You're welcome! But you did all the work. I only talked to you and offered support. And I think you knew this already. This was not your fault at all.
Other people do not have the right to judge or even imply you made bad choices. For one, no one was in that situation with you. No one else knew exactly what you were faced with and how much pain you were in. And two, I think those feelings come from your parents judging you before they knew the facts. You mentioned that as a child, you were convicted without the benefit of a "trial". Your parents did not get the facts and make a judgment, they just blamed you based on their prejudices and your past behaviors in other circumstances. Most parents do not do that with their children. They ask about what happened in a situation then decide the best response possible. And there is no one certain child that is always to blame, but instead all the children are treated equally. But if you grew up believing that others would see you at fault no matter what, it's easy to skip the facts and go right to feeling guilty.
Those guys knew what they were doing. They were looking for either power or sadism and they only way they could get it was to force someone to do it. If they felt you enjoyed it, they would not have needed to threaten to hurt you or threaten to kill you. They would not have told you to say you enjoyed it. What they did was pathological, which means they are mentally ill. Their thinking is twisted and extremely unhealthy. There is no meaning in anything they think.
It might help you to focus on the fact that most rapes are not reported. Experts think that the statistics are way off, because there is no way to know exactly how many attacks are kept secret and never reported. So you are not alone. Women may feel that by reporting it, they may be blamed or that they would have to face their attackers again and the fear of that prevents them from getting help and treatment. If at some point you feel it's important to tell someone, you could always ask a police officer or lawyer (you'd know better than I would about what legal professional to talk to) what you can do at this point. Even just providing information from your situation may help catch them if they have committed other crimes since hurting you.
This will take time to assimilate and adjust to. It's a new perspective and that takes time to get used to. Go easy on yourself. You may even want to spend some time this weekend doing something you really enjoy. It can give your mind a rest and let your emotions catch up to your new outlook.
I'm glad you slept better! Hopefully, it'll happen more often now.
Yes, I do think I knew these things on some level -- but I didn't FEEL them at all. Intellectually, I think I knew, but then there was another side of me fighting myself and convincing myself I was culpable, and that side usually won, because it makes more sense to me.
But now I feel it some.
I called Linda this morning and told her what I thought/felt last night, and she was pretty encouraged, it seemed.
I think we discussed this way back when we first were chatting, and I think maybe since: that accepting responsibility also makes me feel like I had some control, and if I didn't have control, then what does that mean? It means I can't avoid it happening again (I do recognize that statistically, this is extremely unlikely) and there are other things that could happen to me or those I love that I can't control or prevent. I am kind of a control freak. I like to direct what happens in my life. That is one reason why the past 6 months, with emotions I can't control, these years of dreams I can't control, etc. have been very disturbing to me. So it's scary to give up that control (or the illusion of it, I guess).
And I do think it makes sense that I automatically felt like it was my fault, considering how things were growing up. I didn't think about it consciously until recently -- whether it was or was not my fault - I just instinctively knew I was to blame and culpable for my actions and words. Also, I wasn't sure I had room to complain, since I had had sex years before.
How did these guys get to be that way? I don't worry so much about the other one --- I don't think he would have done any of it by himself -- I think he was trying to impress or earn the respect of his friend. But the mean one, he thought of some pretty bad stuff. And he must be pretty smart --- if he knew that by telling me to do and say things I would feel more ashamed and bad. I wonder if they have any clue how much damage they did.
But why, of all things, was a broken bottle there? Of all the trash that could have just been laying on the ground, why that? They didn't bring it with them, He just found it there. Even a stick might have been better. Why was anything there?
I have looked into reporting it, but all they will do is take a statement. I have looked through that city and county's arrest records, and in newspapers for any similar things, but I have found nothing. Legally, I know there is nothing I can do as far as them being punished for what they did that night. But you're right that they could use my story, perhaps, to show a "pattern of behavior" if they did something similar to mine. But it would be hard to get admitted, because generally, you can't admit evidence of prior bad acts, especially if not convicted, but there are a few exceptions. I will think about that. I don't think I am ready to do anything yet, and considering the unlikelihood of it preventing anything at this point, I feel okay about waiting to think it through. And just the telling of it to an officer -- I don't know if I can handle that right now.
