I had a therapy session with my partner yesterday. We’ve been seeing this therapist since the beginning of the year, and we both enjoy attending the sessions and find value in our conversations. She calls us on our bullshit and pushes us where we are uncomfortable. And, boy, we’ve been uncomfortable. We’ve been resistant, hesitant, lazy, and scared. But we’ve also been successful, begun healing, busted barriers, and continue to grow together with her assistance. It’s a practice: showing up, trying things to see what works, and then trying something else.
We were extremely resistant about starting couples therapy. We were confused about why our “young” relationship needed such work. Shouldn’t this be easy? Shouldn’t this be something people who are married 20 years need, not a couple that has only been together for 5 years? Are we failing? Are we trying to scoop water out of our sinking boats with barehands? The answer to all those questions, of course, is yes, and no.
One thing I realized yesterday is that we have gone through more shit together in 5 years than a lot of those couples who have been together for 20 years. He was in school, I was in school (nursing school = hell), he moved away, his brother died by suicide, my grandparents passed away, I moved away, he started school again, we moved in together, and some other things that are too big and too private and maybe one day I’ll write about them, but that day is not today. So, damn, yeah, it’s like we can’t catch a break.
But, we’re still together, and that is thanks to hard work and consistent practice. Couples therapy is like that buzzword “shadow work” on a massive scale. To be honest, I’ve never seen a therapist on my own, so I don’t really know how this would compare. But, sitting on a couch, with the person who you love and trust most in this world and talking about your shame or your past or your hurts is really fucking vulnerable and scary. You’ve got to pull out everything that is ugly and look at it and talk about it. You’ve got to accept it or change it. You’ve got to honor those dark underbelly thoughts and feelings, the things we keep hidden and buried.
I have no doubt my partner would accept me and all of my faults, whatever comes out, but admitting those faults to myself is really the scariest part. I know I’m getting to something good in therapy when I start to go: “well, umm, yeah, kinda.” I know I’m getting to something good when I can’t completely own it outright. 95% of the time, our therapist calls us on our shit and is accurate. 100% of the time I resist immediately when someone tells me how to feel. But then I sit, and I allow, and I know she’s right. We walk out of our sessions smiling, particularly the sessions that kick us in the ass.
And so yesterday, our therapist tasked us with watching a movie and examining our emotions while doing so. Not just any movie, a sadass, hold-those-tears-in-because-I-don’t-want-anyone-to-see-me-cry, tear jerker. Except that she wants us to cry. There have only been a handful of times that Andy and I have cried in front of each other, and it’s always been stilted, awkward, pretend-I’m-not-really-crying crying. And let’s be real, that’s pretty fucked up. I love and trust this person more than anyone, why can’t our emotions flow with each other? (I did a tarot spread yesterday on this, and that will be the next blog post ;))
That’s what I’m doing in the next week: watching a movie with my lover and trying to cry. Give me some recommendations of excellent crying movies! And, if you’ve seen a couples therapist and want to talk about, I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments! What was your experience like? Scary as hell, too? Or, the opposite? Let me know in the comments 🙂