Lost Emotions

When I was young, most of my emotions were a dull throbbing pain inside of me. Most of what I felt was not even really the emotions that I thought they were. Mostly what I thought of  emotions was feelings of grief, rejection, terror, and sadness, in a surprising number of shades.

I didn’t know that until I was an adult and on my own, when slowly real emotions started seeping in and I had to figure out what they were and naming them and trying to find out what to do with them. I worked on healing for a long time. I had a wide range of emotions and they each could have different resonances and vibrations.

I started teaching my inners about emotions, as they emerged, worked on being in the world, and started feeling their feelings, their loss, and their sorrow. A lot of healing happened. We made a lot of progress.

I went to several different therapists. Some things worked, some things didn’t, some therapists were healing, some other therapists were godawful and wounded me. I always had my feelings.

I was trying to find a new therapist while having a lot of flashbacks. I had contacted several only to be told that I had to go to one year of DBT first. I explained that I was not in need of DBT and didn’t want it.

I couldn’t find a therapist who did trauma therapy for DID clients who had experienced ritual abuse. They kept insisting that they knew my functioning and skill level better than I did. No, they didn’t. They didn’t know anything about me. Finally I gave up and got into a DBT program, because I needed to have someone to see in therapy while going through my disability claim. I hated DBT.

Being coerced into doing DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) changed my emotions. It supressed all my emotion, no matter what I was working on. The two therapists I saw individually, at different times, were both awful. They interrupted me when I was talking. They changed the subject. They ignored what I was going through.

I told them that I was dissociative enough, I didn’t need more skills to dissociate from what I was going through. I even got that from supposed DID/trauma therapists. They were wrong.

I was a Christian and believed in keeping my spirituality out of my therapy and yet the creator of DBT stole aspects of Buddhism and especially Zen and Tibetan Buddhism and put them directly into DBT and then tried to say it wasn’t religion, because she was so stupid she didn’t know that Zen was Buddhism, even after studying it for years. It was my right to decide how much I wanted to share on my spiritual and/or religious life. I had a right not to have another religion forced upon me. I was against practicing another religion and my concerns were ignored and actively invalidated.

I believe in telling myself I am a good person. I need that to counteract the self-loathing and self-hated. I was told that neither good or bad were descriptors I should use. It took me years to believe, even in a small way, that I was good and deserved to be loved. I wasn’t going to give that up.

They actually tried to tell me that the skills the were teaching were not dissociative, but rather associative. They weren’t.

They actually tried to tell me that they didn’t judge me or their clients in the group, but instead accepted us all right where we were at in our lives. I wish I could say that was true. That never happened. I would think the concept of forced change negates the concept of acceptance and evaluating someone as being all right where they are in their life.

The therapists were on the side of other therapists in the clinic, rather than finding out what happened in any incident, before judging me. Yet judging the clients was something that they weren’t supposed to be doing. I prefer that a therapist is there for me, rather for someone else who isn’t a client. I never thought that would happen, but it does.

The last time I was in DBT it had managed to supress a lot of my emotions. Maybe they are really there, at times I see myself acting as though I am feeling love, or loyalty, or something else. Maybe they are there, I just don’t know where there is. I feel as though I’ve lost my emotions. But the truth is someone buried them and now I have to find them again.

6 thoughts on “Lost Emotions

  1. Sounds awful, Kate, I’m so sorry. I’ve read about DBT, but only academically. What I read is it was developed for people with BPD to work on stopping the repeated self-injury, suicide attempts and quitting therapy. I could see it working for someone with BPD, but not for a survivor that didn’t have BPD, since it’s not empowering, like regular therapy for survivors is supposed to be IMHO. DBT seemed to me more like a kind of really structured coaching rather than therapy, and it’s quite directive. I’m not sure why they would want to use it with someone with DID. Seems off to me.

    I’m wondering if it’s another example of how freaked non-survivors and institutions get about extreme trauma, and how they don’t want to hear about it. They just want us to shut up about the abuse and pull it together already. I think that therapists that can’t deal with hearing the horror unflinchingly shouldn’t work for/with survivors. I always test my therapists on that first off. If I get that they can’t hear the truth straight, I know it’s not a fit.

    Good and healing thoughts to you,


    • Hi SDW,

      Yes I agree with you. I didn’t want to do DBT for a time. The insurance companies love it, because for the people that it is created for it does do what it’s purpose is. But then they were willing to pay for it for survivor clients because it saves them so much money. Here in my area it is a huge focus for survivors, which is exactly the opposite of what they need.

      First, for the therapist in my area, it was teach no skills, and expect survivors to be okay with talking about flashbacks and all the pain they are going through while ignoring their need to build support and skills, to decreeing they need skills that they don’t need and expecting them not to feel, not to do memory work, and to control when they have flashbacks. I actually had one therapist get mad at me because I had a flashback on the bus on my way to therapy, who believed that showed that I needed DBT and was not very healed. Ridiculous and insane.

      I didn’t need it or want it, but I really needed the therapeutic support at the time and didn’t want to use meds. I found DBT traumatizing and triggering and often had flashbacks and panic attacks directly caused by a specific incident during the class times. Good and healing thoughts to you as well.



  2. Wow. That therapist really didn’t know the first thing about PTSD did he/she? suppress flashbacks as a way to heal? not bloody likely. Have you ever tried the 12 step groups for survivors? I went to SIA (survivors of incest anonymous) for several years in early recovery. Specific groups vary of course depending on the people, but it was good for me, and by donation to cover room rent. It was intense, but the social support was amazing.



    • Hi SDW,

      Yes I did try those type of support groups. I didn’t find a lot of support there. Here in the area where I live they don’t have them anymore. There is one meeting for women at night once a week in a very unsafe neighborhood, several bus rides away. So I wouldn’t even try that. I have considered going to some adult children of alcoholic meetings, as those are still active here. I don’t really fit in there either, but it seems to be the only other option right now.

      The therapist was just newly graduated and still working on being licensed for her social work masters. She was just parroting what she was being told by the psychiatrist who was overseeing her work. I only saw her for three sessions. They both struck me as idiots. She really believed that survivors were supposed to supress their flashbacks when out in public, when not convenient, etc, and that it was possible and desirable to do so. Ha.

      Good and healing thoughts to you.



  3. Kate, I have tears streaming down my face as I read this post. Tears for the pain of your experience of being traumatizing when you tried to seek help. And tears because the exact same thing happened to me. I too was sent to DBT three years ago and am still trying to handle the “trauma” from the DBT. I still think, “Why did she send me there – I already learned how to “pretend” and dissociate when I was 5.” I wish the MHPs would listen when we tell them that DBT isn’t helpful for cptsd and trauma survivors. I’m so sorry for your pain. Thinking of you, Gracie


    • Hi Gracie,

      Thank you. I’m sorry you went through this as well. Ethereal Highway, over at blogspot, also deals with this. She also has a links section on the right hand side of her blog screen called, it’s not just me- the cbt/dbt disasters of abuse survivors. She also has some great posts of her own experiences with dbt and the aftermath.

      It really is the opposite of what we need.

      Good and healing thoughts to you.



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