I learned something in Therapy yesterday about myself - Protecting myself from strong emotions

David1959

Confident
As I reviewed my virtual therapy session yesterday I realized that my T said something that I have probably known but have never verbalized or thought about:

"I protect myself from feeling strong emotions and have been doing so since I was 10"

Disassociation and blocking of emotions was a valuable tool for a 10yo to enable me to survive the abuse. However, like an athlete that trains and creates muscle memory through repetitive actions there is strong mental muscle memory that has driven me into this pattern of behaviors for 50 years in all aspects of my life. This I think became obvious when I told my T that even though my Father passed 35 years ago I can still not talk about him without a strong emotional reaction and beginning to cry (not totally cry because I do not allow myself to do that). This is a result of my not being able to grieve and face the strong emotions of his passing 35 years ago. My dad and I were very close and this observation crystalized for me my inability to grieve or face strong negative emotions and the damage that has, and is doing to me.

My T, after asking if that is really what I want is going to begin exploring my memories and sexual abuse from 10-12 as well as additional traumatic life events that followed (created sometimes by my behavior) which have shaped my behavior and responses. For over 40 years I rarely thought about these issues (disassociation) but since my initial mental collapse 5 years ago I have moved from never thinking about it to I have to know what happened.

I have appts scheduled for every Monday starting next week and I will liely have to only work half days on Mondays because the emotional toll of the sessions wipes me out for the day.
 

Still Standing

MyPTSD Pro
"I protect myself from feeling strong emotions and have been doing so since I was 10"
Have to say, David1959, this is one of my primary M.O.s. I assume this can be said of many others on this site. In order to survive and to look strong and invincible, the emotions that, in our eyes, look to be weak or in some other way threaten our sense of security, we have learned self-control over, not allowing any show of these "weaknesses." To do so, makes us vulnerable to the effects of emotions we do not want to feel or exhibit. Thus, we strive to be the unaffected and strong ones in our social and work groups. If you are similar to me, to feel strong emotions both scare you and leave you feeling very insecure. And biggest of all dreads is the fear having to feel the emotions and what they will do to me. I mean, who wants to have red-rimmed eyes, a snotty nose, and flushed face? Not me. I try to avoid crying at any cost. My eyes may drip slightly or well up, but no-way-Jose do I ever give in to a good, uncontrolled bawling session. To consider letting this happens, scares the bee-jeebers out of me. And if the tears ever do come, will it be safe for them to happen?

It sounds like you have a T who seems to understand your need to grieve. I am sure the T will help you find a safe way to allow the buried grief to manifest. And, to read about how much you loved your Dad is sweet. For me, to read that someone loved their parent/s so much is an oddity, as I can't say that about my own. To know that a love between child and parents happens, is sweet and shows that good bonds do happen in families, despite traumas. I think you are in good hands with your T. It sounds like you will be given a safe place to let your grief begin, resulting is some healing for you.

And as for beginning to process your abuse history, this is a good step forward. Even in the history of abuses, these seem to produce a sense of grief, too. Perhaps if we are able to allow grief to exhibit itself, allowing a bit of healing to happen, it might create a more sturdy foundation from which we can face the rest of the traumas we endured. Of course, I understand this in theory, but walking it out is a bit more challenging. I guess this is why we are here, huh? We all need some encouragement, camaraderie, education, and listening ears to keep walking forward in our healing journeys. Glad you shared this post, David1959. I relate.
 

David1959

Confident
Have to say, David1959, this is one of my primary M.O.s. I assume this can be said of many others on this site. In order to survive and to look strong and invincible, the emotions that, in our eyes, look to be weak or in some other way threaten our sense of security, we have learned self-control over, not allowing any show of these "weaknesses." To do so, makes us vulnerable to the effects of emotions we do not want to feel or exhibit. Thus, we strive to be the unaffected and strong ones in our social and work groups. If you are similar to me, to feel strong emotions both scare you and leave you feeling very insecure. And biggest of all dreads is the fear having to feel the emotions and what they will do to me. I mean, who wants to have red-rimmed eyes, a snotty nose, and flushed face? Not me. I try to avoid crying at any cost. My eyes may drip slightly or well up, but no-way-Jose do I ever give in to a good, uncontrolled bawling session. To consider letting this happens, scares the bee-jeebers out of me. And if the tears ever do come, will it be safe for them to happen?

It sounds like you have a T who seems to understand your need to grieve. I am sure the T will help you find a safe way to allow the buried grief to manifest. And, to read about how much you loved your Dad is sweet. For me, to read that someone loved their parent/s so much is an oddity, as I can't say that about my own. To know that a love between child and parents happens, is sweet and shows that good bonds do happen in families, despite traumas. I think you are in good hands with your T. It sounds like you will be given a safe place to let your grief begin, resulting is some healing for you.

And as for beginning to process your abuse history, this is a good step forward. Even in the history of abuses, these seem to produce a sense of grief, too. Perhaps if we are able to allow grief to exhibit itself, allowing a bit of healing to happen, it might create a more sturdy foundation from which we can face the rest of the traumas we endured. Of course, I understand this in theory, but walking it out is a bit more challenging. I guess this is why we are here, huh? We all need some encouragement, camaraderie, education, and listening ears to keep walking forward in our healing journeys. Glad you shared this post, David1959. I relate.
All I can say is WOW your reply sounds like you were inside my head, I literally could have written the exact same thing.
 
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