-Fatboy Slim, Praise You
Since my last post on submitting myself to the heady process of therapy, I have now completed two courses of CBT therapy – one a series of six 50 minute sessions, followed by a further six one and a half hour intensive sessions of trauma therapy. It’s hard to explain why I’m in therapy and I hope to be able to share it in a more personal way as I reflect on it more in coming weeks.
As you might expect, that time was particularly tiring and I found my writing need and capability were somewhat diminished as I worked it through. I found myself caught by the urge to write tonight, inspired by the memory of the Fatboy Slim track quoted above. It will sound terrible too, to many of my fellow Brits, as I announce that the praise sits where the praise is due . Because it sits with me. I’ve done a good job, truth be told.
Unless you know me personally, you won’t see what a huge step forward in my thinking this is. Until a few months ago I was an awful critic of myself – so much so it was plunging my capacity in coping to the very limits. I carried responsibility heavy on my shoulders, every failure in unwinnable conditions became a personality defect. I have a job that most of my peers acknowledge is traumatic with massive workloads and other issues that slam hard like storm waves against the psyche. But I took the conditions I was under and magnified the pressure on myself, to the point of breaking, without even being aware of it. So therapy has been a battle of unpicking the stitches that pulled together that horrific outfit of emotion and dealing with what I have been exposed to whilst wearing it.
The two very important lessons I have taken away from therapy have been firstly you must save yourself – you must. No matter how wonderful the people are around you, no matter how strong the love, no one else can save you. I’m so fortunate to have the kindest colleagues, the dearest and most wonderful friends and an honest love who inspires and distracts me, but it wasn’t for any of these to save me. It was for me to do the work – by doing it myself I know that, on my own, I have the resources to step back, see reality for what it is and put myself back together in proper order. Only you decide whether or not you start taking deep breaths and start to swim in strokes to save yourself or if you flail and sink. Therapy is like taking swimming lessons.
Secondly, and most importantly, I realised the value of being kind to yourself. This is the lesson I want to share with you most of all. I all but broke because I couldn’t see that I was overloading myself to the point of collapse, just so I felt I was working to being good enough. I couldn’t see that I was good enough already because I had a bad view of myself. I failed to praise me like I should. It meant that, despite being enough, I felt I was less than, that I didn’t deserve the comfort of my own protection – the very value by which I offer service to the community. What therapy did for me, above all else, was made me realise that I deserve kindness too, in a very real way.
So I shall leave you with what my first therapist left me with which is the words: