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I can't feel ok about these things. I am trying so hard.

(25 Posts)
howtofeelokaboutthis Thu 14-Jul-16 13:18:43

I've posted a lot about my relationship. I'm desperately trying to move on at the moment. And by and large doing well.

But no matter how hard I try I am plagued by worthless feelings related to experiences that I have talked around but can never fully address or describe. And have been completely unable to talk about in person to any of the various types of RL help I've had.

I was raped many years ago. Quite horribly. Never did anything about it, got on with life as if it hadn't happened. I'm not sad about it but it has affected my long term relationship that I have now left.

There were times I didn't want to do things in that relationship. I would say I didn't but I feel I was badgered until I did. Particular positions etc. I very clearly didn't want to and wasn't happy. But i didn't try hard enough to stop it. Sometimes they happened anyway - small things like taking my clothes off when I said no. But these things make me feel worthless. I am absolutely plagued by guilt and humiliation and shame. I never tried to really stop these things. I blame him for some if it but I hate myself.

No matter how hard I try to be positive I don't know how I can ever feel good about myself. I feel like I have acted in a way no self respecting woman would.

No matter how hard I try to do what I need to do to make my life ok these thoughts are underneath. I dont know how to shift them. I dont know how to process where my feelings should be directed. I think I have I overreacted. I don't know how to be rid of the feelings.

I feel so so ashamed of what I am I don't want this to be associated with my other threads. Please don't get annoyed at me for wallowing. I just do not know how to feel ok about this sexual history. I really am trying.

I need to find a way of living with it. Will it just start to matter less the longer I am single. Very new to being single.

loopylou6 Thu 14-Jul-16 15:09:20

Hi, there's absolutely nothing wrong with you, you have been a victim. Have you ever asked for counseling? It might help you to get a handle on things and you can begin to heal, because none of that was your fault.

howtofeelokaboutthis Thu 14-Jul-16 16:07:43

I am seeing a counsellor at moment while ending marriage. I have had help earlier this year too. But I can't come even close to talking about any of these things in RL.

OnTheRise Thu 14-Jul-16 16:43:20

It's so difficult to talk about in real life. It really is. But good therapy can really help. I've found it life-changing.

If you can't tell your counseller about what happened to you, you could perhaps write it down, or print out your posts here and share them with him or her. Or ask if you could have a session over the phone. There are all sorts of ways round it.

Once I got stuff out in the open like that I found it so much easier to talk about; and it was amazing how the simple act of telling someone made the problems seem smaller and more controllable, and easier to deal with. If you're happy with your counsellor do try to tell them, one way or another. And if you're not happy with them, ask to see someone else. You deserve to be happy, and you're not to blame for anything that has happened to you.

howtofeelokaboutthis Thu 14-Jul-16 17:42:14

My counsellor is very easy to talk to so far. But she makes me feel good about myself. She makes me feel like I'm strong and intelligent. It even feels like she likes me (Although I am aware that its her job to make me feel ok!). I feel like I will ruin that if I talk about these things.

I'm also worried that I've turned the relationship issues into a bigger issue than they are and embarrassed that I didn't deal better with them.

And of course it's just uncomfortable to talk about. Do my feelings make sense here? Is this a good starting point?

OnTheRise Thu 14-Jul-16 18:00:16

She probably DOES like you. You sound really likeable to me.

There is nothing you can tell her about yourself which will shock her, or upset her, or make her not like you. She just won't.

If you tell her that you were coerced into doing things you didn't want to do, she's going to have the same reaction I have: which is that you deserve far better than that, it's not surprising you feel distressed by it, and it would be lovely if you could feel that you did nothing wrong, and to feel better about yourself. The difference between her and me is that she has the tools to help you get to that point. But she can't help you unless you tell her.

Just talk to her. Be completely honest, tell her everything, and ask for her help. You don't deserve to feel bad about yourself, you have done nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about, and there are things which can be done to help you realise that.

WinePhoenix Thu 14-Jul-16 18:26:23

Hi howto, I'm a long time lurker on these boards but joined after seeing your post.

Just a bit of my story so you know where I'm coming from. My parents raised me to believe that females were worthless and sex was something for men, women just put up with it. Following that childhood, my first experiences of "sex", at the age of 16, were rape (the first one was pretty horrific and I'm lucky to have survived it). Those first experiences became my marker for "normal" which led to further rapes and abuse/coercion and it's only over the last couple of years that I've seen everything for what it was and been able to deal with it all/come to terms with it. I am now in my forties and spent all those years blaming myself, feeling ashamed and feeling guilty over it all.

