Coping with Grief and Abandonment Part II


This is the second post in a two-part series on Grief and Abandonment, see Coping with Grief and Abandonment Part I.

I’m sure it will not surprise any regular reader of this blog to realize that BN was a huge part of how I coped, even between appointments. BN has a very generous contact policy, I am allowed to call him 24/7 including when he is on vacation. If I leave an emergency message with his service, he calls back within an hour. If he is on vacation and doesn’t answer the service in a certain amount f time, his backup (a wonderful, warm, empathic man) calls back, but always offers to have BN also call; it’s just a longer wait than usual. (I have higher standards for contacting him when he is on vacation but have done it. Earliest I have ever called is 8 AM and the latest is 10:30 PM although BN has made it clear that 2 in the morning is ok if I need). We very rarely do any processing during phone calls but when the grief threatened to overwhelm me, or the fears that BN would also abandon me, would rise up, then  a short phone call would help to ground and reconnect me. Most of mine are under three minutes and it’s not unusual to keep it under one minute. BN once referred to my “patented one minute phone calls” when I was worried about calling too much. 🙂 Often it wasn’t what he said but just the sound of his voice and experiencing that he was there that would do the trick.

I am also able to email BN whenever I wish (again, it’s a privilege I try not to abuse) although I need to request a reply if I want to hear back and his response times can vary wildly. But over the years, I have built up quite the collection, so at times, just going back and reading our exchanges could serve as a reminder of his steadfastness and my not being alone in my grief.

I realize that not everyone has access to their therapist in between sessions, but if they are acting as an attachment figure, anything that aids in a sense of connection can be of help when facing grief. And when the fear of abandonment is really strong and painful, we need reassurance that our therapist is still there. I found several ways to foster a sense of connection. At one point when I was struggling to come to terms with some really difficult material, I asked BN if he would call my cell phone and leave a voicemail, so I would have his voice handy. He did it, and left an awkward, sweet, all-encompassing message that was very reassuring (yes, I still have it :)) The other thing that I did was to ask BN if I could give him a new blanket for his office and keep the old one. We had used it in several sessions when I got cold with the shakes, and it was a powerful symbol of BN’S care and protection. Wrapping myself in the blanket can provide a strong reminder of BN’s presence and help to contain me. I haven’t done so in a while but I would sometimes take it to session with me when I knew I would want to feel held. Full disclosure though, my family nicknamed my blanket BN’s name. once brought along little plastic eyes for it on one vacation and called me Linus, so be warned. 🙂 I still keep the blanket handy and its been on a lot of trips.  Asking for any small object from your therapist, such as a pen, or a book, or a stone can serve to remind you of their presence. I have quite the collection of business cards scattered all around my existence (they also make handy bookmarks :)). BN’s business cards do double duty as an appointment card and I do not have a fixed appointment, so I get one at the end of nearly every session.  (I even have a close friend who has one of his cards, because I mailed her a book and had left a card/bookmark in it, which may be taking this principle too far. :D)  I have also given two gifts to BN which are displayed in his office, the infamous heart box and a custom counted cross stitch I made for him (that hangs on his wall over his desk). It can be comforting to know that there are parts of me with him to remind him of me when I am not there.

Another thing I found to be very effective in grieving was journaling. I would write to keep a record of my sessions, and in between I would write so that there was a safe, uncensored space in which to express myself (the only other person who knows what is in my journal is God, and only because I don’t know how to prevent it. :)) Allowing myself to just write my feelings out without need for them to make sense often let me make connections and gain new insight into how I was feeling and why. It was in journaling that I was often able to connect the feelings about BN to the events of my pass. I also took thoughts from my journal into sessions all the time. Writing can be very powerful, because it is an activity that engages both our cognitive abilities and our creativity, stimulating the connections between our right and left brains. For people who need access to their feelings, it can prove very effective. It is a place to be heard.

This next one may sound a little weird, but it really worked for me. I would often get exhausted from trying to hold all of the difficult emotions (anger, sorrow, loss) at bay until I could know that I would be safe again with BN. Letting the feelings in felt as if it would be so overwhelming, that I would disappear into the grief and never emerge. So I would find some private time to be alone, set a timer for 10 minutes and stop fighting. I would just let whatever feelings were there, come. Sometimes I would weep hysterically, sometimes I would scream or pound on pillows, but I would give way. But when the timer went off, I would stop and have a dialog with the split off self I was trying to integrate, explaining that this time was a safe place to express the feelings, but that there were other things that needed attending to; however,  I wasn’t shutting them off forever, just asking her to wait until the next safe time. The pressure would subside because handling it that way felt like being cared for rather than stifled or silenced.

