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#212383 - 03/22/08 10:53 PM incorporating emotion (big turtle post)
tartugas Offline
Board Member
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 02/11/07
Posts: 513
Loc: NYC
Hey Guys,

I've beginning to really struggle with incorporating my emotions into my life, and I need some help.

So the past couple of weeks have been challenging after a really good stretch. I've noticed a pretty big spike in my anxiety levels after things had seemed pretty stable for a while now. For the most part I'm dealing with it as best I can, trying hard not to withdraw from the world and stay connected to friends, but it's getting harder.

I know that there are a lot of guys who have virtual video playbacks of their abuse. I'm not one of them. When they think about or are reminded of their abuse they can get frozen almost literally reliving the experience by watching it in their minds. This has never happened to me, as I've always been somewhat detached from my abuse. I have some memories of what happened, but I've never really felt that same kind of horror, rage, fear, etc. when I think about what was done to me.

What became clear to me this week was that, contrary to what I had always assumed, I DO in fact suffer flashbacks -- emotional flashbacks. Instead of having the virtual video memory of what happened come back to me, I relive the emotions that I felt while being abused (and, to be perfectly honest, a lot of the emotions that I must have dissociated from as a child growing up in a chaotic and miserable situation).

The experience that most drove this all home for me this week was a nightmare I had earlier this week. I woke up from my dreams in a state of total fear that I couldn't break through. Even though I was in bed with my girlfriend, in a totally safe place, and with someone I absolutely trust and love, I could not shake myself free of the terror I was feeling. My whole body was frozen in fear and I was aware of being cognizant of both my real present surroundings and also of the emotional state I was in that was in no way an appropriate response to my surroundings.

It was very hard not to completely give into the panic and start shutting down, but I tried very hard to keep checking myself and reminding myself that the feelings I was experiencing, though painful and uncomfortable, were in some way different than what I was actually living through at that moment(i.e. lying in bed with my girlfriend having her hold me and tell me she loves me). I called in sick to work (as I was in absolutely no shape to do anything productive) and made an appointment to see my T.

In my session I realized that the nightmare was a form of processing and opening myself up to the emotions that I should have felt in the past, but that I had managed somehow to bury and avoid feeling. In other words a flashback. In order to survive the circumstances I faced as a child, I literally shut myself off from experiencing my emotions (don't ask me how I did it, the training came at a very early age). I've spent the majority of my life in a totally cerebral manner, thinking and processing almost everything, never allowing myself to "let go" and "be myself". But, in reality I've also spent most of that time fighting through flashbacks of fear and pain that I continued to bury and plough through, thinking that I was just being stupid, silly, or too sensitive.

The fact that the nightmare had such a strong hold on me upon waking up means that I'm getting closer and closer to incorporating my feelings and my emotions back into my life. In the past few months, I've finally begun to be able to accept myself in a way that I never dreamed possible. I have been able to simply "be" and live in the moment without preprocessing and hyper-analyzing ever choice I make. More importantly, I've begun to be able to distance myself from the mundane everyday problems that come up in life (like missing a subway train for instance), and NOT take responsibility for everything that happens.

While on the one hand I'm exicted about this, on the other, I'm really struggling with the dawning realization that there's a lot of anxiety and pain and fear and bad crap buried inside of me that's coming up to the surface. The more and more I authentically experience the present moment without those hyper-analytical denfenses, the more I get in touch with real emotions. The more I get in touch with my real emotions, the more I open the door to this storehouse of pain that I never felt in the past.

I'm beginning to feel completely run down. As I'm writing this, my head is beginning to throb. Earlier today my girlfriend and I made love, and although it was good in the moment, I've watched as a mounting tide of panic and fear has slowly begun flooding into me. I know that this fear has nothing to do with what I'm experiencing right now, but the feelings from the past are flooding into me and I'm feeling those feelings right now.

All right, so after this whole long story here are my questions:

1. Does anyone else relate to this? Do you have/Did You have this experience?
2. How can I get through these times without stifling my emotions, but also without losing touch with the present moment and getting lose in some vortex of past emotions?
3. When does it stop? I mean, when will this stop being such a challenge?
4. Does anyone have any advice for how to discuss this with my girlfriend? She is amazingly loving and accepting of me. And she knows everything about my past already. I do share with her most of this stuff, but I find myself getting tounge tied and confused when trying to tell her about it.

I'm not scared of what's going on. I understand it better than I ever have before. I know that I'm going to make it through this phase into a stronger, better place. It just sucks right now. Really, really sucks.

_________________________
"I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.
And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill.
I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self...."
Healing D.H. Lawrence

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#212387 - 03/22/08 11:11 PM Re: incorporating emotion (big turtle post) [Re: tartugas]
DanM Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/09/07
Posts: 540
Loc: So. California
well, I can relate to your situation. I have pretty much have gone through the same emotions/feels/process over the last 18 monts. In my case, it as the thawing out of my emotions that had been frozen for 40+ years. As I began to confornt my abuse and try to emotionally deal with it,all the pent emotions started to surface. I had a period of about 4-6 months that were lowest days of my life, pain, suffering, sadness....depression. I finally began to feel after all these years of being cold and indifferent to the world and those around me. The good thing is, that in spite of the pain and sadness, I was feeling my emotions..good and bad ones. But, I began to experience life and not filter out all the pain and emotions. Then, one day, like most people told me things seemed better, not depressed all the time...the world seemed like a better palce and more tolerable. I just discussed it with my wife. I found it was helpful to me to keep open lines of communications with her and talk things out. The keys is not to isolate yourself...I told my wife that if I seem to be pulling away or isolating myself to tell me and to help me get reconnected by calling down to watch tv together or go out..or play a board game...something to keep me grounded and connected. it seemed to work for the most part.

