Just sitting here, like the classy broad I am, putting on my makeup in the Sonic parking lot before I go to counseling. You know how it is, right? Haa.
So: how do I even begin to talk about being in therapy? Eek. It sounds so heavy. It sounds so…cosmopolitan? Shouldn’t I be living in some big city and getting drinks with the girls on a weekly basis before I’m qualified to have a therapist? Shouldn’t I have real problems?
For the record: I have always believed therapy/counseling are great treatment options. I believe strongly in getting help when it’s needed, knowing your demons, and the power of being able to speak openly and authentically about my own fears. The funny thing is that I didn’t think I needed therapy, because I thought I had a really good handle on all those things, all by myself.
Yeah, I didn’t.
About a year ago, my marriage hit a rough patch, and it took some serious humility for me to admit that we needed help to get through things. I’d always thought Justin and I were good communicators, and relatively, we are–but we had some weird things going on, regardless. It turns out that I am amazing at shoving away unhappiness before I really know what it is, burying it deep, and pretending to myself that I’m perfectly fine. Also, I have been doing that for at least 10 years. WHAT. ON. EARTH. It took getting a third party involved for me to see some of the funky things I had been doing, and I’m still not great at recognizing what I’m feeling, in the moment.
Yes, I’m a weirdo. Yes, I’m OK with that.
During the toughest part of this whole period, I also started seeing the counselor by myself once a month. I had some traumatic things of my own going on that were only sort-of related to our marriage, and I needed to dig through them. I’m still working on those things. Honestly, every session is a revelation to me. I usually go in with absolutely no idea what I want to discuss, and nothing upsetting me or nagging at me. Then almost magically, at some point within the first few minutes of innocuous chatting, something triggers a conversation that inevitably leads to a breakthrough moment regarding some issue I didn’t realize I had: I have boundary issues and I’m not good at saying no. I don’t want to disappoint people. I’m terrified of being vulnerable. I’m hugely averse to feeling pressured in any way. Conflict distresses me.
It’s crazy to me that, as well as I feel I’ve always understood myself, I didn’t know these things. The best part, though, about seeing a therapist, has been getting to the bottom of why I have these patterns and reactions, and learning to change them. I posted yesterday about balance, and making time in my schedule for these visits with my counselor has so helpful in finding that balance. I believe strongly that a healthy person is healthy not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well. Putting my mental and emotional health first has helped me to feel so much more whole and capable.
So. I guess this is just my little plug. Maybe you’re not feeling depressed, or anxious, or in crisis. But if you’re thinking you could use a little help, just know that I think a good counselor is well worth the money (particularly if your insurance covers it). And even if you’re not in need of therapy: make your mental and emotional health a priority. Take a break from the stresses of life. Make time for a relaxing hobby. Take a leisurely walk or a long bath. Meditate or pray. Write in a journal and get some of the jumbled thoughts out, for good. Breathe. And know that you are important.