I play with sillyputty in the counselor’s office. I knead it over and over, pressing it with my thumb, rolling it into spheres, squishing it into cubes. I like it better than playing with the hairband on my wrist, like I always do when I’m nervous or awkward, like the way you fiddle with your phone when you’re unsure what to do. I don’t know how the words keep tumbling out of me, every time I come here. Maybe because I believe she really wants to listen. Maybe because she doesn’t mind that I’m a teary mess. Maybe because she doesn’t seem to mind… well, me. I don’t know how I have so much to say… well, actually, I guess I do. Bottling up nearly three years’ worth of emotions will do that to anyone. I talk about all the things I can’t talk about with anyone else–my fears, my hopes, my memories, my pain, my present, my past, my hidden places. I stopped talking a long time ago. No one understands me the way I wish they would. If you were here, I’d talk to you. But you’re not. So the words stay inside. The hour always feels too short. I can’t believe I’m saying that–I resisted going for so long. But I didn’t know how the release would feel like breathing clean air, how freeing it is not to be judged or squished into a box, someone else’s idea of me. It’s a relief. An exhausting, difficult, scary relief, but still relief. Being heard is sometimes the best therapy there is… besides dogs and mountains and prayer. Afterward, I treat myself to donuts, for the second week in a row. Did you know that you were the first, and perhaps only, person who truly helped me try to love my body the way it is? I think about that when I go get donuts, trying to do something kind for myself after I do something hard. I’ve been trying to be kind to myself in general. It’s hard. You were always so good at helping me remember. I hope you remember to do it for yourself too.