My parents divorced when I was 12.
I started going to counseling when I was 13.
For those who know me relatively well, it might be surprising to you when I say that I used to be really angry. Screaming at the top of my lungs was a part of my daily routine. Blatant disobedience was my favorite pastime. Tuning out the world with my earbuds was my homework.
I was bullied quite a bit growing up. Nothing physical, thank heaven, but sometimes the emotional and verbal assault is much worse. As previously stated, I was even bullied at church. This caused me to be afraid to be myself, so much so that I eventually forgot who I used to be.
In my preteen and teen years, I found myself in tears almost every night. This came from a variety of sources: loneliness, anger, hurt, high school boys, etc. I was in awful shape.
I needed help.
But, despite being as broken as I was, I was also very stubborn and denied that I had a problem. Classic Kim.
At age 13 or so, the anger got so bad that I was screaming daily. At my brother, at my sister, at my mom, at myself. One day my mom had had enough.
“If you scream one more time, you’re going to counseling.”
I offered her a panicked apology and swore it wouldn’t happen again.
I couldn’t go to counseling. I didn’t need counseling, anyway. Plus, what if the kids at school found out? The last thing they needed was another reason to pick on me.
I was fine, right?
A few days later, I screamed again. My mom called that day and set up an appointment for me to go see a counselor.
I was mortified.
But I went, despite being scared out of my mind. I remember seeing someone familiar in the lobby as I was waiting, a classmate’s younger sister. Seeing her was weird for me, a mix of fear and relief. Fear that she might recognize me and tell her brother who would then tell my entire class and my dignity would be set ablaze right then and there, but relief that I wasn’t the only one broken. Maybe, since she was there, maybe it was okay to need counseling.
I was called back. My counselor’s name was Brook. My mom was there for some of the session, but then Brook asked her to leave. And then Brook started asking me tons of questions. And, slowly, I felt my walls crumbling. It took a few sessions, of course, but slowly I felt more comfortable with Brook and more comfortable sharing what I was feeling.
And then, I vomited. Right then and there. All the nasty stuff I had been harboring for so long projected out of my body and there Brook was, ready to catch it. Word vomit was something that was very new to me, but it was nice to finally be able to get some of it out. My feelings about school, the divorce, my brother’s disability, everything.
And after I vomited, I kind of felt better.
I only met with Brook a handful of times. Counseling wasn’t free, and my mom didn’t have a lot of money at that time. But that little bit of vomit that I was able to get out helped.
And I learned that vomiting is okay.
Sometimes the nasty stuff of the world can pile up inside of us, and in order for us to be ourselves and continue to grow, we have to get it out.
While in college, I kept meaning to go to counseling, but it never quite happened. My schedule changed so frequently and I was working so much that it was hard to find the time. Also, I felt okay. The trauma from high school had faded and I had started over.
But, because the world is messy, I still needed to vomit every now and again, so I turned to my friends. I had and still have some wonderful friends who are there for me at the drop of a hat. So when I expressed the need to vomit, they came running.
But I realized something.
Not everyone is designed to be vomited on.
My kind and loving friends wanted to be there for me, but they weren’t properly prepared for the vomit and it hurt them. It hurt them and my relationship with them. In some cases, I wasn’t able to remedy the relationship and I drifted from those people. I had put my vomit before their emotions. I had let it out before I made sure they were ready. I have my vomit, sure, but other people have vomit, too. And they can’t catch my vomit if they have their own.
I love my friends, and I want to ensure that they are in a good mental place before I unpack my baggage. I don’t want to hurt them or weigh them down.
That’s not to say that I can’t vomit on them. Sometimes, I can. But at the end of the day, there is only so much they can do for me. They are not trained to help me in that capacity. But there are people who are trained for that. And it’s those people that I save my vomit for.
It’s okay to vomit. It can help you.
Just make sure you’re vomiting on the right person.
I apologize if the imagery became a little much for you. I’m glad you were able to make it through. Here’s a picture of a cute boxer puppy to ease your stomach:
Have you tried counseling before? What was your experience?