05.16.16

WHAT I LEARNED IN THERAPY

therapy

i go in phases of getting personal on this blog. to me, part of creativity and even my job is very connected to how i’m feeling and what i’m going through. so if you’re not into the mushy stuff, feel free to scroll on past to the other pretty pictures. today i’m going to be talking about patterns in our lives, and our core issues that cause them…

i decided to start therapy last october and it’s really opened up my eyes. i initially went because i was having some pretty bad anxiety and i felt like it was getting in the way of my life. through the past few months however i’ve been able to get to the bottom of some other junk that’s been weighing on me emotionally. (and probably a source of some of the anxiety too). i’ll start by saying a little story that my therapist told me about our patterns…when a deer is crossing the road and sees a car coming, instead of just taking that last leap forward towards safety, the deer’s immediate reaction is to turn around and go back to where it just was…thinking that is safety. but in fact that’s how the deer gets hit by the car. morbid i know, but it really resonated with me. i really believe we all have one core issue that we carry around and we repeat patterns until one day we can finally be the deer that takes that one leap forward. i think people come into our lives in relationships and friendships that try to heal that core issue or wound…ever notice that you bring around people that are exactly like your dad or mom in a lot of ways? if you are like me…you have reached (or are at least in the process) of seeing the light when it comes to patterns and really wanting to move past them.

for me, i have had sooooo many relationships and friendships that have been unavailable. leaving me feeling, well, like shit. and feeling unsafe. i did have one long 6 year relationship that was very healing and loving and unlike that at all (and maybe why i was in it for so long). and of course i have friends that are my lifelong friends. but the pattern has struck me so many times. it was wild when i actually sat down with someone and started listing people and realized i was finding the same person over and over and over, just in different forms and times in my life. most of our core issues come from our childhood…which always frustrated me a little about therapy. i always had this thought…well she’s just going to say it’s a mom issue or a dad issue…but THEN WHAT? how do we repair and move forward? i like that my therapist didn’t just say “well, you gotta learn to be happy alone!” because…ugh. that’s just an annoying answer. of course learning to be alone is part of it. but it’s also picking apart your patterns, being able to identify them so clearly and then finding friendships and relationships that are HEALING. sure, we need those destructive ones to bring this stuff to the surface, but then we have to move ON. make better choices, even when it’s hard. i feel like the deer sometimes, it feels much easier to take a risk and get hit by the car than to move on and try something new. new is scary and weird and uncomfortable. but we have to start looking at it a different way.

we have all had that friend that has the shitty boyfriend that you just can’t believe they are with. heck, i’ve been there too in high school. it’s so frustrating because you look at your friend and you can’t believe how they must see themselves when you see them in such a better light. but people most of the times are going to do what they want to do, it’s their journey. i had to have 43 (not really, but might as well be) unavailable relationships where i am giving, loyal and nurturing and get not much in return to realize…i don’t want that at all. and if you notice, you might get MORE out of those relationships that feel bad or sad or confusing. but it’s because we are so connected to our core issue. i mean, this is just my point of view on it, everyone is different. i definitely don’t feel cured or all better, but the realization feels good. it feels promising. i want to spend the next few years focusing on people that put in equal effort, and give equal respect.

patterns are so fascinating to me. we ALL have one that is reoccurring. the problem is in our face the whole time if we are open to it. it’s nice to finally see it.

what about you? does this hit home with you? i’d love to hear about your journey. xx -bri

27 COMMENTS

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    tai says:

    Just got home from therapy… I’ve been doing it for almost six years now, and hitting a point where I see my patterns repeating with my own therapist. Really hard, but thank you for your post, it helped me realize part of what’s happening in my own process!

    Julie says:

    Thanks for this post. My college therapist always said to put your needs ahead of others—but it’s sure a journey to get to where you know what your needs actually are, isn’t it?

    What especially rang true was your honesty about how those destructive relationships can actually be MORE satisfying! That rush of adrenaline when they get mad, the next rush of adrenaline when you know you’re finally in the clear. It’s hard to move on from those patterns, but I know it can be done! While I think I’ve moved to a pretty good place with romantic and friendly relationships, I’m now learning to deal with destructive coworkers and bosses who I can’t escape! Ack! Again, thanks for this introspective post.

    Dom says:

    I started going to therapy again in October as well. For a long time, it felt like as we were uncovering old hurts that I was having more anxiety attacks, and like I’ve been regressing. I’ve been less open, more hurt, more defensive, more trying to take care of myself…

    And then one day, it all clicked, and I felt like Mercury in Retrograde. Not woo woo, but science. It felt like I was moving backwards, but I wasn’t, I was still moving forwards, bit it seemed different from everyone around me. And all of a sudden, I shot forward, ahead of the crowd.

    I’m still getting triggered, and things still come up, but I can see the patterns now, and now I can observe them instead of participating in them. Way stronger.

