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Vulnerability and Self-Disgust with C – Week 36

Posted in C, Moods, Psychotherapy, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Tuesday, 12 January, 2010 by Pandora

Thursday was the first day back to therapy after C’s Christmas break.  It was a successful session in a long-term sort of way, but was nevertheless very traumatic for me, tackling as it did a lot of hurt and vulnerabilities that I don’t want to face nor admit to.  There was nothing specific that was so stressful about it, but as I said to C towards the end, I felt very “battered and bruised”.

I was glad to see C again, having missed him and craved his protection over the three weeks since I last saw him.  However, he has committed a cardinal sin.  He has grown a beard.  Not like the goatee, Derren Brown-esque beard he had when we first met, but a full-on, proper beard.  I’ve nothing especially against beards, but honestly – he looks like something out of a children’s illustrated Bible.  When he came to the waiting room to get me, I was aghast to be greeted by Jesus (or Judas if you prefer, he could be either).  It took me a quite a while to stop fixating on this newly arrived hirsute feature.

As has been the case since C has been back in VCB’s stomping ground (as there is building work going on in his office), we opened by taking a few moments to compose ourselves.  The waiting room in the place is usually full of people, unlike that for C’s proper office which is always empty.  The people unsettle me, and C has realised now that he has to give me a few minutes for this anthropophobic anxiety to abate somewhat.

Of course, I had C anxiety as well.  I always feel nervous before I see him, and it was especially strong on Thursday given that I had not seen him for three weeks.  To that end, initially I was stubbornly refusing to speak in anything other than one word answers to questions.

Eventually, he asked me how Christmas had been.

“I’m not going to discuss that,” I brattishly declared.  I knew, of course, that he would follow that up with a question as to why I was not going to discuss that, so before he got the chance to do so, I changed the subject and told him about the latest troubles with the health service.

The first thing was the whole bullshit about the GP talking down to me, just after I’d last seen C.  I told him all about it, going so far as to re-enact some of the mannerisms that Dr Arsehole had employed during his irritable rant towards me.  This was before the reply to my complaint had arrived.

“How dare someone earning as much as a GP does behave in that fashion?” I raged.  “How dare the jumped-up twat speak to me like that?”

“How were you in the room with him?” asked C.

“Pathetic,” I admitted.  “I just sat there and took it.  I did try to argue with him at one point, but he just kept on and on, and I backed down.  As I was leaving, I even thanked him!  A reckons I need to discuss my remarkable ability to be so horribly passive with you.”

The second NHS issue, which I’ve only mentioned in passing here, is that apparently VCB is no longer my consultant psychiatrist.  When I last saw her in November, she said she’d see me again in a month, which she didn’t (surprise surprise).  Then, when I finally did get a letter inviting me for an appointment with Psychiatry, it merely said that I had an appointment on 20 January with Dr M, not VCB.  It made no reference as to the change of individual whatsoever.

C said, “as far as I know there’s been a shake-up in Psychiatry in terms of geographical location.  They’ve changed the boundaries that each consultant operates in.  Is that what happened?”

“No one told me anything, so I wouldn’t know,” I spat, disgusted.

“I’m not going to lie to you,” I continued, “I’m not VCB’s biggest fan.  But at least I had some sort of relationship with her – I knew her, and she was at least in some ways familiar with my case, so this is incredibly frustrating.  It strikes me that Psychiatry is possibly the worst branch of medicine in which such nonchalance and disruption should be in evidence, what with issues of trust and attachment being so much a part of certain illnesses.

“But what do I know,” I added bitterly.  “I’m just the mental that sits opposite you people.”

“Is that how you see yourself?” C jumped in.

The truthful answer to this is that I don’t know.  The comment had been intended as a slight on the Psychiatric “service” and indeed on mental health services on the NHS in general, but of course I exist in a perpetual state of self-loathing and self-disgust, whether im- or explicit, so yes, it probably is – to some extent – how I see myself.

I told him so, adding that I have no right to be mental because what has happened to me is so considerably less serious than that to which many others have been subjected.  This came up a couple of times in the session – basically I feel guilty for being a mental when other people who’ve endured worse aren’t or, if they are, then they have more right to be than I.

C mulled it over for a minute or two, then said, “one thing about you is that you’re defined by contradictions.  You mentioned earlier about being passive – there is that side, yet there’s another side that can be extremely assertive in the right circumstances.  It’s the same with your belief that you are somehow not entitled to be a mentalist [interesting use of that word, I thought].  You hate yourself for being this way, you think you have no right – yet you will fight to the death to get the treatment to which you feel you are entitled.”

“It’s hardly rocket science, though,” I responded.  “In some ways, whether or not I’m entitled to be mad is irrelevant; the fact is, I am.  Regardless of the reasons for that, I should be entitled to treatment, under the foundations on which this health service was based.  If I kicked that wall over there and broke my toe, the stupid manner in which I broke my toe would be irrelvant to those treating me; I would still be entitled to their medical attention.  I don’t see why it should be different for one’s mental health.”

“It shouldn’t,” he agreed.

Oh really?  OK then, why are you cutting short my fucking therapy?  Not that I brought up that issue specifically, because I didn’t want to engage in the pointless navel-gazing that had been the previous session.  If our time is limited, it must be used effectively.

Anyhow, I don’t remember how he phrased it, but basically he said that a person’s history and indeed how they respond to it is completely relative.  He said that we can only develop from our own experiences and, essentially, that I really shouldn’t beat myself up for being mental.  Later on in the session, he almost went so far as to say that I have every right to be, but I’ll come to that later.

Of course, I can rationally accept a lot of this, and indeed I know that certain mental illnesses with which I have been diagnosed are thought to exist in individuals who are biologically predisposed to having them, the symptoms manifesting after some sort of psychosocial trigger.  So of course I am not to be blamed for being mental…says Rational Me.  In-Control-Irrational-and-Ironically-Mental Me does not agree.

We also discussed how the anger I feel is sometimes misplaced.  I contend absolutely that my anger towards the health service is completely just, so that’s not one such example, but I will fly into a genuinely murderous rage at either myself or, say, my mother (particularly my mother) for something ridiculously stupid like dropping a pen – yet I am not angry at my uncle.  I am angry at my father, but that miserable sod had the audacity to die, so I’m hardly likely to be able to direct that towards him.

Of course, mention of my uncle in the context of anger was A Very Bad Move.  C said, “so, are you going to tell me what happened at Christmas?”

I glared at him.  “Did I not already say that I don’t want to talk about that?” I sneered, eventually.

“You did, yes.”  He looked at me enigmatically.

Oh, but you can read my mind, can’t you C?  Saying that I didn’t want to talk about it is some sort of conspiratorial Newspeak for, “I want to discuss that with you in intimate and excruciating detail”, isn’t it?!

“You don’t want to tell me about your Christmas, do you?  No – you don’t.  So why should I tell you about mine?” I challenged.

It was meant mainly as a sarcastic and rhetorical question, but he answered anyway.  “If we met in other circumstances, that’s probably exactly the conversation we’d be having,” he mused.  “But I know that you know that this circumstance has to be one-sided.”

As it happens, I do know, thanks very much – and I don’t like it and it isn’t fair.  And yet it protects me from the probable sheer ordinariness of this man that I so pathetically look up to.  But that’s another matter.  I told him, truthfully, that if we met socially, I would still not be telling him the specifics of what happened at Christmas.

Actually, if I’m 100% honest, of course I wanted to discuss it with him (in his capacity as my psychotherapist) – aspects of it anyway.  I was horribly mortified (as well as disturbed) by what ‘They’ wanted me to do on Christmas Night, and didn’t especially want to outline that in specific terms, but I did want to tell him of the fear and anguish that took me to that point.  Yet I felt absolutely unable to give myself permission to do so.

