I dropped Susan off at the airport this morning. The conference is a week away, but she has a sister that lives about an hour south of Orlando where the D.I.D. conference will be held so she will have a rare visit with her sister and nephews. She is lucky to get out of here before the snow hits today and tomorrow.
I travel next Wednesday and hope to miss the snow that is due then. This is a tough winter, weather wise and psychologically. I hope we can get out and just sit in the sun.
I sat down with my D.I.D / sex abuse counselor with the purpose of learning what signs I should watch for in Sue that she is spacing out, getting overloaded, having flashbacks, or in any way overwhelmed by what she is hearing and seeing. We really covered that in about 10 minutes when the same subject was surprisingly turned to me.
So very typical of the partner of a sex abuse survivor. They often, including myself, focus on the needs of the abuse survivor when it is just as important, if not more so, that the partner focus on his needs. I do this a lot. Then, without much notice, I find myself sinking into depression.
My therapist discussed secondary survivors with me. That’s what we guys are. When we hear the stories and see the aftermath we experience a range of emotions too. Anger, disgust, pain, distress, confusion, shame, guilt, sorrow and on. Partners and support people need to find some balance between doing their support work and not getting overwhelmed by the abuse.
That’s what has happened to me over the last month. Too much time worrying about what is going on with her; not enough time for myself. I have to stay strong so I can be supportive and that means sometimes taking a break. To my surprise I was told I am going to have to watch myself at this conference, too. I may hear things are disturbing to me and I may need to take a break or go get a drink of water.
I can see where that is very possible. I hadn’t thought of it until we discussed in that session. I think I’m strong when I tell others (therapists) about Susan’s abuse. Perhaps too strong. Part of being strong means not getting emotional. Putting the abuse in a box and when I take it out I talk about it in a matter of fact way.