~Taking The First Steps~
Updated: May 19
At first look she was my stark opposite. I considered her my enemy for many months but I knew deep inside she was an enemy that I needed. She was the mirror I needed to see my past, my now, my future and who I am with utmost clarity. I have fought her harder than any other person in my life both internally and at times straight to her face. Some days, leaving her office, I am not sure which of us has been more exhausted.
I first met Tami on March 28, 2017. An unspeakable trauma and proceeding breakdown left my poor husband begging me to find some form of support. He would watch helplessly as I held our kids back from normal kiddo things because I was afraid for them constantly. He watched as I agonized every time a leaf blew through our yard and I would catch it out of the corner of my eye and crumble in fear. When a loud engine would rumble past the front of our home I was lost, frozen. So, I got my computer out and started researching. I was no willing participant but I wanted to make my husband happy. The first therapist I found, I went to see. She was the first to respond and I knew if I just went anywhere that would make him happy enough. She was a 'talk therapist', my first of many therapeutic 'enemies'. I grew to connect with Jennifer but she soon realized that my struggles were a bit out of her expertise. She recommended that I find a trauma therapist, specifically one who specialized in a treatment called EMDR. This was an adventure that I had no idea what I was in for.
I saw 7 of these therapists exactly 3 times each. I was not connecting with any of them and didn't understand why I could not just see Jennifer and be done with it. I just wanted to be fixed. Wasn't this her job, to fix me? Wasn't this what I was paying HER for? I said, no more. I liked her, I connected with her, and she was just going to have to accept that she was stuck with me. A few sessions later we hit another wall and I was not engaging. She appealed to me one last time. "Just give it one last go, Lyz. I know there is someone out there who can help us with this and I truly believe you will benefit from this modality. 6-8 sessions and I believe you can move on with this and not be needing therapy week in, and week out." Ok one last time.
I had one therapist on my list that I had not reached out to. She looked great and her photo was warm and inviting. I scrolled over to her website. Then I saw it- 14 years in law enforcement. No thank you. I don't believe in the 'justice system'. After my upbringing and the myriads of people who looked the other way, including law enforcement, why would I? Well, she was the only one on my list I had not called so I was gonna have to suck it up. I called and left the voicemail. A few nights later the phone rang. A kind, confident voice was on the other end of the line. I was surprised at the flow of the conversation. She was funny and very open, she felt genuine. I thought to myself, "I guess I can make a go of it. It's only 6-8 sessions after all". I went to my first appointment and swore I would never step foot back in that woman's office EVER again. She made a statement in that session that completely changed the trajectory of my life. Now, I was not ready to hear it at that point and so I ran. I was so beside myself I had to pull over and call a friend. As she talked me down from my amped up state, I reminded myself of my '3 times rule'. I would do everything uncomfortable at least 3 times before I decided I couldn't make a go of it. At this time, I did not trust my gut enough to know the first go around. I felt like I needed those 3 times to really know for sure. So, back I went.
My walls were thick and high. There was something undeniable there, though. She was saying things that I had been told my whole life were false and that made made me 'crazy'. They made sense when she said them. She was strong and confident. She had a knowing about me that I found very intriguing. Very slowly, rhythmically in a way, we began to dive in. I still saw Jennifer in addition to Tami because I did not trust this new-comer. I needed to keep that connection with Jennifer to protect myself. I was not going to get close to this Tami character. 6-8 sessions, it's just 6-8 sessions.
That was nearly 2 years ago and I had no idea how much I needed Tami. She has become my trusted guide and confidant. Often, she is my pillar on the darkest of days when I rumble the hardest with my 'shitty first draft'. She is not now, nor has she ever been, my enemy, as I had convinced myself she was. Our paths crossed right when I needed her most, but as many trauma survivors will tell you, those we need the most feel the most threatening.
If you are looking for a therapist for trauma, or for any other myriad of reasons, psychologytoday.com is a great starting point. I encourage anyone starting on this journey to investigate and interview as many therapists as it takes. You are entrusting them with your most vital asset, your mind. If you feel that tiny thing inside saying, there is something about him/her, it's like he/she knew me before I knew myself, keep him/her. Them seeing you is a good thing. It's a gift you may have never felt before. On the other hand, when it doesn't feel right, don't be afraid to walk away. I believe there is a Tami out there and once you have found yours, hang on. It's a wild, exciting, sometimes brutalizing ride; but it's worth every minute of truth and discovery.