[Private journal entry written on Friday, February 17, 2012]
Things have finally gotten rolling with the interviews with the lady writing a dissertation on trauma blogging. I answered her first set of questions today . . . and I had a blast doing it! She emailed me a set of questions and I answered them . . .
My first question is: Why did you decide to start blogging? Can you think back and tell me what initiated your creation of your current blog? Feel free to be as detailed as you’d like.
In the fall of 2007, I was just beginning to get back on my feet after six years of dealing with stunning financial and personal losses. I was passively suicidal . . . and some days, more suicidal than that . . . and I knew I was going to need to get some psychological help if I were to have a chance of not killing myself in the near future.
I worked on getting some money freed up in my budget and I looked for a “good” therapist. Finally, in February of 2008, I hired a therapist, Mark. Early in our relationship, we uncovered a history of childhood sexual abuse. I was not aware I had this history until I started having flashbacks and nightmares in those first months of therapy. Mark helped me start stringing together the details, and a pretty ugly picture emerged.
Mark tried to help me deal with this newly discovered aspect of my history, but that facilitation was disrupted by his continuously violating my boundaries around religion. I kept thinking it was my fault . . . because I was the broken client and he was the whole, healthy and wise therapist. Those boundary violations threw me for a loop for a while.
But, after some hard work on my own, I determined that I was “in the right” and I figured out how to set some very clear boundaries with Mark. He still didn’t honor my boundaries, and it became clear to me that he was not ever going to honor my boundaries. And that was not okay. So, I ended our relationship in October of 2008.
Of course, I was still reeling from everything – the financial and personal losses and the discovery of my history of sexual abuse – and I was having a very hard time functioning in my everyday life. I was still fighting to get back on my feet and I was still struggling to find a reason to not kill myself.
I also was angry – very angry – with Mark. I knew there had to be other people like me who had tried to get help and had instead ended up in a worse place because of a therapist with poor boundaries. So, fueled by my anger, I compiled my journal entries from 2007 and 2008 into an electronic book.
I wasn’t sure who would benefit from reading my “book” . . . maybe other therapy clients in a similar predicament, maybe the loved ones of those clients, maybe therapists who behaved as Mark had . . . but, I figured I’d put the book “out there” in the universe and let it go wherever it would go.
Now, looking back, I can see that I was also using the book, and the distribution of the book, as a way to make sense of what happened – what happened when I was a kid and what happened with Mark. In the book, Courage to Heal, that need to incessantly talk about “what happened” is known as the “emergency stage”. And, yup, I was deep into the emergency stage with no outlet for my incessant thoughts.
Well, long story short, no one was interested in my book. I contacted therapists, women’s clinics, rape crisis centers . . . no one was interested. I even tried to get some of my friends to review it and give me feedback, but they couldn’t be bothered. One guy returned the book to me after reading only two pages and told me that he “refused to fill his mind with such filth”. (Ouch!)
About that time, I was becoming aware of this venue called “blogging”. I hadn’t actually seen a blog before, but I’m pretty technologically savvy, so I checked out the world of blogging. I quickly realized it was the perfect venue . . . I wouldn’t be dependent upon anyone to get my story published, my story would be “out there” and accessible world-wide pretty much forever and forever, only people who were looking for this specific kind of information would find the blog, I could continue to add to my story as it continued to unfold, I could morph the content and format of the blog anytime to meet my changing needs and desires.
So, I took the journal entries I had already written and I started publishing them. And that is how my blog was born.
My second question is: Has blogging been helpful to you and can you tell me how?
Blogging has been very helpful for me! There are many ways:
1) It’s given me an outlet beyond my time in my therapist’s office – and sometimes I really need that additional outlet as a way to process what was covered in therapy. My commitment to continuing the blog “forces” me to formally document my thoughts, feeling and other experiences – if I didn’t have that motivation, I might not be as diligent in my processing.
2) It has provided a sense of community (I’m not the only one) and the community has provided encouragement and clarification. Often, readers’ comments will present a whole new way of viewing something. And, sometimes I hear from my readers that they have benefited in the same ways from reading my story.
3) It has given me a way to create something good from something really bad. We (the community at large) are only as sick as our secrets. By writing and publishing my story, I’m turning secrets into powerful truth that can’t be ignored. My story alone can’t do that, but if those of us who can tell our story actually tell our story, we become a unified force that creates a collective and powerful truth. That gives me a sense of purpose. (Okay, I got all teary-eyed writing that one!)
4) Healing is a cyclical journey. Fortunately, so is my blogging process. About the time I think to myself, “I’ve never felt this bad before and I don’t think I can survive this,” I take an older journal entry to the next step in my blogging process, and through reviewing that older journal entry, I’ll be reminded of a time I did feel “this bad” before. And, I can read what my therapist said to help me and I can read about the steps I took back then to get through . . . so, I’m getting triple return on my therapy’s financial investment, LOL!
5) One of my greatest fears is that I will forget how bad it was in the place from which I came. I’m afraid I’ll look back and remember only a watered-down version of the journey – that I’ll be embarrassed of how hard I had to work to overcome such a “small” issue – that I’ll be ashamed for unnecessarily being such a drama queen.
For a good portion of my journey, I attempted to preserve in my brain all the details of my journey so I could easily recall them in the event I might need to justify the extent of my struggle. Let me tell you, that is a monumental task – an impossible task. It sucked all my brainpower and my emotional reserves and my time and my energy. It didn’t leave me many resources for the task of processing current issues.
So, by blogging, I can preserve my story, but I don’t have to carry it with me. If I need to know any particular date, a certain person’s name, some underlying explanation for a current behavior, or an order of events, I can look it up. I no longer have to carry in my mind and in my body. And that frees up a lot of resources and it makes my traveling much lighter. And, it opens up the possibility that, now I’ve set down my history, I’ll be able to walk away from it and leave it behind where it belongs – in my history.
Finally, my third question asks you to look back over your previous blog posts and choose one (or more if you’d like) and tell me what inspired you to write it. This might be difficult if it’s an older post, but any information that you could give me would be helpful. Also, for this question, if you could give me the url and title of whatever post you’re talking about, that would help.
I think I have pretty much the same answer for any of my posts . . . I document anything that causes me to move forward (or sideways) in my healing journey. I usually identify “movement” as any event that stirs up strong, unpleasant – or pleasant – emotion.
Some of my “non-therapy” posts (i.e.; ones about bus stories, music theory, or “reader input requested”) are woven into my blog at predetermined intervals. I have a stash of writing that I dig into when I determine “it is time” to publish one of those posts.