Transparency – one of the most valuable traits to acquire as a human, yet every molecule in my body rejects the thought of it. I think it’s fair to say that any individual, addict, or non-addict, that has experienced any form of trauma can relate to the detestable feelings associated with vulnerability and transparency. However, to experience complete healing and truly connect with other humans, we must metaphorically gut ourselves open.
From a very early age, I learned that my feelings weren’t valid. Through my own experience, I was made aware of just how insignificant and dangerous it was to speak my truth. I had a knack for throwing all of my obvious defects on the table, just enough to give you the ability to walk out the door, but never enough to get down to the root of who I was. I was keen on never letting anyone into what I felt were the darkest parts of my emotional and mental makeup.
Deep down in the abyss of my mind, I truly believed I was condemned, unlovable, inadequate, unworthy, and all-around – no good. How could I possibly let anyone into that depravity? Much less, how could I convince you to love me if I broke down the walls of my facade and you were enlightened to the bondage in which I held myself captive? I spent many years self-medicating and doing my best to drown out the static noise between my ears. Transparency equaled pain, and I was chasing every substance attempting to numb every ounce of it. There was no way I was going to willingly uncover my deepest, darkest secrets without first being beaten into a state of submission through my self-induced turmoil.
Eventually, I got sober and began scratching the surface of the discrepancies that lied within my outward state and spiritual, mental, and emotional condition. However, a 33 stint in rehab did not quite do the job. I found myself resorting to my old habits of divulging just enough information but never enough to penetrate the forcefield around the pain I had buried. I left treatment, and I was back in the real world – unhealed and ill-equipped. I did the opposite of everything that was suggested of me, which ultimately led me down a path that brought me to my knees.
I found myself exactly where my journey to self-medicating started. The craziest part of healing is not only acknowledging our trauma and toxic adaptive patterns but to share our innermost selves with another human being. For me, that had to happen in a clinical setting. I was three years sober and miserable, living the same type of life I lived when I was drinking and drugging, but I had no reprieve. I knew that these age-old survival mechanisms were no longer working for me. My cycles were utterly insane. I was doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome.
I decided to seek out trauma therapy in hopes of receiving some guidance from a professional. There was not a doubt in my mind that I needed some sort of intervention. I was constitutionally incapable of getting honest with myself, and I needed someone to help me unlock years of my emotional lockdown. I didn’t choose to seek out therapy because I was ready to discuss my life story with another human. I sought out help because I knew that my life would continue to look the same if I didn’t get rigorously honest with someone else.
I remember my first day of therapy, I walked into the office, and I wasn’t nervous but rather anticipating the session. After all, I was a great manipulator – or so I thought. I was thoroughly convinced I could walk right into that therapeutic setting and maybe talk about some obvious issues I was facing and walk out completely healed. Let me be the first to tell you what an absolute delusion that was. Thankfully, I found the most perfect therapist that had encountered several other women just like me. I was broken, yet I was smiling. I was successful in my work life and diving deeper into toxic relationships as each one ended and another began. I craved intimacy, but I was refusing to be vulnerable with anyone.
My therapist spent many weeks allowing me to share my surface-level experiences, and in the meantime, she was prepping her counter defense. First, she established trust. The first time she suggested we try an exercise where I was to pretend a chair in her office was my deceased mother, and I was asked to roleplay – with a chair. This erroneous idea made me laugh, mostly because I was insanely uncomfortable. However, I didn’t hesitate to tell her that I couldn’t fulfill her request at that moment, and she met me where I was and re-enacted a real scenario. This helped to give me my voice back; for the first time, I was able to say no. That was a significant step for me.
In another session, my ex and I attempted to repair an unsalvageable relationship when my therapist re-enacted my behaviors when he and I would argue. I remember how angry, upset, and betrayed I felt. I instantly let my therapist know how I was feeling, and during our next one-on-one session, I was able to fully process that she did it all to help me. I was uncomfortable because I spent years avoiding the truth of my fear of rejection and abandonment, and for the first time, I was able to see and digest the truth.
Gutting myself open and being completely transparent with my therapist has revolutionized my life. For the first time, I was able to be completely honest and open with another human being. This process has slowly but surely opened my eyes to how disconnected I was from myself and the world around me. Truth be told, I preferred it that way for many years. Transparency in therapy has allowed me to discover myself and dismantle unhealthy patterns of behavior that have plagued me for years. Pulling out my pain by the roots through transparency has allowed me to live a life beyond my wildest dreams.