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#208125 - 02/29/08 08:08 PM Re: Glacial pace [Re: dark empathy]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
BMF,

Okay back to the mac and back to your thread and this comment:

Quote:
Surely, if we rationally know something to be other than we feel it, we can think our way into different behavior?

If only it were so, my friend. We are all pretty rational guys, I think, and if we could reason our way through this crap we would be healed in short order. I remember coming here in May 2005 and thinking, "I'll hang here for awhile and be all fixed up in a few weeks."

The problem is that there's a huge difference between knowing something and believing in it - trusting it enough that we are willing to use it as a tool in our lives. An example I often use is this one: Suppose you are at the shore of a frozen lake, and you know that with all the cold weather recently that lake is definitely frozen deep enough that you would be safe walking across the ice to the other side. But what if you're wrong? It's late and no one else is around. If you were to go through the ice you would be a goner for sure. So you walk around on the shore - you didn't believe in what you knew; you weren't able to trust it.

Our recovery from childhood abuse is similar in that the real damage to us is emotional more than physical. An abused boy learns a ton of false lessons about himself and his place in the world, and unless he receives the professional help he needs those false lessons remain with him into adulthood and can harm him in so many ways.

We all have examples of that, and those examples show so clearly how our emotions can overpower our logic and reasoning. Here are two of mine. I am successful and widely acknowledged in my field, yet until about two years ago I considered myself a very lucky fraud, despite all the recognition and success I gained. Where's the sense in that? None, of course. What was going on was that the feeling of worthlessness I learned as a boy was still affecting me, even without my knowledge. The other example is this. The man who abused me died in 1994 and as of 2003 I knew this: I googled his name and found his burial record. But one evening two years later, when I was talking with my Dad and a few other totally safe friends and relatives, I suddenly fell apart and told my Dad, "I'm scared it will start all over again. I can't make him stop." What's the sense in that, when I knew the perp had been dead 11 years by then? And even if he had still been alive he would have been a frail old man, hardly someone I would need to fear. What was happening was the Little Larry's fear suddenly resurfaced and overwhelmed Big Larry, who was still unprepared to understand and deal with those feelings.

Unfortunately, the feelings we have aren't things we can turn on and off like we would turn on the lights. They have been with us for a long time and it will take time to come to terms with them. I saw your comment:

Quote:
I'm interested in hearing about things you may have done to speed up the process, not statements about how we must accept this. I don't accept it. I guess I'm just angry. I didn't ask for this crap, and I want to fix it ASAP!

I understand your feelings entirely; you have every right to them. I guess all I can say is that sometimes we have to work with realities that stand beyond our control. No one can tell us we don't have a right to our anger and rage, but what I have learned is that anger just consumes emotional resources that I need for other tasks. Perhaps your experience will be different; mine has taught me that anger diverts me from my task and wastes my strength.

Much love,
Larry


_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#208177 - 03/01/08 01:15 AM Re: Glacial pace [Re: roadrunner]
LandOfShadow Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 684
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
BMF,

I too haven't known what to say to this, but I've thought the same things.

Quote:
I'm interested in hearing about things you may have done to speed up the process, not statements about how we must accept this. I don't accept it. I guess I'm just angry. I didn't ask for this crap, and I want to fix it ASAP!


This sounds like the old therapy adage that "the only way out is through."

_________________________
Et par le pouvoir d’un mot Je recommence ma vie, Je suis né pour te connaître, Pour te nommer
Liberté

And by the power of a single word I can begin my life again, I was born to know you, to name you
Freedom

Paul Eluard

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#208336 - 03/01/08 09:39 PM Re: Glacial pace *DELETED* [Re: LandOfShadow]
awakening Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/01/08
Posts: 342
Post deleted by awakening


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#209077 - 03/06/08 04:43 AM Re: Glacial pace [Re: awakening]
copenbay Offline
Guest

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 127
Hi BMF,

I'm with a lot of the others. I wasn't sure how to respond to your original post, because I wish healing weren't as slow as it is. How I wish it were simply a rational process that could be sorted out quickly without a great deal of pain and the rest of the mess that is humanity.
I read Roadrunner's well-reasoned reply, and agree wholeheartedly that so much of what happened to us centers on the wrong messages we got as children, and the impossibility of dealing with the wounds of the heart in short order. It's easy to think the mind is completely in charge of healing, and that if we can just instill all the right messages in place of the wrong ones, we'll be okay.
But even if our mind had a greater role than it does, it's impossible to know perfectly about anyone else's intentions or heart or thoughts that impact our reactions. Nor can we say that we, as children, even had a chance of processing everything that happened to us.
Though we are adults now, our hearts will not just heal quickly from the pain, even if it's been processed, or forgiven, or dealt with. I referred to the mess of our humanity, because it involves so much imperfection, along with the beauty. I'm not sure, even as an adult, that I'm capable of doing all it would take to speed my healing process, since I really don't think I'm the only one involved.
I've become a firm believer that people heal in community, as well as in therapy, as well as with friends, as well as with God, as well as with outside influences. It's hard for me to say that only one thing will push someone forward in healing, and make it less of a 'glacial pace', since I haven't experienced it that way myself.
Sometimes, too, we believe ourselves to be stronger than we really are. My own pride is very subtle too. It's just another version of wanting something I can control perfectly, or at least pretty well. I wish I could solve my problems by myself, and not need anyone else, but that too would be misplaced confidence, designed to make myself out to be better than I really am.
This may not be a fast process, but through many people's help, our own realizations, God, and numerous other sources too, it does happen. I can neither predict nor control anyone's healing, only hope to observe and affirm when it is happening, however slow it might seem, and hope that others will do the same for me, since I'm just as blind to my own progress as anyone else.
I hope this isn't depressing to you at all, though I recognize the frustration. I've had to learn to be pleased and celebrate any healing that happens and not just shake my fist at God or others or even myself that things don't go any quicker than they do. I hope and pray that each of us, in our own way, displays something inspiring about humanity and living with imperfections and pursuing the best as we move forward, however slow we seem to be moving.

