Notes from therapy this week


During my session this week I expressed my frustration at not having more than the one memory. My therapist seemed confident that more memories would come over time and while I balked at that, I appreciate that she never tries to lead me in any direction. She simply has confidence in the process. She told me that she has a client who was ritually abused and after over 15 years in therapy, her memories just started coming back within the last several years. I of course don’t like the idea of taking that long but I got her point and I’m sure it’s different for different people.

I told her that for me, I would take just one more memory. Just one, to validate what I feel and let me know that more than “the kiss” happened. I told her that I wish for that so I could explain my own compulsive behavior and fantasies. She understood but just reminded me of the process and that it takes time. She did say that my behavior does not make sense if that instance was the only one that happened and I agree but again it’s the “Am I a pervert?” argument in my head.

I asked her if she had heard about the new sex abuse case involving the Syracuse basketball coach. I told her that the male victim that came forward had the courage to call the coach’s wife on the phone and record it. In the recorded conversation, the wife admits to knowing that her husband was abusing him and even says that she believes there were other boys. I was so jealous of that confirmation though. I felt awful for the victim, but it was like he had something that I want. I wish I could call my aunt and just ask her, but I would never know if I’d get the truth or not.

I.Just.Want.One.More.Memory.

Is that so much to ask from my subconscious? Or is there nothing there?

I brought up a past experience with my therapist and I was surprised how seriously she took it.

I told her that when my husband and I were first married, we had sex one night and afterwards an image of my uncle kissing me between the legs flashed in my mind and I started crying for no reason. At that time in my life, if you had asked me if I had an Uncle *****, I would have had to think about it for a second and then go, “Oh yea, I guess I do.” because he was not a part of any of my thoughts. I can clearly remember thinking about him exactly two times in my life before therapy. Once was when my mother started telling me what her brother did to her and she asked me if he had ever touched me. I told her know but I said that ***** had. What I love about this story is that she ignored what I said and went back to her own story. Anyway, that was time number one and I never would have remembered him if someone hadn’t outright asked me. The second time was the one I mentioned above.

My therapist thought that it was very telling that I had that flash of imagery at that point which was completely out of the blue and when I had no outside reason to think of him. The reason I told her about it is because when I get doubtful with myself, I remember the fact that that happened. Why would I have thought of him then? Why that instance and why would it make me cry? She thinks it means something and I tend to agree. Of course what exactly it means is another matter. The point was that, I had never had sex before I was married so I had no sexual experience until then, and that’s the image that popped up. Now I realize that if something sinister happened between my uncle and I, then that may not have been first sexual experience, but I’m looking at it from the point-of-view I had back then.

The other thing I told my therapist this week is that I was trying to read a book about PTSD that is caused by different circumstances, like war, seeing a violent death, assault, sexual abuse etc. and I had a strange experience while reading. I’m curious if anyone else has something similar happen to them. I told her that while reading this book, I was able to read many of the stories in the book, including stories about sexual abuse. While I felt horrified and saddened for the victims of sexual abuse, I did not react strongly to every story. With certain accounts though, something that had happened a while ago starting happening again: I would feel like I was losing consciousness. You may remember that I had this problem a long time ago. I would stop reading and then try again and then feel like I was losing consciousness again.

My therapist first told me not to rush myself on that stuff and that it’s best to put the book down and come back later when that happens. Her thought was that the stories that rang familiar to me were the ones making me feel that way and that’s why not all the stories affected me that way. For her that was a clue into possibilities about what happened to me. Again, she didn’t push the idea. She was more concerned with me not continuing to try to read something that my mind is not ready for.

So I’m curious: Do any of you find that you react differently to different accounts of sexual abuse? Can you read one story and be fine, and by “fine” I don’t mean that you don’t feel bad or sickened, but maybe you don’t react the same way as you do when you read a story that is closer to what happened to you?

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About CimmarianInk

Abuse Survivor Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) also known as Multiple Personalities
This entry was posted in Child Molestation, Incest, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, Sexual Abuse and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Notes from therapy this week

  1. your experience sounds exactly the same as mine, but it goes a bit broader- I get triggered by some aspects of non-sexual-abuse trauma, eg accounts of people who’d been in bomb blasts and end up cowering under a table upsets me particularly.

    I would say, if you’re trying to experience your own memories, then perhaps books might harm your own process? it could go both ways, obviously; that you’ll be sufficiently triggered by something you read to find out your own story, but my limited experience of cognitive psychology is that reading taxes different parts of the brain and requires different thinking processes, and i’ve felt more confident in my therapeutic process when I read around the subject (eg, combat-related-PTSD) to keep the processes going whilst still giving me my own space. Be interesting to hear how you’ve experienced the non-CSA PTSD accounts!

    • CimmerianInk says:

      Hmmm…if I think about the non-CSA accounts, I can empathize and I can feel anger, or sadness etc. for the victim. I’ve had several kinds of trauma so somethings hit closer to hoe than others. For instance physical, verbal or emotional abuse or neglect can really upset me whereas other kinds of trauma don’t. But that’s because of my mother you see?
      Even reading about sexual abuse I don’t react the same way to every story. I’m trying to think of an example without sounding callous because that’s not what I mean. Like if someone was fondled by a teacher, I feel terrible and sickened for them but it’s different than reading about someone being forced to perform oral sex on their molester. I react differently. Does that make sense?

