Kate: I took some time, since Jamie and Nic left the office a while ago, to take a stab at writing down where my head was last night, as Linda asked me to do – if I wait until Sunday, I might not remember as well. Could you read it and tell me if it relays it well enough?
Linda: You asked me to write about where my thoughts were and what I was feeling when I was crying and stuff at the end of our session Thursday.
Truth was, I was on the verge of crying the whole session and was trying not to, then it kind of was getting to be too much when I asked if we could stop talking and go. As soon as we stopped talking, I felt like I was going to burst into tears if I walked out of your office. I am glad you said it was okay to sit a while and cry. I needed it. It’s funny, kind of, because then I didn’t cry as much as I would have. But I felt better that I was with you, because I don’t have to explain, but I also don’t have to be alone. Thank you for noticing that I was doing pretty poorly when we were about to leave. And thank you for not asking questions when I was in that state. Answering questions gives me an opportunity to stop feeling what I am feeling and to stop crying. Although I was trying not to cry anyway, I needed that release.
Here is where my head was:
1. I thought a little about the childhood teasing and stuff we had discussed earlier. I don’t think you knew it, but I had been really close to crying when I was telling you the things my family used to say to me. It surprised me that I felt so strongly about it. So I was thinking about that. And I was thinking about what you told me your friend’s mom said when you were 8 and riding in the car when it scraped the driveway, and I thought that was awful. I was thinking how I’ve never felt exactly "right" in my skin, except for those first few years of college.
2. But mostly, I was thinking of all the humiliating things those guys did to me and that they had me do and say. I was thinking about the fact that it isn’t a secret anymore. I guess I thought that sharing it would make it less powerful (or maybe I read that somewhere), but it doesn’t. I don’t know why this seems so intense now – it wasn’t a huge concern before. Of course it was embarrassing for me to have you know these things, but I didn’t feel so strongly about it. But then after the EMDR thing, when I was having the flashback or whatever happened, and then you were sitting right there, and it was kind of like you had been "in it" with me (although clearly that wasn’t the case), I just became overwhelmingly embarrassed and ashamed. And I think the "telling" it now (as opposed to you reading it) has added to it.
Part of me thinks you must think I’m awful and some kind of deviant and I feel like I shouldn’t have told you, because I don’t want you to dislike me, but I know I have to share everything with you if I want you to help me. I sometimes don’t know how you can stand to sit there in the same room with me, knowing what I have done, what I have said, and even what has been done to me. I feel like you must cringe to look at me sometimes and to know that stuff. It’s not normal stuff people know about others, and it’s not stuff that people normally do.
I know you aren’t judging me. I know that. But sometimes I think you must have to. How could you not? But regardless, I’m embarrassed and ashamed that these things happened at all, and now you know about it. I was thinking, Thursday, about what it felt like and what it must have looked like during the whole incident. It’s so humiliating. I guess I should be specific, but this is humiliating just writing it:
A. Just the simple fact that I was halfway undressed is humiliating and embarrassing for me. And then the fact that I laid there and other stuff, all half undressed, makes me ashamed.
B. Thinking about having sex with those guys and describing it to you is also humiliating. I wouldn’t normally talk about it in that detail with anyone if it was consensual.
C. The bottle. What can I say? That’s one thing I haven’t felt any responsibility for. But it’s probably the most humiliating thing. That they could do that and enjoy how it hurt me, that it was the source of most of my fear, and that I was left all cut up inside – just for their amusement. I know what they did there still shows 20 years later. It’s awful for me to think about, and it’s awful that you know that about me and know I can be treated that way.
D. The stuff I said and did. We have been over and over that. I know you thought I made the best choice with what I had to work with. And I am really beginning to see that, too. But still, even if it was the best option in the world and saved my life - I still did it. I can still see myself and hear myself. And now I’m not the only one who knows it. I did participate in hurting myself and pleasing them. Even if I had no other choice, it still is
what it is, and I did those things. I can’t face you when I think about that. I physically have to turn my head away, even if I have my eyes closed. It makes me wince involuntarily every time I think about it. I see myself laying there, begging for things, and I see myself moving with him and acting like I liked it. It repulses me and I know it must repulse you.
