Monday, December 21, 2009
The holiday season is keeping me in a good mood. I'm enjoying the kids at home and am not stressed (at least not yet) about anything holiday related. I have a few days off next week and we will be travelling to visit family over the New Year.
Best wishes to all who read. :)
Monday, December 14, 2009
- Processing a previous session
- Previewing/planning an upcoming session
- Just thinking about your therapist
Any therapists that might reply - how much time thinking (or should I say obssessing) about therapy is unhealthy. Makes me wonder how much therapists think about their patients and sessions between sessions. Replaying something said - wondering if your response was off base or not helpful in the situation.
As a follow up - I ended up not going to the holiday party that we were both invited to and spent most of last week talking about. At this point, it just didn't feel *right*.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
About an hour later, I "woke" up as my husband was coming to bed. I looked at him and saw him, but asked him "What are you doing here? What are you doing?" Although I was seeing his face, I'm thinking I was thinking he was my abuser. He was amused - "Uh - I'm getting ready for bed like I do every night. Putting my clothes in the hamper."
I'm sure I wasn't fully awake, although it registers in my mind that I *knew* he was my husband. And it only took a matter of minutes before I realized where I was. I don't remember any *dreams* before waking up. Odd and unsettling.
I had to go to work this morning while the family was still asleep. Will need to have that conversation to tell hubby that I am sure this was related to my past abuse.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
This post may not be coherent because my thinking is muddled about this. I've been thinking about disclosure a lot. I've been running down my list of friends - long term and shorter term - trying to decide which, if any, I might talk to about my past. The fact that I am spending time (aka ruminating about) with this tells me I will take the plunge soon. It's something I am working up to - like I worked up to -
- going to a therapist
- telling my therapist about my abuse
- telling my husband about my abuse
- asking my mother about my abuse
- telling one friend about my abuse (a safe one, that I don't see in person because she lives 3000 miles away, have known since college and who already suspected something)
I am stuck with feeling that if I tell a friend, I will feel like I've been a fraud all these years. I feel that my friends will view me differently. Which tells me that I still defining myself by what happened to me when I was a child. I am realizing that my thought process and reactions WERE formed during childhood - the circuits were laid down aberrantly. There are times when I've been sitting with a friend, chatting about this or that, when I've considered putting it out there. But I haven't. My T tells me that it will happen when I am ready. Seems like such a pat answer, but perhaps there is truth in it. I keep thinking about one friend who told me she couldn't deal with someone because there was "too much drama in her life" and she was "too high maintenance". The woman she is referring to went through a nasty divorce from someone with mental illness, has three children and is trying to make a go of it. My feeling is she deserves to be "high maintenance", but I don't want to become that person.
Perhaps part of my issue is the people I have shared with - at least hubby and mother - haven't persued it. My mother I can understand - she is self centered and it is a relief for her to have it out in the open and now she is done with it. My husband is more complicated - I have considered the following -
- he doesn't talk about it because he finds it awkward (the one time I brought it up he said he thought it was creepy)
- he doesn't talk about it because it hasn't changed how he thinks about me - I'm still the person he married and loves
- he doesn't talk about it because it has changed his thinking of me
I still am left with that fact that I withheld this information about myself from him for 25 years. It feels like I have cheated him.
So I am left with my muddled thinking. After a bizarre therapy session last night.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Warm air - around 70
Outside raking leaves, pulling weeds and spent tomato vines.
With hubby, 10 year old son and dog.
Taking breaks to swing.
What a lovely weekend.
