Worthful Blog

Finding Normal - Going to Therapy

Most people are resistant to the idea of going to therapy.

I was. I really, really was. I thought I could take care of myself. I was damned determined to take care of myself.

I did not choose to go to therapy, nor was I forced to. Instead, I was pulled aside by someone I knew who caught wind of something going on in my family life and offered me counseling.

And I very, very much did not want to do it.

But I did.

And it probably saved me.

My counselor did not know what she was getting herself into. She thought she was helping me deal with a specific family situation. My issues go far, far deeper than that. But she's stuck with me, for over a year now. Neither she nor I realized what I'd really gone through.

She was the only one who could point out to me that things I dealt with everyday were pretty bad. To me, they just seemed normal.

Over on The Controversatory, I wrote about how events become unexceptional with more and more exposure to them. And there I spin that as a good thing.

It is not always a good thing.

Sometimes, you need someone to point out to you when something is wrong.

Sometimes, you don't realize your normal is dysfunctional.

Sometimes, things go wrong much later than the actual, triggering events, and then you can't figure out what's wrong.

And it can feel stupid to be discussing something that happened years ago. But those events affected you. Those events trained you to think a certain way, and to react a certain way.

Therapy can look at past events you went through to see how it affects the way you behave today. It can look at what you're currently dealing with, and guide you to see where your logic or behavior may be flawed. It can also provide strategies to deal situations, such as how to communicate assertively and set boundaries. It can also be a place to vent, if needed.

It's not just some guy sitting on a couch, listening to you say how your day went, nodding their head and silently writing on paper.

It's not someone who says your martial problems stem from your mother only hugging you 8 times a day instead of 10 when you were a child.

It's not just talking to someone.

It's work. Hard work.

Well, I know what my issue is. I only want to talk about that.

Brené Brown gives an excellent TED talk on the power of vulnerability, which you can listen to here. (She also has a book, and a speech on shame. I recommend all three, once you're ready to start working on some self-compassion.)

When Brené when to see a therapist for her own issues, she said,

"And I think I have a problem, and I need some help... But here's the thing: no family stuff, no childhood shit. I just need some strategies."

Here's the thing: you're too close to your own situation to just 'get some strategies'. Whatever you think your issue is, it's just a fragment of the bigger picture. You need to see the whole picture to understand that little fragment. And you can't do that on your own, even if you are utterly convinced otherwise.

I'm too shy; It's too awkward; I don't want to talk about this.

It is awkward. It can be embarrassing. You will end up telling them things you've never told anyone else. You will probably burst into tears at some point.

There will be days you'll dread going; there will be days you vow to never go back.

But if you keep going back, it will help.

I haven't been traumatized or anything.

You do not need to be anything but willing to improve yourself in order to see a therapist.

Also, you might be wrong.

But it's OK if you're right.

I'm not bad enough to need a therapist.

You do not need to be anything but willing to improve yourself in order to see a therapist.

If you think you are on a bad path, it is better to start to see someone now. Avoid rock bottom; don't wait until you hit it. The work is a lot harder from rock bottom.

A lot of people have been through what I have, and they didn't see a therapist. I got this.

I'm going to question why you are reading this right now. You read this all the way down here. Why?

Do you want someone to confirm that "you got this"?

Do you want someone to confirm you're having issues that warrant getting help?

Do you want to get better?

I want you to get better. But it's up to you.