I am still confused, but I feel like I got unstuck a little and I'm on the right track.
I have to work this weekend, since I am going back to Ohio next Saturday and will be gone all week from work. But maybe I can fit in something fun. Linda's husband is a songwriter and is performing some of his stuff at a Christian coffee house tomorrow evening, and she asked if I would come, so I think I will go for a while, with a few friends. And I have a banjo lesson Saturday morning, and of course church on Sunday, so I will have plenty of breaks from work.
I am a little nervous about going home next week, since my feelings about family are kinda twisted up right now, but I can't wait to see my nieces and nephews. I'm really excited about that. And I am seriously looking forward to driving back. I think a long road trip is exactly what I need and what P needs, too. I may feel differently about it after being in the car for a while and knowing we have so much further to go, but I think it will be a good thing. :)
Thank you so much, Kate. I feel a lot of relief emotion-wise, but also, physically, I can sense a relief. Like my heart is not as tight or something. Does that make sense?
I think it will take time to feel all of this fully. But that is ok. It is good to take it slow and easy. You have had one perspective for years now, and changing it should take time.
Control (or the illusion of it like you said) is a powerful thing. It is frightening to realize that there are things out there than can hurt you and you can't stop them. But control is really about how you handle yourself and not so much your ability to stop something or manipulate anything outside of yourself. You may not be able to control how someone else acts, but how you react to what they are doing can make you feel more in control. Reacting with emotion can make you feel out of control but reacting with logic while addressing your emotions can make you feel in control of yourself and the situation. Part of it is knowing when to let go and let God. God is ultimately in control and if you connect with Him, you can feel that He will take care of you and you don't need to control.
It is a very good question to ask about why those guys hurt you like they did. There are usually two reasons a person will commit a crime like that. One, he had it done to him. In some form or another, he was horribly abused. Not necessarily like he did to you, but someone hurt him in some way that made him feel out of control and angry. Or two, he is mentally sick. Some people develop cruelty and aggression and are without a conscience. It is not common, but it happens. Serial killers, for example. They can have abuse in their background, but it was not enough to make them killers. They have something in them that creates a monster inside and that is lack of conscience.
Your attacker wanted to be sure to hurt you as much as he could. I imagine that the bottle appealed to him because he thought it would do the most damage. He may have been hurt like that as a child or he has extreme anger against women, maybe both. His need to hurt you and dominate was very strong. He probably did not care about how you felt as much as how he felt. His goal may have been to feel superior. So anything he could do to reach that goal was what he chose to do.
Reporting what happened to you at this point has to be something you feel would help you. I agree, by now these two have done the damage they intended to others so stopping them is not the main goal. But you may feel more in control by reporting what happened to you and getting a record made of what they did, just so you had a chance to get it out there and have support from the authorities. And you never know if what you say may make a difference. But even if it doesn't, it gives you the satisfaction of turning them in and telling others about what they did. It no longer keeps it secret and you don't carry the burden alone.
If you want to talk about your apprehension about going home, we can work together on it. I imagine that you might feel a difference in your view of your parents, given what you have been through the past few weeks. But as long as you feel comfortable enough dealing with them, you should be fine. But we can talk about it if you feel it would help.
A long road trip is going to be very therapeutic! Sounds like a lot of fun.
It makes a lot of sense that you feel a lot of relief physically too. It's hard to know how much stress and emotions affect you physically until you can relax and actually feel your body let down. You may have been so upset by what you have been feeling that you held it in your chest. Your heart literally hurt. It happens and it's more common than people think.