Hope others had some beauty this weekend. :)
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
So - I've always known I was sexually abused as a child by my stepfather - the father of my younger brother. My memories are vague - but I can date them from about age 8 to age 11. Most of what I remember occured in the night - but those memories are more about things I did to avoid the abuse - like stay up late with my older brother watching TV (I specifically remember my abuser coming to check multiple times to see if I was in bed yet). Another avoidance was carrying my younger brother into my mother's room to put him bed with her - this was after I chose to sleep in his bed - thinking it might protect me from abuse that night. Of course, that woke my mother up, which did protect me that night. I remember the next morning, my abuser cornering me in the kitchen to tell me that "if I did something like that again, he would kill my mother." This seemed plausible as we three children witnessed their fights on multiple occasions and called the police a couple of times. Although she wasn't saving me from the abuse, the alternative of being without my mother must have been very frightening. The only phyisical things I remember was one specific time when he kept me home from school in the morning - I'm suspecting the reason I remember was because that was daytime and I could *see* him. Again, I don't remember pain at that time - I remember saliva and fingers. And being dropped late at school. And wishing that I could tell someone why.
These memories have always been there, although I have been able to put them aside and move on with life. I've escaped from my life of poverty. I'm the only one in my family to graduate from high school, much less college and medical school. I think one thing that helped me through adolescence is my involvement in church at the time. Although my beliefs are nearly 180 degrees different now, the church youth group provided a social outlet for me.
Fast forward to now - my memories have become more intrusive as my children get older. I think having a teenage daughter and going through menopause pushed me to the point of needing to *deal* with my issues. For those who have read my (short) blog, you know that since I started therapy almost a year and a half ago, I have disclosed my abuse history to my therapist, a close college friend and my husband. And last week, I asked my mother about my childhood.
After a brief avoidance ("what about your childhood?"), when I asked about my abuser, she said "Oh he molested you". I asked how she found out about it - she said I was "having a problem pooping" so she took me to the doctor who discovered I had been abused. He referred me to the emergency room (I do have a memory of that visit and hearing the word hymen as an 11 year old) where they confirmed that I had been sodomized and raped (my words - I don't think my mother knows those words). My mother told me that I told her at that time that he took me to his room at night after she went to work. She worked nights for 6 years, from age 5 to 11 for me.
This is what is hard for me now. The abuse is validated (I had no doubt), but it is worse than my memories. There must have been a lot of pain. I have absolutely no memory of pain. So - I wonder if these memories will ever surface. I don't think I want them to or need them to at this point. But I worry about what I will do if they come back.
So that's at least most of my story. So much of what I'm experiencing and feeling right now ties in with posts on multiple blogs. Avoidance of touch, needing hugs, trigger warnings, religion. It is good to think about all of these things.
My T is gone for a week so it will a two week hiatus before I see her again. I will be interested to see where we go from here. (Although I know I will have to take us there :)
Amazingly, I am doing well. I think the anxiety that built up over not talking with my mother is now released. So - in the moment - I am good.
It was a good session. We stayed on task. We got through a lot of material. Albeit, somewhat superficially due to time constraints. I felt like she listened and cared. She commented that she was worried that I would view her voicemail as "dismissive". We talked about the phone calls with my mother. She validated my belief that it is "all about my mother". She has continued to call me every day, but not once has she asked how I am doing. My T made a leap of faith - she said she didn't think my mother would injure herself (obviously she is basing this only on what I have told her), but even if she did, it would not be my fault. There is an ugly part of me that really doesn't care at this point.
The only downside to the session was that since I was so focused on what I had written and wanted to get through, I probably listened less than usual. My memory of what SHE said is not great. But I do know it felt right at the time.
One of the things I addressed with her was my concern that her experience with CSA survivors is not broad (by her own admission). We talked about the fact that she might consult with someone who works more frequently in the area. At one point, I would have thought that to be awful. Now, I welcome it.
Friday, October 30, 2009
So - after talking with my mother, she called back yesterday to let me know how horrible her life has been, etc. It's the same as usual. Alhough I know she is sorry for what happened to me in the past, it has now become about her and how little she is sleeping and how she could kill herself, etc. This of course makes me feel awful. I would feel awful if she actually did harm herself. But I also feel awful because I really don't care right now. She laid a lot of things out for me and I am trying to deal with it. I can't deal with her at the same time.
Now for my therapist - I journalled about everything my mother told me and how I felt. It was raw and painful. I wanted to email it to her so she could read it ahead of time. I am really afraid I will go in next week and clam up and not want to talk about it. Plus some of it is SO awkward to talk about. So I left a voicemail for her asking if there was some way I could email it to her - that I wasn't worried about privacy issues since she lives alone. She could print it off and delete it.