We sat in silence for a bit.  I knew he would break me sooner or later, but I decided to fight him anyway.  I was thinking about the psychoses, which led me to question how I had described them here on WordPress.  In doing so, I was reminded that I won an award for this blog on New Year’s Day from the fabulous Mental Nurse blog.

“My blog won an award,” I randomly blurted out at him, with thinly-disguised pride.

C seemed quite excited by this news and congratulated me, then paused.  “I really want to ask you more about this,” he began, “But I’m wondering if we shouldn’t leave it until later – I don’t want to avoid the issue of Christmas.”

I wanted to avoid the issue of Christmas.  It’s my fucking therapy, can’t I talk about what I like?

But I gave up the fight, and gave the man what he wanted.  “There were issues with the voices,” I admitted finally, tapping my head (as if he didn’t know what voices I damn well meant).

“OK,” he started.  “What sort of ‘issues’?”

“No, no, no, we’re not going down that road.  It’s enough that you know that the day was stressful and I went doolally in the evening, though mercifully not in front of the 3,820,691 people with whom I was forced to spend the whole sorry day.”

“But how could it not have been traumatic?” C asked.  “I really fail to see how it could not have been, what with you having to see and interact with your uncle.”

“You’ve built it to be all about him,” I replied.  “It’s not – not entirely.  To say my family is a freakshow is to insult freakshows.  I just cannot put into words how fucked up and weird they all are, and how much I have nothing in common with them.”

“I remember you saying before that their ‘weirdness’ was difficult to convey, but I do have some sense of that.”

“They’re worse in a collective,” I continued.  “As individuals – well, I can’t pretend I’m their biggest fans, but they’re more tolerable.  But their group dynamic is seriously – epically [not that that’s a word] – bizarre.”

Moving away from this slightly, C went back to the voices.  I told him that I had already said I was not going into that and requested that he left it be.

“I’m not really so concerned about what they actually said,” he told me.  “At present I’m more interested in why you don’t want to tell me about it.”

I should have been expecting such a question, but I hadn’t been.  I thought about it for a moment.

“I’m very aware that we’re sitting in Psychiatric Outpatients and that the bin’s over there,” I said, leaving him to infer the rest.  “I can’t get away quickly here.  At least in your normal office I have time to flee before you all catch me.”

I got the usual spiel of crap about how he would only call a psychiatrist or my GP if I was at a serious and imminent risk of harming myself.  Or others, he added, almost as an afterthought.  I laughed bitterly.

I don’t remember the exact discussion that followed, but he seemed to have established that on Christmas Night it was ‘others’ that ‘They’ were trying to get me to hurt.  He never said it straight out, and I never confirmed it, but there seemed to be a shared, implicit understanding that this was what had occurred.  He sought to reassure me in as strong terms as he’s allowed to that he would not call anyone to have me sectioned unless he thought that such harm was absolutely imminent.

“I don’t believe you,” I told him.

Ouch.  I think that one cut him a little (no pun intended, not that I’ve been too bad vis-a-vis self-harm of late).  He asked why I doubted him.

In part, it is because I feel that some of the trust has been broken between us, owing to the whole uncertainty over the continuation of treatment – though in fairness, he was good in this session and I feel it might have been built up a little again.  Other reasons are just how terrible the episode was – I mean, I was told to kill a fucking not-quite-two year old, how much worse does it get? – and the fact that I’m preposterously paranoid.  Probably the simplest reason is that I often genuinely feel that I should be fucking sectioned, though I really, really don’t want to be.

In any case, I do believe that C wouldn’t section me unless he felt it absolutely imperative, yet I don’t believe it at the same time.  I believe two absolutely polar opposite things simultaneously – not an unknown state for me.  I told him so, and he seemed to understand that.

For some reason, presumably relating to all the discussion about Paedo and the multitudinous weirdness of the McF dynasty, C and I ended up discussing how my mother didn’t believe me about the sexual abuse, and about how she seems to go out of her way sometimes to put me down, or to compare me (negatively) to others (particularly SL, who she seems to fucking idolise).

C said, “it seems to me that your mother has been severely traumatised by her relationship with your father.”  Now, I genuinely don’t recall what he said next, but I think it was something along the lines that she therefore seeks solace in the McFs and, despite what she may say, finds it hard to believe that they are capable of fault – even when it’s rape of her daughter.  I don’t want to put words in C’s mouth, though, so don’t take that as gospel.  Of course, whilst I cannot disagree with the aforesaid conjecture, my own take on things is that she will always remember that I am my father’s daughter (she will even say it from time to time when she wants to hurt me).  In any case, I am certainly not the daughter that she would have wanted.

I agree with C that she is completely traumatised (not that she’d admit it herself), but was surprised by him coming out and telling me that was his view in such forthright terms.  In any event, this tangent didn’t especially add much to the session, except to exacerbate the rawness of the hurt I was already feeling.

So that was his next tactic – the perennial, “how are you feeling?”

I couldn’t verbalise it at first.  I just felt so something, so indefinably sad and upset and low.  He quietly encouraged me to try harder to express it more exactly.

Eventually, through gritted teeth, I seethed, “I feel hurt and sorry for myself and vulnerable, are you happy now?”

Unfortunately he thought this comment was sarcastic, intended as a snide take on what he wanted to hear.  Admittedly, the manner in which I had said it could easily have been taken that way, though it was meant to have come across as a dramatic, “there!  I’m finally admitting the truth!  I’m deflated but this is progress, isn’t that fantabulous?” kind of gesture (fail!).  I apologised, and advised him that the content of my comment was serious.

Yes, I admitted to being vulnerable.  What I didn’t admit, of course, is that I want C to protect me from all that which makes me vulnerable.  I want him to put his arms around me, stroke my hair, tell me in his gentle voice I will be OK, and protect me from all the bad that exists in the world.  Of course I didn’t tell him that, but admitting to this hideous vulnerability that I’ve been repressing for I don’t-know-how-long was a start.

“Unwillingness to feel or express feeling of these things is very common in people who’ve been brought up in abusive and traumatic backgrounds,” he told he, tilting his head to gauge my reaction.

“‘Abused’,” I repeated wistfully, looking away.  The branches of the trees outside were blowing back and forth in the wind, stripped bare of their leaves.  I felt as emotionally naked in front of C as they looked.

“You don’t think you’ve been abused?” he checked, apparently confused.

“No,” I replied quietly.

“You were sexually abused by your uncle!” C said, determinedly.

“And I responded to that and other things by dissociating and emotionally numbing myself.  Fat lot of good it’s done me.”

“It probably did at the time, though.  It was a means of self-preservation during those times.”

There was a pause, then I randomly spat out, “I disgust myself.  My vulnerability disgusts me.  I disgust me.  Fucking schizo bitch!”

“You’re one of the most self-critical people I’ve ever known,” C told me, taking a very slight tone of authority.  “My worry is that this is a major stumbling block.  I really think if we can develop some self-compassion in you, it will help a lot.”

“You said a moment ago that dissociation etc was a means of self-preservation.  It ties in with the psychology discussed in a book I’ve been reading.  It is, shock horror, a self-help book, one designed to teach you strategies to soothe yourself when you go mental.”

C was delighted by this.  He asked me if it was any good, my response being that a lot of it (as with any such text) was “wank”, but that despite this, there were some good, and vaguely intelligently written, parts to it.

