Annmarie O'Connell, LPC, NCC, CADC
When deciding it may be time to look for a therapist, whether it is for yourself, for a loved one, or perhaps both of you, it is often difficult to get yourself to make the call. Sometimes people have experienced something critical in their lives and a voice inside of them may have been saying “you can’t carry this alone” and yet they still didn’t know exactly which direction to turn. Sometimes a seed gets planted and you think about scheduling an appointment, but maybe you wait for quite a long time before you pick up the phone and actually commit to it. Life can be downright painful. Usually, when this pain enters our hearts, it shatters us and we are no longer able to tap into our healthier half. We may start doing things we said we never would or pick up old patterns that no longer serve us. We may burn a bridge or two or even fall short in meeting our goals or the expectations of those around us.
Asking for help when we are at this end of our emotional rope, is very difficult. We have tapped out our resources. We are now relying on likely the worst, darkest parts of ourselves to function. Humbling ourselves before another human being in this state to work through our inner tragedies is almost impossible. Psychotherapists are blessed with the gift of watching this happen every single day. The vulnerability that a human possesses when they ask for help is extraordinary to say the least. The shame that writhes beneath the surface at times of many people who are on the other end of the call to receive therapy services is great and it is deep and it is real. To carry that and still have the courage, the resiliency to be an advocate for your own or your loved ones mental health is something that we should not take for granted.
One definition of vulnerability is “the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” When we humble ourselves in such a fragile state, that possibility of being attacked or harmed feels so real within us. It’s pressing down on our spirit and we have little to no ability to access the part of ourselves that can recall feeling safe. Feeling beautiful. Feeling loved. Feeling open to the world and the joy around us. And it feels dark. But we do it anyway. We long and crave social connection. We are brave and warrior like and we want to persevere through what is holding our hearts captive. Therapy is a space to allow that vulnerability to be honored and for your true self to be restored with dignity and respect. As therapist’s we often say we are holding space for others. What does that mean? It means we are providing another human being a touch of grace so that they can allow love back into their heart and perhaps transform and grow a result.