I almost cancelled. I wanted desperately to cancel. How could I go to therapy if I couldn't speak?
It's not that I had laryngitis or bronchitis or any kind of injury or illness that affected my voice. I just couldn't make myself open my mouth and say the things that were in my heart.
But I didn't cancel. I went. I trust my therapist. And I knew that isolating myself and shutting down wasn't the healthy answer. Even though it was a tactic I'd used many times in the past, I knew I had to push through.
I cried off and on all morning before I went. I was able to pull myself together enough to seem okay with my kids. I even did okay signing in at the therapist's office.
The secretary handled the money, scheduled a new appointment, and handed me the questionnaire. That wonderful, glorious, dreaded, silly series of questions that is somehow supposed to tell my therapist how I'm doing and if I'm making progress. I looked at it and laughed inside, knowing I could make it say whatever I wanted. Knowing I could present a happy, healthy front and fake my way through the session. And knowing that I just couldn't play the game that day.
My therapist came to the waiting room and greeted me. As we walked back to his office, he reached for my paper. I handed it to him. He looked at it and said, "It's blank." And I answered, "I just couldn't do it."
He said, "Okay," and we continued to his office. He said he was going to get a drink of water and offered me one (no, thank you). He also asked if I'd like to fill out the questionnaire now. I said, "No," in no uncertain terms. He said, "Okay. I get no," and left to get his water.
He returned to find me sitting on the floor, with my knees pulled up to my chest. He closed the door and commented on the fact that I was sitting on the floor. I said that sometimes I just need to sit on the floor.
He said that was fine and commented that I seemed upset. I didn't respond. He asked what I'd like to work on today. I started crying.
I cried and cried. I held my face in my hands and cried. I wanted to speak. I tried to speak. But I couldn't.
After about five minutes of me just crying and not being able to say anything he said that it was okay to just sit and cry. That was valuable therapy time, too. That I didn't have to talk in order to heal.
I continued to cry and be silent. Inside, I was screaming. I had so many things I wanted to talk about, why couldn't I open my mouth and speak?
He asked if it would be okay to ask some questions. I said it would. He asked why I was sitting on the floor. I thought for a minute. All I could come up with was, "It's less effort" and "It's safer." He asked if I felt unsafe. I said I didn't know, it's just what came to mind.
More long minutes of silence, except for my crying.
Eventually I was able to ask for a post-it note. I took out my pen and wrote:
"I'm just so sad and I don't understand why."
Through great effort, I gave him the note. He read it. And he said, "Sometimes it's good to be sad with someone else, to not be sad alone." And I cried more. So much of my sadness is experienced alone. Seldom does someone offer to be with me while I am sad. Especially without trying to make me not be sad.
He asked if times like this, when I am so sad, are when I want to hurt myself. I acknowledged that I had thought about it, but I hadn't done so. Except that I had stopped eating. He reminded me that not eating is a form of self-injury. And he praised me for not cutting (or scratching, in my case).
Over the course of the hour I was able to give him three more post-it notes:
* "There are a thousand things running around in my brain. I don't understand why I can't say any of them." -- He said that when the time is right, if they need to be said, they will come out.
* "No matter how hard I work or how much progress I make, I feel like there will always be this underlying sadness and loneliness." -- He said it wouldn't be like this forever. We could take it from a 9 to a 3 or from a 7 to a 1. But he also said that he hoped I wouldn't ever lose it completely or I would lose my ability to empathize with others; I wouldn't be able to help others through my blog like I can now.
* "I am fighting a battle on so many fronts in my life so much of the time. I am just so tired of fighting; sometimes I just want to quit." -- He said it's okay to take a break. I need to allow myself to take time off. I need to give myself permission for self-care. This is just a break.
"It's okay to take a break; it's not okay to hurt yourself." As he said this, I felt strengthened.
In the hour I spent with him, there may have been five minutes of talking. I probably spoke under a minute. And I cried the whole time.
But I'm glad I went. It was valuable therapy. It was nice to have someone really see my pain and validate it. It was nice to have someone sit with me as I cried.
As I prepared to leave he asked what the goal was (meaning what I would work on until I saw him again). I said, "Don't hurt myself." And he agreed.
I am somewhat better now, although the sadness and loneliness is just under the surface. I still cry quite easily. But since then I've been able to communicate a little with a couple of people and I've gotten back on my regimen.
And I haven't hurt myself.