Hi Shay, it's good to hear from you.
I am so sorry that your mother said those things to you about your choice to go to Katie's funeral. As you were describing what she said, I kept thinking how you needed to have your needs met and all your mom could do was put herself first and attack you. It was a sad example of her inability to reach out and provide you with the love and care you deserve.
You may not like me saying this (here's my pushy part you talked about!), but I think your mother's call last night came at a good time. Just the fact that it bothered you shows you that you are in touch with your feelings and starting to break out of the defensive shell you had around you before you started therapy. You did not offer excuses or apologize to her. You said what you felt and let it go. You are in a different place with this now.
You may feel raw now, but that is very normal. Everyone who works through a trauma feels that way as they begin to shed their defenses and get in touch with who they really are. The raw feeling will pass as you start to incorporate your feelings and get used to being in touch with them all the time. And you will feel calmer and more at peace as well.
The anger towards those guys is a good sign. Even if it's just fleeting, it's still there. Turning the anger and other feelings in on yourself was hurting you. There was no where to go with it. You could not resolve it because it was misplaced. The anger and shame you felt is normal for someone who has been attacked but it also had the added complication of your childhood beliefs that you are to blame for everything, even if it's not your fault.
Have you done any research on assault survivors? You may find some comfort and support knowing that you are not alone in this and feel as other survivors do about what happened.
Linda may have a different style of therapy but I am sure, like you are, that she cares very much for you and wants to help you the best she can. It may be good that she is the way she is because we can balance each other out and provide you with different ways of looking at your situation.
You are not alone in this and I care very much what happens to you. Often I feel sadness or pain when I hear about what you endure in trying to cope and work through what those guys did to you. It is not an easy road but you face it with such strength. It is admirable and amazing to see.
The palpations your are feeling may be mild anxiety. It often occurs when someone is under a lot of stress like you are. It can also be related to your emotions coming out and feeling overwhelmed by how you feel. The physical pain may be because of the same thing. When you spend so much energy holding in your feelings then you let them go, your body feels the effects as well. You may feel that you are headed for an emotional crash and that is ok. Feeling your emotions coming out can often feel uncontrollable and overwhelming. People often express fears of going crazy or having a breakdown. But the energy it took to hold back the feelings was more stressful and trying on you than letting the feelings out. It is when you hold them back that you are more at risk for a stress reaction (not a breakdown, just feeling upset). You are reacting very normally to what you are going through. You may want to try some props as I call them to help you through. A relaxation tape, favorite stuffed animal (it's surprisingly comforting for adults!), something tactile like a smooth stone, and a music CD can all provide a way to keep yourself grounded and calmer as you work through your feelings and deal with stressful situations.
I often find that therapy sessions without an agenda are some of the most productive. I'm not sure why, but they seem to help reach deeper and bring out issues that both therapist and client were not aware of. But if you get stuck for your session, try picking some of the topics we have been talking about. Something that sticks out in your mind that you want to do further work on. That might be a good place to start.
Hi Kate. Ugg. I wrote a post and was almost done, and I lost it. I decided to write this on WP instead and cut and paste.
I know the fluttery feelings are stress and emotion. I had them on the way home - before I even talked to my mom, and have had them this morning. But last night they went away after I started crying, so I think that might be an indication, don't you think?
My mom called me a little bit ago. She didn't apologize, but she said after thinking about it, she thought I should go to the funeral. I said thanks, XXXXX XXXXX was already going. She asked me if I was okay, because I was very quiet on the phone, and I told her I was really upset last night after talking to her. She said she was upset, too. And told me how it was going to be perfect with everyone there, etc. She had called P, she said, and I'm sure she asked P if she was upset for my leaving her hanging, and I'm sure P. Told her she thought I should go. I told her I understood what she was saying, and I don't give up time with my nieces and nephews lightly, but for goodness sake, Katie DIED. She still doesn't get it, but I don't care. At least there is no present conflict. My sister told me last night I just need to ignore her because she is so weird, and reminded me that I am dealing with someone who didn't go to her own best friend's funeral (who died suddenly around age 30), and wasn't planning on going to her own mother's memorial. (She did go, but only because, against her advice, my sister and I both were flying to Florida for the memorial [because that is what normal people would do if their grandmother dies] and so at the last minute, they came down as well, because I hadn't seen them in a year. She's nuts.
I don't see my mom as selfish. Nobody would ever call her selfish. She generally puts other people before her and their needs above hers. However, that meant that she put everyone else above us, too and made sure we knew it. They would not stick up for us at all, regardless of the situation.
