I have recently started therapy through TalkSpace.com. My therapist asked me for some clarification on something I had told her about and it made me want to also discuss it here because I think more people are going through this than many realize.
I have what I call an ’emotional block’. It’s difficult to describe but it is how I react (or in many cases don’t react) when put on the spot or asked to do something that makes me feel uncomfortable. Let me give just a couple examples:
- One retail store I worked for long ago wanted me to role play when I was hired. First I had to play the customer, then I had to switch and play the sales person. I couldn’t do it – I couldn’t “pretend” in front of other people.
- I can sing and act in front of hundreds but can’t in front of one or a few. I had a therapist once ask me to write my own song in a few notes and then hum it to her – I couldn’t do it.
- At work and in team-building exercises – I can’t do them.
- Give a speech? FORGET about it!
- If I have an authority figure over my shoulder at work and ask a question – my mind goes instantly blank and I freeze, even though I can know 100% what I am doing or talking about.
When I am faced with these things and others like them, I quite literally freeze while at the same time my body temperature skyrockets. My mind goes blank and the anxiety I feel is overwhelming. Anxieties rise inside of me and I feel like my head is going to explode. I panic even though I am frozen in place. Panic when you can’t run, when you can’t move or get away? That is the worst feeling!
The thing that I hate most about all this – everyone sees me as just being stubborn or difficult. The presume to know why I am acting that way I am. But they are always so very wrong! So not only am I panicked but also made to feel like crap about myself. There I am, emotionally and physically blocked, and all anyone thinks is that I’m just being difficult. You know what? Walk in my shoes and then try to tell me it’s “just being difficult”! They don’t know I was abused, they don’t know what abuse did to me, how it affected me. They don’t see the deeply-embedded insecurities and self-doubt; they just assume – they see what they want to see.
What would happen if everyone took just a split second to consider someone’s thoughts and feelings before reacting to them? What kind of world would this be if we tried to see past the fake smiles and the masked words? I have a feeling that a lot of adult survivors of child abuse are often seen as difficult or stubborn.
Are you one of them? Are you often misunderstood and mislabeled? Do you ever freeze? I would love to hear other stories on this subject.