I was scared
I was 30 the first time I went to counseling. I was scared. I told no one. I felt guilt and shame. But Blake and I agreed that this was probably what I needed. He did the research and found me a couple of options, but then I was the one to call and make the appointment. It took me at least a month of weekly appointments before I felt like I could even start to share it with a few of the people closest to me. And then it took a couple of more months for me to get up the nerve to share with my parents and ask them to provide childcare so that Blake and I could attend together.
My fears in attending counseling were monumental. What if there is something really wrong with me? What if people find out? What if people think I’m worse than I am? What if I am actually worse than I think? What if people assume my marriage isn’t good? What will this do to my reputation? What if I start counseling and have to go forever? How am I going to find the time and the money to go to counseling forever? Is my life always going to be sad?
Yet despite all these fears, there was an even greater fear that drove me there. I was afraid of living in fear, and anger. I was afraid of being controlled by my emotions. I was afraid of never being good enough, and not knowing how to get to the other side. I wanted to be emotionally healthy and not just have a facade that felt like it was either shallow or about to crack. I wanted to experience the peace and joy that I had heard about. I wanted to believe that God had more for my life than anxiety, fear and exhaustion. I was afraid of missing my life, my actual God intended abundant life.
Since I began the journey of healing through counseling almost 14 years ago, it is now so much less scary. I wish that someone had normalized counseling for me in my 20’s. That this isn’t something for the broken, but something that takes courage and can be one of the greatest paths towards health, wholeness and intimacy with God. I wish someone had told me I wouldn’t have to go forever. I wish someone had told me to be patient with the slowness of change. I wish someone had told me that it would be the most worthwhile investment I could make as a wife, a parent, a friend, a daughter and a follower of Christ. I wish someone had told me that the hard work, and pushing through the uncomfortable, and the tears and frustration and financial investment were all things that were bringing longterm change, peace and good growth in my life.
I’m currently back in a season of attending counseling regularly and I still get afraid. What if I’m found out? What if I’m actually a fraud? What if I’m just wasting my time and my life? What if I do all this uncomfortable stuff for NOTHING? The Good news is that the farther I get on this journey, I’ve noticed I have also developed some resilience in my fear. Doing the hard thing, and pushing into the uncomfortable, develops a confidence. I can do hard things. I can overcome my fear. I know what it’s like to tackle lies, and doubt and stuck places. I know that the investment in growth is forever, and it’s worth it. So when I act in an unhealthy/ unhelpful way in a situation, or I experience an emotion that does not fit the circumstance I know it might be time to dig in and get some help.