Hi Kate. Okay, this is the third time I've tried to write you back. I keep losing it. Last try, then I will give up. :)
Not a great night. Got a call that one of my good friends from college died yesterday. Her daughter (only child) turns 1 tomorrow. Very sad.
The nightmares have been really unsettling. They started not too long after the incident. Even though we had separate rooms in our sorority house, they didn't have beds in them. We all slept in bunk beds in one big room called the "cold dorm." So when I started having nightmares, I woke every single person up. They would joke with me about it, but they didn't realize I was dreaming about something real. And I was really self-conscious about it. So for the rest of the year, I just crashed at a big house where some of my really good friends lived. At least there, I would only wake 1 or 2 people up. Since then, it has been a constant effort to avoid anyone seeing or hearing me. It would be nice not to have to worry about that anymore.
I am really glad I clicked with Linda, too. I'm surprised it didn't take longer to find someone. But unless they were so clearly NOT a person I could gel with, I probably would have gone a few times then quit and not looked for anyone else. I didn't realize how important it is to connect and trust. I guess because the few counselors I saw a few times each, I didn't tell them much of anything, and never intended to. I kind of started out with that attitude with Linda, but she made me feel okay, but not pressured, to tell her things. And she is the one who sent me to Dr. M. With the 3 of you, I have really hit a home run with people who are willing to help me. :) Oh - and I even found a gyn with whom I feel comfortable in the last year. I hadn't had an exam in 8 years, and the other 2 women on our praise team go to her. She's the first doctor I've ever had ask on her intake form whether you've been hit, punched or kicked and whether you've ever been forced to have sexual contact against your will. I really went back and forth on whether to answer that honestly, and ultimately I did. And I was glad. When she started the exam, she stood back up, went over to her file, and looked at my answer to that question. Then she said she was sorry and asked if I had gotten counseling. I don't know what made her look at my form -- I don't know if she saw something or if she could just tell I was incredibly nervous. I didn't ask her. It was funny, though. She gave me all sorts of brochures for birth control beforehand - she didn't believe that I was n't sexually active. But then she believed me. She said it didn't even make sense to test me for much. I needed to have something done, and she was so nice about it. She made sure she set it up so she could do it under general anesthesia. And wwhen she was giving me some options for something else, she told me which would not be done under anesthesia, and said she didn't think I could tolerate them. So I was fortunate with her as well. You know what I found interesting? She told me that when I had the one thing done, the anesthesiologist had to give me an unusual amount of anesthesia before I relaxed enough for her to even put the scope in. And she had already had me take 2 valium before I went. I am surprised that my body is still defensive when I am totally unconcious. Interesting, I think.
I am glad you said it was okay to be overwhelmed. Because I still feel bad sometimes that I am having a hard time with this. Thanks for being here.
Some good news -- I spoke to LP (old partner) this afternoon -- he wants me to come back. We need to work out details and figure out how we can do this, considering the big case we are on opposing sides of. So that's good news. :)
I met with Linda this evening. She wanted me to tell her the whole thought process with the breakthrough last Thursday. She seems happy about it. We talked a little bit about family. I brought the pictures, and she looked at them and made comments about how I looked when I was little and how skinny I was in college .... and that's it. So I guess she really did just want to see them for curiosity's sake. We didn't do anythign with them, and I asked her if I needed to bring them back some other time, and she said no. ??? a little strange. We didn't talk about a whole lot this evening. I'm going to see her again on Friday at noon, so I can have another session before I leave. Hopefully that will ground me a bit before we go.
Is it okay if I still chat with you when I am in Ohio?
The sleep dr.'s office called me today. I have to go back for another overnight study. I apparently didn't STOP breathing much, but had reduced air flow and hypopnias (?) and other breathing issues, so I'll need a CPAP. But the things they need to recheck is apparently I move my legs constantly (she said about 40 times/hr.) whether I was asleep or awake, which i never noticed before. They want to recheck it, because it is either a movement disorder or could be aggravated by some of the medication i'm taking. Also, the dr. said that the nightmare and movement and vocalization and hyperventilation and crying (I was super-psyched they included a detailed description in the report) was indicative of the rem behavior disorder, but he can't make a definitive diagnosis without doing another overnight test. So ... I noe have to do that again on the 17th. But they'ss test the different masks the same night so I don't have to go back for another night or a 1/2 day thing.
Good night, Kate.
Hi, I’m a moderator for this topic and I wonder whether you’re still waiting for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will do my best to find an Expert to assist you right away. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you. Thank you!
I am. I got an email response from Kate, and she said it looked like my last question was lost, but it is here, so if you could let Kate know, that would be great. I have an ongoing Q&A with Kate McCoy, so I would not like another expert.
