You have heard it before and I will tell you again: I think everyone should at least try therapy.
By try, I do not mean go once to say you did it and leave in a huff because you do not feel anything was accomplished. By try, I mean go consistently at least three times, even if it feels uncomfortable and unproductive, and be open to it when you do go.
Personally, over the last few years, I have seen three professional therapists and two lay counselors. Of those five, I have only gotten along with two: one professional and one lay counselor. Forty percent– not an outstanding pass rate!
You will not always like your counselor. Not all counselors are good at what they do. Similarly, not all clients are good clients.
I, for example, have a Master’s degree in Counseling. I am not a good client. I am also an INFJ on the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator, so I think AND feel a lot. I am a lot to throw at a counselor.
I have gotten a lot of good out of going to therapy, even when the therapist was (in my opinion) awful. Oftentimes, yes, they offered poor advice and misconceived observations that were unhelpful and sometimes even infuriating; however, thinking through my strong reactions to their words was always productive.
However, one of the therapists I did not care much for ended up changing my life.
I started seeing her at the pinnacle of my life imploding into a shit storm. At least, that is how I felt. Dramatic, much?
When our sessions began, I was devastated about a relationship that had kinda just ended and also kinda never came to be. Yup, one of those.
Also, in the middle of that depression, my car died. I had no savings. I had ZERO extra dollars to make car payments. I was in a really rough spot in a lot of areas of my life at once. So I had to take an hour plus long bus ride to get to my therapy sessions, located only a few miles from my office. Or, alternatively, I had to ask my friends to pick me up from work and drop me off at therapy. See? A shit storm.
This particular therapist was an advice giver. Not all therapists are, and my favorite ones usually are not. Her advice was not for me to take the bench on the dating scene while I got the rest of my life together. Instead, to my surprise, she told me I should muscle through and keep dating– even if I did not particularly feel like it.
She said I just needed to stop trying to date people I met at church or churchy places. From hearing about this isolated dating interaction, she said it seemed like dating within a group of people I already knew was toxic for me, especially when there were so many expectations packed in because of religion. Church boys can actually be jerks sometimes. That is what she said (in so many words).
I really did understand where she was coming from, to a degree; however, meeting “the one” in church, as you may know or can imagine, is a hard dream to give up for a single, 27-years-old Christian girl living in the Bible-belt. If not in church, then where?
She suggested I try dating apps.
After receiving her challenge and agreeing to try it out, I more-or-less met my husband immediately. I was not expecting it, and was not entirely convinced I was ready for it, but it happened anyway.
Although my husband has suggested we create an alternate story for how we met (aka, LIE), I have no issues with telling the truth. We met on Bumble. I am not ashamed!
I went on three dates with three different people in one week, thus pretty much doubling the number of first dates I had been on in my life. My husband was guy number two. I will also note, he was the only one who got a second date.
It was all over before I even had time to meet anyone especially creepy or have any great stories. One week, three dates; I married the guy behind door number two. Really.
My friends could have told me to try online dating, and I probably (absolutely) would have made a cringey face, told them my social skills weren’t up to it, and dismissed it. But, because a therapist told me to, and I literally felt awful and had nothing to lose, I humored her.
Literally, I humored her. Our first handful of dates were hilarious because my social skills were really not up to the task of dating! Luckily, my husband was thirty and single, so he was prepared to be pretty forgiving.
That therapist got to hear about a couple of our dates before I ultimately ghosted her.
We were not a match, that therapist and I, but she got some laughs and I eventually got a husband so I would say it worked out pretty well for both of us.
Despite her not being my favorite, seeing her helped me to let go of my ideas regarding how things “should happen.”
Maybe you won’t meet the love of your life at church, in a grocery store, or volunteering.
Maybe they won’t be the exact height you hoped for, or share your political beliefs, or enjoy running, or have a family that is any less crazy than your own.
Maybe you won’t “know” on date number one. Maybe you will just know it went well enough that you could do it again and again and again until it magically turns into something more.
Maybe going to a therapist will help you be open to something other than your scripted wishlist.
Or maybe, if you are like me, you will first need to find the person who is the embodiment of your preconceived wish list and then have your heart unexpectedly broken. Only then will you be ready to throw yourself into the great wide chasm of “maybes.”
My husband was raised Catholic (like Catholic School, Catholic) and is politically conservative. I am Protestant and went to a “megachurch,” and tend to hold pretty progressive political beliefs. When we met, all we had in common was a love for reading, our mutual introversion, and the fact our Moms had both passed away. That’s it. That is all.
We met on Bumble, had our first date at a grungy sports’ bar and grill, and got married a year and four months later. Life happens.
Neither of us have ever been happier. The things we were worried would be big obstacles for us ended up being non-issues.
It all worked out, is working out. (Well, I do still have perpetual car issues and no money, but at least I’m in love now).
Nothing about it should have.
But my former therapist told me that maybe it could.
And maybe a therapist could prepare you to be open to your own “maybes,” too.