Childhood me and current me fighting - How did you get the two ages to meld and stop fighting each other?

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Syd.vicious

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So recently I have been talking with survivors of SA at my university but it’s just not the same. I was sexually abused for eight years from 4-12. While everyone I have talked to has had their experience as an adult. Which I’m not saying isnt bad.

But I have been struggling a lot recently with my current self knowing what happened was wrong and my child self not knowing that and wanting those things to happen. I’ve talked to my T and she says it’s gonna be hard to get those to agree but I just kinda want to talk about it with people who understand this specific battle.

How did you get the two ages to meld and stop fighting each other? How does this effect you now? If you’re still struggling like me, how are you trying to deal with it?
 
Learning compassion for younger you.

I blamed younger me. I also broke younger me down into body parts and blames body parts for allowing it to happen. I blamed younger me for comforting one rapist. I blamed younger me for seeking out more abuse.
Held myself totally responsible.
Mainly because at the time when I was a child, what else could I do? I couldn't tell anyone. (I did via my behaviour but not via words). But with no one paying any attention to me, I had no where to go with what was happening, so genius and survival technique of: blame yourself. Easier to cope that way if it's all your fault.

So, learning the context. Being kind to yourself.

Something that really really helped me was using my story and pretending it happened to someone else. I was able to not blame that fictional 'other' child and had compassion and care for the fictional child. And that helped me challenge my notion of my blame of me and my lack of compassion for younger me.

Also, trying to listen and communicate with younger me. Using visualisation really helped me. For example, I visualised adult me coming in and scoping up 5 year old me, taking me away from my mum, and putting me on my adult lap and hugging me and soothing me. That helped. But then I had to give 5 year old me back to my mum. And that was hard and upsetting, but it helped as it allowed me to grieve and show younger me I cared and showed all of me that I lacked that vital protective person that I needed back then.

It's a really really hard process you are going through.
But the relief of shifting the blame and responsibility of what happened to you, from you to your abusers really is very freeing.
 
Something that really really helped me was using my story and pretending it happened to someone else. I was able to not blame that fictional 'other' child and had compassion and care for the fictional child.

Biggest thing that helped me to contextualize my experiences? Meeting other kids. When I was a kid I ended up in group therapy with others. Not fictional kids, real kids. Now that I'm an adult I can reflect back on those experiences && recognize that each and every one of them deserves compassion.

It's also important to understand the actual effect of deserve and punishment not just on you but on your greater community. For a long time I believed that I belonged in prison & that it would be acceptable to suffer as a result of my actions but as an adult I realize that all of this is a cyclical continuation of the violence and abuse.

What we deserve is dignity and compassion. That's what every human person deserves, regardless of what they have done and what they believe.

knowing what happened was wrong and my child self not knowing that and wanting those things to happen

One thing I struggle with as an adult is that when I was a child, I actually did know it was wrong. But what has been instrumental in gaining a sense of understanding just how undeveloped I was as a child, is the gradual exposure to adult logic in similar circumstances. For example: in my book that I'm reading now, an experience is described as the following (fictionalized account, based on the author's own experiences)

If you are being fired upon, you fire back or die. It was self-defence. Of course it was. No one could argue that this presented an ethical or moral or legal dilemma. But if I had done nothing wrong, why was I so sick to my stomach? [...] [She] had been shooting at innocent villagers and had shot directly at me but had missed. I shot back and I did not miss. That’s what happened.

This is an adult's interpretation of a traumatic experience. Yes, they are struggling (just as adults also struggle with rape and sexual assault) but they are also able to adequately speak of these events from a perspective of fully formed foundations. They know who they are. They understand right and wrong and have a clear moral code. They also understand that their emotions (guilt, remorse, regret) about the event are separate from the facts of the event. ("That's what happened.")

When I endured similar experiences as a kid I did not think that way. I internalized what happened as a reflection of my identity and was not able to recognize that these events were occurring from outside of myself as kids are totally self-referential beings. Kids think, "I did it/wanted it/it was done to me, that means I am."

My sense of morality was not developed so while I could consign actions as good or bad my actual understanding of what good and bad meant was not the same as an adult's, and bad behaviors could easily be justified as acceptable in the moment.

One of the first things little kids learn is "don't hit." But I was taught by the adults around me that I was supposed to hit. I remembered "don't hit" and I knew that being hit felt painful but an adult was now telling me that this was good so I believed it, and obeyed. If me hitting is good, but hitting is bad, that means I am bad. I found I liked hitting. If hitting is bad and I like it I am really bad. I also learned about "stranger danger" and "no means no" as a child so I understood that if I said no to sex it was rape. But I had already been told by the adults around me that being raped is good for me.

So if rape is good for me, but rape is bad, that means I am bad (which is why it is good for me). It's a closed circuit logical system. And what was good or bad often came from external to myself. An adult told me something was good so I obeyed because I wanted to be good. Now that I am an adult, I see that the action was bad. But because that action occurred when I was a kid, my brain hasn't been able to move beyond childlike logic. "Something morally bad happened, so I am morally bad."

Anyway, I'm not sure if I'm making much sense, but absolutely. Kids process crime and violence much differently than adults. As humans we want to preserve that the world has some form of inherent meaning, so actions having a fault is the typical response & it is far easier to blame one's self than to blame the perpetrator because you pose far less of a threat to yourself.

