Category Archives: therapy

The Time It Takes

“Just so that we can remember this for next time…”, Therapist says. “How long did it take you before you started feeling settled in this new job?”

I slow-blink several times.

“Probably… two and a half…. three? Weeks?”

“Ok. So let’s take it as 3 weeks. 3 weeks is about the time your body needs to settle into a new place. This might be helpful to remember next time you embark on somewhere or something new.” Therapist smiles kindly at me.

“There’s a voice inside me saying that I SHOULDN’T take that long.”

“Well, this is a fact. There’s no should or shouldn’t about it.”

Post-session, I think about where that voice comes from.

“You shouldn’t take that long.”

As if there’s a fixed timeline for how long one should take to get settled in a new job. As if there’s a fixed period to measure how successful one is at assimilating into a new culture. As if there’s criteria to determine how quickly one’s nervous system should settle when encountering new sights, smells and all the subtle sensory information in the environment.

“You shouldn’t take that long.”

I imagine this comes from the unconscious conditioning we receive. The deeply embedded culture that glorifies results and products over process and journey. Such that when we encounter something taking longer than it “should”, like settling into a new job, the voice comes up.

“You shouldn’t take that long.”

“It’s ok to take the time you need.”

I like this one better.

“Are You Making Progress?”

Reasons why you should probably not tell your mother you’re seeing a therapist:

  • “Is it like hypnosis?” (“Mum, no.”)
  • “What do you guys talk about?” (This is tricky because we actually sometimes talk about her, heh)
  • “Are you making progress?” (Well if progress can be measured by the amount of tissue paper used… Maybe >.<)
  • “Maybe I should see a therapist too.” (….)
  • “I hope you’ll become positive and happy again.” (“Mum I AM still positive and happy.” “…Ok good.”)
  • “You’re also a therapist, couldn’t you just do therapy for yourself?” (“Ehhh…It doesn’t quite work that way…”)
  • “Do you have to finish the entire course?” (It’s not a course, Mum, and its not like Antibiotics…)


But amusing stuff aside, I’m quite glad to say that some of the intense and confusing emotions which emerged from this experience are finally beginning to clear (after almost 3 months!), and I can better understand what has been happening in my mind and body.

This is the short and not-too-much-info explanation:
So I learnt that our bodies store pockets of emotions which can lie dormant for years. These can include emotions from childhood and past experiences. And we never know what might trigger them. In my case, it seems that the impact of grief, as I witnessed a mother watching her child die, triggered my own stored emotions from earlier years, which have apparently been suppressed and unprocessed – Until now.

This insight has been very helpful in explaining certain things, such as why I was still feeling the intense sensations in the body long after the images and vivid memories of the session had faded.

It has also made me realise that everyone probably has their own internal battles. If I have been holding such intensity inside me for close to 3 months, yet still behave (almost) normally, getting up to go to work every morning, fulfilling all my duties at work, and meeting all my social obligations … It certainly has not been easy and I foresee that this journey could continue for a while more. It really is a reminder to be kind to everyone I meet, because we wouldn’t know what kind of storm a person could be holding inside themselves.

And yes… Even though I consider myself a rebel against the results-oriented nature of our society, I have to say… There has been progress ;p