• All donations and upgrades are manually verified and approved within 24hrs.
  • Upgrades are ongoing. Learn how to save your bookmarked posts.

I Need Help Finding My Voice

Thread starter #1
This is a bit embarrassing for me as I have had many years of trauma therapy for CSA and yet I still struggle...

I don't seem to speak up for myself when I need to and I don't know why. I have a really hard time voicing my needs even though I have been on a healing path for a long time. It has gotten a bit better over time but I still struggle with it. I find it frustrating.

I don't know if this is a clue but I will say that when triggered freezing is my default mode. If anyone has any insight into the reason or possible reasons for this, I would be totally grateful. (Or if you can relate, I would be happy to know I am not alone).

I tend to be patient to a fault and am often too passive. Even though I know I have been slighted by someone I tend to let it go rather than to say anything. I often find it difficult to advocate for myself.

I don't understand why I am this way. I will work on this in therapy, but until I have another session I would appreciate some feedback.

Thanks in advance.
 
Last edited:
#2
You’re not alone. I understand completely as though I’ve written that myself. I don’t know for sure about my childhood, not there yet. Brain seems to be working backwards thru my life incidents.

It’s been explained to me that the freeze comes when we are unable to escape the situation or environment. That the only way to survive is to tolerate and shutdown functioning (dissociation). As a child, you typically can’t escape, not without help (even if not right away, help will be required)

Could that be where your patience comes from? It’s a beautiful trait.

For me, I don’t voice my needs or speak up for myself because fundamentally I believe I’m not worthy of that, and I don’t need much. Others deserve things and I would always sacrifice my own needs or desires for others. I’m working on that cuz apparently it’s not right lol

Anyhow....I relate.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
#3
I have had severe dissociation and can relate to your post. Severe and violent childhood will do this where your developmental phases we're delayed or thwarted. But there is a hope if you are willing to push it....nothing can be worse than what made you dissociate in the first place.

I will give you what worked or still working for me.
First I am super concoius now when I am triggered and can clealy see what was keeping my dissociation alive as an adult.
For me it was identity issue. I defer to others over me. You are happy is better than I am happy cause I am not here. I self erased long time ago.
But my body and mind are in conflict about this hence the dissociation.

I do not know how you can recover without knowing you but maybe you can have the courage to disagree with your therapist and see what happens in your body and exploring to get back in the body.
Dissociation takes us out of the body....we are d ad walking and the only antidote is to wake up and get back into the body.
Hope this makes sense.
 
#4
I come at communication skills just like learning anything else - practice. Like with cbt stuff, this is easiest done in retrospect, so that’s where you start with practising new skills.

Assertive communication has some underlying principles: assertive communication is respectful, clear, involves active listening as much as actual speaking, assumes both parties are equals, etc.

The basic formula for an assertive communication statement varies a bit from therapist to therapist, but is often roughly along the lines of:

When you: ...
I feel: ...
Because: ... (not always included)
It would be helpful to me if you could/we could: ...

This is fairly awkward played out in a real time conversation. But the point of it is practicing identifying what the underlying issues are for you, what you need, why you need it, and suggesting something helpful that could form the basis of compromise. When you get better at it, your language changes so that if flows more naturally, but the fundamentals of what you’re saying and how to say it effectively and assertively remains the same in essence.

So, you’d start with examples of situations where your needs haven’t been met, and where you didn’t effectively or assertively communicate that, and see if you can work through a potential way of how you might have communicated your needs more clearly, by applying a basic formula for assertive communication. That’s practicing a new skill: in this case, assertive communication.

Example: my sister started stacking new things all over the kitchen bench this morning, even though we’ve agreed to keep the communal kitchen space clear. I didn’t say anything. And I’m now feeling distressed and quite ill at the prospect of using the now-cramped kitchen.

What could I have said?

When you: start storing things on the kitchen counters
I feel: like my cooking space is being encroached on
Because: we had agreed to keep it clear
It would be helpful if: we could stick to the original arrangement of putting things away in cupboards, or talk about whether the kitchen arrangements need to be re-negotiated.

That would be awkward to have said in the moment. But it would have gotten my needs across clearly and respectfully, without judgement, and offering a potential solution, while leaving the door open for her to respond with an alternative.

May or may not be helpful, but that’s the foundation work I used for learning how to communicate my needs assertively. May (or may not) be something in there you could practice with?
 
