Mental Illness / personal

Therapy is Hard (and so is Fear)

Untitled

Art by me

I don’t know of anyone who ever said that therapy was easy. That being said, I don’t know that I ever expected therapy to be as hard as it has been recently.

Now, I’ve been seeing my current therapist for close to three years, and according to her I’ve made quite a bit of progress. I think right now I’m at a bit of a low point, and because of that it’s gotten really hard for me to see any marked improvement in my mental or emotional state. I’ve had a breakdown in every one of my last three appointments, which have only spanned over the last month. I hate crying and I’m starting to feel like the whole therapy thing is a waste of time because I don’t feel like I’m getting better at all.

I know that this is not the fault of my therapist, who is an amazing, strong, and intelligent woman, and I know she only wants the best for me. But there’s not instructional manual for how to get over what I’ve convinced myself to be true, even when all logic proves otherwise.

I know that a lot of my issues come from personal hangups I have about my own abilities and talents. I was explaining to someone the other day that I feel like I’m at a kind of crossroads where I’m standing at a fork in the road and one direction is the dead end that I’m at, and the other is the path to happiness and opportunity, but is veiled with a scary forest of darkness, mystery, and possible, but not guaranteed failure. The sign at the dead end has become increasingly familiar to me. I’ve made friends with the sign, we know each other’s favourite colours and we chat on the daily. The forest, however, hasn’t even extended a branch in greeting, not because it’s rude (though I seem to have decided that that’s the reason), but simply because trees are fucking inanimate objects and can’t even try to say hello! My friend/coworker dropped some major truth and wisdom on me and said that I needed to “hug the sign goodbye, throw up the deuces, and begin your adventure.” I can’t fault her with advice that includes throwing up the deuces.

And that’s basically what my therapist has been telling me for MONTHS (in so many words). She’s never made the claim that dealing with all of my perceived mental garbage wouldn’t be hard; in fact, she’s always been very honest about dealing with fear as being incredibly difficult. But it has to be done if I don’t want to stay in my stupid state of complacency, discomfort, and depression.

I just don’t know how to take the leap, I’m terrified of it. I’ve always been a safe person, a rule follower. When my friends were out draining air conditioners of and huffing the freon, I was safely at home, watching movies, writing, or hanging out with my family. I never drive over 5 miles over the speed limit and I don’t take any kind of unnecessary risk. But is working on this blog an unnecessary risk? Is submitting short stories to various publications going to get me arrested? Is finishing my paintings and trying to sell prints of them or show them in local galleries going to end in my early and unnatural death?

The answer is no.

So why can’t I let myself do these things? Why have I equated a rejection letter with a night in a jail cell? These are quite obviously two VERY different things, but in my brain they seem to be the same. And I feel so messed up about it.

Logically I know that the best thing to do is to just take the leap, submit the story, reach out to galleries and other artists, and click the post button on wordpress, but I freeze, every. single. time.

I know there are a lot of books out there that lend advice to the wandering reader on how to shove past the fear that keeps us from living the lives we want, but I’m wondering if anyone out there, one of you, have any quick, actionable tips that don’t require a trip to the library. I also hope that my bumbling foolery in the land of fear makes some of you, or even one of you, feel less like a loser for feeling the same way. I know I feel like a loser a lot of the time for just not dealing with all of these feels.

Anyway, thank you for reading and I hope you stick around and read more, and hopefully find some of this helpful.

♥︎M

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