Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 615372

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Help/Support/Advice **********TRIGGER***********

Posted by TherapyGirl on March 3, 2006, at 9:38:55

I hope I did the subject line right, as I don't want to cause anyone else any problems.

I feel like my head is going to explode. I have been in therapy with the same therapist for 21 years (we met only occasionally during one 8-year period in the late 90s, early 2000s). I have dealt with physical and emotional abuse issues during that time. I thought I was done with all of that, or as done as I can be.

We spent several years in the 1990s exploring whether or not I may have been sexually abused. There were some signs -- my complete discomfort in sexual relationships, I was diagnosed with vaginismus, which is a red flag for s.a., I have chronic insomnia and often react to situations as if I had been sexually abused. I even briefly went to a group for S.A. So I felt like we explored it thoroughly. I never had any memories of anything like that, though, so I thought we ruled it out.

This week, though, I had a disastrous gynecological exam and it looks like I checked out during part of it. When I was discussing it with my T yesterday, she said, "You know, in my many, many years of experience working with women, I've seen it happen over and over again that a woman will not recall s.a. until she's ready. I wonder if we should explore whether or not this is another layer of the abuse that you suffered."

My head has little explosions going off and has ever since yesterday. I looked at her and said, "But we ruled that out years ago." She just looked at me and pretty much repeated what she had said. Apparently, I'm the only one who ruled it out.

I don't know what I'm asking for from any of you. I just know that you're the only other people I have to talk to about this. Has this happened to any of you? Do you have any advice for me?

 

Re: Help/Support/Advice **********TRIGGER********* TherapyGirl

Posted by Dinah on March 3, 2006, at 10:25:00

In reply to Help/Support/Advice **********TRIGGER***********, posted by TherapyGirl on March 3, 2006, at 9:38:55

My therapist has had an awfully hard time believing I wasn't sexually abused. But I wasn't.

Which leads me to believe that there may be a cluster of symptoms that a person frequently gets because they've been sexually abused, but that they sometimes get without being sexually abused. And I would suspect that some people who are sexualy abused develop a different cluster of symptoms altogether.

My own thought is that clusters of symptoms might raise red flags for therapists as to areas they should explore, but they shouldn't lead them to conclude that their suspicions are correct or to try to convince their clients that their symptoms are proof of certainl life experiences.

 

Re: Help/Support/Advice ***TRIGGER***

Posted by B2chica on March 3, 2006, at 10:25:10

In reply to Help/Support/Advice **********TRIGGER***********, posted by TherapyGirl on March 3, 2006, at 9:38:55

all i know is it's pretty amazing what the mind can forget. there were many...many incedents of SA that i completely forgot and now not sure how i could have. but i did. once the memories started to ccome many came at once, then every now and again, i'll remember something else.
i'm so sorry you had such a rough exam, i know that can be very triggering.
i will agree with your T and say when your mind knows it's ok to remember, you will.
but with that said i do think that it's worth exploring even if you don't have the memories, because maybe it wasn't csa but something else??? either way it's effecting your life and should be explored.

take care.
b2c.

 

Re: Help/Support/Advice ***TRIGGER***

Posted by TherapyGirl on March 3, 2006, at 10:37:42

In reply to Re: Help/Support/Advice ***TRIGGER***, posted by B2chica on March 3, 2006, at 10:25:10

Thanks to both of you, Dinah and B2.

I do want to clarify for Dinah that when I was shaking my head "no," and saying it over and over, my T did say, "Are you saying you don't think it's true or that you don't WANT it to be true?" I told her again that "we" had ruled this out before. And she ended by saying, "I trust you. If you don't think it happened, then it didn't."

I think she is trying to encourage me to explore it again without affecting my recall.

Thanks so much for sharing your different experiences. You can't believe how much it helps just to know both of your stories.

 

Re: Help/Support/Advice ***TRIGGER*** TherapyGirl

Posted by Dinah on March 3, 2006, at 10:42:20

In reply to Re: Help/Support/Advice ***TRIGGER***, posted by TherapyGirl on March 3, 2006, at 10:37:42

My therapist used to encourage me to explore it while being careful not to affect my recall as well.

He hasn't said anything about it in a year or two. So I'm assuming that he thinks I'm correct.

 

Re: Help/Support/Advice **********TRIGGER*********** TherapyGirl

Posted by Tabitha on March 3, 2006, at 11:01:32

In reply to Help/Support/Advice **********TRIGGER***********, posted by TherapyGirl on March 3, 2006, at 9:38:55

I think focusing on the possibility of sexual abuse can bring on anxiety that can create symptoms. I had a therapist declare that I had been sexually abused based on very little evidence in my attitudes and experiences. Because I had no memory of abuse, or any other evidence, another therapist told me I must have been abused when I was pre-verbal. I actually had a lot of strange pains and experiences while there was all that focus on it.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that the closest thing to abuse in my history was picking up some anxiety from my mother, who got some unwanted attention from her father as an adolescent. Once I quit searching for clues about it, a lot of the 'symptoms' vanished. It left me with some lingering anger toward therapists who are quick to encourage clients to believe they were abused despite no memory or other evidence.

