Saturday, April 30, 2011

Grieving Is Normal For An Incest Survivor

The following definitions are taken from The Doubleday Dictionary For Home, School and Office, Sidney I. Landau, Editor in Chief; Ronald J. Bogus, Managing Editor; DOUBLEDAY & COMPANY, INC.;  Garden City, New York:  1975.

Depressed:  adj. 1.  Sad; dejected.  2.  Pressed down.  3.  Flattened from above; sunk below the surface.  4.  Reduced in amount, degree, value,etc.
Syn. 1. downcast, low, blue, downhearted, forlorn, desolate.

Grief:  n.  1.  Intense sorrow or mental suffering resulting from loss, affliction, regret, etc.  2.  A cause of such sorrow
Syn.  1.  affliction, agony, distress, sadness, tribulation, trouble, woe.

All of my life, from early childhood and on into adulthood, I have carried around a deep sadness in my heart.  When I started working on my incest issues in 12-Step programs and in counseling, I noticed that a lot of my friends were on antidepressants.  I wasn't sure if that was what I needed or not so I asked a friend who she got her pills from.  I made an appointment with her psychiatrist for the next week.

The psychiatrist asked me why I was visiting him that day.  I told him that I was an incest survivor and I noticed that all of my friends were on something for depression and I wanted to know if I was depressed.  We talked for awhile.  He asked questions and I talked. 

Thank God that I went to the doctor that I did that day.  He told me that I wasn't in a depression, that I was grieving what had happened to me as a child and that grief was a normal process for what I had experienced as a child growing up with incest and alcoholism in my family.  He sent me home and told me to keep doing the work that I was doing on myself.  That was about 15 years ago.  I am still doing the work on myself that needs to be done as it comes up.  I am back to a cycle of grieving.  Am I depressed?  No, I am grieving which is normal for what I have been through.


Sophie Lhoste said...

Fantastic post Patricia!
Yes, grieving is normal for an abuse survivor. And yes, it does come back in waves, even when we thought we were done with the grieving!
Thank you!

Just Be Real said...

Pat, thank you for sharing. Blessings.

Patricia Singleton said...

Sophie, Thank you. I appreciate your feedback every time that you give it. You are very welcome.

Patricia Singleton said...

JBR, you are very welcome. Thank you for sending Blessings my way. Sending Blessings to you as well. I appreciate your friendship.

Just Faith said...

Depressed or grieving? Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference. Either way, I hold on to the faith that the wave will eventually wash ashore and recess back into the ocean, hoping and praying its next approach will take many moons to reach the shore again.
You grieve not alone!

Patricia Singleton said...

Just Faith, yes it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between the two. Thank you. Knowing you are not alone does make things easier.

Ellen Brown said...

The distinction you make between grief and depression is so important, Patricia. Though medication can be really important and effective in terms of dealing with depression, it can sometimes get in the way of the grieving process. Not always, but sometimes.


Patricia Singleton said...

Ellen, thank you for your comment. My belief is that when you numb the feelings, you halt the grieving process.

Jeffery said...

Grieving: yes, we all grieve for the inside child while showering him with love and affection; compassionate understanding. And we realize: we are going to be grieving for him for the rest of our lives; but that is okay; it is a normal thing to do. After all: that child had (and STILL has!) so very much potential in him; potential which he is even now exploring; speaking volumes in love and about love to me and my others. We are sorry for what happened to him - and we will continue on grieving what has happened in his past - and yet both he and me and we are much happier beings now - all for the sense of grieving (among other things) - for by showing grief for him, we are showing him that he is human; had sacrifice; and is of many and most value - and in loving him: we are showing that thing for our own selves.

Very much smiling and peace inside going on now; may it always continue.

Patricia Singleton said...

Jeffery, what you just said here is beautiful and very healing for me right now. Thank you.

I didn't always love my inner child the way that I do today. When I hated myself, before my healing journey began, I hated my inner children more. I saw them as the ones causing all the hurt and anger that I was feeling. In blaming myself for the incest, I blamed them too. I saw them as the bad parts of myself that brought about and didn't prevent the incest from happening.