Which segues nicely into another important way to cope with grief. Practice self-compassion. If it helps, think of someone else going through what you are going through and dealing with the losses you are dealing with. How fast would you expect them to be done? Would you think their grief was self-indulgent? Would you see their losses as legitimate and worthy of grief? Would you see them as needing care and gentleness, the way we treat grieving people? You deserve all of those things. Our own feelings about ourselves, lies learned through the abuse, get in the way of seeing ourselves as we deserve to be seen. Thinking of someone else clears away the emotional fog and helps us to see how deserving of patience and care we are.  And while you are being compassionate, recognize that grief is difficult, demanding work which taxes your resources. It will interfere and take time and energy away from other things. But think of it this way, would you look at a woman who lost her husband of 45 years, a few months after the funeral and think she is lazy or weak because she’s not getting enough done? Our culture recognizes that a period of grief is one in which less burdens and expectations should be laid on a person. Yes, this grief has to do with things that happened long ago, but the feelings and hurts and awareness of the loss were stored and kept fresh. This grief is old in time but fresh and immediate in your experience. Respect that you are doing demanding work and respect yourself for doing so. its ok for some things to slide if they need to.

This next one I found very difficult to do, but it was essential. Seek out support. I was safest as a child when I was alone, so when intense emotions arise, my instinct is to isolate. But humans are made to need connection, connection which brings comfort and strength and calmness when we have none ourselves. Find a friend who understands, a forum online, a support group for people who have been through what you have (can’t find one? considering starting one). But try to find some people somewhere who can grasp what you are going through and allow you to express it.

Another really difficult one? Trust the process. It really makes no objective sense, that sitting in a room with someone, digging up long buried feelings and losses and experiencing them in someone else’s presence would in any way be helpful. And when you are in the midst of dealing with overwhelming pain, it makes even less sense. (Of the  “why the f*** are you just sitting there while i go through this @SShole!” variety). It is the mystery at the heart of healing. The most important thing for a human being is to experience attunement and be heard and understood. But it takes a long time, and a lot of repetitive experiences to change us. So when you feel like nothing is budging and this whole thing is pointless, trust people who have gone before, and your therapist’s belief, that you are doing what you need to do, and it will lead to healing.

And last, but not least, cry, cry and cry some more. There is nothing wrong, and much right, with letting these feelings flow through you. And if that means crying a lot, so be it. For me, sometimes it was crying in the car when the right song came on (I’m a big crier in the car, as it is often one of the few places I can be assured of being left alone), sometimes laying down and having a good long cry. And seriously, BN should add a kleenex charge to my bill. My first therapist told me something very important once when I said I spent too much time crying; she told me that crying was another way of speaking of my pain.

GE, thank you for asking and for your patience in waiting for me to write about this; I hope you find it useful on your journey.

  1. September 12, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    AG,

    I don’t know what I’m more jealous of – BN’s 24/7 phone availability, or your insight!
    Similar to your suggestion of finding a friend or a forum who supports you is, I think, reading your blog. It helps me realise I’m not crazy and that you have been there and come out the other side. I hope you know how helpful your writings are.

    Thank you xx

    Like

    • September 13, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      Nocivum,
      I’d go with BN’s access, much more dependable. 🙂 (But sorry, I know it can be very difficult to watch people get things from their therapist that you cannot get from yours.)

      And thank you so much for what you said about my blog; its just incredibly encouraging and uplifting. You did make me realize, however, that I left one out. Start a blog because you will find yourself surrounded by a wonderful community. It has helped me immeasurably. xx AG

      Like

  2. September 12, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    I wonder, do most survivors isolate when they are in pain and most in need of support? It is such a struggle to reach out, isn’t it?

    So much of this is so familiar to me. I don’t do things exactly the same way, of course, I have my own variations.

    My T doesn’t have an answering service and I so call her directly on her cell phone. This is what she has told me to do, so I shouldn’t feel uncomfortable with it, but I do. She has another number that goes to a message system, however she suggested that I not use that, because she doesn’t always check it. I think that if she had an answering service, I would have been able to learn to call her when I needed to talk to her.

