After seeing a therapist for almost four years, we had the “graduation” conversation. I had tackled the things that had brought me to therapy in the first place and we had unpacked a great deal of trauma that I hadn’t planned for. I had worked on my family dynamics and learned how important boundaries were to my happiness and health. My therapist and I discussed my progress and we both decided that I had accomplished what we had set out to do together. We discussed how our therapeutic relationship wouldn’t really end and if I wanted to make appointments again in the future, I could.
I remember feeling strange those first couple of months. I had become accustomed to seeing her every two weeks and even though the content that we worked on was often difficult and exhausting, I felt excited that I was growing, changing and feeling more at home in myself. Eventually, my time in therapy became a wonderful tool I was happy I had in my past. I was open to the idea of going again but didn’t really feel an urgent need to do so.
Constantly Learning and Growing
A year and half after leaving therapy, I hit a wall. I had watched the relationship I had rebuilt with my mom, crumble to pieces again over the course of a holiday. I stewed in my emotional and mental discomfort for about a month before I decided to reach out to my former therapist. Luckily she had room in her schedule to see me and I got the opportunity to see her a couple times a month as I processed what had happened about made decisions about how to proceed with the relationship with my mom. It was helpful to be able to continue with the same therapist because we had already laid the ground work of trust and I was able to dive into some hard work again. I worried about affording therapy again, but she offered me a sliding scale payment that was reasonable.
I am a person who is always striving to be better and learn more about myself and the world around me. Recognizing that therapy might be an integral part of my growth over the course of my lifetime is freeing. My therapist acts as an impartial ally who isn’t biased by my family dynamics or history. She challenges my thinking and sometimes upsets me, but it always helps me to grow. Going back to therapy was essential and helped me through a very traumatic time in my life.
Pursuing Mental and Emotional Health
I spent the better part of fifteen years completely unconnected from my physical, mental and emotional health, much to my own peril. Starting therapy originally, started in motion a tidal wave of change in my life. I sometimes can’t imagine how I was able to become this person today who treats herself with love and care, but I know it all started in that therapy room.
Now that I have experienced mental and emotional health, I don’t ever want to go back to the way it used to be. I pursue physical health by moving my body in ways that feel good and healing my relationship with food. I have learned that I can always pursue mental and emotional health as well, and therapy is an important component of that.
Old Neurological Pathways
Our brains are amazing things, but we know that once we build neural pathways, and use them over and over again, we sometimes get stuck in inflexible thinking. You can definitely develop new neural pathways, but it is hard work to leave those deep ruts to form a new way. I worked hard with my therapist to build new neural pathways around self love and care. I learned to quiet my critic and the negative self talk that had plagued most of my life. Yet, when faced with difficult experiences with my family, those old pathways start to fire up again. Those pathways are so strong, despite work to create new habits. Going back to therapy helps me to strengthen my new ways of thinking, so that they will eventually be stronger than the old negative patterns.
Peaks and Valleys
Life can be beautiful and crazy challenging. One thing we can rely on is that nothing stays the same forever – the good or the bad. I know I will continue to go through hard times over the course of a lifetime, that is the nature of being human. But I also often struggle with how to handle good things happening to me. Therapy is a venue for me to work through whatever life throws at me. I will likely stop and start again numerous times and I am very grateful that therapy has become an invaluable part of my self care.
[Featured Image: Individual with long brown hair stands outdoors with the sky behind them as they close their eyes. Pexels.com]