I went to a therapist; overcoming fear & the grieving process

Over the weekend, I saw “It” (the scary @$$ movie with the clowns) with some of my best girlfriends. Was anyone else scared shitless about this as I was?

**Spoiler alert** This movie was about overcoming your fear; specifically, one of the main characters’ in the movie overcomes his fear of accepting the death of his little brother. I resonated with this character a lot because I, too, have been struggling with overcoming this fear with my father’s passing lately.

To be honest, I haven’t taken the time to properly thank everyone who had contributed to the amazing surprise fundraiser that my best friends organized for my family upon my father’s passing… and it is because I had been scared to accept my father’s death. To be brutally honest, I haven’t even read through all of the thoughtful letters that my best friends wrote for my dad’s beach memorial carefully and I feel terribly sorry. It is not because I haven’t had time, or because I am not deeply, overwhelmingly thankful, but reading those meant I had to accept my dad’s passing fully. And that scared the shit out of me – the fact that I had to become present with all the guilt, the pain, the excruciating regrets, and sadness I had to face to fully accept my dad’s passing seemed terrifying. I gave myself a few weeks to feel some of these feelings, but my Type A personality kicked in and said, ok, enough feelings, time to get shit done and carry on with life.

I thought I could maybe “beat” the grieving process. I’ve seen some of my closest friends heal after their own parents’ passing after years. I see them now, and they are able to move forward with their lives, as they have healed and learned their lessons. They were using this experience to better their lives and others. I’ve seen the end result of years of grieving and healing like that, and THAT was the only place I wanted to be, without having to feel and face the sadness, the regrets, the excruciating pain for too long. I just wanted to get to the light at the end of the tunnel, without going through the tunnel.

What I forgot in this process, was, the process itself. What I forgot in this is that by just striving for the happy end result, I had suppressed real feelings, and I had foregone my opportunity to be present with these feelings as they came up. In my lack of permission to go through the journey of grieving, I ended up judging myself – I felt as if I started to grieve, I would feel like I lost this made up battle in my head “against” grieving and I would be left sad and vulnerable.

Saying this out loud reminds me how irrational this whole thought process was – but it is interesting how fear can skew your perception of reality, right?

So here I am, not losing, but rather surrendering, to the natural process of grieving now. I realized this because I started going to a therapist to help my grieving process. This was based on the recommendation of my boyfriend – and when he offered the idea that I should incorporate an expert’s help with this grieving process, I was defensive; my ego was defensive – Here I was thinking I could “beat” grieving and just go straight to the final stages of healing, yet he didn’t seem to think I could do it!

Well he was right. It was not possible to just “skip” over to the final stages of healing without going through the initial part of the grieving process, of feeling the loss, feeling the sadness, and the emptiness. My first session with my therapist – she just let me talk. I talked and talked for 2 hours. I cried for the first time in a month, even though my dad just passed 2 months ago. At the end of my monologue, honestly, I felt better and empowered; I realized how much I really had experienced, not just with my dad’s 2 year painful battle with cancer, but many unique experiences in my life, and how much I didn’t give myself enough credit for all I’ve been through. I realized how silly it was for me to not surrender to the journey of grieving and to think that I could gain all the wisdom and healing without going through the actual process. I realized I still have a long way to go for me to navigate through grieving and healing, but I also accepted that I don’t need to judge myself for allowing to this journey.

So tomorrow, I have my second session with my therapist, and I am excited. I am bringing all of the thoughtful notes and letters I received, and going to read through them all very carefully, let myself feel everything that comes up, and start to write the thank you letters to all those amazing people in my life who helped me through a truly dark time. It is still scary because I know it will hurt and I know I’ll have to face some unpleasant feelings. But by allowing myself to feel these, I truly believe I am opening up my heart to feel even more love and gratitude in the future, and I am excited for that part.

Also, as my business partner and I launch LivShape, a company that stands for mental, physical, and spiritual well-being, I wanted to openly share my experience of going to a therapist to bring awareness to the importance of taking care of your mental health, and not letting stigma around it stop you from feeling better. I, even though, feel like I am pretty open minded, there was a small voice inside that said, “but a therapist? I don’t have issues!” that derived from the stigma around the word “therapy” and “seeing a therapist.”  But after my first session, instead, I feel empowered that I was able to face my own fear that I didn’t let the stigma stop me in the end. I hope that reading this inspires at least one another person to find themselves in front of a therapist or counselor, especially if there is any emotional blockage that they feel (and sometimes, as I was, we aren’t even aware of our own blockage). We might all be smiling in our social media photos, but I assure you, everyone is going through something and it’s more than okay to become present and proactive about that fact.

Even after just my first session, I created a powerful art piece and I felt myself really open up to all the possibilities, rather than get stuck behind unexpressed baggage of emotions.

To search for true happiness, it is important to face all the emotions and feel them fully. Even knowing this theoretically, I felt myself get scared and run away from facing it when it came down to my own reality. But I am writing this to remind you, if there is a fear that you know you need to overcome, do it, and do it without letting anyone judge you, including yourself.

And I do want to take this opportunity to thank all those who contributed to my healing process, whether it was a hug, kind words, sharing your own story, gifts, letters, contribution to the fundraiser, and more. I am infinitely thankful for the kindness you shared and will never ever be forgotten in my heart. ❤