Therapy Dump #8 – “The Level Up”

I’ve been seeing my therapist for over three years, every week. During this pandemic we meet via telehealth. In this series come along with me through each appointment as I reflect on the session and my progress.

*Warning: content discussed in this post may cause mental and physical discomfort, please ready with care. Visit my agency page for resources.*

I thought tonight would be another session where I just kind of unload about the week of ups and downs that I have had. Instead it turned into a deeper conversation about some feelings I hold about a teenage experience that I haven’t really ever faced. But first, the ups and downs.

The Downs

I started off the session talking about my friend’s recent suicide. It’s been pretty hard on both my husband and I. It was a long time friend of ours, so many within our circle of friends are hurting. Tomorrow is his funeral. I am so very, very sad. And I am angry. But I also understand, and I don’t judge him. I hope he has found peace.

I also continue to struggle through the fallout with my son. I hear his pain, I wish I could ease it, but right now he views me as the enemy. I have a plan to start sending him notes in the mail while he has stopped talking to me as a way of staying connected through his need for silence.

In addition to these two situations which are causing me much sadness, my husband I just found out that there is a a cluster outbreak of COVID19 in the small town his mom and her family live. His mom and his uncle are neighbors and spend much time together – his uncle’s girlfriend just tested positive for COVID. His uncle is battling cancer, his mom is in her 70’s. We are very scared as we await the test results and we have already begun making plans for how we will care for her if the need arises.

The downs have been pretty low this week and they have definitely sapped a lot of my energy.

The Ups

The ups have been comparable to the downs in that they have been pretty amazing in spite of what has been happening this week and I am learning what it really means to carry happiness and sadness together and feel them both genuinely.

This week I was able to talk with my sister for awhile, and she and her children are moving about 20 minutes closer to me today as a matter of fact. For the last few years she has lived in a couple places, one of them over an hour and a half away, now she is about a 45 minute drive and I couldn’t be happier. Now to figure out how to safely visit.

Through my friend’s death, another dear friend has reached out despite months of silence on my part. I really have withdrawn during this pandemic. We spent a couple hours on the phone and I am going to do a back yard visit with her tomorrow. She is just as diligent as me about mitigating her risk so I feel safe with an outdoor visit. I am so grateful for this re-connection, and for the understanding from her of my mental health without judgement. It healed parts of me during that call.

I also received a package of photographs from my youth from my aunt along with a bracelet that belonged to my grandmother and the charm that represented my mother. Items that I will forever cherish.

The goods were pretty darn good this week. My friends, my family, and the Universe are all looking out for me.

The Memories That Have Resurfaced

This is a bit harder to write about, I haven’t spoken about this next bit ever on here. I’ve only spoken about it once to both my counselor and my husband since my healing began. I don’t think about it, I feel like there was a period of my life when I even forgot it happened. And I have definitely minimized it in my head any time I have thought about it.

After all, it was just a bottle of aspirin, not anything “hard” and because it was such a botched attempt, no one I lived with knew and I never had to go to the hospital.

My reality is, that when I was 16 years old, somewhere around 6-8 months after the trial and my grandfather’s suicide I crawled under the dining table one night in the dark kitchen and swallowed an entire bottle of aspirin handful after handful with a glass of water.

I’m not sure how I feel about this as I write it out. I know it is something I need to face and accept. However, I find that it is very deeply tied to my grandfather’s abuse, and his suicide. If I am honest, my emotions still haven’t fully turned on regarding any of this. It still feels very much like someone else’s life.

I’m not ever really ready to talk about it here, because I don’t really know what to say.

I also had a new memory of my grandfather resurface. It is a flash memory but the feeling it leaves is that it was a pivotal moment in what I believe was my initial grooming. I do believe it is the memory of the first time he touched me outside of my clothing to show me what it would be like. I was sitting on his lap on the riding lawnmower in the barn.

Stress and new memories – they seem to go hand in hand.

EMDR & Heart Math

I’ve been seeing my counselor via telehealth since March and because of this we are unable to use Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) techniques. Something that has helped me tremendously in the past.

Her office is going to begin a soft reopening at the end of July with a plan for staggering patients to keep crowding in the waiting room down. She also has a second office that isn’t as busy. We discussed the possibility that she will move most of her work to her secondary office to be more safe with in-person visits.

With this in mind we are talking about my return once or twice a month for in person sessions to resume my EMDR treatment. I really feel, with the changes in my life recently, that I am in a good spot to start digging in a little bit deeper to reprocess all of this trauma I have stored inside me.

Additionally, we are looking into Heart Math to see if I can do it via telehealth or not. I don’t know much about it, if I start I will definitely research and write more. The gist however is that it is a 6-8 week treatment that teaches breathing and control during somatic trauma responses to help calm the body, the heart, and to slow the pumping of stress hormones.

If I start, I will be sure to share and discuss for everyone.

Tonight’s Take Aways

  • I feel like my ability to manage symptoms has leveled up recently as proven by my ability to recognize my emotions and move through them this week.
  • I reached a new level of awareness regarding my responsibility with self-care. It isn’t an easy button to make the discomfort go away. It is a way to refocus on something positive while I feel discomfort.
  • New memories didn’t knock the wind out of my sail this week. Progress.
  • I have some reality to face, slowly.
  • I am doing what is in my control regarding my son, which is all that can do.

Stay tuned for next week’s post.  Read more Therapy Dumps.

Closing Comments

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