She doesn't work Thursday or Friday and I left this voicemail early yesterday. She called me back this afternoon and left a message on my phone. Basically that she thinks I need to print them out and bring them in at my usual time and we can talk about it in the moment and talk about the awkwardness. That email really didn't work for her. That really pissed me off - to the point of wanting to cancel my appointment next week and perhaps forever. Childish I know. I thought -
1) she doesn't want to have to think about this awful stuff outside the office
2) I am angry that I couldn't vent to her - she is one of three people who know my history and she knows the most. I called one of my friends and her child was home sick and she couldn't talk and I had no time alone with my husband.
3) I am angry that she doesn't work on Thursday and Friday - again silly. She called me back from her house. I was tempted to call her back at home. She's never given me her number, but it comes up on caller ID. I hate going through her receptionist, leaving a voicemail and waiting for her to call back.
4) I don't abuse the above - I think now I have called her 4 times in a year and a half outside of appointment changes (which are also not frequent). We have talked about my bringing this up with my mother to see what she would disclose. Unfortunately - I didn't time it on Monday night before my Tuesday appointment.
Having ranted about all of the above, I know that part of my anger is related to her not being there in the same way that my mother wasn't there for me when I was young and isn't there for me now. That doesn't make it easier to deal with. I rarely lean on others for support - now I want to and she is not available.
For the record - I left her another voicemail to tell her that I was angry. Now I am embarassed that I did that, but in the long run, probably not a bad thing.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
The worse thing about all this is that she disclosed specific things about the abuse of which I have NO memory. So I know there is more buried in my mind. I wasn't prepared for that part of this. I phoned the T yesterday to let her know I had called her. I didn't specifically ask for her to call me back, and she hasn't :(((
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
1) Told my husband about my childhood abuse
2) Slept better - although I still don't feel well rested most days
3) Told one other friend about my abuse
4) Discussed things in this "anonymous" forum
5) Continued with therapy on a weekly basis
6) Read a lot about abuse and its effects
I feel like I am nearing another step in the process, because I am -
1) Thinking about who else I might share my story with. I was with two friends over the weekend, chatting about kids and life and I started wondering about what their reaction would be if I disclosed my abuse history to them.
2) I am seriously thinking about a dinner out with a friend that I might share my story with.
3) I am thinking of telling my 16 year old daughter.
4) I am thinking of bringing it up to my mother - I called her once last week and if she had been home, I am certain I would have asked her (in a non threatening way) about what she might tell me.
5) I came across a local support group that started recently. Almost like karma - I was at the hairdressers and saw the ad in the paper. I have emailed to ask about it and I have done some research on the founder of the group. I have considered this but am not sure I ready for the public.
Just wondering about others on their journey - have you shared your story with others? How did you choose your audience? Any advice on how to proceed?
I have a session today - this seems like a good topic to fill 45 minutes :)
Monday, October 12, 2009
I'm sure I have more issues related to the abuse to work on. It just doesn't seem to be a high priority for me right now. In fact, at one point, it seemed like all I did was think of the abuse and related things. Now, I rarely find myself thinking about it. Perhaps avoidance.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
1) Do you "prepare" for therapy?
2) If so, what do you do?
Sometimes I go in cold without even thinking about it during the day. These are usually busy days at work. Funny - sometimes these sessions seem worthless because there is not much to talk about (and then I feel guilty somehow). Other times, these unrehearsed sessions yield good discussions.
Sometimes, I go over what I might have jotted down from the previous week (here or in my private journal) and write down a few topics. It usually takes me awhile to ease into my list. But eventually I do and I feel like I've accomplished something at the end.
On the weeks when I don't go in with a list - I usually ask my T what she would like to talk about and whether she has anything on her list. Without fail, she always defers back to me. I find this frustrating. We have been meeting for about a year and a half. Surely some things have come up that she would like to go into deeper. But that makes it her agenda and not mine.
