Why did I choose Therapy?

I was looking at some posts and videos about therapy today, just to see if other people are sharing my experiences.

I found some surprisingly negative stuff, people saying therapy is for people who can’t face reality, yada yada.

Well, a lot of people have written articles debunking therapy myths, so I can’t add anything new, but I’d like to share why I chose Therapy.

  1. it was not because my depression and anxiety are so debilitating I cannot function.

I can sleep, eat, and work, I don’t feel bad all the time. The feelings are not usually very strong when I do, more of a nagging “something isn’t right” kind of feeling.

The reason I decided to seek therapy despite that is A. I didn’t want it to turn into that because I ignored the problem, and B. I don’t want to act in ways that will hurt the people around me.

With abuse and trauma and neglect, the problem is all you’ve seen demonstrated is the wrong way to handle stuff, therapy cannot replace good parents, but your therapists ideally is showing you a healthier way to listen and talk about feelings and problems, and helping you find what will work for you. In place of being shown it as a child, you can choose to learn it as an adult.

2. I didn’t want a pity party.

What drew me to therapy versus just some kind of support group sort of thing was I wanted to be able to learn and apply for myself so I don’t end up dependent on other people for everything in my life. My therapist acknowledges my life was hard, but doesn’t linger on how that makes me a victim, I’d hate that.

3. I ran out of options

The thing is, therapy is not always necessary. A strong friend group, family, and community can help you the same way.

The problem is, if you need therapy, that’s a  good sign you don’t have any of those things.

That was the case for me, I have loving family members, but not ones who are very emotionally healthy and strong in the areas I need to grow in.

I have friends, but few I can really talk to, I end up encouraging them, more than they contribute to me. Also, people don’t want to talk about abuse, it scares them.

My community was somewhat supportive, but not on an intimate level where I could talk things out and figure out how to move on.

I’ve sought these things for years, and not had as much success as I could wish, so rather than wait until I do, Therapy seemed the wiser choice. Give me some breathing room to build better relationships.

Of course, it can be frustrating not to have those things, but to not have them should not be the end of emotional healing and growth.

4. Therapy is a way to acknowledge my need for help.

It’s dangerous to try to handle everything yourself, but I am tempted to do it. Therapy is a commitment that will keep me from being able to do that, even if I wanted to. It also keeps me talking to my family about my struggles because they are aware of what I’m doing.

5. Therapy is not an escape from the hard stuff.

I did not want to ignore what happened by putting a band-aid on it. Therapy does not do that. The idea is to face it with the attitude that it does not define you, and you can keep it that way by developing healthier habits.

A little look at what this is for me:

A lot of the process of healing is something I’ve been working on for years. So, my therapist knows she is not talking to a novice. So far she focuses on what I need to be encouraged to keep doing it. And to not give up on thinking it can get better, which was what I was tempted to do, and still am sometimes.

I lived in the ad situation for years, it affected me in ways I’ll still be discovering for years, and that’s okay. Because good emotional health does not depend on knowing every thing that bothered you ever before you can be good again. It depends on knowing how to treat it when something comes up.

Also, having issues does not mean you live out of them, as I’ve said before.

One of my defining issues for years has been “It’s my fault”, my dad used to blame me for literally everything that upset him about our family.

My therapist says he was all the more angry at me because I refused to accept his blame. My dad upbraided me for “fighting him” which meant all I resisted and argued and called him out on over the years. he didn’t break me. But he tried, and just knowing he tried was traumatic.

Perhaps some of you know what I’m talking about. Maybe the person didn’t go all the way with a threat, or an attack, or a bad decision, but just that they did part of the way was scary, and you didn’t know if they’d go further.

The more my dad tried to scare me, the more I fought it.

There’s a quote I found about depression that goes like this:

Quotes about Clinical Depression (42 quotes)

That’s what it is like for me. I was holding my family together by sheer enduracne, it felt like, until I just couldn’t do it any more. I ignored my suffering. Or I faced it alone with God because I had no one to talk to.

I came a lot further because of God, but turning to God can become a way of avoiding it, not because God does not help, but because you can stop actually seeking his help in your attempt to use that to justify not needing anyone else. God’s help may be in other people.

6. I thought God told me to.

Avoiding therapy was stressing me out more than my other problems were, now at least that is off my plate.

