Self-Empowerment and … Common Sense?

Now that I’ve recovered from the worst outcomes of all that medication (antibiotics) they gave me at the hospital, I seem to find that I’m different from before. I feel stronger. Restored. A little proud. I have overcome one of the worst fears I ever had. This experience restored my self confidence, at least in part. I can do it. I can rise above whatever fear there is. I have done it before, when I had a life, a career, a wife, friends and the freedom to go whereever I wanted to go and do whatever I wanted to do – within the boundaries of our societies, of course. I had empowered myself beyond that ingrained role of the victim and I had been standing on my own feet, providing for myself and later for our small household. I can’t think of anything more powerful along the lines of recovery from trauma and abuse than finding the strength to overcome all these debilitating fears. So I can in part relax and depend on my ability to do this, to rise above. As far as keeping my demons in check, I feel sufficiently equipped to deal with them again. And from all the many failed experiences with therapists and psychotherapy at large, I a) am not comfortable to open up and trust again, to put it mildly, and b) don’t think that there is all that much new information that I haven’t heard, read or otherwise learnt and hadn’t applied all along. In fact – I must have found ways of coping all along, or else I wouldn’t have been able to work or go about life like I did. I may not have had the highest degree of self esteem then, true, and this is what stabbed me in the back in the long run. But I’m different now. I am not ready to take shit from anyone any more! Which is another reason why psychotherapy might not work out for me all that well. I get the feeling I have become “therapy intolerant” of sorts. After all, why would I listen to someone who has – likely – never been to any of the experiences I went through? Who are they to dole out advice? Exactly what quality puts them in a position of telling me anything – in particular, when their knowledge is second-hand? And abstract? Also, I need to feel in control of things – and I am fully aware that having become this OCDed control-freak is a result of the abuse that went on in my later childhood years. I rather see shit coming my way, even if it’s the worst kind of shit – than be “surprised” by it. That hadn’t worked out too well earlier, so chances are it might not end well again. So, I much rather do things on my own again.

However…. (you saw it coming, right? ;-)) – there is still the physical side of things – the body, which never forgets – and mercilessly so. Like for example tonight: On most nights, I stay upstairs and sleep on the couch (only about 30 inches wide), because it’s a tiny bit further removed from where my landlady moves and walks around, like in the mornings, when she is probably using the bathroom one floor above me and the kitchen, both not directly above my modest living room, which softens some of the noises and vibrations – that’s the only reason I mention it, I’m not intentionally “spying” on her or anything). This way, I wake up, but not as hard as in the bedroom, which is in her part of the building and closer to the stairwell. When I’m in the basement, the tiniest of noises wakes me up – and brutally so, as my body goes into a minor shock. I’ve talked about the manifold triggers I respond to and this is one of them. It’s agonizing. It’s torture. It’s brutal. Because once my body has gone into this mode of being alarmed, there is no thinking of going back to sleep any time soon (don’t ask what it was like in the other place, where I lived before, when Mr. Neighbour came home late or got up for bathroom breaks – I’d wake up several times per night and it often took me no less than an hour to snooze off again). Last night I decided to sleep downstairs, where there is a real bed, which I sleep more comfortably in. Also, the mosquitos have been very aggressive here since the major flooding in my country a couple of weeks ago. It’s basically impossible to keep them out, although there are mosquito nets in the windows. So I chose for more comfortable sleep downstairs (took me months to use that room at all given my residual vulnerability to the tiniest of triggers). As I enjoy the quietude of the late evenings, when she has gone to sleep – usually around 9.30 p.m. or 10.00-ish on her part – and as these are the only times I feel all by myself and having some privacy, I returned to a cycle of staying up late(r) and sleeping in. So I went to bed at 1.30 a.m. hoping to get to sleep until 9.30. At 5.50 am I woke up for the first time, went to the bathroom and returned to bed. At around 7 a.m. I wake up again and decide to go upstairs, hoping to snooze for another hour or two. She must have left shortly afterwards as I managed to fall asleep even without meditiation music, which I usually use to be more comfortable and in order to feel safe. I then speak my mantra and usually fall asleep quickly. So now at 7 a.m. I come back upstairs, place myself on the couch and snooze off for a bit. I must have fallen asleep pretty deeply, as I almost overheard the alarm set for 10.00 a.m. There were some dreams, but they were not as vivid and easy to recall as usual. The entire point being: I woke up being toast. Technically and telling from the sum total of hours, I had had more than enough sleep. But it was poor sleep that wasn’t refreshing at all. It’s a little better, when I sleep on the couch, but not really refreshing, either. When I think of it, I can’t think of any time in my adult life that I’ve slept well – except for those times, when I was a touring musician and fell right into a “coma” from being overworked and overexhausted on some nights.

