I am realizing today how bummed I am that about a decision I made. I decided to take this year off of performing with the symphony I am a member of because of two reasons: the scheduling conflict with rehearsal and therapy and the added stress during a season where I am already afraid of falling apart.

I was just listening to the C.D. of our Christmas performance and it made me sad knowing I wasn't going to be part of that, but yet I know I have made the right decision for me. I was planning on taking the whole year off and returning at the end of the spring season, in time for all the summer concerts, but I am going to give myself permission to re-evaluate and possibly go back after the Christmas break.

And so starts the crazy!

Work is picking up quickly. Lovely.

The weekend was full of some lingering anxiety of beginning a new year. Like I wrote before, the fall has been a very hard time for me in the past and I am worried of a repeat performance. My mind has been drawn to cutting a lot more than it has in the past, which just gives me one more thing to try and keep under wraps.

Today in session we talked more about what exactly my fears are of this fall season. My habit is to take my past experiences and use them as the foundation of future experiences without taking into account the fact that the situations might be completely different. In my case, I have been working HARD for about 9 months now on my healing, when before I was pushed so far back in denial. Basically it was just a forum for me to recognize the steps I have taken and the differences in myself now as opposed to a year ago. So often I forget about the actions I have taken to improve things in my life and focus so much on the things I cannot change. It just takes a little reminder sometimes.

I wanted to bring up the fact that I had noticed myself becoming angry with things that didn't nomally make me angry before. I felt like this was a subtle change in my personal balance with things, and I wasn't really sure what it meant, nor was I really sure how to react to it. We discussed a situation I gave her as an example, how I would have reacted before, and how I reacted in the present. We pulled apart the actions and thought processes in each time frame and talked about the hidden messages I was sending myself in how I chose to react. While anger may not be the right emotion for that situation, the anger is telling me something . Oddly enough, it's telling me that I am realizing that I want to be able to set boundaries with people. I'm not angry at that person for approaching me and expecting me to do what I always do, I'm angry at myself for not having the boundary to begin with.

Apparently that is a huge deal to reach this "step".

People who are sexually abused (especially as children) have a very skewed and misguided sense of boundaries. You are taught, shown, whatever verb fits that you have no personal boundaries; that someone can take from you whatever they want. A lot of the times, you don't even feel like you deserve to set boundaries. Either way, realizing that I just might have the right to want boundaries in my life is huge. I'm not sure how to set them, or what to do with them, but apparently I want them. Now all I have to do is learn how to set them.

Initially I didn't see the big deal in reacting in anger towards someone else. I saw it is a bad thing. Anger = bad. But as we were talking about the effect it has on me, I started to see that maybe I am changing for the better.

Finding the Right Feeling

C.R. was this evening, and I almost didn't go because I was exhausted from being in constant meetings from 8-4, then a volunteer post from 4-6:30. Why in the world would I want to go to C.R. from 6:30-8:30?! But choosing growth over laziness, I went.

The abuse group that normally breaks off from the large group was missing its leader today, so I stayed in the big group and wasn't used to their routine. I ended up not being able to share because of this, so I'm going to do so here. What was rattling around in my head as others were speaking is how difficult last week was for me, and the thoughts that fueled my depression and destructive behaviors.

Last week I was stuck in a rut of self-hatred. I despised myself for being an (unwilling) participant in my own abuse. Thinking of the fact that I was still carrying around the body that was abused made me want to crawl out of my own skin. I have never felt so uncomfortable with me. So with these thoughts fueling my actions, I made the concious decision to punish my body. I felt as though I deserved this treatment. I cut to scar my body. I cut to release emotions I had no valve for. I have no words or outlet for them yet. I cut to make myself feel better; to alleviate those feelings of hatred. Cutting is such an enigma for me. I do it as a punishment, for being weak and "allowing" myself to be abused... but at the same time, the feeling I get from doing it is strength. I look at the cuts and think, "Wow. I was able to endure that. I am strong."