While working through it all, I came to realise that my conscious mind kind of "switched off" in future sexual experiences following the first rape and my subconscious mind took over to protect me. It's like my subconscious mind remembered that if you don't cooperate you'll get hurt even though my conscious mind wasn't thinking that at the time which led to me acting in a way that I wasn't comfortable with and going along with things I wasn't comfortable with. For a long time I branded myself as a worthless slag but now I see it as I had a deep rooted fear, that I wasn't even aware of, that was shaping my reactions and behaviours.

Sorry for rambling but I hope what I have written makes sense to you and can bring you some kind of comfort and reassurance that you're not alone and that what you are feeling is a normal thing to feel.

howtofeelokaboutthis Thu 14-Jul-16 20:09:11

Thank you both. I feel like I can't get anywhere on making my life happier when I'm trying to ignore how I really feel about myself.

OnTheRise it feels like you are a kind person to have said kind things. But my counsellor also seems like a kind and compassionate person so maybe she would feel like you say. I can see how it might get easier to talk about once you try. This is the second time I've written about it. It's easier this time to explain and to have included the detail. I couldn't have explained how I felt about it all before.

It is really interesting to read your understanding of why you acted in a way that you weren't comfortable with at a conscious level WinePhoenix. I can see how that explanation works and I can relate. Thank you for your honesty. It's a difficult history to live with. It helps to hear your story.

WinePhoenix Thu 14-Jul-16 20:59:32

I think you've reached the point where you can't ignore your feelings any more. You need to acknowledge them in order to move forward but the process will probably wreck your head for a while after bottling your feelings up for so long.

If you feel you can't tell anybody in real life yet (I ended up blurting it all out to a colleague!) you could try carrying a note book around with you. As soon as thoughts enter your head, especially negative ones, get them out of your head and on to paper.

Onlyonce Thu 14-Jul-16 21:58:43

I haven't experienced anything as awful as what you have been through but I have experienced counselling. There was a topic I found very hard to speak about. my counsellor worked with me to find a way to express it. In the end what worked was a letter that I wrote for her to read. It really helped open up the topic. Once she knew it was easier to discuss. If you can, just tell her there are things you think it would help to discuss but you are struggling with being able to talk about them. She will find a way to help you. Good luck

Resilience16 Thu 14-Jul-16 22:23:29

How to, firstly it is really brave of you to open up on here. That really is the first step in the right direction. Secondly, all the shit that has happened to you IS NOT YOUR FAULT. I repeat, it is not your fault.
Thirdly, you are not a victim, you are a survivor,and you have done what was right for you at the time to get through these shit experiences.
Well done for asking for and attending counselling. Your councillor will not be shocked or judgemental about anything you tell her so please try to open up.
I know it is hard carrying that sack of crap around on your back and in your heart for so many years. Believe me that once you start to talk about it the sack gets lighter and eventually you can put it down, and Jesus is that a relief .
Good luck and hugs for you x

StartledByHisFurryShorts Fri 15-Jul-16 00:49:24

Hi howtofeel. I couldn't just read and run. I haven't experienced the things that you have had to. But I have had experience with therapy (for mental health issues) and I agree with what onlyonce said. If there is something you can't talk to your therapist about yet, tell her there's something you can't talk to her about yet. If you can. One step at a time. You've done a brave thing by posting here. You can't deal with this all at once. But maybe you can find a manageable first step. Telling your therapist that there are things you haven't told her yet because you aren't ready seems like a good one. She won't force you. Remember, you're there on your terms.

Good luck. I am sure better, more knowledgeable posters will be along soon. You sound like a lovely person.

howtofeelokaboutthis Fri 15-Jul-16 06:31:53

Thank you all. It does feel like a step forward to have put it here - and not immediately wish I hadn't. I haven't woken up regretting writing the post which I was worried about.

My husband is the only person I talked to about the attack. He didn't say much, minimised if anything, never offered any support. That was many years ago and it was never talked about again. And well, as per my earlier post, the marriage hasn't gone well anyway.

I find the attack much easier to think about. I can see how wrong it was. It's my life since that is so much more difficult.

Thank you for listening. I think that's all I needed for now. I think I will at some point talk to counsellor. It would be amazing to find a way to be happy now I've faced my biggest fear and left my marriage.

howtofeelokaboutthis Fri 22-Jul-16 22:47:20

Didn't know where else to go with this. I don't even know how this is possible. How I could forget this.

I dont really need any replies. I'm just feeling a bit shocked. I think saying it will help me put it aside for now.

I've been trying to think about the things I've posted here before. I've tried to find a context for rape/abuse from a feminist perspective for example.

I have tried to indicate to the counsellor I need to talk around these type of relationship issues. Stopping counselling for summer. Will pick up later.

Anyway, that's just to let you know I don't really need help. I am facing this.

But I was doing some reading and I read a situation that took my breath away. Because I recognised it. A very close friend tried to force himself on me when we were students, about 21. He was visiting me at the time at uni halls. He ignored me telling him clearly I didn't want anything to happen and got as far as pinning me to the wall as I tried to leave kissing and groping me before I succeeded in pushing him off. He apologised the next day before he went home.