So poor sleep is only because of my body responding brutally to the most delicate of noises or vibrations. This surely is the physically ingrained pattern that must have gotten triggered in my earliest stages of infancy at the hospital. I can imagine that they often woke me up and probably made me subject to painful or otherwise disturbing examinations or otherwise unpleasant, disconcerting physical contact. And my body kept the score of those experiences – to this day. This is a residual huge problem. It is so taxing on my body that I just don’t see how I can ever get to a healthy cycle of eating and sleeping. On most days, I’m too fatigued to go about much physical activity, like riding my bike or even simple household chores. When I force myself to do something, I often overeat in order to feel “energized”. Depending on the amount of overeating, I sometimes then feel too bad to do something at all, which sends me down a tailspin of self-loathing followed by a bout of depression. To break free from this vicious cycle, I need to sleep better! And the latter never happened. Nor is it likely to happen given the current state of things. I don’t have too much confidence in hypno therapy working at this deep a level that my body “forgets” the early ingrained pattern. According to Schore’s article it never does, but there seems to be other scientific findings that roll her conclusion back to an extent. Or modulate it. But I’m not too optimistic, frankly speaking.

Other than that, I’d rather return to a place of “sucking it up” and just trying to blend in as well as possible and becoming rather aggressive with some of my deficiencies I have no way of further squaring away. The physical situation is brutal though. There is no better word for that. Also, I have decided to look for a different place to live in. I simply don’t get the privacy here that I seem to need. The physical proximity with my landlady living this close is anything between annoying to plain petrifying me. It’s not her fault, either. I know it’s me. This was an experiment of sorts: To see, whether I might adapt to such a situation. The experiment failed. I haven’t adapted to it to a degree, where I feel comfortable in my skin. So … trying to find something else – and better suited given my vulnerabilities – has become a top priority again. Feels like I’ve been running for my entire – effin’ – life. “Ugh” don’t even cut it…

P.S. LMDAO! Just found this. That pretty much puts everything in a nutshell 😉

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6 thoughts on “Self-Empowerment and … Common Sense?

  1. Interesting what you say about therapy and the process here. Your concept and mine and our experiences in therapy must be very different. The only time my therapist gives me advice is when I ask her for it specifically. That doesn’t happen often. I don’t want or need her advice very often, in fact. Sometimes I ask her for information about something, and then she tells me what I want to know. But most of the time, she has been a witness to my own work in this process. As she said, her job is to be with me in the process, to support me and encourage me as I do the work I need to do. I know what I need to do, and I find my own direction intuitively. She is just there with me as I do it. I feel as you do–I don’t need or want anyone telling me what to do or think or feel–unless I ask for it.

    Now, of course, with EMDR, she taps on my knees, checks me out, paces the work, etc. because that is what she is supposed to do and she knows how to do it better than I do. She is trained to do it. But I’m the one who is in control. She isn’t. EMDR is something that I can’t really do by myself, at least not as well as I can do it with her help. I wouldn’t be able to operate on myself for cancer, either, or do the work to fit myself for dentures.

