Why am I so terrified???

PRFL

Active Registrant
Possible triggers

I'm in a very rough spot in my therapy (see my earlier thread "Triggered by T's well-meaning question". I've chatted here with a few men who have been most helpful, but yet I'm struggling in my mind. I can only hope that this is not uncommon in this process. I keep having this irrational fear that I'll say or do something inappropriate that will cause my T to reject me or get kicked out of the program. Rationally, this is nuts because I've been on my best behavior. I've been triggered by my T's gentle, well-meaning feedback and I struggle between feeling angry but feeling I don't have the right to feel angry at such a gentle person who's trying to help me. So far, I've had a couple of severe episodes in which I go totally bananas at something he's said, and after much effort I can see what he's been trying to tell me, which is usually spot on. I do have some areas of disagreements but whenever I try to argue, I feel he doesn't get it, but knowing that this is not out of malice, I tend to stuff my feelings because I know he's not trying to hurt me.
I've shared elsewhere that I have a long history of seeking help for my SSA only to be misunderstood and being told that I was "born that way" and that I was "in denial" and that I needed to "accept and celebrate who I really am". While I understand the well-intentioned efforts to address legitimate issues like homophobia, their dogmatic approach totally missed the mark. However, my T does seem to GET it a lot better than others in my past, in that particular area I do feel heard.
I've been pondering about my fear of rejection from him when he's not rejecting me. I did come to the realization that it is easier for me to experience rejection from an obviously abusive person, as I do have enough self-respect (now, although certainly that was difficult for me in the past, years ago), but it is much harder for me to experience rejection from an obviously good, kind person, because then I cannot blame the rejection on an abuser, so then the blame goes to me, or so my distorted thinking goes. There is zero evidence that he's rejecting me, and there's zero evidence I'm saying anything remotely inappropriate. I'm putting an enormous pressure on myself and it's wearing me down.
I do carry a ton of anger and rage, I feel like a volcano, and I know he understands that and insists that it's OK for me to feel angry. I'm not worried about me becoming violent as I have no such thoughts, I'm afraid of the intensity that would hurt other people's feelings, or being inappropriate.

POSSIBLE TRIGGERS On our last session, I told him of a horrific beating I got as a child unexpectedly, not understanding why I was being beaten. I found out later that I was beaten because we were in a party and I was hungry but the food hasn't been served, and I kept asking "when's the food going to come?", so it was all about my bad manners. I remember noticing that on the drive home, my dad was very quiet, the minute we got home I got the beating, I still remember the hot tears I cried because I didn't know why this was happening. I can write this OK with no problems today, as I've never forgotten the memory, it's nothing that's surfacing suddenly, it's more like a biographical fact, but as I was telling this to my T, while I was already in a highly charged emotional state, and I actually FELT the original terror at being punished for being inappropriate without realizing it. I felt the exact pain and cried the exact tears I cried that night, so it makes sense this may be part of it, but realizing this doesn't help my terror go away.
I have a long history of being rejected, by my mother, my sister, my classmates who bullied me, the well-meaning counselors that rejected my assertions of my abuse causing my SSA, not understanding what is it that I did wrong. One more thing, on his better moments, my father really tried to be a good father, praising me a lot and making sure I got what I needed, and I bonded with him a lot more than with my mother, but it was very confusing to see how he could be so wonderful one moment and a raging demon the next. On the other hand, my T has been a model of gentleness, and I think I'm fearing that I'll accidentally unleash an abuser that is simply not there.
I fear that my suspiciousness and unfounded fears can sabotage the therapeutic relationship. I imagine this kind of stuff happens and is to be expected in therapy, but I sense i'm on a difficult, delicate spot and I'm terrified that I'll find a way of sabotaging it and that it will be all my fault. Writing this last sentence, I feel very childish, but that's how I see it.

