How to get past fear of intimacy stemming from CSA?

goosegoose

Learning
My phobia of connecting with other people is destroying me. This is so much to get through typing. I'm just now starting to understand how severe my intimacy phobia is and I was reading just now that a common root cause is CSA or SA. Without going into details, my CSA was from age ? until maybe around 7, incestuous. how the f*ck do you even keep typing after having to type something like that? I read that the phobia commonly stemmed from trauma related to adult relationships and my body kind of went numb when I put the pieces together. Adults traumatized you as a child so as an adult you're scared of adults, it's unfortunately completely logical. I feel like I've found a possible reason for why I've felt so chronically stuck in therapy. But the thought of addressing this in session makes me want to throw myself into traffic (is that too graphic for this site? I can't afford to get banned haha). I can't even say one word about it without completely melting down and dissociating.

I know for a fact that this has to be addressed sooner or later, but any advice on where to even start would be fantastic. I feel like my blood is replaced with helium any time I think about verbally addressing this with a therapist. But I feel like this shark is about to bite onto my foot and I'm starting to get exhausted from swimming so hard and for so long.

Thanks for checking this out even if you don't reply
goose 🦆
 
HI @goosegoose . ☺️

You have been very brave to say it here. And yes it's logical, and also mind-scrambling. Not just adults but what the adults (likely) expect/ their intentions. I am so sorry. 😞😢

But it is a good analogy. If you can do it, I'd just spit it out short and sweet to your T. Or write it down and hand it over. Probably in person though because there may be a backlash of (unfounded) shame if you can't address it in the moment or are left without any feedback.

They do say fear= false. evidence. appearing. real . I don't think it would be viewed as you think or fear. I think it would possibly lead to both upheaval as far as managing the emotions, and maybe real grounds for accelerated healing.
 

goosegoose

Learning
HI @goosegoose . ☺️

You have been very brave to say it here. And yes it's logical, and also mind-scrambling. Not just adults but what the adults (likely) expect/ their intentions. I am so sorry. 😞😢

But it is a good analogy. If you can do it, I'd just spit it out short and sweet to your T. Or write it down and hand it over. Probably in person though because there may be a backlash of (unfounded) shame if you can't address it in the moment or are left without any feedback.

They do say fear= false. evidence. appearing. real . I don't think it would be viewed as you think or fear. I think it would possibly lead to both upheaval as far as managing the emotions, and maybe real grounds for accelerated healing.
Thank you for the sympathy and hello again! It's been ummm a rough day.

But I definitely can't just spit it out. I've thought about it so many times and it honestly makes me queasy each time. My T does know that it's a trauma for me and it gets danced around a little every now and then but never discussed. I struggle to talk about even more surface level traumas and subjects to begin with, I'm just beside myself. I can't just force myself to charge through it head first either, that would be self destructive at best I think.

I'm seeing my T over telehealth, so anything written that gets handed over would be through email. The thing is, I feel so much misplaced confidence when I'm typing things out! But then when I'm face to face with the person I clam up and pull into my turtle shell.

It took me a while to understand the fear acronym but I understand completely. I'm not sure what false evidence is appearing as real for me though. I hope that makes sense? Like I think to myself, "what evidence do I look at that seems real but is false?" and I can't connect what the evidence would be.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
I can really resonate with a lot of what you are talking about.
Adults traumatized you as a child so as an adult you're scared of adults
🤯 Wow! This really opens my eyes! I went to my old therapist because I’m a teacher and I couldn’t connect with adults! No awareness of childhood trauma at that time.
I can't even say one word about it without completely melting down and dissociating.
Totally get this. As unsatisfactory as it is to talk around the topic that might be an entry point. In other words talking about how uncomfortable/impossible it is to talk about intimacy can be a way of picking at it. And naming the feelings that come up, maybe focusing on those and just being in those feelings while in T’s presence can be worthwhile. (“I feel so uncomfortable/ashamed/scared etc.”)
misplaced confidence when I'm typing things out! But then when I'm face to face with the person I clam up and pull into my turtle shell.
Totally get this! In fact it almost feels like my “writer” is a whole separate part from face-to-face. In session I turn into a frozen crying lump so often and my writer part feels almost betrayed that she can’t say all the things she felt so cavalier about saying.
 
Hi @goosegoose just to say I have some thoughts on what you asked/ said, I totally relate. But I am trying this moment to put out a metaphorical fire in the kitchen, and we are being audited at work (testing on 3 levels and shifts shadowed, with and without warning), and have been up 1/2 the night with T-storms and the heat. But I know how hard it is to say and it's way too important, I didn't want you thinking or feeling like I'm avoiding answering or leaving you hanging. I will get back as soon as I can.

It was a good thing you said it.
 

goosegoose

Learning
I can really resonate with a lot of what you are talking about.

🤯 Wow! This really opens my eyes! I went to my old therapist because I’m a teacher and I couldn’t connect with adults! No awareness of childhood trauma at that time.

Totally get this. As unsatisfactory as it is to talk around the topic that might be an entry point. In other words talking about how uncomfortable/impossible it is to talk about intimacy can be a way of picking at it. And naming the feelings that come up, maybe focusing on those and just being in those feelings while in T’s presence can be worthwhile. (“I feel so uncomfortable/ashamed/scared etc.”)

