In the spirit of continuing to share for anyone else out there either navigating therapy or considering it, here is the low down on session Four of trauma work.
We didn’t talk about the traumatic events in the last session, we mostly spent the time reflecting on the previous session and some broader considerations. It was a small respite in this process which I was grateful for. A slightly easier conversation grounded a lot in the here and now, and very practical in its considerations. The harder sessions bleed into my week, they consume my thinking, and drain my reserves. This more gentle sessions felt so much calmer and akin to my normal pragmatic approach.
So the biggest take aways this week were the homework…
Big Squishy Cuddles
The nicest bit of homework is to get in some big squishy cuddles with the girls. I often feel uncomfortable with being comforted and especially when Stephen is being caring and affectionate. It’s not that I refuse cuddles (well actually from Stephen I do often refuse them, or break away, or say I am busy) I love that guy to pieces but sometimes it is hard to enjoy the level of affection he wants to bestow. And if I am upset I always automatically fall into the build a fifty mile radius and back off everyone I’ve got this.
The girls were targeted because it does not feel as difficult with them. I am tasked with getting in some fun squishy cuddles, only when we are all good and happy, then to notice how I feel, if it is uncomfortable acknowledge it and it’s miss placed being.
How I am Different.
The next homework was to list all the ways I and my situation are different to mums. I have always harboured this secret fear that I could end up on a similar path to mum. I worry about the genetics of mental health, that there is some sleeping bear somewhere waiting to be woken up. I can see lots of similarities between me and mum, she was the fixer and the matriarch, both roles I have taken on, she had wonderful friends like me, an active mind…But less of the ways we might be similar the homework is to list all the differences so I have tried to focus on that.
It’s a strange dilemma there are some things I know without a shadow of a doubt I would never do like mum. But it is just that fear that in opening up the can of trauma worms I will find more than I bargained for. I don’t want my girls to ever experience even things like how depressed mum could get.
Feel Something Awful Now.
As I struggle to connect with difficult feelings in my history the suggestion is to find something difficult in my present to connect with. Feeling the hard stuff now feels like it should be easier than the hard stuff then. I have struggled a little to find reason to feel anything negative.
There was one occasion on a call in work, some started shouting at me and getting a little irate. I didn’t even get the choice to feel negatively back, my autopilot kicked in as it always does, I found myself immediately running through all my usual emotionally calming actions. Within five minutes I had calmly given them some in the moment feedback and we were both on level footing again. It didn’t feel right to let my emotions run away with me then, though I wonder if and when it will ever feel right.
The sense that emotions are some how dangerous, that they are unhelpful, at best something to be overcome, is something I hold to so tightly. Logically I know this is not always the case but it is so engrained that it feels like trying to erase a permanent marker with a rubber. Still I will keep looking for an opportunity to feel something negative and to analyse the feeling fully.
So that’s it, I am hoping next week will be another practical reflective week. I never know if continuing to share this journey is a good thing or not. I have no idea if there is someone out there that this speaks too. I wonder if one day I will look back on my ramblings and think I was crazy to continue to lay myself bare for all. But then how else do we break the stigma of mental health, we have to share and talk about it.