Archive for February, 2013

Right now some of me feels like I should just go climb into a hole, disappear, and never come out. I know that I shouldn’t feel that way, so I am resisting it, but it is there. I don’t even have a clue why I am feeling this way, although obviously it has something to do with everything that I have been stirring up lately.

Somehow, I just feel like I am bad. I am someone that no one in their right mind would want to love and take care of. That I should just give up, stop resisting, let myself die, and leave everyone in peace. And these feelings so obviously do not belong to my life now. They clearly are displaced then feelings. But knowing that only lets me keep from drowning in them, it doesn’t make them go away.

And then in another direction, I feel so done with myself over all of this. It seems like enough already. OK, I have realized how bad it was. OK, I can see what a bastard my grandfather was. OK, I have wallowed in self pity over not being protected by my mother. But nothing will change what happened. So get over it already, just move on. Just deal. Who the f##k really cares? Why should anyone care? It was all so long ago. I just feel so angry at myself. Why the h##l can’t I buck up and just get past it all? I hate how needy I am. If I haven’t gotten better after all of this time, then I am hopeless and it is time to give up on me.

And I wonder where all of this self hatred is coming from? I usually have more compassion for myself than this, but I feel like I am pitiful and people should only feel contempt towards me.

Mama Bear says, “It is difficult to do what you are doing and you must feel frustrated and angry at times with the situation but be as gentle as possible with yourself.” But I don’t feel at all gentle. I feel so angry that I want to rip myself to shreds. I’m tired of trying to be understanding of myself. I’m really tired of trying to have a positive attitude and do the right thing. Right now I just hate myself.

I can even see that all of this is “inappropriate.” But so much of me wants to be allowed to hate myself right now. Somehow it feels safer and easier than feeling compassion for myself.

Later Addition

And now it is a couple of hours later and much of the intensity has faded. In fact, I feel a bit embarrassed about this post, because I should have been more cognizant of how temporary of a state it was likely to be. I’m not yet capable of feeling terribly compassionate towards myself, but at least I no longer hate myself with a passion and wish that I could destroy myself.

It’s pretty obvious that I was triggered into this and I believe that it has something to do with some of what has come up over the last few days and starting to address it in a session. I’m not going to try to go into an analysis of what happened, because I don’t want to risk being drawn back into it or something else. Maybe I will later.

It never ceases to amaze me just how much it seems like the state that I am in is the new norm, when I am triggered like this. Fortunately, I have experienced thinking and feeling things that don’t really fit me enough times that I was able to keep some awareness that this was likely to be a temporary state; unfortunately, that awareness was tenuous this time and the feelings and thoughts in that state were extremely compelling.

As of right now, my self assignment for tomorrow is to remember how to be kind to and gentle with myself.

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This has been very interesting for me. Thank you for letting me know what you see in the picture. One of the things that another group of friends and I discussed is that we all know the back story and so it is impossible to not be influenced by our knowledge. The one person who saw it who knew nothing about the story just remarked on how the expression was guarded.

However, I find this picture to be very enigmatic and I can change my mind about what the expression means from one minute to the next. Of course, there is no knowing exactly what was happening right then. I have only the vaguest memories of the trip this was taken on, never mind when this picture was taken.

As an experience, looking at it, I really don’t have much of the sense of, “Oh, yes, that is me in this picture.” Yes, I can recognize that the features are the same as in other pictures, but I have the response, “That is me?” On the other hand, I have this young need to take this picture in to my next session, plop it down in front of Mama Bear and say, “This is me! I really was there! I was supposed to always be the happy, smiling child, but this time, this was me!”

There are a few things that strike me the most about this picture…

First: This does not seem to be the expression of a 7 year old. To my mind, it looks like it comes from having experienced things that no 7 year old should have.

Second: I seem to simultaneously get the message of, “I am all alone, help me.” and “Don’t you dare come near me.” One of the things that I seem to remember from that time is this pervasive sense of being alone and needing someone with me, but I would guess that I did not trust the person behind the camera to satisfy any needs for connection. It is so clear to me that I was standing very alone and seemed isolated.

Third: I am used to seeing seven year old perpetual motion machines who even when still have a sense of life and who tend to share every emotional up and down. The girl in this picture is terribly self contained and restrained. There is some sort of emotion/message there, but it is impossible to be sure what it is. I think that it is so hidden because I was used to not displaying emotions that would have been uncomfortable for my parents.

And finally: I get a sense of strength from this child. There is nothing defeated looking about her. In pain, yes. Sad, yes. Uncertain what to do, probably. But she is not about to give up. I’m not even sure that she knew enough to know what to hope for, what would make her life better. But there is a core of steel there- it’s like I can glimpse the “I will not be crushed” attitude that is what enabled me to survive relatively intact.

So, looking at this picture, I can’t help but thinking again, “I was this child?” And then, “This is the child who I connect with memories of X, Y, and Z happening? I was this size? That was my face? That was the body that bad things happened to?”

When my grandfather abused me, it was almost always with me facing away from him or in the dark. I have always wondered why he did this, and it is something that has caused issues for me, because it means that I have few visual memories of what happened. But I look at those eyes and I have to wonder if maybe he did have a bit of a conscience and he couldn’t bear to have those eyes looking at him. God, I just can’t imagine seeing those eyes and then going ahead and violating a child.

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Age 7

Age 7

I have been wanting to write about this photo for awhile; I have so many reactions when I look at the young me. However, first I would like to try something different.

