17th November 2021 at 9:20 pm #134176
I need a safe space to reflect and discuss some recent things that have come up since attending EMDR therapy. Any comments, advice is welcome. I originally went to therapy through my local DV charity to address C-PTSD + Trauma that I had been left with as a result of a 6 year coercive, emotionally abusive, sexually abuse and sometimes physically abuse relationship.
While working with my therapist, she insisted we looked at my childhood – at the time it didn’t feel necessary but I went along with it as she is the professional. After a few weeks it became apparent that my step-dad who raised me is a n********t and was manipulative and emotionally abuse to me from the age of (removed by moderator). I knew my dad was a n********t but I didn’t realise he was abusive towards me growing up – seeing him and my mum, and the way he treated me taught me that their relationship and the way he was towards me to me was ‘normal’. I was a child, why would I question it? I thought the way all dads were like him and I loved him.
However through therapy, and untangling of childhood memories that came up through EMDR made it apparent to my therapist and to me that it was from normal. This has been a massive shock to me, as the more we dived in the more I saw mirrored behaviour between my father and abusive ex. Even from gaslighting quotes: “Why are you so sensitive”?, “You can’t take a joke”, “That isn’t good enough”, “Try harder”, “Do better”, “You’re paranoid”, “That never happened”, “You’re crazy”, “You don’t know how to take a joke”, “If you actually listened to me?”, “Stop taking everything I say so literally” and the list continues. Both my father and ex used these quotes I can hear both their voices and the memories from both of them playing in my mind like identical mirrors.
Although my dad was never physically abusive to me – he often put me down, he undermined my success, he paid me to (removed by moderator) every weekend and told me wasn’t good enough and would make me do it again then pay me (as a young teenager I thought this was great), he made me cook his meals, he undermined my success if I got a B / C at school it would be get an A / A* and you’ll get a reward. He said I only had ADHD / Dispraxia and Dyslexia because (removed by moderator) (I didn’t). He mocked me, put me down and really bullied me. He would compete with me with who could eat the most, video games, maths whatever. He would talk to me about his sex life with his girlfriends and make up vulgar lies about my Mum. I didn’t realise any of this until I went to therapy where I remembered everything. The list continues.
I know was heavily manipulated by my abusive ex, I know that and although I still blame myself at least I now understand WHY I was attracted to my ex and why I put up with the abuse for so long – it was ‘normal’ to me. I thought I was the problem because my ex’s behaviour to me (apart from the odd red flag) was ‘normal’. This is what’s completely head f****d me.
I’ve made the decision to cut my step-dad out my life, yes he raised me and I call him Dad but since I’ve been so focused on my recovery I’ve felt so uncomfortable speaking to him and getting anxiety whenever the phone rings – it’s been nearly (removed by moderator) years since I’ve seen him (pandemic, studies, life) but also now I realise why I felt uncomfortable. This all has come to me the last few weeks.
I haven’t had time to process all of this and it is a MASSIVE shock – a massive shock and as much as I hate my ex, which is a lot. When I worked this out, for some twisted reason he was the person I wanted to run to and to hold me – he was my ‘best friend’ for (removed by moderator) years and this is something to completely uproot my world since I left him. I broke no contact – we went for a walk in public, I didn’t tell him why although after a year of no contact he realised something was up (thankfully he didn’t harm me) – I don’t know what I was looking for, I guess for the fake man he created that I fell in love with that made me feel safe and loved temporarily way back when, I realised I had made a mistake, got home safety and have reassumed no contact once again and I won’t be returning.
I explained all of this to my therapist, and said I needed time to process this stuff about my Dad to which she said she felt I had processed it so it’s time to work on my ex abusive relationship. It’s through a DV charity so the sessions are limited and time is an issue so I understand her pressure – but now we’re processing the first few years of the abuse I endured with my ex partner, she’s reminding me of the abuse to prevent me from going back and I’m remembering every abusive moment within that time for the first time in many years – and it’s too much and I am completely overwhelmed and triggered. I used to smoke a lot of w**d to block all of the abusive memories and trauma out while in the relationship, it was how I survived. W**d, studying like a machine and not sleeping and living with the abuse and my ex but I was so stoned back then, I just was numb. That’s how I survived. Now on top of the shock of my Dad I am facing the excoriating painful memories and traumas of the despicable things my ex put me through and it’s too much. I can’t put them in a container during the session, I can’t sleep, I’m having nightmares and I am starting to feel suicidal again and it’s too much.
I am so grateful for leaving the relationship, I’m grateful for seeing my father for what and who he is, I’m grateful I know what attracted me to the toxic relationship with my ex. I’m grateful I am in therapy working on my traumas to let go, to move forward and be a healthy person one day but for now. It’s so painful.
Has anyone experienced a similar situation?
Have they discovered an off button for PTSD yet?
If you’ve read all of this thank you so much for taking the time, any advice is welcome, I just feel very very alone with this experience and I haven’t got a strong support system behind me. Any advice welcome! Thank you beautiful survivors.
