I don’t talk about this moment very often, but I can quite honestly say it is the moment my life took a turn that changed absolutely everything.
Back when I was still married, my husband and I saw a counselor for a bit to try to work through our issues. She was pretty amazing, at least I liked her. She used a model of therapy that looked at how childhood experiences play into the experiences one seeks out in adult relationships.
Once, during our weekly appointment, she gave each of us a worksheet. On the worksheet were a list of values, hobbies and personal characteristics. We were instructed to review each one and determine whether they were things that our parents encouraged, celebrated, ignored or shamed.
I started down the list…words like responsibility, good grades, hard work…those were easy, my parents loved those. Then there were words like art, creativity, dance…they were a little trickier to answer, as my parents were a bit more hot and cold about those things.
And then. Oh…fuuuuuuck.
The words hit me like a ton of bricks.
I didn’t need any other words to flood my brain alongside those two words. Those two words were all it took for me to completely understand so much of why I was sitting in that chair at the counselor’s office in the first place.
The moment of reckoning
I had so many choices during this moment. I saw something so clearly that I had never seen before…how had I never seen it before?!!! I could have denied it, I could have deflected it, I could have created scene to bring everyone’s attention to something else instead.
What did I do?
I said to myself, “Holy shit, Rach. You deserve to be whole and healthy in this aspect of your life. Whether this marriage works out or not, sister, we are tackling this monster. Because…sex and enjoyment should go together. Duh.”
In that moment, before there was any sort of debrief with my husband or the counselor, I made a pact with myself that I wasn’t going to un-see the thing I had just seen. I was going to act, not to create a particular outcome with my husband, but because I gave a shit about it for me.
And my life went on a very different trajectory because of it. (But more about my sex life another time, perhaps?)
Maybe not sex for you, but definitely something
We all have these things. The things that we can’t see. Or that we see and then quickly try to shove back in the closet. Because looking at them is going to hurt, at least for a few moments. And because it’s so much easier to make them someone else’s fault.
I could have quietly pushed that skeleton back into the closet and gone on to blame my husband for single-handedly taking down our marriage if I’d wanted to. And people would have believed me. And worse, I would have believed me.
The scariest thing about letting those things out, is that once you do, whether you want to or not, you have to own it. You have to accept responsibility for it. This might mean you need to apologize for it. It might mean you have to tame it. It might mean you have to reach deep to get some guts and step up to the plate of living your life.
And while it’s scary as shit, the thing I can tell you is this: the moment you see it, and acknowledge that you see it – and that you want it to be different – everything changes.
Your turn: leave a comment and tell me what’s the thing you think you might find if you opened up that closet? Or, maybe you’ve already seen it and shoved it back in? What scares you the most about facing it?