It isn’t too late. Time is not running out. Your life is here and now. And the moment has arrived at which you’re finally ready to change.
Those were the words sprawled across the page I turned to in Cheryl Strayed’s, Brave Enough. Many would deem this happenstance though I happen not to believe in such an underestimation of the Universe’s magical workings. I turned to that page because those are the words I needed to read in that moment. Those are the words that I needed said to me – the words I needed to believe.
So many people who are not familiar with talk therapy assume that all we do is go into a room for an hour a week and tell a stranger all of our problems, then we conduct our daily lives for the following week only to return and repeat. It is so much more than that – I actually go twice a week, every Wednesday and Saturday, and those two, sometimes grueling, hours I spend in that private room per week are hard work extended into my daily life. The work does not stop. It requires almost 24/7 self-awareness for it to be at all effective. At times, my mind and my heart fight back in fits of anger because what is to be revealed is so painful that the anger becomes an automatic response, a defense mechanism.
All the discussion, the analysis, the tears, the revelations – all of it must somehow be applied to my daily life. It is essentially teaching an old dog new tricks and while extremely difficult it is not impossible if one is willing to learn.
Wednesday nights are especially challenging because they come after a long day at work and sometimes those days might be exceptionally stressful – the kind of stressful that makes one only want to withdraw to his or her home with a bottle of wine. Alas, I must push on through and basically force myself to show up. In fact, I believe I have become, for lack of better terms, “so good” at therapy that I compulsorily talk about and say things that in a social setting would be judged completely absurd or inappropriate. I justify this otherwise uncomfortable situation with the fact that holding back is not productive thus I try and say all the things, no matter how dark and gritty, that come to mind.
If the above sounds simple, one would be severely mistaken in thinking so. In fact, there have definitely been times where the thought that occurs to me or the memory I recall is so intensely painful the only response I can enact is one of detached silence or a waterfall of tears. I’m not afraid to say, “I can’t go there right now” and I won’t – or I may force myself to.
My first experience with therapy began in 2007 when something, perhaps an inkling of identifiable depression, prompted me to call someone and tell her that I wasn’t quite sure why I wanted to see her but that I felt like I needed to. Fortunately, I was happy with the work we were doing in there but unfortunately I lost my job and thus, my insurance, in 2008 so our sessions seized.
In 2011, shortly after my parents’ death and living in New York City, I attempted therapy again only to be deeply disappointed by the doctor I had made the appointment with and inevitably discouraged from seeking an alternative one. During the darkest time of my life, it just felt like too much work.
I’ve been seeing my current therapist for three years. Initially, she was my marriage counselor. David and I would see her every Saturday up until we decided to end our marriage. I decided I wanted to continue seeing her on an individual level instead of seeking a new therapist because she already knew David and I knew he would be a recurring topic of conversation in those beginning months. About a year and a half into our one on one sessions, I began seeing her twice a week.
I’m constantly evolving, changing and this is thankfully, in part to the self-work I do on a daily basis, the therapy I regularly attend. The life I live here and now is work – enjoyable work much of the time but trying, nonetheless. There are no time outs no matter how much we may pretend. I know I can get caught up in that destructive thinking that “it’s too late” or “there’s not enough time.” Oftentimes, I hear my mother’s encouraging voice in my ear, “One thing at a time…” as I attempt to tackle a multitude of issues, racing the ticking second hand on the clock. I must live with me, and the only me I can stand to live with is the one that is proactively working on becoming a better version of herself.