Thread starter #5
Thank you @Sideways

I have a minor situation. I gave a few dollars to one of my roommates to get me something at the store, but they never did and I would like my money back, but I am unsure of how I should ask for the money without coming off like a jerk. I suppose I don't feel the playing field is equal. I tend to think that I should let it go because it is just a few dollars (making excuses now) and I am not skilled yet at assertive communication and so I take the passive stance (normally) and let it go. Perhaps I am afraid of confrontation.

I will find a way to ask for my money firmly and politely but I am totally new at this, so I imagine it will be awkward at first. I will have to continue to work on assertive communication with my therapist and practice, practice, practice. But I feel a little less lost having read your post So thank you again for sharing your insights.

Peace,
Lion
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
#6
IMHO, this is not about you lack communication skills at all but there is underlying issues.
For example the awkwardness: I am very sure you had some very awkward experiences before so what happened?
The roommate's awkwardness: why doesn't it sound like you are protecting her to feel awkward with you and your money.
So on the service alone this is not even a big deal situation but yet again it is weighty on you....that weight is what you may benefit from your interaction with the therapist.

I look this kind of situations like this if minor conflict is that heavy just imagine the bigger ones. I honestly think some times we are given easier situations that can open the door to much greater obstacles.
For you to ariculate the dilemma like this just tellsm me you have no problem with communication and of course I read many of your comments on here. Keep chipping it away.
 
#9
I have had severe dissociation and can relate to your post. Severe and violent childhood will do this where your developmental phases we're delayed or thwarted. But there is a hope if you are willing to push it....nothing can be worse than what made you dissociate in the first place.

I will give you what worked or still working for me.
First I am super concoius now when I am triggered and can clealy see what was keeping my dissociation alive as an adult.
For me it was identity issue. I defer to others over me. You are happy is better than I am happy cause I am not here. I self erased long time ago.
But my body and mind are in conflict about this hence the dissociation.

I do not know how you can recover without knowing you but maybe you can have the courage to disagree with your therapist and see what happens in your body and exploring to get back in the body.
Dissociation takes us out of the body....we are d ad walking and the only antidote is to wake up and get back into the body.
Hope this makes sense.
I like your take on what dissociation does to us...takes us out of the body.....dead walking....it is kinda zombie-like when I think about it...
;) Good simple description!
 
#10
I would like my money back, but I am unsure of how I should ask for the money without coming off like a jerk. I
It might seem, to you, like you'll come off as a jerk, but I think that's some sort of cognitive distortion. It's your money. You may not know, for sure, why they haven't given it back to you yet, but it's still your money. I think simply saying "Hey, since you never got me ***, I'd like my money back." should the trick.

Something I have a tendency to do is explain myself or defend my request in this kind of situation. I've found it actually works better, most of the time, if I just make the request. It feels, somehow, incomplete to begin with, but that's an issue that exists mostly in own head. (I tend to feel like i owe the world an apology for breathing a of time.) Something that helps me is to look at these situations as experiments. "I wonder what would happen if I handled it like this?" That lets me not worry quite so much about "getting it right". If you're experimenting, you aren't so invested in a particular outcome, you know?

My T likes to talk about how we all have our own road maps of reality, and that it's good to continually check and see if they are up to date and accurate. That freeze reaction came about as an attempt to survive. (And it worked! You're here!) Our brains have a tendency to hang on to what worked, without bothering to check and see if the information they're operating on is up to date and accurate. Chances are your situation is a lot different than it was when you were a child. You have a lot more agency now than you did then. It just takes some time and effort for your brain to update the map.
 
Thread starter #11
Thank you @scout86

I am going to take your advice and ask for my money tonight. It may be awkward at first but it is better than letting resentment build up when I can take some positive action. It may just be a small amount of money, but it is my money (and I want it now).

Also, my niece who has been hounding me to borrow money (all the time), finally got told. I stood up for myself and told her no then I explained why she needed to stop asking me for money and learn to budget the money she makes. She receives the same amount of money that I do so why should I be the one to always bail her out? Besides she has a bad track record of never paying me back. She knows I have a big heart and she has taken advantage of my good nature, but no more as I finally put a stop to it. I feel really proud of myself for that. As I used to loan her money and then regret it.

I don't really understand and I am not sure why I have had so much trouble with standing up for myself and for asking for what I want/need, but I am hopefully breaking out of that now (a little at a time).

Thank you to everyone who has responded to this thread. Even tho it makes me uncomfortable to confront others, hopefully, I am on the right path now.
 
#12
Honestly, I really struggle with wisdom for you. But I would suggest maybe activities to boost your confidence and help you be more assertive. Self-defense classes sound like a good idea! Take a public speaking or an acting class. Something that will help boost your immediate confidence while you work through the "whys" in therapy.
 
Top Bottom