Taking care of myself was a task I looked forward to growing up. Out of all the things I wanted to do when I turned 18, attending to a specific form of self-care wasn’t one of them. Sure, Mom told me how to survive and taught me many valuable lessons, but she couldn’t provide what has been the most important for me. Seeking mental health therapy is ok.
There is absolutely no preparation for how intense therapy treatment can get. Of course, Mom was raised differently, and treatment may not have been an option for her or she believed it would not be useful. Even the word therapy makes her cringe from time to time.
But I slowly realized, I could be like Mom and decide to handle things on my own or take that leap into the unknown and have a complete stranger dissect my life. For me, denial and fear hold the same weight, heavy as hell. They are two of the most significant burdens I carry through life. But what was there to be afraid of?
Well, for starters, who wants to hear how fucked up they are? I’m sure no one will raise their hand because no one wants to hear about the flaws they possess, especially an unwanted opinion. No one wants to shine light on the negativity they produce and bring to the table with friends and relationships. People, in general, don’t like to hear what others think of them, valid or not, and therapy doesn’t make that feeling any easier to cope with. Not to mention, the process can make you question why the ones who love you let you live life as if you weren’t causing harm to yourself, them, or others.
Therapy flat out makes you deal with shit and stop placing it on the back burner but most importantly, to stop blaming other people for the results of your actions. For me, dealing with feelings and emotions of guilt because of lashing out is where this stranger was essential to my healing. My friends would want to fight me if I was brutally honest with them, which is all the more reason for me to go. I needed a reliable place I could be honest about myself and know I would always get honesty in return. Let’s be real, we don’t always tell our friends the honest truth they need to hear because we don’t want to lose the relationship. My growth could not begin until I realized I needed to be brutally honest with myself about where my life was headed.
When I started my therapy journey six years ago, I promised my growth and healing would be for me, no one else. I didn’t explain I was going to therapy to many people and didn’t plan on it. I knew as long as I wanted to change for myself, it would be the only way results would occur and stay forever. I vowed to be honest the first day I went. The most painful things, I was honest about. I couldn’t hide from myself anymore and continue to deny what I’ve been through. I always tell my son to be honest about his feelings, no matter what they are. I had to practice what I preached. My son is a part of my healing journey and he deserves an authentic relationship.
As a parent, no one is perfect. We give so much, but we miss out on explaining a lot as well. Had my mother opted to tell me her struggles, I might have understood more and responded differently in childhood and adulthood. But I respect her decision. As a mother, I choose the opposite for my son. My fear isn’t what this world has in store for him, my concern is him getting in his own way and not staying true to who he is. My other fear is him being trapped by his own brain.
These are fears I have no control over, and I have to accept how they are brought to the table. I will always have my son’s back, but I need him to see the importance of preserving his mental health. I need him to be aware of the ability that his mind can play tricks with his reality. I need him to have an outlet to be free. I could force therapy on him now, but I choose not to. I want him to make a decision by seeing the changes in my life because of treatment and decide if therapy is something he wants.
I want him assertive instead of passive or aggressive. I want him to see the benefits of things instead of the pain. I have a weekly appointment on Monday, at 5pm. It is my time to accept my wrongs from the previous week and find solutions without damaging friendships and my marriage. It is my time where I reflect on my behavior, deal with my pinned up emotions and work on being a better me.
Therapy provides a platform where I learn to forgive myself before I forgive others. I learn how to put myself first and deal with my feelings before worrying about the next persons. Therapy is where I feed my mind, body, and soul to accept things that I may not be ok with because they are out of my control. Most importantly, it’s where I recognize me, all of me. And know that everyone won’t understand me, but as long as I do, that’s what matters.
I keep a standing appointment every Monday, at 5pm. I start my week off with a clear mind, attitude, and heart. I set small goals to achieve throughout the week. Those small goals have built a foundation to help me stay on track and give me something to focus on which will benefit me in the long run.
Taking control of my mental health has been one of the hardest journeys I’ve ever dealt with, but it’s so worth it. It’s not for everyone, but it’s perfect for me. As I continue to heal, I will embark on this new path known as a “Resilient Lifestyle.”