Having my head examined

            When your childhood is a series of insults punctuated by violence and decorated with festive bits of crazy, you have two choices: you can become familiar with either the inside of a bottle or the inside of your head. 

            We adult survivors of child abuse are the Analysis Lifers.  We cycle in and out of therapy for decades, not to become healthy but instead to become comfortable with our dysfunction.  If we’ve survived in one piece for this long, we are self-aware enough to know that we’re never going to leave our childhoods behind.

            I tend to wander back into therapy when I am seemingly doing well.  I find it more constructive to plumb the depths when the surface is not a mess of red tides and nascent hurricanes. 

            What brought me into a psychologist’s office five weeks ago was sadness.  I was sad.  For me, that’s unusual, a big step.  I do angry or happy, but not sad.  So, when this genuine feeling of mourning popped up, I thought I was probably ready to work on something.

            Plus, times are hard, and I’m doing my part to jump start the economy, one co-pay at a time.

18 responses to “Having my head examined

  1. Hey, I can relate – both to the abuse and to the cycling in and out of therapy. On days like today, I seriously wonder why I didn’t choose an easier profession. But I’m also comfortable with my issues. Good luck with plumbing the depths. I wish everyone did it (and not just so I’d have a job).

  2. i’m glad you’ve chosen to examine the inside of your head rather than a bottle.

  3. Oh, yeah. I’ve been familiar with both types of “insides,” so I feel for you. And I’ve noticed the same thing about how it’s easier to plumb the depths when I’m relatively stable.

    Hope whatever needs dealing with is relatively easy to deal with.

  4. I know the feeling. I go into therapy sometimes. Unfortunately I just don’t have the attention span to sit and talk about myself for a whole hour!! I get bored and “drop out” of therapy after a few weeks, every time!

  5. I think it’s natural to go to therapy when things are relatively calm for a couple of reasons. First of all, when things are calm, you have the external support to do the tough internal work. Secondly the outside storms are in same ways more familiar than calm. We survivors are good at crisis. We adapted to crisis. It’s peace that is the challenge. I don’t think you ever erase your childhood, but –at least for me– living with my dysfunction isn’t the goal. No–my goal is to be able to enjoy my life now so that I’m not living in the shadow of my childhood. It’s also, perhaps even more importantly, so that the shadow doesn’t extend to my children. I found that every time I changed therapists, there was a boost to my healing because evert t has a different style, different insights & strengths, & after a while I can pretty well predict what that person is going to say. I don’t think the point is so much the talking as it is sitting and becoming aware of the truth, emotionally as well as intellectually. The truth just sits there waiting to be known and it can’t become just a memory until it is. That’s possible to do without therapy but it takes a lot of discipline to carve out time and space and quiet for that. And a therapist can offer a fresh look at those festive bits of crazy (great phrase) so that the crazy is evident and not just another decorative item.

  6. I think it takes a lot of courage and self awareness to seek therapy. I wish it didn’t have such a stigma about it. Good for you, and best of luck.

  7. First – I love the picture of heels in sleepers. (Have I been heads down in work for so long or did you just change this?)
    Second, your courage to write about things like this is an enabler. I’m sure that for every one person brave enough to process this aloud, there are dozens who draw sustenance from it and learn. For me, this shows that whatever baggage you’ve carried out of childhood, you’ve lugged out courage as well. That has got to be a source of comfort – no matter how sad.

  8. I hope you come out of it less sad, with baggage that feels a little lighter.

    “Red tides and nascient hurricanes…” Apt description, really.

  9. I hope things look up. Therapy is surprisingly hard work and super exhausting, but worth it.

  10. The work never ends completely. Somehow we make peace with it ~ and that takes a lot of time and a lot of introspection.

    I’m glad you are willing to do what it takes.


  11. I’ve had spates of therapy. It’s so nice to know it’s available.

  12. At least you know when you need it. That’s a very good thing, and I hope it helps lift the sadness.

  13. I think that knowing yourself well enough to know when you need some outside assistance is a good thing. I hope you start feeling better soon.

  14. way to stimulate baby, way to stimulate

  15. Good on you. Therapy is a precious resource for everyone (who wouldn’t do better in their life if they were a little more self-aware?) but for someone from your background, it’s a life line. Hope you’ve found a therapist you really connect with.

  16. Allowing yourself to feel sad is very healthy. Eventually it dissipates on its own if you don’t bury it. BTW I read once in a Tony Robbins book that it’s never too late to have a happy childhood. I’m not sure if that’s true but it’s a nice thought.

  17. Good for you, Emily. Way to take one for the economy! I hear you on this, too; I do angry well but sad not so much, and when I’m sad I get concerned.

  18. Sorry to hear you are sad. Admitting it and dealing with it are both very brave and strong.