Reminders of the past

When I was growing up, my father’s anger dictated the mood within the house.  The image of him sitting in his lounge chair, while the waves of silent anger came pouring off of him, is one of my consistent flashbacks.  The fear I feel when seeing that image, is immense.

Closely associated with my father sitting in his lounge chair, is him watching the rugby games which seemed to be broadcast every weekend.  During the broadcasts, everyone in the house had to be silent.  The only spoken words were demands for more beer, or food.

Then there was the rugby club.  Another of my constant flashbacks and a place associated with abuse, chaos and neglect.

All of the events associated with those flashbacks happened over 20 years ago.  They seem so far away, and yet so close.

One of the things keeping them close is the Rugby World Cup that is underway in New Zealand.  For more than a month, there have been daily reminders of rugby and it’s importance in the nations psyche – I wake up to rugby news on the radio; every third or fourth car has a different nations flags flying proudly from their windows; there are billboards on the side of the road; there is a supporters display covering half of a wall in the building that I work; rugby is prominently in the newspapers; it’s on every television channel (even the ones proudly advertising that they are NOT the home of rugby); it’s on the Internet… it.is.everywhere.  I can’t avoid it… believe me, I’ve tried.

Last night New Zealand won a place in the World Cup final.  Another week of heightened publicity before it’s all over.  I honestly don’t think I can cope.  I’ve become more withdrawn and stilted over the last few months.  The chaos this event has caused has been added to the other stress I’m experiencing, and it’s become more and more of a mess inside my head.

The constant refrain in my head is that I don’t need anyone… that I don’t need help… that the only option is to run away.  I know that thinking is dangerous, but it’s all I have.

 

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63 thoughts on “Reminders of the past

  1. yep i relate to this i am here in the thick of the RWC for me rugby games meant alot of drinking all the grown ups drinkng and noise then drunk people not safe and then poeple go home and then its scary

    • Hi vickilost,

      Yes, that’s what I associate with rugby as well. Along with smoking, and other smells… The culture surrounding rugby is filled with alcohol and the “boys will be boys” attitude. I know that’s a generalisation, and I know there are good people who play the sport, but it’s still scary.

      Not much longer to go…

      Take care,
      CG

  2. CG,

    I’ll tell you what. Given my connection with New Zealand (of which you are already aware), I’m going to pull some strings and attempt to get rugby *cancelled* over there, completely. Possibly outlawed, in fact. While I cannot promise it with certainty, I have a little confidence that I can get it done. I think the pain you feel *definitely* warrants that.

    It is NOT fair that you have to deal with this.

    I am not making light … at least not of your predicament. These are situations that survivors and their loved ones are often faced with, and they often have to suffer them in silence. It is not fair. I’m so sorry. I hope there is anything at all we can do to help you bear up. You don’t deserve this. I hope that, besides knowing of the many caring people out there thinking of you, you can have some success in distracting, protecting yourself, etc. Ceremoniously destroy a rugby ball every night until the stupid cup is over? Impractical, to be sure. But worth considering.

    All the Best to you, CG. Please take care.
    Michael

    • Hi Michael,

      I don’t hate rugby, I really don’t. I hate what it reminds me of.

      You would have seen a glimpse of what the rugby culture is like over here, and I imagine that it’s similar to some of the sports elsewhere in the world. So what I experience is nothing unusual. The only thing is that this year it’s gone on for the usual rugby season, and then been heightened by the Rugby World Cup. It is everywhere… even amongst the population that don’t care about rugby, there are discussions about it.

      Like many people with PTSD, it’s the smells that get me… The smell of liniment, grass, cigarette smoke… The RWC reminds me of all of those smells, making me imagine that I’m smelling them again. This then starts the flashbacks, and all the chaos escalates.

      I saw my therapist today, and she understands my shutting down. I’m isolating myself, which I know isn’t good. I’m not sure how to stop it though.

      I don’t think I could bring myself to touch a rugby ball 🙂 They also make them pretty tough, so I’m not sure if I could physically destroy one… I might have to settle for playing mindless computer games.

      Thank you for your kindness and understanding… I appreciate it.

      Take care,
      CG

  3. CG,

    I’m also curious … could it be that isolating yourself to some degree at this time, is a good natural solution at this time on balance? Triggers are all over the place. As an HSP – highly sensitive person – myself, I know that I have to turn off the spigots, or at least reduce the flow, of external stimulus at times. And that is just about generalized sensory overwhelm, not triggers to abuse memories. I guess I just wonder if some version of that might actually be doing yourself a protective service. Of course, if too much isolation results in a significant increase in darkness or danger, my notion might be completely moot.

    Anyway … my best to you, and I wish you peace while finding your way.
    Michael

    • Hi Michael,

      Yes, that’s pretty much what Allison said as well… that the isolation and shutting down is a natural defence mechanism. The problem is that it’s also strongly linked to my suicidal ideation, so that’s why I’m worried. While I understand why I’m doing it, and why it might be helpful; I also know that it can be a red flag as to my overall safety.

