THERAPY: CRUTCH OR CAST

Deborah Adams

I have spent most of my adult life in therapy. First, as a Junior in high school. Then, when my close friend was in a car accident and almost died when I was 19. I had, for lack of a better word, a nervous breakdown. I couldn’t function. Luckily for me, the owner of my nanny school helped me find a therapist, rather than kicking me out.

I worked with Mindy for about 5 years until finances forced me to go to a clinic.

I was at the clinic for over ten years. Unfortunately, it was a place people go to get experience. So, I had a new therapist every year or two.

In all those years, I would say therapy was a crutch for me. Not that I am knocking crutches. Those therapists all helped me stay alive. Literally. I was actively or passively suicidal for much of that time. I wasn’t diagnosed with PTSD. Partially because it was too early.  Partially because I never let them know how bad it was inside me.

Therapy let me survive my marriage. It kept me stable enough to function and to work. I even healed some less damaged parts of myself.

In all those years, however, I never learned the lessons I needed to do life on my own. My superego was harsh, punishing. I expected nothing less than perfection from myself. Yet I accepted so little from those around me.

I was in survival mode. Frozen in who I had been when I was 9 years old. Desperate not to change or grow. After all, I had survived back then.  I didn’t know life, or other people, could even be safe.  So, I stuck with what I knew.

Then, in 1999, at 32, everything began to change. First, I voluntarily ended therapy. There was really nowhere else to go with it. Not when I wasn’t willing to look at the locked up, dissociated, frozen parts of myself. Not when I was in that marriage.

Second, my husband and I moved. Which meant leaving the nanny job I had been at for several years. A job I loved. A job that loved me. So much so that, after leaving it for a year, they rehired me.  Just 6 months before that move.

That move shattered both our lives. It ended up shattering our marriage. But those are stories for another day.

I stumbled alone through the end of my marriage and life for 5 years. I managed it, somehow. Though every endeavor failed in the long run. Then, in 2006, I met Jonna.

My life was falling apart. I was working as a telemarketer, cutting in the bathroom every shift and physically falling apart. Several months later, I was cutting so much (and so suicidal) that I ended up in a partial hospital program. Primarily because I refused to go into an inpatient facility.

My grand plan for that time was to prove that there were no options open to me.  I couldn’t even manage a 20 hours a week job. I no longer believed I could do anything meaningful. No longer believed I could make a difference.

What was the point of living, if only to survive? My parents had raised me to believe I had to do something earth shattering to justify my existence. I figured I would prove that, then be free to commit suicide.

Instead, a staff member suggested I go to college. More, that I was justified in collecting disability while I did that. It was a thin thread of hope. I took it.

I’d love to say that, from that moment on, therapy was no longer a crutch. Still, that thread of hope was a beginning.

Since I am sitting here now, having ended therapy about a month ago, it is apparent to me therapy with Jonna became a cast, rather than a crutch. And, to extend the metaphor, eventually psychic therapy. Like physical therapy after an accident, it allowed me to build up mental and emotional muscles.

True, I wasn’t quite ready. It came as an unwelcome surprise when she left for another job. However, I was ready enough.

I don’t know what will come next, whether I will feel the need for more “psychic therapy”. For today, I am doing fine.

Therapy helped me to replace the cruel and judgemental voices in my head with a balanced, reasonable voice based on hers. I learned to face my demons. Including flashbacks and impulsive urges to cut or die.

When I stood and faced them down, it became possible to work through the feelings. To heal so many broken parts and learn to nurture and protect many others.

Part of it was having enough time. We worked together for 14+ years. It was several years in before I let her glimpse the beginnings of the pain inside me. It was several more before I tore down a screen memory that hid horrible sexual and emotional abuse.

Less than a year ago I faced the ultimate, for me, secret of my father’s rape.

I still feel like my emotional muscles are a little flabby. Now, I do my psychic therapy at home. Alone, with my journal and that kind voice inside my head.

I find it unbearably sad, sometimes, that there are so many broken people in this world that never get past therapy as a crutch. I find it miraculous that I could.

I don’t know what lies ahead. I know I can face it, now.  And, if I need to, I can find a cast to hold me safe until I can walk again unaided.

Isn’t that a miracle? 

Published by Debi

I came upon shame naturally, I suppose. Before I was five I had experienced *finding my father during a suicide attempt *feeling responsible for the death of our puppies *Hearing my mother take a beating from my beloved father that had been aimed at me *being abandoned at a shopping mall All of those lead me to believe that I was fundamentally wrong. That I should not exist. As an adult I fell I to an open marriage and swinging. It was years after my divorce before I started to attack my memories. Although I was determined to find a way through the pain it was agonizingly slow. Today I consider myself healed from many of the things that I experienced . In this blog I will go back and forth. Exploring the past and expressing how I got free. Shame is agonizing. Some of it is good, natural. Today I live winning over shame.

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