I felt a sort of euphoria today.
Almost no one knows this about me but since mid-November, I’ve been going to a counselor/therapist at my school and it has been one of the greatest things I have ever done. The first few sessions in November and early December were more so intake sessions where they got all my history and background. This week, I started my therapy sessions that will continue throughout the semester.
My case was transferred to a new counselor and today, I had my first real session. I was nervous about it all because I didn’t know what to expect from a new counselor and honestly, therapy is scary – you never know what might be uncovered during the session.
But today’s session was so amazing. I left with a smile on my face and a whole new understanding of myself.
Truth is, I’ve been blaming myself for everything for as long as I can remember. I’ve blamed myself and taken the blame for things that I had nothing to do with. Whenever anything bad happened, I automatically took the blame for it. The second anything went wrong or anything negative happened, I started to blame myself. In turn, over the years, I’ve started to hate myself. It’s awful feeling so many negative feelings about yourself but I thought I deserved that too – as if that was my fault as well.
The reason I did all this is because it gave me control. It gave me control over something to balance everything I had no control over. It’s terrifying having no control and to cope with that, I started to take blame. I would think things like, “I’m not enough” and “I deserve nothing,” and “Everything is my fault,” and “Nobody wants me in their life” and “No one cares” because it gave me control and that was the complete wrong way to go about it all. But in the face of hurt and pain, instead of talking about it or working through it, I just took it all upon myself and it took a major toll on me. Imagine blaming yourself for everything for so many years and starting to hate yourself for so many reasons – imagine the pain that causes, and that in turn makes you blame yourself even more. Talk about a vicious cycle.
Another thing about myself that I learned about myself is something that fascinated me; it’s something that made me realize my character. After I had been talking through so many things for about 35 minutes, my counselor said, “From what I can tell, you are not the person you think you are – you are such a selfless person. Look at this, you’ve been hurt in the past and you are hurting so much right now and yet, you haven’t said one negative thing about anyone. There are so many people in your life, in your past and present, who have wronged you and who are hurting you right now and you have nothing negative to say about them?” and I thought about it and she was right. In all the sessions so far, I haven’t bad mouthed anyone, I haven’t said hurtful things about anyone, I haven’t put anyone down. And that’s because that’s the person I am. That’s who I am. When it comes down to it, I won’t highlight someone’s flaws, especially someone I care about. That’s my character.
Something else is that what I give, I don’t really get back. I’ve always felt that way. In the past and presently, I have tried to be the bigger person. I apologize, I forgive, I try to honor my promises and I try to be better. But what I give, how much I give, I don’t get back. What I do for others, what I am willing to give to others, especially those I care about, I don’t get back from them – whether that be attention or affection or care or time or energy or effort, it’s always me putting in more. When that happens, I go back to my ways and blame myself; I must not be enough, they must not care about me, I must not be loved, etc. Now that’s a vicious cycle.
My counselor listened to me talk and then said a quote by an old philosopher, Hillel, in which he says, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I?” and it summed everything up for me. It’s a conundrum, isn’t it? If I’m not selfish and only all about myself, then who will be for me? But if I am selfish and only all about myself, then who I am? This is how I’ve lived my life for so long – with no balance between selfishness and selflessness. I’ve been so unbalanced that I’ve lost my sense of self. I never found the balance of being selfless for others and of being selfish for myself. That’s why I give so much and do so much for others and I go out of my way to do whatever I can for others but then I don’t get the same in return and blame myself and begin to hate myself.
So in 35 minutes, my counselor learned more about me than I have ever been able to.
By the end of session, I was making jokes and laughing about things and she said, “I can see who you are, Atiya, and I think people in your life see who you are too, and I hope, with time, you will be able to see who you are as genuinely as you are. Let’s work towards that.”
And I left the office with a smile on my face. I went on a long drive with the windows down, music blasting, and a big smile on my face.
Because I am who I am and I’m learning to love myself for who I am.