A Slow Suicide…

The self harm game is strong right now. It’s fighting a fierce battle to take me down. I’m spiraling. It was a subtle swirl that started a few months ago. I didn’t notice or recognize it at first. But in hindsight, I see it rearing it’s ugly head. Tightening it’s grip. And somehow, just like that, it’s programming has taken over and I am it’s prisoner trying fiercely to get free.

I had gained a lot of headway in my life last fall. I had taken control of my health. I had reversed illness that had plagued me for years almost to the point of complete body failure. My anxiety was under control. My body was the strongest it has ever been. Emotionally, I was steady and grounded. Therapy was productive and introspective, hard, but tolerable and progressively helpful. I was taking steps forward. So I thought. But somewhere in that process of healing, things went awry. My healthy habits of eating well and exercising turned compulsive and into an eating disorder with a frightening diagnosis of atypical anorexia nervosa. Exercise turned into an addictive drug and eating became a punitive practice, a means to relive past trauma in a covert way.

Feelings that had been stuffed and buried under the guise of my new leaf on life began leaking. My body is trying desperately to purge the memories, to make sense of them, to bring them to my awareness. I don’t want to see them. I’m scared of what I see. I don’t understand. I don’t feel safe. I don’t feel in control. And the more I try to “be in control” the more out of control I become.

In therapy a couple months ago, I began moving my fingernails back and forth on the top of my hand. Digging deeper as the distress and memory erupting from inside intensified. I was completely shut down as I recounted what happened with my therapist and after I got into bed later that night my husband pointed out the cuts across the top of my hand. Like a perfect four lane track…bloody and raw. I had no idea I had done that. I didn’t feel it. I was still numb. And then it happened again in therapy a few weeks later. This time, my therapist caught it, but not before I had dug so deep into my skin I now have a scar to remind me daily of the turmoil that brews inside of me.

I haven’t cut myself since I was a teen…over 25 yrs ago. Now, I have to fight the automatic response to do so when I feel overwhelmed and go numb. Is it a way to try and ground myself? To feel something? A punishment I inflict on myself for telling secrets I’m not supposed to reveal? I don’t know. But I want to stop doing it.

When I was a child, food was both restricted and tightly controlled. It was also offered as a reward for compliance. Eating became a confusing practice. I was punished and food was withheld if I did not obey or if a lesson needed to be learned. But I was rewarded with food of I did obey or my training was successful. It was used as bribery to do things I did not want to do. It was used as bait to lure me into vulnerable situations where I became trapped and used. When I realized my eating was becoming an issue I sought out help and the anorexia diagnosis followed. I agreed to more therapy. And I started. But then something weird happened. I did a full 180 and self-sabotaged/self-harmed again. I stopped exercising. I stopped all self care. I stopped eating well. I stopped every “good habit” I had put in to place and went backwards. I stopped restricting and ate everything. I ate all the foods given to me to lure me into abuse. Ice cream, candy, fast food…whatever it was…things I have long avoided and refuse to even look at, I eat and relive my trauma. I also suspect now as I contemplate this, I was trying to regain control. Trying to prove there was no eating disorder, I got this, I’m not wasting away, I’m not restricting on purpose, I’m not punishing myself…

I’ve made myself sick again. I’ve spiraled down fast and furious, after I swore I would never go back to feeling that way. Every day I subconsciously look for something to do to hurt and punish myself for being so awful, for failing, for remembering, for telling my secrets. I don’t know why I do it and I don’t even know I do it sometimes. It happens automatically. Like a different person has taken over my body. I don’t feel like me anymore. I’ve lost myself. I feel so much shame and guilt. I feel like a failure. I feel small and vulnerable and afraid. I’m afraid of myself and what this might escalate to next. I’m alone in a darkness I haven’t seen in a very long time.

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Red Light District…

I’ve never thought of myself as a promiscuous person. I didn’t have a lot of sexual relationships as a teen or young adult…or relationships at all, for that matter. I had a boyfriend throughout most of high school. We had sex for the first time when we were 17 years old…in the winter of our junior year. I remember it very clearly. He had been trying to for months and I kept avoiding it or wiggling my way out of the situation using any excuse I could to not engage. But I lost the battle one afternoon. It just happened so fast and it was over before I could process or protest. He had to leave for basketball practice and as he drove away I saw him give a fist pump to himself. I felt humiliated. I was a prize to him, an accomplishment. I will never forget seeing that.

