Tag Archives: abuse

Trapped

I think it’s the feeling trapped that’s worst for me.  Feeling like I can’t get out and I can’t say no.

My NP was not insensitive or ruthless.  I think my post yesterday made her sound that way, and she wasn’t.  It just felt that way to me, and my feelings do not always reflect reality.  In reality, she was kind and understanding.  I know she recognized that the discussion about an exam triggered me.  I mean, we went from joking about Star Trek and debating the merits of particular knitting patterns (seamless sweater patterns FTW) at the beginning of the appointment to me staring at the floor and giving one or two word answers.  She knows I have a history of sexual abuse, although she doesn’t know the severity.  (She may have guessed from the severity of my reactions that it was pretty bad, but we haven’t discussed any details.)

She tried to make me more comfortable with it.  She said she wouldn’t do an internal exam because she knew I couldn’t do that (yet).  She said I could bring someone with me, and they could stay with me but not see anything.  (I didn’t tell her I’m so pathetic I don’t have anyone to bring.)  She said some people take Valium or Ativan right before the appointment.  She even said that if I couldn’t do an exam, we could just talk about how things were going with the Nexplanon.  She said it was my choice.

But for me, it never feels like what happens to my body is my choice.  I lose the ability to say no to people in positions of power and authority.  It feels like they’re going to do whatever they want to me anyway, so it’s better to agree to it.  Then they don’t get mad, so they don’t hurt you as bad.  So I say yes and okay when what I mean is I’m so scared you’re going to hurt me, and I really need you to be kind and gentle with me, and I need you to make me feel safe.  Since I can’t say what I really need to say, it never feels safe.  It never feels like my choice.  No choice, no voice.

I felt trapped in that exam room yesterday.  I guess I could’ve said, “I’m sorry, I just can’t deal with this right now.  I need to go.”  Or I could’ve said, “I’m feeling really overwhelmed, and I’m starting to dissociate.”  Or I could’ve said, “I’m trying to work with you, but I need you to slow down even more with me.”  Someone could’ve said those things, but I don’t think I could’ve.  It was taking everything I had not to go into a total dissociative shutdown.  My vision kept going blank, and I kept blinking over and over to bring it back.  My ears were ringing.  I couldn’t be articulate; one or two words or a nod was all I could get out.  And then she wanted me to look at her when I said I’d come back in three months, and I don’t think she understood why I couldn’t make eye contact.

People who don’t live with the extreme shame can never quite understand it.  It doesn’t make sense to them.  They don’t understand the intensity and persistence of the shame of someone else abusing me, even once I’ve accepted and come to believe that it wasn’t my fault.  Then there’s the shame of having a body, which is impossible to explain since everyone has one, and I don’t find other people’s bodies shameful.  The shame of not having anyone close or trusted enough to bring with me for an appointment.  I couldn’t explain my shame that instead of being my normally intelligent, articulate, adult self, I couldn’t help shutting down and turning into a terrified, barely-verbal child.  None of that makes sense to normal people.

I was trapped.  In my reality, I couldn’t leave or say no.  I couldn’t even communicate the depth of my distress, so I was completely alone with it.  And now I’m alone with the aftermath.  The acute trigger has subsided, but I’m still feeling raw and vulnerable.  Body memories, phantom touches, intrusive thoughts and memories, severe anxiety about an appointment that’s not for three months.  A feeling that I was violated, even though I know I wasn’t.  And the incredible shame crushing my chest.

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Leave Me Alone

My case manager keeps calling me.  I’ve been avoiding her for the last few weeks because I just can’t fake it anymore, and I’m afraid if she sees how bad things are, I’ll get hospitalized.  That whole agency is really enthusiastic about hospitalizing people, and I feel like I can’t trust any of them.

I mean, they haven’t exactly done anything that would inspire trust.  This case manager’s not quite as bad as the last one, but she’s still pretty much useless.  The sum total of what she’s done for me in the months I’ve been seeing her is that she brought me one housing application and took me grocery shopping once.  Pretty fucking impressive case management, huh?  I still have no therapist.  I’m still constantly broke, behind on all my bills, with no hope of ever catching up.  I’m still effectively housebound.  But hey, she took me grocery shopping once, so clearly they’re rendering highly effective mental health services.

