Cognitive Analytic Therapy

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fightinback
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Cognitive Analytic Therapy

Post by fightinback » Sat Sep 19, 2015 9:51 pm

In August last year, I completed a very intense course of therapy which was just perfect for my needs, and with a Psychologist who, although still in training, got into my head, and one of the first non survivors to really hear me.

Part of the therapy involved writing letters to each other. A letter at the beginning expressing hopes of what was to come, and understanding of where I was. A letter at the end for validating and moving on. I am in a much more stable place now, and I want to share with you the 'goodbye' letter to my Psychologist (written a year ago), in the hope that members here may gain some of their own strength from it.


Dear S

For too many years now, I have felt a failure, judged, inferior, ashamed. As a child I didn't feel safe, and was stuck in a world that I couldn't escape. I have stumbled through life disappearing, at the smallest threat of fear, and into a completely separate world I had created for myself. I learned to cut myself off from my day to day life and live in a 'duty' role, where I unconsciously did and said whatever was asked of me.

Nearly five years ago now, my world fell apart, and I started to get very frightening flashbacks from a 'forgotten' lifetime of blocked memories.

S, I have never allowed, or trusted anyone to get into my head as much as I have allowed you.

You gave me the encouragement to pick up my journals again. I don't know why I'd stopped. From them I can recognise the clues to what is right for me and more importantly what isn't right - the small, sometimes seemingly insignificant clues which are harmful and not healing. As I write in my journal, I am also processing my problems and find I can, in the most part, immediately work out the answers that I need to hear; and with the added benefit that I have my words there to read and reread as often as I want.


You have helped me to recognise my own personal repeating patterns. The lessons my abusers taught me, which allowed me to continue to abuse myself, and become habits and a prison. A cage. I will continue to work at letting them go, and leave them in the past where they belong.



I am no longer angry towards, or afraid of my abusers. I have forgiven them, and released them. Not because of their behaviours, but because I needed to let them go. I needed to move on. I have also chosen to unlock the ball and chain of fear and anxiety that I have dragged around for far too long. Their choices cannot hurt me anymore.

I no longer ask the many 'why' questions that I shared with you at the start of our work together. Why didn't they love me? What could I have done differently? and more recently, Why am I still letting them affect me after all these years? The questions don't matter to me anymore. I have all the answers I need. Through our work together, I have found I wasn't missing a crucial piece of the jigsaw puzzle to make 'me' complete.

I am enough.
I am all I need to be.
I have control now.


You helped me see that my seemingly 'persistent' crying is a language. I had never thought of it like that before. I had always believed 'me' to be weak, and have felt shamed and judged because of it.

Since we talked, I have indeed recognised it as a language, and now when I feel the need to cry, I listen to my inner self to understand the purpose. Is it just happy/sad?, or is it because I feel I'm
not being heard?, or... I am 'finally' being heard?, by someone who is compassionate and kind, like you and Dr C. Something I never knew throughout the years of my abuse.

I recognise that at some point along the way I learned that when I got upset, people stopped doing what they were doing and began to 'hear' me. To notice me and the pain I was in.

I have likened it to people who get angry or shout in order to be heard. I recognise it as a coping strategy and a habit - and now I understand the reason why, and by listening to my inner self, it is something I can work on to find a better way to communicate.


I also recognise my role as a rescuer wanting to be rescued. You'll be pleased to hear that I no longer feel the need to personally rescue every stray animal and survivor that crosses my path! I even resisted the need to rescue a box of tiny kittens which were offered to me this week. I recognise that I am responsible for my own needs and that my needs must come first. This does not make me selfish. I will always be kind and compassionate because that is my nature. .. and the kittens were redirected to a local shelter.


I try not to judge myself so harshly - I'm still a work in progress. I am enjoying the moment more. I am more open with those around me, and less willing these days to apologise for who I am.

I have spent so much of my life trying to please everybody else, that I continuously rejected or attacked my own inner self. I still have 'blips'. Doesn't everybody? I recognise though that I don't need to make myself unhappy and invisible, so that those around me don't have to see or think about my feelings too.


I have a voice now.

