It’s been 6 days since I’ve started back with my trauma work in therapy. If you read my post I’m Ready For You, Bitch, you may remember that I took an 11-day break. Since starting back, I’ve been able to go to yoga almost every day. I’ve been able to do a pretty good job of not hyper-focusing on the trauma work outside of therapy sessions. But tonight, I’m really struggling.
In yesterday’s session we talked about so many things related to my traumatic childhood experiences. We went through an old memory that came up again this week. My therapist asked me why I pause and my voice becomes softer when I get to the part of the memory where he hurts me. Why do I rush through that part? I wish I knew. I don’t know what happens when I read my memories that makes my whole body fill with fear. It is not fear of judgement from my shrink, or fear of what is going to happen in the memory (I know what happens). It is almost a fear that if I slow down and take in every word on the page, if I immerse myself in that memory, I am going to feel it. Not physically feel it, but emotionally feel it. I have spent my whole life working to distance my emotions from these memories, from these traumatic experiences. I have numbed those feelings for so long. It’s not a fear of getting emotional in front of my therapist anymore – we crossed that bridge when I sobbed in my session a few weeks ago (see here). It’s a fear of feeling the emotional damage that comes from these traumatic experiences. I think I also have a fear that I’ll dissociate and not be ok after I leave therapy. That’s a legit concern because that does sometimes happen. And when I’m in that state, I can’t always keep myself safe. That’s a scary place to be. The fears may be categorized as “anticipatory anxiety” or whatever, but they are still very real in those moments as I read through trauma memories.
Yesterday, we also discussed the lack of supervision at my dad’s house, and how that was a huge problem throughout my entire childhood. I do believe that the lack of supervision enabled the abuse to continue for all of those years. I wish I could be angry about it. I struggle so much with anger though. I really have a hard time controlling my emotions when I am angry. I have a hard time not taking the anger out on myself, so it’s easier to just not even go there. I think that maybe to get past my own guilt that I carry surrounding the abuse that I went through, I will have to start placing blame on those who probably were truly at fault. Guilt is hard for me. Remember my post The Dreaded Five-Letter Word?
And finally, we talked about the difference in my perception of these traumatic events, and the perception of my abuser. I do not have contact with him anymore. Sometimes I find myself desperately wanting, needing, to talk to him about what happened. I want to know what he remembers. I want to know why he did the things that he did. I want to know if he feels guilty. I want to know if he knew how much he was hurting me – physically and emotionally. I want to know if he regrets it. I want to know if he’s changed; if he’s been in therapy too. But I’ll probably never know. I can’t bring myself to contact him; I can’t ask him these questions. Just seeing pictures of him on Facebook makes my heart sink and my stomach churn. And I wonder if he treats his girlfriend the way he treated me. I wonder if he hurts her the way he hurt me. Or worse – if he thinks about me while he’s with her; if the memories of what he did to me invade his mind like they do mine. I’ll never know. I’m mostly ok with not knowing because knowing would mean I would have to interact with him, and just the thought of that sends me into a tailspin. But every once in a while, curiosity takes over.
Tonight I’m sitting with high anxiety numbers – fluctuating between an 8 and 10 for the past 6 hours. I know it’s probably because of discussions I had yesterday with my therapist. I know it’s because I’m stuck on the trauma stuff again. My mind is racing. I’m trying to fill in the pieces that I can’t remember; I’m trying to figure out why he did the things he did; I’m trying to find the answers that may not ever come. I thought writing a blog about it might help. It really hasn’t, but maybe it will help some of my readers who are struggling with anxiety feel less alone tonight. If you’re sitting on the couch feeling anxious and eating trail mix, afraid to walk into the kitchen to get the soda that you want because that’s where the knives are, you’re not alone. I’m there too. Let’s just get through today, and hopefully tomorrow we’ll be less anxious.
PS: There’s so much irony in the picture I’ve chosen. Several of my traumatic memories occur outside or in the woods. Leaves are unbelievably triggering for me. But it’s cool – this picture came up in my google search and my first thought was, “Fucking leaves?! Seriously? I’m trying to be LESS anxious, not more anxious!” Ha oh well.