I’ve been seeing a counselor. Do you know how difficult it is to find a counselor? Not that there aren’t enough of them, because hoo boy, there are. I mean how difficult it is to select a counselor, I guess. I just kept typing random things into a search engine, feeling about as much self-pity as it’s possible for a person to feel. It’s such an overwhelmingly intimate, humiliating thing to ask for help, it felt unspeakably wrong to be doing it via Google. But what are the alternatives? There’s no Yelp for that shit. Or if there is, I couldn’t find it. Eventually I came to a site that listed counselors by their specialties. It had photos, bios. I stared at faces and tried to imagine myself sitting in front of them. Talking. Oh god.

Making the call was the hardest thing in the world, except maybe for actually going to the first appointment. I could imagine what my body language looked like to her. My hands twisting in my lap, my lips pulled over my teeth as I kept biting down as if to stop the words I’d come to spill.

Even in that first session, there was an eventual sense of lightening. What a terrifying relief it was to sit there and say things, things that hurt and pulled and snagged. Secrets tumbled from me. Afterwards I had the same sort of feeling you get after being violently ill: weak and emptied and somehow grateful.

So now I see her once a week. I am always uncomfortable when I first arrive, overly polite and formal and nervous. Then we transition from the small talk and it’s … I don’t know. It’s maybe like walking into a pool, in a way. With each step I unburden myself a little more. She talks, too. I like that about her, she isn’t the sort that waits in silence and only says things like, “And how did that make you feel?”

I spent my life, pretty much, thinking it was indulgent and silly to pay someone to listen to you talk. It was a pussy thing to do, is what I thought, if I’m being honest. Even though I’ve unraveled parts of my soul behind the relative safety of a computer screen, and I know exactly how healing such actions can be.

Now I realize: there is such a power to being vulnerable in front of another human being. To opening up and telling someone the things that drag me down. It’s scary. Devastating, even. And then it’s like being rebuilt, a little at a time. The ugly shit that makes me feel so broken is out in the open. It doesn’t take up the same kind of space when it’s acknowledged. And oh, that feeling of acknowledgement, it runs deep and wide. I am here and this is me, is what I’m essentially saying, when I talk to her. I am listening, she says. You are here.

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Pete
Pete
9 years ago

Good luck, it’s a long process but well worth it.

Melanie
9 years ago

Acknowledgement, and a kind of validation. That I’m *not* an awful daughter, that it’s *okay* to not have very many good memories of my childhood, that I’m *allowed* to feel the way I feel. It was freeing.

Amanda Brown
9 years ago

Linda, this is amazing: your bravery, and your writing. Seriously. Your posts blow my mind every TIME.

m @ random musings
9 years ago

I’m so glad you found a counselor that you connect well with. good luck.

joaaanna
joaaanna
9 years ago

Good for you. This is a huge step. I need to do it myself. It feels very freeing. Good for you.

Honeybecke
Honeybecke
9 years ago

Yes! Hugely brave of you! You are doing the hard work and I celebrate your strength.

Erin Baebler
9 years ago

That’s a giant leap, Linda, and it sounds like you found a good one. The way you described it made me think of it as letting the darkness see the light. And, you are the one who needs to hear yourself say all of that stuff out loud–she’s there to help it reflect back to you. So that it can become the right size–not the overly inflated status it takes on when it’s trapped inside.

Dawn
9 years ago

Not sure how to put it non-cheesily, but you have been working toward your own Best Linda for the many years I’ve been reading. (I remember waiting through a long hiatus and then you announcing what would become Riley! It’s been a while.) I appreciate that about you as a person, and the combination of beauty and frankness in your writing really moves me. (I also appreciate your profanely hilarious writing, to be sure.) I am reading. You are here. I am grateful.

sooboo
sooboo
9 years ago

This was lovely to read. Rebuilt is such a nice way to put it. That is exactly the work a good therapist helps you do. I know a lot of people think it’s weak to go to therapy, but it gets you places in your life you could never get to alone. It takes a lot of strength to ask for more in your life. I love that you are so open in sharing your path with strangers. You are helping a lot of people, I’ll bet.

KB
KB
9 years ago

Good for you, Linda. The thing about therapy is that it forces you to focus solely on yourself and your own thoughts and feelings for 50 solid minutes. Moms spend so much time taking care of everyone and everything else, often putting themselves on the back burner . . . year in and year out. Having a weekly appointment gives you the chance to take care of yourself which, in the long run, will benefit everyone in your beautiful family.

Kris
9 years ago

I’m so grateful to you for writing this. I keep feeling like I’m searching for something, when I think what I’m really trying to do is figure out how to ask for help.