    So, I really make use of e-mail- both because there are many things that I can’t say in session and when I need to reach out for contact. In general, she responds quickly. If I am not reaching out for contact and she is going to see me in a day or two, she may wait until the session to respond. She has learned to only briefly comment on what I say, because we have had too many misunderstandings when she tried to respond in detail.

    There are many times when I just send her a quick e-mail saying, “I’m reaching out for a virtual hand holding.” She will respond with something along the lines of “Here’s my hand. You aren’t alone.” When there is a part of me that is in significant distress, especially right after a difficult session, I have been known to write and say, “I’m imagining you and me sitting on either side of this distressed child part, working together to soothe her.” She will respond, “I’m happy to sit there with you and help you soothe whatever parts of you need to be soothed.”

    I have an odd question… I recently realized that grief seems to be the “clearest” emotion that I am experiencing. It’s as if it’s the emotion that all of me can agree on, while with everything else there is disagreement. It seems that when I am feeling a fuzzy sort of distress, experiencing and expressing the grief actually allows me to lose some of the fuzziness, which can be a real relief. Have you experienced anything like that?

    Like

    • September 13, 2013 at 5:19 pm

      Cat,
      It’s funny that you should say that about her cell. I have BN’s cell phone number but only use it to send a quick text if I am running late and we sometimes text when dealing with scheduling. I really appreciate his answering service, because it means I don’t interrupt him, they do. And then he chooses when to call me back. The buffer actually makes it easier to call. Now I know in reality that he would be able to ignore a call if it was a bad time, but psychologically I can see where it would make it harder.

      I don’t think I see as clear a distinction in terms of grief being more clear but I do think it’s less complex. And here’s why I think so. Often when it comes to my other feelings I am fighting some kind of dissociation or denial. The grief often occurs when i am finally able to see the truth or accept that a loss is truly a loss, so I have stopped fighting knowing the truth, so there is a clarity. Does that sound like it might be it? xx AG

      Like

      • September 13, 2013 at 5:26 pm

        Hm, I’ll have to think on that (and self observe); there might be something to that. At least in terms of allowing me to get away from whatever it is that I am fighting with myself about and focus on a facet that I am in agreement on.

        Like

  3. XXX
    September 12, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    AG-

    PLEASE Help me. I need your opnion on what is going on with me and my T. I came to her cause of a marriage problem and that lead to the individual therapy for emotional and some physical abuse. I am very very very good at burying everything deep down so that on the surface I appear very calm while inside I feel like one of the cartoon characters freaking out; that they kill with the goop; in “Who Framed Roger Rabbitt” I have been seeing her since Jan or so for individual therapy she has said I’m getting better, but she thinks that I need her more now than I did before. She does give me hugs, and I text her some but she says she is afraid she is making things worse by her allowing these boundry crossings, and that it is very different from what she does with other clients. I dont know what to say or think? Sometimes I freak out and text her that I need her to hold me so I can feels safe, and she does not know what to say except she thinks she is making it worse or this one pissed me off “It would have been great it your mother had done it for you then” Im starting to think that she may not understand me. What would you do??

    Like

  4. Ann
    September 12, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Thanks for writing so soon. I love the idea of setting a timer. Genius! It is kind of like you allow yourself to lose it and the the timer “reminds” you to start to self-soothe and refocus on the here and now. Kind of like a safety valve that lets the pressure out just a little. Practical suggestions like this are so helpful. A long time ago, I used to panic and shut down. I would close my eyes, rock, and get more upset. My T at the time taught me that when I started
    to detach and panic to put on my glasses, look around and and refocus on the fact that I was safe now and not in danger. It is basic, but it worked. Also your idea gives me permission to lose it for a short time and not feel guilty about it! Thank you do much! Xoxo Ann

    Like

    • September 13, 2013 at 8:45 pm

      Glad you liked it Anne. It’s a bit vague ’cause it was a while back, but the idea came from my first therapist. I was expressing that if I started crying, I was afraid I would never stop and her reply was then only allow yourself a set amount of time. It proved to be a very effective tool for me. And anything that reduces guilt (especially guilt you do not deserve to feel, is good). And the thing with the glasses? BN does that with me also, asking me to open my eyes and let myself realize I am in the present. And your right, it works. Tough work, learning to navigate and handle our feelings. Really glad you found this helpful. xoxo AG