The thing is, I’m not always as critical of myself as I seem to be in psychotherapy.  I can only surmise that that is when the truth really comes out.  The raw, visceral nature of everything that’s gone or is wrong with my life is so palpable and explicit in those 50 minutes, and the true depth of my self-hate is exposed.  Eugh.

He went on to say that it was not desirable to rid me of my “sarcasm and [my] wit” (he said I was witty!!!  Smiley me!), but that he thought aspects of that fed into my lack of self-compassion, and that we needed to strike a balance.

“And I’m encouraged by the fact that you’re trying,” he concluded.

I left feeling psychologically battered and bruised, even so much as allowing myself a tear as I drove home (how self-compassionate), but I was also quietly encouraged and reassured.

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Christmas Mourning

Posted in Context, Everyday Life, Moods, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 2 December, 2009 by Pandora

I alluded briefly to the fact that I find Christmas a profoundly difficult time of year the other week.  I have hated the day and all its build-up since, I would guess, my early teens.

I still do, and I rationalise it on the grounds that it is a commercialised load of crap borne purely out of capitalist greed and people’s insatiable desire to get completely wasted with apparent impunity.  But as with seemingly everything in my existence, nothing is quite as simple as pure rationality.

I wouldn’t have seen a deeper side to my dislike of the festive season but for some weird behaviour that’s developed over the last couple of years, that I would say correlates roughly with the development of borderline tendencies in my psyche and behaviour.  I have found myself uncharacteristically emotional over ‘cute’ images or statues of Santas or snowmen, feeling sorry for them (?!) to the point of tears.  The odd sentimental Christmas song will do it too.  Anything, I suppose, that is a non-tacky or potentially ‘sweet’ way of communicating how supposedly special the occasion is meant to be can bring this ridiculous behaviour.

Last night I ended up in tears because I ‘felt sorry’ for Christmas because I had ‘rejected’ it for so many years*.  It was triggered by a cinnamon candle which smelt ‘Christmassy’.  What a complete and utter moron of complete imbecility I am.  Who does this?!

A discussion with A ensued when he enquired as to why I was upset about rejecting Christmas given that I hate Christmas.  I have developed two armchair psychological theories for both the hatred and the development of this over-emotional nonsense.

  1. The most obvious theory is that I associate the entire season with the McFs and, specifically, the fact that I have to see PaedoMcF (as he shall, I think, henceforth be known on this blog).  I spent, as I recall, every Christmas with them until I was about 21, and once I’d reached adolescence, gone through the rape, grown increasingly contemptuous of my family, I began to dread and dislike the season more and more.  It’s not just about Paedo; MMcF is overbearing too, as is the entire group dynamic that permeates the culture in which they live.  One way or another, they are at least partly responsible for my dislike of December.
  2. There is a deeper thread to this; it’s clearly about abandonment by both my father and then my subsequent surrogate father-figures.  Part of the sadness is pathetically (in the original sense) childlike – it’s like a little girl weeping because she knows she’ll yet again be rejected.  Thus, she has to reject all circumstances surrounding that rejection first.  Except that it’s not that simple, because it eventually comes back to haunt her.  Eugh.  Fuck you, V.

Yes.  Christmas is, in part at least, supposed to be about families – about parental love and a parent’s desire to see their child happy, the pleasure and joy the parent takes from seeing the child’s delight in receiving that for which she has so fervently longed all year.  I only ever had 50% of that.  My poor mother, dear love her, tried her best to make up the deficit, and I suppose on the face of things that seemed to be enough…but it wasn’t really, was it?

In the absence of my actual father, I built my grandfather into the supreme male figure in my life.  However, his senility began in my earlier teenage years, and he finally succumbed and died when I was 15.  None of that is his fault, of course (I mean, of course!!!), but it could still be considered abandonment by the deepest, undeveloped corners of my psyche, those dark recesses that have still failed to develop healthy object relations.

If I’m completed honest, I probably had allowed Paedo to be a semi-father figure too, but sadly he chose to violate the sanctity of that relationship.

When I was about eight, my mother met and fell in love with B.  Although B and I didn’t always get along perfectly (how dare he ingratiate himself into my life in the place of my father?), I got used to him being there and was stunned when he died very suddenly and unexpectedly just before my 11th birthday (which is not that terribly long before the accursed Christmas).

So yeah.  Christmas must remind me of childhood abandonment.  No waking up at 5am on Christmas morning and dragging Daddy out of bed to see the joy on his daughter’s face.  Only ever futile hope that maybe one day he might care enough to at least call me to say, “happy Christmas darling,” only ever futile hope that maybe one day he might care enough to even send a cheap card.  And now he is gone permanently, as to all intents and purposes are those that ‘replaced’ him, and that hope is lost and gone forever.

Anyway, I relayed this information to A last night, and then just sat and cried for a while.  My overwhelming feeling was of grief.  Grief.  This, and all these apparent projections, kind of affirm my belief from the other week that I am in mourning for the little girl that was in many ways denied her childhood.

A thinks the fact that I am feeling this and indeed even recognising it is progress, and I suppose in an objective sort of way it is, but the pain is raw and lately I feel horribly vulnerable and weepy all the time.  I am not looking forward to the next few weeks.

For the record, I still hold to the logical arguments against Christmas – the drunken revelry, the crowds and the commercialisation of a festival that, by rights, is applicable only to Christians (regardless of the fact that 25 December was originally a Pagan festival) does annoy me.  But I don’t think that is, in itself, enough to explain a feeling much stronger than ‘bah, humbug’.

* Although the smell of the candle was the main trigger, I was in something of a fragile mental state yesterday anyway; I’d had a minor car accident (my own stupid fault), I’d had a minor operation with LGP (a lump removal) and, most of all, I’d learnt something horrific from A.  On the night of the Sunday 22 November, a point at which I’d thought the psychoses had died down a little and that my moods had regulated somewhat thanks to the Olanzapine, apparently ‘They’ answered the phone when I tried to call the local Chinese take-away.  When A protested that ‘They’ weren’t there, apparently I went off my head at him, screaming and behaving like a wild woman.  I have absolutely no recollection of this whatsoever, though it must have been the night I made the ‘Bitch’ cut, because I discovered that on the Monday.  I was horrified because (a) it’s just plain nasty to A, (b) ‘They’ had always previously been in my head, not outside it – this is a bad ‘progression’ and (c) the amnesiac properties of this incident are frankly terrifying; who knows what could have happened that I wouldn’t later recall?

Admittedly, we had been drinking that night, but I remember very disctinctly phoning the Chinese the first time, then I recall nothing until later, when I was trying to get A to come to bed rather than sleep on the sofa.  Again, my recollection of this is distinct, so I don’t think the amnesia is alcohol-induced; it sounds like a dissociative episode to me.

On the plus side, when I saw Lovely GP yesterday I said that although I thought the Olanzapine had been,overall, a good thing, that the return to 75mg of Venlafaxine had hit me hard.  LGP told me to go ahead and start taking 150mg again.  He said that if VCB objects I am “to send her to [him] and [he] will take care of her.”  Love LGP.

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Be Angry With The Filthy Whore – C: Week 31

Posted in C, Moods, Psychotherapy, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Tuesday, 24 November, 2009 by Pandora

Thursday was fucking traumatic, a state of affairs of which you are probably aware given my citation of the disturbing imagery of Metallica’s Until It Sleeps that evening. You’ll have seen on that post that my iPod was reading my mind again in playing it – and other songs on similarly dark themes – but what is most interesting about this is that this strange form of electronic ESP took place as I was driving home from an utterly pointless dissociative trip to a coastal town about 20 miles from home.