And my voice says:

I am proud to be a Wiccan.
I am proud of my strengths, and perseverance when the going gets tough, and
I am proud to be a great mother to my fantastic son.


S, you have helped me to find myself again, my beliefs, my hobbies, my passions. All the things that make me who I am. A few weeks ago I commented that I felt like I was being reborn, and that is how I feel again today.


I don't know what the future holds for me and J, but I do want to do more for those who are suffering in silence. The Robin Williams' of this world.

Being on the forum, sharing stories and support has helped me better understand and validate my own story. It had its' place, and choosing to walk away from it, and from (name removed) has helped me some more. I was too absorbed in the drama that surrounds (name removed) and it was too easy to escape my own reality. By walking away I am learning to listen to my own inner voice, and while it is still important to me to support others where I can, my life doesn't have to be consumed by it. I need to find my balance and protect my boundaries.

I matter too.


Our current house move, though I am finding it a massive challenge, is also an opportunity for a new beginning. Our current home seems to have been about recovery and endings. Perhaps our new home can be somewhere for J and I to thrive. I am looking forward to surrounding myself with 'normal', healthy, positive and supportive people in my life, and to make myself the priority that my parents never cared for.

I want to thank you S from the bottom of my heart. I have really felt heard by you and supported at every step. I wish you well as you continue on your own journey and success in your new career.

Best wishes
Fightinback




Wow, what a difference a year makes.
FB Delicately changing my name because I don't need to fight anymore.

Be true to yourself
Never sacrifice who you are just because someone has a problem with it

Harmony
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Re: Cognitive Analytic Therapy

Post by Harmony » Sat Sep 19, 2015 11:40 pm

Dear FB,

That sure represents a lot of deep work. So glad you choose to share your growth with all of us. I think it is inspiring to hear from those who are staying with the process. It is so important for the newcomers to see that there is benefit to recovery.

May I also say that I hope you find it beneficial to remain and share on our forum. You are most welcome here. This is overall a drama free place. We aim to keep it that way. Hence my chosen name.

Harmony

recover
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Re: Cognitive Analytic Therapy

Post by recover » Sun Sep 20, 2015 12:16 am

Wow FB...you are wonderful and thank you for sharing that. truly. that is beautiful.
and echoing what harmony said.
with much love and admiration,
recover

ajei
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Re: Cognitive Analytic Therapy

Post by ajei » Sun Sep 20, 2015 12:24 am

FB...this is truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

ajei

Xanthia
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Re: Cognitive Analytic Therapy

Post by Xanthia » Sun Sep 20, 2015 7:18 am

Celebrating with you FB.
Thank you so much for sharing.

I also wish Psychologist S a highly successful satisfying career.
Xanthia

fightinback
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Re: Cognitive Analytic Therapy

Post by fightinback » Wed Sep 23, 2015 2:52 pm

Thank you Harmony, recover, ajei and Xanthia

Can I just clarify that there was no drama on the previous forum.

Someone I considered to be a very good friend, was always surrounded by drama and would share her struggles with me (as a friend would). As a 'rescuer', I mistakenly felt it was my responsibility to always support her in any way I could and often put her needs before my own and my family. Working through this with S, I recognised that the drama would always surround this friend and that our relationship was far from healthy. In order for me to find any healing for myself, I had to walk away. I walked away from the forum for a different reason, though from both to find my balance and protect my boundaries.

Thank you for the welcome, it means a great deal, and it is good to hear isurvive remains drama free ;) .

Xanthia, while I would love to pass on your wishes, S has moved onto another practise now. I was one of her first clients in training, and while she said she would be checking up on me every now and again, I have no idea even where she is now. She will be an asset to the NHS. Thank you.


What has struck me most since being reminded of the contents of this letter, is how much I have grown and healed since it was written. So many fears conquered, boundaries built, friendships strengthened and personal wellness tools honed. I know exactly who I am now and have enjoyed rebuilding and redesigning my life. It feels good to let go of what I don't need anymore.
FB Delicately changing my name because I don't need to fight anymore.

