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Tag Archives: therapy

Friendships

It’s not that I don’t care about this blog. I do. This blog has healed me in a way that nothing else has. But I haven’t had much to say on this front. So I haven’t been saying anything. I don’t believe in blogging for the sake of blogging.

 

But something happened and I just want to get it out of me. Potential Trigger Warning:

 

A few weeks ago, at work, a “friend” sexually assaulted me. I only use friend in quotes because up until that moment I had thought he was my friend. We have known each other for almost two years.

 

We were close enough that he knew some things about my past that I talk about on this blog. He knows, for example, about one of the times that I was raped. He knows about my abusive childhood and some of my abusive previous relationships.

 

For a short time he and I had a physical relationship. Which he ended. And I was more than fine with that. He is seeing someone now.

 

So he came by to hang out with me at my at work. I was alone with him in my office building. I did not feel unsafe. He comes to visit me regularly. We’re friends.

 

Until he made a joke about being allowed to touch me wherever he wanted to due to our previous ‘relationship.’ To which I very adamantly told him, NO.

 

He does not have permission to touch me anywhere. Not even as friends. I particularly did not feel like being touched that day. It happens.

 

I asked him to please not touch me. And he laughed a little. And that was the end of  it. Or so I thought.

 

We went to the break room to get sodas. As we were leaving he reached out and grabbed my ass. This is sexual assault. I did not want to be touched. I specifically TOLD him to not touch me. And he grabbed my ass anyway.

 

In the past I might have pretended to laugh it off and then gone home and cried about it. But I have come too far to let someone off that easily.

 

I yelled at him as I never have before. I told him he had no right to touch me. I told him that I had specifically asked him to not touch me.

 

He told me he had only been joking.

 

I got angry. Access to my body is not a joke. I have a right to not be touched. And I know he knew I hadn’t been joking when I had asked him to respect that right.

 

He did not apologize. I tried to compare my body to his young daughter’s body. How would he feel to have a man touch her after she said no? But to him, it was different, after all she was a child.

 

Apparently children have more right to body autonomy than an adult woman.

 

Besides, he told me, we’d had a relationship in the past. Again, I compared my body to his daughter’s. Would all of her ex boyfriends have a right to her body throughout the rest of her life? Even after they broke up? Even after she asked them not to? Would he be fine with them still touching her wherever and whenever they wanted?

 

Again, he told me it was different with us. See, he can’t be told no. He has to test boundaries.

 

I fail to see the difference.

 

He then asked me if I was still seeing my therapist. Because my reaction proved that I needed to be. I told him his inability to hear my ‘no’ told me that he still needed to be seeing his.

 

And then he told me he could tell how unhappy I was and he hoped I would find happiness someday. And I told him I was unhappy because one of my alleged friends had just sexually assaulted me.

 

He left. I did not report him. I still have not reported him. He never apologized in any way.

 

But none of that is the worst part.

 

Last week, another “friend” asked me how things were between me and the man that assaulted me. I gave him a very brief rundown of what happened.

 

This second alleged friend told me it was my own fault for still being friends with him. That I should know better by now that he would do that to me (though I am not sure how). That he hoped I would stop being his friend and had finally learned my lesson.

 

I don’t know if I have. The only lesson I am learning is that I still have terrible taste in relationships and friendships.  And I truly don’t know if I still see a value in either one anymore.

I hate to end on that note. But I feel it is a logical conclusion. A very small percentage of men are rapists or abusive or sexual predators. And yet, despite no longer being in relationships, I continue to find myself in friendships with them.

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Anxiety

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I don’t know why I am suddenly feeling so anxious all the time. I never had anxiety issues before. Or maybe I did but didn’t realize it because of all my other issues.

I know it is mostly the PTSD, but lately I have been having mini panic attacks. It feels so stupid to be feeling this way. I am actually ashamed of myself for not being able to handle things.

I look back on all I have been through and I think: I went through all that and now I am afraid to answer my door? Or go grocery shopping at night? Or talk to another human being?

It feels idiotic and paranoid and silly. So silly.

I know I am just being hard on myself. The truth is, I’ve always felt this way. It’s just that now I have resolved so many issues, this is one of the last few left. It seems to stand out.

I am embarrassed to mention it to my therapist. I am afraid she thinks I am making all this up. I am afraid she will think I am just trying to get medication. I am afraid that she thinks I am self diagnosing myself. I don’t want medication. I just want to stop feeling so anxious.

It has been so bad a few times that I can’t sleep all night. Every noise has me jumping. Exaggerated response and all that. I have been sleeping with my baseball bat again.

I’m not sure where it is coming from. Except, that is a lie. I do know.

One year ago this month I was battling my ex in court. Getting a restraining order. It was difficult and scary. The things he said and did…

And I have recently ended a casual relationship with a man. I am worried he will take it poorly. I am worried he will retaliate. I am worried that every relationship I end from now on will be a trigger. I am worried I will never truly know someone or truly trust ever again.

I am so tired of having so many problems. Some days I just want to wallow in self pity and wonder why it all happened to me. But that is pretty useless. It doesn’t help me. And it never makes me feel better.

