The One with the Secret Closet

Yay for Friends references! (BTW, I have all 10 seasons on DVD. Jealous?)

Where do I go from here? My session today was much less emotionally taxing, which is what I needed after Thursday.

We talked about how my reactions to Thursday were much less anxiety inducing, but more emotion inducing... which is a huge change for me. That has to be the medication. Even though I didn't go to work on Friday because I was still processing, it wasn't because of anxiety. We talked about how I felt about what I had accomplished, and more so about the fact that even though it was such a huge thing for me, I feel no sense of pride or accomplishment in being able to clear that hurdle. We talked about how I feel that although nothing automatically changed just by me verbalizing what happened, but that I feel now that I am on the opposite side of it. Mostly because I have spent the last 10 years feeling the same emotions and going through the same actions. I would see the abuse for what it was, something awful that severely affected how I lived my life, but yet I couldn't ever get past it to change anything. Now I've taken that first step past it and am looking at it from the other side. I'm still just as close to it as I was 4 days ago, but on the other side. We talked about what is on the "other side"... mainly things in my life that I've never worked on because I've never been able to even clear that first hurdle of verbalizing what happened. Ugh, I have so much to work on. We talked about the 3 things I see are the most pressing for me. My relationships are crap right now. I have so many varying emotions about my mom that I can't even stand to spend time with her because I don't know whether to be mad or upset or let it go. I have so many trust issues with men because of what happened that I don't allow myself to get close to anyone because I convince myself that I can't trust them. How I view myself is unhealthy because I apparently have so many ill conceived notions about the abuse that I have convinced myself that it was my fault it happened and that there was something more I could have done to have kept it from happening, which has transferred into my adult life as second guessing EVERYTHING and always placing the blame on myself. Not to mention my ability to trust my instincts is shot after getting so many mixed messages after being abused. Ugh.

I got a little defensive when she was discussing the fact that the defense mechanism I used to cope at the age of 13 (aka the normal reaction) was to do what I had to do to stay safe and not trust anyone. At age 13, after being sexually abused, how the heck was I suppsoed to take that experience and decide who I could trust and who I couldn't? I knew she wasn't blaming me, but it's one of those unanswerable questions. How was I not supposed to end up like I am now having no option but to either trust everyone or trust no one, because obviously trying to gauge individual people to trust didn't work for me. UGH UGH.

This is all extremely frustrating. I feel like I've just opened the door to Monica Geller's secret closet. Everything looked to be in order, but WHAM here's a whole big new mess to deal with.

Healing is Hard

Yesterday I had the hardest session of my life.

I told her the exact details of what I went through, what I remember, what I thought, what I felt.

I had two sessions this week, which was planned about a month ago when I was having a very rough time but didn't want to cancel the opportunity for some extra growth. Tuesday's session was good. We talked about how I perceive myself in my professional atmosphere and personal atmosphere. I am two completely different people. We talked more in depth about how emotional relationships make me shut down and not offer information unless I am specifically asked for it... which lead her to my homework assignment.

On Thursday I was going to lead the session. She was not going to take the lead in questioning and directives or even topics. I was to come in there and talk about whatever was weighing on me at the time. It could be as miniscule as the blue sky or as heavy as the abuse, which is what we have been dancing around for the past month. I immediately felt pressure to do the latter, one because it had been weighing heavily and two because I felt that is what she expected. I talked to a friend about this assignment and the fear I was feeling and she called me out on the fact that I was afraid because I didn't think I was strong enough. And not only that, but I am the only one who thinks that. She's very blunt and it took me off guard. So I called C later that night and set up the same scenario, hoping she would tell me what I wanted to hear, but she said the same thing that KP did. "You're the only one who thinks you can't do it."

So I went to work yesterday dreading the ticking clock because I knew what I needed to do, but just did not feel ready. 12 PM ticked around and I left and headed to her office. I sat in the waiting room praying for God to give me the strength I needed to get through this session and the wisdom to understand that I was doing the right thing.

We walked to her office, I took my usual position on the couch across from her leather armchair and she asked me "How have the last few days been?" then added "And that will be the last question I ask!" We initially talked about how nervous I felt with having to choose the topic and talk about it without interruption, the conversations I had with KP and C and how I was hoping for a different response than what I got. We both got a laugh out of that because I always get what I want! Grrr. Time was ticking by and I knew I was going to run out of time if I didn't take the wheel. I pulled two pictures out. One I keep in my journal and one I found in my photo album. I told her I wanted her to look at those two pictures because they showed two very important things.