Be true to yourself
Never sacrifice who you are just because someone has a problem with it

Jonesy
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Re: Cognitive Analytic Therapy

Post by Jonesy » Wed Sep 23, 2015 4:36 pm

Hi fightinback

I totally love these words. They truly belong here in this forum. Big smile my friend 8-)
fightinback wrote:So many fears conquered, boundaries built, friendships strengthened and personal wellness tools honed. I know exactly who I am now and have enjoyed rebuilding and redesigning my life. It feels good to let go of what I don't need anymore.
You are important
Email: jonesy@hush.com

Couragetoday
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Re: Cognitive Analytic Therapy

Post by Couragetoday » Sat Oct 03, 2015 1:48 am

FB
Just stumbled on your post now.
Thank you for doing the work and taking time to share your successes.

fightinback
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Re: Cognitive Analytic Therapy

Post by fightinback » Mon Oct 05, 2015 1:15 am

Thank you Jonesy. Big smiles here too. 8-)


Thank you also Couragetoday. I still have ups and downs, but that is 'normal' life. My ups and downs are no longer as extreme as they once were, nor last very long. I am much more stable and this is through sheer hard work to get myself well. I am very happy to share my story here in the hope that members can gain their own strength in getting themselves well. It IS achievable. I feel blessed that you have found my story helpful.



Cognitive Analytic Therapy, though the title of this thread, and the therapy I have talked about, wasn't the only technique I used to get me well. Everything... whether it worked or not - the good, the bad and the ugly - has helped me get where I am. The good was... good! The bad and the ugly taught me heaps about myself. I guess this is, in part, also a thank you to all the members here who have supported me in getting well. When I first came here several years ago, I was in a very different place.


What is important is that throughout, I did the work for ME - nobody else. I am a fighter and I wasn't going to allow my abuse story to affect my life anymore - 4 decades was enough! I had already found acceptance and forgiveness for my brother before this therapy - he was easy, but I was struggling to understand the other abusers. The main questions I had though was why was I still reacting to my abuse and allowing it to get to me.

CAT was perfect for me because it is about 'analysing'. I LOVE to analyse. ;) :lol: I didn't feel the need, or want to, talk about my abuse in detail anymore - there was no need - I just needed to understand all my 'whys'. As a child I used to take my toys apart to see how they worked, and put them back together, and this has been a theme throughout my life. Several years ago when I realised, in attempting to understand my mother's abuse, I was trying to take her brain apart and it wasn't working, I knew I needed to find those answers.


Working with my CAT therapist, I was able to put together bits and pieces of knowledge that I already knew about my various abusers, and find their stories. Through understanding 'their whys', I have found acceptance and forgiveness for them all.



My brother (physical) was also a child. Through flashbacks I am 99.9% certain he was also being abused, and I was his outlet being younger and smaller than him. He was also a child arsonist - a classic sign that all was not well at home.

Despite not knowing where (in the world) he is now, interestingly our lives paralleled when we left the 'nest'. We both walked away and never looked back. We both have a child/children who our parents have never met. We are both divorced from partners we met when we were still in touch with our parents.



My mother (narcissistic) had scarlet fever as a young child which weakened her heart and she had three heart attacks by the time she was 8 years old. She went to a 'special' school ('special' was her own word when she told me) because she was not well enough to attend a mainstream school. I will never know, but I do accept that it is highly likely that she was treated as 'special' because of her heart condition by her own parents, brother and school. This could very easily have taught her narcissistic qualities by being singled out as 'special'. Or perhaps since 'special' was her own words, she saw herself as 'special' from an early age.



My father (sex abuse) was a single child and born late in life to his parents. They had had problems conceiving and he was very much treasured. His parents put him on a very high pedestal and was showered with gifts and taught that anything he wanted he would be given. As an adult he continued to indulge - if there was something he wanted, he went out and got it, whatever the means.

Interestingly before my CAT therapy, I realised I also had my father on a pedestal despite the abuse. I blamed my mother for everything. As background stories came out with my CAT therapist about our family, I was shocked as I realised the lengths my father went to, to get what he wanted.



