Posted by: Marie | October 26, 2012

(735) Managing emotions – Part 3 of 5

Post #735
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, December 7, 2011 about a conversation between my therapist and me – continued from previous post]


(When the laugher settled down, Edward once again sat watching me carefully . . . the silence got heavy . . . )

Me: Well, anyway . . . that’s all I have on that . . .

Edward: May I share an observation with you?

Me: Sure.

Edward: A few times I’ve heard you say, “Anyway, that’s all I have to say.” Your words indicate that you have nothing more to say. However, I keep getting the sense that there is more for you to say. It feels to me that you are dismissing these topics before you are really through talking about them.

The Rise by Martin Chen

Me: Hmmm . . . I’m still processing these topics . . . I imagine I’ll continue processing them for some time to come. But, I really don’t have anything else to say about them in here . . . not today, anyway.

I guess I could say the same stuff over again in an effort to say more, but I really don’t have any new thoughts to share.

Edward: Would it be okay if I asked you some questions that might bring forth more and new information?

Me: Sure!

Edward: I’d like to go back to what you said about the music director . . . if I remember correctly from the last time we talked about him, you used the term “X” in place of his name. Is that something you still do?

Me: Yes.

Edward: Okay . . .

You said that this man – “X” – used the piano to groom you. Can you tell me more about that?

Me: Well . . for example . . . I would spend Sunday afternoons at their house . . . I would ride home with them after the morning services and they would bring me back to the church for choir practice and evening service – choir practice was always held right before the evening services.

At choir practice, he would let me sit on the piano bench with him as he accompanied the choir during practice – sometimes he played when the pianist wasn’t available. Sometimes he let me play along with him, at least a few notes. He encouraged me to perform for the church services . . . and, when we were alone, he would ask me to sing or play for him – his own private concert. He would tell me how much pleasure my performing gave him.

(After a pause) That’s how he groomed me . . .

(With a small smile) And that’s all I have to say about that . . .

(After responding with a small smile, Edward sat watching me, once again not saying a word . . . he just waited . . . )

Me: Well, I guess I have something else to say . . .

I think it was okay for me to tell Jeff my story . . . given his profession. But, even when it might not be appropriate, I still feel the urge to tell my story. I wanted so desperately to tell Jeff, so I did. I often feel that urge to tell people . . . it’s almost too strong to control.

I feel the need to tell everyone . . . well, more specifically men, but also women in some cases.

I read in the “Courage to Heal” book that there is an emergency stage when a sexual abuse survivor’s history of abuse first comes to light . . . the revelation throws the person into this all-consuming state of crisis. The abuse is all the person can think about and talk about . . . she dreams about it . . . she is in constant emotional turmoil because everything in her environment triggers flashbacks . . .

That was the case for me . . . but that was like three years ago . . . it seems that stage should have passed by now. Well . . . it has passed for the most part, but I still feel this nearly-uncontrollable need to share my story with everyone . . . to lead with it . . .

It’s a compulsion . . . I don’t understand why it is so strong . . . why haven’t I moved past that yet? I just don’t know . . . I wish I could control it . . .

Edward: Maybe you are looking for validation.

Me: I don’t really get that . . . what do you mean?

Edward: Maybe you are looking for validation that the sexual abuse really happened.

Me: Well, that might be the case . . . I still don’t know for sure it happened – I still often wonder if it happened or if I made it up.

A while back, I decided that, even though I don’t know for sure if it happened or not, I will speak and write about it as if it did for sure happen – rather than saying, “I have evidence that this happened”, I have been saying, “This happened to me” – without the caveat.

I believe that will help make it more “real” for me over time – someday it might actually “be real” for me – maybe someday I will know for sure that is what happened. I can’t really move on and heal from it until I really believe it happened.

Edward: What would happen if you believed the abuse happened but, in reality, the abuse didn’t happen?

Me: Then I would be making things up.

Edward: Would it be that you are making things up or that you are reporting what happened, to the best of your recollection?

Me: The problem is that I don’t really have clear memories of the sexual abuse. The gaps in my remembering are huge and I’m having to assume some things – significant things – based on the evidence I have available to me now.

Edward: Do you feel you are being as accurate and as responsible as possible in your assuming and your drawing of conclusions?

Me: Of course. I can’t imagine being any other way.

Edward: Do you feel you are making a point of being extraordinarily thoughtful in that process specifically because you acknowledge the evidence available to you now is limited?

Me: Yes, of course.

Edward: Have you done due diligence?

Me: Yes, as much as possible.

Edward: Are you conducting your investigation in good faith?

Me: Yes.

I know it’s not like I have to create such a strong case that it would stand up in court . . . I only have to create a case strong enough to convince myself that it happened and to facilitate my healing.

But, I could be wrong about so much – despite my best efforts to be accurate and responsible, I still could be making things up . . . not on purpose, of course, but still . . .

Edward: What would happen if you were making things up?

Me: Then I’d be a drama queen.

