Tuesday, September 10, 2013

With a Little Help From My Therapist

I returned to two things today. The first was to go back to therapy. I had thought that I was done with therapy, healed, ready to make my way by myself. Turned out that I'm still having troubles that are beyond my ability to deal with on my own. I went back to therapy with a renewed focus on being open, challenging myself, and making sure that I am digging deep. The first session back was challenging and tiring. I got home and just wanted to take a nap. It was as though I had been out for a long run. So it is with tough emotional work.

Second, I got back to coaching youth soccer. My older daughter has graduated to modified soccer at her school and I am finally helping to coach my younger daughter and, as it turns out, seventeen other girls. I wrote up a pretty good plan that kept them moving, kept me from talking too much at them, and made sure that they had as much fun as we could in eighty-five degree heat and high humidity. It was a good practice and a fun group of fifth- and sixth-grade girls. I don't know how many games we will win (this idea that no one keeps score always makes me laugh), but it's going to be a good time seeing what we can do.

The two things work pretty well together. My therapist and I talked a lot about the things in which I lack confidence. Mostly, I have a tendency to lack faith in myself. No, that's not quite right. In my head, I know that I'm capable and smart, but I have trouble feeling it. Right up until the moment I was out on the field with those girls, I had trouble feeling like I could make it work. I had the strong feeling that things would fall apart and that I wouldn't be up to the task. Now, I knew in my head that I was prepared, that I had done it before, that I could take it on and do a good job of it, but thinking these things doesn't make them so and certainly doesn't help me feel confidence in myself about it.

At therapy I talked about how I fear failing because it will somehow reveal me as the person I tend to think of myself as. I worry that failure will let everyone in on the secret that I don't know anything at all. This is how I often get to feeling about myself even as I can objectively realize that it's not the reality of my situation. My therapist asked, what do you think will happen if people see you fail. The only thing I could think of was this: I'll pay a price. I couldn't explain it any better than that. It just feels as if there is a huge risk, a price to pay if I fail and people see it.

I know it's baloney. I just can't get past the feeling.

The other thing I know and feel is that this is the thing that blocks me from taking chances and truly moving forward. Fear is a hell of a block. It's a high wall without a rope or ladder. Getting over it is imperative, but I have a hard time imagining how it could be done.

Here's the thing though. When I step back for a moment and look at that wall, I realize that it's like a soccer kick-board. A big wall indeed, but only thirty or forty feet wide. On either side of that wall is open, green field. I get the feeling that I've been staring so intently at this wall, trying to think of ways to get over it, that I haven't noticed what a short walk it would be to go around.

The trick is to get myself to step back from the wall and see the larger world. I keep trying to do that. Writing has been one of the tools I've used. It turns out that I need more help than I can offer myself. My therapist has helped me before. Has shown me how to pull myself back from tougher situations than this. She has helped me lead myself forward. I wasn't thrilled that I felt like I had to go back, but I'm glad that I have. It will make me a better coach, father, husband, and man. It will make me a better friend to myself, someone who learns to believe and feel it.

And all of that will help me be a writer who will continue to write on.