I know my shock must seem off as it didn't happen. But i have referred to this friend as a "good guy" to the counsellor and in a thread on the feminist board when examining how I struggle to trust any man. how can I have forgotten what happened. I remember now being terrified at the time.

I am still friends with him. We both since married and had children. We stayed friends. I had lunch with him recently.

How can I have forgotten this. Should it have mattered. He did eventually back off. Is that ok by normal standards. He was young. Does it matter. We're grown ups now.

I just needed to say this. How can this not all be about me. He's my one example of a healthy long term male friendship FFS.

If you read this, sorry it's so long.

Guiltypleasures001 Sat 23-Jul-16 00:51:58

Hey lovely

Consciously you haven't forgotten it, because as of now you have remembered it.

The mind will do whatever it needs to, to protect the conscious present part of it. One of the ways it does this is to split off the traumatic memory and for want of a word hide it. This is called disassociation. Your mind disassociates itself from the pain and trauma until such time as it thinks you can start dealing with it.

Because of your sudden realisation and remembrance of your "friend" it maybe that your mind is protecting you still further. You have made the move to start dealing with this trauma, and it's quite possible to see that your mind feels he will be a hindrance to your recovery.

You may want to think about distancing yourself from him completely, you don't owe him a reason why should he ask, remember that.

flowers

howtofeelokaboutthis Sat 23-Jul-16 01:30:55

Thank you Guiltypleasures. That makes sense.

I have times of feeling disconnected in a general way that the GP described as disassociation and part of general anxiety.

The "forgetting" is an impressively strong action. The mind is impressive. If only it could forget the rest of my life!

It wouldn't be difficult to avoid him without having to explain, we don't often meet.

Improvisingnow Sat 23-Jul-16 11:02:23

I can identify with the disassociation angle. I spent many years in a very EA relationship during which I completely lost myself. I'm out of that now and won't be having another relationship, thanks, but huge swathes of my past are just blanks. Every now and then I get a flashback of some piece of shitty treatment I put up with, but by and large it's as if someone took an eraser to my life.

My experiences were nowhere near as bad as yours, but I do suffer from feeling how could I have let this happen and for so long, I'm a professional, capable person, known for not taking shit in a work context so how did I let him grind me down over so many years without telling him to FRO? I've no idea though I recognise my childhood set me up for it.

The way forward for me has been to recognise that I was a victim (as I think you were in your marriage too - no decent man would have wanted to have sex with an obviously reluctant woman) and that I should forgive myself for allowing myself to be in that position. I have a lot of anger about that time and the waste of my life, but I try and direct that anger onto him where it belongs and away from myself.

I decided to focus on being kind to myself and building myself up. I consciously practice self-care. I changed the job I do and the way I work, I consciously will not allow myself to get stressed and walk away from stressful situations in order to put myself first, I've chosen to downsize and to stop buying stuff and to lead a simpler life where I am true to myself, I have lovely pets who adore me unconditionally (well possibly not the cats!), I volunteer with a charity etc.

Your choices might be different, but I do think it is basically right that you have to choose to value yourself and to build yourself up. The fact that you have been exposed to some twunts who did not value you does not make you worthless, it makes them twunts. Be angry with them, not with yourself. You are worthy.

howtofeelokaboutthis Sat 23-Jul-16 11:58:45

Thanks for your post improvising. I have indeed been googling how to "be kind to myself' over the last week. It gets said a lot and I've never really been sure what it actually means. It's good to hear what you do and how it works for you.

My experiences were nowhere near as bad as yours... actually by far my biggest struggle is trying to find myself and any self esteem after leaving an unhealthy marriage - which sounds like it has similarities to yours. I struggle to make the most basic decisions. The length of time, how a long term relationship encompasses every bit of you makes it a huge thing to move on from. I relate to so many of the feelings you describe.

Sounds like you have done really well with your new life.

Improvisingnow Sat 23-Jul-16 20:45:10

Thanks howtofeel. Not perfect, but definitely getting there smile. I'm pretty happy with myself and my life now which seemed inconceivable 5 years ago.

The turning point for me was having six sessions with a life coach. I'd done my time in counselling, but although my counsellor was lovely and I did gain some insights, the sessions did not really do anything except go over the same old ground IYSWIM and I felt mired in the past and cried a lot.

Life coaching is all about looking forward and making your life into what you want it to be and that appealed to me far more because I felt less of a powerless victim and more that I could take my own decisions.

Those sessions were only the start, but I do credit them with turning me from a passive person into an active one and I actually learnt a lot about myself in a positive way which gave me some foundations to build on going forward.

