It’s that time of year again, to expose myself.
DISCLAIMER: if you haven’t read Darkness to Light. Stop here and come back after you have. &If you already have, then I hope you scroll down and enjoy the read. :)
I booked an appointment with him one Monday morning many months ago. I was not hopeful, but I needed to know that I had at least tried. I remember praying fajr that morning and asking Allah to put an obstacle in my way if seeing an expert wasn’t for the best. By the will of Allah, on that Monday morning, my patience was tested, and I got delayed. My head was ringing DUA ANSWERED DUA ANSWERED. But in a few moments, I found my way, and I was no longer delayed. I persevered and made my way to my appointment. By the will of Allah, I made it to his office just in time.
I went in blind. I didn’t know what to expect, so I just dived right into the experience. My counselor asked me, “why I was seeking help” and I right off the bat mentioned it was solely for experimental purposes and he didn’t blink an eye. Then I informed him that I would prefer no medication. He respected my wishes, and we agreed to take what he thought would be the more efficient route, to cure my worries through cognitive behavioral therapy.
I started off by telling him something light. Like the fact that I use to call myself “a piece of shit” so often for simple nothings to an extent where I honestly wholeheartedly believed it. In addition to “a piece of shit,” I started saying “I should jump off a bridge” however, not as often. Again, I used to use these phrases for most absurd reasons. A pen, for example, would slip out of my hand and I would condemn my life to bridge. I was so angry at myself but more so at life, in general.
So, we had a pool of issues that all needed working on. For the most part, it was either depression or self-esteem or self-confidence. I love how he dumbed down the difference between self-esteem and self-confidence but regardless I, of course, choose to work on depression, my life long struggle. I took a depression test and scored moderately depressed if that means anything to you.
I was a bit wary at first as to whether I could trust him with the not-so-light-stuff and what he would do with the information I provided. I was open about this concern and to reassure me we went through the confidentiality contract in its entirety. However, I wasn’t mentally ready to re-hatch the past. So, I went home that day and prayed to Allah that he guides me to the right course of action. On the day of our next session, I still hadn’t come to a decision as to share, but in the heat of the moment, I opened up and re-lived my horror in a safe place. I remember the look in his eyes as if it was yesterday. Everyone who I’ve ever told has looked at me in a similar fashion: with pure sadness. And there I was smiling and begging him not to be sad, but he was only human. It was very assuring to hear a professional tell me that what was done to me was heinous. I mean I knew it was and the few friends I told did too, but he was a professional and his opinion outweighed theirs. That was the first step to my recovery; I mean speaking about it openly, being heard and not being pitied made such a difference.
I started to enjoy and looked forward to our sessions as he was very personable. After the unveiling of my horror, I’d like to think we had plenty of intellectual conversations on why I felt how I felt and how simple exercises could potentially rewire the way I think about myself. For example, regarding self-esteem, he tasked me to come up with ten compliments of myself and boy was that a difficult task. I came up with several negative attributes, and I attempted to justify them with a positive description. In a span of our one-hour session, I came up with only two. I guess I was more than harsh on myself and he understood that. He mashallah wal alhamdulillah, unlike me had several positive attributes to dish out about me. That session, he gave me an activity to practice. He asked me to say “I am [insert +ve attriute]” every night/morning before I sleep and when I wake up and to add one more attribute every day. I’m not going to lie, I thought it was stupid, but what did I know. I only did it thrice, and I honestly noticed an internal change. Around that period of my life, my 11-year-old cousin painted a canvas of the night sky with the quotation that “Zainab the Queen.” I hung it over my bed so every single morning, it is the first thing I see. At first, I didn’t believe in any of this but I do now, and I couldn’t be happier. These are two of the many examples that aided me in resolving my self-esteem and self-confidence deficit.
Nevertheless, depression required a more in-depth analysis. It wasn’t just one giant horrible calamity but with the addition of small terrible happenings. There was a lot of ‘stored’ tension, and I held more resentment than I knew. My defense mechanisms were always on the high, and I learned that by not forgiving my victimizers, ironically, I was causing myself more harm. Forgiveness is not easy for most, but it has only lasting positive effects.
By the will of Allah, with my constant dua and prayers for myself and by seeking expert help, I was able to overcome my life burden, and I was able to step out of the darkness and into the light.
By the will of Allah, on the last session, as a token of my appreciation, I got him the mug in the image on the left, and I explained to him that when I first walked into his office for experimental purposes, I expected him to ask me how I felt constantly. To my surprise, he never once asked. And it’s ironic that’s how we ended our sessions. And he answered “pretty good”.
Subhanallah, a few months after my first visit, I realized that I harbored all the answers I was looking for, I just needed someone to aid me to unlock those answers.