Contact us

Is any life too broken?

My psychotherapy journey started 4yrs after I’d been bereaved. My husband Martin died of cancer in Sept 2013; I knew my grief would be grim & I was not disappointed. I allowed myself to feel the depth of my pain & loss as I saw it directly related to how much I loved Martin. I used the tools I’d learnt from when I was clinically depressed in my late 30s & was pretty pleased with myself that I didn’t plunge into another clinical depression as I feared I might.

As grim as it was seeing my husband die & coping with my grief, I did actually feel more alive during that time than I had felt in a very long time. Four years later things were settling, outwardly I was functioning; I was seemingly back on my feet in life again, working & finding support via friends & family, but I was aware of a low-level numbness within myself which I couldn’t seem to shift. 

I initially heard about my training establishment via the Counsellor I’d been having bereavement support with at the hospice where Martin had been cared for. She asked me if I’d ever thought about becoming a Counsellor myself as I seemed to have a high level of self-awareness etc. As if I would be thinking of that when my husband had just died! Anyhow, I had taken down the details & promptly forgot all about it…. until 4yrs later when I was decluttering & came across the info again.   

I initially started the Foundation Year of training to get my grey cells in some kind of working order again. Grief seemed to have addled my brain. I enjoyed the subject matter & being with like-minded people but never intended to become a therapist. Just the word ‘Psychotherapy’ used to scare the life out of me. I’d been told many years previously that I was likely to need psychotherapy to deal with the level of trauma I had experienced as a child, so had avoided it at all costs! Anyhow, part of the criteria for the course was to be in therapy myself, so I found a psychotherapist & my journey started. 

It was scary but fascinating to discover that I was in a place where I knew that ‘it was time’. I’d known for a long time that I had not dealt with large parts of my childhood trauma & somehow the grief over Martin dying also opened the door to the grief around my childhood. I felt ready to go there. 

One of the surprising things about Martin’s death was that it made me face my own fears around dying & it also made me question whether I was truly living. When I started therapy I felt as if I’d burnt all my bridges in some way. I didn’t have a husband anymore, I didn’t have children & so it was like ‘what else have I got to lose?’ 

I’m not going to lie, the first few years of my therapy were tough. I felt like my life was so broken. It took me a long time to be able to trust my therapist, but she is so patient. She always has such a different, more positive perspective to my own & she has the experience & wisdom to know the importance of pacing the emotional work. I began to melt. I felt like all the defences I’d erected, which had worked so effectively in my life, started to crumble. The realisation came; the person I thought I was had been created as a defence to my pain & the real ‘me’ was buried deeply underneath. My childhood grief has been around the loss of my young self, my innocence & the life I had wanted but was given.

There have been many sessions where snot & tears are in abundance but to my delight, there have also been sessions where we belly laugh too. That had never been a part of any idea of psychotherapy I had imagined! My fragile sense of self has strengthened during the process & today….. I can’t believe I am saying this…. but I enjoy going to my therapy sessions. I no longer go in order to fix my life which feels so broken but I go out of curiosity, expectancy, to explore, to remain open to learning more about myself & my inner world. I am no longer afraid of intense emotions; I now know that they will pass & that if I stay present there will be some wisdom or message for me within the experience. I’m not sorted & am never likely to be but I’m OK with that today. I am feeling my emotions & realise this is what it means to be fully alive.

Needless to say, the more I began to heal the more I began to believe that my life wasn’t too broken to be of any use. In fact, the feedback on my course was that I had a lot to offer as a Counsellor, so I have continued on the course & the finish line is within my sight. If I can help one other person to alleviate their suffering or help them to believe in a better life then that is enough for me. It doesn’t matter what has happened in the past in any life; if there is a willingness to be open to change then I believe amazing things will happen.

Psychotherapy is scary but it is also deeply transformative & a privilege to be part of creating an opportunity to learn how to connect deeply not only with ourselves & others but also with life itself.   

Written by Christina Lunn – Psychotherapist in training and currently in placement with the UK Counselling Network CIC

Pinterest LinkedIn