      Like

  5. Ann
    September 12, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    AG, I do not want to “hi-jack” your post, but I wanted to relate to xxx, that the response I most frequently hear to this question is, talk about how you feel with your T. I can only speak for myself, but early on in my therapy my T responded to some of my comments in a hurtful way. I held my breath before the next session and walked in and told him specifically how I felt about his response. I was very satisfied with how he handled it and have continued with him. I like that I can discuss times in therapy when he and I have a misunderstanding. This was something I could never do with my family. When you talk to her about it,then you can decide if you two are a good fit. If you are not satisfied with how she handles this situation (gets defensive),then maybe you can ask her if she feels qualified to treat your issues. Sometimes a therapist isn’t a good fit with a specific client and sometimes he/she may have their own boundary issues. No matter what you chose to do, remember it is the therapist’s job to help you in a healthy manner, so if she doesn’t respond well, it is her issue not yours! Good luck.

    Like

    • XXX
      September 13, 2013 at 10:37 am

      Ann-

      Thanks so much for reaching out; I needed that, perfect timing. I can relate to the holding your breath, and your right I can not communicate with my family because I have no affect on them. I need to reach out and take a chance; to tell her how I feel; So SCARY!!!! Thank you for normalizing my experience of needing her deeply. I think she may be confused because we have some personal history, as in she is not a stranger to me, our families know each other in a round about way. But I hope she can figure me out cause I do sometimes feel a comfort around her that is hard to come by elsewhere. And Thank you all for being here- its nice to have someone understand!!!

      Like

      • September 13, 2013 at 5:27 pm

        XXX,
        I think Ann gave you excellent advice (she often does, she’s a wise woman :)). Therapy is wear we strive to talk about what is going on inside so we can understand rather than act it out where it can continue to not be consciously known. So it’s very important to talk about these feelings. I will be very honest with you, and take this with a large dollop of salt as I do not know you or your therapist, some things she is saying are just a touch worrisome. The fact that she is doing more for you than other clients is a concern in and itself, and beyond that she is telling you that she is. That tells me that she is struggling to hold her boundaries. Because the most difficult part of therapy is sorting through what we can have and recognizing our losses, a therapist must not try to provide something that is impossible to provide. The comment she made about wouldn’t it have been great if your mother did it. Of course it pissed you off, because you deserve to be angry that you didn’t have it from your mother. But no matter how much your T holds you, she will never change the fact that you didn’t get it from your mother. And by acting like she can make it up, she sets you both up for a very painful failure. I have seen it play out a number of times. The therapist fails to recognize that not everything can be made up from childhood, some things are really losses that must be mourned and raged about and hurt about. So no matter what they give it will not be enough. But we have been looking for it our whole lives, so we latch on, but we demand more and more and more because its never enough, This goes on until the therapist burns out and in most cases then abandons the client adding new injury to reinforce what they were trying to fix. I have been thinking about this alot lately, because I am doing a lot of really intense work in areas where BN held clear boundaries, and even knowing how angry they made me and how much pain they evoked, they were so necessary for my healing and I am so grateful for BN’s strength in holding them in the face of my pain and my pleas. If you haven’t read them yet, I think you might find How do I fill the void? and Why your therapist SEEMS cruel, but really isn’t. ~ AG

        Like

        • XXX
          September 27, 2013 at 5:39 pm

          AG I think I may be on the beginning of the end with her, but before I give up on her I’m going to bring some of the material on this site so I can show her I’m not some crazy person for needing her the way I do. I know I’ve put a lot on her, but I had no one else to turn to. I am going to try one more time though because I know she is a good person and I so want God to make her the right T for me. With all the wise words I have read on your blog and felt in my heart there is no way I would take your advice with a dollop of salt. And I wanted to say I feel like I read your words with my heart and not my eyes. The feeling you evoke in me makes me think in my heart that although it seems like I am the only person in the world whose parents do not love them, I am not a freak and may even have a chance at finding my way thru the ocean before it swallows me.