For the first year I had a big poster stuck up in the hallway where I would see it every time I went past which said "I am always enough" and every time I walked past it I thought "yes I am, fuck you exH". After about a year I realised that I didn't need it any more because actually I do believe that. I might not be to everyone's taste, but I do believe that I am enough and I am comfortable in my own skin.

I'm not saying everyone should shell out for a life coach, but I think making that mind set change from "I am shit and everything is shit" to "fuck you, I am a decent person who was treated like shit and now I am free to live my life how I want and I'm going to" is the first step on the road to recovery.

Guiltypleasures001 Sat 23-Jul-16 21:55:27

Hi improv

It's a shame you've had to shell out for a coach, some counsellors do have training with dealing with the past and the future.

I think some are probably more directional than most, the poster is a great idea, So are positive mantras to repeat to yourself, a few counsellors I know are not adversed to swearing in session. But it's all,about judging your audience and client.

A plan should be made however tenuous at the start of therapy, I say tenuous because not everyone knows what they want or even how they feel. In my eyes it would have been a better outcome for you to have got to,where you are now, much earlier and with the tools for continuous growth.

There's a great poem called how your parents fuck you up by Phillip Larkin
It explains a lot to how layer after layer of bad lessons set us up to fail and repeat bad choices and behaviour.

If you can picture a tube of Pringles that's your layers of crap right there, each Pringle represents a traumatic event in our lives. We can't change them or forget them, but we can learn to open an empty tube and put new layers in if our own choosing. Like the old tube it will take years to fill, but that's life anyways, accept its life on your terms. smile

Apologies for the ramble

rainytea Sat 23-Jul-16 22:21:04

Hey howtofeel I know what you mean about this man. I had similar sexual experiences to yours and one exboyf who I stayed in touch with, met up for drinks with, introduced to my DH, socialised with and was Facebook friends with (we're now in different countries) was one of my only "good" relationships. Then I suddenly remembered he'd coerced me, very deeply unwillingly into anal sex (eventually is said "ok"), and did it without a second thought for me. I couldn't believe that I'd forgotten this.

It was really hard to digest what had happened and how I'd just put it from my mind.

And as for dissociation, it's brilliant..at the time. But for me what happens is that what I've dissociated from comes back at some point later (the above incident is a case in point). So while working on the future is important, if I don't work on the past too, then it'll just come up at another time.

If you're comfortable with your counsellor - and it sounds like you are - then it might be worth talking to her about how you want to work on things in the past as well as the future and self-esteem (they're all related anyway), if you do. The more information you give her about what you want from counselling as well as anything you find difficult or don't like the more she can help you.

And that can go for talking about the most difficult things too (I've also written a letter about something once, I found it a good way to tell her without telling her).

tryingtomakesenseoflife Sat 23-Jul-16 23:28:48

I haven't really worked out how I feel about counselling yet. I'm unconvinced how talking will make the feelings go away. Nothing can be undone. But I find my counsellor hugely reassuring as a presence. And she got me through the separation in a very practical way. So I'm hopeful even though I don't get it.

I clearly want to talk. I'll talk to anyone (or myself smile) on here! Intellectually I think I can see the mistakes I made so I should move on. But I'm still weighed down by memories and emotion. Maybe from not talking to anyone for so long.

I've tried to mention a bit of these things to be counsellor but as she's about to go in holiday I think she's wary of leaving me for weeks looking at difficult things without support.

I really like the sound of your poster Improvising. I think if I try to read and work through things myself as I did last night I'll go under this summer. Dont know what but some upbeat motivation might get me through.

rainytea that must have been really tough to remember and realise you had blocked it out. It's a really odd experience isn't is.

I think you're right about needing to work in all if it.

howtofeelokaboutthis Sat 23-Jul-16 23:32:10

Oops name change fail.

Guiltypleasures001 Sun 24-Jul-16 00:12:55

Howto, you mentioned that you find it hard to make even basic decisions, but you didnt say I cannot make them.

May I suggest that everyday till your next session, you do something new or different everyday.

So this could be a square of chocolate a bunch of flowers, a five minute snooze in the sun. Getting back to basics and doing the little things that count, are the things that fill up our happiness well.
If you have a diary or a calendar write each thing down, so that you have something to show for it on each day. If your so inclined write down how each moment made you feel and what you got out of it, the sweetness of the chocolate, garden scents etc.

Once your a week or so in, you may find a pattern emerging of how you can actually start to find joy in things, and you did it on your own, it also serves as a distraction for the mind to not dwell on the past, but on the here and now .

howtofeelokaboutthis Sun 24-Jul-16 04:49:50

Thank you Guiltypleasures.

I've been in bed since Friday, apart from one hour. (DC with the Dad) So I'm not doing so well. blush

But I really want to do today differently.

Starting with a small happy thing each day sounds very manageable.

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