When Therapy Doesn’t Work

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

The other day I had a therapy appointment. My therapist was trying to identify where my anxiety had taken root in my youth. I laughed about some of the stuff I’d been through. She wasn’t laughing. I don’t like the look of pity and concern she gave me.

I keep telling myself that my childhood wasn’t so bad. I had a place to sleep, food to eat, and clothes to wear. Anything else is a luxury. Many people have it worse. Some kids get broken bones and hospital trips. Others get real mental trauma.

I can’t talk specifics about mine because people don’t like hearing all of it. Some can hear about the hours upon hours of fear I’d experienced. Kept in anticipation of bad things happening. Being told that bad stuff happens all the time. Being given the worst case scenario for no other reason than it’ll shut me up.

Some can hear about the why, that all of this was to make me a better person. To make me righteous. To help my eternal soul get to heaven.

Nobody can hear all of it. They’re both bound up in the same person, years of screams and tears and hopelessness trapped seething between two ears. And now I lost the one thing that was supposed to make it all worth it. It’s like being told you have to lose a leg, and then afterwards, they tell you they lied.

I’m the villain for being mad about it. Good people move on. Strong people move on. I haven’t moved on.

Logic tells me what that means.

9 thoughts on “When Therapy Doesn’t Work

  1. People move on when they manage to find closure. For some this happens quickly, for some it takes years, some never do.

    It’s not about strong or weak. It’s about giving all the bad stuff a place. I hope you’ll be able to do that.

    Hang in there!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I told myself my childhood wasn’t bad too Sirius. I minimized my pain and experiences too. Kept comparing it all to the “real” trauma others had. It has taken me countless years to finally “feel” my own without minimizing. Oh the default setting is to minimize, especially intellectually. It’s what I’ve always done. Now though it’s different. I understand now why my therapists weren’t laughing. It’s just taken time for the layers to peel away.

    I’m only now able to say out loud, “I’m angry” and not only know I’m justified, I “feel” justified. Anger is part of the process. I just really didn’t have a safe outlet for it. Hid my anger inside. Everyone’s story is their own. I use to compare mine with others. It wasn’t in my best interest.

    You are good. You are strong. You are not a villian.

    Moving on is not a destination. It’s a process.

    You are moving. ❤

    Liked by 7 people

  3. Everyone has the right to their emotions. But “I’m the villain for being mad about it. Good people move on. Strong people move on. I haven’t moved on.” Is this really a characterization of what your therapists or others are implying?

    I am one of those who has encouraged you to acknowledge your past and them move on to being focused on the now and the near future. Whether you do or not is entirely up to you. I have seen transformations I did not think possible in people who got stuck in their past. I do not know if such a thing could happen to you, but I urged that you try.

    Personally I can’t imagine painting you as a villain or even negative. You come off as rather brave in facing your demons.

    As always, I wish you well.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Me too. I have these cycles of intense memories which are like reliving the past, then that brings on reviewed defensive responses of what could have been done or said (or just thinking this or that shouldn’t have happened). And anger and dread just take over even while I’m trying to fight the thoughts away.
        Have you read about something called Complex PTSD? It’s different from the PTSD most people know. Here’s a summary:
        “…. Complex PTSD is less well understood. This relates to repeated abusive and traumatic situations, often during childhood. The child is unable to escape from an abusive or damaging family dynamic. Complex PTSD occurs before the child’s brain systems, cognitive abilities and sense of self are properly formed. It affects the way the brain and its communication systems develop, ensuring the individual responds to threat and danger at every turn.

        This is a critical survival strategy in the threatening environment. The amygdala responds quickly and decisively to small signs of threat. The distress response system is activated quickly and often consistently. The body courses with adrenaline and cortisol to ensure the child can try to fight back or run away to safety. Often, neither of these options is available to the child. With a body full of stress chemicals, the child shuts down, dissociates and goes into a freeze response.

        Living this way for a long time has a big impact on the body as well as the psyche. The stress chemical overload impacts immune and digestive system functioning. It also affects the body’s inflammatory environment and may contribute to a range of psychosomatic symptoms. Latent illnesses can be triggered into expression by this kind of chronic stress and trauma. The often-unacknowledged sense that threat is ever-present continues throughout adult life, even once we are in apparently safe environments.

        The stress response that was so adaptive in the abusive environment is completely unadaptive for a flexible, connected and fulfilling adult life. Who can function in a job or relationship where the smallest emotional slight sends stress hormones soaring? Or where a colleague’s bullying behavior causes us to shut down, unable to interact with and respond to the immediate environment?

        Many turn to maladaptive coping mechanisms to dull the pain and slow down the stress response — drugs, alcohol, overspending, sex addiction, overworking. Others may find themselves repeatedly drawn to recreate in their adult life the scenario that generated the childhood trauma — ending up in all the wrong relationships because it is familiar, we think it is all we deserve or the child inside thinks “this time I can fix it and make it right.”

        Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.