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#74446 - 02/05/03 04:44 PM Psychic Numbing
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
This is taken from the outstanding book, "Adult Children of Abusive Parents," by Steven Farmer, Ballantine, 1989:

"...as an Adult Child of Abusive Parents, you still treat emotions as something to be feared. Anger, sadness, even happiness, are to be avoided.
You try to control your feelings and even try to control the feelings of others. You have learned to shut down your emotions if they get too intense, for in the past any intensity was punished in some way." (P 37)

"Another symptom of PTSD is unresponsiveness or lack of involvement in the world, evidenced by an inability to feel emotions, feelings of detachment from others, and a lack of interest in any significant activities. You're generally shut down, removed from your own feelings, and emotionally distant from others. This psychic numbing is similar to the reaction soldeirs experience during combat. Tim Cermak, M.D., describes this reaction in Diagnosing and Treating Codependence:

'...Until an active process of healing takes place, the individual continues to experience a constriction of feelings, a deverased ability to recognize which feelings are present, and a persistent sense of being cut off from one's surroundings (depersonalization). These add up to a condition known as psychic numbing.'" (Pp 47,48)

Some questions--and these are not rhetorical, your
insights, experiences, further questions, and other feedback would be appreciated and for the benefit of all:

Have you been psychically, "comfortably" numb?

What brought on this numbness, and what made it so comfortable for you?

Are you still numb, or has it now become uncomfortable enuf for you that you want to feel, are trying to feel, are looking for ways to get your "feeling," or feelings, back?

What are you trying to do to get back your feelings, your ability to feel your own feelings and not merely emote the feelings of others or the feelings others want you to express?

What hasn't or isn't working for you? What is working, helping you to feel again?

This has been and continues to be a struggle for me (see the threads "Emotions without Feeling" in Male Survivors forum and "Comfortably Numb" in Music forum). Any feedback will be appreciated by me and doubtless by many others. It will probably also be helpful to your own healing. Thanks.

If anyone else has this book and wants to share anything from it in this or another thread in this forum that would be great.

For those who don't have it, I without having yet finished it can already recommend it highly. While a bit dated it covers a lot of important stuff really well, from what I've read & skimmed.
I got it at Amazon.com thru MS bookstore used for about $8; the shipping was more than the book!

Victor

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#74447 - 02/05/03 11:42 PM Re: Psychic Numbing
RickL Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/16/02
Posts: 84
Loc: Oregon
This feels all too familiar. Especially this part:
Quote:
"Another symptom of PTSD is unresponsiveness or lack of involvement in the world, evidenced by an inability to feel emotions, feelings of detachment from others, and a lack of interest in any significant activities. You're generally shut down, removed from your own feelings, and emotionally distant from others. This psychic numbing is similar to the reaction soldeirs experience during combat.
I can remember highly charged emotional times in my life--even good ones--where I felt like I was sitting in the last car of a train, looking at the landscape that had just passed me by. It was because it was too intense for me to process while it was happening. You can imagine how very sad this is when it also applied to the early stages of my marriage relationship.

Over the years, I've slowly come to less emotional distance and numbing. It has been easier in my work setting, where I have such a sense of duty and diligence. It's been more challenging in my personal life. That's the core of the recovery work I'm doing now.

Reading from what you posted, above, startles me for another reason: this is an exact de>

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#74448 - 02/07/03 12:46 PM Re: Psychic Numbing
Sleepy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/08/02
Posts: 288
Loc: Arizona, USA
I'm sorry I didn't reply to this earlier. My eyes usually skip over the books section. I need to keep this one short but I'll try and go deeper into this later tonight.

I've been reading two books on this issue both of which are by Melody Beattie. One is Codependant No More and the other is Beyond Codependance. Both have been great for me. There is one quick thing that I would like to address in this reply. And that are issues of guilt and shame.

