My reactions to things astound me. I had a pretty good session. I think I’ve started recognizing my warriorness again. Last week, I’d been talking to my therapust about some stuff that happened to me as a teenager. As I talked, it occurred to me that I now weigh less than when this stuff happened and I expressed to my therapist that this actually made me feel very vulnerable all of a sudden. This was towards the end of last week’s session, so my therapust gave me an assignment to compare 15 year old me to the now 50 year old me. I did this assignment and included some pictures. I came up with at least 30 ways that I am different from 15 year old me. I found out that I’m lots stronger and more capable now than I was when I was 15. And I recognized my warriorness again. So, on Tuesday, my therapust and I talked about this and then talked about the flashbacks I’ve been having lately. And then my therapist told me that she is going away for the whole week the week after next. My head swirled and my eyes filled with tears. I tried to tell myself that I could live for a week, but some part of me was screaming that she just came back from vacation a couple of weeks ago. And then I realized that the week my therapust will be back from being away is my kids’ winter break and I’ve not been successful with finding a babysitter for any part of that week. So, no therapy that week. I protested, stating that it will be two weeks because of that and my therapust stated that she just won’t be here. Which I get. My protests aren’t going to change anything. I don’t get a say in this. I am just starting to see some specks of light after a big depression and those specks are still disappearing at times. I just saw my warriorness again. I don’t want all of that to disappear. My therapist and my wife reminded me that I didn’t fall apart for the two weeks my therapist was away just a few weeks ago. I know I didn’t…I was actually grateful to have less times that I was expected to be awake and functioning. But, now, I feel in a fragile place with this trafficking word. And I’m afraid that I could get too deep in it and then be left alone with it for two weeks. I left the session in tears. I know I’ll be okay…as okay as I can be. But, I’m not ready for another therapy break and I have no control in this. I feel vulnerable. Nothing I do will change my therapist’s plans. I know that. But, I have to look at this reaction. I have to deal with where it comes from. I’m so afraid of people leaving me. I’m afraid they won’t come back. My therapust will be back unless something beyond her control happens. There’s my problem. People may have the best intentions, but not every circumstance is controllable. Some people have heinous intentions, and those circumstances were beyond my control when I was growing up. I don’t like this out of control feeling.
I need to set up some ways I’m going to cope with those two weeks of no therapy. I have three sessions to look at this stuff and come up with a plan for myself.
That freaking cat flashback has not left me alone for weeks. I’ve been trying to talk to the part of me that experienced that horrible event and trying to find out what I need to do to calm that part down. Honestly, I wonder if that part of me can ever be calm. The shock and repressed rage and grief from that incident seem enough to fill up a whole life, yet here I am, grown, safe, capable…a warrior queen.
MT ( my therapist), recently learned a new expisure technique, so we decided to try it with this memory. I guess the exposure and repetition is supposed to move the memory to a different part of my brain and help me to process it differently. The repeated exposure is also supposed to help desensitized it for me. This technique gives me at least 15 different exposures to the incident over a couple of sessions.
