Oh my lord. Therapy. That’s scary! But, sometimes you just need someone to talk to when things in your life aren’t working out. Or if you just feel down. Hell, we all need someone to talk to! Humans need other people and as much as we hate it sometimes, it’s scientifically proven. So we might as well learn to embrace it and not try to change science.
We can learn a lot about ourselves in a time period of 50 minutes if they know to ask the right questions. I, personally, have been in therapy for about 5 weeks. That’s a total of 250 minutes with someone. And if you’re not careful, that time can feel like it can just drag on and on. And I won’t lie, some sessions, I just want to curl up in a ball and cry my heart out and then die. Those are the sessions that result in me not wanting to leave my bed for a week because they leave me so mentally and emotionally drained.
But those 50 minutes can be so helpful! Finding the right therapist that works for YOU can help you so very much on your journey to self-discovery. Like I’ve said, I’ve been in therapy for about 5 weeks.
My first session with my therapist was rocky to say the least. She saw my parents for couples but was seeing me separately. So a large majority of the 50 minutes was spent talking about the last fight they had and their upcoming divorce. Of course without any hesitation from my therapist, she asked me how that made me feel and when I didn’t have an answer for her, we dug a little deeper into my past and realized that I put walls up around my feelings and emotions. We ended up tracing it back to the death of my best friend, my grandpa. And we STILL talk about him in sessions. We concluded that because I did not tell him “I love you” before he died, I cut myself off from feeling anything other than pain and sadness. I learned that losing my best friend has caused me to be different for the past 4 years of my life.
This session was a spur of the moment session. I remember my parents fighting the previous night and then again that morning while I was getting ready for school. So I text her and asked her for a session and I got one at 11 which meant that I had to leave school. I walked into my 3rd period and approached my teacher and told her that I was checking out shortly after class would begin, and being the teacher that she is, she asked why and I responded with my parents’ divorce and that was that. I remember sitting on the couch and all I could hear was my dad’s voice screaming at everything: the pets, my brother, my mom and me. I was shaking. I remember wanting to cry, to scream, to show some kind of emotion. But nothing happened. I told her something that took place for hours in a matter of minutes. The rest of my session consisted of me sitting on the couch as far back as I could be and her asking questions. “How did that make you feel”? “Do you feel hurt”? “Did anyone get physically hurt”? “Was anything broken during either fight?” “Were the police called to your house”? But I couldn’t verbally answer her questions. My heart was about to jump out of my chest. I really thought that I was going to puke right there in her office. Towards the end of our session, she told me that she wanted to help me but couldn’t if I didn’t communicate with her. So we came up with a solution. I took up journaling. I learned that when I am in “shut down mode” I am unable to speak, BUT I can take control over my body so having a journal handy at all times is very helpful to write down what I feel. So I started to do that.
I don’t really remember what all this session was about. But I do know that I took my journal and let her read what I wrote. I wrote many pages, most of what she read. I wrote the first few pages like a story almost, something that she said she really enjoyed. We talked about my view and opinion of love and sex. Abuse and being hurt (mentally and emotionally). I wrote “Love is NOT REAL because of the childhood you endured. Love is crying. Love is fighting, Love is cheating, Love is slamming doors and breaking things. Love results in divorce.” She, of course, had a field day with all of that. Analyzing it, much like I was analyzing memories of my childhood. Getting me to go more in depth about that and the emotion behind that. And then the emotion itself. We talked why I felt like the divorce was my fault, even though it was in no way my fault. I told her that I act okay all the time. Because if I act okay long enough, then maybe I’ll actually be okay. She addressed the fact that I do not always have to be okay. That sometimes, being broken is a good thing. It’s a perfect place to rebuild yourself, I of course already knew that too well. I remember my heart beating faster and faster as she turned the page and kept reading. She was reading my inner thoughts and it scared me. I read and re-read my journal so many times that I practically have it memorized. She flipped another page. She put the journal down and looked at me. I wrote “I shut down when I’m stressed, mad, scared, and sad. I can’t talk or yell. I can’t do anything useful. So does that make me worthless? Maybe.” And she looked at me. I made eye contact with her, something I never used to do but I now do all the time with her. I could see the hurt in her eyes. She looked into me and saw the pain I was in and said “We are all a little broken. But that does not mean that we are worthless and unworthy of love.” And it was right then and there, that I knew I found the right therapist. I learned that when you allow yourself to be raw and vulnerable, magical things can happen and you can find someone who is actually interested in your thoughts and wants to help me deal with them. I learned that it is okay to be broken because people will still love you, and if they don’t then they never really loved you in the first place.
