Saturday, 22 June 2019

Reliving Painful Memories

Wow, it is nearly 3 years since my Dad passed away, I can't believe it!  How does time march on so relentlessly, without regard for suffering or joyous occasions. 

My emotional pain has been really high again, feel like I am being triggered.  I have had a lot of dreams recently so think that has a lot to do with it, but there are times when I am triggered and I have no idea why.  I have started to use a mantra that I read about in the Choice, by Edith Eger.  Every time I am triggered I slow my breathing down and say over and over again - I am here, this is now!  It works sometimes, other times it just takes longer to sink in, sometimes I have to hold something solid while I am saying it, other times it doesn't work and the only thing that helps the panic is to talk to my husband.  

He was recently away for a week and I was petrified most of the time he was away, it's the first time since everything happened that I have been alone with our son.  I was convinced something bad would happen and really struggled with my emotions, but I got through it.  He is going away again in August, and I can already feel the dread.  How sad that a past can take so much of a person away from them, and to rebuild takes time and a conscious effort, a lot of effort actually. 

So I am 166 days without drinking.  WOW, I know I keep saying it, but I never thought I would get so far.  Sometimes I just want to pack it in if only for a brief moment, other times I try and bargain with myself, saying things like it's ok, we will just have one drink on a Friday night, or for special occasions.  But deep down I have to remind myself that I have been lying to myself for years around alcohol consumption, so really what would be different this time, it would start with one drink on a Friday night and would slowly escalate bit by bit until I was drinking all the time again.  

So what do I do during those brief moments to help myself stay strong and not drink, especially in moments where I am dealing with the memories or emotional pain, or the sheer panic of a panic attack.  The go to would always have been pills or alcohol to try and numb the pain, sometimes it would work, other times it would not.  Now I have painting, I love painting.  The smell of the paint calms me as does the actual task of painting.  Mindfulness colouring helps when I don't have the opportunity to paint, but I am also trying to practice drawing and that helps too.  I am so grateful that I found art, it has been a life line during some of my darkest moments.  So that's what helps get me through those moments of doubt.  We all need to find that go to activity that will help settle the mind and take the focus off of our anxiety or panic.  As human beings we default to anxiety over joy every time, so another good practice is to talk to yourself about something positive, I only just learnt this technique and it really works for me.  Yesterday I woke up from a really bad dream and I was so anxious and closing in on a full blown panic attack.  Yesterday also happened to be our anniversary, we have been together for 18 years, so I sat and wrote down facts and points about our relationship.  Now it didn't take all the anxiety away, but I was definitely better off by the time I finished writing. 

Practice makes perfect, forever learning.  Two statements I am trying to learn to live by!  

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Shame, the unspoken feeling that we all have over different things

We all suffer with shame at one point or another, differing degrees and differing circumstances, but we all know the feeling of shame, and what it feels like to suffer it.  Why then is it such a taboo feeling, we never admit when we are feeling ashamed, and for some the shame is not theirs to bear.  We land up feeling ashamed because we are feeling shame.  

When I was a child I was molested by my step grandfather, I don't know how old I was when the abuse started, but it continued till I was about 7 when he passed away.  I was also abused by a cousin that is older than me, he was about 16 when the abuse happened.  I was abused by another cousin, she made me perform sexual acts on another child, she is only about 4 years older than me.  I am really struggling with accepting my history, struggling to accept that these things happened to me, and I am ashamed that they did happen to me.  Why was I abused, and why by so many different people?  I question was it something I said or did?  As mentioned before I landed up in hospital last year suffering from depression and PTSD.  

I am going to therapy every second week to work through my past and my shame.  My psychiatrist asked me a really good question, why is it that the victims of abuse feel the shame when the shame is solely for the abuser to feel, yet as a person who suffered abuse I know that I feel a lot of shame around these events in my past.  I was a victim of abuse, I am on my way to becoming a survivor.  I think to be a survivor I have to have no shame about what happened because it was not, and never will be my fault.  I also carry guilt about my abuse.  I have also been sexually assaulted and raped as an adult, and I still blame myself for these two events.  Up until now I haven't delved into these two events much in my therapy because the shame is too great.  In trying to be honest with myself I know this is probably the next big hurdle I have in overcoming my shame, becoming a survivor, and moving forward. 

So, what is shame and why does it affect victims so much.  I know for me when I have flashbacks to when I was a child I feel violated, dirty, ashamed that someone did such vile things to a child, and a lot of anger.  I think of my son and how I would feel if he came and told me someone had violated him.  I think I would go mad with rage, but I would have to hold it together for him.  So I feel justified in feeling so angry towards my abusers.  The big question I am facing is what do I do next, I have tried to go through the legal avenues against one of my abusers but it got shut down before it even began, and yet here I am still holding on to so much anger and pain that I know I need to do something to heal, yet I don't know what that something is.  

I know I have a lot of shame, and I know I shouldn't have it but what do I do with it, how do I deal with shame.  I am ashamed of my past, ashamed of my past coping mechanisms, and ashamed of what I look like today.  I am ashamed that I couldn't hold it together, and ashamed that I still have so many unhealthy coping mechanisms.  So what next.  The only thing I do know is that I have to be honest with myself about everything, I have to face them head on.  If I can't do these things I will be stuck forever I fear.