I went to therapy last week.
I was almost embarrassed to tell people. Growing up, I had this idea that only weak people went to therapy or that you should always be able to control your emotions. Or maybe it stems from growing up in the church and thinking that if I just pray more I'll be ok. Whether that was modeled or simply construed in my mind from a young age, I held on to that idea for years. And to this day, I think many people still hold on to the "stigma" surrounding therapy.
I've always tried to hold it together. To be strong for others. To help others. And even though I do often wear my emotions on my sleeve and have a hard time hiding when I'm upset, I still try to answer "I'm fine" when someone asks me what's wrong.
I just started reading a new book written by Lori Gottlieb, a therapist, and something she wrote really resonated with me:
“Don’t judge your feelings; notice them. Use them as your map. Don’t be afraid of the truth.”
Over the last couple years, I've been grappling with self-doubt and uncertainty. Whether it's being a mom and feeling the pressure to put on a strong front or whether it's being a foreigner in a country filled with different cultures, traditions and expectations, I've always tried to just keep it together. Or show a strong and happy face on Social Media even when there've been times I'm not ok.
The last 5 months have been rough. Since losing my job in April and being offered a different one, I've felt at a loss. I'm trying to figure out who I am all over again. Trying to put the pieces of a broken identity puzzle back together. I'm having a hard time figuring out how to weave my passions and gifts and dreams into my everyday life.
I keep looking for something else to do that fills me with joy like teaching did when I first started. I'm so grateful for my job and for landing somewhere, but I'm struggling. It's a choice and takes effort every day to get up and keep going.
I don't have all the answers right now nor can I articulate what's going on and that's why I decided to go to therapy.
And the funny thing is, now that I've told a few friends, I've found out that they are all going to therapy too.
It's ironic how often we tell everyone that we're going to the gym or to the pool to work on our physical health and we're proud of it. But it's not as often we talk about the work we are doing on our mental health. And it's just as important.
So even when we feel like we may be alone, I'm constantly reminded that we're all in this together. It's hard navigating the trials along our own paths on our own.
Just as my basketball, volleyball and lacrosse days required a coach helping me throughout the years with strategies to be a better player, I'm learning that my mind needs a coach to help me with some strategies for life.
And just as I needed a team with me on those courts or fields playing sports, I still rely so much on my "team" (community and friends) to keep going . We're all going through so many of the same doubts, uncertainties and battles together, just in different ways.
So here's to a new chapter with some therapy to help me write the next part of my story.
Side Note: Two other quotes I've bookmarked from this book too, thanks Lori Gottlieb for the humor, truth and stories.