My hands hold safely to my dreams

(Surrender–Barlow Girl)

I currently have a list of quotes from various places on my computer and I am trying to go through the list and either put them somewhere else (like on my blog…) or delete them if I will probably never use them…some of them are informational, some are sweet quotes I might want to find or make a picture of to pin on pinterest, others are things that I related to…

Here is a quote that belongs in that last category:

For me, therapy was like wrapping a gift. It was among other things, the gift of trust. For almost one year, with his help I picked out the perfect wrapping paper and bow to wrap my special gift. In less than one hour, he unwrapped my gift to myself and now all I see is crumpled paper and a used bow. I am mad that I came to therapy to heal wounds, not create more wounds to heal. I feel like I came to work on letting my guard down, only to realize why I always leave it up. I am sad because I was willing to take a risk I had never taken before—show someone my deepest hurts, wounds, and fears. I trusted this person and I feel completely betrayed.

I have read many places that betrayal or being otherwise hurt by a counselor can hurt a lot worse than being hurt by anyone else, but no one ever explained it in such an understandable way as this person did. Now I get it.

When I started in counseling I was trying to get whatever out of it that I could, but I wasn’t in it for myself. I was in it to please other people. Yeah, it was pretty bad that first semester–which was kind of my fault because I couldn’t speak up for myself to let anyone know that what was going on was definitely not working and was making things worse until I pretty much exploded but still couldn’t follow through on my threat to quit if I wasn’t given a way to communicate…and after that it was mostly at least not leaving me EXTREMELY anxious at the end of sessions to the point where I had been just barely calming down before the next session…instead the sessions were a little different, actually working on things that I wanted to work on (wow, what a great concept, right?) although they were frequently about 10 to 15 minutes long…but really, I didn’t care–going to counseling was not a gift to myself yet. It was only a gift to other people, and to those other people, showing up was what counted because they had no way to know what was going on in session…

Second year at first was kind of the same, but I started going in and out of doing it for me rather than doing it because I felt trapped. Practicing for the interview definitely felt helpful, but then second semester I knew I needed rules to get things under control, because I respond really well to rules, but my counselor was super resistant to creating rules. Eventually she agreed to let me create rules as long as I could promise that I could be safe with the rules and would give up the rules if I was not going to be safe with them. I did create rules, and with the rules I made huge amounts of progress. Eventually she realized that rules really were working for me and occasionally added her own rules, but in I think it was March I almost quit because I realized that the rules which were what was working for me anyway were almost completely created on my own so I didn’t really need anyone else. Ultimately though, socially I could not escape, because I was afraid of making my counselor feel bad, and because of the people I was still trying to please by going to counseling. At some point between then and the end of the year was when the switch happened and counseling became a gift to myself. It was pretty neat, because I was then able to advocate for myself when my counselor tried to get me to follow her to a different location to continue with her when I had absolutely no intention of going anywhere else and had already made clear and we had already discussed my plans for the upcoming year in terms of counseling–and both the possible scenarios that had been what I was deciding on did not involve going anywhere off campus…and I won on that and did not feel like I had to either follow her or quit. There were a few hurtful things that were said to me in the process of advocating for myself, but it wasn’t a big deal, because I was probably not going to see this person again anyway, and I knew it was probably mostly just that she saw losing me as a failure on her part or something since she started offering me things that she knew would be pretty tempting in order to try to convince me to come back to her…

But then I got to third year, and counseling was most definitely a gift to myself. I was carving time out of a busy schedule to prepare for, attend, and process counseling sessions every week. I was doing my best, and realizing that it was truly helpful to have the accountability and added pressure to do hard things that counseling gave me, and I was seeing results. There were certainly a few rough patches during which I felt like, to use the analogy in the quote, my wrapping paper was being shredded, but I had a promise that my gift to myself would not be unwrapped completely again unless that was what I wanted (barring any circumstances such as me graduating which would preclude me from seeing her anymore)…but then, after being pushed to make sure the gift was being worked on, as I was considering putting on the finishing touches and presenting the gift to myself, she shredded it apart and left the shreds all over. Those shreds had my name all over them and got me in trouble for littering, and yeah, I ultimately got the same gift either way, but given the choice, would you choose the gift carefully presented in beautiful paper with a sweet sentiment attached, or would you choose the unwrapped gift in a beat up box thrown across the room to you as a begrudgingly given gift?

Although I still hold that if given the choice I totally would go back to Michelle to have a more proper termination or if I wanted help again (yeah, I know, I might forgive, and re-trust, and move on a little more quickly than is good for me which probably plays into how I got into this mess anyway since it may have been a good idea to walk away or at least enter a little more cautiously a little over a year ago when the first red flag went up…), I am resistant to go to anyone else for many reasons, and one of the minor reasons is that it is hard to see any point in trying to have another person help me wrap a gift when I feel like I know I am just going to have to play a game of keep away as long as I can to avoid it from getting shredded apart anyway…While I know it is human to make mistakes, it is hard to see any way it could be good to intentionally put someone else in a position to hurt me.

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