I don't know why it makes me feel better having read that email, but it does. It doesn't make me feel good that she went through that, but it makes me feel normal and that this is worth it. I also appreciated her being honest about how long and hard it was for her. She had many of the same misconceptions about things as I did
at the outset of therapy (e.g. that once I told the story fully, I would be better), and also some of the same thoughts about dealing with it so much later. She said that she discovered that a lot of things, which she just thought “this is who I am and how I am,” were actually coping mechanisms she built up from what happened and how it was (not) dealt with. That seems so familiar. :) I just .... I feel ... kind of validated?
One of your statements in your last answer caught my attention – you said something about accepting that I could have died is challenging - especially since it was so long ago. I really do think that comes into play. Because I KNOW I lived, and it has been so long that I don’t really accurately remember how bad the pain was, or how I felt (physically) or the fear. I can look back and know that I was scared and I was in pain and I remember my reactions to the pain, etc. But I can’t remember what the pain actually felt like or how scared I was. The fear part I think I can remember more accurately because my nightmares
are so scary — but even in my nightmares, I don’t feel the pain as bad as I think it was at the time. That’s part of the issue I have had with the self blame, too, I think. I can’t exactly remember the pain, so I can’t accurately assess my decisions which were based on avoiding more of it. And although I get the fear in the nightmares, I don’t think it’s probably the same. So I can’t accurately assess the situation back then from my memory. Does that make sense??
But I am not willing to repeat that pain right now just to make a point to myself, and I don’t think that would be “therapeutic” anyway. And in any event, even if I did (which is really out of the question), it would be me in control, and I wouldn’t be so scared.
I think if I can accurately remember the fear and the pain, it might help in both issues - (1) accepting that I could have died; and (2) understanding more why I did what I did. But how can I get that back? Is it even possible?
And if it is not possible, then how do I accurately and reliably assess these things and know the truth (as to whether I could have died and whether I was justified in what I did to avoid pain)? I need to convince myself it is true before I can “face” it, because if I try to face it, I think - well, it may be a distant possibility, but unlikely, and so I can’t accept it as a real threat. You know? How do I get around this?? I must be at least part way towards dealing with this, because we’ve been talking about it and I have been thinking about it, and I “thought” about it when I was in my nightmare last night. But I’m stuck.