I don’t have more or less invisible scars than you because there is no way to quantify them. For each person it’s different. But I know that they are there, lingering in the background, waiting for a minute trigger to incite a volatile emotional spin. I am still not used to paying attention to these triggers. Sure, I know that to stay well, I need to stay away from alcohol, from manipulative people, to not watch upsetting videos on YouTube. Those are the negations of what not to do. I know also that I need to stay in a positive mind frame, be grateful for small and big accomplishments, remind myself that I am loved by many, take my medications twice daily, feed myself, reach out to others when I need help. These are ways of helping to keep those scars sutured and closed.
What brought this up? Something simple: I never wear heels. I wore heels to work yesterday. It was painful! I’m used to ballet flats, every day. Screw my Italian friend who dared to utter his opinion that ladies in flats look like walking ducks. Fashion is a different mindset over there. I do think it looks incredibly professional and elegant when a woman has beautiful shoes, a slight heel, pointed toes. But what about the toes that get squished? And you can’t always wear socks and it gets sweaty and the pinkie toes rub against the material and become red and sore. The back of the shoe sometimes cuts into the crease above the heel. Ouch!
Suffering in silence with every step I took throughout the office, the physical pain reminded me of my silence of the emotional pain. However, it’s different now. I’m not in actual pain. No one is hurting me and I am not harming myself. I live with the memories of the pain. Pain is something of the past. Being in a mind frame of remembering those painful events and remembering the resulting emotional turmoil and confusion is not a good place to be. It’s not a place to stay. It’s a place to visit when the moment calls for it, and to desperately fight to clamour my way out of that hole. Because pain is a black hole and it can be endlessly dark. Don’t go there if you don’t have to.
I think of my dad every once in a while. I know that he has been dead for a long time and I have memories of coming to this realization over and over again which are ingrained in my physical being. It feels like physical pain, although it’s mental. The tears growing up were plentiful. I also cried for my mum’s mourning, which lasted years. I cannot wish I had known him because that was not meant to be. I can be grateful for having had him for the first three and a half years of my life. I’ve had several father figures since, including my psychotherapist. He is the closest to a father as I have ever known. I am so lucky to have him in my life.
Every time I go into a therapy session, I find healing that I wasn’t even looking for. In fact, therapy, albeit very challenging, is also an adventure, because I never know what is going to happen! A conversation path can lead us to a completely unforeseen topic to be uncovered, and my therapist guides me smoothly through the process. It’s a wonder to me. And when I cry, I let myself cry. It is healing. Talking about the future is healing. It’s a positive experience. Talking about the past can also be a positive experience because he accepts me with a nonjudgmental attitude and with unconditional positive regard (something I learned about in my Introduction to Counseling class).
I realize these therapy sessions are for 50 minutes once a week for a reason. I always wish I could have more therapy than what I get. But if I saw him twice a week, I would be relying on him more to bolster my mood rather than getting to practise doing it for myself, on my own. Evenings are very difficult because I look at the clock and sigh, when I realize that I still have three hours before bedtime. What do I do with those hours? Motivation to study, it’s not there. Last night I simply went to bed earlier than usual. I was supposed to shower, but didn’t get around to it, so I’m wearing my long hair in a bun to hide the fact that I haven’t washed it for two days. This struggle with showering time has been something that has gone on for too long. It’s getting better, but very slowly, and not without setbacks.
My therapist has taught me skills of coping, different ways of thinking, giving myself a break, looking at positive aspects rather than negative ones, distracting my mind from thinking too much, regulating my emotions, noticing when a trigger comes my way. My battle wounds are healing, slowly but surely.