Posts Tagged ‘pain’

Irenic Glance 2 Artist Randall Cook

Irenic Glance 2
Artist Randall Cook

I’m just a bundle of sunshine these days… A lot of my current work was kick started by a crisis the last time that Mama Bear went out of town. I’m planning on writing about it, as I get more distance and it becomes less painful. The important point for this post is that I reached an intolerable level of pain. I felt completely abandoned and like I had to learn how to deal with everything on my own. I eventually reached the point where I could not think straight and a part kicked in to try to manage the chaos and pain. The way that this part tried to “help” was by controlling what I was thinking about by causing me great emotional distress, so much that I couldn’t think about anything else but what the part was throwing at me. It turned all of the abuse into being my fault and came up with elaborate reasons why this would so. It would go on and on, hammering at me, while I was curled up in a ball, crying. It felt so much rage at me, particularly the traumatized parts of me and it would be like this part would go on a rampage, trying to pulverize the young parts and erase their existence.

And then, perhaps worst of all, this part would start to think about suicide. I want to be very clear that you do not need to worry about whether I will try to kill myself. I won’t. I very, very strongly believe that no matter how much pain I am in, I have an obligation to my daughter to find a way to stick it out, because my killing myself would be so damaging to her. I refuse to pass on the abuse that way. Even if I go through a period of being a completely inadequate mother to my daughter because of what I am dealing with, she is better off with me being around and messed up than my being dead. I also don’t want to cause that sort of pain to my husband and I would like to think that I would hold out for his sake, but I am positive that I will for our daughter’s sake.

However, this time, things were so bad that I wished so much that my daughter and husband were not in my life, so I didn’t have them stopping me. They are the best things about my life and I wanted them gone, so that I could not exist and stop hurting so much. If there had been some way for me to just wipe myself off the face of the planet without harming anyone else, I think that I would have done it that week.

When Mama Bear came back, I just managed to drag myself into her office and she knew from the moment that she saw me that things were bad, even though when she left, we had hoped that this trip would be better than the others have been. Instead it had been far worse. I stumbled through sharing with her what had gone on in my head and straightening out things between the two of us and then I finally did something that I have never done before in the 22 years that I have known her. I talked with her about the suicidal thoughts and feelings that I had experienced. Yes, during those years she has known of other times when I felt suicidal and I have answered her safety questions, but (as far as I can remember) I have never actually been able to talk about what it is like for me. This time, I realized that I needed to not be alone with the pain and despair. I’ve been alone with it too much. From the other things that we had talked about, I had been newly reminded that Mama Bear was not my mother and she wouldn’t run from me because I was in so much pain.

To my surprise, it was a profoundly comforting experience. I was afraid that I would experience judgement or some level of anxiety on her part, but she remained completely calm and accepting of what I was telling her. She showed compassion and an understanding of how my thoughts and feelings were a reflection of the extremity of the pain and isolation that I had experienced. I didn’t really want to die and I certainly didn’t want to kill myself, I was just desperate to escape the pain. I think that she really got it at the point when I shared that even the thought that things could get better wasn’t enough for me this time, I didn’t care what I might be giving up, it just hurt too much to exist.

Talking with her helped a great deal; it didn’t make all of the thoughts and wishes go away, but they mostly went away and I knew that I didn’t need to be alone with them, if they started to get to be bad again. Frankly, it makes me feel safer and more secure to know that I have someone whom I can go to before things get to be that extreme. In fact, she wants for me to come to her well before they get to be that extreme, both because it will save me suffering and because it’s easier for her to help me well before I get to a crisis point.

I’m slowly learning that I don’t have to hide all of the worst parts.

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Torrent of Fear Leah Day

Torrent of Fear
Leah Day

I am massively confused, so please bear with me while I babble.

I don’t know what’s quite so wrong with me right now, but I don’t seem to be able to find my hope. I so rarely lose the sense that I am certain that things will turn out OK in the end, even if I know that it will be painful and may take a long time to get there. But for the last few days, that sense of hope is just gone.

I feel as though everything is wrong in the world and that even the best things are shadowed somehow.

I don’t know how much of this is a remembered sense of despair from when I was a child and how much might be depression right now. It doesn’t feel like a normal depression, but I don’t usually find myself in the grip of an emotional memory for days on end. In fact, I think that it would be a first for me. But that is more what this feels like.