Quote:
"As long as these are the only internal parental images known to your Inner Child, your Hurting Child will continue to think of [him]self as 'bad,' your Controlling Child will see the need to take care of you, and your Natural Child will stay buried. This is why it's necessary to reparent your Inner Child."
I find that I have overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame when I try to violate my old internal parental images. The shame keeps me locked into the old patterns. I'm trying like crazy to redefine those old rules that I learned from my parents so that I don't feel the guilt and shame anymore. But redefining them is really hard. But without redefining them I will always feel the guilt.
More later,
mike

_________________________
"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."
--Ursula K. Le Guin

"Mental health is a commitment to reality at all times."
--M. Scott Peck

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#74449 - 02/07/03 02:19 PM Re: Psychic Numbing
guy43 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/17/02
Posts: 450
Loc: Minnesota
Wow Sleepy! Keep going man, you're onto something here for me and maybe's others too.

(hugs for little Victor)


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#74450 - 02/08/03 01:15 AM Re: Psychic Numbing
Sleepy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/08/02
Posts: 288
Loc: Arizona, USA
Jer,
Thanks for the words of encouragement. These issues have been so troublesome for me that it can completely zap my self-esteem. But things have gotten better. Those two books I've been reading have really caught me by suprise. When you read something and the examples they use are identical to your story it makes you take notice.

When talking specifically about the internal parental images (how about old rules for short) they end up leaving me feeling miserable, stuck, and codependant. At least for me, I grew up in an environment where there were either direct or indirect messages that told me to:

-Don't feel or don't talk about feelings.
-Don't think or make decisions.
-Don't have problems.
-Don't have fun or be silly.
-Don't trust yourself.
-Don't be open and direct.
-Don't get close to people.
-Be good, right, perfect, and strong (Don't have flaws).
-Don't disrupt the system by growing or changing (this is a big one for me).

Bottom line: Repress everything that should be natural.

Some of these are mine and some of them come from the book. But you can get the jist of what my family life was like. In a lot of ways it looks like my parents were horrible people but they have been very good to me in a lot of ways. They're still married and I love them dearly, though I am unable to tell them that (suprising?). But when the air is thick with tension from someone repressing their emotions a young kid will certainly learn the rules in no time. And the guilt and shame are all too easy for a young kid to understand.

But how do you change those rules? I'm not too sure. I just know that when I try to change my behavior without changing my old rules I find myself in conflict with my control center.

I think coming here has been good for me. Seeing my therapist, too. I've also been fortunate to have excellent friends to talk to. Forcing myself to open with them may be the best thing I've done. It's almost like learning a new language from them. It breaks the shame barrier.

Anyway, the books have been great for me. Whether or not I've learned any new rules, well, I'm not sure. I feel better in some areas but I have a hard time answering that question.
Thanks guys! This has been good for me.
mike

_________________________
"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."
--Ursula K. Le Guin

"Mental health is a commitment to reality at all times."
--M. Scott Peck

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#74451 - 02/09/03 04:38 PM Re: Psychic Numbing
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
(Little Jer) Little Victor thanks you for the hugs and returns them!

Victor


_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#74452 - 02/09/03 04:46 PM Re: Psychic Numbing
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Quote:

But how do you change those rules? I'm not too sure. I just know that when I try to change my behavior without changing my old rules I find myself in conflict with my control center.

I think coming here has been good for me. Seeing my therapist, too. I've also been fortunate to have excellent friends to talk to. Forcing myself to open with them may be the best thing I've 2done. It's almost like learning a new language from them. It breaks the shame barrier.

Anyway, the books have been great for me. Whether or not I've learned any new rules, well, I'm not sure. I feel better in some areas but I have a hard time answering that question.
Thanks guys! This has been good for me.
mike
Good therapy, support groups, MS, good books, good friends--sounds like a good part of the answer to me, when it comes to changing the old rules that bring shame. Thank you Mike!