I appreciated your saying that I deserve love and care from my mother. Maybe, maybe not, but it's not going to happen. That's just not the way she is, and I know that. It took me until about age 8 to totally figure that out. If I sought attention or affection, I was being selfish, babyish and needy. I think there was a specific turning point for me: when I was in 3rd grade, my teacher was Ms. Moore. Up until that year (and for the rest of elementary school after that year), my teachers always favored me. She did not. She liked the quiet ones, and therefore did not like me too much, and so I was not a big fan of her, either. One morning, just when school was starting, I got in trouble, and she yelled at me and sent me into the coat room (it wasn't like a closet - it was much bigger and attached to the bathrooms). To this day, I have no idea what I did, but I'm sure I did something. Anyway, so I went and sat in the coats room, and she apparently forgot about me, because I was in there all morning. I knew not to come out and ask to be let out, so I just sat in there, and after a few hours, I started crying. Luckily, at lunchtime, my friend, Jason, came in to get his lunch out of his bag and I asked him to ask her if I could come out. He came back and said I could. I was still crying when I came out, and Ms. Moore took me out in the hall. All the kids were lined up at their classroom doors waiting to go to lunch, and so this was in front of all the 3rd and 5th grade classes. She told me to stop crying, and I said I was trying, and she said I was the biggest crybaby in the school (which makes no sense, because that is the only day, from K-graduation I ever cried in school - even when I got hurt). She wouldn't let me go until I stopped crying, so I did. Then as soon as she let me go, I ran home crying (we lived across the street). My mom was only teaching PT then, so she was home. I just knew when I told her what happened, she would let me stay home for the rest of the day and go over and have a talk with Ms. Moore. But she didn't. She said it was my fault for getting sent to the coat room in the first place, and that Ms. Moore probably just forgot, and it was nothing to get upset about, and she made me stop crying and go back. I felt so betrayed, and felt absolutely humiliated when I went back to school after lunch.
So, that was totally off the subject. Sorry. Point is, I wish I did have a mom who made things better, but I don't, and it's probably too late to find a new mom :) (although P actually is a good substitute).
I understand what you are saying about the timing of my mom's call last night (Ms. Pushy :) ). From what I understand, you think it is good for me to fall apart. I think Linda does, too. But it is not pleasant for me. It is upsetting and scary, and even though you insist I will not lose control, I feel like the fact that I am experiencing them at all and can't stop it sometimes is being out of control.
Thank you for caring about what happens to me. :) It does make me feel less alone to know someone might be feeling "with" me.
I have researched assault survivors. Before, honestly, I thought that I didn't have the same issues as them - I had nightmares and nothing else. Now I know better. In going through the forums on aftersilence.com (after the initial freak out from that person who said she went to my college) and read things, a lot of things are similar with some people, although most of the people seem to have child sexual assault issues and long-term abuse. And I've read things on what people should say to "survivors," and that kind of irritated me. The whole "whatever you did to survive was good" and "you didn't ask for this" really turned me off. First, you can't just have a blanket whatever-you-did-was-fine. Kit doesn't work that way. And second, I always cringe when I see the other comment because I did, literally, ask them to do a lot of things. I don't want to play the victim. I know I am complaining and whining now, but that's not how or who I want to be.
I like your idea about the prop. I will make sure to take by Bible with me. At home, I can use my dog. She's not allowed on my bed, partly because she's huge (120 lbs) and sheds, but I make exceptions sometimes. I'll try to think of other things I can use. And I have music with me all the time. I am a huge music person, and could probably express my feelings better by making a playlist of different songs than by talking. Beauty of the iphone and ipod - I can have 10,000 songs available at all times :)
I am at the office alone because my legal assistant is sick and my clerk doesn't come in until 1 today. It is taking everything I have not to sit here and cry. I am so tired, too. I just want to go home and curl up in my bed with my dog and sleep for a week or more. I don't want to do anything. I wish I could just disappear for a while.
About my session with Linda - sometimes we end up just chit-chatting about stuff and waste the whole time. I just want to get something out of it today that will make me feel better for the next week and a half.
It could be that expressing your feelings takes away the physical symptoms you are having including the fluttering. I think it is the manifestation of your emotions in your body and when you release those feelings, the symptoms reduce or go away. As you begin to experience your feelings more and more, the physical effects should go away for good.
When I said your mother might be selfish, I meant in terms of putting you (and your brother and sister) first. As a mother, one of the first instincts you have is to put your children before yourself. Not in a spoil them give them whatever they want kind of way, but in meeting their needs way. If one of my children came to me upset and crying, I would want to comfort them and help them feel better, whether or not what they were crying about was their fault. That is irrelevant. What is important is how they feel. In your case, your mother was putting her plans before your needs. Even when she called you back today, she still could not let go of her needs in favor of yours. Her ability to care for you and put your needs in front of hers is blocked by whatever is going on with her. She has no insight into it, and shows no desire to fix it, which means it's not important enough for her to deal with even though she is hurting her own children.
I am glad your sister is being so supportive through the whole situation with your mother. There is nothing like a sibling who can see the same thing you do and spell it out in very plain terms!
