Therapy is coming to an end.

My first therapy session was 166 days ago. I have had about 20 sessions. I started in sit-down therapy, a variation of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and I shifted to exposure/exercise therapy about 7 weeks ago.

While I came to therapy on my own accord, I was still hesitant to fully expose myself to a stranger. I knew that I needed and wanted help, but because so much of the process was unknown, I was nervous and withholding.

I remember how uncomfortable I was when talking about difficult times and then feeling my eyes water. I remember how I started to sweat when my voice started to shake. I remember adverting my eyes to the floor and pinching my thigh with my fingers to distract myself from the emotions that were bubbling up.

4 weeks ago, I cried my eyes out in front of a mirror in the downstairs gym during a session with my therapist. I didn’t love it, but I was more accepting of my tears and the [good] reasons behind them.

By the end of 2019, I will be done with therapy. It feels good. The progress that I’ve made was not recognizable overnight; my progress pops up randomly throughout my days in between all the little tasks I do. It’s a slow crawl towards mental liberation, but the [long] journey has been well worth it.

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In a bathroom in a 2 star hotel in Roanoke, Virginia.

I was just listening to Lady Antebellum’s new song, Ocean. It’s beautiful. It’s melody triggered a memory from earlier this year, maybe April. My team and I were driving from Vicksburg, Mississippi to Trenton, New Jersey and we were spending the first night in Roanoke, Virginia.

The hotel was by far the worst accommodations we had stayed at thus far. The first rooms we were given were smoking rooms and the bed sheets were wrinkled and had burn marks and holes in them. We got moved to non-smoking rooms, but the sheets didn’t look much better.

Anyway, I remember feeling so exhausted when we finally got to our rooms. We drove over 10 hours that day and I was behind the wheel for most of it. Being on campus the day and whole week prior was also a draining ordeal. My team wanted to go out for dinner soon, so we took turns showering beforehand.

When it was my turn, I entered the bathroom and took off my clothes. I stepped into the bathtub and turned the water on, it was already hot. I don’t remember much, but I remember just standing under the water and not having a thought in my head- I was too tired. And then I choked and had to slam my hand over my mouth to muffle my crying. It hit me out of nowhere and it hit me hard.

Like I said, I don’t remember much, but I do remember not being able to stop crying. My body had hit its limit. My chest and stomach hurt from all the heavy breathing and contracting. I know I was trying to be as quiet as possible and I worried about my eyes being bright red when stepping out.

Finally, once my body calmed down, I continued to stand under the hot water and think about what just happened.

I still don’t know. My best guess is that improper management of emotions leads to bottling up, and, of course, every bottle has a limit.

I worry sometimes that I still don’t know how to process grief and sadness, and sometimes anger. I don’t get angry often, the list of triggers is very short. But when I do, I don’t even know how to release those kinds of emotions. So I don’t. It doesn’t affect my daily life, but I worry that the type of breakdown I recalled above will be the result of me not handling my emotions as I should.

Therapy has helped and I know that I have to give myself permission to feel these things, and I am working on it, I promise. That’s a promise to myself.

Being Kind To My Guilt

Today in therapy we discussed being kind to negative thought processes and also giving thanks to negative past experiences and people who were involved in them. Lastly, we touched on guilt and how it can be a positive thing.

I think it was most difficult to give any sort of thanks to the people and the situations that were not kind to me in the past. My therapist says I don’t need to thank them for what they did, but rather for giving me the opportunity to get through that and know what to look out for the next time around. I understand what he was saying, but I still struggle with being grateful for any of those experiences.

I have always had such an issue with guilt. I struggle with accepting gifts and letting people do favors for me. I struggle the most with feeling guilty about not always being able to be there for people. I know that I don’t HAVE to see X amount of people each week, but I feel that they rely on me. They depend on me. They count on me. I forget to be there for myself, and I know that, and I’m working on it.

My therapist says that I don’t always have to claim the emotions I experience when I talk about them in our session. For example, he asked me how I could practice being kind to guilt. I immediately asked, “MY guilt?”. He said I can own it, but I don’t have to. I decided to own it.

I guess what I learned today was to see the silver lining. I don’t think it’s always a good idea to have that mindset, but I’d much rather look at my past experiences as moments of learning and growth rather than as moments of devastation and shame.