Thinking you could have saved yourself from csa

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
What’s weird is that even though I was a baby, my mind-body wants so badly to believe that I could have saved myself, could have stopped it. This thought distortion pervades my entire life. No matter what stressful thing happens I want to believe that I could have stopped it if only I had been stronger or smarter. (Is that just normal human nature?)

I think I’m supposed to encourage myself in order to counter this distortion.

Looking for commiseration. Or counter-thoughts but please don’t say, “It’s not your fault.”

It’s kind of funny (not funny) how difficult it is to hear the words, “It’s not your fault.” So hollow and easy to say, but somehow not very helpful? Maybe I’m not in the mindset to hear it. I need something with more teeth, more practical, if possible.
 

Sideways

Moderator
I think I’m supposed to encourage myself in order to counter this distortion.
I'm still working on what (for me personally) comes before this step: dealing with the shame and grief and ... (something else, I don't know what it is, but it's a kind of 'helpless distress' for want of a better phrase), which is dealing with the emotional fallout of that original statement, "It wasn't your fault".

There's so much emotion I get flooded with when I'm hit with that statement that starting to counter it feels like a lifetime away.

Hollywood so rarely gets it right, but it's the Goodwill Hunting moment when he's standing there, hearing his therapist say that over and over. And he goes through a whole range of emotional responses in the space of about 60 seconds: denial, anger, confusion and then grief (or at least, that's my interpretation).

I personally can't deal with what's after that wave (the cognitive counters, like "I was helpless"...I think that's the money shot for me and my healing) because the wave itself is still too big.

The wave comes, and when I'm grounded (which I'm not - I doubt I could write about it if I was), I still turn into an emotional mess when it hits me. So, I need to let that wave wear itself out, I think, before the counters start.

Which doesn't answer your question. Unhelpful Sideways strikes again. But I'm standing in the corner of this particular room with you, ready for insight. And hoping you know you're not here alone.
 
I too don't know if this is helpful at all, but I guess I'll say it anyway. It doesn't bother me to think it's my fault when it affects only me, since I lack self-compassion. I think "It's not your fault" is hard for me to believe because- I don't believe it , long term, or am currently not in the haedspace (was triggered badly today ) when someone else died and I didn't stop it. But I think for me that comes back to regret, guilt, the shame of how could I be such a person, and stuff I don't have words for.Shock and horror I guess. A lot of that comes back to beliefs, and forgetting perspective (the perspective had to be given to me, I did not see it for myself). I do think what makes some sense is context (in your case being an infant/ child).

Oddly, it did help to hear "It's not your fault", repeated, "and don't let (the person) tell you it is (it isn't)" immediately after a different event occurred. In my heart of hearts I know if I hadn't heard it, I would still blame myself for that. Miraculously however I did not, so am thankful it prevented that all these years since, as I know how living with that feels, or being told it is and believing it (some rightly, some wrongly). I do think thinking or actions that somehow try to re-write endings are trauma re-enactments (just speaking from MHE). Because, (again speaking only for myself), I actually take some heart thinking of the dreaded "get over it" statement, in that (I) can no more change the past as I can try to control the future. I can only try to choose what I bring forward from it. (i.e. ~This has happened or is happening; what can I think about it, do about it, or how can I use it? (for compassion for others, understanding, advocacy, education, tenderness etc) in the present. Even if nothing else than to know many many others are fighting their own unseen, unknown-to-others battles and to try to not judge and be compassionate. (With the caveat I have learned it is not safe to be that vulnerable or be myself around people who would harm me for that.)

So perhaps in the case of adult reasoning prevention is key, whereas referring to an infant self has to be challenged as fantasy-thinking. They would say there's something we 'get' out of it, that it serves a purpose? Perhaps to ensure it doesn't repeat? Avoid self-compassion? Avoid blaming another? Justify decisions? Etc. (I would think it's different for different people). David Burns does some good work with that, as does Compaasion Focused Therapy (can't recall the name- Paul (x) ). But yes, it is grief or sorrow or harm, some of which may last a lifetime. But is only one part of your being, laced with all that makes you "you".

Ignore if not helpful. Hugs to you.
 
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Friday

Moderator
No CSA… but a thought to share:
This thought distortion pervades my entire life. No matter what stressful thing happens I want to believe that I could have stopped it if only I had been stronger or smarter.
Sounds like a childhood truth : I WILL be bigger and stronger : got stuck.

Which makes sense. It was a lifeline. One day, you will be bigger and stronger, and be able to stop this. It goes far beyond hope. It’s strength & determination, a plan, a goal, a reason to live. Survive another minute, another day, another year, another 10 years… and you WILL be bigger, and stronger, and able to save yourself. Truth.

You grew up. You ARE bigger and stronger.

But trauma tends to freeze things in time. So the valiance and courage of a child clinging to a truth, who knows that -someday- they will be bigger and stronger? Becomes the heartbreak and shame of an adult blaming themselves; if I were bigger and stronger…

No matter how powerful and brilliant a song? When the record starts skipping there’s a problem. The power is lost, and the Aireeeeeee! Make. It. Stop…. replaces it.