I did not want to need help, but the thing is, I also do not want to live my life by that desire. The one to be stronger than other people just to make it easier for myself. Being smart has always made college classes easy for me, yet in classes I do struggle in, the worst of it the people who have an easy time and have no pity for those who don’t.

I’m the classmate people ask questions of and what the homework is, because I don’t mind telling them. Would you ask the person who acts like they are better than you for knowing?

Even if I stumbled through without therapy, I don’t want to be the type to judge people for needing it. I have had a weakness for being afraid of people who are broken, partly because I lived with it for so long, but I want to have compassion for them and be able to help them.

(Note: I know someone who thinks that handling things on their own has always gotten them through life just fine, but this same person rarely if ever confronts people about what they don’t like, shares their feelings, admits to needing help, or is able to sympathize with other people. They are not a bad person, they are a kind person in many ways, but you just can’t talk to them about anything really deep and expect understanding. So it can be deceptive to assume you are fine just because you feel fine, maybe you aren’t miserable, but your life could be lacking so much meaning in it because you settled for barely getting by on your own.)

7. Therapy will, I hope, make me a better person.

My hope is to be a better sister, daughter, wife, friend, and christian for gong through the hard steps of therapy now and not later.

In all honesty, it can feel like it’s only making it worse. After a session I feel like my insides got poked with a stick on all the raw spots. I can feel off for days afterward.

But even with physical sickness, treatment can make you feel worse.

I used this analogy with my sisters (two of us have or have had braces)

Therapy is like getting braces.

Your teeth may be really messed up, many teeth problems can cause serous issues later in life if left unchecked, like breathing problems, infection, or bone damage from incorrect chewing. Teeth can grow in on themselves and be very painful.

But you’ve had them that way your whole life, since they grew in, you’ve grown up biting and sleeping the way you do, you’re used to how it looks. It’s just your teeth.

So, when your parents make you get braces, it feels awful. It’s painful for the first few weeks, and then with each new tightening, the pain is fresh all over again.

If you’re like me, you have a bunch of appliances, it gets stressful changing the new methods time after time, just when you got used to it.

And then, finally, you have that perfect smile you always wanted, the work is over right, only took 2 and half years…

Metal Braces Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

but, then you have a retainer, or your teeth will go back into their old habits.

49024 Orthodontist | What Happens If I Don't Wear My Retainer?

You see how it’s the perfect metaphor?

Teeth are as stubborn as thought and behavioral patterns, if you aren’t careful, they get out of hand fast. They are hard to correct, and without diligent care, braces can get pretty gross and give you cavities.

Therapy is like braces, it hurts, every session can feel like a new tightening, until you get used to it. even then, what if a new element is introduced later that starts the pain up all over. Even if in reality it’s only a couple years, at the beginning, that seems like forever.

And afterward, you know it won’t stay fixed without help. You have to “retain” what you learned in therapy in order to maintain a healthy  life.

Maybe not getting braces won’t be fatal (it can be with extreme dental problems) but it will leave you in a lot worse shape than if you just bite the bullet for a couple years.

My dad, ever the example of what not to do, did not wear his retainer or keep gong ot the dentist, and his teeth got crooked again and he ended up with a painful infection, had to get most of them replaced.

And you may not be so lucky with emotional and behavioral problems.

My dad almost preferred not having the real thing, it can be easier that way, dentures and fake teeth don’t rot, right?

Just so superficial relationships with people who won’t challenge you may last 20 years, but never be anything really valuable.

I like to keep my real teeth just like I’d like to feel my own feelings with really deep relationships. So, I’ll take the harder but healthier method.

Therapy does not get me out of hard work, it just keeps me form blowing it out of proportion. It keeps things in their proper place, much like braces do.

That’s what I have for you today, I hope if some of  you were wondering about what therapy is like, this answered your questions. This is just my experience of 4 sessions, so I’m barely getting started and not all therapy is the same, but it’s what I have available.

Until next time–Natasha.

Miraculous Ladybug is an Empath’s Nightmare! (And other things)

Chloe is best girl, yeah, I said it.

Man is this show hard to watch and not get involved. Especially if you can sympathize with almost every villain, and the main one. Even if they annoy me.