In full disclosure, I teared up a little reading this. Okay, a lot. These goddamned secrets that we carry around because we don’t know what else to do with them. I’m proud of you for finding a way to let them go and find some small measure of internal peace.

Elle
Elle
9 years ago

Man I felt exactly the same when I was looking for someone, I called three people but it took me months to just search and search then choose who to call and then finally make that call.
My first session I was sooo nervous and shy, but man when I started letting it all out and tears came rolling. My therapist used to say ‘some days you will dread coming here and that’s normal too’ sometimes I feel better after a session and other times confused but the more I give myself time to process things discussed I feel it’s all helping me become the person I want to be in the future.

Brandy
Brandy
9 years ago

Keep going:) One foot in front of the other!

Donna
Donna
9 years ago

I am soooo proud of you. Everyone needs and should get therapy sometime. You rock so hard.

Jillian
Jillian
9 years ago

Good for you. You’re a strong role model for your kids. I’ve been saying for years that we (women, Americans, humans, whatever) should see a mental health professional once a year, like you see a dentist or an ob/gyn, for a check-up. I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone who couldn’t benefit from a little talk therapy. Humans have created talk therapy institutions throughout our histories– pastors, pre-medicine doctors, intimate domestic help like ladies’ maids– so you’re just continuing a tradition that has unfortunately been weakened in our modern culture. Good luck.

Eric's Mommy
Eric's Mommy
9 years ago

Thank you for sharing with us Linda, you are beyond strong.

Dawn
Dawn
9 years ago

It must be something to actually know you in person. I hope it’s helping you to share what you can in this space. I know it’s helpful to me to read about your struggles and see you working on them. It gives me hope. Thank you.

Kristin
Kristin
9 years ago

You’re so awesome! Can we be best friends, or what’s the deal…?

Angella
9 years ago

Love this, friend. And you. xo

Anne
Anne
9 years ago

Oh yes, I know that feeling. I’m glad you’re feeling good about seeing someone. It helped me a ton in the past.

Maria
9 years ago

I’ve been in and out of therapy since 2008 and back in steadily for a few months now and this: “And oh, that feeling of acknowledgement, it runs deep and wide.”

So much.

Absolutely understand how scary the hard parts of this are and how much work the work is.

Glad you’re talking about it. I feel like every vocalization of this process has the potential to help someone else pick up the phone.

Amy
Amy
9 years ago

It took a disintegrating marriage to get me into therapy–and it has made all the difference. My marriage has actually survived and is so much better, 1-1/2 years later. I still dread going there most weeks, and I still often cross my arms in front of me and force myself to make eye contact. But I go, because I know it is helping me, and helping my husband, and helping us together. It is a difficult, complex process as it forces me to let go of so many dysfunctional coping skills that I hold on to like armor. Yet I am so grateful to our therapist–she has given me the incredible gift of being able to not only love and forgive my husband–but to do the same for myself.
So, good for you. I am so happy for you.

whoorl
9 years ago

I just went through the same process of trying to find a therapist. (How many minutes could I possibly stare at a stranger’s face on the Internet? Many minutes, it seems.) It took a lot of trial and error, but I think I found a good fit with the third one I saw.

Thinking of you while you maneuver all this. It’s hard, dude.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
9 years ago

I am going to my first therapy appointment today, in about three hours, and I am terrified. Legit. Terrified. I could not spend more time in dire imaginings if what it will be like if I tried.
This post feels like such a gift to me in this moment. Thank you so much for writing it.

Noelle
Noelle
9 years ago

You should start a Yelp for “that shit”! What a brilliant idea! Good luck with therapy – you deserve to be happy.

Kristen
Kristen
9 years ago

I have been in therapy for a few months now and it has helped me immeasurably. What you said about being vulnerable is so true. I have the hardest time being vulnerable with those closest to me, so this has been extremely hard, but also extremely rewarding.
Good luck Linda!

Mariya
Mariya
9 years ago

Really brave piece. Finding the right therapist can take a while, but, when you find her, she’s worth her weight in gold. My own therapist has made me a better mother and person; and has been invaluable in a crisis.

LD's Mom
LD's Mom
9 years ago

I finally built up the courage to see a counselor when my marriage was failing. You captured the same fear, relief, and feeling of acknowledgement that I experienced through the process. I hope it continues to be a very good thing in your life.

Christie
9 years ago

Counselling was seriously the best money I’ve ever spent. But also that hardest thing to do. So worth it though!

Deb
Deb
9 years ago

good for you.

C
C
9 years ago

I shall need to quote for this.

