“Therapy is great,” they said. “It will be so beneficial,” they said. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy my therapy sessions…that actual sessions. There’s nothing like talking to another person who helps you make sense of why that misspelling in an email won’t mean you’ll be living on the streets and jobless tomorrow. Yes, this is actually a thought I’ve had. You try to live down the embarrassment when your Outlook autocorrects PDF to Puff. Clearly that’s a termination level offense.
There’s a lot involved with therapy that no one tells you about. You think you’re going to sit there, talk out your problems and the world with be right as rain. WRONG! They give you homework! Homework! Didn’t I outgrow this once I graduated? What is that? Apparently, it’s a good therapist, which I’m still on the fence about. But still…who really wants to go home and read self help books? Then once you’ve finished, you give an oral book report back to your therapist. Kid you not, you then have to tell them what thought of the book; how you feel you can incorporate it into your life, etc. I really want to ask her for a grade at the end of those sessions.
In high school and college, I was a high B and A student. I procrastinated like crazy, but I still made the grades. It was probably then that my panic disorder first came out. I’d procrastinate till the night before. Then I’d panic. Of course I was going to fail. Of course that meant I wouldn’t graduate. Of course that meant I’d be unemployable and homeless. Then I’d die alone on the streets. After all that, and screaming out the adrenaline, I’d sit down, write my report or cram for my oral, and I’d ace it the next day. All would be right with the world. Now, my therapist gives me homework and I may do it about 25% of the time. The rest of the time, I’m hoping she forgets about it by the next session. It was easier when we first started sessions; she didn’t know me yet. Now I think she’s catching on. I wonder if she’ll believe me if I say my bunny ate the worksheets? Seriously…he does that.
No one ever talks about the work that’s involved in therapy. No one really mentions it. I wonder if it’s because they know as adults, we may not be as open to going if we knew we’d have book reports. Seriously…we pay for that.
They also don’t tell you that you will sometimes sit in the office and have literally nothing to say. During a great week, you haven’t been triggered at all, so you sit there making small talk for 50 minutes. Then you hand over cash for pretty much what was a long conversation with a barista. You just don’t get coffee after. You make another appointment and kind of hope that you have something interesting to say next week. Is it normal to worry that you’re boring your therapist? May be I should go out and have a bender to make her job easier. I’d definitely have something to talk about then.
Sometimes I sit there and try to figure out exactly what she’s thinking. She has a very expressive face, so she has a hard time hiding her reactions when I say something that clearly isn’t right. Apparently, I’m the only person she sees who plans out conversations in her head. I think of any and all possible responses from the person I’m talking to and plan accordingly. That’s not normal? Her look of surprise when I mentioned it indicated to me that it wasn’t. You mean no one is that anxious that they have to prepare for every possible outcome of the question “can you do me a favor?” Come on now, I need to make sure I don’t come off as hurt or upset if they say no. I don’t want them to feel guilty for setting a boundary. How did we get on this topic? She told me I hid my anxiety well. I can’t imagine what must have gone through her head when I explained that I prepare myself for everything. Does anyone else do that?
But over all, therapy is beneficial. I’ve learned more about myself, and I have someone there who is helping me learn healthy boundaries and behaviors, which is where I lack the most. I’m learning that may be…just may be…what I’ve been told is my fault; what I take responsibility for, is not actually mine to begin with. Learning what is my responsibility and what isn’t is a difficult and long process. Learning that people who make you responsible for their reactions or how they speak to you are not healthy individuals is definitely not easy. It’s been ingrained for quite some time that I’m responsible for it, and changing that thought process is a task in itself. Here’s hoping for some clarity with this homework. May be I’ll learn from it just like I did in school.