I could use some perspective and comforting words. I'm going crazy here. I hope that's normal for this process.
Thanks
 

Healing light

Active Registrant
I think that it's normal considering what you explain above , I always worry about similar stuff saying or being appropriate. I question if I have been and what happens if I'm not.
I think it's from having to try and pre empt in younger years to avoid abuse or beatings and not always possessing the knowledge to get it right.
Knowing as a parent now it was my father's job to understand me and help me understand the world and how to behave and he did a bad job of that because I'm still learning in my 30's and worried about getting it wrong or just being rejected as a whole.
I'm sure it's something lots of others face and work threw too , it's good to put it out there in this safe place and talk.
Peace
HL
 

PRFL

Active Registrant
Thanks, Healing Light.

There's more...

This is painful and scary...

POSSIBLE TRIGGERS!

It has to do with my father laying in bed next to me when I was a kid, apparently I was terrified of being alone in the dark, and I have to this day no idea where that fear came from. In any case, I don't recall specifically any sexual contact with him, I only recall the sense of warmth and security. I have vague memories of feeling aroused but I can't recall if when that happened I was on my own or with him. One night, when I was around 7, he became enraged at me for some reason I can't recall. I think I was being too clingy or needy. I wonder if I made a mistake, maybe I was curious about his d**k or something, I honestly don't recall. The point is that he got enraged, which I remember, I'm told that he beat me that night but I don't remember the beating, I do remember him saying something to the effect that I'm too old for this shit, leaving me alone in my room, as he left, he turned off the light and slammed the door, leaving me terrified. It took me until age 18 when I decided to turn off the light at night, as I myself decided I was old enough for that.
So, the thing with my T that I'm trying to make sense is that I don't have any particular "father vibes" from him other than he's my T. I have no erotic or romantic interest in him, I don't see him as my "daddy". I do feel jealous that he got to be straight and has a wife, something I could not do. But I'm terrified of somehow being inappropriate when discussing intimate, sexuality related topics, despite his assurances that there's nothing taboo and I could talk about anything. So, I decided to broach the topic of hugs, because I was afraid to ask for one, and he said that he doesn't give one unless asked, and he did give me one and it was fine. A session later, I broached it again, as I'm afraid of being clingy and needy. He proceeded to tell me that he couldn't always give me one because sometimes it may not be in my best interest and that rejection is part of life. I totally lost it, because I felt I was being rejected despite his assurances that he wasn't. We were supposed to do our first EMDR session that day, and the purpose was to establish a happy place. I just couldn't connect with happiness so he stopped it, but when I went home, I was having horrific anxiety. Instead of the happy room full of sunlight, I could only see darkness, it was a hot, dark place, and I re-experienced the same terror and hurt of the night that my father left me in the dark.
It's been puzzling because my T is nothing like my father. It might make more sense if he resembled my dad, or would speak in a loud or abusive voice, which he does not, so I'm going crazy trying to reconcile feeling terror about this kind man that is not trying to hurt me in any way. I don't even fear him hurting me, I totally trust that he won't, but I'm terrorized that I'll make a mistake that will cause his rejection. We processed some of this on the subsequent session, but it was more about arguing on whether EMDR was causing my symptoms, I thought yes, he says no, that it was a much deeper issue (he's right). The only thing I can think of is that here I am with a man in a position of authority, talking about intimate matters, and I'm terrified of crossing an invisible and arbitrary line of inappropriateness and being abandoned. The thing is, I shouldn't be afraid. I have no interest in his d**K, I'm not interested in anything erotic, and yet, I'm terrified that I'll make a huge mistake. I feel the same way about talking about sexual matters with the woman counselor I saw at this same center in the past, I just can't bring myself to talk about my sexual needs, in particular because I'm receiving services at a place where women have been abused. So, no matter what, it seems I'll make a huge mistake. I know this is totally blown out of proportion, but I think it speaks to the terror I experienced growing up.
I'll see my T again this week, the plan is that because I'm so triggered by him, to back off on the sessions so I can focus on self care, and I most definitely agreeable to that. He's not aware of this latest insight I have, but in any case I think backing off is still a good idea. I still can't shake the feeling that I made a mistake, I wish I could feel otherwise...
Thanks for listening
 

