Hey friend, it’s been awhile!
It was good to see you again although I wish it had been under different circumstances. I’m so sorry about your dad. You and your family have had a rough year. I wish we could have talked a bit more. You mentioned (it might have been said jokingly?) that you might start therapy.
Thought I’d write you and let you in on a secret: I’m in therapy. Promise you won’t tell my parents if you run into them? Thanks.
I wanted to tell you that therapy wasn’t what I thought it would be. I thought it would be totally focused on ways to cope with my unhappiness, my boredom, my anger…and we do talk about that sometimes.
What I didn’t expect was to focus so much on…well, me. That might sound silly because obviously in therapy, I’d talk about myself. But seriously, I’ve never really focused on myself.
I know we’ve lost touch over the years, so I don’t know what your family is like now. In high school though, I do remember our parents being similar in that they expected us to study hard, be at the top of our class, go to an elite university so that we could get into a prestigious graduate program, so that we could get a high-paying job and buy a nice house and car. I think we both worked really hard to meet all of those expectations.
In therapy I’m learning about what my parents didn’t focus on: me. Who I am, what I want, how I feel. My dreams, my worries, my fears. My feelings, my hurts, and my insecurities. It’s weird to talk about this stuff in therapy because it’s not something that comes natural to me. And at first, it was really, really hard. I’m still getting used to it. But I’m finding that there’s more to me than my degrees, my title, my car, my house. A lot more, actually. It’s been hard, and healing, and eye-opening.
Ah, but you notice that I asked you to not mention to my parents that I’m in therapy? Yeah, they don’t know and I don’t want them to know. They think that seeing a therapist means that something is REALLY wrong with you. Like you’re crazy. You know, I’m doing pretty okay. On the outside, it looks like I’m alright, doesn’t it? Yeah, it was on the inside that I was suffering, hurt, limping along, and sad. I was never really taught what to do with all of those feelings except pretend that everything was okay. I’m learning now that feelings aren't scary. They don’t last forever. And that it actually feels better if someone (or a handful of select someones) knows what I’m going through. I don’t have to be alone.
Anyway, that’s all for now. I’m thinking about you, your mom, and your family. Text me next time you're in town. We'll catch up over some coffee. Or ramen.
I’m Elaine Gee-Wong and I'm a therapist with a private practice in Santa Clara, CA.
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