What I've Been Learning in Therapy
I don’t know if you guys have noticed, but I’ve been pretty quiet on here the past few months. Sure, I could say that it’s because I started a copywriting company and am busy writing for other clients (true). I could tell you that I’ve been cooking up new things for the studio (true) or finishing my most recent quarter of grad school (yep, still true). But the real truth is this:
I have been learning to undo my coping mechanisms.
Bet you didn’t think I was going there, but don’t worry, neither did I back in April, when I met with an incredible lady for counseling for the first time. I’ve always prided myself as someone who’s a big fan of therapy, until I actually went to therapy and realized how much I needed it. Then I moved from “fan” to obsessive advocate…well, after the first few sessions when I could barely function enough to process all the things I needed to talk about.
We’ve uncovered a lot about me, my relationships, and the way I view God throughout the summer, but in this process, I’ve realized that my ability to carry all the heavy things is not as stellar as I once believed. As I’ve been learning, I’m extremely efficient at managing a high level of stress and pain, while performing anyway.
This struck me as ironic at first because I’ve always believed that I process and feel things in real time. You know, I cry about my bad days or call a friend when I need to talk. I didn’t think I was someone who bottled things up, but I realized that there’s a caveat to this.
Too often, I’ve bought into the lie that I need to be strong enough to carry a painful situation or the weight of someone else’s words and actions. Subsequently, I pray for my ability to suck it up and shoulder it, rather than pray for help.
Last night in small group, we read Ephesians 3, which has several verses that talk about approaching God with confidence. I don’t approach God with confidence; I approach Him with worry. I ask Him to take away the hard things and strengthen me for the fight, but I don’t ask for His intervention to carry the things I was never designed to carry. Honestly, I don’t have this one figured out yet, but I’m starting to see how often I miss the mark on this concept.
Throughout this process of unpacking all my baggage (woohoo 2018!), I have realized that there are relationships that feed into the lies I’ve told myself and ones that will not understand this change in me. As Rachel Hollis said, “Don’t let someone in the cheap seats get an expensive opinion in your life.” Part of doing the self work is learning that your goals and your big lessons don’t have to make sense to anyone else. And that’s okay.
If you’re in the middle of figuring out some hard things in your life, I hope you surround yourself with people who allow you to be broken and in process. There are two reasons I write about my own struggles - the first is to acknowledge growth for myself, and the other is to encourage someone else. If you don’t have the right people in place to walk with you, pray for that, even if it means cutting some ties with the wrong ones. If you’re being led in a new direction, I really hope you chase it. It might just be your best move yet.