Sometimes I want to crawl into his soul and stay there. Surrounded by strong, comforting energy that accepts me as I am, stands with me. Allows and respects the feminine in me. Yes, sometimes I want to crawl into him because I know it’s safe in there. He’s teaching me it is safe in me too. That I am my safe place.
I remember the first time. I was looking over my shoulder as I entered the building. All day I’d had to work hard not to be sick. I was nervous to say the least. I sat down and waited. My eyes toward the floor – in case anyone I knew was nearby. Oh hell, in case anyone at all saw me. My heart was racing. This was my first time and I was frightened. Already with my commitment to be here today, it was one of the bravest things I’d ever done. I’d climbed the highest freestanding mountain in the world, I’d trekked to Everest Base Camp and I’d completed the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea not once, but five times. I spent my life challenging myself. But nothing scared me like this did.
I was about to take responsibility for my life. I was about to own my own shit.
Yep, this was my first appointment with a psychologist.
My referral, and appointment, were ostensibly to help me deal with some residual trauma from my survival of the 2015 Nepal earthquake but I knew deep inside that it was more than that.
I knew from the moment he introduced himself and I took my seat, that now, there was no turning back. No more ignoring. No more keeping so busy I didn’t have time for myself. Here I was, embarking on the most frightening journey of my life – and unlike other adventures, I had no itinerary, no insurance and no back up plan. To top it all off, I felt like it was just the beginning.
And it was just the beginning – following that very first session, I not only survived, but I started to look forward to our sessions. In a weird, fearful way.
Shannon Adler said that “Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers. It happens when you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life.” I tend to agree. I was questioned and challenged to look differently at things – my old belief patterns; relationships; life. It wasn’t a walk in the park, quite the opposite, but each session helped me see more clearly.
My view prior to my own experience, was that you only saw a psychologist if you couldn’t deal with your own life, if you didn’t have your shit together. Imagine admitting that you didn’t have your shit together – imagine!
So to set the record straight I want to tell you something. Despite my initial misgivings I am a convert. None of us has our shit together all the time, and all of us could do with someone to help us in this regard. You can do all the brave and courageous things that you are drawn to in your life, you can achieve great things, and in doing so, be empowered and feel brave and alive. But I have to say, therapy also makes you feel brave and alive and for me it took as much courage to get there as some of my most challenging adventures.
The truth of the matter is, seeking help when you need it is likely to be not only one of the most courageous moves you can make, but it will be one of the most beneficial.
For years now I’ve taken care of my physical health but now I also take care of my mental health. Most of us, including me, have a support team or a tribe – your partner, family, friends, health professionals, personal trainers, life coaches, mentors and the like. Well I can now add my psychologist to my support team. He plays a role in my wellbeing just like the rest of my team.
I recognise I have a role to play in my own growth and my own mental well-being, but I wouldn’t have been able to go there alone. If you’re heading off on a long and difficult but rewarding journey, you don’t want to go alone do you? You’d take along a support person, someone to guide you when you need it, challenge you when you back away from what’s in front of you, someone to witness your experiences.
A therapist is this support person and if you haven’t already, and you’ve been thinking about it, I invite you to enter into this journey. It will be long, and exhausting at times, it might be difficult and confronting, and you’ll question yourself, your views and beliefs. But you will learn and grow and face things you never thought possible. If your experience is anything like mine, you will be encouraged and supported to dig up those feelings that you’ve buried so deep so they couldn’t hurt you. I know that’s a scary thought – but the great thing is that when you dig them up, air them out, and look closely at them, they lose their power.
Author Augusten Burroughs says that you should “Think of your head as an unsafe neighbourhood: don’t go there alone”. That’s really good advice! You don’t need to go it alone.
“Let your life be your message” Mahatma Gandhi