An eavesdropping fly on the wall one week ago might have heard the following snippet of conversation:
Me: I've been thinking that I don't need to see you as often anymore.
Therapist: I think you're right.
Well bring on the propeller hat, rainbow wig and bright orange rain poncho (which I assume is standard attire for such an occasion) because I've officially graduated from crazy school!
Well, that's how it feels anyway.
I've spent my Thursday lunch hours discussing the finer points of my emotional well-being with a therapeutic professional in a year-and-a-half long quest to find out just what the hell is wrong with me. And to my great surprise, I think we did just that.
It was a personal crisis of epic proportions that led me to her in the first place. I walked into her office full of plush furniture, eclectic decor and shelves stuffed with self-help literature without knowing what to expect. All I knew is that I felt broken, like there weren’t enough king's horses and king's men on earth to put me back together. A lifetime of cartoon images of bespectacled, clipboard toting men asking patients lying in prone positions about their mothers didn't prepare me for the soft spoken, scarf wearing, easy smiling, kind eyed yet sharp tongued woman who introduced herself as Cynthia when she invited me to sit down anywhere on her cushy furniture and tell her all about it.
There was no in-depth analysis of my dreams or dramatic recounting of childhood traumas. There were no shock treatments or repressed memory discoveries, or creepy attempts to reenact my birth experience. Instead there was conversation. There was advice. There were sometimes tears, but also a lot more laughter than I'd expected. There was talk of the fat, but there was more talk about all the other things I am. And--to the great delight of my inner nerd--there were worksheets, handouts, diagrams, and homework. And, most importantly, there was progress.
Therapy gets a bad rap sometimes, I think. The red-blooded American pull yourself up by your bootstraps mentality that runs deep in our collective veins can sometimes mistake reaching out for mental health support as evidence of a weakness of character, a convention of a modern age that relies on science and medicine to cure what a good kick in the ass should be able to knock out of us. After all, people have survived for thousands of years without therapy and antidepressants, why do we need them now all of a sudden? That argument is short sighted at best. People lived without antibiotics for thousands of years to...and they died of ear infections and strep throat. If I had cancer, I'd get chemotherapy. I had a case of the crazies, so I went to therapy, and I'm so glad I did. The hardest work may be over, but I'm not done yet.
I am the same woman who walked into that office for the first time, but I am not the same person I was that day. That girl was so lost in her fear and despair that it makes me ache to remember her. But the woman writing this? Her I like. She’s strong. She’s resilient. She knows where she's going, and she’s tough enough to keep working to get there
In my entire life, the only thing I've ever really liked about my appearance are my eyes. Even when I was feeling my most unattractive, my 'Cat's eyes' (as my Dad used to call them) were the one feature I could stare unabashedly at in the mirror, the part of my reflection I could concentrate on as a singular point of beauty on an otherwise wholly objectionable body. But while they still remain my favorite feature, I'm learning to use them to see the value in the other parts of me. The pieces of me that are changing shape, dwindling in size, and shrinking right along with my embarrassment and desire not to have them viewed.
My eyes above are a reminder to me that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, and that what I'm posting here for the world to see is no longer the source of my shame, but the canvas of my accomplishments. I am changing, not just in the eyes of the world, but in my own eyes as well. I can't wait to see what happens next...
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