A lot of people have asked me how I have managed to move through the hardest part of therapy to where I am today 10 years later?
My answer has always been “It’s almost like pushing past the hardest parts of the waves in the ocean – to the other side where the calm waters are.
I have read so many blogs written by people who are in therapy who struggle with the process of healing, and struggle with feeling worse than actually feeling better! when I see that, I smile and say “yes, but that is normal, and it will get better!”
I myself used to be one of those people who really struggled with the process of therapy that it became sometimes unbearable at times.
I used to struggle with the times in between therapy sessions much like you all write about today. I used to struggle with feeling as if therapy was making me worse instead of better! I used to struggle with the feelings of wanting to quit and give up therapy many many times!
I have been through all those same emotions that others have written and talked about when talking about the therapy experience, and just how hard it can be. I have been there, and at times never thought it would get better – but trust me – it DID and I have – and there is healing on the other side of that struggle.
The best way that I can explain to those reading this and going through the tough process of therapy: therapy is like breaking thru the crest of ocean waves, to the other side to where there are calm waters of peace and healing.
Those waves are rough, and they are hard, and they are overwhelming at times, and sometimes they are so strong they push you under and send you back to shore to start over! Those waves can be mean and they can be frustrating and sometimes darn-right atrocious – but they can be defeated! That’s what healing is like! That’s what therapy is like!
Have you ever seen the movie “Cast Away” – after being stuck on the island for 4 years, he finally was given a sail, that sail got him to move past the toughest crests of waves until he finally made it over the toughest wave to the other side of the calm waters – – and when he finally made it over, he looked back at the island of where he was for 4 years – – – that’s what therapy is – therapy is about finding that “sail” to move you into the life that God created you to be in!
Healing is a process of waves! Healing is the fight to get to a place of calm and peace!
In my experience, I have been in therapy with the same therapist for “10 years and 3 months” now. The first year of therapy was brutal! It was the hardest because I didn’t understand the process of being in a room with someone I didn’t even know or trust at the time, opening up about my past and talking about the sexual abuse I endured – that same abuse that was voodoo to talk about in the past.
In the beginning of my process of therapy, I went through most of my sessions with one foot out the door wanting to run out of the room halfway through the session. I literally sat in the chair closest to the door, so that I could get up and run at any moment.
As the years went on, I began to trust the process of therapy … I began to trust my therapist, and I began to trust the therapy room more. I now sit with both feet planted firmly on the floor, and not only that, but I now sit on the couch alongside my therapist who sits with me (sometimes shoulder to shoulder)- – – but it didn’t go without really struggling with each session to get there. It took a lot of work, it took a lot of fight within me to move in that place of vulnerability.
In the beginning process of therapy I really struggled with the off times between session days, and in that struggle, I hated myself for struggling with that space in between sessions thinking I was dependent on therapy or my therapist. (which is one of my biggest fears). My biggest fear from the very beginning of therapy was thinking my therapist would think I was dependent on him or therapy. So when I struggled with that space in between session, it scared me to the core!
There were times in the beginning years of my therapy that I would be in this “heavy funk” after sessions. That funk where you can’t think, or be without thinking about therapy or the process of the things I was talking about. That funk where you can’t eat or do anything outside of just being alone with your thoughts around therapy and the process – It was like opening very old wounds and bleeding without having any control of that bleeding or pain (I used to call it the in between) – that space between therapy and my life outside of therapy.
Honestly? It was brutal, and I don’t think I ever told my therapist just how hard that was in the beginning of our work because I had this deep fear of being dependent on him or therapy, or even worst, him thinking I was dependent on him or therapy.
The funny thing is, when I first began therapy I said to my therapist right off, I said “Andy, the day I become dependent on therapy or you is the day I leave here and never come back” ha ha I can still recall the look on his face when I said it …. and here I am, 10 years later and we still laugh about that today.
My therapist and I connected a lot outside of therapy with emails and texts back then – – but I was very very careful about that because of that huge fear of dependency, so I was very diligent about leaning into my therapist outside of my sessions, until I could finally accept my worth around that realizing that connecting was healing, and there was nothing dependent about that.
Do you want to know something even bigger? Today, I can lean in and connect and not feel ashamed or guilty for it as I realize just how worthy I am of that connection – – – – and it took me a long time to get to that acceptance and realization.
As the years went on with all these struggles and working through the process of therapy, there was a moment to where I finally broke thru that last BIG wave … that last big crashing wave to where I was finally on the other side to the calm waters and that was about a year and a half ago when my healing journey took a turn from hard to calming!
to be honest, those waves of therapy thru the years were hard – VERY HARD!, but they got easier and easier for me to navigate as I worked through the struggles and the fear behind the painful truths of my past!
That last big wave was the one that REALLY changed me; the one that got me over the top to the calmer waters where I could heal freely. I found myself being able to trust more. I found myself being able to be open more.
That wave I broke thru changed me.
Breaking through the last big wave led me to a place of where I can be more open without feeling so raw that I can’t move. That last big wave I endured got me thru to acceptance and allowing myself to feel emotions and not punish myself for having them. Emotions have always been the absolute hardest for me to show, feel, or be with – – I am feeling more now and that is leading me to a whole new place of healing.
My therapist and I today have such a great relationship, and I now embrace the time in between sessions without being in that “funk” or fear of being dependent or forgotten. I love my time in between sessions. I embrace the time for ME and my life with my husband and my now 3 adult boys.
My therapist and I still email in between sessions, but it’s more for connection and good energy before a session rather than doing it because the trust is fading or the connection is fading – – – the connection to therapy and my therapist doesn’t fade anymore! We have such a great routine and connection that feels healing and accepting on so many levels.
I am thankful that my therapist has helped me get to the place I am in today.
Since I crashed through that big wave that I hit a year and a half ago, I have changed in the way of talking about my past and being open about the thoughts I sit with. I am still struggling with my crying wake ups (which I will write more about in the upcoming weeks) – but I believe that the inner child is finally healing and allowing me to be with that part of me more.
So, for those who are still in the rough waves of therapy – those crashing hard waves to where you struggle in between sessions, to where you are in this deep funk while trying to heal your wounds of the past? IT – GETS – BETTER! It gets easier – – give yourself the time you need to learn how to navigate and swim thru the waves coming at you. Give yourself the time to learn how to push thru the harder parts of therapy. It will get better. You will get to the other side where the calm waters are – I KNOW it happened for me.
The place of calm is not so much a place of rest, but a place of healing on a new level. To where you can see more, feel more, endure more with a stronger inner self.
I went through a really hard time about 4-5 years ago to where I almost gave up and swam all the way back thru the waves to the shore! .. but I didn’t give up, I kept going until I pushed to the other side.
You will have moments to where you wonder if therapy is worth it. You will wonder if you will be able to make it through the “in between” times where you’re living your life / being in therapy. Talk about it with your therapist, be open about it, talk to him/her about the waves and how hard they are for you to move thru. Sometimes having someone there with a buoy to float on will help you keep afloat when you need a break.
So for those reading this who are navigating the waves of therapy – – you are healing! You are moving thru the hardest waves of your healing – but it will get better if you keep trying and setting your eyes on the calmer waters beyond the waves .. I know, I am there and still healing on such a different level – YOU are worth it and YOU are not alone!