Author Archives: frommeandbackagain

Online support can be weird, but also awesome

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I started a therapy group online today.  I think it will be kind of cool.  I’m hopeful it will be kind of the last piece of the puzzle for me.  

Online support can feel kind of weird and I have experienced this now in both individual and a group setting.  My online therapy session with my past therapist was pretty comfortable right from the start because we knew each other so well anyway.  This session today was a bit unsettling at first.  I heard the ring of the video call and kind of froze before accepting the call.  All at once I’m looking at 5 people I have never seen before and I have to just trust them.  It’s a strange thing indeed. 

We did short introductions and then proceeded with the group and I really relaxed into it.  It is a little awkward at first because when the facilitator asks a question you have to kind of wait to see if someone will jump in so we are not all trying to talk at once.  But the group is small so it works out quite well. 

After each session we will get an email and information for reading and reflecting.  It’s optional, but will move us into the next session discussion so I’m willing to do that work as well.  I used to have a difficult time being alone with myself while reflecting on issues of sexual assault and what I need to move on safely.  And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually look forward to it now. 

I haven’t decided if I can or will share any topics of this group, but it is really looking like it will be valuable to me and I’m really excited about the information to be covered.

The world is changing and we rely heavily on technology.  After attending group therapy, I had a discussion with someone about attending groups via Skype.  We agreed at that time it wouldn’t really be a great way to connect with people.  But after only one session of this online group, I’m not so sure.  

I’ll say more as the group goes on. 

KK

New memories, new struggles

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It has been awhile since I have published something.  I have written, but the things I’m uncovering and discovering are too soaked in shame to share right now.  I hope I can move past that eventually, but for now I’m just smiling through each day.  Bringing out the inappropriate laughter to cope and sticking close to the people who, without question, believe me and strengthen me.  I’m struggling, but I will survive this too. 

This quote from an article I read today rings so true for me–“”I think of my life then as a performance art act, because I performed as though everything was fine, but when I could, I became very reclusive,” she said.”  The article can be found here: I Will Find You

I like to be alone.  I need to be alone sometimes.  And I can always tell when I’m not taking enough time for that because I start to feel super anxious.  Like every single day I have to work extra hard not to just throw some shit in my car and go.  Far.  Or hop a plane.  I better plan an alone trip soon. 

In therapy recently I’ve been tackling some pretty giant stuff.  Stuff I didn’t realize was so big and so paralyzing.  I was doing an EMDR session when some memories came up that stopped me in my tracks.  I had buried this and that and went on with life like those things didn’t matter.  Boy do they matter.  A lot. 

With the new memories, some new struggles are popping up.  Because in some areas of communication and coping and loving, I’ve really come far.  And in some areas, I feel I’ve only just begun.  I completely shut down sometimes.  More lately.  And it sucks because even when I recognize it happening, I can’t stop it.  And then I shame myself for it.  Sigh…so sick of that cycle. 

My boyfriend asks me sometimes if I’ll go to therapy forever.  I’m not always sure how to answer that.  I might have to, which is ok.  I might not have to, and that’s ok too.  Sometimes, I just want to, because it’s a really great feeling to evaluate or work through an issue with someone who isn’t personally connected to me or the issue.  And my therapy needs are definitely decreasing with him by my side.  When I’m able to open up and talk to him, his reaction is always spot on and supportive.  I know without question he has my back.  I love that. 

It doesn’t hurt that I have terrific insurance right now too.  I don’t live near The Healing Center anymore, so no free therapy for me.  Gosh I miss that place and those people.  Leaving it behind was the most difficult part of my decision to move.  Once or twice I have felt I have to go back, but I’m pretty certain I’m where I need to be right now. 

New memories can’t keep coming, I’m almost to the end of what I buried from the assault and years of emotionally abusive relationships.  The awesome part is that most days, my life is so happy and full of greatness, that all this stuff itself is merely a memory.  A small blip on the radar of my mind. 

So come on memories, feel free to keep coming out and after my brief struggles, be prepared to be put away for good. 

