Therapy today: Choosing to isolate


Days without therapy sometimes feel like days without breathing. Even when I see J three times in a week, I still feel so full of everything I want to say to her on the days in between. My life feels like a constant bombardment of frustration, confusion, worry and hurt. The annoying thing is that I won’t talk to anyone else about what’s in my head. Instead, it all builds up pressure in my system until I become agitated and irritable. Eventually I withdraw into a blurry grey cloud of silence.

Today in therapy, J asked me why I withdraw. To start with I couldn’t think of an answer. It’s hard to explain why you do something when it is a habit, when it’s something you’ve always done. Retreating into myself is second nature to me.

I guess it is an old pattern. I grew up with a brother and sister who were always tempestuous, forever yelling and kicking off about one thing or another. I decided for myself at a young age that my parents had no more capacity to manage that. So I elected to be the easy one, the compliant child that never caused them any bother.

Probably in my earliest days I wasn’t like that. I don’t know. My mum tells me I never really cried much as a baby. I was happy to be passed around and cuddled by everyone. I didn’t have toddler tantrums. So perhaps it goes back even before I could sense that there was no room for my emotions. But I feel as though somehow I always knew that I couldn’t be like my siblings.

When my sister was 11 she took an overdose of Paracetamol. Nobody really asked why, they just took her to the hospital to get her stomach pumped. I was 13 and for two years had already been carrying the burden of all the fallout from my parents discovering my brother had been sexually abusing me. I was still behaving as the model daughter, fearing that if I showed any upset over that massive trauma my parents might not love me any more. It sounds irrational now, but it made sense at the time.

I can remember being furious with my sister. I didn’t for one moment worry about whether she would be OK or whether there was something awful going on for her too. I can recall as though it were yesterday the one thought that stuck in my head. I was jealous of her. And I was angry because I wanted to be dead. Having seen how distraught my parents were at what she’d done, I knew I couldn’t go ahead and do it myself and I hated her for taking that from me.

This is odd because I also know I didn’t consciously consider suicide before that point. I didn’t even class myself as feeling depressed. I cried alone in my bedroom most nights and was haunted by guilt and shame over the abuse, but in the daytime I put it all aside and got on with life. I went to school and made friends and got good grades, never for one moment stopping to think about my suffering. At the end of the day, I would often crawl into bed and cry as quietly as I could so nobody would know.

I would cry about not being innocent anymore, about how much pain my parents were feeling knowing this, and I would cry because I felt like it was all my fault. I couldn’t go to my parents for comfort, as it would have meant telling them I hated myself for hurting them and for doing those disgusting things. I didn’t want to speak about the abuse, I didn’t want to give words to my awful experiences and make them real. Most of all, I didn’t want to cause trouble.

In my effort to avoid becoming what I saw as yet another problem child for my parents, I developed the ability to shut myself down emotionally and disappear.When you’ve been doing it all your life, it’s a pretty tough habit to break.

Photo: Alias 0591, Creative Commons.



10 Comments Add yours

  1. 3 days a week therapy! Do you have psychoanalysis? Isolating is OK I think as long as it doesn’t last too long.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura Black says:

      I do transactional analysis – and yes it is tiring having three sessions per week but at the moment I need it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. It is amazing how you coped with no support whatsoever. I am so sorry that you went through all that alone.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Laura Black says:

      Thanks, yes it is amazing really, I don’t know how I did it really! But it’s left me with a whole load of problems trying to communicate my emotions in words.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. noimnotok says:

    It’s not easy to open up in therapy. Not easy at all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Laura Black says:

      Yeah I know you get it. I have to really force myself not to withdraw or dissociate to avoid the difficult feelings.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Did you ever find out why your sister OD’d? Was she sexually molested as well?


    1. Laura Black says:

      No I never did, and when I asked her recently she didn’t really know either. She didn’t know about the abuse until last year. When I told her I was so relieved that she hadn’t experienced it as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I found 2 posts I thought you might be interested in reading:

    The first one is really about alcoholism & recovery, but I thought the perpetrator element reminded me of what you’ve gone through with your abuser:



    And then the post Dr. Jen Gunter wrote about the disgusting rapist and his lack of punishment:

    When a Rapist Gets 6 Months It Means Rape Isn’t a Serious Injury:

    Please know that I don’t share these with you to reopen wounds, but rather for you to know you are not alone with the injustice of this world, torrential feelings and horrible sex crimes!

    Peace to you today! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura Black says:

      Thank you, that’s really kind of you. I’ll have a read.

      Liked by 1 person

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