After all, “I” know that this is a phase, and very painful phase, but I have been through painful phases before. I will eventually work through it. I don’t rationally agree with this thought, even if I can’t emotionally shake it off right now.

And then when you consider that I have had no desire to end my life for months, the fact that I had the wish tonight that there was some way to kill off all of me that remembers and feels anything about my family and just leave enough to be a mother for my daughter is a sign that something is amiss inside. Given how completely out of the blue it was, I suspect that it is a remembered desire to end the pain.

The last couple of weeks have been very, very difficult for me. I am trying my hardest to learn how to manage some very intense feelings of rage and grief, but I’m not really succeeding yet. I feel as though I have been sucked into this emotional vortex in regards to my dad, what happened with him, all of the unknowns about what happened, and my mother. My ability to disengage and give myself a break has been as its lowest level for the last several months. I’ve done a bit better today, but that isn’t saying much. There are a lot of different parts to what I am dealing with, but the most confusing of which are those that are memory related. I’m not going looking for memories, but it’s like I’m just surrounded by them and things are being triggered all too often.

Lately, I have been dealing with so many memories of sensations, emotions, and vague impressions that are I believe are from something real, but are so disjointed that I don’t know what actually happened. It is extremely difficult for me to deal with knowing that something really, really bad happened and having some vague idea of what it probably was, but not actually knowing. I strongly suspect that sometimes my mind may try to make sense out of the confusing information that I have and in the process fill in some of the blanks, without my being aware of it. This is hard for me to admit, because it is all too close to “making things up,” but I understand now that it is a need to make meaning and give some form to the terrifying pieces of information that I do have. And it isn’t like I’m doing it intentionally- it’s something my mind does in the background. For all I know, those blanks are filled in by pretty much what happened. Or they could be filled in by something that the information reminds my adult mind of, but might not have happened. I believe that this is why I keep on being warned that I can know in general what happened, but I can’t be sure of the details. I so seem to be developing a sense as to when this might be happening, and I try to take a step back and give myself an extra reminder to not rely on that memory to be literally accurate.

Right now, my most present conflict centers around a teen part. I know that I have had a sense/seeming memory of this part sitting on the floor of the bathroom of our house at the time, crying. I have seen this many times over the last 9 months or so. My intuition is that little to nothing physical happened with my father while we lived in this house, but what did happen is that I kept on getting triggered and so I lived with the sense of despair that nothing would ever be OK again. I do remember that for several months when I was 13, I would sob on my mother almost every day. The purported reason was because of social adjustments in school and while I was having trouble there I also seem to remember either at the time or afterwards thinking that my reaction was stronger than the problems warranted.

There is something that has been very disturbing to me in a vague way over the last while. I don’t have any physical memories that I identify of abuse during this time, but there is something else there. Then, tonight, while I was sitting in the bathroom, I got those memory type things that are almost too clear in the way that I identify as possibly being “fill in the blank” “memories.” Sitting here, writing, it has occurred to me that when I was a teen, I might have been triggered to being afraid and imagining certain things that might happen with my dad. He used to take me out on father/daughter “dates” to movies mostly and I can easily imagine that in my traumatized, dissociated brain, that would have been very threatening to me. It would have provoked fears of what he might do, which I probably would have dissociated, in an attempt to keep everything tucked away. This “feels” right- that I was terrified inside that he was going to rape me and I struggled to manage that fear the best that I could. It makes sense of why I have memories of crying in fear and emotional pain and I have images (with some emotional content) of being raped, but there are no physical or emotionally intense memories even though those types of memories are predominant in other ages. My heart goes out to the teen me; what a burden to try to manage without even really allowing myself to understand what I was trying to manage. I don’t know if I had some inkling of memory of abuse from when I was younger, or if I was as clueless as I seem to remember being. I don’t know which would have been worse: vaguely remembering being abused by my father or having these overwhelming fearful/despondent/painful feelings that I couldn’t make sense of.

Yesterday, I said something to Mama Bear about desperately wanting for someone to hold me while I sobbed on them and I immediately realized that I was experiencing a child/teen desire for my mother to hold and comfort me while I sobbed on her. I think that I was connected to memories of when I was 13 without being aware of it and that is why I have been experiencing this sense that everything is wrong and nothing will be right again. Even if I was mostly dealing with memories on the inside, I can only imagine how much despair would be evoked in a 13 year old who was going through sex education, starting to be aware of boys, and who had been sexual with her father and grandfather.

