Noose Therapy

by Lori Dwyer on June 1, 2011 · 43 comments

Visiting the trauma psychologist- a new one, not my lovely shrink who’s been with me all this way- is about as much fun as a hole in the head.

Or a noose round the neck, as the case may be.

An hour every week or so, I spend deep inside my head, with a person who’s job it is to challenge my thought processes, to ask the questions other people don’t dare.

To dispense with the social niceties that ignore my guilt, and pierce it head on, and let it bleed all over me, burn me… until it’s all bled out. And I feel better.

I’m healing, you see, and quickly, and this is confirmed by my new shrink (hey Charlie). I think the aim of trauma sessions is to ensure I heal intact. With as few scar as possible. With as little of that bumpy, ugly scar tissue as can be managed.

My first trauma session left me an uncomfortable, weeping mess- with a small pinpoint of light in the clouds. Talking to this shrink, I had realised how much time I spend in a comfortable, sad fog. remembering and reminiscing and blaming myself.

Comfortable. Because to let go out that fog, to deliberately distract my mind form conjuring up an image of a dead man, a ghost walking through our lives every day.. how much that hurts. because that’s letting go.

I still remember, and mourn. But I can’t spend the rest of my life in a fog of regret… I can’t live like that.

And so, we pierced the fog. And I try to think more of the future, and less of the past. to exist more in the present. Fingertips tapping on keys, music and incense wafting through my windows.

These are good. And these are real, not memories, not figments of my imagination supported my relics of my past.

And now, we come to the next glut of bumpy scar tissue, the next spot where I’m not healing quite as right as I could be…

A noose. An orange noose. And I type that, I grit my teeth together.

There’s a tactic in trauma psych called ‘exposure’. When you identify something that you’re avoiding- avoidance being a key factor in PTSD- and then you practice not avoiding it. You focus on it, you expose yourself to it.

Remember losing a tooth, as a child? And sticking your tongue in that soft, raw spot of flesh that tasted of copper blood, and feeling the pain of it, that felt strangely good, tracing that fine line between pleasure and hurt. And eventually, if you touch it enough… it hurts less every time. Until the nerves dies completely.

Welcome to my missing tooth.

When I loop back that ugly movie in my mind, as I do, over and over…. I miss the part where tony stretches out the noose, stretches out that orange rope with both hands, and leans his head forward to slip it through it. Because while I remember it, my mind likes to tell me that I’m probably remembering it wrong, so I shouldn’t bother…

I don’t think I am. I think it’s just so much easier for my mind not to think about that. Because,hello, reality. A chair, a rope, a noose… all that is bad enough. but to see someone actually put their head through that noose… that’s reality. That’s no bullshit.

That’s the end of the purple world.

So…. the next few days, excuse me while I return to my fog. But this one will be orange, i think, and filled with images I don’t wish on anyone.

Pressing on the nerve, until it dies.

Fuck. How much fun is my head?


It’s probably interesting to note here that it took me three tries to write that horrible, descriptive paragraph. Every time I started, my brain would suddenly remember something desperately important that needed to be done online. At least I caught myself at it. they tell me this is called ‘mindfulness’.

Another one of those strange mind deviations- I almost put- still may, in fact- a disclaimer at the beginning of this post warning it was potentially traumatic and triggering. Is it any more triggering than anything else I write, or is it just that my head finds it so much more confronting?

The mind is a funny monkey.

post signature

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Watercolor June 3, 2011 at 1:18 pm



Betch June 3, 2011 at 8:17 pm

It's hard. Once I forced myself to start wearing stockings again, it was uphill from there though. It gets easier, but it never goes away – I've learned that turns out to be a good thing.

(Sorry I have been AWOL, I haven't forgotten you <3)


Lynda Halliger-Otvos June 2, 2011 at 2:55 pm

You are an amazing woman and the kids will learn and grow with you. From a Bay far away I send you strength to help you pass the noose problem.

Can I ask you to hold a good thought for my dying brother? He’s just turned 48 and is coming off the vent to let nature do its thing.


Bella June 2, 2011 at 2:39 pm

The author Mary Karr (Liar's Club & Cherry) said that her mind was like a bad neighborhood that she doesn't want to visit.

I often try to divert away from my bad neighborhood until I realize a visit is necessary to get to the beautiful view on the other side.

Still terrifying though.


Hear Mum Roar June 2, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Sometimes the hardest stuff is the most helpful. Which sucks. Wishing you all the healing in the world


Sophie June 2, 2011 at 1:30 pm

My sore teeth is the hospital where my daughter was born and spent most of her five and a half months. I hated that place…

With my subsequent pregnancy I was forced to go back their however and although the first time was really hard… excruciatingly so… it is a lot easier to go there or even drive past it now.

If I had that noose, I would burn it.



Michael June 2, 2011 at 9:54 am



God bless you and give you strength.

