Tag Archives: therapy

Workin it out

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Not much makes me feel more awesome than a good workout. I love a variety of workouts, but these days I spend most of my time in Body Combat, Butts & Guts, and working with a personal trainer. I also love me some Turbo Fire and Taebo.

Having some sleeping issues lately. I’ve got worries. Not a ton of worries like I used to, but stuff keeping my mind too busy to relax. The more I workout, the more I’m too tired to stay up all night. So that’s a benefit, in addition to the fact that I feel healthier, I’m losing some inches and fat, and gaining some strength and muscle.

What I thought today while working out is…it’s the same as my healing. It’s just me and my mind and my body that have to get through it. My trainer doesn’t ultimately care if I meet my goals. Meeting those goals is on me. Just like healing. I still go to therapy and I completed some groups and those things are terrific. I have awesomely supportive people in my life. But none of that is any good if I don’t work on my mind and my body to push through the memories and the muscle tension and the moments when I completely shut down.

I made the decision a few years ago that sexual assault would no longer rule my mind and my body and that I would make big changes that honored who I am. I’m so proud of the big changes I’ve made and the new patterns I’ve created for myself. But I get lazy. Just like sometimes I don’t wanna workout, so I make excuses. I guess the main thing is that I always come back to the hard work. I keep plugging along, workin it out.

I can do it. But it is hard sometimes, you know? Really hard.

I took a big risk this year by asking to be 1 of 5 survivors picked to talk publicly about our healing journeys at an event in April 2018. And I got picked! I’m so excited!! But also terrified. I need it. Somehow when I attended the event this year I just knew that I needed to do it. I have been a spectator at the event the last three years. It is powerful and awesome. And I decided while sitting there this year that it’s exactly what I need to push through the last step in my healing journey. Sure, I’ll always have some work to do to stay on track, just like going to the gym. But this goal will keep me from being lazy.

I gotta keep workin it out. To be me. At the gym and for this event and for the rest of my healing life.

KK

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Maybe it is all me

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I read a Facebook post once that was called You’re Allowed to Leave and it had many statements in it that I really value.  Statements that have been so important to the last 6-8 years of my life.

Statements like

  1. “You’re allowed to leave someone you love if they’re treating you poorly, you’re allowed to put yourself first if you’re settling and you’re allowed to walk away when you’ve tried over and over again but nothing has changed.”
  2. “We sometimes look at leaving as a bad thing or associate it with giving up or quitting, but sometimes leaving is the best thing you can do for yourself.”
  3. “Leaving allows you to change directions, to start over, to rediscover yourself and the world. Leaving sometimes saves you from staying stuck in the wrong place with the wrong people.”
  4. “Leaving opens a new door for change, growth, opportunities and redemption.”

And it made me miss writing and paying attention to the blogs I follow.  I need to remember those things more often to stay present in my life.  To remember how far I’ve come in rediscovering myself and growing.  To remember that it’s ok to change, it’s ok to ask for change, and that where I am now is so much better than feeling like I am to blame and I am broken.  So much better then believing that my ex was right in saying “maybe it IS all you” when I commented that he wasn’t taking marriage counseling seriously because he was just waiting to hear that it was all my fault.

I can always tell when I’m getting complacent with my mental health.  Because I start to think about all the things I decided I would do when I left my marriage, some of which I didn’t do.  And in every conflict I feel like “yep, it really IS all me.”

I know that’s not true, don’t I?  But I go right back to it when things go wrong.  And then I wind up here, where I start thinking that it MUST be true, it is me who is not capable of healthy relationships.

And then I remember it’s ok to protect myself first.  To love myself first.  To remind myself of my value.

And that still feels great.  I really do know that I am not to blame for everything and that I am not broken.  I know that I own my feelings–as a victim, a survivor, a mother, a friend, a coworker, a girlfriend, and all other things I identify as in life.

I have written lots in the last couple years, but published none of it to this blog because I started to want to hide again. Not because I’m unhappy, not at all. I just started to wonder if I needed it.

I do. Not for recognition, but validation. And accountability. If I publish the things I think, then they feel real and I read them again and again when I need each reminder.

And because guess what? I am doing some really awesome things in my life.

I’m in a relationship that I value deeply and when we go through tough stuff, I know that we will get through it together. Not because I feel like I have to, but because I want to.

I am good at my job and I like it. I feel valuable and I love the people I work with and the people I serve in my role.

I’m still in therapy. I need it like some people need meds. It’s what makes me process and understand things without just laughing everything off and never being vulnerable.

I’m getting my body healthy. I took my body down with stress. I saw a naturopathic doctor and it changed my life. She looked at me as a whole and found ways that I could become healthy and not struggle with the same things and just be given med after different med. and I work with a personal trainer. I’ve lost inches, gained muscle, lost fat, lost weight, gained weight, and I feel like I finally found a way to be happy in my body. Not every single day, but most.

When you’re a survivor, you can sometimes despise your body. It’s a struggle for me. But I’m so close to putting that struggle behind me, and so I took a huge leap this year and said “pick me.” And they did. (I’ll probably tell ya, don’t worry.)

All those things happening in my life? I made those things happen. I am making those things happen every day. And that really IS all me. That’s a good thing now instead of being a phrase that felt so negative to me.

If I had never left, I wouldn’t know the many things I know today. And that too really IS all me. I left. I own that. I needed that.

And I’m ok.

KK

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

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

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

technology follow up

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Wow wow wow!  That was so cool!!

I just finished my first session with my therapist using VSee and it was a perfectly great experience.  The connections were good, the sound was good, and it was nearly as comforting as being in her office.  Especially because I was able to be in my pjs on my couch with my dog next to me for extra comfort.

I’m so thankful for technology in going through my healing process.  There is this video conferencing which is new to me, so many sites for resources, and great forums.  One other thing I have been reading a lot about lately, but haven’t had a need to use personally is the Crisis Text Line.  According to a recent Facebook post on their page, the Crisis Text Line has just passed 8 MILLION messages exchanged since August of 2013.  That is simply AWESOME.

I love technology.  And it was so great to see my therapist again.  Thank goodness for VSee.

KK