Why don’t I belong?
‘I don’t fit in,’ I complain, earnestly, full of pain. ‘I don’t belong. I don’t belong anywhere.’
The therapist looks at me steadily, brimming with compassion for me and probably a little stuck about how to respond. If she contradicts me, she’ll risk being misattuned. If she agrees with me, she’ll reinforce my misery. So she sits and waits and eventually she says, ‘When did you first feel like this?’
I look at her, puzzled, like she’s being really stupid. ‘I’ve always felt like this. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t.’
‘Tell me about some specific times when you’ve felt it in particular,’ she insists.
I want to wave her away with a dismissive, ‘Oh, but there are so many times …’ but actually I can’t. Because, at least in this moment, I’m finding it difficult to pinpoint specifics. The feeling of not belonging is so general, so intrinsic to how I experience the world, that individual episodes don’t leap to mind.
‘I don’t know,’ I say at last, lamely.
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/