The above image is “Scream” by Gerald Scarfe, used as the movie poster for “Pink Floyd’s The Wall.” All rights reserved by the artist.
Warning: sexual assault triggers.
I went to see my therapist today.
We discussed at length the breakdown of the incident that I wrote about earlier today and how exercises to help me be present in the moment might help in cases of emotional freefall like I experienced yesterday and earlier this morning.
What do you see?
What do you hear?
What do you smell?
What do you feel?
What do you taste?
During this discussion, we discussed my propensity for perfection, and for being a stickler for the rules, and she asked if there was ever a time in my past that I didn’t stick to the rules and got in trouble for it.
And I immediately came up with one.
When I was 13, I had an afternoon paper route. It was recommended to carriers that we leave collection envelopes on the papers when it was time to collect for the month and have the month’s subscription fee mailed back to us.
I didn’t do that. I found that if you went to collect personally, you very often got a bigger tip, so I didn’t just leave impersonal envelopes. I went to the door.
And going to the door at one house led directly to a five month period where I was sexually assaulted multiple times a week.
The rest of the session was intensely rough as I bared my soul like I never have about those incidents. Every time my therapist told me we didn’t have to continue, I pressed on. It was time to start processing these events because until I did, I would always suffer panic attacks trying to go outside my house, trying to look for work, trying to do pretty much anything. The PTSD would win.
So I barged through the session, being as open and honest as I could possibly be. And when we were done, my therapist led me through those five questions I listed above to help ground me back in the present before sending me on my way.
I have spent over thirty years of my life being trapped in my own mind by what happened that summer and fall. I’m so intimidated by dominant personalities that I can’t work, the job market being full of dominant males (even worse). The first mistake I make on a job gets me so agitated about being fired over it that I start down a never-ending path of mistakes and missteps that ends in a self-fulfilling prophecy and my unemployment. I’ve spent all that time trapped behind a wall that I built with my own hands and my own mind.
It’s time to take back my life from that bastard that thought a child was a sexual plaything.
It’s time to tear down the wall.
My homework this week is to use the visualization techniques I described above to help center me in the moment when I become irrational, and to continue to identify episodic triggers and journal about them.