I talked with my wife about this yesterday and tho she had trouble understanding what I was talking about she was still very supportive & it helped. Helps me center, listen to my inner voice aka real self, and ask myself what do I feel? How do I want to express it.

It's something to work on anyway...

Victor


_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#74453 - 02/09/03 10:51 PM Re: Psychic Numbing
Sleepy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/08/02
Posts: 288
Loc: Arizona, USA
Vic,
I've noticed that many of my friends have a hard time undstanding the shame and guilt that I place on myself. But because they don't understand it, it only helps me to understand what should be normal. And their support helps me to affirm the new rules, or rather, normal rules. It gets me out of denial.
Take care,
mike

_________________________
"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."
--Ursula K. Le Guin

"Mental health is a commitment to reality at all times."
--M. Scott Peck

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#74454 - 02/10/03 09:56 AM Re: Psychic Numbing
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Quote:
Vic,
I've noticed that many of my friends have a hard time undstanding the shame and guilt that I place on myself. But because they don't understand it, it only helps me to understand what should be normal. And their support helps me to affirm the new rules, or rather, normal rules. It gets me out of denial.
Take care,
mike
Thanks Mike those are really good points that make me feel better.

And while her marrying me and staying with me 23 years may seem to show otherwise (just kidding on that bad self-talk there!), if there is "normal" in this world, it is my wife. To me, the unconditional love, acceptance & forgiveness she shows me is what "normal" is. It's the true reality, what life is really all about, the best of what humanity is all about.

OK, I know that's Hallmark card stuff, but it's also my truth, and my good divine fortune...

Victor


_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#74455 - 02/10/03 10:57 AM Re: Psychic Numbing
ARW Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/29/02
Posts: 161
Loc: LA
A really helpful post. Thanks. This is such a problem for me. Working on it like crazy.

Again. Thanks for the honesty and the book reference. It looks like a good one. Healing the Shame that Binds you also has a lot of helpful points and truths.

-Al

_________________________
In every cry of every man,
In every Infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear.
-William Blake

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#74456 - 02/11/03 01:17 PM Re: Psychic Numbing
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
OK Men, now back to my questions in the original post of this thread:

Quote:

Have you been psychically (emotionally) "comfortably" numb?

What brought on this numbness, and what made it so comfortable for you?

Are you still numb, or has it now become uncomfortable enuf for you that you want to feel, are trying to feel, are looking for ways to get your "feeling," or feelings, back?

What are you trying to do to get back your feelings, your ability to feel your own feelings and not merely emote the feelings of others or the feelings others want you to express?

What hasn't or isn't working for you? What is working, helping you to feel again?

The book shares some answers, and I have some ideas of my own.

But I'd like to know what you guys think, feel & do . Who knows, something you share may be a key for yourself or someone else for unlocking, unnumbing, being freer to feel more.

Later,

Victor


_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#74457 - 02/11/03 02:30 PM Re: Psychic Numbing
MrEdd Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/24/03
Posts: 317
Loc: Texas
Victor, I've had the usual 29 year period of denial, and periods of acting out and escapism, but I've always been very emotional. When I have had feelings of emotionlessness (in the past and when my recent flashbacks began) it has felt so unacceptable that I resort to self mutilation teo shock myself out of it. My father was always emotionally distant and I promissed myself as a child I would never be like that. A prostitute maybe, but never uncaring, distant, or unable to cry but crying is easier when it's for someone else. I'm probably babbling again, just ignore me.

_________________________
Some Things are not problems to be solved, rather, they are facts which must be coped with over time.

