Just as I don't believe seeing an accountant for my taxes, a tire guy for my flat or a doctor for my illness as a mark of personal failure, I also don't believe seeing a therapist is a sign of personal detriment or lack of fortitude. Maybe because I am a therapist but some of the healthiest most well rounded people I know got that way because they were willing to face their life and take ownership of their response to it through a difficult therapeutic process with somebody. Lets be honest; that's all therapy is: figuring out the best response to your life and circumstance so you can still be the person you wanted to be in the first place. Which is why I hope my daughter ends up in either a good therapists office or has some good quality therapeutic friendships that help her get there. And because that's my hope this is my message to her.
My Dear Sweet Girl,
For me, the phone call to make the appointment and sitting in the waiting room was the hardest part. I'm not sure what the hardest part will be for you but I hope you allow trusted people even professionals into your business so that they can tell you a truth you might not have considered or accept you in a way you didn't know you needed accepting. I pray that you share your brokenness and insecurities so that you will know what it feels like to be loved in spite of them. When you do please remember these 3 things.
Talk about your dad and I and anybody else who had an authoritative role in your life. I pray you have ZERO fear in saying "they did the best they could but they could have done better." It is not disrespectful or throwing anybody under the bus to reveal that we didn't always know what we were doing. You don't have to protect us from the reality we helped to create for you. If it needs to be said, please say it! "My moms impatience sent a message that causes me to struggle." Or "My dads silence spoke volumes and I'm not sure it was all good." or "Somebody who was supposed to love and protect me took advantage of their role in my life." or "Somebody who had a role in my life squandered it and didn't love me the way I needed them to." Whatever it is, no matter who it involves, if you need to work through it then don't hesitate to say it. We live in a broken and sinful world and although we will never knowingly harm you or allow anybody else to do so, we recognize that you will get hurt. Just like we all have, you will receive messages and internalize things that you will likely need to sort through later. My hope is that you will be brave enough to do so.
Secondly, whatever you do in this process of becoming you, be self responsible! Know that even if there are people who cause you harm that ultimately you are the only one who can change your life. At the end of the day, no matter the relationship or circumstance it's up to you how you are and who you are in it. A good friend or therapist can help you maneuver through this process in a way that leaves you empowered vs. deflated but you have to be the one to do the work. You might not have a choice how someone treats you but you have a choice how long you allow it to continue. You won't have a choice the words people speak to you or about you but you have a choice how you let those words affect you. You can't control whose affections and admiration you obtain but you have absolute control over how much their approval matters to your life. You, my sweet girl and only you have complete say in how much you like yourself, honor yourself and care for yourself which has infinitely more benefit than the approval or affections of anybody else. Your therapist, your friend, your mother can't fix things for you; nobody can. Be willing to do the work of emotionally untangling the messages life hands you. Although blame might seem natural and justified it will leave you powerless and unhappy. Being self responsible for how you interpret the world and the messages it sends you will allow you a freedom that makes impossible things possible.
Lastly, I hope you will tell and live the truth. Your truth. Truth, as scripture reminds us really does 'set us free'. If you are afraid, admit it. If you are confused, concerned or sad, be it. If you don't know, say "I don't know." You don't have to explain away unpleasant or unpopular feelings. Don't be more concerned with how you appear to be doing than how you are actually doing. Your heart has infinitely more value than your countenance, treat it as such. If you are falling apart find those people you trust and fall apart. If you are grieving go to that shoulder that provides a soft place for you and grieve. If you are elated go to those hearts who celebrate your victories and throw the confetti. Your heart feels ALL of those things for a reason, give them their place in your journey. Accepting where and who you are at any given time is the first step to getting anywhere different. Doing it in the presence of somebody you trust allows you to experience exactly what God created us to experience, the fellowship and acceptance of being loved in the truth with accountability. Please don't deny yourself the very thing God wants you for!