Last year, I decided to go to a therapist to talk about why I have such a hard time controlling my emotions. My avoidance of this problem has resulted in arguments that go on too long, lying on the couch in a state of depression most times that I’m alone longer than a few hours, and heightened anxiety turning into paranoia about my relationships. I saw one therapist for five months before she moved her office to Bellevue, and I, without my own car, considered that too far to take the bus, especially in rush hour, so I decided not to see her anymore. If I’m going to bus to the east side, it will be to see a friend and it will be on the weekend so I have lots of time.
Talking to a professional really helped. I put it off for way too long. She taught me to practice mindfulness and take a step back from my own conflicts and look at them objectively, pinpointing why something made me feel a certain way and what I could have done to de-escalate instead of escalating further. Everyone around me noticed it helping. When she moved, I told myself I would find a new therapist soon. I didn’t. It showed. Was it laziness? Depression? Self-doubt? Fear that I wouldn’t be able to find another person who listened as well as she did or validated my feelings as well? Regardless, my lack of a healthy outlet quickly became a detriment to my emotional well-being. It was almost seven months later that I finally began my search for a new therapist. It was almost too late for at least one of my friendships. Almost.
I’ve now been seeing someone for about a month or two. I only see him every other Thursday because of cost, even though he is charging me well-below his asking rate since it’s all I can afford. Meeting every other week certainly makes it hard to remember what happened since we last spoke, but most times, I will just pick some argument or tense moment that happened recently as a result of someone’s (usually my) insensitivity or insecurity and we’ll focus on that and talk about what I learned from that. We dig deep. I am learning where my emotions come from again, and though I’m not perfect, I think I am doing better at handling them. I think I am getting better at expressing my needs while recognizing others’ and knowing that what I want isn’t always what someone else can give. It is certainly difficult, but it is so rewarding to talk to someone whose whole passion in life is listening to others’ problems and helping them understand why they feel that way and figuring out what they can do about it. I hope that one day, I will have a firm enough grasp on my emotions that I won’t need a professional, but I am still learning. I have a long way to go, but it is helping. I am doing my best.
For the last few weeks, Seattle has been covered in a frosted glass snowglobe of smoke and ash. There has literally been ash falling from the sky, coating cars, floating in and landing on tables in pubs, trapping in the summer heat, forcing asthmatics to stay indoors… Walking through the city, with our new white skies and orange sun, feels like walking through an apocalyptic wasteland. It had already started to feel like the new normal until today. Today, the smoke has started clearing (for now), and a little bit of blue is peeking in. That’s what being in therapy feels like for me. Not addressing my issues and letting them eat me up and ruin my life feels like the end. It feels like dying. Being in therapy feels like blue skies peeking in.