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#74458 - 02/12/03 09:18 AM Re: Psychic Numbing
Mike Church Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 01/23/03
Posts: 3439
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Victor:
Numb!! I have spent some 36 years that way. Numb in the sense of being detached from reality. the world was out of step with Mike. What is the matter with everyone. Why cant they be like me. I think the numbness is self enduced and in some ways helps us to survive to where we are now. But I also think that it is a form of excapism. I mean when you get cold you go numb and cannot feel. Well we do that too, but in a reverse order. We dont want to feel case it hurts too much so we numb ourselves down. It is called, I believe coping. What happened to us was a total assault and violation of our very selves and forever changed our innocence and compassion. That is contrary to every tenat of being human. How can we not go numb. We do it daily while watching the news. Se see something so terrible that we cannot comprehend it so we numb it down.
That is human nature. Can we recover from this. As it relates to our abuse and sense of self value the answer is an unequivocal yes. Because when we take it into the light of day and recognize that we were not to blame and direct our anger in the proper direction we have purpose and that purpose is motivational and prevents the numbness from reoccuring, or if it does, less and lless frequently. This is a terrible thing we have to deal with and nobody like to deal with terrible things. So we numb down. We are like a parent who has to live through the terrible tragedy of buring their son or daughter. We must cope for the moment. the danger that we face is that the moment becomes a decade and so on. the longer the numbness the harder it is to deal with the issue. Havaing read the posts here I would say that we have all felt that way to some extent or another. Beinng numb is, mental or ortherwise is like an anaesthetic, it relieves the moment. But unfortunately like most we became addicted to the anaesthetic to avoid the issue. Brother we are not doing that now.
Munbmes can also be mental dretachmend and you I both know that is another surviving tool. It did not happen to me but to that other kid. Unfortunately that other kid is inside us.
As I mentioned somewhere else and as other have said the inner child must be brought into the light of day and out of the darkness where he has hidden for soo sooo long. the dark is a cold and dreary place and leads to a numbness of the mind and spirit.
I think Victor you are doin all the right things and about the only suggestions I can make is dont sweat the little shit and continue to be kind to yourself. Man you deserve it and so do we all. Believe me your posts are though provoking and timely and help to raise the bar for us all. I personally feel less like a lost rowboat in a sea of doubt and more like an integral part of well directed juggernaught.

"Let in the light of happiness"

_________________________
Mikey

IT REALLY IS OK TO STUMBLE. NONE OF US ARE PERFECT.

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#74459 - 02/12/03 11:25 AM Re: Psychic Numbing
guy43 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/17/02
Posts: 450
Loc: Minnesota
MrEdd, how are ya doing with the bi-polar stuff? Nothing you've written is babbling as far as I'm concerned.

Mike, excellent points. Never thought of this as a well directed juggernaut but it certainly is for me (err well not so well directed...).

Victor and All,

I keep coming back to this post and thinking about how it applies to me, and it still strikes me as one of those 'wow, who would have thought a book discussion would lead to all this sharing and insights'.

- Have you been psychically (emotionally) "comfortably" numb?

Yes! Far too much and for too long. Ever since I was about 12 or so I've been mostly shut down emotionally. Of deeper consequence is that I've spiritually bankrupt - unable to care about or relate to myself and most important of all, unable to express affection and love toward others in my life. The magnitude of my denial about the impact of the SA and neglect on my being is huge. The fortress I've built around myself is so large and strong, it seems I'll never be able to tear it down. Little by little I remove a brick or two.

- What brought on this numbness, and what made it so comfortable for you?

Years of a passive sort of neglect from my mother where I wasn't getting my emotional needs met coupled with early age (5) sa from father. Living in constant state of low grade fear, I guess numbing out was my only choice. Expressing anger wasn't allowed, nor was confrontation. So I numbed out and did nothing to rock the boat, except... well insert lots of self detructive behavior and social isolation.

- Are you still numb, or has it now become uncomfortable enuf for you that you want to feel, are trying to feel, are looking for ways to get your "feeling," or feelings, back?

Most of the time I'm in a state of mild depression, numb with no energy. I think one of the things I do is have periodic crisis' to let some of the past crap (and current stress) express itself. I've gone through cycles of being able to feel such pain, hurt and grief that it felt like, and still does, a bottomless well of feelings... how much can one cry over what is past and lost, never to be recovered (it seems)?

