Trauma Therapy Session 14: Post day 3. It’s not my fault!

Sharing a journey through treatment to demystify the process for anyone nervous about starting therapy and also to help me reflect and find the lessons to move forward.

I know many people would find it hard to believe but I blamed myself for so many of the horrid things in my past. Not fully, but in part and that was the part I often noticed the most. The times I felt I did something wrong or didn’t say the right thing or just failed to fight back. I would focus there because I knew that was the part I controlled. I could do nothing to change the way people behaved but I could own how I responded.

Chris has been trying his best to challenge this thinking for a few weeks and we had made some progress but he and I both knew there was still a core believe there, perhaps a little smaller and I little more unsure but it was there. And that core believe was going to stop me moving forward.

The focus this week…

As always we explored some interesting conversations this week. We discussed a theory which I had started to consider. One which tied together some of the more difficult circumstances I faced as a child. I was cautious acknowledging whilst elements of my theory I knew were facts some elements as to why were assumptions. Built open a reflection of events at both ends of my time line and drawing a link between them.

I was a little worried Chris would tell me it was silly and unhelpful to make up theories but he didn’t. As always he listened and he was very supportive. I sensed his support was not just an empty attempt to make me feel better. He questioned a few things and helped gently challenge, and establish this theory. He shared with me broader facts which reinforced the assumptions I had made.

Chris also challenged me again to give up this sense of blaming myself. Once we agreed my theory was very probable he asked if that shifted anything. I felt it took more blame from mum and placed it with dad. He prompted

“And what does this do to your blame?”

I had not even thought about resigned in my mind to the fact I will never escape at least some blame.

Chris continued to nudge at this idea. He talked through how ego-central my thinking was. He was careful to position it. Explaining all children are egocentric as they feel the world evolves around them and I developed this blame belief at that time so it understandable that I hold onto that way of thinking.

He also flagged the bias in my thinking. That even though I could acknowledge others part in my trauma that was not where they thinking automatically went. (I have the idea of being bias in my thinking I feel like I am always trying to remove bias filters front the world and so this acknowledgement gave me something else to struck against).

He asked me if and when I could remember dad demonstrate love or caring affection and I realised in that moment I never did. I had never known or seen him be “loving” towards any of my siblings or my mum. I am always cautious in my thinking and wondered if I just had a certain filter on dad. For most of my life I knew he at his worst. But it was another part of the puzzle I had not seen before.

After the session I took the brave step to call my eldest brother. He has the longest perspective view on many things, given he has been here longest. And as my mums next of kin for a while he knows a lot of what happened even if we never talk about it.

I asked him about dad, he immediately answered no, he could not recall any signs of love. Not a hesitation. He also went on to tell me more about what he had experienced, that even when he was young before I was born, holidays involved dad dropping mum and the boys at the beach in the morning and he would find a pub for 5-6 hours and drink. That even when he was young mum was absent sometimes for days at a time. (Not in hospital but not with the kids). And he clearly articulated a view that he was confident dad had been key to a lot of mums issues.

There it was perspective and logic which demonstrated even before I was born dad had issues. I had always felt the abuse was directed at me and so there must have been something about me. Why me? Is a question trauma survivors ask. I would often ask why me and no one else? But that lack of love that was something everyone in the family experienced and the drinking was a problem years before me. I thought the drinking was a problem when mum got Ill, which I felt I contributed towards which meant… you can see how I would get stuck in cycles of blame connecting this, with this, with that. But I was not even born!

I sat at my dinning table chewing it all over trying to find ways I could take responsibility for it and I couldn’t. But it was still there that sense I messed up, I made so many mistakes. I was back to my usual hunt for the right answer. What if I had done this and what if I said that. Then it hit me. There was no right answer, there was no solution that would have made it stop, no response which would have prevented the things I suffered. I could not find the right answer because there was not one I should not have been deciding. Every answer would have been wrong.

I woke up the next day with a new sense of lightness and relief. Now I had considered the theory I could not believe how I failed to see it before. And now I recognised the roots from which my abuse grew I could not understand how I blamed myself for all those years.

The freedom to breath that reality into my space is simply exhilarating.

The sun always rises after the night.

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