I went home to an empty house. I walked straight to my parents room and laid on my Dad’s side of their bed and sobbed in his pillow. I don’t know why I went there and not my own room. I felt dirty and cheap. I wanted to die for what I had allowed to happen. It wasn’t at all what I wanted for myself and I was frustrated I didn’t somehow stop him. I wanted to be better than this. I wanted to be different than the other girls in my class, or my older sister, who had a reputation for sleeping around with pretty much anyone.

The only other sexual relationship I had was with my now husband when we were in college. It was a similar situation. I vowed never to allow myself to do that again, to not have sex before marriage, but one night I found myself in a hotel room with him once again being caught up in a pressured situation and failing at my commitment to myself. Again, the feelings of humiliation and shame surfaced the next day. I was so disappointed in my weakness, my failure to speak up for myself.

My therapist asked me today how many sexual relationships I had had before marriage. He went on to say that that was pretty typical…for people to have one or two partners before marriage…but…it sounds like for me, after revealing some things I’ve been seeing from my past, that it’s been a lot more. Something has happened to me since he said that. I know it was not malicious in any respect, but it has had a profound impact on me as I have processed this part of my time with him today. As soon as I started driving away and thinking about his words a feeling of shame and disgust came over me. I felt so dirty and cheap. I felt like a hypocrite. I felt like a liar. I felt like a whore.

If the things I have been talking about with him have actually happened, he’s right. There have been many, many more sexual encounters. Encounters with my father, my sisters, shadows of men that raped me one after another on multiple occasions all throughout my childhood. My desires and efforts to be pure as a teenager were fruitless. I was already used so many times it wouldn’t have mattered. And now I feel no different than my husband and what he’s done to me with the dozens of women he has pursued. I feel like a cheater now. I feel like I’ve deceived him. I feel like I’m not any different than any other woman who offers up her services to countless men who walk the sidewalk strips and choose their indulgence through windows along the dark streets of night.

I don’t want this to be my story. The guilt I’ve felt for the one high school boyfriend before marriage was already something that has weighed so heavily on me. I hated that I did that and continued that relationship with him. And I hate that I did it again with my husband, even though we ended up married. It’s something I still get frustrated with myself about all these years later. That desire to have something special for your spouse at marriage that no one else has shared or experienced was obliterated in that and all those other moments. It’s one of the reasons I stay in my marriage now sometimes. I wonder…who would want me after this? I have nothing left. It’s hard for me to imagine someone wanting to share a life with me after all this exposure.  Somehow, I feel like I’m no longer trustworthy or worth anyone’s time or affection.

This reminds me of something else my therapist said several weeks ago. We were talking about my current desire to leave my husband and the consequences and challenges I would face if I choose to leave. I don’t remember the full context of what exactly we were discussing at that point but he briefly mentioned remarriage and said “…I don’t know why you would want to…” I immediately internalized that and began questioning “Why not? Does he think I’m too damaged? Am I no longer marriage material? Do I not deserve it? Is it not safe to ever want to know what real love might feel like? Would no one want me?”

After today, I’m wondering even more now. Who the heck am I?? I feel low. Very low. I feel like I somehow brought this all on myself. I’ve made all the bad choices and let all these bad things take place. I allowed my body to be used. I didn’t stop anyone. I just let it happen. I still do with my husband. My life is so tainted now. I don’t even know how to process that. I don’t even know how to think about myself. I feel like a prostitute. The exact type of woman my husband would pursue other than me. He doesn’t know what my mind is revealing to me from my past. I’ve told him nothing. What would he think of me if he knew? Would he like me better? Would I finally be more appealing to him? Or would he look at me in disgust or discontent? He’s a very jealous man…he holds me to very different standard than he does himself. I hold myself to different standard…and yet I allowed myself to not adhere to it.

