I was in therapy for many years. I went initially at the behest of a friend. On the advice of the Chief of Mental Health at the organization I worked at I found a good one. She was in the room and a great guide on the path I took to being ready to take on life as an adult. She helped me find peace. Maybe not peace exactly, but enough peace of mind to be able to get to where I needed to go. Then, she fell asleep on me in session. After the third time I saw her drift off, I knew it was time to move on.
Its a tale I have told before and I repeat it with some regularity and giddy delight. It’s the perfect story to trigger sympathy. Perhaps that’s what I’m seeking when I tell it. Its also completely unfair to Heather was a very good therapist who perhaps had too many starches for lunch on occasion or took an inconveniently timed allergy pill or perhaps honestly fell asleep due to how boringly monotonous my issues had become. Who’s to say. Whats definitely true was that without her guidance and commitment to me and my well being I would likely still be unable to connect with someone so much that we could navigate the challenges of marriage and parenthood and with much difficulty and many setbacks arrive on the other side transformed individually and together.
Had I not gone to Heather I would not have been able to say the things I needed to say to my mother. It was a call that caught her off guard and taught me that my mother is the most supportive and intuitively gracious person I’ve ever known. This is not a momma’s boy statement either. I’d say the vast majority of people that have known her would tell you the same. And her generosity, both of spirit and of her more finite resources are her defining attribute. In the end the complaints I had were of an adolescent nature, and seeing as I was well into my 30’s I should add patience and commitment to her loved ones as defining attributes as well.
Prior to that conversation I had been on Match.com for at least a year. Could’ve been as much as two. It’s a challenge to remember exactly because prior to that call with my mom, where I told her of the things she’d said that had hurt, and said some undoubtedly hurtful things myself I wasn’t really looking to connect. I was more whittling away at who I was beneath all the layers of defenses I’d put on myself. Prior to having an honest discussion about what I thought was wrong with me with my mom I had just layered my bandages over the perceived cuts. Once it bled through instead of changing the thing I’d just add another bandage. And another and another and another. Until I had so effectively hidden from what I feared, what was me, for so long that I needed to find that out first before I could understand what I wanted in the world.
It turned out that during the dozens of first and maybe a few second dates I had over my time intentionally looking for someone else to share a life with, what I was really doing was getting comfortable being myself. What i discovered under all the wrapping was that my wounds were never as deep as I’d thought. That I was not only comfortable in my skin, but I was even capable of being quite fond of who I was. I discovered that what I was looking for did not yet reside in someone else. It couldn’t yet. I had to find it first on my own.
So for the many of you that have shown empathy for me and my sleeping therapist, rest assured that the very act, while unprofessional, did not mean that she was not helpful. She was. Very. And without the times I spent in that place, learning to officiate the constant sparring between my head and my heart, I would never have arrived here. In this place where the act of being myself is becoming less and less discipline and more and more a delight.