I’ve recently started therapy. It wasn’t an easy decision, but when you’ve come to the conclusion “I don’t want to be me anymore”, something’s gotta change. Fast. Change unfortunately has decided it’s got other plans and has turned out to be a bit of a slow mover. I’m a creature of routine, even if that routine is destructive. It’s proving pretty tough to rip myself out of a chaotic cycle of anxiety, insomnia, depression, trying to distract from the pain, or numb it, and a constant urge to plan, plan, PLAN. But I’m getting there. Even though there’s the initial fear of judgement, of appearing to be weak, talking about it is the key first step to finding balance again. Admitting that you’re NOT OK is actually the opposite of weakness. I’d even be as bold as to call it brave. Because facing yourself, truthfully, and trying to understand what it’s really like to just be you – without any pretences, or ego, or desires, or comparisons – can be fucking scary.
The first therapy session was…pretty weird. The only reason the woman sat in front of me wasn’t a complete stranger is because I’d scouted her out on an online counselling directory a couple of weeks earlier, decided she looked friendly enough to get in contact and then spent 30 minutes face-to-face summarising my ‘issues’ before agreeing to divulge my innermost thoughts to her on a weekly basis in exchange for £35. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect but, knowing me, I predicted I’d be bawling my eyes out as soon as I’d entered the little rented room with comforting decor in Exeter Chiropractic Centre…Nope! Nada. I was too disconcerted by the whole situation to tear up. I sat, almost disembodied, listening to the sound of my own voice echoing around that unfamiliar room whilst talking on automatic pilot to the stranger sitting patiently in front of me trying to help me understand why my emotions were all in a pickle. Why I feel like a failure. Why, daily, the confusion, the hectic thoughts and the sense of worthlessness mounts up to the point where I can’t breathe, I sweat, my mind races and my heart feels like it’s trying to carve it’s way through my sternum with a very blunt knife and make a run for it.
It was a curious feeling, to explain and be listened to without bias or judgement, encouraged with empathetic nods and kindness. (Reflecting on that, I really want to become a better listener!) However, my eyes stayed as dry as space food (this comparison is vivid in my mind only because I recently found out about freeze-dried ice cream…WTF?!..I know you just found liquid water on Mars, NASA, but you should be ashamed of yourselves!!)
….that is up until near the end of the hour, when I ramblingly stumbled upon the topic of success.
“I just don’t feel successful at life”
I could have re-hydrated several sachets of dessert for some pretty desperate spacemen. And so, at the end of our session, my new councillor and trustee of broken emotions and confused cognition left me with something to ponder on for next time:
Bloody difficult question.
At the end of that first hour I left feeling confused and fragmented, and a little disappointed. I thought therapy was supposed to make you feel better about yourself, not be an exhausting outpour and a load of tricky reflection!
Several weeks later and I’m still wondering. But the thinking has gone from frantic query to calm curiosity. It has helped, all this thinking I’ve been doing…I think. I at least recognise now that I have been successful at one thing:
I became aware that I wasn’t OK and decided I didn’t want to feel that way anymore. I took an important step in moving towards wellbeing. Knowing myself, accepting myself and loving myself – I’m fairly certain these things will take a long time. But like everybody else on this planet, I am doing my best and I am able to change. I feel like I’m getting closer, albeit with tentative baby steps, to understanding my reality. I’m determined to seek and willing to accept with an open heart what I find. Because being right at the bottom does that to you. Being in the darkest place you never knew existed in your mind makes you notice with keenness the light when it comes back to you