Healing light

Active Registrant
Hi prfl

I wonder if like in my case it's not necessarily that they resemble your father in anyway but more replicates how that relationship felt unsucure
With my therapist it's cos he's quite new so I'm insecure. He is nothing like my father either and I don't look at him that way but I am desperate for his help like I was desperate for my father to like me I feel there's a link there for me some how.
Keep posting and talking it threw I wish I could be more helpful it's something I'm trying to work threw
I'm sorry for the memories you are finding this provokes for you I hope your plan works to aid your healing
Peace
HL
 

Ceremony

Greeter
Hello PRFL,

You've explained my attachment issue very well. It's a common thing to have our baby, and toddler years become a part of what's going on with us. Failure to attach, a part of Attunement to our primary caregiver isn't something we innately would avoid as a baby nor toddler. It's something withheld from us which causes it. The withholding of attunement causes us to fail to attach to our primary care giver(s), and it's consequences in childhood and later are a lot of what you just described. I have it, and have discussed it at length with my therapist. I've also studied it some. I wrote a post last year, and I'm sharing it here.

Emotional Neglect, Attachment Disorder
 

PRFL

Active Registrant
Thanks, Ceremony
I'll admit I'm having some trouble following your response, maybe because I associate attachment issues with my mother, who was physically very distant and never gave me hugs or kisses, so I bonded with my father who was a lot more physically affectionate, although then I had the trauma of the beatings that were very confusing, and I'm having some trouble connecting my traumatic episodes with an attachment issue, but will keep thinking about it. Thanks!
 

PRFL

Active Registrant
Hi, all,
Just wanted to check-in to let y'all know that I'm doing somewhat better. I've chatted about this with others here in MS over the weekend and that has been helpful. I also think I'm feeling a bit better because I stopped the glaucoma drops that have been reported to cause depression and anxiety, and I've noticed the last couple of nights I've slept a lot better. I don't think that was the only problem but it was contributing. Being that I have a history of similar episodes in the past, although it's been a while 10-15 years ago, I can't blame everything on the drops but they might have unmasked underlying issues that needed to come out anyway.
I'm wondering if I actually experienced two flashbacks, because I didn't just remember, but re-experienced exactly the same terror I felt in a couple of childhood incidents I've described above. I keep writing to my T but not mailing the letters, I usually choose one that I feel is the most representative to be read at the session, which is coming up later this week. I'm fearful now that I'll get triggered again by whatever he says and that really sucks. There's so much I want to say and share and it would do me a lot of good to unburden myself of so much I've carried for so long without fear of being punished for crossing some invisible arbitrary line of inappropriateness. Maybe I just need to talk and talk and know that my T is trying to listen to what I have to say. Something seems to be wanting to come out although I'm not sure what that might be, since I can't come up with any new, disturbing or traumatic memories.
I'm trying to get a sense of perspective, of what will happen long-term. It might be easier for me to accept the current turmoil if I can have hope that this turbulence is to be expected and will get better, but right now it is very hard for me to see how things could possibly get better, since I think that i'm making things worse for myself.
 

PRFL

Active Registrant
Sorry to keep posting, I just want to capture the insights before I forget them. BTW, I know this may not be realistic, but I wonder if in the future we could have the ability to keep a personal blogs in this platform, so I can write freely and then sharing the parts that are worth a discussion thread? Just a thought, I know first the bugs from this new site need to be worked out.
So, as for a couple of new insights:
It's dawned on me that part of the reason I'm so fearful of rejection from my T is because he is a straight man with whom I identify, I see him as a more successful version of myself but he got to assert his straightness while I was shamed and ridiculed for having heterosexual feelings, and this shaming and rejection came from other heterosexual males. My very first triggering episode ("Triggered by T's well-meaning question") seems to have happened because I so desperately want heterosexual validation from other straight men.
Another aspect of being triggered by my T is that one of emotional intimacy, as I'm talking about very personal, intimate matters. I've noticed it's very hard for me to talk about specific sexual topics with him, and I think there might be two reasons: I had the early experience of bonding with my father in a very intimate way (I have no specific recollection of sexual behavior but can't rule it out), only to suddenly be rejected and left in a dark room. Another thing that might be contributing to my fear of inappropriateness is that the kid that molested me was very close, and we would spend a lot of time talking about girls and our sexual feelings, and this led to him starting to make advances and talking me into mutual hand jobs, which I felt were very inappropriate. I don't fear my T getting inappropriate with me, but it seems that the very act of talking about specific sexual issues is inappropriate and triggers a lot of fear. My most recent triggering episode came about because I broached an intimate matter (appropriateness of hugs) and I just went bananas over his feedback. I'm not sure if these are valid insights, as there is so much I'm trying to process, and doesn't explain why I also feel uncomfortable talking about my sexual needs with women, specifically I'm thinking of the lady counselor that I saw before my current T. So, I'm trying to understand what connections are there between my extreme terror of inappropriateness and these dynamics. I'm sure more shall be revealed.
I feel I've been deep into a mine, it's very dirty down there and I'm covered in dirt and soot, but might be coming up with some gold nuggets...or fool's gold.
So here I am, going around and around in my head, I hope that by sharing my process, this might help somebody else. It helps me just to let it out.
Thanks for listening.
 