My first proper awareness of going to said town was when I realised I was in the centre of it. I do have a very vague recollection of noticing my normal turn off and thinking that the traffic was heavy, but at no time did I think, “why the fuck are you not in that heavy traffic?” I don’t remember deciding to drive on, and I don’t remember the journey. Another small-scale fugue-like episode. Sweet.

I had been quite good on the self-harm front of late, but the good spell has been broken. ‘Bitch’ and ‘grief’ are the latest, though I don’t remember doing the former (it must have bled like fuck though as I had seemingly used a towel to stem the bloodflow). Grief. Am I grieving for myself, or for what I should have been? If so, is that good? Presumably one is meant to say, “well, the self-harm bit isn’t good,” but you know me folks – not really one to listen to that sort of argument. A is raging with C; in A’s eyes, it is C’s fault that I have taken to cutting myself again. But it isn’t. It really isn’t. All C has done is facilitate triggering discussions, and been someone to whom I am hopelessly attached, which is hardly his fault. We can’t avoid matters of this importance simply because there is a risk it may act as a trigger; the entire psychotherapeutic process would then be pointless, and I’d be left as mental as I ever was.

I’m unsure as to what exactly this entry will amount to, as I remember surprisingly little of the session – perhaps unsurprisingly. But let’s start at the very beginning and see what happens.

C pointed out that he’d been looking through his diary and saw that our current contract was due to end shortly (he thought there were two sessions remaining after Thursday; I thought one, but as it turns out it will not matter). This was something of which I was horribly well aware. Having only begun to open up to C properly in the last few weeks, I was convinced that he’d see me as a manipulative bitch – it looked, to my cynical mind, like I was trying to wrangle more time out of him by leaving the avalanche of confessions until this point. Given that my primary diagnosis is borderline personality disorder, it reasonably follows (in my eyes) that he could believe me to be manipulative, as the psychiatric establishment still seems to think that about those who have BPD more than any other psychiatric problem.

Of course, he didn’t like either the idea that he would find me manipulative, nor in particular that he would think this because I have BPD – that fixates on labels, don’t you know. Actually, it doesn’t, because it’s what I think he should think anyway – the fact that BPD is the only psychiatric diagnosis to still be treated with open contempt by mental health professionals just reinforces that point – though to be fair, I have not experienced that disdain personally, thank God.

I honestly don’t think I was being manipulative – not consciously, anyhow – but it did look like it, and that had been my worry all week. Of course, C refused to concede that this was the case in his eyes. Did he point blank deny it? I think he may well have done, but I don’t remember clearly enough to say for certain. What he was willing to admit to was that I may, consciously or otherwise, fear the end of the relationship, and act accordingly to preserve it. Which is apparently not manipulative. Hmm.

The issue of the end of therapy raised its ugly head a couple of times during the meeting. What he said at this juncture was that we should “…continue seeing each other until Christmas, at which point [he’ll] be off for a fortnight, and then we’ll review the situation in January.”

Review the situation in January. You can take a wild guess as to what I think about that. He is going to throw me out with the dirty water in cunting January. Just over a month away, after the most stressful time of the year for me (ah yes, I’m sure you’ll be treated to a delicious rant about fucking Christmas in the near future, dearest readers). A tells me that this is not what C meant; apparently, he literally meant that we shall review the situation, and if further therapy is required (as if it won’t be), then that is what the case shall be. Well, Ms Rationality of course says, “yeah, right” to that. He is going to abandon me.

I honesty don’t remember how I reacted in session to the comment about ‘reviewing things in January’. I think I simply agreed and didn’t voice the aforementioned rejection worries, but I wouldn’t swear to it. As I said, it did indeed come up again, but I don’t remember under what circumstances. I can and do appreciate that the relationship can’t be permanent – in the most rational of ways, I don’t want it to be. I want to live an independent life, free of a need for a surrogate daddy. But can C realistically expect to change 13+ years of misery and being fucked about by the NHS in seven-ish months, particularly when I have such a strong neurotic attachment to him? Trying to be objective about it, I cannot honestly fathom that as reasonable, except in especially productive scenarios (which are about as applicable to me as…um…er…something that is very un-applicable to me). This is a personality disorder. It is ingrained into every metaphorical fibre of my self, the conscious, the unconscious, whatever – and it is causing me to self-destruct. Can something of such enormity and longevity honestly be treated adequately in just over half a year?

In any case, eventually the discussion – predictably enough – returned to the eminently delightful subject matter of the preceeding week. Eugh. It was me that raised it, though not exactly through choice; we were talking about something else (no idea what now) which triggered some sort of memory – it’s a shame I’ve forgotten what that subject was, as it would be useful to know these triggers, especially in cases where there is no obvious correlation, as I think the case was in this instance.

I became rather agitated and told C that I wasn’t “going there”. I hid.

Despite my telling him to leave it, he continued to probe me – but gently and quite subtly, to be fair. I eventually admitted that I was thinking about the Pandora’s Box.

My memory is even more fragmented from here on in, though some things do stick out in my mind very clearly. I was very, very careful not to verbally articulate much at all; at one point I desperately begged, “look, don’t you see where I’m going with this?” But it appears that he believes that I need to say the words. I still have not used the word ‘rape’, and strictly speaking he could still be under the impression that it was something other than rape – but he’s not that stupid.

He must have asked what was so troubling about verbalising this material, because I remember then telling him that I am fairly tolerant of articulating the gruesome information on this blog.

“Which is odd,” I mused, “given that it is all the more real when it is written down, even more so than if I verbally discuss it. It’s there, on the blog, in black and white.” (See here, for example).

I went on to postulate the idea that perhaps it is easier to deal with in writing because I can rationalise everything; life events become something that is seen in the third person, by a narrator, an observer with at least a modicum of theoretical knowledge of that about which she writes. If I have to talk about it, I have to feel it. I am there, in the midst of it, with the rawness, the vileness, the trauma of it all.

He agreed. He didn’t say so, but a sense that he wants me to feel that repressed pain was very palpable. Maybe that is why he was such a cock when I put this, and other shit, in writing for him – in fact, I’m certain it is. What kind of profession capitalises on other people’s grief? If I asked him why he became a clinical psychologist, I’m sure he’d respond along the lines of that old cliché, “I want to help people.” What, by making them relive their darkest memories, by making them suffer through them all again? Does that not take a special kind of sadism?

I am, of course, being a little facetious; I don’t believe C to be a sadist in the least, and I do believe he is in his job for the right reasons. But the human mind, and the sciences that arise therefrom, are odd things indeed. It strikes me as strange that it is an apparent psychological necessity to directly face that which you most revile in your past, before you can heal from the wounds it inflicted.

But this is not a post about the curious concept of psychology as an academic discipline, nor is it a post about the mindsets of those practising this form of figurative alchemy; it is a post about a session I had with my therapist. So…was it at this point that I lost it? I’m not sure, but anyway, in my next clear memory, all I could see in my head was the INCIDENT, or more specifically, the moments during which I was pushed to the floor of the outhouse in which it took place and served up as tasty piece of young meat for the delectation of my uncle. I recall very strongly that (in C’s office, not in my mind) I had my head in my lap and was pelting my skull with both fists with as much strength as I could muster. I have never done anything of this ilk in C’s company before.

And so he too did something that he has never done before; he raised his voice to me. He didn’t shout, but he did raise his voice just enough to try and penetrate through the mentalism that had tenaciously gripped my mind.

“SI!” he called. Well, he didn’t of course – perhaps it will surprise some of you to learn that I have a name, a normal, very ordinary name, and he used that instead – but you know what I mean. One thing I’ll not forget about this session was that he actually used my name three times, and at one point I used his too – these things are unheard of in the whole time we’ve known each other. Does it mean something? Why do I attach such importance to something so apparently normal and trivial? Is it because using names is personal, and that I want to see him as a person, not a canvas? Who knows. I certainly don’t, but I do know that that memory sticks with me.

