I made a commitment to spend one year in therapy in order to get to know myself. Based upon a recommendation, I went with someone who was a pastor as well as a therapist. This therapist took a rigid, militaristic approach to our therapy sessions. It was supposed to be "therapeutic." Far from it; the experience proved to be painful and unproductive. Looking back, I can hardly believe I survived the ordeal. I thought I would never dare to try therapy again.
My next experience with therapy came because my boyfriend at the time and I were constantly fighting. Both of us felt that we needed a referee. It was hard work finding a therapist that I knew I could relate to. Eventually a dear friend of mine, who had just begun her own therapy journey, recommended a therapist. We met and I knew it was a match. I learned it is wise to "shop around" until you find a therapist you feel comfortable with.
I remember my first encounter well. My boyfriend accompanied me, but with the greatest reluctance. We weren't even out of her lobby when the first words out of his mouth was his angry declaration that he had "nothing to say" and was there only "to support me". I was mortified. I felt exposed and vulnerable.
My boyfriend's hostility was no problem for the therapist. She was kind, but firm, and soon made us feel comfortable. In those first sessions we succeeded in getting my boyfriend to open up and share his thoughts and feelings. And, of course, so did I.
Later, through those conversations, I decided to go forward with individual counseling. I was tired of hurting. I needed to ensure my own emotional well being. And I needed to understand why I kept doing in relationships what I was doing: scuttling them without even realizing it. Thus began our weekly sessions.
As a Latina with cultural nuances to add to my baggage, the therapy experience helped me to see where and how I had inherited certain behaviors that were causing me so much pain. I learned methods to unlearn learned behavior. In the course of my therapy sessions my therapist helped me learn to "love myself appropriately".
As I became healthier and happier, what started out as weekly therapy sessions evolved into less-frequent coaching sessions. While I miss our weekly conversations, I make it a point to go in for quarterly or twice a year tune-ups. I carry with me little "truisms" that remind me to "be gentle with myself" and I now laugh at myself when I revert to former, unhealthy behaviors.
Thanks to the therapy I received, I can now say that I lead a very blessed, happy and fulfilled life.
Sandra's Story is an actual testimonial from a client. The name has been changed to preserve the client's privacy. It is hoped that the story will offer insight, hope and encouragement to others who may be experiencing similar incongruities in their lives.
Thank you, Sandra, for sharing your story.