January 18, 2013

Two Weeks Into CPT

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?


  1. The trauma's we do not remember are the most intrusive, they have the most power over us. The ones that rip the reality from our center; flashbacks, hallucinations and dissociative fugues. The traumas will always be there. By focusing on the trauma you fear the most it will set you free in the near future.

    The unresolved traumas take on huge roles in our lives. Major sections of our thinking become involved in avoiding and projecting. This sets up powerful reactions to our triggers, the most severe reactions of PTSD and MST; the dissociative features named above.

    You don't have to accept to write it all out at once. Start with 10 minute sessions. If you can do that 3 times a day. If you write more go ahead. The idea is accepting to write about your trauma for 10 minutes. An achievable goal in the context of time it takes to prepare mentally before and the decompression time afterward.

    You are not alone, welcome home.

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  5. I'm a combat veteran and just finished up my 12th week of CPT therapy. I have had a very hard time opening up and writing down things that I have had buried inside me for a very long time. I don't believe that this type of therapy is beneficial for combat veterans, it has actually made all of my PTSD symptoms worse, and I do not recommend it.

  6. Michelle,
    I can speak only from my own experiences as a recently retired Army Veteran who has been where you have been and i will tell you for me. My most recent rape (there is more than one here too) was a gang rape by my SGM, 1SG, and two SFC's. I am a SFC and did not believe that my own would act this way and they did. I was lost and full of anger and no outlet because I wasn't strong enough then to say something. As I retired recently my health issues due to MST lead me to a social worker who I didn't think could do anything for me, and I can say I don't think she can, because she made me believe that I am stronger than I thought. I don't share with people, but I write. Painful, gut wrenching journal entries. That has allowed me to let the pain out.. Stay Strong and I know you will make it through this hell you are in. I am right there with you.


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