The Holiday Season and Progress

The Holiday Season and Progress

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Last week (and the beginning of this week) has been a lot for me. The holidays can be exhausting as it is, yet the 2018 holiday season was so much more difficult to get through.

A beloved member of our church passed away on Christmas Eve, and no one was expecting it. I, as well as most of the church members, was in shock. Coping with his death was not easy. 

On top of that, my assailant was there for the wake and funeral services. I already had to see him twice during that week (23rd and 25th), so seeing him last Friday and Saturday was difficult. I stayed away from him just as I always do.

It’s hard to explain, but when he’s not in the room (but at the same place), I get very paranoid. I’m worried that he’ll walk in without my knowledge and that I’ll be defenseless. When he’s in the room, I feel paranoid because I’m not sure what he’ll do. It’s not great either way. 

I had to help out by ushering people and telling them where to go during the viewings. I’m okay with volunteering. However, I get nervous when talking to strangers in person, especially if I have to tell them what to do. 

My assailant has also been showing up in my dreams. I’m not having nightmares or flashbacks, but he’s still a presence. What happens in these dreams is relatively realistic, which is weird. It may be because I saw him so much last week.

I think the volunteering, seeing him, the dreams, and the feelings associated with the death made my paranoia and exhaustion worse, especially on Friday. I also had to meet family and friends on Saturday night and Sunday, so I didn’t get much time to relax. 

The most interesting day was New Year’s Eve. There was a service, which meant I had to see him. 

However, I noticed that I wasn’t mad at him. I don’t think I’ve been mad at him for a while. I had thoughts like, “Ugh, why does he have to be here?” but I wasn’t consumed by anger. I was still paranoid, and I glanced at him. My fight, flight, or freeze response was active, and I still felt drained after seeing him.

I think some part of me was afraid to stop being angry at him because I didn’t know what feelings would rise to the surface. Anger can be used as a defense mechanism, and maybe I had been using it as a defense mechanism for a while. Maybe I was scared that I would have feelings for him again. 

I can say that I’m not attracted to him, but to deny that I care for him a little bit would be dishonest. That being said, even though a small part of me cares for him, I know that my health takes priority. I’m not going to bring him back into my life because it’s detrimental for me. The only thing I can do now is take the lessons from that experience with me, which is what I’ve been doing. I’m not sure if I’ve reached forgiveness yet or if I even want to forgive him. What he did still stings, but I’m more accepting about how I responded back then.

2018 was a year in which I was dealing with a lot of anger, especially with my assailant and my parents. I’ve noticed my progress. I’m not as angry with my parents either. I still get frustrated when they invalidate us, which is understandable. I’m accepting that their attitude toward emotions has shaped our (my sister and I) interactions with others. I know that their invalidation is what they’ve been taught and that it has everything to do with them, not us. I don’t know if I’ll ever talk to them about it, but I know that I can try my best to prevent myself from invalidating others.

I’m aware of what I have to work on, and I feel hopeful about this year. My New Year’s resolution is to have a more balanced life, and I want to start using the counseling services on campus. 

As of now, I feel much better. Giving myself space and time to process everything has helped.

Thank you all for being here and reading this update. Your responses mean so much to me, and I hope you’re all having a great week!


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23 comments

  1. Kevin Casey Volunteer

    Sorry for what you are going through sorry for your loss things will get better I’ve lost people before it’s hard all you have to do is hang in there maybe she got a therapist and talk to your therapist about some stuff that’s going on it might help

  2. Brianna W Volunteer Volunteer

    Thank you for sharing with us. Its amazing how self-aware you are , and that’s a great mentality to have. letting go of the anger is good too, it’s a ugly emotion to hold on to. Just know you’re doing great, and ths emotions you do have are perfectly valid and you should take all the time you need to recover after battling your own body and overcoming your anxiety and paranoia. Thank you so much for feeling comfortable sharing with us this always a safe zone and your growth is inspiring to other, please come back and continue to share when ever you feel comfortable

    -Brianna

  3. Jay Volunteer

    Thank you for sharing! You sound so self-aware, and that’s a great mentality to have. Focusing on what you’ve accomplished in 2018 is a great way to put the year in perspective. And letting go of the anger is good too, it’s a heavy emotion to hold on to. Just know you’re doing great, and whatever emotions you do have are valid and you should take all the time you need to recover after battling your own body and overcoming your anxiety and paranoia.

  4. Ashley Day Captain

    Through the way that you have expressed yourself, I can truly tell how much better you feel.
    I’m sorry for your loss. Due to the fact that you were around your perpetrator several times, it makes sense that seeing him felt difficult. The paranoia that you experience is valid. The invalidation from your parents certainly has everything to do with them.
    This weekend, I hope that you were able to find time to recharge your batteries. I wish you the best of luck with the counseling services, music2799!

  5. zoeyb

    Hi music2799,

    We value your trust in us, thank you for continuing to share your story! I am glad you feel better after giving yourself the space and time you needed. That is definitely important, especially after experiencing the loss of someone you cared for. The fact that you were able to be there for others in your church community while simultaneously having to process being near your assailant is a testament to your inner strength. The holidays can be a rough time, but I am glad you made it through. I hope the new year is going well so far and that the counseling services on campus will be a strong resource for you.