What am I doing to get out of it? Coming here. Going to weekly therapy with EMDR once in awhile. We have to be careful with the EMDR, it can push me into a state of emotions where I can't function. My feelings in general seem to have an ebb and flow. The more I can be with other people and do things I enjoy doing, the less bound up I feel - and then something happens to make me uncomfortable. Some new/old fear comes up or my negative self-image beach ball is inflated and I shut down and isolate. A therapist I had years ago used to ask me what's my pleasure in my pain? Yeah, it's far to comfortable to stay stuck, numb, wallowing in the 'poor me's', 'I'm just a victim and have no control over my thoughts and feelings', 'I'll never get any better'... ack. fuck me and where's the beef (anger)?

- What are you trying to do to get back your feelings, your ability to feel your own feelings and not merely emote the feelings of others or the feelings others want you to express?

Last Friday I asked and got a medical leave of absence from my job. My one to 1.5 year cycle of having a crisis, time to check into Hotel Mental Hospital is on me again. Only this time I'm really working at getting down to core issues of facing my sex addiction and attachment to my perp/father. I've got little confidence I can, my T has lots. He can see the path I need to take like it's a walk in a sunny park, for me it's an epic midnight journey through a forrest filled with evil beasts waiting to get me.

- What hasn't or isn't working for you? What is working, helping you to feel again?

Drinking to the point of becoming alcoholic sure hasn't worked. My sex addiction sure keeps me from growing past this crap.

What is working? Sometimes I can face myself and acknowledge what happened to me. Facing the truth about my sundry cognitive distortions and fears isn't always such a bad thing, I even feel better about myself when I do. Letting myself feel the feelings when they come up and not shutting them down. I can't force them to happen but I sure can shut it down.

running out of steam, bbl.

jer


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#74460 - 02/12/03 12:25 PM Re: Psychic Numbing
jaketk Offline
Member

Registered: 09/26/02
Posts: 49
Loc: illinois
I wouldnít say Iíve been comfortably numb. But certainly I am detached from my surroundings. Aware of them, but not. Acknowledging them, but not going any deeper. Iíve found it difficult to find answers to many of my questions because of the position I am in. unlike others, what happened didnít start at one age then stop at another. It always happened. And Iíve always been detached. For me the term innocence is nothing more than a means of expressing the gravity of the wrong that was committed. From my perspective, I was not born innocent. Also, innocence has a bit to do with religious concepts, not necessarily judeo-christian concepts, but it is rooted in religious beliefs. I think we are what we are. That can be changed, to a degree, but Iím not certain that such a concept can be applied to me. So Iíve been searching for some explanation as to why Iím not only detached, but also why my feelings are almost a separate part of me. I realize that I am not going to Ďhealí. Honestly I donít buy into it. But I think that if I can get control over the feeling part of me then I might be better capable of better tolerating my past. However, I prefer not to have my emotions control me. I prefer having rational, logical thoughts. That is who I am, so altering that would be to try to change to fit someone elseís perception of me. The other thing is that I donít consider my past in the same terms as others. I use the words you guys use only to explain what I mean, not because I think that it applies to me. Most of the time I only want to discuss what happened, not attach terminology to it. I think thatís one of the reasons therapy didnít work. and Iíd rather not bother others with my thoughts, or my problems, so I donít bring them up much, except with those that know me well enough to notice. Iím not sure I want to feel, though Iím certain that when I do, it will be more like the way my father and late uncle behaved than anyone else.

jake


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#74461 - 02/12/03 01:06 PM Re: Psychic Numbing
Mike Church Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 01/23/03
Posts: 3439
Loc: Toronto, Canada
jaketh
What I meant by innocence is with no pre conceived notions of right from wrong. Given a safe and happy upbringing my caring and loving people goes a long way to moulding your personality. Most of what we are we have learned either for good or bad, and this from our own perspective. If what happened to you is hindering your future that can be a problem. If, as you say it has no bearing on the future, all the better. Jake we are all different and approach the issue from a different perspective. I took a long time to finally confront my demons that drove me to the things I did. It was and still is very difficult for me but I see no other road to take. You say you will likely be like your father or uncle. Is this a will or your part or is this a feeling that you are helpless to prevent it. If you wish to reply to me privately please feel free to do so.

