“The sculpture is already complete within the marble block before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.” ― Michelangelo
You can think of yourself beginning therapy as an unchiseled block of marble. Encapsulated in rigidity and chaos, you can't see your true form. In the right environment, the rough outline of who you are can come into relief in an instant. The first few sessions can feel immensely powerful because broad strokes are cut in raw material. It's exhilarating to see shape where before there was only rough rock.
Then, the work begins. You start your work so willingly, and then the frightening corners of shame with their little monsters and cobwebs emerge on the edge of the light in the shadows. You pause. You balk like a spooked Mustang. And a really important thing happens. Your strategies and defenses show themselves; some clearly, and others with the guile of a holy coyote.
The rough shape gets chipped and molded one brave trial at a time. Waves of dizzying heat roll through your body as you freeze before a dark corner. You stiffly point your toe to the edge, and the lip of darkness kisses the tip of your shoe. Your chest and face wash over with a burst of ice for an instant and then thaw into a sudden pool of calm as you pant and sigh out. It was only a child in there, in that darkness. You have been afraid of a child—a child who needs you.
You pull her into the light and awkwardly sit by her side, your backs against the attic wall. She looks down at her feet as you inspect her out of the corner of your eye. “Am I enough for her?” you think to yourself. And then your heart melts, and your skin shivers as she quietly tilts her body, leaning her head on your arm, still looking longingly at her turned-in toes. “I’m so lonely,” she says as her bottom lip quivers and a single salty stream meanders down her cheek. You say nothing as you feel the small darkness of a soul grounded too soon.
“I can handle this now,” you realize, “I can hold this child. I am more than enough.”
Gradually, you gather your children, wraiths, and heroes together. You now see the hidden orchestra of your wounds, motivations, and workarounds. Approaching dark corners no longer causes fear. Perhaps you have some momentary anxiety from time to time, but you work through it quickly because you know that knowing is so much better than pretending that no one can see you because your eyes are closed. Your work has changed. Piece by piece, you polish your rough marble outline into an exquisite shine.
And then, there you are, right here where you’ve always been, shining, reflecting the light back out so that you can be seen in your beauty, loved and admired. Now your work is brushing off settled dust, mending chips, and buffing scuffs. Occasionally, you add a little edit or a new fine detail or two, elaborating on the form that will always be you.