Posted by: Marie | June 3, 2011

(556) Aiming my anger

Post #556
[Private journal entry written on Thursday, December 16, 2010]

Wow . . . I’m still sorting through all the new insights I gained from yesterday’s therapy session . . .

I’ve been thinking about my time in the corner during this session . . . the first time I went into the corner, I did it because I was trying to dramatically demonstrate how I felt. This second time, it was because I felt I needed to feel safe during the anger exercise – I needed to hide behind the couch to feel safe.

The first time, the act of moving into the corner terrified me because I was doing something I had been forbidden to do in my childhood. This second time, it was Edward who was doing something unusual . . . I was just being an observer . . . an adult observer observing on behalf of a child. Somehow, this second time was much easier.

—–

I’m in awe with how smoothly my relationship is going with Edward. There is no friction between us. He is clearing the space and I’m moving as quickly as I feel able to go. I agree with where he wants to go – I mean, it’s not like he is dictating it, we are co-creating it. We are on the same page.

Anytime there is resistance, it is because I’m resisting my fear – not him. It has nothing to do with him. And he is helping me deal with any fear that does come up for me. It’s an effortless relationship between us. I so appreciate it and I am so amazed by it.

—–

I’ve been rolling around in my brain the idea that my letter to God was largely a letter to my dad – that I lashed out at God instead of lashing out at my dad because God was a safe target. I think I’d have to agree with Edward on this one. So, maybe it would be worthwhile to read over my letter to God and pick out the parts that could be transferred to a conversation with my dad. That might help me feel more able to say those things to my dad.

—–

This session stirred up things for me regarding Mark. I thought I was pretty much over the angst my interaction with him caused me. But, maybe not. Here is what I’m feeling anger about:

Photo by Martin Chen

I went to Mark to find a path to healing. He could have done the kind of work with me that Edward is doing with me now. He could have walked that delicate path between helping me figure out what I believe about God and helping me move my anger towards God over to the more appropriate party. I understand he wasn’t in a position, because of his own beliefs, to help me with the former. But, he was in a position to help me with the latter.

In order for Mark to help me in the way he could have, he would have had to create the space for me to express my anger towards God without him trying to make it about changing my beliefs to match his. Only within that space could he have helped me look at the true source of my anger and find healing from what happened with my dad.

But no, he was so sure that he knows what is best for my soul that he was willing to shove his religion down my throat. He couldn’t back off his narcissism for even a minute. He wouldn’t honor my own process of finding my own spiritual answers – he couldn’t even consider the possibility that I have a brain and am capable of figuring out my own path.

Mark did the same thing my dad did to me. He raised his voice at me when I dared to express an opinion contrary to his. He told me I was going to hell if I didn’t do things the way he said they needed to be done. He talked louder and longer than I did until I found myself fighting to survive the relationship.

When I tried to find the reasons why I was so triggered by our interactions, Mark laid all the blame on me. He wouldn’t listen to my point of view; he wouldn’t consider he might be playing a role in the conflict. When I forbade him to share his religious beliefs with me, he did it anyway – and he did it in an overbearing way.

I went to Mark and laid out my soul in a very vulnerable position. I trusted him. He violated that trust.

I honestly believe he thought he was doing what was best for me. I don’t have an issue with that. I have an issue with the fact that he wouldn’t consider the possibility he was wrong – he wouldn’t give any credence to what I had to say on the matter. He wholly discredited my input. He believed I was “just” a mentally damage client and should not have a voice.

Just like . . . I believe my dad thought he was doing what was best for me. He wouldn’t consider the possibility he was wrong – he wouldn’t give any credence to what I had to say on the matter. He wholly discredited my input. He believed I was “just” a child and should not have a voice.

So . . . of course my interaction with Mark caused me to react in explosive anger. He was re-injuring my psychological skin in the same place and way my dad did – but, it was safe for me to feel and express my anger towards Mark.

Now I am starting to think I could take the anger I still feel towards Mark and direct it towards my dad. This might help me be able to express the anger I feel towards my dad. And, it might allow me to move beyond the stuff that happened with Mark.

Maybe Edward and I could do an anger exercise with Mark as the subject . . . maybe Edward would tell Mark to “shut up and listen for once in his life” (just like Edward said to my dad). That might be fun!

Maybe I could tell Mark to shut up . . . it might feel good to yell it at him . . . . hmmmmmm . . .

—–

I find myself continuing to struggle with the thought that my history of abuse wasn’t really that bad therefore I don’t have a legitimate complaint and I think I should just get over it.

I was watching Celeb Rehab tonight. Dr. Drew said trauma causes dead spots in a person’s soul and creates a sense of emptiness. Well, I do have dead spots and emptiness, so obviously my childhood experience included some trauma.

And I think back to what Evan said in his comment yesterday that it is like two separate issues . . .

There is the issue of whether or not abusers know what they are doing – if they did it on purpose or without forethought. Either way, the second issue still stands – there are still consequences affecting the abused and those consequences require healing.