I want to pick up the phone the next time she calls and scream, “Stop fucking calling me!  You’re not going to help me, so just leave me the fuck alone!”  I want to lash out.  I want to make her hurt because I hurt worse, and instead of helping like she’s supposed to, she just leaves me to suffer alone.  I mean, she’s never once asked about my symptoms or how I’m coping.  Nothing beyond the rote, “Hey, how’s it going?” when I first see her.

Eventually I’m going to have to answer the phone or she’ll send the cops after me.  That would trigger the hell out of me, and I’d probably end up in the hospital.  Of course, if I try to terminate, she could use that as “proof” that I’m refusing necessary treatment (hah, what fucking treatment?) and get the cops to drag me off to the hospital.  It feels like I’m screwed no matter what I do.  I just can’t keep seeing her and acting like everything’s okay, knowing that if I said things weren’t okay, the only additional services I’d get would be hospitalization.  I can’t see her because I just want to scream at her.

I don’t know why I’m so angry at her.  I don’t like the person it turns me into: it makes me want to hurt her, to make her cry.  I don’t like the part of me that makes me want to take out my pain on other people.  There’s no reason for me to be this angry at her.  I mean, I don’t even want to hurt my father like this anymore, and the things he did to me were far worse.  I want to destroy this nice but useless woman, and I don’t even understand why I hate her this much.

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Drowning in Triggers

It feels like they’re everywhere right now.

My mother wants to talk about Ferguson and how people just need to take personal responsibility because clearly that would solve all the problems.  My sister the cop posts an “I support Darren Wilson” badge on Facebook.  She wants her department to have more riot gear to crush the race riots she thinks are inevitable.

These are two people who know–know–what cops can and will do to people who can’t defend themselves.  They’ve seen it; they’ve lived it.  Just like I have.

My father, my mother’s first husband, was a cop.  He sexually abused and raped me for sixteen years.  He hit me.  He nearly drowned me in a bathtub when I was three years old.  He regularly suffocated me, though I don’t know whether it was to keep me quiet during the abuse or to make me think he would kill me or both.  He put his gun to my head more than once.  He made me watch him kill my dog.  He forced me to choose whether he’d rape me or my sister.  He let his criminal justice students rape us too.  And he taught me that no one would ever believe me if I told because he was a cop and I was nothing.

My mother doesn’t know the details, but my sister the cop does–she lived it too.  I sheltered her from as much of it as I could, but she still got hurt badly.  She was the one who told, originally.  I would’ve gone on denying it forever because I needed to have one parent who didn’t hurt me, but once she disclosed, I had to support her.  She’s my sister.

We tried to have him investigated–well, my mother did, really.  I don’t recall her ever asking me or my sister if that’s what we wanted.  It was a complete joke.  No jurisdiction wanted it.  The abuse occurred across three states and several cities, so no one wanted it.  Everyone said it was someone else’s jurisdiction because who wants to investigate the cop-turned-criminal-justice-professor?  Finally, the Iowa State Police took the case.  They wouldn’t talk to me at all because I’m crazy.  They interrogated my sister, who would’ve been 16 or 17 at that point, until she threw up in a trash can.  They polygraphed my father, got an inconclusive result (OMG, a cop might know how to fake the notoriously unreliable polygraph?  Inconceivable!), and dropped the whole case.  Welcome to the Blue Wall of Silence, where victims don’t matter because cops have all the power.

Do they really not see the connection?  Do they really not think that giving people nearly unlimited power over people’s lives, freedom, and even bodily integrity with almost no oversight is dangerous?  Do they really not understand that the system that let Darren Wilson shoot Michael Brown and abuse protesters and journalists is the same system that let our father get away with raping us for 16 years?  How can they not see that?

I feel so, so alone in all of this.

And then there’s Bill Cosby.  Another upstanding citizen who gets away with sexually assaulting women for years because he’s such a nice guy and has influence and power.  It’s all the same: the victims don’t matter because the rapists are such nice guys, you know, aside from all the rape.

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When you least expect it

I’d thought I was doing really well handling my PTSD symptoms.  Turns out I’m only actually good at handling them when there are no triggers.

