I sat awkwardly, not knowing what to say as my therapist prepared to pull bits and pieces from my shrapnel-filled soul. It had been hit hard these last few years — I was worn down like the eraser on my favorite pencil, always tearing holes in my work if I pushed too hard.
I learned not to push too hard.
She sat quietly across from the couch where I was nervously squirming, pillow gripped in my lap, waiting. The room was decorated with a few photos of what I imagined was her family, framed poems and her educational certificates on the wall. It was quiet and comfortable except for the internal noise of my heartbeat, Tibetan singing bowls through a small speaker on her desk, and the drip drip of sweat down the small of my back.
Many of us roaming this planet have been wounded by life. I do not subscribe to think I am alone in this experience. People, choices, and things had bent me in ways that I would never again see the original shape of my heart.
This was truth.
I desperately needed to be in the discomfort of this moment on a Monday afternoon —deciding what to say aloud and what to keep locked up for now. I sat fidgeting, hoping she would not ask that the basic opening question, “So —how are you?”
I had been many things so far in my 50 years. A child, daughter, friend, dreamer, writer, artist, confidant, wife, and mother. A therapy client was not one of them. Therapy was not something I was ever taught was important or even to be discussed. Certainly not something to be proud of.
Your feelings are private.
Your feelings are burdensome.
Your feelings are too much, get over them.
These statements rang over and over in my mind as I waited for what seemed like forever. How did I even get to this place? Why couldn’t I just suck it up and move along in life? Did it mean I was weak to be there? Or even worse, crazy?
Time was up — she looked at me from above the clipboard holding my life’s assessment up to this date on an intake sheet —and smiled warmly.
My knuckles were white, my mouth dry.
I smiled back.
In this space in time, on that scratchy blue couch, this girl was simply -lost. Broken to a point that hopelessness was my new private normal. Despair stuck to me like white dog hair on a black coat. It was apparent to anyone looking. I found myself constantly brushing myself off with comedy, going out, a new project or work— anything to disguise the mess for a little longer.
Floating through life with an aimless target. Even if the target stood still briefly, there was zero ammunition in my artillery to strike it. Big questions forced their way into my waking and dreaming. On the edge of resigning from this life or finding true purpose, the appointment for that Monday was made. Now that moment had come.
I hated it.
Time to tear the paper with that worn out eraser, if necessary and find new purpose— my
None of the happenings to this point, no matter how difficult, were for naught; I felt it. And so it began- she laid down her folder, clicked the pen and asked, “So—how are you?”
This moment, although one of the most terrifying of my life, was the beginning of the rekindling of my hope, my soul, and my light. The time and discussion flew by. I returned weekly unwrapping old boxes stored inside my mind’s darkest corners. It became easier to unfold memories and wounds, look them in the eye and let them go. Sessions no longer brought fear to the top of my throat or felt like something to hide shamefully from friends or family. That single click of the pen began to remind me that I was valuing myself a little more with each box of experiences that was examined and removed. Learning to let go of things, emotions, and people that were no longer healthy for my heart was, and is, a difficult exercise. Those things were slowly being taken out of the boxes and evaluated. Some were moldy and easy to determine that they needed to be removed. Others were difficult to let go of. Things or people that I held onto although they hurt me— I held safely inside a box. Rejection, abuse, and what I felt was failures were among those
—and yet I stored them for years like old friends.
They were no longer teaching me, building or sharpening and yet I nurtured them. Things and people that were actually slowly killing me
— I was housing them willingly.
There are still many boxes to sort for me but — it’s begun. The storage rates of this girl’s heart have gone way up! It is a precious commodity.
My advice for you dear reader —
Don’t be afraid of the click.
—- So, how are you?