Why saying ‘You’re not bad really’ doesn’t work (and what to do instead)

Why saying ‘You’re not bad really’ doesn’t work (and what to do instead)

I used to think that one day, maybe one day (a long time in the future), I’d be ‘normal’ and then I wouldn’t have these thoughts any more. You know the ones I mean: ‘You’re stupid’, ‘No one likes you’, ‘You mess everything up’, ‘You’re such a waste of space’, ‘Things won’t ever get better’, ‘I feel so ashamed’, ‘I hate myself’, ‘I wish I could die’.
There’s a tonne more. They blare out in my head like the world’s worst playlist, always nagging away at me, undermining me, picking me apart.

How shame saved my life

How shame saved my life

I couldn’t understand how other people could live without shame. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t cringe at the sound of their own voice, or gag at the sight of their own reflection. I couldn’t understand why some were happy to be the centre of attention – even quietly at the centre, not in a raucous, narcissistic way. They didn’t mind people talking to them. They didn’t mind people noticing them. I couldn’t think of anything worse.

Anger says no

Anger says no

For a very long time, I didn’t ‘do’ anger.

In the family I grew up in, the adults were allowed to be angry, and even my sister was, but for some reason I wasn’t.

When there’s no hope

When there’s no hope

Real hope isn’t cheap. Real hope is born out of a bloody struggle. Hope has guts. Hope is what you’re left with when you’ve stared down the despair. So how did I get from hopelessness to hope?

Where’s your safe place?

Where’s your safe place?

Years ago, when I first started therapy, I was invited to imagine a safe place. I didn’t understand the concept at all. First off, I didn’t understand how powerful positive visualisations can be. Secondly, I didn’t know how to feel safe. And thirdly, I didn’t have anywhere that I could summon to mind and feel positive about. Bummer.

Self-care: what would you do for you?

Self-care: what would you do for you?

Self-care is entirely counter-intuitive to survivors of abuse. To me as an abused child it is obvious that I am bad. I am being hurt because I am bad. And I am bad because I hurt. It’s a never-ending cycle of self-evident obviousness.

Traumatic aloneness

Traumatic aloneness

At the moment of trauma, one of the most traumatising, life-shattering parts of it is that we are entirely alone. We call out in the universe for someone to be there for us, and our call returns to us empty. We’re on our own. That’s a tough gig.

Distress is not illness

Distress is not illness

I’m not comfortable with the term ‘mental illness’.

I know there’s a lot of rhetoric around ‘parity of esteem’ for physical illness and mental illness, and that’s why the term has been pushed to the fore. But for me, mental illness and being traumatised are two different things.

It’s not fair

It’s not fair

It’s not fair that I have to pay for my own therapy. It’s not fair that I’m all alone. It’s not fair that I’m so unwell. It’s not fair that there’s no support. It’s not fair that I’m in so much pain. It’s not fair that I was abused.

You’re absolutely right. It’s not fair.

Starting

Starting

So I did it.

I took the plunge, did what I’ve said forever I was going to do, and I started a blog. Cue angels and harps and fireworks and the X-Factor winner from three years ago to make the moment memorable.

Or not.

We have to do the work

We have to do the work

Therapy is hard work.

But often it’s the therapist who feels it most. It’s the therapist who anguishes in supervision over whether they’re doing the right thing, saying the right thing, responding in the right way. They doubt themselves, yearn for progress, hurt with the suffering of their client.

Child sexual abuse

It’s not a definition or some bullet-points on a page, a menu of things that were done or could have been done, or might yet be done. It’s something to do withme as a person, the me that I’m so scared to show you, that I’m so scared to be,...

What is it like to be me? – I am DID

What is it like to be me? What is it like to be the me that is me-not-you, different, alone, DID? You – in my minds you are you-not-us, but who am I to you? Can you know me? Each day me – tip-toeing through life (your life, your world, your complex unknowable system...

The body remembers

I hate my body. It was there, always there, during the abuse. My mind went away but my body could not. My mind could forget. We parcelled up little chunks of our mind, bit by bit, and sent them off into dim little rooms where they could be forgotten and not heard. We...

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