To talk or to forget?

I wonder from time to time… And we have also discussed it in therapy. I think her approach has been to talk things through, and then it will be easier to handle, so much easier perhaps, that it is not a problem at all.

But when it gets real heavy again, she wants me to try out specialists in trauma psychology or EMDR.

It is really quite typical, when I talk about something very bad, something I can’t cope with, she must feel that my story is too hard to handle, and wishes for me to get help from somewhere else. The idea of even thinking about talking to someone else, when I am in such a bad state (it’s not often) scares me. So sometimes I wish I didn’t tell. That’s not very dynamic…

It’s very hard for me to talk at all. I am still scared that I am going to need somebody. (I know I need her though). I am afraid that someone else might get to know what I am thinking. Stupid after all these years of therapy… The thought that if I try to explain, and she doesn’t understand, also scares me, because then I won’t be able to make it right. She will have an impression or understanding of something I said, and it’s the wrong one. That doesn’t help me. However, she has helped me through so many things, and I am quite sure that if I hadn’t met her, I would have been far out on drugs, or maybe not even alive at all by now.

And then there’s the thing about all those memories that doesn’t have words. How can I tell? I know I have written about this before, sorry for repeating… but it is important to me. When those memories make me a total nutter at night, stealing my desperately needed hours of sleep, it’s only logic to conclude that they need to be explained. It’s like I don’t know the language…

So how about forgetting?

How about concentrating on the moment, on how to live on right now? Right now I am (at work…) writing about this, I am ok with that, it’s no big deal to make words and meaning coming out of my thoughts, and most of the time I am ok with everything I do. I get through the days; I even think most of them are meaningful and good. Nights are a different story. But concealing the memories into somewhere far away, does that make sense?

How about the mindful approach to this? That would be to be in the flashback, and consistently draw attention to breathing. I am not there yet. After the last heavy flashback incident I had, I have had difficulties meditating. I’ve had to take some steps back, starting again, doing shorter sessions, making even surer that I am safe and being a bit more scared that if I let my mind wander off, it will be right back in flashback-hell again.

Still I know that my mindfulness moments give me more control over my days, I have a busy schedule, but I am never stressed out. Sometimes I have to take important decisions fast, I am ok with that. So I am sure about the mindfulness approach. It’s going to make me better.

However, the blog is “my story, shared”. I haven’t touched the issues with no language, perhaps I never can. It feels awful to write, but good too. I cry sometimes, it makes me concentrate, and hopefully finish some issues. Maybe getting those little pieces together, will help me.

Been humming  Paul Simons “I am a rock” all day. Took the picture of a really nice rock (on an island, get it?) this weekend. Here’s the lyrics:

A winter’s day
In a deep and dark December;
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

Don’t talk of love,
Well I’ve heard the word before;
It’s sleeping in my memory.
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

9 thoughts on “To talk or to forget?

  1. I think I understand what you are feeling and it’s exactly what I’ve been afraid of feeling and trying to avoid.

    My dynamic with my therapist is a very different one. I had one very briefly that sounds more like how yours goes, where they’d just want me to talk and get all worked up. But, I felt like I was accomplishing nothing. So I went into the next one setting up a framework and an expectation that I am a very goal-oriented person and I want my therapy to be goal-oriented. I know and am discovering (partly in therapy) what my problems are and the behavior I want to undo so I focus the therapy on fixing those things. I use events that happened in the now to identify how I am behaving and how I can change that behavior. My therapist will reflect on what happened to me and how that has impacted me to act the way I do today.

    In a way I feel like I avoid thinking about and having feelings about what happened to me, but in a way I feel like focusing on the present and changing and undoing all the behavior I developed from being in abusive relationships has helped me make a lot of progress.

    So I encourage you to yes, live in the now and be mindful of what you’re doing, thinking and feeling and why and realize you have the power to make things better! 🙂

  2. Thanks for commenting miaquinn:)
    See now that my post did not include all the good things about my gem of a psychologist, that’s just the one point that annoys me… And even that is a way of finding a solution, it’s just that it scares me.
    She helped me through so many things, and I am quite sure that if I hadn’t met her, I would have been far out on drugs, or maybe not even alive at all by now. (Think i must add that to the post in case she reads it:) )
    I have a feeling though, and also from what I read about PTSD, that the “correct method” is to talk, and even push people to talk about what has happened. The mindful approach, (or even using “now” as a starting point) is not used all that much. I think maybe it is more difficult. For many people the difference between now and what happened to me in the past, is enormous, and it takes goal-oriented and very bright people to see the connections between behavior “now” and happenings “then”.