I am so sorry to hear about your friend's death. How horrible. I will add her family to my prayers.Your nightmares must have been very vivid for you to act them out and wake others. I can understand your reluctance to be around others when you sleep. It has to feel unsettling to know that your dreams are about what happened to you but others are unaware of why you are having the dreams.Your gynecologist sounds very caring and thorough. Most doctors do not think to ask such detail with their history form. I'm glad you decided to tell her what happened to you. The support she can offer is invaluable. And she was really kind to you during your surgeries. It is interesting that you needed so much anesthesia to have you go under. I agree, I think your defenses might have been up. The connection between what you were having done and the trauma you went through was probably too close in your mind and you didn't want to let go of your ability to defend yourself. It does show how strong your defenses are in coping with what happened to you. But it is a natural response as well.That is good news about you going back with your old partner! I am glad it worked out like you wanted it to. You may want to ask Linda why she wanted you to bring in your old pictures. Even if she says it was just out of curiosity, you will know why. I would have thought there was a therapeutic reason as well. It's absolutely fine that we talk while you are in Ohio. I usually check in a few times over the weekend so if you have time to talk, I'll write back. Hopefully, it will be a good trip and you will have a lot of fun seeing everyone again. I don't think it's a sin at all that you are confused about your sexuality. I think if anyone understands, it is God. With what you went through, your feelings would be natural to have. And God doesn't condemn people for feelings. But I agree with you, this needs to be a slow process. There may be a lot of feelings that you have yet to explore about what happened to you and how you feel about the guys that hurt you. I imagine that there are a lot of strong feelings about them and about men in general due to your relationship with your father and maybe even your mother. Once you work through how you feel, then exploring relationships may feel safer for you.I like being here for you, Shay. I admire how you have survived what you went through and are willing to face this head on. And I am honored that I can be a part of it and help in any way I can. It seems that JA continues to have a lot of trouble with the system. I hope they get the bugs worked out soon. I'm sorry you had to re write your post so many times. I lost your question too and had to search to find it, only to see that JA would not let me in to post! Grrr. I do find it helpful to write out my posts on Word then transfer them to JA. That way, if they don't post I still have a copy for when the system is fixed.Have a good day!
It would be normal to feel sad about your nightmares. It's very trying to have frequent nightmares and feel they are not in your control. And you have the added worry of having them when you go other places and in front of other people. Also, the content of your nightmares is about the trauma. Being constantly reminded of what you went through during the one time of day that you need your mind to take a break could wear on you pretty quickly.
I don't know if you mentioned keeping a dream journal but that might be one way to deal with your dreams. If you could write down what you dream and use it in therapy, you might be able to start challenging your dreams or at least addressing them. Linda might have some more input about the kind of work you could do to address the dreams and maybe start controlling them. If she doesn't work with you on it, we could try to work on it some. My only concern is that dream work is intense and it might benefit you more to try it with Linda first.
I don't mean I'm sad about my nightmares (although they make it worse). I am sad about what happened and the fact that it has apparently affected me in all these ways I didn't know.
I do keep a journal, and I usually write down my dreams. But I haven't been lately, because if I rehash the dreams when I wake up in the middle of the night or the next night before I go to bed, I get all scared about having another one, and when I worry about having one, I usually do (kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy).
Linda wants me to try to "recreate" my dreams -- like change the ending, so I end up kicking their butts or something. But I can't bring myself to do it -- because that's NOT what happened and I can't convince myself otherwise. She has brought this up a number of times, but then dropped it. Is that the "dream work" you're talking about? How could I possibly get myself to rewrite it into a false story? Is there another way to work on the dreams? What exactly do you mean by "intense"? What does it entail? Will I flip out?
It still strikes me that the night I had my little breakthrough last week (thanks to you :) ), I didn't have a nightmare. And then I have had terrible ones since. There is some key, some secret, I need to figure out, I feel.
Also, I have tried the relaxation techniques and take a hot bath every night, because it relaxes me. But it doesn't seem to help. The change in perspective last week helped a ton that night, though.
Thanks for the clarification. It is difficult to realize how much a trauma can affect you. But as you work through it, you will find it's effects are less and less. And the fact that you survived the trauma can actually make you stronger. It changes your life and lets you see and understand things that you would not have normally noticed. Your perspective changes. And you are stronger to have survived and worked through how you feel.
Dream work is intense because dreams are the manifestations of what your feelings are about what happened. You can uncover some pretty strong emotions. When you look at what you dream about, it's not just the events but your feelings about them as well. That is why I thought you might want to be with Linda when you work on your dreams. She can be right there with you where I cannot do that. It wouldn't do anything to you to work with me on it, but it is more supportive if someone is right there with you.
Changing the end of your dream is not about what really happened. It's about your feelings and changing how you feel about what happened. Being literal about your dream is good if you want to look at the facts, but working with your emotions is flexible. Changing your thinking about the dream can change how you feel about what happened. Just as you can see one situation in several different ways and therefore change how you feel about it by changing your perspective, changing your dreams can do the same thing.
Losing control is not possible. You may feel fearful of it- most people do. But people do not flip out uncontrollably. You may feel upset and even cry, but you are always in control. What might be important for you is to look at why you fear losing control and why you fear seeing yourself in control in your dreams. By looking at your fear, you are confronting it which makes the fear reduce or go away.
What key do you feel you need to figure out?
It depends on how much you want to know about what happened to you as to whether or not you see your gynecologist. If you do not feel ready for it now, then wait a while. It might feel more important to you later on. But if you fear going but still want to know, then consider taking someone with you to make you feel more comfortable.
Okay. I see about the dreams -- maybe I misunderstood Linda. Maybe she meant changing perspective/feelings and not the actual facts. But I had the definite impression she meant actually what is occuring in the dreams. I will ask her on Friday.
But if she's talking about the same thing you are, then I guess I would like to be with her if I'm going to get upset.