We started with me making a time line of the incident where the cat died. I had to put both positives and negatives. My positives were that I screamed (self-preservation) and that I did not die. After I finished making the timeline, I showed it to MT and talked about it. That part was pretty easy, but there was a part at the end that surprised MT. She looked very disturbed. It was disturbing, but I forget that sometimes. I had never told her the ending. I think I’d gotten stuck on the cat before and not been able to go beyond that in much detail. I felt very removed. Then I had to write for 5 minutes about the first half of the incident and then for another 5 minutes about the 2nd half. Oh, yeah, I forgot…between each step, we did deep breathing and some relaxation visualizations. The person who developed this technique theorizes that it is impossible to experience the trauma when one is relaxed. I’m really not convinced, but I’m going to go with it for now. Then MT said it was time for me to read what I go written out loud to her. I immediately wanted to flee and my body provided me with an excuse. Suddenly, I had to pee and there was no waiting. I told MT i was going to the bathroom, and she actuallyasked me if I was coming back and if I had my car keys in my pocket. That made me giggle. My purse was still on the couch. I went to the bathroom, came back, took a deep breath, and stared at MT. I couldn’t speak. She told me that this was important and I could do it. After a minute or two of her encouraging me, I read it. Then I had to go to the bathroom again. Craziness. Then MT read me what I had written, preaching it with, I’m going to read you a story and it’s disturbing. It’s in the past, it’s over, but you might have feelings. She read it, we did more deep breathing, and then she read it to me again. This time, though, she wanted me to concentrate on continuing the deep breathing and also to tap myself on alternating knees to give myself bilateral input, like emdr. We did that. Then did 10 minutes of breathing and relaxation. I left feeling not overwhelmed. We have a two hour session scheduled on Tuesday to complete this technique with this flashback. We will see how that goes. So far, the flashback persists, although it’s possible that my reaction is less intense.
Last Monday, when I went to therapy, the hopelessness continued. I just really could not see the way out of the hopelessness I was feeling. I didn’t tell MT (my therapist) that I was having suicidal thoughts. I was really afraid of what she would do if she heard that. I thought she might call an ambulance and put me on a 72 hour hold, and that thought terrified me. I had no real plan. I just kept wishing I was dead and thinking that if I had a gun, I could be dead. Thankfully, I don’t have lots of money or the time to purchase a gun. I was still having this freaking cat flashback. I’ve been just waiting for it to stop, and I don’t think it’s going to happen. But, at therapy on Monday, MT, not knowing about my suicidal thoughts, called me on my lack of warriorness (yes, I made up this word). She talked about how I have warriored through all sorts of other stuff, and she was not understanding where that warrior was right now. I left that session silently, feeling pretty worthless. I know MT thought that would spur me into action, but it just added to my hopelessness. I went home, took care of my kids, and went to Jodi’s first meditation session since June. I sat on the floor, and Jodi had us breathe and notice our breath, and I felt myself slammed back into my body. I had not been in my body in a long time, and apparently that was part of my issue with this flashback…I was not being 50 year old me looking at this flashback, I was looking at it as a child. I went to therapy on Tuesday and talked to the child me in this flashback. I cried, lots, but as an adult. I felt seen and heard by MT. I also told MT that I had been a warrior even when she thought that I wasn’t as I kept showing up and I was still alive. As I left, MT told me to process the hell out of this session, and I said I would write a letter to the girl in the flashback.
So, I went to therapy with lots of trepidation. I picked up my pink stress pig from the table by where I sit and immediately MT ( my therapist) commented on how it had been months since I touched that pig. It has been, but last week, I woke up one night in the middle of the week, panicking, because I was sure that pig was no longer there and, if that pig was no longer there, it meant that MT was sick of me. When I walked into therapy yesterday, I was quite relieved to find that pig there still and I picked up because I was so anxious and putting my fingernails in that pig was way better than putting them in my skin.
