Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Scream

Back when I was inpatient, and I had group therapy a million times a day, we had a group where the therapist decided to practice "scream therapy".

He had each of us find a spot in the room. Then told us to scream our hearts out. I could not do it. Not a peep came out of my lips. I actually covered my ears, closed my eyes, and curled up in a ball. The sound, the emotions, and my own desire to scream was too much for me.

I spent a lot of time in the mountains. I WANTED to scream. I felt like if I could just scream loud enough and long enough, all the pain would get out of me. When I was out with Sunny and BJ, I'd try. I'd yell and swear, but there was something about screaming that was too... primal... for me.

This afternoon, BJ got an email from his son. BJ asked, "If you sister was being beaten by her husband, what would you counsel her to do?" He only read one line to me, and it was too much.

I screamed. And screamed. And screamed.
No swear words. No words at all. Just a scream from deep inside.

Don't talk about the abuse. Don't tell anyone that he beats you. Don't share the secrets. Protect him. Protect the marriage.

I BELIEVED this. I BELIEVED that to use my voice to share what happened to me was wrong. I WAS WRONG. My voice is the only thing I can use. My voice is the only power I have to stop abuse. (That and my ability to walk away from the abuse.)

It turns out, I can scream. Really loud and really long.

(And if I were answering the question, What counsel would you give your sister? I'd tell her to get out. Leave. Then sort out the whys and what-fors. Once she is away, THEN decide if the relationship is worth working for. If it has gotten to the point of abuse, there is A LOT that she is going to have to learn and fight through. It won't just go away, and she needs a lot of help and support. That said, each person has their own journey... I would want my sister to know she is loved. No. Matter. What.)


  1. Outstanding post, Jen. I agree 10000%- get out of the abuse. Ge some safe distance. THEN decide what to do.

    I loved your descriptions of not being able to scream, that it felt too primal. I remember in therapy of my own, my therapist commenting on something I had shared with her about what had happened to me as a child and she said, "I know you are angry. Scream. Hit the couch. Get it out." And, like you, I could not. For some reason, I did not want her to see my anger, or pain. I felt like it only belonged to me. If I shared it with her, I would lose my anger, lose those pieces of me, and I did not want to. So, I was also silent with her.

    But, like you, I, too, came to a point when something else triggered the screaming, and loud and out it came. (I should have just hung on to the screaming- I also started beating up a cement wall at the same time, and broke my right hand in three places. THAT part I would do without.)

    You are SO profound when you wrote "My voice is the only thing I can use. My voice is the only power I have to stop abuse. That and my ability to walk away from the abuse." And, you also added another piece, a little bit ago, when you got involved with legislation to change things. We can also fight abuse by getting the law involved, and by fighting against legislation that takes power away from those who have been abused and gives it to those who do the abusing.

    You are smart. I like that.

    Love and respect, always.

  2. I don't scream.
    Maybe I should.
    I don't know if I could.

  3. I have always found screaming to do me a lot of good.

  4. Duck, Thank you. Its interesting that you were scared to give your anger to someone else. I was terrified of assimilating it. The only way I could feel anger was to be dissociated. I was afraid that if I let the anger become a part of me, I would be like all of the people who had hurt me. (And when I screamed, I also kicked a box... but it was empty, so nothing happened other than it flew across the room. In therapy, I got to beat a couch cushion with a tennis racket. :)

    Yeti - When you're ready, I highly suggest it. I couldn't force it... It just came out when it was ready.

    Dom - :) It will be interesting for me to see if I use this more in the future, or if it was just a one time thing...

    Dan - Thank you!

  5. I can't scream yet - I don't know if I ever will - anger is still scary for me. But I love that you've found a way to scream and get emotions OUT, not in.

  6. I believe I read that letter too. It was disgusting. Screaming is an appropriate response :p

  7. Amanda - You will. One day you will.

    Hypatia - You did read that letter, and it feel very validating that you thought screaming was an appropriate response. Ugh.

  8. Wow!
    Sweetie... just... wow!