~Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dutch Uncle

Filling out the intake forms when I started therapy was scary. The questionnaire instructed that I circle the symptoms that I identified with: anxious, depressed, suicidal, etc. Yes, yes, no, etc.

I don't know what I expected from therapy. Actually, I do know what I expected: I thought it was going to be like Felicity visiting stinky Dr. Pavone. Dr. Pavone asked thought-provoking questions and enlightened Felicity about all of these unknown aspects about her. I thought I too was going to be enlightened with revelation after revelation. Who is in my drawer?

That's not what happened. I explained to my new therapist the circumstances that brought me to her microfiber love seat. And this is what she did: she told me I was normal.

"You were reacting normally to an abnormal situation," she kept repeating.

When I sat in her love seat, I was broken and timid. I didn't know which direction was up. And instead of telling me where up was, she let me find it on my own and encouraged every decision I made. Her support helped me learn to trust myself. That's all she did: support me. I didn't have any revelations other than I have a pretty good head on my shoulders, and it's time I start trusting it.

This had been a stark contrast from the way I had been living. Not to be all poor little rich girl, but I had an absent father and a very overbearing mother growing up. I didn't make a single decision until I was 18 and living away from home for the first time. Everything had been dictated to me. And the times I did try to express myself, I was told my feelings and thoughts were wrong.

It's always been this way. I think parents tell you what to do because they know best. I think some boyfriends tell you what to do because they are controlling. I think friends tell you what to do because they want to help.

I never had a space where I could simply breathe. I wish I could articulate exactly how refreshing it felt. I want everyone to feel this way: normal. Flawed, but acceptable.

My therapist's support was such an uplifting experience for me that I realized this was how I wanted to conduct myself in my relationships. That’s the person I want to be. I don't want to tell my friends what they should do, and it seems like a waste to get emotionally invested in their decisions that have nothing to do with me. People aren't going to heed advice they aren't ready for anyway. They have to come to those terms on their own.


Je m'appelle Danielle said...

I have come to be somewhat of an advice giver amongst friends, not sure why, maybe because I've been in a lot of F'd up situations. I do and don't like giving advice because I like being helpful, but people are going to do what they are going to do, no matter what.

Then they realize that I was right, but I think I once even told you that you have to go through it on your own to really know.

I do worry about my friends decisions sometimes. Hell, on occasion I've caught myself thinking about the outcome of blog 'friends' decisions.

katielookingforward said...

Thank you for blogging about Therapy, I think its great for people to know that it is out there as a tool and it isn't always what they see in tv and movies!

Anonymous said...

I'm SO glad you've gotten something out of it. For so long people go to the wrong therapists and sit there for years and aren't productive. Taking the leap and doing the work are tremendous parts of healing and you've worked so hard to get to the next phase. xo

Anonymous said...

I had to go to therapy after my sepration/divorce. I felt the same way. I had "friends" telling me to move on, get over it, things would be fine. But I didn't feel fine. Therapy tought me simply that I am normal and that I and only I know what is best for me.

I'm glad you had a good experience and earned your own trust :).

Unknown said...
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AskAnabelle said...

I love that your therapist said you were normal. Sometimes we think we are going crazy and that our circumstances have tainted our true character. In reality - we are just like everyone else trying to find our place in this big screwed up world. www.askanabelle.blogspot.com

La Femme said...

Maybe it's just the way you put it, but I have to ask; All your friends tell you what to do instead of just listening to you? You need new friends in that case...

Bathwater said...

I guess that is true. One of the things I saw in Billy's writings was the line. "I will listen to more peoples advise, it always seems to turn out to be true."


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