black woman and therapy, entering therapy, how to decide to see a therapist, mary j blige album breakthrough, mary j blige song baggage, seeking mental health professionals, seeking therapy
by vivrant thang on all about me
I got this baggage with me
Don’t wanna make you pay for what somebody else has done to me
I don’t know what to do
With all this baggage in me
Everytime I hurt your feelings it’s what someones done to me
I don’t mean to hurt you
A post I did late last year, Other Woman, continues to be one of the most popular. Recently, I got a new comment from a woman named Lisa.
I am 33 years old and i am single, never really wanted to get married, i do have a son who has been living with his father for the past year he is 15. But I am falling in love with a married man, he has never lied to me about being married. He tells me he loves me, and he treats me like he loves me. He has three kids at home, and he tells me that he is not in love with his wife although he does care about her. I know that this is a typical story for a married man, and I try to keep an open tab on reality, even going so far as to see other man and I let him know that i am open to date other man. He does not like it but what can he do about it? But the problem is that when I am out on a date (I mean with fine sucessful brothers from all walks of life) I find that I am thinking about him and I would rather be at home. I am not wanting this drama but how can I prevent it. I am a college educated woman, a teacher, i own my home, drive my own car and pay my own bills. I am attractive and still wear a size 5, but how can i stop this love for a married man.
When I started to respond, as I do with all posts, I had no idea what I was going to say. I certainly have no experience in this area and there are no easy answers to this situation. This is also not a judgemental space so I wanted to be very careful with my response.
Here’s what came pouring out:
I could go on with this but bottom line, you are not going to leave him alone until you’re forced to. I know my girlfriend did seek therapy and found that she had a host of issues contributing to why she got involved with this man. Last I talked to her, she had left him alone.
So think about that and best of luck. I really can’t be of any more help because it’s not something I personally have experience in.
This is how she responded:
Currently, I am “in treatment.” This is my second time seeing a therapist, the first being after I lost the weight because it was advised as part of the process of adjusting to literally being half the woman I used to be. Just because I lost the weight doesn’t mean I lost the issues that got me to that size.
[Aside: No one that is morbidly obese got that way without an issue or ten. That’s a fact.]
But I digress.
Anyhow, with the first therapist, I didn’t have an understanding of what therapy was. I was expecting…I still don’t know what I was expecting. However, I didn’t feel as if it was helping so I decided to quit. That was over a year ago.
My five-year plan encompasses all aspects of my life, including relationships and personal development. This year, one of my goals was to get back into therapy and deal with my shit. I guess I’m fortunate because I know exactly what that shit is. I am a very introspective person. I stand back and look at myself a lot. I also am very aware of how my past issues and things that happened to me during my formative years have directly affected my behavior today.
I think about my relationships with my parents, namely my fathers, and how that has created a lot of the baggage I carry with me into my romantic relationships. I tend to attract men that are damaged in some way. Like attracts like and hurt people hurt people. So it’s no surprise that both of my serious relationships have ended badly, with both parties being hurt. I can’t fix them. I can only fix me. I have to end the cycle.
2008 is the year I decided it’s high time to let the baggage go. It’s only going to get heavier. Besides, I much prefer to carry a cute little clutch. Makes it easier to sashay in my stilettos heels. (I gotta keep it real!)
I’m sharing all of this because Lisa’s comment highlighted the fact that there may be people out there that haven’t considered therapy as an option. There can be such a stigma attached to it. My mother is skeptical. She thinks I just need to go to church. While I agree that I need to work on my spirituality (also a part of my five-year plan), I also see nothing wrong with also talking to an unbiased professional who is trained to help people make connections and work through issues. There’s nothing weak about admitting you can’t do it by yourself. It doesn’t mean you’re crazyderanged. It just means you want to see some changes in your life and you realize you can’t make them alone.
I really hope this speaks to someone. There’s several people I know who would greatly benefit from therapy and I have gently suggested it. However, it’s a very personal decision and not an easy one to make. I can only share my story…and Lisa’s, and hope it helps in some small way.
I found my therapist by referral, which I think is the best way. However, there are a couple of sites to check out to find one near you.
American Psychological Association
American Mental Health Counselors Association
If you’re like me and have some kind of strange need to have all of your doctors be black, check out the Association of Black Psychologists site.
If you’re not going by referral, grill them as you would any other new professional. They are only caring for your mind.
Great post and I totally agree with you.
look @ vivrant giving some great advice to someone who seeks great advice. I am proud of the fact that you can offer words of encouragement (not the simple solution) which encouraged Lisa to look deeper within herself and find the answers to the questions which she admittedly raised concerning her issues.
