For the past four years, I have been in a committed, long-term relationship with someone other than my husband. Her name is Mary. She is my therapist.
I stumbled onto her couch in July of 2009. While I would pay good money to be a fly on the wall in our first session, I do have a vague recollection of what went down. I remember sitting in the waiting room angry, defensive and scared. There was no doubt in my mind that this therapy thing would be a one-and-done event. I was simply there to appease my husband and best friend. But the tide quickly changed when Mary opened the waiting room door. She oozed a certain kindness and compassion I had never encountered before. In the midst of what was one of the most frightening times of my life, she made me feel safe. And my one-and-done mentality, turned into a weekly concession of ‘Maybe I’ll come back one more time’.
So every Tuesday at five o’clock, Mary would greet me with a warm smile. I felt an instant sense of relief simply by having her across from me. Week by week, she patiently waited for me to come to the realization of my illness. She listened with a type of empathy and connected in a way I had never experienced. One hour each week, I finally got relief from the incessant and painful chatter in my mind. One hour a week, I felt safe. One hour a week, I felt a small sense of hope. There were countless moments where I was sure it would be my last session. I would sit in the waiting room going over in my head how I was going to tell her this would be our last session. Simply stating that I was not sick and did not need this therapy BS. I was positive therapy was making my life worse, that my life was better before we met. But my tune changed when I sat on that couch and not because Mary changed it, rather because she patiently waited for me to realize what she already knew. Damn that awkward therapy silence. Sadly though, one hour a week was not enough and I said a ‘See you later’ to my Mary as I went to treatment. Three months later, we reunited and that is a session I will never forget. I remember showing up with such pride in what I had accomplished and truly excited to recount my time in North Carolina. I knew there was more work to be done, but that first session back was hands down one of my proudest recovery moments.
Now, the old McCall would use this blog to give full and relentless credit to Mary and other professionals for my recovery. Not this girl. It is I who did the work. I who cried the tears. I who opened up and braved vulnerability. It was I who chose recovery. I chose freedom and I choose it everyday. Proudly accepting and proclaiming the credit for my recovery gives true testimony to where I am in my journey. It is not selfish or conceited to claim my recovery and my work as my own. It is the truth. And I know it makes Mary proud to hear me state such a fact. Many of us in recovery are givers and tend to take care of everyone around us. I have realized that taking care of myself and owning my accomplishments goes further than any over-thanking and giving could ever do. I also know that in accepting my work I do not discount the massive role that Mary has played in my journey. It is a simple fact I would not be where I am today without her. She has guided me into the light of recovery without ever telling me what to do or how to do it. Because of her kindness and patience, especially in the beginning, I stayed put on that couch. Her couch has seen me at the lowest of lows and played witness to the magnitude of my journey. If only that couch could talk…(well, maybe not, you know HIPPA, confidentiality, etc, etc)
Cheers, Mary, to four years. What a journey it has been! Thanks for sticking it out, supporting me and guiding me along the way.
Until next Tuesday…