"An adult raped me and rape is bad. The adult behaved badly." That's my adult logic. Integrating that with the kid logic takes time, because constructing it logically is only one part of the story. Your emotions on the matter are the other component. The shame, fear, humiliation, regret, all of that shit must also be processed. "I am ashamed because it felt good, but it's wrong -> so I am wrong for feeling good." That's a child's emotional processing.

As adults it's important for us to work through these events using adult logic. One way that I've found helpful to begin is by writing out each experience with a "That's what happened." Mindset. No opinions, no thoughts, no emotions, no analysis. Just who, what, where, when, how.
 
i'm a child prostitution survivor and know my strictly personal rendition of this struggle all to well. i handle it through the "parenting the inner child" theories. i call my inner child, "mini me" and do not expect her to act like an adult. i the mama now. learning how to love, respect and empathize with mini me is, hands down, the most healing experience of my recovery. our relationship has grown far enough that i even let her throw tantrums in public places once in a while with thoroughly amusing results. recently i let her throw a tantrum in a tax office and she soon had the entire office -employees included- joining in.

there is a ton of info on parenting the inner child on the net.
 
I would love to help but I'm still working on this. I do what @arfie said and work with my inner child but I can actually feel my brain veering away from the thoughts and memories. I am looking for a new therapist but I haven't found one yet. I'm working on other things now to get to the point where I can work on those things if you get my meaning.
 
Thank you all for the responses. It makes me feel a lot better actually hearing from others suffering or who have suffered with this problem. I am gonna talk to my T and see if we could begin work on this. I feel like I have kinda hit a wall in therapy because of this internal battle but maybe if I can get both versions of me on the same page I can see some more progress.
 
I think these are great suggestions, and I think reparenting is key. I wanted to add an insight that I got from van der Kolk's The Body Keeps the Score: he believes that cptsd folks survive by keeping the parts of us that feel bad, ugly, stupid, shameful from surfacing. If they did surface, they could overwhelm us, dysregulate us and interfere in our ability to function and do the things we need to do. The feelings reflect the fact that we were rejected or harmed by our very parents or loved ones, and our true needs were a threat to our survival, so we come to feel that there is something very, very wrong with us to need these things, like love, safety, and belonging. The only way to truly integrate, according to van der Kolk, is to embrace and love all of those feelings we have heretofore rejected and suppressed because that is where our genuine self is most reflected.

Some time after learning about cptsd, I woke up one morning and felt those bad feelings creeping up inside me. But instead of trying to suppress them, I decided to allow them. I don't know how I could just choose to allow it like that, but those feelings kept surfacing, and for about 7 months, I felt shitty every single day. But I had already decided to embrace it, so somehow I just tolerated feeling like a scumbag loser every day. That constant state of yuckiness eventually subsided, and after that, I was far less likely to become dysregulated and dissociated, though not completely. Of course, I'm sure my therapist helped, and I did a lot of reparenting during that time. The one moment I remember most was one night when I was feeling particularly bad, I imagined those bad, ugly feelings was embodied in me as a child, and I acted out in my mind asking my child self to step out of the dark into the light. When she did, she was covered in bruises, was pale, and ratty looking. I gave her a hug and told her I loved her. I also thanked her for enduring so much so that I could go to school, develop me career, etc. That wasn't the last time I've had to reparent the child, but it was an impactful beginning that helped me to heal in a very real way. One of my brothers even told me a few years after that how much he thought I changed as a person. I do think reparenting works, and I feel that a key part of it is to embrace the ugliest parts.
 
I think these are great suggestions, and I think reparenting is key. I wanted to add an insight that I got from van der Kolk's The Body Keeps the Score: he believes that cptsd folks survive by keeping the parts of us that feel bad, ugly, stupid, shameful from surfacing. If they did surface, they could overwhelm us, dysregulate us and interfere in our ability to function and do the things we need to do. The feelings reflect the fact that we were rejected or harmed by our very parents or loved ones, and our true needs were a threat to our survival, so we come to feel that there is something very, very wrong with us to need these things, like love, safety, and belonging. The only way to truly integrate, according to van der Kolk, is to embrace and love all of those feelings we have heretofore rejected and suppressed because that is where our genuine self is most reflected.

Some time after learning about cptsd, I woke up one morning and felt those bad feelings creeping up inside me. But instead of trying to suppress them, I decided to allow them. I don't know how I could just choose to allow it like that, but those feelings kept surfacing, and for about 7 months, I felt shitty every single day. But I had already decided to embrace it, so somehow I just tolerated feeling like a scumbag loser every day. That constant state of yuckiness eventually subsided, and after that, I was far less likely to become dysregulated and dissociated, though not completely. Of course, I'm sure my therapist helped, and I did a lot of reparenting during that time. The one moment I remember most was one night when I was feeling particularly bad, I imagined those bad, ugly feelings was embodied in me as a child, and I acted out in my mind asking my child self to step out of the dark into the light. When she did, she was covered in bruises, was pale, and ratty looking. I gave her a hug and told her I loved her. I also thanked her for enduring so much so that I could go to school, develop me career, etc. That wasn't the last time I've had to reparent the child, but it was an impactful beginning that helped me to heal in a very real way. One of my brothers even told me a few years after that how much he thought I changed as a person. I do think reparenting works, and I feel that a key part of it is to embrace the ugliest parts.
Thank you, I appreciate the response and it something I’m starting to work on. Just feels weird knowing things from my child perspective but also feeling it as an adult. It can make me quite mad at myself but I know kid me didn’t know and yeah it’s just a battle. But feels better knowing I’m not alone in it
 
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