          Like

          • September 29, 2013 at 11:50 pm

            XXX,
            Please feel free to use anything here you think might help. I hope that it goes well and you can work things through. Once that attachment develops, I know it can literally feel life threatening to consider losing the relationship. But I also want to encourage you that if you cannot work things through, there are other therapists out there and somewhere there is one that would be able to help you heal. When my first therapist retired, I thought I would never have another relationship that would come close and the truth is, that my relationship with BN has been deeper and more intimate. You deserve to heal and have someone who can walk beside you to help you. Please let me know how you get on. xx AG

            Like

    • September 13, 2013 at 8:48 pm

      Ann,
      Just wanted to add that it wasn’t a hijack at all. This is a community and I do not want mine to be the only voice which is heard. I also appreciated you replying because my schedule at work is blowing up again and it was taking me awhile to get back her and XXX needed help in a more timely manner which you provide. So thank you. Never hesitate xx AG

      Like

  6. liz
    September 14, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Another incredibly useful post, it all resonated deeply with my own experience.
    And I wanted to add one to the list: waste time.
    During my worst moments, I was always worried that all the crying and suffering and going over the same stuff again and again would prevent me from functioning properly and being productive and reaching my goals (and it did, indeed, at least for a while). I am just now (slowly, as always) starting to realize it was all a bunch of crap: grief takes all the time it needs, which can be a lot of time – a slow paced approach to grieving, and life in general, makes it more natural to accept (I was going to write “cherish” but then I was horrified by my own thought :-D) all the time spent feeling bad and making mistakes and stumbling and trying over and over to get better.

    (I wanted to point this out for all those of us who have had to endure a million times the “Oh, so you’re *still* in therapy, uh?” conversation :-D)

    Like

    • September 15, 2013 at 9:18 pm

      (((Liz))) I just love when you comment, because you give off a very welcome, spunky, attitude of “I refuse to apologize for healing from abuse” vibe. It’s a good attitude and we could all use some of it. And if I had a quarter for every one of those conversations I’ve had, I’d have been able to afford to go get my master’s degree. 🙂 I like your addition, thanks for sharing it. xx AG

      Like

  7. Jenny
    September 14, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Oh, Liz, I *so* get that. I used to be a bit judgy about how long my sister was in therapy. I’ve been seeing my therapist for coming up on two years and I don’t think we’re even coming close to scratching the surface of my feelings about what I missed as a child. It takes as long as it takes.

    It’s funny, it seems like every time I’ve been struggling with something, I read something here that helps. For some reason, being comforted has been my theme this week. It started as being upset that my therapist never comforts me when I cry to remembering that some of my earliest memories are of people other than my mother or father comforting me when I cry. I’ve been stewing about that lately and wondering why I don’t actually feel anything about that. By rights, I should feel sad, angry, hurt, and all kinds of emotions about it. And then I come here, read AG’s touching and powerful words and all the comments and I realize – the emotions will come when I’m ready and able to face them.

    Thank you, all.

    Like

    • September 15, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      Jenny,
      It really does take as long as it takes. I’ve been in therapy on and off for over 27 years and am finally getting to my real core issues. Not sure I’ll ever be done. I am truly glad that you find comfort and insight from reading here and being able to hear of other people’s experiences. And yes, they do come when you’re ready and able. I have learned a deep respect over the years for my internal timing.

      I also wanted to say thank you for the timing of this comment. We went to a family reunion this weekend and one of my BIL’s decided to take me aside and talk to me about my need to lose weight (cause you know, I’m too stupid to realize that on my own). I got through the conversation ok but I have been dealing with body issues in therapy and am pretty raw and highly exposed on the topic, so I got hit with a shame storm afterwards. Which was about the time your comment arrived. It reminded me that I am more things than my weight, that I have worth and am able to give even if everything isn’t perfect. So thank you. xx AG

      Like

  8. Ann
    September 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    AG, Boy do I understand the shame that can come from family members’ comments about weight. (positive or negative). I personally don’t think men’s self-esteem is as wrapped up in weight as women’s. They just don’t receive the same societal messages as women. So your BIL probably doesn’t get how intrusive he was. (Definitely not to defend him. Maybe you could have responded with “I understand you are having trouble maintaining an erection.”) 🙂 Then he would get it! Also family members often project their own body issues onto others. You can’t always tell who purges or abuses laxatives by looking at them. Being the only girl out of five kids opened me up to unbelievable emotional and verbal abuse from a very young age over body issues. AG, your body has carried you through trauma, given you beautiful children, and allows you to contribute financially to your family. Your obvious intellegence has helped you work through all your trauma and maintain a family! As Judge Judy says,”beauty fades, but stupid lasts forever!” Have a good week! Xoxo, Ann