All morning, my roommate has been yelling at her parents on the phone, banging around the apartment, slamming doors.  These are major triggers for me.  These were the things that came right before my mother’s rages.  Then there would be hours of her screaming at me, telling me I was a terrible person, telling me I was ruining her life.  Sometimes she’d hit me.  Sometimes she’d throw things at me.  Often, she’d threaten suicide and blame me for it.  Then she’d disappear–sometimes for hours, sometimes for days.  I would be left alone with my sisters, and I never knew if she was coming back or if she’d actually kill herself this time.  I’d do the best I could to take care of my sisters–we ate a lot of cereal, sandwiches, and macaroni and cheese because those were the only things I could cook.  I made sure we all got on the bus on time in clean clothes.  I didn’t know exactly what would happen if any grown-ups found out my mother kept disappearing, but I knew it wouldn’t be good.  I hid it all, but I was a child.  Children aren’t really very good at hiding things, but no one noticed because they didn’t want to notice.  When I was ten and my depression got so bad I couldn’t function in school, when I tried to kill myself the first time (albeit very ineptly), no one ever investigated why such a young child was so severely depressed.  No one investigated what was going on in my life, and I couldn’t tell.

I was left completely alone with a situation too huge for me to deal with, but I didn’t have any choice.  I didn’t have any way out.

And that’s how I feel now, even though I know it’s old trauma stuff.  My roommate is not actually going to hurt me, and even if she tried, I know how to take care of myself.  But my heart is racing, and I can’t stop shaking.  Every noise makes me jump.  I have my earbuds in with music on, but that only helps a little.  It becomes overstimulating–sound is the worst for me, for some reason–but that’s better than listening to my roommate.  I’ve done all the grounding stuff, and I’m not dissociating–but I don’t feel safe.   I really need to get something to eat, but I can’t leave my bedroom.  I can’t deal with seeing her or talking to her.

I really, really wish I could afford to live alone.  I do so much better that way.  Living with people is triggering, even if they’re people I’m comfortable with.  I just never feel entirely safe when there’s someone else in my space.  Roommate is nice enough, but it turns out she’s kind of immature and a drama queen.  From what I can gather, she’s having some kind of dental problem, and she’s upset because her parents didn’t call her or come take care of her.  I mean, she’s almost 30.  I try not to be judgmental of people’s distress, but when her distress is so out of control that it causes me distress, I lose tolerance.  I mean, I nearly died when I first got sick with UC, and there was literally no one there for me.  I was 500 miles away from home and 600 miles away from my family, and my family wouldn’t have been terribly concerned even if I’d been right next door.  My mother didn’t take care of me when I was sick as a child, let alone as an adult.  It sucks, yes.  It hurts when our parents don’t take care of us the way we need them to.  But you grow up and deal with it as best you can.  You don’t spend hours screaming about it.  You acknowledge that it sucks, but then you take care of yourself as best you can.

I hope this screaming and crap doesn’t become a long-term issue with Roommate.  I really cannot deal with that, at all.  Somebody just buy me my own place so I never have to live with anyone again.  Those tiny houses are pretty cool; I could go for one of them.  Just as long as it’s mine.

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Dread

At the end of my suffering
there was a door.

–Louise Gluck, “The Wild Iris”

There’s this overwhelming sense of dread right now, like a pile of boulders on my chest.  My heart is thudding too fast and too hard, and I can’t breathe.  I feel like everything is about to come crashing down around me, like I’m about to lose everything.

There’s no logical reason to feel like this.  Not now.  I finally found a roommate, so I don’t have to worry about becoming homeless any time in the near future.  I have food.  I don’t have enough money to pay my bills, but that’s nothing new.  It’s not Hormonal Hell Week, so that’s not the problem.  My UC isn’t flaring.  I’m not experiencing any PTSD triggers.  Nothing out of the ordinary has happened.  Hell, I’ve even had a week off from the campaign because they’re getting the coordinated campaign together, so I’m not overworked or stressed by that.

So what the hell is wrong with me?  I’m living on the edge of panic, and there’s no reason, no trigger.  It feels unbearable, to the point that I keep thinking about suicide just to make it stop.  The suicidality at least made sense when I was facing homelessness again.  There was a reason.  But this…this just makes no sense.

