I’m sat listening to Stereophonics. I’ve not been able to do that in a long time. 14 years in fact. I have chosen to listen to them today because I can. I can listen to the Stereophonics without feeling sick. That’s because last night I practised some Radical Acceptance (RA).
I’ve struggled with RA a lot in DBT. Mostly I have labelled it as stupid contradictory bullshit. The scientist in me recognises the evidence that DBT works so I’m giving it all (including RA) my best efforts despite my cynicism.
So RA is all about accepting reality. Now in fairness I thought I was quite good at this and can talk about my traumas very matter-of-factly (whoops little lie there. Shhh!). This is not what RA is. Pretending to be ok about something is not the same as making peace with it. In my DBT homework I had to list 2 very important things and 2 more minor, every day type things that I am struggling to accept.
I worked through the fact that I need to sell my car (but don’t want to). At the end I felt better. I still don’t want to sell my car but today I have a plan for some practical things I can do to get my head around it. With success I decided to try a very important thing I can’t accept: I was raped.
I worked through it in stages. I wrote everything down very factually. It took a long time. I kept having to stop and curl myself up in bed as it was difficult. Of course it was. I couldn’t complete the whole exercise. There are some bits I’m unsure of however even after partially completing the RA exercise I felt better. God I felt so much better. I am not scared of the Shadow Man anymore. There is no Shadow Man, not really. It’s a manifestation of the repressed memories of the man that raped me. That did happen. Now, if I accept it, I think the Shadow Man will go away. Therapists say that we experience pain to alert us to the fact that something is wrong. I think I get it. I need to accept the reality of what happened. It happened. It causes me shame and fear and disgust and hey, that’s ok but it’s done now. It was done 14 years ago! I mean it’s not that simple obviously – as I started writing this the Shadow Man was there…just out the corner of my left eye so it’s definitely going to take time although hopefully not another 14 years!
I fell asleep feeling calm and secure last night. I had very vivid dreams about the rape but they weren’t disturbing. At 4ish I woke up and couldn’t sleep. Fortunately my husband was awake too! So it was kind of nice just to lie there snuggled up in the quiet dark. I’ve not been able to really look at my husband recently. That’s maybe because of splitting and maybe because of this Shadow stuff (and maybe actually he has been a bit of an arse too!) but last night I could cuddle up to him again. He fell asleep and I was wide awake. I had a flashback. It was a weird one! My left ear was on the pillow and I heard sounds from the pillow. It was heavy breathing – sex sounds (although not enthusiastic, the female was whimpering). I listened wondering if somehow it was the children in their beds snuffling about and the sound was traveling but no, it wasn’t that. It was sex! Crystal clear. I couldn’t hear any other sound with my exposed right ear. I decided to try and come back to the now. I tuned my right ear in and could hear Andy’s sleeping breath. It’s quite distinctive the sound he makes so it wasn’t that. I tried to listen back in to my pillow with my left ear but there was no sound. The flash was over. I felt quite sorry for the woman I’d heard in my flash. Then I realised that I was the woman in the flash. Oh. Ok. Eventually I fell asleep.
This morning I’m optimistic. Part of RA is a thing called Opposite Action where I do things that would be the behaviours of a person who has accepted the event. So later I’m going to ring Monica and say the words out loud that I was raped. I’ve never actually said that. Never. Saying it is a big step forward for me. And then there’s the Stereophonics of course! Well, that’s because the rapist looked very similar to the lead singer of the band. A different person entirely obviously! However because of that link in my head hearing the Stereophonics makes me think of the rape and that is usually too much emotion to handle!
But, I can listen today. It’s ok. The music is completely unrelated to what happened. So, Radical Acceptance, it seems that there’s something in that after all. It’s still very much a work in progress but hey, as the Stereophonics song goes;
“You can do all the things that you’d like to do…pick a part that’s new”