Tag Archives: reasons

the rollercoaster continues

Yesterday was horrid, today was better. Hung out with a friend. Though I was pretty distracted, I managed to make some headway on holiday cards.

The whole time I was swinging from ok to really sad and distant. I felt bad because my friend picked up on it. She asked me a few times what I was stuck on… There’s only so many times you can say “I’m not quite sure where to go with this”. I landed on “I’m just tired”. She took it at face value. I was ok with it. I didn’t feel like explaining it all.

The sadness hit again pretty fast after I left her house. It made it hard to concentrate on driving home. I intended to stop at the grocery store, but found myself at walmart for some reason. I know I wanted cookies, but I also know walmart doesn’t have the yummy cookies I was hoping for. I went in, walked around, and it took me several minutes to realize I was at the wrong store. I wasn’t dissociating, because I knew which¬†store I was in, but I didn’t seem to register that it wasn’t the store at which I had intended to stop. I left and headed to the grocery store (and proceeded to spend way more money on comfort food than I care to admit).

The sadness keeps coming in waves. I’m ok, then I’m drowning in sadness, then I’m ok, then I’m drowning again… I caved and left a message for TL. When I left the message (or tried to), the receptionist was confused. I had to explain that TL was still seeing me through the end of the year, and that in the past either the clinical director, the office manager, or the receptionist had gotten a message to her for me. His confusion underscored to me how uncomfortable I am with this arrangement. Either way, next time I see her, I need to talk to her about this. I need to not be her only client there anymore. It makes me so uncomfortable to be different. I really like TL. I don’t want to lose her as a therapist, but if she’s not there anymore for anyone but me, I don’t want to be the reason she’s coming back. I don’t like considerations. I don’t like feeling “special”. I don’t like anything that makes me stick out. I want to blend in. I want to be the same as everyone else. I don’t want to be seen, or have the chance to be seen… I really need to talk to her about this. I think I want the next session to be our last… It’s that uncomfortable.

That realization is making me more sad. I think I need to tell her over the phone that the next session needs to be the last… ūüė¶ No matter how bad the depression gets, I can’t handle this being the support structure. I’ll deal through the end of the year. I’ll figure shit out, and if I have to find support elsewhere, I will. I can’t do this though. It triggers too much. I already have strong emotional reactions to her because something about her reminds me of the past. This just complicates things… ūüė¶

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Honesty in treatment

I’m a believer (most of the time) that honesty in treatment is the key to making any progress. ¬†I say “most of the time” because sometimes my fear gets the better of me and I want to hide the ugly or scary parts of myself.

In an attempt to “just breathe” and get through the weekend, I tried to take a step back from myself for a moment. ¬†I opened up my journal and started to write a list of what I get from my behaviors and actions. ¬†I wanted to be as brutally honest as I could be with myself, so I resolved not to show it to anyone. ¬†I wrote all the contributing factors down no matter how shameful or embarrassing they may be. ¬†I was originally going to make it a cbt/dbt-style exercise with pros & cons, and some challenges to the reasons, but I eventually decided to stick to simply listing the reasons. ¬†I am not necessarily in a place to objectively challenge any of those thoughts or beliefs, so I didn’t want to torture myself further by trying (honesty can be scary, especially with all the judgements flying around in my head). ¬†I came up with a pretty comprehensive list. ¬†I think I covered everything I get from my behaviors. I even managed to cover some stuff I do not like to admit to myself that I get, but I wrote them down in an attempt to be brutally honest with myself. ¬†I find myself very stuck in therapy partly because I cannot get past the shame and embarrassment of a lot of things. ¬†I’ve made some progress with De on some of the shameful stuff, but there’s heaps more back there still.

My problem comes now in the sense of urgency I feel at needing to talk about this stuff. ¬†I’m afraid that if I don’t talk about it right now, in the moment, and to someone who can follow-up with me on it, I will lose my drive. ¬†I will find ways to talk myself out of the reasons. ¬†The thick walls of shame will fly back up in a flash, and I’ll be stuck again. ¬†My hope is to be able to talk to De about all this, but there are boundaries in place over extra contact (boundaries that I desperately need right now). ¬†I have to wait until Tuesday to talk about it. ¬†Intellectually (and from a professional perspective), I totally get this and know I should wait. ¬†The little kid in me is having an emotional shit-fit however. ¬†She’s stomping her feet and dying to beg for a chance to address this in the moment. ¬†I’m trying to calm her down. ¬†I know I cringe at admitting¬†most of the list to De (a professional I have grown to trust), let alone anyone else I may not know or that may not have the professional perspective. ¬†I know this needs to wait to be addressed in an emotionally safe environment, but damn I wish it was now. ¬†I am trying to compromise with the emotional side of myself. ¬†I wrote it out where De will be able to see it and know it exists, but I have asked her not to read it. ¬†I am trying to commit to myself to leave it up where she can see it, and to trust that she will not read it before Tuesday (I have no reason to believe she would not do as I ask). ¬†I know I need to address this stuff to be able to move past it, but I also know shame can cripple me in it.

