I love my therapist, I really do. Even when she is kicking my butt in session and saying things like, “You’re never going to recover if you don’t allow yourself to feel out of control and open yourself up to feeling grief and sorrow and pain.” I wholeheartedly agree with her, but dang if it doesn’t suck.
We started talking last week about my engagement. For quite a while now, I’ve thought that I am totally over breaking off my engagement with the only man I’ve ever loved. I just, ya know, don’t date. And totally freak out at the idea of sex. But I am completely unscarred by that experience!
I left therapy last Monday and got drunk. Even told my roommate as I started on my second or third glass of wine that I was drinking for the sole purpose of not having to think about what we had discussed in therapy. My therapist had given me homework: journal about the pain of my engagement, the pain of the betrayal that I had experienced.
Well, screw that, I thought. Let’s have another drink.
I never journaled last week. I actually completely forgot about the assignment. But as I drove to therapy yesterday, I was thinking about — thinking about why talking about dating and “being liked” by a guy at church is so uncomfortable. And it hit me.
I like sex.
And I HATE that I like sex. It makes me feel dirty and shameful and like a bad person. I told my therapist that I understand that everyone has sexual feelings and this is not somehow unique to me, but I hate these feelings and it is so much easier to starve, run, cut them away.
As I was reading her what I wrote, I was flying through the words on the page. She took away my pen, which I was jamming into my leg rhythmically in an effort to not feel. She made me read it again. Slower. And again. She asked what I was feeling.
Any time I am speaking, my eyes are on the ground, or on my hands, which are hopelessly fidgeting. I look up only rarely, only when she is talking, not when I am revealing these horrible, disgusting, awful parts of me.
She tells me that the fact that I like sex is actually the most beautiful part of the story — that I allowed myself to love someone and be loved by someone and make myself vulnerable. She tells me that I am feeling shame and disgust because I am trying to block the regret, remorse, pain, and sorrow surrounding the experience. (For the record, I don’t feel any regret about having sex with my ex-fiance. Now, my coworker/supervisor — that’s another story.)
And it’s not just about this. I’ve been avoiding pain and sorrow and grief since she met me three years ago*, she says. (And for many years before that as well.) She admitted that it’s not fun to feel these things, that it’s quite awful at times, but it’s the only way to heal. It’s horrible and wonderful all the say time, she said.
I was reminded of Hinds’ Feet on High Places, where Much Afraid is shocked to discover that the companions the Chief Shepherd have chosen for her journey to the high places are Sorrow and Suffering. She’s sure that somehow the Chief Shepherd has made a mistake, that He meant to send someone else for her. But He didn’t.
In her road to healing and wholeness, she had to learn to befriend sorrow and suffering, to allow them to work the Shepherd’s purpose in her life and in her heart. She had to walk with them to reach the high places and to receive her new name and new life through the Shepherd.
I am Much Afraid, but I will take the risk.
*Yes, my current counselor is my counselor from way back when I started my blog! I adore her and I swear she just gets better and better. I was so heartbroken when she went on maternity leave and it has been so amazing to work with her again. She is not afraid to call me out on my crap, which I appreciate, but she is always so kind and gentle when she does it.