I learned today another part of who I thought I was is not actually who I am. I have no idea who this person…me…is. If I accept what I see in my head, I have a new reality, I’ve had more sexual partners than I know, I’ve been touched and tortured and used. I’ve been passed around and enjoyed, just like some lady of the night.

Babies…

As I was drifting to sleep the other night I had an image come into my head of a baby whimpering in distress and sorrow. It had something black attached to it’s head that resembled the look of headphones. It was so clear in my head and I felt immediate sadness and angst and wanted to literally grab that baby out of my head and hold and comfort it. It was such a strong feeling, I picked up my phone and recorded the details. I had this gut feeling that it might be of significance. I have had flashes of babies before. One was covered in small black snakes, crawling all over it, on its face, it’s head, it’s body, it’s hands, everywhere. Dozens. The baby didn’t move. It just stares into nothing.

Last night I disclosed to my therapist some things I have been seeing in my head. I had absolutely no intention of going into any of the detail that I did and I’m not really sure how it all came out. There was so much fear inside of me. I felt like I was going to throw up. I stood up and paced. I was trying so hard to not say a word about it. I couldn’t contain what was happening inside of me. I don’t remember a lot of what I said, which scares me, but I do remember some things and being in such extreme distress. More than I have ever allowed myself to outwardly show him. I regret everything today. I’m waiting for the consequences. I know they’re coming.

I told him about the babies in my head. The nursery where they were kept. The metal white cribs all lined up in a row. The babies just laid there. No movement. They stared without expression. Wires attached to their feet and their heads, right above their ears. They were trained from birth to comply. If they cried, they would be shocked or burned. Their limbs would be pulled straight and restrained so they couldn’t move. They were fed, but only after they had to endure their torture. None of them had hair.

At this particular time there were five babies. Three were laying lifeless in the cribs. The baby that cried, it was taken away. I never saw it again from that day. The fifth baby was in a sling chair on the floor. It was smaller than the rest. They wore white shirts. Their legs were bare. There were no blankets in the beds, just the babies. I was never allowed to hold or touch them. There were times when they would take them away and I knew I would never see them again.

As I write about this, I am now seeing a young girl giving birth. She wore a white gown. They just pulled the baby out of her with some sort of metal instrument. She stared at the ceiling. Frozen. Her hair was light and fell over her shoulders as she lay there. There was a man between her legs and a women standing next to her. I don’t know where I am in this room. I just see it happening. In a weird way I can feel her extreme agony and pain. But she doesn’t show it. She just lays there.

Zombie Apocalypse…

I don’t feel like myself. At all. But when I try to identify what’s off and what’s “me” I have no idea either so how can I even feel this way? It’s like I’m floating in an unknown world in my head. Super slow motion. Watching things slowly spin around me as I watch and wonder where I am. Nothing looks familiar but at the same time I know it’s not a place I want to go back to.

Today I was sitting with my therapist and my mind went down a path it has been avoiding for a very long time. I knew it as soon as the images entered my mind and I tried furiously to push it back away. I have been here briefly before. I was screaming and fighting three men who had me restrained. I was kicking and battling, trying to get away. I charged forward, they grabbed me. I dropped my body down and went limp like a toddler throwing a tantrum, they held on, their grip was so tight. I kicked my legs and flailed my body. They growled in my ears and held me tighter as I bucked like a wild bull trapped in a pen. I was trying with everything I could to not go through the doors they were leading me to. They commanded my obedience. I don’t remember what happened after that. It ends with the chaos of this incident.

My mind went from there to solemnly following a woman down a long hallway. I don’t remember what she looked like and there were no words exchanged until we reached our destination. She opened the door and pointed to a pile of neatly folded clothes laying on a bed with a metal frame. The sheet and the clothing were white. There was nothing else in the room except for a metal chair. I was instructed to put them on and sit in the chair next to the bed. I was left alone and went through this routine I feel I am very familiar with. I sat and waited, frozen, not daring to move a muscle. The woman returned and she sat in front of me. She asked me question after question and I had to answer them correctly or else I knew something horrible would happen. She left me alone again.

