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Long answer - triggers Pfinstegg

Posted by daisym on February 11, 2005, at 20:48:57

In reply to Re: A book worth reading daisym, posted by Pfinstegg on February 11, 2005, at 19:02:07

>>>I have been talking with my therapist about this book too -- he notes the double edge sword of seeing that it takes a long time and that it is OK that it takes a long time. We talked about intellectualizing all of this (again) and the realization that no matter how well you might understand it, you still have to go through the feelings in order to heal. What we talked about most was my increased understanding of emotional abandonment. That during the abuse, especially the sexual stuff, no one heard my silent cries and I was utterly and completely alone. This is helping me to understand why I'm terrified of him leaving me, even when reality indicates that he isn't going anywhere. I learned long ago that a person could physically be around and yet still you were alone.

****Lots of questions -- I'll try to answer them.

<<<I'm wondering something. I think you said that the known abuse you suffered took place at around age 12-13. I guess this would be old enough for at least some of the memory of it to be available to you in your explicit memory. I'm getting the impression that, as you have worked with your T, more memories of details came from your unconscious, implicit memory. Is that right?

<<<Mine took place at ages 6-7. It was completely unconscious until I began to allow myself to free-associate in analysis. Gradually, more and more details are coming to my mind, but it still is not exactly the "oh, I remember that" type of memory. It is largely non-verbal, implicit memory, but I know it is real, Using the art therapy, without any censoring, has been a big help in uncovering it. This is just a long way of getting around to the thought that you may well have been abused earlier, also.

****This is correct. I've always "known" I was touched, beginning around age 11. I never allowed myself to think about it much, I told myself I was one of those people who wasn't effected by it. When I entered therapy, I had no intention of talking about it, I didn't think it was relevant to my "mid-life crisis" or sadness around my husband's illnesses. Surprisingly, 6 months into therapy, I told him. I think the younger parts of me felt safer and safer and began to emerge as emotional ghosts, so I felt haunted all the time by an unnamed sadness and restlessness. But first I needed to trust him and to develop a vocabulary for what I was feeling. I couldn't process it intellectually without that. As we worked on this stuff, little daisy emerged during a session in full force. She "told" me lots of stuff, especially while journalling. So I worked out the timelines by doing the house walking exercise we've talked about. The sexual abuse started when I was 7 and continued probably until I was 15. I don't have all the memories worked out about the ending of it all yet, those are still very cloudy. What I know was happening earlier than 7 was that I lived in a volatile household. Dad had a temper and exploded over little and big things. And he hit. So perhaps my hiding was tied to the fear of spankings. I have a clear memory of being 6 and waking up in the middle of the night and being terrified to go get my mother but I was sick. I threw up in the corner of my room, cleaned it up, hide my pjs under the bed and got rid of them the next day. And I want to instantly add here that we looked like a perfectly normal middle class family in the suburbs - dad had a PhD, mom was an accountant -- they drank at night, like most other folks of this era, but not excessively that I remember. It was the temper in the background that made it tense all the time.

<<<Did it happen to your sisters at younger ages?
***My sister said it happened to her between 7 - 12 but all she remembers is being fondled. She spent three years in therapy after rehab so if she was going to remember more, she probably would have by now.

<<<Since your parents are still alive, can you ask them non-threatening questions? (saying you are just interested in knowing the kind of child you were), I'd want to ask them to describe how I was at 3,6.9 terms of personality. Did you change from outgoing to reserved ever? What were the things they believed were most important when disciplining you? How, and how often, did they do it? Did you ever "act out"= be naughty? Did you ever have years when you were frightened at school and did not want to be with your friends? Did you have times when you lost interest in your studies?
***I've been asking my mom stuff in round about ways. I want to know more about how much they drank and about how she dealt with my dad's temper. She tells me she worked a lot (sound familiar?) I was an extremely shy child, I would bury myself in a book and stay lost for hours at a time. When I was little I wrote poetry, beginning at age 5. I wish I had saved some. My whole life I wanted to be a writer because writers got to work alone. I was very close to my siblings, but we moved ever few years so they were my constant companions. My older brother isn't even a year older than me and we were very tight. In fact, I remembered a while ago that I told him that "dad touches me" when I was 12 and his answer was "don't tell mom. She can't handle it." And that was it. We never talked about it again. I don't even know if he remembers it now. We were disciplined all the time, rules were rules and if you broke them, you were in trouble. I rarely was naughty intentionally, but I was sort of flighty, I'd forget things and waste time and be late...stuff like that. I got straight A's usually, except for handwriting. (I have my dad's exact handwriting.)I never lost interest in my studies, I loved school. I couldn't wait to go to college. I had a few close friends but when I became a Junior in high school, I suddenly ran with another crowd, drank myself to death every weekend and was much more outgoing. I've stayed outgoing and out spoken ever sense. People are SHOCKED when I tell them I was a shy child. I have no idea why the change.

<<<For you, do you feel you have any unusual gaps in your memory- that's supposed to be a big red flag for abuse. I bet you could find out a lot without cornering or threatening them. I would love to make a time line of my childhood. I can do it easily from 1-5, but then a blank cloud descends over everything.Maybe you'll be able to.

I don't know what you think of this. I'd give so much if my parents were still alive, as I would really like to fill in my huge gaps!

****I think you might struggle with the destruction remembering causes. I have different relationships with my parents now and I see that being tainted by these memories. I ask myself what this is going to accomplish in the end -- will it leave me totally isolated from my family? I ask these questions in therapy all the time. My sister told my mom a few years ago and she wasn't believed. Of course, her drug use makes her the family flake so it was easy to dismiss her. I've not told anyone, not even my sis. I'm the "strong, steady, smart one" so my telling will have implications. I often wish I had waiting to do this work until they had died. My therapist says either way it is hard and either way you are still left with the question of "why?"

I hope this reply wasn't too long. I'm in a reflective mood today so I'm writing a lot. What I want to know, are your implicit memories felt memories? Is your body remembering? If so, how? And, have you had conscious sensory flashbacks? I've been fighting them the past 10 days, which makes me even more aware of the deep fear place we've touched.

I wrote a whole paragraph called "the smell of unwanted sex." It was very graphic and scary. My therapist wants me to share it with him. Little daisy wants to share it. I want to pretend like I can't remember these details.




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