Tag Archives: Resistance

A Daunting Prospect

guiltyI was only just writing in my last post about the significant improvement in mood and then I woke two days later, with a severe dose of the blues.

While I’m struggling to understand the therapeutic process – or fully believe in the healing – positive changes are undoubtedly underway. The sudden turnaround in mood wasn’t immediately obvious until I reread my therapy journal from the night before. The words were bold and clear, adorned with question marks, “My attempted murder.”

When Wednesday came along, I really didn’t want to go to my session with Paul. I wasn’t consciously avoiding any connection with the memories of my attack, but I did feel suffocating apathy. I know from experience that something very powerful takes place whenever we choose to a sit with the feelings in therapy, even if they are only resentments for being there.

Paul sensed my unease, “It looks as though you’re finding it difficult to be here today.”

This took me by surprise. He’s one of the most passive Therapists I’ve ever met and not usually forthright with his own observations. We talked for a while about trivialities and then I eventually told him about my journal entry and the change of mood.

“It’s the only issue I haven’t yet focussed on in therapy, but I don’t know how to even begin talking about such a traumatic event. I can easily run through the details, but they always feel more like describing a movie, completely absent of any personal connection. I’ve never even thought about the impact it had on my life, never mind the feelings.”

“This reminds me of the issue you had during the initial months of therapy when you were experiencing dissociation from feeling anything in the moment.”

“I know this is a form of dissociation but awareness does not seem to help, it only adds to the frustration. Whenever I go in search of the feelings, there is only an empty space… nothing. If there are no emotions, what is there to talk about?”

“Do you feel anything right now?”

With great relief, I noticed the clock was approaching the end of our time, “The only thing I feel right now is intense fear, as though a black hole is opening at my feet… and I am slowly backtracking.”

Two days later, it was time for the weekly group therapy and once again, I desperately didn’t want to go. I can see how this was purely avoidance, but my mind was playing tricks at the time. I scrambled to find every possible reason not to go, even sabotaging the journey to keep me late.

I shared with the group how confusing it felt not to be able to talk about the feelings. One of the other members said something so simple that I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it myself.

“Sometimes it’s easier to identify the feelings, but quite another to feel them.”

That statement’s so true. I can identify the terror and helplessness, the fear and anger, the violation and intense hurt, or I can tell you about how it was the final straw to a lifetime of violence and injustice. The missing ingredient, crucial to healing, is the ability to feel any one of those emotions.

At the start of therapy, I had this general plan of the things I needed to talk about and, morebottling importantly, the emotions I should feel. I couldn’t bear to think about certain childhood memories and the thought of willingly analysing them in therapy was a daunting prospect, but I knew exactly what to expect.

The experience of almost losing my life to a psychotic murderer feels entirely different. Even though I lived with the aftermath all these years, the depth of emotion is completely new territory and any thought of digging up the trauma is terrifying. But, I will be disappointed if I reach the end of this therapy programme in January without a reasonable attempt to connect with the feelings.

Stuck in Therapy & Resistance

Everything was ticking along rather nicely in therapy, until circumstances took anthBPASDXP0 unexpected turn three weeks ago. I’ve managed to keep my head above the depression, but it has been difficult to write or read other blogs… my apologies. Thankfully, the worst of it’s slowly edging away like a stormy weather front.

I have spent months sharing past memories, edging through childhood trauma, recounting the years of sexual abuse, and trawling the effects of growing up with narcissistic parents has become one of the most enlightening and validating experiences of my life.

During those developments, my head felt as though it was in an endless chaotic loop. I steamrolled ahead and experienced a number of lightbulb moments along the way and even the odd bolt of lightning, but it was a relief to feel the intensity of the issues start to fizzle out.

I reached the end of that process and was surprised to feel completely empty, I still do. Last Friday, I missed group and then on Wednesday afternoon I dragged my stubborn reluctance along to my session with Paul, uncertain what we would talk about for 50 long minutes.

I’m still trying to understand what the terms, “letting go,” and “moving on” actually mean, which is one of the reasons why I came to blogging in the first place. I used to think they were two of the same; once we let go then we automatically move on.

My experience is that it’s not just about leaving the past behind and then skipping merrily on our way. To ‘let go’ is more about coming face to face with who I am in the present moment.

It seems to me that while we may recover from difficult experiences in our past, moving on from the emotional and psychological baggage does not necessarily happen simultaneously.

While I did recover from an attempted murder experience, it didn’t spontaneously change the PTSD and Agoraphobia diagnoses. It’s similar with childhood trauma, I may heal from the actual traumatic experiences, but it will take time to alter the effects that still ripple through my life today.

When I was thinking about this post, I googled “stuck in therapy” and came across a term I had not heard of before, “Resistance,” which is what we do to protect ourselves from our biggest fears. It’s when we convince the potential enthusiasm that something is not so important, when in reality, it is.

A perfect light hearted example of my own resistance – and I hate to make this admission – is my fear of creepy crawly spiders. I’m reluctant to admit the true extent of those fears because there are some big mother spiders in London.

untitled (2)When I lived with my ex-partner, if a spider happened to grace us with its presence, not only did I vacate the room, I would sit in my car until he apprehended the offender and then proved it.

Now that I live alone, I resist admitting my fears in the hope of conjuring enough bravado to catch the bionic blighters in a pint glass. If all else fails, I can eventually retreat to bed pretending I don’t care if the hairy-legged-mother successfully navigates its spiteful way into my bedroom.

That may well be a funny example, but ‘resistance’ can also take the shape of much more insidious behaviours, such as recalling painful experiences but failing to connect with the emotion, or having dissociative lapses in memory during therapy. Some people might rewrite history to protect whatever fear they resist the most, or decide we are bored or disheartened with sessions and then feel angry with the Therapists when we perceive them as a threat or believe they no longer meet our needs.

Apparently, we’re constantly grappling with resistance throughout our therapeutic journey. Sometimes there are moments of fluidity and clarity, when we embrace new realisations that were previously resistant to our fragile minds. At other times, we just don’t get it and continue to subconsciously battle with the things that piss us off the most.

Of course, most of us are not aware when resistance is playing tricks with our minds,th9EDMWIXO which is a rather daunting prospect. The thought of reaching the end of my therapy programme before realising I’ve been avoiding the issue that needs the most attention, is almost discouraging.

When I started therapy, I imagined letting go to be the conclusion, but it’s actually just the beginning.