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#410593 - 09/19/12 03:22 AM More thoughts that keep me up... *Triggers??*
CdnDW Offline


Registered: 08/24/12
Posts: 105
Do any spouses / partners on here or do any survivors know of their partners having a hard time with obsessing about the actual abuse? I have known about my H's abuse for years more or less. I have encountered this before and it gets better when I stop pushing the situation with my H and become complicit in his denial that it affects him, but he is finally started therapy to deal with the effects of the trauma, so it is (gladly) not getting put swept under a rug again. In the meantime though, I feel like I am trying to come to grips with the abuse MYSELF. I have imagined images of it that pop into my head as if they were my own memories. I have become paranoid about my own kids and right now I can't imagine ever feeling comfortable with allowing them the independence that would also allow an adult or older teen have access to abuse them. I was watching a fantasy kids movie with my kids the other day and I started to cry at the end because I identified with the courage of the young boy and imagined how this courage and wonder with the world would be ripped away from him if he were abused.

These feelings are so damn strong and I have been getting more and more depressed and more anxiety. I am having trouble getting out of my head and in the moment so much that I almost walked in front of a car while crossing the street today. When I can't stop the actual thoughts and images of child abuse in my head I start to feel overwhelmed and sick to my stomach... like I'm going to vomit (and almost have a couple times). Has anyone else experienced this? Is this a common reaction? I am becoming paranoid that this reaction is coming from some memories of my own that I have repressed. I recall mid-way through high school doing a method acting exercise in class where we used chant, rythmic clapping etc. to connect with our subconscious to find 'affective' memories to bring forward and use in our acting (I went to an arts high school and majored in drama). It was actually some sort of hypnosis that the highly fucked up and irresponsible teacher was using. That's another story there. He was this ex-hippy that wore jeans to school every day, insisted students call him by his first name, hung out with us in the kids "smoking area" and had inappropriate relationships with female students too that we all thought made him cool and hip, not creepy. He "jokingly" solicited me at one point in his private office and I told him to fuck off. I thought it was a big joke and never considered that he might have been trying groom some of the girls. We thought we were so grown up and completely capable of consent that we just didnt recognise how wrong it was of him. He was eventually relieved of teaching duties and spent the latter part of his career running the school board's teacher's library where he had no access to kids. This was after a couple female students and their parents complained about his behaviour and advances on them.

Anyway, during the acting exercise I flipped out. I started crying, isolated myself and was clutching my knees to myself in a ball. Even though it was 25 years ago, I remember being absolutely terrified but not knowing of what. I don't recall there being any logical thought of what I was frightened of, just raw emotion. It almost felt like a nightmare. The teacher had a really, really tough time getting me to come out of the "exercise" and I was basically an emotional zombie the rest of the day. This was one year into a period of two years in high school when I was extremely promiscuous. I wasn't dressing or behaving promiscuously on a day to day basis, but was giving "it" up to every boy that I like or had a fling with. I believe I had about 15 partners over a two year period while I was 16 and 17. I explained my behaviour with bravado by telling friends I just had an open minded mature additude toward sex, but in reality, I was desperately seeking someone to love me.

Where I am going with this is, I have begun to get paranoid that my current obsession and physical reaction with the idea of abuse on children in general may not be normal and, considering some of my own past issues with self-esteem, co-dependance, promiscuity, and this memory exercise in high school may be suggesting that I should explore the possibility that I was also abused and have compartmentalised these memories. I have an extreme fear of being hypnotised and get extreme anxiety to the point of freaking and thrashing if someone holds me down or pins me for some reason (in jest, like if someone holds me down to tickle me). I have always wondered why I am this way. I don't want to go searching for demons that don't exist and I also feel guilty for feeling this way because I worry I am making this about me during a time when my H needs me to stay grounded, but I can't seem to shake this feeling. I have never, ever articulated this before now to anyone despite the fact that I have asked this question of myself in the past.

I have always felt extremely creeped out about the father of a friend when I was in grade 1, 2 and 3. I know I slept over at their house on a few occasions when I was a kid but the only memory I have of being in her home was her pushing me into crank-calling the Kids Help Line at her house one night and telling them I was being abused by my father... These were her words, not mine. I remember the person on the phone being so kind and concerned and me finally hanging up mid convo because I knew what we were doing was so wrong. We stopped hanging out after grade 3. She went on to be very messed up when she got older with drugs and eventually became a stripper and was rumoured to be a hooker for a while. I also heard rumours that in high school she told some kids that she had been abused when she was little.

