I’ve been in therapy for going on five (FIVE) years now, and I don’t mean a little therapy here and there. We’re talking regular therapy that we paid for out of pocket. The kind of therapy that requires me to keep notes in a special notebook and complete assignments and do a lot of hard things I don’t feel comfortable doing.
I’ve written fuck you letters to people I love and people I hate and burned them in a rusted out barrel that sat in the corner of our old backyard. I’ve toyed with hypnosis. I’ve completed EMDR and inner child work.
One time Robyn the therapist made me look in a mirror and say “I AM ENOUGH” and I couldn’t say it with a straight face so she sent me home and told me to keep trying.
I needed weekly therapy when I first got sober, followed with bi-weekly therapy, then monthly therapy, and now I’m back to bi-weekly because this is the time of year when I start to struggle. The holidays are magical and beautiful and yet every single year, I feel an incredibly deep sense of loss. My life is full — bursting, even — and yet, I still have a hard time every single year.
Over time, I’ve come to understand that the problem isn’t what I do or do not have. The problem wasn’t even how much I drank to numb myself enough to be able to tolerate the most wonderful time of the year. The problem is my brain, pure and simple.
I used to feel like I needed to explain it; I wanted a root cause to point to, something or someone to blame. But something about raising three kids who have various differences in their brains ranging from clinical anxiety to obsessive compulsive disorder made me stop and think that maybe I wasn’t ever a typical person, even before my trauma. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter.
My therapist and I have a relationship built on trust and a healthy dose of fear on my part because she sees through my bullshit and calls me on it because that’s what I need. Addiction is a bitch and it finds a million different ways to wriggle back into my life. It can be hard to tell what is real and what is a lie, and if I believe a lie and run with it, I’ll eventually self destruct.
People who aren’t addicts probably wonder how that’s even possible — how does a happy person with a damn good life just implode it all? I’ll tell you. The first lie is “I’m not really an alcoholic.” The second lie is “I can just have one.” And the third lie is “No one will ever know.” The issue is not sharing the thoughts with another person and keeping them all inside because if given enough time, they’ll take hold. And eventually, thoughts turn into actions.
I resent the fact that I have to do a lot of extra work to stay on the beam. Every time I run into a challenging situation or a difficult person, I have to talk to my therapist, go to a meeting, call a friend, write about it, burn some sage, talk about it some more, and on and on and on. It’s a lot and it’s stupid and I hate it.
I can now look at myself in the mirror and say I AM ENOUGH without laughing, because not only do I believe it, I feel it.
I exude it.
I am it.
We talk a lot about what therapy does for the kids, but this is what therapy has done for me. With the amount of money we’ve shelled out on therapy, Robbie and I could have purchased a vehicle or put it in a college fund or my boobs could have been hoisted back up to where they belong. But I don’t care because I finally feel like a whole person, even though I still get sad sometimes.
Obviously, that’s what a psychiatrist is for.