We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our trust. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals human spirit.
We’ve all had our fair share of challenges in our lives. I believe our strength arises from overcoming difficult times through the experience of healthy relationships. Therapy provides an opportunity to explore our inner thoughts and feelings and how we interact with others in the world. In therapy, we have a chance to form a trusting relationship that honors our inherent dignity and worth. It allows us to experience the true vulnerability we feel when we become emotionally intimate with another.
Therapy has been a tool for me since early adulthood. I have had good, bad, and mediocre therapists. My first therapist was the one who inspired and encouraged me to face my fears and go for what I love. My second good therapist came to me at a time when I really needed to work on the next level of change for myself. I was unhappy and didn’t know why. I knew I was repeating unhealthy patterns, but couldn’t figure it out. Therapy helped me see clearly what was going on and where it was coming from. I had an eye opening moment when I realized why I was repeating the same pattern over and over again all those years. I had not been ready for real change in my life until I recognized and worked on healing wounds from the past. Therapy helped me face the pain so I could work through it and heal. I was then ready for the next stage of my life, finding my life partner and having a child.
Marriage and motherhood have changed me. It’s changed the way I view my place in the world and how I perceive others. It’s forced me to examine how I interact with my community, extended family and the world at large. The experience of motherhood has helped reshape my beliefs and discover what values truly matter. When I was childless I only had to focus on myself. My only task was to do what was best for me. Since having my son I’m now looking at every experience through a different lens. When making important decisions, I automatically ask what is in the best interest of my son. I’ve learned that sometimes what is in his best interest is for me to practice self-care, which is an act of self-love. By allowing myself to take care of my needs, I’m teaching him one of life’s most important and valuable lessons: we need to know how to love and care for ourselves, before we can unconditionally love another.
The process of self-discovery to learn what’s most important to me, and prioritize my decisions has not been easy. I’ve been working closely with my current therapist for several months now. Marilyn Brine Gilmour is teaching me how to work through difficult thoughts and feelings that arise from a painful past, a stressful present and an uncertain future. She’s teaching me to trust my inner wisdom and to use it consciously, so that I can heal, grow and live the life my heart and soul desire. In this relationship, I can be honest, speak my truth, and feel cared about. I don’t have to hide any parts of myself and it feels so liberating!
Therapy is one of the most useful tools we can use to heal past wounds and make informed decisions in the present. We learn we don’t have power over our past, but can choose behaviors consciously and wisely now, to create a new future.
Through therapy, I am healing. Through healing, I am helping myself. Through helping myself, I am helping others.
Guest post by Trisha Adams
A Little Background Music
During the first week of April 2006 my husband and I made a life changing decision. We were going to try to have our first child. At the time I was a part-time student working towards my BSEE and by the end of that semester I would have 12 more classes until completion, so about a year and a half. My SIL told me it took her well over a year to get pregnant and so with that knowledge my husband and I actively began baby making. I was under the impression that since it was going to take so long that I had plenty of time to finish my course work. It was the beginning of the realization that pregnancy and motherhood is very much an individualized and circumstantial situation.
It was in my opinion the hottest day of June 2006 and my mother was visiting in time to go to the Lowell Folk Festival. I’d been looking forward to it after having a friend introduce me to the festival the year before. My husband, my mom, and I leave the house to meet up with the same friend. We lived within walking distance of downtown Lowell and we were all complaining about the heat. After about 10 minutes of walking around the festival I had to call it quits. I was feeling sick from the heat and just couldn’t take it anymore. To end this quickly a few days later I finally took a pregnancy test. Yep, positive. So much for it taking over a year to conceive.
I spent the summer working for the Museum of Science, Boston and started the fall semester taking four courses. Things were great; I started out the semester strong and was confident I’d be able to get through the semester just fine despite being pregnant. I told two of my Professors about my pregnancy and they were great about it. In fact my only female teacher that semester gushed about how productive she was during her last two trimesters and that once I got past the first trimester I’d be golden. She confessed that she loved being pregnant. I was giddy and couldn’t wait for that 2nd wind to come. I waited, and waited, and had trouble retaining the information I was reading for class, and developed test anxiety, and became a crier.
I had to hang in the towel the day I had two exams (I was about four months pregnant at this time). I was not truly prepared for one but the other I had spent the time working problems and making sure I thoroughly understood the concepts. I was prepared and figured between classes I could better prepare for the 2nd exam of the day. I got to class, by that time I had gotten used to feeling flushed during that 8am class so I thought nothing of it. The TA handed out the exam. I wrote my name and proceeded to flip through it quickly and stared at the first problem. My brain had become a blank slate, I began sweating even more and was barely keeping it together not to breakdown in sobs. I didn’t even bother staying on campus for the 2nd exam. I went home cried and withdrew. I admitted defeat and thus began my struggle with how I felt I was identified.
An Introduction to a New Genre
Health wise my pregnancy was relatively easy. I did have some food aversions and got a little stir crazy that I couldn’t have a turkey and swiss sandwich but otherwise uneventful. Emotionally I was feeling like a failure because I had only made it through half of the semester. My self worth was taken down another notch when my family decided that I shouldn’t have a baby shower while I was visiting for Christmas that year. My mother tried to force the issue and told them that it was unreasonable to expect me to take the four-hour drive from MA to NY while I was eight months pregnant but they insisted that six months was too early for a baby shower. I thanked my mother, sulked and raged. As an aside; a dear friend of mine and her husband will forever have a huge place in my heart for throwing a day to celebrate my daughter after she was about a month old. Even now I tear up about it, seriously I’m going to have to wipe the tears away soon.
My daughter was born in March 2006 and I joined the ranks of stay-at-home-moms. I never dreamed in a million years that would be the case. It wasn’t what I grew up with so the idea never crossed my mind that it would be my situation, but it was. The concept didn’t bother me. After all to my friends I was still me, not my husband’s wife or my daughter’s mother. I was planning to go back to school part-time in the fall and ready to work out daycare. Unfortunately plans changed and in August 2006 we moved to FL.
A Change in Tempo
I spent my first 18 years of life growing up in Queens, NY, the better part of a decade in Boston, MA and a little under a year in Lowell, MA. I was a city girl. I didn’t get my drivers license until I was 25. I believe in public transportation and pedestrian friendly neighborhoods. Now I was in unfamiliar territory. I had to worry about insects and alligators. I had to drive everywhere. There were places that didn’t have sidewalks and street lamps. Worst off I only knew two people.
When you move to a place where you only know a handful of people and everyone else you meet is a co-worker of your husband you become “your husband’s name here’s wife, your name here”. When you stroll around your neighborhood in the middle of the day you will eventually encounter other SAHMs. You will be “your name here, your child’s name here’s mom”. And then the conversation begins to revolve around your children and you forget that the person you are talking to is not merely a PR rep. for their children but a woman who has accomplished things prior to being a mother and may have plans for herself that does not center around her children.
I think there is a misconception around staying at home. I think we have been told that as mother’s we should sacrifice ourselves whole-heartedly and have a child centric universe. What greater sacrifice is there than dropping everything to be with your child 24/7 for at minimum the next five years? I am probably about to commit some sort of SAHM blasphemy by saying this, but really? Is it really reasonable to be under the expectation that just because you decided to have a child(ren) you want to give up your sense of self and any plans you have for yourself? I stay at home but it would not have been my first option. It is what works for my family and our situation right now.
This is the perspective I am coming from. My daughter is now four and her little brother is due August 2011. I have since transferred to the nearby state university and have every intention of finishing my final two courses and claiming that BSEE that was been long in the works this December.