The cost of invulnerability
‘Does that feel too vulnerable?’ the therapist asks me.
Doh. Yes. Of course.
But I don’t say this, because it feels too vulnerable to admit to feeling vulnerable. Instead, I pull my armour tighter and try to figure out how to distract her.
She had asked me how I feel therapy is going, how our relationship is. I’m damned if I’m going to tell her, I think. There’s no way I’m giving her that kind of information, so that she can use it against me. There’s no way I’m going to show her what’s really going on, inside my mind, in my guts. I imagine her ten feet away, grappling to reach me, and I savour the safety of that space between us. It feels comforting. It feels a relief. The thought of her coming any closer, touching me, impacting me, knowing me, makes me sweat with clammy fear.
I can’t think what to say in reply to her so I just shrug ambiguously, and I avert my gaze down towards the leg of her chair. I’m precarious here: I mustn’t look as if her question has got to me. I mustn’t let her see that I’m trying not to look vulnerable.
But of course she knows. She knows every-bloody-thing. She is a therapist.
Find the complete article in Carolyn's new book, 'Unshame: healing trauma-based shame through psychotherapy', available now!
A word of explanation
I had therapy mainly between 2006 and 2015. These blog posts are not verbatim accounts of sessions, but rather the client equivalent of ‘case studies’ - amalgamations of various sessions, ‘narratively true’ rather than ‘historically true’. Although often written for stylistic purposes in the present tense, they are very much from a past period of my life. Ideally they should be read within the wider context of other blog posts, articles and my book, to give a more integrated and rounded sense of where I was at, where I’m at now, and the process that took place between those two points. I have been on a journey of recovery, and the difference in me from when I was in therapy (especially at the beginning) to now is testament to the brain’s ability to recover from even the most appalling suffering.
My primary work now is writing, followed closely by training therapists, counsellors and other professionals to support survivors of trauma. Regrettably I cannot provide one-to-one support but our charity framework PODS (Positive Outcomes for Dissociative Survivors) provides a helpline and a range of other services: please go to www.pods-online.org.uk for more information, and https://support.pods-online.org.uk/start-here if you are looking for support.
For training, please see our range of live courses at www.carolynspring.com/live-training, and our online courses at www.carolynspring.com/online-training. We also publish a range of resources to support recovery from trauma, which you can see at www.carolynspring.com/shop. My first book, Recovery is my best revenge, is available to buy at https://www.carolynspring.com/shop/recovery-is-my-best-revenge-paperback/