Real Talk | Time For Therapy

Well hello there, Freaknasties! I know it was a bit quiet around these parts last week, and I guess that's what I want to talk about today. 

2017 has become my 'Year of not doing anything stupid,' because I tend to do stupid things. I'm one of those who smiles and goes, "Everything is FINE! I'm fine!" and I put on this pretty mask and act like all is well in the land while I'm quietly self destructing. It's a defense mechanism I've had since I was a little kid. Exercise and denial are really the only two coping mechanisms I possess. 

Well, this last week, I had a rough go of it, and I'm going to share some of it with you. Maybe you or someone you know goes through similar things and this will help. Or maybe my occasional trainwreck status is interesting and entertaining. Either is fine, but my goal is to be authentic and share these experiences with you this year instead of my usual cracking-wise and convincing you that everything is fine and then six months later I crash and burn. 

As you guys know, I travel to Chicago every other week to visit my kids. It's a long, complicated story I talked about on the podcast last fall. If you want all the deets, you can get in them on Episode 102. Needless to say, the 'solution' wasn't the solution, and things are still awful. There are no victories when you're dealing with toxic people. All you can do is your very best to keep your sanity and not get sucked back into dysfunction. 

This last visit home was the second volatile visit in a row, and it messes with my head in the worst way. Details aren't important, but the amount of emotions I step off that plane with are overwhelming to say the least. I'm exhausted from keeping it together, guilt ridden for leaving my kids there and not having any good solutions because this happens no matter what, and the current situation is truly the lesser of all evils. I question every decision I have made over the last two years, I wonder if there's a modicum of truth to the insults my ex hurls at me to the point of questioning my sanity, and the result is me basically shutting down and staring into the middle distance for four solid days, going home and shutting myself in my bedroom, and emerging from that fog on day five. 

My Instagram stories with Louis Saturday afternoon upset him. 

My Instagram stories with Louis Saturday afternoon upset him. 

As my two year anniversary of moving to Atlanta came and went, I thought a lot about this. This cycle is basically the cycle I fled. Break me down, get clarity, be okay for a minute... rinse and repeat. I can't begin to describe how debilitating it is for those four days I'm back after a visit. I see now how it bred the chaos of last year, because you want something...anything...to distract you, make you feel loved, negate the horrible things you had to hear about yourself over the weekend you know are batshit ramblings of an insane person, but sorta believe about yourself, and want to numb that and feel something else at the same time. It's such a recipe for disaster.

Give me wine and tell me I'm pretty... 

I had this epiphany as I was going through old pictures from about four years ago. Life was a shitshow even then. We had just lost our house to the flood, we lived in a hotel for six weeks, and I was losing the father of my children to addiction and despair, and he would never turn the corner and get well. I smiled and put on a brave face of positivity for our three children while he would sit in the empty, rotting house, drinking and smoking late into the evening. 

But there they were...the pictures that showed me rested, happy, healthy, and smiling. And honestly? I was all of those things. So what was different then compared to now? 

I was in therapy. Dr. Z was helping me tremendously. On paper, my life was a million times worse then that it is now, but I could soldier on and cope. Every Friday, I would sit in Dr. Z's office and say the things I couldn't say to family and friends, and he would listen, validate me, and give me ways to get through. He never said anything judgmental like, "You should leave that SOB," he simply talked me through coping mechanisms and self-care. He also gave great insight into why people around me were behaving the way they did. Yes, they're assholes, but here's WHY they're being assholes and how you can get around that. 

Friends and family are great, and I am blessed to have such a wonderful tribe in both Chicago and Atlanta, but the problem with leaning on them is that they love you and their emotions take over. Also, anyone who loves you wants to fix things for you. They mean well, but when you're in a situation like mine that isn't so easily 'fixed' sometimes their support unintentionally makes you feel worse. So much worse. Now you're letting even more people down by not taking advice. 

I made the commitment to get back into therapy on Friday, and began my quest for a good family therapist here in Atlanta. I'd love to go back to Dr. Z in Chicago, but there are laws about treating across state lines, and I struggle more here in Atlanta and feel that it's better to have someone close. 

I also put up the boundary that I am not going back to Chicago while my ex is behaving the way he is. The kids will survive, and a weekend without drama is better than me being in town making their father act a fool, creating tension that makes everyone walk on eggshells. I explained it to them last night, and honestly, they all looked relieved. As much as it sucks because I miss them, I think doing longer monthly visits until I have my coping down a bit better is what's best. I have this compulsion to put my head down and white knuckle my way through things silently with a stiff upper lip and I remember Dr. Z saying to me right after Lisa was killed and I was everyone's rock and being the pillar of strength, "Why? Are you exempt from being human? You're not going to get a bigger medal at the end for suffering more. You are worth taking care of, being taken care of, and having boundaries." 

I told my friends over the weekend I was heading back to therapy, and needed some accountability where my self-care was concerned. Make sure I'm not isolating myself in the house, eating right, not using working out as my only coping mechanism, and they were all happy to help. Like I said, they're the best. 

So if any of you in the Atlanta Metro area have any recommendations for therapists, I'm all ears. Also, if you have any books to recommend, or anything else you think might help, please send them along on Facebook (@ymoj1), Instagram (@yourmomentofjenn), and Snapchat (@writewinerun). I'm also going to be utilizing Talkspace as well because it's so affordable and a good way to have someone there if needed while I find the right in-person therapist. 

Talkspace Logo - 120x90

No shame in the therapy game, peeps. It helps a ton. It can be spendy, so don't be afraid to check out city/county/state resources or local colleges with counseling degree programs. Sometimes new grads and interns are almost better therapists because all that book learnin' is fresh. 

Thanks for letting me ramble about being a mess. I'll keep everyone updated. 

Jennifer Gulbrandsen