I have written in previous articles about how crucial connection is and how we can learn to create positive relationships after trauma (including even creating families of choice).
I have also been thinking a lot about a unique type of connection: the therapy relationship. I have heard and firmly believe that a huge piece of what works about therapy IS the relationship. Sharing your inner self (selves) and what makes you feel vulnerable in the context of a healthy relationship can be transformative.
That this is challenging for those who have already been betrayed and traumatized in the context of relationships is a huge understatement. Sometimes it may seem to trauma survivors that in order to heal they must do the very thing they fear most: trust someone else.
I am still gathering my thoughts about healing in the context of the relationship and therapy, so stay tuned for more on that! In the meantime, a friend shared the following story and images with me. To me, it speaks to the drive for connection, how we can find it at times in unlikely places and that the capacity for love and trust can remain even after abuse and neglect.
The Story of Suryia and Roscoe
The orangutan was in a rescue and not doing well. This old hound wandered in absolutely emaciated and the orangutan snapped to like his buddy had arrived. He stayed with the hound night and day until he was well and in the whole scenario, found a reason to live. They are now inseparable.
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I can tell you from personal experience that what you have shared here is provacative, but so true, and so very pervasive that it effects just about every connection: “Sharing your inner self (selves) and what makes you feel vulnerable in the context of a healthy relationship can be transformative.That this is challenging for those who have already been betrayed and traumatized in the context of relationships is a huge understatement. Sometimes it may seem to trauma survivors that in order to heal they must do the very thing they fear most: trust someone else.” I am not “here” yet, but I can share that the journey is very difficult, filled with unimaginable fear, perhaps sheer terror, and with pitfalls like feelings, both “good” and “bad” that seem so overwhelming in every respect. I have almost dropped out a few times due to feeling overwhelmed and confused, but I will try again next week. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done, and I have yet to come face to face with the depths of it all…I hope you will share more about this therapy (healing0 relationship and how it works, and maybe how to make it easier for those of us who are clients to trust the relationship as well as the process.
Thank you so much for posting.
I am moved at your apt description of just how difficult to journey to real connection feels. You are capturing it far better than I ever could in my article!
I am also struck by your courage, in choosing to try again next week. Just keep going, you are on the right path and it WILL get better. I can believe that for you even if you cannot at times!
I will keep writing about this process and welcome you input about what you’d like to see discussed!
Thanks for sharing those delightful photos. Those pictures definitely say more than a thousand words! And thanks for allowing us to use this uplifting post for THE BLOG CARNIVAL AGAINST CHILD ABUSE. I so appreciate your contributions.
As a young adult survivor, it was very hard for me to be connected to anyone else. I had to learn to trust them first. Even with in my marriage, I didn’t trust completely until many years later. I was married for 8 years before I felt safe enough in my husband’s love to tell him about my childhood incest. I have since learned that being vulnerable to another and making a committment to any relationship has its rewards.
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This connection has been the greatest challenge for me. Firstly finding a stable self to even consider sharing in the Collideoscope of shifting “pieces” of me, the false self I have always presented, the rise and fall of trauma. And trusting a person who frequently morphs into a terrifying powerful figure I long to escape from but dare not anger.
After 4 years, it is at least more clear to me what is real and not, past and present. The pieces I now know are indeed just pieces of a bigger whole I’m trying to pull together. And I can tell at least when I’m not there.
I’ve almost quit many times after getting too afraid, never knowing what to trust, including myself. It must be agonizing to try to help someone for whom this connection triggers so much terror and confusion. And without it, there can be no therapy.
Welcome, Allan. I really appreciate your comments. You make a really important point regarding the need to first connect to oneself before trusting connection to others. It sounds like you have made tremendous progress over those four years.
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