Therapy Newbie: My First Session

Well, I did it. I had my first therapy session.

I was terrified, both about opening up to someone I don’t know and about figuring out how to pay for it. My insurance doesn’t cover all of the cost and we don’t have extra money. But I went anyway.

I drove my car in an unknown area to a place I had not been before and I got lost. It was 45 minutes away, but it was important to me that my therapist was a woman and that it wouldn’t be likely that I would ever need to interact with her outside of therapy. At one point my phone said I had arrived at the office, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. So since I was downtown, I parked and got out to walk around. This is what scared me most all night. I was terrified of someone trying to hurt me as I walked around with no clue where my destination was. I ended up calling my therapist and I was going to cancel since I was already scared out of my wits, but she told me how to find the office and she told me she would stand outside and look for me (which was super nice seeing as it was like 4 degrees outside). I ended up making it to therapy and I am pretty proud that I got there at all.

I chose a woman as my therapist and she was actually really calming and understanding. My first visit was basically taking stock of who I am. She asked all about my background (who my parents are, are they married or divorced, am I married, etc.) and she did get specific about some areas of my past. I found that going over that stuff was helpful for me as well because there are areas of my past that were cloudy or confusing because I had never taken the time to think about them. I could also see areas where some of the events of my past are affecting me today, but I didn’t see them until I sat down to tell a stranger all about myself.

We did go over the reason I sought help in the first place and we talked a bit about that. She said that she would like to see me every other week, but I can’t afford that so we will try to do it every month. I hope that I can figure out a way to see her every other week though.

I am really happy that I finally started therapy and it is showing in my life. I am having more good days and I am more productive. my post (65)Just getting that stuff out to someone without having to worry about hurting them was an amazing feeling. I don’t really have friends that I can just talk to about all the super personal things in my life so my husband is my only sounding board. He is my best friend and I love him and being with him, but it’s difficult to discuss things with him without being a jerk. You know? Like just because I have a feeling, doesn’t mean it actually means anything but I need someone to hear it and understand it. He would hear it and take it personally and then try to solve the problem because he always wants me to have the best. He really is a fantastic husband.

He has a hard time understanding that just because I tell him about my issues doesn’t mean I want him to fix them. I just want someone to stay on solid ground so I can sink down in the sand as I tell him about my troubles. Then when I’m done, he can pull me back up with him and we can move on with our lives. If I talk to someone who is also on sinking sand, we both end up sinking and then we are stuck in this sadness/anger for a long time until we can eventually climb out ourselves.

That’s what it felt like to talk to a therapist. I got real and blunt, but she is impartial so she was on solid ground. After crying my eyes out, we ended the session and I was able to easily stop and get back to the business of getting home. Therapy worked because there was a limit to our time, so issues couldn’t be dragged out all night like they can at home, and she wasn’t upset with me or sad about what I said so I didn’t feel guilty. I knew I could tell her anything because I didn’t have to worry about it getting out to anyone. So I let it all out, had no guilt about it, and I moved on.

I know that its hard to get yourself into therapy, especially if you don’t have money. I have spent years telling myself that I wanted to do this but it took some serious issues to get my butt into gear and get the ball rolling. There will probably come a time when she won’t be able to see me anymore because I can’t pay, but I’ll take the therapy I can get and cross that bridge when I come to it. I can say that therapy is a good idea for anyone because everyone needs that impartial person to vent to. If you have been wanting to do it, do what you can to get there. You deserve it and you will benefit greatly. I wish I had done it earlier. Honestly, I wish I had started therapy in college (a.k.a. 11ish years ago). If you can do it now, do it now, even if you think you don’t need it. It will help so much.

Have you been in therapy before? Any long time therapy experts out there? What has therapy done for you? What do you love most about going to therapy? Or maybe you hate it? Tell me why in the comments!

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Where Does the Name of my Blog Come From?

As part of my 31-day blog challenge, one of the challenges is to explain the name of my blog.

I am in love with reading. I thoroughly enjoy traveling through other worlds by reading amazing books, and even watching T.V. and movies. I feel a great kinship with so many characters, one of the strongest with Anne of Green Gables. She goes through so much as an orphan and she develops this way of coping with her situation by escaping through books and imagining friends. She has the ability to take her situation and completely change it in her mind so that she is in a whole different world that intrigues and delights her. It usually contains this dashing suitor and a tragic romance. This coping mechanism keeps her going when she deals with prejudice, abuse, and just horrible mistreatment and harassment from adults who should be caring for her.

