I’m a proponent of therapy. I think the objectivity of a third party to help you look at things with a clearer focus and vision, to allow you to get out of your own way, can be very healthy.
About six months ago a friend told me I should see a grief counselor. In a conversation with her, I had mentioned that I didn’t feel like I was handling my grief well. I felt stuck. I felt heavy. I was constantly sad and just kept myself busy to put my mind anywhere except the loss I was feeling.
The comment hit me like a ton of bricks. Me? A therapist? I wasn’t offended by any means. I knew her suggestion was coming from a place of love, of concern, of friendship. I toyed with the idea and let a couple months pass before she inserted the suggested again in our conversation. She even found a therapist that would be a good fit for me. After all, therapy is good, but not all patients and therapists mix well. It’s like finding a good dance partner. You can both have great rhythm, but if you aren’t in sync your mutual rhythms do nothing but create chaos. Another few months would pass before I’d ask for the therapist’s phone number. Even then I let several more weeks pass before dialing her phone number without thinking.
When we spoke, I told her I recently lost my best friend – and that was when it hit me. The reason I had been avoiding therapy was because I would need to acknowledge that I did, in fact, lose my best friend. He was gone and not coming back. I wouldn’t hear his voice or see his face. It’s a harsh reality, but one that is unavoidable. Speaking about this loss would be to acknowledge its reality. I would acknowledge my feelings, my regrets and couldn’t ignore them or push them to the side while I focused elsewhere.
My therapist is a wonderful woman who over the course of several weeks would allow me to open up about my life, the loss of my friend, where I am with family, friends, and myself. Some of the harsh feelings I had been experiencing she walked me through, and gave me perspective on. She allowed me to see that some of the feelings I had were real and justified, but were being skewed. She helped me to see the other side – a side untouched by my own chaotic grief. She helped me to see that living through grief, is like living in a new dimension. Certain words and behaviors that seemed so normal are now analyzed through a lens of frustration, regret, and sadness. We lose objectivity when we grieve. So to find a place where we can gain perspective as a way to hold on to hope and gain some healing can be a saving grace for anyone walking the road of loss.
Through therapy, I feel very much able to look at things through a clearer lens. I’ve gained something that grief steals from you – perspective. Allowing me to see the realness of a friendship that did have its struggles and distance and frustrations, but also had its abundance of fun, trust, and admiration. It allowed me to be gentle with myself, and understand that in grief, I’m not going to see things clearly or perfectly, nor will I act in accordance. I need to allow myself the opportunity to feel what I’m feeling, but not let it conquer me. Through perspective, I found gratitude for a friendship that the last several months I allowed emotions of regret, guilt, and sadness to paint over its beauty. I found my appreciation of a friendship that put a smile back on my face.
It wasn’t just analyzing my grief independently, but understanding how it now intertwined itself into everything – my job, my family, my happiness. I could find a balance to still trying to live my best life while acknowledging that my world was now very much different.
Through therapy, I not only gained a greater sense of self, but a freedom that would allow me to keep dancing, and laughing despite the sadness I was still feeling. I don’t know if I am an “everything-happens-for-a-reason” kind of dude anymore. But I’ve been an optimist and I’m starting to feel that sense of hope, again.
So I thank my friend for her caring heart to lead me to a path to healing. I thank my therapist for giving me perspective and the chance to own my feelings. I am thankful that despite that sadness there is much to be happy and hopeful about. I feel that the eternal optimism inside me has seen a light that was darkened for far too long.
Therapy is not just for those who grieve, but anyone facing conflict. Whether that’s conflict with someone else, or yourself, I would encourage you to think about giving yourself the chance to experience some objectivity. It might not be an easy journey, and it may take a few tries with different therapists to find out which one works best for you. At the end of it all, you only have a newfound perspective to gain and each of us deserves nothing less than that.