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Friday, July 31, 2015

This isn't working for me anymore. At least, not right now. I used to be able to just write here and then go live my life. I can't seem to do that. Everyone close to me seems to be in distress. I don't know how to talk about me when I need to listen to them. This week a complete stranger emailed and asked if I would talk with her as she works through her history of abuse. She says she's not asking for counsel or advice, she just wants someone to walk with her. She doesn't know that she's asking the emotionally crippled to run a marathon.

I'll talk with her. There just doesn't seem to be any other thing to do. If I say no, I'll feel worse. I feel very much like I have no more life in me, though. It's okay. I'm not going to talk about that again.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Because it's true

I've known this about myself for a long time. I've tried to articulate it to people. Some have allowed me space and made it clear they wanted me, even if it had to be on my terms. Others got tired and left, and that's good because I don't believe I've ever been comfortable with any type of intimacy regardless of how I might crave it. They needed to find someone who was not me.

Nine Ways Those Who Have Been Emotionally Abused Love Differently
by Marie Cyprien

Those who have been emotionally abused understand how much it changes you. Although the outcome of that change is different for everyone, there’s no doubt that such a traumatic experience can cause us to take a different approach to relationships:
  1. We’re very gentle. We’ll keep our distance, especially in the beginning of the relationship because we don’t want to seem overbearing. We like to give the ones we love space to breath because we understand suffocation all too well.
  2. We have guarded hearts. Our hearts have been tattered by our abusers, so they become as hard as a shield. But keep in mind that on the inside, our hearts are so soft and heavy, which is why...
  3. Opening up can be an up in the air kind of thing...because once we open our hearts, we could end up creating a flood of emotions. It’s why...
  4. We like to go slow...because we don’t want to reveal too much information that could possibly chase you away. So we take it one step at a time, becoming a little more vulnerable on the way.
  5. We put thought into the relationship...because we’ve been told how much we get it wrong so many different times that just this once, we want to get something right.
  6. We’re secretly afraid...because we can’t believe that someone as amazing as you can love us and we’re scared that it might just be a heavenly dream.
  7. We can be very affectionate. We crave that cuddling and kisses on the forehead kind of love because it sheds away the fear and insecurities.
  8. We’ll point out the toxic people in your life. We know the signs all too well and we will warn you because we don’t want you to have to go through the same pain we did.
  9. We’ll always be there...because at the end of the day, we wished someone could’ve been there for us.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Therapist suggested it might help me understand what I need if I could articulate what the feelings I'm sorting through are, exactly--and also, what they are not--in this case, being completely clear about each feeling, itself, and also the value judgments that might be placed on it.

Paramount is the feeling of sadness. When I explain this to others, I receive in return a smörgåsbord of reactions which only serve to confuse me more.

What it is:
1. There is definitely regret linked to this feeling. There was a possibility of childhood friendships maturing into adulthood. The cousins in my family were very good friends and enjoyed a closeness that was delightful and joyful. This might have continued indefinitely. David's treatment of Jeff and me, and his attempts to molest still more of his cousins, destroyed that possibility. That makes me sad.
2. I have never been able to comfortably see someone in distress without feeling a desire to ease their discomfort. This is an impulse that is no respecter of persons. It happens with strangers and family members. But it is simply that--an impulse--a response to a situation. And it makes me feel sad.

What it is not:
1. This is not me saying, "Hey! I forgive you for raping the crap out of Jeff and me! Let's be buddies!" Not even close. I don't want to cultivate a relationship of any kind. I'm happy with complete disconnect from David. And whether or not I've forgiven him does not enter into the feelings of sadness. They're separate.
2. This says nothing about my character. I am not "heroic," as one person told me. I'm not special. I did not choose this. It just happened. I'm not kind, or amazing, or any other adjective one might apply. I am also not a freak, nor am I sympathizing with my abuser. I'm sad. That's all.

Accompanying this sadness is a great deal of distress and confusion.

What it is:
1. I'm experiencing something unexpected and uninvited. Given the circumstances, I expected to feel angry or vengeful. I didn't.
2. This is not the first time I've experienced this type of confusion. It overwhelms and sometimes immobilizes me. It affects the way I interact with and feel about the people who are closest to me. My emotions are unstable and I don't ever really know how I'll react to anyone or anything. It's a little bit exhausting and I'm experiencing a high amount of depression right now.

What it is not:
1. This is not an indication that I'm losing my mind. Once previously, I did end up in the hospital on suicide watch. Again, this is overwhelming and immobilizing. That's difficult to cope with. I don't believe anyone would welcome such a state of being. Sometimes I need help. I think it's okay that I went to a place where such help could be obtained when I needed it.
2. This is not s sign of weakness. Anyone can become confused--and I'm not looking for someone to explain how I should cope right now. That's something I need to figure out. And I will.

I suppose what I need are the following:
1. Time. I need to have time to think and cry and feel confused and sad. And I need time with people. That's a tough one. I'm working a lot of hours while Darrin searches for work, so I'm not readily available. And other people work and have limited time, as well. I might not be able to have this particular need filled, but it's important. I'm not sure how I'll deal with it. Right now I'm ignoring it.