    Like

    • September 20, 2013 at 2:01 pm

      (((Ann))) Absolutely brilliant! “I understand you are having trouble maintaining an erection.” What I would have given to thought of that one at the time. 😀 Thank you for reminding me of the wonderful things my body has done. Being pregnant was truly the only times I felt comfortable in my body because I so in awe of what it was doing. And have to love the Judge Judy quote, so true, so very true. Thank you so much! xxoxox AG

      Like

  9. Mrs. Sharkey
    September 17, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Oh AG, *hugs* to you. I’m sorry your BIL was such a clod. I mean really, did he think you were going to slap your forehead in amazement and go “My goodness, I had NO idea I needed to lose weight! Thank you SO much for bringing this to my attention.” I see that you have Jung At Heart on your blog roll, so I imagine you’ve read Cheryl Fuller’s very eloquent writings about weight and therapy. There’s a lot of good stuff in there.

    Just a quick note about men and weight. My male partner is overweight and it definitely affects his self -esteem and self-image.

    Like

    • September 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm

      Mrs. Sharkey,
      That’s what I should have done, feigned astonishment. 😀 Nothing like stating the obvious, but that always was his strong suit. I have read Cheryl Fuller, big fan of her stuff. One of the proudest moments of my blog, if you will forgive a little bragging, was her posting a link to one of my posts on Jung at Heart. She also wrote to me. Made my year!! And I agree, men are not immune to the effects on their psyche of being overweight. Thanks for the encouragement. xx AG

      Like

  10. GreenEyes
    September 24, 2013 at 12:08 am

    Dear AG thank you for writing this and answering my questions. I am in a really good place right now but I know I will come back to this when the grief gets firing again. I know its a hard time for you so my thoughts and care are with you. Hugs xxxxx GE

    Like

    • September 24, 2013 at 1:02 am

      Dear GE,
      I am so glad to hear that you are in a good place, I think you were overdue for some respite from pain and a chance to just rest and take in the good stuff that comes along with growth. It was a good question for me to answer, so I appreciate you asking. And thank you for your thoughts and care. I keep trying to write about what’s going on in therapy but between the shame and how young the part of me is that I am struggling to integrate, I have no words right now. I truly want to just run. But since I tell everyone else not to, I think I am stuck seeing this through. 🙂 xx AG

      Like

  11. Helen
    May 3, 2015 at 6:29 am

    SO jealous that you are able to cry it out. I rarely cry, seem unable to. My therapist keeps circling the issue but I am scared to talk about it cause I think if we makea big deal out of it it will just make it harder to cry!! I so want a good cry sometimes but the tears just don’t come. ;-(

    Like

  12. MAC
    August 6, 2015 at 1:50 am

    I know this is an old thread, but I have a few other thoughts/ideas.

    I find that I sometimes have a difficult time crying it out if I’m by myself (ironically, that’s the only time I feel safe crying it out, so that really stinks). I know I need to release some of the grief and I go off and do that on my own, but then it’s like I get stuck and I can’t, as if I talk myself out of it. At those times, my wonderful roommate is willing to come in and basically be a safe person who will help me cry by just giving me space to talk until the emotions come out and then holding me while I bawl my head off. It’s messy, but it works. So grateful for supportive roommates.

    I also do not have 24/7 access with my T, or at least it is not something she has ever offered, but I’ve never asked. I sometimes look at my T’s photo on her website as a way to connect with her. It’s not the normal website mugshot for a solo practitioner. Instead, she has a real kind, caring, welcoming expression on her face, and so it helps me to feel better and remind me of my connection with her when I’m having a rough time.

    I find it really helpful to seek out beauty – a walk in the woods, sitting by a lake or pond, finding a pretty garden, looking at a piece of art or listening to a soothing piece of music – just something to remind my spirit that there is beauty in the world and letting that beauty soak in.

    At one point early on in my therapy, my T suggested that I make a list of things that I find soothing and to try to be as specific as possible. The idea was to have the list handy so that if I had a moment where I needed to self-soothe, I could whip out my list and choose something rather than freaking out or freezing up. It took me a while to make the list, but I have found it incredibly helpful to have in my back pocket. (Did you know that they make adult coloring books?? They’re awesome.)

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