_________________________
Mikey

IT REALLY IS OK TO STUMBLE. NONE OF US ARE PERFECT.

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#74462 - 02/12/03 03:27 PM Re: Psychic Numbing
ecb Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/04/03
Posts: 205
Jake sez:
and Iíd rather not bother others with my thoughts, or my problems, so I donít bring them up much, except with those that know me well enough to notice.

I say:

Hell I could have written this. It is so difficult for my friends that are concerned for me to get me to open up that I think most have stopped trying. I even have trouble "burdoning" my therapist with my personal stuff, and that's his friggin job!

All I can say, is it's hard, but it's worth it.


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#74463 - 02/12/03 03:48 PM Re: Psychic Numbing
Mike Church Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 01/23/03
Posts: 3439
Loc: Toronto, Canada
ecb.
I am glad you feel that way. Please ncotinue tobe open with us. We are where you are and there is no risk of burdening us.

_________________________
Mikey

IT REALLY IS OK TO STUMBLE. NONE OF US ARE PERFECT.

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#74464 - 02/12/03 11:35 PM Re: Psychic Numbing
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Mike

You make a good point. I think much of my numbness is self enduced, a way to mask pain that becomes both addictive & dangerous. Sometimes definitely a form of escapism. Definitely a part of emotional/mental detachment or dissociation, which I did for over 35 years.

Now I know that the "other kid" the abuse happened to is inside of me, part of me.

My T mentioned this afternoon that part of me is definitely feeling, and it is me. But it's the wounded inner child within me that cowers in the corners of my inner being, afraid to come out, speak out, express himself, feel. He encouraged me to as you say bring little Victor "into the light of day and out of the darkness where he has hidden for soo sooo long." Farmer also talks about this very thing in the portion of his book I just read.

Mike thanks for your kind words & encouragement. As me & my T discussed again today for the umpteenth time, I am a perfectionist & tend to be very hard on myself. In so doing I set myself up for failure. I "sweat the little shit" too much.
One of the hardest things for me to do is just lighten up & relax. So I'm looking for ways to just help myself relax, let someone else carry some of the weight of the world...

Any volunteers? :p \:D

"I personally feel less like a lost rowboat in a sea of doubt and more like an integral part of well directed juggernaught."

Mike that's a terrific metaphor which points out the difference between a survivor trying to go it alone and becoming part of a supportive group.

MS is I think a well-directed & well-manned juggernaut that does much & can do more to advance the cause of male survivors and the recovery of male survivors.

TC & TTYL

Victor

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#74465 - 02/12/03 11:45 PM Re: Psychic Numbing
Sleepy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/08/02
Posts: 288
Loc: Arizona, USA
Mike,
That was a great post. It appears like you've been thinking about this for a long time.
Quote:
Numb in the sense of being detached from reality. the world was out of step with Mike. What is the matter with everyone. Why cant they be like me.
I always felt normal and that everyone else was a little weird. It's only now that I realize that I was in denial and that I'm the one who's a little weird.

Jer,
Holy cow! The way you answered all the questions scares me because it hits a little too close to home. But it's comforting. Very comforting. I could go though all the questions and answer them but I would simply be repeating your answers.

There is one thing I would like to add and one question I would like to ask. It's in regards to this question:

- What brought on this numbness, and what made it so comfortable for you?