    I hope I am getting somewhere now, even on the worst parts…

  3. “It is really quite typical, when I talk about something very bad, something I can’t cope with, she must feel that my story is too hard to handle, and wishes for me to get help from somewhere else.”

    I understand completely. I am seeing a counselor at my university. As an employee of the U, we get 6 visits for free. I’ve used up 3 of my visits already. She discourages me from getting into anything really traumatic because she wants me to see a trauma expert; she says, “I would be honored if you shared those memories with me, but I want you to be with someone who can make you feel secure and safe.” And obviously, she can’t do that if I am only allowed to see her 3 more times. So we talk about other things. It’s still helping, it’s just… not enough. So I’m trying to get in to see this trauma specialist, but she’s super busy so she hasn’t returned my calls. It almost feels like rejection (isn’t that silly?).

    “She will have an impression or understanding of something I said, and it’s the wrong one.”

    Yes. This is one of my central fears in life. It terrifies me. And it isn’t limited to my counselor – it’s everyone. I’m so afraid that people have an impression of me that is false. I get really upset whenever I think someone doesn’t like me because of a misunderstanding; it makes me sick. I don’t know what to do to make it right, to show them that’s not me. I think part of this stems from the fact that my parents believe I am someone who I am not: a selfish, ungrateful, manipulative, EVIL girl (they never saw me as a woman). There is no way I can fix that. That’s who I am to them. I try to remember that, and to remember that I am not who they perceive me to be from their place of madness and illness. I try not to believe the stories that other people tell about me. I am the author of my life, not them.

    I know what you mean about the memories. I have decontextualized fragments and am not sure how to deal with them. It seems I have forgotten or repressed what went on around them (I wonder what made them stick? They are so clear, I can recall them in incredible detail! And they happened decades ago!). I think mindfulness also helps; it is something I’ve just learned about and am trying to implement. There is also ACT – Acceptance Commitment Therapy; are you familiar with it? I think if we can accept that these horrible things happened to us, but understand that they are in the past and cannot control our futures (if we don’t let them)… if we can accept that they are there, that they will pop up when we least expect them (triggers), and accept the way they make us feel without resistance or struggling with them… then maybe they won’t be quite so upsetting. Maybe?

    I heard something very wise recently: think about the worst things that happened to you in your past. Now think about what those experiences gave you (in terms of coping mechanisms, or good personality traits, or the strength to get help or move on) and the impact that they have made on your life. Imagine that you have the opportunity to throw away the bad things so that they never happened; but understand that if you get rid of them, everything that came from them also goes, too. Would you still elect to erase them?

    I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. Those experiences were terrible, but they made me who I am. And dammit, I am a good person. I’m awesome. I have so much to offer. I am going to make a positive difference in the lives of others – I already have. And if those things hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be here right now making this connection with you. 🙂 So, those experiences were horrible, but we are strong. We are whole. We will overcome, and we will do great things.

    Thank you so much for sharing. ❤

    • It’s strange that we have so many things in common Anna 🙂 Feels ok to know that there are others with the same experiences and feelings.

      But as much as I know that what has happened to me, has made me who I am, I definitely WOULD erase all of it if I could. I would erase all the trauma and pain brought on me and my family. I’d erase years of drug abuse and not knowing what was wrong with me. I’d erase a childhood I wouldn’t wish anyone to have.

      You don’t have to suffer, to make a good doctor. Or be a nutter to make a good therapist (though some are) 🙂 And luckily for me (us) there are so many emphatic, educated and wise people out there with a sincere wish to help. A pity I have a trust issue… 🙂
      Having said all that, I too find comfort with the thought of being “whole”, a feeling I haven’t had for long. I find that I have a “self” to be proud of and nourish. And I am happy that bitterness and hate are not the most significant feelings I have.

  4. Keep talking. Acceptance is a key factor as well. We can’t change the past but we can direct how we live our life today. For a very long time I rejected everything and just ran from my life in general. I always felt disposable, not able to be loved or give love. When the repressed memories started to surface, I really thought I was going crazy at first, and I really tried to reject them as well.

    When I finally began to accept what had been done then I could lay it rest. Takes a while. Memories never come back in the way we would think, but know this, they are coming back now because you are strong enough to deal with them.

    When I accepted the abuse that had been done to me I rose to the challenge and let that acceptance empower me let me grow past being the reactive individual I had become. You spoke of all the things you have done in the past…forgiveness my friend. I always wondered why I was the way I was, and when I accepted all of this I also acknowledged and understood why I acted out the way that I had.

    • “Talking or forgetting” should perhaps be more “talking or letting go”. For me, some of the things I can’t talk about are making new problems, so it has been a problem deciding whether these things can just be “let go” in a kind of mindful manner. This was not a very clair explanation… 🙂 Hope you understand what I mean 🙂

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