Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Over and over and over and...

There are many reasons why I blog- for support, to vent, to grieve, to celebrate.
There is pretty much one reason why I stop bloggin'- when I am stuck- Emotionally stuck by something. As I have been slowly returning to bloggin' I have realized there were two icebergs that I haven't been able or willing to face, and those icebergs are what kept me from bloggin. Because when I blog, I process things, and I just wasn't willing or able to face the icebergs.

The icebergs are starting to thaw-

Iceberg 1-

I started seeing a counselor in November. I had been wanting to start seeing one for a while- actually right after grad school. In fact, just out of grad school, I started seeing a counselor, and quit after the fourth session. I don't think she was very good - but I felt like she also was trying to tell me to grow up and get over it which I wasn't ready to hear yet either. I hadn't even started TTC yet when I started seeing her. I had my first miscarriage during the time I was seeing her. I stopped going.

Fast forward two miscarriages, two failed IUIs and I finally found the inertia (or desperation!) to start seeing another counselor. I have been seeing her 2-4 times a month since November. I mostly like her (which is good enough for me), but more importantly I trust that she is very skilled at what she does.

So, we have done some of the traditional talk therapy. I can tell she has let me grieve and been gentle not pushing me too hard, which I appreciate. And then, sometime this spring, her approach started changing. She started picking up on my times of depression, particularly around the loss anniversaries, and some of the raw, open wounds that are still very close to the surface and not healing despite counseling.

She asked if she could do an assessment on me for PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder. I shrugged my shoulders figuring it couldn't hurt to answer a list of questions. Not thinking it would really tell us anything.

The answers said quite a bit- even to me. I could see light bulbs of understanding connecting in my counselors nods. I could tell that she felt like she had really touched on something significant.

I will be honest, I didn't know much about PTSD and still don't. I know it is commonly association with veterans returning from war. Or victims of rape, or other abuses. But miscarriages? I never made the connection. And interestingly enough, to this day, since she brought it up, I haven't even consulted Dr. google. In part, I decided I didn't want to label this, or create expectations. And I didn't trust at first that she really knew what she was doing. So, I humored her. And I went along with her plan.

The plan, you ask?

At every counseling session, she would have me do a few minutes of some calming breathing exercises, and close my eyes. And then, from the very beginning, tell the story of my 2nd miscarriage. Recalling every possible detail, in depth. And when I was done, and the Kleenexes were all used up, she would have me start all over again. Over and over and over.

For the past two months!

We don't ever talk, she just listens as I tell the same story over and over. And at times she has me pause, and she asks questions, she gets me to tap into the grief, and the woundedness and recall the raw emotion I felt at the time.

And it has not been pretty.

I have wanted to quit from the very beginning. I came home after the first and second session and I told my husband she was a lunatic, uncaring, and cruel. it felt plain cruel.

I didn't think I was going to be able to continue on. I started dreaming of making up excuses in my head to skip sessions, I would have to talk to myself to convince myself to pick up my purse, grab the keys, and drive to the session each week.

At one point I even told her that I didn't trust that this process was going to benefit me. I told her, and yet she had me start from the beginning of the story all over again and just keep telling it.

And this is part of why I haven't blogged. It truly was one of the most grueling counseling seasons of my life. I thought many times about wanting to talk about this process of "de-sensitization" and the research she talks about that shows how it helps people heal from trauma. I have wanted to share what a relief it was to feel validated finally that indeed my miscarriages were traumatic. They weren't just losses, they were traumas- physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

And I am breathing again. And the change hasn't been subtle. Daily, I catch myself noticing something is a bit different.

She says that the desensitization process, the retelling of the story, is a way to start to own the loss. Acknowledging that yes this happened, and yes this is a devastating loss(es) that has shaped and redefined me and my life, but it is not all consuming. And in retelling the story, she says I am able to acknowledge this as part of the fabric of my life, but be released by the all consuming grip of grief and fear.

And she has been right. And frankly there is a bit of inner strength that bubbles up in me when I to realized that I faced the story, and as I tell it now sitting in her office, there are far less moments of feeling like I am suffocating, there are far less moments in which I feel like I will be sucked into the couch if I really share ALL the details. Instead, there is a subtle knowing that this will always be a wound I will carry, but I can also carry forward and be okay.

We have come close to being done retelling the 2nd miscarriage story. When we started this process many weeks ago, she had asked me to list my three most traumatic occurrences during the last two years of infertility and loss. Of the three, the 2nd miscarriage I had said was the least traumatizing. Soon we will be moving on the 2nd hardest event, and then on to the first. This won't be a short process, and I imagine I will relive many of the same emotions again, but for now, I am holding my head up a bit higher, trusting the new breath that is coming.

Stay tuned for Iceberg #2 that is thawing- this is plenty for one post.