Ok, this one's going to be controversial I think, so consider that your fair warning. And if I offend you, I apologize. It's not intentional. I'm just shooting from the hip here so there's a better-than-50% chance I'll say at least a few socially inappropriate things. Onward!
I think it would be fair to say that I grew up in a household of tough lovin'...especially when it came to our health (emotional and physical). What I mean is, Mom and Dad didn't put up with a lot of whining or complaining. I was allowed to miss exactly one day of school my entire growing up years, and it was only because I was so sick I literally couldn't stand upright. My parents were under the impression that if you can walk and you're not dying, you're well enough to go to school. Not a whole lot of middle ground with them. When I broke my arm during the country basketball tournament in 4th grade, mom told me to get back out there and "walk it off." To keep playing until my arm just didn't hurt anymore.
It wasn't that they were hard-hearted or didn't care, because of course they did, its just that you darn well better be on your death bed or about to bleed out before you complain about being in pain. I say all this with a bit of sarcasm but the truth is, by and large I think Mom and Dad were right on track. Of course they cared about our well-being--they just didn't want to coddle us and turn my sister and I into complete wimps. They didn't want us to whine, or to fall apart at every little hurt or inconvenience. Basically, they wanted us to be tough. And by and large, I'm very thankful this was the case. I think that on the whole this was a really good thing.
I will say however, that growing up in an environemnt of tough love made me more than a little jaded with regard to how I feel about other people's health and well-being. This was the case with physical health for sure, but I think it became the case even more so with mental and emotional health.
I don't know why exactly. I've pondered on this for awhile now and can't really come up with an exact reason. Certainly I didn't grow up around any mental health issues. No one in my family ever experienced anything like that, so I don't know why I came to associate mental and emotional issues with weakness. (Told you it'd get controversial). But I I think I did. I dont know if I ever really admitted it to myself consciously, but deep down I've always harbored a distinct lack of respect for people who were dealing with any type of mental or emotional issue at all. Lack of respect and maybe pity. In my mind, these people just weren't mentally tough enough to handle life. I thought they were weak, and were just making things up essentially. It's horrible I know, but there you have it. That's really how I think I felt at times.
Ironically enough, within the past year I've found myself visiting not one, not two, but three separate counselor/psychologists--of my own free will no less. I should warn you that this is not easy to admit or to talk about, but in the name of keeping it real and being honest, I'm going to put it all out there for you. Back in the Fall when we first started having problems, Zack and I went together to see a marriage counselor. I don't regret trying but I can say with all sincerity that it was a complete waste of time and money for us. I honestly had no idea what to expect (as we've established I've avoided these type things at all costs up to this point in life) and I was not impressed. I'm sure it works for some people, I know there are success stories out there, but for us personally, it was one gigantic, epic, FAIL.
The second counselor I only visited once, in a last-ditch effort to get a second opinion of sorts.
The third head-doctor though...this is the hard one to talk about. The third one I'm seeing now. And by now I mean I've been going to counseling for the past couple of weeks. This is something I thought (swore) I'd never need or do, because you know, I'm soooo mentally tough and all. But the truth is, I needed to talk to someone and no matter how mentally tough we think we are, sometimes life throws you a curveball that you just don't know how to handle. Getting divorced was a curveball for me. I've come to realize in the past few weeks to a month or so that I am bitterly, bitterly angry. Way deep down, buried inside so deep I didnt even realize it for the first few months...there's a firey ball of anger and resentment so hard and hot I can barely stand it sometimes. I am not an angry person. In fact, I'm quite the opposite. I think I'm blissfully unaware a lot of the time and wil break my neck to reconcile whenever there's a disagreement. That's why this angry was so scary. I didn't know where it was coming from and I didn't know how to control it.
Lately I've found myself acting out in unusual and uncharacteristic ways and I think I've determined that its this anger that I've neglected to address, manifesting itself in other areas of my life. There have been times when I've just broken down and started crying for no good reason at all. I've gotten really, really unjustifiable mad at very silly and trivial things, and taken my emotions out on people who were for the most part, innocent bystanders. I've found that I'm having trouble focusing on anything--instead I sit down to work on something and my mind begins to wander back over the past year or so and before I know it, two hours have gone by and I've accomplished nothing. Stuff like that. I don't sleep very well a lot of the time now, and I feel so restless I can't stand it sometimes. And underlying it all there's this anger, this aggression, that is so strong sometimes I'm afraid if I don't get up and walk away that I'm going to physically hit something.
I don't think that's good. And I know its definitely not how I want to live.
So...having reached my wits end, I decided to go talk to a professional. I finally admitted that maybe I needed someone to teach me how to constructively deal with all of the emotions I've bottled up because frankly, trying to do it myself wasn't working. I sucked at it tremendously if you want to know the truth. And really, at this point, what have I got to lose? My reputation has been shredded, I've acted in ways and done things I swore to myself I'd never do...might as well round out the list with "seeking psychiatric advice." "Who knows?" I told myself, "Maybe being crazy will be fun!"
So there you have it friends. My confession of the day is that I'm not nearly as mentally tough as I thought I was. Sigh.