When I arrived in the waiting room, I had reviewed all of the posts I’d written recently, and I brought them into the office and placed them next to me in case I could not get the words out of my mouth and needed MT to read them. After MT commented on the pig, I just started talking. I talked about crying for a couple of hours after my last therapy session and wanting to hurt myself, but not. I talked about what a struggle I’ve had since MT came back from vacation. My voice was trembling and tears were building up in my eyes. MT softly said that she thought she knew what I was going to say. I looked at her and shook my head and she said that I should keep talking, that she would listen until I was done. So I talked about the decision in July to really work on grieving everything that had happened to me and then the traumatic PAP smear in September and surgery in November and how I had pretty much stopped that grieving process and it was time for me to get back to it, even if she thought it was silly or redundant or malingering or whatever. She stopped me and asked what would make me say that. I told her that she keeps saying that it’s time to let go and I’m not ready yet. If I don’t process it the way I think I should, it will probably come back to haunt me again. MT asked if I haven’t heard her say that it’s time to get back to grieving so I can let go. Nope, I have not. I just hear it’s time to let go. Whoa. What is up with me? She also asked me if I thought she would say that was over and done with after two months. Well, a few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have thought she’d say it was long enough, but lately, I’ve felt like I was battling her to get to something needed to do before I let go. She agreed that the last few weeks have felt like a battle, but she was not sure about what. Then MT told me she thought I was going to say that I was done with her and I was going to find a new therapist. I told her that I had definitely been considering that. She told me that she was glad to hear that because she had been wondering if perhaps I had done as much work as I could at this point, and hearing me say that I had considered a new therapist, yet come to her saying I needed to grieve told her I was definitely ready for the rest of the work. Then she told me that she’d been watching me and was ready to intervene if I said I was leaving. MT told me she would not have let me go without some sort of a discussion. She asked if I didn’t know she was always watching and assessing. I said lately I thought she was just biding her time until I stopped being dramatic and difficult. MT looked puzzled for a minute when I said that, and then said, oh, I get it, you’re looking at me as if I was your mother, you’ve got some transference happening. And yes, once she said that, I realized it was true. I have not been looking at her as the good mother, I’ve been looking at her as though she were my actual mother, with whom I was not allowed feelings and was told I was difficult and dramatic if I displayed any negative emotion. No wonder I’ve been battling MT and no wonder I have not heard the it’s time to grieve part of her letting go statements. I cried through this whole session. I’m sad and angry about the events that brought me to this space, and I was so relieved to feel connected to MT again. MT made a comment at this point that I really don’t need her anymore, because all I need you heal is inside me. Yes, it is. But I still need some guidance to find it, I need that 2 hours a week to find it, I need the space of her office to find it, and I need the witness from outside my daily life.
As I was getting ready to leave this session, MT asked what the papers I had with me were. I told her it was what I talked about written down in case I couldn’t say it. She asked if it was really that difficult, and I told her it really was. I had been totally scared about the whole thing. Then she asked me what I was thinking at that moment. I pointed to my collage of what a warrior is hanging on her filing cabinet, and said that I had been thinking that maybe I really am a warrior. MT said, you’re not just a warrior, you’re a Warrior Queen.
I spent a good part of today doing some research via my blog and my personal journal to try to figure out what happened to this grieving process of mine. I managed to piece together a pretty good road map of when that process started and where the detours happened. I started this grieving process in July, 2016. MT (my therapist) said that it wouldn’t surprise her if I spent the next year crying on her couch for two hours every week. Then in September, 2016 that process got interrupted by the crazy PAP smear that took over my life for a while, as I had a new trauma to process. And thank God, I processed it in the present as soon as it happened. And it is done. That actually took a couple of months. Almost as soon as I was done processing the bad and terrible PAP smear, I got my date for my surgery and lots of time and energy, both in and out of therapy, was taken up with getting prepared for surgery and being excited about it. Once I had my surgery, lots of time was taken up talking about changes in eating and body perception and how I felt more vulnerable…and I was busy letting go of weight…lots of weight every week. I was processing the changes in my appearance seemed to be changing every few days. I was busy processing the emotions I could no longer cover up with food. And of course that conversation continues even now. And then MT went away for a week and I’ve been stuck and trying to let go since then, but what I realized today, is that I had many interruptions to my grieving process and I never let myself get back to it. I started that process to help myself be able to let go and even though I seemed to not be in the grieving stage anymore, I know I am. Just saying that gives me a sense of relief. No wonder I’m still sad and mad. I’m not trying to hold on, I’m not trying to change the past, I just need to complete this process.
