Counseling is like a glass of water

Nick and I had a nice counseling session today. We’ve made goals in the past (in the before times) to really focus on ourselves and make some improvements to our relationship. We have many similarities, and many differences which can create miscommunication. What family can’t relate?

But the goals we’ve made have seen real progress, real growth. And Mariah, our counselor, really congratulated us and remarked that the effort and compassion we put into us is beautiful.

I feel like I needed that. Some positive reinforcement. Some admiration. Some applause.

Because I can be hard on myself when I’m not perfect at a thing immediately. I get easily frustrated after I back slide. And in my frustration of the moment, I see that I’m behaving poorly, saying the wrong things, and I’m frustrated that I’m not doing better even when I know better.

But yet I can recognize improvement on that front too; if I have the forethought to recognize that I’m walking into a new thing that could require some new-established coping tools, then I give myself some patience and reassure myself that its okay to just try and not get it perfect. The big slip ups happen when I’m not at homeostasis or just hungry and I don’t realize it before I elect to speak about something else that’s stressing me out. Who can else relate?

Ultimately, there’s room to grow.

But look how far I have come:

I don’t have panic attacks when the VNA comes to my house. (My last panic attack was over a month ago!)

My blood pressure is a model of health every time I’m checked. (It used to be high for a routine check up, they’d have to take it at the end of the appointment.)

I don’t expect Nick to read my mind anymore. (My homework this week is to say “excuse me” when Nick’s standing where I need to go, instead of getting agitated when he doesn’t get out of a doorway when I stand in front of him saying nothing.)

Before we started counseling in earnest with a professional, Nick checked in with me to see if we really wanted to dig in to our relationship. Is now the best time? We’re about to see 3-5 physicians’ offices per month, if not per week, and we have to find childcare every time we go to a doctor, so do we really want to add this to our plate?

I had done just enough personal growth to validate Nick’s concern, and not be mad or offended or take it negatively. I am very glad that I responded a beat after I recognized his concern. I felt strongly, I said so, and Nick was reassured that it was important to me that we at least keep our first appointment.

When I relayed the story to my own counselor, she compared therapy and counseling under our circumstances to having a glass of water with a very overcooked steak. The water is the counseling. The overcooked meat is the cancer, and the pregnancy, and the challenges of toddlerhood. The water doesn’t change the meal, but it sure helps you get through it! Could we get through this without counseling? Maybe. But I’m very glad I’ll never know.

We’re doing ok.

And we’re doing better every week.

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