Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dear Therapist ~ I've known you for 3 years, but I don't think we've met...

My heart is an organ that pumps blood through my veins…it is NOT a room for my "inner child" to live in. And no, I cannot see, or hear "little Grace" talking or sitting beside me, and no – I will not comfort her or let her sit on my lap. I will not do those things because she is not here. "Little Grace" does not exist – I cannot see her, or hear her – she used to exist, but she grew up and became me, "BIG Grace", "Adult Grace" – and honestly, I like the Adult Grace much better….big improvement. And "little Grace" doesn't live in my heart

If someone asks ME, Adult Grace, I have no problem telling you about how unfair life can be sometimes. People do bad things –and I accept that. I guess my life will be filled with a perpetual struggle to find my voice. In essence, it all comes down to that. And perhaps rather than face the struggle in defensive move, always poised, on guard, ready to fight, I should embrace that ideology as one of comfort, something to look forward to. Maybe the difference between living and a life is found, not in the degree to which one succeeds in finding her voice and making it heard, but in having a voice to find in the first place. Without that constant, continual fight – you are silenced, and a spirit silenced begins to die (I know this to be true). And once this happens, one becomes empty, numb- a shadow or a shell of one's former self, with nothing constant to hold on to. My cutting/vomiting – that was my "constant", my "comrade" – when everyone else walked away – I knew that I could depend on this. But perhaps I've been wrong about this too. It's not the cutting, the puking that's been the constant, but rather, my struggle to be heard. That struggle has never gone away. When everything else is stripped away, what is real will still remain. When you take away my cutting, puking, my restricting, my past….the one thing that remains is me, Grace, still trying to make my voice heard in a world that has never listened, never cared. And rather than fight for it, my voice, rather than embrace that struggle as one that lets me know I'm still alive, I have spent all this time fighting against it, keeping it quiet, never saying what I needed to say. Never expressing my feelings, or allowing myself to just "BE". Here – now – right in this moment. Instead, I spent my time acting out, or looking back, trying to make sense of things, or looking forward trying to get everything figured out. And I've missed the little things – the seemingly unimportant things. The "everyday stuff" that makes life what it is. Without it, life would be nothing more than a series of empty moment. And that emptiness would in turn, only fuel the hunger, the drive, the need to find one's voice…a never-ending circle. How do you find your voice and "be" heard. A search for meaning hidden inside photographs, poems, turning thoughts into "written words"…. Searching for meaning….It's a universal struggle, regardless of the art form, I suppose….

When you changed the "approach" of our "therapeutic process" I felt a loss of autonomy and respect….that I was no longer an adult, but instead~ a badly behaved child in need of discipline, not care….which is, apparently, a trigger for me. "I don't believe you! You can to do it!" – sounded very similar to "You're being a bad girl! You'll be punished!" – and so dear therapist, you became like the “professionals” from my childhood – the ones who really didn't care about what happened at my house. No one cared about the 4 year old brought to the hospital with recurrent bladder infections and vaginal tears. That wasn't their job, their job was to "fix" the symptoms, not understand why they were there in the first place. When my mother went to treatment for her drinking, time and time again, and I was required to "participate" – all I ever heard was, "you're very angry" – but no one took the time to "ask" why I was angry – because no one wanted to get involved. No one wanted to take the time. Why do you think that is? Why do you think it is that a neighbor wouldn't question the constant fighting, screaming, yelling – why an ambulance would show up time and time again. Why is that?

And all the latest "DBT" mantra, ranting, training, teaching, talking….all treatment focused on making me stop self-harming. I wanted to feel less depressed, I wanted to feel less anxious and less distressed, I wanted the memories and the nightmares and the compulsive thoughts to stop. And until they stopped – I had no desire to stop cutting or violently vomiting– because cutting made them stop (at least for awhile). And it seemed to me as though no one wanted to deal with the depression and why I was depressed and self-harming…the focus seemed to me, to be much like Pavlov's approach when he trained the dogs……it seemed to me that you thought, "if I say MINDFULNESS, or DBT, or MEANING-MAKING, she will make the connection that she must stop cutting & puking." Or perhaps the experiment of the rat who received a shock each time he displayed an unacceptable "behavior" – eventually, the rat will no longer do it. There was no longer an interest, or a care, about *me*, but only interest and care in stopping the unacceptable behavior….so that the patient can go back to work, and function as a normal human being, in society. I no longer existed- and that confused me – because I cut myself – I bleed – I see the blood – I must exist. But you insisted that DBT was the answer! You no longer saw *me*, you saw only the behavior, the behavior that needed to stop. Suddenly I am lost in a sea of "symptoms". And I exist no more.

And yet, I do exist – because here I am. Not the "trauma patient" the "cutter" the "ED" the "CSA Victim"~ not "the stubborn child" "the willful child" "the angry child" – but ME. The ME that somehow got lost in this process – ME – the intelligent, successful, caring woman who succeeded in spite of her childhood. The woman with a heart of gold, the woman whose smile could light up a room.. ME! ME! Grace – my favorite color is pink, my favorite flower is a gerber daisy and an orchid – my favorite food is pizza with black olives– I love the smell of clean laundry and rain when it just starts falling, I love the feel of a newborn baby’s head. I love to watch the sun set over the Rocky Mountains. I love to drink coffee out of the cup my son made me 5 years ago that says, "Happy Mother's Day”. I love to make my husband dance to Air Supply even though he pretends he doesn't like it. I love to tuck my daughter into bed and it melts my heart when she tells me I am the best mom in the world.

ME…Grace ~ I’ve known you for 3 years, but I don’t think we’ve ‘met’.

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