This came up in a recent therapy session, the topic kind of came up accidentally as we were working through an exercise in the Courage to Heal workbook, and it triggered some thoughts in my head.
Most people, and I say that based only on my own experience only, don’t find it difficult to be angry about their past abuse. They have no problems feeling resentment, frustration, and anger because of what their abuser did to them, and took from them. Of course we have every right to be angry and upset about what happened. After all it’s a horrific, evil, despicable thing to do no matter what type of abuse you suffered at the hands of the perpetrator.
I read stories in self help books, I do exercises in therapy, talk about it in sessions about how it’s OK to be angry and in being a healthy response. The problem is, I just can’t.
Case in point – Late last fall, we did a two hour session at my request, after I talked about how I just wish I could cry and be seriously upset, let it all out, and then maybe I’d feel a little better. She, my therapist said, “oh I can make you cry and get angry if that’s what you think you’re ready for”. I was like, “Yes, let’s do it”. To this day I’m not sure she believed me but we had to try it sooner or later so we gave it a shot. I’m not sure even I believed me, but me being the impatient person I am, I wanted to try and pull out all the stops.
Long story short, it didn’t work. We spent two hours finishing up my previously started trauma narrative, and then we tore it up and did other various activities to try and bring out the emotion but none of it worked. I tried to cry, and only managed to shed a tear or two. I wanted that epic, cleansing, cry if you know what I mean. The kind that you can’t stop until you’re completely exhausted and then you somehow feel a little better.
What I found out for me is, healing and recovery from childhood sexual abuse is not about 1 good cry and I’m all of the sudden feeling better. It’s not even about 1 good cry and then you have some type of breakthrough and you’re ready to move on to the next step. At least it’s not for me.
It ended up just making me totally frustrated because I couldn’t feel the emotion that I wanted too. I couldn’t connect on the level I felt like I needed to. That in turn did get me slightly angry, but really more just frustrated. So while the session did make me start to connect and feel more of my past, it was a delayed reaction that is still going on today. For 3 decades it barely entered my conscious mind, and now t’s always in my head. A feeling of depression, sadness, and ongoing flashbacks that just won’t quit.
I would love to just get so unbelievably pissed off that I’d really be able to blow off steam, vent in an epic manner, and feel the rage inside for what he stole from me so long ago. But of course, no such luck. You imagine how frustrating that is.
That doesn’t mean that I’m happy about it or I’m content that it happened; not by a long shot! I just have a serious issue trying to connect with my feelings and understand them. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do that in the manner that I seek, and again that’s frustrating.
So I’m sad, get depressed, feel overwhelmed, and totally discouraged at times. All of that is perfectly understandable and I get that I feel that way but I’m so tired of being in emotional limbo. I’m supposed to be angry but I can’t. I’m supposed to be able to cry and I can’t. So I spend my days waiting for flashbacks, depression, random sadness out of nowhere for no reason, mixed in with the occasional good few hours here and there.
I’m up, then I’m down, but never fully up as much as I’m totally down. I can go from happy to sad in a hot second, but certainly can’t go from sad to happy that quickly. Of course that brings the Anxiety level up too, and just adds tot he whole ordeal.
Hopefully you didn’t mind too much that I wanted to vent about, well…not being able to vent.