The first therapist I ever saw asked me if I felt remorse for all that I’ve done.
I hesitated, because to stop and think about all of the mistakes I made was not something I wanted to do. She was supposed to make me feel better, not guilty.
It was so easy to say sorry. It was easy to alter my actions in accordance with what was expected of me, at least for a while. It was all routine. I never once stopped to think about how much I actually hurt the people around me or about how much I was hurting myself.
I felt plenty of remorse, so much that it caused me to tremble in my seat. She eyed me curiously, maybe even judgingly. She told me I should feel remorse and that’s okay.
So, I left that session with tears running down my cheeks and sobs escaping my throat, so much so that I couldn’t drive home right away. I had to wait in the car until the pain cleared out.
I decided to switch therapists after that.
In therapy, you will feel attacked. You will feel like your therapist is ripping you to shreds, because they will have this ability to confront all of the lies you have been telling yourself.
And because of this, it will open your wounds—all of the ones that have never quite healed. The wounds you simply put bandaids on, hoping that they’d disappear, but never do. It’s going to reveal all of your hurt, so that you can finally use the right tools and process to heal.
It’s turning wounds into scars and knowing that it’s okay to have marks on your skin, showing all that you’ve been through.
You will learn how to heal and because of this, therapy will become your second job. It will be another class in addition to your college courses. It will be extra assignments added to your to-do lists. It will take time, energy and work in order for you to succeed in it.
You will learn how to journal. You will learn how to confront your thoughts. You will read dozens of self-help books. You will meditate. You will indulge in creativity. You will start to get to know yourself on a deeper level.
You will finally learn all of the little tips and tricks that get you through each moment, even when you feel like you can’t.
It will be the act of trying to get out one breath when you feel like you are suffocating. It will be getting up after being in bed for days at a time. It will be eating after feeling like your stomach is a pit of acid that can’t process anything. It will be uttering out the words “I’m not okay” when for so long you have told everyone that you are fine.
In therapy, you will learn how to cope, how to heal and care for yourself when no one else is around.
Therapy won’t save you, but it will teach you how to save yourself. You can cry and tell a therapist everything that has ever hurt you, but they won’t be able to guide you in the right direction if you’re not willing to take the steps.
They will not be there for your panic attacks at home, or when your mind goes into that dark place you thought had disappeared. They will not be there for when someone breaks your heart or when the medication just isn’t working anymore.
The beauty of therapy is that it is a reminder that to feel pain is to actually flourish. To be vulnerable is to be strong. It reminds you of all the tasks and ways you can pick yourself up when you fall down. It will remind you to be honest, to question your thoughts, and to open up in order to grow.
And despite the work it will take, you will also learn how to enjoy it. You will start to watch your wounds close. You will start to see your relationships strengthen. You will start to look at yourself in the mirror and actually like what you see. You will realize you have been blessed with an opportunity to really learn about who you are and how to overcome your issues with professional help.
What I realized, long after that first session of therapy was this—I didn’t feel remorse. I wasn’t allowing myself to. It was why I continued making those same mistakes over and over again. But, once I did—it opened up a road to possibility. So, when she asked me that first question, despite how much it tore me apart at that time, it was what led me to healing and I will forever be grateful for that.