The Trauma of Spousal Abuse

I have my standing therapist’s appointment every Tuesday afternoon, and today I don’t want to go. It’s rare that I don’t enjoy heading to her office, but something inside of me is yearning for a break. I’ve been doing some amazing work, have gained some valuable tools and I’ve grown in ways I never would have expected, but today I quite simply don’t want to be there. I’m not looking for a long-term break, just a day off. However, I’m questioning my motives slightly because she gave me homework last week that I haven’t touched.

We’ve been visiting the traumas experienced with my ex-husband and she gave me a writing exercise, of all things, that I should have spent time on without any trouble. But, I haven’t done it. You see, last week I brought a list into her office of about 15 awful incidents with my ex that I wanted to read out loud. I put the list together almost a year ago during a moment where the thoughts were pouring into me. The first time I brought it to her, she stopped me at the very first one to focus in on that. I was frustrated and wanted to get through the rest, but I didn’t know how to vocalize it back then. The list was put away after that visit and was generally forgotten, until just recently. During last week’s appointment, I was clear to her that I intended to read it in its entirety, that it was important for me to get through it all, so she allowed the space for that. To be able to speak them all out loud together in a room with someone else listening was a relief and even a little empowering. After making it through the page, we talked a bit further about some of the events and about his behavior patterns, in general. She then asked me to pick just one from that list, one that I felt spoke to me more than any of the others. Her intention was for me to perform a writing exercise around my selection. This was not meant to be an exercise where I write about the image of the event, but would instead dig in more on the trauma surrounding it. The work is meant to help release it from my body. But, when I shared with her the first one that came to me, her reaction seemed a bit surprised. She then pressed me, asking if there were any other events that came to mind that I hadn’t written about on that list. In particular, she gently questioned if he had ever forced himself on me, given his rape fantasies that I had previously shared with her. She further confirmed that whichever event from the list was what I had the most feeling about is the one I should go with, but based on her reaction, I was already doubting my choice.

I told her that now I felt awkward about the one I selected, that maybe I should have picked the time he shoved me to the ground or the incident when he lifted up my dress against my will to show my underwear to one of his friends. I explained that while the event that stood out to me most may not seem so terrible when compared with some of those others, as there was no physical involvement, it was without a doubt a memory that has stuck with me so clearly that every time it pops up it’s as though I’m seeing it like a film being replayed. Even though I have no feelings at all for the man I used to be married to, the hurt experienced on that day is like an imprint on my skin that no amount of scrubbing will remove. Before leaving her office, my therapist tried to reassure me again that I should go with whichever one spoke to me the most, but it may have been too late at that point.

The seed of doubt has flourished this past week and I’ve wanted to brush the incident and the entire list aside instead of honing in on it. I even revisited the list to see if there was anything else there that I wanted to use the homework for, but I don’t feel compelled to do the work with any of it. I know that it may be important to embrace this exercise if I want to move forward, but then again, perhaps not. Maybe it was just enough for me to get that entire list out with her. Given the discussions we’ve been having over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that the fear that I’ve been holding onto of the man formerly known as my husband has diminished greatly. But what I wonder is if it will stay that way, or is the cloud lifting only temporary?

This brings me back to my decision about today’s visit. I realize that when there is something that I’m fighting against, in many cases it probably means that I should do it. However, I continue to feel strongly that I need a break today, and if my therapist has taught me anything, it’s to listen to my body and put my self-care above all else. I recognize that I have more to get out when it comes to this former phase of my life and it will all come, just not in her office on this particular day.

 

Author: Tracie Anne

I'm a 40-something woman & chronic blogger who also happens to be an adult child of an alcoholic, former Jehovah’s Witness, and abuse survivor. I’m fortunate to be where I am today; although I’m still figuring it all out, it’s finally time I owned my truth. Newly sober as of 2.20.18

5 thoughts

  1. Dear Tracie,
    That must have been a horrible experience. Such a nasty thing to do. I am sorry he put you through this. (swearing here)
    When reading your writing here I, from my point of view, hear something different then I guess you hear. I’m gonna put it out here to see if it connects to you. I am thinking…. she pushed you and you VERY MUCH disliked it. It probably even reminds you of your husband somewheren. From where I stand the pushing she did was BIG, way too big for such a situation and way too big for a professional. I guess she got that in the end and tried to make up for it but that is not how it works. You can’t push, see that pushing is met with hesitation, then push some more, see that it is met with dislike and confusion, then push some more and say “Sorry!” That’s just not how things work (have to learn it myself too 😦 )
    And now you are in a loyalty conflict like kids which are hit by their parents: I love them, I depend on them, and now they do this. And you take the energy of the conflict out ‘on yourself’ by ‘not feeling up to it’ and ‘disapearing’. Like being ‘school sick’; feeling that one is not up to the situation and then evading it. Which, by the way, if it were the case, I can totally understand because from what I read I’m thinking: the therapist is very much on the wrong path here.
    What about taking this post to her and reading that? INSISTING that she listens to that and to your grievances from last time. How she reacts will tell your guts how to continue. If it were not so awful to have to defend yourself against a therapist (ok, big words, but this is how I perceive it) then it would have been a funny excersise in standing up for yourself against bullies. :-/
    Hope there is something in this which helps you along.
    xx, Feeling

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Don’t be sorry at all, I appreciate your sharing your thoughts and this was very helpful to read through. It may sound like I’m defending her, but I will say that she has warned me that she is going to push me. She asked me to let her know if it was too much – and so, instead of taking a break yesterday, I went to therapy and I did let her know how I felt about the prior week. I didn’t read her this post, but I talked through exactly why I was upset and why I didn’t think I wanted to be in that room. Honestly, it was the best thing I could have done and I had a bit of a breakthrough yesterday, so I guess that deep sense in my gut that I should go must have been telling me something.

      Don’t get me wrong, I held onto my power and I was firm with her and we worked through what I had experienced. I think it helped me to see her as a human who also makes mistakes, while her pushing that day may have been warranted, I don’t think she intended me to see her initial reaction or what I interpreted as surprise for choosing the event I did. In any case, this is very hard work some days – harder than I ever thought it could be and I am grateful for it. I have more to write about it as I am still processing through what happened, but just know I’m in a better place and I’m actually proud that I pushed through and went and faced her with my truth. -T

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! 🙂 Wow! I am in awe here. Good on you 🙂 🙂 🙂

        You write ‘It may sound like I’m defending her’, which makes me realise I was pushing too. Hmmm… sorry. 😦 Projecting a little too much I guess. :-/ Sorry. Hope the helpfulness outdid my pushiness. 😦
        xx, Feeling

        Like

    1. I will write more on this soon, but I did go and I did stand my ground. I even had a bit of a breakthrough yesterday that may have been a long time coming. Therapy is strange and wonderful all at the same time. Her pushing may have been warranted, but I’m not sure that the way it was done that day came across in the best way. We did talk through it, though, and I am in a better place for having gone. Thanks for reaching out! -T

      Liked by 1 person

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