Jul
01

Learning to Feel Feelings isn’t Always Easy by Lynn C. Tolson

By

This week I am pleased to have Lynn Tolson guest posting here on Emerging from Broken. Many of you know Lynn; she is a frequent commenter and contributor to the conversations here in EFB. Lynn is an advocate and the author of “Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor’s Story” ~ Please help me welcome Lynn and as always, please share your thoughts in the comments section.

~Darlene

Learning to feel feelings Isn’t Always Easy  by Lynn C. Tolson

In therapy, clients talk about their feelings. Therapists ask, “How are you feeling today?” Conversations with my therapist(s) frequently sounded like this:

“Lynn, what are you feeling?”   

“I don’t know.”

“You must be feeling something.”

“No, nothing.”

“Please, tell me what it feels like.”

“I don’t know.”

I shrugged my shoulders, which was not an acceptable answer to the question of “how are you feeling.” How should I know? I had no clue, no compass, and no map to lead me through the hot and sweaty tropical jungle of twisted emotional thorny vines that lay strangled with family secrets and lies.

My step-father had taught me to deny my feelings at seven years old. He said, “Whenever someone asks you how you are doing, you say, ‘Fine, thank you,’ no matter what.” He added, “Speak only when you are spoken to.” He raised me under his spell of “children should be seen and not heard.” These powerful childrearing dictates led to the cold, calculating climate of control that froze all feelings into a block of ice that could only be released when talk-therapy chipped at the surface decades later.

What I felt was numb, which is a suppression of real feelings. Talking about my experiences and emotions in therapy years later did not feel good. If/when I felt, I felt crappy. Even in the company of a therapist I sensed I was safe with, one whom I trusted and developed rapport with, I dared not enter the realm of emotion. I was afraid to unlock my heart and uncover emotions. If I felt a bona fide feeling, I would surely go insane.

I felt all alone. Loneliness envelopes my being, seals me in a tomb lacking air. I am trapped in the darkness of my heart, all alone, Choking and grasping to find tender loving care.

With that admission of feeling in the form of prose, my therapist taught me that putting words to experiences and the emotions they carry can dispel the hold they had on me. She said, “As your fears recede, courage will emerge. Love was locked inside, shielded by fear. When the darkness of fear disappears, the light of love appears. You built walls around yourself to block out bad feelings, so you also blocked out any good that could come your way. You perpetuate pain by locking up feelings.”

My therapist explained that the depression used to cover up emotions can become a permanent part of the personality. She said, “The symptoms of anxiety and depression you experience are not personality flaws but the consequence of childhood wounds. When you excavate and explore emotions, you allow the fear to fade.” Digging deep like this may alleviate the depression, and allow room for expansion of joyful feelings.

I also had to accept that emotions are transitory, universal, and can co-exist. I had to trust that feeling would not drive me crazy. I learned that feeling could lead to positive emotions, especially L-O-V-E. I understood that in my head, but I needed to feel it in my heart. Transformation from fear to love requires more than rationalization and intellectualization. Healing transpires from fully feeling emotions, and then taking necessary action, like this: determine the cause of an emotion, identify the feeling, and acknowledge its presence. Honor an emotion in the moment; just be with it, and that is more like going sane.

My therapist and I started with where I was at: scared to death of the world at large. There was a pervasive apprehension that cast an ominous shadow on my world. Slowly, we examined the fear to make it manageable. With each exhale of fear, I could inhale the courage to face my fears, feeling compassion for myself and others. As Eleanor Roosevelt says, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. . . You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” That is how we learn how to feel.

Contributed by Lynn C. Tolson, advocate and author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor’s Story

Lynn C. Tolson

Please visit Lynn C. Tolson’s blog at http://beyondthetears.blogspot.com/

Bio: After her first eighteen years in the Northeast, Lynn Tolson moved to the Southwest where she engaged in careers in real estate and property management. During those years, she survived post-traumatic stress disorder, which manifested in addictions and suicide attempts. Through the therapeutic process, she determined the causes of her dysfunction, which included childhood sexual abuse and domestic violence. Ultimately, she was able to achieve a life that reflects health and happiness. Her memoir, “Beyond the Tears: A true Survivor’s Story” illustrates physical, emotional, and spiritual transformation; her story offers a message of hope. Tolson moved to the Midwest where she returned to college to obtain a degree in social work. She has also overcome breast cancer. She resides in the Rocky Mountains where she works as an artist, author, and advocate

 

Categories : Therapy

100 Comments

1

Hi. I’m glad to be guest blogger for Darlene and all the participants here at Emerging From Broken. I can’t say how long I was disengaged from my own feelings; it must have been decades. And I used every route imaginable, from my own mind games, to escapism, to self-destructive activities, including over and under eating. Isn’t there a song about Feelings, whoa oh oh, Feelings…

2

Growing up we weren’t allowed to feel. If we showed any emotion, we go slapped in the face until the emotion left. Even tears, if we showed those, it was a bit worse. Today though, I think I can show some emotions, maybe not all of them but at least I can smile without the fear of being hit.

3

We certainly wouldn’t want the smiles to be slapped right off our faces. The smiles are the hardest to come by!

4

Thank you! Very well written! I have struggled with that “don’t know“ thing in regards to my feelings too, but also in what I want or need. Boundaries are so difficult when you cannot even see your Self…

5

Hi Sherie, that too, the “what I want or need.” That’s a whole different topic! Because everyone else’s wants and needs were meshed into mine and/or mine didn’t matter or they got lost in the shuffle or they were wrong, wrong, wrong. Those concepts made it hard to make decisions. Hopefully creating clear boundaries and discerning feelings makes it a bit easier these days.

6

I never used to know what I was feeling. How amazing to begin to understand that. And it was the most like going into space or the unknown that I have ever ‘not felt’ Lol! :)

Because for me my not knowing how I was feeling had so much with my ‘not feeling, not experiencing and not being’ I had got so good at not existing that I couldn’t experience anything, bad or good. It happened and then I went, every single moment I forgot about as it happened.

It’s amazing to feel now. You really helped me when I began learning this Lynn, thanks! And it’s so amazing to see the journey from the otherside of travelling it!

7

You’re welcome! You make me think of another point. Why it took me so long to process experiences is because I never felt them in the moment they happened. It could be days, weeks, months, years, decades later that I owned the feelings that went with the experiences. I remember when Princess Di died. I was in a Unity Church Sunday service when I started to cry with sadness at her death, 3 weeks later, after stoically stating that it didn’t bother me. Accumulated grief has a way of catching up with you later.

8

Lynn, your description of feeling the fear in order to work through it to sanity was so true for me. I stuffed or denied my feelings for most of the first 38 years of my life. I thought if I felt my pain and my fear that I would literally die from the hurt or be consumed by the rage or I would give into the fear and disappear deep inside myself like I did as a child surviving incest. Thanks for sharing this very important post.

9

Lynn . how very beautifully you wrote of learning to feel. I am afraid of my feelings very much as whenever as a child these feelings were allowed to surface I got into worse trouble..

No one in my childhood ever took into account how I feel ..so like ou . I learned to stop paying attention to how I felt too..

When I say no one cared. .its true..not even the place I thought was the holiest place on earth..gave a hoot..what I felt. .We weren’t suppose to listen to how we feel . we were suppose to take our feelings and offer them up..

If we felt hurt.. that was an opportunity to get closer to God..So I was taught.. complaining..letting someone know you were tormented, hurt, humiliated or any other feeling.. was considered not pleasing to god. it was considered letting grace go..not using what God gave to become more holy.

At home exposing hurts..feelings.. crying.. allowing tears to fall was so very wrong. ..it was so often followed by more punishment..

I want to be able to open up completely. there is so much more deep in me that my T needs to know but fear holds it in because letting it out will unleash more and more feeling and emotions which for so long I had been told to hide. i am such a mess

I hope I come to the point that I am not afraid.. that I don’t fear something bad is going for allowing myself to be human ..for having feeling for crying in front of someone who has seen an ocean of tears already.

joy

10

I learned not to smile for fear of having the taste slapped out of my mouth.I did experience my feelings,they just never showed on my face unless i was alone.There came a day of reckoning though.I was fine to take all of the abuse dished out.The rapes,the beatings all to protect my younger siblings.When i knew that was no longer working and my younger sister was in danger,the dam of feelings broke loose.Not in my own defense but that of my sister i faced and fought as no 12 yr old should have to do,all that i feared was coming true.It’s true,weather you face it your fear on your own or are made to,courage emerges.Old habits die hard though but in helping others,i help myself.But there is so much more for the journey is always a learning experience and experience it to the fullest you must.This i have learned from Lynn and Darlene.Each day these women open my eyes and challenge me to explore all the nook and crannies of my feelings.God bless them.

11

welcome lynn.
this is the stage i am at, i have rationallised and intellectualised what happened but yet still cannot face dealing wiht how my parents, brother, grandfathers and other hurt me in my childhood. i have steered well away from the core reasons and dealt with crisis upon crisis as i struggled to come to terms with it all at 18. i still struggle with any other emotion except anger and fear. i hide it very well these days, which makes dissolving the connections evemn harder. cos not only do i have to recognise the issue i have to identify how i skirt away from it and try and break that before i can tackle the harder work of actualling dealing with my past. i hope i will find the help i need form this place i am attempting ot gain thereapy, which is a professional place rather than the voluntary sector help i have relied on up until now. i want to join up my pots of healing and go forward, not only do i dersevre it so does my huby and daughter who put up with my outbursts and mood swings. much to my shame, as i harm them with my reactions which is so not cool when i habe the awareness but not the skills to behave in different ways, arghhhh. being high functioning has it downfalls too

12

Hi Everyone,
Thank you so much Lynn for being a guest blogger for Emerging from Broken.
it is so great to have wonderful content on the blog during these busy times. This is another crazy grad weekend for my family, (this time my eldest, last weekend my middle child)!

