If you could go back, change all of this, and act like it had never happened, would you?
This was one of the last questions my counselor asked me.
On Thursday, March 13th, I
attended my last counseling session. Together, we decided I was ready. Of course, her door is always open. I'm always welcome to schedule
appointments on an as-needed basis. But the regular sessions I was
having with my counselor every other week are now done.
I drove away
feeling like I had conquered the hardest thing in my life - a feeling I
could've never imagined back in July when all of this started. It
was sunny, my windows were down, and I was a new person.
song "Hold On" came through my car speakers and I had a little moment.
I know - that song is pretty cheesy and all I can think about is Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph at the end of Bridesmaids. But
for this moment, it actually made a lot of sense.
I know that there is pain
but you hold on for one more day
and break free the chains
That's exactly what I felt like I had taken on. On July 20, 2012, a load
of chains was dropped on my shoulders and I had no idea where they came from
or what to do with them. I didn't know who I was going to be anymore. I
honestly thought my life was over.
desperation to finally call a counselor. Never before in my life had I
ever felt the need to do this. But one day, I decided that this burden
could not be carried alone. I needed help. I was ready for a
the first day I walked into the lobby of my counselor's office. A
waterfall was trickling, quiet piano music was playing (which sweetly reminded
me of my mom's piano playing), and the walls were painted with warm colors.
My eyes filled with tears as soon as I stepped foot into that room.
I hadn't even met the
counselor and I was already crying.
But it was the most
peaceful place I'd been in for the past 3 months. My anxiety hit
in July and I didn't see a counselor until October. My life was chaotic
and for this one tiny little moment, I got a glimpse of peace. I
almost couldn't handle it. I was so thirsty for calm and peace in my
life, I would've done anything for it. Anything.
first visit was a lot of me doing the ugly cry and talking through my
tears and saying things like, "Sorry, I'm crying," to my counselor.
(Because, you know, counselors are really inconvenienced by crying.) I
told her my whole story. I told her everything I knew to tell her. I
wished so badly she could pull out a magic wand and eliminate all of the
anxiety from my mind, body, and heart in one instant. But this would be
a long road.
She told me that someday I'd be on the
other side of this. It was hard to imagine and, quite frankly, I didn't
really believe her.
Sure enough, after about 11 counseling sessions over the course of 5 months, I am on the other side. Anxiety
and fear no longer define me. They haven't left forever, but they do
not control me. They do not deserve a home in this body, heart, or
I'm still piecing it all together.
There are "a-ha" moments.
There are anxious moments.
There are many moments when I celebrate and bask in this victory.
There are moments when something creeps in and I feel like I could quickly be swept away into the deep grasp of fear.
It's not 100% over and it won't ever be. But I've learned practical ways to manage it. And I've learned that my hope is only in the Lord.
My counselor closed our last
session out with these three questions:
What did you learn about yourself?
What did you learn about God?
If you could go back, change all of this, and act like it
had never happened, would you?
When she asked that last question, I felt all my wheels turning. What if I could give all of this back? The darkest time of my life, the most scared I've ever been, the loneliest I'd ever felt, the times of physical, uncontrollable trembling, the emotional chaos, the mental confusion and abandonment.
Believe it or not, my answer was no.
Who I am today in Christ is so much greater than those struggles. I am
aware of my humanity, my sin, and my weaknesses, but I am also wrapped so
tightly and fully in God's goodness, light, and care. I am in great
need of God. I never want to un-learn that.