When safe feels unsafe
‘Are you going to keep yourself safe this evening?’ asks the therapist. It’s nearly the end of the session. And it’s been a tough one. We’ve done some good work – knowing what I’ve previously been unable to know, feeling what I’ve previously been unable to feel – but I’m quivering right at the edge of my window of tolerance. And after previous such sessions I haven’t coped well.
I don’t know how to answer. I don’t really know what she means. I don’t know what the right answer is. And I don’t want to get into trouble.
‘Yes,’ I say, looking away and down and wriggling slightly in my seat.
She knows I’m bluffing.
She bites her lip and her eyelids squeeze together a bit. A long pause. She’s seeking me out and I’m watching her without looking at her.
‘What are you going to do to keep yourself safe?’ It’s a subtle change of question, but an effective one, because I’m caught.
‘I have absolutely no idea,’ I say, deciding that honesty is the best policy.
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/