Halftime report

by | Jan 21, 2024 | Mental Health

Don’t worry my beautiful souls, I am not starting to write about sports results now. But the first three weeks of my six week stay in the mental health clinic have passed and, at least for me, that is way more thrilling than any sports event anyway.

So what has happened in these three weeks?  Not an easy question to be honest because so many things have happened that I don’t really know where to start. But I still wanna share a few of my thoughts. The key takeaway is probably that I had come not nearly as far as I had thought on my journey of healing from cptsd when I came here. During the admission consultation at the psychiatrist, I boldly stated that I think I didn’t really need the rehab all that much anymore because my regular therapy has brought me so far in the past months where I had waited for admission that I didn’t really need this intense six week stay, and I was just trying to use it as some kind of fine sanding before I get back to work. 

Well, you probably guessed it, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I had already known that my complex trauma was my biggest issue, but I severely underestimated how deep it went and how much it was affecting my life. 

When I arrived I was very anxious and in the group I was put in there were a few men I immediately disliked, even though I didn’t know why. It didn’t take long and an argument arose and the atmosphere got heated up. Details regarding what the fight are confidential (as in it does not only concern me therefore I am not at liberty to share without breaching other persons’ privacy, which I won’t) and doesn’t matter anyway. The point is after a few days  I felt completely misunderstood and isolated and  basically stopped talking to everybody. On top of that, I went through a very difficult phase in my relationship with Lisa (which, luckily, we could resolve by now, hopefully once and forever).

Only one person of all the other patients refused to let me isolate myself and still talked to me. I am incredibly grateful for him taking the time and getting to know me on our walks and café visits. Over the next days I started thinking and reflecting on myself and then, suddenly, I realized what had happened. I  have had a major trauma related flashback without realizing. The men, who were joking around during the session triggered memories of me being back in school where I was being bullied and mentally and physically abused by „the boys“. And on top of that, one of them was the exact doppelganger of my father (as in: his looks, posture and voice were very similar to how my father’s were when I was a teenager), who also belittled and beat me and forced me to do „manly“ things when I was young.  The realization hit me like a truck. I had not reacted to them. I had not picked a fight with them. I was reacting to the persons who treated me bad in the past and thus not only isolated myself and blamed others for it, but also verbally hurt and attacked innocent people, who didn’t do me any wrong.

That moment, I knew I had much bigger problems than I had thought and needed to pull my life around and break this vicious circle of trigger, trauma response, lashing out, being ostracized, hating myself and others and thus reinforcing the trauma. And I needed to start making amends.

So I did. I asked for a meeting with the men I lashed out to under supervision by the therapist. Thankfully, all of them agreed. In that meeting, I told them about my abusive childhood and how I have been treated while growing up and about my revelations and then apologized and told them I did not mean to attack them but was reacting in a flashback to things that happened in my past. I couldn’t hold back the tears either, and then the unthinkable happened. Everyone showed compassion and understanding and thanked me for my honesty and my courage to share my past and stand up for my mistake and we all agreed on a fresh start. The person that reminded me of my father asked me if he could give me a hug and I happily agreed and this hug felt so honest and compassionate, I felt such a rush of happiness, and this single hug healed so much in me. Because there was this stranger, showing me more sympathy and compassion than my actual father ever did. (Yes, my whole life I didn’t get a single hug from my father.) From that moment on, things went upwards. Every day I felt a little better and got more integrated in the group. About a week later I felt even safe enough to open up about another one of my insecurities. I was often sitting next to a group of people who were playing board or card games and I shared that I often set at the next table on my own, wishing to join in but never dared to ask because of fear of rejection. And that, if I dared to ask, a no always broke me and I couldn’t take a yes as honest because my head was always screaming „they just said yes out of politeness or pity, because no one could ever really like me or want to be my friend. Speaking out these words made me once more realize, how much my childhood had traumatized me and how often I had been my own worst enemy because my fear of rejection led to the very isolation I loathed so much and that had always caused me so much pain. But jumping over my shadow and opening up once more paid off. The next day I was invited to join and had an incredibly fun evening of playing games and I felt accepted and welcome.

In the following days more and more people approached me, saying how happy they are to see me in a better and better mood with each passing day. And yes, I was (and still am) feeling better and better. I’d even say, I found some friends here. When the person who had reminded me of my father left, we both hugged and cried. And I already made plans with some of the women that we would stay in contact and go out dancing together after our rehab. 

Of course I know that only the future will tell if those plans will be kept, but what I can already say, the first three weeks of rehab already helped me so much in realizing my issues and how deep my trauma goes. And I really think, I made friends outside of the „trans* and friends“ bubble.

I know, rehab can only get me so far as to light the way and prepare me for the journey, and the real ordeal is waking the road afterwards and living my life free of the shadows of the past.

But so far, I feel that in another three weeks when I will go home again, I will be well prepared.

Love you all my beautiful souls, thanks for reading and I would love to get some feedback or hear your thoughts in the comments.

Xoxo, your galpal Val

Picture: A drawing I made here at the clinic titled “myself as a tree”. I tried to express how I grew at an unwelcoming site was broken by the storm, but then grew anew out of what was left and am now standing in the midst of my life, unique and different than other trees, but still tall and proud.


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