      I’m also very aware that my isolation can become a habit, one which is difficult to ease myself out of. I lose that ability to push myself into doing things like interacting with others; or I try, and if there isn’t immediate success, lose confidence.

      Reducing the sensory input can be difficult in this modern world… I find it interesting that you seem very connected online, yet also describe yourself as HSP. One of the advantages of the online world is that you can monitor the amount of input that you are subjected to. I find it easier to regulate my online world, than places such as work.

      You’re pretty perceptive… 🙂

      Take care of yourself,
      CG

  4. CG,

    You make a really good point about the online world. I’ve long been interested in it, and I think the virtual relationships we have there allow for a fluidity in expression while at the same time “controlling” for other relationship variables, ones that give some of us fits. More freedom of invention in certain ways. I think some people shine there, and can experience a lot of connection whether very introverted, HSP, etc. While I’m largely introverted, I think I have enough of a balance in a myers-briggsian sense that I can reach out and engage … and that of course helps in my “real life” work. By the way, I haven’t been this connected on the Internet for some time … but lately, I’ve really gotten the Twitter bug and am wondering if I need to back off! 🙂

    As to your own engagement vs isolation predicament, you sound like you have a tremendous amount of insight about it: the pros and cons, the danger areas. Feels like a shallow consolation, I bet. I hope you can take care of yourself, though it is absolutely complicated. Were you to find a place of calm inside, a place safe for a time from intense and intruding darkness, I think that would be call for celebration, indeed.

    Best,
    Michael

    • I’m fascinated by our ability to form online communities – and how we act differently in the various communities that we are part of… It’s an interesting study in human nature, and a little like a microcosm of society. How we define the morals, standards, etc. It’s fascinating. The different online communities allow us to express ourselves in ways that we potentially wouldn’t be able to – especially when you throw anonymity into the equation. Some abuse that anonymity, but others act with integrity throughout their interactions… another interesting way in which our online presence can be a reflection of an aspect of our identity.

      I can see the introvert/extrovert balance in play… I often think that introverts are wrongly maligned, as people often assume that it means we’re anti-social, and I don’t think that’s the case. Introverts can make connections with people, we just do it in our own quiet way 🙂 Allison would be considered an introvert, but her quiet, consistent, genuineness shines through.

      Twitter is addictive, and fun! It’s a great way to find information and be exposed to different ideas or people. I’m sure you can monitor your use of it 🙂

      Hmmm… I’m not sure you wanted the lecture on online communities, so sorry about that!

      Take care,
      CG

  5. there’s parts of me that live on the computer and the only place they can talk. A couple of sites that they liveed on have closed its been really hard for them its like a death of somesort and an abandonment. I experienced a site where people abused the ‘rules’ it was shattering. I’m not so trusting anymore but then i stumbled on your site and like a ghost i have been hanging around. when i first went to therapy i thought that i was the only one in this country with DID i thought it was that unusual . i like reading your posts

    • Hi vickilost,

      The online communities can be great… but I found that you had to be really aware of your boundaries. I know what you mean about mourning something like an online community… they can be a great place to feel some sort of safety and connection; so when that is gone suddenly, then there is bound to be a sense of loss.

      You can hang around for as long as you want 🙂 I’m glad you feel comfortable enough to comment, but it’s also ok if you don’t. It’s totally up to you 🙂

      I know of three other people who have been diagnosed with DID in New Zealand. I even spoke to one of them on the phone, which was a rather odd experience. There are definitely other people like us out there… you’re not alone.

      Please take care,
      CG

  6. Kia kaha.

    I come from a different background – a much easier family, and one that never bothered with watching TV sport. I’ve had none of the trauma you’ve experienced in association with it, it’s just never been part of my life.

    Even so, I find the Rugby World Cup annoying. I don’t like the way it takes over all the news, even on National Radio. I don’t like the nationalism. And I don’t like being told that everybody in New Zealand is behind the All Blacks, as if the only options were to be for them or against them. We’re a more diverse country than that, and there should be room for people to enjoy their rugby without pretending that it matters to everyone.

    • Kia ora Isaac,

      I’m surprised you were able to finish writing your comment without the marauding hordes beating down your door and taking you away 🙂 Not liking rugby, seems akin to not liking the Lord of the Rings movies… heresy. I’m not sure what it is about our country, but there does seem to be real astonishment when society encounters someone who doesn’t go along with the “norm” (whatever that is). I’ve read several times that this is about our insecurity as a country… our relative newness and still trying to find our identity. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I can see some elements of that in there.

      I’m not against rugby, but I don’t like it being everywhere, and all that people talk about. I’m glad the team is doing well, but I really don’t need to hear about it in every news break. I suppose I am talking about mutual respect for each member of society.