Great sharing going on here! I love what you said Carol about joining up your pots of healing. We all deserve it and yes our families too. My family has benefited enormously from the healing / feeling work that I have done!

Hugs, Darlene

13

Patricia and Joy both expressed that common fear of what will happen if we dare to feel. I remember discussing my “passive-aggressive” personality with a therapist; I was in an assertiveness training session. I agreed that I would allow emotions to simmer until they exploded like an untended pressure-cooker. Or a variety of other tactics to deal with them, not feel. Yvonne, it’s true that in helping others you help yourself, as one heals so does another, but you had heaps of burdens on you, to have to protect other siblings. Carol, thanks for opening up. Your desire to move forward sounds healthy to me! I think that when you are high functioning, more is expected of you.

14

I know that I have had my feelings but they never got valued nor acknowledged by my mom or my dad and then later my abuser..
So there for they just got pushed aside and stuffed down, making me feel unloved, rejected and never good enough.. Later in life it went more into the depression, anxiety and Im sure PTSD..
Lynn you made a comment that (Those concepts made it hard to make decisions).. I have a hard time with that, I have gotten so much better, but I struggled with that for fear of being wrong and then the 3 main feelings (unloved, rejected and not good enough) I had would be there.. then later in the abuse it was in fear of getting hurt, so I just learned to agree to be very passive and just go with thing to keep the peace..
When I started to see what was going on and I confronted my mom and dad they made excusses and blamed everything else but where the blame needed to go.. All I ever asked for was to be respected and valued as their daughter and as a person and a mother and they couldn’t even do that much for me so they are no longer in my life till things change or whatever may come of things.. I have my poetry that helps me so much now.. I still struggle with actually telling someone how they make me feel more so on the side of when they hurt my feeling, but Im learning and I know what the feelings are and at least can express them on paper or type it out.. thank you both for this post hugs <3
~Nicole

15

Lynn,
I think this is the way my sister is, numb. When she was two, she burned her arm from wrist to elbow on a wood stove. My dad thought is was weak to go to doctors so she wasn’t taken to the doctor. They doctored her burn with medicine used on cattle. I think she turned off the pain. My dad’s tantrums also has caused her to despise emotional display of any kind. She is very controlled, doesn’t confide in anyone, and in a way, all alone in the world.She sees this as a superior way to be and admires people who ignore their health and go on doing what they want to do. When she is hurt or sick, and not just a little hurt or sick, she hides it.

Even though she acts so tough, I feel that she is very fragile. I think she is afraid of what will happen if she lets any weakness or emeotion show. I don’t know how to reach her or help her to see that her behavior is not normal. She sees herself as having overcome our upbringing but she also can’t remember most of it. She doesn’t remember what the house we grew up in looks like. She sees me as weak because I am expressive and open hearted. She doesn’t respect my point of view and has told me that my confrontation of my past in the last few years is just an attempt to cover my ‘sin’. It seems that there is no way to get her to see her own need. What was it that caused you to seek help?

Pam

16

Pam, it’s hard to get a perspective on your sister from afar, but it’s obvious she is really out of touch with her experience. I can describe my brother (who was a perpetrator) in exactly the same way. (Minus the serious burn). As you probably have heard, there may not be a way you can reach her. You can only help yourself. It’s not weak to be expressive and open-hearted; it may be vulnerable, but to reach out and let others into your world is to take a risk, and that takes guts, which is not weak, but courageous. What is your last question?

17

Nicole, not meaning to ignore you, I’ll be back.

18

Lynn, what a well written post and it really brought to me a message that I can do this work on feelings too. I’ve always gotten into trouble – from a broken arm for a silly face to a slap for a tone. I learned that of all my family I was the one who was (for some reason) not allowed to express my feelings fully or honestly. There was either a discounting of them (you are wrong, that is wrong, get right, you are too much or too little) or outright punishment for having them (fear, anger, passion). I’ve learned to bottle them up, tie them down, keep them in because if I let them out or they escape ‘bad things’ happen.

I didn’t understand the connection though, until your post, between my trained response to feelings and my anxiety and depression. I’ve gotten very good at hiding my feelings or deflecting things to focus on the feelings or thoughts of others. Being totally open with someone with how I feel is terrifying. Even my dear husband with whom I’m more open than anyone doesn’t know their depth. My fear of being ‘badly different’ keeps me from sharing them. And my skill at camoflauge has kept me from having to.

Fear of being insane and actually being locked up as was threatened so many times when I was younger keeps me from a place where I fear losing control but also the release. You’ve given me courage, and I’m going to keep working on it.

Thank you for this post, and for everyone who comments and shares. We learn from each other and we are stronger knowing we are not alone.

19

Lynn,
I know I can’t fix her but I care about her. I was just wondering what it was that caused you to seek out treatment. I can’t picture my sister ever doing that. She is so out of touch with her emotional side that I don’t think she allows herself even to be unhappy about her situation. I guess I’m just looking for some hope for her…

20

Pam ~
thats ur sister, sounds like you want to be there for her and help, nothing wrong with wanting your sister to be happy.. hugs and prayers..
~ Nicole

21

Lynn,
I really identify with your post and find it so helpful. It’s frustrating to understand the truth and yet have so much remaining pain—all due to the split between head and heart. And the only way to integrate the two is to feel the feelings even though it hurts so unbelievably much. No wonder numbness is such a big part of my life, still after years of therapy. Your post gives hope and addresses the issue in a really healing way.

22
sister survivor
July 2nd, 2011 at 8:34 am

Boy, Lynn. I can hear myself in your post, thank you.

I was feeling numb while reading your thoughts about feeling numb. I made a decision to post my first comments on this site and felt…what…dread and shame. Admitting a horrible secret. Pain at acknowledging yes, all the words said to me are opposite of the actions done.

I have tried a couple times to work through the understanding that I was abused. It is lately where I have seen glimmers of history repeating that I’m more bound and determined. I do not want to be that. I want to heal the void, learn to see the world as more safe than not. Learn to trust women even as I set more boundaries with the woman who painted such a cruel picture of females in my mind and heart.

I want to have a working memory, a sense of self beyond how my environment defines me. I want to feel warmth for others without making that warmth occur in me. I want others to stop commenting that I seem guarded, or that I have hints of old anger playing on my face.

I want to heal. I want to feel. I’m scared. And feeling dread and shame. But when I am used to numb, I think that is a good start.

Thank you all, for having a space to connect around these thorny things. (I started to add a “<3" and then felt a pang of guilt, as I am for the first time seeing… that I do not have a real inner frame of reference for the feeling of love. Geez, that's rather terrifying. But great motivation to stick with the journey this time.)

23

Good morning everyone. I got bumped off the computer last night due to my husband wanting to watch a baseball game. So I was reading “The Dance of Deception” by Harriet Lerner. I came upon this appropriate quote: “I was always more attuned and vigilantly protective of his feelings than of my own.” This is one of the reasons why we, as victims/survivors, lost touch with OUR authentic feelings: we were covering for others, protecting others, deflecting for others, dodging others’ feelings, being sensitive to others, etc. So, we were deceiving ourselves and denying our feelings! Darlene developed EFB on the basis of truth; this blog on feelings is encouraging us to be truthful in our emotional realm.

I’ll be glad to respond to the posts. Pam, what led me to therapy was court ordered after a 300 pill suicide attempt. I was 23 ish. (You can read about it in Beyond the Tears). I was in touch with my feelings of despair enough to want to attempt suicide. I did not talk about the incest at that time but I did talk about witnessing domestic violence and molestation of siblings as a child, and the therapist helped me to disengage from an abusive husband. I had said to the therapist, “My husband stirs sensations in the pit of my stomach, just like my father did.” (My father had committed suicide when I was 19). That was the extent of being in touch with my feelings…. in the pit… of my stomach. Just because it was a familiar “feeling” I went with it and married the man! Relative to your sister (no pun intended) I liken her to my brother, who has frozen his feelings in some arrested development phase. Even the death of his 17 year old son did not thaw his heart or move his soul into the direction of therapy. I tried to help him, even though he had raped me when I was 13. He called my attempts to help him grieve “a ploy.” He twisted my good into his evil. Pam, it destroyed me…. again. And that moved me into therapy…. again. This was 3 years ago. I had spent 2 years mourning with him, reading grief books with him, sending him poems by Mattie Stepanauk, talking on the telephone, using my minutes, ignoring time with my husband, when all along my brother had been MY RAPIST! I was trying to save his soul. He is 60 now, alone in his sorrow. I learned I can only save myself. Sorry it is not a happy ending. It is a cautionary true story.

24

Help! How do I edit a post?
I need to urgently change a phrase!

25

Lynn,
Send me the edit and I will do it !

26

Thanks, Lynn. I know what you say is true, I just have my days…She does seem to be getting worse with age. I think every hurt in life drives her deeper withing herself and the protective walls grow thicker. I also think that her world has become very abstract as a result of denying her feelings and her reality. The way things stand now, I’m not likely to have much contact, if at all, with her.I still love the little girl trapped inside of her. I’m also very protective of her. I guess I’ll always hope that someday she’ll be free but I know that it isn’t in my power to bring it to pass. We can’t embrace truth for anyone else, only for ourselves.

Thanks for this insightful post, Lynn.

Pam

27

Nicole, it’s a big deal when you can tell someone that he/she hurt your feelings. Even if they don’t respond in the way that you want them to, you have said your peace (piece). You can always write how you wish they would have responded. Somewhere down the line, in a different scene, in real life, with different people, you will be astonished when someone responds to you in exactly the way you want the response! Because the writing made you acutely aware of 1) what you don’t want 2) of what you DO want. I was very out of touch of possibilities on the positive side of life until I started journal writing imagined responses. Also, decision making was impossible for me, and still is. As victims/survivors we had IMPOSSIBLE decisions to make: do I tell, do I not tell, should I keep a secret; should I spill the secret. Do I trust this person, that person…. So no wonder we have difficulty making decisions. I praise whatever positive decision you made today. I acknowledge my own positive decisions. I got out of bed, took a shower, brushed my teeth, corresponded with like-minded people, took no mind-blowing, body-bending drugs…

28

Thanks, Nicole. There has been a lot of good between us. It really does make me sad that all the lies have killed our relationship. I’m still in mourning. I’m trying to hang on to the good even though I have to let her go with my past.