When she returned she opened the door and motioned me out to the hallway. I followed her to an elevator with a silver door and we went up several floors. I followed her out, turning right down another long hallway. It was brighter than the one below. She stood at a doorway and motioned me in to sit. In front of me were three men. Their faces were very stern and serious. I know these men but I can’t make out their faces in my head. They wore dark suits with white shirts and dark ties. They stared at me as I sat frozen in front of them. The door closed behind me and I was left alone with them. There were two large windows with black frames. One behind the men and one to my left side. The sky was white and there were trees in the distance. I felt very cold.

The man in the middle spoke firmly in what seems like a language I don’t understand but somehow I know exactly what is being said. I am given my instructions and asked more questions. I am to work with the babies. When the mothers give birth the babies are put into a nursery where they are tortured and deprived and trained. I don’t know how I know this or why I just wrote that. My instinct is to delete because I don’t understand it.

Tears are falling as I write but I feel nothing but confusion inside so I don’t understand their purpose. I don’t know what this is. I fear I have a mental illness. All feeling is gone inside of me. Something else has taken over. Something is horribly wrong.

I did tell some of this to my therapist this morning. His reaction was strong and it felt as if he was angry and irritated with me. I felt immense shame for saying anything and an incredible amount of fear for speaking any of it out loud, like something awful was going to happen to me. I haven’t processed this enough to know what it even is. I feel like I don’t have any context for it, yet at the same time, other things fit into it that have never made sense to me before. I don’t know how these things could have even happened. I don’t know how I get to these places with these people. I don’t know who they are. I have no answers other than I am wrong. Something like this just feels like it can’t be real…I would remember. Wouldn’t I? What has taken over my brain? What is happening to me?  Is it even real? Am I sick? Like, literally, have zombies taken over my body and made me into some creature of hate who loves making up stories that isolate and bring me down to my knees or curl me up in a ball in fear? I feel dead. I know no other way to describe it. I am scared. I am worried I’ve lost it and am unfit to parent my children. I am so confused and lonely. I am living in a place in my mind that feels foreign and fuzzy. I’m trying to figure it out. I need help.

 

The Battle…

I have a tug of war happening inside of my head…inside my entire being, actually. One part of me sees and feels myself in horrible, horrific, tortuous, exploitative situations. Another part of me screams, “This DID NOT happen…you are making this up…this did NOT happen!” I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to go from here.

I was sitting with my therapist last week and for the second session in a row he presented the “facts” that I have laid in front of him about some of my past in an attempt to help me verbalize that I have been abused. I can’t do it. I can’t say the words. I can’t accept it as real. It doesn’t feel right. I can’t connect with the things I see in my head. They don’t feel real. It just feels wrong. Nothing feels good about it or accepting it as my truth. All this time I have been trying to prove it’s wrong…but it never. goes. away. ever.

He asked me directly again if I had been sexually abused as a child. I sat quietly for a while and then answered that I had been thinking about what the definition was for sexual abuse. If I could connect that to memories that I KNOW are true, then I could give him the answer “yes” that I knew he was hoping to hear me say. I said that “yes” out loud. I was, technically.

My parents openly had sex in our home when my siblings and I were children. We heard them and saw them all the time…sometimes they did it in the same room as us when they assumed we were asleep and would not wake up, but we did. There were Playboy magazines throughout the house for our little eyes to find. My Dad watched pornography on HBO and Cinemax while we sat behind the couch or played quietly in the next room, pretending we had no idea what he was watching.

When I was around 9 yrs. old, my older sister convinced me to engage in sexual activity with her. She would have been 13 or 14 yrs. old at the time. She made me sit on top of her. She unbuttoned her shirt and exposed her breasts to me where she then instructed me to touch her and kiss her in ways I did not want to do, but I did anyways, because, I don’t know…I just did.

These things all fall into the definition of sexual abuse. I know they happened. I connected immediately to these memories when they resurfaced two years ago. Some of the memories I have always remembered periodically throughout my life. So yes, I was sexually abused. My therapist just looked at me though, clearly not satisfied with my rationale. So he changed his question to something like this…

“Have you been sexually exploited and used by your Father and other men?”

 I don’t know. I can’t say yes. It doesn’t feel right…I don’t know if it actually happened…and I froze and went silent, filled with excruciating anxiety and fear and guilt and torment. I cannot say yes. I cannot talk.

