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Meet Cowboy–the ego state who has helped me hang in there through therapy and through LIFE!



The past few years since I’ve been maintaining this blog, I have encouraged you, my readers, to seek competent help in healing your Complex PTSD.  I thought about this as I drank my morning coffee today, and it occurred to me that even though I have used this blog to describe much of my own healing process as I have gone through it, maybe I need to actually provide a more left-brained and analytical  overview and evaluation of my own therapy process.  Perhaps by doing this I could give you a clearer idea as to just exactly how I have benefited from therapy.  Maybe then, if you are still trying to decide whether therapy is for you, you will have more specific information to help you make a decision. 

Now, in order to tell you how I have benefited from therapy for Complex PTSD, I must look at the matter from a perspective that differs from my usual perspective.  I need to step back from my process and observe it much as a scientist observes a lab experiment.  I’ll do my best, but it won’t be easy.  Describing the process as I went through it was relatively easy for the  most part.  I simply let you watch me connect dots, respond to my experience, and then place the results of my work into the whole context of my life.  Now, in order to put into words just how I have benefited, I will need to see my therapy differently, and I don’t know how well I can do that.  I’ll try!  At least, today I will make a start at this project.  

First of all, I am still transitioning from being a person in therapy to being a person who is not in therapy.  Over the years, I have discovered that for me, at least, life is filled with processes—big ones and little ones.  In 2010, I went through a process to find a competent therapist.  That process was blessedly short, thank goodness.  Then establishing a working relationship with her was another process, a process that occurred side by side with the process of actually getting into the therapeutic process so I could heal.  Now, finally, my mind has said, “That’s it, at least for now.”  The therapeutic process/healing process has wound down to the point where now I can just “live” and experience life without the therapeutic process taking so much of my head space.  This is a natural ending to the process.   

In the past, I have had to shut down the therapeutic process/healing process deliberately, like turning off a water faucet, because external circumstances have forced me to do that.  Deliberately stopping the therapy process is difficult!  But this time, the process is ending on its own, naturally.  And it’s ending easily.  Now I am truly beginning to reap the benefits of all my hard work.  Where do I start in discussing these benefits?  I’ll first describe one major benefit that is making a tremendous difference in my life right now, and  as time passes, I will be aware of more benefits and will tell you about them.   

Benefit #1:  I am able to see myself in relation to others now with more accuracy, I believe.  I am better able to see how I fit into society in general.  Now I know that I DO fit into the complex tapestry that we call humankind.  In the past, before entering into this latest therapeutic round, I felt like a freak, as if I didn’t belong anywhere.  Maybe some of you have experienced this feeling throughout your lives.  Now, however, after this past round of therapy, I realize that I fit as well as most people, and I am not a freak.  I’m not sure just how I have arrived at this insight, but I have.  Before I began the work in 2010, I felt like a freak; now, after the work, 2014, I do not feel like a freak.  I can legitimately conclude, I believe, that the work I have done in therapy has brought this new concept about.   

This benefit, then, is HUGE!  From the time I was four years old and was sexually assaulted, I have felt isolated, a failure as a human being.  When I was a little girl, in fact, and learned about lepers in Sunday School and how they had to ring a bell and cry “Unclean!” to warn others of their presence, I decided that I needed to withdraw from others so as not to contaminate them with my wickedness, the “wickedness” of being a victim of violent child sexual abuse.  I made this conscious decision to withdraw myself from other people when I was seven or eight, and I have withdrawn all my life.    

Now I don’t feel this way.  I know now that the abuse really had nothing to do with me but was all about my abuser.  I was convenient for her, a handy potential victim who could be groomed to meet her needs. It wasn’t about me or my perceived wickedness at all!  Now, after isolating myself for some seven decades,  I’m beginning to feel as if I’m part of the tapestry of humanity rather than a dangling and loose thread that needs to be trimmed off.  What did I do in therapy that brought about this change in my perception and feelings about myself?  Having a reliable, mutually respectful, and deeply human relationship with my therapist, doing Ego State Therapy work, and discharging trauma energy through EMDR work are all factors in bringing about this change.    

So what difference has this insight made in my life?  I feel more confident now when I interact with others.  I feel as if what I have to contribute is worthy of other people’s attention.  Until now, I had never felt that way in my whole life!  Mind you, this is a beginning.  I’m not all the way there yet with this concept.  But I’m entertaining the possibility that I am worthy as a human being and that I am valuable.  Never before could I truly say this with any conviction.   

In addition to the above insight, I now can feel the grief as I awaken to the realization of what my abuser took from me—my innocence and my sense of my own value as a human being.  Now I “get it.” I also “get” the fact that I experienced my childhood abuses through the mind of a child, and I took personally that which I would not have taken personally as an adult.  If I had been an adult with a fully developed brain and a sense of self worth at the time I was abused, I would not have allowed myself to be abused.  I would have seen the situation for what it truly was, another person’s attempt to act out her sickness on anyone who was handy, and I would have likely gone to the police and reported her behavior.  But I was a little girl who loved to be cuddled and loved attention and who got none of that at home, so I fell prey to a person who took advantage of my need.  Sad, sad, sad!  As an adult, I am ANGRY!  And that’s good.  I have spent many decades of my life using the energy of my anger to drive constructive behavior.    

How will I put this new concept of my self worth to use?  Now that I realize that I am valuable and that what I do may be valuable and useful to other people, I have several projects in mind.  One is to use YouTube to explain the process of therapy I have been through—to demystify my therapy, in other words, in order to make the prospect of therapy in general appear less daunting.  Another is to speak to groups using my own story as a means of illustrating how child abuse changes the course of a life and can limit a child’s potential for growth.  Yet another project I have in mind is publishing my blog posts in book form.  Because my head isn’t so busy processing material related to the therapeutic process now, my “internal hard drive” has more space to do other things, and I have these projects in mind.  However, I also want to enjoy simply being a person, a real person who has fun and enjoys reading and does iconography and sings in the church choir and goes to parties and has friends.  I can do all this finally!  And I can enjoy doing these things.   

Coming next:  Benefit #2.  I’m not sure yet what this will be.  Stay tuned.   

May your day be filled with blessings

Like the sun that lights the sky,

And may you always have the courage

To spread your wings and fly!

Celtic Prayer