I’ve struggled long and hard to understand what is meant by the term “healing” within a mental health context. I’m familiar with healing that can be quantified (e.g. a broken bone mending), but how do you quantify healing from childhood abuse? Is it possible or desirable to do so? What time-frame should we look at as reasonable when we’re considering the healing process?
I’m very aware that this is the intellectual side of me asking these questions. The questions are born from frustration at what is seeming like a very long journey that hasn’t got us very far. I know that many survivors experience a decrease in functioning with the start of therapy, but how long can I expect this to continue? I do what I can to hasten the healing process – I do the homework I’m set, I try to be as open as I can within therapy, etc. But is this enough? I’ve been told by therapists that I’m “working hard” within therapy, but I often feels as if it’s another part of my life that I’m drifting through. There will be a moment of clarity surrounding why I do a certain behaviour, but it’s then lost in the confusion and dissociative memory gaps.
I’ve yet to fully understand what the term “working hard” refers to within therapy. Yet, I often come out of a session absolutely exhausted or on an adrenaline high, both signs that I have experienced something extreme for what I sometimes dismiss as “sitting in a chair for 60 minutes talking”. I have a great deal of respect for those who are working on their healing as a full-time endeavour, it’s not something that I have the strength for. But I have no respect or patience for my own healing. I’m still caught in dismissing and minimising the memories. Liz has offered to assist with this process by using her as a sounding board to test out the feelings and potential accuracy of the memories. There is a certain attraction in doing this, we could finally prove what is real and which memories have potentially been influenced. But there is also a fear that Liz will say nothing about the validity of the memories, but rather ask us to look at them and analyse our feelings and emotions about the events. This is my greatest fear, having no way to prove or dis-prove the memories and still having to do the work of recovering from the toxic mess they generate.
Part of my anxiety is generated from the proposed changes to the ACC scheme (check out the ACC category at Gudrun Frerich’s site for some of the issues surrounding the changes). As an ACC client, the changes will mean more reporting, increasing need to measure the healing progress and the threat of my cover being stopped at any time. There is no way that I would be able to afford therapy without ACC assistance, so this is a huge issue. This is not because we are attached to, or reliant on Liz; but rather I have a fear that if we can’t release the thoughts within a therapeutic framework, we will self-destruct. Yes, I realise that I’m contradicting myself – how can therapy be “sitting in a chair talking for 60 minutes” as well as one of the things that keep us sane…
In totally other news, B entered us into a photo competition which we have absolutely no chance of winning or even placing in. This goes against every single strand of perfectionism that runs through our body. I do realise however, that it’s going to be an great deal of fun for them deciding how to photograph 100’s and 1000’s creatively.