Tag Archives: survivors

Moments of doubt

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Moments of doubt come at me when I least expect them.  Sometimes without me even knowing that it is doubt.  These moments feel like many things, none of them very pleasant.  I get tired of these moments.  I get frustrated and lazy and anxious.  I get unreasonable and crabby and negative.  I want to do nothing and just wait for the moments to pass.

Sometimes they do.

And sometimes they don’t pass very quickly, but fade into the background of my days.

I love to laugh and even on my worst days I can normally be found making jokes or having a good time.  But I still may be feeling lost inside.  Struggling.  Lacking the vulnerability that allows for full healing.  I ignore the moments and hide them in hopes that they will pass quickly.

Thankfully, I haven’t had many days like that for awhile and that is really nice.  The disclosure still comes to mind when I think of how far I have been able to go toward healing and not having to go back to certain doubts and certain thoughts that keep me from rediscovering the full me.  That disclosure seems so long ago and also seems like it was just yesterday.

Seeing The Monument Quilt was powerful for me.  I’m certain that it was not a mere coincidence that when I found out about the quilt, it was only weeks from being displayed in an area that I could travel to very easily.  An area that had additional anxiety and healing qualities for me.  It would be displayed on the very campus of my assault.  It never crossed my mind ahead of time that the location would keep me from going to see it.  I never felt a moment of doubt leading up to that day.

And then it was the very day I was to see it.  And then the doubt and the tears came as I decided I didn’t know if I could go.  But more of the fight inside me took over and I went.

I read stories and looked at the designs people made to release themselves from some of the burden of being a victim and becoming a survivor.  It is always difficult to read other stories.  I find myself thinking that some have suffered so much more than me and, at times, it is difficult to see other stories and not let the terrible doubts of rape culture creep into my head as judgment.  A terrible feeling and one I don’t allow to stick around for long at all.  It is so easy to pass judgment, on myself and on others, but in those moments it is SO important to remember that all suffering is terrible.  ALL trauma is true for that victim and I absolutely believe in every one of those people and their stories.  Our stories are no worse or no easier than others, no less rape and trauma.  The mind is so complex during trauma that many leave a situation not even fully understanding that what they experienced is rape.  THAT is why it is so important to believe someone if they tell you they were assaulted.  And to stand by someone who may be turning to you for support if they aren’t even sure that something happened or that what happened really was rape.  The feelings a victim experiences are so full of guilt, disbelief, shame, and so many other things, that many deny that it happened at all.

I believe.  I support ALL survivors.  And I was honored to see the quilt.  I’d like to reconnect with my group members to make a quilt square, but I’m not sure if I will or not.

I’m glad to have overcome my moment of doubt to see it.  There were squares for each city where it is being displayed and on those squares were blank fabric where anyone could write.  Part of my message was this:

It happened here and I will leave it here.  

And I am glad that I could do that.

KK

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Success, Healing, Connections

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My group is over this week which is really difficult to believe and a little sad in some ways.   I can’t believe that 12 weeks has gone by so quickly!  I wasn’t sure I could get myself to go and now I am looking at the ending of the process and the beginning of renewed hope and healing.

We will have a celebration and wrap up for the last time together and it is really difficult to imagine not seeing these amazing women each week.  There is no way I can describe just what these women mean to me and how much I admire each one of them.  They are beautiful people, courageous, strong, and inspirational.  They have touched my heart in ways I can never thank them enough for even if I have a lifetime to do so.  They are no longer victims, but survivors and friends.  People I will think about often and cheer for even from afar.

We all began this group worried and feeling defeated by our stories, by the victims inside of us.  We pushed against the process and tried to get out of the toughest parts of facing our pasts.  We made it!  We pushed past our fears to our disclosures.  We owned our stories and released the shame from ourselves to give it back to the criminals who deserve to carry that burden.  The shame is not ours anymore.  I am so very proud of each and every one of us.  The power in the room each week as we reclaimed ourselves and took control of our lives and our stories is something I will never allow myself to forget.  The support I received from these women as I began to rediscover myself without the burden of the sexual assault shame will remain a powerful force for me each and every day.

