Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Same DNA, new place, different day

I'm old so I get a charge out of remembering, looking back. And one of the things therapists do is look back, look left, look right, stay in the moment, or look forward with people. We're all about time.

A person will come into therapy to work on a problem and we'll do that, work on the problem, something current, maybe something as simple as expressing true feelings, being congruent with people, honest about oneself. When a person is hurting, it can be hard to share that feeling, pain, even with close friends.

You think, "Well, people like me the way I am, the way I seem to them, which is happy. Why change that?"

And yet it's hard keeping up a face, always being the cheerleader, always making people laugh, smiling lest you cry. Cup always half full. Sometimes you just want to break the thing.

So we'll work on it, trusting others with those raw emotions. The fear dissolves, the problem resolves, the behavior changes, the personality gets softer. It's easy, once you get into it, to share sadness with others.

Case closed? Hardly. A therapist might say, "This is the place, dear. This is the time, the opportunity. We can go back to any of it, any of your history, or all of it, and rethink, rework it. Everyone has more than one thread that bothers them about the past. USE your therapy. You're here. Take advantage."

And no question, in those moments, in that 45-minute hour, we go back to something painful, something real and unresolved, and we turn it on its head.

For another example, maybe a better example of reminiscing, you only have to talk to someone who has given up an addiction. Watch as those eyes get wide and shift upward and to the right as thoughts loop back on the days of dependency and abuse.

Your friend will say, "What was I thinking? Can you believe it? That was ME. So different now."

See my post on that at The Second Road for a recovery story. I guest post over there sometimes when I remember what I'm really supposed to be doing here on the Internet.

therapydoc

16 comments:

rabbi neil fleischmann said...

I like your style of writing, particularly in this piece. I am struck. The way you describe therapy it sounds like it could be a healthy thing on a very long term basis, like eating write, excercisimg, praying, doing mussar work, etc.

In the start of Generation To Generation R. Twerski has a beautiful piece about a man who was in serious ain and how they would travel back to his happy childhood and that brought him relief. There are always at least two sides - sometims it's good to go back and uncover pain. Sometimes it's good to uncover good. I recetly was standing in my hallway, thinking, and I reframed (in the metaphorical sense - although it needs to be done in the literal sense too) a lithograph that I received about thirty years ago and didn't then see in the positive framework that I am able to appreciate it in now.

Did I mention that I appreciate your writing and really liked this piece?

Wendy said...

I loved the feeling of this post - it seems so simple, so clear - let's just sit down and work it out...
I came across a quote:
The essence of true forgiveness is the giving up of all hope of having a better past. Gerals Jampolsky
Maybe the hope of true therapy is not giving up all hope of having a better past - by going back, uncovering, dealing with the pain, unhooking the grip it has on you and finding peace - at last.
Thanks for your amazing insights.
Love you Therapy Doc!!
Wendy

therapydoc said...

I'm always blown away at how well my readers express these things even better than me. Thanks Wendy, Neil, and all of you.

therapydoc said...

The love, of course, is mutual.

rosysunset said...

I like the way this posts presents that change really is possible. True change. That you can turn things on their head and leave your garbage behind. Lots of other therapy docs aren't as hopeful as you!!

Thanks.

Mark said...

It is amazing how much we can change along our journey. Myself, I feel that I have lived multiple life times within this lifetime because as I look back I can see large shifts in who I am today compared to who I was in the past.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean, "...when I remember what I'm really supposed to be doing here on the internet."????

Because if you think this doesn't qualify as much as what you write on The Second Road, you're wrong.

I always feel better after reading one of your posts, whether it's about time spent with your family, or something relevant to my life, or something that's simply thought-provoking.

Your posts are a mitzvah (did I use that right?) :)

Syd said...

I have gone over my past a lot both in therapy and in Al-Anon. I found the fifth step to be freeing because I told it to my sponsor after completing my inventory. I was more prepared to do that than with a therapist. Now I don't go back to the past so much. I do my best to stay in this day. I'm not always successful but the past is gone. I know my past but it's the present that I am living. Thanks for your thought provoking post.

therapydoc said...

To be very honest, when I started blogging (and if you've heard this before, then excuse the repetition) it was because I had all of these mini-lectures in my head that I would tell over to patients when they fit a particular context.

I'd get frustrated that nobody wrote them down. So I'd jot notes to them with short-hand homework and/or ideas. Lessons.

Psycho-education.

I started blogging thinking, Well, this way I can refer people to the blog.

But you know me. Pretty soon the blog became all about me (or much about me) even if I tried to thread a "lesson" into the post, which I usually did. I agreed with my critics, after much back and forth, that it would be for the best if the blogger stayed anonymous.

Back to square one, jotting down homework and notes for patients.

But it's pretty much me, you're figuring out, to second guess just about everything.

And yes, the mitzvah (commandment, in Hebrew) for me would be to teach. So if anyone's learning out there, that would be good.

Blognut said...

I hate going over my past - in therapy or out! (Picture a pouting face right here.) There's a lot there and I know I need to do it, so I am doing it and it hurts like crazy. It sounds so simple, but it's so NOT; not for me anyway.

In any case, I like this post and the comments. Unhooking the grip of the past sounds like a good thing to me. It's the process of doing it that tries my patience!

Wendy said...

Therapy Doc:
I'm learning!! I'm learning as fast as I can... So, keep writing - and by the way - I like the personal stuff too. My "real" therapist is just a face - I know nothing about her and it makes being in the "here and now" with her so difficult. With you, I'm certain I would spill my guts (there must be a Hebrew or Yiddish word for that...)

porcini66 said...

I learn every time you post! Your writing always leaves me with a "nugget of goodness" as we say in my chef circle. Something especially delightful or rich or a bit that just awakens every sense on the palate. That one perfect mouthful that inspires us to cook on. We eat with so much more than our mouths you know. I teach students to cook with ALL of their senses, not just taste and in doing that, they learn to focus their being into their craft.

You manage to do the same with your words. You challenge and inspire me to think of it just as it is. Not as I would wish it to be, not as I hope it could be...just as it is. I am always able, somehow, to focus more, intensify more, understand more, feel more, after reading your blogs.

Yeah, I'm learning. Thanks for writing!

Isle Dance said...

Well expressed. It's fantastic, permission.

therapydoc said...

Lately, I haven't been burning anything. The new dual stove/oven is my best investment in 18 years.

But to compare this to gustatory delight? Now am officially freaked. Thanks, though, for the smile.

A Living Nadneyda said...

I started blogging thinking, Well, this way I can refer people to the blog. But you know me. Pretty soon the blog became all about me...

Maybe you were trying to correct that feeling of imbalance that therapists and their clients often experience, that the former "knows" all about the latter, but the info flow is mostly monodirectional. Your writing lets others get to know you for you... not to mention all the mini-lectures, which your readers love... including this one.

(Today was my day off... one of my first goals of the day? "Read Everyone Needs Therapy!).

porcini66 said...

Passion speaks through each of us in a different way! I use food and teaching, you use words (both written and in session, I'm guessing) and teaching. So, they do align - the common denominator is intense communication promoting greater depth. Sorry if I skeered ya! LOL

;)