I am having a hard time and don’t know what to do, or who I am. I am recently going through a divorce. There are many reasons behind, but we both have issue that need to be delt with. I have a problem of not being able to fully trust and confide in a person and have a problem about talking and showing emotion. I have blocked out my childhood memories from my mind. I have no desire to remember them. My childhood was a very rough childhood. My life was almost taken twice when I was young. Once when I was born and another when I was in 8th grade. I had a very serious illness that could have killed me and left me blind. But it didn’t thank goodness. The doctors even told my parents I was going to die. Also growing up I never really had any friends. Ever since I could remember I was made fun of. I was called a girl and stupid and other nasty names. People I thought were freinds to me weren’t. I mean in yearbooks and stuff they would write the nastiest things in there about me. All of my yearbooks growing up are basically blacked out with permanite marker. Because of the comments that were made. So I never was able to confide in anyone. My family life was one that we didn’t talk about things or show emotion to people. It wasn’t until probably my 11th grade year in high school that I actually made friends and they respected me for who I was and what I liked. That is also when I was moved to another state. Now I have a hard time talking to people about things and letting people in my life. Which is not a good thing when it comes to relationships. What steps should I take to try and change. What do I need to do to myself to try and talk to people about things in general and be able to open up and be in a healthy relationship. How do I break down all the walls that I have built up to protect myself. What are your suggestions?
- Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
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Given the type of childhood experiences you are describing it is understandable and predictable that you would have walls built around yourself for protection from other people and that you would find it difficult to trust anyone. Whatever it was that threatened your life twice during your childhood it seems apparent that you were abused. When you use terms like “rough childhood,” and keeping those memories blocked from your mind does suggest some terrible episodes of abuse and suffering leading to the possibility of your being killed or murdered.
To add insult to injury, the children at school targeted you as a scapegoat and gave you are really difficult time. It is unfortunate that children can be capable of cruelty but with no guidance from their families it is all too common and occurrence that some one is picked out for abuse at school and in the neighborhood.
Because of the depth and seriousness of the problems you describe I want to suggest you enter into psychotherapy so that you can resolve the traumas of the past, learn new and healthier ways of relating to people and make a healthier adjustment to your life.
In many ways, what you describe about yourself is that you are experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We know that there is no limitation on how long ago the trauma occurred for it to continue to interfere with one’s life in the present. The fact that you were a child and your sense of safety and security were violated, the intensity of the trauma you experienced would be awful.
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One way that psychotherapy has been defined is that it is a “corrective emotional experience.” What is meant by that is that the patient finally has the opportunity to re examine relating through the relationship to the therapist. This aspect of therapy is referred to as “transference” in which the patient expects that the therapist will behave just the way people did in the past. In other words, the patient transfers all the experiences learned in the past onto the therapist in the present. This transference and is where the corrective experience begins as the patient learns that their previous expectations and fears do not come true. By the way, this is referred to as psychodynamic or psychoanalytic psychotherapy.
Whether the therapy is psychodynamic or cognitive behavioral therapy, the transference occurs and the learning about new and healthier ways of relating begins.
I want to urge you to enter into therapy as soon as possible so that you can begin the healing process, feel less lonely and come to have satisfying relationships in which you can trust other people.
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