I think he must have somehow brought me back from this mental place, but I don’t remember the specifics. The next part of the conversation that I recall was when he asked me how I felt about myself and that I told him that I felt like a “dirty, fetid little slut.” I then rationalised things for a bit, proclaiming that I am in actuality not a slut. Unfortunately, I still felt (feel) like one.

Then I lost it again. “I’m a filthy whore,” I spat, hiding from him again with my hands.

I think he actually went as far as to tell me that I am not a whore, but that could be a phantom memory. I mean, how the fuck would he know? I could have sold sex in 28 European capitals for all he knows. One thing he definitely did do was try and help me regain my composure. I sat up and pretended to be fine, sticking out my hand to measure how much it was shaking. I have used an incident when I was about 15 as a yardstick to measure anxiety; the day after I found out about an incredibly twisted lie from my first real boyfriend (a long story that I will have to detail some day), I went into school and, in English, happened to notice how much my hand was shaking. That denotes severe anxiety and/or anger. If the shaking is less than that, things could be worse.

I told C about this. However, a brief reference to the lying cunt of an ex must have touched on the self-disgust I was already feeling over my own lying to C about the INCIDENT (when we first met I told him it was ‘mere’ touching, but that was only part of it, obviously. More on this shortly). I told him this – still without using that word – and went into a major self-invective of utter disgust and abhorrence. It was filled with ranting about how much of a shameful, lying, grotesque, hateful slag I am, lying to the one person that might be able to bring me back a little hope in this sorry mental battle, and about how guilty and sorry I am, blah blah de blah.

When I took a second to draw breath, he jumped in to try and (a) reassure me that I had nothing to feel guilty about and (b) establish exactly what it was that I felt I’d lied about.

I answered (b) first, at least to the best of my recollection. He’d specifically asked in our initial assessment sessions what form the sexual abuse took. As is my wont, I had avoided articulating myself properly, and instead managed to answer the question merely by his probing. I think, though I am not certain, that he asked if I was raped, and that I said ‘no’. I am sure that when he asked if it was inappropriate touching that I said ‘yes’, and that I led him to believe that that was all. In my defence – and I told him this in the session to which this post refers – I have dissociated a lot of the INCIDENT. I remember ghastly, loathsome pieces of it in fleeting glimpses, like looking at still pictures in an album or, sometimes, short video clips. I remember the sensations of pain and terror in these moments too. I am grateful that the memories are so brief, but also resentful of it too, as it feels like it removes my power to understand the INCIDENT and my reactions to it. Furthermore, obviously part of me does remember it, and that part is mentally fucked – perhaps it would be easier to address were it all consciously there at the front of my mind.

Anyhow, I then proceeded to respond C’s (a) point. “I lied to you,” I said simply. “Aren’t you angry with me?”

“No, of course I’m not angry with you.”

“Why not? You should be.”

He sort of laughed (he mustn’t have realised I was serious), but seeing the look on my face, he desisted from doing so abruptly.

“SI,” he said again, firmly, looking straight at me. “Do you seriously think that I should be angry with you?” His tone was a more compassionate version of ‘incredulous’.

“Yes,” I began, “fucking dirty, lying, grotesque little bitch, fucking…”

“One,” he interrupted, rather dramatically, leaning forward and counting on his fingers as he did. “We had only just met and you can’t honestly have expected yourself to deeply discuss such sensitive matters with someone you didn’t know. Two, you didn’t lie, you omitted some information…”

“But then that’s a lie of omission…” I began.

“Three!” he went on, raising his eyebrow in a surprisingly authoritative fashion, signaling that I was to let him finish, “three, this is hard for you to talk about, so it is not surprising you withheld it. What is there to be angry with?! I am not angry with you, and neither should I be.”

Well, that was me told, then. I was quite taken aback by the forcefulness of his tone. Actually, ‘forcefulness’ is a horrid word to use as it has negative connotations – let’s say ’emphatic’ instead. He was incredibly emphatic. I gaped at him in a sort of stupefied disorientation for a minute or two.

He sat back in his chair, recovered his blank canvas and either asked me how I felt, or signalled for me to speak.

“Um…” I muddled. “That’s reassuring. I do feel reassured. But it also confuses me; you have a completely different attitude to it from me.”

He seemed to understand that in fairness, which not an awful lot of people would. He was able to see the black-and-white chain of logic that I was following in believing that he ought to be angry, but luckily for C things in his world do not seem to be as black and white as they are in mine.

I don’t remember how things ended. I know that I was battered and bruised psychologically (and physically to boot what with punching my head). At no point had I been tearful, but one does not need to weep to mentally suffer. I went and sat in the car and phoned A for catharsis and reorientation purposes. Although the trauma of reliving the INCIDENT had been the most awful aspect of the session, the fact that I fixatedly whined to A that C ‘wants to abandon me’ before I even touched on the rest of things is very telling.

In later discussions A urged me to tell C about this abject fear. What’s the point? C already knows I’m terrified of him abandoning me. Perhaps the real question is ‘is my attachment to him healthy?’ There have been mixed views on this from the readership of this blog. cbtish, for example, thinks it puts me in an intolerable position (cbtish is a therapist). Vanessa from eTransference, a clinical psychologist in training who has a particular interest in the phenomenon of transference, thinks it ought to be encouraged in many ways. Others undergoing therapy – bourach and thesamesky (who’s also a counsellor) for example – have their own struggles with the therapeutic dyad (bourach in particular will understand why I thought C should be angry with me, given this post of her’s).

I don’t know what the answer is; just that the attachment is very real. Just that I feel guilty for withholding information and for lying (though he wants me to stop that – and I’ve just remembered that the session ended with him asking me, again, to try and not post-mortem things in therapy. Oops. He was also worried, after what happened with VCB’s SHO in September, that his actions or words could have a…er…detrimental effect on me. Double oops. All I can say is that I think our current dialogue is progress, regardless of any self-harm that follows). And at least I am far from alone in withholding, and even lying.

But it’s still all a bit of a quagmire, yes?

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Mad versus Bad, Stockholm Syndrome and Defending HIM

Posted in Context, Random Mental Health Related Philosophising, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Thursday, 19 November, 2009 by Pandora

The phenomenon of Stockholm Syndrome has been bandied about a lot in the media recently, in the wake of the Jaycee Lee Dugard abduction and, to a lesser extent, in discussion of the Fritzl case (though I am not sure to what extent Elisabeth Fritzl was affected by it).  There is a particularly good article, by trauma therapist Kathy Broady, on the condition here.

For those of you not familiar with the issue but who don’t have time to follow the links, Ms Broady puts Stockholm Syndrome thus:

It is when victims form positive, caring attachments with their violent perpetrators.  The more victims have to depend on their perpetrators for their very survival, the more likely the victim will form an attachment to their perpetrator…

[Victims] knew that their life and basic survival needs were completely dependent upon keeping the perpetrator happy.  They learned to base their own survival on effectively meeting the needs of the perpetrator, and the perpetrator had the power to decide if they would live or die.  To survive, they became loyal to the perpetrator.

Perpetrators purposefully create this kind of dependence in their victims.

As far as I am aware, and it fairly logically follows given the above set of circumstances, Stockholm Syndrome is most frequently seen in cases of long-term abuse (and is thus not particularly applicable to me).

