Friday, July 16, 2010

Oops, I Forgot One

In my last blog entry, I forgot to list a way that I coped- still cope. A big way. I'm a super-organized control freak. Everything has a place and belongs there all the time. Please don't move it. If you do end up moving it, please dust underneath where it was. Then put it back exactly the way you found it. And as far as being a control freak... if we have plans for the weekend, I will write them down in my planner in pen. And if I have to change them...watch out. And please don't make things last minute, or I might cry. I'm just kidding- I'm not that bad.

But it is bad enough to be annoying. Perhaps moreso for people around me than for me- but make no mistake, I get annoyed by it, too. It's tiring needing everything clean and neat and in it's place and going-as-planned.
So where does this come from? Hmmm... Fear of failing somehow- things have to be perfect, maybe to keep up the facade? Fear of chaos and things being out of control- growing up, there were times when things were out of control in a real sense; this is probably true in most families where one parent has alcohol issues. (Notice I did not say where one parent is an alcoholic right there, have issues with that word.) Fear of not being in control- I had control taken away from me in a lot of ways, very bad and hurtful ways, and now I have to be in control or I feel like things are slipping away and I get panicky.
Just another thing to work on, I suppose.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Writing Exercise: Honoring the Ways You Coped

How did I cope with the CSA? Lots of ways, really, depending on the stage of my life I was in.

I forgot or minimized lots of what happened, and made up rationalizations for the rest. I know now that this was to protect my younger self from being completely destroyed by what was going on. I still do this sometimes- it wasn't that bad, it could have been worse, it was me, he did it because I was bad...and so on.

When I started to really "know" that things had happened, with memories, one way in which I coped was by presenting a facade to the outside world. I was a "good" kid, got mostly A's in school, took advanced classes, joined clubs, helped people, worked, went to church... pleased everyone I could and acted like things were perfect. While on the inside, I was screaming for help.

Another way I coped was by hurting myself. I cut myself, not really deep enough to leave scars, but enough to bleed, enough to feel. I became hypervigilant about my eating and often skipped meals. I became quite promiscuous, using sex and sexuality to meet lots of needs.

One of the healthier ways that I coped was tapping into my creativity. I wrote a lot of poetry, and created a lot of art. Painting, drawing, sketching, inking, sculpture, anything that I could use to express what was going on inside.

When I left foster care at the age of 19, I got pregnant soon after and wanted to be a "part of the family" again. But how could I do this with everything that had happened? I put things in a closet in my mind, and ignored it all. I guess this also goes along with that facade I was presenting to the outside. From the outside, everything was ok- I was a good mom, in school, doing well; but it became impossible to keep ignoring things. Which is why I returned to therapy earlier this year.

Currently, I am coping by reminding myself that I am ok, that I am doing good things to work through this, by talking to the people I trust. I intend to go back to being creative, just have to force myself to find the time and get over my "it's been so long!" fears. Yes, sometimes I still skip meals- for the control, the pain, or to punish myself- and yes, sometimes I think about cutting, sometimes I just sit and cry. But for the most part, I have found much healthier ways to cope- and to go beyond coping to dealing with it, so that I can get better.

Honoring the ways I coped... Well, I think I have already done this. I'm not really ashamed of anything I did to cope anymore. I survived some horrible things, and I made it through. I'm here. I used whatever I could and did the only things I knew to make it here. And I can honor that.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's a Long Road, but I Won't Stop Walking


What do you do when you've been through hell? When you aren't sure how to cope and you end up hurting yourself and those around you?
Or when you feel stuck in the dark places of your mind, not sure you're strong enough to climb out?
I'm learning that you just keep going. Because none of it is the end of the world. You can't undo things that you've been through, but you can learn how to live with them and not let them define you. You can't take away things you've done, but you can say you're sorry to the people you hurt, forgive yourself, and do better.
Change is difficult, and scary. But I think it's finally hit me that I want to change. I don't want to dwell on the bad things, or hurt people I care about, or feel trapped in my own head. I know this sounds pretty screwed up, but I think that somewhere I felt that as long as I had issues, someone would care. So I didn't try as hard as I could to get better. But the people who really care, will still care when I'm "ok." It's comfortable here in a way, because it's what I'm used to. But I just can't do it anymore; it isn't what I want for myself, for my daughter, or for my boyfriend.
The past couple days have been killer, but I'm going to keep going forward. Because that's the only thing to do.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Writing Exercise: The Effects of the CSA...

...on my self-worth:
  • I am worthless, or close to it
  • I twist my self-worth to depend on the people I care about, so the smallest, most unintentional slight is taken with too much sensitivity
  • I don't deserve to be cared for
  • I am dirty, and bad
  • I am at fault

...on my relationships:

  • I trust people I shouldn't too quickly, and people I should, not enough
  • I am emotionally needy, seeking constant reassurance that someone cares
  • At the same time, I push people away, testing their caring
  • Relationships with my parents are superficial
  • Relationships with my sisters...were strained; now, they are better, but I am still unsure about how they really feel toward me

...on my views about sex:

  • Sex is easily used for power
  • Sex is easily made to be about control
  • Sex is painful and causes guilt
  • Sex is a way to make people want and/or need you, to make them want to be close to you

...on my life in positive ways- what strengths have I gained?

  • For all my emotional neediness, I am pretty self-sufficient- I know how to run a household and take care of a family
  • I am compassionate and empathetic
  • I am not broken, even with all I have been through- this shows me that I am strong
  • I know how not to parent

Writing Exercise from: Bass, E. and Davis, L. (2008). The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of CSA. (4th Ed.). New York: Harper.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Dream

When I was little, I used to have this recurring nightmare. I would be in my room, and I knew that "Superman" (this is what I called him, but he was blond) was coming to find me. Frantically, I would hide under my bed, always behind my box of barbie stuff. And then he would come into my room and start looking, but I would always wake up before he found me.
I haven't had this dream in a long time. Now they are pretty much either completely weird (for example, my sisters are putting pet turtles in plastic shopping bags to carry them, and I am freaking out that the turtles can't breathe), or terrifying.
And...I had planned to write more, but that's about all I can handle right now.