Ed


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#209078 - 03/06/08 05:01 AM Re: Glacial pace [Re: copenbay]
copenbay Offline
Guest

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 127
Hi again,

I think I'm saying the same thing as Roadrunner regarding emotions overwhelming reason, though I express it differently. Whether it's 'heart' or emotions, I still have reactions that, if I'm not careful, will be completely unreasonable. My quickest example: I got cut from the staff for a job a few weeks ago, and immediately felt betrayed, though the boss was only doing what had to be done.
I was angry and resentful for an hour or two before realizing that it wasn't anything personal or meant for my harm. And in the past, that kind of thing has put me in a funk for days. So there is improvement with understanding. But I still can't guarantee perfect responses in every situation, even if I have the best possible understanding, because my emotions can, and do, still get in the way of proper reasoning.
For healing to be perfect and instantaneous, we probably would have to be perfect ourselves and those around us would all have to behave perfectly all the time. Neither of those conditions is possible in this life or any world that I know about. I can only try to make the best choices I can right now, and pray that I can help others to make good choices too whenever possible, and not expect more than is possible, for you, me, or anyone.

Ed


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#209220 - 03/06/08 09:25 PM Re: Glacial pace [Re: roadrunner]
BMF Offline


Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 60
Loc: Toronto
Originally Posted By: roadrunner

The problem is that there's a huge difference between knowing something and believing in it - trusting it enough that we are willing to use it as a tool in our lives. An example I often use is this one: Suppose you are at the shore of a frozen lake, and you know that with all the cold weather recently that lake is definitely frozen deep enough that you would be safe walking across the ice to the other side. But what if you're wrong? It's late and no one else is around. If you were to go through the ice you would be a goner for sure. So you walk around on the shore - you didn't believe in what you knew; you weren't able to trust it.


Larry, you are absolutely right. Great analogy by the way. I try to measure things in terms of regret. For instance, how much would I regret not bugging out during an approaching hurricane if one of my kids died as a result of staying? This is not the same as not having the courage to weather it out. It's more a matter of "what could this potentially cost me?". I feel like I've held back on my recovery by not being more courageous (it took me a year after I created an account on MS to make my first posting). I don't want to lose my wife. I would regret that much more than the pain of facing my demons. I can survive THAT - my wife saved my life.

Originally Posted By: roadrunner



Our recovery from childhood abuse is similar in that the real damage to us is emotional more than physical. An abused boy learns a ton of false lessons about himself and his place in the world, and unless he receives the professional help he needs those false lessons remain with him into adulthood and can harm him in so many ways.


Definitely. I also think that the endless loop we have playing over and over (and over) in our minds serves to reinforce those messages, forming deep grooves in our psyche. This is precisely why I asked the question in the first place. If we can reinforce the negative messages, can the reverse not also be true?

I'm sorry to hear about your retraumatization surrounding your abuser. Thank you for sharing it with us. I'm embarking on some inner child work, because I also have the same kind of fears.

Originally Posted By: roadrunner

I understand your feelings entirely; you have every right to them. I guess all I can say is that sometimes we have to work with realities that stand beyond our control. No one can tell us we don't have a right to our anger and rage, but what I have learned is that anger just consumes emotional resources that I need for other tasks. Perhaps your experience will be different; mine has taught me that anger diverts me from my task and wastes my strength.


I have actually come to the conclusion that I have been suppressing my anger so much that until recently I rarely ever expressed it. Maybe this is because my martial arts was such an effective outlet. I think I need to express my anger more often so that it doesn't eat me from the inside out.

Originally Posted By: LandOfShadow

This sounds like the old therapy adage that "the only way out is through."


LandOfShadow, this is absolutely what I have had in the back of my mind lately. My wife and I often repeat this phrase. Oddly enough, I only heard it for the first time a few months ago. I like it, because it signifies action rather than avoidance, and I've been the king of avoidance for most of my life.

Originally Posted By: awakening

like you I have felt impatient with the pace of recovery. Sometimes I thought I was there, only to realize how far I still had to travel. At other times, things have gone really fast... almost too fast to process.


awakening, I have also had many times when things were going much too fast. I think that building some momentum in my recovery has enabled me to occasionally stick my head above water, and it seems to be getting better, especially this last year.

Originally Posted By: copenbay

It's easy to think the mind is completely in charge of healing, and that if we can just instill all the right messages in place of the wrong ones, we'll be okay. But even if our mind had a greater role than it does, it's impossible to know perfectly about anyone else's intentions or heart or thoughts that impact our reactions. Nor can we say that we, as children, even had a chance of processing everything that happened to us.


copenbay, I agree with what you've said. I'm not trying to minimize what we've all been through. I think this might be one of the prime reasons that things don't go as quickly as I want them to. Sometimes I don't even know what the hell I'm thinking or feeling - the type of confusion you might expect from a small child. You can't expect to go in the right direction if you don't know which way is up. You have a lot of information in your posting that is probably going to take me some time to digest...



My thoughts are that the more changes we can make, the easier it becomes to make changes, kind of like how kids learn from rote. Starting from nothing (or very little) they learn something, and build on that knowledge.

BMF

_________________________
If a man's character is to be abused, say what you will, there's nobody like a relation to do the business.
- William Makepeace Thackery

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