The safety of self-hatred
It is a long, hard winter of therapy. We are trudging through snow and each session is bleak and effortful. The warmth between us has given way to suspicion and a simmering resentment. We feel stuck in drifts. There’s no movement. And it’s miserable.
‘What are we going to do to move forwards?’ asks the therapist at the beginning of the session. I feel mild animosity that she’s taken the lead, and I want to find fault and complain that it’s my session and that I should be allowed to lead it. But also part of me is relieved that she’s vocalised what I’ve been feeling. I haven’t had words for the stretched-out tension in my tummy. And she’s right: we really are stuck and we really do need to move forwards.
I sulk only momentarily. I chance a furtive glance at her and then look away, frowning, displeased. This is my dysfunctional, ambivalent behaviour: it says, ‘I want you to know that I want to engage with you, but I also want you to know that I’m not happy with you, so I’m not going to make it easy.’
I grump a bit longer. Then I sigh. And some of the tension escapes with it and suddenly there’s space for words.
‘I don’t know…’
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/