To snorkel at the surface or dive the depths

Jade Howe writes.

I’m at the two-year mark of my Psychotherapy journey and translating the traverse into words feels important. 

I had all of the normal preconceptions of therapy beforehand. I thought it would help me understand myself and my world in a more wholesome way; it would help me build resiliency as I was struggling with post-natal depression; it would be somewhere I could vent all of my truths and they be held as real and valid. And this has been the case.

Though what I wasn’t expecting, was to feel so much more wholesome, so much more grounded and real, that my pain and my fear became as present as my pleasure. I have so many moments in my days now, where I gaze at my son as he watches ants crossing a paving stone and I can physically feel the euphoria gush through my cells. Where I hug my partner and sink into his beautiful soul, like a pillow and think ‘magic’. So many present, sensational moments that I used to miss, time after time after time. And simultaneously, I feel the pain and the fear of realisations like, my parents aren’t going to live forever. My chest tightens like a giant hand has scrunched my lungs and stomach in one, sharp grasp. 

And perhaps, as a Psychotherapist in training myself, my journey has been fast-tracked. I am not only learning what my own cognitive and embodied processes are in therapy, but I am also on the road to understanding them in conceptual way. For example, I know, that my inherent itch to attend to another person’s needs above my own is a creative adjustment I made as a child to ensure attachment to my primary caregiver. I now know why this manifested, but more importantly, I recognise how it feels in my body. And how could I possibly hold my future clients safe, without this multi-faceted knowing? This is a whole integration process.

With increased exploration of self in the therapy journey, comes an integration of pieces of us that we may have lost contact with. Once we start meeting these lost parts of our whole self and we begin to explore them physically (how the body holds them), mentally and emotionally; the nuances start to appear. The pleasure and the magic; and the fear, sorrow and rage. The thing is, you cannot start to release the mute button and choose what becomes more illuminated. You either live your life slightly overcast and functional; or you push that a-jar door open and let the joy-and-pain of life flood in, like rapids at a waterpark, interweaving together in dancing waves.

I used to hear those cliches of ‘Life is short’ and think ‘Indeed’; yet moments later, I’m lost again in my usual narrative. But through time, it becomes very hard to get lost when you begin to know your whole self. You cannot get lost at home.

Psychotherapy is as pleasurable as it is petrifying. And my bias wants to ensure that it’s a requisition for all of us. But I am still curious, still wholesome-in-mind. And I wonder, what do you think? Is it best to ‘keep the sound down’, to snorkel at the surface? Or to free dive to the depths of those unfeigned waves?

Jade Howe 

[email protected]

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