It is brutal work ******* < - > ******* beginning
It's probably why so many beginnings sit, deferred like, in a place of dormancy, somewhere in the margins of our lives. I think it is the biggest paradox a person brings into the counseling relationship - an aching for something to be different about their lives - which typically takes the form of an unfulfilling relationship - with one's past, with a substance, with a person, with oneself, with the present, etc. So many possibilities. The wish for difference, for pain removal, for change. And yet, in most cases, the only one in the room with me is the person of the client, carrying the weight and complexity of their story. Including the parts that remain unexplored or disguised in denial. When a person meets with me for the first time in therapy, I often explain to them that the change they yearn for has more to do with them than it has to do with others and that growth becomes possible when a person is willing to look within. As opposed to without. [I recognize though both worlds are important - the landscape of one's interior world and the challenges that exist, externally.]
I think a person has begun the work of change and growth long before the first appointment. The desire for something different is a powerful prerequisite for beginning. Those forces for change, often rooted in challenge, creating the disequilibrium necessary for asking oneself the difficult question of, "Am I living my life in a way that is truly authentic and satisfying?" It's life changing really. Or life awakening. The stuff of beginning.
[I'm back in memory - I am a small child and it is summertime. I have been working through my resistance to learning how to ride a bike independently and without supports. My father has been helping me, pushing me back and forth, running up and down the street adjacent to our home. We do this for several evenings. Until somehow I / we decide I am ready. Ready enough. We go on a family bike ride; my two older brothers, parents and me. I watch, as my family descends, one by one, down what appeared to be a steep grade; I hold my breath, clutch my knees against the frame of my bike and push forward, feeling the air quicken against my face. I think my eyes were both open and closed. I freeze up and veer directly into a row of tall bushes, parallel to the path and miraculously pass through with the sheer force of inertia. Exiting, I immediately fall over onto an area of dirt and mulch and begin to cry. My father returns, picks me up and asks if I am okay. I can tell he is scanning me for injuries. I notice some markings on my knees and arms and can feel a stinging sensation on my forehead. I remember wanting to feel brave in the presence of my brothers. I got back up, with support, and began pedaling again, cautiously, remaining on flat surfaces as we looped around our neighborhood. Where was the beginning in all of that? Was it the feeling of wanting to glide through the air on two wheels without support? Was it the seizing up sensation when I became afraid? The getting back up? The bravery in crying in front of my father? The trying again? Was it in my cautiousness? My recognition of the need for support when doing new and unfamiliar things? The courage to learn what I could be capable of? Embracing the need to fall and sustain injuries? And to be taken care of? There was so much a process in all of that beginning.]
Life. Growth. Becoming oneself. Authenticity. Stepping away from facades. Being brave. Stepping into one's feelings and experiencing all that one is and may be. Doing the difficult work of exploring the depths of one's interior world, like an underground cenote, miles and miles deep. Trusting oneself. Trusting another. Opening to the mystery of the unfolding nature of one's life. Allowing for meaningful support. Letting oneself be seen in his/her/their truth. Radically altering pre-existing notions around the boundaries of possibility. Re-authoring a life. Embracing fear against the comforting edge of support. Accessing more and more of who and what you are and leaning into the wisdom of your life. All of this. The work of beginning. I like to think that as a person who is willing to work on himself and as a helper, I have gifts and resources to offer in those places in your life that yearn for the depth of something more.