I just realized something… I was mostly an A student. I have only ever failed one course and it was that year. I failed PE the quarter that they did sex education. I refused to do the project for it and I wouldn’t go to school the day of the test. It’s like I tried to tell my mom that something was wrong. I don’t remember having any understanding of why I couldn’t deal with the class. I assume that I must have attended the class, in body at least, but I have no memory of it. I just remember all of the conflict and shame around failing that class, but being unable to take advantage of the opportunity to make up the test or turn in the project late.

I don’t know what to tell that 13 year old inside of me, because she is really hurting. The reassurances that work with the younger parts don’t seem right for her. And for the moment, nothing comes to me when I “listen”.

Well, I’m not sure that there was much here for anyone else, but I figured some things out that were quite useful. So thank you for “listening”!

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Katie Pasquini Masopust Painted Canyon

Katie Pasquini Masopust
Painted Canyon

I hate my father right now. Please don’t tell me that I should forgive him or that hating him hurts me more than it hurts him. I think that sometimes there is a time and place for hating someone. For me that time is this period when I am finally accepting not only that my father abused me, but allowing myself to see and feel how that has affected me for most of my life. It is my way of laying claim to the certainty that what he did was completely and inexcusably wrong. He harmed me so badly. Yes, I am determined to recover from it, but I have spent 4 decades paying for his misuse of my body and my trust. I am so far beyond angry about that and I hate him right now. How else does a person express the level of rage and revulsion that she feels when she finally allows herself to experience what it was like to have her father do things to her that only lovers should do to each other?

I hate him for the fact that I have been experiencing body memories for 20 years, but my mind couldn’t let me know who was creating those sensations. I have spent decades remembering/feeling him doing things to me that no father should do to his daughter. This week has been especially intense in terms of body memories. There is one in particular that has come up repeatedly and brings up such feelings of rage. He taught me that he could take things that feel bad and combine them with pleasure to make them feel good. I feel so much outrage at both what he did and how he manipulated my body.

I hate him for daring to touch me, for acting like he had a right to my body. No one has a right to my body other than me. No one. Definitely not my father. I hate him for not caring about what his using me would do to me. I hate him for how my husband is paying for my father’s actions.

I so wish that he was not a part of the world. So much of me hates him so much right now that I wish that he was dead. I wish that I could wipe him off the face of the earth. I am so angry that he has a comfortable life when he has caused me so much pain. I hate him.

I hate him for the fact that I cooperated. I hate knowing that I did what he wanted for me to do. I hate remembering doing things to make him feel good. I hate that he gets between me and my husband when I try to touch my husband.

I hate him for not loving me. If you love someone, you don’t use her in a way that is going to scar her for life. Love and forcing your child to have sex with you just don’t go together. Don’t tell me that you loved me. I haven’t bought that lie in years. You were proud of me and glad that I could make you feel like you had done a good job by raising an accomplished daughter. I hate you for using the fact that I wanted your attention and wanted for you to love me when I was a child, though. I was so confused, because at last I felt like I was useful for something, but it felt wrong somehow. What you did left parts of me feeling like I’m only good for sex- I should just be used and then thrown in the trash. Or maybe that’s both you and grandpa.

I hate him for the fact that I think that things didn’t stop when I was six. I seem to remember things happening when I was 8 or 9 and then again somewhere in the 10-12 age range. I just hope that they happened for a little while and then stopped until they started up again. I thank God that he was in the military and would be gone for 6 to 9 months at a time, so I know that I definitely had periods of safety that way.

I hate him for the fact that I may lose my mother over his abusing me. Yes, she is the one who will have to choose how to respond if/when I tell her whatever I tell her. As much as I wish that I could avoid it, listening to myself, I suspect that I am going to need to confront her with some very unpleasant truths. I also fear that she won’t be able to deal with them. If he hadn’t abused me, we would have had a fighting chance if we only had to deal with the abuse by my grandfather.

