I recently attended my third session of Cognitive Processing Therapy. Week one was difficult as my assignment was to write about how my trauma has affected my life. I know that sitting down and thinking about the physical, mental, and emotional manifestations of my trauma will set me off. Immediately I went into self-preservation mode and struggled to figure out how to write this requirement without losing control of my emotions. The directions asked for one page. I hand-wrote one page. There were specific areas to focus on: e.g. relationships, security, physical, etc. To minimize my reaction, I wrote the page at work where my job will certainly distract me from getting completely sucked into a flashback or crying jag.
The assignment for the second week was to take my trauma and two other instances and examine what happened, what I thought, and how did I feel. Then I had to look at what I told myself and determine if those thoughts were realistic. In my case, I was told so many times by people in authority in the Army that because I was drinking, I deserved what I got. I believed for may years that if I had not been drinking, I would not have been raped. Is that realistic? Maybe I wouldn't have been raped if I was sober. Maybe I could have fought back if I was sober. Likely it would not have made a difference because my rapist was on a mission. Regardless, I did not deserve to be raped and I will never know if drinking or not drinking mattered. It is a struggle to remember that my drinking made things easier for my rapist, but likely didn't really make a difference in the outcome of those nights.
This week, Week Three, my assignment is to write about my traumas. I have already written about my rape in Aberdeen in 1993. This time I am supposed to focus on my rape in Germany in 1994. The second trauma is one I had only vague memories I didn't want to put together. After seeing Invisible War and years of therapy, I remember too much. That is the trauma I haven't faced and now am being forced to, in my opinion. One day after getting the assignment, I am fighting it. I don't want to remember despite being sick to my stomach, being more depressed, being more anxious, and the continuous smell of the basement I haven't been in in 19 years. I know those symptoms should lessen if I deal with this, but I can't deal with this. I don't have time to deal with this now.
Another thought has come to mind to follow me everywhere. Who will I be without these constant reminders and relivings? Who am I without my traumas hidden away inside of me?