I’ve started seeing a therapist.
I got the idea at the beginning of the year that I’d like to talk to a grief counselor and just tidy up a few things in my life as I enter this new decade. I sat down in the chair that first day ready to discuss some of the hard losses I’ve had over the last few years.
I came prepared to talk to her about grief and the intense sadness that has accompanied losing something I loved.
She introduced herself. We talked for a few minutes and she asked me to start at the very beginning and tell her my story.
This question threw off my whole plan of telling her about my faith transition of the last few years, and I listened somewhat surprised as I started to talk and a long list of hurts and disappointments from the last 44 years came tumbling out of my mouth.
Therapy wasn’t going to be as neat and tidy as I had planned.
I’ve now been seeing her weekly for the last 6 weeks, and we haven’t actually got to the grief part of grief counseling. It’s apparent that when grief arrived with all of its emotions that it stirred up some things that have been needing my attention.
Each week she gives me homework, and I’m pretty good at journaling things out and completing my personal assignments. I genuinely want to clear up the parts of life that weigh me down and become the best version of myself, and I’m willing to put in the effort.
Today’s assignment is a little harder. It makes my palms a little sweaty. It makes my heart beat a little faster.
It feels squidgy.
After six weeks of sessions, themes have started to surface and it has become easier to see patterns and hangups.
I have a hang up.
It’s the elephant in the room that needs to be acknowledged if anything else is going to get worked out.
I went to therapy to talk about grief and this is what we’ve uncovered so far:
I am Deb Evans. I am the fourth child in my family. I have three older sisters. For nine months in the womb, my parents called me Earl Anthony. They were hoping for a boy. They were anticipating a boy. They were ready for a boy.
They got me instead.
I entered the world as a disappointment.
No doubt, my parents adjusted their sails, dressed me in pink and later moved on to have four boys. I, however, have spent the last 44 years trying not to be a disappointment.
I REALLY don’t like to disappoint people.
Whether it stems from my disappointing arrival to earth or not, I can’t say. It’s an interesting hypothesis that I hadn’t considered until recently.
What I HAVE realized is that it is a burden to tiptoe around everyone else’s feelings to make sure I am not disappointing them with my choices.
This week’s homework assignment was simple.
Intentionally do something that will disappoint someone.
My assignment was to give myself permission to disappoint people. I’m supposed to step off of the path of making sure everyone else is comfortable with my choices and do SOMETHING that will disappoint someone.
And then see what happens.
Am I still lovable if I am disappointing? What happens if I disappoint someone I care about? Can our relationship handle that disappointment? What if I put down the burden of caring what everyone else thinks about my life’s choices?
My entire life I’ve lived by a strict religious health code of not drinking coffee, tea or alcohol. I did this perfectly for over forty years.
I stepped away from that religion nearly three years ago. That in itself is a huge disappointment to some people in my life.
For the record, it feels awful to be a disappointment.
The truth is, I no longer believe in this health code. Coffee and tea have many health benefits, and for heaven’s sake, I live in wine country.
However, I feel a deep need not to disappoint those in my life who feel lattes are a poor choice and wine is divinely outlawed.
So, today, I am giving myself permission to have a latte...publicly.
Let’s be for real. It isn’t about the latte. It’s about giving myself permission to dismiss the expectations that others have of me and claim my power to choose the life I want to live.
Some people do this as a teenager. Some people wait until they are 44.
I’m 44, and I am having a latte today.