Last week’s homework for therapy was to create a timeline of my entire life including anything major, stressful, traumatic, or highly memorable.

Umm yeah this was not fun. I went back through forty years, year by year and filled in the events. It left me feeling drained. And sad. So much pain there.

We started going through the events together, and my counselor asks questions or for more details about certain events. So far we made it to age 5. I was already tired going into the session. This format is particularly troubling. I feel like I can’t hide anything. Like every secret is coming, and that timeline is the roadmap of doom.

We spent some time discussing the molestation by my brother when I was 5, he was 12. Counselors have never focused much on this, because of my dad’s abuse taking center stage. But it seems I have considerable amounts of shame and guilt surrounding what happened with my brother. I think I have not been able to shift blame onto him like I did for my dad, so I still feel responsible or accountable. We were both kids, more equals than with dad. It is not simple. I want to forgive us both. But I don’t. It makes me feel like a bad person.

So yay, we uncovered the next topic for cpt retelling exposure. I am not sure if I should post that story once I write it. I feel much more protective of my brother than my dad. Or is it my own shame that makes this feel wrong? Have to think about it. 

12 thoughts on “Timeline

  1. You’re at a different place with your brother. If I remember right, he has expressed remorse and attempted to “make things right” as far as he able. My brother who molested me never apologized, but I wrote him a letter forgiving him. I knew he was also a victim of a predator. What made the difference for me was that he held to his word and never touched me again. His behavior changed, at least toward me. With time, the guilt and shame have faded, though they haven’t disappeared. I still have remind myself they aren’t mine to bear.

    • Yes, that’s a good way to put it, I am at a different place with my brother. You are correct, he has apologized multiple times actually, due to his illness causing him to forget that he did apologize. He painfully relives so much. My flashbacks are bad, but I do believe his hallucinations are worse. I guess I don’t blame him at all is where this is different. We were both kids, both victims, both growing up in this horrible house with porn everywhere. I blame myself for this one. I also wonder was his schizophrenia taking root yet? Had he started taking drugs yet? He also never forced me, nothing violent or cruel. So confusing. So messed up. Blah I hate this. I feel bad, as in I feel like a bad human when I think of this, because I did a bad thing, the shame is unreal for this still. I recall being little being afraid to get caught, knowing I was bad then. That feeling lingers I suppose

      • Repeat after me: It was NEVER my fault. I wasn’t bad, but bad things were being done to me. I did what I had to in order to survive, and no one taught me I had the right to say, “No.”

        The fault lays squarely with parents who didn’t teach us we had the right to say, “No.” Parents who didn’t teach healthy boundaries and actually violated boundaries, leaving us with the feeling of what was one more?

        I wasn’t forced either, which made it worse because we feel like we colluded. We didn’t collude, we trusted those who should have protected us but didn’t.

        You were an innocent, trusting little girl. You did nothing to deserve what happened to you. You were too young to understand except that your pure child’s heart understood it was wrong. You had no power except to fight to survive, and for us surviving meant accepting what happened, not because we agreed or wanted it or were colluding but because we didn’t know any other way. No one taught us another way. We’re learning now, but attempting to apply it in our head is a herculean feat. I remind myself I survived the actual physical battle, now I’m fighting the battle in my mind. Some days I’m better at hanging onto this than others.

      • Yes I can repeat that. I know that in my adult mind. but those core beliefs remain intact and I don’t know what needs to happen to change this part of me. Understanding intellectually don’t change the feelings that keep coming up. I’ll try to write more about it and see what happens

  2. Roots, I can’t imagine how difficult that must be. I am facing my own uncomfortable history. In a few weeks I have to write out my sexual history timeline which I’ m to present to my wife. No clue how this is suppose to help her, like rubbing her face in it all over again. It kinda baffles me

    • Oh that does sound difficult, sending you strength for that task. I am not sure either how that is helpful. I don’t think I would want such a thing from my husband, but maybe that is needed to open up honesty, make amends, and promote healing. I am not doing well at all in my marriage so I can’t advise. Couples counseling made everything worse sadly

      • Sorry to hear that, she won’t see a counselor with me because of her own bad experience. as I get closer to doing it I may learn more about it’s purpose. I know they do talk a bit about what to and not to share. Maybe It’s not as bad as it sounds.

  3. Time lines SUCK!!! You look at it and go holy crap um that is way too much to work through. But when I wrote mine I realized why I have such a hard time now. We decided after I wrote mine that I needed to put it aside for awhile because it was overwhelming me and if I get overwhelmed I snow ball so we are doing something else for the time being. But I just know it is so hard. Working through it. Talking about it. It’s hard but you’re doing it and that really is powerful.

    • Yes exactly, it is so much. No wonder when you start to tell people about your life, they fade or literally run away or don’t believe this all happened to one person. It is supposed to be a testament to my strength, but all I see is pain and pointless suffering. We are plowing through it. I understand about the snowballing, I have had to pause a few times myself.

      • Isn’t it ironic how other people can see our strength but we see our pain and our suffering and the struggle. We feel the struggle. They see the strength in our ability to fight through the struggle. It is a lot. It is so hard. I am tired. It can all be very tiring. But deep down. In the core of my being. I know I am strong or there is no way I’d be here today. I believe you are too!

  4. I am just at the start of doing a timeline and it does feel quite overwhelming and very sad and I’m quite scared of writing things there.
    Being molested by another child is very confusing and I think brings quite different feelings to abuse by an adult. You don’t have to post anything here unless you are totally comfortable with doing so.

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