This has got to be one of my favourite psychotherapy articles. And I love the title too.
I had the opportunity of heading to M a few days back and as usual, it would feel incomplete if I did not have an appointment with my therapist. Things have been wonderful on my end. Actually, scrap that. Too wonderful that it feels unreal. I emailed her that I would be seeing her ‘without a problem’ because honestly, I am quite sick of talking about my mom. The last 6 – 7 sessions had been specifically about managing my emotions dealing with my mom. I think moving to a different topic helps me to actually rationalise my thoughts on certain things. Therapy for me now, will be more towards self-improvement as she knows my background and it will be easier to work on my issues based on that.
Last session was mostly chit-chat and self-reflections.. although to some extent it felt like catching up with an old friend. I know I should not consider her as a friend but it felt like even her conduct says otherwise. That she is treating me like a friend. She offers me her personal opinion and experiences which she has never done it before. Therapy actually felt a bit different this time. I’m also more relaxed around her. The first thing I did when I entered the room was to remove my jacket and shoes and sat on her couch cross legged.
A few things we talked about:
1) Told her about how a close friend of mine was sceptical about my job and promotions. I said that I don’t blame her because I got it a month after completing my thesis; my job title is actually the head of department one month after I started working; and I get to travel when I just started. People spend years before being given the opportunity to travel.. what more this title. I received news from my boss last week that I am off probation after 3 months (instead of 6 months).. and my pay is being revised. My T commented that with social media nowadays, people tend to only show a good part of their lives so when we have something great, naturally it is difficult to believe. I told her that look, I am close to this friend and I have known her for years. She had been by my side through difficult times and it was disappointing to receive such feedback from her. It would be crazy if I printed my own namecard and made up stories about my job. My T said, not everyone will be happy for you. From her experience, people pretend to be glad for you but not everyone is genuine. I mentioned that when I told bestie about my revised pay, her first reaction was to ask for a treat. I mean like what the heck..
2) I talked about my relationship with bestie and how therapy is just additional support to whatever non-existent support I get from bestie. Don’t get me wrong, she has been supportive in some cases…but probability of her supporting me if I am going through a crisis would be 50:50. When I share something difficult with her, she would either listen for a while and then change topic OR will not entertain it entirely. I said that she of all people should understand that talking is helpful because she is psychologist (and we talk so much about ‘holding each other’s pain’) but apparently not when I need help. I joked about how I understand psychologists are also humans but then don’t make such commitment if we can’t handle it. I have been hearing her talk about her ex-bf for over a year and till today I still entertain this topic although it is already reaching my limit. But she cannot seem to hear just a part of my difficulty which I don’t talk about much unless necessary. People can be disappointing but I guess adjusting my expectations is important.
3) Another topic we talked about is transitions. I told her how I changed from being a bit crazy to very conservative and now I am going back to being very open. I said that when some of my ex classmates met me, they were shocked because I looked so different from before. I told her that I don’t understand why I change so much. She asked, how does it affect my current job. I said that it is necessary that I am the person that I am now.. because previously I was so conservative that travelling with a male, let alone talking to one was difficult for me. If I was still that way, it would be difficult for me to do my job having to communicate with all sorts of people.
She also said that first impression is important so yes, people will judge you based on what you wear but we can change that. I told her that I understand and I know people have some form of perception of me before from the way I dressed. I added that whilst I looked very conservative, I am actually liberal in my thinking. And often, people who dress the way I do often think that we have the same kind of mentality. Boy are people usually surprised when they find out that I am quite different from their initial assessment.
I told her about how I left Islam at one point in my life and when I was in A, I had close Muslim friends who practised Islam differently. My parents raised me in such a way that Islam was forced down my throat but these friends were about kindness, gentleness, compassionate.. characteristics which Islam wants us to have. She said that being around these people will shape and influence us to be the way that they are as well. Ironically, I became very religious in A, of all places honestly. I told her that no one forced me to dress the way I used to. It was entirely my choice to do it.
4) She asked me what do I think of people with different values. I said that I am fine with it. We won’t find someone with exactly the same values but we can respect each other for the differences.
5) We also talked about my involvement working with refugees. I told her that from my experience, I learnt so much from working with them. I appreciate life better and I understand what it means to be grateful. I told her that one of the refugee kids have been living on the boat for months but she looked like the happiest kid in the room. There’s something different about people who are grateful. They are thankful for the smallest blessings. I said that I am currently practising gratitude in my life for everything.
She also asked me how is it like working with refugees because their stories are horrid and it might affect me. She said that those in the helping professions will need to practise more self-care in this case because if not, they will be affected. I told her that at the meantime, I don’t deal with them personally although I am aware of their stories. I know I am not trained to do so anyway. I rather be the one helping monetarily via fund raising etc. She said to take care of my well being if I do so.
6) I also mentioned that perhaps 10 years down the road I want to do something different which is more towards human rights. She said that I should reframe my thoughts to something better which is how can my current work help me to help others in the future. I said that as it is, my work may be in the financial industry but it is eventually for the benefit of the community. But corporate world feels like it is not for me because I don’t fit in well. People seem so fake underneath our coats and title. Whilst not everyone is fake, but it feels that way. Just recently when I attended a conference, some were not interested to talk to me because they thought I was a student. When they eventually found out what I was doing, immediately they were interested to know more. That’s sad honestly.. I would be happy to help whoever if they needed it.