I took a break from therapy over the holidays. For anyone who is recovering from betrayal trauma you will understand why I would need a break. It’s grueling. I was doing something related to recovery every.single.day. I was just exhausted. I needed a break. So I went through the holidays, therapy free. It was glorious. And horrible. I felt like all of my support was cut out from under me. Cold Turkey. I did my best to pretend I was a normal person. I wasn’t.
I quickly learned I still needed it. I was far from healed. And…I was out of money to pay for it. I knew I didn’t want to keep doing what I was doing either. I loved LifeStar but it had become painful to just walk into a building that reminded me of how much my ex did not love me. How awful he was to me. How he berated me after every appointment. I still can see the hatred and disgust he had on his face when he looked at me when we went to our sessions. I now know that hatred and disgust was probably directed at himself…not me. He didn’t want to be there because he still had not given up on all his other relationships. (I found out later that he NEVER stopped cheating on me, not once.) But it felt like he hated me. In some ways, he did. He hated me for reminding him how disloyal he was to me.
During my 3 month-long retreat from therapy, I started hearing about EMDR. It stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. The first time I heard about it what from the therapist at the ER a year ago when I was so distraught over my husband’s behavior it sent me to the ER. Yeah. There is that. The next time I heard of it was from Scabology, I follow her on Instagram and Facebook. You know how something God wants you to do will usually come up, over and over, from several different sources in a short period of time? This was like that. I know it was a God thing, a tender mercy. I started hearing about it from other trauma survivors I knew in person, and those I follow on Instagram and Facebook. It seemed that this was actually helping them overcome their trauma! So I started to research it, because that is how I roll. Here is an awesome site to help you get a feel for it. You can read a FAQ here.
All I know is I do not want to feel like this anymore! I am tired. I am exhausted. I am wrung out. I slug through everyday feeling like I am swimming in a pool with concrete weights around my wrists and ankles. It’s hard. Too hard. Nobody should feel this way because of something someone else did to them.
My angel Bishop agrees and so do my kids. So, together, we are all starting on “Operation Recover Me.”
Friday I went to my first Intake Appointment at Addo Recovery.
Here is me waiting for my first appointment, feeling small and vulnerable…again. I hate it when I have to tell the story all over again. I wonder how many more times I have to do this? As I think about everything that’s happened to me I start to cry again. I hate him for what he has done to me!
They are very thorough. I am impressed by their approach to healing – an overall wellness approach dealing with my entire life.
Before I share any of the results, I knew my trauma was high. It’s nice to have that validated. I like charts and graphs and they had plenty of those. A stark picture of where I am now. More importantly, they have a clear road map of where I need to go from here and how to get there! That is such a relief! I can’t even tell you how amazing that is to me!
There are 8 criteria for a PTSD diagnosis according the DSM-5. They can test for 7 of them in this assessment, the 8th one is evaluated by a therapist. I present significantly in all 7 of them. PTSD has the following 4 diagnostic clusters:
- Re-experiencing spontaneous memories of the event, recurring dreams, flashbacks, or other episodes of prolonged psychological distress.
- Avoidance – refers to upsetting thoughts, feelings or memories that are reminders or are associated with the upsetting event. (See criteria C)
- Negative cognitions and mood represent and infinite number of feelings such as isolation from others, a marked diminished interest in activities, or a distorted sense of self. (See Criteria D)
- Arousal is marked by restlessness, aggressive, or self-destructive behavior; sleep disturbances; hypervigilism; or other related behaviors. This is the “fight” of the body’s innate fight or flight response.
This chart shows how my ex husband’s addiction has affected the different areas of my life, past and present. Anyone who thinks that addictions only affect the person, need only look at these charts. Addiction has a severe and profound impact on those who have relationships with the addict! The denial and blame criteria are how my Ex’s denial and blame impacted me. What is significant here is the therapist says that this is so bad that it is what amounts to a prisoner being tortured. I was tortured. The lying, gaslighting, denial, minimizing, rationalizing, blaming that my Ex did to me amounts to torture. Awesome. No wonder I am where I am. I am messed up! But at least I am smart enough to know it so that I don’t drag someone else through my crazy before I get myself put back together!
This next chart shows the impact on me in having an intimate relationship because of what my Ex did to me. Relational sexual difficulties is that I do not trust enough to be that vulnerable again. As you can see, I am most impacted by issues associated with trust, body image, and I really, really want revenge! I have always been a very trusting person, sometimes to the point of being a little naive. Those days are long gone and I doubt they will ever return. I fear I have swung too far the other way and I am not likely to swing back anytime soon.
The part of the test that was most concerning to me is my stress, anxiety and depression scores. I will not show those results because they are not presented in a chart form. However, 8 months after the divorce, my stress is still moderately high. I am not too surprised, because I have a lot of difficulty managing my stress. I feel stress, even when there isn’t a reason to be stressed. But my anxiety and depression are still categorized as extremely high. Off the charts high. That concerned the therapist. She said people who present that high are a high risk for suicide. I don’t feel suicidal most of the time, but I would be lying if I said it doesn’t cross my mind more often than it should. I have panic and anxiety attacks ALL.THE.TIME. Sometimes, I have them because of a triggering event, but I also have them for no visible reason. Out of the blue something will just reduce me to a hot mess! I don’t know what could happen to me under the wrong conditions. That scares me. But it’s also why I need to do this. My ex isn’t worth it. I know that now, more than ever. He is, well, not good enough to tie my shoes. The reason I divorced him was to save myself. I best be starting that process. It is past time.
This is why I am where I am now. The saving of me. Let “Operation Recover Me” begin! It’s time.
Stay Sweet, Be Strong!