I was talking with some friends the other night and we were exploring what it’s like to enter therapy. My friend had a very insightful statement that going into therapy is stressful because it “stirs stuff up.” I had to agree with that! That’s been true in my professional life with my clients and with my own personal journey. And yet my perspective is a bit different than my friends: Yes is stirs stuff up, and this stuff is going to get you no matter what!
The reality is that it’s probably already got you, and got you bad. In a sense you might not even realize how small your world has become. That sense of impending doom in the morning when you wake up is now just what you accept as your life, forgetting a time when that didn’t happen. Having 2-3 glasses of wine every evening now is par for the course, where it once was a treat with friends after work. Or your relationship is feeling like a dead-end, and you are positive it’s your partner’s fault you feel this way. You start resenting people who are having fun or enjoying their life, you feel trapped, confused, and stuck. Sure, you have good days once in awhile, maybe when you decide to start a new diet, or make a new resolution to treat yourself better, or to be kinder to your loved ones. But ultimately that familiar feeling arises again that says, “Hey listen up buddy, there is something wrong with you and you will never be ok.”
Stirring all that up probably feels scary, and I get it, really! But if this sounds like you maybe you need to be stirred up a bit!? I have an old friend who says, “Comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable.”
For years I was fine with my rote way of doing things. I had good days and I had bad days, I was not super aware of what was going on with me but I was generally willing to try to have a better life. At one point I was in a relationship with someone who I loved and cared for, but she was starting to get too close and I was conveniently finding all the things wrong with her. I decided to break up with her one night. We were driving down I-70 in rural Colorado at 11 o’clock at night; I was going to tell her that night what was wrong with her and why I was breaking up with her. Right at that moment we came over the crest of a hill on the highway and there, kneeling in the middle of the road, was a gigantic elk, which had been hit and stunned by a semi truck. We hit the elk head on, skidded to the side, clipped a semi, and then went into a roll. I was not wearing a seat belt and on the 3rd or 4th roll was ejected out the passenger side window. I remember flying through the air and then slamming into a ditch 30-40 feet away from the truck we were in. I looked up at the sky and saw the clear winter night, all the stars above, and sent up a prayer of gratitude I was still alive. My then girlfriend found me a few seconds later in that ditch, a series of events took place where I was rushed to the emergency room, had a sort of spiritual/emotional experience, and went into surgery the next day.
From that event, though I still work with physical pain and issues in my body from that night, my life opened. I was stuck before and didn’t know it; I didn’t know I was blind to so much goodness and joy in my life. I was busted open in the accident, in more ways than one! My relationship continued on for several years and I learned about love and connection, then I learned about heartache and grief. I started treating my body differently and my life differently. I knew, first hand, how fast life leaves us, one second you’re here then next you’re not.
I say all this to illustrate a point: Love, growth, and healing will always come looking for you. You cannot hide from them, but you might have some choice if it’s done the easy way or the hard way! I have been pretty stubborn in my life, but have been tenderized enough by the universe that I usually say “yes” to love, growth, and healing before it comes knocking my door down and dragging me out of my protective cocoon.
So if you know there is something in you calling your attention why wait? Why prolong your suffering? There is another side to your pain that holds what it is you really want if you have to courage to turn towards it!
P.S. special prayers of gratitude to that elk who gave its life so I may live.
Karolina Walsh Psychotherapy
Providing psychotherapy, counseling, and support for grief, addictions, trauma, PTSD, relationship issues, and GLBTQIA.
“Karolina walks her talk, her ability to meet another in their capacities is sensational because she has done her own work” -Diane Israel
"An effective therapist needs to do at least two things: be compassionate and provide constructive feedback that actually changes the way people experience the world. I see many therapists who can do one or the other. I routinely watch Karolina do both..." -Patrick Weeg