I fear losing control because it feels unsafe to me -- like anything can happen. That's one of the reasons I decided a long time ago that didn't like getting drunk anymore. I felt I was not in control. That's also why I don't ski anymore. For some reason it makes me feel out of control. I did not like bungee jumping -- because once I jumped, I had no control at all. I loved skydiving, because I controlled the parachute. Things are too random and unexpected if I can't control them. And, honestly, I sometimes am afraid that one of these times I have a nightmare, I won't wake up, and I'll be stuck in it. I know that's irrational, but that's how I feel sometimes, and if that happened, it would be like it's happening again, over and over. And this can't happen again. It will destroy me.
You also asked why I fear seeing myself in control in my dreams. I'm not sure I understand what you are asking. Can you clarify, please?
As for asking the doctor, I don't think I want to know what happened to me. I usually want to know everything, but although I sometimes wonder, I don't think I want to know at all unless I absolutely have to know. I already feel like there is a black mark on me, because of what happened -- like I'm defective. I am working to get rid of that. So I don't think it would help to know if I have permanent physical marks. And I certainly don't want to bring someone with me, because if I don't really want to know (or even if I did), I don't want anyone else knowing how damaged I may be.
Fear of losing control is due to the fear that something terrible will happen. And since you have gone through something terrible already, this confirms your fears. You may feel that part of the reason for the attack was that you were not in control at the time (whether or not this was accurate). But part of the issue may be that you were forced to keep your feelings under control as a child. This kind of early training can sensitize you to the need to keep things under control lest something bad happen if you let your feelings out, like it did when your mother punished you for showing your feelings.
There may also be a component of perfectionism. People often feel the need to make things perfect in their lives so they feel in control. I'm not sure I get that sense with you, but you may feel differently.
You will never get stuck in your dream. I understand your feeling about it though. You might want to explore what makes you feel this way. It might provide some good insight into how you feel. Getting stuck in your dream would be a loss of control. If you feel comfortable, you and I can talk about this. Or you can bring it up with Linda. But either way, it is a valid concern and a good concept to discuss. It may open up something for you regarding your feelings.
I was asking about if you fear being in control in your dreams because it may mean something to you. If you can picture yourself changing your dreams so you fight off those guys and make them run away, how would you feel? Is it a feeling that brings up fear or something else? How would you change the dream so you come out of it differently?
It's ok if you do not want to know about what happened to you physically. Linda might be concerned that you are avoiding it for a reason so you might want to talk with her about the advantages and disadvantages to you talking to your doctor and see what you come up with.
I am going to be off JA for the rest of the night so if you post again, I'll be able to respond in the morning. Have a good night, Shay. I hope you are nightmare free tonight.
If I had been in control of the whole situation that night, it would NOT have happened. None of it. If I could have controlled it, I would have and I would have stopped it. But I wasn't in control, and that is the reason it happened. That doesn't mean it was necessarily my choice not to be in control. I mean, I had been drinking, but not enough to be totally impaired. I think they were going to do something to someone that night, and it was me. I think the drinking may have dampened my instincts some, but I don't know how much - I was pretty naive about people then. I did have control to get out of there for a window of time, but once that passed, they had control over me for a lot of the time. So, yes, I DO believe that my not being in control (or then making bad choices when I had some control) is why this happened. If I had been totally in control, it would have never gotten to that point.
I guess maybe some of my need to be in control may come from my childhood issues. Whenever I was upset or crying hard, my mm would say I was "hysterical," and I recall her saying a few times to my dad that I was "out of control" or she would tell me to "get a hold of yourself." So - that could be part of it. I am not sure if I just could not hold in my emotions as well as my siblings, or if I was just more sensitive, or if I just had more reasons to be upset. But it seems like they didn't have those outbursts. I think later on, I was less emotional, but when we were younger, I was the cry baby. I think it changed because I controlled myself.
I am not a perfectionist. I have certain (what I would call) quirks, that in certain things, I have to have things a certain way. Like I have to always use flair felt tip pens, I have to use the same coffee cup and nobody else can drink out of it, I don't step on cracks, I won't eat macaroni and cheese unless it is Kraft and is made in a certain order, I don't like my food touching, I don't eat certain things because of their name or because of how they look (I won't eat pulled pork because of the name; I won't eat ham because it looks like flesh, and I won't eat lunch meat for the same reason), I feel like I have to have a list of what I am going to do each morning [brush teeth, go to the bathroom, put my contacts in, etc.] or something bad will happen, and stuff like that. That's not perfectionism; there are just certain things I like certain ways. Other things don't bother me.
As I said, I know my fear of getting stuck in my dream is irrational and won't happen, but it still scares me. Like I tell myself it is impossible, but even if there was a minute possibility, it's not worth the risk of going to sleep. I have had the same fear when I have been with Linda, thinking deeply about things that happened. I felt like I couldn't get out of it once, although I did, and it was a very short time, and it panicked me. Linda could tell, I think, that I was a little overwhelmed. The next session, she wanted me to think about the incident, and it's like I couldn't get my mind to focus. She came to the conclusion that I was avoiding it because I got scared the prior time, and so she asked if it would help to know that she would not let me stay there, and would talk me back if it got too intense. After that, she would only let me stay in that state for a very short time, then would tell me to focus on the present. If I started shaking, she knew to stop it there. Although I felt it was kind of dumb at the time, it did work, and I felt less scared and avoidant. But it isn't the same with the dreams. Nobody can be there to bring me back every night. I KNOW getting stuck in it is not a possibility, but I FEEL like it might be. It would be like it's happening again and again, and even though I feel that way just having the dreams, then waking up, I realize when I wake up that it is not happening and it is something that happened in the past. And then, although I am usually scared and upset, I am so relieved that it wasn't really happening right then. I'm afraid that I will get stuck sometime, and the rest of my life will be experiencing that over and over, or I will just be there again, not knowing that it's already happened, except that I can't change what happened and I can't change what I did. In my dreams, it seems like it is really happening, except in my dreams, I KNOW what is going to happen next and I KNOW what I am going to do and what they are going to do, yet I can't stop it or change it. It's worse than not knowing sometimes. Because I know something really bad is coming, and there's nothing I can do.
