Monday, December 10, 2012

Walking the Walk

So you know I am a counselor.  A therapist.  A social worker.  A clinician.  Whatever you want to call it.  It's what I went to graduate school for, what I trained for, what I'm licensed for.  It's what I do.

In grad school professors and supervisors tell you it is healthy to have experience being the client yourself, at some point.  Sure...that made sense.  Professionally it's eye opening to be on the other side of the table, sitting in the other chair.  Professionally it is important to be sure you are addressing your own shit so it doesn't interfere or find it's way into your work with your clients.  Personally it makes sense, who couldn't use a little "me time," a little "tuning up?"  Surely I would benefit from some fine tuning on my coping skills, or a small dose of an SSRI, right?  I've always been a worrier after all.

I write this with a slight smile breaking out.  Remembering exactly what it felt like to have therapy be an option.  For it to be a nice thought.  To be a one of the things that inevitably slides down that to-do list you have running in your head.

Driving the hour ride home from Brigham, the night Ethan died, I knew it was finally time for me to go to therapy.  No more pushing it to the side.  It was no longer an option.  It would no longer be a little joke close friends or family would say to me.  "You're crazy, you need a therapist."  (by the way, this is not me saying people have to be crazy to see a therapist, by now you should know me better)

Your baby dies, unexpectedly.  You get a therapist.

The excuses to avoid therapy don't really work any more, right?  Having your life, and your family's, flipped upside down & torn apart in a 2-week period, never to be fully repaired again demands some attention.  Ethan died Wednesday night.  Friday morning I spoke with Cheryl, the woman who agreed to be my therapist, on the phone and scheduled my first session for Tuesday night.

Tuesday night came & I was nervous.  Not nervous to talk about Ethan, I craved talking about him & sharing our story.  Nervous to actually be sitting in the lobby, to be the client.  My friend Robin had to drive me since I still wasn't allowed to drive due to the c-section.  (Best part is Robin's car battery died while waiting for me that night so we had to wait in the parking lot for AAA to come.  Of course I was the last client of the night & my therapist walked out to find me in the car, probably thinking I was stalking her or something - it's all good though, it was funny.)

Sitting in the room was smooth for me, I am an open book anyway.  Have always found it healing to share my story, whatever chapter I am living.  For years I have been encouraging clients to embrace the work that is before them, painful as it may be.  I tend to think that the healthiest outcome (usually) is through rather than around something.  For me, the something being the death of Ethan.

So, I sat there that first night and asked Cheryl to be sure I was walking the walk.  To work my grief, through every terrible day, hour, breath.  I asked her to journey with me.  She has done so and more.  She has held my pain, pain that cannot be appreciated from reading this.  Pain that is visceral, endless.  Cheryl understands this pain better than anyone in my life, with the exception of those few who have had a baby die too.  So I thank Cheryl genuinely.  Thank her for helping me heal.  I'm moving in just over a month and will be two hours away from Cheryl.  I'm supposed to find another therapist, to have available if I need it.  I haven't done that yet, because I don't want to.  We'll see how that plays out.

(In true journal form I am wrapping this post up early because I am getting tired.  Sorry that this one doesn't have an eloquent closing.)

Therapy has worked for me thus far.  Probably has helped my marriage, my relationships with my children, family and friends.  I've journaled, meditated, prayed, exercised, talked, cried, yelled, read.  I'm walking the walk, or at least trying to.


  1. It's been 5 1/2 years since Calypso died and I decided I needed to go to therapy. I have two TERRIBLE therapists that made me feel awful and horrible. Then I found my miraculous match. I have had two sessions so far and my third on Friday. It makes a big big difference. It's amazing to talk to someone about my grief and the things I do

  2. Its hard work to find a good therapist. From age 12 i bounced around different therapists, becoming an expert in avoiding painful topics and keeping the happy mask in place. It was not until about 2 years ago that i found my current therapist (a LICSW) who can instantly see thru my bs ("u cant bs a bs-er, melissa!" Is his favorite line) and he has helped me more in the last 2 yrs than all the years of past therapists combined. Make sure u dont settle for someone who will not challege you. I love you. So excited for you to be close