My story of healing began in April 2018. I have met Cami through my physical therapist who was helping me treat my chronic back pain after having had two spinal surgeries. She implied that maybe my pain had emotional reasons too and that maybe I need to have a look at the psychological burden my spine is carrying. I soon decided to follow this advice thinking that at least I could get some tips on how to accept and manage my pain. I have gained so much more.
Me and Cami did indeed start our work focusing on my back pain, which after about 3 or 4 months disappeared completely. I understood that it was, in specialized language, “an internalized symptom”, which in my own words I would put it like this: I have lived with the pain for so long that I came to identify myself with it as part of ME. I had to understand that I first need to see how the pain helped until that point, and that I needed to be ready to let it go. This was hard work but I am happy that I did it. This story left me with tools that I will use in the future too. I now know that every physical symptom has an emotional background too, and that sometimes just by treating the emotional part, the body will heal itself afterwards.
The most important thing I have discovered in these years of therapy is that healing begins with self-love and self-acceptance. I realized that I perform better at any chapter in my life if I act like my own superhero. Seeing myself as a wonderful person, treating myself with love, kindness and respect has brought a better light on each day of my life. I also learned to forgive myself for any present or past mistakes, and to avoid punishing myself through so many self-sabotage behaviors which were very familiar in the past. This attitude makes me see the people around me differently, because being kind with myself came along with being kind with others too. When I accepted myself exactly how I am, I also accepted the ones around me for who they are – different people, with a different story than mine.
I came to unpack my childhood trauma in my sessions with Cami (I know trauma is a big word, but we all have them, don’t worry ). I understood that even if I don’t want to acknowledge them, they are still there, and I act in their consequence. So, I allowed myself to be vulnerable and to connect with the child that I was, many years ago. In this way we slowly identified what was painful from my past, especially from the very young years. I went from sadness and anger to forgiveness and acceptance, but this was a rocky road. I just want to mention that for me, this needed time. It had great results though, as my relationship with my parents is now a lot better than it was in the past. This brings me a lot of joy, for me it is a big accomplishment.
Therapy helped me with my compulsive eating too, and I can now easily identify a compulsive behavior when it comes along. I was always chubby in my childhood, with a big appetite for food. I have made food my friend, my support, my coping mechanism. Sure, I did end-up as an overweight adult, as I am not so lucky to have a supersonic metabolism. Although in the years since I began therapy, I haven’t yet reached my “ideal” weight, I did gain a much better relationship with food. I now know the difference from when I eat for hunger and empty stomach to when I eat for emotional distress. I have recently begun a food plan and am surprised to see myself eating clean and losing weight with JOY for the first time in my life. So yes – therapy can help with eating disorders too
Cami helped me learn the concept of boundaries, which was something completely new for me. Through therapy I understood that saying “no” is actually healthy sometimes. So, I started practicing it, I think I’m still in a shy beginning period and saying “no” still feels a bit awkward, but I hope to be an expert one day. I now know how a healthy boundary can be set: by refusing what is unfit for me, and by expressing my own needs, without any criticism to others. This has brought a better quality in my relationships: with my family, my friends, my coworkers.
Last but not least, through therapy I learned to take responsibility for everything in my life: my past and present, my decisions for my future, my physical and emotional status. I stepped out of the victim role, where everything bad was caused by others, and entered a protagonist role, where everything that happens to me is only my responsibility. This brings me peace and empowerment.
I let myself feel the whole range of emotions, even the “bad” ones like anger or sadness or even fury because they are all part of life. I try to be my own psychotherapist, to observe myself, to identify my needs, and to act accordingly. If my need is to be spoiled, and appreciated, and loved, I give myself these things and have the courage to ask them from my close ones too. Or, if my need is to sit in my pajamas for a weekend, watch sad movies and cry, I do it, and don’t feel guilty! I came to be more resilient and accept that sometimes in life, bad things happen, but I am responsible for the way I manage the hard situations.
I learned that joy can be brought to every day, by just seeing all the reasons I have to be grateful (there are so many!). Life changed. I take pride for each therapy session, as I now feel better with myself. Psychology was always a passion for me but I would have never thought psychotherapy could have such a big impact on my life.
Cami, thank you for teaching me how to help myself.
With love, T.I.