Weirdos see therapists! Only the weak need to talk to someone! What’s wrong with you?
These beliefs crowded out the benefits of seeking help, guidance, call it what you will. I needed someone who’d be objective about how I was viewing situations. A “disinterested observer”.
I was in a quandary about my life in general. I was brought up to be compliant, know my place, please people and avoid conflict. But I always wanted to follow a different path.
I wrote one page stories on my mum’s Olympia typewriter. I wrote to Isaac Asimov of my desire to become a writer. He graciously wrote back. My stories never eventuated to anything. I was eight!
At my first high school dance, I wore a cheesecloth top like those in the hippie movement. I wasn’t a hippie at 13, but I was game enough to try. It didn’t go well. I could wear the “uniform” but I couldn’t walk the talk. I didn’t know any hippies! 🤷♂️
I didn’t want to conform for some reason. Black was white. White was black. I knew this wasn’t true, but I was trying to find my own path. Trying a lot of things to see what worked.
I joined the army at 15 as an apprentice. That didn’t work out. I failed high school and got asked to leave my first real job, at a bank. (No, not a “bank job!” 🤣)
Then, at 19, I joined a church where I was accepted. Lots of people wanting to hang out, all young and many misfits … like me! I joined the theatre group. We drank copious amounts of coffee, a couple of times till the sun came up. I gained some good, lifelong friends.
Church was a great place to be … until you realised there was a ceiling. The pastor was considered “god” on earth and you couldn’t speak your mind, even if it was an innocent remark or question. I had to be “compliant” … again! No free speech for you!
I learned a lot about people, leadership, looking after others. I learned about striving for excellence, and living outside your comfort zone. And I also learned a lot about failing, every Sunday in fact!
Yes, Jesus loves me,
This I know,
For the Bible tells me so,
… but don’t ever think you’re good enough. You’re just a lowdown, good for nothing sinner! Ugh!
I wanted to be good at what I did, to enjoy what I did. A sinner, if you didn’t know, means “missing the mark!” I felt I was missing the mark in everything I did. And at church, you were told as much!
Nothing was ever good enough!
- Get 97% on a test at school? What happened to the 3%?
- Valedictorian of your primary school? Here’s $20 and we won’t talk of it again.
- Get continuously promoted at work? Bill can’t hold down a steady job!
Back to the quandary.
Was I really that bad? Was I never to amount to anything? Was this my life? Eighty-odd years of never being enough? F*ck that!
You’d think after reading all the above life is a complete failure and I’m living under a bridge.
I own my own home, drive a Tesla and have two very successful children. I have a great job working as a consultant for the government.
But despite all that, I’m still looking for the opportunity to be … me!
I need to be “right”, not about everything or more than others, but right about me!
There comes a point when family and friends can’t help. Or, perhaps, you don’t think they can. They have a bias towards you. The know you, so they can “see what you’re saying.” They support you but may not be objective with you. So you doubt their honesty in feedback. This is shameful and if my friends read this they’ll thrown up their hands in despair! “What do you want from us?”
You see the point is not what I want from others. It’s what I’ve taken 60 years to realise it’s about what I want from, and for, myself.
Enter the Therapist
I needed someone to talk with who would call out my own bullsh*t!
Someone who asks questions about why you think the way you do and the consequence of those thoughts.
It may be easy for an observer to see, with all we go through, we build a fence around ourselves. Some call it a comfort zone. It may not always be comfortable, but it is my comfort zone, and that’s got to count for something. Right?
My therapist helps me see the fence I have built around myself. She helps me see the individual fence posts and the railings, the pieces that make up a structure designed to keep me safe in my comfort zone.
The limits I have agreed to in order to:
- be compliant,
- know my place,
- please people, and;
- avoid conflict.
Are these helping me? Don’t we all need boundaries?
But has the “hippie” had his outlet?
Have I realised the dreams I had as a kid?
Sidenote: Writing has always been one of those dreams. Medium and the Internet allow a person to realise their dreams, if they so wish!
Will I continue to do things to please others when I am not pleased with myself? Will I continue to avoid conflict, know my place and remain compliant?
And here’s the kicker! Am I looking to my therapist for validation? Am I asking them, subconsciously, to validate of what I want to do, be and think.
“Yes, Bill, you have my permission!”
This is the current challenge. This is where I am now. The gate is open. Do I sit within its boundaries or do I walk through the gate?