After the usual sabbatical from posting, I thought I would start something slightly different from my norm; something that is highlighting vulnerability even more which is always a tad scary. But I have learnt over the years that the things that scare us are often the things we need to do most in order to be a better version of ourselves. And this is exactly what my aim is – to be better; do better.
The last couple of months have been a tough period for me, for a few different personal reasons. One of those being a relationship ending which really affected me mentally and is the main reason as to why I wanted to take the step to go back to therapy. One of the things I pride myself on is being fairly self-aware; I have worked hard on this over the years and I know myself well enough to recognise triggers and behaviours within myself that aren’t always the most healthy or helpful to me. This self awareness has also given me the ability to judge when I feel I need a bit more help in a professional sense. I am such a big advocate of therapy as it has been vastly beneficial to me in previous years and so it was an easy choice for me to make to go back into it.
Moreover, I made the decision to seek out a new therapist – I learnt a lot from my previous one but I felt I wanted something different this time and I guess I wanted someone who didn’t know any previous information about me. I wanted a fresh slate to build upon. I spent some time researching different therapists, looking at their profiles and reading about the services they offered, until I found Emily. I have spoken before about my gut instinct being something I *try* and listen to (Coco would definitely say I need to listen to it more!) and when I was on Emily’s profile I had a really good feeling about her. And I must say after only two sessions, my gut seems to be right again.
Before my first session I won’t lie, I did feel apprehensive and nervous. It felt very strange to be seeing someone new and also scary knowing I was going to be talking about things that hurt and I’d been trying to bury instead of deal with head on. The session was difficult – I felt close to tears for the majority and it felt as though I was rushing to say all the hurtful things just to get it over with. Emily discussed with me attachment styles and my homework for the week was to fill out a form she had given me in which I had to tick certain boxes relating to my feelings or thoughts about relationships. There were statements similar to “I feel relaxed with my partner” or “I prefer casual sex to a long term relationship” and my level of answer to each question will work towards figuring out what my attachment is. For anyone wanting to learn about attachment styles I would recommend the book ‘Attached’. Or alternatively you can read more about it here.
On the whole, this first session I considered to have gone well, I felt comfortable opening up to her and felt that I would be gaining a lot from speaking to a professional again and unpicking my thoughts and feelings properly. However, what I didn’t expect, was the aftermath of emotion. My first ever experience of therapy was when I was 21; it was based around my anxiety and panic attacks and working on how to manage them. I distinctly remember a huge feeling of relief after every session back then; I’d been given tools and tasks to use when I felt Ben appearing and grew in confidence every week.
Fast forward to seven years, and I had never felt this way after a therapy session before. Just to note, before I met Emily, I already wasn’t in a good place; I was feeling a whole multitude of emotions that I didn’t really know how to manage and felt like I was teetering on the edge of self-destructive behaviours that I’d used in the past. But I naively thought that I’d feel much better after one session. I guess it isn’t always as simple as that, and I’d actually been very lucky in previous years to have always had very positive experiences of counselling. I remember walking out of the session, sitting in my car and just crying. But not in a ‘relieved’ way, more in a ‘opened a can of worms’ sort of way. When I eventually got home, this feeling didn’t dissipate; if anything, it just got bigger. I messaged and called some trusted people in an attempt to try and talk about how this had made me feel; this really did help as they reminded me that sometimes things feel worse before they feel better. Despite this, the feeling still remained and did so for a few days after the session, in varying degrees.
My reaction to this first session was unexpected; but it didn’t put me off. It just gave me the understanding that this time round, it may not be as smooth sailing and so I needed to be kinder to myself – something I think we should all be doing.