There’s always a reason not to go to therapy.
If you have a reason not to go, I’ve probably used that reason, too. I’ve had whole stacks of index cards with reasons not to go to therapy, and some of them are pretty legitimate.
Therapy is expensive.
It’s too hard to find a good therapist.
I went once and it didn’t really do anything
My friend went once and she’s not really any better now
Therapy is for really broken/crazy people, not middle class white girls who sometimes stress about job problems.
Therapy is a luxury and a privilege for middle class white girls who sometimes stress about job problems.
how selfish do I have to be to sit in a room and meander through my childhood and exes and religious background just so that I can have some Inner Peace or Figure Shit Out when the world is burning y’all.
how can I be so narcissistic to sit and cry about That One Time that One Person did that One Thing that Hurt My Feelings when there are people dealing with terrible, terrible trauma that is so much worse than I can imagine.
I know how loud those reasons are. I’ve sat at my kitchen table number crunching before and squinting at my budget wondering where in God’s green earth money would come from to cover this. And then, after taking out extra student loans just to cover therapy that I really couldn’t afford, and after half a dozen phone calls to half a dozen therapists to try to find a good fit, I still walked out of a therapist’s office broken and hurt because not only was she a Real Bad Fit, she was a reckless practitioner and did real damage in just one session. I didn’t even make a call to another therapist for over a year.
And I’ve put off therapy because of that One Big Thing that my subconscious knew but that I wasn’t willing to admit or talk about and was scared stiff that if I showed up in a therapist’s office, she’d discover it, and I’d have to look at it, and I frankly prefered the half-life functioning that I was doing with that Big Monster shoved nicely into my closet thanks very much.
Team, I’ve been there. I know how loud those voices are.
Go to therapy anyway.
Money issues? Been there. Find a therapist on a sliding scale, because they’re out there, and yes, they even go lower than the lowest on their sliding scale if you muster up your courage and ask them. Worried about finding a good fit? Been there. Make phone calls, send emails, dish out some money for first sessions, read their Google reviews, ask all your friends because I promise you that a lot of them are in therapy and would love to recommend someone for you. Had a bad therapist once? Been there. But I’ve gone on Bad Dates too (oh my LORD have I been on bad dates), and I go on some more dates until I find a good match – I don’t toss out the idea of Love because of one awkward experiences at the sushi place.
And all those existential issues about who deserves to be in therapy, is it selfish to take care of myself in a broken world, are my problems really worth discussing, do I have the right to ask for help when there are people who are fighting demons so much bigger than mine?
Been there too.
And this is exactly why I go to therapy.
Team, I want to be good for the world. I want it so, so desperately. I want to be a better pastor, a better partner, a better friend, a better coworker. I want to be better at loving the world, and yes, I want to be better at fighting Nazis. And every day when I get up to Love the World, preach the Gospel through what I say and what I do, and reject violence in the Church and politics and daily life – gah, I never quite hit the mark that I’m hoping for.
None of us ever really do. We get tripped up, sometimes as soon as we plant our feet on the floor in the morning. We get tripped up by our own baggage. Our quirks and selfishnesses. Our neediness. Our insecurity. Our anger.
I really want all that baggage to go away. I used to fight it, really hard, as if my baggage was an Enemy Combatant that I could take down with my superior combat skills and sheer force of will. But what I’ve learned in the last few years is that you just can’t make yourself better through force of will. You can’t “kill” your inner demons as if they’re the Bad Guys. Because even the most cruel, strange, “bad’ traits of humans almost always come from a wounding.
Our souls have a lot of wounding. From our parents, from our churches, from our cultures, from the messages we got as little girls about our bodies or the messages we got as little boys about our feelings.
And then that wound rages out as violence against our intimate partner.
That wound creeps out as crippling social anxiety.
That wound turns into narcissism.
That wound can be hardened into fundamentalism that controls the Other, or covered up with hedonism that uses the Other.
That wound keeps us hating. It keeps us afraid. It keeps us full of self-loathing or self-righteousness.
People think therapy is a selfish thing. I don’t have time to go sit in a room and talk about my feelings. I’m not that effed up that I can’t fix it on my own. I’m gonna power through this shit. It would be selfish not to.
Well, guess what? When we don’t take time and care to tend to our own woundedness, other people get hurt.
Your wholeness is a good and beautiful and life-giving thing for you, and you are worth it. But your wholeness is also the foundation that you can build your creative work in the world on. When we aren’t whole, it’s so much harder to use our gifts and capacities to bring wholeness to the world.
“A tree gives glory to God by being a tree,” says Thomas Merton, “[for] the more a tree is like itself, the more it is like Him.” The more we’re like what God created us to be, the more we glorify God and love the world.
Your wholeness glorifies God.
Your healing heals the world.
Go to therapy, y’all.