KK

EMDR success

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Wow.  My first session of EMDR with my new therapist was fantastic.  Intense and exhausting, but really interesting.  And successful. 

She had a process that was quite a bit different than the ways I have done it before with other therapists.  So if you’ve tried it or are thinking about it, ask about how it’s done.  Of course, I’m not sure I could have chosen one that I liked the best until doing them all. 

I picked a target, a memory/moment that really affects me.  The further back, the better since it can be connected to the newer memories.  For me, my targets this time will be memories with the guy from high school and some major moments in my marriage that contribute to my struggles with not feeling good enough, not being worthy of healthy, equal, and supportive love.  

She had me sit forward on my chair which was new for me.  She talked about how this position engages the core and why that is important.  It really did make a big difference from sitting relaxed. 

Once I had my target for the session and I was sitting forward, we talked about the negative feelings and beliefs connected to it.  She had me focus on different areas of the room and think about the negative memory.  This was amazing because that memory was more or less horrible depending on where I focused my eyes.  One area is normally the “worst” for a person and it was clear which area this memory was stuck.  So that becomes my area of focus.  

So I’ve got my target and I’ve got my area I will be focusing my eyes.  Now I’ve got headphones on which will be on for periods of time while I focus my eyes and think about the memory.  The headphones vary, some therapists use tones and this was a combination of music and tones.  It was really good. 

People get hung up here thinking they will have to voice details of horrible memories and that’s the greatest part about EMDR.  I never said a word.  Just focused my eyes and thought about it.  I’m told to think about how it makes me feel, think about how my body is feeling while thinking about it, and just let it happen.  

I’m sure the experience is different for everyone, but for me this was a very powerful session.  Quick too.  As I thought about it, I had a lot of physical symptoms and some that I don’t mind sharing.  With this specific moment/memory, I got hot in my chest and physically shook.  Then I felt this heavy weight and the strangest pain in my knees.  And as we worked through the negative, she starts to ask what “that girl” needs.  

That’s when I realized right where The Girl in the Corner came from…that exact moment.  I could see it so clearly as the very moment I started to accept abuse.  I fought through the urge to stop and go home and we decided what the girl needed.  I breathed in those things that were needed and exhaled the ick.  Specific words were exhaled.  Specific words inhaled.  And the pain moved up and out my body.  I could feel it. 

Powerful, awesome things happened for me.  I lost the view of the room even though my eyes remained opened and focused on my spot.  It was dark around me and I released and released that moment and that weight like the loud, single clap of hands. 

Woah.  It was really crazy. 

To end a session of EMDR, you always want to try and be relaxed.  As relaxed as possible anyway.  And I felt exhausted.  She reminded me that my brain would continue to process and that I would likely be very tired.  I was.  I still am. 

We checked in with that memory, and I was ok.  Thinking about it now, I experience none of those negative physical symptoms. 

Amazing. 

Goodbye traumatic moment.  I will not miss you hurting me. 

I cannot wait to go back and work with the other targets I will choose.  Really excited for this final stage of my healing. 

I AM good enough. 

KK

Triggers

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You know what’s no fun?  Triggers.  

I don’t know when they will happen.  I don’t understand what sets them off.  

I can’t sleep tonight.  I have a lot of anxiety.  I don’t know what set me off, but I keep feeling like I can’t breathe.  And my legs just feel active.  I have been listening to the rain for awhile and I started thinking about why storms used to bother me.  I was terrified of them.  But then one day after I adopted my first beagle I just got over it because I felt so badly for him as he would sit and shake from a storm.  Maybe comforting him comforted me.  I don’t know.  But once I got him, storms never bothered me again.  

I don’t know where that fear came from and one day recently I even found myself looking up the weather from the day of my college rape.  I had to walk home from that by myself and it was a bit of a walk.  I remember feeling cold, so I started to wonder if it was raining.  It was 1993.  But I was able to look up the weather from that day online…no rain.  

In any case, maybe it isn’t the rain triggering me, but I feel uneasy and it’s no fun. 