I don't know how you do it.


Lina June 2, 2011 at 9:45 am

Definitely agree – 100% – about staying present. Yep, the fingers moving on the keyboard, the sound of typing, the warmth of the coffee (or tea, if you're like me) making its way down your body…

Thank you :)


JourneyBeyondSurvival June 2, 2011 at 2:56 am

Fogs have a purpose. They really do.

I'm glad you're learning to live without it, and I'm also glad you have a trained professional to help you with it.



Draft Queen June 2, 2011 at 2:39 am

The shower. I avoided the shower like it would eat me alive if I stepped into it. The problem with that was not only was I avoiding healing, it's socially unacceptable to walk around unwashed.

I take three times my normal dose of anti-anxiety meds when I have my period.

I should really write this shit on my own blog, but somehow it feels safer here in your comments, where I can ignore it a little longer, but tell myself I'm facing it.

You're a brave woman. I know you don't want to have to be brave, but you are. And I love you for it.


Trucking Tumbleweed June 2, 2011 at 1:27 am

You rock.


Emma. June 2, 2011 at 1:09 am

I pretty much just want to give a big HELL YES to Leithal's words.

You'll get there…however long it takes.



Emma. June 2, 2011 at 1:07 am

This comment has been removed by the author.


Kimberly June 1, 2011 at 11:39 pm

I can't even fathom what you are going through. But know that you are doing everything that you physically and emotionally can do right now. And right now? You are strong. Know that.


Leithal June 1, 2011 at 11:27 pm

You are completely fucking amazing.


Glowless @ Where’s My Glow June 1, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Mindfulness is a powerful tool. Mastering it is a journey in itself… but each journey starts with just a few steps and you've already done that.

Watching you grow and transform is a privilege, thanks for letting us all in.


Mim June 1, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Fuck this!


Melissa June 1, 2011 at 9:13 pm

God. I am afraid you have some hard work ahead of you. I hope you can feel the love and support that we're all sending your way. Hang in there, you can do it.


Lauren Finn June 1, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Nothing to say except I wish with all my heart this had never happened to you. Lx


Sam-O June 1, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Keep moving on. It's great to have that external validation from a qualified person that you are doing well. You should grab on to that.

You really are an ad for blogging as therapy.

Hug your beautiful kids and keep moving on.



Julie June 1, 2011 at 6:46 pm

i think this might be the beginning of your journey on the way back from hell. i have no doubt that you will reach your destination, no matter how painful this new journey may be.


mishaps and mayhem of a gluten free life June 1, 2011 at 5:48 pm

I haven't been through the trauma that you have but I am suffering from PTSD, from a bad car accident last year.

I have flash backs, avoid certain things or people and get angry at the kid who hit me.

I'd been thinking about it for a while but last week I wrote a letter to the kid (obiviously I didn't send it), but it was therapeutic. I'd avoided writing it but when I did it ended up 6 pages.

My psychologist actually told me to write every few months, to get those deep seeded feelings out.

I know its nothing like what happened to you Lori, but PTSD does suck and writing does help, identifying those memories and trying to store them away, to try and move on with your new normal, no matter how sucky that might seem


Melody June 1, 2011 at 5:25 pm

You writing it down will help, like you have been.

Both my cousins, their father's were brothers, those of my mother, both hung themselves within two weeks of each other. Both were in their 30s. Even though I live half a world away and this was now 2 years ago, I still feel for those they left behind and always will. My mother still cries for her nephews. The pain might disappear but the thoughts may never not.

My thoughts are with you Lori. They truly are.


River June 1, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Your shrink sounds like he knows his business and I'm glad you have him to help you through this very necessary step.


Donna June 1, 2011 at 4:34 pm

You are still kicking some serious ass (for a tiny chick, as you say!). And a day still does not go by where I dont think of you and feel for you. Cold comfort I guess, but I seriously do think you are such a brave and beautiful soul who is working so hard to survive such a terrible tragedy. And each day is a step closer, well done xx


Kellie June 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm

It may have taken you three tries to write it, but you wrote it and now its done.
One big step in the healing process.
Love to you, Lori x


Kymmie June 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm

I'm so glad that you're getting 'healed'. But far out. It's a horrible process.

Thinking of you always. xx


E. June 1, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Despite not being a huggy person I really want to give you hugs.

I have a few things that have set me off. But they have lessened over time. Maybe becuase I have talked about them. Maybe because….hell I don't know.

Good on you for working on this stuff. You will be stronger for it, hell you are strong for just talking and writing about it.

No matter what you think, there are a bunch of people out here in blogland in awe of you!

Reply June 1, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I guess I have a problem with green garbage bags, garden hoses and red gas canisters.

I haven't had therapy so maybe the association just wears off over time. I can put the swept up leaves in a garbage bag, hose the back courtyard and then have a BBQ without thinking about it too much anymore.