You are right that I need to give up control to God. I hve a hard time doing this, and I am consistently having to rmind myself. In dealing with this whole thing, especially, I have a hard time seeking His help and guidance and control. I think because I wasn't really saved when this happened. I had recited the prayer a few years before, and I kind of got the "Jesus as Savior" part, but not at all the "Jesus as Lord" part. And, honestly, not once through that whole thing or the aftermath did I ask for His help or seek Him. And because I have felt so guilty and wrong about everything, I felt ashamed to go to Him now. I know that is not how things work, but that's how I feel. And I felt like I was facing those worldly consequences of my behavior, and that He would respond my letting me know that I did this to myself. I know that is not His nature or manner, but that is, again, how I feel.
What you said about control being control of self and not others, is interesting. I think I try to control things by controlling my environment. If I have a little space around me - like a bubbles - and nobody crosses a certain line, and if I can control everything around me within that space and can control who comes in and out of the bubble, then I feel safe and in control. And that necessaily includes trying to control others' behaviors around me. Like I control things from outside in instead of inside out, although I did (until recently) have pretty good control over my emotions inside and really good control over my expression of emotions on the outside.
I understand that those guys were not normal. Linda has said before that the mean one probably had similar things done to him. So I guess I should feel sympathy for him. But I don't. I had this done to me, but no part of me would want to repeat it on someone else. I guess that he may suffered long term abuse, though, which would have had a different result, I guess. But right now I still don't feel bad for him. I kind of feel bad for the other one, but not the mean one. I read a lot about sexual sadists, and I think maybe the mean one fits into that category, because it seemed to excite him when he hurt me. He was able to have sex with me after using the bottle (I'm still not sure if he couldn't get an erection before that or if the blood just made it easier for him to do it). But I don't think that is a normal turn-on for guys, is it? And he laughed when he showed me all the blood on the bottle. But I also read that sexual sadists usually kill the people and often record or take pictires of them. But all the stuff about having a preplanned secluded place, charming the person into coming with him, etc. seems to fit. But also, he seemed so angry at times, so I don't know.
But the thing about the bottle ---- I understand why he used that, and it was very effective. It was perfect for what he needed it for, actually. But my question is a more general question, I guess to God: why did the bottle have to be there? it was a bigpark, so why there? and of all the trash people could have left there, why not a beer can or paper? And if a bottle, why did it have to be broken?
I would like to discuss the family issues before I go home. It will be fine there, but I am already focusing on what the dynamic is going to be like, and I am trying to remind myself that nothing is black and white -- it does not have to be that they were all good or all bad. And whatever baggage I have from my childhood - it is my responsibilty to deal with and resolve it -- not theirs. But mostly, I am nervous because my emotions have been so unpredictable about this other stuff. When they were here over Christmas, it took a ton of energy to act like everything is great, when inside I felt awful. And if I had some kind of emotional outburst, they really would not understand, and would be mad at me because the whole reason we are going there now is because P. needed to get away, and my parents will see any emotion on my part as being selfish.
I understand what you are saying about how difficult it is to let go and allow God to be in charge. I think all Christians struggle with that concept at one time or another, some even repeatedly.
One thing you said struck me and that is how you described God's response to you if you turned to Him now. It reminded me very much like how your parents would see you. You committed a sin and you had to pay, regardless if the punishment way outweighed the "crime". It's like you were not allowed to make a mistake like everyone else and be absolved of it. You had to be punished for it, and not just a little, but a lot. That is a heavy burden to carry around with you, that you deserve such harsh treatment.
