Update. Therapy. Pain.

I haven’t blogged in a while, for several reasons I suppose. One big reason is because I’ve been feeling better (YAY!). Things are slightly different in therapy right now, we aren’t dealing with trauma memories as such, therefore, I’m grounded more, I struggle less with nightmares and PTSD symptoms, which makes day to day life better. But, it’s not just that, I feel better in myself, I have such hope for the future which I have  never had before. I feel excitement about my future with my family that I never experienced before. I have been calmer in general, I have been able to enjoy my children more. I’ve been able to cope alone in ways I just couldn’t before. And it’s been AMAZING.

 

Therapy the last few weeks, has been a little different to previous months. We’ve been addressing the pain I carry about certain aspects of the past (aside from the abuse). I have been facing that and have been able to release some of that pain. Which leads me to another reason why I have not been blogging.  I just haven’t really known how to blog about my experiences right now. I haven’t really known how to blog about the deep pain I carry and all the issues that have arisen from that.

 

Today, I saw my T we spent some time talking about the past- things that happened aside from the trauma. As well as releasing pain, we are working on bringing my feelings inline with what I know deep down. Last week, I left the session feeling so in control and so on a high from that control. I was feeling what I needed to feel but instead of it being about letting go of control, like I had feared, I actually felt more in control of my feelings than I ever have before. Today, was different though. I felt a shift in the way I think and feel. We covered some memories that had been lost before, things that brought about a whole heap of conflict and a whole heap more of pain.

My T says we often have a core self and then our perceived self, which is an identity that forms from the actions, expectations etc, from others. The teen years are particularly crucial when it comes to developing identity. My T says I am experiencing conflict because I’ve started to find my core self and it doesn’t fit with the all the things I thought about myself and others thought of me. My T said it’s something I will probably face repeatedly over the next few months, but eventually the true self will be all that’s left.

There seem to be lots of things are going on at once and I’m a bit overwhelmed. The deep pain I’ve buried for years is surfacing, there’s another issue, which is sort of ongoing (and not something I can blog about) and then there’s this conflict which has been brought up while trying to resolve that ongoing issue and that equals more pain.

Tonight, I hurt. My baby is sitting beside me,  my big boy is at a friend’s house. My house is bright and smells good, it’s warm and it is safe. I have a exciting future ahead and I’m so glad about those things, they help so much, but they do not take this pain away. Nothing can make it just go. My T always encourages me to let new things sit. I know right now he would say that yes, it hurts, but it’s OK to hurt if that is what I feel. I know he would tell me it’s nothing to be afraid of and it won’t last forever and he’d would tell me that I am justified in hurting, that I deserve to feel that hurt, because hurting over this, is the way forward, the way through and the way out.

No therapy next week, so there’s plenty of time for this to sit and plenty of time for me to continue challenge some of those parts of my perceived identity that do not belong. Lots of time to do what needs to be done and to feel what needs to be felt. Yet I just want to hide or run away because it hurts so much its’s like I can barely breathe. I don’t know how to feel OK that I hurt this much, not in this moment, not yet at least.

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Hate and Love.

There’s so much contained inside right now that I feel as if I may burst, but I couldn’t express it today, I couldn’t let go. Every time I feel that pain I am filled with hate and I burn with rage.

I don’t want to do this, I don’t want this. How do I deal with this? I want Christmas back, that energy, those moments of peace. I want to feel alive again, not just exist.  I wrote this when I got home from T:

I won’t remember you this way, you are not a person, you are not the same as me, or anyone I know. You are the monster, you are not real, you were never real. I don’t want to see you, or to remember the way you looked, I don’t want to recall the attraction. You must remain the monster, a monster without a face, you must. You have to.

You ruined every moment of us that I held dear, every treasured memory has been tainted and for that I am grateful. I don’t want to remember you fondly, I don’t want to remember any good within you, only the bad.  It has to be that black and white, it just has to.

