“And the day came when the risk to remain in a tight bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
We all create coping mechanisms, defense systems, tools to help us live with stress, pain and fear. And those systems work – even if they are unhealthy, codependent, addictive, dissociative. They work in that they are fulfilling their purpose, regardless of the radioactive waste they may generate. Perhaps that purpose is to get as far away as possible from an unbearable emotion that makes us feel like the helpless children we were when our trust and safety was betrayed. Perhaps it is to keep us firmly locked in place, unmoving and unmovable, because change is terrifying and we just can’t face it. Perhaps it is to make absolutely sure that no one will ever hurt us again, even if it means feeling alone and empty. Whatever the purpose, the systems we create – regardless of the side effects – are usually effective at first: They work. Until they don’t.
That’s when many of my clients first come to me. The brilliant, ingenious and destructive coping mechanisms we have unwittingly created to keep us safe, keep them numb, keep them alive have become more corrosive than useful. They may be bewildered as to why these systems have suddenly gone kablooey, and they desire new systems but haven’t got the first idea of where to start building them. Together we find comfort and safety within a relationship dedicated to support and honesty, and inside that space we wade through the muddy paths that brought them to my door. It can be surprising, delightful, overwhelming, terrifying, heartbreaking, and even sometimes hilarious. We humans are such amazing creatures.
I love my work more than words can describe. The courage and fortitude of the people who brave their own cruelest internal voices long enough to reach out; who let themselves be vulnerable and human in front of someone they have never met; who even (and this is the most miraculous part) allow me to help carry some of their burden never cease to astound me. The trust placed in me is something I hold sacred and am every day grateful for.
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