At the moment, though, I think that I most hate him for my having to live with the physical memories. In most of them, I’m not even entirely sure what he did; I just know that he produced certain sensations in me and I know what sorts of actions on his part would do that. I get to go through the day, experiencing body memories at unexpected times. I might be sitting in the grocery store cafe, making a shopping list, when I feel myself being penetrated so painfully that I just want to curl up in a ball. Fortunately that happens rarely, more often it will be a case of my driving the car down the road and I will experience intrusive feelings of penetration. Or I will be standing on the playground, waiting for my daughter after school when I have phantom feelings of being stimulated. I was at the ballet tonight and I briefly experienced the memory that my mind is most struggling with with week. I know how to deal with it so that no one around me knows that anything is going on and I don’t let it stop me from getting done what I need to get done, but it is so wrong that I’m still feeling things that my father did 4 decades ago.

So, I hate him right now and I feel no guilt over hating him. I spent so much of my life trying to look at him positively, to my own detriment. Now I need to look at him honestly, even though that means that I hate my father. I’m guessing that the anger will ease eventually; it has for my grandfather. I’m not sure that I will ever be able to forgive him, unless he is able to apologize to me (which won’t happen), but I do hope that I will come to the point where he doesn’t matter enough for me to waste my emotional energy on. For right now, though, hating him is a part of my laying claim to being able name my reality. He hurt me badly enough for me to hate him. I’m not just angry at him, but I hate him.

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Kate Themel Weighing Options

Kate Themel
Weighing Options

I mentioned in Trust in the Therapeutic Relationship- Part 3 that my willingness to explore my anger with Mama Bear allowed me to access the rage that I feel towards my mother for not protecting me. I have been choking on that bottled up anger for a couple of weeks and just hadn’t been able to express it. Every time I started to, I would get caught up in a need to be “reasonable” in regards to my mom.

When I finally began to access and express the emotions in session, the feelings were overwhelmingly intense and raw. I felt as though I was simultaneously being ripped apart by the emotions and that I was still struggling to retain control of what I was feeling and expressing. I sobbed, doubled up in a painful ball, while Mama Bear acknowledged the intensity of my rage and pain and sat with me in support and as witness.

Eventually, the intensity eased and Mama Bear asked if we could take a step back from my rage at my mother and make sure that we had addressed all of the issues related to my anger at her, so I could leave the session feeling connected to her, rather than at odds with her. I found myself shaking my head, and she asked, “You aren’t ready to move away from dealing with your mother, are you?” I started to shake with intensity again and I knew that I desperately needed to say something that I have been keeping trapped inside.

“What is it, C?”

“I need to say something.”

I struggled to get the words out and Mama Bear gently said, “Just say it.”

It was like a dam burst and the words were half way torn out and half way pushed past terrible resistance. “How the hell could my mother keep on sending me to my grandfather?!? He was raping me with things!! She was supposed to protect me!!!” As I halfway yelled this out, in anguish, I cried, but then to my surprise I found myself calming after I finally got the words and attached emotion out. I kept on waiting for more explosive emotions, but instead I found myself falling into a state of almost relaxation. It was as if I had fought a battle and I knew that I had won it for the moment and didn’t need to fight anymore right then. I had managed to speak my truth out loud and nothing bad had happened. In fact, I felt safer than I had in awhile. For the time, the battle inside was quiet.

As I sat there, pondering over what I was experiencing inside, I had a huge change in perspective. I looked up at Mama Bear and said in wonder, “It really was her job to protect me.” That thought lifted a heavy weight off of my shoulders. Yes, it really was my mother’s job to protect me, not mine to protect her.

Over the next few hours, I thought about the session and in particular that portion of the session. I considered the terrible pressure and distress that I often feel when I am trying to “protect” my mother from my emotions and the blame that I place on her. The conflict and resulting self blame just about make me sick. I then contrasted it with the sense of peace and relaxation that I felt after I allowed myself to express some of my truth out loud and I realized that I am harming myself in an attempt to shield the mother in my mind from my truth. This harm doesn’t only affect me, it also affects my husband and daughter, because it keeps me from being fully present with them. It has to stop. Whether or not I really needed to, I believed that I needed to protect my mother from some unpleasant realities when I was young. The chance of my being abandoned was too terrifying to risk, because she was my only safety in a world where other people hurt me badly. But my mother no longer is my safety. In fact, the way that I have things set up right now, I am getting very little that is positive out of our relationship. My safety in the now comes from my taking care of myself and the support that I receive from those around me. So I need to take care of myself. I need to stop harming myself by trying to take care of my mother.