I don’t like elevators.  I used to wonder why the heck I was so nervous in elevators.  And then I had my first EMDR sessions.  And elevators came up because I had to share an elevator with the guys who assaulted me the day of the pretrial.  Is that ridiculous or what???  What kind of crappy victim witness plan, or lack thereof, was that?  I can see the moment clearly.  Thinking about it doesn’t bother me now, but elevators still do sometimes.  I think it’s the kind of elevator.  The heaviness of the door.  The way it sounds when it closes.  Gosh, I never thought about it in such detail before now. 

The month of March triggers me.  That’s not shocking since it is the month of the college rape, but you’d think that just once March could roll by and I wouldn’t feel like a mess most of the time.  Oh well, that’s a work in progress I guess.  I take care of myself the best that I can and I make sure to protect myself.  I make plans that will keep me from just sitting in the negativity of the day.  If I sit around, I start to think about what I was doing each minute of that day and it drives me nearly insane. 

Elevators, rain, March. Strange. 

What are your triggers?

KK

EMDR: round 2

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I’ve committed to doing some EMDR again.  And the first session is Wednesday.  I’m nervous.  Because I can’t stop myself from feeling like I do it wrong.  

That’s ridiculous, of course, you can’t really do it wrong, but that is how I feel. 

I told this therapist up front that I need to be pushed so I don’t avoid things.  Why did I say that??  It’s true, and I’m mostly glad I told her so that I don’t avoid things and not face the things I most need to work through this time.

It’s mucking up my whole week though because I’m nervous and so my body is responding poorly to everything I do that is not laying in bed.  I know I’ll get through it, and I’m hoping it will go really well. 

Therapy this time is really different.  I was better prepared up front to say why I am there and what I like and don’t like.  Being able to voice what my biggest challenges are as a person feels really good.  It marks growth and I’m loving that.  I think this time I’m better equipped to work on what is still stuck.  Especially because I can tell in my daily life what is certainly not stuck anymore.  

I had zero physical reaction to talking about some things in our introductory 2 weeks.  I was thankful for that, if a bit surprised.  Zero shaking, zero temperature change, zero inappropriate laughter!  A miracle.  Hahaha, not really, just a fabulous confirmation of how far I have come.  

The Girl in the Corner.  She’s still suffering some.  Not just from my past with the abuse, but also from my marriage and divorce.  I am sick of thinking of past abuse from high school and I am sick of thinking about that guy who walked out on me.  He’s so not worth the head space.  So I was absolutely thrilled that when I did discuss that, I had none of the physical reactions I use to have and I was able to put the blame for what he did squarely where it belongs…on him.

What bothers me now is that the abandonment seems to have transferred to my ex and in talking about him and how checked out he is from me and our child, the physical symptoms were all there.  One of the hardest parts of that is just the shock.  I didn’t expect it.  Not at all.  We were very amicably separated and even amicably divorced for quite a while.  We remained as a parenting team well into my new relationship.  I could still confide in him about parenting issues and get his input on stuff and that is just gone.  And I don’t get it.  Our state forces a parenting class on people getting divorced.  It’s good.  They make it quite clear that “divorce ends a marriage, not a family.”  But not for us.  He’s just done. 

And that makes me angry.  Bitter, as I said recently. 

Why in the hell does he not recognize what his absence is doing to our child?  

The anger makes me want to forget all the good years we had, but I won’t.  I will continue to tell my kids the good memories and the fun we had as a family.  If he wants to live like none of that ever happened, like we never should have been together, well that’s his right.  But it’s a disgusting disservice to our children.  And I guess it means it shouldn’t be any surprise to me then how they feel. 

I am really nervous about how therapy will go and how the EMDR can help me work through all that, but I know if I trust the process, it’ll happen.  And I’m so happy to be pushing myself into this round of hard work because I am ready to put my ex in the same area that the other stuff went as I worked through it all.  I’m looking forward to not being so angry about him because he doesn’t even deserve the angry energy I’m giving him. 

He won’t ever get it.  He doesn’t even want to try and understand. 

And my kids will still be ok.  I have had some of the greatest conversations with my kids in the last few years.  Ones where we can be completely honest and sad or angry and still end up being so glad to have a hug and say I love you.  Conversations where we really hear each other, everyone’s opinions and feelings are respected, and we grow together to have a stronger bond. 

