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Kate: Thank you for understanding and tolerating my reactions. I’m sorry I keep taking things out on you – I recognize I’m doing it after I do it, but I don’t think it through beforehand. I guess you’re the lucky safe person :) I really really am not liking this process.
I could strangle myself (not literally ...) for not handling this before, when it would have been more appropriate. I want a do-over. I want a do-over of that night — even if I can’t totally avoid it, at least I could limit my participation. And I want a do-over of right afterwards. I can’t believe what I have done to myself. Don’t tell me it’s nothing I did. We all know I contributed to how things turned out. And regardless, that’s simply how I feel, and I don’t want to argue about it. I get so mad at myself sometimes. But now I’m getting so mad at them, too. What a**holes. Seriously. Would it have killed them to just jack off that night? Or why couldn’t they do it to each other? Seriously – the mean one probably would have enjoyed that.
I don’t know why I was thinking this – but I wonder if I could have bargained some – like said – you can use the bottle if you don’t make me do or say such-and-such. Or – just tell the to hurt me bad enough the first time to make me pass out and they could have done anything they wanted, with me none the wiser. I wish I could, today, make a deal - that I would take the bottle again if I was able to forget (and never remember again) all the stuff I did/said. I know it doesn’t work that way, but I sometimes wish it did.
I told Linda I would like one hour with them, so I could ask them questions. She said she’d use that hour with them differently. But she wants me to write down what I want to ask them. Part of me wishes they knew how much trouble they are causing me - even now. But part of me thinks that that would thrill them. It would be nice to encounter them and be like “who are you, again?”
I KNOW I am giving them the power over me now. But I can’t stop. I can’t let go of it (or them) yet. It bothers me that these 2 people have intimate knowledge of me – did the most intimate things with me. Have accessed parts of my body that nobody else has. And they are a**holes. I think I’ve told you before — it’s like they’ll always be a part of me. Not just that what happened will stay with me in some manner — but physically. I mean, I know this is probably not true, but I feel like his urine is still in my digestive system somewhere. I feel disgusted that they probably took so much of my blood with them. And I feel like when my cuts healed, it sealed in some of them or their fluids or something. It’s disgusting. They could wash me off of them, but I don’t feel like I could just wash them off. Especially the mean one. Just the thought makes me want to go home and take a 2-hour shower. I feel guilty about things I did and said and didn’t do, but more and more, I just feel defective. I think that’s a guilt-vs.-shame thing. (???) Is the apparent shift a good or bad indication? I don’t know if I feel like I was always defective and that’s why it happened, why they chose me, and why they went so far - or if that made me defective. ?? I guess it doesn’t really matter.
If I ever fall in love again, is a guy going to want to ever have sex with me if he knows what all happened between me and those guys? They really didn’t leave any part of me un-messed-with. How could someone stand knowing that? I mean, even I can’t stand it. When I think about having sex with a guy or am watching a movie or something (I’m not talking about porn or anything, just to be clear) – not only does it make me feel bad, I also instantly think “oh yeah, I did something similar to that with them....”
And now – the fact that they can just show up anywhere, anytime, no matter what I’m doing, and basically do it again, is not fair. I know that’s not really what’s happening and they aren’t benefitting from it directly, but I can’t help but feel like every time I am hurt, they benefit. And it feels like they keep coming back, even though it’s just in my head. And I got what you said about the grounding props — but I don’t know what to do. The gum is not going o work, because I chew gum all the time except when I am sleeping or eating. I tried to move my feet on the ground last night, but I felt like I would pass out. I knew it was coming but I didn’t have time to do anything. I can’t spray a scent on my hand because (1) even if it worked, I would have washed it off when I wash my hands; and (2) pretty much anything like that gives me a migraine. I usually have a cup of coffee and a diet coke within arm’s reach – I don’t think that would do much. I don’t always have pockets, so I’m not sure a stone is practical, but I could have a couple I kept around – like at home and at my desk here. I’m sure all my suits have pockets, so that would cover me at court, so that leaves half the time at church. Maybe a pendant on a necklace or a bracelet? Still – I didn’t have any time to stop it last night. If that happens in front of people, I will be mortified. How would I even explain it? People would probably think I was on drugs.
Maybe I could poke myself with a safety pin or something? Would that work? Hitting my head brought me out of it, I think. I am very concerned this is going to happen again. I hope being worried about it doesn’t make it happen.
I think I will scream in my car on the way home. That might relieve some of this pressure. And I am very excited about my new BB gun. That will be fun. Jamie got me some safety goggles and some targets, too.
