I graduated from therapy! OK I graduated over a month ago. This posting is a bit delayed, but I wanted to share what I learned and discovered. First, some background: My ex and I started couples therapy. After two sessions, the therapist decided we really needed to do individual work first. She said that’s totally normal. You can’t have a healthy duo unless you have two healthy individuals. So, I went every three weeks or so for six months. It was among the best things I’ve done in my life (along with parasailing in France, moving West for college, and turning down a better paying job to be a reporter).
When I started, I didn’t really think I needed therapy myself. I came from a good, strong family. I had lots of support and get along fine in life. I don’t have self-esteem problems, feel hopeless or have addictions. What I didn’t know is that you don’t have to be mentally ill or have obvious issues to benefit from therapy. I just needed someone else to take a look – to point out things I missed on my own.
For example, I had a tendency to be needy. I expected everyone else to fill me up. I didn’t know how to fill myself up. My therapist described it like trying to fill a sink without putting a stopper in. I’d feel good, but the feeling would run right down the drain because I was so concerned about where the next thing was coming from. I learned how to put that stopper in; to live in the moment and appreciate. I learned how to be a strong Candace. I learned to recognize the signs and how to deal them in a healthier way. Win!
I also learned to stop “shoulding.” You know, saying, “I should go to the gym today.” “It’s been six years, I should look for a new job.” “I should volunteer.” My yoga philosophy fits well here. Do what feels good to you today. I actually like my job and I adore my co-workers. If a dream opportunity comes up, I’ll take it, but right now I’m going to appreciate where I’m at. It’s a really good fit for me. I’ve done a lot of volunteer work in the past and I will in the future. But right now, I need to take care of me, not everyone else, so that’s what I’m going to do. “Shoulding” is doing what you think other people think you “should” do. I find when I don’t beat myself up for not going running like I “should,” I workout because it makes me feel good and I want to. And sometimes I feel like strength training or climbing stairs instead of running.
That’s another thing. Once I slowed down and thought, I realized I really don’t like some things I thought I did. Instead of the TV being on all the time as a distraction, I’ve found that it annoys me. I turn it on when there’s something quality I actually want to watch. The rest of the time, I’d prefer to listen to music or NPR. I’ve also found myself quietly reading in my alone time. Alone time is precious. No need to fill it up with distractions.
I learned to own my experiences. I thought it was D’s fault we broke up. I wanted to keep trying. He didn’t. He gave up, not me. But now I have to thank him. He’s right. It wasn’t working. It had to end. And I am 50 percent responsible for what went wrong. I don’t regret the time we spent together. I can’t say I wish we broke up sooner because the fact is I’m this healthy version of Candace because of those experiences. And I think the Candace I am today is pretty great. No regrets.
I also read a book that changed my life called “Getting the Love You Want.” And yes, I was so embarrassed to walk into the Seattle Public Library to pick up a self-help book, but it was worth it. My eyes were wide open. Whether you’re single or coupled, I highly, highly recommend this book.
Now go be nice to you.