Seeing Beyond the Void

As we go through life, each of us develops defence mechanisms that help dealth1W15UEW3 with a wide spectrum of stressful situations and to protect us from painful memories. Two clever tactics that I know very well are suppression and repression.

Suppression is something everyone does. It’s when we think about something, but then consciously squeeze it to the back of our mind. This doesn’t need to be in a negative way and can act as an aid to filter out one thought while we deal with something else.

Suppression and repression are very similar, although repression is a little trickier to identify because much of the avoidance takes place on a subconscious level as we deny the memory or emotion even exists. I’ve only just become aware of my own repression, which unravelled during a poignant moment in therapy last week.

When I became a victim of an attempted murder, which I wrote about here, I was extremely lucky to survive, but what I hadn’t realise until now, was a fundamental part of me died inside. While the experience was particularly traumatic, the history of my assailants past crimes, including murder, would only add to the horror and hinder any path to recovery.

I’ve always abhorred any kind of violence because abusiveness has been a prominent pattern in my life since early childhood. Each incident of physical, verbal, emotional, and even sexual abuse would slowly hamper a willingness to recover, while placing significant strain on my ability to bounce back. My traumatised brain soon interpreted life as dangerous territory and wise to be devoid of trust.

Trust is the necessary ingredient for all human interactions, from casual acquaintances to personal relationships. Losing the ability to trust means everything about life feels unsafe. Meeting new people or visiting unfamiliar places eventually becomes something of the past.

th43ZJN5J0The more vulnerable and withdrawn I became, the more I developed an unhealthy need to protect myself from any kind of attachment. My need for love and affection or to trust and be trusted, had sunk beneath years of repression and there was no awareness of just how cold and distant I had become.

I painfully recall the pleas of significant people to consider their feelings and wishes, even if I had none of my own. It felt like they were on the attack, rather than trying to save me from an emotional black hole. As time progressed, the empty space became so vast, it was impossible to see beyond the void.

The dissociation from reality eventually made me inaccessible to those who had spent years trying to hold on to the person they once knew. The consistent pleas meant nothing and I slowly cut everyone meaningful from my life. The diagnosis of Depression, PTSD and Agoraphobia were my new companions in life, but the Disorders also became my shield against any expectations to change.

In the last fifteen years, venturing beyond a two-mile radius of home hasn’t been on the agenda and there are only six places I can visit, anxiety free. While I do believe in my ability to overcome these phobias, I’ve made little effort to push the boundaries. In all this time, I cannot recall boredom or loneliness ever featuring within my comfortable agoraphobic cocoon.

For reasons that may always remain a complete mystery, I once believed this dysfunction lifestyle was not only justified, but also acceptable. I had repressed my emotions to such a depth that I forgot they even existed.

When I learned of my friend, Anne’s, death recently, via the extraordinary coincidental telephone call, my mind became flooded with memories of a time when I viewed life very differently. Over the course of the last couple of weeks, these new realisations are like awakening from a fifteen-year coma to find that I’m living an unacceptable reclusive lifestyle.

There were a number of stark moments in therapy last week, as I recalled the pain caused to othersthAQ8EK2XX and the injustice I dealt to my own potential. Repressing the fundamental emotions necessary to human existence only blocked the flow of healing and tainted my perception of trust.

Fifteen years of extreme isolation is a very long time and I’m careful not to get ahead of myself. I’m excited, fearful, and fragile, all at the same time. It’s impossible to find a way back to something familiar, any previous point of existence no longer exists. The unknown feels a scary place to be and the challenges ahead won’t be easy, but somehow I need to find the courage to move forward.

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51 thoughts on “Seeing Beyond the Void

  1. Priceless Joy

    Maybe that is where I am now, not able to trust anyone because of being hurt so many times. I think what you are embarking on doing will make major breakthroughs in your healing but remember to do it baby steps at a time. (I think I am telling myself to do this too). I think almost everyone uses some form of repression and suppression with their emotions. Just about everyone of us feel the need to protect ourselves.

