Re-Finding My Center

Recently I’ve been unable to properly deal with the flashbacks.  There have been days where they’ve piled on top of each other, with strange and frightening scenes until I’ve panicked and slipped into the old cycles of compulsive eating and looking at fetish porn that is a direct recreation of the ways in which I was abused.   Once I’ve begun that cycle, it’s very difficult to stop it again, and if on my first stable day I have another series of flashbacks I can easily just start it over again.  Looking at it honestly, this cycle kills my life; I’m no longer able to write, garden, or otherwise progress because I’m constantly dissociating or feeling sick.  That used to be my ‘normal’ daily life,  whereas months ago I was having flashbacks every day but seemed on the path to complete recovery.   I’ve felt really bad about this relapse, and didn’t want to write about it here–perhaps that is part of the problem, that I still feel some internalized shame.

For years now I’ve enjoyed reading blogs written by parents who use entirely empathetic, non-punitive parenting philosophies.  They respect that their young child is a human being with feelings, needs, rights, and they use creative problem-solving, kindness, and relationship-building to solve any problems that come up.  Instead of labeling behavior “bad” and proceeding to abuse them by screaming, hitting, or locking the child in a room, they view acting out as unmet needs.  They take a step back and consider what does the child need that he isn’t getting, what emotional difficulties in our relationship have arisen that is causing this situation to not work?  Looking back on my own life, I can see that this was absolutely the case with me growing up–I was not a “bad kid,” it was not very difficult either to understand what was going on with me and to simply find a solution.

Today likewise, in trying to “reparent” myself, these are the resources that I look to.  I was trained from an early age to ignore my surroundings and my own needs, to block them out because I was in terrible danger and nothing would be done about them.  But I don’t need to live like that today.  The fact is, my external environment affects me a great deal.  If there is clutter, if something right in front of me desperately needs to be fixed, it can really block me, and if I ignore that and keep going, it will put a damper on my entire life and I may begin to act out.  But that acting out is not ‘bad behavior.’   It is not a matter of talking to myself sternly and insisting that we just need to ‘follow our meal plan tomorrow’ and then everything will be fine again.  Empty willpower promises go nowhere when the problem is not my behavior but something I need that I’m not getting.

What I’ve been finding that, in fact, there are often ‘magical’ solutions sitting right in front of me that can resolve the bad states I get into.  I’ve become very intuitive about understanding what is going on with my body and emotions, and can pinpoint what the problem is usually.   It’s a food allergy, it’s a flashback coming on, a problem in my living space that I haven’t resolved…  This is actually a big step, because in the past I only had mind-games, where I could tell myself the desire to compulsively eat was because my meal-plan wasn’t sufficient.  But it is, and these feelings that I was taught to associate with food at a young age (since it’s all I could get) actually have nothing to do with hunger or food at all.

I’ve come to realize that engaging in any sexual activity during mid-day, the time when most of my childhood sexual abuse took place, will trigger those old feelings and cycles.  Perhaps it won’t always be that way, but for the moment I see that if I want to recover I have to completely abstain preferably until it’s dark outside, because then the reaction won’t come and since my stomach shuts down at night, there is no chance of running into that false hunger afterwards either.  I’m not online at night either, so thankfully that also means I have no access to extremely triggering pornography.

Of course I would love to be instantly and permanently recovered.  But it doesn’t work that way, and I want to be able to stand by myself regardless, try to more deeply understand what is happening and where this is coming from.  I realized today that I really need to try to reach that hope that my life can change–if I fall into a depression where I don’t care anymore and lose my desire for a different life, then of course I’m not going to get anywhere.  And I really want to progress, to get back on track and start the process of building myself up again.  That’s what I’m doing today.


About proudlysensitive

Gay male survivor of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.
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6 Responses to Re-Finding My Center

  1. wishing you great healing journey. always love teresa

  2. EagerB says:

    “acting out is not ‘bad behavior.’”

    Thank you so much for this reminder.

  3. Kylie says:

    This is really powerful, I imagine it was challenging to publish and I am grateful that you did. There have always been certain times of day where I “can’t” have sex, the morning, or when I just woke up was one of them. Or during the middle of the night, if I was woken up by anyone I would just freak out and feel I was being attacked.
    I have kind of moved past it, but I will say that in the 14 or 15 years that I have been intensively “working on myself” the best approach was just to abstain from anything that was too triggering to handle without being pushed into destructive behaviors, like what you have described. We have to remember to put ourselves first and be really strong about doing what’s best for our healing. Thank you for writing, you deserve to be heard, and people need what you are sharing.

    • Thank you Kylie. I really appreciate hearing that you can relate and have had similar issues. You’re totally right, putting ourselves first is so important, I’m so glad I’m with someone who understands that I need these boundaries. I did feel apprehensive about publishing this online, but it is just a perfectly reasonable result of being sexually abused as a child, so I’m sure it does deserve to be talked about. And writing it out like this, publicly, has helped me understand the cycles and validate my reality all the more. A month after making these realizations and putting them into practice, I’m doing so much better.

      take care,

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