When Anne finally catches a break, she is chosen to be sent to Prince Edward Island to fulfill a request for a little girl to adopt. On the island, she meets Matthew and Marilla (the people who requested a child) and they ask her for her name. She replies:

Could you please call me Cordelia?

She explains that she feels her name, Anne, is too plain. She thinks her name is ordinary and very boring. But if Matthew and Marilla could just call her Cordelia, she could imagine she was the person she wished she could be. She would be exciting and adventurous and beautiful. Of course, Marilla promptly tells her that this is nonsense and that Marilla will call her by her given name. Marilla doesn’t imagine. She lives in reality all the time.

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Anne Shirley is one of my favorite characters.

The thing is, I have spent so much time wishing I was someone else. If I could just change this, or if I could fix that, then I would be the perfect person I have always wanted to be. The name of my blog relates to that wish that I make in the “depths of despair” when things are too difficult and I am just disgusted with myself. I just want to be Cordelia. Perfect Cordelia.

My goal for this blog is to provide a place for people who want to be Cordelia. A place to relate to someone. I want to share my experiences from the depths of despair and how I work to get back to a happy place. I hope that my stories and help can inspire someone else to either move forward and keep trying or to get help so that they can do that.

I would really like to hear about some fictional characters that you relate with, from any form of media. Comment below and tell me what they mean to you.

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4 Musicals to Take Me to My Happy Place

As you can probably tell by my last post (How Much Do You Think It Would Cost to Hire a Body Double to Live My Life for a While Because I’m Temporarily Dead) this week has been a complete terror. But hubby and I worked really hard to prepare for today so that it can be a relaxing day for both of us while still having the kids. We were out late last night at a family party which tired the kids out and they slept fairly late (for them anyway). We set up the PS3 downstairs so that the kids could go hang out in the den down there and keep the morning quiet. We had food ready for them when they woke up so they wouldn’t scream and cry at us first thing. They had blankets and pillows and comfy chairs and pretty much everything they ever wanted and hubby and I had peace. Sweet peace, glorious peace. I slept until 9:30 and he got to play Destiny all morning (with some care for the baby in there somewhere). This kind of morning has not happened since… I don’t even know.

Feeling a little uplifted after that kind of a morning, I put another load of laundry together (good heaven, it never freakin’ ends) and another load of dishes (ditto) and I put on a musical that I thought my daughter might like to watch with me: the Phantom of the Opera. She didn’t quite understand all of the story (she’s 6) but she loved the dresses and the music. As for me, I love pretending I am Christine Daae and I get to be that pretty and wanted and special. It definitely took me to my happy place. It’s one of my go-to musicals to get me there. I thought I might share my list of favorites to help someone else out too.

In no particular order:

  • Phantom of the Opera: you get to be Christine Daae, the orphan who is the daughter of the late great violinist. Her voice and beauty beat out the Prima Donna of the opera and her great voice teacher is an unseen genius. Her childhood friend, Raul has become the patron of the opera house, and he recognizes Christine singing on stage and he still loves her. It’s a great tragedy and romance set in France in a time when ladies wore incredible gowns and gentlemen were dressed to the nines. It’s very stereotypical, but I still love it.
  • Hello Dolly!: This is another musical that will transport you to the past. It’s 1890 and widow Dolly Levi has been hard at work managing other people’s affairs. Anything you need done, she can do it and she specializes in the art of matchmaking. When she realizes that the man she has her eye on is going to ask another woman to marry him, she comes up with a plan on the fly to be her own matchmaker. In the process, she sets up the lives of those around her and moves all the pieces into place. She is bold and lively and lovely. She has grace and elegance to spare and she only needs one day to change her future and find love once again. You’ll be spending the rest of your day pretending you are Dolly Levi.

The King and I: Okay first of all Mrs. Anna’s wardrobe here is amazing! I wish I could walk around in dresses like that and not be looked at like I’m due back at the mental institution any minute now. But I love this musical because Mrs. Anna Leonowens moves with her son Louis to Siam to teach the King’s children about… well everything. The King has like 60 children or something like that, not to mention the children of his wives who are in trouble with him. Anna is something new to Siam because she is a woman with an education. She becomes an unofficial advisor to the King during her time there and she calls him out on some pretty barbaric traditions. I like this musical because Anna is a force to be reckoned with and not even the King of Siam was enough to subdue her. In fact, she changed his thinking and therefore his reign. And because she taught the crown prince who is still very young, she changes the ways of Siam through his education. The music and dancing are phenomenal and make me wish I was in a musical on stage in real life.

