I go to therapy weekly. It keeps me even keeled. For the most part.
This particular session waded into my youth and the constant battles within. The injuries, the pain, the mental damages from all sides from the beginning.
Any time I go this deep into those memories, it puts me in a very defensive place, after years of being told I was lying, or it didn’t happen, or the infuriating, “If that’s what you believe…’ pat on the head.
So actually being believed by people in positions to help, it’s a relief. No more gaslighting. No more selective memories.
Being heard is a lifeline. It also leads to new issues.
It starts with a reaction. And it’s been the same each time.
First, the words. We need to rethink how we speak to someone who has suffer trauma. It could just be me, but I’ve never enjoyed these particular phrases.
“It’s remarkable (or whatever word you wish to use) that you’ve made it this far.”
Another variation is, “It’s amazing you survived….”
Thanks for reminding me that death was an option. Thanks for letting me know that I shouldn’t be here. As someone who fights suicidal ideation, being told that it’s astonishing I haven’t died maybe isn’t the best thing. Just a thought.
“It’s remarkable you’ve fought this hard,”
The words don’t seem to hurt when you look at them on paper.
But when someone looks at you with disbelief and surprise. Almost fascinated that the person before them ran through a despicable gauntlet, it makes it so much worse. You once again feel like a freak.
Sometimes I would lash out. I would feel judged, like I was expected to prevent what has already occured.
Sometimes I would play it off. It’s no big deal, what else was I going to do, let us never speak of it again.
Yesterday, as the therapist listened, and reacted, and said the words and gave me the look, it was different.
I thanked him. For hearing me. For believing me. For knowing how hard it was to keep going. Not just surviving, but eventually learning how to thrive with the persistence and strength I have been forcefully taught. I have taken what was dealt to me and have made it a weapon.
It was like being recognized for completing an Iron Man race. Staggering across the finish line, torn up, soaking wet, and all you need is a drink, a hug and a nap. I will say, this is how I feel after most theraphy sessions. But I also have a clearer mind, and an affirmation that I am headed in the right direction.
I used to meet people who had a better life. Grown up with peace and happiness.
And I would be so angry. Almost personally attacked.
“Thanks for reminding the time I have been robbed of”. I can put away a lot of things to free myself of it, but not this. Not yet.
I would hate them and their family and how great their life is/has been. How dare they have parents who didn’t judge or stiffle you. Who didn’t know how to raise a child with violence or shame. I held that lead block of emotion like a shield. A constant reminder that trust and love only brought more hurt.
I found hate and anger to be exhausting. I couldn’t carry it all. Eventually it started to slowly slip off. Tiny shards of maddening rage melted as I walked through life. Until it was gone.
I wasn’t mad anymore. I was just tired. Of keeping myself in the damp dark of my past.
Those that have had the chance to grow up and become who they are without fear in their heart should be celebrated. Every time I hear a person tell a story about being a child without a shadow, it’s another win. A victory against violent actions and words. Bullies are pushed a little farther away, every day. No one will have he same stories we hear today.
I have heard the stories of many survivors and warriors (never victims), and I have learned from them, and vice versa. And I hoped I provided the relief from that moment that each person suffered. After is all, there are few things you can say to take the sting out of reliving pain.
Here iis the best I could do, please add your own.
“I am sorry that happened. I am here to listen,”
“I am happy you are here/safe/unharmed,”
“I believe you,”
Have a nice life