This is maybe the most obvious factor that’s played out in abusive situations and then subsequently by the abused person in the rest of their life. I wish I could say I was different, but well, I’m not.
Abuse involves a lack of control. Always. A child being raped has no control over the situation and yet tries to claw at it in any possible way. I recently read the book The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, and in it the author gives an example of one of his clients, who during a time of sexual abuse by one of her mothers’ boyfriends, would go and find him when he was drinking and act provocatively. What she was doing was simply trying to gain some form of control over the situation. By doing that she could dictate when it would happen, and she wouldn’t have to be anxious and awake all night, waiting for it to happen. It likely increased the number of times he assaulted her, but at least she had some control over when it would happen.
I did something different, and yet similar, and have always hated myself more than anything for it. I have been disgusted right to my core at myself, called myself a prostitute, a disgusting little whore, and could never hear anybodys attempts at compassion for the child I was, gaining control over the situation in any way I could. I still hate myself. When I first read that chapter in the book something clicked and I suddenly felt sad, but that has long since dissipated.
But even in the everyday, normal things, I am, and for as long as I can remember have been, a massive (and extremely annoying) control freak.
I’ve never cared if it meant I’d be doing all the work, so long as I was the one in control and doing it. My best friends used to laugh at me for it frequently… It was just one of those things about me. And actually not something I’ve ever really wanted to change about myself (aside from getting a bit better at relinquishing control over really unimportant things, which I have done).
But the thing is, I still do it to my detriment far too often in my life.
Several weeks ago I got really mad at my therapist… I took a book with me that she had given me, that we were working on, and when I got mad I told her that I only brought the book with me because I was giving it back to her. I wouldn’t do the work, didn’t want to, and there was no point in me having it. (my version of a ‘fuck you’ – you’ve disappointed me so have it back. I’m in control here, and I’m not doing anything you tell me to).
And I had refused to commit to doing the work up to that point too. I’d read the chapters a lot of the time, but refused to do any of the homework or exercises in it that she told me she wanted me to.
Then, a few weeks after giving her the book back, I went to therapy and at the end of my session asked if I could get it back (petulant child? Oh yes). That was just two sessions ago…I got it back (I think she was pleased I wanted it back), and I went home and read a few chapters and did a few of the exercises. Because this time I was in control, it was on my terms, not hers. And I went back last week with the book in my hand, full of bits that I’d written in it.
And then (I promise we’re coming towards the end of this boring story, sorry), I was panicky and young and scared last week, and I told her I quit.
I was done with therapy. Didn’t need it, was a waste of money, there is nothing wrong with me and I’m just being stupid. Really, I was just feeling all out of control of my life. My best friend was wanting to kill herself, and I realised I couldn’t help her or stop her, no matter how desperately I wanted to. My other best friend is having a terrible time with her family and yet is in the beginnings of what will be a successful career, in a long term relationship with the man I have no doubts she will marry and have kids with, and doing all of this with her own background of trauma. And then I’m here, entirely alone, unable to work out what I want to do, unable to move away, unable to feel in control of my life. I have an ex(not boyfriend, don’t know what to call him) who is pestering me to see him and that’s really just one 6 year long mess. I’ve got a family that I don’t know what to do with because I can’t seem to stop myself loving them even though i know they won’t ever be who I need or want. My brothers fiancé is talking about them having kids, which just makes me want to hurl. And I just completed a chapter in a book on dissociative disorders that terrifies me and that I had refused to do up until that point but somehow I wrote stuff and now it’s out there for somebody to read, even if that somebody is my therapist, and that scares the crap out of me.
So I quit. Because that was something I finally had effing control over. I could say, no more. I could say I was done…Except I signed a contract stating we’d have 2 finishing sessions in the event of terminating therapy (fuck it).
So I handed her the book, told her to rub all the stuff I’d written in it out (to which she said the book was mine to keep, that I mattered, and that my thinking she would just erase me from her life made her sad and brought tears to her eyes). But she took the book, swapped it out for another one that I could read this week while she reads what I wrote in the first one. And then, tomorrow, she’ll let me leave and not come back, without fulfilling the requirement of two final sessions, if this is what I want.
And now I don’t know what I want.
Going there tomorrow and saying goodbye, refusing to let her in, makes me feel in control.
Going there tomorrow and saying I’ve changed my mind, I want to carry on, feels weak. It feels very much not in control. It feels exposed and vulnerable and like I want to push anyone that comes near my heart far away.
It feels like something that I can finally do to say fuck you, I don’t need anybody, I decide what I do, and nobody gets to hurt me.
What a bloody mess, this need for control. I’m not sure how much sense this makes, it’s now 2.45am, and I’m going to take something to try to sleep, so I’m ending it here regardless…