“Do you know how difficult it is to find a counselor?”
–sorry if I start frothing at the mouth so early here, but OMG YES, Yes I DO know how impossibly hard it is! YESSSS.

“I spent my life, pretty much, thinking it was indulgent and silly to pay someone to listen to you talk. It was a pussy thing to do, is what I thought, if I’m being honest.”
–THIS–THIS TIMES A MILLION (like I said, pls to excuse the froth for a second). YES. I am SO GLAD you wrote that out…SO GLAD.
And, besides more omgYES, thanks.

SJ
SJ
9 years ago

I have been thinking about your journey as I’ve been stepping closer and closer to beginning mine. There are things in my life that are failing, and I need to talk to someone. And I will.

Thank you for your braveness, and your vulnerability.

Maura
Maura
9 years ago

Before therapy I dragged around two images of myself. The ugly, shameful, guilt ridden, etc. one and the competent, ambitious, caring, loving, etc one. slowly I have been able to merge both images of myself and see that I need to embrace them both in order to fully love myself. I kept pushing the ugly image away, but until I really looked at that image of me and the pain behind that image I remained stuck.

It is terribly hard to ask for help. It is humbling, but it is also so freeing. I’m glad you have found someone you are comfortable with.

Christine
9 years ago

You are the most searingly honest blogger I know, and you write it beautifully. Thank you for keeping us with you.

Julia
Julia
9 years ago

Yes yes yes. (As usual.) yes to all of it. Well done! Keep up the hard work!

Angela/@antiangie
Angela/@antiangie
9 years ago

I saw a counselor in grad school and it was so helpful. So, so helpful. I am glad you’re doing this for yourself. High five, Linda.

Emily
Emily
9 years ago

I am proud of you. Proud of you for taking this step. It was one of the single hardest things I have ever done (12 years ago) and one of the most rewarding. I wish you all of the of the healing, growth, and happiness possible in the world. You deserve it. Don’t forget that. You deserve it!!!

anon
anon
9 years ago

What C said.

I called and made an appointment. I’m going to see a counselor tomorrow about postpartum depression. Thought I could handle it on my own (and counseling is the pussy thing to do, right? ;)). Thanks for this.

Leslie
Leslie
9 years ago

Two years of counseling almost twenty years ago. Helped more than I can say and taught me so many things about myself. So brave of you to begin this journey.

Stephanie
Stephanie
9 years ago

I’m so glad you have found a counselor who gives you the kind of experience you need. I believe most therapists have varying balances of “empathetic listening and feelings validation” versus “calling you on your bullshit.” Every person needs a different balance, which is why it can be so hard to find a therapist with whom you connect. It sounds like you’ve hit it out of the park on your first trip to the plate, which is wonderful. And for the record, I completely agree with everyone who has said that counseling changed their lives; it did the same for me.

Jessie
Jessie
9 years ago

It takes an incredible amount of strength and courage to admit you need help, and to shine the light on those softest and most tender spots. You are doing a wonderful thing. Best of luck to you on your journey.

Victoria
9 years ago

*hugs*

yaya
yaya
9 years ago

awesome post. I saw a counselor for 1.5 yrs, best work I have ever done on myself, for myself, for my family & my life. BIG props to you…I felt the same way: formal & polite at every greeting and then you just dive into that deep rolling ocean and come out exhausted and relieved….

NancyJ
NancyJ
9 years ago

I want to hug all of you!
Many many times I’ve felt I just needed someone to talk to – about the way I felt about myself, my husband, our marriage. Never did though. I’m glad you are!

Jess
9 years ago

<3

H
H
9 years ago

I found a wonderful counselor in January through the same method, and she is perfect for me. I always felt “wrong” or “bad” for feeling the way I did about some issues and it has helped me so much to hear “that’s OK” and “that’s expected” and “you’re not WRONG” but here’s how to look at the issues in another way.

I’m so glad you found someone too. Keep up the great work. It is so hard, but so worth it.

simon
9 years ago

I went for a while. My therapist never said anything, and I caught her dozing off once. I was pretty much wrapping up at that point anyway, so I called it quits.

But it was great while it lasted. I learned to recognize things about myself that should have been obvious, but I didn’t realize it until I said it out loud.

You’re right. It’s a strange and terrifying and fantastic process.

Lesley T.
Lesley T.
9 years ago

Your analogies are always so perfect.

I hope therapy continues to help you sort out and cope with everything that’s been weighing on you.

Redbecca
Redbecca
9 years ago

Admitting you need help takes courage; doing something about it takes more. Good for you, Linda! I’m glad you’ve found someone.

iris de mallemarok
9 years ago

Understanding your shortcomings and doing something about them are two entirely different things. Hurrah for you for tackling them.