Pam

29

Hi Everyone,
Re: the sister conversation and all the stuff about family ~

For me, my decisions about family have really been about self preservation. I am not rejecting them, I am taking care of me. I am not disregarding the good, I am stating that I will not accept the good as the payoff for the bad anymore. Sometimes it is just a different way of looking at things. In my family, the message became very clear; either I do things and not do things the way they want or I’m out. So I chose out. The more that I progressed with owning my own value, the more I saw that this was the bottom line. Some of the occasions that I remember as “good times” I don’t see as so good anymore. I clearly see how manipulative people have been and not just with me, but with everyone else too.

Pam, I will always have hope for my family. That is my love today. I want only the best for them, just not at my expense anymore. They might never understand that, but that is okay. It might be the price that I paid for my freedom and wholeness, but that price doesn’t seem to high anymore.

Love to all
Darlene

30

Pam, I was in denial of all of my pain until I was in my 40′s. Nothing that anyone else could have told me would have made a difference. A few people tried and I just got angry with them.

When I left home at 19, I promised myself that no one was ever going to control me or tell me what to do like my dictator dad did when I was a child. The only way that I could be sure that it wasn’t going to happen was to step in and numb my feelings like my mother always had and to become the controller that my dad always was.

I worked so hard at making myself and my world safe and happy so that I could believe that the incest wasn’t still affecting me once I left it behind in my childhood home. It reached the point where I cut my dad and his family of origin out of my life completely for about 10 years that I didn’t see my aunts, uncles, cousins or grandparents at all. They were reminders of a past that they didn’t even know about.

My husband was so easy going that he let me be in control of everything in our marriage. His brothers called him henpecked and his grandmother told us both that we needed to decide “who was going to wear the pants in the family” meaning it wasn’t supposed to be me. That hurt really badly but not enough for me to change. I didn’t want to see what she was saying. I decided that she just didn’t like me.

Controlling didn’t make me happy. It didn’t keep me safe from my own rage that continued to build more every day. Stuffed feelings don’t stay stuffed. They come out in all kinds of ways – passive-aggressive actions, as an exploding volcano of rage and hurt, as diseases such as arthritis, cancer and heart attacks, as sarcasm and cynicism or turned inward as depression and suicide.

Pam, continue to care and to work on you. The only way that you can help your sister is by example. Work on yourself, continue to get healthy and show your own joy and happiness as they return as a result of healing yourself. She will either get the message or not.

For me that happened when I had finally hurt enough and not before. One of my turning points was when I heard myself, one afternoon, telling my husband that I hated him and everything about my life. That was my absolute bottom. I was horrified by what I had just said. It wasn’t my husband that I hated. It was me. I was 27 years old with a husband and two young children to raise.

That was in 1979. That was when I was, for the first time, ready to reach out for help. Ladies from a nearby Church of Christ stepped in and helped me. There was very little written on incest or even child abuse at the time. I wasn’t ready to do much with the incest at the time anyway other than admit that it had happened. I still didn’t want to admit that it was my main problem. That didn’t happen until I was 38 years old. I read all of the self-improvement books that I could find in the county library. There were only 3 on incest. I read them all and tried to do what they suggested.

I still wasn’t finished with the control but instead of looking at the incest, I looked at self-improvement in general. I have always been a good to great student. I turned to fixing others. If I could fix your problems then I would be ok. I could feel good about myself. I could find happiness if you were happy. I had lots of friends always as an adult because I was a good listener and I had lots of advice for everyone but myself.

Finally when I was 38 years old, I found out that I couldn’t fix me through fixing you. That is when I found 12-Step programs and codependency. All of my control came from being a codependent and trying to fix everyone but myself. Codependency was about not feeling my feelings, not being myself, totally living in my head rather than feeling to pain.

This was when I met FEAR. He had always been a part of my life. I felt fear so often that I thought it was a normal part of everyone’s lives. To me, being terrified was normal. This was the very first feeling that I met and could see that it was holding me back. That was when I started to heal and really change. That was when I found out who I was. In trying to control, I had lost myself. Out of fear of dying if I felt all of my pain, I had lost the real me. Healing was about feeling and reconnecting with me. I had to change that self-hatred to self-love.

Pam, the best thing you can do for your sister is to learn to love and take care of yourself. She will either follow or not.

31

Lynn,

I so hear you about the disengaged part. Though for some (strange) reason I was always very emotional in therapy, I could never do so outside of the room. When I’m with others, I pride at “keeping it altogether”. I pride at being able to appear strong. But even in therapy, I couldn’t name my feelings. I didn’t know the reason behind the tears. In fact, my therapist later confronted me and said, “Jasmine, for whatever reasons that keep you saying I don’t know, but we can’t work together if you don’t trust me.”

That was the breaking point.

I think another reason why I could eventually come to terms with my feelings was because I read my therapist’s articles and she was always very honest with her emotions. She always calls herself the “wounded healer”, and so I know that I can always be honest with her.

Yes, we did the cognitive behavioral homework in which I had to rate my highs and lows daily, and say what caused them. Initially, I barely did my homework…which my therapist interpreted as a lack of trust. Gradually, as I warmed up to her…I did my work and I’m so grateful I did. Till today, I give credit to that homework for teaching me to be aware of my emotions.

32

Holly, I had years of therapy too. I’m a lot more aware and present. I still take a long time to “process” what I’m feeling. I am relieved of the notion to take the anger out on myself, at least most of the time. One of the most enlightening moments of my life was when I came out of the darkness of suppressed memory and realized the true source of the anger within (incest and abuse) and how to direct that anger toward the abusers. Those appropriately directed feelings (at least most of the time) spared my body a lot of ill feeling, the kind of body sickness that comes with misdirected emotional feelings. Like I used to get multiple migraines. I might have thought I was emotionally numb, but my body felt otherwise, pressuring me into feeling something, anything to point to the pain and anger latent inside. Make sense?
Pam, I’m sorry for the “loss” of your sister, for lack of a better phrase.

33

I have been in counseling many times over the years dealing with anxiety and depression, only recently when i listened to an abuse survivor describe themselves,as being no longer ‘a victim’did I begin to understand the stages of healing. For years i had been emotionally abuse during a marriage. The abuse contined after the divorce and separation. (8years)dealing with the same person over issuses regarding child support, custody, pick up drop off, any number of problems.Every encounter with this person always resulted in rages with my character defamation and an on slaught of threats. My attempts to resolve and distance myself became issues that in a court of law could be viewed as being uncooperative and even intentionally aggressive. Untl I began to learn how to deal with this character in my live. First determining that this character was unlike anyone i had ever known. Learning about charcter (personality) disorders was my first step. Narcissist became a word, new to my vocabulary, the dimensions of this disorder, cause and affect. Step two, was to learn how to identify the defenses used by and to begin to identy the triggers. Counseling did not provide me with actual needed skills to protect myself from his continued abusive assaults,limiting and restricting his involvement didn’t work as issues with my children involved him. What worked was when I spoke openly about his rages to others and was able to no longer be confused I learned to speak from a well informed and confident position. others began to understand that my axieties and depression were caused through my inexperience (ignorance) lack of developed skills and level of training caused by incidents of abuse. I am now able to deal with this character, but not alone any more, as with such disorders a third party is necessary and is recognised as essential during all negotiations allowing that a witness is always involved and present(never behind closed doors or in private). This charcter has now been identified as having a severe disorder by others(psychologists, social workers) validating the past abuses I experienced being caused by his disordered mind, providing me with assisstance to learn skills through informative and knowledgeable resources not to be caught off guard ever again and vulenrable (victized state) but in a well prepared postion of strength, building self esteem through critical thinking and responses that are better and more positive.I’m no longer a victim but now proudly define myself as a survivor!of emotional abuse.

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Cowmanmagee, you have done a lot of work. Congratulations on moving from being a victim of this personality to doing the work necessary to help yourself. I’m glad to hear that not only were the resources available, and also they came through for you.

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Pam, you have quite a story. I wonder what 3 books were available in that time frame. I remember the psych ward giving me “How To Be Your Own Best Friend” and “Up From Depression” and there was a memoir about Valium “I’m Dancing As Fast As I Can” and “I Know Why A Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou, only I did not “get it” at the time, talk about disengaged. I was disengaged from my early therapists. I couldn’t talk until it was time to go. Then I’d spring a “by the way” on the therapist, just as I was turning the door knob, because it was too late to address whatever catastrophe I was about to spill. We’ve all taken such long journeys to be where and who we are today. I was thinking about how numbing our feelings has interfered with our values and judgements.

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Patricia,
Thanks for that beautiful, heart baring post. I know everything you say is true and I am keeping my distance and refusing her control of me. She knows that I lover her but I’ve also told her that I can’t be close to her if she doesn’t change the way she treats me. I know she is in pain right now because her children are grown and have their own identity issues because of the emeshement in her own family. There are many cracks in the perfect world she has created. I take hope in what you say and perhaps, the pain she feels now will cause her to begin to face the truth. I love her through prayer.

Darlene,
I think we are in the same place in reguards to our families. You’ve just been there a little longer. I haven’t seen any of them in five years. We had a long trial seperation but now the divorce is final. I am letting it all go a little more each day. I’m getting there…

I’m so thankful for this place.

Love,
Pam

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It took me years to just identify my feelings. it took more years to be able to accept my feelings without fighting them, punishing myself or feeling guilty about them. I still revert to the numbness when I’m in a stressful situation.

