Two Things I’ve Learned in Therapy

So I’ve been doing this talk therapy thing with various mental health professionals for twelve years now, six of which have been with the same psychiatrist. In my experience, it’s the kind of thing that leaves me with more questions than answers and I never really feel like I’m done. I’m okay with that, though. I’m not done – I’m cookie dough.

I have learned things along the way, though, and although I’ve never been super into diaries I’ve found myself thinking about the things I’ve learned lately. I thought I’d share.

Grownups are people, too. This one seems silly but it’s so important. Coming to terms with the fact that my parents are people and are fallible and accepting them for who they are has been difficult. (I say that like I’m done – I’m not done and don’t know if I ever will be done, but I’ve made progress.)

In a similar vein but also kind of the opposite, realizing that the adults around me don’t have their shit together any more than I do has been liberating. Nobody has all the answers. We’re all just winging it. What I’m working on is just going with it and enjoying the ride.

Talking about things makes them hurt less. More specifically, I’ve learned that talking about things in safe spaces with people who are receptive and with whom you feel comfortable can lessen shame, guilt, and miscellaneous pain. The trick is finding those safe spaces and receptive, comfy people.

I’ll give you an example for this one. I have a weird and complicated family situation. (Sidebar: I’m convinced there’s no such thing as a normal and uncomplicated family situation*. People are complicated so relationships are complicated, and I find that comforting in and of itself.) For years, I never shared the details of this complicated situation with my friends. It took me forever to talk about it with romantic partners. And yet, because I’m close with my family, it’s something that affects me basically daily. So now, I share that shit early on. My close friends know what’s up. And I’m less ashamed of it. Each time I tell someone, it gets easier.

* My (maternal) grandmother remains married to my grandfather despite the fact that he has been unfaithful and emotionally abusive for decades. They live together six months out of the year. He’s a hoarder and nobody talks to him, including her. It’s a weird situation and there’s a lot of fallout from it.

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