Topic Tuesday: Therapy

I have shared many times before that I went to therapy while in undergrad and it was a life altering experience.  Honestly I wish I had received some type of therapy right after graduating from undergrad, while in law school, after law school, before we got married, and I wish that I was receiving some right now.  Therapy is not a bandaid or a sole solution to any problem, but a process that helps you categorize and properly place experiences in a comfortable place in your mind.  Many times we overemphasize a situation in our life that may hold little value or minimize a situation that needs to be held in a different light.  Therapy helps you step outside of your silo and see how each experience has played a role in your life without judgment and external pressure.

I am so open about my experience because I truly believe therapy saved my life.  My anger sent me on a destructive path and caused me to mistake realness with being hurtful and mean.  Much of my anger was displaced and targeted people who had characteristics of the person who hurt me the most.  My coping strategies were ineffective and unhealthy.  I found myself in a cyclical process that I wanted to escape from, but I did not know how to reach the exit.

During my assessment for clinical services the director interviewed me and asked me one question, “Tell me about your parents.”  I immediately began to sob and cry.  I could not formulate my thoughts or my words.  She looked at me, looked down at the paper and agreed that I needed services.  I walked out of the building in disbelief.  This woman broke me down in less than 5 seconds.  I was fragile and broken.  I needed more help than simply believing that everything would get better.  My sanity required more than someone to listen to me, but someone to help me.

I have always been very open and honest so I told all of my friends that I was in therapy and they were happy for me.  Over time they started to see the changes in me and that encouraged me to continue with the process even when I felt that I no longer needed help.  I knew that being in that building held a stigma, but my future could not be derailed because of the fear of being judged.  I do not know where I would be if I never took the final step to seek help.  I do not even want to think of where I could have ended up.

I want everyone to know that there is someone qualified to listen and help you organize your thoughts and emotions.  Life is hard and will never be without bumps.  We have to accept that life will come and we need effective coping methods to properly deal with those overwhelming things.  Although I had two amazing experiences while at Howard, I had a not so great one when my husband and I went to sort through our issues.  Despite her failings, I know that there are some amazing therapist out there who will help us refocus our perspective.  Do not let one experience define your future in obtaining the things that you need.

We need more than coaching, we need therapy.  Take a moment and find time.  Get a referral and follow through with an appointment.  Get the help you need. Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms. #BeExcellent

Dealing With Trauma

A few years ago I went through a series of really traumatizing incidents.  My sister gave me her car and the first day I was in DC with it, I went to a friend’s house and it was stolen with my new laptop inside.  It was found a few days later, completely destroyed.  A few months later someone tried to kidnap me while I was walking to work at 5 am on a quiet residential street in Maryland.  Then a few months after that incident, a child (14-16 year old) jumped into my car at a gas station in Maryland and stole my brand new car.  It was also found days later but I had already bought a new car.

Through this very tough time, I thought I was processing it all mostly because I talked about it frequently with friends and family, I kept pushing through the process and I had a positive outlook on the entire situation despite the judgment I received.  People were telling me I was cursed, that I should quit school and move back home or that I needed to atone for some unknown sin.

These are some really scary incidents that some people may deal with individually at some point in their life but together and back to back, it became exceptionally difficult to feel safe.  Who is my protector?  I am pushing through the pain, proclaiming I am still blessed, and staying prayed up yet I am subject to these attacks.  Even my own father told me that I deserved all that I was getting because I did not listen to him and decided to finish high school and go to college instead of following his plan, which is still unknown.

I had to withdraw from the noise and stop allowing people to one, blame me and two, shame me.  People will tell you that you deserved things that were clearly out of your control.  They will steal the victim card from you and make you out to be a villain.  If you internalize these things, your mind will begin to blame and shame yourself for the actions of others.  Yes, I had an older car and should have had a club steering wheel lock on.  Yes, I should not have gone to a gas station so late with my roommate.  Yes, I should have tried to take a safer route to work even if it took more time.  But even if I had done all of those things, life still would have happened.  Anything could have happened.

So many of us have dealt with or are currently dealing with some form of trauma: sexual abuse or assault, physical abuse or assault, mental abuse, sudden deaths in our families, personal illnesses or illness amongst close family members or friends, thoughts of suicide, drug abuse.  Do not take responsibility for things that are out of your control.  I blamed myself for being my father’s child, for deciding to move with him after growing up with my grandparents, and after staying when I should have ran away.  I blamed myself for being poor and deciding to go to college, for never being able to fully enjoy my experience, for not making wise financial decisions when I took out my loans.  I blamed myself for every attack that I went through during that period of time.  I replayed it in my head on how I could have done things differently, what I should have done differently, why I didn’t do things differently.  I blamed me and not the actual perpetrators who should have known better and who only targeted me because of my vulnerabilities.

Many of the traumas that we experience in life are inflicted onto us by others. Some of us do not even realize the extent of the trauma and endured it, or suppressed it  and many of us have never even healed from it.  The lack of healing causes us to drag much of the wrongly placed guilt and shame on ourselves into the future.  Although we may not be able to prevent every traumatic incident, we can take control and get help.  Seek professional counseling, avoid those who attempt to blame you, and release the guilt that comes with self-blaming.  We are powerful and resilient.  Our bodies continuously regenerate new cells that replace those old cells that help us to heal internally and externally.  Although the scar remains and the memory exists, the pain and past does not have to control our present or our future.

I share my story to let you now that the road is never easy.  We all go through somethings as we walk through this life’s journey but through it all you have to remain steadfast and unmovable because YOU WIN when you don’t give up.  I won. She, Me, Her WON. Get help. Start to heal.  Be blessed.  Be you. Do you. Live in your truth. Tell your story.  On your own terms.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7syiF3Qim4