The other thing is that my feelings would build up like a pressure cooker and then erupt like a volcano. Or the wounds of shame and humiliation were so deep and painful it was hard to face them. So I learned to fear my emotions as something terrible and overwhelming and out of my control.

It’s only recently, after finding EFB and learning to validate myself, that I’ve made a deal with myself to feel whatever I feel, even if that does drive me crazy – which it hasn’t.

@Lynn, your therapist sounds like she is worth her weight in gold. She has given you brilliant advice. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

@carol – anger and fear were my only two emotions for most of my life. My rage that was a cesspit of frustration and hatred, and the fear that was just a terrible anxiety that ate away at me and erupted into panic attacks. It’s a terribly confusing way to live, and like you, made me feel so much guilt at how it affected others. One thing I have found helpful in processing these emotions is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). I’m not sure how it works, but it has had a positive affect on me.

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Lynn,
thank you, also I shared a poem of mine on your fan page..

Darlene,
You so got me with your response to Pam~

(Pam, I will always have hope for my family. That is my love today. I want only the best for them, just not at my expense anymore. They might never understand that, but that is okay. It might be the price that I paid for my freedom and wholeness, but that price doesn’t seem to high anymore.)

This is how I feel too,Im not giving my family or anyone for that matter the upper hand on me to hurt me like they once did.. EVER!!

Pam,
Your very welcome do as you can and are ready for only you know how and what you feel.. my heart goes out to you..
Not sure how you feel of God or anything but for me its lightens my load to know that I can give my worries to him and he will get me through things one step at a time and day to day..

~ Nicole ~
to anyone here if you would like to read my poems of healing my page on face book is HER Heart SHE Emerges.. there are several on EFB fb page as well. take care and God bless <3

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Lynn,
thank you, also I shared a poem of mine on your fan page..

Darlene,
You so got me with your response to Pam~

(Pam, I will always have hope for my family. That is my love today. I want only the best for them, just not at my expense anymore. They might never understand that, but that is okay. It might be the price that I paid for my freedom and wholeness, but that price doesn’t seem to high anymore.)

This is how I feel too,Im not giving my family or anyone for that matter the upper hand on me to hurt me like they once did.. EVER!!

Pam,
Your very welcome do as you can and are ready for only you know how and what you feel.. my heart goes out to you..
Not sure how you feel of God or anything but for me its lightens my load to know that I can give my worries to him and he will get me through things one step at a time and day to day..

~ Nicole ~
to anyone here if you would like to read my poems of healing my page on face book is HER Heart SHE Emerges.. there are several on EFB fb page as well. take care and God bless <3

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For the last two years i have been getting counseling for CSA by by father. I told my mother twice when I was a child-the first time, at 8 yrs old she told me he had confused sex with love and I should forget it. The second time I tried to get help I was 14 and she said I was ‘imagining things’. As an adult the traumas resurface and I did when able confront my dad who died in 2004. It took me til two years ago to discover and feel the anger for my mother and she finally acknowledged some of what I said but died in Nov last year. Ive been pretty fragile and really trying to cope with this journey for the last two years on my own. I thought I was ready to see and old friend who knows some of my story. She started to ask me things and proceeded to correct me for having had anger at my mother as she said my mother had been a victim too. My friend seemed angry and kept saying to move on from the past

Its like climbing out of a mental maze and its just quite frustrating that people dont see how risky it is to invalidate your’e feelings when you are doing this work. Im feeling dizzy disorientated . Need to take it slowly seeing friends even, never mind family as it probably takes practice to hold your’e own with people.

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Nicole Her Heart, I can’t wait to see the poem on my fan page on Facebook. Thank you. Layla, it appears you have been sorely invalidated by your family and friends. You confronted you dad before he died, which is a very courageous thing to do, and with confrontation, you validated yourself. You valued your SELF, your heart, your soul, your mind, your TRUTH. That is so important. I remember a friend who I had told of my situation. At the time, I was processing my anger toward my mother, and I was estranged from my mother. The friend could not understand this, or tried to understand, but kept saying, “Yes, but, don’t you just want to call and break the ice with your mother?” No, no no. I had to have that time away from my mother because she was a narcissist who made it all about her. It worked for me to have that time for myself. During that time frame I was able to determine my feelings without interference from her, and without having to deflect to her feelings, or protect her from feeling bad, guilty, sad. When I suddenly was diagnosed with cancer, she learned of it through the family grapevine, and wrote to me. I responded but only with the support of my therapist. My mother and I were then able to proceed on my terms and my truth, for the most part. It does take practice to hold your own, which is another way of saying it takes practice to claim your power.

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Hi Lynn,
I use to live 40 min. from Colo Springs. Small world. I find that lately my body pain has numbed my ability to feel. I say this because I had a very bad day a few days ago and I told myself through tears that It would be better to die than continue feeling this way. I had nothing that raised my berometer higher than a flat line. I am void of my emotions right now. Some idiots came and stole my grandkids trampaline. I made the police report and I have no feelings other than be on the watch for my grandkids emotions. I hope this passes.
Renee

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Thanks for your’e comment Lynn
In many ways I feel that now at the age of 55 I am discovering the real me.Coming off major tranquilisers after 25 years of use, getting help with my problems which in fact were due to disassociation. Im realising I wont be able to keep some old friends as I realize I was doing the same role with them as I did with my family, allowing myself to be dominated and informed of my feelings. I dont feel its helpful to have to have to explain , justify and validate the new me thats emerging – it just exhausts me. In the past I now see There was a lot of codependency going on with me and a few of my friends and my 2 brothers.Ive realised that although I was damaged by the sexual abuse trauma by by dad – it was just as harmful that my mother did not believe me and it took til 2 years ago to overcome her dominating me and suppressing my truth.Im not prepared to be seen as mentally ‘lame’ anymore and sadly thats how most people in my past treat me, even if they do it unconsciously. They seem threatened by me changing and speaking up. I feel theres more hope for me now if I start afresh and build new more balanced relationships with people who know me as I am now and are willing to meet me in the middle. It can be lonely but right now I only really safe with my therapists and a couple of friends who are also working through their issues .

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I am almost 48 years old, and it amazes me how many of my very few high school and jr. high friends never had a clue of what went on at our house. We kept a pleasant demeanor, had impeccable manners, and never said a word. The bruises were made in places nobody would see if we were clothed. She was very, very thorough.
I learned it so well, I dated and married an extremely abusive, controlling man. We had three sons, who now all think I’m the devil for “abandoning” them when they were teenagers (by letting them decide where to live). I remarried, and this time, I got an ice-cold genius who thinks he’s better than everyone else, won’t hug, hold, compliment, or engage in normal conversation with me, because he deems me to be brighter than most folks (I am), but not good enough for him. (At least I bathe on a regular basis and am well-liked by anyone who meets me. Can’t say that for him.)I watched him throw a tantrum at the toy store cash register yesterday, peppered with rude comments about me. I’ve been through it so many times, I felt nothing.
This group has helped me realize I’ve lived my whole life pleasing people who weren’t capable of loving me because they didn’t love themselves. I’m moving on. Thank you for helping me see that I don’t have to put up with this nonsense. The next 48 years are going to be about what makes ME happy.

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Renee, it’s so mean that anyone would steal kids’ toys, especially something as large as a trampoline? I have felt that way about migraines: that it would be better to die. Through the dedicated disciplined use of medication and meditation, I’m a whole lot better, but I will never forget staring down the barrel of a gun considering it’s usefulness in relieving the pain of a relentless migraines. Those migraines were useful in advancing physical pain over psychic pain. How out of touch I was. Yes, I had a God send in the form of a counselor named Karen, but there were several psychiatrists and psychologists here and there who just did not get it, or me, and that in itself just perpetuated the pain. I realized another reason why we as victims/survivors did not get in touch with our feelings. Perhaps we came from homes with so much chaos, craziness, and confusion that there was yelling and screaming. How could we feel what with all that shouting going on? And there would be one calamity after another, so that there was no chance in hell of catching our breath, or collecting our thoughts, or capturing our feelings, from one moment to the next.

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I’m sitting here catching up on all the posts.I wonder if all of you hear yourselves.We can all identify with each other.Our thoughts,feelings.I just took a step back from the subject matter for a moment.There is a lot of love and support going on here.I see progress in healing.I know there is so much passion from the heart from each of you to each other.Each of you bring your own unique gift to the table,in that we are all blessed.I want to say to those i do not know yet,i hear you,i feel you.Talking about how our abusers made us feel and the long lasting effects.Know this without a doubt,how we are feeling right now will have a greater and just as long effect.In doing this for ourselves,we do this for each other.

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Laurie, Have you ever read the book “Emotional Intelligence?” Sounds like your mate could use it. It’s hard to hear that a grown man of genius intellect could throw a tantrum in a TOY store! The worst part is the public display of rude comments towards you. So glad you’ve seen the light and you want to move on.

Layla, you sound like you have a handle on what you want and need at this time in your life. It takes courage to see who you really are without medications that you depended on for 25 years. Last November I was forced off a medication after 2 decades because it was taken off the market in the US. It had already been banned in UK and Canada so I knew eventually it would not be prescribed here. I wondered who I would be without it. But there was no adjustment period whatsoever. That was the surprise. Good for you for “discovering the real me.” It is not so scary? I discovered the real me is not who “they” say I am, but who I choose to be. Because I know for sure that “they” are the ones that fumble in the dark, and I am the one who is clear in the light of the truth. Cheers!

Yvonne, I have seen EFB be a place of healing and support and I like it here. It feels safe!

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I’m not sure how I missed this post Lynn and Darlene but oh my gosh! Yes! I even got the little page that has the faces of emotions on it but still couldn’t identify how I was feeling! Learning to actually feel my feelings in my body was a HUGE step and one that let me see that I could actually trust my own instincts that had been buried long before in the abuse and denial that I was forced and taught to live in.