Your manipulation and your control is all I want to see in those many embraces and all the tender kisses I cannot scrub from my memory. I want to see your dominance and hold over me while I remember how you groomed me into loving you. And when I am hit by flashes of your scent, or I feel your touch upon me, nothing but fear and horror is acceptable. I will not miss you or find any comfort, I will not mourn for the loss, or grieve for what was. I cannot accept that conflict goes on within me because the you I loved did not exist, it was never true and it was never right.  I reject the feelings of loss, I reject the grief and I reject the heartbreak.

When I choose, I will cry over what you did and all that horrific abuse, I may cry for the loss and for the ideal, but I will not grieve for you. You will not have my tears, not over this, not for you. I will not let go, I will not cry over “our love”. You are not deserving of my tears or any more of my pain. You deserve hate, you deserve my rage, all of it, every bit of it focused on you, the real you, the monster.

 

A painfully great day

This morning  I decided today would be great. Was I setting myself up for a fall? Perhaps. I plan way too much I know that, I also know how much I hate it when things don’t go to plan.

I was feeling good though and felt sure I could have a great day. Thursday was a good day, Friday was good at first, with a rough middle and a good end. Yesterday started off OK, but a combination of hyper vigilance and  a challenging trip to town (plus a huge disappointment that I’m not ready to go into right now) led to an afternoon of exhaustion and recovery. So things have been sort of mixed. I’m thrilled though, absolutely thrilled that even among all the symptoms, I’ve managed to feel alright for a large proportion of the day. Woop, Woop, YAY.

Anyway, back to today. Because of the good feelings the last few days, I was confident in saying that today would be great. Perhaps great was setting my sights too high, perhaps I should have chosen to use the term “good” or even “OK”.

In the end, today was not easy, but I’ve been reflecting on it this evening and wondering if great has to mean brilliant, or wonderful? I could be all negative and down about it not being great, or I can CHOOSE to find the positive and even the progress that I know is there.

I was incredibly emotional today, I felt sad. I needed the comfort of my husband and children, the familiarity of my home, the smell of my laundry drying, etc. I needed here and I needed now and all the comfort that “here and now” brings to me. I cried a teeny bit, I felt down, I felt sad, I felt pain and my heart ached, my throat felt raw, my chest heavy. Yet somehow it wasn’t terrible. And though I’d be far reaching to say I felt good, it wasn’t bad, it really wasn’t. In actual fact, it was freeing. Because today I felt what I needed to feel, I was sad and hurt and I have every right to be. I felt it, I didn’t deny or suppress it. I felt it. And that’s the key, the point, the greatness that was today. I felt, I FELT.

I’ve been numb for a long time, sadness about this isn’t something I do all that often. I feel anger, I feel guilt, I feel shame, I feel abandonment even at times, but I don’t feel sadness much, not about my past. Oh I feel sadness about “stuff” surrounding it sure, about day to day things, yup, I even cry at TV shows, but this, him, that .. nope. What I felt today was new. Don’t get me wrong, it was minor, a few tears, an overshadowing of sadness, no sob fest. There are still obstacles, a wall/ issues I guess, but ultimately, I did what I needed to do, I did feel what I felt. I took that step and I let some of it out and that is great!

So maybe today didn’t go as planned, maybe I didn’t feel great in the sense I thought I would but I felt something I really needed to feel today, I took another step forward and that is great.

(hugs and hand holding wouldn’t go amiss though, great or not, it hurts!)

A whole heap of boxes

When I started therapy, one of the first things we established is that I have a lot of bad memories that I had avoided for a long time. As we spent some sessions talking abut how I’ve coped with it for so many years  my T said, as well as or as part of pretending I was ok (see “Me Versus Me”), he suspected that I had probably separated each memory, before storing them firmly away.  I can certainly see that, it has always been as if they existed alone, independent from one another, as if they weren’t interlinked in any way at all. Each experience has been essentially “boxed up”, the lid firmly closed and then stacked into a corner of my mind. Though more recently when opening a particularly large box, we have discovered lots of smaller boxes inside, making me realise that it’s not just each “incident” in a box, but in fact some of the memories have been broken down further, each fragment of a memory in a box of its own.

