Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Therapy #10: Opening up a little more

I never got around to journaling about my therapy session on January 23rd (we switched to every other week). In a nutshell, I brought in several posts from my blog, but I only ended up sharing this one with my therapist due to time constraint. I don't remember exactly what was going through my mind when I chose that particular post to share, but I think I chose it because it seemed to provide the best picture of my thought process when I get slammed with intense emotions. Like I've mentioned in past posts, verbally describing these particular situations in therapy has proven to be extremely challenging; for this reason, I am trying to share more of my written journal entries in therapy in hope that doing so will enable me to begin verbalizing my emotions.

Sitting opposite of my therapist while she was reading the post was very difficult (in all honestly, I kind of felt like fleeing the room - I think I would have had I not been so concerned that such behavior would have been more characteristic of a little kid than a woman who is turning 29 next week...). We didn't get to discuss it in any great depth because I had to invest a lot of time and energy into maintaining/regaining my composure; however, it did feel kind of liberating to share that little snapshot of my life with her.

Still, the second I walked out the door, I started second-guessing my decision to hand over that post, worrying that my therapist was now judging me. I went from feeling sad but slightly liberated, to feeling exposed, embarrassed and ashamed - all within just the short duration of time it took for me to walk out the door of her office onto the street. Despite this emotional turn toward the negative, I tried to hold on to a sense of accomplishment for having opened up a little more.

But then I received the email from professor letting me know that I had scored 61% on the makeup exam I had taken the Friday before my appointment. Keep in mind, when I left that exam I felt really good about it; I was actually anticipating getting a score in the A range. Because I thought the exam had gone well, I was trying to thrive on that positive momentum, ultimately convincing myself that I was well on my way to "getting my head back on straight" so that I could get caught up on work and finish school on a positive note. Getting that news completely deflated this positive momentum and reminded me that I still have a lot of work ahead of me before my life returns to "normal."

I put "normal" in quotation marks because once you begin to reach out for help to heal from sexual assault (or any form of trauma), whether it be in books, therapy, websites, etc., you will often hear that part of healing is integrating the traumatic experience into your life to create a "new normal." I am becoming more accepting of the fact that I will never be able to completely erase this experience from my life; instead of ignoring that it happened and that it impacted me deeply, I know that I have to create a new identity that acknowledges it as part of me.

With that being said, I really struggle with understanding and accepting certain ways that stupid night impacted my life. For example, I get really frustrated by the fact that I went to bed that night a very strong student, and then awoke as someone who would struggle greatly with academics for years to come. It's easier for me to wrap my head around and accept the fact that I struggle with sexual intimacy and boundary setting, but school work? It was as if stealing my virginity wasn't enough; he had to take half my brain with him.

I know cognitive performance can be linked closely to emotional well being, but having it affect me to this degree is just plain obnoxious, and well, just hard to accept. There was a semester that I started performing academically to the level I had before that night (i.e., the semester after A.T. graduated), so I am trying to remain faithful that I can regain my former brain and ensure that it maintains a prominent role in my "new normal."

By the way, I had therapy yesterday, but I plan on posting about it tomorrow. I awoke this morning feeling energetic and more focused than usual, so I want to make sure that I devote as much time as possible today to getting caught up on school work.

We have been having beautiful weather here in Tennessee these past few days - I hope that wherever you are, you are getting a piece of this sunshine!


  1. I'm glad you awoke feeling so good this morning.

    I am really proud of you for opening up more to your therapist. I know it's hard but it will get better.

    There's one thing I have began to understand. As survivors we will never fully understand the negative affects an assault has on us. There are two main reasons. 1) We could never understand the reasons why someone would do what happened to us, to another person, we are simply incapable of it due to our own humanity. 2) Our emotions change daily just like they do with anyone. This means that as soon as we think we are getting a grip on how we have been affected, the affects change. The only thing we can do is strive to understand, and support ourselves in the moment.

    It has been sun shinny down in AL and it was up here too.

    Again I am proud of you.
    BTW, you still have all your brain. Your brain just needs gentle hugs.

    (((gentle hugs)))

    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement, and my brain says thank you for the hugs :-)

  2. What a well written blog. I so appreciate your honesty and transparency. Will look at other posts. Right now I just want to say I am sorry for what has happened to you and I am here listening.....

    1. Just Be Real, thank you so much for the compliment and your kind words. Your support means a lot. Thank you for reading and letting me know that I have been heard. xx

  3. Came back by to give you another safe hug......