Mind Shift

Sorry for the absence! School is back in full swing and I have been very busy getting ready for it all!

My mind took a shift from "all about me" to "all about work" a couple of weeks ago and it has been hard for me to tap into my reflective side.

I'm still seeing V once a week, but right now school is the only thing on my mind. Once things settle in a little bit more, the "all about me" side will start to open itself back up.

I did have some rather disturbing dreams last night, though. Hoping those don't continue if I keep neglecting this other side of me.

What Went Right?

Part of my requirements every year as a teacher are to update my state required trainings, such as sexual harassment, CPR/first aid and reporting child abuse.

As I was completing these online, I started thinking about the video that was part of the child abuse training and my own experience.

My abuse took place over the summer between my 8th and 9th grade year, so any immediate changes in my behavior would have only been noticed by my parents and/or family. Since I started the school year with new teachers, they had no idea if my behavior was any different than my norm. I have distinct memories of struggling in school during my 9th grade year. I remember sleeping in class, not feeling motivated, even spending a lot of time in the nurse's office. Definitely not how I would normally act. But no one could know that. I remember writing about what happened that summer in English class, I think more about having to go the police station and court rather than specifics of the abuse, hoping that at least she would notice how much pain I was in... but nothing ever happened. She never said anything to me, the counselor never called me in. It was like disclosing and not being heard. It made me feel even worse than I already did. And I never forgot that.

But as I was watching this video, I was shocked by some of the statistics. Only one in ten children who are abused ever disclose to anyone. One in ten. Part of me understands why this number is so low because a lot of children are abused by their parents and they have that internal struggle of hating the abuse and wishing it would stop and loving their parents. To think of myself as that one person in a group of ten abused children who told someone is kind of crazy. Why was I able to tell when so many others can't? What in me is different?

I struggle with focusing on the things that went wrong and the things I can't/couldn't control in regards to my abuse. It causes me so much anxiety and hurt. In all honesty, I don't think I've ever taken a step back and thought to myself "What went right?" until I sat down an watched this video. Even though I experienced this trauma, there were things that kept it from being even more horrendous than it was. I've never given that any acknowledgement or weight in my mind... until today.

  • I was educated by my parents to know that what happened to me wasn't normal/OK.
  • I knew I needed to tell an adult, regardless of what I was told by him.
  • I had a mother I trusted enough to tell what he did to me (not all of it, but enough to make it stop).
  • My dad kicked him out of the house and made our home safe again.
  • I had parents who never doubted what I said or made me think I was wrong for disclosing.
  • I had parents who knew I needed more help than what they knew how to give me, so they put me in counseling. Unfortunately I couldn't talk about it and they thought this cleared them of any support required at home, so I never benefitted from it, but they tried.
  • The justice system worked and punished him for his actions.
  • My parents never treated me any different after they found out what happened. I was still who I was before.
  • It never happened again.
To think that had I not said anything, I could have lived the rest of my life under the same roof as him, shuddering every time the door opened or every time the shower turned on, it's hard to swallow. I have never given myself any recognition or support for doing the thing that so many kids don't ever do...




to utter inarticulate sounds, especially of lamentation, grief, or suffering, usually with tears.
to weep; shed tears, with or without sound.

This might as well be a 4-letter word in my world. I hate it. It's messy, it's noisy, it makes me feel so out of control. Thinking about how I look when crying makes me cringe.

I am much more partial to the way I think I look when I'm not crying. I'm put together. I'm in control. I'm not leaking from multiple orifices. To me, that emits an aura of strength.

Apparently I'm stuck in some sort of egocentric developmental stage because if you see it, it must be true right? Right.

I wish it were that simple. I have honed my craft of looking one way on the outside and feeling the complete opposite on the inside. I bet if you asked any one of my co-workers, family members (not immediate, like my mom), or even some friends they would describe me as someone who is confident, strong, and happy. Why wouldn't they think that? It's exactly what I put out there for people to see.

But even faking it all day doesn't change how I feel on the inside. Hurt. Angry. Resentful. Confused. Lonely. All the things that I hide within myself, that fuel my depression and anxiety, they are going to stay there regardless of what I make myself look like on the outside. So on the rare occasion that I allow myself to approach one of these topics in therapy, it's akin to walking up to a kennel full of Jack Russell terriers that have been locked up all day and trying to just let one out. I mean, one is all you can handle without losing control right? OK, maybe two, but you don't want all of them at once. So you walk up to the cage and they all start jumping all over each other, barging for the open space to get out. FREEDOM! I MUST ESCAPE! But all of a sudden you're now having to keep the door closed, you can't let them all escape at once, but you've got to wrangle the one or two you let out, keep them in check too.