I have few memories of my childhood and they seem to largely begin about grade 4. There were also others in my life that could have abused me... I had an "uncle" (actually my dad's cousin's husband) that was convicted and served time for abusing and even impregnating his own daughter over the course of her entire childhood, but this all came out when she was an adult. During the case it was revealed that he had also committed abhorrent acts of violence on others including having raped his mother-in-law who was my great aunt and had been my father's surrogate mother after my dad's family died in a house fire when he was 15. I spent a lot of time with this family through my pre-pubescent childhood and particularly when I was in grade 3 because I was in my elementary school's production of Mary Poppins at the same time as this abused cousin of mine (whom I idolised) was playing Annie in a middle school musical and she was helping me with rehearsing etc. This man would have had lots of access to me without my parents supervision at the time. I remember her family stayed with us at my family's cottage one labour day weekend where she and I shared a tent outside of the cottage because there were more of us than beds. I had no recollection of this even at the time, but apparently I had a nightmare and started to flip out trying to find my way out of the tent but not able to find the door because I was still asleep. I was screaming and crying loud enough that my parents heard me inside the cottage and came to find out what was the matter. It was the only "night terror" that my parents ever recall me having. When the tent was taken down the next day there were some mole tracks under it and my nightmare was explained away as a reaction to feeling them under me while asleep... But I ALWAYS wondered. This explanation never felt right or true to me. At this point in time, he was still abusing his daughter (who shared the tent with me) as far as I know. Then, when I was 20 years old I remember being at the movies with my older sister when she asked if I had heard about our cousin coming out with her father's abuse. Without any details I reacted to the knowledge with extreme emotion. I bolted to the washroom, vomited and couldn't stop crying and shaking. Pretty much a full blown anxiety attack. Eventually I calmed down, but my reaction always left me wondering why.

If someone else has had a reaction like this at learning about someone close to them being abused and know or believe that there was no connection to their own past experience please allay my fears and tell me this will pass. Maybe this is just a passing phase while my mind learns to take in and accept the abhorrence of the idea that someone would hurt a child in this way - especially someone that I know? I am feeling very confused about these thoughts and flood of emotion for the last two weeks and it is really making it tough to sleep, think straight and function effectively. Please tell me you think this will pass. And if you do think there may be something to this, what the hell I do with that? Where does one start and is it even appropriate or helpful trying to recover lost memories only to re-traumatise yourself? It seems like a fishing expedition and something I should leave well enough alone, but being hyper aware right now Because of my H of how destructive denial can be, I wonder if I am fooling myself.....
_________________________
I am not your rolling wheels, I am the highway
I am not your carpet ride, I am the sky
- Audioslave

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#410620 - 09/19/12 12:13 PM Re: More thoughts that keep me up... *Triggers??* [Re: CdnDW]
HD001 Offline


Registered: 07/30/12
Posts: 275
Loc: us
C-

This all sounds really horrible for you. I wish that I could tell you that it is all in your head and it doesn't sound like anything may have happened to you but I would be lying. I'm a CSA survivor and a lot of the emotions and re-actions you described a very similar to my own feelings that I had growing up. I have even been to years of therapy but am still feeling very triggered by my H CSA and going through therapy has been really hard for me.
Yesterday we were having a session and the T started to ask about his abuse. As soon as she asked my whole body felt tight and intense waves of anxiety and tingling filled me up. I felt exactly as I had 8 years ago when my T asked me what happened. I felt like I was 19 all over again it was crazy weird. I found myself feeling really uncomfortable as my H talked to her. I wanted to run out of the room screaming. I have also become way more emotional about my own past than I have felt in years. In a lot of ways I feel like I am going through phase 2 of my healing process. My H is the only man I have ever tried to be truly close to and it is bringing up a lot of old crap. And like you I'm a little obsessive about it. I want to talk about it all the time and I'm on this site everyday.
Now what to with all this?
Get a therapist who knows about CSA ASAP! Maybe you weren't directly abused, maybe you just saw others get abused, maybe you were abused yourself. But IMHO you are showing a lot of signs of someone who has been through trauma. I had blacked out my first rape when I was six and recovering it for me was very helpful but don't get ahead of yourself. A good T will guide you and help you make those choices about your own healing. For a long time Ts followed the school of thought that all memories must be uncovered and all gory details gone through over and over until the pain goes away. Now they are learning that is not always the best way. Each souls heals a little differently. Find a T you trust and they will help you become ready to decide what you need to heal.
I know that this is extremely overwhelming. I know that feeling of not being able to sleep, the anxiety. But take heart. The greatest gift you can give to your H and to your children and to yourself is to heal yourself. I can relate about feeling the guilt about being triggered when H is in therapy. I felt like this was his show not mine and now I'm making it about me. But I'm not, its about us. two parts that make up a whole and each part must become strong and healthy.
It was hard but I let H know what was going on with me. THat I was having all these crazy feelings and I was going to work like hell to deal with them. I told him thank you because his choice to heal is bringing up unresolved issues in me and now that I am aware of them I can use them to become a better person. I told him that when this is all over we will both be better for it, and that makes me happy. I thought that he might feel angry, but he didn't he just reassured me that he didn't think I was crazy and gave me hug. For him thats a caring response. And now for the first time in our marriage we are standing side by side slaying our dragons instead pointing fingers at each other. I feel closer to him than I have in a long time. And my hope is growing that someday we won't have to think about CSA all the time.
Now in the meantime some helpful hints that got me through when I started my own CSA therapy.
-YOGA!!!!! flexible body=flexible mind
-running, cycling, any endurance sport helps with sleep
-read about CSA
trauma knowledge is power
-Get your own support system to talk about this, your H may find it too hard right now to talk to you about it. I know mine doesn't want to hear about it yet.
-Write my T told me to write everyday. I would complain that I don't know what to write she said "I don't care make scribbles on a page till something comes out." Something always did
-look up relaxation exercises and meditations
-any creative outlet you enjoy
-don't worry about the things you don't get done just focus on what you can do.
-again find a trauma/CSA T asap!

