I really can’t stand it when my therapist takes something I said and it turns it into something significant. I wasn't attempting to be cared for or to have any sort of revelation tonight. And yet, there it was. It started with a private reading of my journal. (I often type up and bring in entries from my journal, because sometimes I (gasp!) just can’t say what I’m feeling.) As we began to observe my thought patterns, my therapist asked a very loaded question: What does recovery mean?
As I stumbled to find the words to describe what I want my life to look like, she did this annoying thing where she made my thoughts sound coherent. “So recovery means not abandoning yourself, validating yourself, and accepting that you’re important.” Wait, what?! This wasn't what I thought I was getting at, but it hit something tender deep inside and felt very accurate. Instead of turning my journey towards recovery into a self-bash session, suddenly I was looking at attempting self-compassion. It felt almost good.
Recovery means different things for different people. No matter what, there is one underlying theme to the various beliefs in recovery: it is a goal that often seems too lofty for many with mental illness or addiction. The truth is, once I defined it for myself, it felt a little easier to obtain. Something I had overlooked was that I was using other people's definitions for recovery. It doesn't matter what others think recovery is, because they are not living my life. I am the one who has to live with myself.
I'm not expecting to suddenly be rid of all the problems, worries, and symptoms of my mental illness just from one revelation. I understand that if I uncover something important it does not suddenly make me "all better." If that were true, there would be a lot more believers in psychodynamic therapy and a lot less people suffering. Awareness is just part of the process, but definitely a major part.
Slowly I'm learning that in order for awareness to help, I must become comfortable with being uncomfortable. It's a long and sometimes exasperating journey, but well worth it.
Dealing with self injury or know someone who is? Check out these safety resources: http://psychcentral.com/resources/Suicide_and_Crisis/Self-Injury/