I sat on a large brown sofa that felt as if I was melting into it. It hugged every corner of my body with soft pillowy arms. I can never forget the tightly stitched leather that held me during my sessions. Across from me was a man wearing specs and jotting notes on his yellow legal pad. It seemed like everything I said came with another scribble, a written documentation of my emotions, feelings, and concerns. I never thought I would be sitting in therapy, at least not at the age of 23. I was too young to be going through things like this. Sitting on a couch confessing my innermost thoughts to a man that was essentially a stranger. However, he listened, and allowed me to talk about what I was going through without bias. When necessary he would chime in and say, "So, how does that make you feel?" It was the simplest of questions, but one none of my family or friends had every asked me, or I asked myself. I verbally spilled the pages of my diary over a course of two months. I was finally able to release.
The form of counseling I sought out was for relationships. Usually, relationship counseling takes two people, who are actively involved in creating positive change, while seeking new coping strategies during conflict. I was the only one to attend. I badly wanted to fix the communication in our relationship for the sake of our child. Not necessarily to be together, but if that were the outcome I wouldn't have fought it. The first day, the therapist asked me "Why I was here alone and did he know about the session?" I replied, "Yes, he knew and agreed to be here but decided not to come. If it's okay, I would like to continue without him." He jotted down some notes, and said it was okay. We continued with our weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) sessions, where I spoke about the pain I was having, and how I knew change was needed. Not just the change of leaving a toxic relationship, but to ensure it would never happen again. I was ready to own my power. He would tell me to do that, and I would just whine and say "it's too hard, we have a baby and..." This went on for the first few sessions. Then one day it clicked. Why didn't I deserve happiness? Was I truly blocking my blessings by trying to fix a "man" instead of saving myself? Eureka! I've got it. It was time to move on.
Here's what happens in therapy, at least it did for me: You sit in a stable environment with no outside noise, just your voice, another's questions, and the sound of scribbling against a notebook. It forces you to listen to your truths out loud, to relive painful moments, and then figure out the cause and effect. Everyone plays a role in a relationship, both good and bad. The blame is on both parties, not just one. It was my decision to stay, when I could have left long before. It was my decision to enable bad behavior, when I had the choice not to. It was my decision to antagonize and play the victim, when I already knew that I was not respected and the relationship needed to end.
I find it ironic that the "simple" things like walking away to find better are actually the hardest to do. We create these stories in our mind where all we see are the good times, and try to rationalize bad behavior with our hearts and those blissful moments. Those moments we secretly wish would happen again. Not realizing, the only one getting cheated out of happiness is you. I'd like to credit therapy for allowing me to make sense of my feelings. It allowed me to start my healing process. The therapist acknowledged my bravery and commitment to seek help for a problem when I did not have the answers, or the ability to master my emotions without anger. I credit those sessions, affirmations, and my conscious decision to empower myself for this radical change. So many doors have opened since then...only now, I know I've always had the key.