Triggering *** CSA discussion****
I realized in rereading my last post that it might have sounded like I disclosed CSA to my therapist just last session. Actually my T has known about my childhood traumas in general all along. What I told him was that over a year ago when I was talking about a memory he said something that really upset me. I didn’t tell him that at the time. Instead I just stopped talking about it and while I told him I had flashbacks I wouldn’t tell him about them anymore (I never told him why).
The memory was one that I had for my entire life but the memories I have of my CSA are like snapshots. They are 2D pictures of a particular moment with no associated feelings or sequence of events. Sometimes I even doubt they happened which is how I felt about this particular memory until I had a flashback (that is what I call it). I was lying in the sun on a great summer afternon by the lake and was relaxed and trying some mindfulness exercises about feeling the sun on my body, listening to the sound of the water, feeling the breeze and all of sudden I was back in that memory. The flashback was like an high def. motion picture. I heard words and there was movement and most of all I had all these feelings that I never knew about it. In my memory my brother came into my room and asked me to perform a sex act. I said no and he left. It seems simple but it was awful. He asked, then tried to bribe me (with chocolate), and then pleaded. I felt bored like I didn’t want to bother and so I kept saying no. This memory horrified me because I didn’t feel forced or scared by my brother. I felt like a participant (of course I know intellectually that my brother is 11 years older than me and so I couldn’t really participate). I felt like if I said No and he left that night obviously there must have been times where I said yes and I can’t remember those. I’ve always assumed that since it started when I was so young that I must have been scared or forced or something but none of those feelings were part of that memory.
A year ago I told M about that flasback and I tried to describe how destabilizing it was to me because it didn’t fit my assumptions about the abuse. I was so upset that conversation was difficult, very choppy because I was constantly dissociating, and highly charged. What M said that was so upsetting to me is when I told him my brother left when I said No and that all I felt was tired and bored (not scared or threatened). He suggested that I didn’t just feel relief when he left and and maybe I felt disappointed. Doesn’t that sound like he thought I was an active participant who missed the attention or sexual activity? I told him during my session last week that I had probably misunderstood his comment and I wanted to discuss it with him and clear the air. He told me that a child in that position would be confused and trying to make sense of and control their life so any change would be upsetting. So I might have been upset by him stopping just because it wouldn’t make sense to me.
This weekend I reread my journal entries surrounding my feelings about the flashback and my session with M about it. I also listened to that session again. I record all my sessions with M with his knowledge and permission. When I heard the session I was upset all over again. I haven’t resolved anything between us. Even though I don’t think he blames me for the incest I’m not sure he thinks I’m a victim. I can’t tell if I’m projecting my self-blame and self-hatred and shame onto him or if he blames me. I don’t know how I’m going to talk about this tomorrow. Part of me wishes I never brought it up and I just kept all those feelings and memories to myself. Another part of me knows I need to talk about it to heal and I need to figure out if I can trust him to support me and not judge me. I hate that. I would like to deal with everything on my own.
This is the first weekend of the year I am not driving to my daughter’s competition. I have one meeting that I have to go to tomorrow afternoon and that is it. I’m not sure what to do with my free time. There is lots to do in my house. I think I only have two speeds. The really busy me who juggles many activities and the complete sloth who does nothing. I hope I can break out of that pattern this weekend and get some household jobs done and also relax.
My second session this week with M went well. I went in very upset about feeling like I couldn’t trust the therapeutic relationship. He was very validating about my fear. While I complained that all relationships are fragile and I found it so terrifying he told he preferred to call it constantly changing and said he sometimes found it liberating and sometimes disturbing. Then we changed the subject. We discussed deep breathing exercises to help me relax. I even managed to discuss briefly two of the things I struggle to disclose. The first is my binge eating which has been getting worse over the last 4 months and the second was CSA. All I told him was that I was angry about something he said over a year ago when I was telling him my memory of what happened and I was finally willing to admit I was angry and that was why I hadn’t talked about it since. I’ve felt pretty calm since our session. I haven’t had the desire to contact him or journal or worry about my upcoming session and what he might want to talk about. It is peaceful.
I had an unusual session with M yesterday. We talked about my feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. I told him part of the worthless feeling was related to my worries that he doesn’t like me and wishes I would stop seeing him. He told me he thought when I said I wanted to know he liked me what I also meant was that I wanted to know he understood me, accepted me, and was willing to make time for me and he was good with that. I thought he was right.
