My entire household has come down with some sort of plague. Whilst I was in and out of fever dreams, I kept thinking of ways to incorporate it into helpful bits of information for my blog or FB page. But, as is common with plagues, I was not able to retain much of it. We are still in the midst of this obnoxious virus, but I will try to piece together what I can.
The first time I went to see a therapist, I was in college. I hadn't thought to do any research to find someone other than what was available at the counseling center. I didn't understand her credentials (she was an LCSW-C, which meant she was a licensed social worker... I wanted to see a counselor, not a social worker!), and to be honest, I am not even sure what I was looking to get out of the whole process. Allegedly, she was adept at managing all things related to surviving college and everything that goes along with it. But the only thing I really remember about her was that she had 2 party size bags of Doritos sitting in her office as though she was on her way out the door to a super fun get together with friends. Either that, or she brought her groceries into her office, instead of her house. I could never be sure.
Every week I sat there, resentment building, annoyed that she was clearly having a better time in her life than I was, since she was leading a life that required party sized bags of Doritos while my life had been split in two. It didn't help that her approach was not a match for my shell-shocked self. All in all, she was probably a very nice person, but her no nonsense approach and reactions to the few things I disclosed did not make me feel at ease (to say the least) and I was equally relieved and sad when she pointed out that this was not a good fit.
Seriously, she fired me! I didn't know therapists could even do that!
Side note: we can, and we do, but some of us are more gentle about it that others. But I digress…
Was this all there was? Where was the nurturing, comforting, ‘I get it’ lady I had been hoping for?
Here’s the point. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re contemplating finding a therapist. Or maybe you have found a therapist but aren't sure if they are the right one for you...remember that thing they said the other week that made you so mad? Or the time they gave you that look and you had no idea what it meant? Or maybe you are staring down a list of names from your insurance company, everyone with different alphabet letters after their names (do they even matter?). And then there is that one friend who suggested you try their life coach...
Wherever you are in the process, there is only One Thing that matters:
The journey of healing from a dysfunctional family (that has stayed that way) is a lifelong path. Most people who come to me are at a point in their lives where they cannot take it any more and are overcome with fear that there is nothing to be done.
I am here to tell you there is plenty that can be done.
Breaking it down into manageable pieces is key. And that is exactly what we are going to talk about today.
When I shared my last post, I warned the readers that it was guaranteed to leave at least a few of them sputtering, "Yes, but...!".
And I was right.
This post is for anyone who indignantly sputtered and is still confused as to why.
Ahhh, the Yesbuts. A favorite of the righteously indignant everywhere. "Yes, but you don't understand!" and "Yes, but I have the right to expect...!" It is also popular among minimizers, especially when trying to understand and defend against the possibility that they have been a victim of Emotional Neglect.
What do the indignant and minimizers both have in common? Denial. Denial that stems from Emotional Neglect.
Don't believe me?
Let's take a look at Emotional Neglect and how to know if you have really been exposed to it.
Feeling angry and frustrated a lot? Annoyed that people aren't living up to their end of the deal? Most of the time, there is a fairly logical explaination for this. You are expecting too much. Of others and of yourself. This is what happens when Reality and Expectations collide.
I know two kinds of people around this time of year. The ones that can't wait to see their family and loved ones and build more memories, and the ones that are already feeling panic and dread, even though, as I write this, it is not even Halloween.
The first kind really seems to like their family. They accept each other, flaws and all, and are pretty closely knit. If there is alcoholism or mental illness, it is actively addressed and the family supports recovery.
The second, plays a strategic game of survival. Being closely knit comes from obligation rather than genuine interest and acceptance of one another. There are expectations and rules to be followed. There are roles to play and formalities to contend with. Alcoholism and/or mental illness is minimized, ignored, or stigmatized.
I will be honest. I know a lot more about the second type of family than I do the first. And I also know how to approach the holidays (and every other day of the year) so that you can finally maintain your integrity and self-worth, while loving your family.
Every day when I wake up, it seems like a fresh crop of stuff of stress about begins to seep into my brain and threaten to take over. And when I am feeling particularly vulnerable due to a difficult life circumstance or pending event, it threatens in double-time. None of us are immune to anxiety. And some of us have a predisposition to be more anxious more of the time than others. Have you noticed that when you are in the throes of an anxiety attack, it seems like Nothing will work? Maybe you have researched or read about techniques in the past, but at this very moment when you need it the most, the options elude you? I am willing to bet that half of the time, you don’t even remember how to breathe.
Fortunately, I can help. The techniques outlined below actually involve using your anxiety, the material you have in that moment, to find relief. Sound counterintuitive? It is. But it can also be a lifesaver. Many times we are told to roll our shoulders back a few times and take some deep breaths but I have heard more often than not, there needs to be more. So grab a hot cup of tea or cold glass of water (are you even drinking enough water? No? Great, we can start with worrying about that for the purposes of this article) and take a moment to read some effective ways of managing the Anxiety Monster that is lurking inside of you. Want something you can use starting today without having to buy anything or even go anywhere? Take a nice deep breath….and read on...
Cindy Goeller is a licensed therapist who loves listening to others, eating Maryland steamed crabs, and exploring the Finger Lakes of New York. When she is not in session with her clients, she can be found writing, baking, or spending time with her family.