Baking a cake? First you need the kitchen!
This week has been a doozy. The days have felt harder and it’s not just because of the quarantine lifestyle we are all experiencing although that has added a new layer of stress all of us understand. This week's roller-coaster ride was sponsored by therapy.
Often others don’t understand that we can feel worse after sessions before we start to feel better. Especially if there is a lot to sift and sort through. That can make for some difficult currents to navigate as you try and live your everyday life post-session.
When the sessions are hard I find myself in an array of images and thoughts trying to untangle and make sense. Sometimes things get more knotted and other times there is that light bulb moment. This morning I had the light bulb moment.
This wasn't a cool Edison style light bulb that makes my skin glow and emits feelings of peace and safety. It’s fluorescent and belongs in some dreadful place that feels more like an institution. It highlights the bags under my eyes, the weight on my shoulders, and “OMG why didn’t anyone tell I look like this in public!”, kind of light.
For the first time, I was able to express something (written down of course) and just let it sit with me. Ohhhhhhhhhhhh…. That makes sense kind of moment. “Fuck”, was my next thought.
Why? Because I can’t say it out loud. I can’t share it with the people I need to share it with. I also know that “can’t” is black and white. Ridgid. So much so that the follow-up thought was I should just quit therapy because I get it and how exhausting it must be to sit across from me. Let me just both do us a favor and call it.
That thought (and trust me when I say it is the softened version) is a result of a strong narrative that plays in my head. I’m self-aware and the script is memorized. After all this time I still believe it. Yet week after week, I show up to sit with it. Often times feeling worse for doing so.
Why do I keep doing this to myself? Then I pause and remind myself because there have been weeks where it has been better. Some tiny incremental steps forward have been made and while I want them to be bigger they have helped in a way that pushes me to keep showing up.
"Aha" moments can be scary and painful. That’s what therapy is for though. It’s a space where I can sit with being scared and feel my pain. Understand more why I am who I am and develop a better way forward.
I think of it like baking a cake. The finished product is baked, decorated, adorned with beauty portrayed proudly atop the kitchen counter. To get to that moment you need the kitchen and ingredients. I’m not even at the point where the ingredients have been put into a mixing bowl. In fact, I only have just installed the framing of the kitchen. There’s plumbing, electrical, and drywall that have yet to be completed. Then there’s flooring and backsplashes. Appliances, big and small that have yet to arrive. The contractor who keeps moving the completion date. There's an awfully long way to go before the cake arrives.
Even using this illustration is a small step in the right direction. It’s me giving myself self-compassion and room for wonder versus judgment. So yes this week has been hard and who knows, next week might even be worse but quitting altogether? Nah, that’s one ingredient I’ll leave out of this recipe.