The most dangerous mistake you can make is believing that the work is done. That you’re healed. Self-actualized and safe from harm. Don’t you know yourself and your ghosts much better than that?
When I go into Dr. Carpenter’s office for the first time in nine months, the first things I notice are two thank you cards on her desk and a new pillow on the couch. It’s been so long since I last saw her that I have to fill out a new intake form—par for the course if it’s been six months or more since your last visit. The intake form forces me to rush through a litany of family history, personal trauma, and my current state of affairs. I’m more comfortable documenting the first two, but less so the latter. It feels like the world is always asking us for numbers and assessing us by them, and I’m not sure what to write when asked how to rate my happiness. The truth is I am on the couch in that moment for both what feels like one million reasons and no reason at all. But, something brought me back. So I guess it’s time to talk.
The high from last year came crashing down like tidal waves, and I did not properly prepare myself for the fall. Most days I am not sad, but instead feel in a state of flux. Transition. I feel far away from the person I used to be, yet still miles behind the person I want to become. And the blueprint for the suspension bridge from here to there is made up of cables that I can’t seem to find.
But, on some level, I know that I need a new set of tools. I realize that whatever it is that got me this far is not what will get me to the next place. Some things, some beliefs and some people only serve you for a season. That realization is equal parts beautiful and daunting, especially when you don’t yet have whatever it is you need to traverse the next overpass.
These days, love demands much more of me. My career requires a level of self-assurance and ingenuity that l never needed before. And my creativity is much more complex, far away from the days where just churning out any string of sentences would soothe my tender heart. I need empathy and awakening and deeper introspection. I need a life where my guard drops down and my hands lift up. I need the things that bring me back to myself after the wind whips too hard or my mind starts playing double dutch with doubt.
Maybe it’s the knowledge, even on the most marginal level, that brought me back to therapy, sinking into a couch next to the new pillow. Maybe by now I have learned how to recognize the need for healing, even before I’ve slipped on black ice.
Yes, my dear, the most dangerous mistake you can make is believing that the work is done. Don’t you know yourself and your ghosts much better than that?