      I quite like seeing the different flags on the cars… a nice reminder of how diverse we really are 🙂

      Kia kaha,
      CG

  7. Hi 🙂
    I’m wondering if you can use your ability to dissociate to ‘blind’ yourselves from all the rugby fervour. I live on a busy duel carriageway, although I have triple glazing the traffic is still very noisy. I barely notice it anymore, it’s just a dull thrmmm in the background, much like a clock ticking.
    It feels as if somehow you are tuning in on a hyper sensitive level to the rugby and that needs to be switched off – I know that is no easy task.
    I wish I could tell you how to do it, but my guess is it’s something you have to practise.
    Thinking about you,
    Jay.xx

    • Hi Jay,

      I’m going around in a pretty all encompassing dissociative fog as it is 🙂 I know what you mean, but I don’t think I can switch off my sensitivity to it at the moment. At times I can ignore it all, and at other times I seem to poke at myself by bringing the subject of rugby up at work. So I’m using it all as a punishment as well.

      Just one more week of it all, then it will be over.

      Thank you 🙂

      Take care of yourself,
      CG xx

  8. hi, first i just want to thank u for caring and leaving ur comment, second, i want to say how sorry i am that u feel this way, even more so as the triggers nt easy to avoid, third, im so sorry that theres nothing i can do to help. Ur in my thoughts and il b willing u through this safely
    take care
    Alice x

  9. I was thinking similar thoughts that isolating yourself at this point may not be a bad thing in this case. And I’m so glad that this horrible time is almost over.

    Sometimes it can seem like the universe is scheming to break us. Triggers get thrown in our face in the most over-the-top ways and you just wonder sometimes.

    I’m here for you as always CG.

    *safe hugs, if you like*

    • Hi tb,

      I’m trying to force myself to interact with people, but I’m failing at it pretty badly. I can do the surface level stuff here, and at work; but anything deeper (like emails) is much more difficult.

      One moment at a time, right? 🙂

      (((warm safe hugs))) if wanted,
      CG

  10. CG,

    By apologizing, are you thereby also suggesting that you are willing to *continue* the lecture? 🙂

    I love that kind of stuff, and have also been fascinated for a long time! So I only gobble up the things you are saying with a lot of interest and feeling of familiarity. I was a bit of a cyberspace research junkie back in school, and fancied myself delving into and creating theory about human relationships and sense of self in the virtual. Never really formally did, as I went off in different directions. However — and this is a great leap to the present day — I’m experiencing an odd convergence in some of my thinking about virtuality and spirituality and DID. In my work with my DID clients (especially one), parts and my relationship with them feels kind of … “virtual” (unless they are specifically “out”). But real. And, that world has allowed *creation* of objects or places which is really only a familiar experience in virtual life (online, etc.) or in dreams. I realize that might sound “far out”, but rest somewhat assured that I ensure safeguards in my work by really following the lead of my client and being collaborative and a team.

    Anyway, what you are expressing here about online communities, introvert/extrovert balance, etc., that thinking is all near and dear to my heart, so absolutely no worries about “lecturing”. I think I’ve found someone great to discuss it with! And at the risk of any of your parts becoming unpleasant with you, I think I can say I really appreciate your presence out there … apparently somewhat of a kindred spirit, from what I perceive. Being interested in similar things makes conversation easier and fun! Someone to listen to all of our gobbledygook!

    Best to You, CG … thanks for the opportunity to write here.
    Michael

    • Hi Michael,

      I studied online communities and communication, so it’s easy for me to go off on the tangent 🙂

      It’s interesting how one of your clients describes their way of being. Up until recently, I would regularly communicate with Allison through email… it felt “safer” for different ones within the system to communicate with her in this way. I do believe that technology has opened up so many doors to explore different ways of healing and interacting with the world. The main problems, as indicated by vickilost, are the boundaries and safety… two of the biggest issues facing many who are survivors of trauma.

      Ah, so you get the slightly odd looks when you talk gobbledygook too? I like the polite nods the best 🙂

      Take care,
      CG

  11. CG,

    Actually, I don’t know that my client even described it that way, but some of my interactions with her parts ended up having a “feel” that reminded me of the virtual … either when I was texting, or when the part was inside but hearing and my client was conveying impressions. Of course, these are just feelings and ideas on my part, and her say so, her impression, her meaning needs to trump mine every time. I’m in agreement, of course, that boundaries and safety are *so* important. Which can of course mean that any relationally-based therapy can evoke lots and lots of fear and anxiety (among other feelings), since compassion and a building of trust tend to push on peoples’ sense of safety a bit, as it is. It sounds like Allison is blessed with a lot of the great qualities which help safety and trust to develop.

    Online Communities and Communication, huh? Very cool. I bet we could have numerous conversations of gobbledygook and be pretty contented about it (though soon I’d be nodding with eyes wide and trying to keep up, as I bet you were more disciplined about your study than I!). I used to lurk on the old Cybermind mailing list while I was thinking about writing a dissertation. Such interesting stuff.

    Always love to hear your thoughts, CG. Thanks for taking the time to respond to us all, even at this time, as you have done. I hope it’s not too tough, and I throw my hat of support into the ring with other posters.

