** For the purpose of this piece I will call my therapist “L” **
“Can I sit on the floor?” I ask my therapist as we walk into our safe space. “Of course you can” she says, knowing that sitting on the floor makes me feel safer.
I sit and rub at the cut on my arm from this morning. Blood is seeping through the bandage because the cut is so fresh and a little deeper than normal. “I was scared” I tell L as she looks at my arm.
“Do you still want to do what we discussed last weak?” she asks me. “Yes, I have to try” I reply.
I unpin the safety pins I have pinned to my sleeves and, hesitating, I hand them to her.
“Thank you” she says. “Wait. I have more” I whisper as I pass her the tiny sewing needle that I have stuck to the back page of my notebook. “You should have my bag too” I tell her knowing my razor blades are in the bottom.
“Thank you” she says calmly. “You are being so brave”
“I’m scared” I tell her, knowing she understands how hard handing over my cutting tools is for me. We can do this together she tells me. One step at a time.
“What feeling is with you now?” L asks me. I hesitate as I tell her that my strongest feeling in that moment is fear. Fear I will panic about not having my tools up my sleeve. Fear she will be angry if I get angry.
“I wont get angry” she whispers. “You are safe here and I am proud of you for trying to trust me today after such a short amount of time”
This is only our forth session together but somewhere deep down inside I have this feeling that I can trust her. It is why I agreed to try this today.
“How are you feeling?” she asks.
“I am sad” I say in as quiet voice as possible. “I am sad about everything. The police case, the abuse, the loss of my family. I am just really sad”
“And in pain?” she asks comfortingly. “Yes” I reply.
She asks me where the pain is and I point to my chest, feeling it tighten as I do so.
“Can you describe the pain for me?” she asks calmly.
I can feel myself begin to panic. I don’t like this. I don’t like talking about this. It makes it too real.
“Breathe” she whispers, aware that I am suddenly holding my breath to stop the pain. “It hurts in my chest all the time” I explain. “It is like pressure is building and building and I feel like I might explode from the sadness” I tell her as my legs begin to shake.
“I am here, you are safe” she says, as she asks me what thoughts are in my head. I tell her I am ashamed and embarrassed. I explain that I am panicking because I feel emotional. That all I want to do is pick up a stone from the bowl on the table and cut myself with it.
Slowly she moves the bowl out of my reach and places a cushion into view. “Hold this instead” she says. Not once does she get angry with me. Instead she constantly reassures me that I will not be in trouble.
“You are in pain because you were hurt” she tells me. “You were sexually abused and it is OK to feel hurt and sad about that”
“Please don’t say those words” I ask her.
Instinctively she knows. She knows that I cannot handle someone telling me out loud that I was abused. It hurts too much. It makes it too real. She knows all of this without me having to tell her.
My legs are in overdrive now, shaking up and down. I pull them to my chest and hug them tight. Curling myself up in a ball, I look at her “I really want to cut. I need to bleed. I need to get this out of me”
Just as we agreed she does not give me back my tools but instead gets me to sit with how I feel. The whole time she comforts me, telling me how brave I am being.
“I don’t feel safe. I want to run. I want to run away from all of this!” I tell her. My legs shake harder. I am feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. This pain and sadness is too much.
“Breathe” she says. I am once again holding my breath.
She begins to ground me.
“Breathe with me. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Deep breaths” she tells me. Slowly I begin to copy her breathing; in, out, in, out. My legs start to ease.
She tells me to put my feet flat on the floor and raise them up and down. Focus on the movement. Focus on my feet. We do this together.
Slowly the panic eases as we come to the end of our session.
“I am so very proud of you and I am honoured that you have trusted me” she says.
I feel like I am going to pass out as she helps me up and hands me back my tools. She gets me a glass of water and sits with me a while, her kind voice calming me.
I did it. For the first time ever I handed my therapist my cutting tools and I sat with my feelings for the whole session.
I am exhausted and emotionally drained. I know I will cut again because cutting is all I know. However today I took the first step to facing what they did to me. It may only seem like a small step but for me it is huge. It is a tiny glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, I will not cut forever.
It may only be a tiny glimmer but tiny is better than no glimmer at all!
Thanks for reading
** Image courtesy of Google Images **
*** I do not usually share detail from my therapy sessions as they are deeply personal to me. However I hope that this piece can, in some way, help another survivor and/or self-harmer to know that there is hope.***