He reminded me of the stories that I have told him, the physical reactions I expressed when I told them, and all the evidence we have that this in fact is not something I could just “make up.” I argued. The voices in my head were loud and clear. You are lying. You are just looking for attention. Do not speak. You are wrong. This did not happen. They will find you. They WILL find you. They will kill you. Leave right now. No don’t…they’re probably waiting for you right outside that door. You are not safe. You are wrong. You are being overdramatic. STOP.

 And then he triggered me. He repeatedly said the nickname my Dad used to call me when I was little during his rebuttals against the voices in my head, and for some reason in that moment it sent me to a place I had not been to yet in excruciatingly vivid detail. I was a little girl sound asleep in my bed, maybe 5 years old. I was awakened by my father whispering that nickname into my ear as he put his hand on my leg, and moved it up my thigh under my nightgown. I remember the nightgown very clearly. It was a Christmas gift from my grandparents. It was white flannel with puffy gathered sleeves, with a ruffle around the neck and the bottom hem. There were stripes of pink flowers and lace around the neckline. My hair was short. I remember looking at the wallpaper where it met the white ceiling…it was floral on the wall behind my head and a pink gingham check pattern on the other wall along the side of my bed. I stared at the angle in the ceiling as my Dad’s head went down between my legs…

My therapist is getting pretty good at reading me, or I’m losing my ability to mask what’s going on inside of me. It’s hard to hide from him lately. He must have seen something shift in me because he stopped talking and asked what I was thinking about. I couldn’t talk. I kept asking myself, “If this isn’t true, then why are you thinking about this? Why do you remember so much about what you were wearing and the patterns on the wall? Everything is so clear. Where did this come from? It all just appeared…” I wanted with every fiber of my being to tell him what was going on in my head but my tongue was tied. I could not speak. So I stuffed it away and tried to pull myself together.

That incident has stuck with me for almost a week now. Even when I saw him again yesterday, I could not get it out. I wanted to tell him everything about it. I planned on telling him about it, but I froze as soon as I tried. I don’t know what I’m fighting against. I’m terrified though. I’m terrified I’m being watched and followed. I’ve had a few very uncomfortable run in’s with strange people over the last several months that have left me reeling. I have had symbols and triggers of my past show up in places I had considered safe that have left me feeling like everyone in my life is part of the tribe, the cult, the whatever it was I was used in, in my childhood. Are they trying to access me to keep me silent? Is their control so powerful that all they have to do is leave a random vase of flowers for me to see somewhere to shut me back down and keep me quiet?

This all sounds so ridiculous and outrageous to me, every last bit of it. But I can’t shut it down. The fear is so real and the images won’t go away. It’s burned into my brain. And there’s so much more that I haven’t even verbalized because I don’t even know how to put words to it all. I don’t know what it is. It’s like a horror movie. It doesn’t make sense. I can’t make sense of it or reconcile myself to any of it. It follows me everywhere.

What if I’m wrong? What if I’m crazy? What if I claim this as my truth, my reality, and I go through the rest of my life living a lie, exploiting God for His “healing power” on the other side of this for my own gain? Then I am a liar, slamming the character of my Father and Mother who have always told me how much they have sacrificed for me. How is that honoring them? The guilt I feel for this is so heavy and crushing. Would I be feeling this guilt if it were true? What if the guilt and the fear and the unsettled state of my being is God telling me, “NO, this is not your reality!” And honestly, I don’t think anyone would ever believe me if I spoke the things I see out loud. I have no credibility. They have all the power. They will hurt me even more if this becomes exposed. Why won’t God rescue me from this? Why won’t He give me the answers and the certainty I need?

I don’t know what to do. I’m trapped. I’m backed into a corner. I’m afraid to keep going. My head is spinning and I’m tired of the push and pull and I don’t feel safe. I feel empty and drained. I feel unsure and afraid. I feel numb and confused. And the tug of war, the battle inside…it continues.

Used Again…

I’m in a daze today. I can’t focus. I can’t eat. I was raped by my husband again last night. This is becoming a regular occurrence. It’s sneaky on his part. He preys upon me when he knows I’m emotionally weak. At least I think he does. Maybe he doesn’t. I don’t know. Maybe I’m over exaggerating the circumstances. I can’t think clearly.

