I have an amazing therapist. In the three and a half years that I have been seeing her, she has helped to recognize when my scared little girl self is trying to convince me that nobody loves because I am unworthy of being loved and tell her to go take a nap.
When I first started seeing her it was because my husband and I were on the verge of divorce. Actually it was worse than divorce, it was war. We were in a cycle of revenge and getting back at each other while both trying to get the other to “behave” and “act right”. There were ultimatums, yelling matches, insults, threats of divorce and plenty of “I wish I had never married you”s.
In the middle of our worst fight, I threw things at him and my oldest child called the cops. There we sat in our living room filled with police officers trying to figure out exactly what had happened to the happy couple in the wedding photos hanging on all the walls around them. One of the officers even pointed to one of those photos and said “Ya’ll obviously loved each other once, try and think about that day” as I sat in a chair shaking from how angry I was that they seemed to be looking at me like I was the problem when they didn’t see through my husband and see all of his issues. It’s easy to see the issues all over the face and body language of the person who no longer gives two fucks about proper police-are-in-your-house manners. Looking back, my husband saved us from going to jail by having a sense of respect for law enforcement and keeping himself together. That explains why in my first marriage, someone always went to jail. My first husband gave less fucks than I did.
I called a therapist after crying myself to sleep asking God to please bring me a therapist, an exorcist and maybe a gift card to the local liquor store. He answered one of those prayers. The day that I walked into her office, everything began to change. I was ready to do anything to stop hurting myself, my kids and my husband.
We have looked at my abuse, my relationship with my mother, my childhood, my fear, my anxiety, my relationship with my kids, my codependency and recently she helped me process the death of my uncle. She has been one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me. Even when I am so far behind in paying her, she still sees me and my kids. Who does that? Oh, and she’s Catholic.
One of the tools that I have started using is asking myself “what do I know for sure?”. It is something that she taught me to ask myself because I tend to let my imagination go wild and start coming up with scenarios in my head of the worst outcome possible. When my husband and I fight about how to deal with the cable bill, I don’t just get annoyed that he doesn’t see what I am saying so we can figure it out. I start imagining him leaving me and getting married to someone else and I’m reacting to that imaginary image in my mind, not just him saying the cable bill is too high. I have to stop myself and ask “what do I know?” and answer that question instead of running off with crazy thoughts of things that I don’t know but assume will happen. Like my husband living happily ever after with his new hot wife and his cheap cable bill.
The first time she asked me “what do you know?”, I just stared at her in silence for about a minute. I am never silent. Even though I wasn’t saying anything, there was a list forming in my head that I was scared to say out loud. I don’t always know how to say the truth of things out loud, that’s why I write. I have never let that list see the light of day because I am scared that it’s too much information. Actually, that isn’t even it, I am scared of what people will say in response to it.
What do I know? First edition
I know that I am too much. I exhaust people. I talk too much, talk about things that are too deep, I ask too many questions and I talk way too fast. People don’t like any of this at dinner parties. Which is why I don’t get invited to things.
I know that I say inappropriate things. All the time. If I don’t keep a tight hold on my tongue, they just spill out. I see the looks on people’s faces, know that I’ve done it and then try to push all the inappropriate part of me back in and put a mask of an appropriate version of myself on OR I just go for it and say more inappropriate things. Either way, it is extreme and neither one works well. This is another reason that I don’t get invited to things…
I know that I will punch someone in the face for something and then feel bad about it. I will end up apologizing to that person and making them cookies because obviously I only did that because I’m a horrible person, not because they needed to be punched in the face.
All of that also goes for cussing people out. In fact, I know that I cuss people out for the same reasons that I would punch them in the face and then my gift of saying inappropriate things makes me say things that will make grown men cry. (or I light their car on fire)
I know that my entire life I have been told how bad I am. “Behave, sit down, clean your room, don’t be too loud, don’t ask questions, bla bla bla”. My rebel spirit made me rebel against all of it. My sense of being unlovable made me resent my rebellion and wonder why I can’t just sit down and be quiet.
I know that I do not know myself. I know the person that I have created. Which is why I can punch someone in the face and bake them cookies at the same time.
That would have been the list I would have said that day if I had had the guts to. The great thing about a good therapist is that I didn’t have to say any of it. She knows. Three and a half years ago I began the hard work of stripping myself down and allowing God to rebuild me. Now what I know is so much different.
What do I know? Second Edition
I know that God loves me.
I know that Jesus is real and that I know and love Him.
I know that the Holy Spirit lives in me.
I know that all the answers to my questions about life are in the teachings of the Catholic Church and the writings of the saints.
I know that my husband is not God. I know that he loves me and has to figure out his own shit by himself and on his own terms. I can love him through it, but I can’t do it for him or even tell him how to do it.
I know that my husband is working on his own shit.
I know that I am not perfect, but I am healing. God is ok with my progress.
I know that I do not owe anyone an explanation if I don’t want to give it to them.
I know that therapy has helped me stop being afraid of myself, which gives me the freedom to live my own life.
I know that working outside of my house makes me happy.
I know that I love Philosophy.
I know that my kids are good people.
Most of all, I know that I am free. Freedom helps me trust God and trusting God makes me open to joy in my life. I am not panicking about what could happen, I am living in the freedom of what is actually happening. I am changing. I am growing and that helps me live out my vocation and discipleship more than polishing myself up to look like someone who has their crap together ever did.
Also, this has helped my marriage come back to life. This is the rain that I was waiting for. For the past few weeks my husband and I have talked the way that we used to. He smiles more and laughs more. We watch Jimmy Fallon, Longhorns Football and I’m happy to see him when he walks in from work. He serves me tacos and Jameson in bed. I don’t act like an ungrateful brat or nag him. Everything is calm. Everything is safe.