I am having a really great summer and I feel awesome about the way things are going in my life. However, I was still THRILLED to get an email from my original therapist that she is coming back from a leave. It was terribly difficult for me when she left because it was during a critical time. The nerve of some people to have a baby when I’m in crisis!!
Beginning therapy is almost like any other life relationship, there is a lot of nerves. I don’t know if I will like the therapist, I don’t know if I can fully trust her, and I don’t know if she will be the right personality to assist me in the ways that best benefit me. The big difference is that clearly these nerves are not reciprocal because I don’t have to worry that I am not supporting her equally or ensuring that I become trustworthy as a personal relationship in her life. Both of us are clear that the focus is on my goals and her expertise.
Finding out that she was leaving was awful because I had come so far, and to imagine starting over is horrifying. Thankfully, it was a temporary leave. And during that time, I had my group and was lucky enough to find a different therapist I liked nearly as much.
Therapy, for me, is refreshing and necessary. I know some people think it’s silly, for the weak, or too uncomfortable because it’s a stranger, but I just don’t feel those things. I really get a perspective there that I can’t get other places. On some level my therapist feels like a friend to me, but I know that’s not really true. And the benefit of that is she doesn’t worry about hurting my feelings. She can tell me in her therapist ways, or at the very least help me see when I’m being destructive to myself or to others. She doesn’t have to worry about whether or not I’ll still want to go out for lunch or to a weekend trip with her because she isn’t really my friend.
I spill my guts to her. Often, that feels like a complete release because I can leave the crazy, or the fear, or the anger in her office and she keeps it for me. She’s not attached to it, so when I return the next time to her office, it’s like she threw those things away for me and they are destroyed forever. I like that. Sometimes spilling my guts feels like a burden because she holds me completely accountable and checks in to see if I’m growing and improving. Friends will let some things go even if they know I’m just ignoring an issue; my therapist will not let me off so easily.
Now, I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I want to say again before going on that I have AWESOME, supportive, loving friends and family. But when I spill my guts to them, it’s different. Cuz…love. And with sexual assault, divorce, hatred, crazy, there is what I like to call residual stuff. So, maybe for some topics that is fear, discomfort, anger, or possibly even things like shame because they have their own stuff or don’t really know what to say or do about mine. And that’s all OK!! It’s just different than therapy where it stays behind if I want it to and doesn’t have to come up again or make anyone uncomfortable.
I have trouble saying this because I don’t always like it — I am a strong person. Sometimes, I think that means people don’t feel I need any help or support. What I’ve learned is that sometimes that phrase “I am strong” has just been my mask of protection. I know people feel that I am strong and independent because they say it. So when I have a major crisis, my brain has turned that into you can’t breakdown or be vulnerable because you are strong. And that isn’t helpful to me at all. It’s created a layer of fake. And that puts distance between me and those people I most admire, respect, and love.
So now it’s back to business starting in August when my therapist returns. I need to focus on rediscovering me some more and making the foundation of me even more stable. Because I am good. I am living mostly without shame now. I am hopeful and excited for the future. I am more me than I’ve been in a long time. I am navigating new love and it’s really scary and really fabulous all at the same time (that’s a whole separate post!).
I can do this. And that’s cool.