One is me in a wildflower field holding the puppy that we had just bought and smiling as she was licking my face, just 2 weeks before I was abused. The picture is vivid and oozes happiness.

The other is a picture I found of my bedroom at my dad's house. The room I was abused in. The picture is drab and lifeless.

She asked me why I wanted her to see those pictures. Those pictures represent the stark contrast of what I feel my life is. Happy on one half, dead on the other. While I have had many wonderful things in my life that fall into the "2nd half" I still feel the sharp contrast. She interjected that she was glad that I recognize that it isn't just this all black all white situation, that even though there appear to be two parts to my life, there is hope and happiness there.

I asked her that if I were to tell her what happened, if it were OK that I did not look at her while doing so. At this point I knew I would not be able to maintain eye contact while telling her what happened. Thankfully she was OK with but she was worried that I was doing this because I felt pressure from KP and C. Them thinking I was ready did not mean that I was. For something this huge, it needed to be a decision I made for me and no one else. While I was definitely feeling pressure to do this because of the conversations I had with KP and C, this was something that I had been thinking about a lot and was what caused me to initiate those conversations with them. Was it my choice? Yes it was. So I closed my eyes and tried to figure out where to start. I tried to figure out what I would say. I tried to figure out where I would stop. I did my best to control my breathing. I sat there for what seemed like hours before I got up the courage to say the first word. I knew once I started talking I would be fine.

I finally was able to start and as I talked I pictured in my head what I picture every day. It's so much easier to explain when you can "see" what's happening. As I talked I felt the tears welling up in my eyes and pushing their way through my closed lids, but my voice never faltered. I was able to keep my words continuous until I got to one part... I had to stop. I had to build some more courage, had to find the right words. I could feel the tears pouring down my face. When I finished I sat there with my eyes closed still, too afraid to open them and look at her. She asked me what I was feeling and in all honesty, I wasn't sure but the feeling was awful. I told her I felt like dying because the guilt and shame was just too much. "What do you have to feel guilty about?" she asked. I shouldn't have gone in there, I should have screamed, I should have fought back. My voice failed me there.

She asked me if I could open my eyes and look at her. Afraid, I remember slightly shaking my head no. Through thick tears I finally opened my eyes and looked at her. With no hesitation I hear, "You are so brave and you have nothing to feel guilty about. This was not your fault." The barrier of my eyelids could no longer hold back the tears and I cried more then than I have in a very long time. It took me a while before I could remove my head from my hands and look at her again. During those tears she was telling me that even though it may not feel like it now, I had just taken a huge step in my healing and that she was so proud that I had done what I did.

Healing is hard.

I may moan and groan...

... but I really do love my job :)

The Foundation

I talked to my cousin on the phone for 2 hours Friday night. Gah, she is amazing. She is the only person in my family who I have shared my struggles with, including the depression and anxiety, what I talk about in therapy, feeling suicidal, etc. She knows some of the struggles I deal with as it relates to my family because she was brought up in the same type of household.

The dynamic of my family is hard to explain. I am SO proud of who I am and feel so connected to my lineage, but that being said there are some drawbacks. My family is very socia.lly elite. They were big-wigs in the business world and maintained a very classy facade in the social world. My dad (the oldest) was brought up in an extremely strict, ultra-conservative house where emotions played no role. Weakness was not tolerated; there was too much at stake. So my cousin and I were brought up in a similar fashion. The only difference is that her mother is a strong, proud and very outspoken individual. She taught my cousin to speak up for what she believes in, even if it goes against the family practice of "put on a happy face." So with the two sides meeting, she is a very strong, outspoken and driven individual. She knows what she wants and doesn't care if you disagree with her or if it is the complete opposite of what is considered "acceptable" to the family.

I, on the other hand, was exposed to the same family mentality of "weakness and emotions are bad" early on when my parents were still married, then after the divorce I was only exposed to my mom's parenting style. I'm not sure if there is a word for her particular style... absent, maybe? My mom never talked to me about anything. She never taught me it was OK to stand up for what you believe in, to ask for help, that she felt sad when I was disrespectful, or that I was even being disrespectful. I knew nothing. My mom never talked to me about sex, drinking, death, religion or anything of the sorts. I knew that antagonizing my sister was something she hated, she told me that... so I did that. A lot.

