I’ve been in therapy since I was 12 years old. These days my current therapist and I chuckle over the very real idea that if therapy was an academic pursuit, I’d be sitting nice and comfortable with my PhD by now. It’s been a long road and sometime the work I had to do and the lessons I had to repeat were painful. But these days I feel good. I mean really, really good. So good in fact that my GOD and my universe saw fit to reintroduce me to a blog entry I wrote some five or six years ago about my introduction to and the evolution of my therapeutic experience.
So I’ve retitled this first one “Some Things I Might Have Changed before I Realized I Didn’t Need to Change a Damn Thing.
I suppose if I thought about it (and I do, all the time), I might submit the argument that my mother ingested the elements of psychotherapy and passed them to me in my birthing fluids. Perhaps it was her own psychiatric partnerships or maybe it was all that damn Valium. But I swear I was born asking who am I? Where am I? And how the Hell did I end up here with you people?
Having spent most of my adolescence attending a Park Slope prep school, I had quite a bit of exposure to white people and their peculiarities. In fact from the age of 12 through 19 my very best friend was a white girl named Kate (I’ve changed her name so she doesn’t strangle me). We were kindred spirits, equally bewildered as she also wondered “where the hell am I?” In fact, it was at Kate’s family dinner table (my house didn’t have one of those) that I had my first discussion about “therapy”. Kate’s parents (she lived with 2 nuts, I just had 1 at home) were suggesting that Kate (another peculiarity, my Father never suggested I do anything – he just told me to damn well do it) attend therapy as a way to cure what they were sure was her latest bout of adolescent influenza. As I eavesdropped on their discussion, fascinated by the parent-child dynamic that could entertain these dialogs, I became spellbound by all their talk of conversation, dialog and “getting to the heart of the matter”. In my father’s house, no one talked and in my mother’s house, everyone medicated. Yet here was my white family talking to each other about talking to other people! Beyond that, they were honestly considering paying to have another adult (a stranger at that) talk to their child.
I remember thinking how strange my beloved white people were and wishing that I could have some, just some, of the possibility that came so easily to them.
Kate’s mind was already made up. There was no way she was telling her “innermost” to any adult paid by her parents. The possibility for betrayal was too big. I, on the other hand, had no secrets, only fears, questions and concerns. So, with a boldness fueled by many nights at a caucasian dinner table, I spoke up in staunch opposition to my friend’s idiocy, “I think I might like therapy!”
And so it began, within weeks, my white family had introduced me to the neighborhood social service agency and I began what has become a near 30 year experience of therapy and “guided introspection”. That introspection has shepherded me through myriads and mazes and allowed me an outlet that was a lifeline for the little girl that I was and an essential for the woman I have become.
There is just one thing, just one that I would change. And I only bring this up because you asked me.
My own introspection, not the guided one but the one I often do unguided, has at times, left me crippled with indecision and immobilized by murkiness behind my own motivations. Now, after all these years of psychotherapy, I sometimes wish I didn’t know so much about myself. I wish I could allow myself the indulgence of being a “!@#-upped individual”. I wish I didn’t question the “whys” of every damn thing I do. I’m tired of thinking about it! My therapist (of course I still have one) tells me that I have more than earned the right not to think about everything so damn much. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m much better that I was say, 20 years ago, but I still struggle. Now at 43 years old, my introspection asks less about my impact on the world and more about its impact on me. As a child my introspection was driven by my desire to be better so the world would love me. Now my introspection is driven by my desire to be better to myself so that I can love more of the world. As I continue to grow up, I want to learn more about trusting what all these years of introspection has shown me about myself. I want to trust that GOD has put good stuff in me on purpose for a purpose. That if I decided today that I wanted to be a f#$%&*-ed up individual” for the rest of the evening, that GOD is still going celebrate me and love me forever.
So while I might wish my introspection came with its own On/Off switch what is true is that now I have earned the right to equip it with a dimmer switch.