My therapist and I were reminiscing last week about the good ol' days when I started with her. I kept therapy a secret, because, you know #shame, and we were laughing about how much has changed.
Oh, I'm sorry, did you just dry-heave because I said I have a therapist?
Okie dokie, so let's just iron this out for a hot minute. It'll be short and sweet.
Therapy is one of those words that makes our butts pucker. There are still a few things in this modern world that give us that reaction, aren't there? *Shockingly* they are usually things that we know little about: mental health; race relations; sexuality; gender affiliation; Kardashians.
Let me draw you a diagram about how dumb this is:
Ignorance = fear
Fear = separation
Separation = stigma
Stigma = ignorance
It'sss the cirrrrcllleee of liffffeeeeee.........
We soooo love thinking that we can figure everything out on our own and that going to a therapist or counselor or coach means that we're some kind of flawed/horrible/unlovable monster. We think that suffering alone makes us strong, and that seeking help makes us weak.
Mmmhmm. How exactly is that working for you?
i just want to add that all of the things you think you're hiding because you're being "strong", are total BS. We don't really hide things as well as we think, and everyone can see when you're a mess. If it's not being on a terror alert orange list at you local bar for getting drunk and starting fights, then maybe you're the person that sped up on the highway just to flip someone off. If you're not that person, maybe you keep crying when you hang out with friends because you just "know" they only invited you out of pity. Or maybe you are literally counting down the minutes until you can drink a whole bottle of wine and forget that thing your boss said. Maybe your stress-induced dementia made you leave the stove on. That's just the tip of this little iceberg.
This isn't "weakness", duh. It's life crap, and there are like a kajillion people out there whose only wish in life is to help you iron it out.
I. Am. Not. One. Of. Them.
I am not a professional. I am not qualified. I have big hair, I like DeFazio's pizza and I'm funny-ish. But I do have going is that I sure have done this work. I think connection is everything, and I want to hear everyone's stories...but your family, your friends, and your local neighborhood Broad are not equipped to handle the stuff we should all be saying to a therapist.
I believe in this work, and look me in my Linda Carter-esque eyes and hear me: If I can do this, literally anyone can.
When I hear my fellow therapy pushers, I often hear the phrase, "If you broke your leg, you'd go to the hospital" in reference to how we should be treating going to therapy the same way. The thing is, it's really hard to admit that we're broken mentally.
And between us gals, I really don't like hearing that we're broken. Because we're not broken.
I think a better way to look at going to therapy is to think about sports.
Stay with me.
I played basketball for like a thousand years (it seemed), then coached kids for a hot minute, then worked as the manager of the women's team in college. There was a lot of athletic tape in my life.
<This is going somewhere, I promise.>
Things like ankles and knees and wrists were taped up by athletic trainers (or me if we were short handed) before games and practices because they are pivot points on our bodies that sometimes need more reinforcing.
(If you don't know where this is going, we're all in trouble...)
A therapist/counselor/coach isn't there to do the hard work for you any more than the athletic trainer is there to play the game for you. They're both there to reinforce the places that are prone to injury, and to help get you ready to play your best.
You're not any more "weak" for talking to someone any more than you're weak for getting taped up before a game.
While we're at it, the words "weak" and "strong" in the mental hygiene world are such crap ways to describe what we think we are, and what we think the expectations are.
Look it, the only people I want to know these days are the folks out there doing the real work. The people that get up every day and put their bras on one cup at a time and just show up. Showing up means making sure that your coach/trainer/therapist/counselor has taped you up in your pivot points, and given you the best support possible for you to get out there and wow everyone.
Staying quiet isn't strength. Staying quiet when you're a hot chocolate lava cake of a mess inside does nothing but keep you in a rut, keeps you isolated in your destructive patterns, and to be frank...it keeps you from being on my Dream Team.
You should want to be on my Dream Team. I always bring snacks.
And ps, you could be so strong you could lift a bus, but what if those aren't the muscles you need? Build the right strength, whatever that means...and let someone help tape you up before the big game.
One last quick thing: therapy isn't scary. They aren't going to dig up some weird stuff about how you like to wear your grandma's underwear and you didn't even know it. You might cry, but let's be real here...you were crying before.
Just freaking go. Your insurance probably covers it, and it'll be the shortest 50 minutes of your week once it's over. It takes way less time than recovering from that impeding hangover from the rolling brownout you needed to forget your day.
Go get taped up.