Ever since I was in graduate school I wanted to have the experience of being a client. I remember sitting in my group therapy class and hoping that our instructor, a seasoned psychologist with extensive background in running groups, would allow us to have a group within the class- a real group. We didn’t do that and I was a little disappointed.
As I finished my degree, the voices of several professors danced in my head “you should have the experience of being in therapy if you are going to do this work.” But what would I say? Would my selected therapist feel like I was wasting his/her time? Would my insurance even cover my sessions? I pondered the idea and never moved forward.
A few years later, I was a mom and had a child with medical needs. I had just gotten back to work after taking time off to put all of my energy into caring for not just one now, but two little boys. My chest often felt heavy, my heart beat so quickly much of the time and I cried so easily. “I think I need to see a therapist” I told my husband. “Why? Are you not happy?” I told him that I was happy and that our life together was so good. We had moved through a challenging diagnosis that our first born acquired and he was thriving as was our second child. “I’m anxious. I can’t calm down.” He supported me and I begin researching therapists. I wish this was the beginning of my journey in therapy but it wasn’t. I exchanged e-mails with a woman who was quick to respond to me and so kind but after she verified my co-pay, I told her that we couldn’t afford this extra expense and that I would let her know if something changed. Quite honestly, we probably could have managed it but I couldn’t bear to burden my family with something so “self indulgent.” I needed to put my therapist hat on and figure this out on my own. I did, in my ways. I increased my self awareness, identified my triggers and learned about the stories that I create. I read and read and listened and listened to anything that would teach me more about myself and help me to move through challenges. I became stronger and more confident. I learned about the physical presentation of my stress and how to move myself through it. I felt proud of myself as I texted a friend to say, “nervousness presents EVERYWHERE in my body” as I sat at the magistrate’s office to fight a ticket that I earned but for which I hoped to be forgiven. I moved through my anxiousness, not by scrolling Facebook or checking Twitter, but by doing a body scan and sending my breath and love to those areas of my body that were tense.
But still, a few years after I first e-mailed a therapist, I still knew that it was something that I wanted to do and that I was worthy of having someone sit in a room with me and listen to my story, and not the other way around. It wasn’t self indulgent, but simply the next step for me in growing as a woman.
This was a little complicated because I have the best therapist friends there are and that limits my options. But, I searched a bit and found someone whose bio screamed to me “I’m the one!” I know it doesn’t always happen this way but that was how I felt. I contacted her and we scheduled an appointment. I have gone for a couple of sessions and I have been reminded of a few things.
- I don’t have to hit a bottom or be very close to it, to seek out help. Therapy is for people who are deeply struggling and for those who want to work through some tweaks.
- The first time is SCARY even if you are very familiar with the process.
- We all deserve to have someone who is for us.. who challenges us, who gives us a safe space, who isn’t invested in our life and decisions, who wants to see us thrive.
- That thing that you are pretty much over, you may not be. I learned this as a I told a familiar story and fought back tears.
- Talking to a therapist is different than talking to a friend or family member. I have an amazing support system of people who are wise, loving, insightful and who love me, and I found myself wanting to out to my therapist for an earlier appointment rather than phoning a friend or loved one.
I am proud of the work I have done in my own life. I am proud of the work that I do with my clients. And, I am proud of pursing work with this lovely therapist of my own.