I am actually quite interested what other people see when they look at this picture. For a bit of context, this was taken about 4 or 5 months after I had been sent to stay with my grandparents for a month while my mom went off with my dad while he did some training in another state. After my parents joined me in Southern California, we moved up to Northern California for my dad to go through some more training and this picture was taken at that time.

So please, tell me what you think, before I influence you with my thoughts…

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Today was a much less disorienting day than yesterday was, which I am incredibly grateful for! I was a bit concerned because I had to drive a total of 4 hours by myself today and sometimes that makes for good thinking time, but sometimes when I am already overwrought, my mind can be pulled down paths that it would do better to stay off of. Fortunately, I seem to have found stability over night, so it turned out to be much more of the former.

I have noticed something in myself over the last year or so: I have a very, very difficult time leaving the memories alone, both once they start to emerge and one they have emerged fully. It makes no obvious sense, because they are horrible, but when I started to think about it, I knew that there had to be some sense to it. Over time, I have come to understand that there is no single reason to this, though, which makes it even more difficult to stop myself from doing it. And there are very good reasons to stop. First of all, it is exhausting and keeps me in a state of distress. Then there is the fact that I am suspicious of the memories that I “poke” at, as opposed to those that simply descend on me fully.

Part of the reason I had trouble backing off of the memories early on had to do with the belief that even when “I” wasn’t in contact with the memory, parts of me were. I simply could not tolerate the idea of leaving parts of me alone with such horror. It was bad enough that my mother had when I was a child and I felt horribly guilty about doing it myself. Finally, I figured out that I had this image of there being a place where the abuse was always going on inside of me and that my child parts were stuck there, but that simply wasn’t what was happening at all. These are memories of being abused. Yes, they are horrible, incredibly vivid, and they feel like they are going on right then and there, but they really are nothing more or less than memories. Because of the way that my system works, if I am not aware of the memories being experienced, then none of me is experiencing the memories. This is not a matter of deserting parts of me to the abuse, but rather it is my trying to find times to rest and recover.

Recently, I figured out that another part of the reason that I can’t seem to give myself a break from the memories is because in some ways I harbor this hope that if I can just find whatever it is that is underneath all of this, whatever it is that is the worst thing that happened, then I can take care of that and I will finally be done. But it isn’t that simple. This isn’t the movies where there is a dramatic moment where I uncover something and then in the last 15 minutes of the film everything comes together and I am healed before the credits come up. Healing from trauma is a slow slog. And I do best when I respect that and encourage my system to bring up the memories slowly enough that I can process them as they come up, rather than just bringing up one memory after another, hoping to find whatever will allow me to resolve everything.

Then there is the fact that some level of me believes that I have to keep on proving over and over that things really were that bad, that the abuse isn’t something that I have made up or exaggerated. So I keep on going back to what happened over and over. “Yes, it is just as bad as it was last time.” I suspect that the person I am really trying to prove it to is my mother. Of course, she isn’t actually here, and if she was, I don’t think that she could tolerate being in the same room with me while I re-experienced even some of the least of what happened.

And then, very recently, I have noticed that I haven’t so much been going into the memories, but I have been unable to settle into things being OK and my feeling safe. Something will come up and I will work hard to ground myself and bring myself to a better place. But then only a half hour later, I will find myself in a distressed state again. Memories may or may not be obviously involved in how I am feeling. This has been happening over and over and it has been really frustrating for me. Disturbingly, when I tried to figure out what was going on, I could catch a glimpse of wanting to be in a distressed state, which completely confused me. I don’t want to be hurt. Do I? But then, today, as I was driving, I realized that there was something about being back in a distressed state that felt safer to me than feeling safe. What in the world could that be about? Then I realized that my grandfather wanted for me to be hurt and terrified. Those emotions weren’t just by products of what he was doing to me, they were goals. And if I wasn’t sufficiently distressed, then he would make sure that something happened so that I would be. A part of me has been stuck in remembering a time when it really was safer to be scared than not. Talk about being terrorized.

Sadly, this behavior doesn’t surprise me in the slightest, because it fits with everything I know about the man. And I feel so very sad for the young me who was in the hands of a man whose goal was to make her hurt and very scared.

Suddenly, something that I’ve heard before makes sense. Sexual abuse isn’t really about sex. At least I don’t think that it was for my grandfather. It was about power. It was about using something that made me ultimately vulnerable to hurt me. It was about using my hardwired responses to humiliate, shame, frighten, and overwhelm me. It was about control. It was about using my desire to survive to turn me into a puppet. It was about using my misery and terror to create pleasure for him.

That is just a monstrous way to treat a child. It’s an unforgivable way to treat anyone, but a young child has no ability to fight back against such an assault on her self. All she can do is to survive as best she can.

However, now, I have no one like that in my life. And right now, my job is to help all of me understand this current reality. It really is OK for me to feel safe. I am not going to be punished because I am not scared enough.

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Now that’s love


I have been so whiny that I wanted to post something positive… This is my dog. She is a three year old Bernese Mountain Dog and is a real love bug. She also is very attuned to me emotionally and will often try to cheer me up when she knows that I am in distress. The other night, while I was writing a post and crying, she first came up to me and nudged me. When that didn’t get much of a response, she got her bear and brought it to me. When I still didn’t respond to her, she left the room. I soon heard my husband from another room saying, “What do you want from me? What is so urgent?” She had gone into the other room to get him for me. Now is that love, or what?

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