Healing Butterfly Babe XOX
17th November 2021 at 10:37 pm #134189iliketeaParticipant
Sending you a big hug. I’m good for nothing as ill but will write in the morning. Yes also had this happen through trauma counselling which then ended so didn’t have to revisit when I was feeling overwhelmed. Can you go to your GP to get anti depressants?just a low dose, it’ll really help to dampen the fight/flight trauma response you’re experiencing and help work through the trauma. More tomorrow, stay strong, there’s so much knowledge and support here keep asking and posting. X*x
17th November 2021 at 11:22 pm #134192DarknessallaroundParticipant
I’m so sorry to hear how traumatised and overwhelmed you are feeling… and it’s no wonder, you are dealing with a hell of a lot.
EMDR can be really helpful for trauma and ptsd, but… and this is a big but – doing it within the tight timescale that the DV charity can only offer could potentially do you more harm than good. EMDR is fine for processing relatively simple stuff in a limited time, but complex ptsd will take longer to work through.
Has your therapist gone through creating a safe place for you when things become overwhelming? Has she taught you grounding techniques, coping mechanisms, breathing exercises? All these need to be in place before you start going into really difficult stuff.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and suicidal then you must tell her and possibly stop the therapy until you are in a more stable place to deal with it
I am speaking from personal experience here.
17th November 2021 at 11:22 pm #134193EggshellsParticipant
You certainly have had an awful lot to process.
Before you started EMDR your therapist should have spent at least 2 sessions “installing” safety techniques for you. This may be going to your safe space in your head or perhaps squeezing a finger. If this hasn’t been done, then you need to find another therapist. Trauma therapy can be incredibly triggering. My first trauma therapy was horrendous. It was talk therapy and just like you, it exacerbated my PTSD and the therapist suggested we stop and just have sessions to get me through the here and now. I waited a year and tried again, this time, EMDR. Going through the therapy was traumatic but we always finished by going to my “safe place” which stopped me plummeting.
Honestly, if it’s too overwhelming, just stop. Wait until you are ready and try again. There are lots of different options for accessing free therapy. Many areas have a self referral scheme through ‘Insight IAPT’. If your area does not have this scheme then please ask your GP. You do get a limited number of sessions but you can self refer back to them if you need more therapy.
Your therapy should not be leaving you with nightmares and panic attacks and I’m surprised that your therapist is pushing you to fit their timeline as it can be incredibly damaging to rush a patient through therapy, especially if they haven’t installed any safety nets for you.
18th November 2021 at 3:52 pm #134225
Thank you so much for replying and offering support, and the hug (it was needed!!). I’m feeling a lot less triggered today and really looked after myself last night which has helped.
I’m currently on a very low of antidepressants for Fibromyalgia / C-PTSD symptoms.
I will keep strong, and keep going with it as it has been beneficial so far. I’m going to address my concerns with my therapist now via e-mail.
Warmest wishes, sending you a big hug back!xx
18th November 2021 at 4:02 pm #134226
Hey Darknessallaround and eggshells,
I am feeling a lot better today. Once I realised I was in flight / fight mode, I did some things to ground me and as a result am feeling a lot better. Thank you so much for messaging.
You’re right, I am dealing with a hell of a lot – I’ve been doing EMDR now for four months and it has helped significantly with two traumas already.
My therapist has made it clear she cannot help with everything but we have chosen the memories that impact me the most day-to-day and working on those. Unfortunately, I have been declined therapy from NHS services as they do not give therapy for C-PTSD or any treatment and relay heavily on the DV charities for that. I have been fighting this battle for many years, and have tried everything. I have looked at all options and have had terrible experiences with private therapists, I am not able to work at the moment, and the therapist and charity DV being specifically trained in DV + Trauma for low cost is the best option for me. My GP has referred me for therapy / counselling/ CBT and it repeatedly gets declined. I have a mental health advocate and have been battling this for years. DV charities are the only people who have given me support for my C-PTSD and trauma over the last few years.
My therapist has gone through creating a safe place, and also provided me with relaxation exercises. We have my protectors, the wise one, and nurturer. I have a lot of self-awareness of grounding and coping mechanisms but she didn’t bring these into our last session hence me getting incredibly triggered and distressed.
I’ve emailed my therapist today stating it’s incredibly important that she guides the containing / safe place as our session comes to an end as I am not able to do this individually and also informed her of how triggered I became the following day of our session so she is aware.
Thank you for the advice and guidance 🙂
18th November 2021 at 6:45 pm #134235EggshellsParticipant
That sounds like a good move to me. I’m so sad that all of this has had such a profound affect on you. You have been incredibly strong to keep going!
Big hugs xx
19th November 2021 at 4:49 am #134249DarknessallaroundParticipant
I’m glad to hear that you are calmer and not so triggered now.
Yes unfortunately EMDR on the NHS is a postcode lottery. I was lucky enough to be in an area of the country where the CMHT had a Psychologist trained in EMDR, but the waiting list was very long and it was difficult to get accepted in the first place.
I also had to make use of an advocacy service and they were helpful, but it’s incredibly draining to have to fight for everything that should be available to all.
Private therapist’s who offer EMDR are very expensive and you have to be so careful about finding a properly trained one.
Wishing you well on your healing journey.
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