    Michael

    • Hi Michael,

      It’s interesting how you describe relating to your client and their experiences. I often fall into the trap of thinking that Allison can read my mind, and understand my meaning and context… but, as you point out, we each hear something and put it into something that we can identify with. You have the important proviso of your clients needs trumping yours; but by relating it to something you understand, it helps to add meaning and understanding. That helps me to understand why Allison reflects back some of the things I say, not to question me, but to more clearly understand my meaning and context.

      Healing is about change, and change can be scary enough, without adding things like trust and safety on top of it 🙂

      I’ve studied many things over the years – from the applied sciences, through to librarianship. So I have an odd assortment of qualifications… but I’ve learned most through personal interest. Another of the wonders of technology, there’s so much information out there, and access to different ideas… it’s great 🙂

      I’m very thankful for the people who take the time to come to my blog and comment. It also helps to get me interacting with people again…

      Take care,
      CG

      • Sorry for butting into your conversation, but I’m having a bit of a moment here.

        First, I agree that technology and Internet has created a unique tool through which to communicate things difficult to verbalize. CG, because of you I found polyvore and I’ve been using that for all kinds of communicating! Maybe a little louder than my T was perhaps expecting.

        Michael, if I understand, you are a counselor/therapist and you work with DID clients.

        With regard to this mutual “virtual” understanding of objects and places, at least as I interpreted what was said, (I’m not sure how to phrase this…) do you form relationships with individual alters as they are and perhaps within their “reality” (for lack of a better word)?

        What I mean to say -most simply- is that, if you have a female client who has an alter that is a male or a child, you are obviously not actually interacting online or in-person with a male or a child, but rather (physically, in reality) the client. So there is this kind of “virtual” time/space stand still during which you are interacting with a male or a child that only exists within a person’s mind -but is still very real.

        Hope you’re still following me…

        Transferring that into cyber space. I tell you I am a 36-year-old, female from the Southeastern U.S. In reality, I am an 97-year-old man from Madagascar (who is freakishly technologically savvy for a man of his/my age). If I’m interacting with you as the female and we build an online friendship based on me being the person I present myself to be, it would come as a shock to learn I’m an old geezer from Gambia -yeah, he I moved.

        But in the world of DID, do you develop therapudic relationships with each alter as if that alter was a real person -like you would with the female me despite the fact that I am a 98-year-old Madagascar Gambian -yeah, he had a birthday.

        EXCEPT, with the person with DID, you KNOW you’re interacting the female me living inside the 98-year-old Madagascan Gambian living inside me.

        My question – I think – do you develop some sort of relationship/attachment/I dunno what therapist call it… with the alter?

        Or, perhaps, like a medical doctor, do you see each alter as a symptom, for example. I am the patient, but I have a cough, a runny nose, and a sore throat (the alters). The doctor addresses each symptom as a symptom, um… not as a person.

        The symptom/alter is something that gains its importance only in relation to the patient and not in its right. Okay, so my example starts falling short there at the end.

        Basically, lol, I think I’m asking how do you relate to your clients as opposed to their alters? I could’ve just asked that couldn’t I have. Wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun though.

        If no one has any idea what I just wrote, well… I’m just going to blame it on the Gambian geezer.

        ~rl

  12. Is there an alternative activitiy that you could engage in to help isolate you but at the same time distract you from the suicidal ideation? Or maybe there’s a way to have some get-togethers with other friends who are not Rugby fans to watch movies or to do something else fun. I don’;t know what you can and can’t do, I’m just trying to think of ways that you can use the technique of seperating yourself from the triggers while at the same time giving you an alternative activity to the self harm and suicidal ideations.

    • Hi Storm Dweller,

      I go home at the end of the day and do things which I know will help me to avoid rugby related things… But this becomes more difficult as the big games approach. So I am trying to distract and distance myself from it all… but also know that I’m drawn to it all.

      Just one more week to go…

      Thanks for the tips 🙂

      Take care,
      CG

    • It’s not over yet… they made it into the finals, which are to be played on Sunday night. Monday is a public holiday, so there will be lots of celebrating.

      Take care,
      CG

  13. That’s all I have now is running away..to not exist..I have the same thinking I feel stuck in the flooding..I am not functioning…As always…XOXOXOXOXO

  14. I’m so sorry that you have to endure this. It’s not over, but at least you can start to count down. I know it’s like a train crash that you don’t want to look at, but can’t help being drawn to… but I hope you can find distracting things to do. Breathing is good too 😉

    Sending lots of love and hugs your way.

  15. RL,

    What an awesome reply … I believe I almost need the seek CG’s permission to blather on in response, and then finally to sort of disintegrate, but in a really awesome way! But then, CG has been more than tolerant as our host(ess?), and I bet she’ll continue to be. That’s just the way she is!

    Yes, I am a counselor/therapist, and I do have some DID clients.