Setting Boundaries

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When my last relationship ended, it ended very badly. So badly that I had to get the legal system involved. I am not one to expect pity from anyone, least of all my family. However, I have finally come to expect that if someone can’t be supportive that they keep it to themselves.

I have worked very hard on setting boundaries with everyone in my family. And I have also cut out everyone that does not respect them. Friends, family, everyone. Except my mother.

It is a hard decision to become an orphan. My mother was very abusive growing up, but she was also the only parent I really had. It is no exaggeration to say I grew up in a single parent home despite the fact that my father came home every evening.

I do not share any of my issues with my family. Mostly because it is safer for me to keep it private. Anything said in my family can and will be used against you. Forever. It can be very lonely, but I would rather be alone than hurt.

When I told my mother that I was going to therapy she immediately showed an interest that aroused my suspicions. There was an eagerness that felt unwholesome.

She began asking for all sorts of details about my therapy sessions. What did I talk about? Did I ever talk about her? Didn’t my therapist agree that I had Autism (as she had always maintained)?

I told my mother that I had no interest in discussing my therapy with her. But she would not drop it. She began calling me a few times a week, trying to get me to tell her. And I realized that it was time to set boundaries with her.

I told her that I would not be telling her about my therapy. When she wouldn’t drop it I gave her a choice, we could either change the subject or I was going to hang up on her. She continued to try every time I spoke to her unless I made the ultimatum.

So when I told my mother about my ex and I breaking up, she had no idea what had gone on in our relationship. She never liked him. In fact, the only boyfriend she has ever liked was the physically abusive ex husband.

Despite not liking him, she immediately informed me that it was my own fault that our relationship had ended. I couldn’t argue with that. It was my fault. I had decided to stop being abused and ended things.

But, then she went on to tell me that it was my fault for being with someone abusive. This is a sticky point for me. Yes, it is my “fault” in that I chose to date him. But I don’t feel I should take responsibility for my own abuse. He chose to abuse me, I did not choose to be abused.

And I left as soon as I could. It took me longer than I would have liked, two years. But the important thing was that I left. I realized what was happening. I ended the relationship, and I got help by beginning therapy.

But instead of being supportive, she began to tell me that I was at fault for every bad thing he did to me. Because I had stayed too long. Because I had moved in with him too quickly. Because I let myself be abused. This is coming from the same woman that stayed with my father for 30 years and is now married to another abusive man.

I did not choose to mention those things. I don’t think it is fair to blame someone for the abuse done to them. I don’t believe in blaming the victim.

That is when I knew that not only was I right in not trusting her with the details of my therapy. But that she would never respect my boundaries. I am not even sure she believed I deserved boundaries.

The last time we spoke she was particularly nasty and accusatory with regards to me being in an abusive relationship. And I hung up on her. That was over a year ago.

Since then I have spoken to her three or four times. Very cordial, very short conversations. To tell her Happy Birthday, Merry X-Mas, Happy New Year. Nothing more.

But lately, as I have progressed through recovery and healing, I feel my attitude towards her softening. I wonder if a year was long enough for her to learn her lesson. To know that I am serious about having my boundaries respected. I don’t know.

But I think I want to try…

Visualization

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I recently finished reading a book about PTSD. This book had many visualization techniques for working through issues, calming yourself down, and dealing with anxiety. I have been in therapy for a little over a year now and I have never tried a visualization technique before.

I have tried to do guided meditations before but I found them to be both annoying and distracting. And I kind of assumed visualization exercises were similar. At best ineffective and hokey and dumb at worst.

But I was really upset a few weeks ago at something a friend had done. I was so upset I tried to call my therapist and book an emergency appointment. But she wasn’t answering.

So I decided to do the least hokey visualization to try to calm down. And that was imagining that my emotions were on a dial from 1-10. First you decide where you are on the dial and why. Then you decide if that’s an appropriate emotional response. And if it isn’t, you try to figure out how to change or lower it.

I decided I was a 5 mad at my friend for what he did and I was an 8 mad at myself for allowing him to do what he had done.

But then I started thinking about all he has been through lately. And I decided being a 5 mad at him was a little too harsh. He has had a tough time. So I lowered it to a 3. And I imagined physically rotating the dial from a 5 to a 3.

So then I started wondering how much sense it made to be so mad at myself when I didn’t even actually do anything wrong. Except give someone a chance. So I decided I couldn’t be MORE mad at myself than I was at him. So I imagined physically rotating the second dial from an 8 to a 3.

I was shocked at how much better I immediately felt. I don’t know if it was because I was logically picking apart my feelings which helped to calm me down, or if it was the visualization.

But it was one of those things I also didn’t want to try to examine too closely. If there was magic involved I didn’t want to see the explanations behind it. It worked and that’s all that mattered.

I’ve used this technique a few times to calm myself down when I am upset. It has actually worked every time so far. It’s making me start to realize how useful visualization can be in recovery. Maybe I should give one of those other ones a try…

Past Lives

Today, someone asked me what I was like as a child. I had to think about it for a long time before answering. But it really depends on what age we’re discussing.