I don’t cope well when feelings don’t make sense to me.  If I understand why I feel a certain thing, then I can cope with it.  I need things to make sense or nothing feels safe.  Probably that’s a PTSD thing: I couldn’t make sense of my parents’ abuse most of the time, so I never knew when to expect to be hurt.  Especially with my father.  With my mother, I learned to recognize the cycle: mounting tension, explosion, disappearance, apology, rinse and repeat.  But with my father, I never learned to predict it.  Maybe it’s because I dissociated so much of what he did that I could never connect a pattern, or maybe true psychopaths are impossible to predict because they don’t have the emotional tells that normal people have.  It probably doesn’t matter why because the result is the same: when I feel something and can’t understand why, it scares the hell out of me.

So I obsess over it.  I’ve spent most of the night trying to figure out why I feel such intense dread.  Then my inability to understand it just makes me feel it even more intensely.  It feels like there’s no relief and it will never go away.  I took a bunch of Benadryl to put myself to sleep, but it’s not working.  My body wants to sleep, but part of me is fighting it and winning.  I don’t understand that, either, except in the general sense of not feeling safe.

I could bear it if I just understood why.

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I have no mouth and I must scream

I want to scream HELP ME HELP ME HELP ME until someone does.

Part of me thinks no one will even hear me.

Part of me thinks that they’ll hear me, but they won’t care enough to do anything.

Part of me thinks they’ll just force me to accept more “help” that doesn’t help–hospitalize me, force me into a group home, crap like that.

Part of me thinks that even if I got all the best help, everything I think I need, it wouldn’t work.  I think I’m a black hole–I’ll swallow up everything I can reach, but I’m still empty.

But mostly the problem is that I can’t scream.  I never could.  I used to try, when I was little and my father was abusing me.  He held my head under the bathwater until I passed out.  He held pillows over my face until I thought I would die.  I stopped trying to scream, and then I stopped even knowing how.

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I have to.

I think I’m going to have to call my grandparents and ask if I can stay with them for a week for the wedding.  I really didn’t want to do that, but it’s the only way I can afford to go to my sister’s wedding now that I have to buy a plane ticket.  I can’t afford a hotel too.

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve barely spoken to my grandparents in the past 8 months.  See, they funded my treatment for a long time–it’s expensive, but my grandfather is the VP of Investments at a major brokerage firm.  They’ve got plenty of money to spare.  I have mixed feelings–I’m grateful that he funded my treatment, but he also interfered a lot and yanked me out of the only program that was really helping me.  And then, at the end of last year, he cut me off.  I went from having an apartment he paid for and treatment where I saw someone every day to basically nothing.  I had to move into a one-bedroom apartment with two other people because the only money I have now is the $700 a month from Social Security.  My treatment team is no more–now all I have is ICM, who’s totally useless.

(BTW, she apparently is on vacation this week and didn’t bother to tell me.)

See, my grandparents think I’m faking my illness for attention and using it as an excuse not to grow up and take care of myself.  By that logic, they assume cutting me off will cure me because I’ll have to stop faking it.  Clearly that’s working great.

I’ve always had a complicated relationship with my grandparents.  When I was a teenager, I bounced between living with my mother and living with them.  That had a lot to do with their relationship with my mother and my relationship with my mother.  They think she’s a bad mother, and in a lot of ways, they’re right–but I think she got that way mostly because of the damage my grandfather did to her.

See, my grandfather is a narcissist.  He’s very focused on achievement, and it only counts if it’s what HE defines as achievement.  I grew up listening to him mock my mother for being a special ed teacher: “Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.”  In front of her children.  He also likes to debate, but she doesn’t, and he bullied her.  She’s one of five children, but he’s always made it clear that she’s the one he doesn’t approve of.  I have a lot of sympathy for that, for her as a child, but I don’t have sympathy for her choices as an adult because she verbally and emotionally abused us and neglected us.

My grandmother, on her own, is very sweet and caring.  But she won’t stand up to my grandfather, never has.  I’m not sure if she even has her own opinions.  Most of her life centers around taking care of my grandfather–cooking for him, cleaning for him, doing laundry for him, ironing his underwear for him (seriously), sewing for him.  She’s never had her own job.  She seems happy with it, though.  But I sometimes want to shake her and scream, “Be your own person!  Have your own opinions!  Have your own life!”