    With regard to the “virtual” understanding of objects and places, I don’t want to fail to take an unexpected turn in the conversation, myself. In thinking about your post and how I would respond, something even more interesting occurred to me: you and I now have a “virtual relationship” of sorts! How is that for you? 🙂 Something(s) in my writing prompted you to think, and then to write. The ideas came alive in your head, and I became a real object — if abbreviated — for you to engage with about ideas (along with CG). As for me, I read your post, wondered if my goofy stretch of an idea was going to be challenged (would I be exposed for the fraud that I am?), began to enjoy your writing and the play and twists in it (who is this person?), tried to sort out what I was supposed to answer or respond to. In thinking about it all I realized … wait, RL and I have a virtual relationship! I do love thinking about what such ideas mean, though CG has more discipline and can talk about our gobbledygook better! 🙂 (CG and I have a relationship in cyberspace, too)

    If none of that makes sense, well you can blame that on my *own* Gambian alter ego. 🙂

    One thing I do have a firm response about is the notion of a medical doctor treating the parts of a person who suffers DID as “symptoms.” I feel strongly that such ideas are *very* counterproductive. I suppose they might get away with it because they are “doctors”, but I’d never want a person to work with DID issues in that way. From my own experience as a therapist, parts or alters can feel very real (to both the person and the therapist), and can be very elaborated in a person’s system. Perhaps a quite elaborated part might become very offended at such a notion! Others can describe this better than I, but I’m pretty sure that so many people coping with DID will absolutely not sign onto that idea … “just symptoms.”

    I CAN have relationships with my clients’ parts. Even if I didn’t care to, or listen, or try to, my sense is that they sometimes feel they have a relationship with me (opinions, fears, hopes, experience). While I will relate with them directly as they appear, I do endeavor to keep it clear that I believe they are all part of one system, and they seem to largely (but not always) accept that. Along with that comes challenging ideas about sharing space and not hurting one another. I really want to try to be a help to the person in their struggle to either live better together with all of their parts, or to even reintegrate them. My experience is also (and I encounter this a bunch in the professional literature, as well) that when parts are acknowledged, accounted for and somewhat taken care of, life can become easier, with less agitation, less agendas due to unmet needs or unexpressed feelings, etc.

    I’m going to end, as I’ve exceeded my word count tenfold here on CG’s blog. Nice to connect, RL! Thanks again, CG — please toss a virtual hammer at me if I am taking up too much space on your blog!

    Michael

    • CG, you can throw a virtual hammer at Michael if I took up too much space on your blog too! *smiles*

      One more day… then no more rugby stuff?! I can’t begin to imagine how difficult this has been for you. I remember waaaay back when you started talking about it taking place -good heavens, this thing lasted a long time! I’m going to be very happy for you when it all stops.

      A quick reply to Michael, I understand what you wrote. No need to put your Gambian in a time out. I was particularly interested in finding out if therapists, generally speaking, have relationships with client’s parts and/or how they view their client’s parts. What you wrote was very helpful. Thanks 🙂

      CG, please take care. I’m going to go out to the ranch again tomorrow. I’ll send warm wishes and healing thoughts your way!

      ~rl

      • I don’t throw hammers – virtual, or otherwise 🙂

        The All Blacks won, so now there will be the celebrations. It’s been going on for 7 weeks.

        I hope you made it to the ranch again 🙂

        Take care,
        CG

  16. I just wanted to throw out that my therapist has a special relationship with all my parts….she has given each one a special stuffed animal..and one part named Sam she bought the book green eggs and ham for them to read together.. Sam is a 9 yr old girl who holds most of the memories of sexual abuse…My T makes sure to always hold Sam’s hand..and she has time to spend interacting with all my parts through sessions and social media such as Facebook , Skype and text messaging…..sorry I was o long winded… As always…XOXOXOO

  17. Hiya 🙂
    It is a big challenge to go out and risk the rejection from others. Most of my interaction is online because I honestly have no place else to go. People are afraid of my diagnosis because they don’t understand. And one day they are here and once they learn more about me they seem to disappear and never return. I am sorry to hear how you were triggered. It is hard to bounce back sometimes.
    Sandy

    • Hi Sandy,

      I can empathise with having most of your interactions online. I don’t have anyone that I consider a friend living anywhere near me, and as I become more dysfunctional, I find it more difficult to interact with anyone regardless of whether they are online or standing next to me.

      I don’t know if I will bounce back. I’ve changed the way I’ve lived for more than two months because of stress, and they say it takes 21 days to form a new habit… I’m well beyond 21 days.

      I’m sorry that you find it difficult to find acceptance within your community.

      Please take care,
      CG

  18. RL, are you really willing to have me take a hammer for you? Ha! CG doesn’t throw hammers. So there. 🙂 (thanks for your reply … nice to be virtual with you!)

    B, thanks for sharing your experience of your work with P. As a therapist, I think the work should truly be individually considered … it should fit the the needs of that particular person, hopefully. I think everyone should be allowed to consider how the work feels for them, and whether more (or less) is needed or wanted. I hope you are well!

    CG, thanks again for having us here. I was interested in your comment about Allison, that you “fall into the trap” of thinking that Allison can read your mind. I wonder if that is at least partially due to you having a great deal of sensitivity to others’ states and feelings. If due to that, your experience is akin to reading others’ minds, wouldn’t it be natural to assume that others can do the same with you? I would not fault you for thinking that way.