Thank you for this topic!

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Hi Susan, glad you found the post. I think music is one of the ways that I used to get in touch with my feelings. Used to be, I would avoid a song. I”d say, “Oh, change that channel. I can’t listen to that song.” Then, when I started trusting myself to not go crazy with feelings, I’d deliberately listen to a song and journal what came forth, to get in touch with the emotions the music brought forth. It’s hard work. You gotta really want to go there.

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Thanks Lynn! Me too! I’ve often done the same thing (turned off certain songs) or similar things to avoid feeling the feelings and thinking the thoughts that came with it. Yes absolutely; it takes a committed effort to “go there”. Thanks again for a great post Lynn!

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I’m 58 and have almost given up on feeling feelings. I don’t despair over that, I just keep checking and noticing and looking for them. Sometimes I wonder about being autistic or something.

In some cases I will say to myself; this is when I should be feeling X, or wonder; Am I feeling X right now?
I did notice feeling hurt by someone I think.

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This is so honest.

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Laurie,
I love this statement that you made:
“This group has helped me realize I’ve lived my whole life pleasing people who weren’t capable of loving me because they didn’t love themselves.”
And I would change it in certain ways just to play with the possible meanings.
“This group has helped me realize I’ve lived my whole life trying to please people who weren’t capable of being pleased.”
That is how I would view my mother. She was the first person that I tried to please, but I think I knew, at some level, very early on, that I would never please her. So when I started piano lessons, I knew that my music was to please ME, not anyone else.

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I was watching the Judds on the OWN channel. Wynonna was talking about how her happiness depended on everyone else being happy. She said that this was especially the case with the men in her life. She would make them happy, then she could feel happy. That is such a false sense of happiness, and such a part of co-dependence. What stunned me is how far along the healing journey I have come. I was delighted to realize that I have not done this in a long, long time. I no longer seek to make someone else happy first so that I can feel happy second. That’s not a reliable foundation for happiness! It’s sure to crumble. “Whatever makes you happy” does not work in the long run.

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ouch. This really digs at the heart of what I am facing. I’ve had a lot of issues come up in the past month and my response has been numbness. I get matter of fact and act like i don’t care about anything. That seems to be my way of handling the pain. I recently realized that my father and quite possibly my oldest brother touched me inappropriately. I still don’t feel much emotion about that. My brother and his wife had their baby, and when i made plans to go see them, well, he told me not to come. It boils down to not wanting my influence on their kid. Also i was gonna take a friend so that they didn’t have oppertunity to hurt me. He wants to talk to me and if I am going to bring someone else I am not welcome to come. From that i know that he wants to scold me and beat me down. Then my best friend joined a church that is like what i left and our friendship quickly went to nothing. That is super hard for me, because her family is like my second family. I have known them all my life – literally. I trusted them and became very close to them. Visiting them was like my safe haven. I don’t feel safe there anymore. But i can’t seem to greive or really feel what happened with them. I also have a co-worker who acts like i can’t do anything right. If feels like, like i’m not a person in her eyes. I don’t trust anyone. Trust seems to be to elusive for me to grasp.
I don’t know if any of you all have a gluten allergy or intolerance, but i do and i have started a blogsite for my journey and recipes that i am finding for being gluten-free.

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Yesterday my therapist had me watch a video done by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, entitled “Counting The Cost.” It was about the effect of child abuse on the developing personality, which then carries over into adulthood.

The part that I especially identified with was the effect of child abuse on our ability to regulate our emotions appropriately. Adult surivors of child abuse will often either feel numb, having zero, or very little, emotions… or we feel WAY TOO MUCH, to the point that we are drowning in our emotions, unable to function in life because of our huge overwhelming emotions ~ emotions of RAGE, emotions of deep DEPRESSION, emotions of extreme FEAR, etc.

I do both… I go from numb, to being flooded. I am numb right now, about my close cousin’s drowning death on June 3, and my mother’s recent 62 page hate letter that she sent me a few days before my cousin drowned. My cousin Elaine and I were talking on the phone for almost an hour the night before she drowned, and my cousin, who had a BA in psychology, and had known my mother all her life, because our mothers are sisters ~ my cousin told me during our final conversation that “it would explain everything” if my mother has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. My cousin Elaine was my only blood relative living in this state, and one of only 3 from my family of origin who was “on my side” ~ and the next day, she DROWNED. My grief, sorrow, RAGE, SURVIVOR’S GUILT, and DEPRESSION almost killed me, by June 28, which would have been my young cousin’s 39th birthday. I had to go to the emergency room, because I had gone from extreme rage to severe depression so fast, it was like falling off a cliff.

And now, I am numb. Numb, and sad, and very tired.

I’m thankful that I have EFB, and a number of truly supportive, understanding, caring people in my life. I don’t think I could have survived June 28 without these caring people.

Being blamed and shamed for my over-reactions, for my excessive rage and extreme depression ~ being told that I need to “face the truth” about these defects of mine, is not helpful. I am already feeling deeply ashamed and embarrassed, by my inability to control my emotions appropriately, especially during times of extreme stress, with the loss of a very dear loved one, and my mother’s most recent unprovoked attack against me. I KNOW that I have a huge problem with not being able to regulate my emotions properly, especially when someone says or writes something that triggers a terrible trauma memory, such as when I was drugged and raped and almost died from the drug, and then was blamed and called a slut… to have the memory triggered, and then be shown no sign of any empathy by anyone replying to me writing a comment about my horrible experience, I blew up… I was enraged.. and then I became suicidally depressed… and now I am numb.

I have a new therapist now, and I am hopeful that she can help me to learn how to regulate my emotions appropriately. I feel terrible when my out-of-proportion, trauma-triggered anger/rage, causes someone to feel attacked, when they really didn’t deserve it. I never want to hurt anyone, I don’t want to be evil like my abusers!!!!!!

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”I feel terrible when my out-of-proportion, trauma-triggered anger/rage, causes someone to feel attacked, when they really didn’t deserve it. I never want to hurt anyone, I don’t want to be evil like my abusers!!!!!!”***

***THAT is what I am feeling, right now… NUMB about my cousin’s recent tragic death, and TERRIBLE SHAME about my anger that erupted out of me, on a facebook post, about 2 1/2 weeks after my cousin Elaine drowned. The person I got so furioius at, was all about playing the ”devil’s advocate,” as she called it, when it came to the topic of how a rape victim dresses, if the provocative way she dresses may be considered a provocation to being raped. When I told my story of how I was drugged and raped and nearly killed, when I was 15 years old and SO NOT dressing provacatively, this person’s response showed no empathy for what happened to me, whatsoever.

So then I became enraged, and verbally attacked the ”seemingly” unempathetic person on the FB post. It was only later, after I’d calmed down, that I realized my fury was inappropriate and out-of-proportion. I realized that the person I was so angry with, may actually be a VERY EMPATHETIC person, for all I know, even though it didn’t occur to her to say anything along the lines of, “I’m sorry that happened to you,” in replying to my post about being raped ~ she just kept going on with her ”devil’s advocate” position of agreeing with the cop that had said the provocative way some women dress may lead to them being raped.

AFTER the fact, I realized that I had failed to give the devil’s advocate person the benefit of the doubt. I had assumed that she had no empathy for an innocent rape victim, on the basis that she had not expressed any sort of empathy, on that comment line regarding how some rapists may respond to the way some women dress… BUT, failure to express empathy, in single situation, doesn’t PROVE that she doesn’t have any empathy at all!

However, at the time that I blew up at her for her ”seeming” lack of empathy, I didn’t see it that way, I couldn’t give her the benefit of the doubt like I normally would do, because I was too FLOODED with overwhelming ANGER, because my trauma memories of my rape, and of other people’s lack of empathy toward me when I was raped and almost killed, were so badly TRIGGERED. I BLEW UP t this person on facebook, and now, I feel DEEPLY ASHAMED.

I am also feeling SICK of feeling ASHAMED. I think that no one is PERFECT, absolutely No One…. I would like to see the person who could go through exactly what I have gone through in life, and especially go through all that has happened in my life since the end of May, and be so strong and stable and wonderful that they would NOT have an “INAPROPRIATE EMOTION” throughout this time.

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PS~ Like several of us here, I am in my 50s. I am 58, and I am DEEPLY ASHAMED that I still haven’t learned how to appropriately regulate my emotions. I have been diagnosed with Complex Post Truamatic Stress, and in reading the definitive book on that topic, “Trauma and Recovery,” by Judith Herman, MD, a Harvard Psychologist, my crazy life and my crazy emotions makes SENSE. My emotional mess is not a character defect, it’s a direct result of the extreme trauma I have gone through in my life. It’s not my fault, just as it would not be my fault if I were stabbed, to be getting my gross icky blood all over the place. If I were stabbed, it WOULD be my responsibility to go get medical treatment to stop the bleeding. That is what I have done, I went to the hospital emergency room on June 27, and I have 2 new doctors now that are helping me with my “emotional bleeding.”

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Dearest Lynda,
I am so very sorry you have had a horrible month. I am sad for your loss and that someone so insinsitive could feel free to dishonor you, you a survivor and a fighter. Some people think they have all the answers and know how you feel.
Renee

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Renee ~ thank you SO MUCH. Reading your kind words just made my heart melt.

I am so very sorry that you have gone through so much terrible trauma in your life, too. You are a good-hearted person and you deserve good things.

The more that I think about what happened, I suspect that the person I blew up at for showing me no empathy, may have been triggered by the whole rape-provocation topic, too. Maybe… I don’t know her history, I’m only guessing…. but maybe she feels some unwarranted guilt for a rape that happened in her past, because she had been taught by her abusers that she did not have the right to say NO. In my case, as I explained on the fb comment thread where I eventually blew up, I had to be drugged unconscious by my rapist, because I did say NO, and fought him off, when he tried to rape me without the truth serum drug. I was only 15, and he was my 40-something psychiatrist.

