Self-Love is the Best Love: Therapy is Self-Care
Today's snippet comes from Chapter "T" on Therapy in my upcoming book The A to Z Guide to Thriving in the First Year of Marriage.
The first time I heard “Cranes in the Sky”, I cried. I was at the gas station sitting in the car when the song came on and I literally could not move. Solange was singing my life:
I tried to drink it away
I tried to put one in the air
I tried to dance it away
I tried to change it with my hair
I ran my credit card bill up
Thought a new dress would make it better
I tried to work it away
But that just made me even sadder.
For the first time, I felt like my empty feelings had been put into words. For a woman who’s educated, has stable employment, an amazing husband, an adorable son, a nice home, and so much more to be thankful for, I couldn’t shake off this feeling that something was missing from my life. Which unbeknownst to me, caused me to drink a lot, gamble too much, spend hours upon hours on the couch watching TV, barely spend time with my friends, give my son just enough attention, and inevitably cause small rifts in my brand new marriage.
The truth was that I was not living my best life. After a 3 day binge at the casino and a really huge argument, my husband suggested therapy. I said yes because I’d always been a fan of therapy even though I’d never tried it. I never bought into the lies that “therapy is for crazy people”, “therapy is a waste of money” or my favorite “black people don't go to therapy, just pray about it”. So I reached out to a good friend for a referral and let me just tell you that my therapist is ALL of the #blackgirlmagic that I never knew I needed in my life!!!!
MY THERAPIST IS #BLACKGIRLMAGIC
During my first session, I spent most of my 53 minutes complaining about my job, and only giving a quick synopsis of my life. We didn't even scratch the surface of the gambling addiction. However, I did share that I felt my spiritual life was lacking, and that I’d been thinking about creating a prayer closet. She agreed that creating a prayer space in my home would be a good first step for me, so my homework for the week was to clear out our junk room.. I mean guest room, so that I could have a quiet place to pray, reflect, and get centered. What seemed like a daunting task, wasn’t so bad when she mentioned breaking it up into cleaning for 20 minutes a day. I even came home one day to find that my husband had cleared out a lot of his old stuff. That week I met my goal and felt accomplished when I went to my next appointment. Here’s where we got into the meat and potatoes of my life. We talked about my gambling habits and the family history that influenced it. Then my therapist asked me a line of questions that I really didn't have an answer to:
What do you do that gives you energy?
What hobbies do you have that feed you?
What do you do for fun?
My first response was “I don't know”, which felt extremely sad, but honest. I knew I had to try to answer the question though, so I told her that I enjoyed spending time with my son and husband. She countered back nice, but those relationships probably take a lot of work and sometimes more energy than you get. Touche. So next I told her I liked watching TV, which she said wasn't feeding me at all. I mean do your favorite shows add deep meaning to your life? True again, most of mine are depressing as hell. I tried talking about spending time with friends, but of course I had no real answer for the last time I’d done that or really enjoyed it. It was clear that my favorite thing to do was gamble and that habit was draining my bank account and relationship.
The truth was, I was just going through the motions of life. I wasn’t really living. I enjoyed spending time with my husband, but I needed to invest in things that made me happy without him. So my next homework assignment was to create a list of things that I could do that would feed my soul and give me the same rush that gambling did -no matter how simple they were.
My list included:
- Grocery shopping- I love food and I love that I can be around people and not have to talk to anyone
- Pinning and gathering ideas to decorate my house
- Going to the library and getting new books to read
- Launching Meet Mrs. Mayweather
- Trying new restaurants and cooking new recipes
- Getting a gym membership and working out
- Traveling more
These were all things that I could enjoy alone and that I am still doing. I’ve been back to therapy multiple times since then and what I learned was that I was giving love to everybody else, except me. It is so important that we as women make time to love ourselves first. I know that feels hard when we are busy building careers, being wives, mothers, or supporting our family members, but it is vital to our survival. Like that saying goes, “you can’t give from an empty cup”.
WHAT ABOUT NOW?
After 5 months, therapy...
Empowered me to start my blog and find my passion. I am the happiest that I have ever been in life. Sure I have tough days, but I feel like I finally know why I’m here on this earth. Meetmrsmayweather.com is a big part of that.
Pushed me to demand what I want in my marriage versus passively asking for it and hoping that it happens some day.
Taught me to figure out what I genuinely like and spend more time on self-care.
Helped me to be a better mother and wife. I am so much more thankful for them!
Helped my sex life. Sex is better when you’re present and not dragging all of your stress into the bedroom.
Made me cherish life more and celebrate each day. I no longer live for the weekends.
Interested in trying it out for yourself? Below are a few tips:
Find a therapist who will accept your insurance. I pay my co-pay ($30) at each session, but that’s better than paying $150 out of pocket each time. If you don't have insurance, there are therapists who will see you on a sliding scale based on your situation. Goggle is your friend.
If you really need marriage counseling, start as an individual first. Then ask if you can bring your partner in to talk through some things. Individual counseling and marriage counseling is coded differently in the insurance game. You will definitely pay out of pocket for marriage counseling.
Just because you try therapy once and don’t have a pleasant experience it does not mean that therapy is not for you. You just need to find a better therapist. STICK WITH THE PROCESS!
If you are a person of color, I would encourage you to find a person of color for your therapist. There is nothing like having someone who already understands your day to day struggle in America so that you don't have to waste time & money explaining it to them! Check out therapyforblackgirls.com to find someone in your area.
Want more tips? Sign up for a free copy of my upcoming e-book, The A to Z Guide to Thriving in the First Year of Marriage. Your free copy will be delivered to your inbox as soon as the book is released for sale.