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Thank you for sharing this with me! It is a very good sign that you were able to let your feelings out in therapy. It sounds like it was the right time for you to let go.
It is very normal that now you are in touch with your sadness to want to cry all the time. This is part of the grief process. You are in mourning for your old life and the way things were before you were attacked and for the young girl that survived such a horrible and vicious attack. It is an expression of all the years you pushed how you felt aside and tried to function the best you could. It's for the nightmares, stress and other symptoms you have had to deal with too.
Crying is a very healthy expression of your feelings. You may feel like this for a while as your body and mind release the stress you have been holding in over the trauma. I would not be surprised if you started to feel more at peace and you may even sleep better.
You may feel you cannot function if you feel like crying all the time. But you will. You got through yesterday, maybe not in a way that you felt comfortable, but you did. And you will continue to be fine. You may also not need to cry as much after the first initial days of crying. It's like a dam that breaks- once you get the initial flood of water and pressure out, the rest is not as intense.
Don't worry about the massage therapy information. Now that your therapist has helped you get in touch with your deeper feelings, she may no longer feel other therapies are necessary. But if she does, we can deal with it then.
I hope your sleep test goes well. Let me know what they find.
I'll talk with you soon,
I told L. on Monday that I felt like I went into the park one person and came out a different person with a different life in kind of a different world. I told her I felt kind of "skinned."
Yesterday, she said that "skinned" is probably a good description of how things are right now -- like no skin to protect me and very raw. I think that it is an appropriate description of how I feel right now, and it is not comfortable. I am so flippin' sensitive right now. But I am believing you and L. and Dr. M, that this is necessary and will pay off. I just feel like a screw-up right now. I thought I was being so smart all this time and that the whole thing really didn't affect me. I feel like I screwed up that night and have been screwing up ever since. I just feel like a loser right now, and as we've discussed, I historically have pretty good self esteem, so I don't like feeling this way. I want to kick my own a**.
But --- I did make it to work and am fine and kind of getting stuff done, so that's a plus. I know you're right - that I will be able to function. I know I can do what I need to do.
That is exactly how you should feel. You are taking off a layer of protection in terms of your emotions. Before this, there was a skin you had on that kept you away from what you are feeling now and kept others away somewhat too. Now that you have peeled back that protection, you are more present to your emotions and to the world. That is going to make you feel raw until you adjust.
It's not a matter of you being good or bad about feeling the attack didn't affect you before. What you did was try to protect yourself from the overwhelming feelings (and pain) that came with recognizing what you went through. Everyone has the ability to shield themselves emotionally by putting up defenses. You have to have those because to not have them means you are defenseless against any trauma that happens in your life. And your mind would not be able to handle that. You may even break down. So you smartly used your defenses to help yourself cope. There is no shame in that.
You just need to take time to get used to how you feel now. When you think of peeling back a layer of skin like you have, think of it like getting new and softer skin. It may be tender at first, but soon it just feels newer and nicer. Just give yourself time.
Sounds good to me!
I understand what he is saying. But my question would be how does the medication affect your REM sleep? Because if you still have REM sleep, then you could still have nightmares. REM sleep does not determine what kind of dreams you have, it just determines the sleep stage you are in, from my understanding. I need to look further into this.
I'll Goggle him. I'm just very curious about how this works.
My guess would be that your nightmares are connected to your assault. And I am concerned that if you take medications, it will interfere with your ability to process your trauma through your dreams. That is why I want to research this some more.
But if nightmares were the only problem, then do I really need to process it? I guess, though, that now that I started I can't just shut it down to wait for the test, right?
I looked into his bio. He does understand the relationship between mental health and dreams. That was my concern. It sounds like you are in good hands.
Nightmares were only a symptom of what you were going through. It was your mind's way of processing the trauma. Much like chest pains can be a sign of a heart attack, your nightmares were probably disturbing you enough to know something was wrong. So when you sought out help, the origin of the problem surfaced. You mentioned before that you felt you had been able to deal with what happened to you already and there was nothing else you needed to do about the attack. But your nightmares were telling you that you had only buried how you felt. It is very true that anything psychologically traumatizing will not be stifled. It comes out one way or another. And that is what happened to you.
