This was an “oops” picture, but I love it as nature is my current therapist.
Pain management referred me to a pain psychologist as he was supposed to help me with energy conservation and the grief of chronic illness. Instead, he wanted to delve into my trauma history without really giving me the support for it. I promised him 3 sessions. I won’t be going back.
Our final session happened last week. I mentioned a painful one year anniversary is coming up for me. He said, “how will you distract from the pain”. I looked him straight in the eye with the reply, “distract from it? Distract from it? NO, I’m going to embrace it and while it will be a sad day, I am going to do something symbolic to celebrate what I’ve lost. Furthermore, being happy all the time is a western myth”.
With my words, he got very quiet. He looked sideways out the window. After a few second of silence, he said “true”. After another period of silence, he said, “I guess that’s better than taking a benzo”.
By “benzo”, he was referring to anti anxiety drugs like Ativan, klonopin, Xanax, or any of those drugs that are an attempt to mask uncontrollable anxiety. I took them for years as western psychology told me I had to be happy and calm. My personal psychology says feel it all to not be anxious. Forget psych meds…forever.
I’ve mostly departed from western psychology for over 2 1/2 years. I learned what I needed. I thought I needed the pain psychologist as I sometimes long for someone to know what happened to me. I want them to know my history so they know the pain I lived, to know I’m a success now. I want a stranger to be proud of me.
I realized in my 34 days I spent at what I refer to as my “trauma resort”, which is really a name for the rather fancy residential treatment I went to for my CPTSD in 2017. My individual therapist came to me on the Monday or Tuesday after I had arrived with a regular composition notebook and told me to start writing. I told her I was going to need more than one notebook.
My trauma story sits written on hundreds and hundreds of pages in several composition notebooks that sit in a special place in my room. My trauma story has been told on paper even if no one knows exactly in detail what happened to me.
I recognize that having an extremely traumatic past has shaped me. I used to think it meant a lifetime of misery and hating myself. I see now it gave me resiliency, an uncanny ability to feel adept at walking in other people’s shoes, sensitivity, kindness, compassion, and I am well aware it has hugely contributed to being chronically ill.
I spoke to a young woman a few days ago who I was actually at my trauma resort with. Another one passed through town and spent the night. They and so many others who have experienced trauma and are struggling have begged me to write my story. I’m not looking back. They don’t want the story of my trauma. They want the story of how I healed without western psychology.
So I hope to get it done eventually. It’s not that I’m perfect in my healing. Far from it in fact. I do know I’m committed to it. I recognize sadness and pain are equally as important as joy and elation.
As I go into a work meeting tomorrow morning that I joked to them I would prefer my title be “hope dealer” versus what my official title is, I will spread the message that life is hard for anyone. Being happy constantly isn’t attainable. I wasn’t blessed with a loving and supportive family or a life partner. I didn’t get the satisfaction of safe adults. What I did is get an inner resolve to live to the fullest that I can. I embrace it all, even when it’s really hard.
As I go into being a “hope dealer”, I will remind the people I’m working with that “constant happiness is a western myth”.