My apologies for the break in my blogs – I’ve been away on holiday. We had a lovely time relaxing and enjoying the change of scenery and routine. It reminded me though of my early days of seeing a therapist and how different it felt way back then for me. Many therapists seem to have a break through the summer which is fair enough – they need to recharge their batteries too! Whilst adult me understood the need for breaks, my younger self struggled.
I felt very abandoned and alone without that weekly appointment until that is my current therapist said she would email me to let me know she had returned safely. That small gesture has made so much difference. And whilst earlier therapists might have explored coping strategies with me, down the years I have explored my own ways of dealing with the breaks and experimented with what works for me. This might differ from what might work for you.
At the beginning of the time when my therapist first went away, I would often feel very low with the prospect of the whole summer stretching endlessly ahead and I realised that I needed small steps to focus upon. This is what sometimes worked for me. It is important to have different and variable ideas knowing that some days nothing will work, or what helped last time doesn’t quite touch it this time.
I am a visual learner so I need to have something written down and so I would physically write down all the days and dates in a list (in my journal so I could refer to it often and it was in a safe and private place). I would then treat that list as my diary and fill in any appointments, meetings with friends etc to help give some shape to those long days. Each evening, or perhaps first thing the next morning I would tick off the previous day which psychologically meant it was a day closer to seeing my therapist again.
I tried to use that break in therapy as an opportunity to do more writing, more exploration, more reading so that when sessions re-commenced there would be something with which to work with including how I had managed or not during the absence.
I would try and give myself small treats each day – phoning a friend, spending time doing something I enjoyed, or if it was a low day then allowing myself to retreat to bed, or finding alternative childcare so that I could shut the world out for a while. A resource which has been a life-line throughout my life is The Samaritans – a UK based free telephone service which provides support for everyone who needs someone to listen including those who maybe suicidal. (www.samaritans.org)
I didn’t find the breaks plain sailing – often far from it – but knowing that ‘all things pass’ and holding onto that maxim, enabled me to more ably cope with the absence even as some days it all felt like an endless plod.
3 or so years down the road following disclosure and I made one of the best discoveries of my life or more accurately I stumbled upon a pearl of great price – HAVOCA. One day I was trawling the net for resources for survivors of abuse and the rest they say is history. In those days it was a much smaller set-up than the one so many of us know today. I’d never come across internet forums before – so was totally out of my comfort zone – but such was my need to find support that I registered immediately and linked up with other survivors through the pen pal section.
There was a small band of people who literally opened up my world and who were there for me that week and way beyond. And so began my long relationship with HAVOCA and one which over the last decade has grown and deepened and played a key part in my healing process. Having found HAVOCA I no longer felt so alone.