I don't know why I feel this way. I know it doesn't make sense. But I do.
About taking control in my dreams - what you are talking about is basically what Linda was saying - change in my mind what happened. First, that is like depending on a fantasy. I can't now change what happened back then, and to try to do so is avoiding the truth of the matter. Second, even if I could convince myself of an alternate ending where I fight them off, then when I wake up, I will have the let down of knowing I did no such thing, that in fact I gave in to them, and that I wasn't brave. Third, the more in control I was, the more at fault I am. Fourth, something I just realized is that I don't feel like I can change anything, because I should have to face the consequences for what really happened and not pacify myself with what I wish would have been. It's like, I know I was somewhat to blame (even though I have changed my perspective on this a lot), and so I know I have to pay something, and I feel like the nightmares are my punishment. And if I manipulate my way out of those, I will have to pay the price in some other way. And fifth, you just can't mess with the truth.
If I could change it any way I wanted, I would like for it not to have happened at all. I would have stayed at the party and never been the wiser. OR, if it had to happen, I wish I could make the other guy sodomize the mean guy and watch. I realize that is a bit twisted, but that is what might make me feel better right this instant.
I think the reason Linda thinks talking to the doctor would be helpful to me is that she knows I have some worries and concerns. When they found fibroids and other stuff, I thought maybe it was actually scar tissue and I was afraid it was because of what happened, and it made me feel terrible. I did ask the dr. if it could be scar tissue, and she said no - it looks different, and there's no reason I would have scar tissue beyond my cervix. I was very relieved. Not that it would make any actual difference, but it would have made a difference to me. Also, I think Linda thinks that I should find out whether, in case I do ever get married and have intercourse, if it would be too painful or if I could even handle it, physically, so I will know, as well as if I wanted to have a child. And I also think she is curious and thinks I should be curious, too, about after all that and all the bleeding, and not getting medical attention, etc., whether I still have signs of it. I am a bit curious, but a bigger part of me doesn't want to know. If I found out there were no scars, and I would have no issues with sex or anything, then I think finding out would be helpful. But if I was told something else, I think it would be really hard. So better safe than sorry, I would say. Also, when I talked to Linda, it was more that I didn't want to have to tell the dr. anything. But when you said it depended on how much I wanted to know, I realized that I don't really want to know.
I am really sad about Katie. I can't believe she's dead. I didn't cry or anything - but I am sad.
Well, I need to finish up some work before I go home .....
Talk to you tomorrow. :)
Your control had nothing to do with the attack. You could have been in total control and got hurt anyway. It happens to many people. The reason you were hurt is because these guys were out there looking to hurt someone. If they had not been there, you could have done exactly what you did that night and nothing would have happened.
You are taking what happened to you and applying what your parents taught you. This is not what you truly feel, but what your parents feel about the attack. I can hear the messages they gave you as you describe what happened that night:
If I had been in control of the whole situation, it would NOT have happened.
If I could have controlled it I would have stopped it.
Making bad choices when I did have control
If I had been totally in control, it would have never gotten to that point
In other words, this is my fault, it's my fault and it's all my fault. That is the message you had drilled into you as a child by your parents and their agenda to make you repress your feelings. If your feelings are not repressed, what happens to you is your fault.
You are right, this is about your childhood. You question your ability to hold in your emotions and compare your "lack of control" to what your siblings could do, which is hold in all of their feelings. But you are missing the point here. You were not supposed to have to hold your feelings in. You are not supposed to have to be in control all the time. This is your parents agenda. It is part of their pathology. Parents who abuse often take out what was done to them on their own kids. That is what happened to you. Children are not supposed to suppress their feelings. The only ones that do are damaged from trauma or abuse and they need therapy to get back in touch with their feelings again. To look at it differently, your inability to control your emotions and suppress them was healthy. You were the healthy one. Your feelings came out anyway and that is good, not bad.
You mentioned that you called your mother about your friend, Katie. Take a look at the messages she sends you about what you feel. You reached out and told your mother you felt sad about your friend. Her response was this:
Fact- "well she had cancer" In other words, this was expected so "so what?"
Guilt- you should feel bad for her husband. So stop feeling sad for someone who is gone (don't miss her and feel sad about it) but feel sad for who is left. Your mother is saying "you are doing this wrong" Your feelings are not right.
Rationalize how you feel- People are going to die.
Deny your feelings- You can't get upset about the inevitable.
