A rupture repaired

We had a rupture, but I didn’t even realize it until today when I felt the very obvious relief of a repair.

I came into my session today feeling beaten down and defeated and considering that maybe I should just stop therapy, because everything is all my fault.  I cause my own suffering. I was terrified to talk about my nightmares, because I was convinced that she’d say it was just because of some sadistic desire that a part of me has and something I can control but choose not to.

We talked about what triggered me last week, which was something she said but I can’t remember what.  But we talked through what I can say to her in the future if something she says triggers me again.  She seemed pleased to be talking about last week, because she said that she felt like she kept missing me and couldn’t connect with me and now she knew she had actually been destructive.

The reason I was convinced she’d go along with me in believing everything is my fault is because the secret I divulged to her a few weeks ago is that a part of me wants to be hurt in the worst way and has a passive wish that it will happen again.  The shame over this has eaten me up for years and became more pronounced after I told her.  Last week, after I had my long flashback, T asked if that part was a factor in what happened that day.  I felt like I’d been punched in the gut, because she was essentially saying that I wanted to be pulled into a flashback.  It was probably lucky that I was too dissociated at the time to answer.  So we left it there and the session ended a few minutes later.

I’ve been wracked with guilt since that session, which increased once I had those nightmares.  I hated myself so much for any pain that I felt, any negative emotions, any nightmares that I had, because I kept thinking of what she said and that I’m only in this place because I want to be.  Even so, I knew I needed to talk about it with T this week, no matter how much shame I felt about it.

She seemed so pained when I said that it had been hard not to hate myself since she made that comment.  She said she never wants anything she says to cause pain and that if she could take the comment back, she would, but I told her that it’s true.  She didn’t answer but looked like she partially disagreed.  She told me she’d been thinking about last week a LOT (I was surprised).  She said it was a poor choice of words and bad timing on her part.  She said she wanted so badly for her office to be a safe place for me and even described her “grandiosity” at thinking it should be a safe place caused her to blame the victim.

I sat there, staring at the floor, while she went on for a couple more minutes saying that last week she felt like she kept missing the mark with me, that nothing she was doing was helping me get out of the flashback, and that she wanted so badly to help ease my suffering.  She said she’s always been an advocate for not blaming the victim, that she’s even done a presentation on it, and was horrified that she had because it goes against everything she believes and that it’s like her religion.

We were quiet for a couple of minutes before I thanked her for apologizing.  She thanked me for allowing her to apologize. She explained that she realized she wasn’t allowing me to just be where I am and that her desire for her office to be safe wasn’t allowing me to do that.  But even with her apology, I still feel some amount of hurt from the comment.  Her apology doesn’t wipe that away, and I’m still left wondering if even a part of her believes it’s true.  It hurts so much to think that there’s even the slightest possibility she thinks I “wanted” to be pulled into a flashback.

After she got all of that off her chest, I told her about the nightmare(s), and I said that I’m now afraid of my own mind because I’m terrified that some part of me wanted to dream that. She asked who the part is, and I said it’s like another abuser.  Then I realized that it’s my father.  The part that wants me to be hurt is an internalized version of my father.  I couldn’t/can’t believe I hadn’t completely realized that before.  I told T that I felt myself release just a tiny bit of guilt over having that part once I realized “who” it is.  Although I also explained that I feel violated and helpless just at the thought of him being in my head even though I rationally know that I can, and should, have control over that part since it’s all in my head.

Of course, T was tremendously understanding of why it would feel that way, because that’s how things were in the past, and that it’s just where we are right now…That, yes, it is my mind and I do have control over it, but that part was created at a time when I really was helpless and didn’t have the tools to resist it.  And then she asked if I could do her the favor of not berating myself for not being in a place yet where I can control that part – that I’ve only just named the part and it’s OK that I’m not “ready” to relinquish it.  I had to smile a bit that she knows me well enough to know that I’d be hard on myself for not being rid of that part yet.  She asked if there was anything we could do to help start to prepare me to let that part go and, through tears, I told her that her knowing all that she does and not kicking me out is a start.

We were getting towards the end, but I think we both felt some relief that we’d gotten everything out into the open.  And it helps me trust her and trust the relationship even more.  She said that I have amazing honesty and that she will make mistakes, as will I, but we can make it through together. I don’t know about the honesty part – I am still tight-lipped about a few things – but it felt nice to hear her say ‘we.’

It turned out to be a very healing session, for the most part. I was touched at how readily she took responsibility for her words and owned up to them.  It’s surreal to think how much of an impact one simple question can have.  I’m still struggling with all of this, but at least, for the most part, I feel secure in my T again.

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6 thoughts on “A rupture repaired

  1. That’s great kash you need a secure anchor to hold onto while wading in the seas of trauma healing. And yes it can be horrified to want to be hurt again and incredibly shame provoking. But it’s what you’ve come to expect from anyone who gets close to you. And weirdly not being hurt can be really unsettling and confusing and bring in closer contact with how awful was that you did endure so much hurt and damage at the hands of those you trusted to loveyou and keep you safe.

  2. Hey kash I just re-read your post and something struck me.

    Regarding the flashbacks and you thinking its because its where you want to be in your head.

    Firstly I would google masochism and sadomasochism. They are really common personality traits and defences in those who have been abused in childhood. Reading about them might help you think about more uncomfortable parts of yourself.

    Secondly I don’t think anyone “wants” to be in a flashback just like no child “wants” to be abused. But because you are growing stronger your abused little girl “needs” to have these flashbacks so you and T can help her heal from the terrible fear and incredible pain she lives with.

    Hugs xx

    1. ((GreenEyes)) I did google that and it was helpful, in part, to see that there is some understanding out there as to how CSA spurs those thoughts/behaviors. Doesn’t help the shame much, though! And that’s a good point about the flashbacks, I hadn’t thought of it like that..

  3. I’ve found sometimes I enter the mindset of what happened when the trauma is triggered. As much as I can re-enter the feelings of the trauma, I can re-enter the thoughts. Sometimes they stand on their own, as a kind of flashback in and of themselves, without any other memory material. One thing I have learned is that trauma memories never feel like they are occurring in the past. They always feel located in the present, and if I try to make sense of them without understanding that they are about trauma, I usually find ways to link them to the present.

    I don’t think you “need” or want to have flashbacks anymore than most people want to have an unnecessary dental work. Flashbacks are simply the minds way of telling you things it thinks you need to know in order to stay safe and avoid have the trauma recur. You have no control over this–conscious or otherwise. It is not linked to desire.

    When it comes to your “internalized father,” when the violence occurs when we are very young or if it is very shattering, internalizing their state seems to be the only way of holding onto it well enough to understand it.

    What I also wonder about is that oftentimes perpetrators of violence believe quite sincerely that their victims are responsible for the harm they are doing. They often feel no bashfulness at straight-up telling the victim that it is the victim’s fault what is happening. I wonder if you are remembering being led to believe that the harm occurred because you wanted it–although you don’t.

    Anyway, just some thoughts in case any of that is helpful.

    I wish you the best. Healing is a very difficult process, but well worth it. My heart goes out to you as you go through it.

    1. Thanks, Ashana..You made some good points. I’m not sure if that’s what I’m remembering or not, but it’s possible. And I’ve had a similar experience with flashbacks, where sometimes different parts of it stand alone, like the thoughts or the feelings or the images. It is a difficult process..thank you for your support. xx

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