Now that I finished Season 3, I think:

A. What the heck is wrong with you Natalie? Natalie, vous-ete (est?) tres stupide!

(I took French last year, this show keeps reminding me of it.)

B. Why, oh why, are they dragging out this ship, everyone knows it’s endgame by now.

C. They are wasting Yagame as part of a triangle, she’s freaking awesome, she should be a separate character.

D. Chloe is hands down the best character on this show. Sorry, HawkMoth, go suck an egg.

I am not crazy about the finale, I think they did my girl Chloe dirty, she slowly won me over as the most complex, sympathetic character of the main cast. Unlike the villains, she occasionally makes good decisions, and improves herself.

But by far the crowning moment for Queen Bee was being the very first person to successfully throw off an Acuma (the moth mind control thing, if you don’t know.)

The Mary Sue Marinette does dodge an acuma a couple of times, but only Chloe has thrown one off after already being infected.

Until suddenly, she’s too stupid to know HawkMoth is just using her, or too petty to care. This show has a habit of scrapping Chloe-character development whenever it’s plot convenient.

Even if it did make sense, it’s pretty negative to have a character regress so often, and I don’t see how it helps the message of the show.

But as an empath, this show can be one heck of a ride. The fact that negative emotions are the main antagonistic feature is both interesting, and difficult. They keep it PG, but some of the stuff is very adult, even so. Jobs, money, fraud, all that stuff that adults and kids alike have to worry about.

They have this little sociopath Lyla on the show now, and she’s officially the worst character.

But Lyla provides an all too ugly example of the kind of people we’ve all meant, the ones who embrace and nurse their wounded feelings, and choose hatred and spite on purpose, no matter what someone tries to do to make up for it.

Any little thing is enough to offend those people, and if it’s a big thing, you can be sure you’ll never hear the end of it from them.

One can’t help but think while watching about how we are tempted by our own negative feelings to give into them.

The show does not hide that many of the people who get acumatized feel ashamed afterwards, their private feelings were just displayed for all the world to see, and they do not even remember it.

The show even acknowledges that some people would begin to find the city of Paris a too dangerous place to walk around in freely, but the wiser characters remind them that giving into to fear will only make it worse.

The show kind of skips the distraction of politics that usually make it hard to focus on the point of whether living in fear is wise, or necessary, instead it goes right to showing how living in fear is the worst response to a threat because it gives it more power. Intimidation is a key component of any take over, the season 2 finale even shows this brazenly in its plot.

That being the case, we can draw some interesting parallels to many things in our world, where our fear makes the situation worse.

People decry the world for getting too relaxed, lazy, indolent. Shows like MHA, and RWBY, even have the villains taunt heroes with that attitude, but the fact is, fear driven societies are disasters. They are miserable, and there’s a collective wisdom in our desire not to dwell on fear.

How to Cope in a Fear-Driven Society | Psychology TodayIf It Bleeds, It Leads: Understanding Fear-Based Media ...

The idea that we should not dwell on our negative feelings is one that strikes home with me too, as you may remember, I have been dealing with depression.

Happily, it’s gotten much better, I don’t think it was ever full force anyway, but I had to do some soul searching, and I came to the conclusion… soul searching doesn’t work.

There are times and phases in life when you have to look at yourself and ask “what the heck am I doing?” but not when you’re depressed, stressed, or anxious. Introspection is a real pain when you aren’t feeling great about yourself to begin with, and it’s rarely honest.

Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of kings to search it out. 3 As the heavens are high and the earth is deep, so the hearts of kings cannot be searched. ” (Proverbs 25:2-3) 

C. S. Lewis gave up keeping a diary because he saw no use for focusing on his own thought and feelings so much anymore. As a young teen, having a journal kept me sane, I did not have a lot of people to talk to.

Now, I still don’t have a ton of people to talk to, but I think I understand emotions a little better than when I was 13.

I do still keep a journal, but it’s become less of a comfort, it can be fun to write out good things, but the hyper-focus on what’s wrong no longer helps me process, it’s become rehashing the same thoughts over and over.

I think journaling does work, but perhaps God has not put his hand into that at this time of my life. So, I switched to therapy.

And in my last talk with my therapist, she told me again that my controlling father will probably not change, after decades of getting away with the same behavior.