E. The other worst part was at the end, when I offered myself to him in the other way. I really did think he’d use the bottle in that way if I didn’t cooperate, and from what Dr. M said, that would have likely killed me. But still, seeing myself willingly get on my hands and knees for him. That kills me. I am so embarrassed and ashamed.
I am just so overwhelmed with shame and embarrassment, it will hardly come out, but I feel like I will burst because of it, if that makes any sense. I can’t change it. That’s who I am. Someone who this happened to, and these things happened. And it is so humiliating. And because you know about it, when I see you, I think I feel like you see the whole thing as it happened, too, and it’s too much for me to have someone else know the worst things that have happened to me and the worst things I have done, even if I had to do them.
I could feel it rising in me and I just kept seeing parts flashing in my head (not like I was there – just memories), and it is embarrassing. I guess maybe some people think it should be easier to talk about these personal things when they weren’t necessarily voluntary or consensual – like you can just think and talk about the details like describing a robbery or something. But it’s worse, I think. First, it’s sex and nakedness and bodies and these are uncomfortable things to talk about anyway. Add in the specific things they had me do and say and that they did – it feels like it went way beyond sex. Then add in the fact that it wasn’t what I wanted – but that these guys could (and did) have any part of me they felt like. It’s more shameful and humiliating.
There’s just so much, it feels like. And the shame feels all at once like a weight on me and like something pushing to get out of me. It makes me feel all tense and upset and like I am in a perpetual cringe. That is part of what was going on in my head. But it was jumping around a lot. Actually, that’s probably a good thing, because if I focused, I probably would have had some explosive sobbing :). That’s what I thought was going to happen before you said we could sit for a while.
3. I also feel very sad – that’s just an undertone to the whole thing. I want so bad for this not to have happened , for me to not know about some of this stuff, to not have seen that side of anybody. But I can’t change it. I can’t erase it. The longer I’ve been meeting with you, the more I see I lost in that one night. Don’t get me wrong – I have been very blessed, in general, and I am not unhappy with my life. But this makes me so sad. I don’t understand the why. I don’t understand how things came to that point – with them or with me. I don’t understand why it has to affect me so much. It seems so real lately. And then I think that if I let go of taking all the blame, what am I left with? I have to face what actually happened and face the prospect of having no control. Not only is that counterintuitive for me - it is also as scary as hell. It means I am vulnerable. It means there are at least semi-evil people in this world. It means that in the scheme of things, what I want or don’t want doesn’t make all that big of a difference.
That was also part of it. I can’t explain to you – and I am frankly shocked myself – how sad all this makes me. I can feel it in my heart -physically, too. It’s like my heart is broken. But for what? Not for the loss of someone or for the loss of love or anything. Maybe for the loss of the final illusions I’ve been able to keep up for myself all this time?? I feel like it is such a deep sadness that I could cry harder than I’ve ever cried, and for days. If I had let myself go, we could have been there all night :)
But this all also makes me feel weak and stupid. Weak, because I am used to being able to brush things off, and this is just too big for me. Not only can I not just ignore it, I need a lot of help just to be able to survive it, it seems. And stupid, because I did read all sorts of things about recovery. I read lots of stories about how hard it was, etc. but I really thought to myself that it was because these people writing these things or recounting their stories are weak and can’t handle much. I really thought that, I am ashamed to say. I thought "what is their problem? I got through this with no bad consequences except nightmares." I didn’t realize I hadn’t gotten through any of it. What a jackass I was.
So – although I didn’t think it through in this depth all at one time on Thursday, this is generally where my head was when I was upset. And it is pretty much where it has been since. -- S