Thinking you could have saved yourself from csa

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
The thing I commiserate with most is how you feel trying to read the responses and the caveat you asked us to observe because I did that too. Writing it was so hard .

As for feeling it was my fault or I could have saved myself idk. Not so much . Shame I think but not for that reason particularly. Later in life the way I behaved and brought things on myself because of it. Wishing I could have fought the monsters I continually created.

But I didn’t know I was doing that.

I guess I wished it has happened to someone else? That I was reading about it instead of remembering it.

The Therapist helped me a lot . She’s a specialist in this and knew how I felt . I didn’t have to explain. I really needed to have someone else tell me, so I had a chance to believe it.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
I find ‘it wasn’t your fault’ difficult to hear/take in/accept too. Brings up lots of mixed emotions.

I remember my therapist once saying, ‘he shouldn’t have done that’, about a particular incident. I found that landed better and that I could take it in, getting away from more explicit emphasis on whose fault it was/who was to blame. And, I guess, made my role/behaviour at the time a bit of a moot point. Because, whatever I did or didn’t do, he shouldn’t have done what he did. I don’t know…that way of looking at it just felt a bit different and…better, somehow?

Well done for taking care of yourself with this thread. It can be confronting, thinking things through here.

Take care.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I find the 'it wasn't your fault' hard too.
I remember my therapist once saying, ‘he shouldn’t have done that’, about a particular incident. I found that landed better and that I could take it in, getting away from more explicit emphasis on whose fault it was/who was to blame. And, I guess, made my role/behaviour at the time a bit of a moot point. Because, whatever I did or didn’t do, he shouldn’t have done what he did. I don’t know…that way of looking at it just felt a bit different and…better, somehow?
This reasonates too.
My T , when talking about one event, said "they didn't intervene?" "They didn't check you were ok?" So my T did the same as your T @barefoot, in highlighting the behaviours of others.
I think it's helpful in reframing our roles in what happened by putting the question and empathsis on them.
All these sutble little shifts in thinking.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
@barefoot yes, that helps. My T says something like, “because of his behavior he is no longer allowed to see you,” or something like that.

Shame I think but not for that reason particularly. Later in life the way I behaved and brought things on myself because of it
This resonates. The actual events of csa are so buried in the recesses of earliest childhood that there are no admonitions to keep secrets or grooming me with praise and gifts. It’s almost a mystery that it affected me at all. It’s the whole package though because that man raised me in his home and then from age 3 on the csa was done and then the physical abuse and emotional manipulation (sexualizing) and enmeshment. I was the perfectionist because I believed that hard work was my escape route.

So as an adult I thought I just had to love and forgive and work hard. Why did it come crashing down? Relationships. And then recovering the memories of the csa. My relationships with adults were plagued by shallow attachment and me sexualizing anyone who showed any interest or care. Plus of course I was married to a textbook narcissist, and living with my dad still.

My point is that what you said about “the way I behaved and brought things on myself later in life [triggered shame]” is meaningful. Because once I realized what I was doing as an adult through recovery I began to travel back in time and reassess my behaviors. Why did I do that? What would I have done differently if I could? And I may have skipped over lots of events and found my way back to the csa.

Except now that I think of it… the “thought” or cognitive distortion that I titled this post with is a tricky one. Because it’s almost a different kind of thought. When I think about how I sexualized people before recovery and what I could have done to prevent that? The answer is, “If I had known better I would have done better and once I knew better I did better.” That is a satisfying answer because I interact with people now and I don’t sexualize them. I see the results of my recovery.

With the csa it’s a different category of thought, I think? It’s like a kind of desperate attempt to punish myself when I’m in a stressful situation that seems to have no solution on the horizon. Particularly when the problem is about my children’s future or my future.

So I think this distortion is wrapped up in a ball of thoughts related to catastrophizing. It seems more like a feeling than a thought.

In this moment now after writing all that I feel quite dis-associated from the very thought I started this thread with. I have no strong feelings in either direction. I am confused why I would have written that. I still don’t want to hear “it’s not your fault” but I feel unconcerned about thought games intended to change the outcome of past events. I suspect it was important enough for me to post and get all resistant to the responses, so I’m glad I did so I have something to return to when it happens again.