  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers: I will probably catch some flies for this one. It is about seven brothers in the wild west who don’t know how to treat women, but still want to marry them. That’s the TL:DR version. The oldest, Adam, goes into town looking for a wife and comes home with Milly, all in one day. Milly is tough and she doesn’t take crap, so when she comes home to six nasty looking brothers she realizes she is going to have to cook and clean for, she immediately makes plans to get them married and moved out of her house. She cleans them up and teaches them some manners just in time for them to go to a barn raising where they meet the girls of their dreams. The men are genuinely in love, but the ladies have tons of men to choose from. The brothers think they are never going to get a chance with their ladies so they do something terrible. They kidnap the ladies and cause an avalanche between them and the town, so they can take the ladies back to the cabin for the winter and their families won’t come for them until the snow melts. They think they can make their ladies fall in love with them before that happens. They are complete idiots, but love-sick idiots (although is there such a thing as a love-sick genius?). Other than, you know, kidnapping them, the brothers are never disrespectful to the ladies and you can tell they are genuinely trying, which over the course of the long winter, the ladies see that too. They all end up falling in love and everyone lives happily ever after and really the concept of this musical is terrible, but I like the choreography and music. I mean those are some really talented men (for reference, look to the barn raising dance). Anyway, I don’t care who gets mad at me. I like this musical with a horrible story. It takes me to my happy place and that’s all I care about.  #maybeIhavesomeissuestoworkout

I hope that you can find ways to your happy place. Don’t be afraid to like what you like. Try everything and discover new things about what makes you happy! Maybe you could comment with some of your favorite musicals! I need some new ones to try!

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Some Upsetting Thoughts From Today and How I Changed Them

There is a lot of power in how you think. Thoughts are a particular stumbling block for people who suffer from depression. Thoughts of shame pop up way too easily and stick for a long time, whereas thoughts of pride and accomplishment struggle to surface and are fleeting.

And for my next trick, I will make all my successes disappear!

If you don’t know, you can train your thoughts to lean a certain way. For example, if you’ve been brought up as a racist, your initial thought when seeing a black person would be negative and mean. If you learned to recognize those thoughts and make yourself change the thought to a positive one, you can change your outlook on people of color.

Like this…

Negative: “I bet this lady ahead of me has all those babies just to get a free ride and live off the government.”

Fixed: “There is nothing wrong with having many children and I have absolutely no evidence to support the idea that she is getting government assistance. Even if she is, there is nothing wrong with accepting government assistance when needed. I have no authority to decide whether she is worthy of government assistance. Sure I may pay taxes so that people can live with assistance, but I have no knowledge of her personal information and I am not entitled to her personal information.”

I read somewhere that the first thought that crosses your mind is how you’ve been conditioned to think. The next thought is from you. You don’t have to feel bad about being conditioned to think terrible things. You just have to re-condition and re-train your brain until that first thought is the one you’re proud of.

Actual footage of you taking control of your thoughts.

The same goes for the thoughts you have of yourself. You’ve trained your brain to see all the imperfections about yourself, and that they are deal breakers for anyone who might consider a relationship with you. There are many reasons you have been trained this way, but you have the power to change it!

Something I do once in a while is writing out my negative thoughts, and change them so that I see the positive.

1. Negative: I am fat and ugly. Everyone is looking at me and thinking how glad they are that they aren’t me.

Positive:  I am overweight but that has no bearing on my beauty. I have personally witnessed the transformation that occurs between seeing someone for the first time and getting to know them. Beautiful people have quickly become ugly and vice versa. No one is judging you because they are too busy judging themselves, thinking these same thoughts. Not to mention, literally no one has the authority to decide what ugly or beautiful is.

2. Negative: I am so lazy I can’t even take care of myself, my house, and my kids. I am the worst mother.

Positive: Simply because I sit on the couch a lot does not mean I am lazy. I work on my blog and my homework and things for the church, all things that are important and need to be done, things I would feel bad for not doing. I do have a weakness for cleaning the house so I will do at least one thing today to make myself better at cleaning. Every day my kids are fed, safe, clean, and loved. It’s okay that I hit periods where they play their devices all day because I always find my way out, and my children are still cared for very well and they know I love them. I am a good mother.

You have to prove to your mind that you are in control. Lasso those destructive thoughts and make them serve you, bend them to your will. Rebrand them as uplifting thoughts and train them to run through your mind often. It’s not easy, and it takes a lot of work to believe the positive thoughts, but if you practice enough, you will start to believe and think positive automatically. Think of it as a workout you don’t have to get off the couch for!

