The search continued. It had to. They can’t all be so unaware, so aloof, re-victimizing…could they? They say they have experience with childhood trauma…. hmm, can’t be talkin bout their own now could they? When there’s little to NO awareness and clarity with regards to your own inner self, how the hell can you properly lead another person, in pursuit of clarity/awareness and healthy life?
Say, for instance you’re in a restaurant. The person next to you clutches their chest in pain, maybe a heart attack. You want to help but as you rise from your chair YOUR chest also begins to hurt, you go into a full-blown panic attack, rendering you useless to the other person. —-A simplistic depiction of countertransference. Trauma triggering trauma. Emotional entanglement/meshing/merging/fusing with the client, which negatively impacts a therapist’s ability to lead.
Enter Paul, my next psychotherapist. A charming Victorian third floor office. Beautifully decorated. He came highly recommended with much experience in the area of abuse and women’s issues. Finally! This would be IT. 🤞. Paul, a bald, middle-aged and deep baritone voice gentleman, welcomed me to his practice. We began. Small talk. About where I’d been. And his experience with clients of my “type”. Lol. Nice enough.
He seemed to be writing feverishly as I supplied him with my patient history info. Then, the “what brings you here?” Million dollar question. As I got into what brought me there – he was oddly amused. Almost like I was telling a joke and he was poised, waiting for the punchline 😔. He would frequently say, “Yes, go on” and “Oh, really?”, “Tell me more”, and “Tell me that again” with, what looked like enjoyment on his face. Like I had just delivered some juicy gossip. “That is fascinating” and “Are you sure this happened”? Actually escaped from his mouth 🤮 Good Lord, seriously? At times, it smacked of me as “entertainer” as he clearly was very intrigued and amused. Yes, amused. I was expecting him to rise and put a bag of popcorn in the microwave.
He shifted in his comfy chair and I took a peek at his legal pad – he had drawn a CAT 😳 !! silly me, I thought I was saying something important, he must have been taking notes. If THAT isn’t ridiculous enough …near the end of the session, I can’t remember exactly what I said (prob something graphic about my abuse cause I felt completely devalued and had the “shock the shit out of him” urge (given his stupid behavior) his body went into this freeze except for his head. His mouth gaped open, eyes wide. He slowly turned his head to the right and stared out the window for a very uncomfortable 30 seconds. Mind you, we’re on THE THIRD FLOOR. I looked too, his stare was that intense. Dude, there’s nothing out the window, nothing. He sat, lifeless, no blinking, no swallowing. Nothing. And just like that, he returned to normal. (cue the twilight zone music)
Holy weirdness. What a disaster of a visit. Can it get any worse? OMG.
So I found this tiny little blurb about a Sexual Abuse Support Group in the local health newsletter. I was beyond excited. Led by a male psychotherapist, Harold. All women. In the next town over. Perfect. We met together, 4 women and myself. Harold introduced me to the group and all of the women shared about themselves also. They were very lovely women, I was the youngest member. They all seemed to be completely charmed by Harold as they giggled often when he spoke. He was just dandy in their eyes. Harold told a little about his background. He was glad we all found the group, “After all, men are idiots. We should cut off all their penises and ship them to a deserted island”. God’s honest truth! His exact words. Later that night, after some sharing by the group members, Harold shared, “Yeah, you know, I touched my sister and it wasn’t a big deal, so there’s nothing wrong with that” 😳😳😳😳😳😳. Before the night was over -Harold stepped out of the room (come to think of it, he was out of that room A LOT, several times during the two hour group) maybe he had a bladder issue or something – I gave everyone the benefit of a doubt, a free pass. Certainly added another layer to the already bizarre situation.
I asked the women how long they had been in the group. One woman said- 7 years. 7 years? 7 YEARS. The others were 5 years, 2 years and a couple of months. Needless to say I never returned. But Harold wasn’t done tryin to work his magic. He sent me a letter, “You need this group, this will help you. You really need to return for support”. THIS is straight up crazy. Another month went by and he sent me another postcard, reminding me of the group – you should be here. 😡🤮. I wrote him back telling him that how dare he try to take advantage of the vulnerable. Telling me I basically can’t do without him, OMG. I should have reported him but I would have been cast as just another crazy patient. Those poor women, they actually believed in what he was selling.
The final crazy encounter, with a physician, occurred when I was seen for a panic attack visit. I was new to the panic world and, just like everyone else, was convinced that it was something else. Anxiety couldn’t possibly make me feel like I was gunna die…. So this well-meaning Dr. (Indian, if I recall) listened to me as I talked about my long history of anxiety stemming from a dark childhood. When I told her about my abusers, her “helpful advice” was the following. “Why didn’t you punch them? or tell them that you didn’t want that to happen to you? You have to tell them” Like it’s as easy as telling them to hold the onions on your burger at McDonald’s. I want to live in her world where all you have to do is tell someone to stop and they do. Case closed. LOL
Kinda hard when your abuse began when you were pre-verbal. Maybe you were older and when you said no, it was the same as yes. I don’t really think a 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, 10-year-old girl is any strength match to male teens and adults, hmmm, you? What a bizarre suggestion (punch them) Let’s not forget that these were people I loved and trusted for my safety. When you are convinced, tricked into thinking something is ok, where does the protest fit in there? What this Dr. didn’t realize was that she was placing the responsibility squarely on MY shoulders, in a blaming energy – I should have done something, I should have stopped it, I should have protected myself and ultimately, I could have done something but I didn’t ………………. Some professionals just should not offer any advice unless they have some sensitivity training aka inner-work.
Please, please, DO THE INNER WORK. So we all can be there for each other. Without our fear or anger or frustration or judgement coming at the person we are intending to help. So you may hold your clients/patients in the way they truly deserve – in love, compassion and understanding. If nothing else, at the very least, validate how hard it must have been for that person to grow up in that atmosphere. So very powerful