I knew that both sets of grandparents died when I was very very young (2-3), and there was a very big row in our family which cut off my mother's brother and his family from ours. What I didn't realise until we (therapist and I) pieced this together was that we went from a family unit of 14, to a small family unit of 4, in less than 4 years. That is a MASSIVE thing to happen in anyone's life. Six very close deaths and 4 members cut off in less than 4 years. The first two people to die were my father's beloved parents, and interestingly this is roughly the age I remember the sex abuse beginning.



My ex husband (narcissistic) was the youngest of three boys. The first brother was highly treasured by friends and family because he was the 'first born'. The second brother was born blind, he was also highly treasured by friends of family because he was 'disabled' and 'needed caring for'. By the time xh came along, who was fit and healthy, it had all been done before and he grew up to be a 'latch key kid'. During his early years his parents and eldest brother worked long hours running a big hotel, and the middle brother was away at a boarding school for blind kids. Xh had to fend for himself much of the time and as he grew up they moved around a lot (dad joined the army). He was never in the same school for very long and had to learn to be tough to survive. His dad committed SU when xh was 15. It hit the whole family hard. The mother has narcissistic qualities and cut herself off from the boys, looking after herself. The eldest brother was an adult with his own young family by then, the middle brother was still away at boarding school, and xh again had to fend for himself. Since his mother is also narcissistic he could have also learned the behaviour from her.



What these abusers did was wrong, very wrong, there is no denying that and I am not making excuses for any of them. But I have found acceptance and forgiveness for them all, and have been able to find my own peace. They all have their own troubled stories.


My rapist, I didn't know previously, and I have no idea if he has his own story. Probably. He was a guy I was introduced to by my best friend on her 18th birthday. Although I blamed myself for the drug rape for decades after, I have let this go now too. I was already 18 and at the time, and very very concerned, after events took an unexpected path, about the safety of two very good friends. Looking back, I acted with compassion, caring and maturity, and that is at the core of who I am. I believe, given the same circumstances, (and being 18), I would make the exact same choices that I made back then. Despite the outcome, I have no regrets.

My rapist on the other hand, was a serial rapist. This is one story I did tell my therapist in detail because I needed her thoughts on whether this was drug related. After telling her the story she has no doubts! She also explained to me that he was a serial rapist because he had the means (student nurse), opportunity, and knew the timing of the effects of the drugs well enough to keep him safe. In her opinion he had done it before, more than once.

I don't know his history at all - I met him that night, but I have also found acceptance and forgiveness for him too, and found peace with this story.


The acceptance for all my abuse is because I cannot go back and change what happened - nor would I wish to. It is what it is. The abuse has given me gifts and I am who I am because of it. I have no regrets.

Forgiving my abusers is for MY benefit. I cannot move on peacefully if I am still harbouring a grudge or hatred thoughts towards them. I feel compassion for them all now, and I often send them calming thoughts. I hope they find health in their own healing.

This has allowed me to find peace and let them go.


Towards the end of CAT I realised that I didn't need my why questions anymore. Their stories have given me enough understanding, and whether what I have written here about my abusers stories is totally accurate or not, it doesn't matter. It is enough for me.

Where CAT has helped me is that I understand 'me' now.
I know what makes me tick.
I know what keeps me well.
I recognise the signs of being triggered and know the effects they have on me.
I know what to do for myself if I start to head down hill.
I recognise the behaviours I have learned from my abusers and can counteract them, so that I am not tied to the past anymore.

Most importantly for me, I recognise the qualities I have from my abuse, and the beauty inside me. I'm not an ugly duckling anymore, and I am free to be whoever I want to be.

I have also been able to teach this to my son, who is to my awe (is that English!?), teaching his friends. Bless him. And because of my father's story, my son (an only child and treasured) no longer gets my full attention. I put me first equally now. History will not repeat.
FB Delicately changing my name because I don't need to fight anymore.

Be true to yourself
Never sacrifice who you are just because someone has a problem with it

recover
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Re: Cognitive Analytic Therapy

Post by recover » Tue Oct 06, 2015 8:04 pm

thank you fightinback.
you have come so far and you are inspiring!
love,
recover

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