“Your situation right now seems, almost — delicate. Would you say that’s accurate?”
I sigh. Yes.
I agree with everything this therapist is saying.
I exhale relief at the sound of just the right word being used to describe my life at the moment.
I’m sitting cozy in my bed after a long day of work. I’m on the phone doing a consultation with the second therapist this week.
I want to get back into therapy and they all seem to want to do a phone call first. What are you looking for? What is your past experience with therapy? Do you have insurance?, are the main questions coming out of all of their mouths.
It’s been a year and a half since I’ve seen a therapist and I miss it most days. But the process can be heavy.
Trauma and anxiety and inner child work are not light topics no matter how bright the room or sweet the tea or soft spoken the therapist.
Therapy requires that you show up, physically, yes, but that you are totally checked in mentally and emotionally. I found it life changing and also totally draining.
I needed to take myself out of the comfy white chair in the corner of the room that I occupied for one hour a week and plunk myself right back into my life. I had to put into practice what I was learning in therapy and try my new self out.
For a year and a half, I put every goal and dream on hold to focus just on what my therapist and I had worked on. I couldn’t let myself be distracted. I was willing to do anything, because I had faced the alternative and wasn’t sure I could make my way back again. So, I slowed down, with the intention of living more authentically on the other side of this work.
And then a few months ago, I started feeling antsy. It was like panic at first but different. It wasn’t scary. It was excitement bubbling up. I had almost forgotten I had ever felt that way.
I was antsy for my life. The moving and shaking. The vast travel and the deep love and the overwhelming feelings.
But I knew I couldn’t jump back in. Those things felt like remnants of someone I used to be. I miss it but I quickly remind myself of the struggles that came with those days. The panic. The mayhem. The confusion. The hurt.
I feel ready to start living again but I can list 30 different ways that I’ve changed, so I know there is no old life to quietly slip back into. I must create something new.
At a crossroads, I start searching for a therapist. It’s time.
I spend my nights online searching. I make the most of my breaks at work and my long bus ride home. I scour the city and read profiles and reviews and LinkedIn pages for any therapist I can find.
On my second consultation, I’m speaking with a woman a few years younger than me. Maybe in a different life, becoming a therapist is a thing I would have done. She asks me what I want help with.
I tell her my tale. How I’ve put the majority of my life on hold while I got to work. I eliminated distractions.
Sometimes I think it might be nice to have someone sitting across the dinner table from me but I have banished dating from my life. My job drains me until I’m empty but I made a pact with myself that I would not quit it only to run out and find 3 new jobs to replace it with, thus perpetuating my cycle of busyness and avoidance. I refuse to move from my apartment even though I don’t sleep through a full night because of the traffic outside and the fact that the heater doesn’t shut off for the entire year. So I sweat a lot and I’m tired all the time but this is the closest I’ve gotten to stability in 34 years so I hang on tightly. I’ve blown up my life before, certainly and now I want to ask permission before I take a single step.
“Yeah. Your situation sounds, almost — delicate. Would you say that’s accurate?”
My life is delicate.
My stability feels delicate.
My progress, my sleep, my creativity, my needs. It all feels so god damn delicate.
Delicate, delicate, delicate.
The definition of the word delicate is ‘someone or something easily broken or damaged. Something or someone subtle, fragile and frail. Disordered. Needing special handling’.
Am I that someone? Is my life that something?
I had been using ‘precious’ to describe my situation.
Precious: of great price or value. Treated with too much reverence.
Are those words interchangeable after all? They mean the same thing in my head but the definitions seem to vary.
My stability, my routine, it definitely feels easily broken or damaged. That’s my fear. I need to handle this routine with care. I don’t want my living to mess up what I’ve created. I want it all. Stability and routine and disorder and mess. Harmony and balance.
Of great price or value. The safety and stability I have created for myself is of utmost value to me. But I’ve obsessed over it enough. I want to get back to my life.
“Yes,” I say into the phone, “I think delicate is exactly the way it feels. That’s the perfect word for it.”