So - speak up. How does it work for you? And therapists out there - do your patients have lists? Do you ever bring up the topics or do you always defer to the patient?
Oh - and a follow up. Last week - I discussed nearly everything in my previous post and cleared up some things. The boundary issues are raw now with my friend next door. For now, I will try to work through those.
And - I like my therapist. My venting here is more about the relationship and not so much about her.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
First - my therapist acquaintance who moved into the office next to my T was there on Tuesday. Her door was closed, she was in session and I could occasionally hear her voice. I found this incredibly distracting. So, now I'm thinking of changing my day/time to avoid her.
Second - during the initial phase of therapy this week, I commented on the fact that my friend was there and in session. My T said - "Do you know she's there or could she have left?" I explained that I had seen her car in the lot and had not heard any doors closing while waiting for her. (she ran over with the patient before and was about 10 minutes late for me) This led to T commenting on how observant and aware I am of things around me. Which led to her commenting that I had to be this way - I had to hear the creak of the stair, the door opening etc. Which led to me rebelling with "I don't need to hear it now - I'm not being abused now". I get tired of everything going back to the abuse. She commented that my body is "wired" that way - to respond, to be hyperaware, etc. I asked "how do we fix that?"
That led to a discussion of EMDR - which I've read about and am familiar with. My T does not do EMDR. So she commented that if I was interested in this I would "have to tell my story to someone else". I don't know - it was the way she said it or the way I heard it - but it came across as almost judging me - the second half of the sentence in my mind was "and we know you are not strong enough to do that".
I then asked her about attachment and told her that I thought a natural consequence of my abuse was that I have an issue with attachment. She wanted to know what context I was speaking about and what I had read. Part of me was thinking - shouldn't you know what attachment is and be telling me about the theory and agreeing that this might be an issue for me. Instead - she said she didn't think I had an issue with attachment because I had attachment with my husband and kids.
This led to me reminding her that I don't feel that close to my husband - that we don't "talk" about the big issues. We just exist (but it's worked well for 22 years). That's not to say we don't talk about things like how best to handle something with the kids or whether we should buy a new house or whether one of us should change our career path. But we don't talk about feelings, my abuse, sex, etc...... And she knows that - so that bothered me.
So having vented all this - I will say - I like my T. I would like her if I met her outside of therapy. At first, I thought she would have all the answers. Perhaps now I am realizing that she is human. BUT- I know that much of how I view life and handle situations and avoid intimacy is directly related to my childhood abuse. I know I can't change that, but I would like some guidance in working through it and going forward. I survive fine day to day - most would never guess my past. And she knows all this - I just don't feel like I'm moving forward.
Another caveat - there is a lot of additional stress in my life right now - work stress, nephew situation, daughter's surgery, depressed mother...... So perhaps I am too sensitive right now. She did call back last night and left a message on my cell. Something along the lines of "I'm glad you called (she said that twice), we need to talk about this, I'd suggest you come next week at your regular time and we can talk about a different time to meet. Or if you want to call beforehand, we can talk briefly about it on the phone." Her tone sounded annoyed and it sounded like she slammed down the phone. Although probably neither is true.
So - I continue in my therapy funk. :((
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
One lasting effect of my abuse has been my ability to compartmentalize my feelings. Or perhaps I have developed the ability to "not feel". I suspect that is how I handled the abuse at the time - by dissociating and not feeling. I rarely cry - when I do, it is usually in anger or frustration.
An example in my current life - an unthinkable thing is going on in my extended family right now. My teenage nephew suffered an anaphylactic reaction over the weekend and is now basically brain dead. Although he has some brainstem function, so if they turn off the ventilator, he may live in a vegetative state. I can't imagine the emotions my brother is feeling right now. I am providing telephone support to him, and in the moment during the calls, I have intense feelings with tears in my eyes and a knot in my stomach. But - I can turn it off and have been able to function fine at work in between phone calls.
I wonder if this is normal.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Healing Trauma by Peter Levine
Walking the Tiger by Peter Levine (actually only downloaded a sample of this one)
Looked at "Drama of the Gifted Child" at the bookstore over the weekend, although I didn't buy it.