When I was 8 or so I remember walking in on my sister having sex. I just remember startling them and all of a sudden some naked guy jumped out in front of me. I remember being confused but I think I knew what was going on. Later that night I remember laying in my bed and listening to my parents going balistic towards my sister. At that moment I went into freeze mode. I simply didn't know how to handle it. And unfortunatly my parents were completely unable to talk to me about it so I bottled it up. The one thing I did know was that my sister was in a lot of trouble for that. The messages were loud and clear for me to not do what she did. Unfortunatly that meant to isolate myself from other people. I know that this example may be more of a benign sort but the trauma still put me into that freeze mode.

The one thing, though, is that I never considered this sexual abuse. And even today I'm reluctant to term it SA. But would you consider this SA or abuse of a different sort? I appreciate your feedback.
Thanks guys,
mike

_________________________
"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."
--Ursula K. Le Guin

"Mental health is a commitment to reality at all times."
--M. Scott Peck

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#74466 - 02/12/03 11:51 PM Re: Psychic Numbing
Mike Church Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 01/23/03
Posts: 3439
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Hi Victor. Glad to see you again. You say you are a perfectionist. Is this also learned behavior. I am that way too. I am perfect, in my mind in what I do, because it masks the self doubt and terror inside me and the inner child. In reality I am not a pefectionist all the time. Only when it pertains to me. I desperately need to be perfect. Man oh Man is that not escapism for me and maybe for you. If we are perfectionists we set ourselves up to fail and then we can say see I am a worthless piece of shit. Well my BROTHER we are not worthless pieces of SHIT. So lets be gentle with ourselves, smell the flowers and appreciate the future that lies before us. It is gonna be a lot better than what it was. Want to know how to relax. Go for a walk and see the happy children and share in their joy of living. Read a book just for the fun of it. We read so many books about coping and shit like that that we must take a time out for the inner us and that soo soo lonely little boy. Let him out and show him that the world can be a wonderful place and good friends can be so supportive and willing to share life's experiences with. Go gently my friend. We spend a lot of time on healing. Even a physically sick body must have food for healing and so does our soul. Think about it Victor perfectionism is just another coping skill to prove that we have worth. Your friends do not doubt that you do. Only you and I feel we have to prove something. Take care. And remember one day at a time. Even god rested when he created the world, or so they say. And he did not do a perfect job did he. The key is what the hell I am only human and deserve a little r&r

_________________________
Mikey

IT REALLY IS OK TO STUMBLE. NONE OF US ARE PERFECT.

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#74467 - 02/12/03 11:53 PM Re: Psychic Numbing
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Jer:

I really relate to your answers to the questions:

Particulary, "Living in constant state of low grade fear, I guess numbing out was my only choice. Expressing anger wasn't allowed, nor was confrontation. So I numbed out and did nothing to rock the boat, except... well insert lots of self detructive behavior and social isolation."

Also "Most of the time I'm in a state of mild depression, numb with no energy."

Things like numbing out sexually, with food, or in other ways, of course just numbs me all the more. But the problems, & the pain, remain.

Getting at the core issues of SA is really helping me as well, even today with my T & with stuff in Farmers' book.

"Letting myself feel the feelings when they come up and not shutting them down. I can't force them to happen but I sure can shut it down."

This is key for me, as an online friend told me recently. \:\) To quit trying to force my feelings out and just letting myself feel them when they do come out. To acknowledge & honor the parts of me that do feel, and to embrace the wounded child hiding within who is afraid to express feeling, and assure him it is safe to do so.

Thanks for sharing your answers, experiences, insight & inspiration, Jer.

Victor

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#74468 - 02/12/03 11:56 PM Re: Psychic Numbing
Mike Church Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 01/23/03
Posts: 3439
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Sleepy;
Sure it was. It traumatized you for as long as you can remember. And it influenced your thoughts and actions all through life. Your sister and her boyfriend put you in harms way. They were older and have probably never really thought about it that way. But boy o boy did it ever affect you. Indirectly they stole part of your childhood. What else would you call it.

_________________________
Mikey

IT REALLY IS OK TO STUMBLE. NONE OF US ARE PERFECT.