During a recent documentary on the Dugard case, my mother sat aghast as the narrator described how Kaycee and her two daughters wept as their abuser (and father of the two younger girls) was arrested.  She admitted that, had they randomly told their story without proof, that she would have thought them to be either unforgivable liars or seriously afflicted by folie a trois.  How, she argued, could you care so deeply about a person who had so horribly and systematically abused you?

I spoke to her at length about Stockholm Syndrome, but to little avail.  She understood the concept in theory, I think, but was nevertheless unable to grasp how it could actually be.  The whole idea is so alien to her that she cannot conceive of it being a very real condition, borne – initially at least – out of necessity.

A similar, though distinct, query arose with her when the Fritzl story broke last year.  “But how is it possible for her father to have done this to his daughter?” she despaired.  As with the Dugard case, had the story not been there in black and white, I don’t think she would have believed it.

“He must be mad,” she concluded.

Quite possibly.  Indeed, quite probably.  But at what juncture do we allow abdication from Fritzl’s personal responsibility (not to mention his duty of care to his daughter, morally if not legally at her age), due to the fact he clearly had a twisted and sick brain?  When does bad become mad, and/or vice versa?

Anyway, the point of this post is not to write a psychocriminological masterpiece on Stockholm Syndrome.  I’m only here to say that, although I do not believe for one second that I have it or anything approaching it, I do understand it.

I suspect some of my readers – those few in my real life, in particular – will dislike the latter part of the title of this entry.  “Defending HIM” – ‘Him’ being MMcF’s husband, perhaps unsurprisingly.  I am going to defend him…but, and it is a very BIG ‘but’, that does not mean that I am defending his erstwhile actions towards me.

I mentioned in the last post that I’d explain why I had become less concerned for MW’s welfare so let me clarify that point.  I have been exposed to Paedo in large doses twice recently and have found myself to feel nothing other than overwhelming pity for the man.

In some ways, I have done for many years, but he was so much a shadow of his former self of late that the sense of sorriness felt all the more palpable.  I think I have alluded to the fact before that he is mental too, suffering from some unspecified psychotic disorder.  He, like me, takes Olanzapine to counteract it, and it has been effective in its indicated usage.  But he is now incredibly depressed regardless.

So what, SI?  (a) Doesn’t he deserve to be and (b) depression is treatable, so why are you decreasingly concerned for MW?

(a) Well, yes, maybe he deserves to be.  But the man has had no life.  His life, for as far back as I can remember, has been nothing more than a pathetic existence.  He was forced to marry MMcF when they were both very young, as she was up the stick (a reviled state of affairs in the ’50s), and he has been under her tenacious grip ever since.

As I have stated on the page about the people in my life, at face value MMcF is a lovely woman.  The reality, however, is that she is domineering, manipulative, cruel and overwhelmingly demanding.  I consider it no coincidence that the two of her children that still live with her – S and K – both have no lives.  In their 40s now, they will never leave that house.  I also consider it no coincidence that S had very severe social phobia and still has depression (she claims she has bipolar disorder, but none of us have ever witnessed anything approaching even hypomania, and she only takes Venlafaxine, no mood stabilisers.  But what do I know) and indeed that Paedo is severely delusional.  The two other sons eventually escaped, but are nevertheless intrinsically linked to every brick of the house’s build, as are their children.  S’s daughter seemingly escaped but her, her husband and little MW might as well move in because they are always there.

The hold is enforced by MMcF.  Frankly I am scared of her.

Now, re: Paedo.  Well, given his entrapment, I actually can understand a willingness on his part to stray.  Could he separate from her, divorce her?  He could – or could have, more accurately – but even if he had, she would have manipulated him back.  I guarantee it.

So, yes, I feel sorry for him, and long since have.  MMcF does nothing but criticise him, and yet he serves her and complies with her selfish desires without complaint, and endlessly worries about her health and welfare (neither of which are great).

It does not, however, condone child molestation, because quite clearly nothing does.  No matter how shite his life may be, may long since have been, I did not deserve to be raped by him (nor, of course, by anyone else).

All I am saying is that the person is distinct from the act, no matter how heinous or twisted that act is, so I have the ability to feel pity for this man, who did this most horrid of things to me.  I don’t like him, and I most certainly do not love him, but I feel regret that he’s had such a waste of a life, and if I can feel that, then I can completely understand how in more serious cases of abuse that that could progress to compliance, submission, friendship and even love.

(b) Yes, depression is treatable, and Paedo may well be able to be treated for same.  Still, it is very chronic, and with the aforementioned shitty life, will be all the more difficult to shift.  We have a saying in Ireland: if a person is perceived to be on their last legs or just otherwise haggard and decrepit, it is often said that they are “done”.  Well, Paedo is thoroughly and utterly done.  Quite honestly, death would be a mercy to the man.

So on the balance of probability now, I am fairly sure that he simply isn’t either physically or mentally capable of posing a threat to MW, MW’s impending sibling, or any other member of that (or any other) generation.  He is beyond it.

Of course, I am not, and cannot be, 100% certain of this – who is ever 100% of anything?  As such, I will remain vigilant and will tune my awareness to any changes in MW’s behaviour as finely as possible.  If I think for a second that the child is under threat, I will act.  I will break Paedo’s neck myself if needs be.  However, I do genuinely not perceive this as likely at the present time.

To address my mother’s points vis a vis the sad Dugard and Fritzl cases.

If you, mother, find it so hard to accept Kaycee and her children’s attachment to their abuser, consider proportionally the defence your daughter has just given of hers.  Does it seem so alien now?

Furthermore, as stated Stockholm Syndrome develops of necessity – in the case of most long-term trauma victims, because they cannot escape the situation, so it is better to ’embrace’ (for want of a better word) what the abuser wants, in order to make life somewhat more tolerable.  In my case, evidently a less serious one, I would also say that some of my reaction to Paedo has developed of necessity.

I have basically accepted him, and I have kept the story to myself, to save an entire extended family.  Others could have been abused, I know, and I will never stop wondering if I could have prevented that – but I would have had to go to the police, alone, as a traumatised child, and with a total lack of evidence, what would have happened anyway?  So, with the best will in the world, I could hardly have prevented harm to that generation, and so I did all I could in the circumstances – I tried to keep the family my mother loves together.  And now I am looking out for the next generation’s welfare, which is the best I can do now.  I cannot ruin a family over an incident 16 years ago for which I have no evidence.

So no, abused individuals do not automatically hate and reject their abusers, for a multitude of reasons.

Finally, why is it really so impossible to believe that close relatives can and do abuse those close to them?  Many readers will be aware that most acts of sexual violence are perpetrated by someone known to the victim.*  Well, I can’t say the rape and the overt sexual behaviour were particularly systematic in my case but still – he was my uncle, I was his niece, so there you go.

* Child Sexual Abuse Fact Sheet, National Child Traumatic Stress Network –

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The Questions I Never Wanted to Face – C: Week 30

Posted in C, Moods, Psychotherapy, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Tuesday, 17 November, 2009 by Pandora

I’ve been avoiding writing this entry, in part due to a continuing malaise with being arsed to do anything, never mind soul-searching and expunging myself across the internet. But it’s not just been that. There’s nothing that I am going to say that is unknown amongst the circles that read this blog, but talking about this shite in therapy and then making it a concrete black-and-white reality in a journal make it real, and it is not allowed to be real, not by me at any rate. So I have been avoiding it. You should note that I am deliberately going to refrain from putting some details here, due to their personal nature, but I am sure you can forgive me.

Thursday’s session with C was one of the most frank and revelatory that I’ve experienced to date. It was a strange meeting, because initially I thought it was going to be one of those useless, ‘let’s both stare at the floor’ encounters, but if anything it ended up becoming one of the more useful (if difficult) sessions I’ve had in psychotherapy, because we finally began to face some of the stuff I’ve been so strategically avoiding in the last six months (and, frankly, for much of my life).

