June 2012: The Beginning
I was 22-years-old on a road trip to Boston with two of my best friends from college, and I was lost.
My friends would be returning to school for another semester while I was forced to leave our wonderful bubble. I was alone and no one could understand the range of emotions I was feeling. I wanted to run away from Long Island; continue having fun, random, adventures. Forget the future; cling to the past.
Paralyzed by fear and anxiety, I sat in the passenger seat of my friend’s car contemplating the rest of my life. Just then, my phone rang. It was a woman from the counseling center I had contacted the day before. This comforting voice was there to help me sort out my past, present and future. It was time for me to learn how to face my feelings.
At first my therapist really helped me. I had my first real relationship ever during that time. It was always so difficult for me to open up to the opposite sex, but in therapy I worked through issues I had been having all of my life. While the boys I chose ended up being wrong for me, I allowed myself to move out of my comfort zone and work through issues instead of running away from them. Two weeks after I ended things with my first boyfriend, I found someone else. I had thought that this person was everything that I wanted but it turned out he was more of a starter boyfriend than a true love. I spent so many of my sessions venting about my relationships, I think I communicated more with my therapist than I did with the people I was dating.
Over time though I began to see the world in a different light. I started to open my mind up more. I started to grow. I wasn’t so afraid anymore. My anxiety started to die down a bit. I felt empowered. This was around a year or two into my therapy. When I broke up with my latest ex-boyfriend my life really began to change for the better. I had nothing to come in and complain about from week to week except for my career situation. That’s when my focus really began to switch from boys to my personal success. I felt like therapy wasn’t helping me make enough of a positive change in my career. Finding a job is not easy and I felt like it was a topic that wasn’t encouraged in my sessions. I would come into her office and I would rant and rave about how much I hated my current job, yet I was still there. Nothing was changing. No goals were defined. I felt therapy was no longer helping me, so by September 2014 I began telling my therapist how much I wanted to stop attending. Each time I would tell her my feelings she would say, “Okay, let’s talk about it next week.” The next week would come and we wouldn’t discuss it. She emphasized how I was going through a lot at home and I benefit greatly from therapy and if I stop going everything I learned would become undone and I would go back to my insecure ways. In a way I felt too afraid to leave.
The Career Thing
My career was always such a depressing topic, especially in the very beginning. As a confused transfer student I had never bothered with internships so I had zero professional work experience and no clear path of where I wanted to go. I struggled with comparing myself to everyone else. I went to a tough college. We were all intelligent, hardworking young people with bright futures. Only at that time, I didn’t believe in myself at all. I struggled with my work load, time management, organization and direction. I always felt like I would never be as good as my classmates. I was so inexperienced and insecure. I had no idea where to begin.
Hence, I had to work at a deli for seven months after graduating, as per the suggestion of my therapist “Get any kind of job you can find.” I was such an unhappy girl during that period. A couple of months later I ended up getting my first professional job. I gained my work experience, but not without struggle. Between the lack of financial stability and the general miscommunication there, it definitely wasn’t a dream job. It was a step up from a deli but it was far below what I had expected. It was another source of misery for me. I was too insecure and still paralyzed by fear to bother applying to other jobs so I stayed stuck there for a while. I knew I was so much better than that job but I kept holding myself back. Years of therapy went by and I began using my needing a counselor as an excuse to stay in a crummy job that made me unhappy.
I got stuck in a loop of unhappy thoughts. My sessions were full of venting and not full of finding solutions to the issues I was having. At one point I did start taking action on finding another job. I landed interviews and I felt a lack of support from my counselor. She never reacted in a way that was encouraging enough for me. I felt even more stuck and trapped.
It soon became awkward and uncomfortable to attend my weekly session. My therapist began to label my case as me being someone who is “resistant to therapy.” We would sit there and she would psychoanalyze me and I felt like I had to sit there and defend myself and my feelings. We would go around and around in circles and I would analyze myself and my emotions and pick myself apart and explain why the way I was feeling was wrong or “angry” or the way I was feeling “showed a lot of fear.”
I remember our last session before I quit the first time. It was extremely uncomfortable, possibly for the both of us. I suppose she took it as me telling her that she was not good at her job. I left therapy November 2014 only to return again in February 2015 because I had a nervous breakdown/panic attack about the future while sitting alone in my Aunt’s New York apartment.
From March 2015 until June I sat in therapy again, convincing myself that I am broken and damaged and that I needed to come in week after week to get feelings off my chest and feel supported. I soon realized that what I was doing was seeking validation from a woman I had become so used to venting to for the past three years. She was like a cushion for me, yet I wondered what it would be like to take the world on now at the age of 25.
Thanks to my therapist’s help and guidance, I had a new, positive outlook on life. I had valuable job experience and I was no longer afraid to apply to jobs or go on interviews. I am determined, talented and strong. I stopped avoiding conflict and situations that made me feel uncomfortable and started facing situations head on, breaking them down one step at a time. I am now ready to find a healthy and happy man to have a healthy and happy relationship with and believe I will find it someday.
The End Of Therapy – But Not the End of Me.
During the last session with my therapist I was explaining a job situation. I went off or the entire 45 minutes while she sat there with a bored look on her face not saying muchexcept “you seem angry” and “I’m hearing a lot of fear.” I think even she was getting bored of our sessions yet refused to let me go. I thought that when a patient feels strong enough to transition out of therapy that a therapist allows them to leave. I didn’t know they put up such a fight to try and make you stay. The entire issue made me feel powerless, guilty and unsure. I would tell myself that maybe I am messed up and I can’t face the world on my own. Maybe I do need therapy. Today I now realize that therapy is not meant for forever. Just like she taught me everything in life is temporary so was my time in therapy. I closed that chapter so I could start to live my life and focus on new things.
I’m proud to say that because of those three years I put in working on myself, I know exactly how to work through my own feelings and how to lift myself up again. I’ve come so far without therapy in the past 8 months and while sometimes things do get difficult, I know all of the answers to every question I have lie within my own heart.