Counseling {Day 26 in 31 Days of Filling the Well}

Not long ago, I was giving advice to a young person who was hesitant about seeking counseling. He was adamant that “nothing was wrong,” so he didn’t see the point. Sometimes, counseling is like taking good care of your car, I told him. (Meanwhile, I was thinking, “What are you doing, CJ? Of all the metaphors…you don’t know anything about cars!” But I soldiered on).

Hopefully, I said, you don’t just pay attention to your car when it breaks down on the side of the road. Instead, you change the oil and take it for inspections and…here, I coughed and vaguely mumbled a couple words like “carburetor.” You take care of it during the good times so that you can try to avoid the big break-downs, and when you hit a big pothole in the road, you’re better prepared.

Ok, the metaphor was kind of weak. But I managed to get through to him, if only a little.

And then, I proceeded to flagrantly ignore my own advice.

When I moved away from DC a few months ago, I left my cherished counselor behind. I was okay with this, though. I had long-since hit rock bottom and was slowly, but steadily, rising upward. I was gaining my energy back, connecting with people, remembering the small joys. I was doing it! Myself!

Those words almost never end well for me.

Over the past few months, I’ve continued to heal, continued to recover, continued to fill myself up with joys. But man. Life is hard, people. It’s like those awful elliptical trainers.  You’re plugging along, doing your thing, when all of a sudden, your steps get a lot more difficult. You’re working just as hard as you were before so you’re confused, but when you look down, you realize that the damn thing has tripled the resistance. Oh right, because it’s the Hilly Course. Well, I forgot life was the Hilly Course. And even if you’re moving forward, you still need some help for those hills.

Yesterday, I went to see a counselor for the first time since I’d moved back to my hometown. Five minutes into my appointment, I was plotting quick getaways from the couch to the exit. Fifteen minutes into the appointment, I was thinking, “Why has it taken me three months to do this?” I need the safe space. I need the cleansing-rain feeling of unloading the brick-heavy thoughts. I need to leave the cell phone in the car and step into the carefully-drawn boundaries that protect a time that is mine. 

This is my joy today.

5 thoughts on “Counseling {Day 26 in 31 Days of Filling the Well}

  1. I have a wonderful, expensive counselor, and I really struggle with justifying the cost. I feel like I’m taking something from my family. I am reaching a point where I’m thinking about not continuing to go, but I’m afraid if I don’t I will crash and burn. I am starting to space my appointments farther apart and see how that goes. I’m glad you found someone new. Change is hard. Life is the hilly course.

    • Oh man, I hear you. Cost was certainly an obstacle for me when I was deciding whether to go back to counseling. For me, it got to the point where the “cost” of not going outweighed the cost of the visits. Spacing out the visits and seeing what happens is so wise, though.

  2. Awesome post here. I went to counseling for a while but didn’t stick with it due to various reason, one being cost and the other I didn’t like my counselor very much. She was pushy and I never WANTED to talk to her about ANYTHING. Doesn’t that mean something is wrong?

    I’ve seriously considered going back recently, but then my husband came home and told me instead of me and him trying to “fix” me through counseling, talking, all these things, we needed to give it to God and let Him do the fixing. So now I pray a simple prayer every morning and constantly ask God for forgiveness as I screw up throughout my day. Sometimes I feel like this is a fine idea – sometimes not.

    I do know there is importance to counseling. So I’m still wavering a little about it in my own head.

    • Hey Jess,
      I actually am a counselor, so I of course feel it has value. Personally I feel like God gave me the capacity to change and gave me strength and courage. I think counseling helped me learn some new skills and ways of thinking. I needed help to get out of the patterns I was in. I had to have God’s help, but I also had to do the work. Also, Jess, you don’t need to be “fixed”. You are enough. Your flaws don’t take away your enough-ness. You are a beautiful child of God, you are worthy just because you are breathing.

    • I’m so glad Anna is here to offer her wise perspective. I cannot offer any professional insight, but my own personal experience is this —

      I totally hear where you’re coming from. My faith is very important to me, but I don’t think faith and counseling are an either-or choice. I thought for a long time that going to a counselor meant I wasn’t praying enough or didn’t have enough faith. But for me, counseling and faith support each other. I think God speaks to us through many channels, including prayer and including the compassion of others. Also, you can incorporate faith and prayer in your counseling. There are Christian counselors, though I’ve not been to one. Personally, I just explained to my counselors the role that faith plays in my life, and the good ones created space for it in their counseling.

      One more thing- though this is longer than I’d intended! If you do choose to seek counseling, you deserve a counselor that is a good fit. I went to a few before I found my last counselor, and this time, I called a few and talked to them before I chose what seemed like a good fit. You don’t ever have to be stuck with a counselor that doesn’t fit your needs at that moment.

      Much peace to you.

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