      I’m reading the book to get advice on how to deal with feelings and what to do with memories but it’s true that it also serves a double purpose of me trying to jog my own memory. But let me say that even with all the stuff I’ve read, they’re always someone else’s stories and not mine. The point with my therapist was more that some elements may ring true for me even though everyone’s stories are as unique as the person. She said that if you had 10 women in a room and 8 had been abused, the two women who hadn’t would have very different imagery in their head when it came to sex but also the 8 women who had been abused would have unique imagery because what they saw and experienced was unique to them, even if they shared some simlarities in what aroused them or what they fantasized about. It would still be unique. So, I don’t worry about reading about it, what I wonder about is when I can”t read about it because of the feeling of losing consciousness.

      Whew! That was a long reply lol

      • yup, makes absolute sense; in a group session i got badly triggered just by someone saying they were ‘anxious to have seen their uncle’, whereas other stories are just ‘stories’ (as you say, horrible ones, but without resonance). and it’s so incredibly random what is triggery- i can’t cope with an safety campaign warning against rapists posing as taxi drivers that’s on telly at present, despite never having been in that situation- I *think* it’s about it being in a car and not being able to escape.
        thanks for the thoughts- it’s sent me down a new line of memory accessing.

  2. SterkOks says:

    I can’t say for CERTAIN that I was ‘abused’
    But sometimes if I read stories about a murder, conflict (ie war) , or brutal assault I have similar reactions. I won’t go into what happened to me, but there were some kills/deaths that affected me. I read a story of a man being gunned down, brutally. When I read it I remember three things. The very beginning, falling asleep, and then waking up with the book on my chest. Thing is my mom saw me reading it and said I didn’t fall asleep. Hope this helps , or at leases puts you at ease a little.

  3. castorgirl says:

    Hi tb,

    I agree with your therapist… go gently. Don’t try to force yourself to read something that there are obvious signs to show that you aren’t ready for. You may never be ready for them, and that is ok.

    As for wanting more than one memory… again, don’t force anything. What if you were one day wishing you had another memory, and then one “popped” into your head, would you believe it? I wonder if you would believe it, or doubt it because you were wanting one so badly that you might have “made one up” to satisfy that need? Can you see the catch-22 you might be creating for yourself? That’s why everyone says to take healing at your own pace, and to not force anything.

    I sometimes read different books where there are different forms of abuse, and in all honesty, I rarely feel anything. I still dissociate it all away. It makes me consider myself an unfeeling freak.

    Please go gently…

    Take care,
    CG

    • CimmerianInk says:

      I had to respond to this comment first because the first thing that popped into my head with your last sentence is that you care so much I don’t see how you could do anything else other than dissociate from the things you read. To protect yourself from intolerable information is natural so please don’t say that you’re an unfeeling freak my friend, you’re not.

      Good question about the Catch-22. I think that I would believe it if it was clear. Does that make sense? Something that was clearly understood I guess. I don’t know. Wow, that was a confident answer wasn’t it lol.

      I guess that I’m asking for more memories, even one, because I want any parts that may be holding them to feel able to bring them out. Otherwise it’s just too hard to believe that anything bad happened because there’s just nothing. It’s so frustrating. It’s like what I told my therapist about wishing I could talk to my aunt about it. And you know what I would ask her? Did I ever come over to your house when I was little? That’s it, because that would be enough to make sense of some things I see in my head. Just that one answer would open things up for me. But if the answer was no, it would mean that nothing happened. Well, if she told the truth and how would I know that right?

  4. Candycan says:

    Flip. Your feelings about your lack of memories seem exactly the same as mine. I was under the impression that everyone else with DID seems to know what happened to them although may not remember all of it. I really have no memories of the kinds of abuse that I now have ‘flashbacks’ (or what I call ‘images’) about except for ones involving my sister. I also believed myself to be a virgin when I got married and wonder if this was really the case when I seem to be so triggered by certain things. I find the topic of child abuse triggering, no matter what it is so I can’t really say it’s only certain things. I don’t necessarily find myself losing consciousness when I read triggering things but I do get strange whirling sensations in my body and also my mind becomes blurry and unfocused. It’s probably a similar kind of dissociation.
    Sorry my comment isnt helpful in any way; I just couldnt get over how we are in this respect. I know what you mean about wanting to remember something. At times I think it would be so reassuring, but then I think about how overwhelming it would be and at the same time, worry that I may never remember anything and the prospect of there not being anything to remember is overwhelming as well because then what the heck is wrong with us?

    • CimmerianInk says:

      Hi Candycan,

      Your comments were helpful. It’s always helpful to hear that you’re not alone in something. Memory is tricky and it causes a lot of frustration for abuse victims. It doesn sound like you dissociate at certain times when read triggering material. I think dissociating can take on several forms for different people.

      Wanting to remember and being afraid to remember sounds familiar too, even thought at this point I’d take remembering just to have some verification to work with.

      It sounds like many of us are in the same boat huh?

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