I have begun to heal in ways I never realized I needed to and in ways I never imagined were possible.  Healing has opened my heart in a way that makes me feel completely ready to trust and love myself and others.  I don’t wake up anymore with the heaviness that I have carried for over 20 years, and that is absolutely the best feeling in the world.

This week is a big ending to an emotional process, but an even bigger beginning to the rest of my healing and the rest of my life.  I love that group therapy was placed before me and placed on my heart as something I was ready to accept and trust.  I love that I understand healing now and that I understand that I am no longer a victim, but a survivor.  I love that I can now leave the shame behind me for the most part and move on to the rediscovered me.

KK

Major Meltdown

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Today feels like it is all too much.  Today I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t do anything.  I feel anxious, I feel scared, I feel unprepared to move forward.  I feel to blame.  I feel like I should have DONE something.

I don’t know what.  I kept myself as busy as I could, but now it is night.

My group therapy has reached the point where we will begin disclosures.  This is the reason that this weekend was a major meltdown weekend for me.  I don’t want to do the disclosure.  I don’t understand what I should say.  It can be whatever we want to say.  What I need to say for healing.  I’m terrified to say any of it out loud.

It is so risky.  It feels so heavy.

The last time I had to say any of this out loud was on a witness stand.  It did not go well and was all over the tv and print news.  I testified in front of a packed-to-capacity courtroom where the judge had to stop the proceedings several times to ask people to act appropriately.  A courtroom where some people made sexual gestures at me and were warned that they would have to leave if it continued.  Why in the world was that behavior accepted at all??  The judgment I faced that day feels like it will be present for the disclosure.

On some level I understand that it will feel so different in a room full of people who understand many, if not most, of my emotions.  But that isn’t helping me want to go through with it.  If I don’t do it, I don’t successfully finish the group.

I WILL finish the group.  I just don’t know how.

KK

I am…whatever

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I’ve had 2 sessions with my new therapist.  As I said previously, it is no fun to start over.  However, this is going well so far and could possibly be something I wish to continue even when my other therapist would be available again.  I’ll deal with that when the time comes, I guess, for now I’m just happy that after 2 sessions I feel this comfortable.

I am somewhat stubborn.  I don’t mind being told I’m wrong, I’m open to other ideas and enjoy learning new things, and I really am ready to become the best me.  Still, I am somewhat stubborn.

I need a therapist who will push me to face certain things.  Without inappropriate laughter or justifications.  This woman is quite possibly that therapist.

Today, after only hearing me talk a bit about my week, she completely unpacked what was going on in my head that I was NOT saying.  Well done, lady.  Then she handed me Examples of Cognitions.  Oh boy.  The idea with cognitions is that we all have them, positive and negative.  With survivors of trauma, many of the cognitions are negative.  The lists of negative and positive are long.  When a person decides to do EMDR therapy, cognitions are discussed at length because the goal is to have the negative thing a person believes irrationally become untrue and replaced by a positive cognition.  I’ll give some examples from the list.  There are many more on the list.

Negative

  • I am not good enough
  • I cannot succeed
  • I am not in control
  • I am stupid
  • I am a disappointment
  • I am ugly
  • I cannot trust anyone
  • I should have done something

Positive

  • I am a good (loving) person
  • I am fine as I am
  • I can trust my judgment
  • I am significant
  • I did the best I could
  • I am lovable
  • I can be myself (make mistakes)
  • I can choose who to trust

When the therapist handed me the list, she asked me to look only at the negatives and choose one that feels the most true at this moment.  Unfortunately, many rang as truth in my head.  I started to physically shake while reading them (she wrote that down).

I should have done something.

That is the phrase that most represents my head most days.  In my day-to-day, logical state of mind, I fully understand that I am not to blame for being assaulted, ending my marriage all by myself, or ending my first serious relationship.  But I have absorbed all the blame and turned it into “I should have done something.”

The worst part of that ringing so true in my head is that I can’t quite follow the phrase back to where it began, but I really need to think about it more this week.  I will try desperately to make myself too busy to think about it during the day so I can do my life.  But at night, that is often how I feel going to bed.

I should have done something.

You know what the facilitator in my group therapy said when this came out as how I feel?  “That must feel very heavy.”

It really does.

So as heavy as it is, I am going to keep doing something until it isn’t so heavy anymore.

KK