At one time, I would not have wanted to hear that. While he was around, hoping he’d change was about all that kept me from despairing of my situation, up until last year, I never imagined he could leave. It’s still remarkable that it happened.

I can’t say I enjoyed hearing that it may be hopeless, but I did realize something, a lot of my hope depends on the idea that other people will change, or that I myself will somehow learn a new trick to manage my life.

In therapy, I’m being encouraged to just keep doing what I’ve already done, with few extra tips. Turns out, maybe therapy is  support system for what people already would need to do, but we can get so psyched out if left to ourselves, and not make those decisions. We need someone else to back us up.

See, the approach so far is not that I need to be “fixed” like I thought, but that I need to be encouraged to keep making the right choices, it’s having someone else on your team.

So, if you’ve ever considered therapy, at least Christian therapy, let me say, don’t expect it to be carrying you, but it can give you more resolve and help you feel there’s a way to move forward.

I now don’t think I’d have lost my mind without it, but it is hopefully shortening the amount of years I’ll spend recovering from this, since a huge part of recovery is not walking in the same circles of anxiety.

How does this tie in to the show?

Well… everyone on this show needs therapy. They need to learn ways to make better choices.

Chloe had the right idea, having someone you can trust to care about you is  good first step, you need to have hope.

Chloe hit the wall of having hope in a human being though, they will not always understand, or make wise choices.

Honestly, one of the ironies of the show is that Marinette, the person with a good background, loving parents, loyal friends, can be the most insecure, immature person in the main cast, save for Hawkmoth, ’cause that guy is whacked.

However, I’ve been thinking about that.

See, my dad had a royally flipped up background. Some of it might blow your mind, but some of you might have had similar experiences, I’ve discovered that suffering and evil are not what’s uncommon.

I know people with better parents than mine, too. But I have still been lucky in some ways.

The thing is, the people with good parents, aren’t necessarily the strongest, neither are the people with bad parents, despite what anime seems to think.

Trauma+tragedy is not a recipe for strong, brave character. In many cases, they are the most afraid and abusive of all.

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But, good family also doesn’t make you compassionate. Marinette is a perfect fictional example of how it make you less able to understand what others go through, while Adrian is far more sympathetic to people’s difficulties.

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Miraculous Ladybug is Adrien's Story: Here's Why

I used this analogy the other day, your background is like being dealt a hand of cards (I borrowed this from Stasi Eldredge).

The thing is, in most card games, you don’t win with the hand you start out with. With games like Shanghai, you have to add and replace cards slowly over time to get the right combinations.

A hand of cards at the start of a game of bridge - ABC News ...So, whether it was good hand, a bad hand, or in between, you still can’t win, unless you play the game, and play it well.

The game is life, bro.

What I mean is, you can choose to discard what was negative in your life, to stop listening to that, to exchange it for something better, in a Christian’s case, a new history in God.

How To Play UNOYou can get help, you can change your course. You can build on a good background, if you have one.

Whether you start off bad or good, you choose where it goes from there.

On the show, Chloe has to look at the very bad examples of both her parents, and realize she wants to be a hero, she wants to be kinder.

77.9k Likes, 709 Comments - Chloe Bourgeois ...Thomas Sanders just released a new video talking about almost the same thing, and asking the question “Why should we be good? What’s our motivation.”

I could have saved him 45 minutes of screen time, I have the answer.

Because God made us with that purpose. God requires goodness of us, and God has provided a way to be justified in his sight, because we cannot pull it off.

When you love God, you will want to be good. You will be able to be, more than if you were just trying for some abstract standard. Love is really all that motivates us.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

And for me, I don’t love myself so much I want to be a better person just for that reason, I do want to be happy, but there are times I loathe myself, not because I think it’ right, but because I have issues. I can’t always feel pleased with who I am.

But what I don’t do, is hate on myself when I feel that way. I try to remind myself God has a better vision of who I am.

And for the love of God, I can keep trying, He is the one who’s there for me, and I am so grateful for that. Even on days when I feel down, and feel like it’s not worth it, and I’ll never be free.

That’s just an illusion, a Lie, if you will.

Volpina (2016)Gotta watch for that.

Until next time–Natasha.

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Arrival at UA by worldwalkerdj