Getting Better Means I Cannot Run Away

I have never much been afraid to face and confront the reasons why I developed mental illness. In fact, anger, confusion, and the feeling of having no control over my life have continued to motivate my need to deal with and accept my illness. After all, if I am unwilling to face the difficult truths of my life by actively challenging them and all the pain they cause, how can I ever hope to become better?

I recently had my first session in Experiential Therapy (EP), “…a role play method through which past, present and future issues can be resolved and when combined with more traditional modalities serves to elicit material from the unconscious that allows one to fill in perceptual, cognitive and emotional gaps. Material that has been out-of-vision can come to the surface where it can be worked through and seen in a new light. (It has a) unique ability to give voice to hidden wounds has…”. I am the first to admit, when my therapist introduced the concept of EP to me, it conjured “wacky” Freudian ideas (not that EP is Psychoanalytic in nature). I wondered how concepts like Empty Chair work (ECW) could possibly be adapted into my respect for Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). However, having a very sensible (she knew how silly I felt “talking to myself”), well-educated, and experienced therapist, I was able to participate in my first session with great success, allowing my walls against “wacky” therapies to lower themselves a bit, leaving myself open to the possibility that EP has value in my therapeutic journey.

To keep it simple and to scare away as few readers as possible (LOL), I will not describe the ECW in too much detail because…well, you WILL think it sounds quite reaching in terms of validity and value.  Anyhoo…ECW allowed me to reconnect to a lot of the emotions I had as a child, the time in my life when I began developing the maladaptive schemas that I am now unlearning.

I always knew I felt invalidated as a child but until this session, I never realized how deeply that invalidation had sunk itself into my everything.  I came away from the session understanding that, as a child just trying to find her way through the world the best she sad childcould, I was quite often marginalized for simply being a child; my emotions were too childish, my coping abilities immature, and my capacity to understand anything…deficient. In other words, I was invalidated and belittled for not being an adult. (What a shock that I might be childish, immature, right? Geesh.)

I found myself crying for that little girl, the little girl who did not have the age and experience to give her the language to express how she felt and how very wrong adults were to criticize her for her youth. I felt sorry for her constant state of confusion, her continuous wondering as to why she never seemed to be able to please the village of adults around her. I was devastated when I realized how she internalized all that negative interaction into one question, “What is wrong with me?” I cried because she knew more about the world than adults ever gave her credit for, recognized how child-like adults actually were, and how amazingly strong she was to never stop trying to understand and improve her life.

I could have been very afraid to try a new-to-me “wacky” therapy.

I could have refused to face the emotions that came from it.

But had I run from those things, how could I ever hope to become better.

If you feel you are in a crisis, whether or not you are thinking about killing yourself, please call the Lifeline. People have called us for help with substance abuse, economic worries, relationship and family problems, sexual orientation, illness, getting over abuse, depression, mental and physical illness, and even loneliness.

No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.







The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the nation’s leading organization bringing together people across communities and backgrounds to understand and prevent suicide, and to help heal the pain it causes. Individuals, families, and communities who have been personally touched by suicide are the moving force behind everything we do.

  • We strive for a world that is free of suicide.
  • We support research, because understanding the causes of suicide is vital to saving lives.
  • We educate others in order to foster understanding and inspire action.
  • We offer a caring community to those who have lost someone they love to suicide, or who are struggling with thoughts of suicide themselves.
  • We advocate to ensure that federal, state, and local governments do all they can to prevent suicide, and to support and care for those at risk.

4 thoughts on “Getting Better Means I Cannot Run Away

  1. This particular blog struck me more than any other largely due to the memories it provoked, and your analysis is both accurate and insightful. We learn from the past in order to fix (improve) the future.

  2. I am anything, but an open person. In fact, the better part of my life has largely been a façade perpetrated out of perceived self-preservation. The truth is that I hated myself as a child all the way into adulthood. By about age eleven, I had grown to despise myself to such a degree that I began an undertaking to literally erase any trace of the person I was up until that point. Now, recalling this at 38, I clearly recognize the inherent childishness, not to mention irrationality, but keep in mind that I was a child dealing with life the best way I knew how.

    So, why did I despise myself so much that I would wish to create an alternate persona, and in some instances, go to such great measures? The answer, of course, dives right into the midst of all the baggage that I have usually avoided sharing up until now.

    I hated myself for allowing (some) family to deprive me of my thoughts and feelings. See, a feeling was only valid if it was valid to them; otherwise, it was stupid. I hated myself for allowing them to manipulate me into jealousy and insecurity, because of their own jealousies and insecurities. I hated myself for seeking love from someone, who at the time, based love on the strict obedience and maintaining complete control. I hated myself for conforming to their dysfunctional example in the hopes of gaining their acceptance. I hated myself for being a “kid”, because being one meant that you were stupid, and your opinion counted for little. There were weak personalities that followed the strong ones then, and to a large degree, still today. I was not a perfect kid, by any means, but I did not come into to this world rotten or selfish or manipulative, or deserving of any of the other accusations made of me. I was just a child making the best of the example set before him by the adults in his life.

    I hated myself for being the school joke. I hated myself for being bullied, pushed down, kicked, spit on and beaten. I hated myself for being too disgraced to let anyone know the severity of the situation, and I especially hated myself for crying. I hated myself for being born sensitive, and for rarely lifting a finger to defend myself. I hated myself for being so weak, and I would later vow never to be that weak again. I hated myself, and regret, in later years, when I continued the cycle and bullied others weaker than myself. Fortunately, an eventual move out of state removed me from the situation, and between that move, and then later going off to college, concealing past baggage became easier and easier, and by college, the façade had taken shape.

    I’m sorry for keeping readers hanging, with how I ended my post, but I’m not quite finished with this stroll into my psyche. Writing this has been a very therapeutic for me like a journal entry, and I’m sure there will be more to come, because the story is hardly over. Thank you to everyone who took the time to read. .

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