I think the most difficult part of therapy was accepting that my
therapist was on my team. The questions she asked me were not to
target me or to be mean, I guess that’s what happens when you’ve
barely ever had a healthy relationship where gaslighting is not a
given and where your secrets are not traded like currency and used
as punishment. I knew I had severe trust issues before I even went
to therapy, it was in fact one of the main reasons I decided to go.
But what caught me by surprise was that my therapist couldn’t
magically figure out what was wrong with me and give me a pill or a
simple exercise to ‘fix’ me. Therapy was work. It’s as simple as that.
It was not like surgery to fix a broken limb, but it was the physical
therapy classes that came after to make sure you regain control of
that limb with every alternate day of withholding, yielding, anger,
sadness, and relief for a month. And then another month. And then
Eventually, it starts feeling worth it. Now I’m not going to like, there
are times it feels like there’s too much work for minimal reward, but
what I was made to understand is that it’s a backlog of mental
health preservation that I’m trying to clear up before reaching my
present. But little by little I think I’m getting there, catching up with
my past, making time and energy and room for my present.
The second most difficult thing I learned, actually happened five
months after my first session, my therapist moved, and we could
not continue our sessions. And I had to switch to a new therapist.
You see, at the time I didn’t know that therapy and therapists are
like a tailormade suit. Not all fit everybody. It was after about six
sessions of frustration and disagreement on both our parts before
they advised me to try a different person. At the time, I admit, I
thought it meant that I had done something wrong (fear or failure
and disappointment, yay!) and that they were giving up on me.
When I asked them as much, through many many tears and sobs,
they explained to me that it’s not that either of us had done anything
wrong, it’s just that we weren’t compatible, and the reason they
suggested a new therapist is because they wanted the best for me,
which they didn’t think they could give me. It took me and my new
therapist a while before I finally understood it. And I’m all the
happier for it because my new therapist and I are a much better fit. I
have found that it takes no more than three sessions to be able to
tell if there’s a rhythm or no, and there is no shame in changing
therapists if it feels like your current one doesn’t fit.
On the same note, the third most difficult thing I learned, am still
learning, is putting myself first. There is a difference between
selfishness and self-care. I am still learning how to separate the
concept of these two. But what I can say for sure, is that it helps
when you have a person constantly reassuring you that saying no
to plans and people just because you want to stay in and relax
doesn’t make you a bad friend, that it is required for your own
mental and emotional peace. I am entitled to my own time more
than anybody else. I can put myself first. These are things that only
now I am believing to be true, there’s still a long way for me to make
these a habit as easy as breathing, but I’m trying, and I think I can
get there one day.
Therapy is a journey, and there are hiccups and speedbumps on
the way, but it’s worth it. Not because going to therapy will ‘make’
you a better person, but because it will help you realize that you
already have merit outside of the value others place on you.