I hope some of this is helpful. I hope I didn't give you too much to take in and it isn't all scattered sounding. I will admit that I got really excited that another partner is going through a lot of the same feelings as I am. And again maybe you weren't abused, maybe this is something else. But it is something serious and the sooner you figure it our the sooner you will know how to deal with it. My heart goes out to you and thank you so much for being willing to share. Feel free to PM me about anything. I know how scary it can be.
_________________________
Everything comes from within

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#410654 - 09/19/12 05:38 PM Re: More thoughts that keep me up... *Triggers??* [Re: CdnDW]
CdnDW Offline


Registered: 08/24/12
Posts: 105
Thanks for writing HD and I really do feel for you having the double whammy of your own trauma and the effects of his. I can't say your conclusions are what I wanted to hear, but maybe what I needed. I know it's something I need to talk to a T about... when I can get there. I have considered contacting my cousin to ask her what, if anything, she remembers, but she broke contact with the family years ago and moved to far northern ontario. There has been a few fleeting emails over the years, but any attempt I've made to email her has been met with no response. She may simply be too damaged to engage any of us and I don't feel it would be fair to contact her about this... especially if it could be nothing or unrelated to her.

Money is very tight and we really can't afford therapy for both of us right now. There would have to be a pretty major life change to either increase income or let go of a major expense. I have found that most experienced csa therapists have social work degrees, but are not registered psychologists or psychiatrists. We only have coverage for the latter two. My H's therapy is priority for now. I will keep looking, but so far not many resources where we are. I may have to go back to work full-time to pay for it. I'm only working 3 days a week right now so I have more time to support our kids, especially my son who has Aspergers and other related diagnoses, so again, not the best alternative. Work is a daily commute of 3 hours for both my H and I (welcome to the GTA!), so working full-time means our kids are in childcare 11 hours a day, five days a week. While I write.this though I do recognise that I am still putting everyone else's needs before mine, but not sure how to resolve this yet.

I found something on the internet today and am hoping that this is all that is going on. It's called Secondary Trauma. Not sure about it because a lot of my "signs" existed before helping my H through his trauma, but his trauma has definitely been a trigger for these symptoms becoming too much to function well.

https://www.ptsdforum.org/c/threads/secondary-ptsd-an-overview.13742/

I would love to hear about the experience of those that have not had their own trauma to see if my reaction is at all familiar or common.

Thanks.
_________________________
I am not your rolling wheels, I am the highway
I am not your carpet ride, I am the sky
- Audioslave

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#410667 - 09/19/12 08:58 PM Re: More thoughts that keep me up... *Triggers??* [Re: CdnDW]
lucylives Offline


Registered: 04/07/11
Posts: 367
Hang on CD it will pass. We can't possibly stay in a constant state of anxiety forever.

Your story sounds like there are alot of clues. I, too, wonder about me and my past and my childhood. There were some pretty traumatic things but also I have always had the feeling there is more. I am not trying to push it and recover any memories. Ihave enough on my plate right now besides I feel it will (if there is anything to know) come out when the times is right. Can't force it or stop it.

