Counseling: 7th Session
We spent a long time discussing his observations of how I'm atypical as an abuse survivor. These were his generalizations based on his education, internship, prior clients and research:
1. It's unusual for victims of severe abuse to get married. Obviously, I've gotten past this somehow. Nothing more to say.
2. Some female abuse survivors will do many things to avoid interest from men, including gaining extra weight and being unkempt. Little, if any, attention is paid to personal appearance. This is a defense mechanism. To me, this seems counterproductive. It invites more rejection, something I find difficult to deal with. And as long as I have to see myself in the mirror, I'd like to see someone "well-groomed" (AtP's words). As far as weight goes, I'm not touching that one.
3. Some female abuse victims will become more sexual in behavior to men and/or women. They find validation in the sex act. I would have to admit that there was a time when I sought out women sexually. I don't believe this was connected to my abuse. Neither does Therapist. I have never sought validation through sex with a man.
4. Depression, eating disorders, and chronic physical ailments are typical of victims of abuse. I have experienced all of these. Therapist says the difference is that none of it is typical. The depression isn't clinical, and seems to be linked to stress more than anything else. The eating disorder is also linked to stress, rather than a typical body image obsession, and the physical ailments seem to be resolved, and have been for about five years.
5. Difficulty in building relationships is commonly encountered. Therapist says I seem to have no trouble building relationships, and his only concern is that I seem to have a preference for gay men, which to him, signifies a continued mistrust/fear of straight men and all women. I disagree with him categorically.
6. Personal boundaries are weak or non-existant--or so strong as to shut out all potential friends. Therapist feels that my boundaries are intact and healthy. Not that he really knows...
7. Extreme reactions to everyday problems are common. Darrin has reassured Therapist that it's unusual for me to have an extreme reaction to anything. Occasionally it happens, but not often.
So, I'm an anomaly--nothing new there. My assignment: to look closely at each of these items, and discover what it is about me that doesn't allow me to react typically to my situation.
I spoke with Therapist about my "I hate my body and so do my friends" theory. His take was that my friends probably don't hate my body--that is just my perception. But the fact that I have that perception is interesting to him. Whether or not it's true, I believe it, and he thinks that's significant. My assignment: Find out if my belief system concerning my friends' assessment of me is truth. I'm not sure how to go about that. I've already asked a couple of them. It's kind of uncomfortable.
We talked about a few more of my concerns and I came away with the following assignments:
1. Think about my belief system that I can somehow control everything. Think of things beyond my control. Observe how I react to those things.
2. Research pedophiles. Learn about their behavior--how do they use entrapment, how do they think, what are their goals. Use that information to evaluate my cousin's actions toward me. Also use that information to formulate a theory as to why he did not seek me out in my teen years and beyond.
3. Find ways to take breaks from stress--learn how to hand it off to God, even if only for a little while.
4. Blog, blog, blog--write everything, no matter how ugly and publish it.
I'm still in love with Therapist, but I'm unhappy with the bulk of homework required. However, if it will help, I'll do it.