By Kerry at ‘This Takes Courage’.
You know when you grow up and things just feel wrong somehow? I always knew something wasn’t right but I think it was my separation from my ex-husband that finally brought me to the point of realizing that my past was having a bigger impact than I ever wanted to believe and that things were not okay. Somewhere along the line I finally whispered ‘I can’t do this anymore’. Part of me felt bad saying it, like I had failed at some important part of life, but I made a decision and told myself to just try and see what happens.
My current journey started in the fall of 2013 with EAP through work. I used the online counselling option because I was terrified to meet someone face-to-face and I didn’t want to talk to someone on the telephone. Gwyn listened to me bitch and complain about my ex and life as a single parent with a 1 year old and 4 year old and he eventually steered me towards a wonderful woman (I call her Judes) who sat with me and patiently waited for me to speak.
Because of the short availability of EAP Judes and I had to part ways (it wasn’t without stretching the limits though, because she continually applied for extra time and they granted it for a while). Once that happened, I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue. I wasn’t even able to bring up my past at all and I thought I was wasting everybody’s time. So, I took a break for about 6 months. But things were starting to get worse, so I called my EAP, made up some lame excuse to be able to see Judes and continued with her for another couple of months. Eventually EAP said no more and I had to make a decision.
Because my benefits wouldn’t cover a social worker and because Judes was part of my EAP, I couldn’t see her paying out of pocket. So, my only choice was to see a psychologist. The thought of seeing a psychologist absolutely terrified me. I thought there had to be something really wrong with me in order for that to happen. Psychologists were only for those with serious mental illnesses and I did not believe I had that. The other part that made it difficult was that I had to get a note from my family physician in order to be able to claim my benefits for the sessions. My doctor thought it was a good idea and wrote the referral without blinking an eye (he had no idea what was going on, just that ‘things’ had happened).
So I took my referral from my doctor and went to Judes to wrap things up. She helped me search names, she made phone calls for me and she even saw me after I met my new therapist just to make sure the transition went well.
Once Judes and I came up with a possible fit, it took me awhile to work up the nerve to call her and with the few words I was able to muster, she recommended that I call my current therapist, Dr. K.
The problem was that Dr. K was a man. I never thought I would be able to tell any of my deepest darkest secrets to another person, let alone a man, but I sent off an e-mail to see if he would accept any new clients. He called me back almost immediately and I let it go to voicemail. I eventually worked up the nerve to return his call and we arranged to meet. I went to my first session and thought I was going to throw up all over his carpet. I wasn’t sure it was a good idea, but there was something about him that didn’t absolutely terrify me. He had a way about him; soft-spoken and calm; patient and never pushing me to speak or share.
Week after week after week I would show up and week after week after week I would barely utter a sound. He simply sat there patiently waiting for me to find my words. I don’t know if that’s the way it’s supposed to be done, it’s a lot of money to sit in silence, but for me I think it was what I needed and I don’t know if I would have been able to do it any other way.
He’s allowed everything to try to help me feel comfortable enough to speak with him. I can e-mail whenever I want (which I do frequently) and I can text him too (that one took a while because it felt so invasive). Phone calls are completely acceptable although I don’t like it and I think I have called him maybe 3 times (including the first time). I often journal or doodle and I can bring those with me and we will talk about them. He has allowed me as much contact as I need and always tries his best to answer me (even when he went to Italy for a month). I feel safer with the way we’ve done it–there’s some comfort in being able to write things with pen and paper, or from my keyboard. The fear of speaking out loud is still too much for me sometimes.
We’ve been working together since February 2015 and for about the last year or so I’ve been seeing him twice a week. I like him, a lot (except when I don’t). He feels very human to me (rather than clinical), very understanding and he puts up with my crap without blinking an eye. He never, ever gives up on me.
Kerry is a 42 year old single mother of two little boys. As a child, she suffered emotional, physical and sexual abuse from family members. It took her until she was almost 40 to be able to talk about her past. Kerry is now in therapy, and is just starting to be able to talk about how she feels.
Image: bradhoc, Creative Commons