It’s helpful for me to think this way because I also often think I could have stopped my son from becoming an addict. It’s a similar kind of thought/feeling.

I hope you all know how grateful I am for the support and interaction even though I couldn’t receive it all at once or immediately. I don’t know if I’m really done with this, but I am numb to it.

My takeaways: “He shouldn’t have done that,” is a helpful reframe.
And maybe the process of thinking about things I could do differently as an adult is mistakenly applied to the csa.
 

StopSpiral

New Here
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.
Joining you in your corner, you are not alone either.

The way you wrote about how you feel resonated so well, it’s still reverberating in my mind.

Getting beyond the wave, the never ending crash, and what feels like the strongest rip current, seems daunting and exhausting.

I’ve determined the wave for me is called acceptance, my therapist calls it self-compassion. I hope one day, I conquer the wave, rather it constantly defeating me.

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.
I find myself in the same position when responses and reassurance are directed towards me, it feels too personal, and I of course do not deserve the compassion from others. Because I too believe undoubtedly that as a child, there had to be something I missed, some area I failed to try hard enough in, that protection was within my reach, I just failed to reach it.

But maybe you did do enough, you are here afterall. And maybe amongst our faults and failures, that was enough.
 

Defaultxlove

MyPTSD Pro
I don't really understand what you want (you described well). I think I feel the same way about my trauma

what if I had done this or that
what if I was more prepared for something like that
how was my behavior in that

wait
what

stop

now

WHAT WAS MY BEHAVIOR IN GETTING TRAUMATIZED? HARDLY MATTERS. but obviously our actions matter.
perhaps your answer lies in reactions? still I was respectful during my trauma. that EFFED MY LIFE UP.

how we behave is our character.

being that you were a baby.

i almost feel like adult logical line of thinking cannot apply.
hugs.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
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.
Avoid self-compassion, yes. Avoid blaming another, maybe. Justify decisions, likely.

Ironic how the fantasy of taking control ends up further alienating me from present agency when I avoid self-compassion and justify bad habits.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
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.

I think I feel the same way about my trauma

what if I had done this or that
what if I was more prepared for something like that
how was my behavior in that

wait
what

stop
Helpful to see that you both feel similarly about your adult trauma. Guessing this distortion affects your thoughts about other parts of your life too? Or is it just regarding the trauma?
 

Defaultxlove

MyPTSD Pro
Helpful to see that you both feel similarly about your adult trauma. Guessing this distortion affects your thoughts about other parts of your life too? Or is it just regarding the trauma?
Im sorry Olive Jewel I dont have a good answer right now. But i think its absolutely great that you are processing. I dont know enough about what youre talking about to be more helpful. but it sounds like you are on a roll!
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
Guessing this distortion affects your thoughts about other parts of your life too? Or is it just regarding the trauma?
I think my trauma is what made me a runner so it pretty much affects every part of my life. The minute I feel even the slightest hint of danger (real or not) I'm in fight/flight. It's exhausting. But necessary because I will do whatever I have to so that I can escape. So I'm always on gaurd
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
Slowly chipping away at this. Had session yesterday. Not much breakthrough. Left with, “Even though this is a totally illogical thought, seeing the thought is the first step to dismantling it.”

Sounds like a childhood truth : I WILL be bigger and stronger : got stuck.
Yes. Stuck. Quite.
untrue as time passes.
Somehow my parts are okay with it being untrue. “Doesn’t matter, this is a hill we will die on.” 🤦‍♀️

Other parts searching for a way out or around.

One thing that comes to mind is that the intent of this distortion is to keep me safe, but it’s actually making me more vulnerable. Very strong response sensed that we are holding onto this at all costs. Not very hopeful. Trying to find cultural parallels. Reading bell hooks is the most hopeful thing for me currently, in terms of finding a way out. She writes about “being complicit in victimization.” I see my complicity, but haven’t yet figured out a better way.
 
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