Totally get this! In fact it almost feels like my “writer” is a whole separate part from face-to-face. In session I turn into a frozen crying lump so often and my writer part feels almost betrayed that she can’t say all the things she felt so cavalier about saying.
I'm so glad this helped you!! I thought I would get replies like "well duh"

Unsatisfactory is a good word to describe the sensation. It reminds me of when you go to drink a cup of juice but then it turns out to be milk and you have to just kind of push through that disgusting disconnected "wrong" flavor. But it never gets less gross, y'know? 😶 maybe someday. That's a good idea for a stepping stone though I guess, trying to put actual feelings onto what's happening for me. My first T, bless her, gave me a wheel of emotions and I was (am) constantly staring at it like "ummmmm....yeah dunno"

Also your description of your writer part feeling almost betrayed is so accurate! I feel like I'm getting better about expanding and actually talking about my emails but, like you said, it feels like an entirely different person.
 

goosegoose

Learning
Hi @goosegoose just to say I have some thoughts on what you asked/ said, I totally relate. But I am trying this moment to put out a metaphorical fire in the kitchen, and we are being audited at work (testing on 3 levels and shifts shadowed, with and without warning), and have been up 1/2 the night with T-storms and the heat. But I know how hard it is to say and it's way too important, I didn't want you thinking or feeling like I'm avoiding answering or leaving you hanging. I will get back as soon as I can.

It was a good thing you said it.
Oh no worries at all! I've absolutely been there with the metaphorical kitchen fire. Take care of yourself first, this post will still be here when you're ready! (also f*ck audits)
 

goosegoose

Learning
I meant to include this in my original post - I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before anywhere else on this site, but it's probably the most relevant under the subject anyways?

When I was still seeing my first T in person, there was one specific session where I was heading out the door to leave. She always held the door open for me (I'm a small germophobe; so kind of her) but as I was walking past her, she held her hand out in kind of an ushering gesture. Like a flat hand behind my shoulder without touching me, I've seen a lot of people do it before but I can't really describe it well. Regardless, I saw her move out of the corner of my eye and I didn't think anything of it, but my body jerked away from her so violently. I almost smacked my upper body and head into her door frame from dodging her non-touch so hard. I looked back at her a little and laughed uncomfortably and gave her finger guns and then practically ran out of the building. I only saw her face for a split second but she looked really sad. And I'm just now putting this all together that my reaction was from my intimacy phobia. I wish I could pick her brain about that.
 
Hi @goosegoose . To illustrate what I was thinking I will say something a psychologist said who was working with the phobia of fear of flying: with gradiated exposure therapy: everyone got over their fear except one person. He was trying to figure out why it didn't work for him, and the guy said, "Of course, I was running drugs at the time". 😊 So of course it wasn't fear of flying that really was the core fear itself.

When you are talking about incestual abuse there is a lot to process, which might include some of the obvious: parentification, gross boundary violations, sexual and emotional abuse, no protection, etc, and secondary issues of internalized shame, self blame, blame of the perpetrator, blame of those who didn't protect,, grief, including grief from decisions made because of the abuse/ relationship, enmeshment, loss of identity, inappropriate identity, trust, space violations, and much more. If there were adults who did not abuse, it is less likely I would think adults in general are the cause as much as expectation of physical and emotional connection, and what it implies (harm, +/or enmeshment). A relationship with a spouse or SO for example becomes a family dynamic of sorts.

So, I wouldn't (just saying for me, personally) worry as much about how it relates to intimacy yet, as that is a bit cart before the horse. (Such as identifying a hand at the back of your shoulder as intimate; by most definitions it wouldn't really be. Though right now it might feel like it.) The 1st thing would be to work on acknowledging the wound, grieving it, redefining yourself, then learning what is a healthy relationship, then getting used to and enjoying others' presence, then developing relationships and a level of comfort in basic interaction. Of course, this is more complicated if you are already in a relationship simply because I don't think you can have 'corrective experiences' until you have processed what is influencing you in the 1st place (or it simply becomes a re-enactment). Plus you may have to deal with the off-shoots of a life lived behind a shadow: depression, situational anxiety, anxiety in general, hopelessness, despair and a variety of adaptive or maladaptive behaviours to cope with it You can also look at your patterns of attachment (though variable and malleable), your core beliefs, your attitudes towards men/ women, your idea of what constitutes a relationship, your expectations, and your thoughts on what you think others' expectations are. And cultivating being able to see the person in front of you for who they are, not as an embodiment of someone else. And then there's ptsd.

JMHO. Does that make sense?

Also, it's very common to be able to write anonymously more freely. It is just a way to avoid (though it feels like it isn't). The goal of therapy is to get better, so laying your cards on the table is the fastest and most effective way to do it. Shame and self-recrimination can hold you back, because it can't be processed if it can't be admitted. (I think that's the concept of being as sick as our sickest secrets). But that shame is far less lethal than carrying it around, trying to act as though it's not influencing anything, and having it influence everything. False evidence appearing real here could be the shame and discomfort of disclosure is going to result in (x, y and z), and somehow that is worse than having it destroy your life and critically impact your ability to connect or accept or sustain or contribute to relationships in the future. i.e. the fear that disclosure is much more damaging than prudent, confidential disclosure and working on your trauma in a structured therapeutic environment with the goal of overcoming and not having it dictate to a great degree your life choices.

Hope that is helpful in some way.
 
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goosegoose

Learning
@CoolBreezeonahotday thank you for writing so much, and apologies for such a late response. It's been kind of a busier week but I had a session actually the afternoon after you shared your last response. There was an opportunity in the conversation for me to practice being more open about this specific topic but instead I found myself automatically saying "one of the things I'm not talking about" and just completely glossed passed it.

I feel like everything you wrote made perfect logical sense but it's difficult to process. It's weird because I feel like I have to physically fight my eyes/brain to focus on the words. I'm honestly probably gonna have to reread what you wrote a bunch of times to really get it, if I'm even at a point in my healing where I'm capable of getting it. I hope that makes sense. Your reply is helpful either way, I really appreciate it
 
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