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Olga Norris- Ponder

Olga Norris- Ponder

Over the past several weeks, I have been working very intensively around my parents, particularly in regards to my father. That focus was called for because I have had this pattern of getting myself into a crisis in regards to my dad and as a responsible therapist, Mama Bear pointed out that I was harming myself. In “What am I going to do with my dad?”, I wrote about agreeing with Mama Bear that I need to decide how I am going to deal with my dad in the now, based on the information that I have now.

It has been an intense and incredibly painful struggle that has left me wiped out and feeling cut off from the world. I spent a lot of time sitting in my rocking chair, just crying so intensely. It was clear to me that while some of the pain and grief was present based, most of it was past based. That is why I would fear that the intensity of the pain would kill me and I would feel completely alone, utterly helpless, and unable to do anything to console myself. I was dealing with memories of pain and grief from when I was a child. I wish that I could say that I was done with the process, but I know that I’m not. There is a lot of hurt and loss to go.

In the midst of all of this, I lost my voice. I believe that to some extent that was because I was dealing with the emotional memories of very young states and so the vocabulary simply wasn’t there to be able to describe what I was experiencing. Really, I feel as though for the past couple of weeks I have gone around half way in one of these child states. To some extent, I was dealing with controls put into place as a child that were designed to keep me out of trouble. (Defense mechanisms and silence)

But the end of yesterday’s post marked a turning point for me. I realized that while I have felt trapped in a tiny space with my parents I can choose to emerge into the “open” and deal with it there. There is so much more to me and my life than my parents in the here and now. Even if the worst should happen and there should be a complete break with my mother, it would be terribly painful, but my life would go on and it would be a very good life.

Coming to this realization seems to have given me my voice back and it has helped me to focus on the fact that my understanding of my relationship with my father is only important to me in regards to my mother. I have no desire to see him or have contact. I do not fully understand why there is such a deep lack of trust and a need to shield myself from him, but that’s the way that things are. One painful truth that I continue to have trouble fully accepting is that my father hurt me. I’m not talking about in the horrific cruel way that my grandfather did. Maybe there was real cruelty there, but it’s all very complicated and figuring out that part isn’t actually important right now. What’s important is accepting that being my father’s daughter hurt me. It is a source of pain in the now and was a source of great pain as a child, for whatever reason. My father was not the father that my mother needs to believe that he was. As hard as it may be, I have to be solid in my acceptance of the fact that I hold a truth that is in opposition to my mother’s beliefs, so I can hold on to my truth, despite the desire that I most likely will have to make things easy on my mother whenever I engage with her again.

I suspect that there will be some form of engagement in the not too distant future. You see, I’ve realized that I have tentatively tried to get an appropriate response from my mom, but in all of the time that I have been working on dealing with the abuse, I haven’t ever flat out said from her, “This is what I need from you.” I have hinted. I have obliquely asked. I have tentatively started to introduce the subject of dealing with the abuse and given up when she repeatedly changed the topic. But I haven’t ever clearly said, “You have asked how you can help, because you know that I’ve been struggling, this is what I need from you.” I have been too afraid of how much it would hurt to have her refuse and lose the hope that one day things might be better with her. But this can’t continue indefinitely. She is getting older and I don’t want for time to run out. If I don’t give something clear and direct a good try with her, I will always wonder what would have happened if I had tried. I don’t want to live with that question over my head. So I have to find the courage to break several basic family rules at the same time: don’t talk about something that upsets my mom; don’t ask for something that she might not be willing to give to me; don’t talk clearly and directly about any problems of any type; keep quiet and pretend that nothing is wrong.

It’s a tall order and it’s intimidating to consider. But helps when I take a step back and remind myself that those were the rules of my childhood. I couldn’t do anything but follow them then, but now that I am an adult, they only apply to me if I allow them to apply to me. That is something that my fuller, outer self can appreciate, but I also know that I will be dealing with the memories of child states and in those states, I will fully believe that I have to follow the old rules. Hopefully, over the next weeks and months, I can bring the two close enough together, so that I can hold both beliefs at the same time. It is in that state of dual awareness that deep change can take place. The more that I can help all of me understand that I don’t need to live by the old family rules, the easier it will be to manage some sort of contact with my mother.

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