    Does the All Blacks victory mean that suffering and triggering for you will be more protracted, or will it wind down from here? I hope the impact of this difficult time is winding down for you. Is there anything our virtual community can offer you?

    Best,
    Michael

    • Hi Michael,

      I agree that the needs of the individual should be considered within the therapeutic environment; but, that should always be within the greater ethical framework. I suppose I say that because I’ve seen a few examples of poor therapeutic techniques and boundaries lately…

      I read Shrink Rap’s post today (More on How Lousy Psychiatrists are at Determining Prognosis), and it made me wonder if the problem is that providers aren’t treating their clients as individuals, and sticking to the stereotypes associated with their diagnostic label too much; or, whether the diagnostic labels are so badly defined as to become meaningless.

      I hope that no one can read my mind… it’s not pretty in here, so would hate to expose others to it 🙂 I often think that I’ve said something in therapy, only to find that it was an internal conversation, and nothing has been verbalised. Therapy is still often a blank for me. I walk out of the door and have no idea what’s just happened… just left with an odd feeling that the world is a little more surreal than usual. I know I’m too sensitive though 🙂

      I imagine that there will still be a great deal of fuss for the next week or so. They are having victory parades in different cities for the next couple of days.

      I’m just thankful, and a little stunned, at the support I’ve received 🙂

      Thank you, and take care,
      CG

    • Michael, hmmm… um… yes? See, um… yeah, I’m having anger issues and, um, if CG threw a virtual hammer at me, then, well, I’d have a virtual hammer and, um, it might be dangerous for me to have a virtual hammer… yep. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it… until my Gambian friend comes up with a better one.

      CG, I know for a fact my therapist doesn’t reads minds. He quite consistently and very annoyingly keeps telling me he doesn’t! Apparently, he wants me to talk.

      I don’t know where therapists come up with these crazy notions. Talking? I don’t like talking! Everything gets ugly when I talk. I have a mess to deal with tomorrow because there was talking last week!

      (Hmmm…maybe I’ll just hide out in CG’s blog tomorrow. No one will think to look for me here. I’ll go visit the ducklings some more.)

      CG, I’m glad you’ve received lots of support!! You’re a very nice, intelligent, articulate person and you take great care to interact with your online friends. It’s no wonder you’re friends are most happily lending support. 🙂

      ~rl

      • Hi rl,

        I can identify with the need to cope with the fall-out from talking… that was part of the reason why Allison encouraged a safety plan.

        Feel free to hide out here 🙂

        Here’s a photo of a chick I took yesterday…

        Not as cute as the duckies, but close 🙂

        Thank you for the compliment rl, I really appreciate it…

        Please take care,
        CG

        • ***hiding out*** My appointment is in two hours…

          I LOVE the little baby bird!!! You have chickens where you live? Oh, I want to pick him up and give him kisses! He’s so cute.

          Take care and thanks for sharing the chick pic! 🙂

          ~rl

          • This was taken at the local Arboretum on Monday morning. It’s a lovely walk, with chickens, ducks, geese, and cows around the walk and surrounding farmland. The ducklings there were already quite big, and there was only one family of chicks running around. Very cute.

            Good luck for the appointment 🙂

            Take care,
            CG

            • CG,

              Awe, what a wonderful place to visit. The little chick is just so cute and tiny. I love animals. They’re just so fun to watch. I’m glad you were able to venture out again!! 🙂

              My appointment went okay. I didn’t really doubt it would. I just didn’t want to have to deal with making myself talk about last week. I’m not sure I feel like things are back to normal, but I’m afraid that’s because things are changing within me. I don’t like change.

              I’m just in one of those uncomfortable, unsettled, prickly places. I don’t feel like I know what’s going on. Last week a part was present and talking that normally is not, so it was strange.

              I do like your blog though. So, I might continue to hide out here! 🙂

              Hope your week is going well.

              Take care,
              ~rl

  19. CG,

    I think you are 100% right to point out the importance of the greater ethical framework. Given the sensitivity and the impact of this work, it frankly scares me that clients who go out there are meeting all manner of helping professionals, who are also people working out their own life paths. I’m sure it is no surprise that there is even abuse which takes place in the field, and that is particularly heinous. Scary. And trauma work is particularly dangerous, because it is so evocative and triggering for everyone involved. Although I hope clients can be discerning “consumers” of therapy services, obviously that is a problematic expectation on my part in some cases. Trauma survivors need helping people who will strive to be bring their skills and expertise, but also who will be respectful and have the client’s need for safety and for healing be the first and foremost matter.

    Setting aside the magical idea of mind-reading, it is my hope for you that you do expose a trusted therapist — in this case, Allison — to what is in your mind. Utilizing a trusted relationship to build safety in expression, in being seen and witnessed, in telling one’s story, in feeling support, in digesting trauma … these are often among the biggest goals of therapy.

