One of the greatest benefits of therapy for me is being able to see my disordered thinking & reactions not as shameful failure, but as traces of old coping patterns that might, with gentle care, be untangled.
I knew a guy years ago who had been in a car wreck as a teen and had gone through the windshield face first. In his late 20s, he’d still regularly get bumps on the skin of his face, as fragments of glass worked their way to the surface, to be gently removed.
Mark didn’t cause the accident, the trauma. He couldn’t go back in time & stop the accident. But he also knew that there was no point hating himself for the scars, nor for the fragments of old injury working themselves out as the years went by. He’d just say; oh, yes.
Learning to hold things out at arm’s length, metaphorically speaking, to say “oh, yes, that’s a result of my childhood self, reacting in fear & confusion. It was something that happened. Perhaps I don’t need to continue that pattern now, four decades on.”
It’s not as easy as just seeing the patterns, of course. The work starts with un-linking the shame, then starting to see the old patterns, then continues with learning to react with new patterns. It’s subtle stuff, like learning to knit with immaterial yarn.
And I have no idea what the work will be like a year from now. I just have to keep on with it. Learning new skills, relearning to accept & release the shame. Accepting that I’m never going to be at the end of it. Never done.