It sounds like your teacher Ms. Moore was abusive as well. It is a shame when teachers are allowed to make victims out of their students just because they do not get along with them. There was a much healthier way to handle what you did in school besides humiliate you then leave you in a closet and forget about you. People like that should not be teachers.
I think Linda and I might both agree it's good that you express your feelings. I'm not sure that I'm happy if you fall apart, but getting in touch with your feelings is a very good thing. People who are not in touch with their feelings can suffer from a variety of symptoms and even develop emotional disorders. So the closer you get to your feelings, the healthier you are. Linda and I both want that for you.
When you are on the forums for assault survivors, you really have to pick and choose what might pertain to you. Some of the types of assault vary from your experience so the posts are not going to be as helpful for you. But you may be able to pick up some helpful information here and there. It might also lead you to other sites that are more geared for your situation.
I like your props! Too bad you can't take your puppy with you :) Dogs are so comforting.
I understand your exhaustion. I hear what you go through and I feel tired just reading about it! Working on your defenses and letting out your feelings is hard work. Therapy is not easy and it is considered work for a reason. People in general think of therapy as just sitting and talking to someone. But it is as hard, exhausting work. Be sure you do what you can (with the little time in the day that you have :) to take care of yourself. Maybe you will have the chance to get some rest while you are away. The opportunity to do something different, like your drive home may rejuvenate you as well.
Let me know how your session goes with Linda.
My session with Linda went well. When I got there, she went to the restroom, so I was in her office alone and I started crying. I couldn't help it. I've been holding it in all morning. When she came back in, I think she was stunned. She kind of just stood there for a few seconds and didn't know what to say. Finally she sat down and asked if I was sad about Katie, and I told her I was just overwhelmed with everything. She asked me to try to break it down, and I told her I was tired, I am so emotional, I haven't been getting very much sleep, and when I do, I have bad nightmares, that I was sad about Katie, pissed off at my parents and dreading the trip to Ohio, and I am so far behind on work it's not funny.
So we took each thing one at a time. The work thing, there's really nothing to work out there, so we didn't really discuss it much. I just need to catch up and stop spending my days focusing on this other crap, and I think I need to bring some work home with me every night so that when I can't get to sleep or wake up from a nightmare, I can get some work done.
About my parents, she asked me specifically about my conversations with my mom, and she said what you did - that my mom was being controlling, and asked me if she always was. I told her that when we were younger, we definitely knew what we could and couldn't do, and they certainly controlled our emotions, etc. But in HS, they didn't even know where we were or what we were doing half the time. I had a whole fake ID production business running in my bedroom and they never even noticed. I had backdrops hung up all over the place, a whole set-up, and they never went up to my room. They never asked where I was going or what I was doing, etc. So they definitely weren't trying to control things then. I would go a few days without even seeing them. She was saying, as you have said, that my parents just didn't and don't provide the care and nurturing their children need and it's too bad. We talked about the fact that when I talk to them, or when I go there, I have to basically not be myself at all. I can't show any emotion, and can't share with them what has been going on in my life for the past 6 months. I gave P a list of information she was not to provide and subjects to avoid. I feel like things are falling apart for me, but I couldn't let them know even one thing. I told her I knew how they would react if I told them I was in therapy or still having nightmares, and it hurts me to think about how they would feel about me if they knew.
She said to be cautious in dealing with them, especially my mother, because I am just now noticing how they weren't and aren't there for me and their faults as parents, and to think about that before reacting. She doesn't think this is the best time to be seeing them.
We talked about how the focus of the nightmares has changed, mostly to reliving it and being in it, and not so much watching it. I also told her that it seems like it's more real - like I thought they used to seem really real, but now those seem faded, like more senses are involved now or something. She said that she thinks this is a good thing, but that she understands that would be more scary, and wonders if the fact that I can't get to sleep even after taking a bunch of the sleep meds is because I'm scared to go to sleep. I told her sometimes I was.
I told her I feel like I opened a whole can of worms by starting therapy, and that a year ago, I was only having nightmares, and now I feel like everything is such a mess. She said from her perspective, this all makes sense and is progressing nicely and that I have been doing really well. She said 6 months ago I could barely get a word out to her about what happened, and that I have come a far way since then, and that the fact that I actually did the overnight sleep study was a big step, etc. She said maybe I opened a can of worms, but it was leaking anyway, and by opening it, I have also contained it and can guide it a little. She said for the most part, we can tell ahead of time what is going to happen/how I might feel/what issues will come up, just not when they will happen. She said that even though it feels terrible, it is actually a really good thing that is happening.
We talked about trying EMDR again. She said she didn't pursue it when we were going to earlier, because she didn't want me to sit there every session focusing on what I think I did. She thought it would be counter-productive.
