“…therapy can be a short-term process.” I read every word on her website several times, returning to this short paragraph on the homepage. Ok, I thought, she can help me stop purging quickly. And then we can be done. My husband will agree to this.
I presented the idea to my husband; “Hey, I’m struggling with some depression and anxiety…and some food things…” I trailed off, not wanting to be specific or vulnerable, but wanting him to understand that I really needed to go. I continued, “She specializes in eating disorders…and maybe I could just go for like six weeks or something? We can afford that, right?” Knowing six weeks would do nothing for me, but hoping it would nonetheless.
He responded, “You should definitely go. Even if it takes six months, we will figure it out.”
Oh, thank God. Thank God he said yes. I can figure all my shit out in six months.
Six months came and went. 2.5 years came and went.
I’ve been told countless times to let time go, in terms of recovery. But it says on your website…why is it there if it’s not true for me? Or even, as I’ve come to learn, for most people who want full recovery?
I’m officially a counselor-in-training, which makes me even more self-aware than I already was. I’m forced to explore things daily now which at the very least subconsciously hangs out in my head. I question myself and my story against everything I learn, and wonder if every new theory I read about is something that would help me, or someone I know.
It also makes me have a timeline again. I fully understand every counselor that ever existed had their own problems and those issues don’t necessarily affect how they help other people, but I also know there is a line that I must be well across to not hurt myself or others in my or their process.
I’d consider where I’m at right now, as significant progress, from everything I go to therapy for. But I didn’t quit at six weeks or six months. I didn’t quit because I made a decision to let my team make that decision. I didn’t quit because my team made it available and accessible, they took out all my barriers to care. Of course I see that I am incredibly lucky for this opportunity. I never in a million years thought I would be able to do this. I never thought multiple people could care about me this much to make this happen.
When they did that–took all the barriers away–I got vulnerable. Not that I wasn’t before, but not having a timeline for any reason, allowed me to truly meet myself where I’m at. Every. Single. Session.
A new career timeline (that, by the way, I feel has given me purpose and focus and passion again and I have zero plans of stopping) propels me into panic that I won’t finish healing fast enough to be a successful counselor.
Even though I could quit now, and sort of move on and be much healthier than I was 2.5 years ago, and use the dozen coping skills I’ve learned and honestly, probably figure the rest out on my own–I don’t want to. But being in the midst of a therapy deep dive is hard. It’s fascinating. It’s terrifying. It’s wonderful. It sometimes feels completely insane. It’s incredibly healing, and my heart wants to protect it.
However, it brings up relational and attachment and familial and traumatic issues that I never knew even existed. And I sometimes wonder if it’s better that they stay(ed) buried.
On Thursday in class, the professor told us if we aren’t currently or haven’t participated in our own (significant) therapeutic journey, we need to. Stat. It seems many programs require it–I’m not sure why this one doesn’t. It allowed me for a second to feel grateful I’d already purchased what I’m planning to do, as she put it.
But then, I felt concerned and worried. I am, in my own view, extremely attached to my therapist. It’s a self-evaluation I continue to loop around and around and around in my head. Quitting would devastate my emotional well-being. My therapist letting me go would be a million times more devastating, even in a slow reduction of days-per-week then days-per-month scenario.
Then, I remember all the work I’ve done is because I’m this attached. I wouldn’t feel safe otherwise. I am one hundred percent certain of that. I believe, she is, too.
On Wednesday in therapy, something new came up for me that I haven’t been able to successfully put words to. It involves attachment, or my therapeutic relationship, and fear, and it wouldn’t be coming up if I’d quit therapy already. It’s one of those things that would just have stayed buried forever. But here we are, accidentally uncovering trauma. I know in theory, you can’t heal from trauma unless you let your body and your mind go through all the stages it needs to–you can’t do that if you never uncover it. So maybe I’d never be able to contain my anxiety if I didn’t continue therapy. Maybe I would be a perfectly functioning person, in a semi-constant state of arousal. Exactly like my mother.
Is that ok? Sure. Am I ok with living like that? No.
My answer is always no. But if I work on every last thing that comes up, we won’t ever be done. Because life…is not done until it’s done.
I’m starting to feel like this is a therapy-existential-crisis of sorts.
I wonder how many therapists, in their lifetime, have a client like me. Or accept one. This is SO CRAZY. I feel like a fictional character.
I have to let myself be attached. I have to let myself be ok with continuing to hang out here and continue meeting myself exactly where I am at, despite being in school. It’s scary to let someone be so close to you. And it would be ridiculous to stop now. (At the same time, I keep wondering if I’m ridiculous for continuing).
It intimidating to let someone become so close, that when you’re with them, you can let them come into your mind with you on another level. In an abstruse, profound, intensely emotional way. Like moving through dream-states as if we were in the movie Inception. That’s what it felt like was about to happen on Wednesday. But I got scared and wanted out. Yet, I felt sad when I stopped myself. Then, I got angry with myself and began to question whether being this close is really even necessary.
And that is my protectors coming up. Because it’s a level of hard I haven’t worked through completely yet. So different parts of me come in to put out this new fire, that I don’t actually want extinguished. Or, I want my therapist, with me, to extinguish it.
Well, good talk. I came here to work something out, and I did.