    So what you say here–” I have become “therapy intolerant” of sorts. After all, why would I listen to someone who has – likely – never been to any of the experiences I went through? Who are they to dole out advice? Exactly what quality puts them in a position of telling me anything – in particular, when their knowledge is second-hand?”–does not wash per my experience in therapy. I asked my therapist if she had gone through EMDR treatment, and she has. I asked her if the benefits are permanent, and she said that for her, they have been. So I believe my therapist knows what she is doing.

    But my point is that a good therapist does not tell you what to do or how to live your life. A good therapist uses her training and herself as a human being to help you find within yourself the answers you seek in order to make your life what you want it to be. My therapist knows damn well that I don’t want her advice unless I specifically ask for it. She has tremendous powers of empathy that enable her to relate to my experience, to understand it, so I believe that even if she has not experienced exactly what I have experienced, she understands what I’m saying to her and takes it in. This helps her be an effective witness and helps her help me to help myself. She is what I would call a true facilitator, and that is what a therapist should be. Now, if I were in a crisis, she would become more directive, most likely, and in that case I would need direction, but I have not been a true crisis state since 1980, so she doesn’t need to be directive. I have times when I lose my perspective and become distressed and off balance, but I have friends I can run stuff by in that case, and sometimes I run that sort of thing by my therapist. I always seem to bounce back and return to the path. That strikes me as being pretty normal.

    Anyway, all this is to say that if your health insurance situation changes, and if you have a chance to work with somebody who specializes in C-PTSD and is competent, and your insurance pays for it, why not give it a try? If it doesn’t work or you don’t like the therapist, you can always change or quit. But if you don’t try it, you will never know the possibilities. From my heart, I will say that I do hope you would give it a try.

    • “Anyway, all this is to say that if your health insurance situation changes, and if you have a chance to work with somebody who specializes in C-PTSD and is competent, and your insurance pays for it, why not give it a try? If it doesn’t work or you don’t like the therapist, you can always change or quit.”

      Jean, thanks for sharing your experiences. I have another friend, whom I communicate with regularly, he shares your point of view. Jeez, guys – I wish it were as easy as “giving it a try” for me!! #1 I’ve had ample opportunity to learn how poorly the “experts” in this area work from the encounters I had to make, old and new. Which has me fear that not this much has changed for the better as opposed to some almost 30 years ago. #2 In order to maybe get expenses covered by my health insurance, I need to switch to that new plan. And there are major, major obstacles to that, which I’m not sure I’ll be able to overcome. #3 Once, I made the switch, I can’t go back to the old plan. One of the major disadvantages is the amount of patient contribution, which is at 300,- EUR per year. I barely make the current one, which is 100,- per year. It also looks as if given the latest pharmacy snafu I have to front the money for this enzyme product from now on. That’s another share of money I simply don’t have and don’t see a way of making the required money for or getting the budget for that from elsewhere. In regard to this particular issue, I was on the phone several times for the last couple of days, speaking for quite a while with some very helpful, supporting lady at my health insurance, who did everything she can – except for finding a way to front the money for me. The contract simply doesn’t allow for that. Her hands are tied. And so are mine. Welfare aren’t sure, whether they will find a way to front those bi-monthly 115,- EUR. See the depths of implications? With every move I try to make, a little earthquake of more bureaucratic implications arises. If I had know what mess I’d get myself into…
      Now, #3 patient contribution: That one sticks, whether or not therapy will be helpful. And expenses for psychotherapy are covered up to 70%, which means: More money I’ll be left to cover, but – simply can’t!!!

