Remember that scene towards the end of the movie, The Wizard of Oz…where Dorothy and her crew are Terrified with a capital T of the threatening, booming, deep voice of the wizard….when the little puppy, Toto, peeks around the curtain, and we find out that the wizard is a little man who feels vulnerable and scared himself.
He presents this big and scary image…to protect himself.
The wizard isn’t the only one to pull that shtick.
We do it to ourselves. All. The. Time.
We hive off parts of ourselves fearing how terrifying it would be if we looked at those parts.
- if I just looked at it, it would prove “i’m an awful person”
- if I look at that part, I might just start to cry and never, ever stop
- if I let myself feel what that part is feeling, I’ll come undone, I’ll go crazy, I’ll have to do something drastic
One of the cool things about going to therapy is having a companion to peek behind the curtain to see what’s there. Very often, it isn’t as big and scary as one feared…but how can one know that until you peek?
A therapist discerns with you the actual risk…we get that there are some significant traumas that can be re-traumatizing to review…we’re not talking about peeking at things that you’re not prepared for. Some things never need be peeked at. Ever again.
However, often there’s ultimately a greater cost at avoiding that part inside of you that feels so scary.
A therapist peeks with you.
The part of you that feels hateful, not-good-enough, embarassing, not-very-smart, if-anybody-including-myself-knew-about-this-I’d-be-so-ashamed part.
Years ago, I went to a therapist and with considerable hesitation, asked for help to deal with my laziness. I was scared to “go there” because I was convinced that this laziness labelled me as a “BAD PERSON”. You know..we all have something that we hang our hats on that label us as a “BAD PERSON”...I’m not the only one, you know that.
You have something like that too, right?
And the therapist calmly and kindly asked me, very gently, something like: “So…we’re here to look at and from your perspective, need to fix this ‘laziness’ inside of you? You, who is raising multiple preschoolers, working at a hospital half time, doing course work to complete your Master’s degree, running a household and engaged in volunteer work? OK…tell me about your laziness…let’s look at this together, but we might not find what you’re expecting.”
The therapist was a stern, straight faced sort of guy, but as I remember it, he had a hint of a twinkle in his eye as he spoke…and I knew that we would have an important conversation about something that really bothered me, but it was going to happen differently than I expected. I nodded, thinking he clearly didn’t understand, because what he was saying sounded so foreign and unexpected…but he was willing to talk to me about it…and he wasn’t horrified or disgusted. at all.
And it was scary. But it was good.
Hard thing are hard.
But hard things are worth it.
And hard things aren’t as hard when we do them in community, with another right there, holding up a light, and showing up and being brave with you.
Hard things are possible with another there to gently say,
- Let’s go look
- It will look different than you think
- I will be there with you
- You’re not alone
Sabrina Friesen, one of our therapists speaks about this so eloquently:
Come, if you’re not sure, and talk about it with us?