The Number One Lesson I've Learned in Nearly 3 Years of Therapy

I have a habit of waiting for epiphanies—aha moments. The notion that enlightenment will hit me like a bolt of lightning is certainly seductive, if not, perhaps, a misguided reflection of my creative process as a writer. Great ideas come to me in the shower; is it so crazy to also expect some clarity about my emotional wellness and place in the world as I reach for the shampoo?

My rational mind knows it's not so simple. Yet still I wait, often under the fragile guise of self-awareness. There's a lesson here, I wrote, zen-like, in my journal after a recent non-breakup breakup. Weeks later: Why can't I fucking see it yet? "I've overcome so much worse," I groaned to my therapist—we'll call her Amy—exasperated by my own stagnancy in the wake of a situation that didn't seem to warrant as much hurt as I felt. "Why is it so hard for me to move past this?"

Her rebuttal: "Because maybe the circumstances don't actually matter." It was the closest thing to the concrete answer I had been looking for, and still the wisdom drifted away from me as I left her office, like water trickling through cupped hands. It felt messy—because it was.

I've seen my therapist every week for nearly three years. I never anticipated this kind of consistency. In fact, when I first started meeting with Amy, it was with an expiration date in mind, even after realizing that I liked her more than anyone I had ever worked with before. I had just overhauled my life and moved to L.A., was dealing with persistent anxiety and residual body issues, and knew that it would be wise to have an objective person to help me negotiate this transitional period. I figured that once I felt more settled, we would part ways—especially since my past experiences with therapy had always been very short-lived.

Many, many months later, I feel more secure in my life than I ever imagined I would. The contentedness that had eluded me for so long—the kind that seemed only to belong to other, worthier people—has finally found me; or rather, I have worked tirelessly to let it in. I empathize deeply with the heartbroken, terrified young woman who moved to a new city in search of a fresh start, but I'm not sure that I totally recognize her anymore. I am different. I have grown. Certain areas of my life have fallen into place the way I'd hoped they would, for now. And still, I meet with Amy every Friday. Because for worse and mostly for better, "maybe the circumstances don't actually matter."