Hey everyone, I’m doing a wee three-part series on What is Your Therapy so we can explore the different ways that we get advice, feel empowered, and ultimately heal internal pain. This is the final (and in my opinion, the most important) kind of therapy you can engage with. You may know it as actual therapy.
Okay, so with all of this discussion going on about getting well, let’s not forget the absolute magic of actual therapy.
As an (almost) graduated Social Worker, I’ve been trained to see therapy as something as essential as a doctors visit when you’ve got a particularly nasty infection. Of course you go. You need to go. But even with all of the training and the knowing that therapy is essential to learning and growing into a better, more capable human being, it took me awhile to realise that I should probably get there myself.
To be frank, I would hedge a bet that the vast majority of us have some trauma lying around inside our heads, our bodies and our hearts. Growing up within itself is a hard slog! Compounded with that, people can so often experience bullying, many forms of abuse, issues with parents, issues with siblings, mental health experiences and so much more. These don’t just go away as you get older. Yes, you may have formed some pretty solid coping mechanisms that did and still are getting you through, but solid coping is not always healthy coping.
Solid coping mechanisms can include being negative, pessimistic, untrusting, wary, fearful, sarcastic, self-isolating and angry. These mechanisms all translate into one category; the fear of being vulnerable. The sadness that comes with the lack of an ability to be vulnerable is profound. Vulnerability is the thing that makes life sweet. It is the thing that allows us to connect with the friend that is crying in our arms, to tell our partner that we love them for the first time, to stand up and say YES when everyone else is saying NO. It is powerful and essential, but can be so out of our grasp when we are in pain. When we carry pain for too long, it hardens, and puts a layer between us and the essential nature of vulnerability.
When we have developed solid coping mechanisms that have served us through past trauma, they often become solidified into who we think we are. We think that we are hardened people, when in reality we just have hardened pain.
I believe that part of the work of being an adult is the work of unlearning these solid coping mechanisms. It’s peeling back the scab and feeling the sting of healing. It’s the painful, sad and essential work of getting better, and doing better. There are a lot of ways that this work can be done including self reflective practice, listening to podcasts, reading and leaning about trauma, engaging with creative outlets, and other things discussed in the previous two parts of this series. But I think that the quickest, most effective way to get about the business of healing is to get your butt into that therapy chair. Talk it all out with someone who knows trauma like an old friend, someone who can help you separate the hardened pieces of your personality from the true you.
The true you isn’t mean, selfish, pessimistic and sad. It is vulnerable and strong and full of love. Without peeling back all of the learned bullshit we’ve accumulated, we will never be able to give and receive the love we need. You deserve that love, and you are capable of reaching it. Just be brave enough to reach out for the help needed to get there.
It took me a long time to get my butt into the therapy chair. Being in the business of helping others often makes us feel as though we need to have all the answers, but really, none of us do. I got to therapy for the first time this year as the pressure of my final Social Work placement and the breakdown of my family relationship with my father came to a boiling point. Having gotten to the point where I felt really unwell with anxiety, which was something I had never quite experienced so badly before, I went to the doctor and got a Mental Health Care Plan. Honestly, it’s the best thing I’ve done this year.
I implore you to go to a doctor that you like and trust, and get a plan my loves. Even if you think your trauma isn’t trauma-y enough. Even if it feels like you are drowning only some of the days. The recurring pain doesn’t just disappear, and going in to tackle it head on isn’t as scary as it seems in the beginning. Trust me. It will set you free. You just need to do the work.
Self care is a daily practice, with both the big and little things. Cherry pick what works for you, and combine the coffee chats, the alone time and the actual therapy to nurture yourself into the incredible, well rounded person that you are deep inside. Allow yourself to grow like a lotus through the mud. Don’t be afraid to bloom.
As always, any likes, comments, shares & follows are so very appreciated!