This morning, I played “Defying Gravity” from the musical Wicked four times while drinking my decaf latte.
The song had played in my head after my husband and I left my final session with someone I like to call my “PTSD psychologist,” – Dr. M on this blog.
I’m no witch. I don’t have special powers. The citizens of Oz are not out to get me. And I’m not going anywhere. I’ve realized that this song plays in my head when I’m listening to what others say too much, in an effort to make them happy. Or show that I love them.
Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’d lost
Well, if that’s love
It comes at much too high a cost
What’s Helped Me Most
Dr. M works at The Stress Center at The University of Cincinnati. From November 2015 through yesterday, I’d seen Dr. M once a week for one hour (with a few breaks when one of us was out of town).
Our sessions were not talk therapy. I’ve been in and out of talk therapy for 20 years now. In this program, we picked the trauma that affects me most. For me, it’s being molested by a family friend when I was 4 and 5 years old. Then we worked forward to how that experience affects me today.
Each week, I did some reading and worksheets. Lots of worksheets. The worksheets helped me learn to identify my stuck points and logically dispel them. So prove that my anxiety was based not in fact but in habit. Gradually, my stuck points held less power over me. Now, I’m moving forward.
This work has helped me more than anything I’ve ever done.
My Last Session: Graduation
My husband came for my last session. I had asked if he could come, so he could see the work I’d done and ask my psychologist questions. I had given my husband my book of worksheets, with all my stuck points, which I’d crossed off one by one over the course of the program.
The session went well. But it wasn’t the celebration I thought it would be.
My husband is a scientist. Data points, theories based on logic and decades of research are his life’s work. The Stress Center’s program is also very logical. The results are quantifiable. Each week, I filled out PTSD questionnaires to track my progress on established scales.
When I started, my scores were high, as they would be in someone suffering from PTSD. At the end of the program, my scores were so low that I no longer qualified for the diagnosis.
I thought my husband might ask about my scores. Or that he might look at the work I’ve done and say, “You used these worksheets to logically work through problems, find the courage you need to talk to the people who are part of the cause of these problems, and you’re moving forward.”
Instead, he fidgeted in his seat. He brought up previous hospitalizations, and our separation in 2013. I was hoping he would talk about these things. But it was clear that he was focusing only on these things.
My husband and I had talked about these things a great deal in private, and also with our couples therapist. None of this, though, had helped him move forward. He needed to talk. So I listened.
Dr. M also listened carefully, and then asked my husband several questions about my history. Dr. M wanted to know my husband’s perception of events. Then Dr. M shifted directions.
Dr. M: “What do you see now? How has the past year been?”
Husband: “Sarah has dealt with many difficult issues over the past year: Helping her father through a contentious divorce; trying to address and move forward on serious communication issues within her family. She’s been standing up for herself when she needed to. Given the stressors of the past year, she’s been doing very well.”
Dr. M: “Given everything that happened over the past year, wouldn’t this have been a time where things might have gone badly?”
My husband thought for a moment. “Yes.”
Dr. M: “But that didn’t happen?”
I’ll go with that. 🙂 But I’m wondering, Will my husband move forward with me?
I hope so. Because that’s where I’m going.
Over the past several months, I’ve finished major work projects; written Act I of my screenplay (35 pages, so 35 minutes on screen), and translated for Spanish-speaking patients at local clinic.
Finishing a screenplay, and becoming fluent in Spanish, are two of my life goals. I’m on my way. And along the way, I’m supporting my husband 100% in his goals for his personal and professional life.
My hope is that we will move forward together.
Together we’re unlimited
Together we’ll be the greatest team
There’s ever been
Dreams, the way we planned ’em
If we work in tandem
There’s no fight we cannot win
Just you and I
With you and I
They’ll never bring us down!
(spoken) Well? Are you coming?