we all need it

The first time I stepped into therapy, I thought “I know I should be here, but I don’t think I need to be.” I’m no stranger to the importance of therapy. My mother, brother, sister-in-law, and close friend are all therapists. But I very much thought that this was something I needed to work through on my own. That I would eventually strong-arm my way through it. I just needed a little time. I was very, very wrong.

My therapist is kind and smart, and she was about to give me a wake-up call. She validated my feelings: “Bekah, that’s righteous anger. Something terrible happened to you and you want justice. That’s reasonable.” It might seem obvious, but it shook all of me. She told me that it was ok for me to be angry. It was ok to be mad at Dr. C– and the other doctors who rejected me. I was even justified in wanting to never see that doctor deliver another baby again. It was ok for me to want an apology. My feelings were ok.

I had thought I would need a couple of therapy sessions, tops. But brokenness isn’t simple. Guilt isn’t simple. Loneliness isn’t simple.

“Bekah,” she asked me one day, “When was the last time you felt safe?” I couldn’t remember. In fact, at every turn I kept expecting something bad to happen. I was waiting for another trauma. I was waiting for something worse. A misinformed defense mechanism. When my organs ruptured, not one part of me was prepared for what was about to happen. If I kept waiting for it to happen again, I wouldn’t be caught off guard. In fact, I started imagining it happened all over again.

I thought there was a hole in my bladder again. Logically, it didn’t make sense. I didn’t have a uterus or a fistula. But I was convinced that it was there. When I saw the gynecologist she said, “Let’s talk for a minute. I was going to call you last week to see how you’re doing. How are you?” And she meant it. She saw me in this moment, with my brokenness and she knew what I needed. This is a very rare gift. And it’s one of those things that I hope to be able to repay one day. To see the person who so deeply needs to be seen, but is afraid to open up.

She did the exam, and nothing was wrong. Nothing was wrong. But I didn’t believe her. I was waiting for the bad news. I was waiting to go back to that place of despair. But she could tell, “The chances of this happening again are pretty much 0.”

“But that’s what they were the first time.” This doesn’t happen to people. This shouldn’t happen to people. Because we should be able to trust our doctors. Because we should be able to trust our bodies. Everything I trusted had failed me.

“That’s different. There was a reason for it to happen. You had scar tissue and delivered four babies. It’s not going to happen again. You’ve been through a lot and you’re welcome to come back anytime you need to or think something’s wrong. It’s not a problem.”

And that was a start. A tiny part of me could trust a doctor. A tiny part of me believed that I would be safe. A tiny part of me started to feel the desire to fight.

But I wasn’t ready yet. I wasn’t ready to fight. I wasn’t ready to understand that I was never going to be the person I was before. I wasn’t ready to realize that I could be more, that I could grow and become a person who would fight for those around me.

I was lonely. And I didn’t know how to talk about that. But I started to feel safe again. And that was very much the point that allowed me to share myself, what some people would call flaws, what other people would call strengths–it’s very much about perception.

I’m still lonely sometimes. But understanding that the feeling of safety is so important to every single person’s journey has helped me to find very clear moments of vulnerability. And it’s in those moments that I grow the most.