I think the issue with which I’m struggling is that I think I don’t deserve empathy, sympathy, attention, space to complain and space to be in pain. I think I don’t deserve to take time out for healing because what happened to me was not done to me on purpose . . . like whether it was on purpose or not would make a difference in what I deserve.

I think I need to let that go.

I deserve to occupy this healing space. I deserve to be here. I deserve these resources. I deserve to be joyful. I deserve to want to live.

I deserve it all.


Responses

  1. It may help to see the healing as looking after a young child – who happens to be you.

    I think we all deserve the time to heal and cope with what we find difficult. I think in a world as rich as ours we could organise this quite simply (though not easily perhaps!).

    • Hey, Evan –

      I really like the idea of looking at the healing as something I’m doing for a young child who happens to be myself — that seems a very compassionate way of viewing this!

      – Marie

  2. i know you feel it wasn’t done on purpose, that they didn’t know better, but they still made the decisions that they did and they hurt you. we were also damaged by our parents but have chosen to not carry on that abuse in our lives. it ends with us.

    and then there’s the matter of the man who sexually abused you. now that was done on purpose. he deliberately hurt you and that experience has coloured every aspect of who you are now.

    you deserve healing and to live a good and full life. i am glad you are taking steps towards that.

    • Hey, Catherine –

      I so agree with you that the damage occurs whether the abuser knew a better way or not . . .

      I think I struggle the most with feeling that surely I’m being overly-dramatic . . . it is one of my greatest and most persistent fears. But, I’m making progress with it!

      – Marie

  3. One of the things that strikes me here is how healthy it was to re-create that Dad dynamic with Mark, rather than repeating that pattern again with an emotionally abusive partner. With Mark, you had some control, and a different ability to define your needs, and walk away, which you eventually did. It was a fantastic transition in your quest to re-experience your primary wounding in order to re-frame/heal it.

    • Hey, David –

      I’ve thought that same thing a number of times . . .

      When I created that dynamic with Mark, I had NO IDEA I was doing so . . . but, I guess my inner sage knew what needed to be done. I do remember feeling divinely guided to hire him as my therapist . . . and, now, after significant time in a different camp, I’m back to feeling that way again.

      Thanks for the encouragement!

      – Marie

  4. I just can’t get past my surprise at how much you resist believing in the seriousness of abuse that you suffered. It’s understandable in some ways because it’s your memories vs. those of your family and it hasn’t been truly corroborated, although I believe at least your sister did corroborate it, no?

    But the bottom line is that there is a reason you feel the way you do. Kids who are nurtured and treated well do not feel like they want to die and are evil. Those are the feelings of kids who have been mistreated, 99 times out of 100.

    • Hey, Aaron –

      So . . . hmmm . . . I’m struggling a bit to know how to respond . . .

      I’m very clear that your intention is to encourage me to keep moving forward in my healing journey. I’m very clear that you want the best for me. So, in that same spirit, here is my response . . .

      I’m sure you are surprised at how much I continue to struggle with this. I can imagine it would be very difficult for someone who is not in my position to understand why the issue persists.

      Let me be clear . . . I am not resisting the belief that the abuse I experienced was serious. I’m actually working very hard to embrace this belief. I can understand why it would appear to you that I’m actively resisting – trust me, I’m not.

      Rather, I’m working very diligently to reprogram my emotional memory and my physiological memory to accept something that my logical brain already knows. But, it takes a lot of time and a ton of persistence.

      I have to remind myself daily. I have to gently redirect myself when I find myself having self-talk to the contrary.

      The reason this issue is so resistant to change is because the belief that “I was incredibly lucky to have been born into a family who treated me so well” and the belief that “only really bad girls complain about what they have when they have been given so much” were literally beaten into me with a leather belt.

      If I as much as raised my eyebrows at an inopportune moment, and it caused my dad to think I was being ungrateful or I was even considering an opposing opinion, he would come after me for a second round with the belt. I believed my place in the family, and even my very survival, depended upon total physical compliance and psychological surrender.

      For the first 40+ years of my life, the idea that my dad was wrong never entered my head. It has only been in the last few years that I’ve started entertaining other ideas.

      When I do entertain other ideas, I literally feel – in my body – like I’m going to die. I find myself physically curling up to protect myself against the blows I know will be coming – even though, logically, I know there is no belt and there is no bully near me. The body memories are that overwhelming – even now.

      So, please be patient if it takes me a while to adjust my thinking . . .

      – Marie

  5. Hi Marie. Sorry if I sounded impatient on that issue. I just keep hoping you will continue that part of your healing journey as you obviously are–and perhaps when I hear you question your horrible abuse you suffered, it makes me question whether my niece was really mistreated as horribly as I feel she was? Help that helps make sense of my reactions and sorry if I came off in a way that made you uncomfortable.

    Best

    Aaron

    • Hey, Aaron –

      I know you want the best for me . . . I appreciate your support!

      Yikes . . . I can imagine it must be tough for you if you have doubts about your own actions in relation to your niece . . . I would tend to imagine you made the right choice there . . . if you stopped any level of abuse, it was the right choice . . . thank you for being there for her! Maybe she won’t have to go through what I’m going through because of your actions.

      Thanks for your input!

      – Marie


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