Once again, I don’t remember what we talked about before we turned to the journal so I’ll just go to that. I told her that I wanted to feel something other than pain and numbness and she said “I understand that.” When you watch your parents’ marriage of 21 years’ crumble, you start to look at the man you love differently. I was seriously talking with a boy, a year older than me, while all of this started. This boy was very nice and respectful. He respected me and my wishes. I wrote “He makes me feel safe. And when I talk to him, I can breathe. But I’m also scared. He doesn’t know about my past. He doesn’t know about the previous boy who ruined me, my eating disorder or my self-harm.” But even through the raw and honest truth about the boy who put a smile on my face countless times throughout the day, she did not like him. She told me that he was no good for me and my god, I wish I listened to her. We talked about my eating disorder and my preparation for my upcoming pageant that I was competing in. She expressed her concerns about me taking on a diet and strict exercise program right now with my current mindset and I told her that I would think about not taking the stage and just sitting this one out. I learned that whenever your therapist has a concern about you doing something or getting involved with someone, you should take that into consideration. You can talk the talk but your body language and voice tone will always reveal the truth and they pick up on that. You might not always like that they have to say, but they say it just to help you.
Things got really intense between my dad and I before I had therapy so we had something to talk about before we took out the journal and dealt with that. Before therapy that day, my dad called me a “selfish bitch” so a very large majority of the session was focused around that and talking about the anger that came with that, something I can identify very easily. But then she wanted me to talk about the sadness that I have and that was very difficult and frustrating for me to do. It’s easy for me to identify my anger but looking for my sadness takes a lot. The other painful topic that was talked a lot about was my binging and purging and how it really doesn’t help me and how it’s not logical (but then again, what eating disorder is?). We talked about my relapse back into self-harm after being clean for 5 months. We talked about how that made me feel. I was very frustrated with myself after I did it and then the guilt overwhelmed me. I learned that you really do need to open up to someone and let them help you because if you take that leap and open up, you will feel like crap in the moment and you will pray for it to be over. But once it is all said and done, knowing that you have someone to tell your thoughts and secrets to will really help you.
But I’ve learned more than I’ve told. I’ve been in therapy for about 7 weeks now but I don’t think I’m going to keep a running log of everything I’ve learned. But I will tell you other things that I learned on top of what you already know.
- that losing my best friend has caused me to be different for the past 4 years of my life.
- that when I am in “shut down mode” I am unable to speak, BUT I can take control over my body so having a journal handy at all times is very helpful to write down what I feel.
- that when you allow yourself to be raw and vulnerable, magical things can happen and you can find someone who is actually interested in your thoughts and wants to help me deal with them. I learned that it is okay to be broken because people will still love you, and if they don’t then they never really loved you in the first place.
- that whenever your therapist has a concern about you doing something or getting involved with someone, you should take that into consideration. You can talk the talk but your body language and voice tone will always reveal the truth and they pick up on that. You might not always like that they have to say, but they say it just to help you.
- that you really do need to open up to someone and let them help you because if you take that leap and open up, you will feel like crap in the moment and you will pray for it to be over. But once it is all said and done, knowing that you have someone to tell your thoughts and secrets to will really help you.
But I also learned:
- I come before anyone else in my life.
- Putting myself first, is in, no way selfish.
- Self-love goes SO far during all of this.
- Emotions are here forever so we might as well just embrace them and learn how to deal with them when we’re young.
- My self-worth IS NOT determined by someone. YOU determine it.
- My feelings are valid simply because I feel them that’s it.
- It’s okay to break down and cry in front of your therapist. You do not have to be strong for those 50 minutes. In fact, they would actually prefer you to not be strong.
- Therapy isn’t just TALKING about your problems, it’s TAKING ACTION against them.
- You do not always have to care and provide for other people. Especially if you are a child.
- I feel what I feel and I do not need to justify that to you or ask you to validate them.