Four Years Ago
By the time I actually found myself sitting her in office, it had been about three months since I had made the call out of sheer desperation. My then doctor and I were playing a guessing game of what medication to put me on, and none of them seemed to be working for any length of time. So that time, he suggested I seek out a therapist and leave the medication for now.
I had agreed reluctantly. Let’s talk about all the crap that I don’t want to talk about, and the stuff I don’t necessarily remember. Yet, I surrendered. I needed help. I knew I needed help. I needed someone who wasn’t The Hubby and completely tired of my cyclical moods to say, “Yep, I get that”.
When I met her, I liked her instantly. The idea that we would be painting about my feelings made me feel strange, but I could deal with that. There were, after all stranger things I could do and really, the idea of talking annoyed me more than the idea of picking up a crayon or a paint brush. The first visit went well, we went over history, goals, and what I wanted.
I wanted to be normal. I wanted to feel normal. I wanted to not be a complete mess.
My first bit of homework was to write a love letter to myself, among other items she handed me. I would see her in a week. Like a good student, I did the handouts straight away. They were easy because I didn’t have to say anything to myself, I didn’t have to dig deep. I didn’t have to really think.
Every night, I sat down, pen poised, ready to write. Every night, I couldn’t even get passed the “Dear” part. What do I call myself, I thought? Danielle, loved one? Me? So the next night, after wrestling with that, I left it blank. It was the night before my visit. I wanted to please my new therapist with this beautiful work of writing. Except, that it just wouldn’t come.
I could easily come up with nasty, terrible words to put on the page. I could tell you all the ways in which I had failed in my life, in the past, present and probably in the future, but love? Oh no, love and I do not see eye to eye. In fact, I’m pretty sure I missed the whole lesson on loving yourself whenever, or wherever it was given.
The next evening, I returned. We went over my homework, and she asked,
“And the love letter?”
I bit my lip like I do when I am thinking of something that makes me uneasy.
“I couldn’t do it”.
“Because I couldn’t do it.”
“Well, there has to be a reason. What stopped you?”
The room began to feel like it was going to collapse in on us both. I had the urge to tell her to run, but instead, I took a deep breath.
“I…” tears welled up in my eyes, as they always do when I openly admit this to anyone, “ hate myself.”
Her eyes remained on me, there was no hint of judgment.
“That’s a pretty harsh description of yourself, why do you think that way?”
I wanted to shake my head and tell her we were done for the day, but I pushed through,
“I just do. I see nothing good about myself. I feel like I have done nothing good in my life. I feel like everyone is better than me. I feel like I destroy everyone’s life and I believe that everyone else thinks all of these things about me”.
She looked at her page, and then at me.
“Close your eyes.”
I closed my eyes, tears still falling, steadily.
“When you think of the love you have for yourself, what do you see there, in your mind?”
I scowled, “Nothing”.
“You see nothing, not even a shade or a color or a movement?”
“I see static.”
“Yes, like on the TV. The white noise channels, that’s what I see. It’s loud, it’s thick.”
My eyes flew open, “What?”
“Put it on a piece of paper, show it to me.”
So I did. I pushed so hard on the oil pastels that I broke some. I felt bad for it, but it felt so good to push hard, and to let my self-hate make itself visible. Clearly, it wanted a spotlight. When I stood back to look at it, I wept. Without thinking, I had drawn the static, but I had also layered thick, angry walls around the static, making them virtually impossible to get through, and in one huge corner of the static, sat dozens of compartments, surrounded in bright red and orange walls, with black filling the middle.
On the outside of my body, I was looking at a pretty damn accurate description of what the inside of my emotional self looked like. I had not intended to draw it. It just came pouring out like a fountain, by accident. I assume the lines and angry use of the materials gave her an idea of how deeply rooted this hatred was, and just how far away from normal I truly was.
The love letter was never brought up again. But it was assumed that we would find away to understand why I detested myself so greatly.
Thus began my search of normal and self-love.
And on it goes.