Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Troubled Place

I love what Torey Hayden, who works with traumatised children, spoke to a girl she counselled named Cassandra... So beautiful and true...

"'But just the opposite happens if we have to keep something big a secret. First of all, we have to create a special place in our heads to keep it, and this is what the Troubled Place is. The Troubled Place is chock-full of stuff you can't tell. Usually this is bad stuff. Scary stuff. And you have to do a special kind of trick with your mind to get the door shut on a Troubled Place so that all this bad, scary stuff doesn't slip out into all your other thoughts. You have to lock it up really tight, so even you can't get in there very easily. If you don't, then you don't have any room in your mind for other thinking.

When you first do it, first create a Troubled Place and manage to get it locked up, it's easy to to think you've made it go away. But, in fact, this is the weird thing about Troubled Places. Just the opposite is true. A Troubled Place works just like a freezer does. Everything you put in there, it keeps really fresh, like it's just happened. So if you accidentally crack open the door on the Troubled Place and look at anything that's in there, that thing will hurt horribly all over again.

If you heard Dr. B say no one must talk to you about what happened, that must have been scary for you. I think if I'd heard someone say that, I would have felt what happened to me must be so awful that even the grown-ups around me were scared of it. I'd be really frightened then because I'd think I needed to really keep my Troubled Place locked up tight. I mean, what would happen if I didn't? What if it got out? What if I did say something, even accidentally, and it did lots of damage?

If someone said that, I think it would just be putting words to what I already felt - that I must be a bad person because this happened to me, that things like this don't happen to good people and I'm dirty and dangerous to know because of it.


I was waiting a moment there, because I wanted you to have the chance to think about what I just said, before I want to add something else to it. This is very important, so I wanted to wait until all your thoughts were focused on this. And here's what I want to say to you, Cassandra.

That isn't true, what I just said about your being a bad person or a dirty person or a dangerous person to know because of what happened to you. I know it feels true, but feelings often aren't very accurate things. It's easy to fool our feelings, so it's important to learn not to pay too much attention to what they tell you, because lots of times, they're wrong.

What happened to you is simply something that happened. It didn't happen because you are a bad person. It didn't make you a bad person because it happened. It just happened.

And now it's time for it to be over. It's time to open up the door on the Troubled Place and clean all the junk out. Not to throw it away, because those are part of your memories, part of what makes you 'you'. But it's time to make them ordinary. To talk about them until you understand how you felt, what you did, what other people did. To talk about them until there aren't any secrets left in your Troubled Place to stay fresh and scary, to talk until you're bored with them.

That will turn them into just ordinary memories, like all the rest of the memories of your life.'"

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