I agree, I don't think shutting yourself down and waiting for the sleep testing is possible! At this point, continuing your work in therapy is vital. It is going to not only address how you feel, but also deal with your symptoms, including the dreams.
I wish there were. It would be nice.
Keep in mind that you did very well last week. You felt better and was able to face how you deeper emotions. So if you do cry again, it is ok. Therapy is supposed to be a place where you feel you can let go and face these feelings.
But if you feel your therapist is not reacting in a way that makes you comfortable, you may want to try talking to her about it again. It could be that you need more support with your feelings. Each person is different in what they need when they feel vulnerable. Or it could be that her response to you triggers something in you that needs attention. How you are interpreting her behavior is also important. She could be reminding you of a past experience and seeing her response bothers you for that reason. Either way, how you feel needs to be explored.
Crying is also not expected every time you have therapy. Some people do feel that when they go to see a therapist, they have to show emotion and be vulnerable. But it doesn't always work that way. Some appointments are just talking and others are intense. Don't put pressure on yourself to express your feelings. They will come when you are ready.
It is not the best idea to take a week or two off from therapy. It would probably push your feelings down again and make it harder next time. Being consistent is better. I know it's not easy to have these feelings close to the surface. But it is a good that you do. You are supposed to feel the way you do. It shows that your feelings are surfacing. Dealing with how you feel is not a easy but it is a learning process so it takes time.
It may be that how you feel is connected to your mother. How we see our own feelings and the expression of those feelings has a lot to do with what we were taught by our parents. Your mother was a great person but because she did not deal well with emotions, it did leave a gap in your development. And it is perfectly acceptable for you to want someone who would act like a mother to you and hug you and comfort you when you cry. Rare is the child that does not want a mother to do that for them.
Therapy can be scary. Many people feel as you do and want to avoid facing feelings. It is often why it's called work, because it is hard. But just as you would go through physical therapy consistently to deal with a physical problem, going through mental health therapy consistently is important to help you heal.
It may help you to accept your fear. You may feel odd or uncomfortable with what goes on in therapy but that is ok. Fear is a part of therapy. Looking at our deeper emotions is hard and frightening.
I don't know if I would feel better for a maternal figure to hug me or comfort me while I cry. I guess it would be nice, as opposed to her staring at me and shoving tissues in my hand. However, I suspect that would go beyond the boundaries of the therapist-client relationship, don't you? She is about the age of my parents, but most of my friends are, too. She had her kids later in life. Her daughter was date raped when she was 14, and we have spoken a lot about that and how they dealt with it. I admitted to her that although I was glad her daughter had that support from her and her husband, especially since she was so young, I was kind of jealous because I didn't have that. She said it was fine to feel that way, and she wishes I had had that, too. She has said several times that I had all the red flags that something had happened right after, and doesn't understand why none of the adults did anything. But aren't my feelings just transference? And I don't really think they should be fed into, even though I may feel comforted. I already feel too dependent on her.
It would be beyond the patient therapist relationship for her to touch you. It's against ethic codes. But that does not mean the issue should not be addressed.
Your feelings about your therapist and her daughter are telling you that a maternal figure in your life to care for you by hugging you and comforting you is missing. Touch is a vital part of our well being as people. When you don't get that kind of attention, particularly from your mother, you will experience that as a loss. Kids that are not shown affection often fail to thrive even if they are given adequate care in other areas of their lives. Although that is in extreme cases, any time affection and touch is withheld a child must compensate somehow for the loss.
The idea of bringing this up in therapy is to find out how you compensated for your mother's and father's lack of affection. Your therapist is right, your parents lack of response emotionally to your attack is odd. For something that drastic, it should have made them feel the need to respond. Addressing how you feel about the lack of affection will help you access your feelings more readily.