I woke up in the middle of the night and thought more about what is going on with me and my healing process. Here are those thoughts:
I’m projecting my frustration with myself onto MT. I don’t tell her what’s going on with me because I’m afraid that she’ll be frustrated with me, but really I’m frustrated with myself. I’m irritated with myself so I think she’s irritated with me. And this is not serving me well and I’m stuck. I feel so stuck. The problem is that I tried to make the grieving be done with. I felt like it went on for long enough and tried to stop it. But, it’s still there. I keep trying to let go of the past and the flashbacks get stronger. Grieving isn’t not letting go. Grieving is part of the process of letting go. I keep trying to hurry the process along, but that does not work. I am where I am. I believe in letting go. I will let go when the time is right, but not completing the process or trying to leapfrog over steps is just making me frustrated and irritated. I know I need to spend more time on the grieving and just letting myself feel that. I let that go to quickly because I thought grieving was trying to hold on and change unchangeable things. But really, grieving is part of letting go. I have to let myself be where I am. The other thing about grieving is that it is hard for me to let myself still be in the grieving space when I’m also so focused on and pretty happy about this journey of weight loss. I am happy with this journey. Even though it does bring up other issues for me. But those are in the present. It seems pretty easy to work on those with MT. But I have blocked myself from the grieving process, probably since I had surgery. And it was easy to block that grieving for a while, but now it’s come back, stronger than it was. I’ve been judging the process instead of just letting it be. I can practice letting go while I’m still grieving. Letting go is a practice anyway. It takes reminding myself over and over again that I let that go. That I can’t change that. That it’s just the way things were and hurts me to keep scraping my fingernails on a brick wall trying to make it change. So, with the past, i have a two-pronged process. Letting myself grieve and practicing letting go. Practicing letting go can look like this. I have a flashback, and as soon as I can, I remind myself that was in the past and it happened and it was bad but my life now is really good and the past doesn’t matter anymore. I can also practice letting go by owning my truth and not being scared about what anybody might think of me or say about me when I do speak my truth. I can also practice letting go by putting the past on that boat and only pulling it in when I need it. But, I don’t need the past in my face to grieve and let go. I can let that boat out further each time. It does not matter where the past is, my feelings are still my feelings no matter what. Eventually I can cut the rope to that boat or explode that boat.
I didn’t spin this web. I didn’t devise the lies that make up this web. I’ve been held captive in this web and I’m starting to break loose. I’m going to escape this web of lies and abuse.
This web is enormous and strong. It spans generations and crosses seas and continents. In the distant past, one of my ancestors sold his or her soul to the devil and hurt the first child, and from there, it spun out of control, trapping generations of children in lies, deceit, shame. In trying to find their way out of the darkness and terror of this web, some found their way deeper into the darkness and became the abusers themselves. Generations of children have been raped, beaten, terrorized. Generations of children have not owned their bodies. Their bodies have been owned by mothers, fathers, uncles, grandparents, old men, neighbors, priests, and strangers. Their bodies have been sold and shared. Children have tried to escape this web by drinking, taking drugs, self harm, shrinking into the background, becoming as loud as possible, eating, shopping, being perfect, or being as imperfect as possible. Children have learned that their feelings don’t count…if they are sad, nobody wipes away the tears, their anger is shut down and turned inward, their joy is not celebrated. Children are shamed for being human. Children are beaten into submission. They become vigilant, waiting for the next slap or the next creepy feeling touch. Children constantly remember the terror. Children learn to be somewhere else in their minds.
I am escaping this web of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. I didn’t spin this web. I just got caught in it. I’m breaking the strands of silk one at a time. I’m learning to unravel what can’t be broken. The shame belongs to those who continued spinning this web. I will not spin any part of this web. I am not this web. The web tries to trap me, but I will not be trapped. Living in the present unravels the web. Owning what happened to me unravels the web. I am not the people who spun this web. I am not like them, even though they created me. I am an angel rising from evil. I am a warrior, and my sword is ripping this web to shreds . I have told my story, and the truth of that story untangles this web and lays the silk straight to guide my way from the web of deceit.