I have spoken with a lot of people about trauma. It’s kind of my job. Rarely a day goes by without hearing about someone’s life taking a tragic detour, of heartache and ruined families and ruined lives. That’s pretty much what we call “a week day” around here. I love it and I hate it.
Most of us know a little something about trauma. We’ve seen enough and heard enough to believe that people who have deep-seated resentments need to “get it out”. Pain breeds bitterness and bitterness breeds an ugly and petty life. Just get it out.
I used to think that “getting it out” meant that we had to go over every little ugly detail, line by line, over and over again. We called it Exposure Therapy, we called it CBT. We called it a lot of things. Over and over and over.
There may be something to that, though maybe something different from what was initially intended. Talking does, for reasons that often even escape me, help. This is not even a controversial truth. Everyone, with the possible exception of a few Scientologists out there, understands that counseling can have value.
Quite a bit of this is really about boredom.
The jury may be out on whether or not rehashing your childhood “until you can let go of it” is even possible. What I do know is that if we talk about this stuff long enough you are going to grow tired of rehashing it over and over. Eventually I am going to wear you down until you care about that issue – 1% less. With time the emotional death-grip that this hurt has on you begins to loosen, very very slowly. With time the details seems to matter a little less. Talking about something you have spent your life trying to ignore helps to loosen up the vice. There is insight and perspective, arguments and pain. One day you realize you haven’t grieved in a few days and you know that you are learning to walk again.
Time heals, sometimes.
Working through your issues and coming through to the other side is less about techniques and more about showing up. If you find a counselor that doesn’t suck and are willing to put in the effort, anything is possible. It may take a lot longer than you first imagined but it is always, always worth it. You have only one life, and I don’t know about you but I do not wish to spend that life broken.
Maybe moving forward begins with some of us walking into a counselor’s office and saying, “bore me to life”.