BY Grace Hallock @ The Cypress Counseling Group
In the counseling world, therapists have the privilege of hearing others’ stories--their dreams and deepest desires along with dark moments of heartache. Essentially, we hear the most sacred parts of their being.
These stories, as challenging as some chapters are, are as unique as a thumbprint and truly help define us.
Counseling is about gaining insight and understanding of our stories so we have better self awareness and self compassion.
Clients often wonder about my personal story and why I believe in the counseling process. I must admit, when I thought about writing this piece, the task of summarizing my story seemed daunting. I certainly can’t include the nitty gritty in 500 words or less, and like I tell many of my clients, I won’t be able to tie a pretty pink bow around it either.
So although it might seem tidy and contained, my story is its own organism, constantly evolving and often elusive. I’m sure that many of you can relate.
I characterize my childhood as somewhat broken and disjointed as my parents contributed to the staggering divorce statistics in the US. My circumstances left me feeling abandoned, neglected, and never quite good enough to deserve unconditional love. Little did I know that unconditional love can never be earned, just as God’s grace isn’t based off what we do or don’t do.
Fast-forwarding a bit to young adulthood, I (of course) thought I had it all figured out.
I vowed to leave my past in the past—or shoved back in the cobwebs of my brain—and focus on myself and my future.
My goal was to graduate college and break out into the real world as a successful, independent woman. And let me tell you, I was a complete control freak and still have to pull back the reins on my type A personality to this day…I’m working on it!
Then in 2010, the real world didn’t seem so rosy as I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I approached the “c” word as something to conquer, squash into oblivion, and basically check off my to do list. Surgery…check. Radiation…check. No thyroid function…not ok!! After I lost my thyroid, Pandora’s box essentially opened as I was met with a myriad of negative side effects, including severe anxiety, depression, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, digestive issues, and complete brain fog just to name a few. I had trouble functioning in daily life and would literally wake up in a panic and go to bed feeling like I just stepped out of a boxing ring.
The illusion I had created of my perfect, happy life was shattered, and when the cracks started forming in my very foundation, the junk I buried long ago came to the surface.
I heard once that it is only in the valley that the flowers grow, and I believe this to be true.
In my broken and helpless state, I sought counseling and was able to process through some of my trauma wounds. As time passed, I began to make positive changes and learned vulnerability, acceptance, and self compassion. I started to see myself as God sees me and was relieved that I could just be real, flaws and all. Though I’m still a work in progress, I look forward to a lifetime of learning and growing. I’m so grateful for the gift of counseling, and I hope to share that gift with others.