How did I know, at so young an age, and despite being a mental patient, that I had the right to say NO, when others of that same age and even older, did not know they could say no to their abusers/rapists? I think it is because he was nearly a stranger to me, for one thing, he was not like my daddy or uncle or grandfather who had groomed me all my life to obey his every command. Also, I had been warned by other patients of his that the doctor was a rapist, (but no one in authority believed any of us patients when we reported him, UNTIL the last time he raped me, when a nurse heard me screaming, and then after I was let out of his locked office, I collapsed on the floor and had no pulse).

Also, this particular doctor, who was divorced when he first became my psychiatrist, had just gotten remarried, to someone he described as “lovely and wonderful,” a couple of months before he raped me! So therefore he could not use his charm on me and convince me that he was trying to be sexual with me because he “loved” me ~ I knew he had a new wife whom he claimed to love, AND I knew he was having sexual relations with other patients, so I told him NO. My situation was very different, from someone who is groomed from the time they are very young, to be a compliant incest/rape/abuse victim.

So, I suspect that, because my rape experience involved me having to be drugged unconscious because I had first fought my rapist off, this may have caused some unresolved guilty feelings in the person who then seemed to have no empathy for me, IF in her case, she had not tried to say no to her rapist, because she did not KNOW, from the way she had been brought up, that she even had the right to say NO.

That’s a big risk we take when we trauma survivors start talking about these trauma issues… people can be triggered in all different kinds of ways, and then our “unregulated emotions” can be inappropriately set off.

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Hi Lynda
That is the thing ~ we don’t know anything about any of this stuff at such a young age. And we are going back and looking at stuff, trying to look at it through the eyes of truth, (which we never knew before either) so yes… it is very hard, and there will be triggers and other people will misunderstand us, or not want to hear us especially if we trigger a pain memory in them that they are not willing to face. It gets really complicated. I had to stop trying so hard to figure out everyone else. (because it became like a coping method, and distracted me from my own healing process. I was always in the spin of trying to figure someone elses reaction out. ) We can’t figure out what is in the heads of others. I had to ask myself ~ where is this thinking going? Is it getting me closer to my goal of emotional healing, or is it leading me farther away? It almost always was leading me away. This whole re wiring thing and belief system fog busting thing has many layers to it!
Hugs and thank you for sharing.
Darlene

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Darlene, thank you, you have given me something very helpful to think about:

“I had to stop trying so hard to figure out everyone else. (because it became like a coping method, and distracted me from my own healing process. I was always in the spin of trying to figure someone elses reaction out. ) We can’t figure out what is in the heads of others. I had to ask myself ~ where is this thinking going? Is it getting me closer to my goal of emotional healing, or is it leading me farther away? It almost always was leading me away. This whole re wiring thing and belief system fog busting thing has many layers to it!”

You know something… YES… that has been keeping me STUCK, trying to figure out WHY another woman would respond to my rape story with a left-brained, intellectual, “devil’s advocate” comment, without giving me any kind of empathy for the horrible trauma I went through at age 15. But you are right, I don’t NEED to try to figure out other people’s reactions, I need to figure out MY reaction… why did I blow up in OUTRAGE, and how do I keep myself from letting my trauma triggers, and stressful times, drive me to the point of OVERREACTING, and FEELING TOO MUCH. How do I regulate my emotions like a “normal” person, despite my many trauma triggers? How do I experience the sudden unexpected drowning death of a very dear young loved one, without becoming a BITCH, and hurting other people, for no good reason other than *I* am in extreme pain. How do I GRIEVE, how do I HURT, how do I feel my PAIN, without hurting others, like an ignorant crazed rabid dog?

THAT is where I need to spend my time, and mental energy… looking at ME, at what still needs to be healed in ME, and not at someone else.

THANK YOU, Darlen!

63

…Darlene…. I didn’t mean to drop the last “e”

64

Lynda,
Thank you. You are right about the different ways people react to triggers. My sister rocks, back and forth. I have panic attacks. When its a bad trigger I switch to the teenager. Different triggers and different reactions can account for the “devils advocate”. Just know your stronger, your a well traveled suvivor and your path is well worn. I don’t know if you are aware of that. You amaze me as well as others that are writers on this blog, the strenght each one of you all carry amazes me!
Renee

65

I’ve been reading along. Between worlds hither and yon, there’s been a lot going on. I’m seeing one of my good friends practically destroy her healing path by clinging to others’ drama in trauma. It’s like she is a puppet and a drama queen is pulling her strings, and she (my friend) does not see the invisible strings of manipulation of this other person. Many of the feelings my friend is feeling are not authentic to her but are being caused by the drama of this other person, like panic. Normally this spinning crazy dynamic would attract me, but the fact that I can see it for the destruction it is 1) is stunning 2) is a new normal 3) makes me want to back off. It’s a new kind of strength to not be a moth to a flame. My affirmation is, “I release {my friend} to her destiny. I am now able to claim and complete my own.” I’m becoming more comfortable in my new feelings of moments of happiness versus old feelings of sadness. So that means I would rather spend time attentive to the moments of happiness than standing guard to the constant feelings of sadness I’m accustomed to. It’s a whole new world.

66

Thanks Lynn for sharing your thoughts about feelings and for being the catalyst for all these other comments. Early in my recovery from incst and trauma, a body worker (Rolfer) asked me wehat I was feeling in my body. After hesitation I responded, “I think I am better now”. He said “I didn’t ask what you are thinking, I want to hear what you are feeling.” I was astonished and confused, because even in my fifties, with a couple college degrees, I had no vocabulary for feelings. Learning to express feelings was like learning a foreign language.

67

Darlene, I just posted a new article on my blog and linked it back to Emerging From Broken. You have so many posts about feelings and belief systems that I didn’t link it to any particular article. The title of my post is “Healing From Abuse Means Doing The Work of Healing.” Here is the link:

http://patriciasingleton.blogspot.com/2011/07/healing-from-abuse-means-doing-work-of.html

I hope that everyone will check out the post and let me know on my blog what you think. It is just some thoughts that came to me from reading all of Darlene’s recent blog posts and everyone’s comments, especially those of this post.

68

Thanks for sharing the link Patricia, I will head over there soon!
Hugs!

69

Lynn and Darlene, this is a post that I will keep coming back to and reading again and again. Feelings is one thing that I am still learning about and I still don’t always know what I am feeling until sometime after the fact.

70

Patricia, I take a long time to process my feelings. Which is ok because I don’t want to react like I used to, or be numb, or escape. I want to respond appropriately. Sometimes it’s difficult. The other day a memory surfaced that was not a new memory, but the perspective was different. I remembered a beating I received from my step-father when I was 15. I was trapped in a corner on the floor. At the time, I thought I deserved it. I even wrote a letter to him saying, “I know you discipline me because you love me.” Holy cow was I brainwashed! Anyway, I remembered that beating this week with new intensity and the new perspective that I did not deserve any such beating. And I am angry. So I am processing this anger decades later, not deflecting it, and not taking it out on others, such as myself or my husband. It takes a lot of energy to be conscious of emotions.

71

Lynn, yes, one of the most important tools that I have learned in healing and dealing with my feelings is that I don’t have to get so stressed out that my anger/rage gets dumped on someone who it shouldn’t be or turned inward and become depression which hurts me. I can find healthy ways to deal with and express my anger. I can mop a floor or wash the dishes or beat a pillow or write a nasty letter or even a letter saying exactly what I feel about that person. I don’t have to allow my anger to hurt me or others. That was a major part of early healing from abuse for me. It took me about 4 years to learn how to deal with and release my rage from my body. I wish that it had taken less time but I had stuffed and denied my anger/rage for over 30 years. Maybe I am lucky that it only took 4 years to learn to do healthy anger. I had to get my fears out of the way before the anger even started to surface in a recognisable way so that I could feel it and say, “Hey, this is anger that I am feeling.”

I am better today but the past few weeks have shown me that I still have some areas to work on. Anyway, thanks for writing this post.

72

You are welcome. I don’t know what I don’t know in terms of what’s left to decipher of emotions, but I know I’ve come a long way. Sounds like you too.

73

Hi Everyone
I wanted to mention that I just published another guest post from Lynn Tolson, the author of this post.
She has written a post about spiritual abuse this time, kicking off a series that I am going to present on this topic over the next month or so.

You can read the new post here: Spiritual Abuse and the Catholic Church

74

Lynn & Darlene,

This topic is so right on time for me and I am getting a lot out of it. Thanks for posting this.

Just a little while ago, I was googling images of ‘mental health clock’, trying to find something that could serve as a reminder on how to transition from one mode to another and viola, the graphic of the “Feelings Chart” found here! :-)

I am especially drawn to the statement of: “Healing transpires from fully feeling emotions, and then taking necessary action, like this: determine the cause of an emotion,…”
See, that’s where I get stuck…determining the cause. Then this morning, I did an absolute no-no, the ultimate taboo of ‘feeling sorry for myself’…and although I am quite shook up at the moment, I can tell that it is a new experience for me and one that has been sorely needed for a very long time. I did a search for ‘feeling sorry for yourself’ and as you might have guessed, it was slim pickings to try and find something, ANYTHING positive/validating about it with the exception of this:

“On July 15th, 2008 at 7:58 am ,
Max Brenner Says:

Your approach is flawed
There is nothing wrong with self-pity, it’s a natural feeling and a growth oriented process.
People who say to “Stop feeling sorry for yourself” are repressive, dysfunctional and destructive towards others Their objective is to invalidate the pain of others and make them feel insecure for experiencing the pain of their lives. It is an attack on people for sharing the pain of their lives.
It is an attack of repressive people.
Rejoice in self-pity, defend it and tell the attackers to go to hades!
Viva Self-Pity!
People who love themselves feel sorry for themselves, it is only natural and on felling sorry for themselves they take care to identify what has caused them pain and to deal with who and what has caused them pain and nourish themselves to be happy.
I encourage people who have denied themselves self-pity to re-integrate this feeling back into their personality or else you became like the Nazi personality without empathy or warmth.
Self-Pity is a process. Only by feeling self-pity can a person determine what is necessary to bring happiness to themselves.
Do not deny the Self!
Do not deny negative emotions!
This is the true path to a joyous life!”

