I like to talk. Anyone that knows me, understands that talking is something that not only provides me enjoyment, but over the course of my own life, has been extremely therapeutic enabling me to work through some of life’s most challenging issues. Including the death of both my mother and my father, a full career change, the birth of my son and various life changing events that I will be sure to expand on as my writing continues. My son often tells me I talk too much. He’s probably right. But I also like to listen and I’m not sure if I ever would have found myself with such a comfort level for both if not for my own life experience almost 30 years ago. It was during that time that I discovered counseling and therapy.
Someone once cautioned me about my openness to sharing my history regarding therapy. Which is somewhat conflicting given I have a Masters Degree in Counseling. In the counseling world, there is a big emphasis on “self-care” and quite frequently, you will find someone who provides counseling, also seeks out counseling. However, I am not a clinician and my history with counseling stems far beyond the years that I have been in practice as a Career Counselor. I also understand there is often a hesitation to seek out counseling. But for me, I have been going to therapy on and off for close to 30 years. I guess one of the main points that I am looking to share today is, going to therapy is one of the many ways I have been able to cope in my life. But not the only way…and I was not always as open minded regarding therapy.
When I was 15 years old, my mom died. I was numb, scared, angry, confused and quite frankly I really didn’t care much about anything. Once I returned to the 10th grade that October, I remember just going through the motions. I remember skipping a few classes here and there with friends and I was failing Math. I also remember feeling that my Math teacher at the time was being a real jerk and didn’t seem to care much that my mother had passed away. As far as he was concerned, the time that I missed was my responsibility and I had to find a way to catch up. That’s really all that I remember about that teacher. It’s funny you can go through a time with little memory of particular moments, but one poignant moment will stand out and stay with you a lifetime; even if you can’t really remember exactly what happened. That moment for me was when the Principal of my School called me out into the hallway. As I walked into the hall, he looked at me and said something that honestly, I cannot remember. I just remember he grabbed my elbow (I could be making this up), and physically walked me down to the Social Worker in our School. Everything is truly a blur, but if I can take a moment to envision what may have happened as this was a moment that truly shifted the direction of my life, it is as follows:
Principal: You’re going to counseling.
Me: I don’t need counseling!
Principal: This is not up for debate, you need to get your act together.
Me: I don’t need to go to counseling.
Principal: Your mother just died, you’re failing school, you need to get your act together.
So, again, I know this isn’t exactly what happened, but as my memory fails me, my heart speaks my experience. This man, the Principal of my High School, literally forced me to go to the School Social Worker and quite frankly my life was changed forever! Not overnight, not by the end of the year. But this started a journey for me that taught me how to cope with the peaks and the valleys of life. Therapy has enabled me to maneuver through some of the most traumatic events that any one person could possibly endure and while difficult, I have always come through on the other side stronger, more determined and with even more empathy and compassion than I ever could have imagined.
Two years later, my Senior Year of High School was filled with plenty of success including being crowned Homecoming Queen, a strong extracurricular resume, solid grades and acceptance to one of my First Choice of Colleges. I am not sure if I would have been where I was that year if not for the support of my High School Counselor, incredible friends and other staff at my school. Going to counseling truly changed the path I was going down, and while I lost touch with her, I know that she will never forget how she helped me change my journey for the better.
Counseling isn’t for everyone. However, I understand that it is critical for each of us to determine ways that enable us to cope with life. I have found what works for me; therapy, running and working out, writing and amazing friends that get it. I’ve even begun exploring yoga and meditation, two things that I know will be amazing. I just need to make the time, something that we as a society seem to be losing more of. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we cope as a Society. I often hear that life today is definitely nothing like it used to be. But how do we cope with that? It’s something I am very passionate about. Not only for myself, but for my family, my friends and even my students. I have worked in and out of Higher Education for over 15 years and I have found that as a society, our ability to cope with certain issues has become even more challenging. We are distracted. We are rushed. We are overwhelmed. We are just keeping our heads above water. I have found that what has worked for me among other things, is to take a step back and take an inventory of what is truly important. It has helped me stay grounded; most of the time. When I find myself falling back to my old habits of self-doubt and self judgement, I try to remind myself how I got here and all that I have come through. I have also learned to acknowledge and ask for help when things get to be a bit too much. It took me a long time to get there.
So here I am 30 years later, and still going to Therapy. Why? Because it is one of the ways I have coped with some of the curveballs that life has thrown me. My therapist of 15 years is in the process of retiring and I have been interviewing new therapists before our final session. One therapist was actually surprised that I have been seeing the same person for as long as I have. Which struck a nerve. While I know that talking through issues is not for everyone, it works for me. Some go for a particular issue, solve it and move on. For me, I have found that keeping this foundation stable allows me to adjust to life as it changes. The next therapist upon hearing my initial intake took one look at me and said “WOW!”. As she took a moment to remind me of the challenges I have faced and seemed utterly speechless over the life experiences I had just rattled off, I realized I found my next therapist. A warm, nurturing and caring person, who has just begun this next chapter with me and has already reminded me of something that I already knew, “I GOT THIS!” I just might need a reminder or an extra push sometimes!!! I hope you too can find your balance…
Thanks for coming along for the journey!!!! Keep fighting for that sparkle!!!!😊