Helplessness- you can't do anything about it
So instead of a healthy response of comfort, sympathy and time to talk about your friend so you can process how you feel, you get told all of the above. That is not the way to handle grief. What you may want to do instead is go against what your mother is telling you and mourn Katie with everything you have. Cry if you want, feel sad, send a card to her family saying how much she meant to you (this would be nice for the family to keep for Katie's child to read when they are older), do something the two of you enjoyed together and think of your friend. Anything that allows you a chance to get in touch with your feelings and say a goodbye to your friend. By doing this you allow yourself to work through your grief and eventually let Katie go. She will always be in your memories but you may remember the happy times more than just how sad it was she died.
Changing the outcome of your dreams is not about control. Nor is it about the facts. No one is telling you to deny that the attack happened just as it did. But dreams are not about facts, they are about feelings. By changing your dream, you can change the feeling in the dream and help yourself overcome the nightmares by taking emotional control of them. Even if you make yourself out to be Wonder Woman and take these guys down in your dream, it will not change the facts of what happened. But it might change your next nightmare because you will be able to change it when it starts to happen.
It is ok to wish that none of this happened. Many people feel that way when they are traumatized. It is part of the mourning process for what could have been. Wanting revenge is part of that as well. But using your parents coping mechanisms to deal with how you feel is only going to keep you from working through this.
Don't worry about it, Shay. JA is a public site and everyone who goes on here knows that. But because some of the people I work with are in precarious situations that may endanger them, I have began offering them the option to close their threads. This is not about you but rather about the customers. Some of them could be in danger if certain people had access to what they wrote. And it would be neglectful for me to not offer the option of locking threads to everyone.
Please do not worry about this. You didn't do anything wrong.
Shay, it is ok. I understand your curiosity. And it's normal to want to know if I am qualified to help you and I'm not some incompetent person who is going to hurt you. Who wouldn't feel that way? But it's not like you broke into an office and read private files. These answers are up there for everyone to see. That is the way JA wants it and that is ok. But I want everyone to have the option of feeling that what they tell me is private. And that issue is for me to deal with through JA. You were not wrong. I appreciate your apology but I am ok with it so you don't need to feel bad anymore.
True, but it's up to JA to recognize the difference. If they don't, then anyone who posts can lock their threads as they wish to.
I agree, I'd like to get back to how you are doing.
I am doing fine. I really feel the need to go to Katie's funeral and to be with our other friends. So I am trying to make arrangements to fly to Boston on Friday, and then fly to Ohio Sunday. One of our other friends lives in Boston, so I can stay there with several other friends coming in. (and I don't have to worry as much about nightmares, because they all lived with me in and after college, and have been on countless trips with me, etc. and are used to it). That would mean that Pat would get to Ohio a day earlier than me, and I can't get a hold of her to see if that's okay with her, although I am sure it will be. However, I have an all day trial tomorrow (against LP) and if I am in trial all day tomorrow, there is no way I can get everything done I need to before I would leave Friday. It would normally be fine, except that I am going to be gone all next week. The Judge is fine with moving the trial ,and I'm sure LP will be too (the Judge doesn't care if LP is ok with it, though, because he will move it if I want, regardless). But my clients need to get the matter heard and they have been waiting for this. I have a telephone conference with them at 11, so I will explain the situation. I don't want to screw them over, so I will do whatever they want. We may settle it, though, which would take care of everything, but I don't know if we will. Kind of a mess. I just feel this morning that I need to go, for me. I know my parents will be pissy, and tell me I don't need to go, that everyone will understand. I'm sure they would understand. They don't need me there, but I want to go because I feel I need to for me, and I really need to see the rest of our college group of friends and be with them right now. I called Linda, since I may have to cancel my appointment with her on Friday, and she said that was the right thing to do. But she wants to see me before I leave, so I'll probably see her tomorrow afternoon if the trial is canceled. Once I make arrangements, I will simply tell my parents what I am going to do.
I already had decided that I was going to write a letter to Katie's daughter, that her dad can give her when he thinks it is appropriate, just telling her about her mom, what she meant to me, and some stories. And I have tons of pictures of Katie, and would include copies of them.
About the control - when I say if I had control it wouldn't have happened - I mean being in control of everything, including them. If I were in control of them, I would not have let them do anything and I would have left.
I have changed my thinking about things - I think I did the best I knew how with the choices presented. Would I do the same now? No. I would let them kill me rather than participate. But I was 21 and naive then and scared. I would never, in a million years, have guessed that I would encounter someone who would cut me up inside and sodomize and make me drink urine. I didn't know there were that kind of people in the world. So I did the best I could, and I didn't have the benefit of hindsight at the time.
However, even when we do our best, XXXXX XXXXX consequences of what we choose. And my consequence, I believe, is the nightmares.
I don't understand how one can change the outcome of a dream that is about something real - or I guess even one that is not. How do I do that? Every time Linda brings it up, I say it's ridiculous, because what's true is true. But maybe I should give it a chance? How does that work exactly? I don't understand how it could work. Also - what if I dream that I cut them up into little pieces or sodomize the mean one with the broken bottle? That can't be healthy.
It sounds like your schedule is a little hectic! I do agree with Linda, though. This is important to you so you do need to go. You only have one chance to be there with your friends for Katie. The trial will still be there when you get back, if you don't settle it before hand. Your clients should understand that the death of a close friend comes before what they need.
I understand what you were saying about having control of everything. And it is normal to see it that way. But that did not happen and you did not have control. So what does that mean? It is still your fault? That you were supposed to have control?
