It rocks! That's how I feel. Since I have been living in this small Western Washington town, I have not really felt the need for therapy sessions. In fact, when my therapist and I were doing our weekly scheduled Skype sessions, those sessions became a burden to me because I disliked having to stay home on Thursdays. I had other things I really wanted to do. However, I respected my therapist's belief that tapering off our sessions was better than going "cold turkey." And she was right--several matters came up that I needed to spend time discussing with her. So I am glad I hung in there.
Five years ago, my inner life was so painful and so turbulent that I had given up leaving my apartment unless absolutely necessary. It seemed that no matter where I went or who I was with, I was constantly having to deal with PTSD triggers. Separating and hiding my inner life from my outer life took so much of my energy that I was ready to give up. Fortunately, I don't give up easily, and I made one last attempt to find a person who had the knowledge and experience to help me. Bingo! After contacting the former head of the psych department in a well-known local research hospital, I got the name of a therapist who was able to diagnose me accurately and then offer me the help I had been trying to find for the past thirty-some years.
Now, I have always been a person for whom having a personal goal is essential when I engage in an activity that is important to me. My goal when I began seeing my therapist in 2010 was to do the work I needed to do in order to reduce and manage my PTSD symptoms so that I could enjoy the final part of my life. Well, I worked my tail off in therapy, and I achieved that goal. I hung in there, forced myself to go to my sessions even when I didn't want to go, spent hours and hours at home working on my Ego State Therapy dialogue, and now I'm finished. My reward? A state of inner peace I have never had before in my life and what I would call a relatively normal life--normal for a 75-year-old senior living in a small town, that is. Even more: I am able to manage any distress I feel before it gets to the point where symptoms might recur.
Yes, I've learned in therapy how to gather my ego states together so that we might iron out any difficulties that could cause distress. For that, I don't really need a therapist's help now. Five years ago, I did!
Oh, yes, I need to define my new "normal" life here in a small Western Washington town of about eight thousand souls. I'll tell you about this life. You may not find it appealing, but I'm so happy to have it! First, I sing in my church choir at St. Timothy's Episcopal Church. I also sing in the female "barbershop" group that one of our choir members put together. We call this group "Joyful Noise," and the name fits. Sometimes it's more noise than music, but we are working on it. Our choir now has tee shirts with St. Timothy's logo on them to wear on December 13th when we participate in one of the community Christmas events. The children's choir is going to join us, and I bet they steal the show! So I look forward to that event.
Recently, I've begun volunteering at our local community college, something I love doing! I'd forgotten how much fun it is to work one-on-one with a student. I'm helping twice a week in a post-ESL class, giving students individual help. In addition, once a week I will be facilitating an English conversation session with students who want to practice their speaking skills in English. For me, this work is fun, and I'm just happy that my head is peaceful enough so that I can use it for other things now instead of therapy.
Overall, I'd say my life now, post-therapy, is pretty typical of the lives led by many women my age (75). I don't feel a need to explain myself, as I used to, because I feel that I blend in with everyone else. I no longer feel that I am a freak or even that I am weird--whatever those terms mean! "Quirky" I may be, but not freaky. Now that I no longer have a war taking place in my head, I am able to simply be a part of life and enjoy the experience--the bad and the good of life. I like knowing that now I can usually roll with the punches and not experience flashbacks and other symptoms when the going gets difficult. That new feeling is awesome!
Will I stop posting to my blog now that life has settled down for my ego states and me? No! But I won't post as often as in the past. I'm simply going to be too busy living! So now you know what I will be thankful for this Thanksgiving and now you know that my greatest Christmas gift will be from me to me, the experience of living without the daily torment of PTSD symptoms. At the Thanksgiving table this year I will say a prayer of thanks for my therapist and all her help, and I will thank God and the powers of the Universe for giving me the stamina and the powers of insight needed to do my work in therapy.
To conclude, below is a British saying adapted to fit our American Thanksgiving: