Sometimes, I notice themes across my therapy work with clients in a given week or month. As I sit in hour-long sacred relationships, I will hear myself repeat a thought or observation throughout the day, and surprise myself. And, then I remember that good therapy is truly relational; I am also in that room and in that relationship, and am sharing my own journey alongside her.
Recently, I have heard myself normalizing worries, scenarios and fantasies that have come up in sessions.
“That sounds normal to me.”
“You’re not alone in this feeling.”
“I think everyone feels that”.
More and more, my clients are continually teaching me more about women and the way we think. I am learning from them that we all think and feel the same thing, but isolate ourselves into a place of shame and embarrassment. We tell ourselves we are the only ones that could possibly inflict this much self-hurt. It occurred to me recently that this simply is not true; we are more similar than we want to believe and that knowing this can enable us to supportively join together in new and intimate ways. I wanted to share some observations in and out of the therapy room that I believe are “normal”.
- Wondering if people like us is normal. From the playground and beyond, we wonder if our friends don’t like us. We wonder why people have not texted us back, have stopped doing business with us, or gave us a strange look. From a clear lens, I see that most of these worries do us no good; it’s more often their personal finances or the way they woke up that morning. But it doesn’t matter, we still return to that deeply provocative question: “Am I likable?” Or, even more deeply: “Am I lovable?” All of us are wondering this.
- Feeling behind or inadequate is normal. Perhaps my conclusion of “normal” comes from a limited screenshot as a therapist in Newport Beach. But, from where I sit this feeling is pretty normal for women. As mothers, we have discussions about planning out the month of birth for our children in hopes of them being “ahead of their class” when kinder rolls around. The momentum has begun before we are even born. We commit to maintaining that momentum as we compare when to get married, when to have babies, when to be promoted and beyond. And the timeline never feels perfect and never feels complete. We sit privately and ask ourselves, “Am I enough?”
- Experiencing bouts of depression and/or anxiety is normal. It really is, and we just don’t talk about it enough. I am often surprised by the amount of pain that my clients endure before they finally call me. I often hear that sadness has “peaked past 110%, and it’s just too much”. I hope we can all help each before this point and lean into the reality of what we feel together. I hope we can accept our normal bodily and emotional responses to typical life pain instead of ask ourselves, “What’s wrong with me?!”
- Feeling uncertain about our future or current partner is normal. Whether we are wondering how to finally find a healthy boyfriend or we feel fed up by our 17-year marriage, we all still secretly doubt and wonder. It’s the part of us that fears messing up or making a mistake. It’s also the part of us that feels unheard or missed. Let’s help each other practice speaking up in a way that solidifies our confidence in dating and marriage! We can use one another to clean up current relationships and confront buried feelings about our partner and ultimately, ourselves. Let’s combat that insidious question, “How will I ever know?”
I hope you know that these so-called ugly parts of you are actually quite beautiful, accepted, and normal. If you are interested in joining a group of like-minded women who want to dig deep and feel normal about it, or you would simply like to explore more please reach out to me.