By the time I sat down to write this final version, I can confirm I have written 3 other renditions of this – all of which feel too personal and too graphic to post. But, I am determined to memorialise this moment and write something, even if it makes no sense to anyone else. Because at the end of the day, the purpose of my writing was healing. Be it my own or that of others, the purpose was always to heal, and I would be doing myself an injustice if I didn’t allow myself a moment of healing through therapeutic writing.
Earlier this week, I was faced with one of my biggest personal triggers at work. Though it appeared that I was the most collected and could be a first responder in the moment, I knew that I felt the way my blood ran cold, and the chill that ran up my spine, and how I dry heaved for hours afterwards. And yet, despite it all, I didn’t open up. Not to those who make me feel like I’m home, nor to the people who stepped in to support in the moment. And the thing is, it wasn’t because I didn’t want to feel. It was more because I didn’t know what to say. How do I even start? How do you casually say “so if I was a minute later, I would have been met with a body and not a person?” or “yeah, so I made jokes about how I’m a really uncool adult while the paramedics moved around us”? How do you say that without bringing a world of pain on people? How do you say that every minute of those two hours were triggering and you were transported back to your teens? How do you say that I know it’s the nature of my job to be in this situation, but it is terrifying every time?
And so, I did what I knew was right the next morning. I went round to thank all those who supported me as we responded to the situation the day before and expressed my gratitude for their tact and timely responses and the way we were all able to work in perfect sync. Once that was done, I went to see our in-house counsellor. For 45 minutes, I sat, I breathed, and I talked. For the very first time, the term ‘I’ featured heavily in this conversation and it was done so willingly. I talked about how each moment triggered me and how I knew that to be able to respond appropriately, I had to put the needs of the moment before my own. I talked about how my heightened sense of self-awareness often feels like a curse, but in this moment, it was a blessing through and through. I talked about how I related so well and was able to say the right things because I understood the story so intimately. Being able to talk freely was everything. For the first time, I wasn’t afraid of verbalising and naming the negative feelings, nor did I feel like I needed to squash any of what I was feeling and move on. For what felt like the first time in a long time, I felt like I could put things down somewhere and not have to pick it back up again before I left the space. I didn’t have to fluff the words or bubble wrap the edges. It was sharp, harsh, painful, and everything in between. But the skill of our glorious counsellor held it all without making me feel pressured.
I’ve seen different counsellors over the years, starting all the way back in 2012/2013, and with how poor my experiences have been, I had naturally sworn off of any form of therapy. Despite my friends asking me if I’ve considered therapy, I have struggled to tell them that it wasn’t something that I felt worked for me. But, it takes just one good egg to change the game. And my good egg has shown themselves and I am beyond grateful. It has given me the confidence to schedule regular sessions and be more willing to talk with those who can help me understand and stand with me as I swing open the doors I have bolted shut over the years. While I wish it had taken me less than 10 years to realise what kind of support I really need to thrive and grow into the person I know I can be, I am thankful that my heart is soft enough to cater to me now.
I know this post was entirely for me to memorialise this moment and acknowledge this step for myself, but in the same breath, I hope that you will be able to take away something for yourself. I hope that even if none of this post made sense to you, you will still understand that despite our journeys being so different, the thing you need for yourself will present itself to you when you are ready to accept it. And for those who believe in a Higher Power, take heart in the fact that when He wants to show you the way, all the doors you need will open themselves up for you.
Your journey is yours, and so is your healing. Do not allow others to place a timestamp on your progress. It might not happen today, nor tomorrow. Heck, it might not even happen in the next 10 years. But, it will happen. You will wake up one morning and you will be breathing a little differently because your heart is lighter and your body is not working as hard to survive. You will simply be living, and that will be everything.
For when you want to reach out to someone but don’t know how or where to go, the Student Union at King’s College London have created a handy document for those of us in the UK – please click here to view.
Sending love and light your way, always, in all ways.