Therapy literally changed my life.
If you wanna read about what it's been like for me, here is an old blog I wrote back in April.
I mean, obviously, it's been a great experience.
But I gave myself a lot of barriers to even go for the first time. And I guess that's what I'd like to talk about today. Well, at least one of the barriers, because I started typing about it and then it got very long.
My first barrier was money, of course it was. That's been one of my biggest barriers my entire life. I truly don't think that anyone who hasn't had to live paycheck to paycheck on a regular basis understands or can even relate to how money panic feels.
One of the wildest examples of phenomenon that I've experience is this lil story.
Y'all know D and I took dance classes when we lived in Brevard. Obviously, D kept dancing long enough to go to college for it. I stopped when we moved to Orlando cause I couldn't find an adult tap class with the right vibe. But that is not 100% true, another big part of it was my anxiety of going to a "new" place and meeting "new" people. A situation therapy would have helped me with a lot, lol.
Okay, back to the coast where I was taking 5 classes a week and D was taking a stupid amount, like, 8 or something. With that studio's pricing, once you hit like 3 or 4 classes, it made more monetary sense to pay for unlimited monthly rate, as opposed to a class by class basis. It was under $200 a month for the both of us to dance, keeping us out of the house for most weekday evenings, which was honestly for the best.
But sometimes that was too much and we were behind in our payments. It was very embarrassing, because they payments were made pretty publicly in a little drop box in the lobby. Like I felt the studio owner's eyes were boring into me every time we showed up to class when we were late on our payments.
And don't even get me started about costume time, where the costume for each class cost between $50 and $75 depending on the design. Dance was expensive, all the time.
However, the studio offered a yearly scholarship to their students. It wasn't something that you applied for, the staff just chose the most "deserving" student every year. The scholarship was funded by community members and other dancer's families.
I remember one year, D was teaching younger students at no cost to the studio, her solo was killing it at competitions and winning special awards. People looked to her as a leader. Plus, I often had trouble paying for her to stay in dance. A perfect candidate for a scholarship, right?
Nope, that year, it went to a family that had no trouble paying their bills, or buying their costumes. I remember coming to the summer session and sitting in the lobby while D was in class. The studio owner was sitting out there with me, so I was feelin' awkward.
She looked at me and said these words, I can hear them in my head to this day, "You know, D would have won the scholarship at the recital last year, but her account was still delinquent. It didn't seem like a good example to set for the other kids."
The first question my brain asked was, "How in the world do the other kids know when I pay?!"
But I instead just nodded in shameful, embarrassed, fake understanding and went back to watching D's class.
The next year (and I know this is the dumbest spite action ever), I made sure to pay each and every single month on time, even if it meant doing without in other areas. And you fucking know what? She won the scholarship that year.
That's fucked up to me and says that the person issuing the scholarship had never had to live paycheck to paycheck a day in their lives.
Not that I think it's something people should have to go through. In fact, I wish we could eliminate that terrible experience for everyone.
And I know we could have just not stayed at that studio, but at that time it was an escape that both D and I needed greatly. For me, even though I didn't know it while it was happening, it was kind of like my therapy.
Not, like, because I worked through stuff, but it was because it was something I did just for me, because I wanted to improve myself.
When we moved to Orlando, I was able to find a studio for D that believed in her enough to make her a scholarship student. The difference was - that was a need-based scholarship that covered the entire year of tuition, given to the students who had talent and wouldn't be able to afford classes at the level they need to take without the scholarship money. I'm forever grateful to them and I know we've got some lifelong friends from that studio.
When I finally decided I wanted to give therapy a shot, I felt myself pausing at the cost. Navigating through insurance for myself was a slog and I tried my best, but was having trouble bringing my brain to do the research. Another barrier given to me by my brain.
So I told myself, if I can't find someone through insurance, that's fine. I'm worth it.
Also now, I have a partner that also believes in my worth, so I knew I wouldn't find myself in the same situation as before. If I found therapy to be valuable to me, but for whatever reason was unable to afford it, I knew I could just talk to my partner about it and he'd help me out.
But when I started therapy, I didn't believe in my worth that much at all. I did a couple consulting calls with a few different therapists, but the only one that felt right (Madison at A Way Forward Counseling) didn't take insurance and was $60 a visit.
You know how I justified that to myself? I ordered less UberEats. I just switched my money privilege action from feeding my body to feeding my mind. And I filled my fridge and freezer with quick, easy, inexpensive foods.
Here's a wild side effect of therapy that I wasn't expecting, though - I'm better with money now. Even though it's not something we talk about regularly during our sessions, somehow I am better with money now. Even if I'm not making as much as I used to, lol. Going freelance was great on the brain and just okay on the wallet.
However, for me, I have found more value in having a clear brain than a fat wallet. I feel like I can do more good. For myself and for other people.
I realize that I am in a privileged position to be able to work freelance and use my money towards food and other stuff, while Mickey's new job keeps the lights on and the house ours. I am very lucky, I know.
That's why one of the things I'd like to start doing with my freelance dollars is helping other people find a therapist, and pay for regular visits.
Is this you? Do you want to therapy, but don't have the money to pay for it? Or do you have the money, but can't seem to wade through all the therapy options?
If either of these apply to you, send me an email.
You have to be ready for 100% honesty with your therapist, though. It simply will not work for you if you try to hide things.