What led me to therapy
I first started therapy 18 months after my separation from my husband. The day I decided I needed therapy was one like many others I'd been having...a day spent with such (seemingly inexplicable) crippling anxiety, I wasn't sure if I could leave the house or drive my car. That particular day, however, I was able to remember a dream I'd had the night before. A very upsetting dream about my former nephews and brother-in-law. Even though I'd forgotten it when I woke up, by mid-afternoon I was sure this haunting dream was the cause of that day's anxiety. 18 months later, even though I was doing "great!", I realized the separation and pending divorce was owning me, and I couldn't live like that anymore.
Why I chose Open Heart Therapy
Enter Trinity, whom I found randomly on the Internet! I was drawn to her warm smile and to the name of her practice, "Open Heart Therapy". That's what I wanted, after all, right? An Open Heart? She seemed spiritual, and I knew I needed to be able to connect with someone on that level before I could tell them anything truly personal about myself. Trinity's office is very comfortable. There's no harsh lighting, there's a calming fountain, and the decor is welcoming and warm to say the least. That certainly helped put me at ease because truthfully, I didn't want to be there. I mean, does anyone want to be in therapy? Isn't going to therapy admitting that there is something WRONG with you, and that you are TOO WEAK to deal with it on your own? We started slowly. That was on me because I was only willing to reveal so much. But Trinity was patient and never pushed me.
I had homework assignments
I had to write down any mean things I said to myself. I acknowledged these mean things. I became aware of this destructive self-talk. Eventually I started replacing it with positive self-talk. I learned to give myself credit for things. I learned to praise myself for my successes, no matter how small. I emptied the dishwasher (my most loathed household chore)...good job, self! I started taking time to celebrate my accomplishments...even the big ones. It seems like a no-brainer, but I'd achieve something great or unlikely, and I wouldn't take a moment to congratulate myself or be grateful, it was always just...ok, what's next? I learned to bask in the satisfaction of any achievement - big or small.
Clonazepam - my crutch.
The anxiety drug I have taken intermittently for 16 + years. I was finally at a place where I knew I didn't want to rely on it anymore. In fact, it was messing with my short-term memory. My "goal" was to get off of it, but I didn't really mean it because I didn't really think it could happen. I was taught a breathing technique that initially seemed like garbage... but actually was enormously effective! When Trinity realized my intentions were weak, she gave me a rock to carry and look at regularly that said "Faith" to remind me that I had the inner strength to get off the pills if I truly wanted it.
I now practice a breathing technique and meditate as often as possible.
I still carry the pills in my purse as a security blanket, but I haven't taken one in months. A few unusual techniques we used were chalkboard drawing and singing. I was encouraged to let go of my hard wired conditioning by writing my negative beliefs and their counter truths and drawing with my non-dominant left hand! I surprised myself at how well I did and that helped to unlock yet another level of personal healing for me. One time Trinity got super creative at getting me to sing in a session and again I was amazed at what I was capable of; my power and strength always lied within. All I had to do was look inside myself for the answers. Empowering.
From therapy I learned
I learned I could own my divorce, instead of letting it own me. I learned that I am enough - I am whole and complete on my own. I learned that I don't need to seek the approval of others...not strangers, friends, not even my parents. I learned to trust myself - I observed that throughout my life, I have always made the right decision for me, even if it took longer than expected, and that there's no reason my trend of good decision-making won't continue. I learned to go easier on myself when I make mistakes. I was so surprised by how quickly I was able to feel empowered again, once we started doing the work. We are each forever and always a work in progress, but I feel more equipped now, with the tools I learned at Open Heart Therapy, to handle life and continue to improve myself day after day.