    Josie says:

    The metaphor about the deer is very beautiful. How do you even go about getting a therapist? I’m in the process of convincing myself to go to therapy, but one of the things that is holding me back is that I don’t know how to find a good therapist.

    Zee says:

    Thank you for writing this. I’ve been going through the same thing, and sometimes it’s amazing how the patterns are passed on from a parent and how they reverberate as you grow older- for me, I always quit halfway. I’m beginning to notice when that happens in my life (I really hope I can see a therapist to help out more) and now I know when I need to stop myself.

    taryn says:

    Thanks Bri. I am loving the honesty. Just remember you alone are enough. xx

    Jessika says:

    Bri this totally hits home for me! I’ve never admitted it to anyone (because quite frankly it sounds very selfish of me when I say it out loud). But, I feel like I constantly show up for people, but when I need someone to show up for me, no one has time. AND IT’S FREAKING FRUSTRATING! I’ve been to therapy once before, but she told me I do all the right things to help ease the anxiety. So she never recommended for me to return on a regular basis. But, i’m reaching that point where I feel like I need people to be there for me, but because no one ever has time, I don’t say anything. I’m afraid of being told i’m stupid for feeling this way (because that’s the reaction I get most of the time). *Siiigh* Anyway, thanks Bri for sharing your personal story. I’m glad there’s other people out there that feel the same way.

    Julia Musker says:

    I am a therapist and I love hearing that you’re not only clicking with your therapist, but also putting in the work yourself outside of your session! Woohoo! I may just have to steal the deer metaphor for my own clients! 🙂

    Hanna says:

    I love this. I’ve struggled with anxiety for years now and relationships have always been a big part of that. After a really rough break up last year with a guy who was not good for me, this story really hits home. As I start dating again and meeting new people after finishing college, I want to strive to have more healing friendships and relationships.

    Inma says:

    This totally resonates with me, and my pattern is always to find people who need me, because deep down it’s as if that is the only reason why they would stick around. Those relationships make me feel incredibly insecure. Sometimes knowing this has felt very hard and I have felt like I was the only person who feels that way and everyone else is confident, but when I read something like this I realise I am not alone, so thanks for sharing!

    Inma x
    sunshineandglow.blogspot.com

    Aileen says:

    Therapy is such a great benefit to your mental health. I began seeing a therapist last year when I hit a really low place in my life. It was by far the best decision I could make to get on the right track. Since that experience I try to let people know how much of a positive impact it’s made on me. People seek experts on their diets, exercise routines, wardrobe, and all sorts of things, but hesitate when it comes to relationships- which is one of the most important things. Good for you for sharing your experience! 🙂

    Antonella says:

    I was chatting once with a therapist (cousin of my best friend) commenting my love life. He told me this: Your father was obviously emotionally distant, so you tend to find men who are not available emotionally. You can waste many years trying to change how you are wired OR accept how you function and look for a man who is distant but in a healthy way”. This blew my mind! It took me a few years to get to that place, but my man of 4 years is just like that: distant (physically) for quite a few days of the month because of his passion for cycling. I really don’t care his being away because he’s very tender and present and loving. He, on the other hand, is very happy that I don’t mind his independence: in his previous relationships his passion was something jarring for the ladies involved. Our experience together has been healing for both of us.

    Veronica says:

    Hi Bri, I follow you on snapchat and i really love your posts, i didn’t know you have been going through such hard times in your life. Relationships suck at some point in our lives and some people no matter what you do for them will eventually leave you behind and will mistreat you. Although at one point we do want to get rid of such relationship in our own lives but then it hurts to see they are gone and never cared how we felt or what we wanted. I am so inspired by you and trust me dear you are not alone. Be brave and strong and know that this courage you have can lighten up many other peoples lives who are going through same conditions like me. Love you and God bless you always!

    Minna says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Bri. It’s also perfect timing, as it’s Mental Health Awareness month, and I’m so glad to see people coming out about seeking therapy– there is a completely unnecessary stigma around it, and I actually think it’s one of the most rewarding, mature things that frankly, we could all use. I attribute much of my growth in recent years to therapy.

    Self-awareness is the biggest thing, and also letting yourself live in the grey/moderation. I’m an all or nothing girl, so anything that wasn’t perfect felt like settling for me and equated to inadequacy. Learning to accept that things aren’t great 100% of the time, and that be OKAY is a huge thing to realize and an even bigger challenge to put into practice.

    Thanks for sharing girl!

