Disconnect to reconnect


Until yesterday I have been struggling with my therapy. My psychologist wants me to relive my the traumatic events of my childhood, open up about the emotions I felt back then and heal by rewriting my past, providing my inner child the support and safety she needed but never received. I however, was unable to remember these stories completely and whenever I sat down in my psychologist’s green chair for our weekly appointment, I froze and turned silent.

The reason I wasn’t able to open up about my past was because I didn’t feel safe enough to go back there myself, afraid of what I might feel. Every week I was able to find the hurt child inside me but as soon as I saw or felt her, I got scared, I ran away from myself because of the strength of the feelings that came up. The silent room was just a result of the immense pain that was so frightening I couldn’t feel.

But then I started writing again, under the protection of the meaningless English words and emotions. I slowly started recognizing the things that had hurt me as a child. It’s hard to explain what changed exactly, but it felt like a different language disconnects me from the girl I used to be, like different words provide me just enough distance from myself to not be completely overwhelmed by my own past, a protection I clearly needed to face my memories.

English allowed me to disconnect enough to be able to turn myself into more of an observer than the broken child I once was, or still am. I became able to write a story about a small part of my trauma and when I took these words to my Dutch psychologist yesterday, I felt a true change for the first time.

Yesterday when I sat down in the green chair, I knew the storyI had to tell. I knew were my pain was hidden and I knew that I was allowed to fail hurt because of it. Together with my psychologist I translated the story of my memory into a meaning with words that are painfully familiar to me. This time I didn’t freeze. I cried, I laughed, I got angry and I got small but I didn’t get silent, I didn’t get overwhelmed by a numbness causing chaos of emotions.

I am not emotionally deprived because I lack a certain emotional connection which the child I once was, the opposite is true instead. I am too sensitive for my old pain, too connected to be able to go back, because emotionally I am still the child that was harmed in all these memories. I noticed yesterday how even the word mama was making me feel lonely and worthless and when I translated loneliness into eenzaamheid, I was overwhelmed by the most deep and dark isolation I can think of.

I guess saying the words that mean pain to me out loud makes my story more real than I can handle, especially when I am not prepared to be overwhelmed with their effect or when I don’t know what chain reaction of other emotions will follow. I was extremely scared of the connection I still had with the child I once was. But slowly translating my emotions into the feelings I have experiences seems to make the pain manageable for me. By disconnecting just a little from the meaning of my own story I am actually able to fully connect without fear. As long as my psychologist is there to guid me at least, alone I would still not have the strength to face myself in Dutch.

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