Today has been a special day. It wasn’t my birthday, no one got married (no one I know anyway), and I haven’t got my OBE, but nevertheless it was special to me. No one else knows that today was significant. No friend and no family member. And that’s totally ok. It’s not that they haven’t been paying attention, and it’s not because I kept it a secret from them. I didn’t know that today would feel special until I woke up this morning.
It turned out to be special as today I went to my last psychotherapy session after three and a half years of deep exploration of who I am and what I might become. It has been incredibly challenging and beautiful. It has taken me on a mucky journey to the darkest places of my soul which was painful, and worth it to release what was buried there quietly but consistently disrupting and damaging my life. It also taught me how to love myself and live in the world knowing I have as much to offer as the next person. I feel transformed, able to direct the course of my own life and taking no shit! I will not be dictated to about how I should be or what I should do, and I will not be shamed or feel guilt for issues and pain that does not belong to me. This is huge and I’m incredibly proud of myself, so today kind of felt like my graduation into a fully-fledged grown up – standing on my own two oversized feet independent and whole.
Going into therapy isn’t something everyone supports though. At first, people close to me didn’t understand why, and where it would all end. They only wanted to protect me of course and I am grateful that they love me enough to want to guide me away from harm. Even people and colleagues in the Yoga community showed concern, encouraging me towards therapies with a faster result. Once someone even rolled her eyes at me and offered to ‘wipe my sub-conscious in 3 sessions’ of her particular form of therapy – which sounded a little unsettling! Jokes aside, other forms of therapy can be equally transformative in their own way, and not everyone needs to go deep to work with their particular issue, or they don’t want to. And that’s totally acceptable but I knew this was the right path for me.
Taking time to get to know myself properly, to grow and nurture my self-esteem, to learn how to communicate with people I love, to own my shit and let others own theirs, to accept all that I am which can be less than pretty – sometimes I’m a snob, sometimes I shut people out, sometimes I eat a hideous amount of chocolate and sometimes I’m selfish and self-absorbed, and there’s plenty more where that came from. But accepting that part of me allows me to accept it in others too. Paradoxically I become less judgemental, more compassionate and feel more deeply connected to others when I accept my full humanity. For a long time, I put away the so called ‘bad’ parts of myself. What I didn’t realise is that when I put those away, I also put a lot of what was good about be away too, like my fun side! I became tired and listless, unmotivated and uninspired, judgemental, disconnected, rigid, anxious and fearful and lost my libido. Learning to love and accept all of me has been the greatest gift I could ever give myself.
This is by no means the end of my journey. I may even return to therapy in the future if it’s appropriate. But for now I’m exploring growing as a grown up. Stretching my boundaries and riding the storms instead of choking on them. Letting my Yoga and meditation practise be the vehicle by which I can continue this exploration.
I’m incredibly grateful for all the wonderful ways there are to heal ourselves now, and for all of the brave people who are doing their own healing and helping others. Though it’s unlikely she will read this, my sincerest thanks to the wonderful woman who has been a rock solid, safe space of non judgement, gentle guidance and nurturing, reflecting back to me the truth of who I am for the past 3 years.
This is the greatest lesson I have learnt… Embrace yourself wholeheartedly. Embrace yourself the most when you are sad, anxious, fearful, lonely and grieving. Give yourself your full attention and give yourself time, understanding and patience, and the kind words that you’d no doubt give to your own children. Listen to your body. Your body is the container for your feelings which are the magic guiding you to deeper knowledge of yourself. There are NO bad feelings. Don’t try to push out or override difficult or painful feelings. Let them guide you to what they are trying to teach you. If you have cut off from your feelings as I had, seek out help to reconnect to them – perhaps through Yoga, psychotherapy or embodiment meditation and practises. Accept that healing is a journey in itself and it may take time to seek out the right kind of help and you may try a few things first that don’t work for you. Trust your intuition about what is right for you and know that you are courageous.