Reflections on 2015: What Therapy Taught Me

Over the course of my junior year, I learned a tremendous amount about myself.

While in Scotland, I found a balance that I’ve spent the last twenty-one years searching for. I found friends that made me laugh until my stomach ached and man who loves every part of me, all while managing to perform well academically, without feeling as though I was sacrificing anything. I felt as though I had morphed into the absolute best version of myself.

However as my days at St. Andrews came to a close and I returned to William & Mary in January of 2015, the new and improved me that I had cultivated over countless pints of cider and containers of “cheesy chips” failed to thrive. I found myself feeling like an outsider in a place I once called home. Suddenly, I was spiraling out of control. My grades were slipping, I felt as though nothing I did was good enough, and I struggled to convince myself that it was worth it to get out bed each day. After a rather public, snot-filled breakdown in the library, I swallowed my pride and admitted to myself that I couldn’t cope with how I was feeling on my own. I needed help. 

Throughout my time in therapy, some of my deepest sources of pain bubbled to the surface. I was forced to face my own flaws head on and work to relinquish their hold on me. For months, I grappled with my crippling fear of failure and tendency to disguise any shred of negative emotion with the flash of a smile or the crack of sarcastic joke until I finally realized that wanting to do my best should be synonymous with happiness, not perfection. 

Although my GPA did not reflect the breadth of knowledge I acquired over the course of that academic year, I feel as though everything I learned about my own strengths and weaknesses is far more meaningful than anything I could have read in a textbook. It’s hard for me to even picture the nervous girl I was back two Septembers ago, plopped on the floor of a JFK terminal, anxiously awaiting the start of my journey across the pond and frankly, I’m okay with that. I firmly believe that I came out of this year a stronger and happier person who is far better equipped to tackle the world around me.

Yet Another Reminder of How Quickly Time Passes

This past Tuesday, cancer touched my life yet again and took my beloved dog Macy from this world after an 8 month battle and I cannot begin to express how much I am hurting.

Although I knew that the end was near, nothing could prepare me for the pain I feel without her by my side. It’s simply not the same to come home and not be greeted by gleeful whimpers and vigorous tail-wagging. My home feels empty without the sounds of her paws tapping on the hardwood floors and the jiggle of her ID tags on her collar, as she chased her feline sisters, Chesse & Zena. To put it simply, I would do absolutely anything for more time with my Macy.

It seems like yesterday I was sitting in my fifth grade classroom, counting down the minutes to when my mom promised to go pick up our new puppy, Macy from my neighbor’s makeshift animal shelter in her home. It was a cloudy February afternoon and I was absent-mindedly coloring my pencil box and I staring at the clock, anxiously anticipating the arrival of 12:15pm. It was at this time that I leapt out of my seat and shouted “I officially have a dog!” which of course, cost me at least 10 minutes of my recess.

Despite how vivid this memory is in my head, the fact of the matter is that this day was nine and a half years ago and now all I’m left with is a tin full of her ashes and a hole in my heart that seems to widen every time I remember all of the good times we shared together, as well as all of the difficult days she helped my family and I through. You see, it was Macy who stayed by my mom’s side through her battle with breast cancer, that began just two months after we welcomed her into our home. It was Macy who nuzzled her face into mine to dry the tears I shed over the passing of my grandma, just three weeks into my freshman year of college and above all, it was Macy who loved us unconditionally from the minute we brought her home to the moment of her last breath in this world.

Her passing has provided me with yet another reminder that nothing lasts forever. Although, its hard to remember days before Macy or Chesee and Zena (who are 13 and 12 years old respectively), unfortunately, days without them will come. This same notion goes for my parents, my friends, and everything else that I love in this world, and frankly, that’s a pretty tough pill to swallow. However, instead of dwelling on the the fact that loss and pain are inevitable in this world, Macy has reminded me that I need to focus on living one day at a time and truly appreciating all that I am blessed with.

With all that in mind, the only thing there’s left to say is rest in peace, Macy girl and thank you for showing my family and I nothing but love while you were here in this world. I love you.