I consider going to therapy a lot like cleaning out a closet. When you start therapy, more often than not you’re going in to a big mess of emotions and emotional problems. Just like having a messy closet.
The first step is just pulling everything out and looking at what you’re up against. This is the messiest part. Think of a time where you cleaned out your closet. It got messier first, right? Pulling it all out to sort through creates a bigger mess at first than what you started with.
But then, you slowly start rifling through everything and deciding if it should be kept or thrown out. Does this serve me, or is it time to let it go? You have moments where you find items and question why the hell you even own it in the first place or why you ever thought about holding onto it at all. Some items, you have a sentimental attachment to and it can be really hard to decide that it no longer serves a purpose in your life. And then there are items that do serve you and you hold onto them. Maybe you’ll find an old item that you used to love and you wonder how it ever got stuck in the back. This is true for emotional “items” as well.
You start to find traits that cause nothing but trouble and you address those issues immediately. With time, you start delving deeper and analyzing your behavior on a whole new level. And you learn to clear out and release that emotional baggage. And during this process you and your therapist will start to discover your strengths, and you find old parts of yourself that you thought you had lost. And it often feels like being reunited with an old friend or relative.
With time, you are eventually ready to put the remaining items back into the closet. And now you have a closet that is clean and there’s room to breathe. It’s all organized and a lot easier to manage. And just like a closet, you have to continuously work on maintaining the newfound organization and cleanliness. If you’re not careful, the clutter will begin to build up again. And with time, your needs change and what once served you may no longer serve a purpose in your life.
Therapy doesn’t have to be a lifelong thing, but you have to take the tools that you are taught in therapy and utilize them for the rest of your life or else you’ll end up right back to where you started. And there will be times where you backslide or have setbacks, and that is okay. Just pick yourself back up, and start cleaning that closet out again.