As a therapist-in-the-making, I am here to embrace you. The good, bad, messy, silly — all the parts. So many clients come to therapy saying “Fix me!” or “Just help me erase or get rid of these painful memories!”or “Make me better!”, especially when they’ve been struggling with pain from trauma, grief, a break-up, or feeling rejected.
But here’s the thing – my clients are incredibly amazing people and I can’t erase their traumas even if I wanted to. Even more so, I whole-heartedly believe that there is so much growth we can derive from digging deep, feeling the pain, and allowing ourselves to be imperfect as we heal from our past hurts. Trauma will happen. Life will happen. Pain will happen. This isn’t a way of minimizing trauma or it’s effects but to show people that it’s okay to be sad, angry, anxious, depressed and otherwise out-of-sorts when we’ve experienced a lot of trauma and the addition of pressure to not feel pain, to simply get over things, or to “feel normal” only hurts us more.
When a person gets stuck in trying to “fix” themselves — they often go to the shame cave. The shame cave usually is accompanied by or proceeds feelings of not being good enough, not mattering, not getting it right, or of something being “dysfunctional” about ourselves compared to other people. Often our attempts to “fix the problem” becomes the problem. The shame cave often results in numbing behaviors such as addictions, becoming overly involved in another person’s life or a relationship, and in depression.
So what do I do when my clients are hiding out in the shame cave?
I try to get them back in touch with their true selves. That is, the parts of them that are hidden beneath their feelings of inadequacy. The parts of themselves that are fueled by love and not fear. It can often take some time to get to know these parts of ourselves, especially if we’ve been running a script that has been fueled by fear for years (which is fairly common for people with traumatic histories). This fear-driven part of ourselves is usually created to protect ourselves from future traumas, but now, playing out in non-trauma life moments, can really hinder us from being ourselves and reaching our potential. When fear is driving the bus, we can start to feel on-edge in every day life, and not even sure of what safety is or means. We may try to control things in an effort to feel a false sense of safety and power. And if we don’t know what to do with those feelings of being “on-edge” whether it exhibits itself as anger, anxiety, or depression — well, then we are really in trouble.
So no, I’m not here to FIX you. I’m here to find you. That true self that isn’t afraid, the parts of you that come out when you feel truly safe and valued. It may take some time to get there for many reasons, but boy, is it worth the journey. You are worth it.