So…ummm…I’m seeing a counselor. Therapy, I guess you’d call it.
Most of you are probably saying “So? Big deal.” But it is a big deal for me. A very big deal. You see, I have very antiquated views on this kind of treatment. In short, I think it’s a total crock of shit aimed at people too weak to deal with their own problems. Which is awful and hypocritical because MJ got help a while back to deal with postpartum depression and other issues, and I’ve honestly never been prouder of another human being in all my life. Therapy helped her immensely and made a genuine and positive difference.
But that’s her. Not me. Therapy was always for other people. Never me.
A couple of months ago MJ came to me and told me she was afraid to come home after work. Not that she was scared of me being abusive to her and Will, but because she dreaded dealing with me. With my sadness, anger and general disdain for life. In my infinite wisdom, I told her I wasn’t angry and she didn’t know what the hell she was talking about. Because that really showed her how not angry I was.
I was taking care of Will a few days later and he was being kind of whiny. Nothing super obnoxious or anything, just run-of-the-mill toddler antics. He wanted me to play a game with him, but I was on the computer.
“Dada come play with me. Dada play with me. Dada. Dada. Dada. Dada. Da—“
“WILL! KNOCK IT THE HELL OFF. I’M BUSY!!”
My shouting startled him and he staggered backwards like he had been shot. His face slowly contorted like he had just sucked on a Sour Patch Kid, and he began to whimper and cry. All he wanted to do was play with me. My son simply needed a little attention from his dad, and I completely went off the deep end and unnecessarily chewed him out. And there he was, in tears, because his father was too wrapped up in his own shit to sit down and work on a puzzle with him.
I had MJ make an appointment for me with a counselor the next day.
My first session was in January and I almost didn’t go because I felt so much shame. Just making that appointment and knowing my name was on some shrink’s calendar made me physically ill. To me, it meant I was defeated. It was a pathetic admission to the world I couldn’t handle my own problems. I drove around the parking lot several times to check the place out, on the off chance someone I know might see me.
While sitting in the waiting room—as the walls rapidly closed in on me—I formulated a plan of attack. I’d be just like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting when he mind-fucked all those shrinks and beat them at their own game. That’d show them, and it would prove to MJ that I’m fine. Hell, maybe I could even harness my inner Charlie Sheen warlock potential and cure myself with my mind.
That, of course, is all ridiculous.
The guy I see is nice, normal and I like him. He doesn’t try to hypnotize me, medicate me or go all Freudian on me. We just talk. About this, that and the other thing. Whatever. It’s very low key. He’s actually pretty funny too, and we get into good-natured arguments. For instance I told him I want to be happier and not so angry, but that I thrive on conflict and need it in my life. He questions whether or not that is a healthy situation. I jokingly suggest to him he probably avoids conflict because he lacks the necessary debate skills. We both laugh.
It’s more like talking with a friend than anything else.
It’s been two months now. I will admit I feel a little happier and more relaxed. MJ has noticed it too. I don’t think it’s all due to therapy, but I admit it’s probably a part of it. The most beneficial thing therapy does for most people is get them talking. But I talk all the time, both in person and on this blog. Sharing my feelings has never been a problem, so I’m not really sure exactly how beneficial these sessions will be.
The biggest thing I’ve learned is getting help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength. There is nothing weak about taking responsibility for your shortcomings and actively trying to improve. Especially when your family is depending on you.
Do I still feel shame when I drive up to that office? Yes. But it’s less and less each time. And my anger and problems erode with it.