Why Therapy? "I wanted to run away from my life."
For those of you just joining us, today is another installment in my series of posts on the awesomeness of therapy.
I asked several friends who have gone or are going to therapy to tell me why they sought out this kind of help, and I got some incredible responses back.
I think that most (if not all) of you will be able to recognize something of yourself in one of these beautiful women whom I am privileged to know.
Today's post will be especially helpful to those of you who are young mothers.
Please note that I have changed the names of these women as well as some of the details of their stories in order to protect their privacy.
Cutting through the fat, in the spiritual realm, God in His severe Mercy brought me to my knees. In the psychological realm, my life had become unmanageable. I was suffering depression worsened by my post partum hormones.
It was last summer when Mary hit inquisitive toddlerhood. All my so-called "coping" techniques weren't working, meaning prayer, Sacraments, healthy eating, exercise, "positive thinking/self-talk", chatting with friends, distracting myself with shopping/pedicures/TV. I don't mean to say that the Sacraments don't work. In fact they work very well, as I had been away from confession for 7 years and was only marginally living what I believed in my heart. My first confession back was part of the gateway to getting into therapy. But I was still powerless to stop the waves of rage that came over me, triggered by different random and normal toddler behaviors.
I had to be broken down to the point of rock bottom in order for me to reach a place where I was willing to be honest with myself, God, and my therapist. I went briefly to a good counselor while in grad school, but only got "so far" because I wasn't willing to open up the dark and ugly that I was hiding inside.
The first thing that happened was two close, dear friends shared with me their stories of surviving sexual abuse and their journeys through therapy. They were so detached and FREE from the emotions as they talked about their pain, and it planted a seed into my heart. I wanted that freedom SO badly.
The second event happened one sunny Saturday morning last summer. We were traveling for my husband's work. It was a glorious morning. The sun was coming up through big picture windows surrounded by huge open blue skies. My toddler was still sleeping. I could have gotten up and enjoyed a nice cup of coffee and some quiet moments. Instead, I lay in bed planning, actually planning, to buy a one-way plane ticket to run away from my life and my family. Please know that is no way reflective on the awesome little family I've been blessed with. I have a husband who loves me deeper and more unconditionally than I've ever been loved before. He has laid down his life for me over and over in daily life, and would do so literally if called to. He is a great provider for our family, he has given me a wonderful life, and he is so genuinely good that I strive to be more like him. We have a beautiful, perfectly healthy daughter who desperately needs her momma!
So WTF was I thinking?!?!?!
It shocked me enough to finally pick up the phone and call. Or maybe I asked my husband to call for me. I don't remember.
It has not been easy. As they say, "it's simple, but not easy." I thought I was going in for this "one *little* issue" that happened in childhood, and instead I've had to uncover more layers of the onion than I wanted to. I had to admit things I didn't want to admit (that not only was I sexually abused outside the home, I also suffered other more damaging abuse in my family of origin). I had to say things out loud that I never imagined I would say to a human being. It. Was. Humbling. I needed to be humbled.
I'm not as far along as my two friends and I have much more work to do...however I thank God and praise Jesus that I am not where I was. The prayers of my husband and friends were crucial. Some days I could literally feel their prayers dragging my feet though that door and if it weren't for that I would have gone home.
And, the best and most hopeful news is that it is SO much easier to go now than that first day. My life is better. I am happier. Even though reality can bite sometimes, in the end it is way better than the fantasy world I created in my head.
Today, praise the Lord, I no longer want to run away from my family. A BIG part of therapy included accepting the fact that I needed medical help; that my brain isn't working right. I started Zoloft last summer and it has given me the emotional stability to start digging into the dark and ugly "layers of the onion". I had a lot of pride regarding medication, seeing it as a weakness that "normal" people don't need. Someone finally pointed out to me that just like diabetic's pancreases don't make enough insulin, my brain isn't making enough serotonin. It wasn't weakness or a spiritual deficiency, and I wouldn't have told a diabetic to just pray more in order to get better.
When we bring our stuff to the light, it ceases to hold power over us. For a culture that thrives on 'freedom' and 'do whatever you want, say whatever you want', it's a hypocrisy that we cannot bring reality into the light, that we can't talk about sexual abuse, eating disorders, therapy, and needing medical help at times.
I'm encouraged that maybe that can change!