How Did I Get Here?
Why did I — just a ‘mom’ — need to seek out a therapist for myself?
“How did I get here?”
It was the overwhelming thought running the race in my mind as I drove down the highway to my first appointment.
With my hands anxiously unable to stay in one place on the steering wheel, I continued to hear the words.
How did I — the positive one, the one everyone leans on, the one who helps everyone ELSE through their problems and heck, the one who almost went to school to be a therapist herself — get HERE…
… to the point that I needed to seek out a therapist for myself?
At the time, I associated those who went to therapy as people who had experienced a big trauma in their life. I imagined the big couch that I saw in the movies as people worked through their deepest life struggles that most of us can’t imagine.
But me? I was “just” a mom.
Just a mom having a hard time navigating motherhood. Most other moms, I thought, would just deal with it on their own. How did I get here?
After I found my parking spot at the office building (and after re-aligning my parking job after realizing it was about as off-center as my thinking had been lately) I made my way inside. As I scanned the directory to find my destination, I could already start to see the thought bubbles hovering above my therapist as she listened to me.
‘You think YOU are struggling, lady?” I imagined her thinking. “You should hear all the other stuff people come to me with.”
Did I get.
After fighting off all the voices telling me to turn around and take my small problems home, I eventually made my way to her office, shook her hand and took my seat in the comfy chair next to the expectedly placed box of tissues.
To this day, I can remember the shape of the tree line that made its way along the row of four windows that were behind her seat in the room. Because session after session, I sat in that same chair as she asked me questions I’ve never asked myself … and each time I answered, I’d take my eyes away from her gaze and onto the trees behind her… sometimes fixating on this one branch that for some reason made me feel calm when it swayed.
As sessions progressed, I stopped thinking about the ideas I had formulated about “who” should go to therapy or about how I imagined my struggles compared to the others who had grabbed tissues from the same box.
It was hard to focus on anything else besides how much better I was feeling.
As I watched the swaying branch of calm, I was simultaneously noticing how much lighter I felt as I laid down the bricks of isolation I had gathered while trying to hide and dismiss my struggle. I noticed how liberating it felt to be unfiltered with a neutral party who was trained to help give me tools to navigate the anxiety and sadness I was experiencing. I noticed how good it felt to not be judged for the reason I was crying. I noticed that healing some old trauma opened up space for me to heal present ones. I noticed I felt deserving of help for my “hard” — no matter how that hard stacked up against that of whomever else brought theirs to that comfy seat.
I noticed I looked forward to every drive down that highway and every gaze at that swaying branch of calm.
I’ve since moved away and found a new (irreplaceable) therapist that I see virtually.
That comfy chair is now my own couch, and that tissue box is no longer shared by strangers but last used by my 7-year-old with chocolate on her nose.
But what IS the same is my commitment to myself, and having a person on the other end who’s just as committed to helping me heal.
Some days I’m surprised at what needs that healing, and other days I wonder why it’s taken me so long to notice the scar.
But no more days do I ask myself, “How did I get here?”
Instead, my focus is on how I can get THERE.
To the healing of all sizes of trauma.
To the calm of that one branch swaying on that beautiful tree line.
To wherever peace can find a parking spot in my mind,
And seek out help whenever it needs to be realigned.
Brea Schmidt is a sought-after keynote speaker, social media influencer and consultant and Iris-Award-nominated writer who creates space for raw conversation about our approach to self care and mental health. You can check out her social media community The Thinking Branch on Facebook and Instagram or connect with her on LinkedIn.