The thing I love about therapy is that I never completely understand it.
To be honest, this is also the thing I don’t like about therapy.
??? If you’ll forgive me tooting my own horn for a minute, I’m pretty smart. I was a (mostly) straight-A student in high school and all through college (mostly). I passed my driving test on the first try, I aced the Election Day Worker Exam (open book test but there was a little MATH!). But the point is, when I set my mind to try to understand something, I DO. I’ve be Type A-ing my way through life, from Employee of the Month to the countless Yelp reviews raving about my ghost tour. I’m a perfectionist.
And, well, maybe that’s part of the problem, but the thing about the therapy is, I fail at it. Repeatedly and profoundly.
Like I walk into the building every other Wednesday and I think I know everything? And then after 45 minutes I’ve realized “No! I didn’t even know anything!”
Yesterday, my final therapy session before my birthday, the subject naturally turned to progress. The session before, I was asked to revisit some exercises I had done in the Self-Esteem Workbook, and to my incredible dismay, I found that I was…basically back where I had started? Which was okay, because when we started therapy, I was unemployed and desperate and starting to wonder if maybe my entire life of educational success was a lie, and my concept of myself as a smart human being (???) had fallen apart at the seams.
Now that I have a job that challenges me and allows me to explore talents I never knew I had, you’d think everything would be perfect, right?
Well, yesterday we spend almost the entire session coming to terms with the fact that no, things don’t work that way. And taking the excuse of my birthday (?? can we toot the horns for that?) to re-evaluate, in a calm and rational way, what it is I wanted for the year ahead.
Like I said, I thought I knew, but I didn’t even know, you know? And although it frustrates me that I can’t type-A my way to perfect mental health and emotional balance, it’s also kind of nice. Because if it was easy, if it was something you read one book on or pass one test (or one open-book test?), then I would feel shitty that I hadn’t been able to do it yet, already. It would be the one thing this studious perfectionist had tried, and failed at.
Ultimately, we agreed yesterday, that it’s something that requires hard work, and constant work. Like peeling back the layers of an infinite onion, there will always be something else. And time and circumstances may change for the worse — or the better! — and make you re-evaluate what you need to work on. Like, constantly.
Which is a little overwhelming, but not for me. Because I’m lucky and I know, I’ll have help.