Any comments on these? Any others to add to the list? Reading is one of my comforts - although it usually isn't as intense as these.
For pleasure, I just started Elegance of the Hedgehog.
We talked a lot about boundaries. In some ways, I need rigid boundaries. I want to start on time and end on time. Or if we start late, I should get the 45 minutes due me. In other ways, I would like more lax boundaries :)
She warned me at the beginning of the hour that someone I know was moving into the office next to her. This feels like a violation of my space. This is a mother I know through school (who happens to be a social worker). We have dinner a couple times a year. We've talked about therapy (although not specifically mine). Now I will need to tell her about mine because I will see her there in her professional setting. The other thing that clouds the issue is social events. How would it work if T and I were at the same intimate social gathering hosted by this couple?
More fodder for next week. :)
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I did tell her about this blog. She was curious and wanted to know about how people comment, whether it was out there for all to see, how people would find it, etc. That got me worrying afterwards about how she might find it. Do others talk about their blogs with their T? Does your T read your blog? If so, do you post about them and your sessions?
Overall - I'm not unhappy with life - just must be a therapy funk. I've thought about calling after hours to let her know I want to take a break. Seems like the cowardly way out. At least we will have something to talk about in the next session.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Noises in the night
Stairs creaking, doors opening
Please don't come tonight
Under the blanket
Holding breath, fearful, waiting
Darkness surrounds me
Plaster falling off ceiling
Occupy my mind
I sense a theme.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I've also had a hard time accepting the fact that we are NOT friends. The therapy relationship is so unusual. Part of my pathology is feeling inferior to others and having this one sided relationship feeds into this feeling. I feel like I am not accepted as an equal. Do others feel this way?
I also like to hear her voice. I called once after a particularly tough session where I shared what I remembered about the abuse. She called back and left a nice message. I listened to it over and over. Anyone else feel like this?
This is tough work.
Books I've finished:
Trauma and Recovery by Hermann
Courage to Heal by Bass and Davis
Surviving Childhool Sexual Abuse by Ainscott
Books I've read parts of:
Courage to Heal handbook
I Can't Get Over It
Healing From the Trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse
I've considered buying "Treating the Adult Survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse" because I am interested in the therapy process.
Many books have things that "speak" to me and many things that don't seem to apply. I am interested in reading more about the "inner child" and the feelings I went through at the time. I have a difficult time feeling now.
Anybody have a book they want to recommend, or comments on what I've read so far?
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
What I have come up with for myself -
1) Reading - started in childhood as a way to escape life. Read everyday - usually average a book/week or so. Also love talking about books with people.
2) Listening to music - I've recently discovered Pandora, so I can listen at work. Usually the soulful women - Sarah McLachlan, etc. Although sometimes music can make me melancholic.
3) Gardening - would do more of this if I had more time. LOVE fresh flowers. Unfortunately forgot to bring some peonies into the office today. They are glorious now and haven't been beaten down by a thunderstorm (yet).
Unfortunately - these don't seem to help me in the "acute" anxiety moments. Like I had big time on Saturday. When I ruminate over and over about the bad things. What helps in those times? Besides breathing?
Friday, May 8, 2009
1) Telling others - Most of the books I have read recommend finding someone to share the healing journey. I am having a hard time imagining this. I have told my husband, but we haven't talked about it since. I'm not sure I will share more with him. As I talk to friends, the possibility of telling is always there. But I don't and I'm not sure I will. It's hard enough to talk with T. Right now, putting it down on paper (or computer screen) is the best I can do.
2) Memories - Parts of me want to remember more and yet I am afraid to remember. Again, from what I've read, it seems like survivors remember bits and pieces as they go through the process. I have a set memory (I remember parts of three or four experiences but given the time span know there must be more) and more hasn't come. I do have olfactory memories. I smell cigarette smoke (usually when reading in bed at night) even though no one has smoked in my house. It takes my breath away. The smell of sweat and cheap beer set me off.