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    1. Cat Post author

      It’s unfortunate, but when we’ve been let down by people over time, it does impact on our trust for everyone. You’re right, baby steps is what I need to do… good luck with your own baby steps 🙂 Thanks Joy

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            1. Cat Post author

              when I was a kid, I used to embarrass my parents coz I was always outside clip clopping up and down the street with mum’s high heels 🙂

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    1. Dawn D

      This reminds me of a poem I wrote almost a year ago… I hope you don’t mind me posting it here. https://dawnsnight.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/metamorphosis/

      Baby steps… but you’ll see that the more weight you manage to shed the easier it is to walk, then run, until eventually you can soar. It may have taken you a long time to reach this moment, but you just may find that time shrinks from here. Slowly at first, then faster and faster.
      That is my hope for you 🙂

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        1. Dawn D

          Actually… slowly may not be the best way forward. *Your* pace is the best way forward. So if slow is what makes you feel comfortable? Then take your time. Once you’re ready to soar, slow won’t be an option anymore, even if it’s sometimes wise to pace yourself 🙂

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          1. Cat Post author

            The trouble with looking too far ahead is I don’t have the ability for those ‘big things’ yet and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed… so baby steps it is. Thanks 🙂

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    2. Cat Post author

      Awe Diane that is amazing, it brought tears to my eyes 👀 as I contemplated my own cocoon. I’m also impressed by you managing to include a clip in a comment, I didn’t realise this was possible. Thank you Diane, greatly appreciated

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  2. Andi

    Perhaps you don’t need to go back to what was, but rather carve out a new path entirely. After this kind of trauma, I think it’s impossible to return to what was. However, that doesn’t mean we cannot find a new (maybe even better) way of living. And remember: baby steps are still steps.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Yes this”baby 👶 step” message is coming through loud and clear today. It’s easy to get overwhelmed worrying about stuff too far away in the future. Thanks Andi

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  3. mm172001

    I felt very similar to this after my first break up and did some of the same things, took me about 10 years to come out of it fully. It’s still hard, I’ll probably hurt again but I don’t want to spend my life alone.

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    1. Cat Post author

      That’s spot on, thought, Marci. The truth is, we need to risk being hurt otherwise we don’t live life to its fullest. Thank you for contributing, Marci 🙂

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  4. cardamone5

    They say awareness is the first step, and your own words certainly give this saying credence. I’m rooting for you, and wishing you fulfillment, peace and happiness.

    Fondly,
    Elizabeth

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  5. Sharon Alison Butt

    Like all your posts, this is a wonderfully written article and reflects what so many others are going through. You do well to express your feelings so clearly.

    Try to focus on how far you’ve come Cat, not how far you’ve got to go. That way, you will have no pressure to perform. It doesnt matter if you’ve stayed inside with Jack – what have you missed? Not as much as you think. Also, don’t focus on the pace – one day you might feel like running, another day, barely crawling. God meets you where you are so there is no goal to be at a certain level of perfection before life can be ‘right’. Step by step, you’ll get to where you want to be but if you don’t know where that is, just take it nice and slowly so that you don’t make a wrong turn. And hey, do it with Jack! Don’t leave him out of your journey 🙂

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    1. Cat Post author

      That’s very kind of you to say, Sharon, lately it has been difficult to string the words together.

      That’s a very handy tip about focussing on where I’ve come from. and slowly seems to be the popular choice for moving forwards.

      Thank you so much for such a lovely encouraging comment 🙂

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    1. Cat Post author

      I’m not too bad with panic attacks, Amber, I’m very good at dissociation. In a highly stressful agoraphobic attack, I will freeze and sweat profusely. Yes, Paul and I were just talking today about a suggestion you made recently re CBT and will look into this after March, probably more June when/if I return to Scotland. Thank you 🙂

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  6. Glynis Jolly

    You’ll take on this challenge. I can ‘hear’ it in your words. Of course, it’ll take a while and there’ll be times when the doubt with be strong, but I just know you’ll do it, and maybe with bells on. ❤

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  7. therabbitholez

    Our defense mechanisims can fail us, especially in what happened to you, it’s a scenario that happens to other people we have no tools to deal with such a devastating life changing event.

    It’s difficult to trust yet we know we must eventually try to do just that, however when we lose trust in ourselves we have nothing to offer but an empty vessel which seemingly cannot be filled, and we lose the abilty to self nourish and our world can become smaller and smaller overtime.

    Cat you are now I feel in the process of allowing yourself your feelings, especially anger, it doesn’t matter about the time it has taken to get here, you are here in the present, and that is indeed a massive victory.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Your entire comment is accurate, Cay and so true about the empty vessel, this can’t be filled without trust and the world is pinhead size right now 🙂

      Cheers, cay, I agree, this is a huge victory. Thank you

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  8. D.G.Kaye

    Cat you seem to have a great handle on what is going on with yourself. That in itself is great progress. Maybe your cocoon is opening, and maybe it doesn’t mean you have to go back 15 years to catch up. Maybe you can go forward from where you stand now. 🙂

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    1. Cat Post author

      Yes, going back is not an option and neither can we change the past. Going forward is my new focus, Debby. Thank you so much… and I’m always grateful for your twitter shares 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  9. Pingback: #thepersonalside: Distressful Suspicions – A Scripted Maze

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