I wrote a holiday letter to A a few days ago and posted it – and it was very much how I was feeling at the time. But yesterday I sat down and decided to write her a letter, as her holiday gift.
I never really know what to do with therapists and gifts. It seems like such a large relationship to not acknowledge it with a token of appreciation this time of year. Eventually I added “how do you feel about gifts?” into my first session interview so I know from the get-go. A has always said she is open to anything small and thoughtful because she feels it’s harmful to reject people offering a gift as a token of their appreciation.
I could have jokingly got her pom poms or the game where you have to move the cars out of the way to get the other car through, or tic tacs labelled “magic pills” but although I know she would accept and love all of those – gift giving changed my relationship with Em so it’s kind of become a personal boundary for me.
So I decided to write her a letter – it costs nothing and therefore doesn’t change the balance of the relationship, and it has been a staple in our therapy sessions. I write, then read, she listens, and it’s represented growth.
So I went back over my diaries, journals, and this blog for the past 8 months that I’ve been seeing A and I pulled a sentence or two out of 15 or so different entries. They represent my growth – in so many ways, but by openly sharing these thoughts with her I think they represent my growth in the acceptance of our relationship and it’s importance as well.
As I wrote down these moments from “I am not worth it” and “I don’t think I can trust her” to “maybe I deserve it” to “maybe I’m not horrible” to realizing that I am worth a peaceful life – writing it actually became a bit of a gift for myself as well.
And at the end I share with her the following:
“Your love, care, and support, your unwavering believe I can do it, the fact that you’re always willing to hold the lantern so I can explore the dark caves… I’m now here, in this spot, where I enjoy more moments than I despair. A combination of your commitment to holding space and me taking the risk of trusting you has somehow led to me starting to trust myself – even through dark, awful moments. And I know there will be more dark, awful moments, and I know I can’t go back – but each time, I trust myself that much more – and the trauma becomes less of a defining feature in my life and more of a background to the current narrative.
Many people are lamenting 2016. Trump, Brexit, all that. I can’t follow suit. 2016 is the year of my emotional emancipation, the year I love myself for where I’m at – the year that although I know there is a lot of hard work ahead & it isn’t going to be a picnic – I believe I can get through it. This is the year I forgave myself. I am more whole and more me than I’ve ever been before. And it was hard work. And it will be hard work – but it was worth it, and it will continue to be. A legitimately Merry Christmas to you and yours, A. And an incredibly heartfelt thank you.”
It is long – almost seven pages (although handwritten). And my plan is to read it to her, to share it with her in honour of how far I’ve come, and how far she has helped me to go.
This has been the hardest eight months of my life – but there is no denying the growth. And that makes it worth it.