To be honest, the past few months have been emotionally tiring for me. I noticed a shift back in December but ignored it until about March of this year. By the time I acknowledged my feelings, it was too late- depression had set in and unwelcome yet familiar thoughts began to creep into my head. I was sinking faster than I knew how to swim and I desperately needed to break free of it all.
Help me, please.
I have been seeing therapists on and off for 26 years. Like any medication, I tend to go to therapy for a little bit of time and then when I start to feel better, I stop going. Once I deem myself healthy and capable of navigating my own life, I sever ties with my therapist by simply discontinuing my attendance of the sessions. No letter of discontinuance. No conversation with the therapist. I just simply stop going and then move on. Beloved, I strongly discourage you from discontinuing therapy in that manner. Yet with my emotions roaming too free and towards danger, I knew that it was time to begin therapy again. Looking through a list of therapists provided by my insurance, I found a female therapist and scheduled an appointment with her. We were all set to go for a Wednesday in March… but then COVID-19 came and my appointment was cancelled. I wrestled with my emotions for months before the knowledge of another six-day work week sent me over the edge.
Since February I have had three 30-minute anxiety attacks. Each attack was -thankfully- less scary than the one before it but each one caused me to pause and evaluate what was causing the attack in the first place. After the last one, I knew that it was time to really see a professional.
Enter a new therapist.
When considering therapy I never consider male therapists. Because of my trauma, I struggle heavily with male authority in my life so the thought of meeting with a man was the last thing that I wanted to do. Despite my initial hesitation, this past Wednesday I met with my new male therapist via Zoom (hello, appointments during COVID!). He is white, two years older than me, looks like Seth Rogan, and [most importantly] he is a Christian. Despite all of my years of therapy, I have only had one Christian therapist. That woman was licensed to provide Christian counseling and she was great during our time together. But, like the therapists before and after her, I stopped seeing her when I felt healed. This guy, my Seth Rogan therapist, is a Christian, though not a licensed Christian therapist, and he can relate to my life story.
In our first meeting I tried to share everything that came to my mind. I saw him religiously taking notes and making facial expressions of amazement as I shared pieces of M.E. He was cool; a therapist that I just might stick with for some time. As with any good therapist, he left me with a homework assignment that I am choosing to complete via this #MondayMessage. I meet with him again on Wednesday (June 3rd) so let me know your thoughts of my homework.
Seth Rogan (that’s what I’ll call him since I can’t use his real name) challenged me to re-frame my mind and imagine how the trajectory of my life would have changed if 1. My dad had been around when I was six years old, and 2. If I could have stopped my trauma. I loved the homework. My guy was a bit concerned that I was “stepping back” into that time in my life, but after explaining the purpose of the activity, he relented and supported me. So, here I go; off to complete my homework assignment!
For years I blamed my dad for what happened to me as a child. I felt like if he had been in my life then my brother wouldn’t have had the opportunity to hurt me. What I have come to learn in recent years is that if someone means you harm, nothing or no one will deter them from executing their plan. My brother was intent on getting revenge and just like he managed to hurt me when my mom and other siblings weren’t immediately around, he would have found a way to hurt me even if my dad had been near. Simply put, my dad’s presence would not have deterred my brother; what happened to me was not my dad’s fault and I must let that go.
I’ve never been one who enjoyed fighting or standing up for myself. I think that’s one of the side effects of having older siblings- you just trust that everyone else will fight your battles for you. I’m the baby and I’m significantly younger than my siblings so I was always their responsibility- just the way I like it. Even in re-framing my mind, I cannot imagine myself stopping the actions of my brother. Maybe that’s the instilled fear or maybe the thought that others were supposed to fight for me, but I honestly cannot see me standing up for myself. I was young and so trusting; I wholeheartedly believed that the people around me were there for my good.
So how would either scenario have changed the trajectory of my life? Simple- I would not be here. The thing about looking back at your life is that you realize that if one small thing changed, then everything after that would change, too. I found God at the end of those two years of hell. When I came out of that tunnel of pain, God was visible to me and I ran unabashedly into His arms. Learning about Him then allowed me to hold onto Him throughout the other storms of my life. Don’t misunderstand me, Beloved; God was always present in my life, constantly walking beside me, but I could not see Him until that storm of my life had passed.
As I have continued to walk with Christ I have learned that if those two years of my childhood had been any different than they were, then I would not be here right now, sharing Christ with others around the world. As crazy as it sounds, sometimes it is the pain that we experience that propels us into our purpose. The horror of my past keeps me humble and allows me to see the grace of God in a new way. As painful as my past was, without it I could not type to you right now and tell you that God will always provide. I could not tell you that God uses every tear and every trauma for His good. I could not tell you that weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. Beloved, without those two horrible years, I could not know the truth that is written in the words between Genesis and Revelations within the Bible.
Prior to my pain those were just random words that had no meaning. Because of God’s continuous healing in my life, the words are now letters of hope and encouragement. I can live because I know that truth exists in the Bible that I cling so closely to.
I am excited to return to Seth Rogan and tell him the God’s honest truth: changing my past, even a little bit, would change my present. While my life is not perfect or even how I desired it to be, this is the life that God has purposed for me and He is walking beside me through it all. I’m not six years old anymore, but that six year old girl changed my life forever.
Beloved, our pasts may not be pretty or perfect, but I implore you to trust God to use your past for His divine purpose. We can turn to scripture (literally, any Biblical story… but Joseph, Hannah, and Job are my favorites) to see how God can use our anything to build His everything. There is purpose for your pain; there is triumph after your trials.