We talked a lot about Katie and my other friends. She said that I have, at all points in my life, seemed to have a very close-knit group of friends who have stayed friends. She thinks I may have gotten from my friends what I wasn't getting from home. Something to think about.
She also wanted me to consider talking to my friends about what happened, when we're together this weekend, although she acknowledged that this might not be the time. She said that since they already know something happened, maybe if I could explain a little more and explain the nightmares, and what I'm dealing with now, it might make sense to them in a way it wouldn't to my family, and that I might find a lot of support there. She said I deserved more support than from my therapists/psychiatrist and P., and that should come from my family but is not going to.
So she said to call her if I need to while on our trip, and that she would call me if she was going through "Shay withdrawal."
I feel a lot better after meeting with her - and after I was able to cry for a little bit.
I understand now what you meant by my mom being selfish. And I agree.
About Ms. Moore, she was strange. But I didn't care abut her - I cared abut the fact that I felt my mom betrayed and didn't stick up for me.
I also wish I could take my dog with me. I don't love my parents' dogs. They are out of control.
I'll just focus on making myself a soundtrack during the week. Track my trip with music.
I do think I may get some rest on the trip. And It will be restful on the way home, as P likes driving - it makes her anxious when she's the passenger (apparently especially when I am driving - I admit, I am a poor driver). And that's just fine with me! I'll be in charg of the music and coffee.
Shay, it sounds like you had a great therapy session today! You and Linda really covered a lot in such a short time.
I agree with everything she said about your parents not being there for you, your nightmares, opening the can of worms with therapy, and about your friends and P being your supports. I think that is an excellent idea. It would be nice if it was family that was there for you, but your friends, who have been with you for so long, and P, whom you trust, are good choices as well. It is the support that is important here. And I think sharing your trauma and the stress you are under will go a long way in making your burden lighter.
It is sad that you must be on guard at home. It is the one place you should be able to be yourself with people who know you the best. It is shocking that your parents were so out of touch with you that you did not even see them for days at a time as a teen. The teenage years can be some of the toughest and it's a good time for parents to stay in touch with their kids while allowing them some freedom to learn and make mistakes as they grow more independent. Your parents neglect made you lose out on that connection and support.
I do believe you were "leaking" already as well before you started therapy (a good way to describe it!). The nightmares were an big indication of that. They continued to get worse, which tells you that your emotions were not going to be contained for long. The fact that the nightmares are getting more real to you now may mean that what happened to you is becoming more real, through your exploration and expression of your feelings. Before therapy, you were pushing all the feelings related to what happened down and repressing them. Essentially, you were distancing yourself, which may have made the nightmares seem further away. Now that your feelings are on the surface and coming out, the nightmares are reflecting this change.
If you decide to talk to your friends, you may want to share with one at a time first, if you feel that you want to test the waters. Just an idea.
You can see if you feel safe once you get there and get a feel for how things are progressing. By assessing the siltation first, you can tell if you will feel safe enough sharing or if it's not the right time. You can trust your gut on this one!
Good night Shay. I hope you sleep well.
you, too. Thanks for everything. I'm lucky to have you and Linda.
Thank you, Shay! That was nice to hear.
I don't know if I'll get the chance to talk to you today with your travel and all, so if I don't, have a good flight! I'll say a prayer that all goes well for you.
Katie sounds like she was a wonderful person. I am sure that her family and your friends will appreciate the pictures and letters from her that you kept. It will show how important she was to you and how she impacted your life and you impacted her. And all those mementos will be invaluable to her daughter too. She will get to have an idea of who her mother was.
I'm glad you made it ok! I hear Boston has wonderful seafood :)
The first step in nurturing yourself is to realize that you did not get what you need. Accepting that your mother was not there for you and what was left unfulfilled in your life as a result is important. What do you feel was missing? What parts of yourself do you feel need attention and nurturing?
When you were left on your own as a child to learn from the world rather than through a connection with your mother, you were basically abandoned. You were not cared for like you should have been with someone to rely on to back you up as you learned life lessons. No one hugged you, let you express how you felt, and eventually no one even cared what you did.
As a result, you learned to turn your feelings on yourself, making yourself ultimately responsible for everything that happened to you. Because the one life lesson you did learn from your parents was that everything was your fault.
Undoing the negative self talk and changing your thinking to nurturing language is one of the first steps in getting the nurturing you need. Instead of telling yourself how things are your fault or that whatever happens you can control, start telling yourself that you are doing the best you can and that that is ok. You are human and allowed to make mistakes. And it is not about fault but about doing what you can. Accepting yourself this way will lead to loving yourself and who you are, instead of being your own worst enemy and feeling guilt over things you cannot control.
This is the first step.Nurturing yourself takes time. Once you are comfortable with where you are with this, we can continue to work on the other steps.
I hope you are doing well!