First, you should know that I love unicorns.
They remind me to believe in myself when no one else does. They teach me to look for magic and joy in small moments. When my heart is exhausted and my soul is crying, it’s a unicorn who reminds me that I know what strong and grounded feel like because I know brokenness and pain, I need both. Unicorns resemble strength and freedom and deep-in-my-bones authenticity. I have a unicorn tattoo on the inside of my wrist so I never forget how important it is to have this relationship with myself…and with wonder.
The more I learn about the workings of the human brain and heart, the more I believe that relationships are what teach us the most about ourselves – for better and for worse.
Everyday, we come to know ourselves by what we see reflected in others. I hear it when I sit with my clients and I see it unfolding in all my interactions – for better and for worse.
We get to know ourselves based on how other people describe us and treat us. The people we see every day become our mirrors. Their opinions often become our opinions – for better or for worse.
Notice I say “we” here. I see this happen to my therapy clients all the time and I know it has happened to me too.
You’re looking to other people to show you who you are.
And now you’re looking at me wondering how I can help you. (go here if you’re actually just looking for the list of my degrees and trainings) Let me tell you a story and then you can decide…
I know you. How? I used to be a lot like you. I know you just want to talk to a therapist that GETS IT instead of someone telling you you need to meditate every day for 30 minutes.
When my college boyfriend broke up with me senior year, he said I was “too hard to love.”
I stopped breathing. I couldn’t fight back. Messages like that had been pounded into me for years. He pressed into all my emotional bruises. With one sentence he revived all my fears about being both “too much” and “not enough” at the same time.
I believed him. I crumbled into myself. I saw myself the way he, and others before him, saw me: too complicated, too sensitive, too anxious.
A small inner voice protested and assured me he was wrong, but it was just a whisper. And so, I cried in secret. If one person decided I was too hard to love, how long it would take everyone else in my life to give up on me?
Some people just can’t see you clearly. But others really can.
After the breakup, I did what I could to pull myself out of the rubble. Wanting to believe the inner whisper that assured me I was lovable, I’d draw my best friend into unending conversations about love and trust and betrayal.
She knew there was nothing she could say that could echo louder than the “I’m going to be alone forever” story that was always playing in my head. Instead, she declared “I’m not going to promise you I won’t leave you. I’m going to show you.”
She’s still one of my people, someone who has always seen the best in me even when I doubt myself – especially when I doubt myself.
How can you figure out whose opinion matters and whose doesn’t?
Here’s something that’s true: we are “too much” and “not enough” for some people.
And here’s something else I know for sure: being “too much” or “not enough” for someone doesn’t make you a bad person and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just a mismatch.
But a relationship that doesn’t work, whether it’s with a partner, a friend, or your mom doesn’t just feel like a mismatch. It often feels like a failure.
There’s one more thing I need you to know: you’re not a failure just because you’re struggling with some of the people in your life.
You can’t change someone else’s opinions, even when you know deep down that they’re wrong about you. Deep inside you, that little whisper of truth knows there are so many reasons that relationships don’t work or feel full of friction.
Maybe you absorbed negative messages from your parents or other experiences as a child. Maybe something traumatic turned everything upside down. Maybe you got tangled in both or in a hundred other things that just built up
When you start to get clarity on your past, you’re able to cope better with the present – even when people break your heart.
Therapy helps when friends can’t.
My best friend was a huge source of support when I was living through that breakup and lots of other painful things, but I needed more than the support of one trusted friend. I needed a therapist who could sit with me in all my shadows and all my fears.
In therapy, something sacred occurs..
something beautiful and risky and
painful and wonderful all at the same time.
I learned to loosen my grasp on the “too much” and “not enough” scripts and start rewriting my story. I’d love to tell you it’s clean and easy, but rewriting your story is hard. We talk things through and cry things out and explore the unknown so you can see yourself clearly.
In therapy, you and I tune into your inner voice so you can rebuild your opinion of yourself after someone else’s made you crumble. You’ll emerge strong enough to understand that you really are enough, just as you are.
So what’s next? How do I start therapy?
If you’ve gotten this far, I’m guessing you’re ready to take the next step in our relationship–oooo, when did we start dating?!–schedule a free phone consultation with me. We can chat more about what’s going on for you and how I can help.
I really do love unicorns, it’s not a joke.
Oh, and if you want to look over the nitty-gritty stuff to make sure I went to school some place you’ve actually heard of, check out my training and credentials page!