I have pondered a long time about what it was that made the fifteen years I didn’t have Paula as a therapist so unproductive and difficult and I think I may have finally hit on the key. Validation. When I was seeing Paula she never questioned whether or not the abuse I was remembering actually happened, in fact she fought my own denial with her wisdom and caring edged with experience and knowledge. She asked me one time why would I make such stories up? What could I possibly gain from the horrendous emotional toll therapy was wreaking on me. I had no answer because the answer is nothing. Who in the world would want to relive such horrible things and the only person I was telling was Paula. I wasn’t broadcasting all over the place what happened to me. Even today I rarely will give specifics of what happened. When we were separated by the bankruptcy suddenly I had no one to remind me that it was all too real. I had no one to tell me I was going to get through recovery and that there is life on the other side of all the horrible pain. I had no light in my dark world. I saw several therapists after Paula but no one that I connected to like I did her. It was like I was an infant whose mother had been ripped away and I was failing to thrive. In fact, I’m surprised I’m alive.
Without validation we have no way of saying to ourselves we can get well because the denial that there is anything wrong in the first place plagues us. There was one other person in my life who was very validating, my cousin Jeri. She came to visit me in my apartment and we sat and talked for hours about how life with our families had been and she told me things that made me understand that no, I was not making it up and yes, it really happened.
Unfortunately, after I lost Paula I also lost Jeri to breast cancer. The darkness of my world after I lost these two people is hard to describe but I would imagine that more than one person reading this knows what I’m talking about. It’s no wonder I spiraled down until I couldn’t live outside of an inpatient psychiatric ward anymore. I was even further invalidated there when they told me that my diagnosis didn’t exist and I was to remain silent about it. I was not to discuss it with any staff members or any of the other residents. My heart was sick because I didn’t have anyone to tell me I was real and not fake, because I didn’t have a light to shine into my soul and say, yes it happened but now it’s time to move on. If it hadn’t been for the last therapist I had while living in the facility, Dawn, I would probably still be there. She broke the taboo of me not talking about my diagnosis and she had experience with people who lived with Dissociative Identity Disorder. I thank my Higher Power every day for that woman. I only had her for a few short months but in those months I began to grow again and had my awakening.
I guess that answers another question, why was I able to make the decision to leave the facility? Dawn validated my memories and emotions. She validated that my alters existed and gave me the boost I needed to move on. When I was able to return to Paula suddenly I began to heal again by leaps and bounds. In only three years I’ve come further than I did in the previous 22 years combined! What is the difference? Like I stated in the beginning, validation. She believes in me. She helps me to believe in myself. She asked me last week to start thinking about saying goodbye again because she is retiring and I am moving to another area to attend a four-year college. She told me to think of what it was I still need from her before I can move on. What a hard question those that is because she is a mother figure to me. How do you say goodbye to your mother whom you will probably never see again? What do I need from her to finish my therapy and move on into living in the ordinary world? I’ll keep you posted on what I come up with but the one thing I know I needed those fifteen years we were apart was her kind voice validating my feelings and emotions. I needed someone to be there to say, yes you can heal and to not do so is to cheat yourself and to let the bastards win.
If you yourself need validation, and I’m sure you do because you’re human, reach out to people who will tell you what you need to hear not what you want to hear. Reach out to others who have been through the garbage you are going through and made it. Keep reading this blog because I surely will validate you. I am saying right here and now to anyone reading that recovery is waiting for you. It won’t be easy and some days you’ll wonder if you can take another step but I’m here to say that in the end it is all worth every bit of the grief and other strong emotions you are experiencing. You were cheated out of your childhood, don’t allow them to cheat you out of having a wonderful adulthood too! Come on! You can do it! I’m living proof that there is life; real, vital, true life after therapy. One day you’ll awaken and say to yourself, “Oh what a beautiful day!” and it will surprise you because up until that point all you could see was your issues you hadn’t had room in your life to notice the beauty of the sunrise or the magic of the stars. I validate this reality too, there is an end to it.
“Like a butterfly who had never been taught how to fly I have been given the gift of love and validation which have allowed me to gain strength so I can soar into the sky into the freedom I was meant to experience all along. Thank you Paula.” – Shirley