PRFL

Active Registrant
Sorry I'm so obsessive, but so many insights seem to keep coming up, I decided to write them in a list, so here they are:

Insights and Fears

I see my T as a more successful version of myself. I envy that he got to assert a straight identity and has a wife when I couldn't, this causes me a ton of grief

I'm terrified of my T rejecting me because being rejected by a kind, gentle man feels even worse than being rejected by an abuser, because if I can't blame the rejection on the abuser, then it is my fault

I'm terrified of talking about very personal, intimate matters with my T for fear of crossing boundaries that were crossed when I was a child (with father and (the boy that molested me)

I'm terrified of my struggles trying to assert my heterosexual feelings being rejected by my straight, compassionate T because then it is not about bullies abusing me but because my heterosexual identity is then meaningless

I'm terrified of talking about my heterosexual needs with a woman counselor at the center because I'm scared I'll be seen as an abuser, pervert or worse.

I think I had two flashbacks, one the night of the EMDR attempt and the other one last week when telling about a traumatic beating. Both those cases I felt the exact same emotion and I don't think I was remembering it, but re-experiencing it.

I'm afraid of feeling safe because that's when I feel in most danger, as that's when I'm more likely to get hurt. It's like expecting a child to play in a minefield, having mines exploding, and still expecting the child to feel safe and keep playing. A minefield is no place for a child.

My SSA thoughts are not about pleasure, but about me pleasing others no matter how painful or humiliating it might be. I can't accept that this is some kind of healthy sense of identity, and any comment that has even a whiff of trying to twist this sick dynamic into a healthy identity is unacceptable to me. I refuse to accept that acting out is an identity that I should embrace or celebrate. I'm terrified that nobody will be able to see this and keep feeding me the same “born this way” narrative that simply doesn't work for me. That makes me feel mind-f---ed.

I'm terrified that this is my last chance at getting better and I'm fearful of f---ing it up. I've had so many failed therapy attempts that I don't know how I could handle one more. I think I'm too sick to be helped by anybody and that there's no hope. I live in terror and can't seem to find my way out to a safe place.

---------
I think that's it, for now. So many fears, so little time! It helps me to write this stuff down, and I hope this is helpful to others. I printed the list and plan to give it to my T next session.
 

Strangeways

Member
Great job. Journaling is one of the things that really, really helped me once those feelings all came up. Putting words to things that seem so powerful that they could never be spoken before - that's healing. That's powerful.

And this isn't your last chance to heal. We have chance after chance. Sometimes we're just not there yet. Sometimes we're there, but we just can't find someone to lead us through. But I really think this is your time. You can do this.
 

PRFL

Active Registrant
Great job. Journaling is one of the things that really, really helped me once those feelings all came up. Putting words to things that seem so powerful that they could never be spoken before - that's healing. That's powerful.

And this isn't your last chance to heal. We have chance after chance. Sometimes we're just not there yet. Sometimes we're there, but we just can't find someone to lead us through. But I really think this is your time. You can do this.
Thanks. I’m just afraid that I’ll be 98 before I heal, if I make it that far. So many wasted years and opportunities! I grieve about that, too.
 

