Reflections on “doing the work”

Today was my last session with Laura, the amazing therapist I’ve been working with since 2015. We knew that we went as far as we could go together. I have new hills to climb, and I may need a new partner to help me get there. (More specifically, I want to focus on my recovery from diet- and body-related trauma with an ED specialist.)

Ceremony and closure are important, and that’s what the last session is for. Laura reminded me of the first day we met and how deeply depressed I was—and how much we’ve faced head on over the past 6 years.

I had seen therapists at different points in my life for short stints, but there was always something that got in the way. (Usually underemployment.)

In 2015, I saw (on facebook lol) that a close friend whom I loved like a sister and fell out with a few years prior was getting married a couple miles away, in a park we had walked through hundreds of times as we navigated our 20s in Brooklyn together, and I wasn’t invited. I felt something break inside me and I realized that it was an outsized reaction because I hadn’t fully dealt with a lot of trauma. So I found Laura. Her office was only one block away because I knew that that was the only way I’d make it there.

After the session today I scrolled through 2015 in my photos so I could fully acknowledge who I was then. I had just turned 30 and had a job that was toxic but also my entire life. I was dating regularly, and that mostly meant going on lots of bad first dates. I had friends and community and two baby nephews, but it was a bit of a house of cards. I was going through life’s motions, but there was so much underneath the surface that I had to tend to.

I share this photo because the mood stood out to me, but there were many of me smiling and having fun. Many bright skies and ocean waves. I can actually see all of that now. I couldn’t then. For the first time recently I realized how many beautiful things I’ve gotten to see and experience. I now see that woman in the mirror, so tortured in her body, through a much different lens.

Therapy saved my life, and I mean that in a pretty nonchalant way because it’s so obvious. A lot of really hard stuff happened in the last 6 years and the 30 before that, and while therapy didn’t make everything suddenly happy, it did make the unpredictable circumstances of life more manageable. What I wanted and needed became worthy of inspection. Who I was evolved; parts of me sharpened while others dulled and receded.

I’ve pushed a lot of people I know to pursue therapy, and probably been a bit too intense. Some have gone and it has been so amazing to watch. Like, truly amazing. I am constantly in awe of the ways the people I love have been growing and changing. But most haven’t and I feel a genuine nagging sadness about it. Because everyone’s life is worthy of inspection and reflection. And after 6 years of piecing myself together I can say confidently to that 2015 version of me in the mirror: even ours.

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