CPT: Cognitive Processing Therapy

My friend Tracy (from Trees Have Feelings) sent this series to me last night This American Life – Ten Sessions.

It’s so great!

I love therapies that get right in there and heal that sh*t.

This American Life – Ten Sessions

Please share if you’ve tried this!

Angela

Mending: Repairing the Trust Between Myself and Humanity One Mistake at a Time.

 

Kitsukuroi: (n.) (v. phr.) “to repair with gold”; the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

February 4, 2014  by Dasha Cohen

Six years ago today, I was raped. And before your brain gets stuck in the details, let me just clear it up so you can judge me now instead of waiting till the end of the page: It was a guy I had met earlier that night, he was a friend of my roommate, I drank too much, we came home, I said no, he didn’t care. I was wearing a pair of jeans, boots, a long-sleeved thermal, a fleece vest, and a down coat.

It messed me up. For years it affected my work, my relationships, my sleep, my health—it was like a cancer, slowly spreading into every part of my life.

Nothing was the same after it happened. I didn’t love the same, I didn’t laugh the same, I didn’t even move the same. I started to cover my body up with layers of sweaters and weight brought on by alcohol and over-eating. Wine and pizza were my Prozac, and I took too much.

I couldn’t really talk to my family anymore. I hated myself for what had happened and I couldn’t let someone like me dirty the lives of people like them. They were good enough people. They had raised me and loved me. They weren’t perfect, but they deserved someone more than a daughter, a niece, a sister, like me.

I let go of most of my friends. They were better off. At work I was irritable, irresponsible, and operated with a hair-trigger temper. I cried a lot, raged more. Before I was raped I was working toward going to graduate school. I let that go, too. I didn’t believe I was smart enough or steady enough to get in, let alone succeed and graduate.

Before long I was stripped of my friends, my career, my sense of purpose, and my family. Where once had a stood a lively, healthy, career-driven girl there was only me: hung over, working in a liquor store, feeling only the gray and a lingering headache.

I stayed numb for the first five years after the rape. Food, alcohol, work, books, even pills. I went for anything that could turn my head and make me not look at the pit that was my life. For five years.

But this is where it gets really confusing. In those five years, the ones where I let go of so much and fell so far down a hole, I still managed to get married, have a baby, start a business, and finally get well.

I had split myself. Some call it compartmentalizing. Somewhere along the way I became two people, one who only went downhill and the other who had everything to gain. There was the old me that had been doing pretty well until she let herself get raped, and then there was the new me, the one that married the nice Jewish boy from temple. I lived as these two women, the good and the bad, the dark and the light. Sometimes the good one, the wife and mother, propelled my body through my days, smiling at friends, getting her work done, weeding her garden, wearing her mask like a pro. She was in complete denial. She had never been raped.

Other days, and mostly nights, the bad side burned. She stewed in her insecurities and self-perpetuated crises. She drank. She cried. She let the ghosts walk all over her and no matter what she did, no matter how much she ate or drank or screamed, the rape happened over and over again in her head.

I survived because I cut myself in two. I lived like this, the person who was raped and the person who wasn’t until they finally met. Then all hell broke loose.

It was March, a Saturday. The baby was napping, my husband was drinking coffee, and I was poking around the Internet. A story came up about numbing through food, alcohol, and drugs. It was about avoiding whatever hurt had had happened to you until the act of avoidance was what destroyed you, not the thing itself.

That was the moment that the two sides of me turned and saw each other. The treaty that had been reached between them was broken. The girl I was before I was raped was furious to discover she had lost so much of her old life and purpose—the grad school, the freedom of being single, the friends, the travel. The woman who has now a wife and mother, who had lived in denial, was shocked and horrified to finally feel what had happened. They were both in a lot of pain. I began the battle to fix it all, to restore my life, reconcile the two sides of me, and get through not only the rape itself, but the fallout. I’m still working on the fallout.

At the beginning of this process, I wanted to hate men. My husband was the nearest target. On the worst night after I began my recovery, a night where my husband and I sat fighting and crying on the bedroom floor, I got up and ran out. I grabbed my keys, got in my car, and just drove. I was furious with him, with me, with all of it. Bless him, he has been, and he has tried, to be there for me and see me through it, but at that moment I needed to be without him.

At the gas station not far from our house I sat barefooted in my car trying to breathe through the adrenaline and panic that had thrown me there. I watched the men coming and going from the convenience store and wondered which of them were predators, if not all. I needed to call someone. I needed to hear the voice of someone who loved me. And the only three people that came to mind were men.

I flipped my phone over and over in my hand, thinking of those three men, thinking that they could never do what was done to me. As much as I wanted to hate men, I couldn’t. My husband, my son, and the three men that walk this earth like my brothers are good people, good souls.

As I made my way through the next six months of therapy, research, and processing, I held onto that night. I held onto the thought that not all men were bad, that not all people were bad. What choice did I have.

Today, on the anniversary of the rape, I was home with my son when the plumbers came. A pipe had frozen out back and snapped clean off. Record cold temps had turned my normally passive Pacific Northwest February into a real winter month. Since I was raped home hasn’t been home. Having men in the house, especially men I don’t know, has been enough to set me into an irritable panic. Over the years most parties and dinners have been preceded by anxiety and vomiting.

The two plumbers, one young and one old, kicked the dirt and bent their heads to the cold and the wind. They had done all they could until my landlord could get there in another twenty minutes or so. The young one wasn’t wearing much of a coat. I left them to it, and then went inside and locked the door.

My son was napping down the hall. Suddenly I found myself wondering about that young man’s mother. He was out there, no hat, no gloves, a whisper of a coat on him. He was well spoken, and looked like a former college kid down on his luck. He was clearly just an assistant and not a trained plumber. What would his mother say to me? I thought of my own son and wondered if some nice lady would let him stand in the howling cold while she retreated into her warm home and paralyzing fears.

I unbolted the door and asked him in for coffee.

The older one said he was too dirty for the house and took to the truck. While the younger one and I drank our coffee and waited the ten minutes for my landlord to come, we made small talk about the weather, the house, the kitchen table my husband had refinished. And I didn’t panic or shake. I didn’t feel the need to run for the bathroom. There was a man in my house that I didn’t know and he was nothing more than just that—a young man having a cup of coffee.

I was raped six years ago today. That young man, whoever he was, proved that to me. It was six years ago, not yesterday. And in my heart, I finally know that.

Dasha Cohen