PRFL

Active Registrant
Feeling extremely depressed this morning.
I went to a "support" chat at a different website but felt lost in the shuffle
Because their rules state that "what happens here stays here" I'm reluctant to share more which really sucks.
I have no way of contacting the person that ran the group.
Just one more straw on this struggling camel's back.
I wont' be able to see my T until tomorrow, but this trigger re-ignited my issues with him which were starting to subside.
AAARGH!
I think I'll be chatting and posting a lot today, sorry...
Thanks for being here!
 

Strangeways

Member
Hey PRFL, we're here.

It's painfully easy to get lost in a web chat. Every person there needs support, but as we're all only human, it's difficult to keep up. I'd wager you weren't the only person in that chat to feel that way.

I am 100% sure it wasn't personal. It might be helpful to remind yourself that it wasn't because of who you are; it was just an effect of chatting online. You may get more support next time you try.
 

PRFL

Active Registrant
Thanks, Strangeways
I know it wasn't intended to be personal. I do think that the facilitator could have checked on me and help, you know, facilitate my participation. Those guys obviously knew each other and they were informed I was the new one, so, after a few perfunctory exchanges, they proceeded to yak away and I felt lost in the shuffle. But it's not their fault. It never is. Its up to me to speak up for myself, whether I'm actually able to or not.
Sorry for the rant, I'm on a foul mood this morning.
 

PRFL

Active Registrant
and so my journaling continues...
I'm going nuts this morning. I have too much free time and I'm driving myself crazy. There's nobody available to chat and I understand that. I tried the 1in6 helpline chat but waited for over an hour and gave up, this after several failed attempts. So here I am, just trying to figure out how to articulate and express what's going on, and I'm clueless as I begin typing this.
I have talked previously about the fact that it is terrifying for me to talk intimate matters with my T, despite his open mindedness. I do not fear him getting violent at all, nor do I fear him becoming abusive or crossing any boundaries. It would make sense if I was attracted to him because then I would be afraid of being the one crossing a boundary, but I can honestly say that no, I'm not struggling with being attracted to him.
So, what the heck is it?????
What comes up, at least as a hypothesis, is that I'm fearing that just the act of talking about intimate matters is in itself an inappropriate crossing of boundaries and that i'll get punished for it. I do have a similar issue with women counselors, because discussions of things like sexuality, particularly heterosexuality, could result in being accused of being a filthy chauvinistic pig, pervert or worse.
I don't recall one way or another how intimate or explicit conversations I had with my dad when he was in bed next to me. He was there because I was terrified of being alone in the dark, and one day he got enraged and started screaming that I was too old for this and left me in the darkness. To this day, I don't know what triggered him. Did I say anything inappropriate? Did I ask any inappropriate question?

But there's more possibilities. I remember having conversations about girls and sex with the boy that molested me. Very explicit conversations, sharing our sexual fantasies about girls, all at the same time we were acting out. So, it might make some sense that I'm connecting sexual explicit talk with being molested, but I don't fear being molested by my T, not at all (if he tried I know I would scream and walk out of the office and raise hell at the center and I feel very confident of that). I don't feel intimidated by my T, he couldn't be any more careful and respectful and ethical.

TRIGGER ALERT!! I had another incident, as an adult, but this doesn't seem to be an abuse episode by definition, because we both gave full, explicit, mutual consent. I had met a man that was struggling with the similar SSA issues. We were talking about boundaries and trying to distinguish between need for affection/closeness and actual sexual needs. So we tried to snuggle. One thing let to another and he offered to give me a hand job, and I accepted, with my full consent, and I wanted it. There was no coercion on either side, as far as I can tell. Yet, the instant I reached orgasm, I felt horrible. I was willing to return the favor and give him a HJ despite my discomfort but he declined as he realized I was very uncomfortable. We spent the rest of the day together but I was clearly troubled. He later apologized to me, but if I remember correctly, I reassured him that he didn't do anything wrong because I gave my full consent. It seems that I violated the very own boundary I was trying to set. So what I seem to be getting is that conversations about sexuality are extremely risky and can lead to unintended acts. Talking about sexuality is like playing with fire, it seems.