EMDR is so different between therapists.  And even though I’m really nervous, I’m excited to see how this therapist will work with me through the process. 

KK 

Bitter or Better

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There’s a saying I see often that says “you either get bitter or you get better.”  It refers to anything that goes wrong really in your life.  But I think it mostly refers to relationships.  At least, that’s how I relate to it because I have really had to work hard at not being bitter and angry quite a few times in my life.  Two major relationships have challenged this for me.  And I struggled with it for many years with the sexual assault as well, but more internally.

With the first relationship, I really struggled with that feeling of bitterness.  And anger too.  A complete lack of forgiveness because I was young and I thought of forgiveness as excusing his behavior.  Behavior that made it ok for him to abuse me and then walk away from me and a child. I held onto the bitterness for a LONG time. I’ll come back to that.  Maybe.

With my marriage and divorce, I’m still struggling.  Mostly because I have kids with a man who chose to mostly check out.  He won’t help me coparent because it’s too difficult for him.  He won’t really talk to me at all.  He will allow email.  Wow, thanks.  That’s super helpful when one of the kids is going through something and I’d like his support and opinion on how to handle it.

I do not get that at all.  I won’t apologize that my kids are closer to me than to him and so they come to me with things.  That’s because throughout their lives I was there for them and tried to help them learn how to solve problems knowing that mistakes are ok.  I let them know their feelings are never wrong, they have the right to their feelings.  And so they came to me and then I shared with their father how they were feeling.  But now that we aren’t together, I’m not allowed to share their feelings and discuss things with their dad.  I’m suddenly a liar who obviously changes what my kids tell me to make their dad feel badly.  Um, hello?  The people who would be hurt if I did that are my kids, and I would never do that to my children.  Never.  I would never decide for them how they feel.  I could not hurt them by making up things and passing them off as their feelings.

Deep breath.

The first four months after moving away from their dad, I felt like that almost every day.  Just angry and bitter.  And I really had to work on it.  I had to decide it doesn’t matter.  I can be a great parent to them without him.  And I can support them through hurt, and choices, and happiness.  And they will absolutely be ok.  I still have plenty of time to show them how to take care of themselves and be proud of who they are and the feelings they have in going about their lives.  And the best way I can do that is by showing them how I will live a life being true to myself and how I really feel.  I will not be with someone who tells me I shouldn’t or can’t feel what I feel.  I will never, not ever, accept someone telling me my feelings are wrong.

Listen, I AM wrong many times. If I present something as a fact and I can be shown the correct information, I accept that. If I go East from Wisconsin to find Wyoming, I’m not going to try and say I’m correct. I fully accept responsibility at work when I do something wrong, or say something I shouldn’t, or forget to complete something due.  But when I feel something, I own that feeling, and that is never wrong.

I knew when I thought about dating that I would never date someone who doesn’t have what I consider successful, honest family relationships and at least one friend who knows everything about them. I would say now that the lack of that is a giant red flag for relationship success.  You can disagree if you want to, but I can tell you that based on these two challenging relationships in my life–if someone doesn’t have a close friend(s) and doesn’t seem that honest with their family about who they are, it is likely because they aren’t capable of the empathy and emotional openness that is required in a forever relationship.  And that is just not ok.  At least, not for me.

The last hurdle for me in releasing the bitter from my divorce and being truly and completely better, is accepting that his truth is fine because it is his to live with as he chooses and I don’t have to worry about if he never accepts his part of the responsibility for why we are divorced.  This is very difficult for me.  Because I believe that he is of the opinion that I just gave up and walked out on him without trying.  He has actually said that I am the reason he doesn’t see our child.  AND THE WORST is that he truly believes and said to me several times that the problems, the reasons it ended, were ALL ME.  And that is so hurtful it makes me furious.  I own my problems.  I have said them to him and I have worked my ass off to change in the ways necessary to be a better partner.