Hindsight is always 20/20. You might have made different choices if the attack happened to you now. But letting those men kill you instead? That says that you feel what you did to survive was worse than dying. It also says that you are in severe pain over what you did during the attack. That you may still blame yourself and that the guilt and shame are very strong for you. Strong enough to make you feel that dying is better. What do you feel is causing you to choose death over surviving?
You did do the best you could in the situation. The evidence is in your survival. You are here today because you made good choices. Were they voluntary choices? No. They were choices made out of desperation. Out of a situation that made you choose from some very bad choices. You chose survival out of the choices you did have. That is smart and resourceful.
Nightmares are not a consequence. You did not make bad choices nor did you do anything wrong. Consequences are as a result of choices we make. But you did not have a choice. You did not choose to be attacked. The nightmares are a result of trauma you suffered. Trauma is something that happens to people that is out of their control. No one can stop a trauma. That is why there are symptoms and PTSD. It is a normal reaction to an abnormal and out of control event.
What would it mean to you to realize that this attack was not your fault and that you had no control over it?
That's ok, Shay. I think it's a good sign. You are no longer stuck in the one way of thinking. Now you are considering all possibilities and it's making things feel confused. You mentioned keeping a journal. I wasn't clear if it was just for your dreams or not, but it might be good to try using it to write out your feelings. Getting them on paper so you can re read them might help.
Also, give yourself time to think things through. Try asking yourself what you feel as often as you can so you stay in touch with your feelings. Then explore why you might be feeling what you are feeling at that moment. Using this exercise can help you clarify what is going on.
My clients don't understand, and they need to go forward. We were close to setting, but now there is a seemingly insurmountable hitch. I may try to go Friday even if the trial goes forward. I don't know.
I was keeping a journal of everything, kind of, and specifically what Linda and I work on and my thougthts after, etc. and some of my dreams. But I haven't written anything in several weeks. I usually write down more of what I do, my thoughts, etc. and not my feelings as much. I get confused about my feelings and they seem all jumbled.
I am really having a hard time keeping it together today.
I'm sorry that your clients are not willing to work with you on this. I know how important Katie's funeral is to you. Hopefully, something will work out and you can go without too much trouble.
You might want to consider writing in your journal again. It would help you focus on your feelings and what is behind your thoughts that are causing you to feel that what happened to you was your fault.
I think your statement about keeping it together is very telling. I wonder what your definition of keeping it together is? What does that mean to you?
Keeping it together means that I can do my work and not be on the verge of tears and feeling like crap.
I am so stressed right now, and have all these feelings that are confusing and upsetting, and I don't even know what they are.
I understand that work is a focus for you. But it can also be an escape or a distraction from your feelings. Being on the verge of tears is ok. I know that makes it hard for you to feel that way while you are working. And it's ok to suppress your emotions while you are with others. But when you are not, it is important to focus on your feelings. The more you can encourage your feelings to stay on the surface, the better. You don't want to feel the feeling then shut it out.
Part of the discomfort for you may be the added issues from your childhood. You are naturally going to repress your feelings and feel uncomfortable with them because you were taught that expressing them is bad and worth punishment. So when your feelings surface, you react to them with the defenses of the past. They may feel too overwhelming or frightening.
But by allowing these feelings and exploring them, you can heal faster. A good example is a broken bone. If it breaks then heals properly, it is stronger in the place of the break. That can be you. That is why it's so important to go through the process rather than around it.
Also --- she said that I was really messing up everyone's plans.
I don't even want to go to Ohio now.
Because your mom is damaged from something that happened to her. Whatever it was (probably abuse of some sort when she was young), she has not been able to work through it. In order to change, she would need insight into what she is doing to you and the ability to see that what she is doing is hurtful rather than helpful. But she doesn't see it, so she sees herself as normal then tries to get you to comply with her by shutting down your feelings. It may also make her nervous that you are expressing feelings.
It might be that your mother is afraid of her feelings. She has had years of practice being under control and pushing her feelings aside. She may be able to be nice to people when she wishes to, but when it comes to dealing with feelings, she is shut down. Letting her feelings out may make her so anxious that she cannot even face other people's feelings, especially yours right now.
She may also like to maintain control of her environment, at least as much as she can. By doing so, she can keep her feelings repressed easier and may not be surprised if something occurs that she did not plan.
What is important here is how you feel. I am so sorry that she hurt you like that. You deserve her support and comfort. A Mom are the one person you want to be able to turn to who understand you and can provide the care you need.
You may want to consider writing your mother a letter. Not to send to her or give her but one that allows you to let all your feelings out about what she did today. By doing that, you can get more in touch with what you feel about her rejection of your feelings. It can help you heal and address what you need at the same time.
I agree, she is not helping matters at all. I understand that she does not know about what you are going through, but she should be approachable regardless. If she was, you would be able to tell her what else is happening with you. As it is, you cannot share some of the most important parts of your life with her.
It is sad to me that she is willing to put plans for dinner ahead of your feelings about Katie's funeral. That tells you that she is putting herself first. Her need for control is very strong and it causes her to think of what she needs first and not what others need.
I think the letter will help you get some of your feelings out and allow you to put them more in perspective. It will also help you get in touch with what you feel. And lean on the support from P and your sister. They understand and are there for you.
In response to your post of earlier today ....
