Friends call me crazy at work. My Girlfriend calls me crazy at home. I always have a joke, or a quick comeback, or just some silly response to a situation that catches people off guard. If I hear one common theme when people describe me, it’s…
Not really of course. I don’t go around loping of people’s heads or pulling legs off ants. I don’t howl at the moon or wander around the street with a shopping cart talking to God.
Nope. I’m just as sane as you are.
But I say all that to say this. I’m a real fan of therapy. Not because I’m crazy, but because I’m not! And I can prove it!
I actually started seeing a therapist about 10 years or so ago. I had just lost my job when my wife kicked me out after I caught her cheating. (She kicked ME out? There’s something wrong with this picture! But I digress…) This woman was the love of my life. We were so good together, and so much alike my friends used to say that she was just me with tits. She was my soulmate.
Or so I thought.
So, to say I was devastated when she kicked me out is like saying that an atomic blast is a little warm. There are no words to describe my total and utter despair. I had to find a new place to live, but I was unemployed (Remember?) At the time I was drawing unemployment, but it was just enough to survive. Barely. My food budget was $25 a week. On a good week. Lots of egg sandwiches and Ramen Noodles. Not a good time. But then I started seeing someone.
At first, it was an hour of her listening to me cry. And Cry some more. Then cry until I couldn’t breathe. (And so on…)
And then things begin to change…….
My best friend at the time also went through her own breakup just a few months after I did. We all deal with things in different ways, and she turned to alcohol. Okay, I’ll admit, I had a wee bit of that myself. Many of nights we would sit and drink wine together sharing this immense misery. But she REALLY Turned to the booze. Over time I started to get a little better, and she just kept on drinking. She started drunk texting me in the middle of the night… One minute it was “I love you man”, then the next yelling and mad at me. And then she switched to phone calls with the same. I kept trying to encourage her to get help, but it fell on deaf ears. We just about reached the breaking point when her daughter called me at 2:00 am to ask if her Mom was with me. She wasn’t. She had passed out on the couch at her house when her daughter came home, but when the daughter got up to pee, her Mom was gone. (Her daughter was 22 by the way…) So she called me. I made all the calls to local hospitals, and to the jail, but she was nowhere to be found. Finally, it occurred to me to check at her ex’s house. He only lived about 5 miles from me, so I got dressed and drove over. It was now about 4:30am, and sure enough, there was her car! She had gotten up, drunk, and decided to drive over to his house, where they screwed, and she passed out again. That was her account later, when she was lamenting to me again about how miserable she was. I again encouraged her to get help, but she wouldn’t have anything to do with it. The final straw was a few weeks later, when she called me at 3:00 am crying… She asked how did I manage to recover from the breakup? And I told her…. therapy and a lot of hard work. And she said…
“That’s a lot of psycho babble mumbo jumbo… what really works?”
I wished her luck, asked her to please get help, and hung up the phone. We haven’t spoken since. I do hear from her daughter from time to time, and she’s coping. Barely. And still goes back to her ex (who is now remarried) occasionally for a one-nighter. And she’s miserable.
Some things just can’t be handled on your own.
I have another friend who is really struggling as well. She has a huge fear of commitment, and an even bigger one with intimacy. And she can’t remember anything at all about her life before she was 8 years old. Personally, I think she’s dealing with some abuse issues, but that’s another story. I keep encouraging her to find a good counselor and learn how to face commitment and intimacy issues. But she is terrified. She’s afraid that therapy is going to bring things up and force her to remember all the issues she’s suppressed from her early years.
But I disagree.
I told her a story. There was a young man who was absolutely terrified of elephants! I’m not talking scared, he would get physically ill just talking about them. If he saw a photo of one, he would break out in a cold sweat, start shaking, and go into a complete panic. No rhyme or reason, he was just scared to death. So he finally agreed to therapy. (You can only ignore elephants for so long) They started off easy… A few conversations. Then watching cute cartoons with elephants. Horton hears a who…. George of the Jungle… anything with elephants in non-threatening environments. Over time they slowly progressed through various levels of interaction until he could deal with a trip to the zoo, and come face to face with his biggest fear. He wasn’t comfortable, but he wasn’t having panic attacks either.
A few years later he took his daughter to the circus, where she absolutely fell in love with the elephants! And the joy she found was only accomplished by all his hard work. He had mastered his fear.
Now, the reason he was so terrified of elephants was that as a small boy, he witnessed a circus elephant run amok and trample several small children right in front of him. Seeing a 5,000 pound beast stepping on a 5 year old’s head is not something a child can deal with. The memory was locked away, but he retained a deep fear of the animal. And he got over it. He got over it without reliving the trauma.
He learned to deal with his fear, not the memory.
I see therapy as coaching. Tiger Woods was the number one golfer in the world. And he thought he was too good for a coach and fired Mark Harmon. His swing began to completely fall apart shortly thereafter. He fell from the #1 spot, and never recovered. Of course there was the incident with his wife and the 9 iron… but yet another story.
The point is, none of us are too good to not need help or the insight from others.
My Mom used to tell me that there are two basic kinds of people in the world; diagnosed and un-diagnosed. And it’s the Diagnosed that are the lucky ones. They have a chance to heal.
I know I’m a much better person now. Not because of anything my therapist has done, but because I’ve worked on myself with the help of a professional. She hasn’t fixed anything. She never gives advice or tells me what I should do. She listens. She makes observations. She asks questions. And at the end of a session, I say… wow. I did not know that about myself. That’s something I can fix. Understanding is the first step of healing. Honesty with yourself is the path to change. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING is too big that it can’t be overcome. And with a lot of hard work, and a great therapist, I’m comfortable with myself. I can be silly. I can be a smart ass. I can be Me. But I’m not Crazy, and I can prove it.
Just ask my therapist.