The most helpful thing a therapist did for me was to listen to what I was saying. I thought I was able to disguise my pain. I thought I was able to be strong and tough. I thought my humor and easy-going demeanor could trick people into thinking that I had a solid foundation. And I fooled a lot of people. But I didn't fool her. She never challenged me, but she heard the themes of loss and heartache and pain that undercut the image I wanted to project, and she helped me to see that I could tell the truth and still be safe.

If you saw me, you might laugh to think that I didn't feel safe, that I was scared. But I was. I was afraid of the truth. And in a different situation, I don't know if I could have handled it. There were a few months where I felt like my head was literally flying apart. Like, I felt like I could feel the wind hitting my brain. How messed up is that? And things jumped into my mind that would paralyze me, ugly memories of terrible things, humiliating things.

It's weird to think how much better I feel these days, how much more solid and more OK with myself. To me, that was possible only with the love and honesty of my partner, and the accountability that I owe her, and to the expertise of my therapist, who will always have a place in my heart.