Friday, May 18, 2012

The Therapy Sessions

I've been going to therapy twice a week for a little over two years now. Most days I don't want to go. I have to force myself to get there and endure an emotional hour of discomfort. Sometimes when I'm there, I feel so lost. Sometimes tears well up in my eyes. There are  many times I want nothing more than to just walk out. But then, every once in a while, I see all the pieces coming together.

You see, I've always been painfully and desperately shy. I went through my school years trying my best to be invisible. Because that's where I was most comfortable. Or so I told myself at the time. As the years went on and I started my career,  I made a really concerted effort to work on my essentially non-existent social skills.  There was simply no way around it, life involves a lot of mandatory talking to people you don't know.  Even though I have worked hard for years and years to be more convivial, I have realized something. My condition is terminal.

I don't mean it's hopeless, I just mean I'm never going to be outgoing. Ever. Like, it's not going to happen. Nor do I want to be. Cause then you have to talk even more.  What I'm striving for is to not blend in with the wall at a party. It would also be good if I wasn't referred to as the awk-weird chick at the party who was standing near the wall with the armpit sweat stains on her dress who was totally creeping the other party goers out with her maladroit ways.  So, my goal is to approach random strangers at a party, strike up a meaningful conversation and be talking to them long and close enough that I can  torment them with my garlic breath. That I got from hoarking down the amazing humus at said fictitious party.   It's a lofty goal.  But I think I can really get there with some hard work.  Oh don't worry, I'll still have the sweaty armpit stains too, cause I'll still be nervous.

Now, am I said shy person going to willingly go to a therapists office and tell him or her my deepest darkest secrets? Of course not. That would involve talking. To a stranger. Oh, and I forgot to tell you I'm also a perfectionist. Which I denied for years, reasoning I'm far too imperfect to actually be a perfectionist. And that's probably the clinical definition of a perfectionist. So talking to a stranger about my imperfections? You don't seriously think I'd do that right?

No. I dance. I didn't realize that by doing so, I was actually self medicating. Because I didn't realize dance therapy existed until my friend Sara told me about it. And yes, I take her dance class too. Which ups my self treatment to 3 times a week.  I dance because I want to. Because I like it.  And it makes me feel good.  Ok, that's not totally true.  A lot of times I actually don't feel good at all when I dance.  I get nervous and forget the steps, I realize I could do better and judge myself and then the worst, that someone might have actually seen me do it. Imperfectly. But, when I've danced through all the self doubt in my head and finish.  Then, I feel good.

And, that's why I dance. 

And probably why I blog.  Because allowing you to see me is the first step.  Ok, it's probably the second step.  Step one was probably the brutal realization that I am in fact, not invisible.  The third step, well, that's laughing about it.

This was my latest therapy session.

(Disclaimer:  My therapy only states that I should allow you to see me.  You are under no contractual obligation to actually watch this video.  It neither expedites, nor impedes the therapeutic effect.)

But if you did watch it, just to let you know, it was ninety-five degrees the day I taped that. Which is why my hair looks so crappy. Actually it's because it's so thin and really needs to be cut.  Which is why I normally wear it up. And did you see how many mistakes I made? How I did things half assed? And that I forgot the steps and made stuff up? And why in the world do I make those stupid faces when I dance? Ugh, I could've done that so much better...

And that's why I've decided to continue my therapy.  So, I'll start a couple days after we move to Colorado, but this time I'm going tribal.   


Robyn said...

hey-you did great!

Zafira said...

You are much better than you think!
When your dancing solo nobody but you knows if you "messed up" and when you're learning, everyone else in the classroom is thinking about their own imperfections and not paying attention to what anyone else is doing, except maybe what the instructor is doing.
I love how dance class brings people out of their shell. I started dancing in 1996 and before that I would not speak in front of a group of people (3 or more), now I'll get up in front of a group (3 to 30!) because I teach. The shyness just melted away over the years taking dance classes and performing.
Good luck with your tribal classes!

Leah Griffith said...

Well done my shy friend! You always do a good job. Tribal belly dancing sounds like a lot of fun. I need to start doing something.

About being shy. Believe it or not I'm a bit shy too. I'm good one on one, but put me at a party and I become lost—sweat stains included. I don't know why this is. I can speak to an audience or one person. Period!

I might need to ask my therapist friend about this!

Sara said...

I think you are an amazing woman who is incredibly brave to share your strengths and weaknesses with the world.

I'm always impressed with how you dive into your fears and conquer with such grace...and a fierce shimmy! I'm thinking that said party with the humus may not be as lofty a dream as you imagine it to be.

I wish I could do a little tribal therapy with you! I'm so excited for you as you begin the next chapter in your dance therapy! said...

Don't worry, Marie- even those folks you don't think are shy are just hiding it by talking and making believe. (And, probably go to shrinks, too!)

Sine said...

Oh wow, you described me to a T. Or at least without the dancing part. I've always hated parties where I don't know people and have to make small talk. I seriously have never learned how to move on to the next group, so I'm usually stuck with some weirdo who I oddly feel grateful for to have started a conversation with me. I always thought something was seriously wrong with me until I read this book called Introvert Advantage, and realized it's just being introverted vs extroverted. And yes, perfectionist at the same time. Which I suppose is what most writers are, no?

Christina Williams said...

I have been going to therapy for years and I have to say I love it now! I was cracking up on what you said about thinking you're too imperfect to be a perfectionist. I am a perfectionist and know exectly what you're talking bout.

I wouldn't have guessed from reading your blog that your have a problem with being shy! You have so much personality. And your dancing videos are always great!!

Christina Williams said...

...and on a side note about the small talk in a group of strangers...having been in the military, I constantly find myself around new people, and I found that if I ever wanted friends, I'd have to actually talk to them. People love to talk about themselves, so I made a point to ask people questions about themselves to break the ice...if they have kids w/them, I start asking them about their kids, if they work, I ask them questions about thier job, if they're married I ask them how they met their spouse, and I ask things like how long they've lived there or if they're originally from here. At my age, most people are from somewhere else, so there is always a story or two behind where they're from and how they came to move here. And those are all the types of questions that make it easy for the other person to turn right back and ask you the same question.
Hope that helps some of the people on here who keep saying they all have trouble w/small talk.


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