Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Drawing Pictures on Walls

Yesterday I went through an experience I've had before. I did a genogram -- much like a family tree but with additional information regarding relationships beyond bloodlines.

Genograms are used in treating medical and psychological complaints, but also as a form of learning more about our personal development. I've talked about genograms before especially as they have impacted my healing. In the past I've had strong responses to helping create them. The first time I did one I developed a pounding migraine that forced me into a dark room with a cold compress on my head as I willed myself not to throw up.

Thankfully yesterday's went more smoothly. 

I didn't know until I got to the office that we'd be doing a genogram. When the counselor informed me of it I was hit with a wave of anxiety. She asked if I'd done one before and I assured her that I had. As she was preparing her workspace I mentioned that under the circumstances I would take some medication to ease my anxiety. She offered to postpone the process, but I really wanted to get it done. So we proceeded with the proviso that I could call it quits at any time.

As she drew the outline and filled in my information I concentrated on breathing deeply and fully, not hunching my shoulders, and answering her questions honestly. I didn't backtrack too much and I don't think I over explained (a common problem). As we progressed she expressed dismay over certain things that came to light. Most of them were things I'm used to eliciting sympathy.

Some of her queries surprised me and caught me a bit off guard. In the past genograms have been "just the facts" experiences, but she kept asking me to describe certain people on the chart. How did I feel about them. I found myself answering as honestly as I could, but still feeling obligated to minimize certain things.  "She wasn't all bad." Or "I'm sure there are lots of good things I just can't remember".

When we had completed the layout, we continued to talk for a bit. The counselor then expressed gratitude for my willingness to share and she went on to say that she felt I was a very strong woman to have survived all of the trauma. I believed her, but there was still that little niggle in the back of head. Not a full out voice, but just a hint that I was undeserving of her comments. She told me she really liked me and would like to give me a hug if I was okay with that. I assured that would be fine as long as she warned me in advance.

Her comments and the hug brought tears to my eyes. Any expression of kindness, especially from someone who has just sat through hearing some or all of my story, tends to have this effect one me.

It took me a few hours and a couple of mugs of herbal tea to get my bearings again, but I think this has the potential to be a good thing. Perhaps a very good thing.

linking up with Just Write and Imperfect Prose


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