So as an adult now, it's so apparent to me the importance of environment. While my cousin and I had the same foundation laid, her house was nurtured and built with care by her mother and her father. Even though my uncle is very much like my grandfather, he is nowhere near as bad as my dad. I on the other hand was left on my foundation with a stack of wood and nails and was forced to build my own shelter with no guidance. I knew enough to build walls to shelter myself from the elements, but my walls are beginning to crumble. That leaves me where I am now; battered, worn and needing to start over. I'm learning to rebuild my house one beam and nail at a time.


It's been an up and down week, like every week is when I'm on my period. I was hoping the Lex.apro was going to help with the mood swings but so far it hasn't. It's been almost 3 weeks so I'm thinking that it just hasn't been long enough. I have noticed a decrease in my anxiety, which has been nice. I had a panic attack Tuesday night, but that was because of the weather. I was at home putting grades in my online gradebook watching the Westminster Dog Show when the tornado sirens went off. I knew it was raining and windy but I had no clue the weather was that bad. So I scrambled to find my flashlight, grabbed my cat and a bunch of pillows and we spent the next 15 minutes in the bathtub until the sirens went off. Normally this type of weather doesn't start until April!

My session on Tuesday was good. I wanted to talk to her about what happened with the psychiatrist but it was harder for me to do so than I thought it would be. I shared something I wrote about how I feel that my abuse always gets minimized (even by me) and that I feel the complete opposite but act like it's no big deal. We ended up taking most of the time talking about things that related to that as opposed to my homework and other things she may have had in mind. Somewhere towards the end she told me that as much as I don't want to do it, I need to tell her what happened. I've never even told my mom specifics, nor anyone else so the prospect of that sent me straight into tears... and I make it a point never to cry in sessions. She made sure that I understood that I was under no time frame and she was not pressuring me to do anything before I am ready, but that she feels that it is going to be a crucial step in undoing the damage that was done by not being allowed to talk about it.

I am so torn over how I feel about this, aside from petrified. I'm afraid that once I tell her what happened it'll be like, "OK it's out in the open. You don't have it inside of you anymore. Get over it." As stupid as it sounds, I'm afraid to start getting better. I'm afraid to not have this as an excuse for why I'm not in a relationship, or why I have problems with my family. Starting to work through this is the beginning of the end to that and that is scary for me.

Thankfully I have 2 sessions next week, one on Tuesday evening and one Thursday mid-afternoon, which means I'll be taking another half-day off of work. I feel so much better when I see her 2x a week, so I am glad I was able to schedule this. My next bi-weekly will be during my week off and that will probably be the last one until this summer. Ugh, June is so far away.


I saw a psychiatrist on Thursday to get some insight on medication to help me with my depression and anxiety. My OBGYN started me on Lex.apro 2 weeks ago, but urged that I needed someone more schooled in dealing with the complexity of my issues. She gave me a list of names and I picked one (the only woman on the list). I filled out this huge packet of information and met with her for about an hour. I hate not knowing who this person is that I am going to trust with very sensitive information. She was old, probably as old as my grandmother... which is fine for some, but I prefer my doctors to be in their 30's and 40's. She wasn't very personable and had a peculiar "bedside manner". We eventually got to the issue of my abuse and she started asking me about specific details which I have not shared with my therapist yet, and I've been going to her for 4 months. This was the exact conversation:

Psych: "How old were you when it started?"
Me: "13"
Psych: "How often did it happen?"
Me: "For me, once. My sister was abused about a year."
Psych: "Was there intercourse?"
Me: "No"

Psych: "Just fondling then?"

Ummm. I'm sorry. JUST that? Well geez, what am I doing there if it was JUST that? I mean surely one can get over it if it was JUST once, and JUST that right? I could not believe she said that to me. I took a few seconds to answer her because I couldn't believe this was happening. It would have been different if her question was asked as clarification, but the tone to her voice was nothing close to it. I couldn't get out of there fast enough. I went home and was just in shock. I spent most of the night crying. I did manage to journal about it so I can bring it up in session on Tuesday, but it has really affected me. It makes me doubt myself so much when I continue to think that surely it is not that big of a deal to have affected my life this much, but my heart knows that it is huge. And my brain remembers no one reacted as if it was huge. No one reacted at all.

My anxiety flared up again today. We're right on the cusp of when my "bad weeks" start, so it's possible that the won't have much of an effect this cycle since I haven't been on it long enough. I'm going back to the OBGYN for my next Gar.dasil shot in about a month and will ask to be put on birth control to help regulate my hormones if the Lex.apro hasn't started helping by then. I hate living my life knowing that I am going to be in a dark hole for 2 weeks out of every month. It's very hard to enjoy the good weeks when the bad ones are lurking in front of you.


