Therapy lately has been a huge challenge. Not long ago, I would write a post after almost every session. It’s been months since I’ve done that and I’m not entirely sure why.
After my abuser became a father, I didn’t know what to do or how to be. I couldn’t figure out how to process what I felt around my new nephew, the abuse, or my brother’s seemingly bright future. It all felt like too much.
My response was to generally close down. In the past I’ve been good at this; firmly shutting everything and everyone out helps me feel safe. On the whole, letting people in opens me up to feeling, to getting in touch with my emotions in a way that has often felt very scary.
Withdrawal is however a lonely place to exile myself to. I’m already feeling hugely isolated from my family of origin, as they celebrate the arrival of the baby together, so this defensive behaviour has left me with even more loneliness.
Being cut off has led to my sessions with J frequently feeling like wading through treacle. We’ve been through cycles like this before, and she’s incredibly patient with me. But it feels like such a waste of time to sit there growing increasingly anxious in the silence while she waits for me to find some words.
That’s how my sessions have been for quite some weeks now. I guess I haven’t been writing because I haven’t been shifting anything in therapy to write about. But I think it all feeds in; not speaking, not making eye contact, not writing, etc. It’s like one big feedback loop of withdrawal behaviour that continuously reinforces itself.
For this reason, I decided to try starting some step work from my CoDA program. The rationale was that it could still be just me engaging in it, so it felt OK. I began working on Step 1, answering the questions in my handbook, and so much came up. I could’ve written on it for days.
That led to a change. I tentatively took my step book to therapy with me, intending to use what I’d written to fill the painful silence with J. What happened was that I managed to talk about some things in a new way. In fact, managing to talk that much at all was an amazing relief. My sessions since then have been easier on the whole, I’ve spoken and remained to some degree open, and only dissociated a little.
This all reminded me that I must keep writing. It’s an amazing tool for recovery – being able to sit alone and self-reflect in an ordered way. It is so far removed from the destructive rumination that happens instead. So I am attempting to return to my regular blogging habit this week. We’ll see how it goes!
Photo: Eric Sonstroem, Creative Commons.