I stan therapy. I really do. I think everyone should see a therapist. And while I understand that there are roadblocks to some folks being able to access it (which absolutely sucks), I’m also aware that many people avoid it because a) they feel as though they don’t need it (guess what? EVERYONE needs it) or b) they are afraid to make the commitment or c) they’ve had bad experiences with therapists in the past. And that last part I definitely relate to. I’ve had my share of therapists that it turned out weren’t as good a fit as I’d have liked. And I think that even those experiences were more beneficial than not.
At any rate, I switched therapists shortly after the new year. 2022 didn’t get off to the greatest start for me emotionally. I think it was the combo of Omicron and seasonal depression that caused the majority of damage. I’m guilty sometimes of sticking in situations I’m not crazy about just for the ease, and I found myself in that situation with my at-the-time clinician. The shitty thing about finding a new therapist is having to start your story again from scratch. In a way, it’s like reliving trauma. But my new person is the first therapist I’ve had who is queer and black. I’ve had therapists who were either, but not one who’s both. And while there’s a part of me (a part that was bigger when I began my journey through therapy back in 2007) who thinks “shouldn’t every therapist be able to access every experience and give feedback?”, there is also a lot to be said for cultural competency and ease of communication. Not saying that every queer dude, Black dude, or queer Black dude fell off the same assembly line, but there are commonalities in experience that it feels good not to have to explain.
At any rate, I’ve enjoyed our meetings so far even though some of them have been uncomfortable. Actually, I think I’ve enjoyed them more because of the discomfort. One reason I think people quit therapy is because good therapists should ask questions or present situations that cause uncomfortable emotions to surface. I mean, kinda the purpose is to get a handle on, or at least explore, a lot of uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Right?
One thing I’ve had trouble with, for pretty much my entire life, is (for lack of a better term) feeling less-than. Feeling inferior (which is weird, because I also kind of have a superiority complex). Not feeling heard or valued is a topic that comes up again and again and again and again. I have a pretty profound sense of victimhood. And trying to figure out why that is, and what to do about it, is quite frustrating.
I’ve often described it as “little brother complex”. But that’s not really accurate. I’m actually the oldest of all my siblings (notwithstanding the fact that I didn’t really grow up with any of them). I was almost always the youngest person in my classes at school, so it could partially come from that. I’ve always been one of the smaller people in my peer group, so it could come from that. But then, there’s…I mean, look. I’m a Black man in America. I’m a queer man in America. Being a minority in a White supremacist country will give you a complex. There’s also the fact that I was bullied maybe more than the average kid was? I have no real way of qualifying that because I don’t know anyone else’s experience. I was definitely abused as a kid, in multiple ways, and I think what everything ultimately comes down to is that when a lot of these things were happening to me, there was not a rescuer or someone to say “hey, I believe you.” No one had my back during those times. When I was getting my ass beat by my peers, the response wasn’t “I have your back” but it was “you gotta fend for yourself”. When I was getting my ass beat at home, there was no one to protect me there. And even when I spoke to other members of my family, it took three years for me to be removed from the situation I was in. That shit will stick with you. In situations where I think a person has authority over me, whether they’re a co-worker or a cop or just someone who I think is smarter (or who is just more confident than I am), I will assume that in any conflict, the side of the other party will be taken, to this day. I’ve had this chip on my shoulder my entire life and it continues to grow. It also leads to me freezing a lot during conflict. My brain backs up to 5th or 6th grade Mike, trying to stick up for myself and getting rebuffed. And this combination of uber-defensiveness and uber-sensitivity has fucked up a lot of my relationships. My confidence in the things I say and do is relatively solid, but my confidence that the things I say/do will be heard or appreciated or respected is still pretty fucking low. I don’t trust that people will hear me. And without that trust, can anyone actually have valuable relationships?
I’m posting this for a couple of reasons. One, my therapist wants me to journal and I’m horrible at it. So having this space allows me to journal and maybe solicit some advice as well. Also, I’ve felt guilty for abandoning this space for damn near three months (more than three months, actually. Shit, what’s wrong with me?) and hopefully this is the beginning of me being able to use it more. I have abandoned my writing chops in favor of podcasting, to a large degree. But also, I want the acknowledgement of this character flaw to be immortalized in some way, so I can make the conscious effort to change it. Not sure how I’ll go about doing it, exactly. But I do think that acknowledging that something needs to change is the first step to actually making that change.