It’s been 6 months since I had to stop therapy. I moved cross country, We moved house, I returned to teaching dance, I drove cross country with Lily last minute, I had surgery, ended up with depression and stopped dating two people I was really excited about. It’s been a time.
It aint been easy. I have never felt more alone and more clear of mind. Sometimes it is pain that clears the head the best. Its sharpness cutting through the fog. When I was forced to leave therapy due to bureaucracy it was the end of a 7 year-long relationship. She helped me find my own humanity I buried. She taught me what safety was, that life did get better, and some people found me worth investing in. With her I learned to be vulnerable, to let people in, to ask for what I needed and to unpack much of what I was dismissive of in the beginning. In this space 1-4 hours a week she let me talk accepting me in whatever state I was in.
Some weeks I’d come in and just lie on the ground hands over my eyes, others laughing as I talked about horrifying things I wished not to remember, still others so numb and muted her every expression made me angry and confused. I felt weak. I felt stupid, a fool. Compared to the double-bound image of perfection I was meant to be, I was nothing in the eyes of others. Stacked high with impossibilities and yet tied to the ground, I’d been demanded to become a tool despite being told of my uselessness. I simply wasn’t trying enough. I was asking for too much. I was too angry at what was unfair and too weak to simply accept reality. I was cold for cutting harmful people from my life to stopping hurting me. I was anti-social despite the humiliation and being taken advantage of every time I did try to be more open. The pain of my illness was all-consuming, and yet despite wanting to, I couldn’t just roll over and die. It wouldn’t kill me and I felt as though my life was just a constant state of suffering, struggling, and trying to stop the constant rotation of close loved ones I thought were different and treating me just the same.
I hated going, the majority of the time. Why talk about what won’t change? Why should I pour my beaten heart out to this woman when I was tired of getting kicked? I had things to do and no amount of sitting with my feelings was going to shift the practicalities of my life. The reality is, society does hate people like me. The reality is, people like me spend most of their lives struggling at the fringes of society. Reality is no matter how smart I am, how hardworking, how stubborn, am I not just Sisyphus? I angrily and despondently asked her hard questions.
Am I crazy? Is there something wrong with me? Will I ever sleep? Am I doing it wrong? Tell me how to fix it. And she’d look at me and tell me the truth.
Why she knew I wasn’t crazy. That over the years she’d regularly been waiting to see the signs of a personality disorder that never arose. She waited for me to project on her, and I never did. That the only thing she saw was a young man struggling under a weight he didn’t deserve and yet, kept trying. She saw a hopeful future in me and just listened while I walked and struggled down this path. She often said that she loved working with me because of how much progress I’d make between sessions and that I was kind to her. That only time would tell for some questions but she believed in me, to overcome the cards I’d been dealt.
Towards the end, things had been shifting. Although I still felt like I was wandering through life, my efforts were slowly paying off. But, we’d gotten stuck. Life begins taking us down differing paths making the next stage of work harder and harder. Until I decided I needed surgery and to move. We would end then, on my 29th birthday.
I was nervous and upset. A grounding force through my 20s was leaving. Even as she tried to tell me it wasn’t her leaving it didn’t stop it from feeling that way. I was hopeful about the latest move though. It felt like the river of life was moving again. Surgery felt possible, relationships held a lot of promise, I felt cared about, and I seemed to be on the edge of a breakthrough on work. Two months later I ran headfirst into a deep unexpectant depression.
Suddenly reliant on my other relationships and the strength of my own spirit and what I’d learned over the years, I walked through that darkness. I’d done so much alone and as people left my journey as it got tougher, I kept that in mind. I would be ok as long as I kept moving, as long as I kept calm and believed that this too will pass as so many dark times had with her help. We’d made 7 years of tools to survive what may feel unsurvivable. Even as the past came back to haunt me, I remembered her telling me that even though it was worse the second time, it was over. To remember that, the life I’d created for myself was much safer and more loving than any old memories. I remembered to hold onto my most precious relationship to believe in these new ones.
I recalled telling her my fear of transition. “Being a Black man seems so hard” and that I wasn’t sure if I could take that on too. That I didn’t feel strong enough, as I questioned what kind of man I’d be moving forward. I heard her reminding me if I was having this much come up for me, it was because I was ready. That the only way to other side was through. I started to feel crazy again, my reality warping. Was I just anxious or were people keeping things from me? Was I smart enough to know the difference? Was I being naive and overly trusting? I became disoriented without her grounding. Maybe I couldn’t do this. Maybe this was all a mistake and the one that made it through so many difficult things couldn’t handle the nuances of interpersonal relationships, couldn’t handle another bout of depression, and wasn’t smart enough to know what he wanted, or who he was.
Eventually, I forced myself to breathe by taking time for myself. Leaning on my desire to be a better person for those I love, to steel myself for the storm I was afraid of. What would I find in there, and would I make it back on the other side?
Weeks later, I am sitting in a library emotionally distraught, and the answer is yes.
Despite feeling hated and abandoned, and the tears burning my eyes, I am on the other side with a lot of lessons and a deeper understanding of myself.
- I am a kind man
- I am like my grandfather
- I love very simply and non transactionally
- I am filled with anger at injustices
- I am not cruel
- I am not vindictive
- I have good boundaries even if others don’t recognise them as such
- I won’t give more than I have to give
- I know myself
- I am stronger and braver than I feel
- The things that were hated in me are my strengths
- I can’t make anyone love me
- I can’t make anyone trust me
- I can’t make anyone care for/ or about me
- I remain hopeful
- I can experience great pain and be ok
- I love those who don’t love themselves and that gets me treated poorly as we get closer
- Men have a double bind of being asked to express themselves and being told that expression is a burden or unwelcome
- I have eyes that see and know too much about other people, often before they do. Even if it doesn’t make sense, even if they say otherwise, I need to trust myself
- The truth from others is not a given.
- People will let their fear stop them from so much
- Hurt people hurt people even those kind to them
- I always try my very best
- I always try to be as clear as I can be
- Codependency is a hell of a drug
I know things will be fine in the future. I know I’ll eventually get what I am looking for in life. I know that this time will pass and I deserve love, affection and support. I’ll trust again because I always do. I will get through this because I always will make it so. We can endure so much more than we think and if It’s important to me, I am willing to do so. I know I am not fragile, and that the skills Ara gave me are what is allowing me to continue to grow even when I don’t wish to. When really, all I want is comfort and companionship. When all I want is for someone to hold me and tell me that it will all be ok, that I am not alone, and that they trust me to make it through this. It’s not happening. And, that’s ok as well.
A little bit of loneliness and hurt won’t break me. And the tools and support she gave me will let me try again knowing that if nothing else, she is, even from afar in my corner.