I don't know that I would rather have chosen to die. I certainly am glad I lived. And I don't think I was saved yet - or at least it was a question, and that's not something you want to leave to question. I am accepting that it was their fault and not mine, and I did the best I could and I didn't know what else to do. But I guess you are right - I am in severe pain about what I did still. It really breaks my heart that I had to participate - whatever the reason. Sometimes I feel like I was supposed to stand my ground and die. Or maybe I wouldn't have died regardless. I cannot possibly know that, and so that's why nobody can really challenge my decisions. I have no idea if my actions saved me or not or whether it matters.
I know I had no good choices, and I did what I did because that is just how I reacted. It's not like I sat there and thought it through. So I guess I can't blame myself for those actions. But just the fact that I did them makes me feel like a whore. I had reasons to do those things, and I know I didn't want to and didn't enjoy them, and I was in pain and scared. But I still did them. There's no escaping that. It's sort of like a prostitute who just needs to feed her kids. She doesn't want to do it, doesn't enjoy it, and maybe sees no other choice. But it still is what it is.
My feelings about this are all over the place ---- I do feel differently than I did before last week. But things still creep in. Also, in talking about the whole possibility that I will never have sex again, or that I might, it crosses my mind that because I chose to do those things, that's it for me. That will be the extent of my intimate relations.
It's like I know I had no good choices, and had to react in a way that I thought would be the best of the bad things. But I am still so ashamed of what I did. Who would be proud of that?
I think I am just feeling worse about it because I am really tired and have had some really bad dreams this week, and I have been so nervous about going home, and I'm sad about Katie and stressed out about getting to the funeral, and upset about my mom's reaction (although not surprised). And the fact that all this is coming when my emotions seems to be coming out to an extent they haven't before, I think I am just feeling super sensitive and vulnerable and confused.
I know you say to focus on my feelings when I get alone, and I guess I will try tonight, but it scares me. It's all not comfortable. And if they start flowing out, they may not stop for a while and I‘ll be alone.
By the way - we settled the case for tomorrow and I have made my reservations to go to Boston on Friday, and then from Boston to Ohio on Sunday. Haven't told my parents yet. Maybe I'll just text them.
Thanks for being here for me today. I know these are trivial things, but I just can't handle them myself right now.
I do have an appointment with Linda tomorrow at 1:00, which will be good.
My heart hurts for you. You did not have a choice about what you did, but that does not make what you went through any less traumatic. It is natural that you would mourn and feel ashamed over having to participate in something so horrendous. And that it made you feel like a whore. But that was the purpose of what they did to you. To make you feel that way so they could feel superior. That is why attacks on women are made. It is about control and not about the sex. Sex is a very vulnerable thing for a woman. So men like those two use it to hurt and inflict as much pain as they can. But in the end, they do not win. You are not any of those things they made you do. That was not about who you are. It was about who they are. And when you think of that, it is very sad.
But there is part of you that is still blaming yourself for what happened. You are not a prostitute making a choice. By comparing your attack to prostitution, you are saying that you feel this was closer to choice than something done against you. You were attacked against your will. Your life was on the line. So there is something in this that has you blaming yourself and not letting go of that. No one is saying you need to be proud of what happened. But you are not responsible for what happened. This was not something you chose. From what you have told me, part of it might be the emotional repression, guilt and blame you suffered as a child. Your comment that you didn't enjoy what happened but you "still did them" says that you still see what happened as your fault. What purpose does it serve to see it that way? Besides letting the attackers win, there is no other reason, is there?
I'm glad to hear that you settled your case and are freed up to fly out. That is good news!
It's ok to let your feelings come out. You will not lose control. You can always back off if you feel upset. To back off, do something intellectual like read a technical book, write out your bills or organize your home. Anything that brings you back to thinking mode helps.
Good night, Shay. I hope you sleep well.
Kate - I have a question. You said yesterday:
But that was the purpose of what they did to you. To make you feel that way so they could feel superior. That is why attacks on women are made. It is about control and not about the sex. Sex is a very vulnerable thing for a woman. So men like those two use it to hurt and inflict as much pain as they can. But in the end, they do not win. You are not any of those things they made you do. That was not about who you are. It was about who they are. And when you think of that, it is very sad.
Why is sex such a vulnerable thing for women and seemingly not men?
What were you talking about in your last sentence? That it is sad that that's the way those guys are?
I also want to be clear that I don't think the other one would have done anything without his friend. I dont' have such a problem with him. I think he's probably an okay guy.
Also - this is kind of random and personal, but is sex a lot different when it is with someone you love? Does it feel like love?
Sex for women is different in two ways- one, it is more of an emotional bond for women than men. Men see it in black and white terms but women see it not only as a way to meet their needs for sex, but also as a way to connect and form a relationship. Not all women see it that way, just as not all men are so black and white about it, but in general those are the drives behind sex for men and women.
And two, women are different physically. They "receive" and "accept" during the sex act while men "penetrate". Also, men are physically larger and stronger, so men and women are different in that area as well. It is easier for men to subdue women if they wish to. That does not mean men are stronger in all ways, but physically they are.
I was saying in my last sentence that those guys who attacked you are sick mentally. And if you think of that, it is sad in a way. Not sad for them, but sad in a general way. They are probably beyond help (due to lack of sight and how far gone they are) and they are driven to hurt others. A very sad and wasteful life indeed.
It's ok that you feel that way about the other one. He would not be participating if he were not ill as well, but the fact that he seemed reluctant is in his favor, if that is possible in such a situation.
