flashing back and returning- 2

I just gotta say, I love my therapist. Not putting her on a pedestal or anything like that, I just am overcome with gratitude to her. She is so calm, and open, and compassionate. No matter what state I come in, no matter how childish I act on occasion, no matter how scared, she has kindness and compassion for me and she models what that can look like and I am learning to treat myself the same way.

I swear to god she can read my mind sometimes. Like certain cringes, she says out loud what I’m cringing about. And sometimes she can gently call me on my bullshit, which I do indeed appreciate. She listens. She waits for me to figure out what I need to say. She prompts me when we’ve waited too long and I’ve dissociated a bit because speaking my mind and heart is so incredibly hard on some days.

She sees me.

She is so present in sessions it helps me do the same.

I had a flashback in her office last night. I was already in a fairly vulnerable place and I tried to not dissociate from the fear instantly, which then made the flashback experience so much more intense. I felt all tingly inside, in my hands and feet and legs and pelvic area and that sense that I was seeing colors and spots and maybe about to pass out, or at least go into full-on shock, which is what happened That Day.

She asked what was going on and I couldn’t put it into words, I couldn’t stay with it. I darted my eyes to the door and felt my feet spring up, contemplating running away. The images stayed there and I knew I wanted to stay present, or at least try to, not run away or block it out. It was overwhelming and after struggling for a few minutes I yelled with panic, with frustration, “I can’t DO this!”

She was so calm, and gentle, and kind, and said “Okay,” and then she reminded me that I was safe, I was in the office, look around see what’s here, I can come back to myself, I was safe.

She coached me through grounding, using all of my senses. I was embarrassed and judging myself and had a hard time but we named what I was seeing, what I was feeling, I moved my body and wiggled my toes and started to come back to the room.

“What do you hear?” she asked, and looked at the heater next to the desk.

“Um, the heater,” I said.

She paused. “And what else?” Silence. Then I noticed a tick tick.

“The clock,” I breathed with relief.

“Yup, and it’s telling us we have about ten minutes left.” (She’s so good with that time and giving me a helpful heads up!). “And what else? My voice?”

“Yup,” I managed.

“How about some breathing?” and she started to talk me through some breathing exercises and it reminded me of yoga and I started laughing because I don’t always take yoga seriously even though I know it’s helpful.

“Yup, it’s just like yoga,” she said (reading my mind!?), “it’s good practice.”

So, slowly I came back to myself. Laughter helps me do that; I shall file that observation away for future reference. With a breath of strength I tried to pull my self out of not-here and briefly looked her in the eye.

“How much of you is here right now?” she asked.

Statistics and percentages make me chuckle, because who can actually know something like that with accuracy? Again a part of me giggled. I considered the question and responded, “More than 50%.”

And then I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and the judging myself came back and I put my head in my hands.

She’s so kind, so compassionate. She helped ground me. I am still learning how to do it and she showed me how kindly I can speak to myself and come back to myself. She was the voice. I am learning to use my own voice in that way.

Before I left she pulled out two handouts from her desk about coping with flashbacks. I looked at the list and recognized some of the suggestions as things I’ve been doing all along, and some awesome new ideas.

I felt overcome by gratitude and managed to look up and say, “Thank you.”

I am so grateful.

I love my therapist. It helps I think, that she’s not that much older than I am. So there’s no parental-figure confusion. Rather, I am learning how to be my own adult and take care of me, and she’s helping me realize how I have all of that power and grace inside me, no matter what it’s buried under.

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