My first day of therapy was difficult. I'd known for years I needed therapy. I wanted to find peace, to settle my heart, to make the fear stop. But I was scared.
I'd gone to therapy with my husband many times, as his coach. I was there to help him in his battle against OCD and the toll it was taking on our family. I liked his therapist. I trusted him. And he's the one I chose to see when I finally found the courage (or the desperation) to fight my own demons.
As my therapist explained it, that first visit was about assessment. We take off the bandage, he examines the wound, and we see how bad it really is. It starts with me telling my story.
I hadn't ever told my story. Not all of it. A few pieces to my husband, but that's all. I had just lived with it. Embarrassed and ashamed. For so many years.
That first session was so hard. I told my story. Very linear. Without much emotion, just facts. I'd quit feeling about it a long time ago. I wasn't anywhere near finished with the story when our hour was up. (It ended up taking three full sessions to get the whole thing out. Which ended up not being the whole thing because there was still a lot I wasn't ready to tell.)
But the session was over. He said I'd done well. He said you can tell how often a person has told their story by how long it takes them to tell it. The more you tell it, the less detail you need and the faster it goes.
He validated that I was wounded. He said I should be proud of myself and celebrate the good work I'd done. I was clueless. I don't celebrate well. Definitely not my own accomplishments. He suggested treating myself. Again, clueless. He told me some things others had done. He suggested that I find a way to mark the moment because it mattered.
I told him I would think about it and see what I could do. Thus, my therapy necklace was born.
I went to the charm store. I found a charm to represent everything important in my battle for peace.
* A simple black cord just long enough to position it right over my heart. Tied in a knot so I can add or remove charms.
* A charm to represent me, at the center of the cluster. Initially this was very nondescript. It was about an inch in diameter, circular like a washer, pounded dark metal, rough edges. An undefined shape that each person could interpret differently. Kind of like I felt about myself. Undefined. Interpreted differently by different people. Nondescript. This has since been replaced.
* A charm that says PEACE. This is what I'm searching for. This is what the work is for.
* A small book that opens. On the cover it says My Story. This was to mark the fact that I'd finally reclaimed my story as my own and chosen to tell it. It's my story to tell.
* A charm that looks kind of like a small metal tablet, rough edges. It has a zodiac sign on it. This charm represents the boy who repeatedly abused me as a child. This is his sign. I have done the work. He no longer has power over me. This is to symbolize my victory over that part of my past.
* A charm of two clasped hands. They could be seen as a handshake, but when I look at it I see one hand reaching down to grasp the hand of another and help them out of a dark hole. Adding strength to the cause. Lifting me up. This charm represents all those who helped me in my dark times. My therapists. My ecclesiastical leaders. My friends. My husband. My kids. People in my group therapy class. All those who made my burden a little lighter, sometimes just by believing in my ability to carry it.
* A starfish charm. This charm represents a special friend. A woman I found at just the right time. A woman who understands and reaches my soul because she has experienced much of what I've experienced. She has an affinity for things of the sea. She calms me in a way others can't.
* A charm of my own making. An amalgam of several charms connected to make one. This charm represents the spiritual element to my healing. It contains a star of David to represent God; a cross to represent Jesus Christ; and a bird to represent the Holy Ghost. God is guiding me in this healing process. He wants me to succeed. Each member of the Godhead plays an important roll. Without Them, I would not heal. It helps me to remember that They are with me in my quest. On this charm there is also a pair of hands in prayer. This represents my grandmother. She taught me to pray. She was the spiritual strength in my life for so many years. Without her guidance, I may never have developed the connection I have with God which facilitates my growth and healing.
* And the new charm which represents me. The old one broke. Rather symbolically for me. The undefined me was replaced. I now have a charm I earned completing a religious program. It brought me closer to God. It helped me understand who I am and the role I am to play. It helped me understand my value. And it reminds me that I can do hard things -- because I am divine.
A black cord with a cluster of silver charms. Probably less that $20 to create. But priceless to me.
There will be more charms. I have other things yet to overcome, demons to fight. And my therapy necklace reminds me that I am powerful. I am strong enough to face whatever comes my way. And I don't have to do it alone.