Day 4 of 1000 Words of Summer, writing 1000 words per day.
Monday, June 24
I started therapy, again, two weeks ago. My second session is this Wednesday. I’ve tried to go to therapy many times before, but have always been shooed away by therapists who claim I’m high-functioning and self aware. My maturity and empathy disarmed them. They didn’t see how they could help me. Or, worse, they zeroed in on some issue that was something I had already identified as a symptom of a deeper wound.
These messages, although well meaning and responsible, confirmed a long held belief that I’m not sick enough to deserve care or support. At some point in my life, I picked up this idea that there were too many people who actually needed the help of doctors, mechanics, accountants, customer service representatives, etc. Who was I to ask for something and potentially make someone in need wait?
These are not messages I heard from my parents or my teachers. I didn’t hear them in church or in the media I consumed. I have always been support in a healthy self esteem, balanced with an informed worldview that puts into perspective the suffering of others and empathy with all types of people.
I have a few ideas about where these ideas have crept into my mind, but I’m scared, even now, to mention the depth of my suspicions and lay the blame on anyone but myself. I don’t think there’s anything noble in martyring myself more than I already have, but I also don’t want to come out of my own pit of self-imposed exile with anything but radical honesty of how in control I really was of even the worst of my situation.
I am trying to write 1000 words about why I’m back in therapy and what I hope to accomplish there, what I’m doing when I’m not sitting in my counselor’s office and where I hope to go in this journey. I’m trying to tell you because I bet you have a wound you’re letting fester or a burden you’re suffering under that you don’t have to minimize anymore.
Now there’s a word: minimize.
My counselor and I discussed a common trait among anxious women that I’ve embodied for as long as I can remember: minimize my own internal needs and desires, catastrophize the needs and consequences of the external world.
Here’s a piece I scribbled into a journal in August of 2018:
I know I’ve been tired for longer than I have any right to be. I have ad more than I’ve rightfully earned. I feel like a thief, a liar, a scavenger.
My whole life feels wasted. I feel empty. I am scared to ask for help because I don’t believe I deserve it.
The hardest part of moving back home has been facing my own brokenness. At any given moment, it feels like a type of comfort. The realization that I am as bad as I have always imagined, but that somehow, grace is available to me anyways.
But I still feel smothered. I can never identify by what. The internet is just a constant reminder of how ungrateful I am for my own privilege and how disgusting it is that I am struggling against some shapeless adversary for months at a time.
Is it hormones? Anxiety? Depression? A gluten intolerance? Everything feels hard, even though I know that can’t be the truth.
Things that feel indulgent and selfish also feel like the only things keeping me alive.
There are four things I need to do today. It’s nearly 3pm and I haven’t done any of them. I hate myself–but even that feels out of bounds.
It’s taken a year for me to build up the strength to finally admit that I don’t accept the way I’m feeling as normal, that it doesn’t matter to me anymore how my suffering or struggles compare to anyone else’s, that I’m not content with just surviving the rest of my life. I want to live.
[I guess it’s important to note here that I’ve never considered hurting myself, this is different.]
I’ve spent the last year slowly unlearning the idea that every new age guru tried to teach me. That’s love for myself and belief in myself and an inward, self-fulfilling fount of healing that will life me into a pink cloud of abundance and gratitude and success and peace.
All of that? Lies. I can’t rely on myself and I don’t have the power to save my own skin. I know this because I tried. I tried for years to figure it out on my own. Or to try to love toxic people enough that they would infuse me with their undeniable power, that one day they would absorb me into the protective bubble they deployed around themselves. Or to pay pretty girls on Instagram to tell me the secrets of a sound mind and body.
It has taken a year of me falling to my knees and asking questions that reveal answers that piss me off or break me down. Its taken a year of dying to my old lies, to my old enemy, to admit that I am utterly helpless on my own.
And that has been the most empowering truth I’ve ever discovered.
When I admit to myself and to others, both in conversation and in creative pursuits, that I can’t do anything with my old self anymore, that I need help and support in learning how to be this new self, the whole world opens up. Opportunities blossom and guideposts are revealed and I am guided into a space of learning and growth.
Trying to write 1000 words about therapy and what I hope to accomplish there and what I’m doing outside of that office boils down to the biggest change of all: I’m asking for help. I’m giving up on the idea of doing it alone. I’m done with neglecting myself and with believing the sales pitch of easy fixes and pretty paths to health.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll be back with more of the specifics, but for today, I guess it was more important for me to tell you the truth of where this is all starting.