I found something that might help you with letting God be in control from Christianity.net:
"Rom 12:1-2 is helpful at this point. True worship is to give up our lives for God, that is to live for Him alone. God calls us to lie in obedience to him. That doesn't’t involve relinquishing control, but rather letting God’s plans and purposes shape the things we do. Our minds aren’t switched off, but rather transformed and renewed by God, and so we become aware of the new way God wants us to live. This takes self control and action.True faith is not meandering aimlessly and seeing where “God” would have us drift. Instead true faith is seeing the path God wants us to take, with its dangers and hardships and joys and toil, and deciding to follow that path to please our heavenly father. The Bible speaks very highly, not of a lack of control, but of the great worth of self control. (2 Peter 1:6, Gal 5:23)In the end ChristXXXXX XXXXXving is about changing your focus - rather than living for the world, using all your energies to achieve the things YOU want to achieve, you live for God, having your mind and focus changed day by day so that you (more and more) use all your energies to achieve the things HE wants to achieve. As this process of the “renewing of the mind” continues, so what God wants slowly becomes what you want as well. So becoming a Christian means that we no longer use the control we can exert to promote our own agenda, but God’s agenda: praising Him, sharing His gospel and loving both our brother and our neighbor. (Heb. 13:15, 1 Peter 3:15, Mk 12:29-31)"
I think your control is a way for you to feel safe, like you said. But that control is a defense and not real. You mentioned having control of your emotions up until now. But in reality, emotions are not controllable. What you did was repress your feelings. They were there, you just didn't let them come out. But they will come out regardless of how we try to control them. Your feelings came out in your nightmares. Other people have anger issues (which can be anger or other emotions like hurt). Still others drink to hide their feelings but are never successful. They only drink more to cope. Giving yourself permission to feel and letting go of the need to control can actually help you control yourself more. Instead of spending your energy controlling, you spend it managing.
There is no need to feel sympathy for your attacker. You may feel bad about what was done to the little boy he was, but as a adult, he had control over his actions. He was no longer being abused and had choices about his behavior. All children who are abused have the same choices. And he will be dealt with by God for what he chose to do.
Only someone who is mentally ill would get pleasure out of hurting someone like he hurt you. I agree with you, he probably was a sadistic predator. He does fit the profile. They are the worst of the attackers and he might have killed you when he was done. It was your quick thinking and your courage to do what you needed to do that kept you alive.
I can understand your question about why the bottle was there. It's a good question. But if it wasn't there, what might he have done? That is no comfort, I know. Because of that bottle, it gave him a way to hurt you and you were severely injured. It's great question to ask God. He may show you one day why.
It sounds like you are worried about how your parents will feel about you and what you say or do. And you are determined to take responsibility for how hurt you feel and your struggles just like they want you to. But in other families, it is normal to share trials and troubles. That is the purpose of families. They are supposed to accept you for whoever you are and help support you when you may not have another friend in the world. But you are anticipating having to revert back to your childhood where you were told to buck up and deal. Back to the dysfunctional behavior you had to cope with. But you don't have to accept this. You are different now. And your parents have no more control over you like they did. They can try to push you into feeling as you did and treat you the same as they did, but you can chose to reject what they are doing. Not in an overt and angry way, but a subtle way. Tell me about some of the things you anticipate your parents doing or saying that may bother you. We can role play and see what you might be able to do in response to protect yourself and stand your ground.
And yes, I do believe you that you didn't want what happened to you. I believe you were attacked by the worst kind of perpetrator and did what you could to survive. My concern is that you feel that I could think you would have wanted this. You did not cause this, want this or deserve this. And no one thinks you did. It is only your need to punish yourself that is causing that feeling. When you feel that way, think back to how you learned to blame yourself. It was a message ingrained in you by your parents, who were wrong. It may be a good idea to write that down. Your upcoming visit with them may trigger your feelings that you are to blame and cause you to revert back to feeling that way about yourself. It's a good idea to be prepared just in case.
Thank you for the quote from Christianity.net. I know these things, but I need frequent reminders. In the last 6 months, with all this going on, my prayer life has sucked, because I don't want to raise the issues with Him, but these issues have been overwhelming me. So I avoid it. I am able to worship, it seems, but more like a Sunday kind of thing - not daily. I told C. that I had no business singing solos or being in the praise band right now, because of this. But he ignored it, I guess.
About a year and a half ago, when I was struggling and going through a few months of bad nightmares, C. told me that I confessed all my sins when I was saved, but maybe I need to specifically confess what everything from that night. So I did - and I felt better for a little bit, but then everything came back.
