Signs and Symptoms

Over the past few days I have started to come into focus, for the first time since I returned from Trinidad. Ideas for what I want to do in my classes are coming to me. I play music (as opposed to preferring to sit in meditative silence). I can feel some pieces of academic writing knocking at my door. I want to go outside. Normal errands are no longer so burdensome.

Every day I am more relaxed. It is as though I were at a beach resort or something, where the sun and the lapping of the waves gets into you more and more deeply as the days go on. All of these are symptoms.

I have been having some other symptoms in the past few months, which I also had when I was engaged in that relationship with the emotionally abusive therapist. They included:

+ unexplained fatigue, or fatigue as a sort of delayed reaction
+ drained feeling, feeling I might never have energy again
+ odd outbursts, that is to say, displaced reactions
+ desire to flee, feeling that I must leave this city now
+ loss of shine to skin and hair
+ difficulty concentrating, blurred vision
+ deep involvement in picky projects (e.g. coding, ceramics, mosaics, weeding) which demand one’s full attention, yet not deep engagement with oneself or broader surroundings
+ loss of interest in myself, i.e. in my normal activities
+ excessive interest in finding ways to make life seem pleasant
+ severe stomach and digestive problems
+ severe muscular tension

It is possible to say that this only describes fatigue, stress, and minor depression or anxiety. It is also possible to say that these indicate a more serious mental illness. But what interests me is, they are precisely the ones my mother has had, although we never understood, or never articulated why. I realize now, for my own case, that they are signs of an emotionally abusive relationship.

Other things I did when I was engaged with that therapist, which I have done in the last little while, and which I do not normally do, are see medical personnel for uncontrollable fear and trembling (including in emergency rooms, in the middle of the night), and contact social service agencies for advice.

The error I made with that therapist, was to suspend disbelief, and accept his ideas in too open-minded a manner. I also made that error in my most recent relationship. It was like living with my parents again, and it was very frightening. But it was instructive, because in retrospect, I now see what verbal and emotional violence are, and how to recognize, by how I feel physically, whether they are happening to me.

I do not know why people so often try to justify, rationalize, or minimize abusive behavior. I do not know why mental health professionals, and even casual observers, do not recognize the symptoms, or say very much to victims when they see them. I do not know why abuse is only considered serious if it is physical. I do not know why talking about it, is considered so indiscreet.

For now, I would say that if you find yourself wincing when someone touches you, or wanting to step back from them in a conversation, or you are often tense or uncomfortable in their presence, or tired after spending time with them, there may be some emotional violence going on.

If you know someone who likes to engage you in conversations which worry you or scare you, you are being abused. If that person, when you do finally agree to be a little more paranoid about whatever it was they wanted you to worry about, then gives you the cold shoulder and leaves you alone on the emotional limb you only climbed out upon for their sake, you are being manipulated and abused.

If, when you request that someone stop a behavior which is hurtful to you, and they respond that your having brought the issue up, is actually more hurtful to them, and you respond by feeling pain throughout your body and saying, ‘I’m sorry, it’s all right, I shouldn’t have asked in the first place’, then you are definitely a victim of verbal/emotional abuse.



~ by Z on August 7, 2006.

One Response to “Signs and Symptoms”

  1. […] Seminario Permanente This blog grows backward, not forward in time, as it is the backup for my first Professor Zero site, on Blogger. Professor Zero is still current on WordPress. The post most recently added to Z Blackground was Signs and Symptoms. […]

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