Saturday, March 2

Notes from the Therapists Office


      I pondered, over and over, how to start this post. Mostly because, by sheer fact of the title alone, I'm admitting something that I've never mentioned to my bloggy readers as a whole before...that I have spent time in a therapist's chair. Many different therapist's chairs actually!

     If I started by saying, 'After my therapy session last night...'

     I realized I might stop some of you in your tracks...'Whoa, she's in therapy?!' you'd be asking.

     Or maybe you'd say, 'Wow, thank goodness she's in therapy!'

     Or maybe, 'I'm so relived someone else is in therapy...I thought I was the only one!'

     Whatever your reaction, it might come as a surprise to you that I have spent time in therapy as recently as last night.

     In this season of my life it is inconsistent. I found a woman last fall who is covered by my insurance and I decided to give her a call. I like having that "tool" in my repertoire of life management tools and so even though I wasn't going through any major crises in my life I decided to give her a call and begin the relationship.

     Admittedly, I have struggled with anxiety issues on and off over the last ten years and have actually seen many different counselors at differing seasons. After the birth of both girls those anxiety issues, that can tend to wax and wane depending on my season of life, re-emerged in the form of post-partum anxiety/depression (more anxiety than depression, but often lumped into the same category).

      In both situations I found great comfort in the sheer fact that I had someone to call 'if I needed to'.  In both situations I found myself, baby in tow, in a counselor's chair on at least several occasions. And I was thankful for the encouragement, support and neutral words of wisdom offered during those times.

     All of that is a whole other that I have not shared in detail with many people, but perhaps that I will, at least in some detail, share some day.

     That said, I knew with a third baby on the way and none of my trusted prior counselors around (I had both of the girls in Massachusetts, this is my first in Buffalo) that it would be healthy for me to have someone to call in case I need to.

     Not to mention, I fully believe that EVERY momma could use a full-time counselor at her disposal just to get through the sheer challenge of motherhood!

     This woman is sweet. I've seen her once every 6-8 weeks over the last nine months and while we have no other meetings scheduled at the moment her contact information is in my I-phone and she knows she may hear from me sometime in May (after the babino arrives late April!).

     Given all that, I really appreciated our appointment last night and she said a few things that I wanted to share. They were simple things, things I've heard before, but things that really resonated this time around. Things that made me really re-think the way I've been...well...thinking!

      As I drove to her office my mind felt tired and tattered. The weather here has been DREADFULLY DREARY (Sorry, I had to put that in caps. Truly, winters in Buffalo are gray, gray, gray....and it makes me crazy, crazy, crazy! And, yes...I know there is a clinical name for people who can't hack the gray days of winter...but we're avoiding that for now!).

     So between the weather, this hectic season of raising little ones and a pregnancy whose hormones have completely depleted my capacity for patience...I sank into the soft gray couch in this woman's office and smiled and sighed all at the same time.

     "So, how have things been?" she asked. "I haven't seen you since January."

     "Ha! Right! Right after Christmas when I was reeling from the crazy Christmas season..."

     "Yes, yes. You were trying to come down from the hecticness of December."

     I laugh.

    "Things haven't slowed down. Not one bit." I retort.

     "I'm not sure they ever do," she says very matter of factly. She has four children and knows the drill.

     I tell her about the house projects, and the Birthday parties and Scott's busy work schedule and several other commitments that slipped in there as well and how I feel emotionally ill-equipped to handle it all.

     "A lot of times," she says, "Our emotional state has a lot to do with our expectations. I bet you end many of your days feeling like you didn't meet your expectations for the day."

      I pause...I can't disagree...Even though I want to. I don't want to admit that I've set my expectations for the day to day higher than they should probably be. That in the midst of redoing our floors, and remodeling the spare room to become a nursery, and planning a 4th Birthday party for Ella and simply making meals and lunches and trying to manage laundry throughout the week, that I had IDEAS of other things... clean and organize our basement. write more blog posts. read a book or two. create photo albums and organize pictures of the girls. connect more deeply with my husband. keep the dust off of the television cabinet. actually take my girls outside once in a while. get the library books back...ON TIME (my fees were only $12.50 this month!)

     There are many more things I could add to the list. Things, that as you can see, are all subtle. They're little things, but they add up to a big list...and if I'm honest I let that list loom over my mind like the dark gray clouds that haven't lifted from the Buffalo sky for more than a day at a time in three months.

