Monday, September 12, 2011

Justifying Therapy

I received the following email from one of my readers the other day:

I am a minority among my friends. A lot of my friends had their parents divorce early in their childhood. I have to admit when you announced you and your husband were doing therapy a year into a marriage it freaked me out. I am getting married in May, I have been with my fiance for over 3 yrs but yet 5 months into my parents bitter divorce I feel the need to go to a therapist.

I had a conversation with one of my close friends who didnt understand why I got so upset about my mom calling me to talk about my dad. Before I never understood the whole divorce thing but everyday I see it effecting me and the way I think of life. My question to you is, did you start therapy when you parents decided to divorce? I keep thinking more and more I need to see a therapist. I just feel like I need to justify it. 

Boy, that's a loaded question. The truth is, it's not an easy decision to make. Going to therapy is hard because it means we're admitting we need help. It means we can't get through this dark time on our own. I'm a perfectionist and very Type A (just ask my husband, he'll tell you!) and admitting I needed therapy felt like I had failed. Then a good friend of mine told me it actually meant I was strong. Strong enough to realize what I needed to do to get my life back on track, to get happy. And then strong enough to put it into action.

I am also a minority amongst my friends -- none of my close friends have parents who are divorced. Often times I feel isolated and lonely in my struggles (that's me feeling that way...none of my closest friends have made me feel that way). But no matter how much support I get, my friends still will never fully understand what I'm going through. How can they? Unless you've been through a parental divorce, it's near impossible to understand the complexity of emotions a person can experience. That's why I chose therapy. I started going a few months after my parents separated (and honestly should've gone sooner). It was the best thing I ever did (and one of the scariest) -- and now my husband and I are going together. I can't tell you how good it feels to talk with someone objective about your problems. Someone who can see the entirety of the situation and who has the wisdom to show you how to get out from under it.

So don't try to justify therapy. It's not your place to justify it. It's your life and you're doing what you need to in order to have a healthy life and a healthy marriage. Kudos to you -- stay strong and remember that by choosing therapy, you're choosing to live.

Do you agree/disagree? Did you choose to go into therapy at some point in your life? If so, how did it impact you? Would love to hear comments/thoughts below. And of course, emails at are always welcome :)


Mademoiselle Michael said...

Another great post Michelle. Thank you for your honesty. Therapy is not for the weak. It's for people who love themselves enough to be willing to invest in themselves again. Therapy is a way of investing in our future thought processes, actions, habits, etc. It helps us to heal and in healing we move forward.

People are afraid of therapy because of the stigma attached to it. It should be celebrated. It takes courage to take care of ourselves sometimes.

I love you, friend! You are strong and courageous <3 I hope your reader who wrote you knows that she is a strong woman who can make wise decisions...and that includes seeing a therapist! She doesn't need to justify it, and I hope she can allow herself to let go of that notion (although I definitely understand it) It's easier said than done. My thoughts are with her. <3

Anonymous said...

SO glad this reader wrote that email. Therapy is fabulous! We all need an objective voice, no matter what the struggle. And the more of us who start going to therapy, for whatever the reason, the more the stigma gets erased. Why not go to therapy? What's the worst that can happen - you show up and hate it and never go again? No problem! But what if you go, and you share, and you open yourself up to a world of healing and hard work and moving forward? Everything to gain and nothing, absolutely nothing, to lose. Therapy for all :-)! And ps - so so thankful you're sharing your story of therapy with others. You're giving others' courage...amazing.

Serenity said...

Counseling or a support group is the most productive way to process all the feelings you are experiencing. A person who admits they need help and that they are confused, is a person who will become stronger and more confident with professional help.
I was 43 when my parents divorced after 45 years of marriage. I was devestaed. I attended a support group for people going through divorce ( because it was the closest thing I could find to the support group I needed) . Then as time went by, I realized I would also benefit from counseling. The first few sessions I cried and bawled through most of the meeting. After months of a skilled counselor helped me process things,I was understanding my role and my limits and I began to laugh and see hope in a hopeless situation.
I am grateful for my counseling!!!

Anonymous said...

I am a therapist and also a recent ACOD, my parents separating just four months ago without warning. Believe me when I say that therapy is a wonderful gift you can give yourself. A good therapist is like a mirror you hold up to yourself that is honest, supportive and safe. There are no judgments in therapy, except the ones we bring in the room with us. Peace be with you...

mamazee said...

Thanks for this- my first appt is next tuesday.


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