When I moved to New York, I heard everyone there had two things in common: everyone did yoga, and everyone had a therapist. Of course there are variants on those two things—some people do soul cycling or pilates instead of yoga, some people have gurus or meditation teachers instead of therapists—but it seems that everybody has something for her body and her brain. Me, I’ve never been flexible, and while I’m sure yoga or pilates or something would improve that, I’ve never had much desire to be flexible, so I counted myself out of that portion. I walk a lot, I told myself, that can be my body thing.
But I’ve always been a big brain girl. I bet if you counted up all the hours I’ve spent analyzing myself, journaling, puzzling over the way I do things and what that must mean about me, and equivocated those to hours spent doing yoga, I’d be damn flexible. I spend a lot of time thinking about myself, which, in this context, sounds narcissistic, but which I assure you comes from a place of neuroses.
Being a neurotic, then, I have another NY source that’s always lauded the benefits of therapy, perhaps, in my humble and limited scope, the quintessential NY source: Woody Allen. He’s practically built a career on neuroses and their therapeutic exorcism. Though his approach to therapy in his movies sometimes comes off as comical, or even subtly critical, Allen himself has often spoken highly of his therapy, and he’s been going regularly since he was twenty-four years old. (That’s a long time.)
So if one of my own personal heroes has gone to therapy for most of his life, and if the majority of the people living in my city go to therapy, why have I always felt it to be taboo? Friends have gone to therapy, said it was the best decision they ever made. No one in my household has ever gone to therapy, but it’s never been disparaged in my household either. But nevertheless, when people have asked me if I would consider it, I’ve always cringed a little and said, “You know, I think it’s great, I think it’s a great thing—but I would never do it myself,” and I’ve given a million reasons: I don’t think I could take it seriously, I think it’d make me uncomfortable, I don’t feel that I have much of a reason to go to therapy.
I’m a complex person, like all the rest of you complex people out there. I contain a lot of multitudes, not in a crazy way but in a Whitman way, and consequentially display a lot of contradictions. Up until recently, I’d always had what I thought to be a good handle on those: I journal all the time to figure out my own problems, or I wait them out and eventually come to terms with them, or I spend days at a time on an analysis bender, trying to make sense of this crazy world and how I figure into it. These mechanisms seemed to solve most of the problems I had with myself, or at the very least articulate them. Maybe that used to be enough for me. Maybe it never was.
For a while now I’ve felt like I was drowning in myself, overused that metaphor to the point of drowning it, drowned myself in the drowning metaphors. I’m pretty fresh out of college, which they say are the years everyone feels depressed or lost, and I’ve certainly come to understand that. But something else has been bubbling up lately, and about two weeks ago, I thought to myself, I think maybe therapy would be good for me. It was one of those thoughts that comes to you so suddenly and so genuinely that you shouldn’t do anything in the vein of second guessing it. And immediately, I thought back to myself, Yeah, it would be.
And then, after that one moment of clarity, I’ve been back and forth. Do I really need that? Probably not. Maybe. But what could it hurt? Nothing, right? Do I have that kind of money? Probably not. But I could do it. Should I ask my parents about it? Ask them about what? Should I tell them I’m thinking about going to therapy? Would they think it was about them? That might hurt their feelings. But it isn’t about them, it’s about me. But then what is it really about? What would I talk about? And the feelings of confusion, embarrassment, and stupidity build.
Maybe it’s just that our parents’ parents were a generation big on repression and self-sufficiency. Therapy was looked down on and written off as something for the weak. Even though my parents never instilled that in me, maybe the traces of their parents’ values are just left over enough to have made their way into mine. I feel some great pressure to be seriously fucked up to even consider going to therapy, and I don’t consider myself seriously fucked up—no more than any other human being. But if I’ve thought, even in passing, that I could use some therapy, shouldn’t that be enough of a reason?