‘Unshame?’ says the therapist, checking that she’s heard me correctly.
I nod. ‘I don’t know what else to call it. Because, what’s the opposite of shame? There isn’t one really, is there? It’s not pride, because that’s all puffed up – the other end of the spectrum. What’s the position in the middle, where you’re not full of shame, and you’re not full of pride? Unshame is the only word I can think of. It’s where you’re just you and it’s okay to be you.’
She smiles encouragingly. Maybe it’s going to be one of those sessions where I just need her empathic supportiveness to contain me while I unfurl my thoughts from their tight little nest deep within my head. I need permission to challenge things. To feel things. To know things.
I need a safe space in which I can stand back from my life and rearrange its edges, like breaking up a jigsaw and starting again. I need to find the frame. I need to find some certainties. I need to be able to imagine what it will look like once complete. Because I realise that, so much of my life, I’ve been putting the pieces together upside down: a dull, pale blue cardboard life. But now, here in therapy, I’m going to jiggle the pieces around, turn them over, consider them. And start to construct a new picture. One full of life.
At least, that’s the plan. I’m not sure where my positivity has suddenly come from. I’m not sure if it will remain.
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/