The last time I talked to them was on my birthday, at the beginning of June.  Before that, it had been at least six months.  I figured since they weren’t giving me any money, I was no longer obligated to talk to them.  My grandfather has made it clear that I’m the family fuck-up and have no value in his eyes because I’m not working or achieving anything, so I didn’t really want to deal with it anymore.  When my grandmother called me on my birthday, we talked a little, and then she gave him the phone.  We went from “Happy birthday” to “When are you going to get a job?” in less than three minutes.  I blew it off with excuses about my physical illness, but it really hurt.  He knows how to turn me back into a little girl desperate for approval and love that are extremely conditional, and that pisses me off.

But I don’t have another choice.  There’s no one else in Birmingham I can stay with.  I can’t afford a hotel and a plane ticket.  So I’ll have to put up with the shit from my grandfather and the silence from my grandmother.  They’ll probably think I’m being overdramatic if I need to use my cane or it I’m sick or in pain.  I’ll have to deal with knowing I had to ask them for help again.  I really, really hate this.  I wouldn’t do it for anyone but my sister.

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Why I Blame Myself

I can’t sleep.  I’m too busy freaking out about the roommate situation.  I’m afraid I’m going to end up in another bad roommate situation.  (I’ve had several of those, including one who didn’t wear clothes and didn’t pay her half of the rent.)  I’m afraid having to get a new roommate I don’t know will exacerbate my PTSD to unbearable levels.  I’m afraid that I won’t be able to find anyone else and won’t be able to pay the whole rent by myself, so then I’ll end up homeless again.  (Long story I don’t feel up to explaining right now.)

And somehow I feel like this is all my fault.  Like if I’d just planned ahead, I would’ve somehow solved this problem before it arose.  Like if I could just get ahold of my crazy PTSD shit, I wouldn’t have to freak out about living with people I don’t know.  Like if I’d just stop being so goddamn lazy and get a job already, I could afford the apartment on my own and wouldn’t have to worry about all this shit.

It’s illogical, I know that.

But I’ve always blamed myself for everything bad that happens.  I mean, Christ, when someone rear-ended me at a red light one time, I apologized to the guy!  I blame myself for my psychological distress, my isolation, my lack of support.  I blame myself for the UC and arthritis and fatigue.  I blame myself for my poverty.  I blame myself for all the abuse I’ve suffered.

It’s fucked up, but I think it’s comforting, in a way.  It’s easier to believe that all the bad things that happen to me happen because I deserve them than to believe they happen for no reason, because the universe is unfair and people are cruel and uncaring.

There’s this line from my favorite TV show:

“You know, I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn’t it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So, now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.”

–Marcus Cole, Babylon 5

I wish I could believe that.  I do, for everyone but myself.  But when I’m talking about myself, I’m not there yet.  I still believe it’s all my fault.  It somehow seems less painful, but probably it really isn’t.  I wish I knew how to let go of that.

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Alone and Hurting

Warning: there’s some talk of sex and rape down the page a bit, after I start talking about BF.  Feel free to skip it if it might trigger you.

I’m hurting today.  I feel sad and alone, and I just want a hug.  I think it’s the combination of being sick, the aftermath of Mother’s Day, and some triggers I accidentally ran into the past few days.

I talked to my mother yesterday.  I’m ashamed to admit that–for the past couple months, I’ve been in touch with her sporadically.  I think I’m afraid people will see me as weak for going back on the no contact.  But to be fair to myself, I’ve gone into this with no illusions.  I think the years of no contact let me get the distance I needed and grow up enough that I no longer think she can be a mother to me, no matter how sweet she acts.  I see her for what she is now.  When I told her I was sick again and my liver might be in trouble, she said, “Oh, that’s too bad” and then went on and on about her upcoming neck surgery and her troubles with her and her husband’s insurance companies.  A small part of me wanted her to be concerned about me, but I wasn’t crushed when she wasn’t.  I didn’t give her personal information about my life that she could use to hurt me later.  I mean, she knows I’m working for the Democrats, which used to terrify me, but I’m done looking for my family’s approval.  (The way I described it to A, in talking about going to my sister’s wedding and talking to the adults in my family was, “I GET DEMOCRATS ELECTED SO FUCK ALL Y’ALL!”)  She may be my mother biologically, but I know now that she’ll never really be a mother to me.  I’ve come to terms with that as much as anyone can, I think.

