I have now successfully attended three sessions of Cognitive Processing Therapy. This last Wednesday gave me a lot to think about and it has taken me until now to fully think through everything we talked about. The conversation was nuanced and edgy. The fundamental question that was asked of us was this:
Is there a difference between acceptance and forgiveness? If so, why is the distinction so important?
The discussions we had were really raw. The idea was put forward that acceptance is logical, whereas forgiveness is emotional or spiritual. We all agreed that this is a good explanation of the difference between the two. The doc then asked us to think about which one of the two was more important to being able to cope with our PTSD triggers and symptoms. We all sat there for a while thinking about it when the doc asked us if we could see why acceptance was more important.
Boy did that get a visceral reaction. We all rejected that idea for different reasons, but the most important aspect that resonated with me is that while acceptance uses logic to deal with our experiences, our experiences were anything but logical. I explained that whenever someone tries to give me a logical solution to an emotional and spiritual problem, my immediate response is extreme anger. Even talking about it made me edgy. I asked how acceptance could possibly be the more important of the two.
The doc said that starting with the way we are thinking is paramount. We experienced something horrific, responded emotionally and spiritually to it and, as a result, modified the way we think. If we want to work backwards to get to the core of the issue and learn to control our reactions to outside influence, we need to accept what happened. We need to to accept that we had no control over what we experienced, that it would have happened whether we were there to experience it or not.
As I said, it was a lot to digest and is still something that I am mulling over. I don't know if I agree with the methodology. Regardless, I do feel that the group therapy is helping. It is forcing me to ask myself a lot of difficult questions that I hadn't considered before. I guess we'll see where this leads in the coming weeks and months.
Today is the big anniversary. I didn't really want to think about this today, but the intrusive recollections didn't really give me much of a choice. I have to go to work soon. I just need to make it through the evening. That's all. I have the next two days off and I will have the time to reflect and decompress. Until then...
As I continue my life with PTSD, I will share my challenges and discoveries on this blog.