    We are always here for you
    -Zoey

  6. Jess Volunteer

    Thank you for continuing to trust us with your story. We are so glad that this is a safe community for you to assist in the processing of your emotions and beginning healing from these days of seeing your abuser.

    I’m sorry that you had to see him so often over the holidays. The holidays make our worlds nuts as is, so seeing your assailant on top of that AND having a death within your community had to be incredibly hard and disconcerting. However, it’s amazing how you were able to process the emotions that you have felt. You seem incredibly in touch with your emotions and are really able to process and understand them. Your anger is completely normal. You’re able to have anger towards someone and still love them at the same time. however, it’s great to hear that you don’t feel that same anger anymore – that has to be incredibly freeing. Invalidation is incredibly hard to deal with, but I think your conviction of ensuring that you don’t invalidate others is amazing.

    You’re incredibly strong and brave, I can tell that from what you’ve shared with us so far. It’s so great hearing your story and how you’re progressing on your path to healing. Please keep updating us as you need/want to. We are always here for you and we believe you. <3 If there is anything else we can do for you, please let us know!

  7. kelly Day Captain

    Hi, music2799. Thanks for the update. I’m so sorry for your loss. The holidays are a lot to process on their own, not counting all the other stuff you’ve been going through on top of it. I’m sorry to hear it was difficult. You really sound like you are in touch with your emotions though, and I think that’s amazing. I’m just now learning how to do this after years of stuffing everything inside. It’s not easy. I think you have every right to be angry at your parents and your assailant. It’s okay to have both anger and care for someone. The people we love sometimes hurt us the most. My abuser is a family member and I love and hate them at the same time. It’s confusing. But you’re absolutely right, all you really have control over are your own actions. You can’t control what they say or how they think. It’s important to recognize who is validating and helpful to our healing process so we can go to them for support instead of someone who isn’t. It’s not easy, but I know you got this 🙂 you’re a very strong person and you’ve already come so far.

  8. blashea

    Hi, thank you for continuing to trust us with your journey! We look forward to the updates.
    It is understandable that you felt scared of your emotions changing and that you still care for him. I’m glad that you are making your health a priority. We are so proud of you and your strength. Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to help! I hope you have a great week as well.

  9. SAL Volunteer

    Thank you for updating us. It is scary when you stop feeling angry at someone who was important to you but hurt you, and it makes sense that you still care about him. Seeing him a lot must be really hard. I know how exhausting everything can be, but it seems like you’re handling things well. Happy New year, and I hope it goes well for you.
    Stay Strong,
    Stella

  10. Bluebell13 Volunteer

    Dear music2799,
    Thank you for continuing to trust us with your thoughts and feelings. Telling our stories and being vulnerable helps us build our resilience against shame and allows us to move past the trauma so that we can heal. You have a wonderful grasp of your emotions and you are taking action on finding healing. Go with what you feel you need to do at the time in order to take care of yourself.
    Sending you love and strength,
    Roxie

  11. jamie.lynn Volunteer

    music2799 ,
    Thank you so much for this post! I am so impressed by your insight and strength! I know that seeing the one who hurt us can be extremely difficult, but you seem to be very aware of how his presence affects you and this is huge! I am glad to see that you are examining where you are in your healing and where you want to go next. I am excited to see and read what 2019 has for you!

    Please keep us updated!
    -jamie

  12. music2799 Day Captain

    Thank you all so much.
    I’m so glad that I had a break. I had to see him again yesterday, and it was interesting. I wasn’t thinking about what happened, but I was frustrated about seeing him so often. I think going back to seeing him once a week may give me some time to relax.
    Solongago, I thought about your comment a lot in the past couple of days. The way you explained the anger makes so much sense. I was already feeling anxious and exhausted during the wake and funeral. Those feelings took up a lot of energy, and I may not have had enough energy to be angry. It was also close to the new year, so I may have wanted a new start. At this point, I’m more fed up about the fact that I’m being exposed to him so often. If that anger at him and/or my parents comes back, I’ll let myself feel it. I believe that our emotions guide us, so I’m not going to disregard any of them.
    I’m excited about counseling, yet I’m wondering if I should tell my parents about it. I don’t want to lie to them about this, but I don’t know if they’ll be understanding. I could tell them the reason why I want to start counseling, which is to see if it’ll help me improve my mental health. I might just be scared because of how they’ve responded to things in the past. I’ll figure out when to bring it up, and I hope asking them about this goes well.

  13. Erin O'Callaghan Day Captain

    Thank you for updating us. I’m sorry you had to see your assailant so much, but I’m glad the holiday season is over and you can take more of a break. I think using your campus counseling services is a fantastic idea. Counseling has helped me so much over the years. I’m actually starting back up this Friday-and I’m happy to be back in therapy. Let us know how that is going if you like, or if you need help accessing services.

