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Intrusive thoughts, crying, self harm, substance abuse...you name it, I've been there this weekend...

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I've been doing prolonged exposure for awhile now. It's been bringing up increased urges for self harm and substance use for most of that time. However those urges have been building and getting worse.

I used to cut daily, or more. I just did. It's just been a part of my day since before I can really remember much else. Like I was 7ish and I remember a trauma event that ended with me cutting. I hide it because it bothers others, not because it bothers me. In fact the only time it bothers me is when others try to tell me I should be bothered by it. For me it just 'is'.

Despite that, I've been self harm free for close to a year now though. I had to in order for prolonged exposure (PE) therapy to work. I can't say as I've bought into never doing it again but I've been trying really hard to let PE work and if somehow when I'm done with it the self harm urges are gone, then great I guess.

Its been bad and Thursday after therapy it got worse. PE went 'well' I think. I kind of had a revelation that has led me to feel a lot less guilt about the trauma. I can now see where it was at least as much his fault as mine, and maybe more his fault. Somehow though, less guilt has made all of the rest of it way worse.

Thursday I struggled to focus. Was doing the whole cold water coping trick every 30 minutes and getting maybe 2 minutes of relief out of it. I couldn't do it more because I was working. I slept horrible Thursday night, all the flashbacks and dreams. Friday I get to work and within the first 1.5 hours I damn near broke into tears twice over the absolute most ridiculous things. Workplace annoyances that happen daily...and there I am holding back tears. I am not a public crier, I am barely a private crier. What the heck?

Coincidentally I got asked to hang out with friends after work which is very rare for me. Had fun, played cards against humanity so a lot of sex talk and jokes, also got very drunk. Came home in my drunken state (had a ride) and proceeded to perform sexual acts on partner that were the same as the trauma. I regularly become very aroused when drunk and do more with partner than I can at other times, you know, PTSD and all. However I performed a certain activity on him Friday night that I always avoid because it is triggering. I haven't done 'that' activity for years. So you know...re-living trauma...check.

Then I got done and felt insecure because that always happens to me after sex. Into the bathroom I go with a blade. That's as close as I've been to breaking that rule of PE. There's like 2 rules...don't cut, don't severely dissociate. I am not doing well with either lately. It was close. I had the blade on my skin, but even drunk, I didn't. I'm not even sure I really call that a win as I was still drunk.

Since then all I can think about is cutting. I feel on the verge of tears. I'm barely keeping myself busy with housework and parenting because all I 'want' to do is lay in bed running this event in my head over and over again. I'm usually an avoider, but this I just want to keep thinking about, even though I also want it to stop. Thinking about every way it was still my fault except I do truly feel now that I am less at fault. It is very confusing.

How can I emotionally feel less guilt and shame over the event but somehow be symptomatically worse?

I have therapy again tomorrow. I want to text him to tell him how horribly I am doing, but I don't want to bother him during his days off. I did email him because I explain things better in writing but I know he won't respond to that, he will just wait until therapy tomorrow to discuss. That is why I emailed and not texted, because I don't want to bother him, even though really I do, also confusing.

I'm trying to hold my ground until then. I'm already worried T is going to tell me we have to pause therapy because of the substance use. So then I want to lie about the substance use, except I also make it a point not to lie to this T like I have to others. I don't like PE but I also don't want to pause.

He hasn't at all told me what a pause means either, but I'm scared it means T leaving for awhile too which is also scary. I currently feel like I need him more, not less, but I can understand it not being a very effective punishment for breaking rules if things just stay how they are.

Does any of this make any sense to anyone else?
This is just an observation, but first of all, I'm so sorry you are having such a hard time right now. I was not a cutter, but I had other things that would take hold of me and seem to not let go. One of the things I would do is write. Write about how I was feeling, why I wanted to do self-destructive behaviors.

Just because something I did or was done to me, that brought up memories, didn't mean I had to act out anymore. That was then, this is now. I have more strength than I give myself credit for.

Leave the house, go for a walk, anything to distract yourself, but also to get to the WHY I was wanting to self-harm. I hope you find something else that brings you relief instead of harming yourself.

I feel 'pause' means that your T might feel it is time to take a break. You are overwhelmed and at your limit. And to do that is not punishment. It is is his way of letting you know that he cares and it's time to slow down. I hope this is how it works out. Glad you have T tomorrow. Please try to hold on until then.

I do hear your pain and confusion. Life hands us enough pain without us doing more to ourselves. You don't have to do it that way anymore. Sending gentle hugs if you accept. I do hear you.
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