There is another theory that claims that thinking about something too much creates a neural pathway that only shrinks by NOT thinking about it.

There is also an NLP trick that is about unhooking the emotion from the image.

Fuck, who really knows if any of it works or doesn't work or if the success just comes from realising you are more than your thoughts — as you said, mindfulness.

You'll get there, the meltdowns became further and further apart as time goes on.

Love you.
Katie x


Jess Newman June 1, 2011 at 2:16 pm

I feel like I should write something but I don't know what I can possibly say that won't sound condescending or like I have any idea of what you are going through. So I'll do what I do whenever words fail me, and pray.


Sarah June 1, 2011 at 1:37 pm

I guess it is just all part of the healing.
Hang in there.


Tone-in-Oz June 1, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Oh Lori. I feel so much for you. Our sore teeth is a road to a beach town where we lost Tarnia. I am so glad she strapped the boys and baby twins in properly, however, the two boys and I still grit our teeth 11 years later when ever we travel there, desperate not to look and see where we lost her. Now the road is so much better, after three or more families have lost loved ones along it. But that does not ease the loss. And now I hate Taragos with a passion.


Suzi June 1, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Your amazing Lori,you have been through hell already and you survived it. And you can do this too, the next step and the hardest part, but you will survive and you will heal.


Miss Pink June 1, 2011 at 12:31 pm

You can do this. I know it's hard and it's unfair that you should have to, but you made a start. You wrote that paragraph. Hammer the shit out of that nerve until it dies. The memory of Tony will not die with it. Just some of the pain hopefully.


Melissa June 1, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I don't know how you'll get through this part. I know you need to, I know that there's no going forward without it. But God. I don't know you, I never met Tony, and I can't see the *colour* orange without thinking about it. Seriously.

You're one brave chick, I'll give you that Lori. I'm glad you've got good specialists to help you find your way through this bit.

And, again. Every one of us here with you, ready to hold your virtual hand on the way.



Crystal Cheverie June 1, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Can I just say that I am so unbelievably proud of you? I really am – you're doing everything you need to do in order to get yourself better even though it's… fuck, worse than Hell! I know you're doing it because you "have no other choice," but honestly? I'm still proud of you. Just keep at it.

And yes, the mind is a very funny (and I use that term loosely) monkey!



Brydes June 1, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Out of everything that I have ever tried for PTSD, Mindfulness was the one thing that really worked. It's a daily practice but it is so worth it.

I can't begin to imagine how you have gotten through this so far. You must be an amazing woman to pick yourself up and keep going.


Nicole June 1, 2011 at 6:47 pm

^^^what Toni said (way above). She's got a wonderful way with words that woman. Concise, caring, yet straight to the point.

I'm not sure I have anything else constructive to add.

I'm speechless for you.

Can only offer hugs, and wish you good things. My god, you deserve them. I know you do.



Denwise aka Denyse Whelan June 1, 2011 at 6:43 pm

More help from the professionals.
Even more help is coming from within.
You are OK.
You are warm. Can cuddle those tiny ones. You are so determined to 'get on with after' even tho' the 'before' sits very brightly coloured purple and orange before you.
Tough girl. Love your courage. D XXX


Carol June 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm

So, here I sit with tears rolling down my face, yet again . Midnfulness is about being in the present moment and being present in the moment. Yep, I've done time with cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). I think that's wot you're learning about with [Charlie]. At some stage, you going to have to learn to at least 'sit with' purple, & hold onto 'orange' without seeing rope, especially when you look at a rainbow. You'll be singing the rainbow song to Bump & Chop & you will be able to sing all the colours without pain or hurt or memories. My son (Charlie – must be something good about ppl with that name; Charlie Chaplin, Charlie Brown) did a school play about shrinks & their patients. Turns out you can 'revisit' you just can't 'rewind'. Ah well if we could all rewind, how many things in our lives would be different. So, kiddo, (oui,cest moi…) you have the strength to rewind and deal with it & you will grow with your babies & you will find a place of peace once more. (xx)


Mrs BC June 1, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Just leaving you some love, Lori! You are so brave & so strong, really really really. I admire you.


Emily @ Mum’s the word June 1, 2011 at 12:23 pm

This may be one of the hardest parts in all of this.
Just know that you are not alone. Someone has done this before, and come out the other end ok! x


Toni June 1, 2011 at 12:20 pm

My God.

Trying so hard to think of something sensible to say and all I can come up with is MY. GOD.

Thank God you have somewhere safe (if uncomfortable) to talk about that stuff, Lori.
Cos, Jeez, that would be a conversation killer at the dinner table.

I'm so so proud of you for tackling this. MUCH more comfy to not face it, MUCH easier to hide in the fog.
Your courage astounds me. And it IS courage. You choose to heal. That's brave.


Previous post:

Next post: