New Question of Week: Coping Patterns

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-2003
New Question of Week: Coping Patterns
4
Tue, 07-29-2003 - 2:20am
We develop many protective coping mechanisms to help us deal with the trauma of being abused. Although these mechanisms serve as a kind of protection at the time, as we move on into life they can become obstacles to our living the kinds of lives we want to.

Can you think of any behaviors you may have developed in response to coping with your abuse, that get in the way of everyday life for you now? What kinds of effects do these behaviors have on you? Some examples might be substance abuse or eating disorders to deal with pain, mistrust of people, hypervigilance, withdrawal from people in general, keeping yourself overly busy so as not to be alone with your thoughts, etc. In addition, can you identify behaviors like this that you have been able to overcome (or are in the process of overcoming) and get past? If you have, please share with us some of the steps you have taken that have helped you.

If you are in the early stages of your healing journey, you may not feel that you have overcome much at this point (that doesn't mean that you necessarily haven't, though), so if you don't feel that you can answer the last questions, that's okay! Try and focus more on the first question. When we can identify these kinds of things that are holding us back, we are one step closer to living our lives more freely.

Feel free to "think out loud" here! It's kind of a thinker. I hope everyone here has a good week.

Hugs to all, Heidi

HeidiRose

co-cl, Sexual Abuse Healing Board

Avatar for opal45
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-15-2003
Tue, 07-29-2003 - 7:30am
Yup, this is a thinker. Mostly b/c these coping skills are so unconscious that it's hard to recognize them. You're right though, being aware of them is one of the first steps in reclaiming a life that isn't ruled by abuse.

One of my biggest coping skills had been shutting down my emotions. The thing is, I had no idea I even did this. People kept saying I was aloof or shallow. I just figured I was immune to such "weak" emotions like sorrow. I had gotten so good at dissociating I guess that I just wasn't even aware of any emotions. I usually laughed stuff off or reasoned myself around things. Unfortunately, it kept people away from me. Which, of course, was partially why I did it. It helped me stay safe. But now, with the help of tons of therapy, I'm much more capable of tapping the emotions that have been buried. This has brought immense closeness to my relationships now. It's hard to believe I'm the one who is complaining about the shallowness of my relationship with my b/f . He holds back emotionally and it drives me crazy. I can see what others used to see in me.

That's been a lifelong coping skill but I've picked up a new one since I started therapy; drinking. I used to drink just to take the edge off at the end of a trying day. However, I'm probably reaching for it too much now. In fact, I may have a developed a problem with it. I'm keeping an eye on things. It's just that right now I have too much to deal with to tackle this issue right now.

So, those are a few of the biggies for me. Of course, I have plenty more where they came from ;-). Good questions Heidi.

**gentle hugs**

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2003
Tue, 07-29-2003 - 2:38pm
Oh yeah, definate problems. Part of the reason why i decided to try and do something about it again is that it affects my parenting so much. I have a problem with eating at all, most days i wish i didn't have to. If i eat more than one meal a day that's a bonus and i know it affects my son's eating habits to the point i worry about his nutrition.

The depression keeps my house a mess (my therepist says it's depression, i debate laziness) and me from doing as much as i'd like with him. As i write this the t.v is yet again babysitting him.

The fights his father and i have are really beginning to take their toll on him, yesterday was hell. My temper is horrible and as much as it shames me to say he is sometimes the victim of it, not that i would ever hurt him physically, but i'm sure i hurt his feelings sometimes and that kills me.

I have no life and he is very sheltered because of it as well as the fact that i trust nobody but me to watch him. Sometimes i worry that my detachment interfers with my ability to care for him, though i love him more than my life.

I have no way of supporting him and stay with his father because i've never been able to keep a job. I could go on and on but this just makes me feel even worse. Sometimes i feel i should find him a family that can give him everything he deserves, but my selfish love prevents me.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-20-2003
Wed, 07-30-2003 - 7:34am
That is a good question, and it definetly got me thinking. I disconect. Nothing in general triggers it, I could be around the house w/kids & hubbie and it still happens. Another thing I do is always look angry, I keep a scowl on my face. I used to do it in high school thinking it made me look "cool" and it became a habit. Now I catch myself doing it and try to stop but it is so hard to. Im also very aloof and imtimidating. I once had a coworker tell me that when they first started they were intimidated by me, I laughed, and said Me?!?!, you have no reason to be intimidated my me. It was then I noticed how much of a b**** I could be so people wouldnt want to get close to me, boy do I pay for that now. I have no close friends, basically no friends at all, my coworkers that is about it. I dont even associate with my sister in laws unless I have to.

That is all I can think of now, Im SURE Ive got more.

Avatar for opal45
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-15-2003
Wed, 07-30-2003 - 7:57am
YES! I did the same look-angry-to-look-cool thing. I also thought it made me feel tougher. I felt so much power and energy come from my anger. I was a b**** on wheels. And my kids never crossed me. That's sort of the sad part though, to have my kids afraid of me. I'm paying for that now, too (another story).

My b/f wanted to know if my therapy is working, had I changed, that sort of thing. Well, I asked this woman who is now one of my dearest friends. She and I worked together 15 years ago so she's known me for a long time. She said I'm not the same person at ALL. She said I was the most intimidating b**** she had ever met. Wow, the wonders of therapy. Now I have close friends. I love this.

So, I just wanted to let you know I can relate to the tough facade. It's hard to let go of, isn't it? I'm glad you're able to catch yourself though. That's better than I was, I was too disconnected to even notice.

**gentle hugs**