From 2011 to 2012, I underwent the most intensive course of therapy I have ever gone through in my life. What’s interesting is that I didn’t go all that often. Every other week most of the time — as that was what I could afford at the time, and even then I barely afforded it, never comfortably.
But it was intensive because it was the first time I had ever actually tackled my underlying problems. The things that weren’t actually serving me — but through which I was managing a kind of ugly, self-destructive emotional survival.
Sue was the first therapist who didn’t just ask me point blank, “So what do you want to work on?” Instead, I was subjected to a long intake form prior to meeting with her, which asked me a lot of probing questions about my life. My psychological history. Any trauma I’d had.
After she read what I’d written, she suggested I take a psychometric test, which was sent off and scored by a psychologist. Once the results were back in, we finally met in person and started our sessions.
The most elevated finding on my testing and profile was dependent personality disorder. But I also seemed to have had PTSD and c-PTSD (both well treated incidentally over the years). And I was moderately anxious — which I already knew.
My therapist set to work, armed with this information, starting to work on something I would have never asked to pursue on my own: Assertiveness.
It was awful. I hated every minute of it. It was like trying to do my entire life left-handed (I’m a righty). It felt impossible most of the time.
After therapy, I would come home from sessions and curl up in the bed and sob for hours. Every time.
But I kept going back.
Sometimes You Have to Do the Thing You Hate Doing Because You Know It’ll Make You Feel Better
The fact that I kept going to therapy even though I hated it puzzled my partner at the time. Because why would I freak out so much every single time if I were going to keep going?
The reality was that freaking out was part of my process. It has always been part of my process.
I don’t like this about myself, but I’m less resilient than I want to be sometimes. There’s a part of my brain that’s very automatic and dramatic that doesn’t love or welcome change. In fact, it fears it. Gets easily overwhelmed.
But I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want to listen to that part of my brain. Because I know that if I don’t welcome change, if I don’t let in the possibility of growth, that my life will become stagnant. I won’t be safe — as that part of my brain tries to argue that I will be, avoiding the possible danger that change might bring.
I will actually be more in danger if I never grow, if I never change.
But I can’t pretend I’m not overwhelmed by change. That doesn’t work either. The stress just screams louder.
So my process now is to just admit that I hate doing the new thing. Maybe have a little meltdown in private over it. But once that’s over, I go out and do it anyway. Because I know it’s good for me.
Sometimes you just have to do the thing you hate doing because you know it’ll make you feel better.
Look, self-care isn’t always glamorous. Or fun. In my experience, it rarely is.