He then went on to tell me that while he was knew I was intelligent and witty and a good storyteller he was always aware that I was in a great deal of pain so he never relaxed into “liking” my behaviour. He said he wanted to attend to the painful, scary, confused parts of me. He also said that I had trouble believing anyone wanted to be with the shitty parts of me that I hated and I always had to hide in my childhood but that was what he chose to do in his job. I told him I didn’t understand why he wanted to be with my pain since I knew that everyone that came into his office was willing to share their pain with him and probably more gracefully than I did. He agreed and admitted that he could spend his time with people with less pain than I had but that wasn’t what he chose to do.
I felt quite relieved after the session and I thought he was very honest. He has in the past told me he was there for me and was planning to work through things with me. He has always been there for me during and between sessions in alignment with his boundaries (contact only during his normal office hours). I realized that if working with me is a choice then at any point he could choose differently and quit therapy. Today I am worried that I have too much pain for M. So I started the conversation to try and get some reassurance about our therapeutic relationship and I’m still afraid. I don’t think there is any reassurance possible and I hate the constant awareness of how much I depend on him and the possiblility at any minute he’ll be gone (and I know that he might get hit by a bus and it won’t even be his choice). I don’t know how anyone lives with the uncertainty of human relationships.
I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to distract myself from my thoughts about being hopeless and worthless I talked about in my last post. Today I spent most of the day in my bed, awake but not doing anything. I think I’ve slipped past depressed into despair. I can’t imagine anything changing. I’ve been taking a antidepressant for almost 4 weeks not without noticing any positive effects on my mood. I don’t want to go to my session with M tomorrow. I can’t see any point. I don’t think therapy can help me.
Hopeless and worthless are two words that keep coming up in my therapy sessions.
I tell M that I feel hopeless and I do. Things don’t get better. I lurch from crisis to crisis some I am sure of my own making but others like last weekends health scare with my husband are just the natural up and downs of life. The natural downs of life leave me feeling hopeless because even though I know intellectually they will pass I don’t feel like they will when I’m in them. I lack resilience and I have no idea how to develop it. I don’t know if that is depression or just my personality.
Worthless is how I define anything that involves me. For example I sat for half of my session with M today saying nothing. I told him I had nothing to talk about. Really I feel like I have nothing worthwhile to talk about. Nothing I feel or think seems worth talking about. They are always variations on what we have already have talked about and they are still there. What’s the point of talking about them again? Of course I realize that feeling that nothing that is going on with me is worth talking about is just how my family treated me as a child. It didn’t matter what I thought or felt, all that mattered is that I behaved. So I’ve always been worthless. I’m amazed I’ve managed to stay in therapy for almost 3 years when I KNOW it’s pointless because I’m worthless.
I had another session with M today. The first half was spent discussing my husband going to the hospital. Since my husband got home from the hospital he has felt fine except for some tiredness (expected because we missed a nights sleep) and soreness and muscle strain (expected from the fall). M was supportive and understanding about my feelings.
The second half we continued our discussion about contacting him outside of sessions. We discussed this last week and I can’t seem to reach a resolution about it. M won’t just say it is okay that you contact me. He tells me it can be helpful to the process and our relationship. He tells me he understands that it is difficult for me to feel okay about that contact. He tells me it is not a surprise that I am afraid of my feelings of dependency and attachment to him considering my life experiences particularly in childhood. He also says that it wouldn’t help if he told me it was okay to call or email him because I wouldn’t believe it. I think I’d like it if he would try to convince me. Of course that will never happen.
Right now I would like it if I could just drop the subject. There are so many other things I would like to talk about that I am struggling with in my life it seems like a waste of therapy time to keep going over the same ground. Unfortunately I can’t seem to start any of those other conversations.
In the middle of last night, at 3:11am to be precise, my husband and I woke up to our youngest crying. While I comforted my son my husband went to the washroom and then I heard the stool shake and the door rattle followed by a thud. When I got there my husband was trying to stand up. He got part way up before he crumpled and fell into the bath. He was awake but had trouble forming sentences and felt generally weak. Everytime he tried to get up he would fall over again. There was no sign of weakness on one side of his body. After 20 minutes I called an ambulance and they took him to the hospital for evaluation.
I joined him after I got someone to stay with my children. His blood work and heart were fine. They did a CT scan of his head which turned out to be normal. The doctors think he either had a small stroke, a transient ischemic attack (TIA), or a seizure. Next week he will have to see a neurologist for further tests. I brought him home and we are both exhausted from our disrupted night. I’m also afraid. It is hard to imagine my husband not being there, in control, and able to take care of me. He is 10 years older than me but he comes froma long-lived family so I’ve always joked that I can count on him living longer. I’m starting to feel like life will not give me a break so I can catch my breath.