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#74469 - 02/13/03 12:03 AM Re: Psychic Numbing
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Men, I appreciate all of you really opening up & pouring out so to speak here in this thread. Your sharing of your feelings is helping me to feel, or maybe to realize as my T said that I feel a lot more than I think I do.

MrEdd:

Shocking yourself out of the numbness of not feeling. Actually I guess I've tried to do that at time, but with me it's so painful to feel I don't shock easily. Now I'm trying to just relax & feel.

Jake:

There are many ways to detach, and also many ways to reattach, or recover.

Like you I'm afraid of my emotions controlling me.
That's part of why I numb myself until I can't feel. but of course I'd prefer to feel, and find healthy channels for my emotions.

Ecb:

You're right. It is worth it!

Victor

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#74470 - 02/13/03 12:18 AM Re: Psychic Numbing
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
MikeChurch:

I hear & appreciate everything you're saying.
It's like my T & I were talking about this afternoon: part of me is saying "You gotta do this perfect," while another part of me is saying
"No way you can't do it"!

This includes recovery, which I am definitely OCD about: looking for the right book, the right therapy, etc. As my T says I've got all the tools I need I just need to unfreeze & use them.

Farmer talks about enjoying life as a child, with my inner child. I like what you say about this too. Little Victor is scared & wants to come out of the dark & feel & have fun & live. I need to take him by the hand & lead him out. I can do it.

Thanks Mike

Victor

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#74471 - 02/13/03 12:34 AM Re: Psychic Numbing
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Quote:

When I was 8 or so I remember walking in on my sister having sex. I just remember startling them and all of a sudden some naked guy jumped out in front of me. I remember being confused but I think I knew what was going on. Later that night I remember laying in my bed and listening to my parents going balistic towards my sister. At that moment I went into freeze mode. I simply didn't know how to handle it. And unfortunatly my parents were completely unable to talk to me about it so I bottled it up. The one thing I did know was that my sister was in a lot of trouble for that. The messages were loud and clear for me to not do what she did. Unfortunatly that meant to isolate myself from other people. I know that this example may be more of a benign sort but the trauma still put me into that freeze mode.

The one thing, though, is that I never considered this sexual abuse. And even today I'm reluctant to term it SA. But would you consider this SA or abuse of a different sort? I appreciate your feedback.
Thanks guys,
mike
SleepyMike:

In virtually all definitons of SA I've heard or read, what you experienced would be part of the definition. Being put in a place where you see people having sex, see people naked, at an age when you are not ready for that, is being abused sexually. It may be called indirect or covert abuse, but it is nevertheless abuse & very damaging. No wonder you froze up!

***********EXAMPLES***MAY TRIGGER****************
This was a big part of my abuse. Not just the direct sexual incest by my mother, which wasn't exactly a daily or regular thing, tho it was ongoing over several years. But it was her daily & regularly going around the house nude or near-nude, all the sexual talk, openly having sex with men in the apartment with me around, usually with the door open, things like that.
**********************END TRIGGER****************

As you indicated to Jer, it's amazing all the common & similar experiences & responses & baggage
we share.

We can also share common support & caring. Thank you for doing that.

Victor

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#74472 - 02/13/03 01:30 PM Re: Psychic Numbing
Sleepy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/08/02
Posts: 288
Loc: Arizona, USA
Thanks for the validation. I appreciate it. That memory is only one of a handfull of memories where I went into "freeze mode." And that's not even taking into consideration the direct sexual contact I had with my sister.

For me, perfectionism is a direct consequence of the freeze mode. I could never let myself be my "out-of-control" sister. I had to be the pinnacale of the good son. Boy, did that ever go too far. I think I'm ready to thaw out from being frozen.

This has been one of the best threads for me. Thanks guys. And, by the way, there are just too many Mikes in this world.

Mike
a.k.a. Sleepy

_________________________
"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."
--Ursula K. Le Guin

"Mental health is a commitment to reality at all times."
--M. Scott Peck

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