I did nothing but cry for the first 6 or 7 years. I was unhappy and morose. And suffering from PTSD from many physical, emotional and sexual abuses. Eventually my family punished me for crying enough that I stopped.

I spent the next few years like a wild animal backed into a corner. I had zero control over my emotions. I was angrier than I have ever felt in my entire life. My anger was like a separate being trying to violently claw it’s way out of me. This is when I began punching trees. A lot.

Finally, around 10, I completely shut down all my emotions. I began working out compulsively, reading obsessively. I had an eating disorder and began journaling. I was extremely secretive.

I had severe insomnia and depression. Some weeks I would sleep less than 5 hours the entire week. My life was kind of a fog of blankness. That is really the best way to describe it. It was like being on drugs that took away everything it was possible to feel. But I wasn’t on drugs.

All I ever felt was sadness, despair and anger. And the safest place to direct that anger was on myself. It led to getting into and staying in many abusive relationships; platonic, romantic, and familial. It also was the partial driver for some of the emotional/mental issues I have.

And that’s basically where I stayed until my health problems at 25. Like I was frozen in place. Frozen emotionally. And I was. I only allowed myself to feel the barest tip of what was wrong. Only the strongest, most persistent emotions came through.

It has taken a few years to even realize that things were wrong inside me. And it took a few years to get help. I have been in therapy for just over a year.

I am amazed when I look back on the changes I’ve been through this past year. It actually impresses me. People that have known me very well can hardly believe I am the same person. Neither can I.

I can’t believe the life I was accepting for myself all that time. I can’t believe those past people, those horrible past lives, were all me. I look back on how much I’ve changed this year. And I wonder how unrecognizable I’ll be to myself by this time next year.

Crying x2

I feel like my parents have really taken away my ability to have a satisfying cry. I hear other people say how crying can be a release.

Not in my experience. I know I probably feel this way because my parents used to punish me for crying. But that doesn’t make me able to stop beating myself up for it.

I feel like I am weak when I cry. I feel idiotic and childish. I feel like a total wuss that can’t manage my own emotions. I feel like I am not a grown up.

So not only am I upset about whatever is making me cry. But I am totally beating myself up the entire time.

I usually feel even worse if I am crying in front of someone else. I feel like they are thinking the same thing I am thinking about myself. Even when I know they aren’t. Even though I don’t think those things about someone else when they cry in front of me.

I also beat myself up because I never think my issues are ‘bad’ enough. It’s an issue I have also discussed with my therapist. Like, maybe I don’t have ‘enough’ problems to need therapy. Or bad enough problems. And that I am just kidding myself. But my therapist has assured me that my issues are very real and bad. So that’s good. I guess.

I rarely cried at all in the past 20 years. Like, less than 20 times. Even through losing friends, getting a divorce, being abused, being raped, having surgeries, and facing my own death. And I could barely cry.

I’m starting to think that this was one of the worst things my parents ever did to me. Denying me the ability to cry. To express my emotions. To feel the release of tears. Even now, when I actually can cry.

Chicken Fried Hunger

Holy shit! Something amazing happened today. I was reading this book about appetite, eating disorders, and desires. I was reading it while eating lunch at work today.

I was having a kind of crappy, stressful day (most days at my work are extremely stressful). I was talking to a co-worker about KFC. I don’t like KFC but it made me really want to eat some fried chicken.

So I went to Popeye’s and ordered my favorite thing there (hint: it’s a lot of food). Since I started eating more like a non-disordered person I tend to eat a lot in one sitting. An unhealthy lot.

I was sitting there, eating fried chicken. And I got to this part in the book about eating your emotions. Eating as a way to sublimate desires of all types. Or (in my case) not eating to sublimate desires of all types. And I realized that for the past year, since I started eating again, I have been doing exactly that.

I got a more stressful job and instead of responding to that in a healthy way, I ate. Then some relationship stuff went down and it ended badly, and I ate even more. And that’s definitely why I’ve gained close to 40 lbs this year.

So, I was sitting there with my fried chicken. And I realized not only did I not want how much food I ordered. I didn’t even want what I had ordered. It didn’t taste good. It didn’t make me feel better.

All it ever made me feel was full. But not in a good and satisfying way. In an unhealthy “I hate myself. Why did I eat so much?” way.

In a weird way I can see how that feeling of fullness is comforting. But it’s really only as comforting as that feeling of emptiness was when I wasn’t eating. Now that I am starting to recognize it for what it really is; it doesn’t offer much comfort.

The hunger and the fullness is the exact same feeling. I feel like my hunger was consuming me all the time. It was filling me up and seemed to take up the same amount of space inside my body and my mind as the fullness does now.

I feel like today, for the first time in more than 20 years, I was listening to my body’s hunger cues instead of mindlessly eating nothing or everything.

I actually almost cried.

It makes me wonder if a few books on eating disorders (in combination with my therapy and journaling) can help me so much. Maybe I should read a few books on some of my other issues. It can’t hurt.

I read so many books about so many things I can’t help but wonder why I never picked one up on any of my emotional issues. It feels like I was being willfully ignorant. But I wasn’t. It was all subconscious.

But I don’t want to pretend this stuff never happened anymore. I want to face it and work through it and fix it and move past it all.