Today, I know better. I was never to blame for the sexual abuse and neither were the inner children that it happened to. The only ones to blame for my abuse were my abusers. It is a blessing that I know that today and that I love my inner children for the strength and courage that they had to keep going, to surviving as well as they did.

Unknown said...

Patricia; this article is so great. You were fortunate and the universe was watching out for you when you met this doctor. In my own journey into through and out of the mental health system emotions were never valid and were only a symptom of whatever diganosis they were tagging me with. In 15 years of "therapy" not once were my emotions validated; it was all about managing the "symptoms" which in my case were the side effects of the drugs they gave me that flattened my emotions and left me lifeless and hollow. I agree with your statement:

" My belief is that when you numb the feelings, you halt the grieving process."

It was in getting off those drugs that allowed me to understand that lingering sadness was the result of being told for decades that I was wrong to feel angry. Once I allowed myself to find and feel the anger I was able to move from that lingering sadness into the grief that where the tears and active grieving allowed me to finally move through the emotional healing process.

In my research and experience it is when we get stuck in a particular emotion that it becomes a "disorder" that can affect us until we go through it to the other side.

Patricia Singleton said...

Susan, thank you for adding your experiences and words to mine. I know that I was truly blessed to go to this particular psychiatrist rather than someone else on that long ago day.

My friend that recommended him to me, a year later was able to come off of her depression medicines and have a healthy life. This doctor helped her to reach a place where she could function without the medications and between them they decided that she was healthy enough to function without them. It wasn't all the doctor telling her what to do. He listened when she talked and decided that she could try life without the medicines. She did well.

Jeffery said...

We understand, Patricia. As you know we hated our inner child for a long, long time. "Matthew" put him away from us; M3 'kept him dead' (in here ); the Beast wanted to KILL him (shuddering; oh so violent beasty one!) - but get this:
Now we are loving him; making progress with Matthew, and Beastie one dreams and has no desire to hurt the little one (unless so directed by others)
We have the date; April 1 we are thinking; this year, when Jeffery came on board. We are thinking that Jeffery is the final construct; we don't know; but sensing he came from our core being.:) We are very peaceful and calm at this moment in time and smiling.

Patricia Singleton said...

Jeffery, thank you. Any time that you can smile is a good time. Thank you for all of the sharing that you have done with recent comments. Sharing your journey here with other survivors and with me is appreciated.

joy pachowicz said...

Its a very hard secret to carry .. I know ate away in my heart and I felt so very bad for it. that I couldn't tell how I was hurt. .Now I am free but still so afraid to tell all ..afraid of the words even to describe how frightened i was to be 6 and having things done to me ..I didnt even understand..and which I feel shamed of and upset that i was robbed of things before i knew what was take from me. '

Sharon Rose said...

Oh. (light bulb moment). So, it is normal to grieve even after working through the stuff in rigorous therapy?

Sheez. I have really been hard on myself for feeling things that are normal. I didn't know it could cycle like this. Maybe, that is what has been going on with me and I didn't even recognize it.

I just keep covering it up with humor.

Patricia Singleton said...

Pastor Sharon, be gentle with yourself. Anger is part of the grieving process as well as the tears that come when we surrender to them. I haven't gotten the tears thing down very good yet.

Yes, we can sometimes use humor to hide our hurts from others and even from ourselves. Sometimes we are too close to realize what is going on inside of us.

Awareness often comes with an "ah ha" moment like you had earlier. Keep coming back and talk as much as you need to. I am here.

Patricia Singleton said...

Joy, you don't have to keep the secret any longer. It is okay to whisper the truth to yourself until you get used to saying you are a survivor. You don't have to stay a victim. When you become aware, then you can start to change just one small step at a time. You are not to blame for being abused. The shame is not yours. Shame belongs to the abuser, not the child. I am glad that you are here and at EFB.