My faith is something I have always struggled with. I was raised in an agnostic house, but attended Chris.tian private school from kindergarten through 2nd grade. I never really understood why the things I was being taught at school were not also being taught at home. I moved from private to public school in 3rd grade and stopped my spiritual growth. When my parents divorced, my mom started taking us to church... which I absolutely loved. I got to experience what I heard my friends talk about, got to meet new friends and got to be in the choir. I got so much there that I did not get at home. But it was short lived. I don't remember how long we went, but we never went back. I got involved in church again at the end of junior high because of my friends. They were all very involved in the same church and it just felt right to be part of it, too. Unfortunately, as things go, we got to high school and our paths separated, so I stopped going when our friendships changed. I never got/gave myself enough time to learn (about), connect (with) and understand why I should have a relationship with God. As you reach a certain age it becomes less about teaching and more about living what you have learned. I reached what I perceived to be that age and never felt comfortable going back to church.

Then one of the biggest life-changing events in my life happened: I moved away from home and attended a private university. Strange step for someone who was unsure of their faith. There were many requirements that involved attendance (3x a week) of chapel each semester, classes in scripture and heritage of Chris.tianity and other similar things. Those were great because they taught me the specifics of the books of the Bible, the Nicene creed and other historical documents that have influenced the practice of Christia.nity... but nothing that helped me understand my inner struggle. While I felt so accepted there, I also felt out of place. Everyone was so sure of their beliefs and faith, which made me even more unsure of what I believed. I am such a "see it, prove it and believe it" type of person, that faith in the word of God is something I really struggle with. I do believe that Jesus died for our sins but I'm not sure where I stand on believing that there really is a higher power. Even typing this is making me extremely anxious because I am so afraid of being persecuted for my beliefs (or lack thereof).

My confusion is not as defined when I am really struggling. I find it easy to pray, read the Bible and believe that there really is someone listening and has a clear defined path for my life. But in times of normal emotion, I find it very hard to get to that place. Like I'm being someone I'm not... but yet I feel like I should be that person. Does that make sense? It is so frustrating to me!!!

The reason I bring this up is I have been toying with the idea of attending a local church/fellowship group tomorrow. But the idea of going and feeling that terror of not knowing what I believe and having to "fake it" in front of so many people... scares me. What if someone asks me a question I can't answer, or am afraid to answer?


So, as I previously posted last week, I met with my boss to discuss my absences and was second guessing that choice because of her reaction. For purposes of self-preservation I made the choice to move as many appointments as possible so that I wouldn't miss work. In all honesty I scheduled a couple during work to allow me a break every 4 weeks or so. I told her I changed almost all of my appointments (with the exception of two that really couldn't be changed) and she was grateful that I did that.

Fast forward to today. She stopped me in the office and asked if I was going to a seminar after work (optional) that we have once every 10 weeks or so. I told her that I already talked to my department head about it, that Tuesday's won't ever work because I have other engagements that can't be changed. So she proceeds to ask me what I do during that time. I'm sorry.. it's my personal time and it's off-contract. I could be pole-dancing and you can have no say in it. Anyway, I told her that I have medical appointments (vague enough?) from 5:30-6:30 and rehearsal from 7-9. In a nutshell she basically told me that what was happening after work was important and that I needed to reschedule those appointments when something like this comes up. She then proceeded to tell me that I shouldn't ever respond that "I can't EVER do that" but that I should be open to possibly changing my schedule in order to be able to participate in something that will help me.

I was so pissed. That woman really has no clue.


So I'm right smack dab in the middle of my "good days", generally 2 weeks before I start my period up until about 2 days before. My hormones are normal, I generally have little to no anxiety (or panic attacks), no mood swings and definitely no suicidal thoughts. I cherish these days. That being said, it's harder for me to think about what I want to change in my life and be more aware of the things that are being discussed in therapy. My focus is all on the fact that I'm happy and can function rather than trying to reprogram my brain to react to certain situations in new ways or to approach the way I treat myself differently... basically trying to undo bad/unsafe habits that I picked up in childhood as ways to cope. So because of that "auto-pilot" type of mentality, I haven't been keeping up with the homework I had for this last week. Did I have some of those bad thoughts and feelings? I'm sure. Can I remember them now? No.

Crap. I'm going to be so busted tomorrow.

If I even make it til tomorrow. I started feeling crappy yesterday, slept most of the day and still feel bad today. I'm hoping by skipping the gym today and going to bed early I can nip this in the bud!