Last year, I sought out therapy again. I felt like I was on the verge of melting down between my PTSD going off the rails for the first time in years, the subsequent depression and also dealing with a great deal of crap all at once. I’m not ashamed of being in therapy. I respect people who get therapy because I honestly feel like most people should at least once or twice in their lifetimes. It’s seeking out help to give you the tools to be happier, healthier – steadier.
At the time however, I wasn’t feeling it. I even thought about writing a blog called “Are We Clicking?” because the therapist I was paired with… I just didn’t feel comfortable. I haven’t done therapy in years, but I consider myself an old pro, and I was seeking this out. It wasn’t a case of stage fright or shyness or embarrassment, and it wasn’t because I was so low at that point. I just could not get comfortable, I wasn’t confident that this therapist was the right fit for me.
I felt really bad about it too. Because the therapist was super nice, and a good listener. In fact, when deciding to discontinue therapy with her, I couldn’t even come up with a good reason beyond: “We’re not a match”; “You’re really nice, but I’m just not comfortable opening up”. For a few months, I didn’t seek out anyone new. I should have, but didn’t. I think part of this was embarrassment because I had no idea what had happened with the last one. Her background was perfectly matched to mine. She was nice, open, safe… why couldn’t I make it work? There have been times when I discontinued therapy, either because I felt I met my goals or even something more practical like relocating, but with the exception of one other time, I’ve never just “not felt it” and wanted it to end before it really got started.
I was worried that I wasn’t in a place to receive therapy. That as much as I felt I would benefit from it, I had a sort of block. I internalized this “un-match” and decided to just let everything be. Then a few months later, I decided, “I could really use therapy, I’m going to try again.”
It took a few months of looking for the right one that my insurance also would pay for, but I did it. And I’m so glad I did. I immediately connected to my new therapist. The first ten minutes I found myself thinking, “Wow, this is great. She’s great.” And she is. By the end of the first session, I felt incredibly lighter. Because I knew we were a match, and not only that, I knew this person was the right person to help me reach my goals in therapy.
Some people use/abuse therapy. They show up and just bitch about everyone and everything in their lives. Others lie to make themselves look better as if their therapist is judging them. Of course, in either situation they don’t get any real benefit from it. I can bitch to my friends, I don’t need to pay someone. And in terms of lying to make myself look better – I’ve never actually cared about looking any one way. It’s actually the healthiest thing about me – the freedom of just trying to be the best version of myself and not really caring if people like me or not. Me – I have goals. Whether it is to beat back severe depression rendering me nonfunctional or making peace with past trauma (child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence – a trifecta no one ever wants to achieve) or handling current stressors, be less anxious – there’s a list of what they have been, currently are and will be one day, and that’s okay. I want a hands-on therapist who gives me exercises, actual tools I can use in my day-to-day and do the work to change my perception, perspective and habits to be the person I want to be and reach my goals. I don’t ever want to use therapy, I want to utilize it.
My new therapist is wonderful. She’s helped me pinpoint my specific goals that will most help me achieve my biggies: being happier and less anxious in general; managing stress better. By the second session, she had already taught me a technique I can do that actually “brings me down” if I start to feel frustrated or anxious and want to cut it off and get ahead of it before it becomes this big thing. She helps me stay on track (if I start to get off topic or ramble, she calls my attention to it and re-centers me), she actively listens and empathizes but she says very little unless it’s teaching me a new coping strategy or asking questions that force me to look at things in a new way. So far, every session, she scribbles diagrams and things for me to understand what is going on, and I am a very visual person – it’s how I learn, but it also helps reduce anxiety if I can see something for myself. She never even asked me if this was how I was, but it just must be how she likes to operate and I love that.
I think I also feel better about what happened before. You have to feel comfortable with your therapist and no matter how wonderful and competent someone is – you aren’t going to gel with everyone. And that’s okay. My therapist last year, I had two sessions with and even after the first I was debating on giving her a second shot. But she was nice, and capable and on paper the perfect fit for me – but I wasn’t feeling it at all. And after, I felt that it was my fault. And if I went through several therapists before finding the right one, maybe I would need to do some introspection, but that’s not what happened.
It’s all right to not click with everyone. And you need a therapist you click with, or you’ll never feel comfortable letting down your walls and doing the work that is the whole point of therapy. Just because two people are really nice, doesn’t mean they’re going to be friends. Two people who are the perfect couple on paper may have zero chemistry. I knew this before, but for some reason I didn’t give myself permission to just not click with my therapist. I thought it was me getting in my own way. I felt like maybe I wasn’t as serious as I thought, and I wish I had just gotten over myself and allowed myself to be human. Not everyone will connect, and that doesn’t mean I wasn’t serious about connecting.
But all’s well that ends well, right? Now I have very clearly found my match, and it makes me incredibly happy and relieved and hopeful and that much more committed to the goals I’ve been carrying around for the past nine months. I’ve already started doing the work, and I’m so happy with the path I’m on now, and excited to see where it takes me.