SOURCE: http://www.readingaddiction.com/12/recovery-issues/stop-feeling-sorry-for-yourself-and-overcome-self-pity-a-step-by-step-guide

How about them apples! Thank you Max Brenner, wherever you are!

I’m thinking that hey, is it NO WONDER so many of us have such an almost impossible time with this given the fact that A) We were taught to not feel sorry for ourselves from our family of origin and that B) This nonsense is further, generally supported by society at large?????? NO WONDER!!!!!

I’m not sure how the rest of my day is going to go since I am ‘feeling sorry for myself’ for the first time, but I can tell that it is a self-validating gift that I am giving to myself, and I appreciate the opportunity to be able to come here and share this.

((((Everyone)))

75

P.S., I googled: “Nothing wrong in feeling sorry for yourself” and got much better results!

Here’s one I thought was particularly good:

The Truth About “Feeling Sorry for Yourself”….

Posted by illusions on December 17, 2008 at 5:55am in Powerful Intentions Main Forum
View Discussions

Most of us (as far as I know) are raised with the belief that it is selfish and “wrong” to “feel sorry for yourself” – we’re programmed with “Stop feeling sorry for yourself…” – and the idea of feeling sorry for yourself becomes confused and enmeshed with “wallowing” and negativity… but there is a Very Important difference….

As we know, our feelings are our Guidance System.

When experiencing hurt, anger, frustration, sorrow, depression, dissapointment….etc. there is a natural urge which leads towards healing. If we were to “go with the flow” on feelings alone, most of us would probably feel really sorry for ourselves for a while, comfort ourselves, and then, find ways to feel better, and eventually get back into the game.

* A person who has been programmed against “feeling sorry for myself” will generally fight the natural urge to be compassionate with themselves, and will probably treat themselves in the same way as(and sometimes worse than) they were treated by whoever taught them this belief. And many others who have been programmed with this belief will rebel against it despite the belief…. and this comes out in complaining, and seeking acknowledgement and sympathy from others. It can also fester and become agression, resentment… and of course a variety of other symptoms.

That person will take much longer to heal (if they do at all) than someone who feels sorry for themselves until they feel better.

* There is a fear that feeling sorry for yourself is quicksand, and that once you step into that mode, you’re not going to come out of it again. But that is called dispondency, not “feeling sorry for yourself”. And if you do a Good job of feeling sorry for yourself (as described below), dispondency is not on the menu! ;)

If someone you love is physically hurt, it’s highly unlikely you’d have no sympathy or compassion for them and that you’d push them and force them to keep going and ignore their cries of pain. You’d probably look after them, treat them kindly and compassionately, encourage them to rest, maybe even spoil them a little, and do what you could to make them feel better and to speed their healing.

And yet we usually don’t treat our own emotional, mental and spiritual pain and healing in the same way.

These are the fastest, most effective steps to aid healing (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual):

1. Feel sorry for yourself – meaning a combination of Compassion and Acknowledgement.

2. Treat yourself as you would a loved one who is recovering from surgery.

3. Do whatever feels good in the moment, no matter how “self indulgent” – it is part of your treatment and it will speed up your healing.

4. Follow what feels good in the moment. If you follow what feels good in the moment, you will come through the self pity, move into self comforting, move on to indulgence, and then to inspiration and finally back to action. And it’s important to let each stage play through fully until you naturally and automatically find yourself in the next one. As long as you’re following what feels good in the moment, you can’t go wrong, and you will not stay in any one state indefinitely.

So, go ahead and feel sorry for yourself! Give yourself permission. It’s giving yourself a soft place to fall before you rest, recover and get up again.

Love and Light and Magic xxx

SOURCE: http://www.powerfulintentions.org/forum/topics/the-truth-about-feeling-sorry

76

Brenda, thank you for delving into the concept of self-pity and feeling sorry for yourself. My mother used to say, “Oh, spare me your self-pity.” I was a teenager full of depression and anxiety! I did not know the meaning of self-pity until she said that, and then it made me think I had no reason to feel sad (except that my father and brother were molesting me). I have not given it much thought until you brought this up, and appreciate the food-for-thought. Wouldn’t we “feel sorry” for any other person or creature that was hurting? Why not ourselves when appropriate?

77

It has taken me months to pluck up the courage to look at articles in this part of the EFB site. I was scared of being confronted with I don’t know what.
Lynn, although this article is not new, it has been of enormous reassurance to me today. I am beginning to feel more, less numb – feels weird and scary. Along with the sensations come emotions – and now I am beginning to feel those too. I am relieved and anxious – but where does it lead? Having to come out of my head into my body (and staying there) is a tough new habit to acquire, but its coming. I have great support and help, even though I am ambivalent about som eof that help, I know I have to do this. Going back into the closet is not an option.
So thanks, Lynn, really.

78

Libby, it doesn’t matter how new or old the blog post is, because feelings are always relevant. Bravo to you for having the understanding of your self to move from your head and into your body, and HEART. Where does it leave? Ultimately, it leads you on an empowering and enlightening path that helps you to become your authentic self, the self without all the static of repressed emotions, denied feelings, or soul numbness. I re-entered therapy because my mother is dying, which in my case requires the support of a counselor. Going into therapy tells me that what we have learned cannot be unlearned, but there is always room for growth. I feel eager for new knowledge, but not anxious. I’m inclined to wonder about why you feel ambivalent about some of the help you are receiving. Hopefully there is nothing that would bring harm or toxicity to you. You don’t have to answer that. Just putting it out there that I noticed your sentence. Libby, thank you for your comments. It is rewarding to know that this essay on feelings resonated with you.

79

I understand what the author of this is saying but I have no feelings whatsoever. None except anger and fear. I’ve read a bunch of this website though see no real ways to do all this stuff people said do. Had some really bad therapists and no money now for it anyway. What all did they do exactly for you? Any of you really.

80

Hi Allie,
Welcome to EFB. You have landed on a guest post here so I thought I would introduce myself as the author of most of this site.
I had some really bad therapists too so I understand that. I write about what worked for me in recovery. Because this site is about dealing with the roots of how the belief system forms from the truama, it all takes time to sink in. I hope you keep reading. there is a lot of information here about HOW by understanding the false belief system, so many of us have overcome and recovered so that anger and fear are not the primary emotions anymore.
Hugs, Darlene

81

Thank you for the warm welcome! Hugs, Darlene! xoxo

82

Today I found myself sitting back, nodding my head and thinking “wow I can’t believe someone else felt like that too!”. I found this site very much by accident through a post of a friend of a friend and right now I’m so very glad I did. Like most of the people in this post I didn’t have the most wonderful upbringing, for me however it was not an abusive family member that caused my numbness but rather the secretive silence of addiction. My mother spent the majority of my childhood in and out of rehab while my father for some reason or another decided he was too busy to be bothered with my sister and I. Thus a good portion of my life was spent being juggled between grandparents, aunts and uncles who were very sensitive about the subject of my mother and fathers addictions as, for the most part, they were all addicts themselves and were terrified of the finger being pointed back at them. They all lived by a rule of “keep your pain to yourself” for god forbid anyone should think there was something wrong in the family (I’m sure there are many who can relate to the last statement). In a family like this I found my place as the “pick-me-upper” in that I made sure to lighten the mood with a witty comment or joke when I saw tension building in a room. This habit I have carried with me into adulthood to where it is now a part of who I am. This would normally be a favourable characteristic except for the fact that, almost against my will, I will cover up my own pain with a smile. This continues again and again until one day something snaps and almost like a switch everything turns off. No pain, no joy,no nothing. This can last for a few minutes or a few years and for me every moment is agony as voices replay the most horrific moments in my life, whispering to me my failures and short comings as if causing enough pain will turn the switch back on. The scariest part of this is that I almost enjoy the torture, like I’m getting what I deserve. It makes me feel pathetic when I take a step back and look at myself when I’m like that, weak and broken. I pride myself on being a strong, joyful human being and there I am, curled into a little ball, needing to be loved and wanted and at the same time believing I don’t deserve to be. Reading what iv written now it all sound like a big pity party and I’m sorry for that, today I decided I don’t want to pretend to smile, I want it to be real, I don’t want to pretend everything’s fine so other people won’t have to feel uncomfortable. I feel like therapy is the way to go but memories of being so scared of going to my therapist as a child that I was physically ill is kinda putting me off so I’m wondering is it worth one last try?

83

Hi Jessica
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
You have “landed” on a guest post, but you are going to love the “real” you will find in this website. I was so scared to face the pain ~ that same pain you are describing here. But facing it set me free. The thing about facing it is that I realized a lot more of the “how it got there” and that enabled me to stop feeling guilty or bad about it. From what you shared here, your childhood was very dysfunctional and difficult. Very painful. I think you are going to relate to a lot of the stories in this site and you will find hope here; there are lots of victories and breakthroughs shared too.
Hugs, Darlene
Founder of Emerging from Broken

84

Don’t think I’ve seen this post before.

Brenda, I love the “truth about feeling sorry for yourself” you posted — I’ve saved it to my computer; think I’ll have to print it out & stick it up somewhere I’ll see it all the time!

I just finished writing in another post about how my mother had the habit of coming in & telling me how I wasn’t helping myself on nights when I couldn’t sleep (so f**king helpful, that is!) Also remember always feeling like it was next to impossible to be able to have a day off school (it was like I was a known liar who never once told the truth, and had to basically lose a few limbs like monty python to actually be able to stay home!)

