It's been one year and nine months since I first started counselling, and almost exactly one year since I started to understand the extent and impact of my brother's abuse. I have had weekly sessions during that entire period, apart from a period of about three months when I was having fortnightly appointments. That's a lot of counselling. It's such a part of my life now that I have trouble sometimes remembering what life was like before I started. In the last few months, as I've been digging deeper into trauma that's been buried for a long time, counselling has started to feel like a bad dream. I keep thinking that I went into this feeling a little bit down and depressed and now, without quite knowing how it happened, I'm living in a whole new world. It's a world where I talk about trauma and abuse in familiar terms, where anxiety is measured on a scale of severity but is never entirely absent, where often I can't sleep because talking about things has made me unsettled and upset, where sometimes I need to curl up in bed like a wounded animal and hide from the world, where I feel intense shame for things that shouldn't have shame attached to them at all - it's a world where I live with a pain that goes so deep I don't even have the words to describe it. I never intended to enter this world. I didn't even know it was there and sometimes I just can't believe this is where I live now. It feels like a bad dream and I want to wake up.

At times I think that if I'd never gone to see a counsellor I wouldn't be in this place. I wouldn't be someone who has survived abuse. I wouldn't be anxious. I wouldn't have insomnia. I would float along happily and not be in this strange and difficult world. Sometimes I feel like I made a mistake seeing a counsellor, and that taking that step caused all these things to happen... like it's my own fault that I'm now struggling, and living in a place that's frightening and hard. These are the times when I need to remind myself of what is true.

Truth: whatever his motives, the way my brother treated me was abuse. Calling it abuse or calling it something else or even ignoring it won't change the truth. Abuse is abuse.

Truth: whatever her motives or her understanding of the situation, and even though she loves me, my mother allowed my brother to continue to abuse me. The fact that she loves me and didn't see it as abuse doesn't change the effect it had on me.

Truth: just because I didn't feel traumatised doesn't mean I wasn't. If that's my 'normal', how could I possibly know?

Truth: anxiety is not new. I've always had anxiety attacks, especially at night; I just didn't know what they were. Counselling helped me name them. It didn't cause them.

Truth: before I started counselling, I wasn't happy. I didn't feel safe. I didn't know how to trust people. I didn't like myself. I wanted a 'reset' button. I longed to escape, to be a different person, to start again where no one knows me. Counselling didn't make this happen; it just made me recognise it.

Truth: sometimes I don't know what's true, or I know it but I have no idea how to get there. I need help to see the truth and live in the truth. That's the point of counselling. It's not to make me feel terrible or to condemn me to a new and painful world; it's to help me see where I'm living and then help me move on and start to live in a better place.

And that's the truth.



Swift Jan said...

You are very brave to be facing the truth! I admire you a lot... Keep at it :)

Givinya De Elba said...

Ditto. I pray you have the strength and courage to press through this and get to a place when you do feel safe, you can trust people and you do like yourself. (We all like you very much, btw!!)

Hippomanic Jen said...

I wish you didn't have to be in this place, too, but not because you didn't recognise it. I wish the abuse hadn't happened in the first place.

You are very brave and strong to have worked through this much of the rubbish that's accumulated in your life. And it's okay to feel sometimes that it would be good not to be there, that it's all too hard. Hey, I'm an asthmatic and there have been times when breathing has been too hard and I just want to stop and rest for a bit. I always kept going, though and eventually it got easier. Time, medication, counselling, God - so many factors. May you know the joy of LIFE when you get through this dark, scary time when you're tired of trying.

Femina said...

Okay, so now that I've stopped crying I'll try to reply...

You ladies are truly awesome and a huge blessing in my life (and I extend this to certain other readers who comment at other times. You know who you are... if you think I might be talking about you, I probably am.)

Thank you for your constant support. I don't care if I've never met you in 'real' life; you are great friends to me. And anyway, the internet IS real!

Equidae said...

the truth is everyone has something whichisnt good in his life, some are severe and others mild. Some decide to face it so they can move on and enjoy what remains of life like you and others ust try to hide it deep within, ignore it, forget it and in consquence live loike an automan without happiness. Good luck!

le @ thirdontheright said...

hello F - firstly thanks ever so much for sharing your friend's home school experiences - ever so helpful.

And now to your journey. You are a star for taking the time and making this effort to find a healthy way forward .... working on oneself is one of the greatest projects of life I think ... my best to you in this all - le xox

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