Looking back at previous posts, it is stunning to me how cyclical trauma therapy can be. At least it is for us. I think we can discern a fairly predictable pattern through it all: 1. Denial, 2. Acknowledgement, 3. Avoidance, 4. Crisis, 5. Processing, 6. Resolution, and then typically a brief period of Reprieve before a new string of memories starts to arise and we start the whole process over again. During our denial phase, we immerse ourselves in external life. It’s like we are so exhausted from the last crisis that we can’t even think about anything having to do with therapy. CB typically lets us get away with it for a while out of compassion for our fatigue, but if we stay too long in the denial phase, we end up over-committing ourselves to external obligations and regretting it when we are ready to acknowledge the new stuff.
Before long, the new stuff starts pressing into the forefront. It’s tough, because usually we are either so consumed with the fear of another crisis that we cannot go there, or we are unable to access anything with real clarity. If there are parts we do not have great communication with, this is the uncomfortable part where we lose a bunch of time and struggle to feel cohesive. Finally, we decide to buckle down and explore what is surfacing.
Inevitably, we are terrified of what we find. Nothing buried in our mind is fun to uncover. We usually hit programming of some kind, and we take off running. This is the stage where the temptation to use unhealthy coping mechanisms can get overwhelming. CB usually has to pull out her “step out onto the invisible ledge and trust something will be there when you put your foot down” speech. Sometimes, once we have a picture of where we need to go and who we need to talk to, we have to schedule an extended session to start processing. It usually takes us several weeks to reach all of the nooks and crannies in a web of memories. During this time, we are typically in crisis mode. Several years ago, crisis mode meant hospitalization. Our protectors knew how unsafe we were, so we wouldn’t even be allowed to fully acknowledge something new until we were in Baltimore. The past few years, though, we were able to work through everything outpatient, but we definitely needed extra support to get through. For our system, processing and crisis are pretty interchangeable. We hit walls and snares and fail-safes, but CB has worked with us so long that she is a pro at understanding everything and working through it.
Finally, we will hit some kind of resolution. It takes a lot of time and struggle, but the payoff is a sense of relief at the end. Usually, we can already see what is over the next horizon, but the systems do get a chance to experience the relief that comes with finally resolving some of the past hurts. Exhausted and healing, we drift back into our comfortable world of denial for as long as we can before starting over again.
So where are we right now? Well, we were really struggling back in March – very much in processing/crisis mode. As a result, we hit a strong period of denial for the entire month of April. It’s only been in the last week or so that we are starting to get impressions from within. In typical denial fashion, we enrolled in an accelerated degree completion program this month, so our Alpha mind is not happy about possibly facing another crisis. But there is always a reason to pull the “bad timing” card, and if we only did therapy when it was a “good time”, we would have gotten nowhere by now. We’ve been pretty dissociative and disorganized as a system – unsure of who is up a lot of the time. But thanks to our friend, Nel, we discovered polyvore.com, and parts have started communicating via collage. So I guess this is a step toward acknowledgement. I hope that the systems will allow us to write more as we go into this next thing. I miss my friends, and I miss blogging, so here’s to hoping I don’t get out-voted!