So, check this out…
I’ve been seeing a therapist.
How long, you ask?
Hang on, let me check Zelle.
Started back in April.
Why, you ask?
Goodness, aren’t you inquisitive.
I’ll keep that to myself – for now.
But I will share some things I’ve been surprised to learn.
About me – and maybe you, too.
The first thing I’m figuring out is my relationship to the idea of therapy.
I’ve long been envious of people who say how much they LOVE their therapist.
“That must be amazing,” I’d think.
To have a person who really GETS YOU.
Never judging, but gently nudging you towards a better way to think, act… be?
Who doesn’t want that?
But, how do you find such a therapist?
Before now, I’d never seen a therapist more than three times before bailing.
I had mental hangups about it.
Assuming my “problems” weren’t big enough to warrant therapy.
Compared to other patients… you know, people working through actual trauma… My empathic tendencies feared I’d come off like a whining, privileged, guy who just needs someone to listen.
Forget that my mom died when I was 29, weeks before I got married.
Or that I died once, and came back to life.
Or that I haven’t had a full night’s sleep without Ambien for over 20 years.
I mean, mostly, I’m good.
So, what’s there to talk about?
The first few times I tested the waters and booked sessions, I’d plop down on the cozy couch, slide aside the box of tissues, and proceed to counsel myself at a hundred-fifty an hour.
“So, what’s been going on in your life lately?” they’d ask in a gentle tone.
I’d stroke my beard for a moment, bring up a thing that was kinda bothering me, talk through it myself until it seemed “solved,” then leave feeling jipped because the therapist barely said a word.
“I must be too smart for therapy,” I’d think during my victorious elevator ride to the parking lot.
Those of you with higher emotional awareness than me are chuckling right now and whispering, “Ahhh, classic avoidance.”
Tell me about it.
Here’s the thing, though…
I’ve been seeing this new therapist (we’ll call him “Nick”), for what, nearly three months now? And enjoying it… but, we haven’t even dug into any of the real shit yet.
Nick uses the Enneagram as a guide for the therapy.
At first, I was like, “Ugh. I really don’t want to pay this cat to guide me through a friggin’ workbook an hour at a time.”
But, I wanted to make progress, and he seemed good at what he does, so I went with it.
Plus, he wears cool suits and has random tattoos, which gives the impression that he’s done some living.
I won’t tell you the Enneagram has been “mind blowing” or anything like that.
I don’t take any one personality assessment or therapeutic approach as dogma.
They’re what they are…
A frame for understanding yourself.
The way you think…
The actions you take…
The results you get…
And making sense of why that is.
Unlike therapists I’ve steamrolled over in the past, though, Nick was quick to call me on it.
“Do you feel like you use intelligence as a tool to avoid certain issues?” He asked in our first session.
I brushed off the idea, saying something about how I don’t consider myself an “intellectual person,” but internally, my confidence in him was growing.
So, he asked a bunch of questions, and he took a bunch of notes.
My homework after the first session was to take what Nick considers the “official” Enneagram assessment.
Turns out the Enneagram isn’t copyrighted, because the dude who first created it in the 1960s, Oscar Ichazo, did so by fusing together a number of ancient wisdoms. And, apparently, wasn’t savvy (or interested) enough to work the system for a copyright.
So, there are a bunch of different versions of it floating around.
Anyway, according to the one I took, my dominant Enneagram types are 9-3-4.
I’ll spare you the meanings, except to say that I chose to not work through the 9 (Peacekeeper) first, but instead, chose to focus on the 3 (Achiever).
Which, in itself, is indicative of some issues I’m uncovering.
I’ll save those for a future blog post story.
For now, though, I want to encourage you to seek therapy, if you think it could benefit you.
There is still far too much stigma around mental health.
Which is strange.
Because no one makes it to this point unscathed in some way.
Some get their scathing right oughta the gate.
Others, further down the road.
But, every one of us needs to feel seen, and heard.
And given some context for our instincts – both good and bad.
(Even if we try to hide in the very room where we go to do so.)
Remember, there is no competition for the deepest wounds or the nastiest scars.
Yours are yours because they’re yours.
And you deserve to heal.