Saturday, February 28, 2009

I feel Hopeless and Hopeful

I research and read and digest and research some more, and I have come to the conclusion that there isn't a psychologist or psychiatrist alive, or dead, that can repair the lifetime of damage caused by childhood abuse. And that knowledge has changed my view of the expectations on this process, 'my expectations'. This new found knowledge makes me feel both hopeless and hopeful. Hopeless in the sense that I feel as though I have some sort of terminal illness, and hopeful because I believe that someday I, personally, will make a difference somehow. I can almost pinpoint the day when I fell into the dark abyss and was encouraged by a friend to go back into therapy. We had rented a cabin in the Rocky Mountains, it was so quiet and serene, and the silence was overwhelming for me. I was always busy, always in a hurry, the quiet didn't sit well with me. The first night we were there, I woke up at 2am and I couldn't breathe. I sat up and leaned over the side of the bed and I still couldn't catch my breath. I panicked and ran into the bathroom and threw up. I had no idea what just happened but I did know that it scared me. It happened again the next day. And the strong, unemotional woman that I had been had suddenly disappeared and was replaced by this woman who was fearful, confused, depressed. I spent 30 minutes in the shower, crying uncontrollably. What happened? Invasion of the body snatchers? When I returned home I began to research therapists~ and I made that first call to Dear Therapist.

Nearly two years of weekly therapy appointments later, I was much worse than that weekend in the mountains. The intrusive memories, the body memories, the constant reminders of the abuse I suffered were ever present; the internal voices argued and fought with each other, and me, and there was never a break in activity, never a moment of peace in my mind. I had been on several different anti-depressants ~ but they either didn't seem to work for me, or the side effects outweighed the benefit of the drug. The mild sleeping pills I had been given were not working and the lack of sleep was compounding the overwhelming feelings and thoughts. It was unbearable! I began to disassociate and cut my own skin. I needed to see the blood, I needed to see physical evidence of the emotional pain I was feeling. When I saw the blood pooling on the floor it would suddenly make sense to me~ no wonder I'm in so much pain, I'm bleeding! I didn't want to die, I just wanted the pain to stop. There was a voice in my head begging not to be hurt, and a voice responding by saying, "You are bad, you deserve to be hurt" and a third voice, who would chant, "Nothing I can do to save you". And this happened every single day. I began to withhold food from myself~ food was nourishment, I did not deserve to eat. The shame and "badness" were all-consuming and I began to vomit repeatedly, multiple times a day to get the 'badness' out of me. If I couldn't bleed it out, maybe I could puke it out.

Many times I was convinced that I was going to die at my own hands. I was honest with dear therapist, I told her that I knew I was going to die. I knew that my self-destructive behavior would escalate until I took my own life. Dear therapist would tell me it would get better, she encouraged me to seek support from a qualified psychiatrist (I had a bad experience with a psychiatrist and was afraid to try again). She tried to teach me self-soothing skills, she made relaxation recordings for me on my MP3 player, in an effort to sooth me with her voice when I was alone during the night. But nothing worked, nothing could stop the demons in me from destroying me from the inside out. I was powerless, no longer was I in charge of my body or mind ~I had no strength left. I had no way to communicate to dear therapist~ I was trapped inside of myself and I could not find a way out. I was powerless, as the video continued to play over and over, my body and mind reliving the past in the present. My body was bruised and broken, the fog inside my mind made reality unrecognizable; the depression I felt was undefinable. Hope? Completely unfathomable! I wanted to die, and I don’t honestly know how I’m still alive today, but I do think I know why.

Nearly every week I would beg dear therapist to fix me. In her office I would I would wallow in self pity and cry about the unfairness of it all. I repeatedly threw myself on her office floor as though I was a toddler in the midst of a temper tantrum demanding that she deliver me from the pain! "Can’t you see me?" I cried. "You have to do something!" I demanded. "You have to help me, PLEASE! Take away this pain." Her patience was seemingly unending, her encouragement great. But my behavior had now reached the point where she was afraid that I would not be able to keep myself alive. She did not want to take away all of my control, but would gently 'encourage' me to go into the hospital. She would say, "I think it would be the best thing for you right you. They can stabilize you quickly~ they will get you on the right medication. You can get better."

But it was not until the clouds cleared and I could see the sun again that I realized that 'healing' from this was my choice. It was not her choice, my husband's choice, my friends choice. It was MY choice. They could not stop me from killing myself, from hating myself, from starving or cutting myself. It was my choice. I had to decide if I wanted to live in this pain forever, remain imprisoned by my past, wallow in self pity and destructive behavior, or if I was going to help myself and begin to define a new way of living.

I can look in the mirror and tell myself that I am shattered, I am in pieces and it’s hopeless, or, I can tell myself that despite my “trauma” and my struggles afterward, the power to move forward is within me. I have now taken off the costume of the ‘woman without a history of abuse’. I recognize, admit, and accept that I am that woman, and that is my history. And when I look in the mirror now, in the present, without the costume, I see that confident woman, the woman with a long history of child abuse,and trauma. The woman with the lack of feelings, too many feelings, overwhelming feelings...I see her scars~ and I accept her. I hear her voice, I feel her, I can see her confidence and beauty~ and she is REAL, not a costume. She is me.

And I am trying to not be so angry at dear therapist. I am trying to trust her again, to recognize what she has done for me, and let go of what I perceived she did to me. The dim flickering light of trust was smothered by my feelings of abandonment. I am searching for a match, a lighter, even two sticks to rub together~ to relight it.

I am trying to accept that dear therapist is not perfect, and instead realize that like me, she is "Good Enough". I am thankful for everything she has done for me, angry as hell, but thankful at the same time. And I carry a piece of her in my heart every day.

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