What I learned from my first therapy session
I consider myself as someone pretty well put together. I’m genuinely happy, positive, and upbeat. I am confident in my abilities to figure stuff out and get things done. If I want to know something and can’t think it through, I’ll simply search Amazon. Oddly enough, this is exactly how I found my therapist.
Scrolling through books, I found one I thought might work and clicked on the author. She lived less than an hour away. Not one to hesitate when questioning fate, I emailed her. Less than 24-hours later, I had my first appointment.
Driving to her house (she works out of her home), I wasn’t nervous. This was a professional, I thought. Just like a plumber or mechanic. I outsource things I don’t know how to deal with, and the results is a much easier fix than I ever could manage on my own. The only difference was I was this thing I couldn’t crack. But at least I could admit it. I was excited to get some answers from someone better at this than me.
I pulled up to her house a little early. I didn’t want to bust in on another session so I sat in my car checking Facebook. There was a separate entrance with a plaque on the door. Another sign politely asked that visitors take off their shoes. Five minutes before the start of our session, I walked in and sat on the sofa. Something told me the chairs were for those with skill.
As I waited and hoped I followed proper procedure, I heard someone distantly talking in another part of the house. The office door was open but all you could see is a part of a hallway. As I heard the voice approach I kindly yelled, “Hello?”. “Helloooo-ooo!”, a friendly voice reciprocated. A beaming woman appeared in the doorway, a cup of tea in hand with the tag hanging out. There were three small steps to get from the elevated home hallway to the office landing. The woman proceeded to spill her tea everywhere as she descended, giving no notice or mind of what she had done. I immediately liked her.
She asked me about myself and why I was there and I just started. I’d never talked so openly about myself before. When you’re being analyzed (and paying what I was paying) you don’t want to leave anything out. One story lead unto another, and I brought up some seemingly distressful tales about my childhood. I actually laughed as I told them as if this wasn’t my life. Poking fun at my past was always good for a joke and false camaraderie. But when this woman listened to me she didn’t giggle along. She was sympathetic and somewhat stunned.
She was able to view my past as something unbiased and relieved from my own tainted narration.
It’s very poignant to hear your story told back by someone else. How they can hear the truth you’d somehow forgotten. The clarity you blur with self-preservation hits you hard. I reflexively began to cry as she acknowledged the hurt it must have caused. It’s only in validating the struggle that the victory can be appreciated.
I denied my victory because I denied my struggle. I didn’t want to be pegged as someone who needed to overcome something. I simply wanted to be. I was smart and logical not courageous and brave.
I left for college almost 20 years ago and live two-thousand miles away from home. The life I currently enjoy was made on sound decisions, not gutsy risks. I was good at school and sport so I used them to create some space. The place I imagined existed, just not where I came from. So I left, rather presumptuously, but also very sure. I did not consider myself heroic in finding my escape. There is nothing grand in separation. Why should I be heralded for relying on myself? Isn’t that what people are supposed to do?
I learned long ago how to keep my life simple. Never acknowledge how good you are or reveal what you can do, and your days will remain quiet and completely of your own design. Invisibility makes for invincibility. Less words about the hero makes for less calls upon the hero.
I knew this for sometime but now I understood WHY.
I created my own world out of necessity; out of being left alone. As an adult, the habit of keeping myself busy keeps being left alone comforting. It’s no wonder, then, why I have such trouble sustaining deep relationships. I ask for nothing because I need nothing. All boats float into the island, I just stand still. When the boats leave, I’m perfectly content. I beat my own drum softly so no passersby will yell they don’t like it. No one asks me to stop, just if they can join in.
It’s the perfect situation for someone simply seeking to keep playing.
Being excellent at self-protection and self-sufficiency, however, also leaves you void of true connection and vulnerability. I’m accessible to anyone but only at a certain distance. In not needing we’re not exposing, and you can only get so close to someone who won’t share too. We need a lack of terms and conditions to truly love people. More importantly, we need less regulation on how we should be loved back.
I learned that you’re never really ‘over’ where you come from and what has happened to you, no matter how sincerely you believe it. The affect is permanent. We were scolded again and again to “never tell anybody about what happens in our house.” The fear came from assuming that the truth being told would only make things worse. Kept secrets, though, only lead to shame. To accept yourself you have to accept your whole story. In being happy with where you’ve ended up, you must also acknowledge all the places you’ve been.