I remember the first time my mom has ever mentioned therapy to me. We were in the car as she drove about 75 mph on the freeway. I was wearing clothes that I had worn all week because my mom had prohibited me from wearing clean clothes. That was my punishment at the time for borrowing her lotion from her room. (That was a tough time but it really taught me to be grateful to have my own clothes that are clean, which many people in the world unfortunately do not have.) Anyway, during that car ride neither of us spoke to one another and the tension was running dangerously high. My mom asked one simple question and I mistakenly said, “I don’t know” with a shrug as I looked out the window trying to avoid looking at her. She instantaneously took that as a clear sign of disrespect and after that things were a bit of a blur. I do not remember the conversation verbatim but I do remember when my mom was yelling at me saying a had a plethora of problems in my life. As her yelling continued, she told me the only way for me to ever be normal was to go to therapy because I was so “screwed up”. At that point I was already in tears but I was so scared because the angrier she became, the faster the car would go. I was a blubbering mess because to be called screwed up by my own mother took a toll on me. However, my mom not only did not understand that as she was scolding me, she expected a response for being such a mess. When she didn’t get her desired response punches began to fly and the car began to swerve. I counted 6 clear hits to the face as I tried to evade them by leaning to one side of the car but there isn’t anywhere to hide in such a confined space. The rest of the car ride I silently let the tears fall down my face as I tried to relax by watching the cars pass by outside my window. The next few days consisted of more silence and rising tension between my mother and me. It wasn’t until about later that week where her boyfriend at the time mentioned the word therapy to me when I’m sure he noticed how uncharacteristically sad I was. However, this all occurred in November of 2016. I didn’t start going to therapy until 2 Thursdays ago.
My first therapy session happened in the afternoon so I had tennis practice earlier in the morning. I was having self-confidence issues that entire week due to the combined pressure of tennis, hanging out with my mom, and going to therapy. I let that get inside my head and ruin my tennis games. I lost all of my games that entire week and that Tuesday when I had morning practice, I had an anxiety attack. I have not experienced an anxiety attack in a few years so this took me by surprise and I just left the courts and thankfully my aunt picked me up and as soon as I got into the car I was wailing loudly with no control. It felt like everything was closing in around me. To make matters worse, when I was having that anxiety attack, I could only inhale but not exhale. It felt like I couldn’t breathe at all and I thought I was going to suffocate. My aunt looked at me worriedly wondering if she should take me to the hospital because I couldn’t breathe. Thankfully, after about 2 hours I was practically normal again. The same thing happened to me Thursday morning and I ran off the courts once again with no explanation. At that point in time I really felt like I needed a therapist to talk to.
I have always had that misconception that all people who attend therapy sessions are crazy. I never for once realized that it would be good for me in any way so of course, I was hesitant. That was until I started having multiple anxiety attacks. I was scared to be evaluated by a complete stranger but I kept an open mind because I have been through a lot at the mere age of 15 and it might do me some good.
The First Therapy Session:
The first thing on my mind was to ask my therapist how to get rid of my anxiety attacks because even though they only occurred twice up to that point, I knew if they would continue that they would take over. My mom dropped me off at her office and I walked in and sat on a nice comfy couch. My first impression of my therapist was that she seemed nice but for some reason something inside me started to freak out. Maybe it was because I was scared to open up or that an anxiety attack was about to come.
I was right about both.
My therapist began to talk about the paperwork I had to sign and as she was explaining I burst into a waterfall of tears. I didn’t know what was happening or why. She asked me to talk about it but I just told her I didn’t know either and I asked to continue with the paperwork while I collected myself. The paperwork I had to sign fe,t like I was signing my soul to the devil. There were several forms but the only one that stood out to me was that if I mentioned to her that I had ever been neglected or abused that she would report it to child services. She also said that even if she thought i was being abused or neglected that she would report it. At that moment I felt like crying even more because I knew that I couldn’t talk about my mom too much without her figuring it out. That only made things more complicated. After I signed everything, our time was at its end and my mom took me to my grandparents house as she went to work. I entered the house and thankfully I was alone for the next few hours because that was when I just needed to think about my options.
I had two choices: talk about my mom in therapy so that I can get help from my therapist (since that is the actual point of attending therapy) and my mom would most likely lose custody of me and I would continue living at my grandparent’s house OR try to avoid talking about my mom and lose the beneficial effects that may occur from what my therapist may have to offer on the sensitive subject of my mom. If I choose the latter, I would probably focus on talking about my dad and how that has effected me in life.
Both options have negative qualities that makes it near impossible to choose between.
Second “Therapy” Session:
*I may have forgetten to mention this but it take 30-60 days of evaluation with my therapist before she deems me suitable or not for actual therapy sessions.*
I walked into my session feeling more confident than before because I was focused on just avoiding the topic of my mom at all costs. I just wanted to talk. I decided that I will try to not to throw my mom under the bus for all the things she has done to me in the past. However, if my therapist concludes that my mom has indeed neglected and abused me in the past, then that will not be on my conscience so I would not have to carry that guilt with me. In that session, we simply talked about my life at school and it was quite relaxing. In some sick way, I hope I qualify to be accepted into actual therapy sessions because it is nice to have someone to talk to that will just listen.
My next session is next Tuesday and it will be talking about past traumas. That makes me anxious but I’m glad to be getting the help I need. I’m grateful that I’m getting therapy even though the idea was not welcoming at first.