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Prolonged Exposure Therapy

Prolonged Exposure Therapy: Retrospect

I never did finish blogging about my experience with Prolonged Exposure Therapy. there were two sessions left, and I know I promised to catch up, but I decided not to.

here's why: I don't want or need to right now. I felt a little guilty at first, and wanted to "finish the project" by finishing the blog posts, but for the first time in years I found myself looking living in the present instead of feeling stuck in the past. so I just didn't sit down to write. since I didn't want to write those posts, I've avoided blogging in favor of other things.

today feels like a good day to wrap it up.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy: Session 8

although it's been nearly a month since I recorded this session, I want to finish the series of blog posts because I won't feel like I'm done processing the Prolonged Exposure Therapy experience until I've written about it. I'm going to cover session 8 in two sections: the first half during which I finished processing my relationship with Scott, my ex; the second half, which I'll write later, starts the process of dealing with the damage done by my mother. I blogged a little about her in doors without doorknobs.

after listening to session 7 in the days preceding this session, I was left feeling a deep sadness. sadness over lost opportunities for myself and for my children. I also recognized deep feelings of self-doubt, of feeling afraid to start homework projects for the class I enrolled in because I feel sure I'm doing it wrong and that I don't understand what I'm supposed to do.

I was also dragging the ball and chain of feeling discouraged because the legal battle I thought had been resolved in court was still ongoing. six weeks past the hearing date and the judgment hasn't been submitted to the judge for signature and legal fees are mounting. therapy bills have taken a huge bite out of my limited resources, and buying groceries and gas the same day overdrew my bank account. everything added up felt overwhelming and I wondered (for about a minute) if taking the plunge into Prolonged Exposure Therapy had been a bad idea. I chose this time to do the Prolonged Exposure Therapy because my next chance would be this fall. I want to be able to do other things this fall, like take more classes at the local college, work toward a new career, and live my life as a free person. I took the risk of signing up the extra therapy sessions and I'm not sorry I did it. still, finding myself flat broke, with maxed out credit cards and huge legal expenses, is depressing.

doors without doorknobs... a dream.

last night I dreamed I was in my old house, the one I lost because my ex decided he would not pay child support unless the state could catch him to garnish it. it was a violent dream, which I think had to do with a violent reaction to listening to my Prolonged Exposure Therapy recording for session eight (which I have not yet blogged, but I promise to get to it as soon as possible).

in the dream I was in my kitchen, and I could see outside my windows that young men were flowing over the fences into my yard in droves. they looked like gang members and moved like ninjas and really scared me. my kids were with me. my partner was with me. I told everyone to lock the doors and reached for the back door, but there was no knob or deadbolt like I remembered there being when we lived there. the door was solid, with no knob openings drilled into it, but it was the same door that I remember, painted white and scuffed at the bottom where a dog had scratched at it to be let out (I'd always looked forward to replacing that door before I lost the house).

Prolonged Exposure Therapy: Session 7

the heart-racing stress reaction I had when listening to the recording of session six marked out what is called a "hot spot". as I listened to it every day, I realized that I was really angry that Scott had made me responsible for meeting his every emotional need.

after the event where he threw books at me and at our petite two-year-old daughter, Scott took out the trash. then for weeks he asked me every day what he ought to do. then every day he showed me what he did, whether it was putting dishes away or wiping off the table, apparently to gauge my approval rating of his efforts.

it was so exhausting. why did he need my feedback so badly? when I cleaned the toilet, I didn't ask anyone to look at it and praise me for the job. I'd probably cleaned toilets a thousand times during our marriage, all without a scrap of fanfare. fanfare would have seemed very strange for something as mundane as cleaning a toilet.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy: Session 6

for session six of Prolonged Exposure Therapy, I chose to focus on the final act of domestic violence by Scott (the man I was then married to) against me.

it was both more and less damaging than the previous event I'd focused on, the gas-lighting session by cult leaders that destroyed my ability to trust others and to make decisions on my own. it was more damaging because it brought me closer to accepting death as a solution to my pain than anything I'd previously encountered, even the verbal and physical abuse I suffered at the hands of my mother.

it was less damaging only because my psyche was already so damaged that it couldn't have created in my heart any more of a sense of worthlessness than I already harbored against myself. it is possible that if Scott, along with the cult leaders, had not destroyed my soul so completely in that closed-door session a few years before, I would have found the strength to gather up my children and walk out the door after he attacked me.

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