Here’s the deal with change:  everyone does it, and if you get pissed off and say things like why should I have to change anything, you should just accept exactly who I am…that’s because you are unwilling to see that something can be improved and should be improved so that you are capable of relationship compromise.  Just like you learned as you grew up from being a child, and then a teen, and then a young adult.  If you act like all change is bad, and you function at 40 just as you did at 20, then you are probably a ridiculous person I don’t even want to be around so, whatever, stay exactly the same then.  I never asked him to change what makes him who he is for real, way down deep where his morals, values, and desires are found.  I merely asked for us to consider, together, how we can both have our needs met for love and safety, and how we can do better to respect and love each other.  To change…together.  To grow…together, instead of apart.

Deep breath.  Clearly this is my work.  Accepting that he wasn’t willing to do the work and that even if it appears that he is trying harder in his new relationship than he did with me, it is not the truth.  At first we did really well, with the help of a counselor.  But he just decided it was too hard to remember that “stuff.”  Which to me said, accept when I don’t care about you or your feelings of safety, or don’t.

I don’t.  Deeper breath.

That’s ok.  But really sad, because it meant we had to never be together again.  And that is not what I wanted.  You see?  I’m still bitter.

But I marched myself right back into a therapist office last week to get it all the way right.  To get all the way better and lose the bitter for good.  Because ultimately, I love the memories I have of my family with him and our kids, but I am much happier now.  I am with a man who I have always dreamed about because not only does he completely “get” me, he is very tuned into communication and love instead of just having a giant ego that only wants to be right.  We aren’t perfect, but we are absolutely perfect for each other.  And when there is conflict, we work it out and respect each other without trying to prove each other wrong and hurting each other with words that can never be taken back after being said.  And I will love him forever.

Loving him makes me want to be the best me.  The best me, and even better.

KK

I was freed

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When someone says “back off” or “leave me alone,” they likely mean it.  Because for most people, it means they have put up with something or someone for some time before they reached the point of asking that person to back off.

In 2012, I made a wrong decision to speak to the biological father of my child.  The first time he contacted me, I was glad that he did and I remain glad that he did.  He contacted me to ask for my help in contacting my son because he felt quite sure my son would want to meet him.  Would want to know about him.  A valid request, or so it would seem.

During this first conversation I got a bit upset because he really started off implying that he knew better than I did what my son would want.  He called with a chip on his shoulder that he had allowed to be there for 18 years.  I can tell you with 100% confidence that he was crazy to think that.  My son and I are very close.  And on top of the fact that we are close, my son has known his entire life about his biological father.  My son doesn’t remember him at all because the guy chose a life of chaos over fighting for the right to be a father.  My son was barely over a year old the last time he saw this guy.  And when my son was only 14 months old, I met the man I would marry.  Later, when we married, that guy gave up his rights to my child, my husband adopted my son, we celebrated the adoption, and he became his loving and legal father.  The best part of being with the guy I married is that he 100% became a father to my son.  Because he wanted to do that.  Because he chose to love him as his own.   I’ll never stop being grateful for that.  And each year, up to and including this year, my son and his father celebrated Adoption Day.  And I love that.

So, in 2012, when the biological father contacted me I said I would talk to my son and ask him if he was interested in contact with the guy.  I also told him that I found it offensive that he would make the assumption that I would have spent all these years filling my son with hatred or not telling him he was adopted at all.  All these years, I have done an AWARD-WINNING job of biting my tongue and telling my son that this guy did a brave and loving thing.  That, because he was not able to be a father, he gave my son a great gift by letting someone else be his father.  I even told him some of the good things about the guy.  I never sat him down and bad-mouthed the guy.  AT ALL.

In any case, the short story on that is that my son wasn’t interested.  He sat down with me and we talked at length about the guy and the relationship I had with him.  I reiterated how, even though my son was not planned, he was the best thing to come out of the relationship with that guy and because of that, I would never say I wished I had never dated him.  But this time I did answer all questions honestly and include information about why the relationship didn’t last.  And why I was glad that the guy hadn’t stuck around at that time.  Ultimately, my son said he never felt he missed out on having a father, that my husband had been the father he felt close to, and that there wasn’t anything he needed or wanted from that guy.

