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