Books and My Healing Journey

I’m an avid reader. I have been for as long as I can remember. Although I mostly read books, I learned a few years ago that my love of reading newspapers goes back to childhood. One day my dad and I got on the subject of newspapers. We always had them when I was growing up, though I don’t remember seeing my parents read them. I learned with that conversation that my dad noticed while I was young that I would often read newspapers if I had access to them. So he made it a point to always have a subscription going. It used to be The Washington Star (that really dates me!) and then it was The Washington Post. We also had a county newspaper that was delivered weekly once we moved to a more rural area.

As a therapist, I enjoy all of my clients, but there’s something special about clients who want book recommendations. I have my regular book suggestions, but I also love being able to recommend books on more specific topics. I am able to do this because of my history of reading and my own personal therapy/bibliotherapy.

Although I have a lengthy “to be read” list of self-help, non-fiction, and mental health titles, I recently decided to re-read one of the first books I read when I started my journey with healing my childhood trauma. That book is “Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie. Even though it’s been over 30 years ago since I first read the book, I would still recommend it. I also think it would be a great book for someone starting their healing journey.

I will write my review of the book once I finish it in the next week or so, but what I wanted to do with this post is to give a glimpse into my healing journey, because re-reading “Codependent No More” prompted me to think about where I’ve been over the last thirty plus years and as a healer I think there is sometimes room for healthy self-disclosure.

In my early twenties after a failed marriage I ended up in an abusive relationship that would take me several years to get out of. At first I found myself at a community mental health office where I was able to receive a few sessions of therapy. Luckily the counselor quickly recognized that I was a prime candidate for bibliotherapy and was suggesting a lot of resources. A few years later I was the mom of a difficult two year old. Although I had not yet begun to process the childhood trauma, I refused to repeat the cycle of abuse that came from my mom. I found a local psychologist to teach me how to parent, but after two to three sessions she recognized that something was different with my son. He was referred out and was soon diagnosed with autism. My son has done remarkably well with an early diagnosis and I am grateful that he prompted me to go to counseling. Soon after his diagnosis I started with the help of the psychologist to unpack the trauma from childhood that was a result of my mom and continued reading self-help books appropriate for what I was going through. Twenty five years later, I still on occasion have something come up that is a trigger, but I find it less unsettling. I am able to make the connection, understand the reason for feeling triggered, implement a coping skill, and quickly recover.

The road to recovery from childhood trauma can be long, but I find with most of my clients they are in a much better place in just a few months. But before we end our time together we talk about how we will know when it’s time to seek counseling again. For me personally, I find during times of stress and transitions, especially when unexpected, I need additional support and validation. And that’s when I look for counseling again.



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