In therapy earlier this week, we were triggered/moved with very, very deep emotion and instinctively got up to seek a hug from Therapist. T said, “No.” And we crumpled to the ground and sobbed.
The denial of contact felt like the parents’ denial of nurturing every night of our childhood. The recognition of the pain was instantaneous.
During childhood daytime hours, we received meals and affection and love and nurturing and indifference and no oversight and threats and violence and exposure to pornography.
Night was total. At night, we were dead to them.
We don’t know which came first, being sexually abused by non-family members in our home or the inability to sleep at night due to safety concerns. It really doesn’t matter since they both occurred, and causality does not assist our healing at this point.
What matters is that this nighttime neglect–which also turned into physical abuse if we persisted in trying to meet our needs for nurturing–was triggered in therapy and also not met.
This may be a limitation with the therapeutic model. T is allowed to set personal and professional boundaries. “You may not touch me.” “I’m worried X will lead to Y.” “I don’t want to lose my license.” These were real concerns alive in T.
And T said something that further triggered us: “I don’t wan’t us to reenact your sexual abuse.” We took those words and reminded ourself we are dirty, disgusting. Of course she doesn’t want to hold us. We are defiled.
There has to be literature about this.
So we just read a journal article by Susan Lord who treats a client who experienced childhood sexual abuse. (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15228870802103671)
“‘I feel bad. I feel like I am made up of badness and anger.’ Katie [the client] says that she feels dirty, bad, and ashamed of what has happened to her and of the person she fears that she has become. She believes that she caused the abuse, and this contributes to a sense of shame, low self-esteem, and self-loathing that interfere with her capacity for authenticity and intimacy. She is afraid that, if they get to know how bad she is at her core, people will not like her. She is often angry and controlling with me and with others in her life, which seems to serve the function of regulating an optimal distance for her. It also helps her to feel in control of her life, while maintaining her isolation and preventing change from happening. The change that is necessary here is an organic one that requires open interaction with another whom she cannot control.”
Do you see our dilemma in not receiving a hug? Can you understand T’s dilemma? Therapy triggered one of our Traumas. We reenacted the trauma with T. Now we are reTraumatized.
The article asserts that Trauma must be reenacted in therapy for healing to occur. It must. Not, “it might happen.” It must happen.
There must be violence, it says.
But violence begets violence. hatred never ceases hatred but by love alone is healed.
Here is how to move forward: we must be the one to be there for ourself, ultimately. We are crying out for a parent who cannot come now to nurture Little because that was the past. We must be the one to comfort ourself eventually. That is the future. We have to learn it. We will be in pain as we learn to be our own support. We must achieve an internal locus. We cannot persist in looking for outside entities to fill our void. The void cannot be filled by external acts. That window closed with childhood. And still we need community. To not be alone. To be metaphorically held now as we learn.
can we willingly embark on the violence of healing violence?