Thursday, February 14, 2019

Gems from therapy: Is loving even worth it?

For the second installment of Gems from Therapy I thought I’d do a love edition…what, with it being love month and all. And let me tell you, my therapist, “Reba” got straight to the heart of the matter in our last session. What she said brought me to tears.

It started with me sharing a story. That’s usually how counseling starts. A client tells a story and then the counselor draws out all feelings around it. I told her that yet another couple close to me had bitten the dust. By all appearances, they would divorce. Maybe it’s my age, but last year alone I saw four marriages and about double the amount of splits. That’s just in my personal life. That doesn’t even count all the clients I’ve counseled with marriages in crisis. As someone who hasn’t been married yet but desires to that scares me. How could it not?

I shared as much with Reba, and in turn, she shared her own story. You see, Reba lost her husband to cancer ten years ago. Around the same time one of her sons was deciding what to do in his dating relationship. He had just lost his father (her husband) and he too had witnessed a seemingly happy couple married for years suddenly part ways. He went to her one day and asked pointedly, “What is the point of getting married if it only ends in tragedy? It’s either death or divorce. There’s no other way out. Why bother?” Reba looked at me pointedly and without giving me her response she asked, “What would you tell him?”

It would be a whole other blog post to comment on how masterfully executed that counseling intervention was. Suffice it to say, her son’s question was exactly what I had been pondering but hadn’t articulated. What is the point? Pain is the only way out of love. It took me a few moments to compose myself enough to respond. I shrugged and said with a meager voice and tear-filled eyes, because it’s worth it. There’s so much laughter and joy and love to experience. Even when it ends, you are better for having experienced it.

I said it and meant it. Risking is worth it. Hoping is worth it. Trying is worth it. Giving is worth it. Opening up is worth it. This view lessens the fear because the outcome isn’t nearly as important as the process. When it’s all said and done, if you can look back and say, I loved, then it was all worth it. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Wear it like you mean it


Honestly, it all started with a quip turned Tweet: Anxiety should count as cardio. It had been a particularly rough week for me on the mental health front and my heart felt like it was beating out of my chest. No, I wasn’t startled and nothing particularly stressful had happened. It was just anxiety doing its thing, leaving me feeling like I just ran a 5k, minus all the lovely endorphins.

I shared my thoughts with my partner who had already been toying with the idea of an apparel line. Then after some back and forth, The Wellness Collection was born. It’s an apparel line dedicated to spreading the gospel of mental health. We figure, we’re all in this together. Why not offer encouragement to everyone on their unique journey toward wellness?

It’s been a process to accept my own struggles with emotional wellness. But self-compassion and a touch of humor have gone a long way. Therefore, allow us to give words to things that are hard to say. Your only job is to wear it like you mean it. 



For more information on The Wellness Collection visit https://www.mywellnesscollection.com/

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Gems from Therapy: Feelings Edition


It’s a new year and I imagine a lot of you are considering therapy, perhaps for the first time ever. If so, good. I’ve been intentionally transparent about my own mental health experience and how, yes, even counselors need counselors too. I do that to normalize and demystify the process so you start to view it as any other form of self-care.

Not only is therapy great for giving you space to be and feel; it also teaches you a lot. In fact, every time I leave a counseling session I walk away with some valuable gems, a new way to look at things. That’s why throughout this new year I’ll offer periodic blog posts on gems I’ve learned from therapy. First up, is my counselor’s wise overview of feelings. For the sake of her privacy, I’ll call her Reba. Tell me if you’ve ever heard a more succinct way of understanding the complex world of human emotions.

Reba defines the primary emotions we experience in the following ways:

Anger
This is the emotional reaction when things aren’t as they should be.

Fear
This is the emotional reaction to feeling physically or emotionally unsafe.

Sadness
This is the emotional reaction to loss.

Happiness
This is the emotional reaction when things are as they should be.

According to Reba, each feeling has an action to resolve it. If we’re angry because things aren’t as they should be, we should fix it. We should find whatever is in our control to solve the problem. If we’re afraid because we feel unsafe, we should take steps to restore our sense of safety. (Note: It’s possible to feel afraid and still be safe). If we’re sad because of real (or perceived) loss, we should grieve it. Finally, if we’re happy because things are as they should be, we should embrace it and give thanks.

How does that overview help you? How does this perspective help you navigate your feelings? In light of what you feel right now, what will be your response? 



Stay tuned for future Gems from Therapy. I promise you’ll want to schedule with a therapist right away. ;)