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Wednesday, December 31, 2008


I had an interesting therapy session on Monday. As often happens, I don't recall with clarity much of what we discussed. When I am talking about things which upset me, I often check out mentally--usually, unfortunately, while Therapist is imparting great pearls of wisdom. I try without success during the subsequent weeks to recall what he's said. Aggravating.

I believe my entire conversation with him consisted of three sentences:
1. "This makes me so MAD!!"
2. "This makes me so MAD!!"
3. "This makes me so MAD!!"

Although there might have been an occasional screaming of "THIS SUCKS!!!!!"

Yeah. I was eloquent. And even though Therapist was in awe of my command of the English language, and had to pause occasionally to look up the more difficult words in a dictionary, somehow I still managed to figure something out during the session. Probably I figured it out because Therapist said it, but I took it and decided I learned it all on my own, but that's beside the point.

I have been protecting people forever. Usually from things from which they had no need to be protected, but it's what I do anyway. I've been trying to figure out when it began and I think it actually started when I was very young. I remember saying and doing things to purposely direct my mother's anger away from my siblings and toward me. It wasn't altruistic--it was self-preservation. It hurt more to watch a small person being abused by a larger person, one who should be loving and protecting the small person, than it did to endure the abuse personally. 

That impulse has never served me well. In fact, it's a stupid impulse and one for which I will probably pay as long as I live. I still do it. I can't stand it when someone innocent is hurt by another person--especially when the person inflicting the hurt believes there is a rational, excusable reason for hurting another. I usually say something which gets me in trouble. And the person I perceive as the "victim" is angry with me, as well. As I said, a stupid impulse.

I have spent my life protecting people I love from me. I still do it. Even in this blog, where I am supposed to be able to express anything I wish, I protect those who read from knowing the things I believe will somehow harm them--which is why I had to create my stupid super secret blog. The thoughts/memories/feelings still needed expression, but in my mind, if I allowed others to know them I would be inflicting abuse on people who read my words.

I protect Darrin from feeling anger about my past experiences. I say I don't tell him everything because I can't deal with his feelings when I'm dealing with my own, and there is a modicum of truth to that. But mostly, I just don't want him to feel negative emotions to anything connected to me. I don't want him to see me weak, victimized, scared, sad. I don't want to acknowledge that he, of all people, completely understands that I am human and he loves me in any circumstance. I want to be strong and capable and beautiful in his eyes. It's all very silly because he, more than anyone, sees me at my worst, knows my weaknesses, and comforts me when I'm wretched. He will watch me grow old and lose each vestige of youthful beauty. He will buy me a recliner when I can no longer run, place his matching one beside it and hold my hand as we watch "The Price is Right." I have no idea why I'm trying to protect him from me.

For a long time I believed that if I shared with anyone the truth of what was done to me as a child, they would stop loving me. They would feel sorry for me, certainly, and then they would go away because it was too much--too horrible--I was used up and they had no more need for me. I was wrong, of course, but I think I might be excused for lacking faith in human nature. My experiences haven't always built faith, obviously. But even beyond that feeling was the belief that if I told anyone, somehow they would be hurt by what I said. That by giving them such knowledge I would be responsible for harming them. I would rather be abandoned by someone I love than bear the guilt of hurting them. 

When I actually said the words to someone, it was a person newly met--one I had never met in person. I spoke the words in a "hypothetical" setting. A "so if I tell you this, are you going to say you still want to be my friend?" type of conversation. And even though he said he did, I completely expected to be added to his "blocked friends" list before nightfall. In truth, I ended up calling him within an hour of telling him, simply to thank him for letting me say the words. I wanted to hear his voice. And I wanted to make sure I hadn't somehow damaged him with my story. 

Naturally, in time, I allowed others to know, which was largely a positive experience. But part of me still believes that I must not share certain things about myself with others. Especially the things that hurt me regularly. For the past eight months my flashbacks have become irregular and unpredictable. I've learned how to let them happen without showing any outward sign. I wait until I'm alone, then I allow the stress buildup to manifest itself. I usually have body tremors and physical pain. I hear myself whimper and feel aggravated that I'm weak. I cry--not because I'm sad or hurting, but simply as an after-effect of too much emotional overload. It feels similar to the random crying I experienced when I was pregnant--linked to nothing in particular, not accompanied by any feelings, simply a stress outlet. Depending on what I experience during the flashback, I'm usually finished with the after effects within an hour.

Therapist said I'm not going to be able to learn to manage the flashbacks if I continue to do this in isolation. He said I need to involve other people. I'm certain he gave me reasons for this, because I always ask him to explain himself--especially if I disagree with him. But every part of me rebelled against his premise and I wasn't listening to the explanation. I was dealing with the revulsion I felt at the thought of sharing this part of me with another person. So probably there's a completely logical reason to do so, but I missed it.

I am Samantha. I like to win. I am very strong. I'm bright and talented. I make people smile. It is not natural for me to tell others when I feel sad, angry, or lonely. It is rare for me to be with anyone else when I am weak or vulnerable. 

As a result of the stress I felt Monday, I had three rather intense flashbacks. When the last one was finished, my body required me to brush my teeth with such dedication that I missed saying good-bye to a friend at the airport--which still makes me so angry I want to scream.

Okay. I'm still not ready to talk about this. 

But I will just say, even though being with someone made me want to throw up, I wasn't alone in the aftermath. I let someone stay with me. Because Therapist said I can't do it alone, and at this point, I'll do just about anything to learn how to predict and manage the flashbacks. They're painful and exhausting. 

But sometime very soon I have to remember why Therapist said it was important to let others help me. 


  1. I'm glad you had someone with you. And it's incredibly nice of you to still come over and visit after having such a stressful appointment.

  2. Me, too, I think. And visiting with you (and commandeering your kitchen, and ordering everyone around was vastly helpful), is always so much fun, in any condition.