Friday, November 29, 2019

Back To Counseling

New goal! I need to find someone to talk to. I've made so much progress in my recovery from grief and infertility that I can now give energy to other areas of my life. Namely, my relationship with my mother. I'm out of ideas for how to deal with her. She's not healthy and she's not going to get any help and I need to know what I can do.

I've seen several counselors throughout my life. I started going to counseling in high school. To process all of my feelings about my mother. That counselor was a great listener and ally.

I saw another counselor in my late 20s when I was in a rough spot in my life and did not know what to do. I was severely depressed and I was so confused because I didn't know why. Turns out, you don't need a reason to be depressed. Yay for precarious mental health...

Then when I was going through infertility my best friend gently but firmly encouraged me to start talking to a professional. I figured she wouldn't suggest it if she didn't think I needed it, so I gave it a shot. I saw the counselor at the fertility clinic where I was going.

Ironically, she was AWFUL. I had to cancel an appointment last minute one day because it was flooding and it was dangerous to get out on the roads. She explained to me that she would have to charge me for the appointment anyway. Lame but whatever. Then the very next week (or maybe it was two weeks later, I don't honestly remember) she called me to cancel my appointment last minute because she couldn't find child care for her sick kid. Are you kidding me?? She had zero flexibility regarding my cancellation due to weather and now she was asking me for flexibility regarding her child care problem when I was seeing her for infertility?? I was so pissed but so depressed I couldn't do anything about the injustice. I simply stopped going. I never saw her again.

My best friend gave me good advice. She said that finding a good counselor was like dating and that I might have to try a couple before I found one that was a good fit.

So I gathered all the mental resources that I (didn't) have/had and trudged on. I logged onto my insurance website to see who was covered and started calling around to see who was accepting new patients. This is seriously hard to do when you can barely get out of bed and you have to force yourself to get showered/dressed/fed just so you can sit in your recliner all day to read fertility boards.

But, I found a gem!!! I found the greatest counselor I could have possibly found. She helped me in so many ways. In retrospect, she saw things in my life that I wasn't ready to see at the time. She didn't push me to deal with or even admit to things I wasn't ready for yet (cough, my marriage, my mother, and my crappy friendships, cough). She simply listened to me, validated me, helped build me up, and supported me as I went through fertility treatments and then my eventual coming to terms with the fact that I was not going to parent in this lifetime. I will forever love this woman and I wish her nothing but the best.

With impeccable timing, she retired just as I went back to graduate school to begin a new life for myself. It turns out that I was the last new patient that she had accepted into her practice. I always felt like our meeting was divine intervention.

Then grad school completely sucked. My program was toxic and the professors were incompetent and emotionally abusive. And that's putting it nicely. But the school offered free counseling, so once again, I started seeing someone. She was great too. She gave me an outlet to complain about the program and to also process being infertile in a very fertile world. Going back to school was the first time I had interacted with others in several years, and I was encountering all sorts of comments and kid-related situations that I had successfully avoided up until then. Thank goodness for this woman too.

Then I finished my coursework and moved to a different state, left my husband, completed my clinical rotations, graduated, studied for my national board exam, got my professional license, finalized my divorce, got a new job in my old career, and moved out of the city and into a rural small town. Whoa. The last year and a half has been something else... But I'm still standing.

But I also need help. I realize this and I am not afraid to seek assistance.

I am capable, functional, thankful, productive, and happy. I am also struggling in some areas. Mostly, I don't know what to do about my relationship with my mother who constantly invalidates me, subtly insults me, and undermines anything that brings me joy and/or excitement. I love my dad and my parents are still married, so I am not interested in completely cutting my mother out of my life. But I really don't know what to do anymore. I also think I am in the anger stage of my life post-divorce. I am mad at my ex about several things, and I am mad at myself for staying in a loveless situation for so long.

The true catalyst though is my gynecologist. Due to my history and repeated abnormal pap results, she said she will give me a hysterectomy but she wants me to talk to a counselor about it first. Fine with me. I'll go for the hysterectomy discussion but stay to process the other stuff.

I am hoping to find someone who can listen to me, help me process, and give me effective strategies for the next phase of my life. Wish me luck in my search!

It's okay if you need help. It's okay if you're too tired to seek it. Do it anyway. You deserve it.


  1. dear Phoenix, I am glad you reached out for help.
    I am sorry to hear that you had repeated abnormal pap results (I also had some of them) and that hysterectomy has to be done.
    Wishing you all the best.

    1. Thank you Klara. It was kind of a lengthy post. But, as usual, I wrote for myself and for those still suffering. If I can de-stigmatize asking for help, then I am happy to do that.

      I haven't decided about the hysterectomy yet. (To anyone that may be reading, I am open to hearing your experiences, positive or negative.) My doctor offered it, but the choice is up to me. I am still thinking about it.

    2. Dear Phoenix, about the hysterectomy, I know from a the French blogger Artemise that she still has a lot of pain more than one year after the operation. Of course, each case is different (she has severe endometriosis) but at least I think that after each operation the body has to readjust... it's a difficult decision! I hope you can get sufficient advice and that the doctors will inform you honestly about benefits and risks.

    3. I've heard that a hysterectomy does not always ease endometriosis pain and that sucks! Fortunately, that is not one of the problems I have with my (non)reproductive system. Still, pain is always a possible consequence from any surgery...

      The more I think about it, the more I am leaning toward having the procedure. I am at a high risk for cervical cancer and a hysterectomy would eliminate that possibility. I'm still thinking on it though. Thank you for your feedback!

  2. It is such a wonderful (and rare) thing when you find a counselor who is the perfect fit. I'm so glad you found one, because the fertility lady sounded AWFUL. I feel like sometimes the counselors attached to fertility clinics aren't the best -- I had one that was super nice but spent most of our time telling me how "brave" and "strong" I was, and feeling sorry for me, and that was supremely not helpful as I felt none of those things (but very sorry for myself, ha). I hope you find that right person for you to deal with your mother -- I'm sorry you are in this situation. It sucks when a parent who is logically supposed to be unconditionally loving and supportive is just...not. That's a hard load to carry. My therapist actually told me that she's retiring in February the last time I saw her, and so I am in a pickle to decide what to do next. Maybe your search will help me navigate mine! :)

    I hope they approve your hysterectomy. I had complicated feelings for about a minute about mine. All in all it felt like a great freeing, an exorcism of sorts, and I was more sad before than I ever was after. I hope you get the help you need and deserve on all fronts!

    1. It's complicated. My mom loves me but is just so unknowingly rude and, often, mean. It's hard for me.

      The hysterectomy is approved. I'm just trying to decide if it's what I should do or not. Everything seems to be lining up (meaning, the logistics like time off from work this summer and it's affordable due to my current insurance coverage), so it seems like the best thing to do. Then I wouldn't have to worry about certain things like a particular cancer that is in my family history. But I'm still being thoughtful about it. Thank you for sharing your experience. <3