Ku Klux Klan members celebrating in the streets, the “alt-right,” social media racism running amok…just when I was about to end my therapy sessions, circumstances (national circumstances) pull me back in. Michael Corleone, do you feel me?
If you haven’t sensed it by now, it’s a good time to be in therapy.
What sent me (back) into therapy a year ago was a mixed bag, what kept me there was something bigger.
The following are 7 things I’ve learned from my time in therapy:
Hot corn chips have been not one but two of my friends’ go-tos in the wake of such difficult and emotional times as these. We all have our thing. And while hot Cheetoes have therapeutic qualities (and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies), they shouldn’t be confused with therapy.
Some seek help in food and/or sweets
Some seek help in a bottle
Some seek help thru retail
Others thru sex
Our addictions and addictive behaviors come in various shades and flavors. Sometimes it’s just easier to reach for a convenient temporary comfort instead of an uncomfortable long-term solution.
Therapy is most times inconvenient and oftentimes a very slow process. But my $40 per session with insurance is a lot less expensive than the above options frankly and there is no such thing as being addicted to therapy.
2. Our families of origin have left indelible marks on us that impact our relationships (in other words, our parents have screwed us up).
I am more comfortable being critical than I am with being affirmative.
My love language is physical touch and acts of service.
I struggle to verbally express myself to others.
…all of these things I learned in therapy and all of these revelations stem from my family of origin. I would not have known these things about myself had it not been for the work of therapy.
If you’re human, relationships will be an undeniable part of your life. We work with people, we live with people, and we socialize with people. We don’t always have the tools to maintain all of these relationships in a way that is harmonious. Therapy helps with that.
Emotions are not inherently bad, it’s what we do with those emotions that can make things difficult.
When Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, I had to go to work the next day and present as if nothing happened, likewise, when Andrew Zimmerman was found not guilty for the crime. …similiar responses for Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland…Donald Trump.
Trauma is not only something that happens to you, it is an emotion. Do you realize how many feelings we don’t process in a day?
Our culture and its stereotypes encourage women, the poor, minorities, and other marginalized groups to suppress our emotions.
Downplaying trauma isn’t a good idea. One of the many things I appreciate about therapy is giving myself permission to say out loud in a safe space, “I am sad about xyz” or “I am angry as all hell about xyz.”
4. Therapy externalizes the ish that goes on inside of you.
Along with honoring my emotions, therapy brings out some things I didn’t know was going on inside of me.
I remember being on the phone with someone one day and a simple question was asked. Before I knew it, I had broken down on the floor and was crying uncontrollably. I was in crisis and hadn’t even realized how far gone I was.
It’s just a fact that sometimes we aren’t aware of the impact of our feelings until we’ve hurt someone or hurt ourselves.
We are super complex beings with layers upon layers of experiences that have left impressions on us. Trapped feelings will come out one way or another. Therapy is a safe space for that chaos.
I fell for the okie doke this time around. I thought I was coming into therapy to work out some things in my husband and my mother…turns out, what they were doing was not as important as what I was doing.
Rarely do I realize how naturally inclined I am to initially blame others in my life when expectations aren’t met.
Sometimes we have good reason to blame someone for their behavior. In the end though, it’s what we do, owning our behaviors,and being responsible for that alone that makes the difference.
What’s great about therapy is that it centers and focuses on you, which as a result, helps your other relationships.
Have you ever been talking to someone and you know that they weren’t listening to you? Thanks smartphones! It takes patience, time, and care to truly be heard. A clinical licensed therapist has been thoroughly trained to listen, a skill that takes work. One thing I know for sure walking out of my sessions is that I’ve been heard and I’ve been acknowledged.
I once shared the taboos we have, particularly in the Black community, about going to therapy,:
…it’s not for people of faith, it’s a white thing, it’s for rich people, it’s for the weak, it’s for people with “serious” problems, etc.
Our taboos come from our lack of knowledge and related experiences. I have yet to regret the decision I made and continue to make to be open and to challenge my preconceived notions.
Sometimes life gets turnt all the way up. We don’t always have the tools we need to push through it. A friend once suggested to me to “lean into the chaos of my life.” I consider therapy my lean in.