Avoidance. That was the theme for session two. I completed my impact statement declaring all of the reasons I felt I am to blame for what happened. I sent the statement to my therapist, by accident. I was supposed to send it when I finished it, but when I went to hit send I could not do it. I sat there with my finger on the send button for about five minutes. Then, I accidentally tapped “enter.” I spent the rest of my weekend feeling dysregulated.
I sat down on the couch at 1:00pm on Tuesday the 15th. My therapist asked if I was ready to read my impact statement. I said, “no.” I sat there for a long time. She asked me to take it out, hold the impact statement, and take some deep breaths; I refused. She told me to trust the process; I sat there in silence. She told me she had already read my statement. Me reading it to her would not be new information for her. I sat in silence.
Silence was not exactly what was going on inside of my head. Things were actually quite noisy. I thought a lot about the process and how I have grown to “trust the process” more and more. I thought about my oldest brother who also went through CPT for combat PTSD. If he could work through such significant pain and guilt, so could I. I had set intentions for my day including courage and vulnerability. I thought about following through on those intentions.
I do not know how much time passed before I finally pulled out my impact statement. At first, I pulled it out and set it down. Then, I held it for a short time and stared at it. Finally, I looked at the first word, opened my mouth, and began reading. “Prior to…” I felt some things. I choked them down. I took deep breaths. I tried to regulate my volume and speed to seem in control. I reached the end, “I know that I am filthy, disgusting, worthless, immoral, and overall bad. If I can work hard enough for others to believe that is not true, then I am succeeding. And maybe I can convince myself that I am not those things.”
When I finished reading, I could not look up. I could not face the person who knew what I had done. She started talking. “Should someone do that to you because of what you wear or don’t wear?” “Should someone do that to you because of where you live?” The questions kept coming. Some more difficult to answer than others. Some invoking shame, fear, guilt, anger, or frustration. Some invoking relief.
The hard part was over. Now, the explanation of my homework for session 3. I would need to personally read my impact statement and identify “stuck points.” Stuck points are related to all-or-nothing thinking or if-then statements, among other things. So, for example, a stuck point may be something like “I am a failure” or “If I had worn something different, then it would not have happened.”
Since this would be my homework, I was asked to look at my impact statement and try to come up with an example. I looked, read, analyzed, thought. I could not come up with anything. Those things I wrote, they are facts. Well, they seem like facts.
Throughout the week, I would read my impact statement or think about it and try to come up with stuck points. I ended up with 14. I would have to read those out loud in session 3. That did not seem too difficult except that stuck point number 14 would require an explanation, and I was not prepared to provide that explanation.
I sensed another battle through avoidance coming.