My T turned to me the other week, with a big reassuring smile and said  “we really do have a whole heap of boxes to unpack”  Oh, I was really annoyed about that I can tell you, I gave him a dirty look I think…

I know he’s right though, we do have lots to unpack. I feel those boxes, I see them, I am aware of their presence. I’ve been able to picture them clearly in my mind. They are of varying sizes, depending on what is inside them. Dark brown in colour, they appear to be made of solid wood.  I have pictured them, neatly stacked in a large pile, tucked away in the corner of my mind.

It’s daunting, I’ve feared and at times still do, that pulling out one box may dislodge all the others and the whole pile would collapse with all the boxes tumbling to the floor, the lids crashing open and all that hurt and suffering that has been contained for years would come pouring out, flooding my mind.  I was so very afraid of that happening, I was afraid if that happened, it would break me.

How on earth could I handle all that unprocessed horror and pain free in my head?

My T has encouraged me to began to talk about one memory a a time for now, until I have more of a handle on things (I get triggered a lot- flashbacks, nightmares body memories, all symptoms of PTSD -more on that later). We gingerly took the first steps together to unlock the first box, open the lid and slowly unpack and examine the contents. To my huge and utter relief, I found I was able to contain the other memories! They remained locked in their boxes. It wasn’t like a shaken coke bottle, once opened it all just comes frothing out uncontrollably, as I had feared. Instead, the other memories remained locked tight. I can’t tell you how good that felt. I really was so afraid of what would happen when I took those steps in confronting the first memory. It gave me confidence to continue. Since then, I have noticed that on one occasion confronting one box has unlocked another, but still the “stuff” inside has remained intact.  When I shared this with my T, he simply said, “containment, and you do it well”. 🙂

Perhaps, I should have had more faith in myself, because after all isn’t that what I’ve been doing all these years? Separating and containing.

One year in and we’ve barely made a dent in unpacking those boxes, while I’ve been frustrated at that, I realise it’s not been time wasted. I’ve been learning more coping mechanisms, he’s been teaching me the tools I need to handle and process the past. We’ve also been dealing with the many issues I have surrounding my past, as well as coping with any crises along the way. I try to see it as clearing the floor to enable us to reach that big pile of boxes in the corner.

There have been some memories that I shared in T along the way but unfortunately it seems  I just wasn’t ready for them. I was so numb at the start, I felt detached, as if I was talking about it happening to someone else. I would leave the session, and instantly begin to shove those memories right back down into it’s box and I tell you, they went back in so easily, they seemed to fit so well. It was no effort to close the lid and kick it across the floor back into the corner where it seemed to feel most comfortable. It was a relief that the memory was back where (I thought) it belonged.

Since then, we have talked about two painful memories, I mean really talked about them, we’ve confronted them, spent weeks getting right into the horrible, graphic and very painful details and mostly importantly I’ve been feeling them. The last 3 weeks, we have started to unpack the biggest box of all. That has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done (so far!). Although, I have managed to avoid doing what I did before (simply packing them back up and putting them in the corner of my mind) we haven’t quite accomplished what I had envisioned, which was to unpack each box then discard it, the contents as well as the box itself. I had almost imagined I would unpack each box, throw out what’s inside, then after chucking the empty box over my head, I’d dust off my hands and say “next”!

It hasn’t really worked that way. Instead, I now see a big pile of boxes, neatly stacked together. Then there are two medium to large boxes on one side on their own with their lids now off! The memories have gone back in, for sure, but they aren’t stuffed down, they are just there waiting to be pulled out whenever I wish. There is also the third box (I mentioned above-those memories we are currently dealing with now) which is set aside slightly from the large pile. The third box is now unlocked but the lid seems to close between each therapy session. I’m ok with that, it’s hard work and I know I am progressing. Just a few weeks ago that box was locked tight. I’m moving in the right direction.

I hope one day I won’t have need for those boxes at all, but they have served me well over the years and it’s one day at a time, right? Or maybe that should that be one box….