Posted by: Marie | July 13, 2009

(104) Unable to protect myself

Post #104
[Journal entry written to my therapist on Monday, March 9, 2009]

Hi, Dr. Barb –

My ankle is doing much better this week – I’m walking to work again.


I created my list of priorities and posted in on the corner of my bathroom mirror where I do my face picking – I can still pick, but I have to strain to look around the piece of paper. I also can read it while sitting on the toilet – a good way to start and end a day, LOL! I have listed my priorities in order of importance:


HEALTH: Emotional, hygiene, nutrition & exercise

FINANCIAL SECURITY: Short-term (current bills)

INTIMACY: Family & inner circle

CAREER: Teaching piano lessons


FINANCIAL SECURITY: Medium-term (savings)

SOLITARY HOBBIES (time alone to regenerate)

FRIENDS: Fun & fellowship


CAREER: Land use consulting


FINANCIAL SECURITY: Long-term (investments)

CAREER: Writing & teaching life lessons



In pondering the reasons why I have been feeling prickly and defensive in our sessions, I have observed the following . . . I feel danger whenever someone challenges me intellectually – I feel a need to take a stand and protect it fiercely – even if I didn’t have any particular stand prior to the moment of challenge or even if the subject of the challenge is of little importance to me.

Finding Land by Martin Chen

Finding Land by Martin Chen

Now why would I do that? When I am in the safety of aloneness, I actively seek out new ways of doing and seeing and thinking. The same is true when I am allowed to be a passive listener in a conversation. So, why do I feel I must throw up protective walls in the face of a direct challenge? Wouldn’t it be more natural for me to embrace the opportunity to debate and learn? After all, I know that I don’t know everything there is to know and that I can always benefit from learning from others.

If I’m so committed to changing my behavior through our therapeutic work together, why am I fighting so hard in our sessions to protect and defend my status quo?

Here is the answer, the best I can figure: I feel like, if I don’t take a strong stand in the face of intellectual challenges, I will be forced or manipulated into doing something I don’t want to do. In the absence of strong personal boundaries, I protect myself by being prickly, even when there is no threat to my safety. I have difficulty determining when a challenge is for my own good and when a challenge is a real threat, so I treat all challenges like threats.

That takes me into the “anger” subject . . . here is something to add to my profile you glean from the “anger test”: I get angry when I feel a threat, either a physical threat or an intellectual threat. I remain relatively passive for a while, then I start to give warning signs (like telling you to “back off”) – if the challenger continues to come farther into my “space”, then I react physically – I react physically regardless if the challenge is physical or intellectual. I hold back as long as I can, then I explode physically and can become violent. The potential violence concerns me.


I have been trying to identify the nature of the emotions I feel when my “mood” starts dropping – this week, it seems I’ve had some success with that identification.

In those times, I feel overwhelmed by the chaos in my mind around my collective experience of men: criticism and physical abuse from my dad; sexual abuse from “X”, being used mainly for sex from the men I dated, my boss’ actions in the hotel room, being harassed as a kid by the boys in my neighborhood . . .

In my quiet moments, those memories swirl around in my brain: What exactly happened? Are my memories and perceptions accurate? Am I being overly dramatic? How did it happen? What was my role in it? Will it happen again? How do I protect myself in the future? How can I cause my experience of men to be different in the future?

When I’m feeling overwhelmed by something in my day-to-day life (like my to-do list), I stop and clean it up – get clear about what I need to do and in what timeframe. I put everything in its place. I get organized so I can see it all laid out in front of me – nothing hidden, no surprises.

Similarly, I keep trying to get all of this stuff (stuff about men) organized in my brain – so I can figure out how to keep it from happening again. However, I haven’t been able to get it organized – or to make sense of it. I’m afraid something (someone) is going to come out of a dark corner of the chaos and “get” me (whatever that means?)

I feel unable to keep it from happening again. I feel unable to protect myself. That generates fear and anxiety for me that doesn’t ever go away – and, I feel angry at my inability to get it all figured out. So, I have a history of eating ice cream, picking at my skin, etc. as way to get away from it.

I think this is the main area with which I need help from you.

– Marie

Quotes 015


  1. You covered a lot in this post. Nearly all of which I can identify with.

    Can’t wait to hear how you dealt with it all!

    • Wow, Ivory . . . it’s pretty cool knowing my experiences are speaking to someone! Thanks for hollering!

      – Marie

  2. Marie,
    This is a great post. Clearly you have analyzed a lot of your behavior, and are moving forward. That’s the best we can hope to achieve.

    And, sometimes, all of us we reach a point where we need someone else’s perspective. That’s important to understand and admit, and you’ve done both!



  3. Hi again,
    Sorry. I didn’t mean to leave an anonymous post (above). I just forgot to plug in the info on the left.


    • Hi, Susan –

      No problem .. it boosted the “submitted comments” number a bit higher, which always looks good, LOL!

      Thanks for the congrats!

      – Marie

  4. Marie,
    This is so forthright I love how you tell the truth.

    • Hey, Vicki . . . the truthtelling is the whole point of this . . right? LOL

      Thanks for your kind words!

      – Marie

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