I don't need God to deal with him or them. I don't need revenge. I just don't want to have to pay the consequences for my actions AND theirs. The best thing that could/could have happened is if they found Christ. He might have changed their lives. And in that event, I hope they don't feel too bad about what they did.
But right now, I don't like them - especially the mean one. Sometimes just thinking about him makes me start shaking. I don't know how/why he can scare me after all this time, but he does.
About how I feel about turning to Him now being based on what I experienced growing up, I'm sure it is. I know I can make mistakes and even do purposely bad things, and He will forgive me. But there's something about THIS partcular thing. And honestly, even about other stuff, I walk around waiting for the other shoe to drop -- like waiting for something I screwed up on to come back and bite me. I am constantly worrying (which doesn't help my sleeping, either). I act all laid back to people, but I've become super high strung.
I know my parents have no control over me now. And they don't act teh same way, generally. But I also know how they would react to certain things. The thing is, they seem to have a lot of empathy for P., which is great, and she feels very comfortable with them, and that's why we are going there now. I had originally planned to go in May. But --- I don't feel comfortable displaying my emotions around them or sharing anything with them. That's okay, isn't it? I have made it clear to P. that she is never to mention any of this stuff or that I am in therapy or on meds or anything to them.
I am apprehensive about it, and I'm not sure why. They were just here 2 months ago and it was fine, except that it is not particularly relaxing when I am on alert to make sure I don't let anything slip out about all this -- which is, frankly, a major thing going on in my life right now. But if I did let anything out to them, I know I would be sorry. I love my parents, and they don't act the way they used to - and honestly, the tables have turned a bit, in that they are very partial to me. However, I know there are underlying expectations and stuff.
I don't know what kind of things they will say. I haven't told them about talking to my former partner about going back there. I guess I need to tell them. I thought, initially, that my dad would be supportive about whatever, and I think he would outwardly, but the more I think about it, I know there will be an undertone of disappointment for quitting what I decided to do a few years ago. And the whole family is going to be together for the first time in a long time. They are all together a lot - I'm just not there. But I never know what's going to go on. The conversation often turns to stuff when we were kids, and my sister and brother and parents laughing about things they did to me, or my being in trouble, or how I used to get upset. It's normally fine, but since you and I have been talking about that stuff, it's sort of bothering me.
And I didn't think of the possibility that being in that dynamic again may send me backwards with this other thing. I don't want to undothe progress I've made. I don't want to prolong or repeat any of this if I don't have to. How do I prepare?
I understand that C was trying to do, but confessing sins that you did not commit on that night would only reinforce your feelings that you did something wrong.
I'm with you, hopefully the guys found Jesus. You can also pray for them, but that may be too much now or even ever. It's up to you.
When seeing your parents, you may want to review what you feel ok talking to them about and what you don't want to bring up. Practice in your mind (and with me if you want) what you feel would be "safe" and what is good to stick to. You may have to shut down some of your feelings in order to do this, but until you feel more comfortable showing them more of you, this is a good option. For example, it's ok to talk about church and singing in the choir. But talking about the possibility of going back with your old partner is off limits. As you decide the safe topics, let P know your plan. That way, she is on the same page.
If they choose to talk about how they hurt you as a child, you have a few options. One, you can say I don't like this topic and we need to change it. Two, you can leave the room and go do something else until they are done (do this each time it comes up). Or three, you can confront them and say I don't get the point of this discussion. Keep bringing it back to the point "how is it funny to make fun of someone" until it gets ridiculous and they drop it. You know them best so whichever response makes you more comfortable.
Yeah, that's kind of how I felt about what C said, but I thought he was right. I think probably what he was trying to say is that I shouldn't feel guilty, but I thought I was, and so if I went ahead and confessed it, it would cover all the bases and I wouldn't feel guilty. But it didn't work that way. After I told him the whole story, too, he said that hopefully you can work through this. God is going to use it for good. Then he said, "look at the good that's already come out of it. Like, you know now that you will never let that happen again." So I felt like he agreed that it was my fault and at least that I could have avoided it. But I don't think that's how he meantto come across, probably. He just did. But it supported my position.
