When my father had first passed away, I used to count the days, the weeks, and the months. I would keep track in my mind of the last time that I had seen him and spoken to him and laughed with him. I vaguely remember when the one week mark had passed and I thought to myself, “Will this ever get better? Will I ever be able to close my eyes without crying myself to sleep?” At that time, I was in a dark, dark place. I barely spoke to my family and I would be in my room by myself for the entire day. I used junk food to cope with the pain that I was experiencing and would fight my mom on going to therapy because I was just in no mood to talk about what I was going through. If I was having a good day, then why should I shit all over it by discussing the elephant in the room, which was the fact that my father took his own life? I essentially viewed therapy as a chore, a punishment and another daily reminder. Almost one year later, I have realized that therapy has been one of the most helpful processes I have ever gone through, and I could not imagine the path I would be on today if I did not bring myself to go almost every week. My therapists have “saved” me from living an entire life full of misery. It took a lot of strength to allow myself to ask for help, but I am so glad that I did.
Why should you trust the process?
The day after my father passed away, my mom drove us to a joint therapy appointment. I walked in with puffy eyes, glasses, fuzzy pj pants, an oversize sweatshirt, and not a stitch of makeup on my face. I had gotten no sleep that night and had been crying since the sun had come up. My mind was running in all different places, but all that I knew was that I wanted to be anywhere but there. My body was overcome with so many emotions: shock, confusion, anger, pain, denial and sadness. Sitting on that couch, it was the first time where I realized that I was no longer part of a family of four. My family no longer consisted of a mother, a father, a sister, and a dog. Instead, it consisted of a widowed wife, fatherless twin girls and a bewildered dog.
During the session, my body was shaking and my palms were sweating. I was trying to muster all that strength that I had to keep myself from completely letting go. I was made to have thick skin and to be tough, but I just felt so weak. It was almost like I was living someone else’s life, thrust into someone else’s reality. I so badly wanted to believe that I would wake up from this terrifying nightmare, and that he would be home when we walked through the front door.
I was asked what characteristics and values that I would want to take from my dad and I said his work ethic. My father had built a successful business from the ground up, and he provided my family with a very privileged life. I never had to worry where my next meal would come from or if I would have clean clothes on my back. He worked so incredibly hard to make sure that my mom, my sister and I were happy and that is something that I will never take for granted. Most people are not as fortunate in life as my family was, and I owe that to him.
I was in therapy briefly for anxiety before my father passed away, but I have been in consistent therapy for almost a year now. I am stronger today than I ever have been because I have been able to break free of my comfort zone and open up about my feelings. In therapy, you are not judged by your emotions, you are not told how to grieve and how to act. Your emotions are not being put on the backburner until the person decides that they have time to talk to you. You are being put first and being listened to. You are the main priority. I would be lying if I said that I am always in the mood to go, but I never actually regret going. Somedays, I do not even talk to my therapists about the death of my father. Sometimes, I talk to them about school or work or just life in general.
Yes, it is nice to communicate with friends and family, but I have realized that I also need professional help and guidance. No longer do I feel so lost and so overwhelmed. I really do suggest trying therapy and if it does not work for you, then it does not work for you.