what you don’t know.
This week I was reminded something taught to me by my first counselor. I was stumbling through several counseling sessions when I first started going, confused and resentful not understanding where he was trying to get me to go with my thinking. I couldn’t grasp what he was trying to say. Finally, he looked at me and said, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” I stopped. Worked at wrapping my mind around what he was saying to me. I related the conversation to when I was learning computers. When I started, I knew so little about computers, I didn’t know what I need to ask for a question. I finally started with the book that said, “Read me first.” My counselor helped me to see, that I needed a “Read me first” book on living. My earliest memories are of survival. Terror was my life. People proclaim, “I just want to feel safe.” I didn’t know what safe meant. I could not pull out one single memory of feeling ‘safe.’ It was outside of my realm of understanding. One of the critical things in counseling for me was long sessions on learning to be human. I needed to be taught how to live. I needed a “Read me first” book on relationships, self care, community. I felt so clueless and stupid. My counselor reassured me over and over again that I could learn how to live. Didn’t matter how old or twisted, if I took the time to invest in myself, I could learn to live. I’m thankful of his clear view from the top as I negotiated the complex steps to becoming human. I now feel safe, sometimes. Other times not so much. I am learning to live differently. I am also embracing what I learned so brutally. One of the big surprises for me was to realize when I totally turn my back on my PTSD and pretend it doesn’t exist, I feel more frightened, more disoriented and more like I am helpless. PTSD does not define who I am but I can’t ignore it either. Lessons learned were sometimes beaten into me. I am learning to accept that some of those things were important to learn. I still get frustrated when I read some web pages that prattle on how you just do this, and this, and that then everything will be like it was before…bull shit. My life was impacted by brutal people from the time I was 5 years old. They were sneaky about it, waiting until I was alone to unleash acidic criticism, cruel words, and straight up viciousness. Sadly, if I told, all was denied….who believes a child? I didn’t know there was another way to live. My counselor steadily taught me such basics as how to say thank you to a compliment. Taught me that No is a complete sentence. I needed to learn that I am a good person. He coached me through a maze of information that most people consider as common knowledge. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. My counselor did know and spent years teaching me what I wished I’d known years ago. I know now. My life changed tremendously through these years of counseling. I am thankful for the change. I will never go back to what I knew before counseling. I am thankful to learn healthy ways of living.