    Josie says:

    Bri, I loved reading this. My “enough is enough, get me to a therapist” moment was in 2009. Sometimes simply talking to someone who doesn’t have a bias or vested interest in one outcome over the other can be so freeing. I literally felt like a load had been taken off of me. Big shock, my core issue was taking on everyone’s problems and ignoring my own so I always seem like the “solid” and “good” one and didn’t disappoint anyone (especially my parents, of course). And of course it also manifested into my dating unavailable guys where I had to do all the work. It’s an epidemic! My therapist’s morbid analogy was catching someone to try to save them as they intentionally jumped off a bridge, and then you’re stuck holding them… they’re telling you not to let go, but they’re not doing any work to climb back up, they’re just hanging like dead weight. You risk falling over yourself if you keep hanging on, so at some point, you have to let go or fall with them. And it was such a revelation for me! The second I stopped putting up with that shit (everywhere), life got so much happier. Personally, I love the life updates. Miss our talks, miss you! xo

    I also loved reading this and love therapy and love emotional posts. The deer metaphor is going to stick with me. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    The Pastiche says:

    This is such an eye-opening and thought provoking story (especially regarding patterns), and I love seeing this kind of authenticity and honesty behind my favorite bloggers. Thanks for your courage! And bizarrely, I also reflected on my own time in therapy on my blog today.

    https://thepastiche.squarespace.com/blog/teddy-roosevelt-and-that-time-i-was-in-therapy

    Bri,

    Thank you for being so real on your blog. I am a big believer in being able to connect with people by being transparent. Personally I have been through so much in my life from my parents getting divorced, to insecurities and accepting where I am. However one thing that has got me through the most roughest parts of my life is finding Jesus. Knowing that God holds our world in his hands. No matter how you are feeling and how deep your hurts are I want to encourage you and let you know that Jesus loves you so much that he died for you for you so you can live. He see’s your hurts, pains and struggles. I hope that you read this and your touched by it because with all the things I have been through, knowing that God is fighting for me and he loves me brings me hope and he allows me to live this wonderful life of freedom through him.

    God Bless
    Felizia Espinoza

    Meg says:

    Patterns and behaviours, such a bloody learning experience! I’m 35 and have noticed in the past couple of years that I am drawing back from the relationships (friendships and ex-partners) that are not working. The ones that are just me continually emotionally supporting the other person and getting nothing in return. I can’t believe it has taken me this long, but it feels like once you see it, you can’t un-see it! I’m pleased you’re feeling a shift – it’s hard, but it feels so good to be aware and taking proper care of yourself. Respecting your own boundaries helps others to respect yours too (I’m finding).

    Thanks for sharing this post, it was brave and heartening to read xx

    Caitlin says:

    Thanks so much for sharing, Bri!! This really resonates with me. I’ve actually been in therapy for years, sort of spinning my wheels, and I finally had my realization this year that my career has been making me miserable. I kept getting new jobs (different companies, same field) and wondering why I kept ending up depressed, thinking it was just who i am. Now that I’m planning a path into a different career path, it’s like everything in my life has lightened up – the anxiety I had from pretending work was fine was impacting everything! I really love the deer in the headlines analogy, it feels so right. So happy for you, and I hope you are able to surround yourself with those people who are truly good for you <3

    Amy says:

    My journey lately with my therapist has been exposing truths in my life that are not true. Things very important people have told me that I’ve believed and held on to even though they hurt. Exposing them has been hard but so freeing.

    Seri says:

    Thanks for sharing!

    KB says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I have just recently realized that I must get control of my anxiety. I feel like this post was a sign for me to take the plunge and make the call.

    Lila says:

    Thank you for sharing this. The deer story hits home. I feel like I was just hit by that car. I’ve been following your story for a few years now and felt some parallels to your relationship and mine which ended 7 years recently. It helped me knowing someone out there has been through something similar at a similar stage in life (and makes it look good 😉 )So while it sucks, your process has helped mine in a tiny way. Thank you

    Cate says:

    I am so thankful for therapy. Yes, it’s hard. I cry – a lot! But it’s so valuable. I think a big part of why it’s worked for me was finding a therapist I really click with and being willing to put in the work. Thank you so much for sharing your story and insight. One thing that makes suffering bearable is knowing there are others alongside you, experiencing similar things. Knowing we’re all imperfect people traveling through this together somehow just makes it more ok. Also, have you read “Getting the Love You Want” by Harville Hendrix? It sounds exactly like what you’ve been learning! Might be a nice “companion” to your therapy. 🙂

    Candace Frates says:

    Patterns. Deciding if the pattern is good or bad is a major issue for me. I have found as time goes on, that some of the patterns I have learned to recognize, and have felt badly about, and have tried so very hard to change, weren’t bad at all. I just did not have the neccessary wisdom to appreciate rather then resent them. Therapy has taught me to feel empowered to decider which is which. And to sometimes plunge full speed ahead and damn the torpodos. These are part of the benefits of aging, all that great wisdom!

    Melanie H. says:

    I really resonate with this post. Recently my 6 year relationship, as well, ended, and it has definitely brought to the surface some of my core patterns. It is so important to notice when that certain person keeps coming back into your life, and to learn the lesson needed from that, love yourself more, move on. And to then focus on more nurturing, equally loving, relationships. Thank you for being so open and honest! <3

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