If you’re interested in the sociology of positive and negative thoughts, check out this ten minute TED talk: “Getting Stuck in the Negatives (and How to Get Unstuck)”

How often do you struggle with negative thoughts? What method do you have for dealing with them?

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Frozen Heart

I adore listening to movie soundtracks and musicals, so naturally, Disney fits right in there. I have been listening to the Frozen soundtrack, with lyrics written by Robert and Kristen Anderson Lopez, and this song just spoke to me today.

Frozen Heart

Born of cold and winter air and mountain rain combining

This icy force both foul and fair has a frozen heart worth mining

So cut through the heart, cold and clear

Strike for love and strike for fear

See the beauty sharp and sheer

Split the ice apart

And break the frozen heart

Beautiful, powerful, dangerous, cold

Ice has a magic can’t be controlled

Stronger than one, stronger than ten, stronger than a hundred men! Ugh!

Born of cold and winter air and mountain rain combining

This icy force both foul and fair has a frozen heart worth mining

Cut through the heart, cold and clear

Strike for love and strike for fear

There’s beauty and there’s danger here

Split the ice apart

Beware the frozen heart

At the beginning of the song, we learn that the icy force (a.k.a. a frozen heart) is born from cold and winter air and mountain rain combining. I love this imagery here because when someone is treated in a cold manner the winter air chills the heart and it begins to freeze. Those two elements come from a bully. I like to think that the mountain rain is the victim’s icy tears of hurt and hate for the people who hurt them, which finalizes the freezing of their heart.

This icy force is the victim’s heart. It’s called foul and fair because I think there is some righteous anger here to stand up for yourself or for others who are being hurt. Of course, fair might also mean beautiful instead of just. Along with that fair nature, there is a thirst for revenge pointing to the foul nature of a frozen heart. It doesn’t matter which way the heart is leaning, the song tells us that the heart is worth mining, which speaks to my soul like a lover to his beloved. It is such a sweet idea that I need reminding of on the bad days. My heart is always worth saving.

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The song tells us to cut through the heart which is cold and clear, it sounds like this is an attempt to get to the heart underneath the ice. The ice workers in the song work hard all day to be able to cut the ice. These men have some serious muscle under their coats because it takes hard work to cut through ice. Likewise, a frozen heart isn’t going to melt right away and you won’t be able to break through on the first try. If you want to break the ice around someone’s heart, it takes persistence and strength.

Then the lyrics add on to that sentiment telling us to strike for love and strike for fear. You’re breaking through the ice out of love for the person and I think out of fear of what they will become with a frozen heart. It could also point to the fact that many people strike out at people with frozen hearts out of fear of them, like the Duke of Wesselton wanted to strike Elsa down out of fear of her powers. In a well-intended, but still harmful gesture, the King and Queen struck out at Elsa in fear by hiding her away, sending the message to Elsa that she is to be feared because there is something wrong with her which makes her dangerous.

See the beauty sharp and sheer. The authors of these lyrics have amazing minds. It warms my heart (teehee) to understand that they can see the beauty in a cold, icy heart. Your frozen heart doesn’t make you ugly. Because the ice is beautiful and sheer, we can see the heart beneath and know that that goodness is still there and its still beautiful.

Split the ice apart and break the frozen heart. I like to think that this is a sort of last call to strike with all your strength to break the ice around the heart because the ice harvesters sing through the whole thing over again (with a bit of a verse in between), but this time they end with there’s beauty and there’s danger here, split the ice apart, beware the frozen heart. They’re saying, strike hard and strike now because a frozen heart may be beautiful but it is definitely dangerous.

The verse says that the ice is beautiful, powerful, dangerous and cold. That ice has a magic that cannot be controlled. Its stronger than a hundred men! Which makes Elsa even cooler (oh boy). Like there’s this legend of the magic in the ice which no man has ever been able to control, and here comes Elsa who figures it out (with difficulty admittedly) and the ice magic bows to her will.

This song speaks to the transformation that can happen to a heart when it is hurt and the beauty and danger of that transformation. It sets up the story of Frozen perfectly, and it shows us that everyone is worth saving. If you’re someone who is having trouble believing that, pay attention. You might be hearing that you are worthless from horrible people, but the rest of us know better. We know that everyone is worth saving, even you with all your terrible parts. Over time, those parts can be chipped away with hard work and it will all be worth it because we know the beauty of the heart underneath.

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