This past Friday, some trauma memories came up in therapy. They weren’t new to me, but they were ones that I had intended on keeping silent about. After struggling with them for most of the weekend, I emailed my therapist on Sunday afternoon to see if she could possibly work me into her schedule on Monday (today). She agreed to fit me in and so I put in a request to take some of the day off, and began preparing myself for the session.
When I first started seeing my shrink, I remember strongly disliking her. I didn’t trust her. I found her chatter during our sessions and her constant note taking to be agitating. I felt like she couldn’t possibly understand what I had been through or what it was like to live the way that I lived. I struggled to connect with anything she said.
I had been talking to the same therapist in my hometown since I was 16 years old. The woman who is there for me 24/7, who gives me suggestions about marriage, self-injury, and parenting….the woman who has helped me through some of the most difficult time periods of my life….moving on to a different therapist felt like cheating. In some ways, I think those first few months with my current therapist consisted of grieving the loss of my hometown shrink. And even though I still see her a few times a year and we still talk once every couple of months, things are different now. Perhaps the lack of connection that I felt with my trauma therapist those first few months really had more to do with my own rebellious state of mind than her. I was rebelling against getting a local shrink, admitting that I was powerless over self-injury, and the idea that my traumatic past greatly impacted my current life.
As I continue through my trauma work, roughly 18 months in now, there is no one else I would rather share the explicit, humiliating, horrid details of my past with. Today, my one hour session lasted almost two hours. My therapist let me talk about everything from yoga to trauma memories to the sadness and grief I feel about losing my teenage years to drugs and alcohol. While lengthy, I found my session to be incredibly productive. I left with a huge feeling of relief, acceptance, and gratitude. I left feeling safe.
Looking back, I feel a little silly about my fears, concerns, and judgements that I had towards my trauma therapist 18 months ago. But maybe that’s how it’s supposed to feel when you’ve been seeing the same shrink for 11 years and then you switch to a new one? Either way, the gratitude that I have for my trauma therapist today is endless. She always works so incredibly hard for me. I don’t like to think about where I would be right now had I not started seeing her. I know that I probably would not have found yoga as a coping skill, and I still probably would not be addressing my traumatic childhood.
I feel funny about posting this one, because I know that my shrink will likely read it. However, the point that I want to make is that even if you’re afraid to find a new therapist, or start seeing one if you’ve never been, try to go into it with an open mind. Take time to really process what your new therapist tells you before passing judgement. Try new things. My whole life is so much different as a result of the work I have done with my “new” therapist.