One of the subtler life-changes in survivors is a change in how we use language and communication. Whether it stems from a sensitivity to particular words, or because we are learning how to communicate openly, we often change the way we use words and language in general.
A great example of this is that we can no longer tolerate the word rape being used in any other context outside of a completely devastating occurrence. No longer is it accepted as a good description of how a test or financial woe made us feel. This can sometimes cause conflict with people in our world who do not understand the gravity of words like rape - but it also provides one of the most common opportunities to raise awareness about abuse. So this change in how we use our own language, and how we view the language of others can actually have a big impact on our world.
But even beyond that, in the recovery period for most survivors, we need to learn a more open and direct form of communication. As we learn to communicate how we feel, we also learn to use language more clearly - especially in the setting of boundaries with friends, family, and co-workers. As the years go by in recovery, many of us adopt a clearer way of speaking, and can even become a bit self-conscious if we feel we aren't describing a feeling or situation clearly enough.
Though it's not something that's often discussed, this change in how we use our language is an important one, as it's also one of the big indicators of our own progress. Where at the beginning of our recovery, we often struggle to find the right words to express how we feel, or ask for help, or even to offer someone else support - we, over time, learn how to do these things.
And looking to our own use of language can actually be a way for you to see when you have made a great step forward in recovery. Every time you encounter a tough situation in which you are able to communicate - it's a huge signal that you accomplished something big. Something we hear often in this community is "It took a lot of strength to share that with us" - and it's true.
Every time we are able to communicate something so personal, it's a huge victory. Every time you make a post here, you're showing that you've made a great amount of progress - simply because you're now able to communicate something you might not have been able to before.
This week's questions are:
- Have you noticed a change in how you use your words or communicate?
- If so, what changes have you noticed?
- What things have you been able to communicate that you haven't been able to in the past?
- How have you been able to use communication to further your recovery?
As survivors, one of the things we rely on in recovery is communication. Being able to communicate to someone else what you've been through, what you're going through, and how you're feeling is so very important. It's also important for our supporters and families to be able to communicate with us, to be able to reach us when we're upset.
However, when we remember pieces of our abuse, our higher-brain function begins to shut down. Our higher brain function controls things like speech, vocabulary, etc. which makes it all the harder for us to communicate what's going on when people most need to know.
One of the ways to communicate that we've already discussed is the idea of "keywords". Keywords are words you choose ahead of time to mean something specific. For example, if you are triggered and having a flashback, picking a specific word like "trigger" or even something less obvious like, "Poodle" can let our supporters know what's going on, without feeling like you're going to be exposed to everyone who's around.
Aside from talking, other means of communication can be things like: particular songs to express your mood, painting, drawing, writing, etc. Anything that works well for you to express how you're feeling or what you're remembering can be a big help!
So this week we'll be talking about communication, how you communicate best, and how best people can communicate with you.
This week's questions:
- Do you find it difficult to communicate? When is it the most difficult?
- How best do you communicate with others?
- How best could others communicate to you?
My parents called and even though things are better, I still find myself keeping things from them, simple things that shouldn't matter...like settling on if I will be coming to visit on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. I still haven't told them I am a vegiterian either. I know that my evasiveness doesn't help the situation but i instantly freeze.
My partner and I talked about therapy. I asked if she had called anyone on the list and she said no, she keeps forgetting. I asked if there was anything making her hesitate, and she repeated that she just forgets. Then she started making up an excuse about how she doesnt even know if she should be thinking about that now because winter is coming and our heat bills will be rising. I called her on that because we go out to eat several times a week and drop more than what the copay would cost. She said good point and said she'd call.
The next day we were out driving and I brought up something I had been thinking about my therapy and my anger. This lead her to bring up finding one herself. She said she didn't want to call until we were sure she was covered. I've been paying for insurance for both of us for 3 months and she is in the university records, we just haven't recieved new insurace cards. So I assumed she is covered and I got defensive about her making what I thought to be more excuses. I was panicy and got mad. I asked if once I called HR she would call a therapist. "Maybe" was her answer.
We didn't have a fight, but we had a strong conversation about how its discouraging and it is easy for me to take this as another procrastination when she is already avoiding her student loans and procrastinating on calling the university to finalize the degree for her paperwork. We ended it with us both quiet and her saying she'd call. Within an hour we were talking again and had a decent night playing cards. Only slight tension.
So today I called HR and the university has record of her, they have been charging me, but the insurance provider never got notified to add her. Now I feel like an ass, she was right about that point. It makes me feel bad for treating it like another excuse (though it may really have been an avoidance tactic). Who knows. Blah. I want to balance on the fine line of motivating her to get help without being a bully.
And my boss sent me a bad email today, so I'm not doing so hot. This week has really gotten me wound up. Gotta keep it in check so I don't do things to wind myself up any tighter.
I have a therapist I like and respect a lot. She has helped me move toward things I've had a lot of trouble with, like anger and depression. I've grown a lot since I started with her and she is the first therapist I do not feel smarter than. She is very perceptive. But... We seem to have major differences of opinion on certain areas. When we touch on these areas I want to tell her she is full of shit. I am hesitant to talk about my relationship with her.
I sense she does not agree with my partner's and my analysis of our no-sex situation. She can get quite harsh and almost aggressive if I'm talking about any shared finances. I see Vicki and I as a steady and strong couple that has been together for years. There is no plan of us leaving any time soon, and we grow to help eachother out more and more. We have hangups and imperfections that don't mesh so well as a "unit", but that's why we're both talking about therapy.
One example: A fear Vicki has about starting therapy is not being able to afford it. It'll be a $30 copay once she is on my insurance. I have said I would help her psy for it. My therapist was dead against that, arguing that we need to be two separate people and I shouldn't "overfunction" in the relationship. We still have separate bank accounts and incomes, we split bills in half and help out whichever one of us is low that month.
She also argues that having sex as infrequently as we do is really abnormal for a 25 year old and hints that I should think about other options.
You would think that the fact that Vicki and I communicate a lot would be good, that we're both talking about working on this, that we've acknowledged some of our major hang ups is a good thing. You would think that the fact that I've moved away from my abusive parents and drawn lines for them to respect with the support of Vicki would be a major acheivement. Vicki forces me, a very passive person, to make major decisions about my life.
Two 25 year olds trying to make it work in a culture obsessed with sex seems to be a positive thing.
I know we don't do everything right, but I hope it is worth working and waiting for. So often I think about what we haven't had. But I see such an infinite glimmer of potential within Vicki and within us.
How do you know when your therapist is full of shit, and when she is showing you something you are not strong enough to see? I hate doubt and uncertainty.