I’ve not been quiet about my history with BEING in counseling- being the patient.
My life would not be where it is now had I not experienced that. When I was growing up, I always felt different. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I didn’t know why. I tried hard to fit in, to fake a front- I laughed and joked. And there was something different about me.
I am a firm believer that Freud did have it right when he said our past influences and affects who we are today. I know that to be true for me. I know my early experiences and experiences throughout life have affected who I am— I just now work to choose to let them affect me in a positive way.
I remember sitting across from my therapist. I often felt so many emotions and had much I wanted to say, yet it was stuck in my throat. At times, can remember crying, saying I was trying to speak, and the words couldn’t leave my mouth.
“Just sit in it,” would be her response. It was uncomfortable. I had things I wanted to say and didn’t know how to find my voice. I had things I needed to say, things I wanted to say- instead, I just sat there.
She taught me to be comfortable in the silence. That it wasn’t always important to get the words out. That sometimes, I had to learn to sit in the feelings- feel them and let them pass.
She also taught me that it wasn’t always just what I said- it wasn’t just the content, it was the process that was important. Later, in grad school, I learned this again. How important it is to listen to people. To listen to what they say and what they don’t say.
When I first started therapy, I was often curled in a tight ball on the couch. Knees to chest, arms wrapped around my legs, hair falling in my face…trying to be as small as possible. With time, I was able to sit tall in my seat. I’ll never forget the day my therapist brought that to my attention. In essence, she shared:
When you first came, you were a scared little girl. Your voice was soft, high pitched at time, squeaky. You sat- making yourself as small and unseen as possible…and over time, you’ve found that voice. You speak with strength, confidence, and clarity. And you can sit upright- with the dignity of a strong woman.
I took that with me. Because I gained strength- because i was able to dare to work through things that were difficult…and because I wanted to remember that people can change. People can get better… In their timing. Sure, I can try to motivate- and ultimately, it’s their decision. I’m just there to listen. To provide some feedback when needed, to be a sounding board, to encourage, and when it comes down to it- I’m there to show acceptance. When I’m counseling, it’s not about me- it’s about the client. It’s about helping them identify how to get there life where they want it to be.
Sometimes, we just have to sit in it. When we can’t find the words. When emotions are high and we don’t know where to begin- sit. Sometimes, if we dare to sit, to feel those emotions, and eventually find some words- we just may have great growth.