It was a sunny Spring afternoon. I was in therapy with my counselor. It had been long weeks and months worth of heavy, exhausting, and painful therapy. Insecurities, wounds and fears were rising to the surface and purging through my skin. It was as though a bright light had come over me and shone itself on all of my pain. I couldn’t hide.
But that’s not what therapy is for.
Therapy is to un-hide. It’s to shed the layers and walls we put up. It’s to explore our own nature. Like many people, I’d become very good at numbing and running away from the pain. And if I wasn’t numbing or running away from the pain, I was completely covering it up only to drown in it later when I was alone. I felt the pressure to be perfect very strongly.
On this particular day, the jagged edges of my past were not digging into my skin. I felt a transformative energy rising inside me. Finally, I thought. The hard work I’m doing is paying off. The conversation between me and my therapist went something like this:
“Therapist,” I said, “You know what resonates with me?”
“No?” Therapist inquired.
“Diamonds,” I said.
At this point in therapy, we’d been digging through the debilitating beliefs I had about myself which had formed during my childhood. We all have them. My strongest belief was that there was something fundamentally wrong with me at my very core. Nothing about me was beautiful. Inside I felt like an abandoned cave. Not a beautiful cave where the treasure is hidden. The dark, imprisoning, sharp rocks kind of cave. I was ashamed of my existence.
“Yes, diamonds,” I reiterated. “I think at the core of our being everyone is a diamond. Pure, precious, unique. But so often we get covered up by the pain, wounds, and insecurities we experience through life. Many people miss this reality because when we look inside ourselves, all we can see are the things covering up the diamond.”
“And,” I continued, “We can only get to the diamond that is inside each one of us if we are willing to dig through the grit, dare to uncover the unknown beneath it all, and encounter our true selves. I’m the diamond in the rough!” I proudly exclaimed.
In this moment, I realized the lie I believed about myself being inherent garbage was complete trash. I had inherent beauty that wascovered up by garbage. I no longer felt the need to hate myself as punishment for my existence. There was treasure inside me and it was my duty to uncover it.
The word “diamond” comes from a greek word meaning “unalterable” or “unbreakable.” Although hitting rock bottom certainly didn’t make me feel indestructible, it was the journey of climbing up that made me realize my inherent worth is “unalterable” and “unbreakable.” As a diamond is formed under extreme conditions – excruciating pressure and heat – so often we are transformed most powerfully through extreme conditions that seem unbearable.
Not to overuse the treasure-map-cave theme (I’m a sucker for metaphors), but turning towards our pain is the map that leads to the treasure inside each one of us. We’ve got to enter into the pain. It’s one of the best things we can do for ourselves (only second to eating chocolate).
This therapy session was not one of the (many) sessions where I left carrying a handful of tissues, trying to look like a composed human being walking to my car. It was a strutting to the car thinking, watch out, world, homegirl is on fire and she’s unstoppable kind of day.
I will be the first to tell you that therapy is hard work. Healing is a lonnng journey. But it can be done by looking pain in the face, bravely, and knowing you are stronger. It’s trusting that the dark night of the soul is leading to a greater awakening. There is light at the end of the tunnel. There is a diamond in the rough. And that diamond is you.