I came home from a therapy appointment last night completely overwhelmed and exhausted. It was my second 3 hour session this week. We are talking through abuse memories that I have had. It’s hard and it’s scary. I don’t know what to do with them all. I’m afraid they will find out I have talked to him about my past. I’m afraid they will come after me. Or my children. Or even him. I know they are watching me. I’ve never been able to escape. They find ways to warn me not to screw up, not to talk. They will hurt me again. This makes me want to quit therapy every time I go. I leave in a complete state of panic every time. What if they are waiting for me in the parking lot? My heart pounds as I scan my surroundings before walking out the door. I wonder sometimes if my therapist is one of them. I want to think no, that he’s not, that I’m safe with him, but I don’t know. I always wonder.

I wanted to go to sleep. I wanted to completely shut down and let the night go away. I was hoping for rest and no dreams. I was falling asleep. But my husband was not. He kept touching me and kissing me and I froze. Everything I talked about earlier in the evening…being tied down, held back from running away, raped, tortured. Every image flooded back in. I went into compliance mode. I acquiesced. I couldn’t talk the words that were screaming in my head…for him to leave me alone. For him to understand that this isn’t a good time. He knew where I was. He knew I had a hard appointment. He asked me when I got home. I told him so he knew. Why? Why was he doing this? Doesn’t he know?? HE KNOWS. I’ve told him before about how this happens to me. I asked him to be more aware. To back off. Please. He said he would. He didn’t. Again.

I let him have his way. I couldn’t fight it. I checked out and did what I needed to for him to be satisfied. He entered my body while I cringed and tears began to fall down my face. Maybe he didn’t notice, it was dark. I turned my head away from him so I couldn’t see his face anymore. He breathed heavily in my ear and I drifted away into the darkness of my mind. I didn’t kiss him back. I didn’t talk back. I didn’t move. I was gone. He knew I was. He kept asking if I was ok. I couldn’t answer. He didn’t stop. It was finally over. I just laid there, exhausted and confused. I’ve felt this before. I barely heard him talking to me…

“Did you leave me? Come back…” 

Now he notices I am not ok. But it’s too late. I wish he would see me. I wish he cared enough to do what was right. I wish he would leave me alone. I can’t do this one more time. I’m all used up. I’m damaged and broken. I’m empty. Disgusting. I feel so alone.

Maybe I’m just tired and overreacting. Maybe I led him to believe I wanted this somehow. Maybe I shouldn’t complain and be grateful he provides for me. It’s the least I can do. I am his wife after all. Maybe this is all I’m good for.

Something…

I’m feeling something. I’ve been feeling something for many days. I don’t know what it is. I’ve thought about it and I can’t figure it out. I’m antsy and restless, agitated. I’m in a daze. Everything around me is fuzzy and unclear. I feel like I am in pieces. Thoughts and images are scattered everywhere. I’m fragmented. Numb. I say those words and they feel like the right descriptions, yet, I don’t exactly know what they mean or what they are describing. I’m just…I don’t know…

I sat with my therapist last night for the first time in 10 days. It was a weirdly excruciating ten days for me. I don’t know why. I was thinking a lot. I fought hard the feelings of dependency that have been creeping in. I told myself over and over that I’m fine, I can manage the overwhelm I was feeling, and figure it out. He’s my guide, not my lifeline. I can’t depend on or need him outside of my scheduled sessions. I try very hard to just be and sit in whatever I am experiencing until I can process with him again. But this time, I couldn’t. It was too long of a space in between. Too much happened. I had remembered too much and felt too many things and despite my awareness that this was happening and all the steps I took in the meantime to prevent complete overwhelm and shut down, I froze. Right there. With him.

