One of the hardest parts of going to a residential treatment facility was the impossibility to avoid the “touchy-freely shit.” That would be things like art therapy, meditation, standing on a chair shouting out affirmations. We had group exercises on the R.O.P.E.S. course, group therapy, peer interventions, and shit like that. There were stupid ceremonies where we’d symbolically “let go.” We had ask if people were open to feedback and speak in the “I” rather than the “you.”
Gag me. I freely admit to scorning all that airy-fairy happy, psychobabblizing bullshit. It was stupid and it wouldn’t work.
But treatment was fucking expensive! And I was miserable. I felt so bad for being such an evil, manipulative bitch; a sexual predator that destroyed men. (Yes, I know now that I was misguided, but at the time, that’s what I believed and how my treatment was directed.) My plan was to do absolutely EVERYTHING to the best of my ability. After all, I didn’t have anything to lose. If it didn’t work, there were train tracks very close to where we slept and I could kill myself and make it look accidental. I’d be out of my misery, the facility wouldn’t be blamed, and my family wouldn’t be hurt (since they wouldn’t know it was suicide).
Clearly, I was a fucking mess. And clearly I wasn’t honest about this train wreck plan of mine since someone that ill needs 302’d.
But I participated 100% because I wanted to get better. I wanted to become someone who is not evil, not a predator. And here’s the surprise: that touchy-freely shit really helped.
The next significant step was adding some other types of therapy to open up and expose this secret, dark, raging beast. I had to feel it and express it. I used primal therapy, inner child work and art therapy both to expose the beast and to start to allow my more vulnerable and kinder parts a voice. This was a fairly lengthy process, but I believe it was probably a lot quicker than talking about it because the beast listens to no one. It wasn’t until I felt the feelings that I “got it.”
For example, someone told me that because I was only a child, being sexually abused wasn’t my fault and I wasn’t dirty or bad because of it. Using the process so far as an example I went from denial (“yeah whatever, of course it’s not the child’s fault, I don’t think I’m dirty and I don’t care so shut up”) to “If I thought of my friend/sister/a child on the street it would absolutely never ever be their fault that they were abused and it should never ever happen to anyone and they should never ever have to carry that burden” to feeling the humiliation, powerlessness, degradation, shame, and physical pain of that sexual abuse. This step allowed the beast to start letting in the tiniest momentary, usually temporary rays of compassion. from Psych Central, by Sam Thinks.
Intellectually, I know that I was abused in a way that mirrored my childhood sexual abuse. I’m still trying to move that knowledge from my head to my heart.
I’m going to buy some crayons today.