Yes, sex with someone you love is much different. There is tenderness, love and care. It is a joining and sharing experience rather than a painful and horrific experience. It is a way to express love just as kissing, kind gestures and caring for one another is. All are ways that people bond and share in a relationship that is healthy.
Men see sex at the basic level as black and white. But if they are in a loving relationship and they are healthy emotionally, they have the added emotional feelings about sex and their wives. Even in marriages that are loving and committed, men experience the sex drive as a need rather than a connection. But they seek to get their needs met with their wives in a healthy way, rather than use abuse or anger to get their needs met. The problems come in if a man was sexually abused or was taught to see women as lower than men or that it is acceptable to abuse women. Men who have anger issues also can use sex in a black and white way rather than seeing it as a way to connect in a marriage.
I hope that helped. If you want to explore it further, just let me know.
Given what you have been through, I'm not surprised that you would feel the way you do about sex. It has not been a good experience for you at all, even when you had a choice in it.
Sex when you are young is much different than sex when you are married and committed. When you are young, you may not have strong feelings for the person you are with and the other person may feel the same. Sex is usually due to hormones and curiosity rather than love and appreciation for each other. In a marriage, it is the feelings that make the difference.
Linda is right, it is a matter of what you and your husband want and it is an equal sharing. If the husband is demanding and forceful (which would be reflected in the rest of the marriage as well), then it is wrong. When you do marry, you will know your husband well. You will already have an idea of what each other is like and how your husband responds to your needs. If he is thoughtful and loving outside of the bedroom, he is almost guaranteed to be the same inside. And a husband who understands what you have been through will take extra care when he is with you.
How were you taught about sex originally, when you were a teen?
Wow, Shay, you were really on your own. You had no guidance at all. So how did you feel about sex then? Were you able to form any certain opinion prior to the attack?
What you went through with the attack was way different than what your friends were doing just having casual sex. It's like night and day. And the two would never be equated by anyone else. What those guys did was not about sex. It was about hurting someone. Sex was only the tool that they used, because they wanted to hurt a woman. For them, humiliation and causing pain to a woman is what they felt would make them superior.
Because of what happened to you, your previous feelings about sex have changed. It stopped being something you explore when you get married and something you learned about from your friends. Now it has become something you equate with pain and humiliation. So sorting out how you feel about it can be confusing and difficult.
Women who have been sexually assaulted have to work to separate their new view of sex. Part of this is learning what words they can use to describe sex. Your words now may be related to the assault. Changing those words to things that mean sex is good, fun and equal can help you begin to separate what happened to you from the intimate relationship you want to have with the man you marry.
You will be able to form a relationship with someone and have sexual feelings for them. You just need to work on changing how you see sex now so you can open yourself up to the possibility of a relationship. Take this one step at a time. Even if you are physically affected by what happened to you, there are ways you can work around that. It may take working with your gynecologist as well as in therapy so you can fix what you need to and you can have the relationship you want. We can work on that together.
It depends on how you feel about sex. Since you don't have a base from which you can refer to about sex, you might want to get a better idea of what normal sexual relations are for you and after a sexual assault.
At this point, pushing the idea of a relationship is too soon. You will be able to have one, but only when you feel ready. Right now, it sounds like you are open to the tenderness and loving part of a relationship. Women appeal to you because you have not been hurt by a woman sexually. Those guys used their strength and penises to hurt you. Women do not possess the same tools so they could not hurt you in the same way. Plus, women are comforting and accepting by nature. They nurture and with what you feel right now, that is extremely appealing. You also have the added unmet needs from your distant and removed relationship with your mother. Add those two together and you are going to crave the nurturing and care a woman can provide.
Also, you mentioned that asking C or another safe man you know to sleep with you. That shows you are interested in men, but only ones you know would treat you well because they are safe. But when you do start to be open to relationships, you will be able to find a man that you feel safe with. Relationships are more about emotions than sex. The emotional closeness comes first. That is what makes the sex so good for married couples. The sex only enhances the emotional closeness, not the other way around.
You may want to start by learning more about sex after an assault. There is very little out there about sex after an assault but I have some books that might work for you:
A Woman's Guide to Overcoming Sexual Fear and Pain by Aurelie Jones Goodwin and Marc E. Agronin
The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse (Revised Edition)
Quest for Respect: A Healing Guide for Survivors of Rape [Paperback] Linda Braswell
You can try these or any combination that appeals to you. But it may help you find ways to reconnect with your sexuality. We can continue to work on this as well.
You're welcome. You'll have to let me know if the books are helpful. Maybe try the library first to see if they work for you. I'd hate for you to end up buying the books and they don't help.
I don't think you are gay. I think you feel confused now because of what you have been through. You had some sexual experience before what happened but not enough of a relationship and bond with a man to offset the trauma you went through. Your attraction to women has two reasons for it- one, your relationship with your mother was so lacking in an emotional connection that she basically could have been absent and I'm not sure that it would have been much different. So you have deep unmet needs with female nurturing. And two, you were so horribly attacked by those guys that the very thought of being with a man could repel you at this point, steering you towards a relationship with a woman.
I'm not sure if you were/are sexually frustrated as much as you are feeling safe enough to express your feelings. You went through years of repressing your feelings and trying to keep your emotions under control. Now your feelings are coming out and you have a lot of support around you. You also may feel that it has been enough time since the attack as well for you to heal some and let your feelings out.
I hope you got to your destination without too much trouble!
Talk to you soon,