Again, the confusing thing today is that I have no erotic interest in my T so I know I'm not trying to act out with him (unless that's true subconsciously and maybe I'm refusing to admit it. Anything is possible in the human mind but I've been attracted to T's before and I've been honest about that). I feel I don't trust my own boundaries because they are so messed up and confused, and while I'm glad that my T has very strong, healthy boundaries, my own confusion could cause me to accidentally and inappropriately cross a boundary that I have no idea where is located. Maybe I'm afraid of being aroused by a hug? He hugged me once at my request and it was fine. It seems that I definitely don't trust myself because my boundaries are so weak and messed up. Very dangerous terrain, indeed.

Maybe the problem is that while I learned to survive through so many abusive situations and people, I just can't handle being treated with dignity and respect, so I may be creating all these scenarios in my head that make more sense in my abused mind.

Question: Should I disclose to my T my user name on this board so he can read for himself what I'm writing about him and about myself? I could print it but it's so much that there's just not enough time during a session to process all of this. I do have a policy of absolutely no secrets, no matter how ashamed I feel, I will disclose whatever needs to be disclosed to my T, and I'm adamant about that. On the other hand, knowing that he could read these boards (he may not because I'm not his only client and I write so much here) may result in my unconsciously self-censoring what I say for fear of upsetting him (yeah, I know this flies in the face of my "no secrets" policy).

Anyway, I can't think of anything else right now, thanks for letting me have a space where I can think aloud and share my thoughts, and hopefully get some feedback. You guys have been great!
 

Strangeways

Member
Should I disclose to my T my user name on this board so he can read for himself what I'm writing about him and about myself?
Nope - I wouldn't. This is a place for you and you alone. The second you tell someone your username, you'll stop using this resource.

What you CAN do, and what I strongly recommend, is for you to print out your posts here, omitting your username, and give them to him. Alternatively, you could boil what you write here down to a bulleted list and then share that, which is what I did with my own T.

Either way, I think you need to share your thoughts and feelings with your T somehow. Your sense of confusion around him is consuming you, and that seems like something important you need to work on with him.

Just my 2¢.
 

Chris4TheMill

Active Registrant
PRFL - I was in chat about a half hour ago and sat there for awhile but no one was there. Was wondering if you entered the chat
room anyway even if no one was showing up as being there? Sometimes if you enter and we see that someone is there, we will then
enter....just a thought.
 

PRFL

Active Registrant
Yes, I peeked in and asked "anybody here? and left after getting no response. there were supposedly two people there (I can't remember whom my memory is horrible these days) but nobody responded. Immediate column had two names with grey dots, active chat users column had green dots. Go figure
 

PRFL

Active Registrant
Good morning, or whatever it is in your part of the world.
I'm feeling better than yesterday morning. It was a rough day but wrote so much that by the evening I was feeling almost normal. I've slept better the last two days. I believe this has to do with stopping the eyedrops that were contributing to my depression. I did wake up, had some trouble falling asleep due to racing thoughts and started to feel depressed again, but eventually fell back asleep. I'm now up, had my coffee, and I'm getting ready to see my T in a few hours.
Although I'm feeling better, I know I'm very fragile and I fear becoming unglued when I see him (not that it would be that unusual for me) Today we are suppossed to discuss our plan to space out the visits so I can focus on self-care, he was supposed to talk about my case during staffing meetings, but I feel like I'm going to be facing a firing squad, about to be punished because I've been misbehaving. Fortunately, this is not an overwhelming or even strong feeling, but its most definitely there. My adult self tells me that the reality is different, that the staff wants to help me and is trying to give me the tools I need. It's amazing how much disconnect there is between what I know and what I fear!
I'm afraid that I'll get triggered again during the session and that having to wait a whole month would make things worse. I'm still willing to give it a try, because I see the rationale for doing this. I hope that whatever happens, it works to help me get better.
Thanks to all for your support, I'll post an update later!
 
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