I was greeted with that usual opening gambit of, “so where would you like to start?” I know why he does this (“the dyad is a co-construction but you have to help inform it by raising issues of concern” or some such, no doubt) but seriously, is it really so much to ask for him to just ask me a question about something he thinks is worth discussing? Although I wasn’t in the same agitated mood that I was last week, I sort of shrugged off the question and we looked at each other.

Two points of interest arise for me here. One – why do I have such trouble just telling him where I would like to begin? Let me try to articulate how I feel in the moments immediately subsequent to his opening question. I suppose the closest I can really get to it is to say that it just feels inappropriate. Is this a boundaries thing? Is it something to do with a possible perception on my part that he is an authority figure? It just feels like I’d be breaking a rule, that it is something of inherent embarrassment to me, like I’d be showing myself up like a child humiliated by her teacher or parent.

Two, regular readers will know that C has directly confronted me – if I may use artistic licence with the term ‘confront’, for want of a better one – about the fact that I hide from him. I mean that I literally hide, not (just) metaphorically: I have fairly long hair, and I either wear it loose in his office and hide behind it, or I take it down from a ponytail in his office, and hide behind it. I also put my hands over my face to avoid him. How, then, is it that I can stare him out at other times (note that above I stated that we stared at each other for a bit)? In fact, I do the stare with such intensity at times that I think I unsettle him – whether or not that’s correct, at the very least I usually win ‘stare-outs’ with him. I stare and stare and stare, confrontationally, challengingly, defiantly even, all in a strange dance of intellectual seduction, no doubt designed to avoid actual exploratory psychotherapeutic work, which is no doubt exactly what this o’er weighty prose is also designed to do, so I shall forthwith desist from it. To try and answer the question, though, my suspicion is that the ‘hiding’ occurs when I am vulnerable or open with C, and the staring when I feel confident or (probably erroneously) believe myself to have the upper hand in the dyad. I am a walking Freudian stereotype.

The beginning of the discussion – and in fact the first 30 or so minutes – were really pretty innocuous. One thing that completed cracked me up was that he made enquiries as to the nature of my finger injury. Initially I was slightly taken aback by this – why the fuck would he show friendly concern over a cut finger? That is at most a medical problem, surely? However, I explained the circumstances in deliberately pedantic detail.

He nodded and smiled slightly in that irritating ‘oh-right-that’s-nice way’ that he does when I have said something that he deems irrelevant (which was most frustrating in this case, as he instigated the discussion), seeming apparently satisfied with my response. I wasn’t going to let him off with it though (more avoidance?) and said, “you thought I did it deliberately, didn’t you?”

He hesitated; I think he was reluctant to answer that, but for once he did give me a straight response, stating that, “that had been [his] thinking.”

For some reason I found this preposterously hilarious, and laughed and laughed. Although he tried to humour me, C was clearly puzzled by this amused lunacy, and retrospectively speaking, so am I. OK, so trying to severe my finger hasn’t exactly been my self-harm MO to date, but then this is the girl that recently bought, for the purposes of cutting herself, a surgical scalpel from eBay, and as a young child tried to amputate her foot. His supposition was not that terribly unreasonable when you think about it.

By whatever means of progression, we ended up engaging in a fairly length discussion about ‘They’ and the VCB’s prescription for an anti-psychotic to combat ‘They’. C, correctly, kept calling ‘They’ ‘them’ when ‘They’ were the objects of his sentences. He then went about correcting himself and apologising to me, apparently believing his ‘incorrect’ term was some sort of invalidation of me (because throwing a whole ream of hard work back in my face isn’t, but whatever), but I honestly couldn’t care less. It doesn’t matter what C calls ‘They’ – it’s not exactly going to rid me of their malice, is it? And his ‘mistake’ isn’t a mistake – he’s correct. Allow me to honour Dr Freud again; does my refusal to name ‘They’ in correct grammatical terms hark back to childhood trauma, when such niceties of the English language were only beginning to be understood? No, it probably doesn’t, so let’s move on.

The discussion of ‘They’ led on to further perusal of my recent psychoses (as detailed in the ‘They’ post and in this tweet); namely, the knocking, whimpering and music. I told C how I sinister I found them all, in particular the heinous music, but that in some odd, vaguely altruistic way, the whimpering was the worst. My desire has been to help the whimpering creature, to rid it of its obvious pain, but of course I cannot do that as, oddly enough, it isn’t fucking there because it doesn’t fucking exist. On the other hand, I explained, even if I could find the source of the whimpering, my pathological fear is that it is a trap laid by ‘They’ to somehow torture my mind further…or indeed worse (if you can euphemistically call taking me out ‘worse’, and I am not convinced that you can).

Anyhow, so far so tame. Well, not so for a normal, but yeah – let’s stick with ‘tame’ anyway. Unfortunately I walked into a trap at this juncture. Well, that’s unfair; C didn’t mean to dig into something right at this point (or at least I don’t think he did), and even if it had been a probing question, it would not be fair to consider that entrapment. He merely asked how I experience these sounds.

I won’t go into my answer nor the next 10 minutes of conversation, as this is the personal information to which I alluded in the opening paragraph. This remains private, between C and me, and no one else; all I’m willing to say is that it relates to me protecting myself. I’ll make only two other points about it. Firstly, this particular subject could have been horribly uncomfortable and awkward – and with the wrong person, it indubitably would have been. But I felt at ease with C, relatively speaking, and thought he dealt with it with tact and sensitivity. Secondly, this part of the session ultimately led to one of the topics I have been dreading to face in detail.

“You’re opening a Pandora’s Box here,” I cautioned at this point.

“Do you want to tell me what’s in the box?” C responded on cue.

I very deliberately turned round to look at the clock, noting only 10 minutes remained of the session.

“What a shame we don’t have time for that,” I smiled, probably patronisingly.

He took another route. “Can you even tell me the name of the box then, or give some details as to its contents?”

I took a deep breath. “You are aware of what happened with my uncle.”

He nodded, and what followed was some slightly circular discussion about my continuing worries about MW and his soon-to-be sibling (my cousins twice removed, or third cousins if you prefer the more common, yet inaccurate, assessment), and how that’s diminished a little of late*. Another point was regarding MMcF’s husband’s exact relationship with me – ie. that he is my uncle by marriage. There was subtle reference as to what extent the incident (lovely word) has consciously impacted upon my life in the last 16-ish years.

Finally he said it. I don’t remember his exact words, but it was something like, “you haven’t told me it all, have you?”

That sounds like he phrased it in a sort of blaming fashion, but honestly, he didn’t. I just remember that it wasn’t something like, “there’s more to this”, because I’d have said ‘yes’ to that, whereas the correct answer to the question above was ‘no’.

I didn’t feel like a child, or at least I don’t think I did. I did, however, bow my head, look up at C from this submissive position and shake my head slowly, sadly and in a horribly resigned sort of manner – just like a child does when faced with a similarly awkward position. Submit submit submit. You lied to him, you little bitch, you lied.

I would reiterate that this is my thinking and that I got no sense of blame or recrimination whatsoever from him. Still, I hate the fact that I actually outright lied to C about this matter in our early discussions. I hate it. I hate it almost as much as confronting this bollocks itself.

We didn’t talk about the whole shame issue I mentioned in the sex abuse post, simply as there wasn’t time. We did spend the few minutes that were left exploring who else was privy to the information – A is one of only two ‘real life’ person to whom I’ve actually spoken the word ‘rape’ in this context, though a few others will have now found out thanks to reading the material I’ve written on the blog.

