I’ve become more reticent to post anything here lately. Many things have contributed to this; but the most important has been my relative destabilisation. The past four months have been filled with anxiety, dysfunctional coping and fluctuating functioning. One of the causes for this has been facing memories which are challenging the way I view myself, and the environment I was raised in. This means that many of my fundamental beliefs are being called into question.
I say “facing memories”, because they have always been there, but up until now I haven’t been ready to look at them. I still don’t know if I am, but this Easter has meant that they’ve arrived like a freight train, regardless of my state of preparation. I’m not sure how you prepare for flashbacks anyway… how do you prepare for emotions which sweep you up and take you on a ride through hell, complete with screams and fire?
In some ways, it could be argued that I began preparing for these memories over five years ago, when I first admitted to a therapist that I was abused in a kindergarten playground by some local teenagers. Kerro talks about peeling back the layers of abuse, and this was my first layer. It was the furtherest from my emotional reactions, so could be told with little affect… it was also the event most quickly relegated to the back of my mind, like headlines in an old newspaper.
Each layer of abuse has posed unique challenges, but this latest layer is causing all sorts of turmoil. It feels as if disturbing this layer is going to change the shape and texture of my life. There is a great deal of fear about this, and many warning signs that the system would like these layers to be left alone. But then these two images keep appearing in flashbacks… they’re not dramatic; in fact, they’re actually rather ordinary… as long as I keep the flashback looking straight ahead… that’s the key, keeping a very tight focus on a point straight ahead. If I look anywhere else, it feels as if the Earth will tilt… and we don’t want that, do we?
Over the past couple of months, I’ve been what can only be described as throwing Allison distractions. Yes, there has been healing work done, but it’s all been dancing around these two related images… testing Allison to see if she will cope, and whether we can trust her reaction to the events. In some ways, I’m still not sure, as some of her reactions seem a little OTT… although, I have a feeling that her reactions are a more authentic reaction to the events; they just happen to clash with my dismissive attitude towards them. I sit there rather bemused, while Allison is telling me how awful it is that those people used me in those ways.
So, back to the images… As I’ve begun to realise the significance of their connection, there has been an all out rebellion inside my head. This has meant that I’ve approached them, and then backed away, several times over the months. This dance with the images is probably my way of desensitising myself to their impact… to allow myself the slower realisation of the implications. I’m not sure if I like this approach, as it sort of feels like a slow torture… why not just do the equivalent of ripping the band aid off, and throw the door wide open?
I recently read a post by Jenny (from artconstellation) about how her stay in-patient helped her realise that she needs to repeat really painful ideas over and over in order for them to sink in and be addressed. I think this is why Allison is regularly asking me to slow down… I’m used to the band aid approach; whereas healing occurs when you allow the emotional connections to happen, and that takes more than one quick telling as you rush through a session. It takes time, grieving, validation and acceptance… things which I don’t traditionally have much patience for. I’m used to approaching a problem at work from different perspectives, but not my healing.
I think this is the reason for my slow dance around these images. Trying to allow the system the chance to accept that these are the memories and emotions that need to be addressed. As the realisation has sunk in that there is a connection between the images, there is huge amounts of fear, confusion and anger. These seem to feed into each other to create a whirlpool of emotions which I can’t label or even begin to comprehend. As I glimpse at these emotions, there is that ever present fear that they will take over my whole being. They seem so much bigger than anything I’ve ever had to face before.
The thing is, I’ve been in this place before. I’ve worked through emotions which have felt so immense, that I didn’t know if it was possible to even begin to go near them… yet I did. Sometimes my coping was dysfunctional, but I always found a way through. So why can’t I believe in my own abilities? The message always seems to come back to not trusting myself. There is that lingering doubt that I’m still paying lip service to healing, and wanting to rip another band aid off… these images, and the parts who hold the associated emotions, are worthy of more respect and care than the band aid approach… I need to remember that.