I believe in therapy. I believe in “Why do you think that?” and “What makes you feel this way?” I believe in sitting on a cool brown sofa, crossing my legs, cracking my knuckles, and spilling out my soul.
I was not always like this. I was scared of feelings. Sometimes speaking about the thoughts that swirl inside your head is terrifying because then the thoughts are no longer yours, but they belong to all that can hear them. So, I never spoke about any flash of anger or period of sadness. I never told anyone how much I dreaded tests because the anxiety made me want to pull my hair out or how I hated even waking up because that meant another day of faking happiness.
After years of this tight knot of balled up feelings turning inside my stomach, I finally went to therapy. It’s scary, you know? The way you open up to the person sitting in front of you. It takes time, a lot of time, but soon you tell them the way you think about death, the number of times you have cut, your endless love for your little brother, your inability to believe in yourself, the to-do lists you make when on your morning run, the amount of chai tea you drank to perfect your psychology project, your lack of a social life, your frustration about your math grade.
But therapy is more than this spewing of feelings. Therapy is understanding feelings. Therapy is accepting feelings. Therapy is breaking down feelings. It is realizing that you are not mad, but that you are frustrated and hurt that your dad would say something so cruel or that you are not fine, but in fact you are overwhelmed by the amount of reading you have to do and you are nervous for your biology exam. As time goes on, therapy teaches you how to speak the language of feelings. But, most importantly therapy teaches you that you are not alone.
We all experience the world differently. Therefore, the way you and I feel about certain events is drastically different. The way we see, smell, taste, touch, and hear differ. You may love the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, but I cannot stand the bitter smell. You may hate the sound of a squeaky old rocking chair, but I find the steady rhythm soothing. Therapy is understanding why you feel a certain way, but also recognizing that you are not alone. We all feel. We all experience. We all respond.
I believe in the quavering of my voice as it describes hurt and trails though the small room, the tissue box that sits next to the radiator, and the ums I utter when I try and piece my thoughts together. I believe in the “I understand what you mean” and the “You are not alone.”
I believe in therapy because it saved my life.
Middlebury College, ’19