March 12, 2015

Therapy Day 1



I think if five different people tell you in a month that you could benefit from some therapy, you’d better seriously consider it.

That’s pretty much what happened to me. Luckily, the people who mentioned it said it with love.

I’ve had therapy through the years, here and there.  To be honest, it’s not all that fun. And it can be scary. All of the pain, all of the old garbage that’s so deeply buried I’m not even consciously aware of what’s there.

But there’s this…I know enough about old wounds and healing to know that it’s not unlike a physical wound.  If you leave it alone and don’t clean it up it can get infected. And that infection can get worse and worse.

It can even kill you if it’s bad enough.

I’m 52-years-old. My wounds, all the old garbage and ghosts just wouldn’t stay buried any longer.

See, that’s the thing. If you don’t deal with it, it will find its way out. One way or the other. Could be through inappropriate emotional responses to seemingly trivial happenings. It might come out as mental illnesses or disorders, or perhaps it will come out as a physical illness.

I’ve had the mental disorders and I’ve at times been overly emotional. Okay, I’m extremely sensitive to begin with, but I’m talking about burning up with rage, shaking, sobbing and wanting to throw something, just from a scene in a movie.

I don’t want to let it go until I get physically ill.

For probably the last 20 years or so I’ve done a lot of reading, I’ve attended healing circles, done burning bowls, journaling,  letter writing and burning,  I’ve read and done Ellen Bass’ workbook ‘The Courage to Heal’ (which I recommend), I belong to an online support group for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and one of the best things…I’ve surrounded myself with a few extraordinarily wonderful women friends who walk the walk. For years, we met once a week. So I’m not at the beginning of my healing. I’ve done some work.

But now it’s time to dig deep.


Stella is a psychologist and hypnotherapist. She wears brightly coloured long flowing dresses, has four dogs, a peaceful garden, a room full of books, a reclining chair with a cloud-soft teal throw, and is lovely.

We did a lot of talking. Well, I did a lot of talking. I felt safe with her. To me, one of the most important things about finding a therapist is feeling safe.  Which is to say I trust her. And trust doesn’t come easily to survivors.

I talked about being sexually abused and raped as a girl. I told her about recently confronting one of my abusers on the phone, and how he denied it. I talked about how I am trying to find the last name of the one who raped me, and how certain members of my family who know refuse to tell me.

She asked me what I would do if I found him. I told her I’d like to shove him in front of a racing semi. Or worse, much worse. I’d like to write it here, but I think I’d better not.

She asked me if I am prepared to deal with the consequences of following through – prison and being away from the people I love. Of course, my answer was no.

But I do fantasize about it.

What I would love to actually do is what these two brave women did in this story. They wanted to dance on their abuser’s (their grandfather’s) grave, but what they ended up doing was going to the police and reporting him – even though he was dead.  The police were caring and wonderful. They wrote it down.

That’s what I would like to do, have the police make a record of it.  I didn’t tell when I was a child. I want to tell now. I want to tell someone who hears me, really hears me.

Not to someone who tells me to forget it because it’s been so long, or to someone who asks about the person who abused me for years, ‘but did he rape you?’. Or why am I am bringing it up now after all of this time.

I want someone to HEAR me.

Wow, okay. So I have an idea of why I’m doing this blog now. I was silent for so many years that I want to scream it out now.

But back to Stella. She heard me. But she’s paid to, you might say. Yes, it’s true, but she knows that even at 52-years-old, I am living with the consequences of those things that happened when I was a little girl – still. She doesn’t ask why. She knows why.

She thinks reporting my abusers is a good idea. I am going to go forward with that. Perhaps there will be others who come forward.

We talked about the concept of forgiveness. It’s something that I’ve never been able to understand. Stella said that she doesn’t think a person has to forgive their abuser in order for healing to occur. She did however say that forgiving myself is important. I’ll write more about forgiveness in a later post – it deserves one of its own.

After talking, Stella did a nice relaxing hypnotherapy session in which she suggested to my subconscious that I feel confident, happy and relaxed. She had me create a wonderful safe place in my mind and said that I could go there any time I wanted. I pictured a house with a big wooden veranda, all white with comfortable soft chairs and softly whirring ceiling fans. Inside the house I found a room – big, airy and light with tall leaded glass windows out of which I could see huge-leaved plants and splashes of colour everywhere from the flowers. Inside was peaceful with massive potted plants surrounding a daybed. The daybed had soft, thick pillows and a snowy-white comforter. There were books scattered at the foot of the bed. It was impossibly comfortable. I felt safe. I didn’t have to do anything or be anywhere.

The wonderful thing is, I can go to that place in my mind any time I want.

I left Stella knowing we have some pretty heavy work to do in the future. I’ll see her again next week. But at that moment I didn’t think about the future. I felt blissful and calm.

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