Treatment Abuse, Behavior Modification, Thought Reform > Spouses of Survivors

Relationships in general

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Sorry if this belongs somewhere else on this forum.  After 14 months at the Academy at Swift River, I've found that I've had significant issues involving opening up about my experience to anyone, let alone a prospective significant other.  I feel almost incapable of real intimacy with a partner, and I have a lot of issues concerning paranoia and trust thanks to my experiences.  Aside from the extreme difficulty of trusting new people in my life, I find  my reactions to perceived betrayals of trust disproportionate.  Hell, I get emotional if I see something on tv that reminds me of it.  It's cost me a lot of pain and suffering, almost ruined a lot of the friendships that kept me from reverting to suicide in some of my worse moments.  The rage just flares up and consumes me at the mere mention of friends who have turned on me, even those that I want to forgive, even years later.  I often think that I'm never going to be able to enjoy a real relationship, partially due to my experiences, partially due to my own pessimism about relationships given my past.  The only family I have that understood any of this was my mother, because of a similar experience in a mental hostpital.  Unfortunately, just as we started to love and trust each other and work together, as I learned how my father, stepmother, psychologist and grandparents had pressured her into sending me away, she died of cancer.  So here I am, without a single trusted elder, owning a house at 21, renting out rooms to afford the bills, dealing with roommates who deal cocaine behind my back, bring home surprise pets, wake me up when I'm trying to sleep between a job and school, a really twisted family that doesn't acknowledge anything I've said about my experience and who I end up fighting with so much I can't even think about recovering from ASR, let alone dealing with my childhood abuse or recovering from my mother's death.  But I don't want to complain, I want to work on it.  And I know no man is an island, but my entire support network consists of a handful of friends, many of which know none of this, a few of which who know a decent amount, and only a couple who really know a lot.  I see a therapist, and he's been a tremendous help in processing all this, but it isn't enough.  Since my biological family is harmful if anything, a significant other could be a very good thing.  I've done as well as I can on my own, and my future looks good, I'm on my way towards a career I love, I have good friends, I've been taking care of my physical and mental health as well as I can, and I've managed to work through a lot of my depression and appreciate the good things in my life as much as possible.  I've managed to live my life ethically as well.  I don't lie, I don't cheat in any way, sexually or competitively, I don't resort to violence, I work hard, I treat my friends with respect and generosity, I've done everything I can to help my little sister by trying to help my parents to learn from their mistakes in the past, and by being a good role model for her, trying to teach her self respect by praising her as much as possible, since she doesn't get much of that from her parents, and trying to help her with a compulsive eating disorder, as I struggle with my own.  I'm proud of who I am and all I've accomplished, both for myself and what I've done for others.  I can sincerely say that I've improved the lives of every friend I've had, and been kind to strangers, meeting courtesy with generosity, and hostility with respectful communication, not violence or antagonism.
I haven't been perfect, but I've done as well as I could.  I can't do any better on my own.  I'm reaching out for help.
I'd sincerely appreciate any advice from survivors and their significant others, as all I've wanted to do since leaving ASR is to put it behind me and live a happy life, and I know that a relationship couldn't do any good if I can't address these trust issues, and then only if I were with someone who understood all this, so I need to be able to explain it too.  If any of you out there can help, I don't think I need to tell you how much this matters to me.

it has taken me 2 decades to talk about my program experience and I have the same issues as you.  Intimacy is very hard.  Trust is very hard.  I'm able to be a wonderfully kind, generous and loyal friend, but I don't see the same qualities in most people that I meet and then I become hyper-critical of them and their shortcomings. I'm just hoping to someday meet someone who has been through what I have been through and has the same feelings about it.

not sure really what to say because it's all pretty confusing to me too.  Just know that you are not alone in the way you feel.


I know what you mean.[ This Message was edited by: Exit Plan on 2006-02-23 20:11 ]

Thanks everyone.  It's been really good for me just to hear other people say they've gone through the same thing, or something similar enough that it really relates, even if it's affected us differently as time went on.  I'm so glad I found this place, I've been unable to talk about so much of this stuff that I thought I'd forgotten most of it.  When I found this site memories started coming back to me so intense I had to take a day off just to process it.  It's weird, but the people I've had the most success relating to are people who went to jail or juvenile hall.  Even when they don't understand, I've found them to be the most willing to listen and to try and understand.  I think that over the years I've been more vocal about my experiences than most, but always in describing the school, or the counselors, or the wilderness experience.  I've talked about those things with complete strangers, acquaintances, etc. ad nauseum without a problem.   I don't mind that at all.  But when it comes to really saying what it was like, how it hurt me, what it feels like now, or any of the things I've been able to talk about on this forum, I've barely said a thing in years, even to my best friends or my therapist, people I've actually learned to trust.  Now that I've started to talk about these things, I'm able to get some closure just by the virtue of being 5 years older, and being able to put words to the experience that I didn't have at the time.
Now that I've read extensively on psychology, cults, sociology, behavior modification, etc., and had time to process the experience and read other people's accounts of their experiences, it's becoming a lot easier to really deal with some of my issues related to my experience.  Before ASR I'd never heard of LGAT seminars, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or Skinner's experiments with behaviorism.  I didn't know about the sordid history of Aspen Education Group or WWASPS.  I had no choice but to rationalize what I'd been through given my limited base of knowledge as a 17 year old who'd just finished 14 months in a therapeutic boarding school and was entering prep school for the first time, less than 3 weeks later.
Unfotunately this rationalization often took the form of justifying what I'd been through by exhonerating my former jailers and my family, internalizing my own culpability in the process as a necessary explanation for going there in the first place.  This logic trap took years to find my way out of.  If my parents loved me, they wouldn't hurt me.  Therefore ASR was a good thing.  If ASR wasn't a good thing, then my parents had hurt me, and therefore didn't love me.  I wasn't old enough to appreciate that my parents could love me and hurt me at the same time, and that this was a reflection of their own imperfections as human beings, not mine.
     When I was able to see them as people, (not as the larger-than-life antagonists or heroes that we see our parents as before we realize they're only human) I was able to understand that they'd made mistakes, and that these mistakes did not reflect on me as a person.  In the past few days I've been able to process so much of my experience that I barely remembered.  I just want to let everyone know how happy I am to be here, both or the closure it's bringing me, (fuck, just reading over some of the things I've written here has been a huge help) and for the opportunity to do what I can for others by sharing my own experiences, and shedding some light on the truth behind the multi million dollar troubled teen industry.


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