This may come as a surprise to many, but I have been seeing someone lately: a therapist.

She has been a safe place for me to express my emotions and feelings without being judged. If you haven’t seen a therapist, maybe you should try it.

Four things I have learned in therapy:

  1. Grief isn’t just for the loss of a person: I thought I was going to see a therapist to get help dealing with the grief of losing my husband and my father to cancer three and half years ago. As it turns out, I discovered I had a lot of grief that I have never dealt with regarding my own cancer diagnosis. It had honestly never even occurred to me that I should have grieved the life that I lost to cancer and the tolls it has taken on me mentally and physically.
  2. Being strong isn’t all it is cracked up to be. People see me as “strong” because that is the persona that I allow people to see. I wear a mask regarding my cancer and my grief that I have just recently begun to take off around people whom I know I can trust. I have used this mask to hide my vulnerability. You could say I don’t like to ask for help and you wouldn’t be wrong, but I have come to understand that it has much to do with feeling vulnerable (thanks Brene Brown, I watch her Ted Talk every time I feel the mask holding me down). Like most people, I do not like to show my vulnerability. I prefer to put on that mask and hide.
  3. I am a prisoner to “Should”. I have been exploring the enneagram lately (I am a 9, the peacemaker). I have a tendency to do things because I think that is what others expect of me and therefore do it because I think I should. If I do things others expect or tell me I should, it will keep the peace. Instead what I have discovered through therapy (and the enneagram) is that I may be achieving outward peace, but have sacrificed my own inward peace.
  4. I have a right to be happy. Many of the things I have done in my life were because I perceived others thought I should (yes, this is just a continuation of 3 above – but it is me learning to break the chains of should – the next level). It is OK for me to seek happiness and 2020 is the year I have chosen to travel the road to discover my own happiness.

Therapy has helped me see things in a new light and learn to explore why I feel the way I do. This morning I had an aha moment. Many friends and readers of this blog have told me “You should write a book, a blog, share your story.” This morning I realized the word “should” was a trigger. I started this blog to share my story. I even wrote a mission statement recently: “To offer hope to those on the path behind me.”

Lately, I have been avoiding writing because I am fearful of falling in the same trap.

But I’m here to tell you. I ‘m not doing this because someone told me I “should”, I am doing this because I want to explore what I may have to offer – to myself and to those on the path behind me.