“I think we’ve reached an impasse.”
Those are the words no client ever wants to hear. It’s a fancy way of saying therapy isn’t working. Inside, I’m thinking that’s it, she’s giving up on me. I’m so damaged that not even she can fix me. No one can fix me.
The educated counselor in me understood what she was talking about. I knew exactly how I was stuck. I’ve been in therapy ever since I escaped just shy of 11 months ago. I go multiple times per week; I’ve never been your standard once-a-week client. But the people who go to therapy as much as me, they are working through and processing really intense trauma.
I’m still struggling through the basics of safety and stabilization. We can’t work through any trauma until I have a grasp on the basics. Any time we try to work through something, I shut down. I can’t get through it.
And every time a trauma emerges, my safety and stabilization goes to shit. I don’t eat right. I don’t sleep. I become self-destructive. I need to work on the trauma in order to move past it, but I can’t work on the trauma because I’m neglecting the very basic necessities of my physical and emotional health. It’s a seemingly endless, fucked up cycle of making no progress.
Something has to change. My therapist brought up changing our sessions, going less than I am now (especially since I am in a financial bind until I am back in school again). That possibility was terrifying to me. “No, I can’t handle that. I don’t even feel like this is enough. I feel like I need therapy every day.”
And I just proved her point. I’m still struggling with everyday things. My therapist can’t be there for me every day. It’s why she suggested inpatient some time ago. I could sense her going in that direction again. But I can’t do inpatient. Financially, I can’t be out of work. I’m also in the midst of an educational transition that has to be done within the next month if I want to start by the Fall. I have a lot going on. I can’t just put my life on pause to spend weeks in a hospital. A hospital is not real life. How will it help me with real life?
I’m not perfect, but I’m also not completely dysfunctional. I wake myself up every day and go to work. I’ve been going to the doctor. I’ve been getting my schooling back on track. I’ve been functioning like any other person. Yea, I’m crying in the bathroom, and on the bus, and over the phone. But I’m still getting shit done. Isn’t that enough?
“You need to decide if we still need to work on this (safety/stabilization) in therapy, or can we work on the more intensive stuff and you can work on this outside of therapy.”
I want to work on the trauma. I need to. But I don’t know how to not shut down. I told her, “You’ve already told me all you could about this stuff. I already know it. I think either something is wrong with me or I’m stubborn, but I should be able to handle this on my own.”
My therapist told me nothing was wrong with me. She did agree that I was stubborn. But she also said that stubbornness helped get me where I am today. That stubbornness protected me from my mother. That stubbornness kept me alive, because I refused to believe my mother’s lies. That stubbornness helped me flee from prison.