Being grown up does not change your needs emotionally. You may understand how you feel and be able to help yourself now, but unmet needs during your developmental years will stay with you until you address them. That is why people develop emotional difficulties as adults. It is almost always because of unmet needs when they were children.
No one is saying that your parents were not good parents. If you felt loved, that is important and it's probably what helped you develop well in your life. But there was an unmet need in your childhood. Your parents may have been unaffectionate as people and that is ok for adults to be with each other, but children need that touch and attention to help them understand it's ok to express and receive. It is also vital for emotional development. Without it, how you experience feelings and are able to give and receive expression of those feelings is affected.
Part of how you minimized your attack may be because you learned how to ignore your feelings from your parents. Why didn't you tell your parents? Usually, when someone is hurt like you were, one of the first things they think is how can they get to their mother, no matter how old they are, unless that mother is emotionally unavailable. Then it's futile. Your parents lack of affection affected you somehow, and that may be how. Exploring how it affected you with your therapist will give you a clearer picture of your feelings about the attack and why you reacted the way you did. It will also help you understand why you felt jealous of your therapist's daughter and the attention she got when she was assaulted.
You may not be able to go back and change the reaction your parents had or how you handled the assault. But the lack of affection has left you with an unmet need. By recognizing how you have been affected and fulfilling that need now in your life, you can understand yourself better and how you react to circumstances in your life. You may also feel more whole as a person.
My therapist and I talked about why I didn't tell my parents. I concluded that I didn't want them to know because they couldn't help me. What they were likely to give was not what I needed, and I felt it would make me feel worse. And I think I was right. When they did find out, albeit 2 years later, is was so awkward. My dad did act like it was a serious matter, kind of, because he asked if I wanted to take some time off from law school, then refused to tell me my grandma was dying until after finals, because he didn't want to stress me even more. Not helpful ideas, but at least he was trying. My mom said little, and told me "If you need to tell me about it, okay, but I would rather you not tell me anything." That was fine, because I didn't want to tell her anything. Also, my parents said that the friend who told them (which I'm still pissed about - it wasn't her place) was just being overdramatic and making it out to be something worse than what it was. She could not understand why, according to my friend, I was still upset about it. She asked me if I got pregnant and had an abortion (because she knows how strongly I oppose abortions), and maybe that's why I was upset. I assured her that did not happen. THAT is why I didn't tell them. How helpful is that? All they would want is for me to get over it and tell them that and act like I was totally fine. So I might as well give them that without having to go through any conversation.
They would have no understanding why I would need therapy after all this time. So I don't tell them. When they were here for Christmas, my mom asked what all my prescriptions are for, and I told her they were all for my migraines and stuff. Their reaction would hurt me, not help me.
I am so sorry your parents responded to you that way. I can understand why you did not want to tell them about your assault and your therapy. Your mother in particular would have hurt you worse with her response. It is heartbreaking that you cannot get the response you need to make you feel better and provide the comfort that helps you heal.
It might be why you were able to keep the attack from surfacing for so long. You probably have learned to push down your feelings and responses all your life because you did not have the support you needed. The additional pain your mother's response would have caused also taught you to withhold your feelings. Like a conditioned response, you learned that expressing yourself only rewarded you with pain. So you learned quickly not to share with your parents and get your needs met that way.
It is a sign of strength that you are able to be more open and share more than your parents do emotionally. It would be too easy to be as they are and protect yourself by hiding your feelings. But you have been able to seek help and express your feelings about what happened to you. That says you are emotionally healthy.
I can understand that. You are dealing with the attack and some underlying issues that your recovery has brought up. But that is ok. What you are doing is good. You are recognizing how you feel, getting in touch with it and resolving all the emotions involved. And once you resolve this, your perspective will be much different. You will feel stronger (even though you are strong now) and more equipped to handle problems.
Therapy is not an easy process. It is hard and often scary. But your therapist is there is guide you and I will certainly be here to help as much as you wish me to. I can tell you from my experience that you are handling all of this very well.