    I believe you very much deserve the support you’ve received. I hope it can give you comfort. I hope things settle down quickly, and you find some semblance of center, again.

    Best,
    Michael

    • Hi Michael,

      I couldn’t agree more. As a generalisation, trauma survivors are a vulnerable population, so it’s scary that there are so many in the helping profession who are operating on the fringes of ethical standards, or simply not adhering to any. I think that people who have experienced trauma can make great therapists, but they need to have sorted through their own issues first. I also like the requirement that we have here, where therapists need to undergo supervision to help establish any issues that are arising in therapy with their clients. Each of my therapists have mentioned this as a hugely positive thing, where they can talk to someone about how to best help a client, and to work through any transference issues.

      It’s easy to doubt yourself when you’re a survivor – we’ve often been told for much of our lives that we are stupid, too sensitive, ugly, etc. When you’ve heard those messages for so long, it’s easy to lose sight of trusting your instinct about someone… you can second guess yourself, and cause all sorts of turmoil.

      I’ve had my own brushes with therapists who have had issues… with one who was “fascinated” by my dissociation. She was a good person, but didn’t have the right skill set for helping me. I have seen therapists working who have been manipulative and had no effective boundaries. That was scary.

      In my last session with Allison, she was again saying that I needed to be more open with her. It’s amazing how shame can get to you when you least expect it. There is another person that I talk to quite openly; yet the other week I had a simple question that, no matter how much I tried, I was incapable of asking. The Shame Monster was too present.

      Thank you for the support, and helping me smile…

      Take care,
      CG

  20. CG,

    Yes, having supervision is known far and wide as a way to adhere to standards, to be advancing in one’s field in knowledge, and to try to account for any “blind spots” one might have. This seems especially important and true in the trauma field, where there is increased danger for both the client and the therapist.

    Still, I have to confess my trepidation about all of that. Not because it isn’t totally right, but because I think that there are multiple levels of issues with implementing supervision: availability, economic, “fit” issues (like in therapy) and just therapists not wanting to do it due to their own issues. Maybe I’m painting it too bleakly. But because I feel there is so much danger, and will always be some, I wish that we could also add more safety at the “consumer awareness” level, in addition to mandating supervision and ongoing education for therapists. You and I have both alluded to how problematic that is to expect … and taken to an extreme, amounts to “blaming the victim”. However, I am exposed to lots of ideas on advocacy here on Twitter, as well as in my own professional contacts. We are trying to teach kids how to speak up when something wrong is being done to them, because childhood sexual abuse so often happens in situations of pre-existing trust and relationship (which makes it all the more destructive). I wonder if we can put more “how to choose and evaluate a therapist” information out there on the Internet? Perhaps we can use our websites to help with that.

    A note on your experiences … it is painful to hear of the isolation you experience. It would seem easy to say that Allison is correct, that it is important that you be more open with her. From what I know about you, your reluctance to expose others to the inner you, I’m not surprised that she might suggest it. On the other hand, I’m not surprised if you have a shame response, perhaps feeling you’re not doing something you’re supposed to (share more). And it seems the case that you’re also not “supposed to” share with others. What a difficult place for you to be. I’m sorry … wish you didn’t end up as isolated.

    By the way, I love that New Zealand is often the next day ahead of us, here. Rather than thinking you are 18 hours ahead, I’ve always thought that you are six hours behind, but on the following day. It’s easier for me! So, I think it appropriate to ask … how is Tuesday, October 25th, 2011? I’ve never seen it before. How is it to be among the first in the world to see the new day? 🙂

    I wish you peace and less isolation. I hope that many, many more smiles are ahead of you, CG.

    Michael

    • Hi Michael,

      I have a masters degree, am well read, and know how to ask questions… yet, for at time, I was drawn to an online therapist who was unethical and I think has since had their licence revoked. Thankfully, I was able to see how this person operated before I got in too deep, but I could also see how so many others were being drawn into this therapists web. So while I agree that we need to tackle the issue from a client empowerment point of view, I still think that therapist regulation and supervision is vital.

      Saying that, I do know what you mean about the difficulties in accessing quality supervision. Allison’s supervisor is in another city, so on top of the cost of seeing them for the appointment, she also has the cost of travel. But, she found that going to another city helped her find the right fit for a supervisor. She sees this as being the best arrangement for herself, and her clients.

      I know I’m coming at the problem from the client point of view, but I do believe that the onus is on the therapist to work ethically, and with supervision. I’ve been described as a “sophisticated” (read “trouble-maker”) client, and yet I have been in situations where I’ve doubted what is going on, and why. I’ve wondered if it’s because I’m doing some magical transference of issues; whether I’m resisting change; or whether the therapeutic environment is not right – which isn’t anyones fault, it just is what it is. When we’re in that space, we rely on the expertise, and clinical knowledge of our therapist to guide us through the minefield. I know that’s an awful lot of responsibility to put at a persons feet, and that is one of the reasons why I think good therapists are worth double their hourly rate.

