Therapy: I’ve changed, but what’s better?

We live in a ROI culture. Everyone wants to know what bang they’re getting for their buck. I’m not a therapist, but my experience of being in therapy has taught me that there are seldom quick returns. There are few immediate interventions that will yield any clear short-term results.

My journey continues to wind its way on, rarely progressing on a linear trajectory. After a year of pretty intensive treatment, I’ve yet to experience any dramatic change. But that doesn’t mean nothing has shifted. Instead of noticing any difference, I have to remind myself of the hundreds of tiny adjustments that are happening all the time.

I think part of the reason I am held back in my recovery is the fact that I’m dealing with a fairly ‘live’ situation. I can remember feeling envious of some of my fellow inpatients at the hospital, because their crap was all in the past.

My family is a mess right now. Ultimately, that is down to my brother for sexually abusing me when I was 10, and my parents for not dealing with it properly at the time. But I get left feeling responsible for the proverbial hitting the fan this year. Because my breakdown was the catalyst.

I didn’t choose to have a breakdown. I never wanted to become addicted to alcohol and self-harm. Years ago, I couldn’t have anticipated that I would try to kill myself. Repeatedly.

Last year, I was someone who took care of myself. I respected my body, eating healthily and working out a lot. I was doing so well at work; being promoted and taking on more responsibility. My wife and I had bought a house and settled down.

But this PTSD reared its ugly head. And after 18 years of silence, I spoke out about my trauma. I spoke to therapists, friends, and eventually my mum. I disowned my brother and his wife, who had until this point been part of my life, my family.

So I can’t say nothing has changed. But I also can’t say anything has got better. Every time I think I’m taking a step forward, there is some horrendous fallout to deal with that smashes me back down. Usually that is the trail of devastation I almost inevitably seem to leave with the people I love. My entire family is now in therapy.

That makes me scared of progress. Perhaps I get so impatient for change that I push it too hard. But I want to be able to sort this terrible mess out. I wish there was a course of action that would be like pulling off a band aid. Painful, but over fast.

That solution hasn’t emerged for me yet. So I have to be patient. I have to keep talking, writing, painting, observing, so I can learn to hold things in a new way. I have to persist, and maintain hope that something will improve. Even if that happens so very slowly.

Photo credit: Ronan Shenhav, Creative Commons


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Writing can be a form of therapy, so keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Only way out of hell is through it. It may take a long time, but when you get through it, you’ll look back at this time with pride, seeing how much you’ve accomplished.
    I hope I can look back in ten years and feel that way about myself, like I did once I got sober. It was hell to get out of the life of an addict, but I did it! I’m proud of who I’ve changed into.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. loomy9138 says:

    I don’t know how old you are, but if you look at the amount of time that has passed since you were ten, that sort of puts it into perspective. For me, I was abused by my mom and step father from a very young age until 15. Then I abused myself for as long as I can remember. Now, at 34 I am trying to heal from all of this. 15 years of abuse by someone else, and countless years of taking that role on myself. Not to mention the additional baggage that gets piled on just from everyday life.
    You can’t be so hard on yourself that you should be “better by now”. I know I am, but then I try to remember that it took me 34 years to get here, and it won’t be “better” in a day.
    Keep your head up and celebrate the small victories. Try not to be so focused on the end game. Are you healthier than you were an hour ago? Yes, because you are making the conscious effort every minute of every day to heal. No matter how many steps back you go vs. steps forward, you are trying. And that’s really all that matters. You are writing, you are helping others with your words. You are in therapy. Two massive victories right there! You could still be self-destructing without an effort to heal. Take care, you’re amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Laura Black says:

    Thank you for the encouragement. You take care too. Laura

    Liked by 1 person

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