Archive for March, 2014

Checks and Balances Artist- Caryl Bryer Fallert

Checks and Balances
Artist- Caryl Bryer Fallert

I have found it incredibly difficult to write for the last several weeks. I keep on starting posts and then my mind just freezes up and says, “I’m not going to write about that.” So I’ve decided to just write and if I say anything worthwhile, I’ll post it…

It’s been a transformative couple of months, or at least I have been put on the path to being transformed. I think that I’m a bit afraid to write about it, because the changes have been so drastic in many ways. I’m afraid that things will go back to the way that they used to be, if I share what is finally going right.

I’m not even sure how to describe what has changed… I think that the most drastic change is that I suddenly decided to simply trust myself, especially in regards to my dad. It was partly a reasoned change and partly a heart change. I’ve said before that over the last 20 years or so, I’ve gone through multiple periods when I thought that he had abused me when I was a child, but I managed to convince myself each time that I had to be wrong, shut everything back up, and thrust it into the far recesses of my mind. Well, I’ve been struggling with this issue for most of the 2 1/2 years since I started to work with Mama Bear again and a few weeks ago, I went through an intense process over about 5 days where I went from “He just couldn’t have abused me” to “Inside, I am completely convinced that he did abuse me, I think that I need to talk to Mama Bear about how I should handle that” to “I know that he abused me.”

Actually, the statement was stronger than that, if I am going to be honest. It was “He had sex with me.”

Those 5 days were very challenging for me. On day 3, I had a session with Mama Bear and I went in intending to talk with her about that middle stage, but the entire session ended up being about my struggling to simply move from my normal seat to another seat, so I could talk from a different perspective. This was something that I had proposed, but I still couldn’t do it, until I finally tore myself out of my seat and threw myself across the room. Looking back at where I had been sitting and crying, I exclaimed, “I’m not trapped there anymore! I’m not! I’m not!” I felt so much anger at feeling trapped in saying what I thought that I was supposed to say, trying to figure out what was OK to say, and it was as if all of me was saying, “No more!”

I felt so discouraged at the end of the session because I had done almost none of what I wanted to do that session. I looked at Mama Bear and said to her, “I move by such baby steps. All of that just to get out of this seat.” Her response was, “C, sometimes baby steps are huge. What you did this session was not small.”

That night, I did a yoga session and during it my mind made lots of connections that it hadn’t made before. After the session, I sat with myself for about an hour and just thought. What finally became clear to me was that I had a choice. I calmly looked at everything that my insides had been telling me about what happened with my dad and I could see that it all fit together. It made sense. It made sense of so much about my life. I realized that I could try out seeing what believing myself might be like. It couldn’t be the “I’m going to punish myself for believing myself” that was the best that I had done before, it needed to be a trial of simply believing myself. Then I went to bed, because it was very late.

The next day, I realized that it was as if everything started to ease and shift in me. The constant sense of strain started to release. I was no longer fighting with myself 24/7. I hadn’t realized that I was fighting myself that much until I stopped doing it! And as things eased, it became clear to me that I was much better off believing myself than doubting myself. The truths that I was looking at were incredibly painful and horrified me, but despite the pain and horror, I still felt far better than I had in ages. I saw that I could either choose to believe that my father did terrible things to me, but by believing myself then feel sane, or I could continue to fight with myself and say that everything my mind was saying that had happened wasn’t real and as a result feel that I must not be sane.

I have lived for so long not believing that I can trust my own mind and it is terrible to live with those doubts. But Mama Bear has repeatedly assured me that I am sane. The psychiatrist treats me as sane. My husband and friends say that I am sane. And, really, I know that I am sane. I’ve just been dealing with an insane situation.

So, on the 5th day I had another session with Mama Bear. First off, she remarked on how good I looked and I responded that I felt good, and I thought that it had to do with something that I had been working on that week which I needed to talk with her about. I moved to the seat that I had wanted to sit in the previous session and started to talk.

“There is something that is very difficult for me to talk about. When thinking about what I would say to you, I realized that I couldn’t even use any of the qualifiers that I normally use. I can’t say, ‘I think’ or ‘A part of me believes’ or ‘Maybe.’ I simply have to say ‘I know.’ Saying anything less feels like a betrayal of myself.”

Her looked seemed to enfold me in a sense of support and care and she said, “You really seem certain about this.”

“Unfortunately, yes.” I explained about how I had come to a place where I realized that I need to believe myself and then I took a deep breath and said, “My dad had sex with me.”

She gave me a sad but unsurprised look and nodded her head.

“I think that I was twelve! NO! I know that I was twelve!” burst out of me and I started to cry.

Most of the rest of the session is a blur. For the most part, Mama Bear just let me say what I needed to say. But I do remember saying something at a later point…

“What is so surprising to me is how I can admit to something that I hate so much and is so horrible, but now I feel so much better. I feel freer. As weird as it is to say, I almost feel a little bit happy. How can I feel happy because I am talking about something this vile?”

She nodded her head, “Actually, it doesn’t surprise me at all. Can you think of why you might be having that reaction?”

“Because it is such a relief to no longer be fighting myself? Because it no longer is a secret? Because I have told someone and the world hasn’t fallen apart? Because I can finally allow myself to be furious with him?”

“Those are all good reasons.”

I paused and thought a bit. “I’ve been beating up on myself to try to keep myself quiet and I was doing damage to myself.”

“Yes, you were and I have been very concerned about it. What I have wanted for you was for you to be able to accept yourself. Did you understand that?”

I shrugged, “No, not really. I couldn’t figure it out.” I really couldn’t. She would say things and I knew that I simply could not understand what she was saying the way that she meant it. It wasn’t a lack of communication on her part, it was that my brain was refusing to take it in.

Over the last couple of weeks, at each session, Mama Bear has asked me some variation on, “So how do you feel now about the conclusions you came to in regards to your dad?” To my surprise, my sense of certainty hasn’t wavered. As I’ve told her, it isn’t that all of me believes that he abused me, but I am no longer beating myself up about it. It’s now like most of me believes and there is a part of my mind in which the abuse never happened. That part finds all of this bewildering and impossible and I can see that I need to be kind and patient with that part. As for the rest of me, if I decided to, I could go back to the same old pattern of raking myself over the coals and going round and round in circles, but why would I do that? I am so much healthier now that I have accepted the unbelievable about how my dad treated me. I no longer hate myself and the self destructive urges have stopped. I generally feel calmer. I tend to dissociate less of the time. I have had fewer flashbacks. I see signs that it will be hugely helpful in my relationship with my husband. Things just make sense now. Amazingly, I have a sense of greater wholeness and of things flowing more easily inside of me. I feel stronger and more capable than I have for years. I have no wish to go back to the way that things used to be.

When I start to doubt myself, I compare how I have been doing these last few weeks to how I was doing before. I ask myself, how could there be all of this benefit if my dad hadn’t abused me? Why would telling myself a lie bring about so many positive changes and trying to convince myself of the truth just tear me apart? It wouldn’t. I’m finally doing what I need to do.

Yes, I know that I am nowhere near done, but I feel so much more hopeful than I did two months ago. It seems like I can start to see where I am going, when before I felt as though I was stumbling around in what seemed to be circles. What a relief it is to believe myself.

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