I also understand where you are coming from when you speak of your own issues. We all have issues. It’s just that some chose to ignore these issues, only to end up confronting them over and over again. You’re trying to avoid that cycle. I commend you. Your Five-Year Plan sounds like a winner. Good luck.
vivrant thang said:
@ ph- I was hoping you would stop by and comment. Your agreement means a lot.
@ don- Thank you 🙂 I honestly didn’t know what I was going to say to her! Like I said, I just knew I didn’t want to judge. I don’t want nobody judging me! LOL!
Yea, Don. I have to get off this roller coaster and DEAL. I commend anyone who does that. It’s not easy, but necessary.
what a great FIRST POST for this newbie to read. great advice you gave!
I have an aunt that has the “married man” syndrome…she always dated married men because she wasn’t emotionally mature for a relationship with someone that was fully available..she felt safe that he wouldn’t leave his wife and she’d have her freedom and never had to own up to anything…when one did become available, leaving his wife for her she immediately got bored and eventually left him for a another married man
the minute I fell for a married man I immediately saw the same signs..I was going for someone that ultimately couldn’t be with me and wouldn’t hold me accountable for anything..how could he when I was single and he was married.
its a vicious cycle but easily to be caught up in.
good luck to Lisa!
vivrant thang said:
@geegee: Thanks for stopping by. Welcome! Your aunt’s story, even in it’s brevity, says it all. Thank you for sharing hers and your story. As I said, I always think there is some psychological reason behind it when a woman consistently chooses married men. Personally I may not choose married men, but in some way, they are emotionally unavailable to me. It’s all a vicious cycle.
Yes, I wish her good luck as well.
Found you on my best friend’s blog (shesopinionated.com) and I really have enjoyed my read thus far. I could relate to this entry in particular having finally decided to seek “help” for myself. The whole deserving your “OWN” man hit home too. Never dated a married man, but certain;y have had my share of “occupied” ones. 2008 has been about breaking old habits. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but it has done wonders even in this short time. I applaud you for being open and honest in your writing, and as it appears, in your life.
vivrant thang said:
@ Andrea – Thanks so much for stopping by. Any friend of B’s is cool with me! She was my first commenter so she’ll always hold a special place in my heart 🙂
I’ve said it again and again but 2008 seems to be a year of change and growth for a lot of people. Glad to hear that you are apart of that.
It hasn’t been easy to write about all of this as I am VERY aware of my audience, particularly since I’m starting to make it more public. However, my personal mission is to write to inspire and educate women [people] so that is what I must do. Glad you could relate to what I’ve been staying.
Don’t be a stranger!
THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH for writing this blog!!!!! As you know I am a psychologist and I agree with EVERYTHING that you said. I think that it is sad that as a culture we tend to underutilize mental health services and that seeking help has been so greatly stigmatized. That is one of the things that I have decided to tackle during my career as a psychologist (the stigma attached to mental health treatment in our community). Thanks for helping to spread the word to our people that there is nothing wrong with seeking the help of a professional and that it DOES NOT in any way mean that you are crazy. I know a lot of people believe as your mother does that you should just go to church and I am happy that I have the support of my pastor at my home church in Atlanta. I have shared my cause with him and he shares in my vision. I commend you for going back to therapy the 2nd time and for really opening yourself up to the experience. It really only works if you are open to it.
vivrant thang said:
@Tiff – You got over here before I got a chance to ask you to comment. I knew you would offer an interesting perspective.
I am so excited that you are now officially licensed and able to start your own practice! I’m glad that you, a black woman, entered the field. Although I saw a White woman for my evaluation before my surgical procedure and did enjoy my time with her, I much preferred to continue therapy with a Black woman.
My therapist is very unusual in that she is does not bite her tongue. When I was talking about someone from my past, she flat out told me in so many words that he was beneath me and that it was good I was delivered from that madness. She asked me questions that made me think and realize that it was a blessing. I like the way we communicate – as only two black women can.
Thanks again for commenting.
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Yeah I go to therapy and I have no problem talking about it. It’s been the best thing for me. Like you, I did go once before but it didn’t work out so I quit and then I found a therapist that works for me. She is a wonderful black woman that is helping me cope with some issues I have. I have that same funny thing with wanting a Black therapist. It’s harder to have all my doctors be Black around here unfortunately but it’s nice to have a therapist who can relate on a different level. Great post.
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