I wonder where I might have picked up my difficulties with self-pity, hmmm?!?! (end sarcasm). :)

One thing I’ve kinda trained myself to do, is to just try and trust myself that if I have the energy/strength etc to do something, I’ll do it. As in, if I feel like I just can’t even get out of the house, I try to be ok with that, and CHOOSE to be gentle and to stay in the house rather than beat myself up mercilessly for it. (In the interest of lowbrow humor, I accidentally left the word “up” out of that last sentence at first. And yes, that made me laugh. I’m ok with that) :)

I still have a lot of doubt over this method. It feels like progress to me. I guess I’m worried — or my brain can still get to me with thoughts like — I’ll wind up never doing ANYTHING ever again. I guess I’m hoping once I’m in my new place, I just want to be gentle on myself until I’m used to it and (hopefully!!) feel safe there, and then start VERY gently trying things out until I find a routine I feel happy with, and that doesn’t stress me out/drain me of energy etc so much that it’s more harmful than helpful.

I guess the other way to look at it, is that I’ve spent the better part of 3 decades being hard on myself etc (or having other people do it for me), and where the f**k did that get me? Suicidal. So that’s probably a fair indicator that that method wasn’t really working for me. (Sorry, my usual habit of bleak attempts at humor when discussing morbid s**t).

Still fairly stuck on what to do about my relationships w/family, my handful of friends etc. Oh well. Worry about that later. At the very least, I’ll FINALLY have some physical distance between my parents and me. (Never lived alone before). That’s gotta be a good start.

Thanks to whoever “revived” this old post – the comments feel helpful to me! :)

85

Thanks to those with new comments here! I am the guest author, and I must say it was difficult to write about feelings. Both Jessica (comment # 82) and J (comment # 84) have similarities. We all do, since feelings are universal. I’m back in therapy because I am feeling the emotions without any covers: I am not covering up with pills, sleep, activity, phone calls, internet, or false face. It’s very painful to feel this fear, and to sort through the origins in therapy again. Jessica, I dare say that whatever fear you felt in going to a therapist as a child may be different now. You are an adult, you’ll go into therapy of your own volition, and you are in control of YOU. It sounds like some part of you that wants to be healthy and whole is steering you in that direction. Also, to J, it’s great that you work on trusting yourself to meet your needs. Thanks Darlene for providing this healing forum with examples of insights and breakthroughs. Cheers, Lynn

86

Hi Lynn,

thanks for the reply! I need to read your original post again when my brain’s functioning a bit better (kinda skimming the site & just letting things out w/out thinking too hard).

What you say about feeling the emotions without any cover-ups rings very true with me. I really hope that the therapy is helping you (or does soon, if it’s only recent)! I’ve only recently been paying attention to the legion of ways I “zone out” from the world. Been trying to keep a lid on some of them, but mostly just feels too hard atm. (Back to trying to be gentle on myself & trusting that I’ll do what I can, when I can).

But it seems very positive to at least have noticed some of these things, and to at least be open to the possibility that I’ve been using them to avoid feelings. (The whole “can’t change what you don’t know/acknowledge” thing).

Brain seems to have stopped again, so I’ll sign off for now.

Best wishes for your therapy! :)

87

I do not know where to begin to help myself.I read this & tears flow down ,yet I still remain lock up .Not knowing what or how to begin to start.I have hit bottom.Lost for sure.

88

Hi Molly
Begin at the beginning. Healing takes time. I have written a lot here about “how” I did it. It might help you to go through some of the articles here. There are over 300 of them, each containing a nugget of the discoveries that I made, all of which was part of my process of healing. I know that it is hard, and at first I was all locked up too. What I am talking about in this site is not the usual methods that we are “told” to heal but for me they worked after a lifetime of trying to heal the way that I had been told which didn’t work.
There is also a supportive community here!
Hugs, Darlene
Founder of Emerging from Broken

89

Hi,

I was just browsing through here and I came across this column. I am a survivor of sexual abuse and I also lost my mom to suicide a few months ago. I felt grief for her at first, now I just feel numb. I have been in therapy on and off for various reasons for over 10 years now. I don’t feel much different, and I am worried about not feeling devastated by the loss of my mom (she was not my abuser). She herself was sexually abused by her uncle. I don’t feel like I’m making much sense right now..I’m sorry. i just see how so many on this site are so in tune totheir feelings and are healing, but I am having trouble getting past the self-blame, low self-esteem, and feeling just plain numb. I guess my life started out difficult, since my dad was an alcoholic. I was sexually assaulted by neighborhood boys when I was about 12, and from then on, my life has never been the same. I want so badly to move past this and heal, but I feel like I’m not capable of it…like I don’t have it in me. maybe I’m not disciplined enough, maybe I don’t pray hard enough…etc. I don’t know what the next bsest step for me is. Sometimes I feel like I will stay this way, and should just get used to it.

90

Hi Kim
Many of the people here are where you are at and all of us WERE there at the beginning. The process starts somewhere. I can totally relate to what you are saying. In this site I write about HOW I overcame the guilt, shame self blame and low self esteem by finding out where it started and by finding out what the trauma events caused me to believe about myself. I hope you will read some of the other articles here; I think you may find a supportive community. You are not alone!
Hugs, Darlene

91

Hi Molly,

Just wanted to say I can relate to feeling stuck, tons of tears etc. I’m sorry to hear you’re having such a hard time.

I just thought, maybe your tears ARE a first step (even if not a consciously chosen one)? As in, I tend to figure, if I’ve got all these tears & grief inside, it’s obviously there for a reason, and maybe it’s a good sign that it’s finally starting to come out after being repressed/ignored for so long.

Hope you don’t mind me sharing my thoughts. Take care of yourself as best as you can! Thinking of you.

Hi Kim,

I’m really sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. Words feel so inadequate for such times, but I’m thinking of you & wishing you whatever you need right now – whether tears, rage, protective numbness, strength, peace, love. (I hope that’s ok to say, and makes sense. I guess I’m coming from the viewpoint that whatever you need to do to cope with this tragedy is ok).

I can relate to your feelings of numbness, not knowing what to do, feeling like I should just get used to feeling s**t etc. I felt sad for you when you wondered about not being disciplined enough etc. I wonder if you could try to be gentle to yourself? I definitely blame myself for everything at times, but just sometimes I’m able to be gentle and think, if this s**t was easy and the path to healing was obvious, well then none of us would have any problems at all.

Not sure if I’m making sense. Guess I’m trying to say I don’t think it’s your fault or a lack of discipline or prayer or anything that’s to blame. Take care of yourself as best as you can right now.

92

I know from experience that emotions are difficult to feel after years of trauma in childhood. My therapist always asked me how I felt. I didn’t know. For years, my therapist and I worked on feeling emotions. He would take the chart they use for children. Then he would have me think which one I might feel. I am doing better with feelings, especially one of love. I still have moments where I have no clue what I feel.

93

Hi Brenda
Welcome to EFB.
Thank you for sharing your progress! As long as we are trying to go forward, we do!
Hugs, Darlene

94

Hi,
Its been a long time since I returned here.I tell you it is so hard to deal with your chilhood grief & finally relizing it all these years is not you.Then to wake up to that & see you are in a marriage that is so controlling & make me feel I can’t do things right.I have no friends& when I start to make friends I am told no there no good They are not married or devorce & are man haters.I am in such a bad place.I feel so helpless.I am 60 years old & financially good shape till i decide its time to call it quits.Then I am in a mess.I am self employed for26 years.I never been so at lost .Went to councleing & was told it is not me it is my husband .Know you can’t change him .I am sure this letter is not making much sense.All i can tell you I feel so confused ,sad & not sure of anything other then lost.Sorry for misspelled words .Well there I vented out.I feel better .? no

95

This is right where I am. In the midst of struggling to deal with emotions that seem to come out of no where. I have no compass with which to navigate them. I am ever thankful to my therapist who is available by phone between appointments. Once I know what it is I am feeling it makes it easier to let it pass. Until it is acknowledged it can’t move I find. Thanks for this post. It really gives me hope of moving beyond this traumas when it feels endless.

96

Hi ‘fragmentedhistory’
Welcome to EFB. There is so much hope! I have completly recovered from dissociative identity and chronic depression. This site is all about how I did that and there is an awesome community here too.
Hugs, Darlene
(author of emerging from broken)

97

Darlene, thank you for the welcome. It is so all encompassing this healing journey and then having to deal with the day to day of being a parent and running a house. It is very easy to lose sight of the hope. I will spend some time around the blog reading some more. Thank you for sharing your journey.

98

I have just discovered that my 64 yr old brother is unable to handle feeling. He couldn’t listen to a program where the person was crying some when telling their story. He was unable to watch the new Bible series because of the emotions. And when he lost his job, his response to how he felt was .. I don’t want to feel, I just need to get busy. No wonder every day is torture for him .. he has no capacity for the good feelings; it’s like the darkness takes over. I wish he could sit under some really good counsel to help him.

99

No kidding!

Part of the reason we cannot “stand up” for ourselves to our parents is because we have been taught to repress feelings for so long that when we feel something “isn’t right” we cannot put a word to it, so we are unable to deal with it at the time. Thus, we “take it.”

For me, it takes me up to a week to process what people have said to me. Then, when I realize I’ve been “had,” I try to confront the person only to be told, “That was a week ago, why didn’t you say something THEN?” I COULDN’T! That is what my mom cannot grasp! “If I had said something when I was younger I would have been treated differently.” I COULDN’T! I cannot connect to my feelings. When something bad happens, my mom is all, “keep busy, then you don’t wallow around.” NO! You still have to process it! I let myself feel it! Even if I have to lay in bed depressed! I have to get myself to feel it and get THROUGH it, not “keep busy and not feel it.”

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Oh! I remember when I used to get upset about something my biological mother would say “Why are you crying? Stop creating a scene out of nothing.” I soon learnt to squelch my tears.

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