6 Years Apart


December 2, 2005: I had my first counseling appointment with a professional therapist in Wichita, Kansas.

I was nervous making the appointment, and I believe I started the phone call with something akin to the following:

“Yeah, uh, hi. I need to make an appointment for….um, whatever it is you do.”

I knew that I wasn’t handling life well, that I was an emotional wreck, and life could be better. I had been trying to fix myself. Nothing was working. I couldn’t slough off disappointments. Everything was personal. I wasn’t good enough as a Christian, teacher, or woman. Rather than being a light and inspiration to my students in the classroom, I was re-living my middle school years in seeing them interact. The coping mechanisms I learned or developed only covered more pain on top of what I had already stuffed down.

I was blinded by my own pride and ignorance. I knew there were “issues” to work out, but I felt with the proper bible study, a good mentor, and my own brain, I could work my way through whatever was weighing me down. About 6 months prior to my first appointment, I started the study “Search for Significance” with another friend to mentor me through. We took our time well beyond the 12-week format but that turned out to be lesson number one in letting God work and not being a slave to deadlines. About 4 or 5 months later, I confessed that I couldn’t wait until we were done with the book to see a counselor. I was hoping she would encourage me that I was doing well and not to worry.

Instead I was told, “Go!!”

So I made my, uh, appointment. Close friends were excited for me; some members of my family were scratching their heads but supportive. And as with most things, there were plenty I didn’t tell. I watched the clock the entire day at work. Being a teacher, I had to be continually aware of the time. 6 hours…..4 hours….3 hours….2….1… As I located the building at Central and Woodlawn, I could feel my hands shaking on the steering wheel of my car.

Over the next few years – yes, years – I learned how to cope and live with disappointment. I learned what it was to be me since I had come up with the idea that being “me” wasn’t always a good thing. I learned how to deal with false beliefs and what is involved in a real relationship – friendship or dating. That fear is a distraction and motivation. I wish I could say that I remained strong and didn’t get distracted nor allow vices to carry me through the emotionally turbulent ride.

But my weaknesses showed. There were plenty of coffee drinks and Great Harvest Stromboli and Big Kahuna bars ingested while filling in page after page of my journals. Yet, despite my weaknesses – emotional and physical – I processed and grew.

December 2, 2011: After starting some medication and recognizing recurring symptoms of depression, I see a counselor for an initial in-take appointment.

I internally chuckled at the irony of dates. But this time, rather than being nervous and uncertain about why I was going or what I needed to work on or how I was going to appear emotionally to my counselor, I anticipated the visit. I decided that no matter how stupid an event or character trait seemed to me, it just needed to be said. Whatever was on my mind and anything I could think of as an answer to her questions somehow found its way out.

In debriefing with a friend, I told her that even though no tools or solutions were discussed between me and the counselor, just the sheer act of getting out everything over the past few years was therapeutic. Here was someone with a blank slate when it came to her impressions of me and my life; it was my duty and responsibility to give her as much information as possible.

I know without a doubt that I could not have handled all the circumstances and emotional turmoil of life in Indiana had I not had my first round of counseling. I know this because a friend and career counselor told me this a year ago! His complement made all the work I did in Wichita worth it; suddenly, my life was being evaluated by how I chose to handle the crummy situations I had been given as opposed to my material possessions and career status.

There is plenty I still have to sift through, but thankfully, my first few years with a counselor is now helping my visits with my current counselor be more productive. And to deal with the spiritual significance of what I’m processing, I keep my priest informed as to my progress as well. Spirit and emotions have a powerful intertwining.

I’m in no way “fixed” or “all better,” but I’m working towards healing which is better than remaining ill.

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