Editor’s Note: This is part 48 of Marie’s Story, continued from Even Now, I Struggle With Significant Depression
Carl: Tell me about the wise financial choices you have been making.
Me: Well, I don’t have any debt except the $5,000 I owe a friend from when he was trying to help me save my house in 2003. But, he said I can take as long as I need to pay it back. He is not hurting for it.
At my current level of spending, I only spend about three-quarters of what the studio brings in and if I had to, I could survive on about half. So, I’ve been catching up on big-ticket items like studio equipment and resources, car repairs, psychotherapy. I have a little cash saved up, and I’m in a good position to start saving even more.
I stayed at the bus barn for as long as possible. I’ve been literally working 12-hour days, 7 days a week for the last three-plus months to put away money for when I transition from two jobs to one. I waited to resign until I knew I had the clientele in place to support a regular paycheck to myself.
Carl: It sounds like you have been very careful and disciplined in planning the transition. You have taken very carefully measured risks in order to create a more stable income-generating scenario that also feeds your soul, all so you could experience joyful moments on a regular basis and be healthier for it.
What more could you ask of yourself?
Me: (Little laugh…) I guess nothing.
Maybe my concerns aren’t really that legit. This last summer, my finances were far tighter and more uncertain, and I had a wide-open schedule with nothing concrete to pull me out of bed. Yet, I got out of bed almost every day—with very few exceptions—and I was very productive.
Now, I am in an even better place financially and psychologically. I have lots of reasons to get out of bed. I’m excited about the business and the kids and the music.
I bet I’ll be okay. I bet it’s going to turn out okay.
Carl: I believe it will turn out okay. I believe you will be okay. And, if you have some rough moments, I’ll be here to help you through. I promise I’ll be here for you.
Thank you for letting me vent my anxious thoughts. I feel better now that I’ve talked to you about it.
Carl: You are welcome!
At this point, we were getting close to the end of the session. I took a few minutes to tell Carl about Larry, and how I was looking for an affectionate, supportive friendship with him, not a romantic relationship—at least not for the foreseeable future. I told him about how Larry was willing to do something as simple as walk around the lake with me, even if it wouldn’t be physically challenging for him.
Carl commented on how nice it was that a man was adapting his behavior to meet my needs and to accommodate my current level of progress rather than expecting me to arrange my life around his needs.
I agreed with him that it was a nice—and new—experience for me.
In our last few minutes, I asked what thoughts Carl had about the next session.
Carl: I don’t have a plan for our next session. I would like to allow the session to unfold organically.
(I felt my lips purse in response to his words… )
Carl: How do you feel about there not being a plan in place for the next session?
Me: Hmmm…Well, if I knew what we were going to cover, I could better prepare.
Carl: What happens if you show up to the session without having prepared for it?
Me: It seems that would be a waste of resources.
Carl: What does it mean if you waste resources?
Me: It means I’m not using the limited resources I have in the most efficient way possible. Since my time and money are limited, and I only get to see you once every three weeks, I want to make sure I get as much as possible out of our time together. It seems irresponsible to not use that time wisely.
But, okay. I get your point.
Carl: What is my point?
Me: Sometimes allowing things to unfold naturally—not forcing things to occur in a rigidly particular way—is the best use of resources. And, this may be even more true when it comes to psychotherapy.
(Carl relayed his affirmation through a small grin.)
Me: Okay. I’ll back off the compulsive effort to be prepared, but there is a topic I’d like to address in the next session.
Carl: Tell me! I’d love to hear what is on your mind!
Me: I’m feeling brave. I’d like to touch on the “God” issue. Recently, I’ve been feeling a strong need to “go there”.
Despite my negative experience with Mark that caused me to decide I’ll never talk to another therapist about God, I get the feeling I could have a beneficial conversation with you about God.
I recognize you are not my spiritual advisor, but I’m hoping you can help me clarify the holes in my current belief system. Then, point me in a direction that would eventually fill in those holes. I believe you can assist me in that way without pushing your own personal beliefs onto me.
Carl: Wow…you are feeling brave! Good for you!
I would be delighted to engage with you in a conversation about God. And, yes, I can assist you in the way you described. I promise I will keep my own beliefs out of the discussion.
The premise underlying the mode of therapy I utilize—integrative therapy—is that healing comes through the unification of all aspects of a person, necessarily including the spiritual aspect. Integrative therapy allows a person to discover, rediscover, or define their own spirituality using their own parameters, experiences, and understanding. The therapist’s spiritual belief system must remain outside of the process. It cannot come into the equation in any way.
Me: Based upon my experiences with you so far, I felt safe in assuming that would be the case, but it is nice to receive confirmation.
Carl: Do you have any thoughts on what that conversation might look like?
Me: Not really. I really don’t know where to begin.
Carl: I’d like to make a suggestion. You can follow the suggestion or you can decline to follow it. Either choice is fine with me.
Carl: I suggest that you write a letter to God. Write to him as if you are having a face-to-face conversation with him. Tell him what is working for you; what isn’t working for you. Ask any questions you might have, even if you have little hope of getting an answer. Just lay it all out.
Me: Hmmm. Actually, I like that idea. I’ll do it!
Carl: Good! Okay. Is there anything else we need to cover before we part ways today?
Me: Nope! I think we’ve covered it all!
That brought us to the end of the session. I came out of the session with a certain lightness in my heart, a sense of completion around the letters to my parents, and a sense of hope around what comes next in my healing journey.
I’d call that a fine way to end a session.