If I’ve genuinely shut Doubt and Denial out, then that means I have to accept that I was sexually abused as a child. No more “maybe,” no more “sometimes I think…” I was. I was. I have to keep saying it to make it sink in.

So it’s real. Now what? What lies ahead? I was thinking about this question before my therapy session with E. on Wednesday. I made a list of questions I had, as well as thoughts about issues I needed help with.

In session, I asked her, “If I stop giving all my attention to Doubt, what comes next? I had some ideas, but I’d really like to know what you envision.

I think I asked this in part because I sometimes don’t know where we are going in therapy. I feel E. gives me a lot of space to lead the way in therapy. Problem with that: I don’t know where the hell I’m going. I feel like I take a lot of wrong turns. I get stuck on the wrong things. Sometimes I wonder if it would be easier if she said, “Let’s work on this next; I think it will help you the most.”

But that’s not her approach. She’s supporting my independence and empowerment to grapple with what matters to me (damn it!).

So when I asked her, “What’s next?” I meant, “What is the therapy plan?” But that wasn’t the way she answered the question. Instead, she talked about my life. She described a future in which I experience a great release of creativity. I’ll have greater ability to take my talents to their full potential. She predicted my world will be bigger, more open, richer.

I was surprised–it was beautiful, what she described. I hadn’t thought about it in that way at all. I’m still moved by the prospect of a life of possibility.

My own thoughts, though, were much closer to the ground: what will we tackle next Wednesday, and the Wednesday after that? I told her these were my questions:

  • what does it mean to fill the big holes in the heart of the wounded girl inside me?
  • is it even possible to feel those holes at this point in my life?
  • how can I make more space in my life to listen to her? It’s so hard to hear her, or when I do, her pain overcomes me.
  • how should I work on things with E., do I tackle the big thematic issues that keep coming up to bite me? or is there a point to going back to examine specific experiences?
  • and what about these recurring issues that I don’t really know how to solve
    • telling my husband
    • sorting out loving and hating my abuser(s)
    • what do I do about body memories, how do I cope, can I even let go of self-harm?
    • sometimes my thoughts have deeply ingrained depressive patterns, encouraging me to slide back into the pit and it seems so hard to get rid of them once and for all, especially when I’m very tired and overworked (essentially all the time lately)
    • is there any way to make sex be about genuine connection and not dissociation and emotional pain?

There wasn’t nearly enough time to address all of these, of course. E. said, She said, “First, I can say a bit about the healing process. It works much better to focus on specific experiences and from them draw lessons and develop new strategies that can help with other injuries. You don’t have to go through a whole healing process for every specific experience.”

She went on, ” Also, I do believe it is possible to fill the holes in the girl’s heart. It will come when you keep on showing up for her. When she learns that you are there, and you are gentle, and you protect her, and this happens repeatedly, her heart can heal.”

In retrospect, it was a session about giving me Hope. Hope to keep Doubt from coming back, Hope to accompany me on the next stage of my healing journey.

Photo credit: World Youth Alliance blog: http://bit.ly/1Uz9yLG