During the course of the month, I was able to identify a major problem, and all of a sudden, the way I would feel sometimes started to make sense.
The first thing I felt was relief, and I was able to understand why it is always a big win to identify a problem. It’s one thing to go through a cycle of emotions caused by not understanding why you feel that way, and it’s another thing entirely to find out the problem, because it’s easier to navigate, seek solutions and move forward. The only problem was that the way I knew to move forward, wasn’t something I was very much into.
When the first thought of therapy came to mind, I dismissed it with the same speed that a person would use to swat a fly or bee that was hanging around. Why did I need therapy, anyway? I felt like yielding to that thought was me admitting that I didn’t have a certain control over my mind. There had to be a kind of alternative for me to move forward. Besides, I didn’t think it was so much of a big deal.
But the thing is, if the way you feel affects the relationship you have with yourself, it is a big deal. Even after this realization, I was still very hesitant. I didn’t want to have to be vulnerable, not especially with someone I barely knew. However, vulnerability is not always a bad thing. I looked up what the definition of vulnerability is, and what I saw didn’t do any justice to what I mean at all, so I settled for one of its synonyms. Openness.
Relationships require openness.
In a platonic friendship, you need vulnerability to be able to open up and share whatever it is that you might be dealing with at a particular point in your life. In a friendship where I sense the other person holding back information, it is always a source of concern for me, and it never feels good. In a romantic relationship, you need vulnerability with your partner. You can let down your walls and understand each other’s feelings more easily. A relationship with God starts with vulnerability. You admit that you’re not perfect. You admit that you need help from Him. You get honest about your hurts and the things you’re not doing right (and let me tell you, He’s so patient). Vulnerability creates a deeper connection with Him. I once heard that every feeling humans could possibly go through is catalogued in the book of Psalms. David is an example of a person who kept it real.
In the same way, healing requires vulnerability. But first, you have to expose your trauma. It is why in order for you to learn to truly forgive a person who might have hurt you, it is mostly important to state what the person did and how it made you feel.
I feel very hurt/disappointed at [name] for doing [offence] to me.
Forgiveness usually becomes easier from that point.
But, I digress.
I figured that instead of fighting the idea of starting therapy, I should embrace it because that would be my first step to healing and recovery. Plus, I do have the Holy Spirit with me too.
The first time I opened up to a friend about my decision, one of the things she said to me was, “I’m proud of you”, and that inspired me to be kinder to myself. So, I’m proud of me. For finally being aware of something that has affected me for so long. Something that could potentially hurt my relationships with people. And not just being aware, but deciding to take this huge step in order to move forward.
When Fiyin told me she would be coming to visit me, I was thrown into a state of excitement and anxiety. The last time I saw her was six years ago, on the night of prom in July, and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Six years was a long time — how much had she grown as a person? What would conversation with her be like? We were best friends when we were nine years old, but we were in our twenties now and we had experienced life separately over the past six years. What if we had grown to be different people entirely who just wouldn’t be able to get each other? In what ways could I make her comfortable? Was she high-maintenance or low-maintenance? How could I make her stay here with me memorable?
The questions really didn’t see an end.
But as I’ve noticed, the things I worry about are just illusions. I can’t ignore the impact it has on my emotions, it’s so convincing and they distort the perceptions I have about the things I already know. But most times the things we worry about actually never happen, have you noticed it? To be honest, at some point, I strongly believed that worrying a lot was the key to stop bad things from happening because it just seemed to work ALL the time. I must confess that I still do it even when I don’t want to, because in the end, it’s just an exhausting vicious cycle that keeps me worried all the time and develops into a bad habit that keeps me playing the “what if?” game forever.
I don’t want to worry in advance about things I can’t control. I want to live without worry and fear of what will happen tomorrow. I want to be able to take one day at a time because truly, “tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).
Fiyin’s coming was what I didn’t know I needed, and it ended up being the best getaway I have had in a while without having to actually get away. Nostalgia coursed through me as we laughed hard about some events from our secondary school days and as we talked about past friendships and relationships. Looking back, we concluded that while being in a romantic relationship when you are a teenager is not bad— because we both had relatively good experiences — sometimes, it is just not necessary.
We are grown now, and being able to completely detach our personal lives from social media whenever we had to was one of the most beautiful things growth has done to both of us. It was also fun to tease her about her American accent— especially since six years ago (and for six years), we were together studying in Ibadan, Nigeria.
At the end of the day, everything worked out, and I just relished the time we had with each other. Turned out she wasn’t hard to please at all, so seeing movies late at night and having ice cream, calling a few of our friends from secondary school, using facial masks, filling each other in on what was going in our lives, making pancakes together and going out to eat once was enough for us to have the best time together.
Why did I worry so much?
This month, I realized that the emotions we feel are usually layered. So sometimes, the way we feel is embedded into something else. I have always struggled with not only processing my feelings, but also doing a terrible job at expressing what I’m feeling. However, thanks to therapy, I am learning to confront my own feelings, acknowledge that I feel the way I do, but then ask why I feel that way.
I watched an impressive video on Twitter where a 5 year-old boy was talking with his mom and telling her how he felt and why he felt the way he did— so articulately and more important, politely. He even apologized in the end! I was so stunned, but also somewhat embarrassed to know that there’s a 5 year-old out there who probably has more emotional maturity than some of us.