I have a lot of thoughts buzzing around my head today after yesterdays therapy session and subsequent conversations with friends.
The therapy session was a really hard one – we talked a lot about anger, and my reactions to experiencing and observing it. It’s an emotion I struggle with, especially towards certain people and when I do feel anger it doesn’t really go anywhere, I kind of numb it down or find myself excusing other people’s behaviour. It’s something that I really need to try and work hard on because those feelings must go somewhere, and my therapist even suggested that it could result in feelings of depression and anxiety, so, yay! I bought myself a copy of Bessel van der Kolk’s ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ on my way home, so hopefully this will help me to see what happens to those emotions and encourage me to express myself more freely.
We also spoke about my issues surrounding smallness and safety – this is one for a much bigger writing and one that I don’t feel emotionally ready to broach just yet. But it was a very difficult conversation because it’s again something that there is no real, clear cut, answer to. These are behaviours and ways of thinking that have been ingrained over the last 34 years, they are impossible to resolve within 16 hours of therapy. They run deeper; I just need to arm myself with the tools within these sessions to be brave enough to face them head on…
There was also talk of the bullying I experienced at school – this is where things become really difficult for me because I don’t remember a lot of it, I remember certain incidents, certain insults, certain days, but I don’t remember anything tangible. My mind has done that thing of blacking out a lot of things in order to protect itself but my body, my reactions, my deeply ingrained thought processes – remember. I remember feeling scared for years on end, of feeling small and worthless and like every day was a struggle. I remember feelings of humiliation, of ‘not being good enough’, of wanting to hide and to shut everything off. I remember very vividly the first time I thought killing myself was the only way out, I was 14.
A month into my therapy sessions with my current therapist, we touched briefly on this period of my life and very gently he told me that what I experienced day, after day, after day was traumatic, he had brought the word ‘trauma’ into the room and no-one; no therapist, no doctor, no teacher and no parent had ever used that word before. But it was like suddenly, he opened up this door… I have written sentences before like ‘I was bullied, but most kids are bullied at some point’, that dismisses pain, and I was doing that to myself – repeatedly. I was bullied, yeah, big deal, shrug it off. But no, that type of dismissal needs to end in order to allow recovery to begin. What my therapist did by bringing that word into our sessions was to validate my pain, to put a reason behind why I struggle with the things I do – trauma is massive, and the impact it has on a person’s life is immeasurable.
As my session was wrapping up yesterday, he asked me for the name of the worst of the bullies, and then he asked me “Are you angry at her?”
And I replied honestly, “No.”
Because I’m not, I explained that as an adult I can understand that when children bully other children it is because they need to feel superior – and this can come from a place of deep inferiority and pain.
He smiled. “But you weren’t an adult when she bullied you; you were a child, experiencing your own pain…”
And I realised he was right, even in my worst moments of pain – in child and adulthood, I have never had the desire to make someone else feel bad. In fact, I swing rather too far the other way if anything. But still, the anger isn’t there, not really, it’s more sadness for the things she took from me – the confidence, the carefree childhood, the good grades that I still have to make explanations and allowances for in every job application I make. I suppose the one thing that does cause me the most distress is knowing she is a mother now. Not because of the person she is – I’m sure she’s a completely different person as an adult. But because that feels like the cruellest theft of all; if I didn’t have to deal with all of this trauma, if I hadn’t been fighting depression and anxiety since I left school, if I didn’t need medication to get me through the day for years on end then maybe I would be a mother now too.
But then maybe I wouldn’t be me, as I am now. Maybe if I hadn’t wanted to leave my home town and those memories so badly, I wouldn’t have met my husband. I wouldn’t have met my closest friends or been a version of a mother to our rag-tag collection of adopted dogs. Maybe I wouldn’t have developed the compassion I have; maybe I wouldn’t have found comfort in writing or found a sanctuary in nature, maybe I would be a completely different person.
Two days ago I replied to a girl on Twitter, someone I don’t know. She had posted that she was in her mid-twenties and she felt like depression had stolen her life. She wasn’t married, she had no kids, she was just trying to survive – and I told her that honestly, it doesn’t matter. Those things will come, and when they do she will have a much better understanding of herself and that will serve her and her future family well in the long run. I meant it; I meant every word because that is what I tell myself.
But yesterday… before therapy, I was angry. Not at a person, but at depression itself. At what it takes from us, at how it affects things you wouldn’t even consider. I was frustrated at my part-time hours, my low income and my levels of exhaustion. I was angry at myself because I was feeling agitated by the sound of my husband eating his lunch, I was annoyed that on my day off I had to spend four and a half hours of that getting the bus and going to therapy – a) because my anxiety prevents me from even driving and b) because as much as I like my therapist I would rather spend my days off doing something else – but mostly, I was so pissed off that the people this illness affects are some of the kindest, gentlest, most creative, sensitive and wonderful people I have ever met. Suddenly, all of it seemed so very, very unfair.
But that anger didn’t go anywhere.
So, things are linked, behaviours are repeated and ingrained, feelings feed off of each other and thoughts are constantly expanding and becoming deeper. When I got home last night I was tearful, and exhausted, but I think I was also one step further on in my recovery. I am learning all the time, I feel like I am picking up chapters of a book but sometimes they are out of sequence and make no sense, but one day they just might – and one day, the comfort that I offered to that girl on Twitter will ring true for me too. Until then I suppose it is a matter of keeping on with the reading, the talking and learning how to be kind to myself, which is sometimes the hardest thing of all to do.
Until next time my loves Xx
Image credit: Adrien Converse on Unsplash
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