2. Reassurance. I need people to understand that I'm doing all I can to make it through this. I need them to trust me to find my own answers. I need to be told that I'm still loved, and on days like today, and yesterday, and the day before, I need to know that I'm still important; that I have worth; that someone misses me because they love to be with me.

3. Empathy. I'm guessing most people look at what I'm going through and think I'm making a very big deal out of nothing. Yes, I had to spend my grandmother's funeral in the same room with the cousin who raped me - but I didn't have to talk to him and he never approached me. It was pretty quiet, all things considered. Yes, I had some weird feelings, but that was more than a month ago. Surely I'm over that now...except I'm not. Spending time in the same place as the person who raped me was more stressful than I thought it would be. Seeing him, hearing his was sort of awful. It could have been worse. It was bad enough. And as for the feelings, it would be nice to hear people say, "That sounds awful. I'm sorry you have to go through this. It must be really hard."

Because it IS hard. And it hurts. A lot.

4. I need a hug.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I'm not complaining. I know the stuff I'm going through right now is necessary and a means to an end. I understand that it's all part of the  package that is my life. And I like my life.

Still, I'd be lying if I said it was easy. And I'm having a hard time today. Sometimes I don't really feel strong enough to look at reality, work through emotions, and be me. That's all. I'm not feeling sorry for myself, just admitting that today is a little bit yucky.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I often worry about people I care about. I worry when they're sad or stressed or just feeling out of sorts. I worry when they have something huge inside or something overwhelming outside. I worry, I think, because I want what's best for them - whatever that may be - and I wish for them to have joy.

But every once in a while I have a day like today when I think, "I wish someone was worried about me."

Then I realize that's just silly and so am I. The day will pass. Tomorrow will be better. And I'll be fine. That's how it works. There is no reason to worry at all.

Monday, July 6, 2015

I've spent a lot of time during the past ten days thinking. During the month of June I had no days off. And there were too many days to count when I worked more than 15 hours. So Thursday night I packed my bags and left home for the weekend.

I spent time with my very large, very loud family. This does not seem like it would be restful, but I scheduled quiet time when I was alone - time for regrouping and more thinking.

As expected, the reunion with family had its ups and downs. That didn't matter.

I've realized that I've come to a place where I would like to allow friendships and even closer relationships in my life. I believe I've learned that I can trust - however, whether or not I will trust is still something I will allow only sparingly. I'm not ready for anything more. But I'm also understanding that if relationships with people become less close or transparent, I'll be okay. The need for reassurance and frequent connection has eased.

Therapist will tell me that's healthy and good. I'm sure he's right.

Therapist will remind me that frequent interaction between people who do not share a household requires a great deal of work and emotional stamina on the parts of both people involved. He'll say that sometimes one or the other won't be able to contribute what's necessary. He'll talk about being patient and forgiving and coming together again when the time is right. And I'll listen and believe him because again, he's right.

Finally, after a decade, I have figured out how to ignore the impulses and feelings that are the result of living with PTSD. The ones that tell me if someone really cares and wishes to have me in their lives, they'll work just as hard as I do to make that happen. I'm no longer heeding the voices that say I'm unnecessary or disposable. And I think I'm too tired to feel the intensity of emotion that has bound me to people but made me feel the relationship was unbalanced and that I was vulnerable.

I suppose I just feel calm. For the past few weeks I've sent texts that weren't answered and phone calls that weren't returned to a number of people with whom I have a close relationship. Therapist asked me how I felt about the silence. I surprised us both when I said it didn't matter. I further surprised myself when I explained that I knew those people had things going on in their lives and we had moved beyond the point when they could take time to be playful or responsive when I communicated with them. Therapist asked why I sent the texts and made the phone calls if I knew they would not receive answers.

It's a good question. A year ago my answer would be very different from what it is today. The truth is that while the sent messages and voice mails, no doubt, seem trivial and pointless to those who received them, I was including them in the little things. To me, that's when you really love someone - when you say whatever is on your mind whenever you want to because you want to share with them. Probably they don't understand that. Probably the messages from me are intrusive and annoying.

As I said, a year ago I would feel sad, wish things were different, try to figure out how to make changes so I could fee more comfortable and less vulnerable. Today, it doesn't matter. I cannot be anyone except the person I am. Which means I might randomly communicate with someone I consider an important part of my life regardless of whether or not they respond.

Therapist's next question: And how long will you do that without reciprocation?

Another good question, and not one I'm really going to spend time on. No doubt, at some point I'll take the hint and stop being so noisy, but I'm not going to do so until I can do it without feeling resentful or hurt. The silence on the other end has nothing to do with me and everything to do with them. Their lives are busy, or maybe I'm communicating at inconvenient times, or maybe they just don't want to play anymore. I'm okay with that. I've felt that way, myself, occasionally.

I came to this place once before, a very long time ago. I realized that my circumstances - the fact that I was largely ignored and clearly unwanted in my family relationships - were causing me to feel angry much of the time and always desperately sad. I didn't know how to obtain physical affection on a non-sexual level, so I avoided touch at all costs. My interactions with everyone were tainted by the knowledge that I could never invest in friendships or other relationships because I had no worth or desirability.