The other person who heard me use the word was my mother. Her reaction to the whole thing is a subject for several sessions with C as, to be honest, her way of handling it wasn’t exactly in my best interests. I gave C the brief version, which is what follows, though of course it will be revisited I’m sure. When I first confessed to my mother that anything happened, she said that I had misinterpreted McMF’s husband’s actions, as “he loves children” and would touch them in innocent, companionable sorts of ways – that must have been what happened, SI, you silly girl! Mum still holds to that position, on the very rare occasion that there is some sort of reference to the INCIDENT. When I told her, on a separate occasion, the full extent of the INCIDENT, she – knowing I am not a fan of the McF dynasty – said I made it up to avoid going to their house. Cheers mother.

Of course it was not just the INCIDENT that permeated this period in my ‘relationship’ with McMF’s husband, though that was always the worst bit – well, obviously, I suppose. The fact that I mainly have flashback-like recollections of the worst part – ie. my wriggling under him as he pushed me down and did what he wanted – is presumably suggestive of dissociation from there onwards, for which I am both grateful and resentful. There was more to it than just than one day too, and God forgive me, I played up to it. I did. I played up to it. I would wear short skirts in front of him and make suggestive comments to him – not because I wanted him to touch me ever again, but because I wanted him to suffer (the rationale being, “oh, you want me, do you fuckhead? Well, you can’t have me!”). When he did later touch me again (once in a room full of other children – thanks for that memory, mind), I would seize up and eliminate myself from the situation with as much speed as possible. It makes my skin crawl to think of this.

Yes, it makes my skin crawl, and my reaction to it makes my skin crawl. I know I was a child, and I know flirtatious and sexualised behaviour is a common response to child sex abuse, but I feel like a grotesque little slut nevertheless.

Readers, I cannot do this. I cannot face the enormity of not just this hideous link to the past, but also that of the first boyfriend saga, and that of the desolation of grammar school, amongst others. How can I face this all with C? How? I can’t even face it with me! I am not strong enough. I am weak. The word flows through my blood and inhabits every cell and fibre of my being. Weak, so, so horribly, pathetically weak.

OK, I have totally digressed. This post was about a session with C, and I have turned it into a mini discussion on child sex abuse and my failure as a human being. Sorry. To return to the point, C and I had to finish the session after the talk about my Mum not believing what I had told her about her brother-in-law. A Pandora’s Box indeed. I should have kept my mouth shut – the next few weeks are, I suspect, going to be tough.

And yet I should not have kept my mouth shut because it needs to be confronted, and in this way I am heartened too. Even though I don’t think I can do it, it is a real development. It’s only taken six months, but what’s half a year between therapist and client! 😉

The session ended with C advising me that both offices on either side of him are being renovated shortly and that as “we can’t do work of this nature with such noise”, we’ll have to have an office change. It will be the second, which is a completely cuntified state of affairs – but there is an upside to it. The building work, which is starting in two or three weeks or so, is due to last for 12 weeks. Our current therapy contract is due to end on 26 November which would mean only two more sessions, which from my point of view simply cannot happen or I’ll be straight into the bin (or the ground – who’s discriminating). But C said something like, “so we’ll have to move out during that time…”, which is an excellent statement, as it strongly infers a continuation of treatment for the foreseeable future. Certainly, he once told me before that there would be a minimum of a four-week preparation period prior to any cessation of therapy, and very clearly that has not come to pass, but whatever way he phrased his words it sounded like he still expects to see me back in the current office when the work is over, so that’s a decent extension to the current timeframe.

What I expected to be a reasonably short post has turned into my usual 2,800 word bullshit. I see, reading back, a lot of pontificating about words and language. More avoidance?! Anyway, I’m going to bed. Goodnight, dearest readers.

* I’ll blog on this in a future post. Suffice to say, I saw MMcF’s husband the other week and he really is a pathetic shadow of his former self which, for the benefit of his great-grandchildren at least, is a most beneficial state of affairs.

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Signs of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Posted in Context, Moods with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 21 October, 2009 by Pandora

I found this insightful (if concise) article via Twitter today. I was utterly astounded by how much of it describes my behaviour after my uncle raped me when I was about 10.

I don’t really fancy getting into the ins and outs of the incident at the minute, though I’ll explore it more in a future post.  For now, though, these are the paragraphs that resonated so strongly with me:

The most common symptom for children is sleep disturbance or more specifically nightmares.  They don’t seem to be able to be explicit in describing what is happening in their dreams but they do know that “it is bad.”  Children that have been abused have advanced knowledge beyond their years about sex and they often act very seductive or sexually inappropriate around adults.  They are usually angry and either will cry or they are aggressive towards younger children without exactly knowing why they are behaving in that manner.  Often times in younger children they  display regressed behaviors, such as talking like a baby or they start wetting the bed.  In older children, they will often begin finding places in the house in which to touch themselves or masturbate.

Other symptoms that may be present are self-mutilation, usually seen in older children, lying or stealing, sudden changes in behavior, running away from home, eating disorders*, excessive fears, drugs/alcohol**, or threatening to kill themselves. There is no one sign/symptom or behavior that is proof that a child has been sexually abused, however these are some key symptoms for parents to look for to help them determine if abuse has occurred.  As always, a professional whether it is a pediatrician, psychiatrist, or a mental health professional should be consulted in order to assist with the behavioral/emotional symptoms that are being displayed.

(c) Tara Tamanini, Kid Awareness Series

The italics are mine, denoting signs that I exhibited.

* -ish.  I often behaved in a psuedo-bulimic fashion, throwing up my food for no reason other than not wanting to gain more weight.  But not often enough, I think, to actually be considered to have that illness.

** I started drinking when I was very young – perhaps 12.  No drugs, though.

As I’ve stated several times before, I think very little about my late childhood and early adolescence, but this brings back a lot.  Whilst recognising objectively that I have no reason to feel to blame, I am so horribly ashamed nevertheless.

Ashamed that I flirted with anyone, especially him, ashamed that it was seemingly a catalyst for my fairly early sexual self-explorations, ashamed that I lied and stole at times, ashamed of my aggression (which still hasn’t gone away), ashamed that I ever let any of it happen.

It makes my fucking skin crawl.  But I am glad I found this article.  As long-term readers of this blog know, I’ve been quite neurotic about MW, my uncle’s great-grandson.  This is now especially troubling as MW’s mother, SL, is due to have her second child in early 2010. Whilst I am terribly concerned for MW and any future brothers he may have, I’m pathologically terrified that SL will have a daughter.

I know that child sex abuse is not really so much about the perpetrator’s sexual orientation as about the fact the victims are children, and, of course, about the perpetrator’s power (as is the case in any instance of sexual abuse).  Nevertheless, although I certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility that he would act inappropriately towards a male child, I am (perhaps irrationally) terrified that a female is at an even greater risk.

Whilst obviously this article is short and therefore far from definitive, it is a half-decent start.  The problem is, without ruining the family and potentially putting the children in further risk, what can be done before he touches any of them up?  All of these signs are reflective – ie. something will already had to have happened for anyone to recognise them.  For very obvious reasons, I’d rather pre-empt any abuse.

A thinks it’s unlikely that anything is likely to happen. MMcF’s husband is getting on in life, I’ve seen no evidence that any of the other generations have been effected and, due to his medication, he is exhausted and sleepy all the time. I can appreciate that it’s unlikely, at a rational level.  But is that enough?  ‘Unlikely’, almost by definition, is suggestive that there is still a possibility.  And that’s what scares the fuck out of me.

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