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Re: Any ideas on how to work through csa *trigger* pinkeye

Posted by daisym on June 10, 2005, at 1:17:23

In reply to Any ideas on how to work through csa *trigger*, posted by pinkeye on June 9, 2005, at 13:13:22

I've come back to your post three times now and it finally strikes me what is bothering me about it...why is your therapist trying to convince you that you should be angry at your dad? If you don't feel angry, then you don't feel angry. There are no "shoulds" (so I'm told) but just what is.

I've said this before...

I was in therapy probably 9 months before I said anything about my childhood, besides the basic parental divorce stuff. And then one day I wanted to tell. I worried myself sick trying to figure out why I wanted to tell. And then I was really sick after I told. And I told this really small thing in very broad terms.

We spent the next few weeks trying to figure out why I needed to tell him, what was I looking for? And then we talked a lot about what going into the past might do, what I was looking to accomplish and if the current depression was connected to this in any way. My therapist didn't jump right in and say, "yup, let's drag this all up, it is the ONLY way for you to feel better." In fact, he warned me that many people feel much worse for awhile when doing deep work. That given all the other stress in my life, perhaps this wasn't the time. He felt that only if all these memories were pushing up on their own and interfering with my functioning should we undertake the examination. Having nightmares and flashbacks sort of sealed the deal. I couldn't ignore it anymore.

But...it is a spiral process, at least for me. I tell some of the stories, we talk about my feelings and we talk a lot about how I relate to other people because of what happened. I've said more than once that all the books tell me I'm supposed to be angry, but I don't feel angry, just sad. He always responds by reassuring me that whatever I'm feeling is fine, as long as I'm honest with myself about it. Anger has flared up now and again and it is a very scary thing for me. And he never makes me feel like he expects me to confront my own anger or forgive, or make peace or anything else. He doesn't lead me, at least not very often, he just sort of pushes left or right to keep me from completely falling off the path I'm on.

This is a really long way to say that I don't think this is something you recover from. I think you learn to live with whatever ripple effects it has had or is having on your life. I would ask your therapist what is the outcome we are working towards by talking about this stuff? If you have a relationship with your dad, and it is pretty OK, the focus should be on your feelings about your body and how to feel better about that, not how to feel worse about your dad. You DON'T have to accept and label whatever happened to you as csa. It might have been, I don't know the details. Only you can say that. Some people are traumatized by having seen pornography, others by being touched and others by full sexual assaults. A less sensitive person might not label the first two as csa, but a very sensitive person could be very effected by "just" pictures. And research tells us that the real factor in the long term effect of trauma is about what happens AFTER -- did a child receive comfort and care and safety from some trusted adult?

I think you do have to accept that you feel bad about certain things and are therefore causing some harm to yourself because of these feelings. But I would try to begin to focus on the feelings and the harm, instead of on the label and blame. I hope I'm saying this right. It isn't that I don't recognize the importance of admitting what happened to you or the possibility that you are defending someone because you are afraid to be angry at them. But I truly believe you have to come to this in your own time as you become open to listening to the hurt inside. Because as I said in the above thread, there are rarely (if ever) great big moments in which you will scream out, "YES< I'M ANGRY, OK?! He did a terrible thing to me and I'M ANGRY ABOUT IT!" And then sob, and then get up, say a heartfelt thanks to your therapist and feel recovered. It just doesn't work like that. Acknowledgement and discovery are the first steps on a very long path.


The thing I hardly ever see talked about is that this process might involve losing all over again. If you've rebuilt a relationship with your dad and you unravel this stuff, that relationship gets threatened. And that makes us sad in the here and now. My therapist helped me articulate this very thing today: I love my dad and inside me that love exists and is important to me. I'm in a horrible middle place of not understanding why he did what he did and wondering if he feels bad about it or if he even thinks about it. So being around him is scary and triggering and all sorts of other stressful things. And mixed in is an incredible sadness from the youngest part of me that she can't reach up to her daddy for comfort and love right now. I was glad my therapist could hold that and understand that and not tell me I should hate the guy. He said it important to talk about the good things I remember too. It is hard though.

So, I guess I would say, don't feel pushed. Don't try to force understanding. Give yourself space and time to think about things.

I'm sorry this got so long.

 

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