by Oleg Lougheed, adopted from Russia to the USA. Founder of Overcoming Odds.
I remember the first time I went to therapy.
I was ashamed of it.
I disliked every aspect of it.
I saw it as a sign of weakness.
Out of all of the things I looked forward to, this was at the very bottom of my list.
I remember the drive over.
“Why do I have to go here?”
“I don’t need this.”
“This is stupid.”
With each remark, I became more and more angry.
I remember exiting the car.
Not a single word, arms folded together, sprinting ahead of my parents in frustration.
“Welcome!” said the receptionist.
I didn’t respond.
“Through the double doors to the right, please.”
As I opened the double doors, my eyes immediately met them.
A room full of kids who were much younger than me.
I scanned the entire room.
Everybody was doing something.
Some were putting together puzzles.
Others were drawing.
“This is not for me,” I whispered.
I made my way toward the spot.
The spot I became far too familiar with throughout my life.
The corner of the room.
I sat there in silence, waiting for the clock to strike 8 PM.
“How are you doing?” asked the therapist on duty.
It took weeks before I said my first words.
I remember sitting in the corner of the room when the therapist approached me.
I couldn’t hold it anymore. I broke down.
Fighting back tears, I told her everything.
I told her how much I missed my birth family.
I told her that I was being bullied at school.
I told her about the struggles back home.
I felt a huge relief with each spoken word.
Unfortunately, this was one of the last sessions.
I turned back to what I knew best, silence.
It wasn’t until 10 years ago, I spoke the word, “therapy” out loud.
I was a freshman in college.
I needed someone to talk to.
The past was on the back of my mind.
I went straight to the counselling/mental health department.
I wasn’t ashamed of it anymore.
I remember the walk over.
The feeling of empowerment with every step I took.
I accepted therapy into my life, on my own terms.
Going to sessions helped me tremendously.
They helped me process and reframe many of my past traumatic experiences.
They helped me get curious about the subject and the stories I chose to believe in.
The stories of it being seen as a sign of weakness, not a strength.
The stories of therapy as something I should be ashamed of.
Curiosity helped me change many of these narratives.
Curiosity helped me embrace therapy as a part of my identity, part of my life.
For more from Oleg, read his last blog Adoptee Fear and Vulnerability
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