Plunging in

I’ve had a real bad cold for the last two weeks and am just starting to feel better. The cold just knocked me flat it seems – I’m feeling exhausted most of the time. I took two days off work, but don’t get paid for sick days, so Wednesday, back at it. Very luckily I can sometimes work from home, so it’s possible to do some work without having the stress of commuting and being onsite all day.

Oddly, I fall into a depression when I’m getting sick, about a week before I get major symptoms. Then I’m sick, kind of give up fighting, then I start to get better and the depression disappears. Just an odd pattern to have.

I did go for my therapy session on Friday. Therapy is going to be tough.

We were having a very strangely warm day on Friday, way above zero. One kid zipped past me on his bike in a t-shirt and with sneakers on! Kids do go overboard don’t they. I drove off to my appointment, much less scared than last time. I guess feeling all those feelings in therapy really helped dissipate them. I was mildly apprehensive, but also looking forward to seeing Ron.

Ron was back to a more rumpled end of week self, not having shaved and in jeans. That’s supposed to be a fashionable look for men, and he can carry it off I’d say. As usual, no small talk whatsoever. We settle ourselves in our chairs, and he fixes me with a kind of stubborn gaze. I don’t know how to describe it. Maybe as a challenge to tell him my deepest secrets? I’m not about to do that, so I ask him how he’s doing, and he says fine.

We talk about how it was for me after the last session, and I tell him about how I didn’t feel any anxiety. Then we fish around for topics. He’s all for plunging right into what my flashbacks are like. In that moment, I can’t actually remember what they are like, which is an odd feeling. I have them all the time.

I ask him what his clients usually discuss, and he says it could be anything…usually any discussion leads to the difficulties they are facing. 

So I change the subject to relationships. After all, he’s a therapist, what better topic? Then I get a little stuck, as I have friendships, but no big relationship to discuss. So that peters out.

I tell him I’m not comfortable enough yet with him to plunge into talking about the abuse. He asks what would that comfort be like? I’m not sure, so I don’t say much. There are a lot of longish silences in this discussion.

We end up discussing my EMDR experience, when I went for therapy about a year and a half ago. I told him that it was like re-experiencing the incidents, which knocked me so flat I couldn’t really function for a long time. And I stressed I’m not about to get to a space where I cannot function – I’m proud of my job, and that I support myself and care for myself. There’s no one around to pick up the pieces if I were to fall apart.

Also, the re-experiencing didn’t really seem to help me. I wasn’t cured. Though now thinking about it, I am less depressed than I used to be, but with more flashback type symptoms. I don’t really know what that experience did for me.

Then Ron asked what happened. I had that extreme reluctance to discuss this. It is like a physical barrier, almost, discussing abuse. I told him a bit about what I remember anyway, as I felt probably I should. I remarked that I had no desire to discuss this. Ron said sometimes what we need to talk about and what we want to talk about are not the same. He said the idea in therapy is to discuss the troubling darker stuff, that that helps. It actually seems to make it worse, but what the heck.

So I spoke a bit about my uncle who liked little girls. And how young I was – around four I’d say. Ron was very unintrusive.  He didn’t ask a lot of questions. … he was pretty decent.

Then he talked about how that abuse might have affected how I saw myself. I talked a bit about how I tend to get angry, how talking about this makes me angry, and about how I tend to get angry in the present in ways that are not useful to me.

What I really remember most about what Ron said was how he remarked ‘how could it have been your fault? You were four…’ in this kind of soft offhand voice. Not like he was trying to convince me, but more like he was stating an obvious fact. That really touched me. Because I do think it was my fault, because kids do take those things on. And yet, when I think how small a four year old is, how little power she would have… How could this situation be a four year old’s fault? It doesn’t really make sense to think that it is.

  1. Your last paragraph rang a bell with me. I constantly have to remind myself of that little five-year-old (in my case) and what choices she could and could not make. She could not have been expected to make any decisions, let alone the right decisions, yet I still take all of that on. I am really struggling with my anger at present. Underneath it all I think I am angry that that little five-year-old is getting so much of the blame.Thank you for writing. I read every post and get something out of almost all of them. 🙂

  2. Ellen said:

    Anonymous, so nice to know you are out there reading and that some things resonate with your experience also. The anger is hard to deal with I find – where can it go when it belongs to the past? And isn't it odd – rationally we know that a child that young cannot be blamed, yet we blame ourselves anyway? It's a paradox. Take care

  3. diver said:

    Hi Ellen. That's curious about your pre-sickness depression … as though you're unconsciously precursing the illness well in advance?Also curious about Ron's 'unshaved and crumpled' persona. Fashionable is it? Gee. Err. I think it shows a lack of respect for female clients for a male therapist to present himself like a slob. Or a porn star. And you're paying money for this? At least he could shave :(He stated " … how could it have been your fault?" did he? Good grief. I reckon this was such a STUPID thing to 'state in an offhand way' that I'm left wondering if you've misinterpreted him here … it's boggling. No way could a 4yo carry the responsibility! The problem and entire responsibility lies with the degenerate uncle and his impulse control problem. You're right, it really doesn't make sense at all. I think it's sad and horrible that you blame yourself. My guess is this maladaptive pattern developed in you simply because NO ACTION was taken against the abusive relative by your guardians? Assuming they (the guardians) knew of the crime, of course …

  4. Ellen said:

    Hi Diver – Interesting how you see this. I actually like the way Ron looks – he looks kind of arty to me. He's not at all dirty. Just not pressed and corporate. He's a better looking individual than I am and can pull stuff like that off. He is never disrespectful…rather quiet and thoughtful. Thanks for your indignation on my behalf. I do appreciate it. Young children just do take on that guilt. I wasn't that conscious that I had…Ron knows that, and hence the comment. I feel tremendous guilt, even though it's not rational. Yeah, if someone had helped me, I for sure would have felt better. And I guess he was a criminal…I never told my parents about this. And if I had, they would have been unlikely to believe me. I guess it is the secrecy of it all that makes it so damaging. It's not as if some disaster happened to me that everyone agreed on and sympathized with. I really appreciate your comment diver – the support means a lot. It's not a fun topic, and it makes people uncomfortable, and I appreciate your response.

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