“I Believe You….”
“I Believe You. It’s Not Your Fault.”
Ok, so just maybe the quote isn’t one from a famous philosopher, actor, psychologist, theorist or author. Technically, anyone could say those two sentences. After thinking about some of the words for the past couple of weeks, I have come to the following conclusion. We’ve all heard the saying that something can, “make or break someone.” Well, here’s a rather stunning example of just that. In the therapeutic world these two sentences can, in fact, ‘make or break’ a trauma survivor.
There was someone that I was working with recently that I asked, “Do you believe me?” This had been a question that had been gnawing at my insides for a long time that I never voiced until then. The response was, “It doesn’t matter what I believe. It’s about helping you deal with the feelings.” Now, why is this significant? Firstly, I would like to point out that I do not believe in any way that this was said maliciously. However, something within my internal ‘system’ just wouldn’t let it rest. I instantly my anger grew by the second. The anger was not creeping but sprinting straight from my gut to my brain at a speed that I was, unfortunately, extremely familiar. All I wanted to do was get out of where I was and get as far away as I could. At the same time, I was very confused at how very angry I was becoming over seemingly something so insignificant. I just wanted to get out of the situation. I felt as though there was about to be collateral damage.
Later, once I’ve had time to allow the physical feelings to subside and for my brain to return to the typical crazy norm, I search inside for answers. What could’ve possibly triggered me so badly? I didn’t know but….it didn’t feel good. My body had exploded with tension in all of my 2000 parts. And the only way, I can describe what my brain felt like was like an earthquake had shaken everything into disarray. Once again, I sit and listen to the ranting and raving of some of the ‘insiders.’ I just try to remain a by standard and listen.
I also can’t help but to feel a very overwhelming sense of fear that has me partially paralyzed. I’m trying to sort through everything while trying to maintain and it’s not working. Me and the medical marijuana become rather close friends for the rest of the day. My mind and body was screaming for relief. I talked some to my wife but kept a lot inside to try and sort out on my own. What had just happened?!
I was looking for a great big ‘a-ha’ or ‘bright light’ moment and it came down to something this simple, yet, very important. Perpetrators are master manipulators in every way possible. The two most significant things I was always told was that, “No one would ever believe me and somehow it was MY fault.” While I was not outright told that I wasn’t believed, I was also told that it didn’t matter. I was beyond crushed. Alters in my system went ballistic. There were ‘internal’ tears, anger, screaming, raging, blaming, hurt and pain that was resulting in a chaotic mess. Each day, I find out more and more ‘triggers’ that can lead to a reaction. It looks like we found another one.
One of the advantages of being a trauma survivor is hyper awareness of surroundings. Advantages how? I notice everything that is going on around me down to minute details. That’s how, in some instances, I was able to stay ahead of my perpetrators and stay safe. Also having a degree in a behavioral science helps understand behavior as well. Therapeutic relationships of any kind especially with someone in power can only thrive if there is trust that has developed. Once that is gone so is the relationship. What if you were someone’s one and only contact and they came straight out of a lifetime of trauma and abuse to someone who doesn’t believe that it matters whether or not we as trauma survivors place a high importance on being believed about what has happened to us? For this brief moment in time, my abusers seemed to be correct, we didn’t seem to be believed. Does it scare you? It did me.