No sex, drugs and alcohol during this process.
Don’t fight the emotions- cry, punch pillows, scream as often as you can.
Only call me before 7 pm. Any calls after 7 pm should be life emergencies.
Trust the process. Everything will unfold as it should. You will join the dots backwards.
Of all the instructions I received from my therapist at the start of the therapy process; ‘trust the process’ was the one I struggled with the most.
To place my firm belief in the truth and strength of the process and my therapist was a daily struggle. The process was a rollercoaster of emotions. I would see-saw between extreme highs and lows- bright sunny expectations to the darkest of sadness.
It often felt like stabbing at a fresh wound-repeatedly.
We were to meet once a week. Each week I would quit. At the end of every session, I would swear to myself that I wasn’t coming back. The life I knew had its challenges but at least I knew what to expect. This was a different level.
Each week we would work on a different angle of my life:family background, friendships, dating life and employment history.
I felt probed. Never before had I opened my life up to someone in this way. There were lots of tears, angry words and fear.
To compound the struggle everything felt worse at first. I had insomnia for days on end: I would go to bed tired and exhausted only to wake up at 2.30 am each night. Scared and lonely. I would fall back asleep in the wee hours of the morning. The lack of sleep made me even angrier. I suffered from head-splitting migraines and nausea. On the days that I would sleep through the night, I would wake up sobbing around 5 am.
When faced with difficult situations human beings adopt a fight or flee response. I flee. I often avoid dealing with things. I will get busy, sulk, leave the situation or find something else to deal with. Anything to avoid dealing with a painful situation. Now after all these years here was my therapist asking me to face the emotions that I had avoided for so long. To look at the dirt I had swept under the carpet for all those years.
How therapy works
The process of therapy helps one to engage and talk about scary or uncomfortable situations. By talking about the uncomfortable stuff we acquire mastery over them which reduces anxiety. Talking about scary stuff gives you a sense of control over your emotions. This has a compounded effect of improved communication and interpersonal skills.
By examining past traumatic events we can analyse them with the knowledge we have at the present. When we fail to face up to traumatic events we miss the opportunity to scrutinize and evaluate them. We remain frozen in the perspective we had at the time of the experience. A case in point would be getting bitten by a dog at a young age. We will then avoid dogs at all cost. Now as an adult we can examine that scary experience with the knowledge we have at the present- we know that not all dogs bite.
As human beings, we all hold scripts that we use to understand the world around us. Traumatic events disrupt these scripts often leaving us damaged with a sense of hopelessness. If as a child, you witnessed your mother getting beaten by your father you grow up believing that married life is hard. As an adult, you might struggle with commitment as it goes against the script you hold. Therapy helps us re-evaluate our scripts- we either rewrite the script or integrate the traumatic experience into our life.
Physical and emotional benefits
With time I started seeing the benefits. I had suffered from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) for most of my life. My stomach often behaved like a two-year-old kid- throwing tantrums all over the place. When I wasn’t dealing with constipation I had nasty diarrhoea. I seemed to have allergies to all foods- from roast meat to vegetables,milk and fruits.
I would wake up in the middle of the night sleepwalking and talking leading to extreme fatigue during the day. I suffered from head-splitting migraines and constant backaches. I had a mini pharmacy in my house.
With time all these ailments disappeared. I came to understand that a lot of the dis-eases I suffered were my body’s way of crying out for help. There is a strong connection between emotions and physical health.
My sleep improved greatly too. I no longer wake up in the middle of the night sleepwalking and talking.
I stopped emotion eating and with that dropped and maintained two dress sizes effortlessly.
I feel a stronger connection to a higher power- I pray and meditate regularly.
I found a desire to share with others what I learnt through the process. I am no longer ashamed to share my experience.
I lost friends along the way too. I suddenly felt that I was on a different level from the acquaintances I had kept through the years.
Is therapy for you? I don’t know your story but what I do know is that sometimes life will suck. Big time. During those times it helps to have been equipped to handle those low blows.