Going to therapy is hard, there is no getting around that. Digging up trauma can be emotional and exhausting. I spent a lot of my 20s trying to go to therapy and it was only until recently that I was successful at attending more than 2 sessions with a therapist. There are a number of reasons that I was unable to make it more than 2 sessions but the biggest were I was not ready for therapy and that the therapist and I did not click.
I first started seeing a therapist when my trauma was just years old. It was difficult to want to revisit those events because they were so fresh in my mind- they were still too real. For many sessions I withheld information and downplayed events to ease my own pain. I also felt guilty telling someone as if I was tattling on the person who caused the trauma. I just wasn’t ready to open up and talk about things yet.
When I had the opportunity to see a therapist this year I took it and told myself that I would stick with it this time. I felt like I put off going for too long and that I was avoiding talking to someone. When I started therapy this time things were different. I didn’t feel like I was overdue for seeing someone. It felt like the time was right. I was able to dig deep and talk about things that I had forgotten about or repressed. I was able to be myself around this therapist and most of all I felt like I was ready to start healing.
It’s my impression that people think therapy is like going to a mechanic. You don’t have to have things in common with your mechanic, you don’t have to even like them as a person if they can fix your car. People are different. Going to a therapist that you don’t have rapport with is not just painful, it can be traumatizing.
I am the first to admit that I am a dramatic person and on top of that I am painfully sarcastic. For me to connect with someone and talk to them in a natural manner they have to understand these qualities. I have been to so many therapists that couldn’t get past this and I had to change the way I talked to them in order for them to listen. Sessions became more about explaining why I said things in certain ways than what I meant and in the end I just changed the way I talked to the therapist in order to smooth things over. Therapy should be a space to speak to someone in your most raw, unfiltered way. It is vital that you can be yourself during therapy and talk about anything to your therapist.
I do think everyone should have a therapist. Too often do I see people scoff at the thought of talking to someone. Too often have I been asked “are you really sure you need it?” when I tell someone I am seeing a therapist. It is so vital that we start making mental health a cornerstone of our self care and overall health. I see now that I was not ready to heal until now and for that I say don’t go to therapy until you feel ready.
When you are ready, make sure your therapist is a great fit for you and your needs. Skip the trial and error that I went through trying to find a safe and supportive place to heal. Our partners at Glimmer specialize in empowering womxn, QTBIPOC, and the LGBTQIA+ community through the process of finding safe mental and sexual health services. They can help to match you to a therapist that is right for you for free.