So tonight our main question was to think about choices that are negatively affecting you (or others). This question brought me to thinking about my bad week. I started thinking about the things I was telling myself that pushed me to the point that I chose to cut. As I am in better place this week, the things I was telling myself sting a little less, but I can see them for what they really are. While I wouldn't say necessarily they are "choices", they are this: They are REAL feelings and REAL emotions that are being masked/diverted/portrayed as something else. I have a feeling, my self-hatred is soon going to turn into anger. And I have a feeling it won't be anger for anything I have ever done, but rather what was done to me.

Fall Fear

Last night was the first night in almost two weeks that I sat down to journal. I had been told to stop journaling at night because of the destructive triggers it was stirring up in me, but after such a long time I almost felt like I was pushing myself backwards into not feeling anything and avoiding the topic. It definitely felt good to sit down with a pen in hand and write about what was bothering me.

Towards the end of my session last night, I told her that I was worried about starting the upcoming season because the past two years have resulted in a VERY rough fall . Last year things fell apart in October, starting with my grandfather's death and snowballing with constant panic attacks, depression and my eventual re-entry into counseling. The year before that is when my whole world came crashing down at the realization/confrontation of my abuse. I could barely function. I don't know how I made it through working during those first few months. I am worried that I am doomed to have another awful fall. October is when I start running out of fuel, getting too much on my plate then crash and burn... and last year I crashed and burned hard. I do not want to have to go through that again.

So when I sat down to write about this, I was just as emotional as I was bringing it up in session. I was on the verge of tears because the fall represents such a low point in my year... I can still feel the wound that has had little time to heal. I am so afraid that no matter what I do I can't prevent it from happening again. And not only that, the friend/mentor who helped me through the roughest time in my life is now retired and is no longer a few doors away, which leaves me feeling even more trapped at work. No one knows what I am going through. I don't think I can handle having to put on a happy face in front of everyone at work again. At least with C, I could be real. I don't think I can handle going back to that place again. I am just not strong enough. The fear is overwhelming. It's causing me to want to ditch my path and hide where no one can ever find me.

Punishment vs. Relief

After Saturday, you could say I was in a somewhat dark place. Tuesday I had a session, and we talked about how bad Saturday was and the things that led up to me getting there. I decided to reveal that I had cut and pounded myself until I bruised in order to punish my body. That was the sole purpose of doing those things: to inflict pain on myself as a punishment. I had never told her that I had done these things before, because honestly I didn't do them very often (maybe every 3 or 4 months) and it was never used as a form of punishment, but as a way to feel physically what I couldn't emotionally. I guess you could say that Saturday scared me enough to say something, even though I knew revealing it would cause me some pain as well.

We talked about all of that, and she discussed how she felt that cutting was not only unsafe physically, but detrimental to my healing. The way it was worded caused me take on a tremendous amount of guilt, and I felt awful for saying something. I ended up going home Tuesday night and cutting again, but not as a punishment... just as a way to physically feel my emotional pain. So I knew when I went in today, I had to say something to her about walking away feeling guilty because of something that was said. We talked about that and she reiterated that she was not blaming me in any way, she just wanted to let me know that in her opinion, my decision to cut was only going to hurt me, not help me. I told her I cut again, and we compared Saturday to Tuesday and the emotions that were going on inside me at those exact moments. It led up to me needing to make a decision on whether or not I wanted to try out healthier ways of dealing with those emotions, even though they may not be a quick fix, or continuing to use the quick fix even though it might cause future emotional pain. She asked me if I could make a committment to myself not to cut until I see her again on Tuesday. I said yes, but I hate telling myself "No! You can't do that!" in times of need. It just makes me want it more. We talked a little bit more on the subject and she asked me again if I thought I could make that committment to myself and I started crying. Giving up my back-up plan is extremely vulnerable and I just don't think I'm ready to do that yet.

Part of what started this whole tailspin of stuff was me sitting down to journal Saturday night because I was feeling anxious. The evenings are a very vulnerable time for me anyway, so taking on such heavy things at night is sometimes detrimental to myself. So on Tuesday I was asked to stop journaling and processing difficult things at night, which is why I haven't checked blogs or updated yet... because I'm always on at night! Hopefully these next few days will give me the proof that I can find other ways to cope, and that saying I'm not going to cut doesn't make me feel cornered and out of options. I hope Tuesday gets here quickly.

