I’ve been seeing clients since 2009, so one might assume that when my own personal crisis (aka opportunity) struck, that I would have been first in line at the therapist’s office. NOPE! One the day of my first (scheduled) therapy appointment I was so afraid, that I didn’t even call to cancel. I did not show up. I hid from my phone in case anyone called to ask why I had not shown up. I felt I had to justify deep enough suffering to attend therapy. I reasoned, erroneously, that my issue was not a big enough problem to merit the support of a therapist. I decided to keep trying to manage it on my own. I had support from family and friends, and I told myself that should be enough. So, instead of returning to show my face at the mystery therapist’s office, I tried seeking support from family, friends, and coworkers.
I love my family, friends, and coworkers, but none of them could give me the therapeutic support I needed. I continued to stay stuck between denial that the issue was big enough to merit support, and shame because it was too big for me to handle, and I could not do it.
Four years later, the reasons that had pushed me to go to schedule that first appointment were still unresolved. This was despite my attempts to do everything I knew how to do on my own. A good friend finally gave me the extra push I needed. While confiding in her she reminded me that this issue could be resolved by attending therapy. I knew this, but I needed to hear it. I had talked myself out of therapy so many times:
“It’s too expensive. It’s not covered by insurance.”
“You don’t have time.”
“It wont help.”
“You need to do everything you can do before you go seeking support from others.”
Even though I was a therapist, and strongly believed in therapy, I felt a sense of failure at having to attend therapy. Even though I enjoy talking with others about my problems, I felt ashamed that I did need professional help. What helped those unhelpful feelings diminish was the fact that I had other friends who were seeking therapy. I talked to select family members and friends about their experiences in counseling and asked for direction. I got reassurance and support. The most helpful comment was from my mom. She said, “I feel like my whole life might have been different if I had gotten on medication and into therapy thirteen years earlier.” Well, that sunk the ship. I was going to therapy. I did not want to feel this way for 13 years before I got help. Four years was long enough.
I spent several hours online searching through therapists. I called several offices. I ended up choosing a therapist who did my preferred modality of therapy and who had an office close to my home. I just hoped that she was someone I could get along with. I gave myself permission to change therapists if I did not connect with her.
By the time I finally went to therapy, I was ready. As I suspected, my issue was resolvable with the help of a therapist. My therapist and I focused on one specific issue. I was grateful when some time later the specific struggle which had persisted for years was over (in its way). The relief was immense. It was life altering. The benefits have been long term. A side benefit was that my relationships with others were significantly impacted for the better. I healed and I accomplished the growth and movement that I had been longing to for years.