Sometimes I read a blog post which happens to be on a topic that has also been on my mind, and it provokes new trains of thought and inspires me to write my own take on the subject. And sometimes I read a blog post which happens to be on a topic that has also been on my mind and there are no words – because it says it all.
As I prepared to return to therapy after the six-week summer break, I had that same niggling sensation that comes towards the end of every break, that I know I will always ignore – the desire to never return. The thought of ending therapy and losing my therapist is incredibly distressing to me – and yet the thought of what it takes to go back, is enough to keep that niggling feeling alive.
What does it take? A willingness to immerse myself further in that trust, that caring, that security, in the face of the certain knowledge that it will end (at least, with her); the energy to go into an hour-long heart-and-mind work-out that I know could leave me utterly wiped-out, drained, and simultaneously emotionally full and empty, for days to come; an acceptance of the fact that this is a unique relationship in which my therapist is alongside me in extraordinary experiences of distress, but without the ordinary means of human touch as a comfort in that distress.
What does it take? More than anything, courage, which comes in all of the forms above, and more. Please read this wonderful post by a therapist who can witness to that courage both from within, and as an observer – but always as a partaker. This sort of courage is a joint endeavour; and that, more than anything, is what enables me to keep going back, over and over, again and again.
Macbeth: If we should fail?
Lady Macbeth: We fail? But screw your courage to the sticking place, And we’ll not fail.
Macbeth, Act 1, scene 7, 59-61
Committing psychotherapeutic acts takes extraordinary courage.
Facing down anxieties, digging down underneath painful symptoms, revealing vulnerabilities, casting out demons, seeking salvation, asking forgiveness, challenging abuse, severing damaging relationships, examining your failures, flaws, weaknesses, revealing your shames, contending with guilt, grieving, preparing to die, coming out, fighting for intimacy, encountering emptiness, apprehending your own murderousness, and the depths of your hungers and desires, setting limits and boundaries, saying “no”, tolerating exposure, baring your soul, withstanding the pain, changing your life, telling the truth…
Telling the truth.
These are terrifying acts.
I can think of no psychotherapeutic action that does not require courage.
I cannot think of a single split second of the 30 years I have spent engaged…
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