As you know, I’ve been seeing you since the age of 18. I struggled with anxiety and depression throughout high school, but it was the first semester of my freshman year in college that my anxiety became too much. Juggling six different classes, sharing a teeny dorm room with a stranger, memorizing entire books and then being tested on them all while holding down a part-time job, college life quickly became more than I could handle on my own.
Therapy was free at my university and I gladly took advantage of it, as you know. Individual therapy, group therapy—I did it all for four and a half years (thanks, by the way, for letting me come so much).
I’m grateful I had the courage to ask for help and to start chipping away at some pretty serious hurt I’d been holding onto since I was a little girl. Because at the end of my Junior Year, the week before finals and the day before Mother’s Day, my mom committed suicide. And it was you who helped me cope with the ultimate hurt.
I’m proud to say that I’ve been seeing you all off and on since then. Well… I’m not necessarily proud that I still wrestle with anxiety and old childhood wounds and that, sometimes, I get so caught up in my own head that I need you to bring me back to the truth, but I’m not ashamed of these things.
The reason I’m writing you this letter is to let you know that you have literally changed and saved my life. You created a safe, sacred space that allowed me to be completely vulnerable, to share things that I’ve never shared with anyone, and to support me in ways no friend or family member could.
Through heartbreak, new loves and more heartbreak, the anniversaries of my mom’s death, celebrating new jobs, helping me cope with getting laid off from said new jobs, celebrating with me again when I had a new job 6 weeks later, allowing me to lay my burdens down—you have been my saving grace.
In addition to supporting me through the many ups and downs on my journey, what I’m most grateful for is your ability to see me and, in turn and more importantly, you’ve helped me to see me. This gift is one I am forever grateful to you for.
Thank you: for loving me when I couldn’t love me, for your compassion, kindness, love, support and encouragement for the last 13 years. I would not be the woman I am today if it weren’t for you being the women you are. Thank you for helping me to change and save myself.
(For Danielle, Cynthia, Candace and Denise—my saving graces.)
Author: Brittney Pappano
Editor: Caroline Beaton
Photo: Courtesy of the author