“I’m Out of Here!” 

Have you ever been tempted to say this when you have thought about all the hard work and money you put into therapy?  I have.  And I have actually quit therapy many times for one reason or the other, sometimes because my therapist and I were a bad match and I just didn’t seem to be getting anywhere.  At other times, I’ve quit because I’ve had to relocate.  Twice I’ve quit because my therapist has been abusive toward me.  One therapist slapped me because I wouldn’t stop crying, and another therapist wanted me to help her heal.  So, yes, I have thought more than a few times, “I’m out of here.”  

Doing work to heal Complex PTSD is not easy for therapist or client.  For one thing, it’s not possible, really, for a therapist to do what an orthopedic surgeon can do to nail down the cause for a problem.  An orthopedic surgeon can take x-rays or do other imaging tests to see for herself or himself what the inside of a knee looks like and then make an accurate diagnosis that will lead to a “cure.”  For the most part, science has not reached that point where issues of the mind are concerned.  It’s up to the client to thrash around in his or her psyche and present the information the therapist needs in order to help the client heal.  Where an orthopedic surgeon can make a diagnosis in one or two visits and then take measures to cure the problem, this is not usually the case with mental health issues, and this is especially not the case with Complex PTSD.   

The therapist I have been seeing for almost three years specializes in helping people who have been dealing with the fallout from traumas incurred over many years.  She has worked so hard to understand me and to understand what my inner life must be like so that she can know how to help me.  I appreciate her efforts in this more than she can know.  Since most of my life people have made little or no effort to understand how I experience life, the fact that she cares enough to try helps motivate me to try.  And because she is so dedicated to helping me, I have helped myself.   

For me, my therapist’s dedication is essential to my healing.  For the most part, I have done the work of healing myself.  To a large extent, for instance, I have successfully toned down the magnitude of my symptoms—the flashbacks, space-outs, numbing, and the other manifestations of trauma damage that have plagued me daily.  I did this as I worked on my own with Ego State Therapy.  If my therapist had not expressed her faith in me and my ability to heal myself, I would not have been motivated to do the work.  That’s a fact.  Without the feedback and the support from my therapist, I would long ago have said, “I’m out of here!”  And if I had done that, I would still be struggling with intense PTSD symptoms every day. 

There is nothing like success to keep a person motivated.  Each tiny bit of success I have experienced in therapy has led to the next tiny bit of success, and those bits have added up over the years to a big improvement in the quality of my life.  When I entered therapy three years ago, my goal was to heal from my trauma damage and to improve the quality of my life so that I could enjoy these final years.  I’ve since revised my goal so that it is more realistic.  Now I simply want to tone down my symptoms, heal as I can heal, and experience more peace in these last years.  This revision is realistic.  I no longer expect to be completely healed, but I expect to be engaged in the process of healing for the rest of my life.  If I am engaged in the healing process, I can’t lose!   

Even now, though, I am sometimes tempted to say, “I’m out of here!”  Therapy is just plain old hard work!  And sometimes, when I don’t feel that my efforts are getting me anywhere, I am tempted to quit.  But I don’t.  I just keep slogging along, and then eventually I have an insight that leads to a healing moment, and I’m back on track. 

If you are in a therapy situation in which you are making progress, the longer you stay with it, the more progress you make.  Your reward will be a more enjoyable rest-of-your-life!  So cherish the healing process and stick with it—one healing moment at a time.  Namaste.  Blessings.  Jean

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