When I was younger I was obsessed with celebrities and their lifestyles. I had in my mind that going to therapy was a prerequisite to becoming famous. After all, that’s all you ever heard in the tabloids: “childhood problems” or “relationship problems” and then boom they end up in some sort of Iyanla Vanzant counseling session. Such a silly thought now looking back at it...I was so young and naive. It wasn’t until the summer after my senior year in high school when I had my first real experience with a counselor/therapist. My mom and I went to see one after we realized that I had to deal with the residual effects of my parent’s divorce. I didn’t know how much it impacted me and my relationship with my mother. But this post isn’t about that experience so let's fast forward. **read on**
The year was 2017...I was advised by my employer’s work life consultant to take some time and meet with a counselor. I’ll admit I was taken aback. I couldn’t believe this lady was telling me to go see someone after I opened up and shared some things I had been experiencing within my workplace at the time (as if I was the problem that needed to be “fixed”) but I put my feelings (and pride) aside and made an appointment.
Walking into my first appointment I felt somewhat comfortable because she was an African-American woman like me. So immediately I knew we would sit down like homegirls and I’ll share my truths and she’ll side with me and say “Girlllll….you’re not crazy I know exactly where you’re coming from!” and then for the rest of our scheduled time together we’d chat and kick it like old friends.
That is NOT at all what happened.
Our first two sessions were definitely one for the books though
I was seeing her for problems at my job but somehow we got deep into dissecting the make up of my family and peeled back layers that I didn’t even know existed. Truthfully, I was annoyed because that was not what I was there for. I didn’t want to talk about my family. I just wanted to talk about my job and have her help me navigate the politics that rested inside those four walls. Since that didn’t happen the first time we met, I decided to give her a second chance with hopes that we’d cover that topic the next go round.
Well, that didn’t happen...and our second session end with her telling me this (and I am paraphrasing here):
It sounds to me that you’ve somehow fallen from glory and you’re having to deal with that now. Listen to this: You told me you grew up in Sherwood Forest [a Detroit neighborhood] -- which is also the name of place from the Robin Hood [fairy] tale. [And] while you were living there everything was perfect; much like a fairy tale. You had both of your parents, the huge house with the many bedrooms, bathrooms, library, etc. And then all of a sudden your life comes crashing down: your parents split, you move into a smaller (less-lavish) home and you don’t know what to do. You seem to me like the Hillary Banks type from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. You’re now having to deal with things here in Grand Rapids that you’ve never had to deal with while living in Detroit.
Y’all my mouth dropped. I could not believe she tried to read me like that. LOL
I didn’t think I had fallen from glory at all. In fact, I felt like I was walking IN the glory and everyone around me couldn’t see it nor let me live. Such a selfish way of thinking and further proof that I wasn’t quite where I thought I was. And if you know me, you know I am nowhere near the 'Hillary Banks' type of girl but I digress.
In some ways I guess she was right. I had been so wrapped up in this “not-so-real” life; I mean it was definitely real because I had lived every minute of it but I was so used to ‘easy’ that any time there was a battle I had to fight I wanted to “fake fall” and cry uncle (if you’ve ever play wrestled with your siblings or relatives they’d have you in a headlock and the only way they’d let you out is if you yelled “uncle”. Such a silly game). I had no idea how much of my childhood experiences were directly related to how I viewed and reacted to my current realities.
It was then that I realized is that this past year and a half was my strengthening season. Honestly, God was putting so much pressure on me and required more of me. I was hitting so many roadblocks and having to deal with very tough situations. Needless to say I got through that rough patch (at work and in life) and at the time I felt stronger than ever. There were lots of tears, frustration and real talks with myself.
During that season is where self-care became a thing for me. Self-care is kind of a buzzword. You hear about it all the time and think nothing of it because you feel that you’re doing all the right things to care for yourself but when you really take the time to reflect you’re doing nothing of the sort. I quickly realized that I needed to carve out time to take care of myself and guess what - seeking help or a counselor/therapist IS a form of self-care. Too often our culture frowns upon the idea of getting help via a counselor or therapist. It’s honestly the best thing we can do for ourselves. No, it’s not a one way ticket to stardom like the younger version of me thought but it is a one way ticket to a longer and healthier life.
According to the American Psychological Association's 2015 ‘Stress in America’ survey, millennials are the most stressed out generation. Let us work to get beyond that. To debunk society’s assumptions of us and work to heal ourselves internally and externally.
What forms of self-care are you implementing?
What are you taking on or holding on to that you can let go or pass on to someone else?