Things my therapist says

Today is Monday, and that means it’s group therapy day. There are good things and there are not so good things that come out of group therapy.

It seems inevitable that one of the mothers will talk about how overwhelming it is to take care of her baby…

As a single mother…
Of twelve…
Especially since she was laid-off from work…
And her mother died…
Along with her sister and her dog in a car accident…
On their way home from visiting her in the hospital…
Because, oh yeah, this lady has cancer.

I’m making this up, but it’s shockingly not far off from some of the women’s stories. And that sort of makes me feel like:

WHAT THE HELL IS MY PROBLEM?

I’ve discussed this with my personal therapist, and she always says in that innocently sweet voice of hers, “I wonder how helpful it is to compare.” Well, I don’t have to wonder. The answer is – it’s not. It’s not helpful at all.

I then proceed to tell her all about my awful week…

About how I was home all alone with the baby…
In our nice, safe home…
While my husband worked his steady, well-paying job…
Until he came home and dutifully attended to her and the dishes simultaneously…
So I could read that email from my mom asking when she should come visit next.

I sort of feel like Nick Swardson talking to his Grandma.

Nick-Swardson

But she still says with earnest compassion, “That sounds really intense!” And suddenly I feel like I can breathe a little better because it was. It was really intense.

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20 thoughts on “Things my therapist says

  1. LOL! Oh my gosh. I can so relate to this. Are you a Bridget Jones fan at all? There’s this part in the second one where Bridget has broken up with her boyfriend over silly little things and she’s in Thailand (she humorously ends up in a Thai prison) talking to all of these Thai women who were in horrible relationships with like forced prostitution and drugs and stuff and then they’re like, “What about you, Bridget? What did your bad boyfriend do?” and she goes, “Well, he kind of ignored me at his work dinner, and he used to fold his underpants, and…um…same sort of thing–you know, hitting me and making me take drugs.” It makes me laugh because I always feel like that in therapy or when I read blogs or whatever. Like so many people have so much more going on than I do and so many people have it worse, but it still doesn’t stop me from feeling what I feel. Because it is intense. It is. It may not compare to other people’s traumas, but our feelings are still valid 🙂

    • I haven’t actually seen those movies, but it certainly sounds comparable to how I feel! This whole “experience” is certainly teaching me that feelings are valid no matter where they come from.

  2. Anxiety is different for everyone! Something that feels overwhelming to you may be a breeze to someone else. That’s ok. But it would be hard not to compare to THAT story! 😉

  3. What a fantastic post! You’ve brought a smile to my face because I can relate on every level. It’s so difficult not to compare, but at the end of the day our own experience is just as valid and important. The way you speak of your therapist makes me smile too, I can just imagine the compassion. x

    • Thank you! It is so hard not to compare… but you’re right. Our experiences are just as valid and important. We can’t control how we feel after all.

  4. Here’s what I think: we all adjust to our own lives and have more stressful and less stressful days in our own situations. You can’t feel like *you* shouldn’t feel stressed about *your* day just because someone else is dealing with different things.

    Today I dealt with Daniel having surgery, a 2 1/2 year old who is potty training, an extra 4 year old, and Brian being back in school for the first time since last semester. Was it a stressful day for me? Yes. Was I more stressed today than you were during your week? I’d bet no. Because I am used to my life! In fact, I know I felt less stressed today than I used to feel when Brian would leave me alone with Kalena when she was a newborn.

    I’m with you. Those days are intense!

    • That sounds like a stressful day! I don’t know how you do it Elsha. Seriously.

      I think what I struggle with the most is handling my irrational fears. In a weird way it makes the rational challenges seem like no big deal. Like travelling, for example. The hardest part about being alone is being alone with my crazy self. Nobody there to ground me in reality or at least distract me from my thoughts.

  5. It’s easy to compare ourselves to others, but it doesn’t resolve anything. Things are stressful in their own ways. I like how your therapist “got it”– being at home alone with a baby is really intense. My friend Jess has one year old twins, and whenever I visit I never make it inside because she dashes out to have alone time with an adult. She also has a nice home and a dutiful husband, but those things don’t necessarily make one’s processing of events and emotions any easier.

    • Very true – a nice home and a good husband don’t really have anything to do with one’s (my) ability to process emotions. I like how you said that.

      As for your friend with the one year old twins – she is a saint. I know I don’t know her. That doesn’t matter. She is a saint. And also superwoman. You can tell her I said that.

  6. Oh my! such a serious post so early in the day. I am trying hard to accept that my concerns as valid as anyone else’s and anyone else’s concerns are as valid as mine. Well, unless you run into me crying because you lost your favorite gucci raspberry pink lip gloss (wtf? is that thing even real?). In which case, sorry but I can’t sympathize.

  7. Everybody else said it so well, but I’ll say it again.

    My personal lodestar, Ernest Hemingway, once wrote that the world breaks everyone. Life is hard. For everyone. Just because you can’t transfer the pain to me directly, doesn’t mean I can’t empathize. Your pain is hard- for you. Mine is hard. For me.

    And even as you know you shouldn’t compare, you can’t help it. “Look at person X! They have WAY more problems than I do! They are handling it fine! What’s wrong with me, that I can’t handle it?” Over time I am slowly learning that they are not fine. They may be a better actor than me. But they’re not handling it fine. So it’s OK that I can’t handle it, either.

    Pick the celebrity death of your choice- Tony Scott, just this week. Kurt Cobain. David Foster Wallace. Hemingway himself. All people who created works of art that will be talked about when everyone reading these words are dead, and all people who, for various reasons, even though arguably at the top of their fields and with more than enough money and creature comforts to get by, arguably people that had it WAY better than any of us, but still couldn’t take it any more.

    This life thing is not for the faint of heart.

    • You bring up a good point. Even I have been accused of “having it all together so soon after the baby was born!” Let me assure you. I did NOT have anything together. This life thing really isn’t for beginners.

  8. Yes Elsha! I think back about being home alone with just Leah as a baby and I get anxious, but being home with the three kids is not nearly as bad. I think it does have to do with the whole ‘being alone with your self thing’ Laura! I used to have conversations with the free formula samples hiding in the back of the cabinet when Leah was a baby and not gaining weight (not quite literally, but close!). I have not gotten the samples since having home births, but if I did they would go straight in the trash, bad memories!

  9. Elsha is right. Although sometimes Kirsta and I laugh at her (sort of) that she ever has ANYTHING to stress about because I would jump for joy if my husband got home and 1pm and I lived with my mom and dad, but it’s whatever each person gets used to. Some people have 1000 things on their “plate” (of life) and they just deal with it differently. Or maybe they go to therapy 7 days a week, who knows.

    I also agree that having one child made me WAY more anxious than having 2. Weird how that works out. So really, maybe another baby would help?! 😉 jk.

    • Ha! I’ve also read that sometimes the pregnancy hormones actually help with depression and anxiety. So maybe I should just get pregnant again??!! HA! Something tells me that’s probably not the best solution. There is, after all, a small chance that plan could backfire.

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