Changing Your Thinking

Can you like a ch.ild? Chances are the answer is no. You are an adult and you view situations through adult eyes, using your experiences as reasons to help make your decisions in life. Sounds like a good thing, right? For most people, I'd venture to say it is. For me, right now at this moment in my life, it is not.

My inability to think like a child is causing me great pain. It is keeping me from healing the way I need.

Today in session, we discussed a few dramatic happenings in my life (which I will go into tomorrow or Thursday after it has all died down) and the things it brought up that are important to my work. There were actually quite a few that have given me some things to ponder. The majority of our time was spent discussing what I decided to do in order to sleep better at night. Last week I decided that I was ready to write down, word for word, the experience of my abuse so that I was released from the deep need to go over it every night before I fall asleep. This has been a contributing factor to having nightmares over the years.

I sat down at my computer to type it out, starting around 9PM and ending after 1AM. Sometimes the words were just too much. Taking a memory you have and attaching words to it is extremely hard. Words have meaning. Words have emotion. I had to stop a couple of times and focus on my breathing before I slipped too far into a panic attack. I was left with a 6 page account of everything I could remember that I would go over in my mind. Things I was afraid I might forget. I went a little bit further and wrote about some things that happened after the abuse itself, like the legal stuff, detectives, court, etc that I felt just needed to be told as well. I can honestly say that knowing I had everything written down and that I hadn't skimped on any detail, helped me give myself permission to not think of it at night. I wasn't perfect all week, but I did very good. I know it will get better with time.

Today I printed it off and took it with me, wanting her to keep it there, for fear of someone possibly finding it here. She asked me what I wanted to do with it at that moment. I knew that this question was going to be asked, so I had already given it some thought. I had a lot of options.

"Any decision you make is fine. I can tell you what I think is best, but what you have written represents probably the most powerless moment in your life, and choosing what to do with that should not be a powerless moment as well."

Reading what I had written out loud was something I already knew I was not going to do. I told her that I just wasn't ready for that, but I was not opposed to her reading it.

"Read it out loud or to myself? I can do either, ask for clarification when I need it, or we can go paragraph by paragraph. Your choice."

Knowing it would be hard, I told her to read it aloud, and she made the choice to go paragraph by paragraph to get more information if needed. We only made it through 3 paragraphs, but that was enough. Without realizing it, I tuned her out as she was reading, trying not to hear what she was saying. She stopped and looked up at me. I didn't even realize I was crying. That question I love was said next, "What are you feeling right now?". There aren't words for what I feel. PAIN. Not having the words to explain that, I told her I was frustrated with the fact that even going through every awful thing he did to me, I still place the blame on myself and cannot find it in me to feel anger towards him.

"Placing blame on yourself means that you had the control in that situation and the power to make the decisions. Were you the one in control?"

"No. I wasn't the one making decisions, but I had the ability to do something. Thinking that I had no control scares me. It's much harder to think that I had no control as opposed to having some control and not doing anything."

"You had no control. You were a child. You were doing everything you were taught to do. To not disrespect your authority figures. To not hurt others feelings. You are thinking of your control in the mind of Lily, the adult. Your life experiences and status as an authority figure to your students has given you the sense of control and the ability to apply that control to your memories. You have to think of it as Lily, the child. She did what she was expected to do and she did everything she could have done."

Through the tears and the pain, I learned something that seems so painfully obvious but something that I think is going to help me on my journey to heal. I can't think of this as an adult. I have to realize that my inner child needs to take control of this one. I just hope she feels strong enough to come out.


mile191 said...
July 15, 2009 at 2:07 AM

Thank you for your submissions to the Blog Carnival. I have enjoyed reading, crying with you. This post was amazing, and I loved the one: A Tale of Two People. Very well done. I will plan to use them. Stop by Friday. Thanks.

Just Be Real said...
July 15, 2009 at 4:30 AM
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Grace said...
July 15, 2009 at 6:57 AM

Lots of inner child work going on the blogs I've been reading...I can see your strength, both the adult and the child.
"What are you feeling right now?" - on of my favorites! Like you, it isn't always easy to describe!
You were a child, you were not in control of the situation, you were not to blame.
I'm looking forward to reading your unfolding story of healing.
~ Grace

Harriet said...
July 15, 2009 at 9:55 PM

Wow, that was very intense. Very brave of you to write it and to let her read it aloud. Sometimes the most obvious things are the hardest to internalize.

HeartfeltHeartLook said...
July 16, 2009 at 1:12 PM

Praying for you, inner child and adult. Hugs!

Shen said...
July 16, 2009 at 5:33 PM

I can relate to so much of what you wrote here.

I have written out events from my childhood on several occasions, just as you described here. I did it to alleviate nightmares, and for other reasons as well.

What has worked for me has been burning them.

I have a sort of ritual fire and burn the pages. I hold them as long as I can, and then drop them into the fire at the last minute. It feels like this takes some of it away.

I came to the worst of it this past January. My abuser was my father. It felt like I would never get rid of it all. I still haven't, but I am closer.

I wrote letters to him - not to give him, but to express my anger. I went outside with my husband. Like you, I could not read them out loud, but I let him read them silently with me, and then we burned them together.

The most cathartic piece came when I decided to burn his manuscript. It was 300 pages of stuff that he had written. I wrote on the back of every page and burned them, one sheet at a time. It sounds very cold to say it like that, but the anger and pain was much more than anything I could do to an inanimate object.

I hope you find your way. Good luck. Just wanted you to know that I understand.

Enola said...
July 17, 2009 at 7:47 AM

I'm glad you submitted this to the blog carnival - it helped me find my way here. I can relate, all to well to this post.

Marj aka Thriver said...
July 18, 2009 at 11:19 AM

I'm so glad you joined us for THE BLOG CARNIVAL AGAINST CHILD ABUSE. Thanks for your courage in sharing in this way.

Yes, as painful as it is, your little child self who is so hurt needs to express that. Take gentle care.

Patricia Singleton said...
July 29, 2009 at 12:33 PM

Sometimes my inner child has no words to express her pain. You are blessed that you can cry as your therapist reads your words. It took me about 3 years before I could connect my feelings to my words and cry.

I knew the feelings were there but I had spent so much time denying them that it was difficult to reconnect with them. They were so entwined with each other that, in the beginning, I couldn't tell you, in words, what I was feeling. I hated when someone would ask me what I was feeling. I didn't know.

I have 6 years of memories from the age of 11-17 of the incest. I have clues that I may have been as young as 3 when the abuse started. Sometimes there are no words to describe what I am feeling because the child may have been young enough to not talk yet. I have one vision of myself as a baby and not feeling loved in my mind.

Thanks for sharing this. I will be back to read more. Let yourself grieve for that child that you were.

VICKI IN AZ said...
July 31, 2009 at 1:47 AM

This is such a moving post.
I am so glad you shared it on the carnival so that I could find your blog. I really like that you can understand the difference between thinking like the little you and the adult you. I learned so much from you here.