Recently I was talking with my therapist about a less-than-great memory that had been stuck in my mind like a bad song on repeat. I could see it all happening as if it were in the present tense. A couple of weeks later I had an appointment with my therapist, and as the memory was *still* playing in my head, we spent some time discussing it. Her response floored me.
She said it sounded to her like I was getting caught up in the helpless feeling of having witnessed that and having not been able to do anything in the moment to stop it happening. In this particular memory, my mother was hurt very badly by my father, and all I could do was stand there screaming for him to leave her alone. I remember very clearly every sight and sound of that incident, but I’d never had a word to describe the feeling before. Helplessness.
It’s been quite some time now since that therapy session, but I’ve really thought about that whole concept. Lately, I’ve been *angry,* and the anger seems to pop up at really inappropriate times. Something that would ordinarily roll right off my shoulders sticks around, and I end up feeling like I’m going to explode at the next person or thing that crosses my path. I do not like feeling this way, especially when I tend not to know why I’m even feeling so angry. Again, helplessness.
I felt so powerless growing up in that kind of hell. All I could do was watch people I loved getting hurt repeatedly, and outside of that I watched all the horrible things that go on within satanic cults. Pain and fear coloured every aspect of my life back then. In order to do my best to protect myself, I had to steel myself against things that were done to me and against things I was made to do to others. Not pretty in any sense of the word, and I’m sad to think of all the others who have been or currently are in that situation.
My therapist led me to realise how much that sense of helplessness affects my life now. That unexplained anger certainly stems from it. My being a complete control freak stems from that as well. I always want my back to the wall and frequently feel as if I’ve got to defend myself against the whole world. There were so many times growing up when I could do absolutely nothing to protect myself or those I loved, and now I guess I’m determined not to get in that situation again even though I have a knack for inadvertently putting myself in that very spot. It keeps me from getting close to people and makes me feel as though I have to hide my vulnerabilities from even those I’m closest to. More anger– I went through all of the things I went through, and these people *still* have such a hold on my life. It’s absolutely up to me to change that, but I’ll take a few moments of righteous indignation anyway.
I know I’ll have to work through these feelings of helplessness eventually, and that will not be easy (she says with true English understatement). It’s so important, though, that I take back control of my life. I just hope I can do that before most of my life passes me by.