But it still hurts.  There’s this hole inside me that will never be filled.  Therapists and self-help books talk about how you have to reparent yourself, but I think that’s probably bullshit.  It’s not going to fill that yawning empty hole or all the pieces broken by my parents’ years of abuse.  I think maybe that’s something that’s supposed to hurt so you know, without a doubt, that what they did was wrong.

I don’t want it to hurt, though.  I don’t want to be alone.  I don’t want to be sick.  It’s beautiful outside, sunny and warm and summery.  The birds are all singing.  And I’m stuck in bed because I don’t have the stamina to do any more than that.  Last night, I couldn’t stand up long enough to boil pasta–I collapsed on my kitchen floor, occasionally pulling myself up on the counter to see if the noodles were soft yet.  I can’t afford to buy enough frozen dinners to last me the whole week, but cooking doesn’t go well when I’m this sick.  And not eating makes me weaker, but eating hurts.  Fuck ulcerative colitis.

And last night, I went to bed exhausted, but then I started thinking about BF and how much I miss him, and then I couldn’t sleep.  It’s been four months since I’ve seen him, even though New York isn’t that far away.  He was doing the play, and I’ve been busy with the campaign.  But we don’t even talk that much anymore.  When I was in the hospital in Baltimore, he called every night, even though he couldn’t always get through.  (22 patients, 3 phones: you do the math.)  When I was in the hospital in Texas, he called every night, and we talked for at least an hour every night.  (We had our own phones there.)  He was my lifeline in that hellhole, the only thing that kept me sane.  He even flew down to Houston for the weekend to see me.  And now it’s been 4 months.  We text and Facebook message.  He hasn’t called me.  Of course, I haven’t called him either.  I’m too afraid of rejection, even from him.

I want to spend the rest of my life with him.  He wants to spend the rest of his life with me.  I even want to have kids with him.  I never thought I’d want that with anyone, but I do.  I just don’t know if it can work.  I’m asexual and sex-averse.  I’d be willing to try to overcome that for him, for us, but I’m not sure it’s even possible.  I don’t think my asexuality can be changed, but I’m okay with that.  It’s the aversion to sex I’m worried about.  I honestly can’t imagine having sex without it feeling like rape.  Hell, it even feels like rape when he kisses me and pushes his tongue in my mouth.  Even though I say it’s okay, anything even vaguely sexual feels like rape to me.  Is it even possible to overcome that?

But I don’t want him to just have to bend to my needs.  He has already for all this time.  I want it to be a partnership, so he shouldn’t have to be the one who sacrifices all the time.  That’s not fair to him.  I want him to get what he needs, and for him sex is a need in a marriage.  Plus, I actually want to have at least a couple of kids with him, and that kinda makes sex necessary.  I think I could just lie there and let him do it, but that’s not what either of us wants–I want to be able to participate, you know?  Because I love him.  I don’t want to feel like he’s raping me.  I don’t even know for sure that it wouldn’t make me flip out or dissociate.  I’ve never had consensual sex, so I don’t know for sure how I’d react.  (I know, I’m 27, but please don’t judge.)

I know there’s therapy that can help with this.  BF and I have discussed doing couples therapy before, and whenever we finally move in together, we will do that.  But a lot of this stuff belongs in individual therapy.  It would crush BF to find out that anything remotely sexual we’ve done has felt like rape, and I don’t think he necessarily needs to know that.  And dealing with this would have to involve details of my abuse that I don’t particularly want to discuss with him–I want him to see me as I am now, not as that broken, abused little girl.  I discussed some of this with A before I fired her, but even discussing it with another person triggered some dissociation and severe anxiety.  Will I ever be able to get past this?  I don’t want to be alone forever.  I want to spend my life with him.  There has to be a way, right?

