Therapy Dump #10 – Transformations

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.

It’s been two weeks since I last saw my therapist so today when we finally met it felt like I had a lifetime of emotions and events I needed to discuss with her.

Where to begin, tonight felt loaded.

Working Through my Stages of Grief

Over the last 6 weeks I’ve had numerous curve balls thrown my way and I am at different stages in the cycles of grief with each situation. However, they all make me feel similar things so it is hard to differentiate what feelings are attached to what, and where I am in the process of each.

Anger has been overlapping everything, and it’s clear I am settling into depression nicely right now.

My therapist asked me what I am doing with intention to counter my feelings of disconnection and fatigue which brought up how my bargaining works.

When I’m bargaining with myself: I feel in control, I feel connected, I feel like I have a handle on things. Then suddenly fatigue sets in, my world will crash around me and I’ll find myself struggling to stay afloat.

When I bargain with myself, I’m actually in a state of hyper vigilant auto pilot. What an amazing realization. And ugh, what an eye opening realization.

I Am Responsible for Creating Balance in My Life

In similar fashion to jobs past, I have really dug in deep with this site and the work I am doing around advocacy and peer support. To the point that I am glued to my computer nearly all day working on pieces, updating my site, networking, and brainstorming.

Those 50 hour weeks that I was happy to get rid of in optical retail are actually still around, only now they happen in my home office. I need to find better balance in my life.

It is another glaring example of something I thought I had a handle on but really don’t.

My whole life, work has been my identity. Not my family, not my friends, not me myself – no, my identity has always come from the work I do and the value it brings.

Because I am still learning that I am enough and I don’t need to provide value to be valued. Ugh, this is heavy lifting.

Reaching Forgiveness

18 months of my teen years were lived with my sister and her mom. I moved in with them at age 16, just 10 weeks after the trial against my grandfather and his subsequent suicide. I moved in searching for family to love me, already believing unequivocally that I was too hard to love at that point.

In those 18 months, I was emotionally and physically abused by my sister’s mom before she finally kicked me out the summer before my senior year. I moved in with a friend, dropped out of school a few months later, and within 8 months was married and pregnant. Those months of my life often get skipped over when I talk about my childhood, most of it is stuff I have forgotten that I remember until I talk about it.

Maybe because she is still in my life, whereas the many others who abused me at younger ages are all dead or live thousands of miles away. I still saw her all the time. But our interactions became strained as I aged until finally 3.5 years ago I’d had enough and ended all communication with her.

In the years since, I have continued to build a relationship with my sister, and my aunt both of whom still stay in touch with her. It’s been tough on the family, my steadfast estrangement – mostly because we are small family and internal issues spill all over everyone.

The recent fall out with my son became a catalyst for internal transformation and I realized I’m no longer angry with my sister’s mom. I also have no desire to discuss the years of estrangement, or to embark on a healing journey with her.

I am not looking to reach out and say “hey, we can talk again, now”, but I am done intentionally avoiding her. I just don’t have space for that anymore.

Maybe I’ll start addressing some of the abuses during those years here as part of my healing. Who knows. Baby steps. All I know is that right now, I am letting go of some tightly held anger, it is happening naturally, and that feels good.

Pieces of My History: The Before

Finally, tonight I shared some photos I recently received from my Aunt in California (she is married to my mom’s brother).

She sent me a collection of photos of me as a small child with family. A few are of me and my Grandma Evie, who died when I was five years old. I don’t really remember my grandma, and until last week I never owned any photos of her and I together, now I have a handful from my first few years.

In the collection are photos of my mom (one with her handwriting on it), of me with my uncle and my cousin, with my grandpa (the good one) and finally photos with my dad. I can’t be older than 3 or 4 years old, my dad has a beard in the photo and I don’t ever remember him with a beard.

These photos are all before we moved to Washington, before we moved near my dad’s parents, before I was groomed and then abused.

I have always felt that they has never been a life for me before trauma. I feel like I was born through trauma and loss. Then I see these photos of this innocent and adorable little me and I realize there was once a time when my innocence was in tact and the world was full of wonder.

Having a photo that is so clearly a “before” picture, is beautifully tragic to me and brings tears of both pain and happiness to my eyes.

Tonight’s Take Aways

  • My awareness continues to grown and aid in my healing process
  • I am responsible for balancing my work and my life.
  • I need to pay extra attention to being mindful
  • I am learning what my “bargaining” stage looks like which is lessening it’s grip
  • I did have a life before trauma and that little girl is still very much alive inside me.
  • Forgiveness really does happen naturally, and it feels relieving.

Stay tuned for next week’s post. 
Related posts: read through my previous Therapy Dumps.

Closing Comments

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