Therapists, I’ll tell you what!
This week marks 2 years since coming to terms with my eating disorder and started working with my therapist Sean. I joke that our anniversary is coming because finding him felt like a dating search. Unfortunately, or fortunately, there aren’t apps like Tinder, Bumble, or Grindr (that counts, right?) out there to help connect folks with therapists.
It was more difficult to find the help I needed than to admit I needed help in the first place. After weeks of searching profiles, I stumbled across this bearded, chill dude named Sean who would help change my life. Yup, see it sounds just like a dating story!
Sean’s been instrumental in my recovery, but I have to put in the work. I have to show up to each session with an open mind and heart. There can be no walls or masks. I must be willing to learn and most importantly, willing to embrace issues I must address. But the work doesn’t stop when our session ends, in fact, it’s just beginning because then I must go out into a world full of triggers.
We’ve had dozens of conversations I’ll never forget. Conversations that have led to healing and growth. I’ve closed old wounds and embarked on new adventures thanks to that hour I spend with Sean on Monday afternoon.
A recent conversation reminded me of the power of therapy. Sean asked me how I’m doing with self-compassion. If you’ve followed my story, then you know self-compassion was non-existent since my teens. Self-loathing, on the other hand, was an Oscar-worthy skill.
I excitingly responded to Sean that I was doing great. I shared that I finally saw my strengths, have forgiven myself for past mistakes, and work hard to show myself some love every single day.
Sean continued the conversation by asking how I thought I was doing with self-compassion during the storm. I paused and realized at that moment that I still don’t show myself compassion when in the midst of the storm.
Sure, when life is sunny and all is going well I can wake up in the morning and love the heck out of myself. But what about those moments when anxiety is wreaking havoc or my OCD and orthorexia are on the attack? How do I show myself love then?
I don’t. I initiate pause in those moments that we’ve talked about and I remind myself it’s okay to not be okay but that’s where it stops.
I left that session with a new homework assignment, to love myself in the storm. It’s amazing how after two years and dozens of sessions I’m still learning something new every single time. The objective, compassionate perspective of a therapist is invaluable and in this instance, opened my eyes to an issue I didn’t even know existed.
A few days after our session, I noticed my anxiety beginning to take control. I paused, acknowledged the emotions, and then told myself how proud I was of the work I’ve been able to do and the things I’ve been able to overcome. In other words, I loved myself in the midst of the storm. And let’s just say this storm passed a little quicker than most.
This Sean guy must be on to something!