This blog post is actually about counseling. In no way am I an expert, but after 12 years as a client, I feel somewhat qualified to make a few comments on the subject.
I don’t intend to go into my person life or the personal lives of family members, but I think I can share a few nuggets of wisdom that I learned along the way.
In retrospect I see my divorce in 2008 as a win-win. She’s met someone who I like a lot and I think is a perfect match for her. I’ve done the same. It was really tough but after 27 years we had to face it. It wasn’t working. We got married too young. We are different people at the core. We’re human and humans make mistakes. We consider ourselves lucky in that this one turned out pretty good for everyone.
15 years into the marriage we entered counseling. In the process I feel a little bit like the blind man who had surgery and was suddenly able to see. There were a few aha moments that changed my life for the better. For that, I have very grateful.
One of them had to do with people connections. Not just acquaintances, real people connections. One day you’re thinking that you’ve got it all going pretty smooth. Shoot you’re the Vice President of Little League Baseball. You’re a manager at a high tech company. Everyone knows you. Next you realize your life consists of mostly acquaintances where you’re not really connected on a deep level in any way at home or at work. That one was hard. Very hard. Life changing.
Another one was humility. She was just so gentle with the message too. I don’t even recall what I was talking about at the time but she interrupted me and asked “Where’s the humility in that?” In the moment I was taken aback. I couldn’t answer. It didn’t make any sense. I was brought up to see the value in humility and if anything, my parents’ capabilities and intelligence were understated. Where did I go wrong? I think I know the answer and it’s not really important to this blog post, but be that as it may, I learned a dose of humility goes a long way and have tried to be a different person ever since.
When someone figures you out at a deep level like this, I think there’s a danger of elevating their words to a level that’s not healthy. They are just humans too. They make mistakes. But somewhere along the way I became more of a disciple than a client. And in her own way she recognized this and corrected that line of thinking too.
Basically what she said was, “Don’t give me that power. I don’t know everything. You don’t need me anymore. You can do this yourself. It’s all in here.” And then she put her fist over her heart.
Truth be told, I think I wanted the dependency at the time. But she was spot on. It is in there. We don’t need to give up our power to other people who are the experts. They are just people. Sometimes (not always) what we need to do is to dig deep.
Counseling is a tricky business. I’ve talked to several. Only 1 or 2 have made a difference so it can be hit and miss. It’s one of those things where you really have to go with your gut. I can attest to life changing moments that were worth every penny. I can also attest to at least a dozen appointments that were a complete waste of time and money.
I can also say that there’s something to be said for just manning up and owning your own stuff and not looking outside for guidance. You can’t buy your way out of it. How do I know this? Because I learned the hard way.
My takeaways? You can’t take it with you. People don’t care what titles you hold. Live in the moment as much as possible. Enjoy your friends and family while you can. And don’t get too big of a head on your shoulders. When we reveal our humanness with our flaws and all, people are actually drawn to that more.