3) Inner child - So much is written about the inner child and finding the inner child and being kind to that child. I suspect that inner child is the same as my private personna in my previous post. I'm pretty sure I don't like that kid.
4) Therapy - Although I have GREAT sessions in my head with T, I clam up in person. That drives me crazy. I'm hoping I can talk her into at least receiving emails. I don't mind typing and once you push the send button, you can't take it back. And I don't expect her to spend time writing back. Just reading them and bringing them out in session.
5) Pervasive thoughts - Even though I've decided to cut back on some of my reading, "it" is there all the time. I've thought about charting the number of times I think about the abuse, my reading, my T during the day. That would be hard because it seems to be there all the time.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
1) The public personna - this is the successful female, doctor, wife, mother. I appear in control and generally do a good job in all of these areas. I have friends, a social life. I'm respected at work - often a go to person. I'm a good listener - people confide in me. I know things about some of my friends that their spouses don't know. I am not saying any of this to brag. I don't understand why all of this doesn't make me feel good inside. Then there is the private person in my head.
2) The private personna - the one who doesn't feel success despite evidence to the contrary. The one who frequently has a knot in her stomach. The one who doubts her parenting skills and her friendships. Although the inner person feels mostly confident about the job, sometimes the littlest thing can set off waves of doubt. The one who feels like a failure at therapy because I don't talk about the things I've read during the week.
I am really tired of this feeling. T thinks I am pushing myself too hard to get through this. She says there is no timetable or quick fix. I'm beginning to wonder is there will ever be a fix. How does someone heal after 40 years of doubt? I think I will take a break from the reading, but will still go to therapy. At least for now.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
One thing we talked about was telling someone else about the abuse. I asked if she thought it would change a friendship. I can imagine the conversation now - "I know I've known you for 30 years, but I neglected to tell you that I was sexually abused as a child." How can that not change things?
To repeat - THIS SUCKS.
Monday, May 4, 2009
I'm already getting butterflies.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Good things about therapy -
1. I have a place where I can (theoretically) talk about anything for 45-50 minutes/week. With someone who is (theoretically) not judgemental. It does feel like a safe place. She is only one of two people that know my history AND the only one I can talk to (besides here).
2. I like my T. This is also a bad thing. It's not just transference - at least I don't think it is. She is someone I would like if meeting her for the first time at a social gathering. I had one other T that I did not feel this way about, so I don't think it is just transference.
Bad things about therapy -
1. I seem to spend much of the week after having sessions in my head. The problem is that the next session never seems to go the way I imagine. More likely than not, we sit without talking for awhile. And I get nervous and anxious, even though I like her. Perhaps that is part of the problem. I think if she sees all my insecurities - she won't like me.
2. I don't know the end point. She talked about trying to fuse the inner child with the capable adult. I claim, but I'm not that child anymore. She says "Oh but you are." This is hard to get.
This has been an up and down week. Funny how I can blow small things out of proportion in my mind and spoil my mood.
I'm sure I will think about more for the list.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
1 - What did my child mind focus on during the abuse? I've forgotten large chunks of my childhood and I've read it's because I likely dissociated. So where was I and what did I think? And do I really want to recover those memories?
2- Therapy - I find it very difficult to talk during a session, yet I can have multiple sessions in my mind with T. Including the back and forth of what we each say.
3 - In thinking of clearing my mind of everything - the good things popped up that I want to keep. Like my children. Looking at my littlest - he is at an age where I was during the abuse - he is so sweet and innocent. I love his laugh, his giggle, his imagination, his sparkle in his eyes. I have no good memories of childhood. No fun, no sparkle. I often wonder what child I could have been had my situation been different. I also cannot imagine someone wanting to hurt a child like him.
4 - I have fear of cracking this hard outer coat because I think the underneath is quite fragile.
5- Why I feel like an idiot when I don't know something - replaying last night's meeting and the fact that I didn't know the answer to a question. So I called myself an idiot on the way home.
6 - Thinking of T - and the move. I suspect it will be hard for both of us.
7 - My fear of the dark.
That's it for now.