Can you feel that?

Last night was not good. I was feeling anxious (which generally means another underlying emotion) so I sat down to start writing. Bad idea. I had this overwhelming feeling of hatred and disgust of myself. I just could not get past it...

So I punished my body for the way my mind and heart felt. It felt like the only way to make that pain go away. I'd much rather feel physical pain then what I feel inside... if only it was that easy. Seeing the bruises and cuts makes me feel better. Proof that I am as damaged on the outside as I feel on the inside.

God's Grace

Last Thursday I was at Tar.get, doing my grocery shopping after working out at the gym. I was sweaty and definitely had better looking days, but for grocery shopping, who cares?! I had just finished packing up my car with my groceries and was driving home when, for the first time in a long time, I heard God speak to me. I had been struggling with going back to C.R. since I had first gone a month ago. While sitting at a red light, all of a sudden my burden was lifted. I could feel Him giving me the strength I needed to go. And all of a sudden, I HAD to go. It starts at 6:30, and it was 6:25. I raced home to unpack my groceries, I didn't even take the time to change out of my workout clothes because I didn't want to be later than I had to be. I had an amazing experience and got a glimpse of something I think God has been trying to show me for a while... My strength is through Him.

Today's topic in large group was God's grace. It is through his grace that we are able to define and admit to our weaknesses, because only then are we truly strong. This is such a struggle for me. Admitting I have weaknesses and need help with those is something that does not come easy for me, but to think that admitting them to God makes me strong makes it so much easier to do. After reciting the serenity prayer, the leaders began to give out celebration chips, which is something that is done at the beginning of every month. It can be to celebrate the decision to recover, 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 1 year of recovery/sobriety etc. I took my first chip today. The chip that one gets when starting their recovery, and ironically enough here is what it has on it:

"My grace is enough for you."

Feeling your Feelings

Making myself feel is something I have to make a concerted effort to do. I spent all of my adolescence keeping a secret from everyone I knew, pretending that nothing was ever wrong for fear of people beginning to ask questions. The only thing I felt for a very long time was fear. Fear of being abused by someone else, fear of men, fear of someone finding out, fear of change, fear of not having control over everything.

Now that I am beginning to understand the complexity of how what I experienced has shaped my way of living, my coping mechanisms, my relationships, etc, I have found a way to release a bit of the fear and allow myself to experience other emotions. Things like anger, shame, loss, and grief. They come in waves, generally triggered by an event, a memory, discussions in sessions, or journaling. In experiencing these new feelings, I am having a hard time allowing myself to fully open up to feeling those feelings. It's painful. I find myself attempting to divert my thoughts and shut down when I start to feel too much. Like right now.

Every feeling can be described using physical attributes. My stomach feels heavy and tense, like I'm trying to shield myself from a blow. My heart is beating a little faster than it normally does, there's just an edgy feel to it. My throat feels like it is going to close off as a result of my shallow breathing. I can feel myself inching close to something big, I just don't know what it is. I have a feeling however, that I am going to find out soon. I just hope that I can handle the pain that comes with it.


I've been in such a cloud of grief since last Wednesday that I haven't really done much for myself. Sunday evening I decided to sit down with my homework for the week, since I was having trouble sleeping. My assignment was to identify beliefs that were formed or intensified as a result of my abuse as they pertained to 4 different categories: myself, God, others and the world. Have you ever tried to sit down and figure out when you started believing what? It's a very time consuming process that left me feeling extremely out of touch with myself.

Going over those beliefs today makes me realize just how alone I felt in the first few years after my abuse. Everything I wrote down was something I believed as a direct result of that. Some of the beliefs were things that I no longer believe to be true, or only apply with certain people instead of being a blanket statement. Some I still believe to be completely true. One in particular has pushed me back into a feeling of such deep loss and grief that it brings me to tears when I just bring it up, let alone discuss it in depth... and of course tears presented themselves in session when I voiced this belief: God abandoned me.