Six years ago, I found myself walking into the Julian Center, an organization that helps victims of domestic violence, and asking for help.
“I need to talk to someone,” I said, in a shaky voice, while trying to calm my cranky 18 month old toddler.
The girl behind the desk told me that there was a 12 week long women’s support group that met every Monday night and was led by a therapist named Dr. (I can’t say her name, so let’s just call her the name I’m about to say) Willis.
I had no idea what was about to happen. All I knew was that I needed to put one foot in front of the other and just show up.
But first, I had to meet one on one with Dr. Willis, so that she could listen to my story and become familiar with me.
I sat in a chair across from her in her tiny, dimly lit office. Dr. Willis was tall, exquisitely beautiful, soft spoken, and serious.
She asked me a series of questions, all of which I answered through blubbering tears, while the doctor maintained her serious, yet concerned, composure.
“I think you will be a good fit for this group,” she said. “I need to tell you that this is a women’s empowerment group. I’m all about tapping into your strengths and helping you build each other up. This group contains women of various economic backgrounds, races, and IQs. Everyone is very different, but you all are here for the same reason–to become empowered.”
I showed up to every single one of those 12 week sessions. Dr. Willis gave us homework every week, and I diligently did it. I was hungry for the knowledge she was feeding me.
After one of our sessions, I asked Dr. Willis for advice about a book to read. I named off about three books I had researched, and she listened.
“Emily,” she said, in her always composed, calm voice, “I want you to stop reading books for the time being.”
“What the freaking heck?” I said in my head, as I would never have dreamed of contradicting Dr. Willis out loud. “Stop reading books? Seriously? Books? Books are my fountain of knowledge, my support system, my–”
Dr. Willis interrupted my internal monologue.
“Those books are good that you named. However, I think it’s time you started to look within. You have all the knowledge you need in you to get through this. Allow yourself to trust yourself. You don’t need more evidence or research. Your feelings and your truth are enough to be your guide.”
I swear my jaw was hanging open. This was a first. No one had ever forbidden me from reading a book.
But this amazing thing happened, you see. I started to recognize that my feelings and intuition and gut mattered. I mattered. I was almost even beginning to show signs of trusting myself. I trusted God first, but believed in the signs shown to me, and that my knowledge was valuable.
And now…I have a confession tonight.
I’m writing this story because I need to hear it again myself. Sometimes I forget that I have the capacity to be courageous. I forget that same woman with a quivering lip and a cranky toddler who finally asked for help WAS ME.
And sometimes I forget that I have this built in superpower called intuition and self knowledge. I have it, and so do you.
Occasionally I will find myself scrolling mindlessly through my phone, looking for information on God knows what. You should see the weird sh*t I’ve googled–things like, “Did I screw up my child because I let her watch television for eight hours straight while I was cleaning the house?” Or, “How do I know if he’s cheating on me?” Or “What happens if my cat eats her own barf?”
If you are looking hard for information about how much you have screwed up your life, I guarantee you that you will find it. And you will find it everywhere.
This week, I’m challenging myself to stop the mindless scrolling and looking for articles on silly sites like buzzfeed or elitedaily for answers to my life. Let me tell you, it is a BAD habit I’ve formed that needs to be broken. Because 25 year old writer from elite daily named Jenny has no idea how to live my life.
A friend of mine reminded me today, “There is no blueprint for life.” So, on that note, I’m reminding myself to just show up, do me, work hard, and pray–not in desperation–but in thanks. Because I’m thankful that God has given me and you everything we need to get through this messy and beautiful life.