It started out fine. I was able to talk about some things that were weighing on me but then he moved on and said something I don’t even remember and I switched. Complete shutdown. And the rest of the session I sat there listening to him talk to me about how this is real and I’m not making it up or lying, but unable to talk back or ague my side. Physically incapable. Too many emotions or thoughts, feeling unsafe maybe, I don’t even know, sent me into a frozen state. And there I sat for the rest of the session. My mind was so full it was empty. It all cancelled the other out. So many emotions equalled no emotion at all. I left feeling like an epic failure because I couldn’t pull out of it and afraid to ever go back because I never want to experience that or have it happen again. I failed on so many levels for myself and for him. I wasted his time. I wasted my money. I wasted an opportunity for me to move towards something…understanding, healing, decompression, just the opportunity to TALK…

Our time was up and I realized he had tried for an additional 30 minutes to pull me out of this. I was praying that God would just interrupt, show up for me just this once, please, and make him end the session, because I couldn’t. But instead I heard my therapist say “I’m not budging. I want to hear what you have to say. What are you thinking?” Thanks, God. I was feeling so tired and flustered and out of control. I wanted to talk. I wanted to say every thought rolling through my brain but I couldn’t find the words. And eventually they were so muddled together I couldn’t even find the thoughts anymore. I finally mustered I had nothing to say and then again that I was tired and then again that I had to go, at which point he finally said “OK.”

I went to my car and drove away, stunned and angry and relieved and sad and flustered and numb all at once. I stayed away from home until after 1am. I just sat and thought about the evening. I tried to figure out what is happening with me. I tried to understand. I sat in complete dark and silence for a very long time hoping something would come to me. I wanted to scream and cry and run away and even just die but nothing would come out. I was feeling that something again.

I now realize I’ve felt this before. This something. It eventually turned into a feeling of impending doom. I knew there was something bigger lurking inside of me about to come out…and it did. I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to cope. I’m stuck in that land between. That world where I want it out and to know, but at the same time, please just go away and let me be! I don’t know how to pack things away anymore. I’ve lost that skill. I can grasp it for a little while and have normal hours…sometimes days…where I feel ok and under control. But it’s persistent and it comes back and taps my shoulder. I shudder, my eyes afraid to look. Are the ghosts of my past lurking back there? There’s something waiting to be seen. I feel it…I feel…something.

Hey, Little One…

I saw my therapist twice last week. It wasn’t planned that way but something happened in my first appointment that left me overwhelmed and a little rattled. We ended our session rather bluntly, in the middle of me recalling something pretty upsetting. He is always very good about making sure I don’t leave his office in a state of distress. He watches the time, because I rarely do, and he takes the time to ground me and bring me back into the present moment if I need it. But this time, he lost track of time and he needed to go. I was reluctantly ok with that, as I do respect his schedule and hate being or feeling like I’m a burden, so we ended. It was just really hard and took some serious effort to pack things away. He offered to meet again later in the week if I felt like I needed to, so I took him up on that and we did.

That was a bizarre session for me. We were talking about different things. I had previously gone two weeks without seeing him and I was still trying to catch up, as a lot had come up internally, and at home with my husband. Nothing felt threatening and I was not really thinking I would be processing trauma that day. The conversation was balanced. We were talking about me feeling pressured to make certain choices, and fear issues, and some upcoming travel plans, which led to a conversation about my parents. He asked me a question and I answered it including details about locations I have been remembering being in with people I don’t know yet who they are…in a large house, out in the woods, a concrete building, a tunnel, in a car. “Wait, what tunnel?” he says. More questions came and before I know what’s happening, I was knee deep in a memory about being in a dark car with a strange man, in a tunnel. Tears started streaming down my face. I had no idea why. That’s all I saw. The car. The tunnel. The man. Another little girl. Nothing horrific. But the tears continued flowing and I started feeling something in my face. My face was burning. The pressure was so intense. The bridge of my nose hurt, my cheeks hurt, my sinus’ hurt, behind my eyes hurt. Was my body remembering something related to this that I could not??

What the heck is happening right now??  Why am I crying? Why does my face hurt? What just happened? How did I get here??

He asked another question. And another. My words shut down. I couldn’t talk anymore. And all I hear in my head is this small little voice screaming…screaming, in complete panicked terror… Stop talking! Stop talking! STOP TALKING!!!! 

WHAT?!?

STOP TALKING!!!!