I know this is horrible -- but I don't want to pray for them right now. Maybe I will later. I know that is awful and not how God wants us to be, but that's how I feel right now.
I think coming up with a list of ok and taboo topics is a good idea, and I will share it with P. I don't know about how to handle the possible conversations. Hopefully it won't come up, and hopefully there won't be any other teasing. Since adulthood, especially since I moved across the country, my role is sort of the neutral mediator. My brother or sister or their spouses may get mad at my parents or one of them, or vice versa, and I try to calm things down. Or my brother and sister may be fighting or mad at each other, and I am the neutral one who tries to resolve it. Or sometimes they are all upset at one another for some small thing or another. But I'm never the one who is mad at any of them. I may be irritated, but I have neither the time nor the desire to get into with any of them. I do not like drama. I like things calm. If I threw a fit at this point, it would be quite a shock to all of them. And then I would spend the next 2 months getting calls from them (my siblings) rehashing it. So I'm thinking a "grin-and-go-along-with-it" plan for that may be best.
Shay, look at you! You are so pretty. Thank you for the link. I enjoyed learning more about you and your practice. And I like your Christian symbol on the bottom of your website. How comforting to others to see that.
I could not get on JA earlier to respond to you. We had a power outage here for several hours. The wind and snow came in quick today!
It does sound like C tried, but probably did not know how to respond to you so said whatever he felt was helpful. I agree with you, he probably did not mean to come across that way. But it didn't help for him to unknowingly support what you felt at the time.
It seems your family has a lot of conflict. It sounds like there is a good amount of anger in your family, probably having to do with all the years of repressing feelings. It sounds like your siblings express their feelings through anger, which may be the only acceptable feeling for them in the family. One way for you to avoid getting pulled in is to act emotionally absent. By that I mean when your siblings become upset, say "Gee, that sounds awful. I have no idea what you can do about it", or something to that effect. As long as you are sympathetic, they can't take it as you avoiding them or the problem. But if you offer no solution, they will stop using you as mediator and learn to deal with their conflicts themselves.
In order to deal with the dynamics of your family as you become more emotionally healthy and they stay the same, you may need to use more of these types of coping mechanisms when you are around them. They will keep acting the same way using the same interactions with each other but you are changing. The difference between you all will become more and more obvious, at least to you. As you progress, it will become important to develop ways to not get emeshed in the issues of your family while maintaining relationships with them. It's a tricky balance but once you find a way to deal with it, it becomes easier.
Good night Shay! I hope you have a good night's sleep.
You sound like a wonderful Aunt! You are great with kids. A lot of adults I know would not have the patience to listen to kids let alone get to know them as well as you do.
I'm sorry you had a nightmare. I imagine that you will experience some here and there as you recover. Although I think it will be good if the doctor discovers you have a disorder, it impresses me that you did not have any bad dreams when you and I worked out your feelings the other day. You mentioned how much better you felt and that your sleep was peaceful that night. I'm not sure if that says anything much about how much your emotions are affecting your dreams but it is a coincidence, maybe one we can pay some attention to and see if it goes anywhere.
If you feel that you will be ok visiting your parents and siblings, that is fine. As you describe the situation at home, I can see how your parents refusal to acknowledge feelings has affected them and your siblings. I think your sister and brother recognize how dysfunctional your parents act about sharing feelings and connecting emotionally with family. And it maybe your sister acts out the most because she is compensating for the lack of emotions with your parents. People tend to get the most upset about things that bother them the most. And if she has a lot of energy around your parents, she is very bothered about what they are doing.
As long as you are aware of the issues and know how to react to protect yourself if something happens you are uncomfortable with, then I agree, you should be fine.
I was not saved until I was in college. My parents were not Christians but I always had a sense of God and felt there was more, I just didn't know what. My sister and her husband are also Christians and we are working on my brother :)
I have two girls who are teens (!) and one boy who is 8. They keep me very busy, but like you said about your nieces and nephews, they bring a lot of joy and constant surprises to my life.