When I understood that I felt that way I was 17 years old. I looked in the mirror and said this, "There is nothing wrong with you. You're no uglier or prettier than any other person. You have a lot to offer. If the people in your life are too blind and stupid to notice, the best course of action is to find a place where, if love is not a possibility, you feel, at the very least, appreciated. But you can love people. You know how. So it's time to leave the place where you feel invisible and make a place for yourself somewhere else."

So I got a job a few hours from home, told my parents I was leaving, and I left. Within weeks I had made more than one wonderful friend, I was dating, and I never looked back. I lived at home briefly after my first year of college, but left again after two months. I needed to be where I could thrive.

I think I'm in that place again. I've become strong enough to weather whatever life throws at me. And while I'd rather do that weathering with support from people who care about me, if that doesn't happen (for whatever reason), I can do it myself. Being with my family these past few days has helped me understand, with clarity that has been missing from my life for quite awhile, that I'm resilient and I'll be okay.

So Therapist wonders if the texts and phone calls that received no answers were a test on my part-- not for the recipients, but for myself. I suppose they were. I was watching to see how I would respond. I was making sure that being ignored would not bring panic attacks or PTSD episodes. I needed to see exactly how strong I was. And now I know.

Therapist's question: Does this mean you no longer want to reach out to people or foster close relationships?

No. I've worked very long and very hard to build and foster relationships in my life. But I've also felt that I was being controlled by my need to have them and my intense fear that I might lose them. I'm absolutely willing to continue those relationships indefinitely, but I'm not afraid anymore. It's a good place to be. I'm loving the calm.

Friday, July 3, 2015

I spoke with Therapist on Tuesday. I didn't blog abut immediately because what he had to tell me wasn't necessarily what I wished to hear and I needed time to think about it. This is what Therapist said:

Sam, I've known you for nearly ten years now. Your reaction doesn't surprise me at all. In fact, it makes complete sense, given what I know about you. 

But it didn't make sense to me. And I wasn't sure I wanted my reaction, which confused and frustrated me, to be completely understandable to Therapist. I said (because I say it all the time-- it's my favorite question), "Why?"

You don't like to see people isolated or hurting. 

That's true. It's called empathy, I believe most people have it to some degree.

We talked about the sadness I've been feeling. I'm grieving, he said. because I recognize that the situation IS sad. David has no more support from his extended family. That's sad. He is in a marriage that is messy and unhappy. Also sad. He has a son who won't speak to him and a new grandchild he has never seen. Very, very sad.

But Therapist said that it's okay for me to be sad because I also recognize that this came about because of choices David made to harm people who should have been safe with him. I'm not trying to fix it. I'm just mourning what could have been. Our families could have shared a closeness and kinship that his actions destroyed. And he is facing that reality now. It hurts him and it's sad.

me: So what you're saying is that I just have to let this happen. Be sad. Grieve. Because it's sad, it affects me, and I just need to let the feelings happen.

Therapist: Sort of. Part of you wants to fix this. You understand that you could reach out to him and maybe ease the pain he's feeling. You've done it many times with lots of people. But you also understand that he's not a safe person and your boundaries do not allow you to be vulnerable with someone who has proven he's not safe. Part of the grief is that you recognize this is not something you can help or heal. There are a number of things that are sad for you in this situation. The grieving must take place because they are beyond your ability to change. They do not belong to you even if they affect you.

Things that affect me but do not belong to me. That's something I'm thinking about.

Also, letting grief happen which is yucky and really hurts. And I can't really talk about it because people immediately remind me that this is what happens when a person rapes kids.

Yeah. I know. But I've passed the "rapes kids" part and moved on to the "person" part. They don't understand that. I don't either. But the truth is that there's a person hurting, for whatever reason, and it's sad, and I can't help.

Why would you want to? they ask.

A very good question. Therapist says that impulse has nothing to do with my cousin and everything to so with me. It's who I am. It's an integral part of Samantha. I stayed in a home with an abusive mother and took the punishment I was afraid she would deliver to my younger siblings. Even when I had opportunity to go elsewhere, I stayed. And I didn't leave until I was certain they would be okay without me. He reminded me of the time I befriended a young girl who was abandoned by her parents and made her a part of my life-- and she calls me her sister today and tells everyone that I "saved" her. Therapist said that most of the people I love have, at one time or another, looked to me for comfort, support, or acceptance.

In my head, that's just how people interact. My story is not unique. People are. They connect with others. They help each other and fall in love. And when that process is stopped, it's sad.

Therapist says, no. He says people like me are important and that not everyone is like me and that's why I have trouble finding a listening ear. The impulse - even his own impulse - is to say, "It's about time the creep got what's coming to him." Therapist said he would not be surprised if my tears are the only ones shed because my cousin is ignored by his family and because he's sad. He said most people remember the reasons behind the current situation and are not bothered by the fact that my cousin is uncomfortable. Therapist says I am unique.

I think Therapist meant that in a kind way, but I'm left feeling that I'm a freak. Also, grieving is really hard and I don't like it.