Little did I know, way back in January, just how important this little word would be. Just how many times I’d lean on and embrace it. Just how comforting it would be to let go and plow ahead instead of hanging back and shying away.
Over the past few sessions, but especially this week, M (my therapist) has made it clear it’s time for us to start terminating therapy. It’s been about a year since I started and that’s about what I was anticipating. Six months ago I could hardly fathom coping without M, but now it seems possible. My wings feel weak, unpracticed, but jumping from the nest does seem like a logical next step. I suspect I have the strength to do it (and enough support if I need it).
I wish there were some numerical measure of progress, some scale, some way to compare the before and after. I wish I could point to an assessment, an evaluation, an exam and say, “Look! I made it!” But alas, there’s not. But while there are still some sad days, the sting of my past has faded. I don’t feel so broken or angry. I have tools to (sometimes) pull myself out of the anxiety spiral and I’m better at recognizing and accepting my own needs and then standing up for myself. I have a much more accurate picture of who I am and where I’d like to go. I can relax sometimes.
And I have outside validation in the ring of M’s words, “Meg, I don’t know why some people come out of these things better than others. People try to measure it, to name it, but I’m not sure it can be measured. I think of it as a strong spirit and you’ve got it. You’ve done a lot of hard and important work. You made a lot of great progress. You’re a fighter and you’ll be okay.”
Last session we spent a lot of time talking about a recent, semi-catastrophic meltdown I had when I got a 70% on what I thought was a decent paper. I knew it was completely irrational but I cried on about how my past “was coming for me” and how I was “doomed to live a crappy life” and how “I might as well give up now because it’s hopeless.” I explained the background of the meltdown – the constant haunting feeling, the sense that if I don’t run hard and fast enough, if I don’t push myself far enough, if I don’t work frantically and always succeed, my past will catch up and drown me in everything I’ve worked so hard to overcome.
And she said simply that feeling was fear and I had to face it. I needed to acknowledge all the work I’ve done to ensure a better life for myself. And then I had to refuse to let fear bully me into reactionary living. The fear I was not rational, it was rooted in an unpredictable and scary childhood, which, thank god is over.
I wanted to run, run, run. I was utterly terrified. This has happened several times in therapy and after the initial visceral reaction I think about two things:
1. This year I’m going to take risks so face it, Megs, and let’s see what happens.
2. If I don’t face this that SOB is going to continue impacting my life. And I don’t want that. I will not, come hell or high water, let that asshole win.
So, holding at bay every ion in my body, I let the fear in, let it pour through me, and then, miraculously, let it flow out of me.
I am always surprised that fear is so haunting when just out of sight. But when it’s cornered, when it’s bought into focus, it has so little staying power. And its’ evaporation can bring so much peace.