I’ve been seeing a counselor. Do you know how difficult it is to find a counselor? Not that there aren’t enough of them, because hoo boy, there are. I mean how difficult it is to select a counselor, I guess. I just kept typing random things into a search engine, feeling about as much self-pity as it’s possible for a person to feel. It’s such an overwhelmingly intimate, humiliating thing to ask for help, it felt unspeakably wrong to be doing it via Google. But what are the alternatives? There’s no Yelp for that shit. Or if there is, I couldn’t find it. Eventually I came to a site that listed counselors by their specialties. It had photos, bios. I stared at faces and tried to imagine myself sitting in front of them. Talking. Oh god.
Making the call was the hardest thing in the world, except maybe for actually going to the first appointment. I could imagine what my body language looked like to her. My hands twisting in my lap, my lips pulled over my teeth as I kept biting down as if to stop the words I’d come to spill.
Even in that first session, there was an eventual sense of lightening. What a terrifying relief it was to sit there and say things, things that hurt and pulled and snagged. Secrets tumbled from me. Afterwards I had the same sort of feeling you get after being violently ill: weak and emptied and somehow grateful.
So now I see her once a week. I am always uncomfortable when I first arrive, overly polite and formal and nervous. Then we transition from the small talk and it’s … I don’t know. It’s maybe like walking into a pool, in a way. With each step I unburden myself a little more. She talks, too. I like that about her, she isn’t the sort that waits in silence and only says things like, “And how did that make you feel?”
I spent my life, pretty much, thinking it was indulgent and silly to pay someone to listen to you talk. It was a pussy thing to do, is what I thought, if I’m being honest. Even though I’ve unraveled parts of my soul behind the relative safety of a computer screen, and I know exactly how healing such actions can be.
Now I realize: there is such a power to being vulnerable in front of another human being. To opening up and telling someone the things that drag me down. It’s scary. Devastating, even. And then it’s like being rebuilt, a little at a time. The ugly shit that makes me feel so broken is out in the open. It doesn’t take up the same kind of space when it’s acknowledged. And oh, that feeling of acknowledgement, it runs deep and wide. I am here and this is me, is what I’m essentially saying, when I talk to her. I am listening, she says. You are here.