      The cowboy rides around me in circles, waving his lasso, yelling and howling “Yippee-ay-kayay!”, riding faster with every lap and mockingly calling “suck it up, man, you’ve lost this one!”. Even if I found a way for the money problem – which would have to drop out of the sky like a miracle -, simply doing the coin toss on this one comes at too high a risk of failure – from previous experiences and from having made so many detrimental experiences in the meantime that I can’t even see how I’m supposed to ever be better. And then, if I was – I am still confronted with a world that’s gone totally crazy with its near-dictatorial neo-liberal money system and is on a roll of removing anything there was worth living for, like e.g. decent income to make a decent living, civil liberties and basic civil rights etc. etc. I might feel good about myself then, but who gives a shit? Everything “out there” will still be coo-coo-u and continue to spin faster and faster. I’m not even sure, what parts of my anxiety are old outcomes and which part is totally on account of the shock of finding myself waking up to a nightmare, where shit just got real, you know?

      It’s a lot to ponder and the personal risk of failing looks incalculable at this point. Plus: I’ve just been let down one too many times – or so it feels. I simply had no luck with therapy so far. And I can’t piss off the cowboy in me, whom I seem to have made friends with just a short while ago and whom I really depend on as far as mere survival and not losing it. Hence also my now desperate wish for medication, as I seem to be closing in on an unprecedented situation, where I am not sure to what extent I can depend on my impulse control, the latter bordering on being masochistic with myself.

      I would like to make a point that I don’t mean to sound dramatic – unless the situation is to that effect. Which it … unfortunately totally is. Regardless of that, I appreciate you sharing your insights and experiences.

      • Wow, I don’t know what to say, so I won’t say anything other than I’ll pray that this situation turns around for you. Your other friend you spoke about and I are on your side in this.

        I’ve been reading some terrible articles predicting that the dollar is going to soon be a thing of the past as far as its rank in world currency is concerned. I’m glad I’m getting the hell out of Dodge and moving to a rural area. Life in the cities in this country will become a real mess if prices go way up. Today is July 4th, and I’m hearing lots of firecrackers, but lately I’ve heard gunshots, too. I live just a block or two from a major public housing project, and life is getting ROUGH there. Another drive-by shooting Tuesday night. Poverty makes people angry, and the gang bangers in this part of the city are going to war. Time for me to get out! Time to be like “Walker, Texas Ranger” and ride hard and fast.

        Keep on truckin’!

  2. Yeah, I totally hear you on life in the urban areas getting rougher with probably every week gone by, Jean. Exactly, get the hell out of there! (which is b.t.w. the same reason I moved to this area, which is probably our micro version of St. Barbara, CA or Boca Raton, FL).

    Whatever article you read on the dollar going down as a world currency: Absolutely not. Before that happens, your government rather launches WW III, they’ll never allow for the dollar to fall behind UNLESS – it’s part of a plan to crank the economy even another few notches up. The latter could be possible and just don’t get me started on this, as my views on the global money system, the globalized economy and the role of the U.S. governments – not the people – in this might get me unwanted attention by some other kind of “cowboys”… So yeah, keepin’ on trucking it is, might even turn into some real running at some point in the future…. 😦 Good luck with moving out and with the equine therapy!

    • Thanks for your interesting reply. Economics is not my strong subject, for sure. Are the cities worldwide becoming meaner? Portland, Oregon, is supposed to be one of the nicer places to live, and yet . . . Off to the boondocks for me!

      • Are the cities worldwide becoming meaner? I think, people are eventually becoming meaner and more protective of whatever they think they have or made for themselves. With money being subject to manipulation, however, none of what you made today is safe tomorrow. Not even property, like a house, land or whatever. I can understand that noone likes to hear this, but unfortunately – it’s simply so. I was raised on the understanding that you work hard and make something (material) for yourself. Apparently, that concept is bullshit, unless you come from old money or are some multimillion dollar heir or something. Since we were talking abuse on here quite a bit – that adds more insult to injury as … much of the abuse was about abiding by the system in place. Now look at the mess we see before our eyes! Gah… I can’t even go there, brings out the worst in me… Off to the boondocks it is! With hopefully relaxed, friendly people living there!

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