Trauma Therapy Session 12: Post day 5. Balanced view on responsibility.

Sharing a journey through treatment to demystify the process for anyone nervous about starting therapy and also help me reflect and find the lessons to move me forward.


As so often the case not entirely the session I was expecting but so helpful.

I had a few things I wanted to sign post before we got into the main discussion. I mentioned how my hesitation about talking to Chris was in great part due to my desire to hold all the trauma from my past there in the past. I have often strongly felt that I must draw a line around the traumatic things. That they must stop with me. That I would never repeat the same patterns or behaviours, but my desire to not let the trauma free from its relegation to my history extended beyond the desire to create a better future. It also meant I would not give the past air time, focus, or a value through discussing it which it did not deserve. I would not give those moments any more life.

I always kind of felt it was my sh!t to carry, it stopped with me. I was the dam holding back from the world all the dark, disgusting situations which haunted me.

Chris flagged rightly so, that my belief might limit the value we could drive from our conversations. And I know he is right. I have been working against it, trying to force myself to speak but much of my effort, my energy, goes into over coming that belief that I should not be speaking about it, when I could free myself from it and apply the energy else where.

I sign posted a couple of other things which I might return to in a future post and then we got into the meat of the session. The homework I wrote about from the last session. The reason why I feel responsible…

https://alisonaderyn.com/2022/05/05/trauma-therapy-session-11-post-day-8-beliefs-we-dont-want/

As always Chris helped me navigate the uncharted waters, offering challenges and questions along the way. The light bulb moment was a tool he naturally weaved into the conversation the responsibility pie.

https://thinkcbt.com/images/Downloads/Other_CBT_Resources/THINK_CBT_EXERCISE_16_-_CBT_RESPONSIBILITY_PIE_CHART_V10.pdf

There is a great example above. The premise is you state your belief of how responsible you feel then work through a logical discussion of the variables and their responsibility in the outcome. Normally naturally concluding you had little or none.

As is often the way I was testing the boundaries of this approach and what we actually landed on were two pie charts. One a view of responsibility in which when we had worked through the logic I held none, 0% and one a pie chart of blame where I landed at 20%.

And I believed it. The logic was right. I didn’t really hold any responsibility. I liked to think when I was a child I was acting like a grown up but I wasn’t one.

I am going to reflect more on my blame pie. It still fees right to me that you can hold blame without responsibility. It’s interesting that I placed more blame with my dad than mum. And interesting that for most of the charts it was like for like, Dad held 40% responsibility and 40% blame, however mum was the only person who shifted 40% responsibility to 20% blame (her other 20% landed with me).

In hindsight that still feels right, for all the things mum did you got that sense there was love there. I was reflecting after the session on little things like when I had to go into hospital to have my tonsils out as a child. I woke up after surgery and no one was there. Mum was in hospital at the time so could not be there, but next to my bed was a little pot of flowers she had arranged be delivered. My dad who was at home and in my view had no reason not to be there, but was no where to be seen. It was scary but the staff were lovely.

With dad it always felt like we were at best an inconvenience, at worst… well at worst I don’t know the words. Perhaps a tool, or a toy to torment, a live in maid or a punch board. There were occasional glimmers of someone he could be, there were moments he could be loving or kind but they were sparks of possibility extinguished long before the kindling took.

I often find myself trying to unravel why he became the person he did. But I guess I will just have to accept I will never understand it.

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