On one hand, it’s really good that I have the freedom to show or hide from De whatever entry I need to. ¬†It helps me censor myself and practice self-containment. ¬†On the other hand, it allows me to hide things I may need to address but am too ashamed of ¬†admitting. ¬†My ability to communicate is ever-evolving. ¬†I am still learning balance. ¬†I’m hoping the blog helps with that. ¬†I know if it were something I could not edit (like an email after it is sent), I would drive her and myself nuts more than I already do. I think honesty is incredibly important in treatment, but so is self-control on my behalf. ¬†With the blog I am learning that I can be more honest when writing, but I am also learning that there are some things I need to learn to reign in. ¬†I am able to spill a lot to her, but also go back and hide things or reveal things after the initial emotional spillage. ¬†As L reminded me this morning, sometimes things need to “marinate” before being addressed. I’m grateful De puts up with me and my alternating emotional explosions and implosions (sometimes she gets way too much info, other times I am unable to give her anything at all). ¬†I’m learning the balance with honesty also. ¬†Right now, I am at the stage of needing to be able to tell her everything and be taught what needs immediate addressing vs. what can wait… I hope she doesn’t hate me for this learning process. She only has to put up with me for another 2.5 weeks anyway (I know, not an excuse to completely lose my shit right now)…

::deep breath:: the process of learning things as an adult that I never learned as a kid is incredibly trying and painful… and way more difficult because as a kid, it was expected that I didn’t know this stuff. ¬†As an adult, I¬†should know better by now and be past these little hissy-fits.


Every demon has it’s reasons **triggering**

This post has been hanging out in its infancy stages in my draft folder since April… I keep meaning to add to it, to flesh it out, but I have trouble articulating. ¬†I think I am just going to hit post and hope for the best. I know I didn’t say everything I wanted to, but maybe this can be an ongoing thought process. ¬† TRIGGER WARNING for talk of child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence…

Recently I’ve been seeing that a county in Florida is posting “public service announcement” signs declaring the residence of sexual predators as such. I’m filled with mixed emotions in this. The survivor in me is happy that others will know, but the clinician in me cringes.

As someone effected by sexual violence, I want others to know that it’s not ok if it’s being done to them. It’s not ok to ever be hurt like that. It’s not ok to live with that fear. I want to be able to spot a “predator” from miles away and warn anyone that may come into contact with them. I don’t ever want anyone to go through anything like that again.¬† I want all failsafes in place to forever prevent situations like that. I want that as a professional also. I hate to see clients hurt like that. I want to stop the cycle of abuse and victimization. I want to be out of a job (or the prospect of a job, since I don’t currently work). I understand all too intimately the struggles of victims. I know the emotional torture these situations can bring about. ¬†I know the lasting effects af assault and abuse. ¬†I have taught classes on the effects of trauma. ¬†I have interjected my personal experiences to these theoretical classes. ¬†I can speak with some authority on it, but I wish I couldn’t. So totally I understand the need to point out dangerous people and situations.

The other side of me however, balks at the idea of signs proclaiming the presence of a “sex offender” plastered outside their homes. Don’t get me wrong, I most certainly do not ever want to see anyone else harmed like that, but I also know (from training and experience) that most sex offenders have some sort of trauma history. ¬†Most offenders did not get to the point of harming someone else without first being harmed themselves. ¬†Take the story of Aileen Wuornos¬†(made into a movie, Monster, in 2003). She was one of a handful of female serial killers who murdered men in Florida. ¬†She was tried, found guilty, and executed in 2002. ¬†On the surface, she was a horrifically scary woman who seemed to kill her “johns” for no reason. ¬†But if you dig into her story, you find a scared, damaged little girl who responded to the world in the only way that made sense to her at the time. ¬†No, not all (or any? I can’t remember the full story at the moment) of the men she killed harmed her, but several others did.