The paranoia about your kids is something I can really relate to. I have always been paranoid about my kids and someone abusing them. Like almost every babysitter and I am VERY careful about who I let them spend alot of time with.

As a matter of fact, I am getting ready to visit the new candy shop in town because the guy seems just a little too friendly. Am I paranoid?

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#410686 - 09/20/12 12:12 AM Re: More thoughts that keep me up... *Triggers??* [Re: CdnDW]
HD001 Offline


Registered: 07/30/12
Posts: 275
Loc: us
Sounds like you are in a really rough spot. I hope that you get more answers from other partners on here. Having a family to take care of changes the equation, and I don't blame you for not wanting to have your kids in day care all time. I can relate to being really paranoid about kids getting abused. My greatest fear had always been that I would marry a man who abused my children. I was babysitting a friends kid and she is not even two yet. I was changing her diaper and when I wiped her bottom she got a worried look on her face and said NO. My first thought was oh god is someone abusing her?! So yeah I'm paranoid as well.
_________________________
Everything comes from within

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#410708 - 09/20/12 03:08 AM Re: More thoughts that keep me up... *Triggers??* [Re: CdnDW]
aksnowyowl Offline


Registered: 08/18/12
Posts: 47
i definitely relate to being more paranoid about my kids. the statistics alone: 1 in 6 for boys, 1 in 3 for girls!!! insane.

seeing a therapist definitely sounds like a good idea. i've managed to find therapists who offer sliding scale, but i had to go see them in person, let them know my story a bit, and then we worked something out. i've even paid our couples counselor "under the table" or really "under the barn" with butchered chickens from our flock...seriously. and i only sort of live in the country...there's quite a bit of city here.

some of what you describe sounds like secondary trauma or your own issues, some it sounds like codependence. i have the al-anon checklist on my fridge, so i can readily "check" behaviors that are potentially codependent.

i had to think of my life this way: in my family i am often the rock, often the glue holding shit together. so if mama is healthy, happy, and patient, the rest of the family is happier and healthier, sometimes more patient. also along these lines, shit rolls down hill:) depriving yourself deprives your family. trust those instincts, i'm 90% sure you won't over-indulge.

hang on!! you've got a lot going on, but youre with it enough to write coherently and honestly:)

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#410719 - 09/20/12 08:57 AM Re: More thoughts that keep me up... *Triggers??* [Re: CdnDW]
CdnDW Offline


Registered: 08/24/12
Posts: 105
The fear of a future event involving my own kids is distressing, but I feel I am in control of that. Yes I'm vigilant and perhaps paranoid in some peoples view, but considering what I know about the monsters that live among us with normal masks on, I feel justified in this belief. It's this free floating anxiety that comes and goes has no attachment to anything concrete and washes over me whenever I think about these things from my past that is what is causing me the greatest problem. I have had panic attscks since I was a teenager. They usually never stemmed from any real danger - I consider myself a pretty brave person and was the first (and frankly the only) person to step up and try to stop a domestic assault at a neighbouring camp site while camping a few years ago. The anxiety attacks come when I feel out of control. I am a bit of a control freak about things. A few examples include never comfortable when someone else is driving, hate motor boats but very ok with cayaking even in rough waters, hate amusement rides, hate being in crowds and hate being pinned by someone.

So last night, I woke up 2 hours into my sleep in the grips of a panic attack. I was still half asleep and tossed and turned for a while unable to calm the anxiety. I felt like I needed to run and hide. I couldn't get comfortable, felt like I was suffocating and was really, really hot. The old me would have blamed it on peri-menopause hormone imbalance even though I'm only 42, but now I am taking a more honest look at these feelings rather than grasping at straws trying to look for some physical explanation for them.

Incidentally, I shared how I've been feeling with my H last night. He was really supportive and assured me we would find a way for me to get into therapy now too. As he put it, whether or not I experienced, witnessed, feel guilty for not having known and helped when it was going on around me or am just dealing with secondary trauma and codependance issues now, he said it can only get better with a therapist to guide me through. The guilt thing was an interesting angle I hadn't thought of... It is a big part of his issues now because he feels guilty about not protecting his little brother from their abuser. He also reminded me that his little brother had absolutely no recollection of his abuse until my H apologized a couple years ago for not being there for him when they were little. Whether there is something in my past or not, it felt really good to have my H validate my feelings. I honestly feared he would try to just explain it away in an attempt to reduce my anxiety (which is his M.O. and has always left me feeling minimized), but he didnt. He just comforted and supported me. He really likes his therapist so far... has seen him twice in less than a week. He also seems lighter and calmer. He admitted to me that he is still battling a compulsion to surf for porn, but the software I put on the computer is helping to keep it in check. He actually thanked me for installing it even though I didnt ask or consult him. I assured him that I didnt take his compulsion personally, but sometimes it still hurt because it was destructive to the closeness in our marriage. He seemed puzzled at first, but I think he understood. I am getting better at calling him on not being completely honest with me about what he is thinking and feeling too. When I sense he is not being upfront, I tell him that his words and his body language don't match. I have told him that he doesn't always have to answer if he doesn't want to, but I would rather he doesn't answer than give me a bullshit response.

