During a recent session with a client, we delved into her vacation experience, which had been marked by a clash of realities with a family member. This encounter was deeply unsettling for her because her childhood had been significantly impacted by trauma. Over the years, we’ve worked together to help her process and heal and find her secure footing in adulthood.
When her family member challenged her perspective and the progress she’d made on her healing journey, it left her feeling confused and upset.
We explored the reawakening of her trauma and I encouraged her to visualize the painstaking work we had done packing away pieces of her reality into a special box she carries with her throughout life. While this box can sometimes feel heavy, it mostly remains manageable, offering her valuable insight into her personal growth and life purpose.
We discussed how the “alternate reality” of her family member and the denial of my client’s experience was akin to someone carelessly flinging open her carefully packed box and scattering its contents haphazardly. Together, we spent the session picking up those scattered pieces and placing them back into the box. When she felt ready, my client decided it was time to close the box.
My client doesn’t deny the trauma of her childhood nor the impact it has had on shaping her life. However, she’s found the strength to approach her past with compassion, both for herself and her family. She acknowledges that while these painful events occurred, she can still lead a meaningful life filled with happiness and connection.
It’s essential to handle our trauma with care and respect, nurturing ourselves along the way. In this case, my client responded well to the metaphor of the box, carefully placing each piece of her trauma inside and sealing it when she was ready. For those reading this post, consider what you could put in your own box with mindfulness, care, and self-compassion. Know that some days your box may feel heavier than others, and there might be moments when someone inadvertently opens it. But remember, with insight or with the support of friends or a therapist, you can gather the pieces, close the lid and carry on.