Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Life Therapy

If you are like many Americans, you have been/are currently/will soon be in therapy. I joined this happy club when I was in high school, now nearly ten years ago.

I've sampled the therapist smorgasbord, enjoying the sweet flavor of some and wincing at the sour tang of another. There were some that were more talented than others, but I did learn from each of them. I appreciate their work and decided to give them most of my paycheck to thank them for their services.

But that time is now behind me. I'm nowhere near perfect or probably even normal. But I just don't have it in me to go again. Like a diet, I can only take therapy in very small doses. And then, when I have overindulged in depressing thoughts, I can go back. For now, however, it isn't an issue.

I was thinking the other day about what I would do if I came to one of those crossroads again, one of those times where I have to decide what to do and what is right. I'm hopefully not going to test karma by saying that I'm not experiencing that right now. If I was, I don't know what I would do. Here's why:

Tiffany's Conclusions Regarding Therapy
1. Therapy by a professional, licensed counselor is expensive.
2. Money is hard to come by.
3. Sometimes, regardless of the need, we cannot see a therapist.

Seriously, folks. I don't know how people do it. You know you need help, but your insurance doesn't cover anything besides duct taping your arm if it falls off. You work late, you have kids, one car, and your budget is already tight. What are you to do?

I believe that the answer is to be found in ice cream. Unless you are being counseled for an eating disorder, in which case ice cream might not be the answer. Perhaps your answer is…a new purse! Or lunch with friends, a stroll through a park, a trip to ..:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Venice, or painting flower pots with your kids.

What I'm getting at is that life affords us many opportunities to heal, learn, and grow.

It doesn't necessarily make the learning process any easier. I know of people that have been advised by their therapist to take pottery classes, and when their hands touched the wet clay they began crying. I'm not sure why, and part of me laughs at them and part of me understands. Pottery is not in and of itself sad, but perhaps the sensual experience dislodged something in this person's soul that was turning black and brittle. I'm definitely not an expert here, but I'm just saying…

If you will excuse the very frank and coarse language, life is a bitch. It is really hard and unexpectedly difficult and sad and most things don't make sense until you are eight years down the road. You can't figure out WHY in the name of ALL THAT IS HOLY you DID THAT HORRIBLE THING! Or why, why, why? Why did that horrible thing happen to you?

I think that there are many times when we should see a professional to talk out these things. But I also think that there comes a time when you have to just fly on your own. You can sit talking on a couch for as long as you need to, because this is part of the learning and healing process. (As long as you don't have a crazy ass therapist who tells you to write a sonnet about your hamster who got killed when he crawled into the lawn mower for a quick nap)

But at some point, raw and broken or confident and excited, you have to get up off The Couch and head out the door. And what then?

Every once in awhile, when life gets too busy and I don't have time to process thought, let alone remember to sweep the kitchen, I think about calling in A Professional.

I'm losing my mind…I think. I need to tell someone that I'm losing my mind. But if I do, they might commit me. Or if they don't, they will want me to come back three times a week at $350.00 per session, and where am I going to get that money? That only adds to the stress! And where will I find the time? If I had this much time and money, I would go back to school or pay for a housecleaning service! And then I wouldn't be as stressed, and then I wouldn't need the blasted therapist in the first place!

And then I remember that I'm supposed to be making a grilled cheese sandwich, and that is has once again burned on me. I'm really bad at making grilled cheese sandwiches. They are either barely warmed, and thus not really qualifying for the title 'grilled', or charred. Though technically, I don't ever make a 'grilled' cheese. I wonder where that name came from? Why am I devoting so much time thinking about warm/burned sandwiches? Is it because my mother didn't love me enough? Did I see someone killed by a runaway sandwich truck? Perhaps I have suppressed memory. Maybe I should call my therapist. I probably won't be able to get in until next week, in which case the sandwich thoughts will have probably developed into a full-on panic attack involving lunch meat and cartons of milk.

And then I tell myself, "Self, you are not crazy. Yes, you sound insane. You should let the whole sandwich thing go.'

But then I spend time pushing Sabra on a swing. I don't go to the park with the express interest of therapizing myself. But somehow, amazingly, it happens. I'm reminded of the simple things, the important things, the bug covered muddy things.

I was lucky enough to experience eight days of this 'life therapy' recently. A long, ridiculously luxurious, sleep-deprived and overfed trip gave me the best dose of therapy I've had in awhile. It centered me, reminded me of…ME. Focus, clarity, appreciation, healing, and fun all in one buttery, creamy trip.

Not everybody has this luxury. It was a first for me, and though hopefully not the last, I don't know when it will come again. Since returning from my London detox/rehab stint, I have tried to be very conscious about making time for doing things that I know breathe life back into me. Writing is one of those things, though sometimes I don't say what I want to. I sit down and all the pent up emotions and frustrations and joys come dancing out my fingers until I feel…pardon the computer pun…downloaded. In the end, it is this result I am looking for. I want to say something profound or funny or interesting, and I really want people to say that they liked what I wrote. But more than these I need the time, the solitude, and the confession of giving my soul a profile.

This is my greatest 'life therapy'. Do you have any? I have more, many more. My wallet is currently not allowing me to indulge in some of the others. My diet is also…hmmm. Well, I still have writing. And it doesn't cost me money, and I can wear mascara while writing, unlike visiting The Couch.

The Couch will be there for me if ever I need it again. And if not…London will be.

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