I feel your pain…
… because it’s my story and my pain, too.
I’ve always wondered how psychotherapists, psychiatrists and social workers live after hearing about catastrophic abuses. I get horribly upset just watching commercials about starving children and abused animals!
My mother is a therapist and was a social worker for the welfare department many years ago. When she came home from work, it was as if she put all that happened during the day into a box under the bed. She couldn’t talk about it for confidentiality reasons, not that she’d want to… but ya know, she might have felt better – lighter – had she been able to. She couldn’t forget it, either. But she had to set it aside so she could function in the rest of her life.
I guess what I wonder most of all, is what happens when a client’s story mimics your own? Especially if it’s something that you haven’t dealt with or healed from yourself.
It’s interesting… I just opened the book and noticed a note in the front cover. My mother got this for me on Christmas, 2002. She calls it “beautiful, awesome, and terrifying”… and that’s what I remember about it, too.
A Shining Affliction by Annie G. Rogers, Ph.D is a true story of how a psychotherapist brought healing to a severely disturbed, neglected and fallen-through-the-cracks little guy named Ben – and ultimately herself.
The abuse she encounters in five-year-old Ben’s story triggers the reappearance of her own anguishing childhood history. She suffers a breakdown so severe that she is unable to speak and is hospitalized.
Rogers’ own story of childhood abuse was something she had tried to overcome. She trusted someone who did not have her best interests at heart.
This brings up another difficulty when trusting another human being with our psyche and story. In my own quest to find good therapy, I have seen some excellent counselors, psychologists and psychotherapists. I’ve also seen some gawd-awful one’s. How can you tell? I don’t have the answers… beyond… listen to your gut. I’m sure Rogers used her gut and still got caught with a bummy one. Actually, a dangerously terrible one.
The book reads like a diary. It is presented in short, day-by-day chapters. It is lyrical and conversational. And haunting.
It is also a painfully honest view of the inner-workings of therapy… and how it affects not only the client but the therapist.
In the Afterward, there is a short poem that … well… cut me to the core. I’d like to share it with you:
I found under my left shoulder
the most curious wound,
As though I had leaned against
some whirring thing,
it bleeds secretly.
Nobody knows its name.
Mary Oliver ~ Dreamwork
Therapy is the cutting open… pouring out… and trusting.
If you’re lucky, blessed or both, the wound heals.
If not, well, you live it. Until you can’t anymore.