    Erin

  14. CarmenR Volunteer

    Hi there,

    I am so sorry for your loss, and that you had to see your assailant again.

    However, from this update, it sounds like you are doing well. It’s great that you are aware of what you wouold like to work on in your life, and your positivity of the future is inspiring. Thank you for sharing with us, and I hope this New Year is all that you want it to be!

    Carmen

  15. Alyssa Day Captain

    Hi music2799 ,
    I’m sorry this holiday season was so hard. Just remember they are winding down/over. It is a new year and things will get better each day. I read this from one of the other storytellers and I think this will help you. She said, “If you can survive your attack, you can survive seeing him because the hard part is over.” If you keep reminding yourself this you will get calmer. You don’t have to be scared to see him because he is not going to hurt you anymore and if he does, you are stronger now. You can handle the situation. I believe in you and so does everyone at AVFTI. Don’t be scared of him because he hurt you. He should be scared of you for what you can do to him.
    Always remember to take time relax and breath. Don’t stress yourself out about something that isn’t going to happen. I’m happy you are feeling better now that you wrote everything out. If writing helps, you can always write here. We are happy to hear your updates. Happy New Year!
    -Alyssa

  16. Natalie M Day Captain

    Hi there!
    Thank you for coming back to update us! It is so great to hear from you! It sounds like you are doing well! That is great! I am sorry that you had to see your assailant this past week and that a member of your church passed away. That is a lot to deal with over the holiday. But you made it through! Keep your head up!
    -Natalie

  17. Solongago

    Hi Music2799,

    It sounds like a rough holiday.

    Is it possible that grief and depression are masking your anger? I know we do not have to be angry forever, but it is incredibly difficult to get past anger if we are still in a position where we can be or are being victimized. If your folks continue to invalidate you, your anger is a way to protect yourself and spur you to changes that need to be made. If this yayhoo is hanging around and you are still nervous about where he is or wondering what he might do, that anger helps you to keep the distance between you, so you do not allow him back in where he can hurt you again.

    I am sorry, I can be all wet. But I have been going through a lot of grief lately, and it seems to mask a lot of other feelings.

    Oh, and I am not discounting your progress. You have been able to see this creep 4 days in a weeks’ time and you are doing ok. That IS progress. And seeing the folks we love, and to know that we do love them even though they are sometimes not good for us, that is major progress.

    My only issue is with the anger. We (Christians) are often taught to avoid or let go of anger as quickly as possible, like a hot potato. But anger is neither good nor bad. We see ourselves in a negative light for having angry feelings. But anger is more a catalyst to get us from an unacceptable place to a better place. It helps us. It helps us know that this is not ok.

  18. Marissa Day Captain

    Hey music2799,

    Thanks for keeping us updated! I’m so glad to hear that you’re feeling better. It sounds like you’re doing everything you can to let yourself heal, and that is so awesome. Don’t hesitate to come back if you need anything. We’re here for you!

  19. Zoe Volunteer

    Hi, music2799.

    Thank you for sharing an update with us! I’m sorry you had to see the person who assaulted you on multiple occasions over the holidays. I know how difficult that must have been, but you seemed to have handled it very well. You should be proud of how strong you are. I’m glad you’ve been able to make progress, and that you’ve focused on yourself enough to know what you need out of this year. I think utilizing your campus’ counseling services is a great goal, and I hope it’s helpful to you! It’s really good to hear that you’re in a better place, even if things were more draining there for awhile.

    Good luck with everything you’re hoping to work on this year! You’ve been doing great. <3

    Zoe.

  20. Kailey2298 Volunteer

    Hi music2799,
    It’s so good to hear from you again! Everything you said was 100% relatable and understanding. I’m happy that you are making your health your first priority. You have a great understanding of your emotions and how they are processed and that will help you in your recovery. I think you are on a great path to recovery and believe you can achieve everything you want in this new year! If you need anything feel free to come back and update us again!!!
    Kailey

  21. Thomas Volunteer

    Hi music2799,

    Thanks for updating us! It is good to hear that you are begining to gradually progress. It is excellent that you are prioritizing your health and setting your sights on counseling. Additionally, I find your self-awareness of your emotions to be admirable. Being able to reflect on your feelings, acknowledge your diminishing anger, and then reaffirm your need to prioritize your health is a sign of strength and wisdom. You don’t need to be angry, but it is okay if you are. Your feelings are valid, regardless. What is helpful is understanding your feelings and allowing yourself to feel that way. Which is exactly what you have done. I truly believe that 2019 will be a year of healing and personal growth for you. I know you can do this, music2799. We are always here if you need anything. Stay strong, we are rooting for you!

    Thomas

  22. Northlane1991 Volunteer

    Thank you for sharing and keeping us updated with everthing. It common to have those feelings and know we are here for you.

  23. Julia Mandel Day Captain

    Thank you so much for updating us! I am glad to hear things are slowly getting better and you plan on going to campus counseling. I hope you find lots of healing and support there! Please keep us updated on how things are going and let us know if we can give you any other resources to support you as well. Stay strong; we are always here for you <3