Is Therapy ever a Bad Thing?

I had an intense therapy session on Tuesday, and here I am still trying to recover from it. Those looks into my past and into myself can be exhausting and overwhelming and sometimes it takes me days to snap out of it. Out of what? The anger. The grief over my lack of childhood and innocence.

The painful memories take me back to a place where I feel helpless, and even though I rationally know I am not there any more, I revert to some self sabotage. I’ve been overeating, eating too much sugar and junk, and escaping reality into a video game world for 2 days now. I’m about ready to come back, but I have a bit of guilt for wasting 2 days, and a bit of sadness there too. I also have some understanding, and try to be gentle with myself.

I did get out of bed, I did get dressed, I did make every meal and snack for the kids, I did load the dishwasher and sort some clothes. But I did not connect on any meaningful level with the kids or work on anything useful. I spent hours on end eating candy and chips and playing video games obsessively. I have nearly passed every level of the current game.

I am not a blanked out zombie while I play these games, my brain is busy, sorting, processing, and I think, possibly learning and healing. The intense focus of the games puts me in an almost trance of concentration. I am not overly emotional, but it is very intense. The speed of the games keeps me locked in. I get a huge satisfaction from beating each level and is nearly uncontrollable to want to beat the next level.

It is a beautiful day outside. I should take the kids to a park. I should weed the flowerbeds. I should paint the fence. I have so many things I should be doing, and yet I am already itching to get back to my game, just taking a break to blog about it. Am I addicted to games? Well, yes I am occasionally. My work is sliding today, but I will catch up all the hours before the pay period ends – I always do. But I do have this feeling that I MUST play this game, a must that I don’t enjoy.

In therapy we discussed how I often see the world through crap-colored lenses, no roses here. She said I have a hyper sense of responsibility and perfectionism. I often feel crummy when the slightest things go wrong, even though it didn’t really matter. I knew that I get this icky feeling, but have never been able to place it before. When I feel I have messed up, I go ahead and withdraw the love of my family before they can, knowing I am now unlovable. So even when they hug me or I see them smiling, inside I know they can’t really love me. That I am stupid and terrible and they deserve a better wife/mother.

My dad always held me up to an image of unattainable perfection, and his love was always out of reach until I could prove my perfection, which never happened. He also made me believe no one else could love such a wretched human as me too.  That my only worth was providing physical pleasure, and even that was my fault for being beautiful, for tempting him. I guess I go back to this tape in my head, that used to run non-stop, and now runs when I have made a mistake. I am grateful we figured this out, but it has taken me to a place I did not want to admit still exists in my head, that his voice still has such power over me.

——————–Here are some examples of my childhood mistakes, and a summary of the lengthy scoldings I would have:

When my room was messy – I was a lazy slob, pigs were cleaner, no one would marry a disgusting girl

When I missed 1 question on a standardized test, still scoring 99 percentile, he would sit me down to analyze the stats, and finding the error in “logic” he would laugh, and say of course, because girls could not be taught logic so I should stop trying, not fooling any man to think I am smart and certainly not ever logical

When I asked to stay home from school with a fever, it was because I was weak and pitiful and just wanted attention and someone to do my work for me

When I cried when a boy didn’t call me back – I was a stupid whore and that boy knew it

When I needed new clothes in middle school to fit my devleoping body – I was a sloppy fatass and didn’t need new jeans, just more exercise

When I was 16, had straight A’s, 3 jobs, a member of every club in school, volunteer at the hospital, and needed a loan to fix the car I had bought myself – I lacked the strength and discipline to develop a work ethic and took no pride in working hard and was always ready for a handout

When I wrote my first short story(the boy and the invisible train – I still remember a bit, sure wish I had it now) at the age of 4 on our old typewriter – he ripped it up and told me silly stories were a waste of time and he would take away that annoying clicking typewriter if all I could do was write nonsense (Yes – now I know how amazing that was I was writing stories at that age)

When I got ready for homecoming dance – My boobs were spectacular in that dress and all the boys would be lining up waiting for me to turn a few tricks, so he knew I’d be tired that night – then he felt me up and slapped my butt so I’d remember he was only loaning me out (umm, ya, I did not know what to do with boys liking me, so entirely confusing, I wanted to date, but I also did not want to be a whore, and I thought if I liked them then I must be a whore)

————————– Have to stop now, enough examples, feeling sick. SO when the therapist asked why I am so hard on myself? I told her a few examples.  How I was never allowed to make mistakes, and even things out of my control, like growing up and having hormones, were my fault also made me naughty and guilty. The problem is, how do I turn off that tape now that I pushed play? The examples are coming at me too quickly to hear much of anything else. And I didn’t share the X rated examples from dear old dad, because I am uncomfortable using words like filthy c*nt.  But they are there too, all mixed in daily. My dad tried so hard to make sure I never knew I was strong, smart, capable. Well, I am.

I will get through this, and forgive him of this too. But today is hard so the tomorrows will be even better.



14 thoughts on “Is Therapy ever a Bad Thing?

  1. Not to get into specifics, I was mandated by a judge to have a therapy session with one of my children and my ex-husband. The session ended and I felt horrible. With encouragement from the therapist, I decided to return on my own the next week for additional therapy. This went on for almost a month when my husband said, “You’ve got to stop!” Like you, I would come back and it would take me days to get over a session because visiting my past kept it alive. I was ready for my past to be my past so for me, I decided to take a different route. While I still talk to someone (and desperately needed to), it is more geared on how God sees me, not how the world sees me. I’ve learned that forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person but everything to do with me. I’ve learned that God is the only one who should judge me and when I have those “downer” days, well, that’s okay too because it won’t last for long.

