The Therapy Roller Coaster


Even though I have somehow done a lot of healing on my own, I recently reached out for therapy just to work through how the abuse in my childhood and the family estrangements affected my personality, how as an adult I have a difficult time dealing with authority, dealing with liars, dealing with being verbally or intellectually attacked.

I quickly got hit with what I call the roller-coaster affect. I consider myself an open book at this point in my life; I refuse to hide anymore. My therapist wanted to try art therapy to reprocess my childhood trauma. When she sent the instructions, it was multiple steps/drawings surrounding an incident of my choosing. The problem is, I would need to remember everything about the incident, from just before it happened to after, and how it made me feel. I had to tell my therapist that I couldn’t do it! All of my memories of the incest incidents are only partial memories, no beginnings, no endings, only middles – and I don’t remember how I felt at the time. I know that sounds impossible but it’s the truth. I think my memories are disassociated and in them I am looking down on the little girl. Since I am separate from her, I don’t know how she felt. I have this odd feeling that although she felt uncomfortable, she felt it was normal – and that makes me feel so sad.

At that point, I thought maybe therapy just wasn’t going to work for me. (Up and down the roller coaster – from open and willing to unsure and frustrated). Last night though, while battling insomnia, it came to me that although I can’t use the abuse for the art exercise, maybe I can use the family estrangements instead. Although the abuse formed me, molded me and my personality and insecurities, it was the estrangements that allowed the insecurities to take hold and forge ahead without me. I have a particular moment in the estrangements that has stayed with me, the moment I felt like I died and someone else emerged – that is the moment I want to use.

My therapist is on board and I will be starting the process. I am proud of myself for not giving up when the fear started to seep into my veins. That is already a huge step forward for me. Back up the roller coaster we go!


16 thoughts on “The Therapy Roller Coaster

  1. Not remembering is not impossible at all. Does your body give you any clues when you allow yourself to remember?

    I have cursedly vivid images of certain events with absolutely no sound or emotion connected, except that I feel like vomitting every time these memories come up. I guess that body feeling is the clue to the emotion that went with the event at the time, but got repressed.

    Bravo and thank you for your courage in writing these things. And thanks for liking my ‘the Body Keeps the Score’ post.

    27.10.12015 HE (The Holocene Calendar)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I have cursedly vivid images of certain events with absolutely no sound or emotion connected.” That is so true for me. I had a therapist ask how I felt back then and I honestly don’t remember. I don’t know how that’s possible but it is. I guess I can imagine how I must have felt, but I don’t really know. The images/memories that I have are not of me – they are of that separate little girl and I don’t have a clue how she actually felt.

      I have flashbacks but recently one DID have a feeling to it and it was a feeling of sheer dread. I don’t like that feeling…

      Thank you for your reply and for your encouragement!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Big step trying therapy. Good luck… it certainly can be a roller coaster… I can relate to the memories being fragments or snippets from the middle. That was the hardest thing for me to come to terms with when trying to explain it to my therapists. A lot of trauma work tries to walk you through the beginning, middle, end, but I’m finding more often than not, that the memories aren’t that neat and tidy. Even the ones I’ve “known forever” rarely have boundaries like that. My current t says it’s often how dissociated trauma memories work…
    The art track sounds cool. Good luck with it. Sometimes switching up the focus is actually needed (the estrangement vs the incest for the assignment). I’ve found (for myself) that while i might feel like i’m doing it “wrong”, it’s actually what I need to focus on in the moment.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your reply – it is exactly what I was trying to explain! You did a much better describing it than I. I will see how it goes. I haven’t started it yet – so much depends on my mood each day.


  3. Those dissociated parts came to take the abuse and memories for us so that we could carry on living a so called normal happy life free of abuse. I don’t remember incidents because it wasn’t me that experienced them it was somebody else.

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  4. I can completely relate with looking in on yourself. I have a memory that actually involves my mother. For years I didn’t believe it because I had no feelings. I knew that I was terrified (before and after) of the object she used to abuse me with. And I thought for years that I just created a story to explain why. That story was in my head and I saw it as though I was standing next to my bed. Then it hit me so hard one day that I was dissociated and I did in fact watch it from that perspective. And I was afraid of the object because I watched what she did with it to me.

    I have yet to have any feelings about the dissociated memory… only the fear of the object and crossing the line (doing something bad) that would result in her using it on me.


    It takes a lot of courage to work through these things. You will get to things as you are able to. Keep strong!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow – that is not a good picture my dear. I feel the pain in your response. I think I understand though how you are feeling, or not feeling, such an experience. I guess the truth is we may never actually “feel” those outside-ourselves incidents, rather only the after affects.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. I know we (at least me) want to connect to it on some level… like maybe it will help us heal? But there’s a reason we are detached. The horror may have been just too difficult.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Ever notice it takes courage to get on a roller coaster? Just a thought I had, as I read this and the analogy you used. Unfortunately, family connects have the strongest attachments – whether we want them to or not. Granted, my situations in life are far different from yours, but I can relate to having had people in my family hurt me, and I want to separate myself from them, but there is a binding that hinders that process.

    I think the most important thing, someone in your situation can do, is simply move in directions that are the most positive for you – unfortunately, no one can figure that out for you.

    But, I admire you for putting it out here for the world to see. I have found writing about things to be highly therapeutic.

    Liked by 2 people

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