I hope your day goes well and you aren't too busy,
I'm sorry your parents and brother are not saved. I will pray for them. Thank you for the prayers for my brother. Hopefully, he'll come around.
When I mentioned being impressed that you didn't have any nightmares the night we worked things out, I meant that it seemed to mean something that you had such a good night's sleep after you deal with your feelings all day and seemed to have a breakthrough in your thinking about what happened to you. Because of that, I'm not so sure that your nightmares are not connected to your emotional stress from what you went through. In psychology, nightmares are usually the brain's way of expressing feelings that are unresolved and/or repressed. With PTSD, nightmares are reoccuring and often contain elements of the original trauma, if not a close approximation of the original trauma. So although there may be a physical element to your nightmares, it might be possible that your emotional recovery affects it as well.
Understanding why you dream about the event from the perspective of it happening to you and not as a bystander may be due to the change in your perspective in your waking life. You just spend several days working through your feelings about others seeing what you did and blaming you for your actions. You have come to realize that you are not to blame and that anyone else's opinion is useless. This realization may have shifted your dreams as well.
And your dreams may be more intense sometimes due to how upset you feel in your life. Right now, we have been talking about you going home and a lot about your family. It could be that the anxiety about your trip, even if it's not overt, might be bringing up anxiety about what happened to you. Your parents know but have not reacted well to your need for support around what happened to you and this may be in the back of your mind as you contemplate seeing them again. Also, you are in the middle of your recovery, dealing with these feelings day in and day out, which also makes how you feel very much on the surface and easily impacted by your daily life. All of these things can play a part in how you feel and your vulnerability to nightmares.
I think as you go through therapy and work out your feelings from the attack, you will find that your nightmares start to reduce. You need to work through your PTSD first. Nightmares are a symptom of PTSD and just like the symptoms of a cold, they will reduce as you begin to recover.
It is very ironic that Linda brought up inner child work just at the time you and I began to talk about it! She must be a great therapist ;) All joking aside, let me know where she goes with it and if you need any additional input from me. I'd be glad to help.
You are right, it is never boring around my home!
Thanks for re explaining the REM sleep and nightmare situation again. It makes more sense to me now.
I do think it is a good sign that you are dreaming about the attack from your perspective. Dreams are unpredictable and often hard to interpret, but given that this dream was different for you and impressed you, I think it shows that your work is making a difference. It certainly doesn't mean the dreams are easier to deal with, but it does mean that what we work on has an impact on your nightmares. So the more you work through, the more your nightmares will change.
It is a concern that Allie and Jack might hear you have a nightmare, but you are not obligated to explain it to them. You can just say you've been under stress and have been having your share of nightmares as a result. That way you are not lying but you are giving them an explanation that they can accept, without telling them the whole situation. You may also want to try to take as many comforting items as you can so you feel a sense of safety when you are there. Do things like warm milk and hot showers/baths help you? Your Bible, study guides and asking for special prayers from those that know you can also help. Anything you can do to relax yourself more might make a difference.
Of course, I'll add your sister to my prayers. Every prayer makes a difference.
I think Linda wants to you to bring in photos of yourself when you were little to help you connect with your inner child. It helps to be reminded of how small you were, how vulnerable and innocent. Adults who were hurt as children tend to forget how defenseless they were and how impressionable when they were children. By seeing what you looked like as a child, it can help you connect with those feelings.
One of the first steps of inner child work is to realize that your inner child is real. Everyone has that child in them. When children are born, they have a personality. But that personality can be shaped with the environment they are in. So a child with a sensitive personality can be influenced by good parents to open up and share themselves with others. But if that child has abusive parents, he or she can turn in on themselves and become self abusive, dependent on others and unable to function in a healthy way with the world. By reconnecting with your inner child, you can find out how you were affected by your environment and help yourself heal from any pain you were subjected to.