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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.

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 5

I think I'm learning to step out of numbness. I mentioned in my last post that I was angry. I explored that feeling in session five of my Prolonged Exposure Therapy, as I had thought about it quite a bit between sessions. I broke it down, distilled the cause of my anger to the least common denominator, and when everything else was gone the cult leaders stood alone in my mind's eye with one outstanding quality: greed.

I was angry. so, so angry.

I was so isolated, so alone. complete immersion in cultish culture was required. fear was cultivated by leaders, members were shamed into cult-approved behavior. interactions were controlled, friendships discouraged. we all lived in a group, emotionally isolated. we spoke in code; ex-members call it "wayspeak". it served to keep us culturally separate from our communities.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy: Session 4

during my third and fourth sessions of Prolonged Exposure Therapy, my therapist and I took some time to talk about my in vivo exposure assignments. my third session was to spend some time in my yard, gardening, landscaping, pulling weeds. spending time in my yard is an activity I used to enjoy but interacting with my neighbor over the past two years has made me feel more like a scurrying rodent who waits until there is no human presence then darts out into the open on high alert in case she needs to run for safety, hurries through the necessary tasks then runs for safety at the slightest hint of danger.

with in vivo exposure, I'm to place myself in mildly stressful circumstances, stay through the anxiety spike, then allow myself to leave once I've relaxed. so, I spent time in my yard, working in areas that were the most likely to attract my neighbor's notice. he's unable to refrain from commenting on whatever I'm working on, so interaction is virtually guaranteed. he didn't disappoint, and I survived the anxiety spike and stayed at my task until I regained the relaxed feeling that working in my yard used to give me.

the art of war

I've been reading Sun Tzu's Art of War. In it, he says:

"Ground on which each side has liberty of movement is open ground."

I realize that's where I had deluded myself into thinking I stood at one point, both during and after my divorce. I simply could not conceive of parenting children with someone unless we both had liberty of movement. I believed that although we were, at heart, enemies, co-existing on open ground meant safety from attack because it would be foolish for either of us to do so.

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