Hang in there..it will get better...

Dan


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#212461 - 03/23/08 11:15 AM Re: incorporating emotion (big turtle post) [Re: DanM]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 1990
Loc: durham, north england
I certainly recognize the idea of emotional flashbacks as something that's been happening to me for years, which i'm only now trying to deal with. Everytime I even read the S word or de>

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#212541 - 03/23/08 05:56 PM Re: incorporating emotion (big turtle post) [Re: dark empathy]
Freedom49 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/30/07
Posts: 2723
Loc: Washington State
Luke
This is a symptom. The problem is how abuse has messed up your feelings about S. When we are abused S takes on a whole new and many times sick meaning and feelings of being anywhere from naughty to down right perversion fill us with the need to avoid the subject and obsess with it all at the same time. Like a loop in a computer program or a record (if your old enough to remember those) with a scratch that keeps repeating the same song or phrase. The recording needs to be re written. Something to discuss with your T. There are ways of doing that but to lengthy to discuss here. Your T should be able to help you there and there are books he can tell you about. This is fixable but will take time and work. Might me scary at first but totally rewarding int he end.


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#212554 - 03/23/08 06:40 PM Re: incorporating emotion (big turtle post) [Re: Freedom49]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 1990
Loc: durham, north england
Thanks roger, i'd be interested to here about some of those ways of dealing with this.. I'm not sure how equipped my T is to deal with this particular problem, she's a psychodynamic/humanistic counceler, and though she's qualified I'm not convinced on her experience with these particular issues. I've asked someone to try and locate me a more specialist Therapist especially to deal with these particular fears, and I'd certainly appreciate any advice for things I can try on my own.

Other than not flinching at a Tv program or a friend's comment in casual conversation, I can't understand what rewards there could be in this. the closest anyone's ever wished to be to me was to hurt and humiliate me, though I very much desire to be loved and to love someone else in all! senses, I find the idea that this will ever be fulfilled absolutely and utterly impossible as I said in the friends and family forum, and I often wish I didn't have this desire at all sinse it's brought me nothing but considderable and prolonged amounts of pain and suffering year after year!

I'm sorry about that, it just seems whenever I go anywhere near this particular area I run into a huge wall of hurt, it took a massive hammer blow in this area on november the eleventh last year to convince me that no, I was not fine. I can stand it, I can confront it, but I can do absolutely nothing about it.

I know that the first stage is to confront my self worth issues, which I'm trying to do at the moment but even that is proving quite a battle.

Oh heck! sorry for that miner tyrade. Thanks for your advice about the phobia business Roger, and I'll certainly be glad for anything else you can recommend.


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#212623 - 03/23/08 10:32 PM Re: incorporating emotion (big turtle post) [Re: dark empathy]
tartugas Offline
Board Member
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 02/11/07
Posts: 513
Loc: NYC
Hey Dark,

If I can offer one bit of advice I've won after hard work (and harder luck). Love come for us (more often than not) only after we've done the hard work of learning how to love ourselves. Once we've shed ourselves of the burdens and pain that other people put on us, then not only do we see the world differently, but the world itself sees us differently, since we hang our heads a little higher, smile a little more, and act with a greater openness to all. This is the place where true love resides. One really good thing about healing is, the closer we get to that place, the more and more people come into our lives in healthy nurturing ways.

_________________________
"I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.
And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill.
I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self...."
Healing D.H. Lawrence

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#212626 - 03/23/08 10:35 PM Re: incorporating emotion (big turtle post) [Re: DanM]
tartugas Offline
Board Member
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 02/11/07
Posts: 513
Loc: NYC
Dan,

Thanks so much for this reply. I can't tell you how much it helped me to hear my own version of stuff corroborated by someone else. I'm really amazingly fortunate to have the woman I have in my life right now. She's been through some rough challenges too, so she can appreciate (even if she can't comprehend the depths) of my challenges.

I'll go back to this post over and over again.

_________________________
"I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.
And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill.
I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self...."
Healing D.H. Lawrence

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#212660 - 03/24/08 06:38 AM Re: incorporating emotion (big turtle post) [Re: tartugas]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 1990
Loc: durham, north england
Chris this advice is really great to here. I'm getting completely and totally sick of the "give it time" business which i usually get from people over this. I've been following that stratogy sinse I was 18, and after 7 years, despite all my closest friends (a couple of whome were in exactly the same position I was 7 years ago), are now very perminantly with someone.

I really like the idea that if I can learn to love myself a bit more, and learn to actually believe it might be possible for someone to have feelings for me, this will make it more likely that someone will. this gives me something to work on and aime for.

thank you for this, and I'm really sorry about hyjacking the thread on this issue when my actual point was to do with the recurring problem I get with any mention of issues surrounding the S business or physical contact. I'm not sure if this is the same as what you mention yourself, but your explanation did remind me of it.

thanks again for the really great advice.

Luke.


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