This is how crying is for me. It's always a struggle. How much can you let out so that you're still in control, yet you're easing the load for what's left in? How can I maintain this incessant need to appear in control and strong, yet let my guard down enough to feel what I'm trying to let out? Or better yet, how can I get to a point where I don't care about what I look like when I'm crying and just let my body do what it needs to do to get the relief it so desperately wants?

Every single time I allow myself to cry that is not because of a death (my sweet kitty, my cousin, my grandparents, etc) it's always controlled. I'm always standing by the door, poised to slam it shut should anything appear to be approaching the "messy" stage. But all the while I'm (cleanly) crying and processing the reason for my tears, I always get this image in my head of what I really wish I could do. Scream, pound my fists, grasp my knees and rock back and forth, shake, curl up into a ball, cry so hard I'm gasping for air. The scenario varies but is always there.

I wish so bad that I could allow myself to feel what's inside of me, but something always holds me back. I don't want anyone to ever see me in that state. So broken and hurt. Because if I don't show it, it's not really there right? Right.

What Language Does Your Abuse Speak?

My session with V today has left me with a lot to ponder. I'm already an analytical person, but I've got so much going on in my head right now that I've written, erased and re-started this entry about 10 times already because I can't seem to organize my thoughts.

I am one really $*%)! complicated person. I mean I know no one is simple, but I swear with every passing day I find out things about myself that are contradictory or frustrating. Only I can manage to piss myself off without even trying.

Fear is keeping me from progressing in therapy right now. I'm so afraid that any topic I approach or old wound I open up is going to result in the same reactions I had the last time I tried. Crippling panic attacks, constant fear, cutting, no hope. I allowed myself to think about and confront things I had never even come close before, and I just about ended up in the hospital. It took me almost 3 months off of work to recover. But when I think back to those first three months with V, I feel like I accomplished something. Even though those months sucked and I would never want to feel like that again, I feel like it wasn't a waste of time or effort.

These last 4 months have felt so unproductive. I haven't pushed myself to really talk about or feel anything difficult, because this fear in the back of my mind is slamming that door closed every time I approach it. The logical side of me is screaming "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING? DO YOU WANT TO FEEL THAT WAY AGAIN?!?!", yet I'm also battling with the undeniable fact that the only way I am going to be able to heal from and let go of these hurts I've been carrying around for so long is to talk about, process through and feel them.

I want to feel like I'm not wasting my time (and V's). I don't right now. I hate it.

I'm so frustrated with myself. I feel like I've lost faith in my entire existence. Like everything I do is futile. No matter how hard I work or how much I want something, I'm doomed. The world is going to spite me and give me the exact opposite.

I feel defeated.

And yet, to be even more contradictory, another part of me feels as though if I can eventually get to a place where I can let these walls down, that I will recover. It seems possible in every aspect of my life... except one.

Even though I sought out and have been going to therapy with the goal of recovering from my abuse, a big part of me doesn't believe it is possible. That no matter how hard I work or what I do, this will always be what defines me. I will never escape it. I will always be afraid. I will always be that 13 year old.

I mean, look at all I've been through over the past 9 months. I got to a point that I wanted to kill myself. I mean actually wanted to end my life. I had NO HOPE. And even going through all of that, I still feel like nothing has changed. I'm still just as afraid as I was then. Just as defined by my abuse as I was then. Why should I think it'll ever get better? I almost killed myself trying to make it better.

Then V said something to me that seemed so painfully simple and obvious, yet brought me almost immediate hope.

"Your abuse speaks a different language."

Don't worry, I'm going to clarify (as you are probably thinking the same thing I was: uhhh, what does that mean?). The little things I've been able to improve upon with V, like learning how to be in the moment, my relationship with my mom, coping with stressors in life without cutting, etc speak one language. Certain methods and approaches work very well in confronting those things, all the while challenging me, pushing me and allowing me to see success.

The "language" V used for those things was obviously not the right "language" for my abuse.

I left tonight feeling more hopeful than I have in a very long time. Maybe, just maybe, we can figure out what the right language is for my abuse. And maybe, just maybe, I can heal.