On my blog entry entitled Faith Allen’s Story – God’s Intervention in My Healing, a reader posted the following comment:
Faith, Thank you so much for your website and the wonderful writing. I am a survivor too and still recovering. Your site is a great help. I am getting ready to get back to therapy. I wonder if we ever get over this and over therapy as well. Thank you much. God Bless ~ Paulette
My answer is both yes and no. When I first entered into therapy, my therapist told me that my goal to be a “normal person” and “over” the child abuse was unrealistic. (This was not what I wanted to hear!) He said that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not something that is “cured” but is, instead, “managed.” When I walked in his door, a trigger could last for weeks. He assured me that, some day in the future, I would work through being triggered in days and then, eventually, hours. He was right.
I have come to accept that there is no “normal” and that “normal” is overrated. I am who I am in part because of my life experiences. Because my life experiences are different from anyone else’s experiences, it is unrealistic to expect for me to act and react like some “norm” in society since the “norm” did not experience what I did.
My experience in therapy was that I went weekly for six months, every other week for 18 months, and then monthly for a while until we both felt I was ready to stop. Since ending therapy, I have seen my therapist a handful of times when I felt I needed it, the last visit being in December 2008.
Most of the healing work is done outside of the therapist’s office. You just need the therapist to guide you in the right direction and provide you with healing tools. Once you have mastered those tools, you really don’t need therapy any longer.
For example, let’s say I am very triggered. I used to feel like I was free-falling and would do a number of self-destructive things to survive the feeling. Today, I can generally tell that I am triggered within a few hours (if not sooner). Once I know that I am triggered, I can start using my tools. I don’t need to pay my therapist $150 an hour to tell me what to do because I already know how to do it. In fact, the last few times I called him when I was triggered, I had already managed the trigger myself effectively before stepping foot in his office.
Healing is a relative term. As long as you are breathing, you can evolve into a healthier you. In that sense, I will never be “done.” However, I never dreamed when I started therapy in 2003 that I would be doing as well as I am today, and I am only in my early 40’s. I have the whole rest of my life to continue growing and healing.
The same can be true for you. Do the hard work of healing now. Under your therapist’s supervision, do lots of healing work between the sessions. Work toward becoming an independent healer by developing the wonderful tools that your therapist gives you. Then, you will eventually “outgrow” therapy (but will always have that avenue available to you should you feel the need).
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt