Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Dear Therapy (Epistolary Wednesday)

It's Wednesday and I'm writing letters...

Dear Therapy,

It’s been a long and slow romance with you, starting with the kindling of a few visits with a licensed social worker back when I didn’t even have my driver’s license. What good would you do for me, talking over sodas in a dimly lit restaurant? I really couldn’t tell. I was there because my mom sent me (and a few weeks later decided you were a bad influence). I dabbled again at age 19, half-heartedly, and it took me years for you to earn my trust, years for me to believe you when you told me I could Trust My Gut, that I could Say No Without Feeling Guilty, that I could Say Yes and Enjoy Myself. 

Eventually, I gave you my heart. It was worth it: you held me up through miscarriages, the death of a brother, the mental illness of family members, and navigating all this terrain of ministry, marriage, and parenting. You’ve proven yourself, and that’s why I take you seriously now when you repeat yourself, offering truths I’ve yet been reluctant to pick up and claim as my own, like this one you’ve recently re-presented:

Other people’s responses to you have about 95% to do with them and only about 5% to do with you.

For the longest time, I was like, whatev. What do you even mean by that? You’re saying that that dude who’s mad at me is mad ninety-five percent because of his own issues, his own lens, his own history, his own baggage, and only about five percent because of what I said and did? Really?

But you said it again when I was panicking and moaning over the next person who made it clear that they would never be anything close to my BFF: It has to do with them, at least ninety-five percent of it does. Okay. So now I’m reaching a place of solace, some comfort in believing that my tentative words, my imprecise movements in the world are not actually capable all on their own of producing the sort of bad behavior, unkindness, and anxiety in others that others may demonstrate along the way.

But, Therapy, here’s what’s not so comforting: If what you’re saying is true, then about ninety-five percent of my response to the world around me has to do with me and not anyone else. Did you hear me, Therapy?! You’re saying I can’t blame people when I feel rejected or lonely or afraid, that all that mire of confusion has more to do with my lens, my history, my baggage, my issues.

You’re saying I’m Responsible for Me.

I don’t always like that.

But, then...sometimes I do, if it means I’m Not Responsible for Them. 

It’s easier to own The Mess I Know than the one I don’t understand. Easier to sort out the familiar pieces, the feelings as comfortable as well-worn slippers. Easier to see Where Those Feelings Come From and How They Got There and How They Get Triggered than it is to understand everyone else’s.

I see what you're saying, Therapy, and I give.  I'm adopting the Five-Percent Rule. I'll work real hard to live it alongside all the others I've made my own. Use Sunblock, Forgive People, Eat Sugar in Moderation, Don't Yell at Children, and Go Easy on Myself.

Happy now?

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