He obviously could see in my face that something big was going on inside my head. So he prods to get me to talk and tell him what it is.  I eventually mustered out I’m trying to understand what’s happening right now. Why am I crying? Why does my face hurt? There’s a voice in my head screaming at me to stop talking. “What voice? ” A child’s voice. “What is it saying?” She’s screaming…screaming...stop talking! Why can’t you talk? Who’s telling you not to talk? You are an adult. No one has any control over you. You can tell me what you see. No one is forcing you not to. You are in control. You make your choices. No one else is here with us. You are safe here. I started to feel so overwhelmed and angry and just wanted him to stop talking because I couldn’t do anything that he was telling me to do.

I have read in many books about trauma about the concept of our “inner child.” I never really understood or bought into the idea. It sounded a little out there to me. Psycho mumbo jumbo. Weirdness. But I was wondering in that moment…is this for real? Is this my voice screaming? Is “younger me” telling me to stop talking? That it’s not safe? Is “she” keeping me quiet?  I felt so crazy and wondered if I had hit a wall and was losing it in this moment. But I was curious at the same time. But I still couldn’t talk. I was shut down. And this is where the session had to end.

In my second session things went similarly. He went back to the memory and we talked a little more about it. He was asking questions again and I said something about water. Water? And just like that, there I was again in another place I had not seen before…except I realized later I have…parts of it in a dream. Being a normal human being, he started processing himself the information that I have been sharing. He starts to talk about the sheer amount of trauma I have experienced and how many layers there are and how my stories are like things you just read about happening somewhere else. “This is so unbelievable…it’s believable,” he said. As I listened to him process, though, I felt defensiveness rise up in me. I start thinking, What do you mean unbelievable?  Which was a curious reaction in and of itself because I don’t even believe myself. Oh no, he’s right, and I’m right, this isn’t even real. It’s too out there and crazy. I’m nuts. Go home. Just shut this down and GO HOME.

He doesn’t believe us…he doesn’t believe us!! Stop talking!

US?!?  What is wrong with me??

And there the little voice was again. Telling me to stop talking. Protect myself. Don’t give anything else away. Get out of there. Run. And I shut back down. It was an immediate response. My therapist eventually said he thought it was interesting that I said “stop talking, he doesn’t believe us…”  I paused to think about this and asked him (and myself) in exasperation, “Who’s us??”  He looked back at me and said again he thought it was a younger version of me trying to stick to the same old protocol I was taught as a child…to stay silent. “Is that even a thing?” I asked, and he shook his head yes. He told me he doesn’t really focus on or talk about that kind of stuff because he sometimes dislikes these types of psychological theories that are taught. But he explained it more in depth in that moment because he said he knew I needed to hear it, and to try to help me make sense of what I was experiencing.

One thing he told me that stuck out was, when looking back at memories from the past, we see them different ways. Sometimes, the things that come to me, I see from the vantage point of me looking down and witnessing the situation. Other times, I am actually re-experiencing something and see what I saw or feel what I felt in those moments. He described our inner child as a navigator and to look at those times when I see things as an outsider looking in on a situation as “younger me” showing me what happened. This really impacted me in a big way. I use this type of “remembering” as my proof sometimes that this stuff, this abuse, didn’t really happen to me. That I’m just making it up. Because how could I know what I looked like in that moment if I was the one who was experiencing it? I wouldn’t see it like a movie. I would remember how I experienced and felt it, right? I couldn’t actually see it. But younger me can take adult me by the hand and take me there and say, “Look…look what happened to us…”

I’m not sure I buy into this idea 100% yet, but I am definitely more willing and open to exploring and experimenting, and will maybe even talk to and interact with “younger me” from time to time as my therapist suggested. Is she the key to unlocking the mysteries inside of me? Will she show me more or help me connect more dots? I don’t know. But for now, I want to welcome her into my life. I want to know who she is and what she needs because I have no memories of myself as a child. I don’t even recognize some pictures I have of me, as me. I am curious enough (and desperate enough) to see if learning how to draw her out of hiding and engage with her will help me heal like all the “experts” on this sort of thing claim. I want to know who I was so I can understand myself better now.

Hey there, little one…don’t be afraid. It’s ok. Do you need to talk? Do you have something to share or show me? It’s ok. You can trust me. I’m safe…

And as I wrote that I heard in my head “I’ve heard that before…”