    I have total sympathy for you and will lift you up in prayer. You are a wonderful person!

    • I am so ready for my past to be my past. I also don’t want to run away from pain if it will help in the long run. I’ll talk to my therapist about it. It hasn’t been so painful like this every time, and this one kind of hit me by surprise. Feeling much better today. Thank you for your prayers and kind words.

  2. I had a miserable childhood so I can relate.

    Although I’m not opposed to therapy, it does cause one re-live all those horrible past experiences. I’m not sure it’s healthy to keep talking about what your father did to you.

    It’s best not to think about those things. Accept that your dad was a weird, abusive a**hole. and don’t have anything to do with him. Work to consciously erase him and the things he said from your mind.

    Forget the past. If you keep wallowing in those memories, you’ll never be able to move forward.

    • Yes, I do think I agree that the specifics don’t matter any more, and that I should not have to keep reliving these moments. It did help me to see why I attack myself and often don’t enjoy myself when everyone around me is having fun. I’ll talk to my therapist and see what she says.

  3. My sister and I have talked about this. With the right therapist, counseling is a must. They are outside the situation and not emotionally invested. A healthy therapist has a healthy perspective, and healthy is where I want to be.

    Instead of beating yourself up, plan for this. It’s going to happen, so schedule the down time, that way you’re doing what you planned. I used to play games endlessly, but as I grew healthier, I played less. My sister still loses herself in computer games after a nasty session. It’s brainless. She likes to blow things up, and the computer games are a safe way to express the rage.

    From my sister’s discussions with me, and my own analysis (sounds so smart 🙂 ), the game playing’s a better choice than exploding all over those who want to help but can’t. You’re already doing an awesome job because you know you won’t stay there, playing endlessly. You know you’ll work through it and eventually be back to your regular routine. You wouldn’t beat yourself up so much if you had the flu. This is a flu of the spirit. Keep giving yourself time. You’re doing great.

    Wow… reading some of your tape reminds me of mine, and opened my eyes to insults I hadn’t recognized until I read them in your words. Is it bad to remember? No. I need to remember: not to wallow in it but to recognize it so I can make changes. Do I remember everything? No. I remember enough to help me make the necessary changes to leave the past behind.

    As you know, I live at home, with my NM and EF. It is reaching the point where it really doesn’t matter. I’m establishing healthy boundaries and successfully maintaining them despite the fact they haven’t changed. I’m able to accept them as they are, because I know they aren’t going to change. I’m learning to forgive them, but that doesn’t mean I trust them or condone any of the miserable, nasty things they’ve done.

    If you’re familiar with the Harry Potter series, my sister and I have come to realize you’re dealing with Dementors of the past, and right now your “chocolate” is the computer game. As you grow healthier, you’ll choose different “chocolate.” One day, you won’t need chocolate, and you won’t need a counselor, except maybe on a occasion. You know the value of having an outside perspective. I’m so proud of you. GO YOU!!

    • Yes, absolutely, dementors of the past, I love it! Don’t love having them, love your take on all of this. It is very helpful to me. Now I want to re-read Harry Potter. I also recall how Harry was more affected by those dementors, as abuse survivors also tend to feel things more strongly. You may be on to something here!

  4. I can’t speak specifically about abuse, but I have found that certain types of energy work can be really great for interrupting negative self-talk tapes. It sounds like that might be an appropriate nickname for the tape you are describing. I like recommending this site to learn Emotional Freedom Technique, for example:

    • Thank you for the link. Very interesting. I do believe we all have more power within us to feel better every day. Awareness I think is key, and this technique could certainly help with that.

  5. Your father designed your thinking using violence and abuse, no wonder product wasn’t perfect, it could be perfect only in wretchedness, something only your father was perfect at. Even if you tried very hard, you simply could not reach his level of perfection.

    ‘I go ahead and withdraw the love of my family before they can, knowing I am now unlovable.’

    You write you know you are unlovable at such times. Can you see how you create self-fulfilling prophecy here? You can withdraw the love of your family only one way. By withdrawing yourself From the love of your family, by not accepting their love for you, by not cooperating with them on love, by not giving them proper feedback. Can you see the difference?

    We All make mistakes, behave badly, have outbursts of anger at times but this doesn’t mean we are not loved by our families or don’t love our families ourselves. It’s true they are sometimes angry with us, irritated beyond recognition, just you need to remember condemnation doesn’t last forever. It isn’t total as it had been with your father. Try to imagine stop loving someone you love, because, in your estimation, they did something stupid. Would you ever feel you don’t love them anymore? You know it’s not that easy 🙂 Isn’t love bigger than any local irritation?

    You may be doing one nasty wretchedness to yourself, that is withdrawing From the love of your nonabusive family in key moments. You know where it comes from. It comes as a legacy from your father. Once taught it’s not easy to change our ways, but you can try, you are not different from any of us not-sexually-abused-people.

    • What a wonderful comment here. I have so much appreciation for your well wishing, and your advice, and for taking me back to re-examine my thoughts from last summer. I am happy to say that I do see that I can change these patterns, and that I now know love is bigger than any flaw, and that I am loved in my own little family by my husband and kids. I never truly believed that before, not in my core. You have it exactly right in your last sentence, and you have no idea how kind those words are – that I am not different. Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to form such a kind and helpful comment.

  6. Pingback: Anonymous Well Wisher | Roots to Blossom

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