Trauma Therapy Session 17: Post day 4. I love making progress painful as it is.

The starter for ten…

Dam that Dr earns his money. We covered loads and also nothing. At the beginning of the session we reflected on a couple of things and sign posted a conversation for the future. Then we had a really helpful conversation about speaking to other people or more so other people speaking to me about mum and dad.

Much of my family have little knowledge of the extent and extreme nature of the abuse I faced. My eldest sibling knows the most as he became mums next of kin so was legally informed of certain incidents or the prohibited steps order and facts pertaining to mums treatment. Still I think even for him it was a paper exercise and limited to what he was told. The realities of it hidden from sight. When it came to dad I can only assume he knew nothing.

I can’t take the reminders…

I wonder how much my other siblings actually know. My younger sister heard at least some of the things I lived through. During a brief conversation with her the other day she was telling me about a time dad hit me which I could not even remember. There was at least one occasion when dad hit me in public two of my four siblings were present and my mum. I am pretty sure beyond my little sister at least one of my siblings witnessed an occasional slap though it may have been masked by laughter from dad and I no doubt rarely if ever responded.

Then there was the other evidence, everyone knew of dads drinking issue and how extremely bad it was. Everyone watched when I finally left and the house fell down around him (who did they think has been holding it up). They also in the later years knew about some of his less than savoury activities. I can only assume they avoided putting two and two together.

Where am I now…

I often find it really upsetting when people bring up mum or dad. They are either saying nice things about them which somehow cuts me to the bone or reflecting on not so nice things which just reminds me of a load of other not nice things. Before really exploring my feelings I had played along, ignored them, changed the subject. Now I can’t just walk by, I can’t avoid how much it upsets me.

What I really want to do is to ban the topic of mum and dad, at least when I am around. I was worried Chris would suggest that was avodivance and not healthy but actually he explained how it was more of a protective action and I should feel totally within my rights to request this.

We had a brief conversation about me talking to people about my past trauma. The key take away of which for me is I am under no obligation to talk to anyway about it. I took away some of the thinking to reflect on, although I am fairly certain I will within the next few weeks be asking each of my family to stop talking about mum and dad. It feels like a big ask, they use that time to process their own memories or to feel a connection with people who at times held a happier place in their memories. I don’t remember a time we have been together as a family when mum and dad have not been mentioned. It feels only fair to ask for the opportunity to not be reminded. However I acknowledge what I will be taking away from them. As a family they rarely get together without me being there, unless they find ways to catch up without me I will be shutting down their only reminiscing Avenue their main link to the past.

I think as part of the request I will offer to explain some of my reasoning. I don’t want to feel like I have to hold on to the past myself anyone more. I want to continue to be open to talking about it, it feels like an important step in accepting it. In accepting it as part of what happened to me. Accepting part of myself. I would never force it on anyone so will let it be their choice. I can explain a little of the reasons to help them understand why the topic is off the table or they are welcome to just accept it is off the table with no explanation and move on.

It won’t be easy…

Beyond worrying about how I can do this and how I will feel. Part of me is already worried it won’t work. And that I will be left at the bar be que or birthday party or Christmas meal asking please can we not discuss them. I worry I will hurt them either sharing the unknown truth or forcing aside their wants and needs. I worry I will cause a lot of upset and to no benefit in the end.

I don’t want to loose my family but I can see why so many people break away from their wider family when there is a history of trauma/abuse. The reminders sap so much potential joy from the present.

More Processing, Silence, Laughter, then Words…

Then we got into the real work talking about one of my hardest flash backs. Poor Chris patiently waited and encouraged me through the most agonising twenty or so minutes of any session we have had to date. I wanted to talk too Chris about it, I know how helpful it has been in the past to voice these memories, however I was absolutely stuck. It literally felt like a physical block. I could think of the words but do you think I could say them.

I have no idea why but I found myself laughing at myself and my inability to talk. It felt ridiculous I was sat there saying nothing, wrangling with some unseen force in my head. I never normally have an issue talking. I contemplated tying to just throw out words rather than full sentences. Contemplated typing instead of talking. Nothing worked I was stuck. At one point Chris reassured me “you don’t have to talk about anything, it is entirely your choice.” I wanted too I wanted to release myself of the burden of carrying it.

I responded “I am decided I want to talk I just can’t.” I think those three words ‘I am decided.’ Shifted something it took me a few moments more and for someone who likes to consider themselves a writer and a story teller I can’t claim any eloquence in how I stumbled through the description, but I did it. As always Chris asked the occasional question helping to shape the articulation of the memory.

I managed to describe all the worst bits of that flashback, however there is one part I did not mention. It is not a horrid part just something which really irritates me. I think I might mention it next time just to drain it from my head.

A new feeling or at least newly acknowledged…

A key discovery for me this week has been hate. I hate my parents for what they did. It is not a feeling I have ever allowed myself to even contemplate but I do. I think prior to therapy I directed all that hate at myself. It was there just misplaced. Even now I feel guilty and uncomfortable saying it but it’s true. And yes there may be moments of love muddled into that history especially with mum who could demonstrate real compassion and kindness.

Until the next time…

Chris absolutely deserves a medal for that session. For each skilful guiding, reassuring, educational word. And I probably deserve one for talking. Never in my days have I felt such a need to force my way past my own mind. I won though.

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