25 Mar 2011

Therapy

13 Comments Personal Crap

I started seeing a therapist almost 20 years ago when I was having some issues with friends, boyfriends, my parents, my brother and just trying to enter my 20’s. I went for a few months, figured some shit out, and moved on with my life with a new set of tools, a little more confidence, and a greater understanding of myself.

About seven years later, I found myself back with the same therapist, trying to get over my idiotic jealousy issues and learning how to live with someone I knew I’d be with for the rest of my life. After six months, I had new tools, new confidence and a whole new outlook.

As you can see, I look at therapy as a way to work through things, learn some ways of coping, and move on. I’m not one of those lifers who can talk about myself weekly for years. (Not that there’s ANYTHING wrong with that!)  I want to learn and leave.

A little over a year ago, I called this therapist again. I was dealing with a very sick father, a two-year-old, career issues and a feeling that I was lost. This time I felt pretty torn apart and I knew I truly needed help.  I almost immediately felt like I was being rescued. I felt like Allison (That’s what we’ll call her) was in a helicopter and she was beginning to drop down a rope for me to grab on to, to pull me out of the muck that I was wading in. I knew I had to do a lot of wading before I could actually grab on to the rope to be pulled up, but I was willing to do any and all of the work I had to do to be saved.

This time therapy was sticky and painful and hard. In the past I had dealt with more ego-related issues and wounds, and they were mostly on the surface. What I had to deal with now was far more serious. These wounds had already created scars and I had so much digging to do. Almost every week I cried, and every week it was a surprise to me. Sometimes the tears were cathartic and felt like a gift. Other times I was crying from a place I hadn’t wanted to ever visit, and maybe even didn’t know existed.

I thank God I don’t have the kind of pain that results from real tragedy. I’ve had a pretty freaking good time of it. But, just by the virtue of being alive, we all have pain. And we all deserve to try to heal that pain. I was dealing with the inevitable death of my father, finding out about my childhood (which even in doing so, I found to be cliche’ but completely eye-opening and NECESSARY), and my struggles as a sometimes-working-actress and happily permanent mommy.  I was learning, growing, filling my toolbox to overflowing, and starting to feel a little more sane.

Then my dad died and everything became murky again. The rope I had begun ascending slipped from my hands and I once again dropped into the muck, this time fearing an even more difficult climb up. For those of you who know me, or know me through my blog, you know that my father was a driving force in my life. He was a rock for me, and someone I spoke to or saw daily. His positive attitude influenced me every day, and he had been ill since I had been pregnant. His death is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with and I felt beyond lost and shattered.

I took a short break from therapy, just to get things in order and get my bearings. And then I began again. Through the profound sadness, I learned I had strength greater than I knew and that the pain I felt would never go away, but would change. I found out for the first time how I wanted to represent myself in certain situations that were both old and new to me. I became different and, in my opinion, better. I had a new-found faith in myself and those I love. I was doing all of the work I needed to do, and I was climbing the rope again. This time, I found myself near the top, almost boarding that helicopter.

Two weeks ago, Allison told me she was moving out of state and that I only had one session left. I felt like someone slapped me in the face, and I sobbed. I was truly surprised and freaked out by my reaction, and I apologized profusely. Of course I knew there was no reason to be sorry. But I was blown away by the amount of tears that were streaming down my face. And I wasn’t even sure at that moment why I was so completely sad.

After talking about those “feelings” for a little while, we moved on to other things. We wanted to get the most out of this hour and the next, which would be my last with her. In the week that followed I realized why I had so many “feelings” about her leaving, not the least of which was that she had gotten me through so much and had been there for me in my darkest days. She had helped me to be a better person and to find my inner strength. She helped me to mourn and to celebrate and to be a better mom and wife through it all. She had also been an objective voice at a time when I needed that the most.  My last session was mostly spent figuring out how to not feel guilty about going on a quick trip away with my husband. She gave me 100 great ways to make Garrett feel happy and comfortable that I know I will use for years.

She encouraged me with this blog and my career, she cheered me on when I chose to stop working for a while, she guided me to find a place to be, physically and emotionally, when I needed to sob or to sit in quiet. She got me to walk daily and to stand up for myself.

She got me up the rope.

I’m not quite on the helicopter yet, but I’m almost there. I know I can get there myself and with the help of those that love me. I can even throw myself a little more rope if I need it, because I have that in my toolbox.

I am grateful for Allison and for therapy. (And for the recommendations she gave me in case I need someone in the future!) I am truly better for it. And it only took 20 years.

13 Dec 2010

Random Tears

10 Comments Personal Crap

This morning I was watching TV and a commercial came on that was all Christmasy and snowy and happy. It was a  clothing ad, I think. I started bawling. BAWLING! Out of the blue, I was sitting on the couch, my face in my hands, sobbing.

Now, sometimes a woman just has to cry. I always refer to Holly Hunter in “Broadcast News”, where she has to unplug the phone and inexplicably sob for just a minute, before she starts her day. That happens sometimes. Other times, there are reasons behind the tears. But they’re not always easy to decipher.

Today when I was crying, I tried to figure out why as it was happening. Here’s what I came up with:

1. I’m really sick this morning. Sore throat, headache, achey, exhausted. So, I’m naturally more vulnerable and apt to cry. I also feel awful that, since yesterday afternoon, I’ve been unavailable for Garrett because of how I feel. I hate that.

2. The visuals of the holidays in the commercial immediately made me think of how hard it is when you’re older to live up to the beauty of the holidays from your childhood. Then I thought about how much I want Christmas to be an incredibly magical time for G-man, and how I hope his life is beautiful and magical even as he grows up.

3. I thought about how weepy I am from just having a sore throat and how parents who are actually very ill must feel when they can’t participate in their child’s life. I pray to God I never know what that’s like.

4. I then thought about what happens when a child gets ill. This thought is always so sickening, so painful, that I immediately shoo it from my brain. I pray to God we never know that pain.

5. My head then went to my cousin who has throat cancer and is fighting for his life right now. I know he feels helpless and I hate that for him.

6. Then I thought about how lucky I am, and how lucky we are as a family. And how I never want to lose sight of how blessed we are, now, at this moment. And that it’s the moments that matter.

Yup. All of that went through my head in a matter of minutes. And then I pulled it together and went to the doctor. Women are weird, man. I don’t know how we get through a day, really. Come to think of it, we probably wouldn’t if it wasn’t for all the random crying.

11 Oct 2010

Preschool

5 Comments Toddler

Garrett started preschool about a month ago at a very lovely, well-respected school. His first day there, he happily waved goodbye to me as he played with some plastic dinosaurs on the floor.  It was a little too easy of a transition; a little too good to be true.

Russ and I went to pick him up that day at 2:45, and he sobbed uncontrollably when he saw us.  His red, puffy eyes were an indication that he had been crying for some time.  “He was fine all morning”, said the teacher who had just handed him a graham cracker, “Then at lunch he just broke down”.  We chalked it up to separation anxiety and took him again the next day. This time he was slightly more hesitant and cried a little when I left, but the crying was even worse when I picked him up.

Come to find out, he was only one of two kids from his class who stayed through lunch and nap.  He had watched all the other kids get picked up by their mommies and daddies and clearly thought that we had forgotten him. Oof. The rest of that week, I stayed with him from nine to noon then took him home to nap.  The following Monday I kept him home, then started the process again.   If I even left to go to the bathroom, Garrett wept until I returned.  If I left him there for an hour, he’d slowly recover, but he was never truly happy. This was not my kid. Read more

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