Childhood strength becomes adult blame & distortion.
As what was true then, becomes more and more untrue as time passes.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
It's horrible blaming ourselves.
For a long long time, I blamed my genitals. They let rape happen. I hated them. Then I felt I was a rapist. As it was my fault. I raped me
What shifted it for me, was exploring the wider context. Fully and totally believing it all happened. And understanding what I was capable or and what I wasn't.
It's still a work in progress in relationship to some events. But most events now, the blame and responsibility has shifted.

For me, I didn't know it shifted. It was only in session with T when I told her about looking up a rapist online that this time I did that, it didn't derail me. The first couple of times I did it: I immediately doubted myself and told myself I was making it up, and how powerful he was. But this time: I saw a rapist. So T said it sounded like I had shifted the blame from me to him. Blew my mind apart that I had done that and didn't even realise.

It will shift @OliveJewel
It's a hard frustrating process.
But I think fully believing that a baby is wholly an dutyerly reliant on adults and there was nothing in your power to prevent. Devastating but true.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
children are inherently narcissistic by nature, for both better and worse. it takes time for a baby to learn that the world is bigger than their own sensory perception. my 5 year old foster daughter blames herself for the traffic accident which killed her parents when she was 3. i'll assure her it's not her fault for as long as she needs to hear it.

in my own case, i not only blamed myself for being sold into prostitution, i blamed myself for not being able to save my 6 younger siblings from that fate. the technique i use for this psycho snot knot is from the "parenting the inner child" theories. i'll assure my inner child it is not her fault for as long as she needs to hear it.

but that is me and every case is unique. . .

gentle support while you find what works for you. you are not alone and it is not your fault.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks everyone. Disclosure: Found myself dissociating while reading each response except @Sideways . I trust each of you because I have been following along for a few years now, but in this case I suppose I wasn’t ready. Felt like I was getting my head pushed into a toilet each time I tried to read your well-meaning and thoughtful responses. I hope I can return to these later when I’m not so resistant. I’m sorry, and it’s nothing personal, but I found myself getting angry after trying to read each response—I guess it’s not what I expected. I thought there would be something else, like an unknown gem I had never considered that would shift my perspective. Maybe there is but I just can’t see it yet because I’m in the wrong mood.

I am grateful for the presence, care, and support demonstrated. I see you reaching out when you don’t have to. I want to listen but I’m not ready at the moment. Someday my perspective will shift, yes.
 

Starfire

Confident
What’s weird is that even though I was a baby, my mind-body wants so badly to believe that I could have saved myself, could have stopped it. This thought distortion pervades my entire life. No matter what stressful thing happens I want to believe that I could have stopped it if only I had been stronger or smarter. (Is that just normal human nature?)

I think I’m supposed to encourage myself in order to counter this distortion.

Looking for commiseration. Or counter-thoughts but please don’t say, “It’s not your fault.”

It’s kind of funny (not funny) how difficult it is to hear the words, “It’s not your fault.” So hollow and easy to say, but somehow not very helpful? Maybe I’m not in the mindset to hear it. I need something with more teeth, more practical, if possible.
I use to think the same thing. If only I were smarter, if only I had told someone other than the one I did, called the police, fought them off, knew to scream even tho they threatened me, could have figured out this is not normal.............. But I wasn't. My fault

Then my T told me to volunteer at a daycare center. Oh my gosh those kids were so little, so powerless! Needed so much adult assistance. So incapable of having the words to express themselves. Not just 5 or 6 year olds but even 12 year olds. Don't remember myself like that.
Thanks for posting this. Recently, was pondering why I can't get over the anxiety/flashbacks.
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
but in this case I suppose I wasn’t ready. Felt like I was getting my head pushed into a toilets
so I wonder.... why this term? Head pushed into a toilet.
Might be something to think about later?

Or counter-thoughts but please don’t say, “It’s not your fault.”
Ya - nope.
Because accepting it's not our fault has to happen before true healing can begin. And you know I still struggle with that concept so ...ya.
pot/kettle and all of that.

But I do know it is the starting point.
Releasing that self-blame allows the real emotions - grief, sorrow, anger, etc - to come to the surface so we can deal with the facts instead of the story.

That is the only counter thought because there were NO other options available to you then, and sometimes there are no other options now
So you have to let go of the idea that you could have somehow changed the outcome.
Because you couldn't.
Which, like it or not, means it wasn't your fault.
That's not a story
It's a simple fact

And yep - I totally get what a hypocrite this makes me.
Because we both know that while I have been able to conquer some of my self blame I still hold on to way too much of it.
And I was an adult when my crap started

You were just a baby
You didn't have any life experience to fall back on to try to counter you were to blame
Your main caregiver was the one who assaulted you when you were far to young to even know what protecting yourself was
Of course you would want to somehow change that narrative
Because it's too horrible to even wrap my mind around

I think I’m supposed to encourage myself in order to counter this distortion.
Which distortion?
The one that you aren't to blame?
Or the one where hearing you aren't to blame is somehow "wrong?"

So ya, I know this is probably not what you wanted to hear,
So take what helps, throw the rest out the window 💜
 
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