How Therapy Ruined My Life
I had to stop and breathe before I rang the bell to get buzzed in, knowing if I didn't she would feel how charged and anxious my energy was. I mumbled a feeble “Hello” as I shrugged of my coat and backpack in her office before sinking onto her little couch. I hugged a pillow to my chest, and then, finally, looked up at her.
"Hey, how's it going?" she asked kindly.
I hesitated. My "Good! How about you?" was frozen at the tip of my tongue. I knew she wasn't going to buy it, and I knew she would sit there with that maddeningly patient expression on her face and wait until I gave her a real answer. I decided to ditch the sincere but shallow pleasantries, and say exactly what I had been thinking over the seven days since we last sat in that little room together.
"You're ruining my life, and you seem to be pretty okay with it," I blurted out. "In fact, you seem to be loving it."
I watched the smile threaten to break through at the corners of her mouth as she said, "Oh yeah? Tell me about that."
So I did. I sat on the couch and for the next fifteen minutes recounted all the ways my therapist had completely ruined my life in just one short month. I told her about how far away I feel from people I had always felt so close to; How incredibly terrifying and gratifying this process is, and how insane it is to feel both of those things at the same time. And I told her about how I thought l was so safe and so in control over my life but just four visits have made me realize it was all a flimsy mask I was hiding behind. I couldn't look at her as my voice got small and I told her how scared I am of going back into the pain, but how I'm even more afraid of being this version of myself for the rest of my life.
She listened, holding a completely neutral look on her face. When I finally ran out of steam she said, "That's a lot. How do you feel about all of that?"
I rolled my eyes trying to hide how painfully vulnerable I felt, and hugged the pillow tighter. "I'm really annoyed by it. In just 30 days, you have piled so much of what I knew to be true onto a picnic blanket, grabbed all four corners, and heaved it sky-high. And here I am, left on the ground looking up at it, wondering how the hell I'm supposed to catch everything and make sure it doesn't all smash to smithereens when it comes back down. Everything is different! Nothing feels the same! It's overwhelming! It's heartbreaking! It's frustrating! I hate so much of it all. of. the. time."
"Okay," she said as I stared at my hands twisting in my lap, the tears threatening my resolve, "What is it that you want to say to me?"
Her question caught me off guard. I paused and thought about all the ways she had "ruined" things for me. I thought about my family and how different they feel to me now, but how much better I understand all of it. I thought about the clarity each session brings and the heartbreak, triumph, frustration, and validation that it carries with it. I thought about the me I'm being slowly introduced to; the me who still has big feelings, deep emotions, wild hope, and humanness written all over her; the me I had been grieving the loss of so many years ago.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, one that stretched my lungs and tested my rib cage's ability to contain the enormous amount of oxygen I needed in order to say what I was about to say.
Letting go of every ounce of tension that was held in that breath, I opened my eyes to find hers and said, "Thank you."