A challenging session

Digz

MyPTSD Pro
I just had the hardest session with my T yesterday. We started looking at a long-held automatic thought of mine that causes a lot of fear and pain - that people hate me.

He asked me about what is underneath that thought, as in what is it about me that makes me feel that way? It was only then I realised I was still believing some very destructive thought patterns I thought I'd progressed past long ago - that I'm fat, ugly, unlikeable, not a good person and dumb. Expressing that was very hard.

My T challenged me to write a compassionate letter to my child-self, as that's when those thoughts were formed. I really struggled with the idea, so he ended up writing one for me to start me off. Just reading what he wrote has effected me so badly. I am so sad and so anxious. I got drunk last night, I was struggling so much. I think I probably need to embrace the sadness for that child, for me, that I'm feeling, that because of my dissociation I've never felt before. But I know that sadness will be so huge that I'm scared and avoiding it a bit, I think.

This is what my T wrote that affected me so much... (I am a teacher, btw, hence the reference to kids in my class)...

Dear Digz

It breaks my heart when I see little kids in my class struggle with big feelings about not being good enough, or smart enough. I know they’re doing the best they can and the idea that they are so bad that they don’t deserve to be happy or loved is awful. I realise that you feel like that too. I see how long that belief and those big feelings have been carried inside me, how hard it makes it for me to feel the love that other people try to give me, the love that I long for so much. And I know I am not a bad person. Bad things have happened to me that I never wanted to happen but I was too small to prevent. That does not make me a bad person. I do the best I can. I try to take care of little kids and dogs and I try to be kind to people. I’m good at some stuff but not good at other stuff. That’s okay. Nobody’s good at everything. I don’t want to carry this heavy story anymore. I like the person I am and I’m going to believe other people when they show me that they like me too. I’m older now and I can protect myself better. I don’t have to worry that being closer to people is dangerous like it was when I was little. I’m safe now and I like the person I have become.

Digz
 

woodsy1

Confident
Hello Digz,
Thank you for sharing your pain and struggle. It helps me to think about an automatic thought that shaped much of my life. I see how it affected me in the past and wonder if it is still driving me in some ways today.

My thought was, "It's my fault." When confrontation happens, when couples fight and argue in my presence, "It's my fault." Totally irrational, right? No way in the world it could be my fault, right? Right.

Want to know how that thought got into my mind? When I was a child, my dad was an abusive alcoholic. He mostly abused me verbally, but a few times roughed me up a little physically. Of course, the verbal/emotional abuse hurts way more the the physical bruises.

While I got a little bit of his abuse, his wife, my step-mom caught the brunt of it. All I can really remember about growing up was being in a state of traumatic derealization. It's like my childhood was a horror movie. The main story line was my dad and step mom fighting violently and me cowering in my bedroom, terrified, hatching plans to pack a bag, climb out my bedroom window and high-tail it for the nearby park. Don't know what I'd do once I got there. I'd probably just get cold and scared and return home. But that was the escape plan. It never came to fruition.

One night, in the midst of a particularly heated fight, I overheard my beat and battered step-mom practically pleading for her own life tell my dad, "It's your sons fault. We wouldn't have all these fights except for him."

Now, what ever possessed her to say such a thing, I can't imagine and am sure I will never know. She eventually fled from my dad. I've never seen nor heard from her again.

But her words have never left me. It's his fault. "It's my fault."

I internalized that. I really believed it. She doesn't even know I heard her. But her words wounded me for life.

Once, some time later in my teens, I was visiting my brother and his wife/fiance. They got into a fight in the other room. Guess what? Yup, it was my fault. No, not in their minds or words. Just in mine.

When I left, I left guilty and ashamed. I didn't even say or do anything. But evidently I was cursed. Just my presence was enough to make people fight and not be happy. How sad, right?

I don't think along those lines any more. But I do have a lot of self-loathing and shame. Part of my avoidance mechanism is not only to protect myself, but to protect others. I still have a latent little subconscious fear that somehow people should be protected from me, as if I were dirty or defiled or something. I guess that's one more thing I've got to keep working on.

I'm sorry for the pain and struggle you are going through. I hope that you find healing and wholeness. It sounds like you are on the right path.

Thanks again for sharing,
Woodsy
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
Just reading what he wrote has effected me so badly. I am so sad and so anxious.
It made me cry, so I can only imagine that it hit you hard.
This is wonderful. I know this is hard and uncomfortable and so you drank, but you sharing this and choosing to feel is inspiring.

Thank you for sharing this. You made my evening. 🐳
 

Digz

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks, guys. It is definitely one of those hit-you-in-the-guts kind of things. I've had a bit of a cry but still think there's more to come. Sometimes my dissociation cuts off my sadness without me wanting it to.
I do feel thankful to be back with my current T. He definitely helps me a lot.
 

Digz

MyPTSD Pro
Oh my gosh! I can't believe it!
I had a go at writing my own version of the letter today. I didn't think I would be able to do it and there was lots of anxiety and fear. And although I didn't address all of my negative thoughts about myself I was able to address two significant ones. For the first time in my life I am now able to write/say that I am a good person and that I am not disgusting!
It's crazy! I can't stop smiling. It's this thing my T calls the process of realisation and is based on the theory that dissociation is a form of nonrealisation, so to bring about less dissociation you need to begin to address non-realisations that don't match the present. It's a very weird process and when it happens I almost feel like a slightly different person. I find myself almost looking at myself as if I expect to look different somehow.
I guess that just goes to show that sometimes hard sessions are positive in the end!
 

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
I’ll never be popular, but you get used to it. Kind of an outcast. Don’t fit. It’s most likely created by my own feelings about me but that’s a chicken and egg question. There are people who like me and it’s usually around intimacy and I stay with that. It’s not a popularity contest. The therapist says it’s a combination of things that cause it and it’s not my fault. I can handle that pretty much. I’m more or less a recluse because of it but that’s ok too.
 

woodsy1

Confident
Oh my gosh! I can't believe it!
I had a go at writing my own version of the letter today. I didn't think I would be able to do it and there was lots of anxiety and fear. And although I didn't address all of my negative thoughts about myself I was able to address two significant ones. For the first time in my life I am now able to write/say that I am a good person and that I am not disgusting!
It's crazy! I can't stop smiling. It's this thing my T calls the process of realisation and is based on the theory that dissociation is a form of nonrealisation, so to bring about less dissociation you need to begin to address non-realisations that don't match the present. It's a very weird process and when it happens I almost feel like a slightly different person. I find myself almost looking at myself as if I expect to look different somehow.
I guess that just goes to show that sometimes hard sessions are positive in the end!
Woo hoo! Congrats. You took on a big challenge and reaped the benefits.

Way to go. Keep up the good work!
 
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