On the couch

Somewhere in the past few sessions it became quite clear to me that despite the fact that I internalized the label and view myself as a “patient”, I do not feel like a patient in my treatment with Virgil and Beatrice. I cannot think of one time I felt any less, or small in their presence. I have been treated with respect and with kindness. That hasn’t always been the case, and I think it is easy in the mental health system to be mistreated. It isn’t even intentional in many cases, just an effect from the process. There is a point in which you become a name, and a label, not much beyond. I am so very blessed to have two exceptional people in my life that I travel along this road with. I think Virgil is right, there is a sense of fearlessness. I never sense fear in either of them. I never feel they are going to pull up stakes and run for the hills. No matter how bad it gets. In fact, the worse it is, the more committed and focused they seem to be. I have never been abandoned by either. I know now that my struggles and behaviors have shaped them, as well as me. This is a two-way street. I think after all the years of crap, the fates have smiled down on me when I found these two. For all my doubts and worries, they are there to assure me we can get through anything.

I cannot say enough how important it is to be respected. My experience in treatment and therapy is shaped by this. I do not think I could continue in therapy if I didn’t feel this respect. I am heard. I am an individual. That is very different from how I have spent much of my life, especially in relation to my family. I am very clearly the patient. The family sees me that way. I understand now just how important this therapeutic process has been for me. To have a place of safety and respect where I could explore my experience without judgement. I have been able to grow, change and mature. I have been, at times, headstrong and willful. Testing and pushing. Just a kid, looking for someone to lash out at. I have aimed that anger at Virgil, on numerous occasions. However, I learned very early on in my treatment with her that she was just as tough as I am. She never let me go too far.

I think it is a true sign of how close the relationships are that I have allowed myself to be taken care of. There have been many a time I have sat on Virgil’s couch and allowed her to make decisions. Usually when things have completely come apart. But I trusted her, and allowed her to do what was in my best interest. Even if that meant returning to the hospital. and believe me, I often did not want to go. But because we have developed this relationship of trust and respect, I listened. It is in those moments of complete and utter emotional exhaustion that she stood up when I couldn’t. Many times that kept me safe.

I feel comfortable and hopeful in this new chapter of my life. I am prepared to do the work and to continue to grow. I don’t think I have ever been close to where I am right now. I’m not really sure exactly why, but I’ll take it. I know I can do the work, no matter what comes up. I trust in these two relationships, and in their strength to guide me. We can get there, with time and with effort.

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