The first Trauma therapy session was a mixed bag. I like my Psychologist – she’s very intelligent, empathetic, and doesn’t mind challenging me when she thinks it’s appropriate. It’s a good therapeutic relationship. She’s excellent at her job. the problem is not with her, it’s with the subject matter. For an hour yesterday I reeled off a few examples of things which happened a long time ago; shrugged them off like nothing, like I’ve always done. They are stories which I won’t go into right now but the script will be familiar to many. They fall out of my mouth like an alcoholic telling a room about the time he last got drunk. It was easy. It’s always easy, and yesterday felt no different while I was going through the details – actually saying the words.
My Psychologist stopped the horror stories at the end of the hour and asked me what I was going to do afterwards. I told her I felt like getting drunk so I didn’t have to think about what we’d just talked about. That, or take more pills than usual. I had a headache and I was telling the truth. I expected a tut and a metaphorical slap on the wrist, but she stared at me for a few seconds then said: ‘This therapy is not an intellectual exercise. This is about feeling and how you feel in the time between sessions. Now, it might be the case you feel awful, but you need to sit with it and watch those feelings with the mind of an inquisitor. Why do you feel like that? Got it?’
I got it alright. But I walked out of the hospital and into the sunshine feeling pretty good that the process had started. I felt positive. The world was going to get better. I got in the car and tried not to think about what we’d talked about for the past hour. I would drive to my girlfriend’s and enjoy my evening with the family, path to healing started. The good feeling lasted about twenty minutes. Then a cold, unfamiliar type of anger began to rise up from the inside of my chest, stone-faced, primal. I could have murdered somebody, anybody, if they gave me the slightest reason. The coldness of it shook me. I stopped at a garage and bought booze, knowing I hadn’t got my psyche right to do what my psychologist asked and just watch the emotion. Things were too far gone for that. Medicine was needed. Under the counter. Off-prescription charts. Safe old obliteration.
At my girlfriend’s home I felt safe, but there was an inner something that had woken – one of the old monsters I’d shut away for many years. He/it was back. I marshalled it into it’s box with some beer and codeine and locked the gate. I didn’t want to feel that old hurt. There, in plain sight for the first time, was a glimmer of the root of the thing.
Good Therapy is powerful, so they say. This, I now believe to be true. Where it ends is still a mystery, a bit like a Prizefight or a Primal Scream record. This is just the start, chillingly. Already I feel punch-weary. Round one to the past.