“I have had lots of clouds, but I have had so many rainbows.”
– Maya Angelou, Poet & Writer
“I wonder what and where I would be if I had a normal childhood.”
My Dear Readers,
This month, we continue with another installment of Bobbi’s Saga, the story of a woman walking her journey of healing from repeated sexual abuse that she endured as a child and pre-adolescent.
Bobbi’s story is one of shame, blame, guilt and a lifetime of suffering in silence. In this month’s journal entry, she shares her continuing empowerment and journey of self-discovery with the hope that someone else can also take the steps of self-awareness, discovery, and empowerment.
I always start out a new journal with a life update. I am now seeing Dr. Kane once a week after 6 years of therapy. I have gone from having sessions three times a week and phone calls on opposite days of sessions to two days per week and phone calls on days without a session. Then I went to two sessions per week and no phone calls. Now I am at one session per week and no phone calls.
At today’s session, we discussed why I’ve continued my therapy for the last six years. It is only now that I can be comfortable in discussing how I perceive myself and how others perceive me. At that point, I didn’t think there could be a difference between when I started therapy and now. I realize now that there may be a difference between what I see and feel and the way others see me.
There is so much that I don’t want others to see. The shame and guilt is gone, but that doesn’t mean that I feel comfortable revealing my history and sadness. It still shocks me that I feel so much less pain. I am surprised that the suicidal thoughts are gone.
Yet, the nightmares continue to be a major concern for me. I recently had one where someone was robbing the house. I was frantic and upset, and I woke up sobbing. I then remembered to plant my feet on the floor, look around and see for sure where I am, then getting up, going to a different room and acknowledging the fact that I am safe and that no harm will come to me.
Although I hadn’t had any suicidal thoughts in a while, I continue to have intense flashbacks of these small, baby-like white panties in the corner. They remind me of how young, small and vulnerable I was when I was raped.
The flashback also reminds me that my mother left me alone in the house at four years old while my rapist worked in the yard. Talking about it now helps. It used to overwhelm me for days at a time. I would become intensely depressed, cry, and not be able to concentrate on anything else. Now I am aware of it and although it bothers me, it does not overwhelm me. I am now having both the nightmares and flashbacks less often.
The only good thing that I can say about my mother is that because of her, I became a different type of parent. I am happy the way the kids turned out. I am not sure I would have been so careful with their lives if my own life had not been so terrible. I want to make sure they know they are loved, that they are cherished, and that there is nothing they could do to make us (my husband and me) not love them.
I want them to understand that to me, there is no other important job than being a mom. I feel that I’ve succeeded at that. If I die tomorrow, I know that I was a good mom.
As we closed out this week’s session, we talked about the progress I’ve made in the last six years. Whenever I thank him, Dr. Kane asks me: “Who gets credit for the work done in therapy?” I know that the answer is that I do—the patient always does—but I don’t feel that I deserve any credit.
I have always questioned and doubted what Dr. Kane tells me. I thought I would never get better. I didn’t know if I would live. I never believed I would get to a place of harmony. I hung on to every word Dr. Kane said, listening, processing, and being aware when there was a disconnect. I started to feel his words, then believe them. My only hope was to keep listening, processing, hoping and dreaming of getting to a better place. I didn’t believe it would happen, and yet here I am today.
I want to add the word “believe” to the outside of this journal. I want to believe more in myself, believe I can enjoy the rest of my life. I want to believe that there will be time to enjoy life.
Bobbi has traveled a long distance in empowering the psychological self and the journey of self-discovery. In my concluding remarks, I would like to provide some context for clarity as this relates to her journal entries.
Bobbi grew up blaming herself for the condition she had been placed within. She isolated herself from others, feeling that others had the ability to look in her eyes and see into her past.
Recalling Bobbi’s comments about comparing herself to her mother and excelling in the role of mom, Bobbi in the role of protector, intentionally sacrifices herself so that her children could lead lives free of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. When she says that she is ready to die, she is not being suicidal—instead, she feels complete, accomplished, and prepared to die with the knowledge that unlike her mother, she was a loving and caring mother, and doted upon her children.
Bobbi has done well in her psychological work over the last six years. She has accepted that although she bears no guilt, blame or responsibility for her sexual, physical and emotional abuses, she can learn to balance the traumatic experiences that were forced upon her. To gain balance, she has had to accept that nightmares and flashbacks may always be a part of her life. However, with processing and relaxation techniques, these flashbacks and nightmares can lose the potential to overwhelm her and consequently drive her to suicidal thoughts.
While Bobbi is to be congratulated for her willingness to stay the course and continue to process this trauma, the work remains incomplete. One matter of concern is Bobbi’s desire to give the credit of her outstanding work to the therapist. As Bobbi states in her own words about belief:
“I want to add the word “believe” to the outside of this journal. I want to believe more in myself, believe I can enjoy the rest of my life. Believe there will be time to enjoy life.”
This belief can only come once Bobbi takes ownership of the therapeutic work and its outcome. It is and will continue to be the therapeutic goal that the patient can finally feel fully empowered within the psychological self.
Until the next time ….Bobbi’s saga continues…