Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Seeking Help Through Therapy
Related: here's a guest post I wrote for my friend's blog about how my marriage survived my change of faith
Most people who leave a high-demand religion like Mormonism go through something like the Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle. Losing your religion feels a lot like the loss of a loved one and the emotions can be very similar. There's denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance. That makes it sound like a nice linear progression through the stages before you finally land at acceptance and move on with your life but the reality is not quite like that.
Instead of a linear progression it's more like a game of chutes and ladders. Sometimes you're climbing forward to bargaining and then you're sliding back into denial and then you find that you're depressed and angry and then you feel a hint of acceptance before you're back to depressed. It's not exactly as advertised.
By the time I left the church in January of 2014 I was pretty well into the acceptance stage. I'd been through all the other stages many times over in the previous 4 years and I was in a really good place. I continued in that really good place for the rest of the year and I kind of thought that was that. Acceptance achieved! Moving on!
I'm sure this has at least something to do with post-partum hormones but 2015 sent me sliding in a big way back into anger. And any time I made any kind of progress something would happen and I'd be right back in my angry place.
Anger is exhausting. I don't like being angry but I couldn't seem to help it. The biggest problem, though, is that kind of anger isn't really sustainable in the long term alongside a happy marriage, especially because the thing that was making me so angry is a thing that makes my husband really happy.
And so I decided I needed help tackling my anger before it became a real problem.
Therapy is surprisingly common for ex-Mormons. As a group we tend to have a lot of issues (understandable). I reached out to a Phoenix-based fringey Mormon Facebook group I'm a part of and asked if anyone had recommendations for a therapist in my area. I got tons of glowing comments about a woman whose practice is about 20 minutes away from me so I made an appointment.
I was surprisingly nervous for my first visit. I hate crying in front of people but I knew it was inevitable. And I did cry! A lot. But I also laughed. And I unburdened myself of things I didn't even know I was holding in the dark recesses of my brain.
I've been to visit my therapist a few times now and each time I walk out feeling lighter. She's given me tools to help me shield myself from the things that hurt me. She's helped me think through issues that are weighing on my mind and offers solutions to practical problems. She also validates my feelings, which is maybe the best part. When you're surrounded by people who think you're wrong and selfish and possibly being misled by the devil, it's really nice to have someone tell you that your feelings are legitimate.
Thinking about going to therapy was a little scary until I had two good friends tell me that they are all about it. Their acknowledgment of their therapy experiences and encouragement of mine made that call a lot less intimidating. If you think you might need help (even preemptive help! That's a wise move!) then this is me telling you that therapy is awesome and useful and you should go for it. I'm really glad I did.
Posts may contain affiliate links. Thanks for helping me support my blogging habit!