      I know that at times, I have been so desperate to feel a connection, I’ve ignored any warning bells about what is going on. This was within the online forums, but it’s another way in which we learn from experience. The problem is, that some people are seriously hurt before the lessons are learned.

      I do agree that we need to have more awareness about how to choose a therapist out there – what the qualifications mean, what sort of questions to ask, how to read your initial reactions, etc. But even then, we can be so desperate to form a connection, and get help, that it often takes getting burned once or twice before we learn. But whatever we can do to inform the mental health service users, has got to be good 🙂

      lol… I often think of America as being 7 hours ahead, but a day behind 🙂 I can tell you now, that Tuesday felt like it was never going to end! I often joke that kiwis are over-achievers when it comes to the dateline 🙂

      Thank you and take care,
      CG

  21. CG,

    Honestly, I did feel strange talking up the “empowering the consumer” stance, because I think the bottom line is that you are correct: it is the clinician’s responsibility. However, I feel much the same way about parents, and look what sometimes happens there! Now I’m depressed. 😦

    Kudos to Allison for doing the work, for doing the right thing. Kudos to you too, for being “sophisticated” … just because you are. That’s why we enjoy talking our “gobbledeygook”, isn’t it? Not to “trick” you into sharing and opening up more like Allison requests, but to me, who you are, your sensitivity, your intelligence all mean that your therapy *desperately* needs your voice. I know that there are conflicting voices, backlash in the system, etc., which makes everything more complicated. Imagine the work where your voice is heard; where you make a go at tolerating the discomfort of the risk; where a discussion can be tolerated; where you hear, “thanks for saying so.” Now that, I’d love to hear about.

    A day behind, and Wednesday-jealous,
    Michael

    • Hi Michael,

      It’s a difficult dynamic, as the clients do need to be empowered… we can’t lay all of the responsibility at the feet of the therapist. But saying that, the therapist has a unique responsibility within the relationship, and they must have the skills to step up to that role. Like all relationships, it needs constant work by both parties, with each person bringing something unique into the equation.

      Allison always makes a point of thanking me for talking about the issues I’m facing. I think she does it to counter the old messages of children been seen, and heard… and preferably not seen either. There are many old messages about speaking up that I’m trying to sort through.

      I hope your Tuesday is going well 🙂

      Take care,
      CG

  22. RL,

    It’s good to know that virtual hammers are contraband for you. Hear that CG, everybody? In fact, maybe RL should not be allowed into the entire virtual tool shed. For fear of, you know … what she might do.

    Clearly, you are a bit of an agitator, whether you are coming from a Gambian standpoint, or not. And someone else who should keep talking to their therapist! (He sounds nice … but lock the hammers away in the shed, first)

    But here’s an important issue: if you are hiding out in CG’s blog, and I am here as well, is there room for us both, you know, virtually? I mean, I think I’ve felt your elbows already … they’re sharp. Scoot over, will you? Got anything for us to eat?

    Virtually Yours,
    Michael

    • Michael,

      >deletes stuff<

      I'm kind of feeling bad right now because I think there was some misdirected aggression coming out in what I was writing and so deleted it. I thought I was writing funny things, but maybe it was kinda hostile. And I don't want to be like that in CG's blog -or anywhere.

      *runs away to where CG's baby chicks and ducks live*

      ~rl

  23. RL,

    Do or feel as you must, but please don’t worry. If you were directing aggression at me, I didn’t so much take it as such, nor did it bother me. Actually I, like you, thought you *were* writing funny things. And I do think that hostility can be funny at times, as well (witness Ricky Gervais, whom I know is not for everyone, but who I think is hilarious and a genius). I kind of ended up teasing back with humor, as well.

    Hold on … she’s gone. CG, can you tell me how to get to the baby chicks and ducks? The only things I would have to go on is to try to follow any “cheeping” or quacking I hear, or if I heard a Gambian accent … I would point myself that-a-way.
    *walks away, calling “RL … yoo-hoo!”*

    Michael

    • Michael,

      Thank you for understanding. And, I’m sorry for getting weird. …I tried explaining more, but I can’t.

      I did laugh at your last comment. But, I don’t have any funny in me tonight -hostile or otherwise- to write a witty reply. So, I’m just going to stay hidden in CG’s Arboretum.

      ~rl

  24. Hi CG,

    I can relate. For me, it’s not rugby, but football. When it’s the season, it’s a really looooong season. I manage to avoid the TV and radio, but everywhere you go people are wearing the local team’s jersey or hat. Even the markets have huge displays suggesting foods and drinks for the big game. My ex-therapist’s office was directly above a liquor store where, of course, they had window displays and posters, all football themed. We live in a multi-family house and the couple downstairs would throw weekly football parties during the game. They would shake the entire place with their yelling and stomping, so even being home was triggering.

    I’m sorry you’ve found that it’s virtually impossible to avoid such triggers, too.

    Take care,
    Elle

    • Hi Elle,

      I’m sorry that football, and the associated events are such a trigger for you. I hope that you can find some safety, or easing of those triggers.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting…

      Take care,
      CG

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