Change Rarely Comes from a Place of Comfort...Alaina
Before this program, I had lost myself in the story of sorrow. I slept alone on the bathroom floor more often than I did in my own bed and had repeatedly shown myself a cruelty I didn’t know I was capable of. I felt like my brightest day was still duller than my friends’ darkest days. I wanted to trust so badly, but found myself living in a state of perpetual self-defense. My mind was focused on worst case scenarios and emergency exits. Before this class, I could count the number of times I’d cried in front of others on one hand. My existence was linked together with shame and it was exhausting. I was taking up space and feeling guilty for it. I was settling for a life I didn’t want but thought I deserved. I didn’t know how to open up to anyone and if eyes are the windows to the soul, I had shut the blinds and turned out the lights. I knew no enemy greater than my apathy. I shut out emotions and refused to feel them. I told myself it was the only way to survive and maybe at the time that was true. I thought to know me more was to love me less, so I kept to myself. I was convinced I was just dealt a permanently horrible hand in life and someone was bound to receive it. I was wrapped up in my identity in extreme anxiety and debilitating depression. I tricked myself into believing I would always be this way no matter how hard I’d try to change things. This hopeless attitude that I held was so ingrained into my brain that I treated it as absolute fact and left no room for debate. I spent a lot of my time running away. Running from thoughts, feelings, memories and people. I avoided them the best that I could and that was how I controlled those situations. I felt myself slipping through the cracks in the mask I’d carefully created for others as well as myself. I needed to get better but the thought of stability terrified me, because I had no idea who I would be under all the layers of hurt, misfortune, and heartache. I was comfortable in my despair because it was familiar and from there I made a home in my suffering. When I was a teenager, it felt very revolutionary to be cruel to myself, like some kind of slow passive protest against how much everything hurt. I thought to speak negatively about myself was humility, but it wasn’t, it was humiliation and I thought sealing myself away from humanity was self-preservation. I starved myself of sleep and food and tenderness because it felt right and just. It felt angry and sharp and radical and I wanted to be those things. I romanticized the melancholy in my misery and I allowed myself to be silently devoured by the flames for so long and I thought to myself, what a lovely way to burn. AFTER IOP - at some point during this class, it all clicked. I allowed myself to cry and it started to make sense. I saw things through a lens of compassionate curiosity and I learned that it was okay to let people see you ache sometimes. I realized that the world already works pretty hard to cut into you, long before you learn how to do it on your own. The therapists here provided a safe place for me to drop my baggage and heal. They showed me empathy, something I wasn’t used to receiving. Without this class, I wouldn’t have been able to confront the faces I refused to see in the mirror. Now I can acknowledge, accept and even embrace them. Even if I was dealt a bad hand in life, I still have the option to play it out the best I can. My current situation is not my final destination and I will continue to keep moving forward. Looking back and seeing the tools I’ve been taught, I feel like I can confidently say that I trust one day I’ll be able to wear it all on my sleeve and I will word things just right. I sleep heavily now, knowing the past is gone and cannot harm me anymore. Even though the future approaches quickly, it will always settle in as the gentle present, just as it always has. I can cope with that. I have so much gratitude and love in my heart that words still seem inadequate. TO ANYONE THINKING OF STARTING THE PROGRAM: Do it. I thought I would go through this class with my head down and my mouth shut. I would take notes and that would be it, but that is not what this program is. You will encounter fear and anxiety head-on, but you are never alone in the process. These people genuinely care about you. You will be pushed, but you always have a choice. Just remember that change rarely comes from a place of comfort. You are capable of much more than you think you are and sometimes it takes a room full of strangers to show you that. The people in this class, the therapists… they see you. Regardless of where you’re coming from or what you’re brining, know that you are seen and you are heard. There is spoken love here that has no strings attached. Everyone you meet in life is going to teach you something no matter how small and the therapists here will teach you things that would be enough to cover multiple lifetimes. You will feel for the people here and they will return that kindness even if you see yourself as undeserving of it.
-Alaina S., 10/17/2019