One could say “it’s complicated” when referring to my relationship with therapy. When I was maybe 12 and my parents got divorced I started hiding in my mom’s closet and telling her I wanted to die. I was a kid, my world was ripped apart and the “fun parent” (dad) moved out. Mom sent me to therapy. I don’t remember much about it except the woman therapist had curly red hair and freckles and she took me to the movie theater in the building and bought me popcorn, very cool as I loved movie theater popcorn. Not really sure it helped but I didn’t die and eventually I stopped getting free (to me) popcorn because mom stopped taking me.
In my early teens mom tried to kill herself several times. Once I came home from school to find her all doped up, swaying on her feet and slurring her speech. While we waited for the ambulance to come mom picked up the yellow pages, flipped through to the therapy section and shoved it in my face saying, “If anyone asks, these are the people that killed me.” On the page were several ads circled in red and some with a circle and an X. Mom’s therapy did not work, she took her life when I was 14.
As an adult I had these two experiences in my mind anytime someone mentioned therapy. So it’s no surprise that I avoided it like the plague, even though there may be free popcorn involved.
Then I got cancer. Cancer brings up some shit like, am I going to die and how can I continue to live with this crippling fear of relapse hanging over my head? I was urged to talk to someone and I agreed because it was the social worker at the cancer hospital, seemed appropriate and harmless. We had good chats and I feel talking to her really did help.
In the years since diagnosis I’ve seen her a few times, I’ve also seen a man I call The Soul Electrician who did some outrageous regression therapy in the form of energy work. WOW! That felt like TEN years of talk therapy in two hours. Super effective but kind of like hunting for rabbits with a nuclear missile. Not something you can handle too frequently.
When we found out I could not carry our kid I fell into a horrible depression, so bad I turned to the real professionals. I was REALLY scaring myself and thought I needed a REAL psychologist. So I found one.
The part I hate most about therapy is that first visit. I have a large closet to unpack and it really takes it out of me to tell it to a stranger. I sat in the very swanky office of this very large woman and unloaded. At the end I looked up and she was sniffling, tears spilling onto her ample bosom. She said, “I’m sorry for the tears but that’s an incredibly sad story.” She proceeded to cry quite a bit. I found myself apologizing and comforting her. Fuck.
I never went back.
Surrogacy did not go well and since that time things have been up and down. At one point I found myself googling “lethal dose of X” I remember pulling my hands off my keyboard and feeling very nauseated. Googling ways to die like I shop for cat collars. I told Brett he needed to hide all the dangerous drugs until I found someone to talk to. This time I turned to my good friend who also struggles with chronic health issues. My friend has had this therapist that’s so good the second hand stuff my friend tells me, that her therapist told her, is often super helpful. So I bit the bullet on the out of pocket expense and went and saw her.
After I unloaded on her she took a deep breath and said, “Well no wonder you turned to suicide as an option, it was so clearly laid out to you as a child. For now, let’s just know that’s there, respect it and move on because you’re too smart to kill yourself which is obvious to me because you’re here.” She put two jars in front of me, one was very small like a teeny honey jar and it was full of sand. She said, “You’re here in this little jar and the sand is you wanting to have a baby. There is no room for anything else here. What I want us to work toward is this big quart jar.” She took the little jar and dumped the teaspoon of sand into the quart jar. “I don’t want you to stop wanting and working toward having a baby, see that’s still here (pointing to sand). What I do want you to do is think about creating more space for YOU to think about and do other things while you work on this one heavy thing. That’s going to be our goal, build you a bigger jar.”
So, that’s what I’ve been doing these past 9 months since my last entry. A lot has changed. We’re still working toward being parents and it’s hard, REAL hard but we’re working on it while we live and love in this bigger jar.
I took a month off and went to Massachusetts and learned how to teach yoga at a place called Kripalu, now I teach yoga every Sunday. I’ve started telling stories in front of audiences. I told my first public story at The Bee (a wonderful local monthly story telling event, highly recommended) and I won! I’ll be taking that same story to a live recording of a national podcast called RISK! on September 9th at the Urban Lounge (tickets are going fast!). I found a singing teacher and after two months I got up and sang in front of people which has been a deep fear and longing for years. I was shaking so hard on stage I thought I’d disintegrate and vaporize on site! It’s uncomfortable and hard to learn new things and face fears! I’m growing another beautiful garden and am preparing my canning strategy and already thinking of a large garden remodel for next year. Recently we took our little dog Watson to San Diego to experience the beach for the first time, we stayed in a place called The Dog Mahal. (You can see some photos on Watson’s Instagram account @WatsonRaeRocket) In a month or so I’ll be spending a week on Lake Powell with my Dad, my hubs, my surrogate and her hubs. (She’s STILL and will FOREVER be my Magical Unicorn) I’m working hard to expand my jar.
Some folks think I don’t work full time because we’re rolling in the dough. Not true. I don’t work full time because taking care of me and ensuring my jar remains expanded takes time. The pic above may seem like a typical Instagram snap but THAT’S my therapy now. We underestimate the value of self-care, we view it as selfishness or indulgence the flags of a truly sub-par human. It’s actually the opposite, the person who puts self-care above the attainment of things is a smarter, happier, more loving individual who is able to give more to her friends, family and community.
So when you don’t see me out, or you do see me out treat me like you do everyone else. It is not polite to ask your buddy Bob how his reproductive health is so please, don’t ask me. It’s real private, we’re struggling and we just want you to treat us like humans, not wounded humans. Brett and I are working hard to give some space and positive vibes to the whole process and we could use your help. Treat us like you just saw us mooning the White House on CNN. Well wishes, prayers, kind thoughts and good vibes are most certainly welcome, in silence. If this seems like too much to ask, maybe you should see a therapist and talk about it.
To anyone suffering with depression, anxiety and thoughts of self-harm know this: You can make your jar bigger. Talk to someone, a friend, a family member, a peer or a therapist. Therapists are NOT all created equal, there are good ones and there are bad ones. Don’t let the bad ones sour you on the whole profession. The good ones are worth the time, money and effort because you’re a priceless sparkling magical human and if I can endure the shit life hands out, so can you. We got this.