I think there’s a very fine line that keeps some victims from becoming perpetrators themselves. ¬†Many of us don’t ever cross that line, but some teeter on the edge, and some do cross it. ¬†And not everyone that crosses that line is dangerous. ¬†I worked in a clinic once where a “sexual predator” was receiving services. ¬†To most people, he was a sick bastard who like to get off under women’s windows, or in the backyard by the kids toys. ¬†He was arrested several times for exposing himself and “voyeurism”. ¬†When he came to the clinic, he was quiet and shy. ¬†He looked and acted more like a wounded animal than anything else. ¬†Once he opened up to his clinician, we quickly figured out why he was doing the things he did. ¬†Initially, all but one of the clinicians that had been asked to work with him had refused to do so. ¬†Because of so many being reluctant to engage the client due to prejudices, his case was used in on-going training everyone at the office was required to attend. ¬†The first training had almost all staff leaving either in tears or in a slight fog. ¬†We were floored by the horrific abuse this man endured as a child. ¬†One of his many punishments was being stripped naked and tied outside by his penis for hours at a time in all sorts of weather, and for seemingly innocuous “transgressions” (eating outside of a meal time, taking more food than allowed, not returning home at the appropriate time, simply existing). ¬†He lived this his entire life. ¬†No one made a move to take the child out of the abusive situation. No one helped him when he was “bad”. In turn, he learned that exposure and sexual discomfort were appropriate punishments for being “bad”, and that being bad could be as simple as thinking the wrong thing, or being early/late by a few minutes. ¬†He learned to punish himself. After he grew up, he would stand outside a family’s home and expose himself. ¬†He would stand there until someone called the police, or until he felt he had been sufficiently punished (sometimes hours in the snow). He replayed the same abuse he grew up with, only we didn’t see that part of his story. ¬†All we saw was “some creep” being inappropriate around families, and it scared us… I still cry thinking of his story.

There’s a huge disparity in the treatment provided to victims vs offenders. ¬†This is evident not only in the way we treat sex offenders, but in the way we treat perpetrators of domestic violence, or anyone in the criminal justice system. ¬†We tend to forget that traumas wound deeply. Sustained traumas or early traumas tend to wound more deeply than later ones, but all of them have long-lasting effects on the people who experience them. ¬†I think a good recent attempt at illustrating this is the Netflix show Orange is the New Black. ¬†While it centers on one woman’s journey through the prison system, it does a good job of telling the stories of others also. ¬†The characters we are introduced to as vile and unsavory turn out to be some really endearing and struggling women. ¬†I don’t like every character on the show, and I don’t agree with all their life choices, but I can understand them. ¬†And the show reminds me to take a breath before judging someone. ¬†I try to let the anger wash over me, but then wash away. ¬†I try to remember this for myself also when I get too down on my actions and behaviors. ¬†I could easily have been one of those perpetrators with a sign in front of my house, but I’m not. ¬†I had the presence of mind (and the support of others) to realize that certain actions are not ok. ¬†I wasn’t pushed as far as some others have been, but that does not mean that if I had been in their exact situation I would have behaved differently. ¬†I still very much struggle with the concept of some of the thoughts I used to have as a child. ¬†It’s something I had only started admitting to De very recently, and only in the most vague sense (there is SO MUCH shame around it). ¬†But I think it’s very important to realize every action or inaction has a reason. The more I learn about trauma and abuse, the more I deal with in my own personal life, the more I begin to think that the “nature” side of the debate is less and less pivotal than the “nurture” side of things. ¬†Yes, there are very much differences in the way people are wired. There are different levels of sensitivity and resilience that have no known root in nurture, but nurture goes a long way in dictating the rest of our lives. ¬†Had I not had the conversations with my mom and aunt that I did as a kid, had I not overheard their conversations, or seen the way they and others reacted to some horrific stuff, I doubt I would have set out on this “different” path than some others who became perpetrators. ¬†I could have easily become the violent and out-of-control “monster” my father was (and still can be). I could have easily been in jail by now, but I’m not. ¬†And I’m thankful for that every day…

I don’t want anyone to think that this blog is meant to advocate no punishment, or no consequences for actions, because that is certainly NOT my intent. ¬†I just want to get wheels turning and people thinking. ¬†I want to advocate compassion in everyday life, and an awareness that sometimes acting out is just the tip of the iceberg. ¬†There are certainly people who are beyond scary. There are people who will likely not benefit from treatment or leniency, but there are also a lot of hurting people out there in the world. ¬†I think we need more compassion for that…

I’m suddenly reminded of a TED talk that I first heard about last year or the year before. ¬†It’s a different way to look at mental illness, and it speaks about “psychosis” with similar insight. It’s definitely worth a listen (or re-listen). Abuse and trauma has long-lasting effects, and maybe as a society, we need to start being more trauma-informed when dealing with perpetrators of abuses and crimes. We certainly need an over-haul to the mental health system in this country.