Friday, January 22, 2010

Taking Care of Myself

My sister and I have been discussing our health issues lately. Both of us suffer from quite a few problems. (I wish to protect my sister's privacy so will just discuss my specific issues here).
Many of my problems are gynecological and urological issues. Interesting. I read somewhere once that survivors of sexual abuse will often have these problems because of the Secret. It is as if our body is telling the world what our voices can't.
I have never been one who wanted to go to the doctor. I often ignore symptoms, thinking they will go away. I once walked around with a kidney stone for 3 weeks before going to the doctor. He couldn't believe that I was able to wait that long. What he didn't know was that the pain of sexual abuse is much worse than any physical pain. I have always had high pain tolerance.
Another issue is that sense of not thinking I am worth taking care of, so I wait a long time before going to the doctor. I don't want to bother him.
I have not treated my body very well over the years either. My abuser didn't respect my body. So why should I? I used to smoke. I still struggle with overeating. I know I am an emotional eater. No doubt about that.
I am not going to blame my abuser for the fact that I have had kidney stones. But his abuse of my body certainly taught me from an early age that my body was not worth caring for. There was so much pain associated with my body that I wished to ignore it. I am trying to overcome that now. But it is hard to change this overnight.
It took me years to even realize that all of this was happening. Now I try to take better care of myself and to treat myself - my mind and my heart and my body and my soul - with more care. It is not easy. It is still a struggle but one I try to work at, every day.


Marj aka Thriver said...

I think many of us have a high pain threshold. But, I'm still amazed you were able to go with kidney stone pain that long! Wow!

Being "In"our bodies, listening to its signals and caring for our bodies is a very common survivor issue. I've improved greatly, but I do still struggle with this.

Would you submit this to the blog carnival? I think it's an important read. The next edition is 1/29. Thanks!

sarah said...

As I read this I kept thinking, when we don't scream our bodies will. Praying you and your sister both feel better. Sarah

rox said...

Colleen I so understand this issue . How we get into a stae where things are not going well so we treat stress by abusing ourselves . How starnge is that !
It is a form of mild depression I think . Get down in the dumps so we end up laying around , eat , smoke etc.
I found not only with my sexual abusers but also all the other negative relationships I had as I looked after them I began looking after myself . I stopped smoking at home , driving etc. but I would only smoke when out with this one friend . It was so wierd . I'd go 2 weeks etc. without touching , craving or even thinking about a ciggerette but as soon as we got together I'd smoke .
As soon as God showed me how to deal with the relationship and I followed His instructions .I quit smoking altogether !
I'm working on the putting my yoga and daily exercise back into my life now too . I actually had to stop seeing that friend all together and turns out it wasn't a friendship anyway. That relationship drained me .
I get the doctor thing totally as my main abuser was a doctor . I am much more comfortable with female doctors . Our family doc is a male and I do go to him for sore throats etc. but for a pap or any female type thing I go to a female doc. Some of my abusers were also female but I so far have not had any uncomfortable or any triggers in my relationships with female doctors . My last one ( she retired )even had homebirths for her children so we really connected .
We have like a doctor hotline here we can call to find doctors who are taking new patients . Do you have anything like that ? You could ask for female doctors in your area.
I've a great fear of dentsist not because I was abused by one but our first dentist worked out of his home and without proper pain meds etc. I know it sent me into shock as a child. Now my dentist is aware of this and he is so gentle asking if I'm ok etc. I plan meditations I will use to relax before going in etc. He has a beautiful pic of a saint done in the Byzintine art above the chair I sit in it is very comforting .
hang in there Colleen and just keep working on it that is all you can do . Most of all treat yourself well it is good not bad remember ;-)

Patricia Singleton said...

Going to the dentist is also hard for incest survivors because having someone in your face like the dentist is sets off your fight or flight responses. I find myself having to release the tension in my body over and over again with the dentist because I unconsciously tighten every muscle in my body each time the dentist gets near me. I also have to tell myself to breathe. Your body does deserve to be taken care of.

shhh said...

Oh, I hear you. I've been putting off a visit to the gynecologist for over a year. I did think about making an appointment recently, so I'll count that as progress. :)

April_optimist said...

Big (((hugs))). For me, taking care of my body only happened as I worked on my emotional healing. As I began to accept my emotional self, I could begin to accept my physical self as well. (I can't tell you how much I used to hate my body for what I perceived to be its betrayal of me!) The good news is that I'm now probably in better physical shape than I was 20 years ago. I'm healthier and happier physically as well as emotionally. Here's hoping that as you make your emotional healing journey you find the rest of it begins to fall into place as well.

Lily said...

I'm sorry to hear of these pains! I think I have a high pain threshold... not really sure! I have been lucky enough not to have much experience with physical pain, but I don't know how you had a kidney stone for 3 weeks. My BF had them and I could tell they were painful. My dad had one for 5 hours and my mom said he was wailing like a baby!

Colleen said...

Marj, I agree. I think many of us do have high pain thresholds for the reason I mentioned. I still struggle too even though I am more aware. I will submit it. Thanks.

Sarah, thank you for your prayers. I like how you put it - when we don't scream, our bodies will.

rox, thanks for sharing. I do not have problems going to a male doctor. I just have a problem going to any doctor. But I am much better than I used to be. Thanks for bringing up dentists.

Patricia, thank you for bringing up dentists. I forgot to mention that but I know that is a real problem for many. It is for me too. I am terrified. But I found a gentle dentist who is very caring and it is better. A little.

shhh, that is progress!! I have a wonderful GYN doc. Male. Kind and friendly and really cares about his patients. Makes it easier. But I still stall about making that appt.

April, I agree totally! I have found that I have improved greatly. Just not all the time!

Lily, the kidney stone was the worst physical pain I have ever endured. One of the reasons I lasted that long was it was not constant. If it had been, I would never have lasted 24 hours! Thanks for your visit.

Ivory said...

Wonderful post! It is true that we often live our lives by the way we were treated in our childhood.

Colleen said...

Ivory, thank you. I think it is good just to be more aware of why we do what we do! Sometimes that is enough to stop doing it.

Patricia Singleton said...

A big part of learning to love myself was about learning to accept and then love and take care of my body. Really listening when it hurts or is tired and just needs to rest or take a nap. For me, this was a very important part of my recovery.

Colleen said...

Patricia, amen. I am getting better at it.