Anyway, I am happy about how things went with us and we hugged and cuddled for a while too. I asked if he would sleep beside me in bed and he said yes, he would like that and thanked me. He still slept in his typical way... on his side at the very edge of the bed (which is a feat I tell you for a big guy... don't know how he doesn't fall outta bed all the time) with his back to me. But it was nice just having his presence nearby.

Thanks to all for your caring words. Not sure how I would be dealing with all of this without this safe place to come and express my thoughts and fears.
_________________________
I am not your rolling wheels, I am the highway
I am not your carpet ride, I am the sky
- Audioslave

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#410732 - 09/20/12 10:37 AM Re: More thoughts that keep me up... *Triggers??* [Re: CdnDW]
Robert1000 Offline


Registered: 06/27/12
Posts: 413
Good job, CdnDW. Thanks for sharing. I think sexual trauma extends far beyond the people who were raped themselves but onto everyone close by, whatever. It's like PTSD for soldiers. There are the ones who died. And the ones who watched their friends die and wonder why. And those who saw the soldiers come and go and felt guilty and ashamed for sitting at a desk. All of them were traumatized. All differently. In my family, my aunt was routinely sexually abused by an uncle. The same uncle felt up my mom. But my mom always said she had stopped it, by accidentally blurting out that she was going to tell my grandmother. It never happened to her again. She then used that as a way to re-define what happened to her, to say that she had not been sexually abused. But that redefinition was harm in itself. What it meant to me was that other people got the abuse, and we could be empathetic and supportive, but what happened to us had to be swept under the rug. Does that make sense. Not too long ago, I was talking to my mom, and she once again referred to having escaped the abuse. And I was like, No.... That was abuse. You suffered from it, too. Because your sister was abused. Because you were abused. She said, But I stopped it. I said, Even if it had just been threatened and you had to defend yourself, it would affect you. No kid is ready to be objectified and used as a fucking jizz rag. And no kid is ready for someone right next to them to be abused in that way.... Anyway, I'm trying to make the rounds quickly today so I can get off this site and spend some quiet time. But I wanted to check in and see that things are going well with you. Take care. Bob

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#410742 - 09/20/12 11:19 AM Re: More thoughts that keep me up... *Triggers??* [Re: CdnDW]
northernflicker Offline


Registered: 08/19/12
Posts: 88
Wow, Bob, your last post here has made me think, reflect. I never thought that a deferred incident would qualify as abuse or stick around they way you suggest it would.

Not sure if what I'm going to say qualifies as possible triggers but there's the warning.

Two things happened to me when I was in my early teens and alone. I encountered a man while I walked through an apartment complex to meet a friend at the mall. It was a fall evening. Dark. He asks me if I had the time. Between looking at my watch and answering him the asshole had pulled out his penis and was pulling on it. I took off. Told my folks. The cops were called. I don't know what ever came of it. The other time I was a bit younger. Loved to ride horses so hung around a stable a lot. One sturday late afternoon, again fall time, there was no one else around and after I'd mucked some stalls and wanted to take a horse out the dirty old man farrier told me that he'd only let me if I kissed him. I don't remember what happened but I think I rode the horse. I can't remember telling anybody. My hands are shaking right now. I think I see these incidents differently now, even though it wasn't sustained abuse. I thought it was just stuff. No wonder I have my own trust and intimacy issues. There are other things that have to do with my peers but they're too hard to go into.

Bob, you really are awesome. I have so much respect for you.

CdnDW, sorry if this doesn't belong on your thread. When you gotta go you gotta go, so to speak I guess.

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#410963 - 09/21/12 01:44 PM Re: More thoughts that keep me up... *Triggers??* [Re: CdnDW]
Robert1000 Offline


Registered: 06/27/12
Posts: 413
Thanks northern. That's generous of you. Bob

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