I only figured [out the implications of something that happened to me] while casually watching “The Fall” on Netflix, which was much cheaper than hundreds of hours of therapy.
Listen to me read this piece here:
In one scene of the BBC show, “The Fall,” the inspector played by Gillian Anderson visits a woman believed to have once dated a suspected serial killer. Anderson has met up with the woman to learn about a man they know little about.
I didn’t recognize the significance of a violent act against me until fourteen years after it occurred. This, despite the fact that it was one part of a larger narrative I’d repeated to friends and therapists. Talking, I believed, was a part of “processing” the event.
We prioritize talking as a method of processing an event, a thought, a belief. It forms the backbone of therapy and coaching. When talking isn’t available, we might use some other conduit for language: journaling, unsent letters.
But there were still the fourteen years of talking and journaling during which I didn’t recognize what had happened to me as what it was: the act of a disturbed individual. I only recognized this recently, when I heard a fictional character tell a fictional detective that the serial killer in question had done the same thing to her; that this particular thing was, in the mind of the show, something that pointed to rape and murder.
I only figured it out while casually watching “The Fall” on Netflix, which was much cheaper than hundreds of hours of therapy.
I joke. But I mean to speak about process. While working through PTSD, I asked my counselor what I could do between sessions in order to process what was happening during our weekly hour together.
Nothing, she told me. You don’t have to do anything, which I found shocking. No worksheets? No homework? No journaling?
Once I began to see my own processing as an unpredictable experience that could leave me useless and sobbing or functional and working (and a variety of things in between), I saw it as similar to ingestion and digestion.
When I eat a bowl of pudding, I don’t sit around for hours afterward, concentrating on the complex operations of my stomach and intestines. I handle absolutely zero percent of that operation. Even if I wanted to speed things along, I couldn’t; my digestive system does what it does at its own pace, with regard only for its own rate of processing what I’ve eaten.