And the guy accepted that.  Which I thought was weird, but he explained that he didn’t know my son and hadn’t seen him since he was a baby.  So he wasn’t losing out on a relationship because there had never been one.  Whatever.  Not my decision or concern.  I don’t agree, but I don’t have to agree.  I didn’t miss out on that great kid, he did.

So, he called to request the contact and I called him back a few days later to say that my son had decided against any contact.  The guy agreed to honor my son’s decision and said he would not ever bother him again, but that he would be more than happy if my son ever wanted to contact him.

And then life went on as it had been before the calls.  I put it behind me and felt good about how I had handled the contact.

Not long after, I got a text from the guy saying it was good to talk to me and he would like to talk further.  I froze when I got the text because I worried first about my child and my family.  He had left us alone since the adoption years prior and I was happy about that.  I can honestly say I didn’t think about him much while raising my child because I was able to raise him with my husband.  And when I got the text, things were in chaos in my house.  I had filed for divorce the year before that and my husband and I went to counseling and had the divorce dismissed after working a lot on things between us.  We were moving and our son had turned 18, and our daughter was just going to enter her high school years in the fall.

In any case, I didn’t respond right away and then I finally responded that I thought us talking further was a bad idea, but that I’d think about it.

And then we did start texting a bit.  Just general information about how life was going, where we lived, and things like that.

And then just like that, I was talking to him a lot.  Telling him things he never deserved to know about me.  Excusing things he did and making it ok that he lied and manipulated and abused me.  At times, when we first started talking, I would shut down because I would start to feel that nagging in my gut saying I was walking a path that was dangerous for me. But I also felt a strange sense that the forgiveness I was expressing was more for me than him and I began to feel a release of emotions that had been stuck so deep for many years. 

I began to recognize…myself.  The girl in the corner and the current me all in one package.  I was empowered by how I started to feel. 

That guy was around when I was raped in college.  And he was strangely supportive.  By that, I mean he supported me the best ways that he knew how, while also having been a large part of the first sexual abuse I ever experienced.  And as he talked with me about my college assault, I began to realize that connection.  I began to realize that I didn’t need to reconnect with him because I wanted us to share some fond memories of the love we once shared.  I was glad he came back into my life because it shook me to my core.  It forced me to see what I had never wanted to face before that time…that he assaulted me on a regular basis for years before I fell in love with him.  

The day this became clear to me was a day I will never ever forget.  A day one of my friends had to rescue me from myself on the side of the road as every bit of confusion and self-hatred sunk into me like the weight of the world.  I punished myself that day for every single thing I ever said or did that was related to him in my life.  I called him the same day and let every bit of emotion come out the way he should have had to hear it when I was 20 years old.  

That day I became a victim all over again.  A victim who all at once believed that I was not good enough.  And because I wasn’t good enough, I deserved the abuse from him for all the years I suffered.  

And the strangest, most traumatic, most horrifying, but also the greatest part of it all, is that in the midst of the realization that he was not ever anything to me but an abuser…

I was freed.  

I remember thanking him one day when I was with him because in that moment I knew, as I flooded back into myself, that I was going to be ok.  That I was as far away from me as I would ever have to be and that I could now turn around and start back on the path to the Girl in the Corner.  Back to myself.  And I’m so thankful for the day I fell apart because it was my beginning. 

I saw and talked with him after that only a few times.  He didn’t know it, but I was so clear in those moments and I got exactly what I needed from our conversations so that I could truly heal from all of the abuse.  

I took back me and I began to heal and then I left him behind, where he belongs.  Where he always deserved to be–in the past.  With the other people who abused me and tried to make me to blame. 

And then I healed.  

As I did, he tried to contact me and I was thrilled to find out that I didn’t care.  At all.  I told him to leave me alone.  To back off.  He didn’t get it at first, even tried to be my FRIEND, but I had the support of a great friend and a great therapist to end all contact.  

I was free. 

I am free.  And I AM good enough.  

I am strong.  Strong enough to know that all of his ridiculous attempts to get my attention after that time don’t matter.  I’ve blocked him out and I am done. 

Forever. 

KK