for me to admit to my T. I told my T, it was better to be held down and have all choice taken from me, than to be presented with impossible choices I often could not and did not want to make.

 

Sitting with my T in that awful, uncomfortable moment-which seemed to last forever-I faced the reality of what I had said. It struck me, more like blind sided me in fact, how deeply sad and even twisted I felt. It was better to be held down, really?

Really? How can that be? How could I have ever felt that?

 

Oh, I can’t tell you how conflicted I have felt, how sick it has made me feel. What kind of person must I be to think that way, to prefer that? And at the same time, what on earth did he do to an innocent child, that she could ever feel that way?

 

I have been battling with that for some weeks now. It is has been particularly bothersome the last few days. I think because of a memory that isn’t far from my mind right now. A memory that still seemed to be eating away at me despite two separate disclosures. Not trauma anymore at least, but a whole heap of pain and shame intertwined.

 

With this specific memory (and there are more examples if I allow myself to delve deeper) there was no choice, not of any kind. It was an incident where I was physically incapacitated. There was nothing even remotely close to choice. It was a particularly nasty incident, one that was extremely traumatic.

I guess what has been getting to me, is that it sort of contradicts what I have thought and felt for so long and what left me feeling so sad and twisted after my session with my T a few weeks ago.

What my abuser did that night was not preferable to the times he gave me options. It was not better in any way at all. It was not less shameful- in fact it was one of the worst incidents in every way. There was no choice at all, but that did not make it easier and it did not make me feel any better about myself either.

After that night was over, I felt just as complicit in what he had done, as I did when I thought I had choice. I went home that day feeling shocked from the horror of what he done, but with the knowledge and acceptance that it has been my fault. I knew he had been wrong that day, but I was sure I had participated just by being there. After all, as he often reminded me, I was in his flat and in his bed, what the hell did I expect?

 

You see, the lack of choice that day (and so many others) did not stop any of those thoughts and feelings I experienced when I was offered choices. So, did I really prefer it? Or did I just tell myself that? And why would I tell myself that?

I have been going around in circles with this, wondering how the heck I could have preferred to be held down or threatened or whatever than to have a choice. I was mistaken, I am not entirely sure why, perhaps due to dissociation..I am sure my T will have suggestions, but I do not think I could have ever really preferred either.

 

I no longer have to choose from two impossible options. Instead I can choose the option I should have always had: neither.

Neither situations were preferable. It was not better to choose how I was raped and nor was it better to have the decision made for me.

I am free now, free to say neither, free to loathe both situations. I am free to acknowledge that both hurt me..all of it hurt me and none of it was OK.

Why don’t I feel relief?

Instead, I feel burdened this morning, or maybe just sort of heavy from the reality and truth I now face.

 

 

 

Therapy worries. Rejection, Abandonment.

I have just had three good days in a row, three! Saturday morning’s writing really helped.

I had an amazing afternoon with my cousin and her family and then a peaceful day Sunday. Yesterday, I had a challenge of handling the children alone until late evening and not only did I manage it, but I felt perfectly calm and natural while doing so- YAY for me!

 

Today is not so good, painful body memories, flashbacks and some fears/worries surrounding therapy and my T again. I really need them to go away, I cannot address them, nor can my T reassure me until next Friday.

One memory in particular continues to bother me. I really hoped it was among the processed memories and I would not need to go there again. Unfortunately, it seems I do. It keeps coming back and no amount of telling it to “do one” works. It just comes back. I can understand why, while we have discussed it before, it was not faced properly, or as necessary, instead it was talked about in order to reach other goals. Therefore, it makes sense that I need to raise it again at some point, but it seems I have some worries about doing so.

The thing that has surprised me, is that the worry is not about having to go through talking it over again, it is not fear or even frustration so much, instead it is more about how my T may react.

What the heck is up with that?? I have no reason to question him, he has never given me reason to.. But:

I am worried about going over old ground and causing him to feel impatient or annoyed with me. I deeply fear his (or anyone’s) rejection and abandonment. And that pisses me off. I thought those feelings had at least faded a little.

My last session with my T is probably why this is getting to me right now. He said a few things that were badly timed- things I will bring up in my next session.

The things he said were actually really encouraging when considered in the right mindset, but I guess I am not there, because I am struggling to see them as such right now.

Lots of fear and worrying. I have thoughts such as:

“Two years of therapy now, is he becoming frustrated with me?”

“Is he sick and tired of hearing about my stuff”

“Does he think I am exaggerating?”

“Does he believe I should be over it?”

Or the worst “Does he think I am over it and I am just attention seeking now?

 

Deep down I know the answers. He is a Person Centered Therapist, it is my agenda, my therapy, it goes on as long as I need and want. I have not stood still, I have made huge leaps of progress- so why the fear? Why the worry?

I have to get past it before I can talk to him about this memory again. It was a particularly nasty incident, probably one of the worst. It was emotionally and physically traumatic, incredibly so. It is also a memory that is (once again) surrounded in shame. As such, I need to feel completely sure he is there for me, with no frustration or impatience directed towards me.

I feel ridiculous for the fear, he is amazing, he has been amazing all the way through this. I should not need to question him.

It’s hard enough to have to get through the body memories and the flashbacks without the fear and worry. Every time I am hit by an intrusive memory I think of my last session when my T picked up on my use of the word “intrusive” and we talked of how it is OK, to tell a memory where to go. Why does that bother me? When or day or so ago that knowledge was a source of liberation for me? I feel so conflicted. I cannot tell this memory where to go yet and I know that is OK. I know my T would encourage me to explore it again. So why the worry?

I am tying myself in knots here. I hate feeling this way, the insecurity, the neediness.

The relationship with a therapist is a strange one isn’t it? You tell this person deep thoughts and feelings, you probably won’t tell another person, yet they aren’t a friend or a family member, or someone that will remain in your life after therapy.

While the boundaries are so very important to me, sometimes it’s hard not to feel needy. He knows my deepest, darkest thoughts. He knows vile and sick details I can never imagine repeating to anyone else. I have told him things I do not think my loved ones will ever know. I cannot handle the idea of his rejection. I cannot bear to imagine that he will abandon me with this.

 

I could beat myself up couldn’t I? I could be frustrated and angry at the way I feel, but what good would that do? I feel this, I cannot help what I feel. And I am not to blame. I did not cause these feelings. I feel this way because I was abandoned, because I was abused, because I was rejected. So, I am doing what I can to help myself feel better this evening. It is back to basics of grounding and comforting through these awful body memories and these troublesome, conflicting fears.

I hate this, what he did, what he caused and how it still lingers in my life now. I want to be free of it.

I hope this passes soon. :(