I have been looking forward to writing about my first year of counseling for some time. It was in October that I realized I was quickly approaching this landmark of sorts, and I knew I wanted to share why I chose to begin counseling. Not only that, but how counseling has played a vital role in my mental and spiritual health.
Back in 2009, I had a friend non-nonchalantly say how she thought everyone needed counseling. While I thought I wasn’t quite ready myself, that sentence ended up becoming a seedling within. What I did not see ahead was a year of trials and unimaginable emotional pain. The year of 2012 was one of the worst years I had ever experienced. While there were highs, it was the lows that truly set the year apart from any other.
Towards the end of 2012, I could feel myself becoming spiritually stale, yet entering into a season of vulnerability. I was slowly learning how healthy vulnerability led to freedom. In understanding this more, it only felt appropriate that I stopped trying to find storage for the insecurities and the piled sadness. I became intentional with this and I called the number my pastor gave me. It was time to find a day that I should sit across from the kindest, most caring woman I could ever imagine, and that day was November 7, 2012.
For the first couple of months, I vividly remember how each weekly session felt. I was a wreck. I would walk in fine and confident, and walk out feeling like I was hit with an undetected, emotional storm. I would then head home on the ‘L’ and let the snake-like tugs pull me around the city in a daze. Riding that ‘L’ mirrored the journey that was happening within. With each tug, pull and yank, I would arrive at another destination I needed to be. I would do this over and over again until I found healing in the darkest places I had ever known, only to find the light at the next stop.
While it is easy to believe that the relief was found at each stop, it was really found in each dark stretch. With every wound uncovered and validated, I discovered freedom again. And this was the greatest benefit I found in counseling. I saw how my therapist acted, not as healer, but as discoverer with me. She was a tangible guide as I traveled, and Jesus did what He does best – the beautiful work of healing inside as I took each step forward.
One of the best things I have learned in counseling, and I share this frequently, is that my life is not about being the victim, the villain, or the hero – it is about learning who I am in whatever may come. Because of this realization, each and every one of my relationships has gotten healthier. Though the craters from the many trials through the years remain, the touch of them hurts no more. It is all because of the validation, acceptance, and transformation that has occurred in this year of self-exploration.
Counseling has been the hardest and the wisest decision I have ever made. I would not have entered into it without the support of those closest to me, and if I did not attend a church that, not only looks past the stigma of receiving counsel for mental health, but wholly encourages it. While this journey has really only begun, and I’m OK with that, I hope to so subtly plant that seedling for someone else like my friend did for me.
While it is a process, knowing oneself is a beautiful thing. It is ultimately through the wise counsel from a therapist and the healing power from Jesus that I have found such beauty.