a therapy carol
s e a s o n s g r e e t i n g s
Let’s get right to it. This year has been horrendous. Sure, there have been some truly, beautiful moments. Some light glimmering ever so slightly through the big ass cracks. We have been forced to dust off our creativity boots. To persevere through quick sand. To survive. But it has been tough. And it has come at a very high price. Our bodies, our souls, our spirits. All systems have been going THROUGH it. And the separation + isolation most of us are experiencing is terrifyingly toxic.
Not having deep connection is causing us mental and physical harm. This is not a drill. Vivek Murthy, former surgeon general of the U.S., wrote in the Harvard Business Review that “Loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day” (Vivek Murthy, “Work and the Loneliness Epidemic,” Harvard Business Review). A meta-analysis from the Association for Psychological Science warns that loneliness and social isolation significantly decrease length of life (Julianne Hold-Lunstad et al. “Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality: A Meta-analytic Review”).
And even for those of us fortunate enough to receive support in the form of therapy right now, doing our due diligence to a) admit we’re struggling; to b) recognize our challenges; then c) try to decipher between what different types of therapy there are out there; then d) sift through various online psychology portals to try to understand the difference between EMDR and DBT; then e) work up the courage to contact a potential provider and anxiously wait for them to maybe choose our problems as worthy of their care; to f) figure out how the fuck we’re going to pay for all of this lovely support to ghijklmnop can take days to weeks to months of emotional labor.
I’m not trying to be a total Scrooge, but it’s bad enough to be feeling depleted, low energy and miserably isolated. But then throw in an outdated, confusing, overwhelming system to find care and you’ve got a recipe for a major mental health disaster.
Well my friends, I am here to tell you — no — show you, that it does not have to be this way. So… in the spirit of collective healing and trying to muster up every last drop of holiday cheer in the expired eggnog bottle, I’m here to help!
Consider me the Black, less problematic Charles Dickens Muppet of this Therapy Carol. That’s right, all you rizzo rats! We’re going to stretch this metaphor? analogy? (I’m never sure which one) out as long as possible. And because my religion is the opposite of simplicity, over the next three posts, we’ll be visiting some spirits of mine from therapy past, present and yet to come. Interspersed in the stories will be some stocking filled with stories of vulnerability, pain and reflection to hopefully help you feel less alone and find the right care for you.
Now before we get started… some narrative liberties + ground rules borrowed from the wise revelations of Mia Birdsong in How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community
We all seek belonging, and for very few of us, even the most hermitic, is that place completely separate from others. That means it’s something we must build together.
When we are oriented toward doing things ourselves and getting ours, we cut ourselves off from the kinds of relationships that can only be built when we allow ourselves to be open and generous.
The American Dream’s focus on getting ahead is a race to win so you don’t lose. It plays into our well-developed fear instinct, creating a real and imagined scarcity of resources, time, and money. This fear-based sense of scarcity pits us against one another. It also leaves us with a poorly developed sense of “enough,” both of the material and of love and care. Both surviving these divisions and perpetuating them is draining us of our emotional resilience, grounding, and breathing room. It has us severing the bonds of empathy that allow us to recognize our shared experiences and our shared fates.
We need a vision of community that is relevant and future-facing. A vision that brings us closer to one another, allows us to be vulnerable and imperfect, to grieve and stumble, to be held accountable and loved deeply. We need models of success and leadership that fundamentally value love, care, and generosity of resources and spirit.
We have a responsibility to each other to ask for help when we need it. Instead of listening to the fictitious lone wolf in us, we must listen to the world in the pack, and tape into the impulse that moves us to co-create opportunities for mutuality, opportunities to care for and be there for one another.
We have a responsibility to each other to ask for help when we need it. Repeat this three times. We have a responsibility to each other to ask for help when we need it. We have a responsibility to each other to ask for help when we need it. We have a responsibility to each other to ask for help when we need it.
As we move along this journey together, if there is every a point where you find yourself feeling anxious, depleted or your heart is aching, please do not ignore those emotions. They are such important signals trying to get an important message across: Help me. I am here to help. There are others out there who can help. Others who want to help. We are here, together, to help each other.
with an open heart & helping hands,