• Lauren Morris

It's Probably Just Me

Trauma is a tricky thing. Many things in my life have long term impacts on my mental health that I speak about openly. Then there are the things that I don’t name but will ponder so I can find understanding and perhaps closure.

A certain friend has experienced something close enough to make them one of the few people that comprehends a bit about how I operate and struggle. No two people have the same experience but there can be similarities and themes that emerge. It’s like what happens when I meet people who also lived here during the hurricane season that brought Charlie along with three other storms. It wreaked havoc and there’s a connection with that person in some way that allows me to feel understood.

I shared something to my friend and we then had some back and forth discussion as we usually do on our experience with how the unfolding of what takes place fucks with your head for a long time. It then led to a conversation about therapy because we have that in common too. I talk about therapy a lot. It’s because I’m not very good at it and the process is overwhelming. I shared something about the overarching set-up and my friend remarked they’ve struggled with the same thing. It once again made me think about why is this industry designed so the clients like us fail which immediately brings me shame which is probably not supposed to be a byproduct of going to therapy.

Or perhaps it is just me. Everyone has something in childhood that shifts them in some way but then some are fundamentally and existentially changed because of what they endured. Often it leads to many more adverse experiences. It can take decades to even realize they’ve been harmed or even to reach out for help. So perhaps it isn’t just me and instead, those of us who fall into this category are more likely struggle with therapy and we already have been shamed our entire lives that we aren’t going to openly talk about it or even bring it up.

Look, I don’t have an interest in befriending my therapist. I get why the container is created so there’s an opportunity for the brain to rewire and relearn. That being said it’s an uneven relationship. Someone like me sees inauthenticity miles ahead and doesn’t trust on a primal level. It’s going to take a long time for me to make any meaningful movement in therapy because of this power differential. Power differentials are not something as an adult I allow to happen because I had no power as a child. That means just by seeing a therapist I’ve taken a huge risk.

My brain doesn’t trust that the person in the room can handle my emotional needs. So when the therapist does do that my brain is confused. Then it’s understood that I will up and leave the appointment in some elevated state and manage that all on my own with no contact or check-ins. Perhaps it’s just me but that’s not how I’m able to trust, operate, or be okay. Hence, every week feels like a restart because my brain needs proof once again while also bracing for the after-effects resulting in my defenses being on high alert. There’s never a rhythm that emerges. I’ve heard others talk about this rhythm and as usual, my experience doesn’t seem to align with a typical experience. Like I said, I suck at therapy.

Abandonment is a big thing for the few people I know who are like me. The result is hyper-independence. Every week we feel abandoned. You want me to disclose all these details of my life and who I am while you get to choose what I know about you, you get to choose if I’m worthy of being heard, and you get to choose how you’ll show up for me in session. You have all the choices and control when I’ve lived my life not having agency. When a person's entire existence is being dismantled it isn’t fair that the expectation is they just handle it. I can handle it. In fact, I’ve been handling it my whole life. It’s why I’m in therapy. To not handle it but to confront it head-on, to figure out how I can grieve, to find out if hope exists which thus far turns out to be a big NOPE.

If the norm is that people who have experienced trauma in this way struggle with how therapy is set-up why is that not being addressed by the people who create the rules? Why are professionals using a hammer when we are all not nails? Why aren’t therapists provided a larger more varied toolbox? Therapists love to espouse adaptability, growth, and change yet this one size fits all approach screams hypocrisy. Again, I don’t do inauthentic so each week goes by and I hate this process more and more. I don’t hate the person in the chair across from me. Sure it’s his work persona in the room but there’s enough authenticity there for me to have developed a sliver of trust which is a big leap for me and the only thing that has kept me from quitting.

In time, if I've been able to heal some of the core wounds and have the ability to advocate more for myself in my real-world relationships this might not be an issue but how do I get to that place when it’s designed for me to fail? To not make a meaningful change because I just so happen not to fit neatly into a “type of client” box? I’ve never fit into any box that’s part of the problem.

There should be protocols in place on the ugly weeks in therapy. Some sort of check-in. If healing occurs when you are in relation with another then you need to be in actual relation. I’m not saying a professional should be available 24/7, boundaries aren’t needed nor that their time isn’t valuable. What I am saying is there should be flexibility. Create a plan with the client, not at the client so they feel they have control of their journey and allows the client the opportunity to know they are supported for once in their lives by at least one fucking human in a world that has over 7.5 billion people.

It probably is just me.

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