I know you said to "reward" myself and "make a day of it." That’s not going to work. First, the reward I want is peace of mind. Second, I am not going to "celebrate" when I know there’s still a lot of crap to go through. Third, I am so far behind on work it’s not funny. I have actually had a fairly productive week, but am still way behind. And in the next few months, I am going to have to be doing a lot to move offices, send out notices, etc. I just don’t have the time. Plus, I have little interest in doing anything fun. I feel like doing nothing. Not even playing the drums. (Except I do want to play with my BB gun, so that’s something :) )
My birthday is XXXXX a few weeks, and P made plans for us to get away and go to Santa Fe for a day or two, so maybe that will be kind of a break. I hope it just doesn’t put me further behind at work. It will be right after a 2-day mediation of a really complex case, so it is probably good timing, and will give something to celebrate if it settles.
Okay, well, I’m going to get some work together and head home ... Don’t worry - I won’t hurt anyone. :) I promise.
okay ... done babbling .... I’m not sure why I am avoiding leaving .....
It's ok, Shay. It is part of what you are going through. I understand.
I think this is a good sign, Shay. You are starting to recognize the depth of your pain. You are angry at those guys, which you were not before. And you are feeling the pain deeper as well. It does not feel good, but it is real and that makes it good.
It is understandable that you want to re do the attack. Feeling that you had no power during the attack is hard to come to terms with. And when you came to recognize that you are not responsible for what they did, you also began to see that you really did not have any power over them either. Before, when you felt you had responsibility in the situation, then it gave you a sense of control. That sense of control is gone along with the responsibility.
Your anger towards them is healthy as well. They hurt you, and badly. Asking them questions may seem a good option, but I wonder if there is more you might want to do to them?
Feeling that the attackers are still inside of you in some form means that you feel violated. Wanting to clean yourself means you are experiencing what is called Rape Trauma Syndrome. Here is a description of it:
And feeling that you are defective as a result of what happened part of the syndrome as well. And it is easy to think that you are. It is part of the deception of sexual assault.
If you fell in love, the guy you are with will certainly want to be with you. He will love you for who you are, not for any other reason. And as part of that love, he will want to protect you. He may feel strong feelings against those guys and may even want to hurt them for what they did, but he will not blame you. Thinking that he would is part of your transference of your own self blame.
If you feel the grounding techniques I gave you will not work, you may want to try these ideas:
Spritz your face (with eyes closed), neck, arms and hands with a fine watermister.Put your feet firmly on the ground.Listen to soothing music or familiar music you can sing along to. Dance to it.How does it make your body feel?Rub your palms; clap your hands. Listen to the sound. Feel the sensation.Hold something that you find comforting. It may be a stuffed animal, a blanketor a favorite sweater. Notice how it feels in your hands. Is it hard or soft?Carry something meaningful and tangible in your pocket that reminds you ofthe present. Touch it to remind yourself that you are an adult.Try to notice where you are and your surroundings, including the people present.If you have a pet, touch its fur and speak its name out loud.Exercise. Ride a bike, stationary or otherwise. Lift weights. Do jumping jacks.
See if any of these work for you.
Enjoy your BB gun!
I'm off to bed. I hope your night goes well, Shay.
The difference between the PTSD and RTS has a lot to do with the source of the trauma. While PTSD can be diagnosed in someone with combat related or abuse related trauma, RTS is addressing sexual assault only. For therapists, the different diagnosis also helps in treatment. You would not treat someone who was assaulted the same as you would a war veteran. There are many differences in symptoms like self blame, body violation for assault victims and shell shock and startle response for veterans or abuse victims.
Yes, it is very common for those who have been assaulted to feel they have participated, also to self blame. At some point, those who are assaulted look for ways to see how they participated by "letting" it happen or being a part of it. But there was no choice in the matter which is something they work to accept. Here is a site that might helps describe it:
Since each assault is different, it is hard to measure how much people feel they participate. And since it really isn't participation (participation is a choice and is not forced) it is more how much the person was psychologically affected by what they went through or how much they self blame.
I understand your fear about having a flashback in public. But the chances of that are usually slimmer since you know you are not alone. Your mind will try to keep you in your "public" face as opposed to how you feel when you are alone and relax a little. Also, I understand that people who have them in public also experienced shorter flashbacks, sometimes only seconds long. Probably because the self preservation is so much stronger in public than when you are alone.
You may want to try keeping a rubber band on your wrist to snap, hard, the next time you feel a flashback coming on. It is something you can keep with you always and it is quick to access. And the pain will focus your attention. You can also try curling your toes very hard. The pain of it will also get your attention.
Your pain is going to feel intense because one, feeling these many emotions is new to you and therefore feels more intense and two, you went through a very severe trauma. It was life threatening. Your body and your mind are trying to come to terms with what happened. It is going to seem overwhelming until your mind can find a way to cope. But you will not feel this way forever. It may feel like it, but your mind cannot stay in one place like this especially if it is intense. It will find a way to cope.