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“You set up these impossible situations…”

The best therapist I ever had once said, “You set up these impossible situations where no one can win, especially you.”  She wasn’t accusing me or being judgmental, and her observation was accurate.  Her idea about it was that I unconsciously reenact the dynamics of my childhood, where my life was an impossible situation with no way to win.  That explanation resonated with me.  Still does.

Her explanation of why I set up these impossible situations was laced with compassion for me.  All of her explanations of my behavior were.  I can’t find that kind of compassion for myself.  I just get frustrated and angry.  I berate myself for knowing the pattern but not changing it, even though it feels impossible to change it.

Like my therapy situation.  I am so ANGRY at myself for it.  Instead of summarily firing A, why didn’t I just tell her what had been going on, how I’d been feeling about the work we were doing, or not doing?  Why didn’t I at least give her a chance to fix it?  Why do I whine about not having anyone to talk to but refuse to fix the situation, either by going back to A or by finding a new therapist?  Why do I whine about not being able to trust anyone to help me figure out the recent suicide attempt when I’m unwilling to do the work and go through the process of learning to trust someone?

It makes me hate myself.  I want to slap myself across the face and say, “Either do something about it or shut the fuck up!  Everyone is sick of hearing you whine about it when you’re obviously not willing to DO anything about it.”  And by everyone, I mean me.  I mean I’m sick of hearing it, of hearing myself.  I’m sick of hearing and seeing and feeling the pain.  I’m sick of feeling pulled in two opposite directions.  I’m sick of feeling stuck and immobilized.  My anger at myself then becomes, in my mind, the entire world hating me.  I start feeling like I shouldn’t post or reply to comments because all I do is shoot down people’s suggestions.

“They’re all sick of you, Hope.  You know that.  You’re so negative all the time, and nobody wants to hear that.  Nobody wants to listen to someone who’s always so negative.  You push everybody away.”  It’s my mother’s voice, an introject, repeating her reasons for why I was unlovable.  I know it’s the things my mother told me, but this introject, she’s also me, and I believe those words because as much as they once came from my mother, now they come from me.

I can never quite manage to find compassion for myself.

I think what I need from a therapist right now is what that therapist could give me.  She could see me almost completely: all the fucked up things I felt and thought and did, all the fucked up things that had happened to me, all the fucked up things I had done.  She had this incredible ability to cut right to the painful, ugly heart of an issue, with scalpel-like insight.  But there was so much compassion and kindness, too.  I never thought someone could see me that clearly and completely but still be kind and compassionate toward me.  That changed me, in some fundamental way I’ve never been able to articulate.

The memory that comes up right now, the closest I can come to articulating the way the relationship changed me, was the end of a family session.  We’d been on the phone with my grandparents, and my grandfather had taken me apart with a saw.  I can’t remember what he’d said, but it was brutal, and I didn’t feel like I could survive it.  I was curled up on the couch, crying.  My therapist said something to try to comfort and encourage me–I think something about how I was doing good work there.

“It doesn’t matter!” I said.  It didn’t matter what she said or thought about me because my own family, the people who were supposed to know me and love me best, thought I was bad, evil, worthless.  “None of it matters!”

“It matters,” she said.  She had this way of talking sometimes that was quiet but fierce.  “And you matter.”

That kindness felt unbearable because it was coming from her instead of from my family, the people I most needed to hear it from.  I all but ran out of there, back up to my room.  I felt like I was going to explode from all the pain built up.  I needed to cut to let it out.  Before I even really knew what I was doing, I had locked my door, and I was sitting on the floor of my room with my scissors in my hand.

But something made me hesitate.  What if she’s right?  What if I do matter?  I wasn’t convinced it was true, not by a long shot, but she’d given me reasonable doubt.  I didn’t cut.

Nobody has given me reasonable doubt about my self-hatred in a long time.  They tell me I’m not bad, don’t deserve to be hated or hurt, but they don’t create that glimmer of doubt of my abusers’ version of me.  I think it’s because I haven’t found anyone with that therapist’s level of incisive insight into me.  If they don’t really see me, then their belief that I’m not a terrible person is flawed.  I need a therapist who can see me like that, but I don’t know how in god’s name to find one.  I wish I could have my old therapist back.

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