Breanne*, a 28-year-old corporate executive, came in for counseling several years ago on the brink of a big decision. The man she loved was getting ready to “pop the question.” She knew it was coming but did not know what she would say. On the surface, they had the perfect relationship. Her parents and friends loved him, he was successful, and he shared her interest in being active within their church. Having dated for several years, Breanne* could recite all of the reasons why this time he was “the one.” Despite this, she did not have peace about committing to marriage.
Processing these feelings with her therapist, she was able to trace some of her misgivings to a pattern of abruptly-ended relationships in her past. Trusting did not come naturally, and Breanne admitted to intentionally pulling away from her partner time and time again when the relationship would start to get serious. Now she felt trapped; unable to commit to her current partner for the long-haul but afraid that her misgivings would cost her the best relationship she’d ever had.
Through therapy, Breanne found the safety to vocalize her fear, knowing that she’d be heard and not judged for what friends told her was just “cold feet.” As Breanne worked through her thoughts and feelings and became more comfortable dealing with them, she and her therapist were able to notice themes of mistrust that needed further exploration. Breanne’s therapist recognized that she was displaying symptoms of someone who has experienced trauma. Slowly, Breanne worked up the courage to unleash herself from the bondage of a secret she had suppressed her whole life: she had been sexually abused by a family member when she was a child and had never told anyone.
Through EMDR therapy and other trauma-focused therapy techniques, Breanne’s pain began to heal, and the defenses she’d built up began to come down. She courageously accepted what had happened and was able to share her experience with her family for the first time. Ultimately, she relearned how to trust, how to be authentic, and how to be vulnerable with those who loved her. Several months into therapy, she determined she was ready to say “YES” to the man she loved!
Breanne, no longer in therapy, has shared how grateful she is for the support she received through counseling. Because of the specialized techniques used to treat her trauma, Breanne was able to build the resilience she will need to maintain her healthy lifestyle and relationships. Having overcome her chains, she was unleashed to be the wife, mother, and woman God created her to be.
*Client name, photo, and identifying information have been changed to preserve confidentiality