 

Re: Help/Support/Advice **********TRIGGER***********

Posted by madeline on March 3, 2006, at 18:55:50

In reply to Help/Support/Advice **********TRIGGER***********, posted by TherapyGirl on March 3, 2006, at 9:38:55

Hi therapy girl, I'm madeline. Welcome to Babble.

I am in a very similar situation as you right now. I have absolutely no memory of sexual abuse, yet I have so many of the symptoms. My therapist has never pushed the issue at all and routinely says, "It really doesn't matter now". IMO, he's right. It makes no difference to my life at the present whether I was sexually abused or not.

I still have to deal with the abuse I remember and try to live a good life, try to trust people, and be as genuine as I can to myself regardless of what happened in my past.

On a side note, if I was sexually abused, then I owe a HUGE debt of gratitude to little madeline because she is keeping that secret very well.

Try to sit a while with the fact that you may never really know whether you were abused or not and what you would really change if you could positively say you were.

Just my thoughts, enjoy babbling - I sure do!

 

Re: Help/Support/Advice ****TRIGGER*** (Everybody)

Posted by TherapyGirl on March 3, 2006, at 20:25:32

In reply to Re: Help/Support/Advice **********TRIGGER***********, posted by madeline on March 3, 2006, at 18:55:50

Thanks so much to all of you for getting me through this day. Nothing like a little perspective from others who have been there.

I realized as I was reading your responses that it's true that knowing for sure whether or not I was sexually abused wouldn't change what I'm doing in therapy. Knowing the details of the other abuse hasn't changed the actual work. So I'm going to try to keep that in mind in the coming weeks and keep working on my leftover issues.

Thanks for being there. You are wonderful people and I think I'm going to love it here.

 

Re: Help/Support/Advice ****TRIGGER*** (Everybody) TherapyGirl

Posted by Pfinstegg on March 3, 2006, at 21:34:45

In reply to Re: Help/Support/Advice ****TRIGGER*** (Everybody), posted by TherapyGirl on March 3, 2006, at 20:25:32

These posts about "not knowing" mean a lot to me, as I suspect I may have been, but it is not a clear memory- just little hints and slips of the tongue which have made both me and my analyst suspicious. It's clear, in my explicit memory, that he was cold, physically very abusive, and that he sexualized everything- alcoholic, too. I'm learning that there are always going to be huge numbers of things in one's implicit memory, which may never become definite, known memories. It's hard to accept, and I actually hope that as our work goes on, I will be able to know more. But, even if we never do, I think we can become much more accepting of the unconscious and semi-conscious parts of our minds- hopefully, that will bring us more peace and happiness.

 

Re: Help/Support/Advice **********TRIGGER*********** TherapyGirl

Posted by Daisym on March 4, 2006, at 0:17:49

In reply to Help/Support/Advice **********TRIGGER***********, posted by TherapyGirl on March 3, 2006, at 9:38:55

I find it interesting that you had "little explosions" going off. Your brain seems to have been sending up warning flares.

I think what everyone else said is true, a therapist should never try to encourage or plant csa memories or ideas. It sounds like your therapist is careful to just leave the door open for you.

I just want to add two experiences. One part of the csa for me I've always known. Always. When I told about that part, I thought that was it. But when I started to talk, more things popped out. And as I allowed myself to regress, parts of me had stories to share that I didn't even know were stored. I would just suddenly *know* something else. The timeline is still kind of fuzzy but stuff drops down when I don't expect it, or I dream things that put the pieces together. The other experience is the feeling of knowing before you have the pictures. In a therapy session I was describing how uncomfortable a particular sexual act with my husband had become. And completely innocently my therapist said, "but that didn't happen to you as a child so I wonder what is being triggered" and just like that it felt like someone poured water down my back. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and the room spun around. In this very tiny voice I said, "no that never happened to me." And we both knew, in that moment, that it had.

Speaking for myself, I think I am doing therapy differently than I would if I didn't remember specific things. Because I want to tell all the details of what happened, I want my therapist to be a witness to it, even as ugly and painful as it is. I don't think this is a necessary part for everyone, but for whatever reason, for me it is.

I hope you find peace in all of this soon. It seems that you are working very hard on yourself.

 

Re: Help/Support/Advice **********TRIGGER*********** TherapyGirl

Posted by Poet on March 4, 2006, at 12:20:53

In reply to Help/Support/Advice **********TRIGGER***********, posted by TherapyGirl on March 3, 2006, at 9:38:55

Hi TherapyGirl,

I agree with your therapist that sometimes a person who has been sexually abused will not recall it untl they are ready.

I also agree with other posters someone may have all the signs of having been abused and they weren't.

My T asked me early in therapy if I had been sexually abused. I denied it. It took me 2 1/2 years to tell her that I had been. I am not willing to explore it and she promised to never bring it up unless I do.

Leave the door open on reexploring what may or may not have happened to you. When you are ready, you will know it. Your T sounds wonderful in that she has never pushed you to talk about what she still suspects. No wonder you've stayed with her for so many years.

Glad you found babble.

Poet


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