Monday, February 7, 2011

Measuring Progress

When discussing healing I have often heard the saying 'one step forward, three steps back'. It is something I have said myself, there are times when things are so confusing that you feel you have been spun in so many directions that you don't know which way you face. There are plenty of times when the set backs are so easy to see, but it is rare to see the progress until you look back and realise how far you have come.

How do we measure progress? what is considered a step forward? what is considered a step back? There are definitely times when it is obvious, such as being able to handle a situation that I couldn't before. However, this week I have realised there are plenty of things that can be considered either - it is just a matter of the way you look at it.

About a week ago, I found out about a new part, Laila. I still don't know much about her - she seems to be an adult. However the way she speaks reminds me a little of Elsie or Sasha so I wonder if she is another non-human alt. I do know she is nocturnal, this is something she has told Stacy - and so far she has only come out at night.

When I first found out about Laila, I was disappointed. I felt that I had been making progress lately and felt that a new part was obviously a set back. I definitely thought along the lines of 'one step forward, three steps back'. Later, days later, I started to really think about it differently. In the past many of my parts have been around a long time before they have become known to the system and I believe this is the same with Laila. A new part doesn't mean I have 'split' again, it is just a part as surfaced that I didn't know about before. This could be because she has a skill we need, because she carries memories we are ready to face or simply I am in a place where I can accept something new.

Laila appearing now can be taken as a sign of our progress - of my own acceptance of our system. It is all a matter of perspective - the way I choose to look at it. I still don't know why Laila is a part, or why she has come forward now however I am choosing not to see it as a set back.

My last session with Margaret (my psychologist) was a hard one, it left me shaken and I really struggled with the things we discussed. Ever since I have seen Margaret we spent very little time discussing the past, my childhood or any of the abuse. Not that Margaret hasn't tried to get me to talk about it, but I am a master at avoidance and changing the subject and Margaret will only push me so hard - I need to be ready. My last session was different, we discussed my last visit to my grandparent's house (after Nana had died, but Papa was still alive). I talked about how it felt, the fear and the need to get out. We discussed other things but I will go into that another post. I have mentioned in other posts that I can actually talk about the abuse to some degree however it is like telling a story - I am detached from the memories and don't feel any emotions about it. This was different - I talked about my memories, my feelings - I didn't just tell a story.

Being a hard session could be taken as a bad thing, a set back but the truth is I managed to start to face the emotions, to talk just a little about the past. That is a huge step and Margaret made sure I knew that before we ended our session. The 7yo didnt flip out at me talking either - which is a big thing for her (she is the keeper of secrets).

This weekend has been a wonderful weekend, I was simply happy. There was nothing particularly special about this weekend, I did have lunch with a great friend who I haven't seen in ages, I went to church, I cuddled my friend's new born. These are all simple things but they brought me so much happiness. I came home from church on Sunday night and I was happy. I am happy. content and just simply in a good mood.

I could look at my great mood and say that it is of little consequence, I just had a good weekend. However when I think back to 2008, I was so depressed, I didn't think I would ever be happy again. Even just reading my blog at the end of last year, I felt that I wasn't living life. The fact that I am happy is such a great thing and is evidence of the progress I have made. It is also a reminder of the great things and people I have in my life.

I don't believe I have suddenly turned a new page and I am going to be always happy and making huge bounds forward in healing. Life doesn't work like that. There will set-backs. There will be bad days. However I can see I have made progress and that I am making progress. More importantly, when difficult things cross my path I can choose the way I look at them. I hope this reminds me to look at things more positively, to recognise even the baby steps forward.


Paul said...

Kylie, Sounds like you are doing hard and important work. And it's nice to see that you are keeping up confidence in your ability to do it. Good for you.

castorgirl said...

I've heard (and felt) that saying, but I don't think it's accurate. What you describe here are all steps forward. You faced the emotions, you felt them, you began to understand a part of your system that has been revealed to you... they are all good and healing things. Because it feels overwhelming at the time, it can feel like a step back... but look at the weekend you had, filled with little pieces of joy and normalcy... There is balance and healing in there...

Take care,

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