   And those are just the tangible about the the fact that I do live my life half expecting that it will all slow down. Or that the girls won't fight with each other. Or that they'll pick up they're rooms without being asked...or....

     We talked about a lot of other expectations for myself as a mom, as a writer, as a wife. How they all intertwine. And how, in this time of raising young children, the children really do become the front and center and a lot of other things need to be laid down. For a time.

     I know this. I reach moments of peace about this at least once or twice a week. However, the living out of it is a completely different thing.

     The living out of laying down our expectations, our own personal needs, for our families and our children, without becoming frustrated, and crabby... that's often easier said, or thought about, than done! 

     I can keep up with the best of them when it comes to completing the tasks, but the emotional side of things...the not getting bogged down and overwhelmed in the midst of it all...I'm not so good at that.

     I'm good at the actions of the day to day. I'm not so good at the reactions to the day to day. 

      I asked her how I make those more positive reactions a part of my day to day. She told me exactly what I thought she'd tell me.

     "It takes practice."

     I keep thinking...keep expecting...that it should come naturally. That one day I'll wake up and Poof! The 'patience, lower expectations, I'm o.k. with the chaos' fairy will have come over night and have left a little pouch of pixie patience dust under my pillow.

     I'll take action! I'll sprinkle that dust on my head and suddenly I'll be a calmer, more easy-going woman...

     I realized when I left last night that maybe I need to stop watching so much Tinker Bell with the girls and start the hard work of practicing more positive dialogue in my mind. That the pixie dust isn't coming, but that if there is one thing I CAN take action over in my life it is reframing my own thoughts about it all.

     If I remember correctly, that little tidbit wasn't in "What to Expect When Your Expecting."

     I'm thinking that maybe it should be!


  1. There are at least 2 of us that keep a counselor's precious number in our phones! :) Mine not only helped me out of a bad situation in life, but she also was my "I'm going crazy during pregnancy" contact. Worth their weight in gold! I wish more people would get past the "ooohhh therapy?!?" fears and see how beneficial a good, wise counselor is.

    1. I agree Abigail! I have found my counselors to be such important parts of my "life journey" in SO many different ways.

  2. Lisa! I think this is my favorite post of yours!! So so so good. First, your vulnerability is encouraging to all women, I'm sure. We could all use a therapist at times and there should be no stigma attached. And second, well, I just can't put into words how spot on and applicable your insights are regarding our expectations and how they set us up for failure. I love the paragraph about expecting to wake up to patience pixie dust, etc. So true! And I'm with you...I keep waiting for it to come naturally and it just isn't. I actually have to dig in and do the hard work of re-training my brain. Thank you so much for writing this. It's EXCELLENT!

    1. Thank you Rebekah-- I needed some of that pixie dust the day after i wrote this and laughed at the irony that the words I had written the day before were serving as the reminder that I needed a day later!!!

  3. Thanks for sharing! If I could afford it I'd see a counselor every week. I love my time with mine.

  4. So true about expectations! I find so often that when I get frustrated that if I can step back and think calmly about the situation, that it was my unrealistic expectations that were the real problem!

    1. I think about mommas like you who have several more children than me when I'm in the middle of the chaos (which is why I LOVE the title of your blog!) and try to remind myself that we're all in this together and often working through the same emotions!

  5. So true! I've had my trusted therapist for almost TEN years now.

  6. Totally been there. I usually find its when I have my own agenda and am relying on my strength to get through. It really shows me my sinful nature and makes me appreciate God's amazing patience. I often find myself confessing my self reliance and asking for His strength and patience to get through. I've started praying that He use me for His purpose in the day. Sometimes takes me completely away from what I thought was important to accomplish.....I wonder if this is how Eve felt after the fall. I'd love to read her journal from then....

  7. "I realized when I left last night that maybe I need to stop watching so much Tinker Bell with the girls and start the hard work of practicing more positive dialogue in my mind. That the pixie dust isn't coming, but that if there is one thing I CAN take action over in my life it is reframing my own thoughts about it all." — TRUTH! The positive dialogue of the mind is one of the strongest gifts we can give ourselves. I love this quote: "You cannot use someone else's fire. You can only use your own. And in order to do that, you must first be willing to believe that you have it." — Audre Lorde


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