I want to keep sharing this journey because I know how scary it was before I started therapy. So many times I ignored the signs that a little help could be needed. I lived with decades of nightmares and flash backs. Convincing myself it was ok, it was expected, I just had to find a way to cope, to continue onward. I think the fact I managed to do well in work and life generally just enforced the idea I didn’t need help, when really in hindsight at times it was really hard.
If there is a chance however small that one person reads these blogs and it demystifies treatment. If one person decides they are not going to accept being stuck, or struggling, or simply failing to live a happy life, and gets help…Then every word how ever many times it is read or if falls into the world unseen is worth it.
So here it is session 8 of the real work…
As always we touched base, had a quick chat about my conversations with Stephen. How wonderful he is being at getting dragged along on this journey with me. I am eternally grateful.
I mentioned a few new sleep issues which have continued to come up. New nightmares, continued hearing someone calling me and waking me up to find no one there, and then a lightning like jerking when I am just drifting off, forcing me awake. Chris reassured me that it was all fairly normal and would likely fade away as we work through the trauma. We are asking a lot of my brains processing power at the moment so it is possible that this is aggravating the situation.
I know a part of me was hoping there would be a magic action I could take. Especially with the sleep, but I accept that there is not and I have to accept the tricky nights. My sleep does feel like it is getting peppered with occasional nights when I sleep through and I don’t have to fight my way to morning which is heavenly.
The voices shouting me awake do freak me out sometimes, because they seam so real and then I wake to find there is no one there. Sometimes they are voices I recognise sometimes it sounds like Lillian is stood next to bed saying mummy, sometimes I don’t even know whose voice I am hearing. As Chris recommended I try not to over think it and just try to reassure myself back to sleep. Secretly though between you and me I wonder if it is that guardian angel of mine or even just a part of my brain trying to save me from the worst of the nightmares. Perhaps trying to save me from the things I have long since forgotten. Some nights it just happens once or twice, on a couple of nights though it has felt like every time I start to dream I am abruptly woken, the dream or nightmare never manages to get past the opening sequence. I wonder what is hiding behind those opening credits.
Then we spent a little time talking about dad. I was an utter whimp really not saying very much to start. But that is the benefit of therapy it’s at your pace. No one can force you to say things you don’t feel comfortable saying.
Chris as he often does gently, masterfully nudged me forward in the conversation and we landed on a discussion about cleaning and inspections. Dad insisted that it was my job to keep the house clean, and my job alone. I would spend most of the day every Sunday cleaning that big old house from top to bottom. In lots of ways I liked the cleaning I would pop some music on and go at it with focus and effort, left alone to get on with it by myself and at the end I would feel like I had achieved something.
The part that was horrid was when I considered the work done, I would have to tell dad and he would wander around the house inspecting each room. Sometimes he would highlight things I did not even know were expected, like pulling out a sofa and saying you haven’t hovered here. Even though I had never cleaned there before, nor let’s face it was it needed. The continued changing goal posts was one level of stress.
Then Chris asked what would happen if I did not pass the inspection, I could only say dad would kick off. Chris nudged again and got the same reply I think he realised on this occasion he wouldn’t get anymore.
Chris enquired how I would feel in those situations and I did manage to voice my feelings which was a big win for me. Identifying and articulating feelings is something I am continuing to work on. He then asked if I ever realised that it was wrong and the truth is I never thought about it. I just got on with it to keep the peace.
I then diverted the conversation a little to other topics, the contracts dad would make you sign to agree to responsibilities or paying rent. I touched on briefly the night I finally left, what prompted it and how dad locked me in the house refusing to let me leave. But the overriding theme once more of our session was guilt or blaming myself. I felt awful I had let Mel behind.
We reflected on how these experiences easily would have reinforced my perfectionism and relentless drive. This is one of the unhelpful rules we have been challenging that I must do an amazing job at everything. A rule with Chris’s help I am definitely start to break or reshape.
There are other rules though that I am failing to let go of. One of which is, ‘It is my fault’. There are very few if any situations in my life which I can not manage to find some fault with something I did or something I failed to do. We debated why I wasn’t willing to put that blame down. I had no decent answer and agreed to go away and think about it.
On reflection I know I feel guilty about the night I left, I feel awful for leaving Mel behind. I know I didn’t have a choice to take her with me. I was accepting I could be sleeping rough that night. And I know I fort hard to get a flat sorted and get her out of there, but the reason I left was utterly selfish.
Dad had come up to my room that night off his face, insisting Stephen leave and then once Stephen had gone dad began bullying me into agreeing to spilt up with Stephen. I left not because it felt like the right thing to do, not because I was acknowledging the awful situation we had been in for years. I left and left Mel there because dad was trying to take someone from me that I didn’t want to loose.
If we had stayed things would have gotten worse I know that. And overall I am glad I left as it meant me and Mel managed to get a flat in a safe environment away from the abuse. But I can’t ignore the fact, that night I was not thinking of anyone else but me and what I wanted. I wanted Stephen and for him I was committed to going.
It makes me wonder how do you balance not blaming yourself for everything but acknowledging there are parts that may be your fault and parts that may not. I think it has always been easier for me to just say it’s all my problem. Try as I might I have never really been able to influence the world around me, but, what I do, what I say, or what I fail to do or say that is totally within my power. Some how the power of almost deciding everything that happened was on some level my choice, is a little comforting. If it was my choice to stay it was my choice to leave.
If it was not my fault and someone else’s it makes me that little bit more afraid. If I did not on some small level contribute to all the shit then what made me so unlovable that life was forced on me in the way it was. If someone else is to blame then a part of me wants to feel angry, and anger or hate are not emotions which sit well with my core being so I always try to deny them.
I suspect it all comes back to my desire to avoid emotions. To not feel the bad stuff. Some how just blaming me removes some of the guilt, shame and anger it just reinforces that drive. I can do better, I must do better and as hard as that relentless drive is, really that is my happy place.
As long as I am moving forward in life I am never going back there. As long as I move forward I have hope. As long as it is my fault I can change it, eventually I can find the way out.