For the first eight years that I was going through intensive therapy, myself and my therapist used the metaphor that I was climbing a mountain. I never realized how rocky, dangerous, and enormous that mountain range would become. It was an intense and exhausting climb to loosen and try to break the grip of oppressive mental and emotional pain. Eventually, after summiting many peaks I found I had descended to the other side. I stood there, surveying what I had accomplished and began walking down the trail. Respecting the process I had just gone through, I knew that using the metaphor of climbing a mountain was perfect for me at the time.
For the past 12 years, I have been incorporating acupuncture into my self-care, and to help me manage my PTSD symptoms. When I was going through the worst of processing my trauma and felt exhausted and powerless, I remember my acupuncturist saying to me, “For years, you have been running from the tiger through the woods with a broken leg. Now you are in the meadow, the tiger is pacing far from you, and your caregivers are standing like sentries, guarding you as you rest and heal.” I will never forget when he said that to me. I felt safe, and that I was protected from the fear of telling the truth, from believing the lie that the truth must always remain buried. His reassurance that day reminded me to trust the process and continue the climb, now with an added image of resting in a meadow, protected from the tiger.
I have now been on my healing journey for 10 years. I no longer see the therapist that I climbed the metaphorical mountain range with. He took me as far as he could go, and our therapeutic relationship ended over two years ago. I have been seeing a new therapist for the past 16-months and it’s been a wonderful experience. She has taught me ways of acceptance and self-compassion that I never dreamed would ever be possible. It was the next step I needed to take, and the trajectory of my healing has been amazing.
I just went through a very difficult Spring. It happens; the triggers can get the best of me and pull me down for a while until I gain my footing. When I needed some reassurance my therapist reminded me (as she has often done the past 16-months) that I had successfully fought the tiger and won. She has been telling me for over a year, that I’m a warrior, a goddess who sits on the tiger and rides it proudly. I had never told her about my acupuncturist and the tiger metaphor he used all those years ago because she was using it differently. Her words and visuals are completely different. The tiger is my friend and provides me with the strength I need. I can sit on it and relax with my lotus flowers in my hands, and exhale breaths of safety.
My healing process has been an incredible test of pain, fear, exhaustion, and strength. It’s interesting for me to recognize that the metaphors I use to help me heal have changed along the way. Each metaphor, and visual providing me with what I need to live my life with courage, and resilience.
Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph
image source: Pixabay