Edward: Did your childhood teach you that you are not allowed to be a drama queen?

Me: Yes . . . it’s just that I’m afraid there will be this big unveiling at the end of life where people are going to know . . . or maybe God will know, I don’t know . . . but someone who “matters” is going to know all the real facts . . . all the secrets will come out and people will see that it didn’t really happen and that I made it all up.

I’m not sure who “they” are and I’m not sure how this unveiling will occur, but if they discover I made it up, then I’d be a fraud. I’d be a fraud even if I didn’t purposely set out to create a make-believe story; even if I made up the story in my subconscious as a way to explain why I feel bad and broken; even if, in my conscious mind, I really thought it was the truth.

Edward: Who is telling you that your behavior makes you a drama queen?

Me: That would be my dad.

Edward: So, if in this big reveal, it is proven that you are a drama queen, your dad would be proven right, that you are a drama queen . . . which is one of your biggest fears . . . that your dad would be right about who you are . . . . true??

Me: Yes, that is true.

Edward: And then what?

Me: Then I wouldn’t have a reason to explain why I feel broken – why I believe I’m a disgusting person.

Edward: What would happen if you didn’t have a reason to explain why you feel disgusting and broken?

Me: Then I couldn’t blame the badness and the brokenness on something external . . . it would mean the problem is with me.

Edward: May I repeat back to you what I think I hear you saying?

Me: Sure!

Edward: Maybe, if something external happened to you, you might have a reason for why you are in your current state – why you still have wounds that have not yet healed. In that case, the brokenness would not be an organic part of who you are.

Me: Yes . . . you got it . . .

Edward: What happens if your current state is a result of who you are organically?

Me: Then I am bad at my core – then I cannot be fixed. It means I have always been broken – it means I cannot be restored to my original state of wholeness and goodness because I was never whole and good in the first place.

It means I wouldn’t have hope of ever getting better . . . and I already don’t have hope . . . I’m hoping that I can find some hope . . . and if I’m organically broken and “bad”, if there was never a state of wholeness to which I might return, then there is no hope now and there never will be.

Edward: Do you also feel a strong need to tell the part of your story that has to do with the abuse from your dad?

Me: Not nearly as much. I think the reason I’m not as compelled to talk about the physical abuse from my dad is because that is already real to me. I have no doubts about what happened there.

But, I don’t know why the physical abuse from my dad is not justification enough to explain the damage and to prove I am fixable – that I’m not organically broken.

Bottom line . . . I think I struggle to make the sexual abuse seem real to me. If it is real, then it is easy for me to believe it would cause tremendous damage. The question for me is whether it really happened or not.

I know that the abuse from my dad really happened. But, I struggle to believe that it caused very much damage. I believe it wasn’t really that big of a deal. Outside sources tell me that it was very damaging, but I struggle to accept that.

I guess I struggle to accept that I did suffer tremendous damage . . . from either experience. I still feel I should have been immune from the impact of the abuse . . . at least that is what my dad taught me. If I acknowledge that I’ve been affected as much as I have been, then I must be a drama queen.

(More silence . . . more careful observation . . . )

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


  1. Looking forward to seeing where this session goes; it reads like you are dealing with core issues

    • There were a lot of “ah hah” moments in this session!

  2. this is very interesting to me, on a very personal level. i think i started to reveal more about the abuse in my blog because i had this need to “tell” and to “be heard” … i don’t reveal so much to people in real life, but the compulsion is there. i have been expressing my story through my art.

    i was telling my therapist last week, also, that i hold two competing things to be true, always, a kind of balancing act… that i don’t need to know exactly who abused me to know that it damaged me and has had far reaching consequences… and that i know exactly who did abuse me… and both are true and not true at the same time (still with me??).

    i have felt so broken and unable to heal in the past, but the fact that my therapist believes me, is a witness to my story, and is angry on my behalf has helped me so much.

    i am glad edward is “pushing” a little bit with his questions… sharon does the same, even when i feel a topic is “done” — i am learning that we often return to a topic weeks, sometimes months later, from a new angle or sometimes at a deeper level.

    can’t wait to read what happens next


    ps thank you for your thoughtful reply to my comment about your bipolar client… makes more sense to me now that i’ve heard the background…

    • Hey, OBD –

      I like what you said about the blog being a place to “tell” and to “be heard” . . . my blog does the same for me . . . I feel that I can be as verbose as I care to be . . . I’m not causing anyone to listen to something they don’t want to listen to . . . I’m not bothering anyone who doesn’t want to be bothered . . . no one is obligated to do anything they don’t want to do.

      So, anyone who shows up on my blog and reads is doing it because he or she really wants to read what I have to say.

      And . . . it is true what you said about Edward pushing me a bit . . . but, he does it by leaving a silent void in the room . . . he refuses to fill the silence and that forces me to reach a little deeper in order to find something to feel the silence . . . and that’s when the really good stuff comes to the surface.

      Thank you so much for your insight!!

      – Marie

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