The Therapy ‘Aha’

I always discover that a therapy lesson or skill has stuck during a seemingly random and spontaneous moment. The transitions in therapy are slow, painfully slow, and there is often no big ‘aha’ moment when things switch or a habit sticks or a thought pattern forms. But there is often an ‘aha’ moment when I realize something has switched, and I am different.

My first memory of a therapy ‘aha’ was with Em as my counselor. I was riding the bus to school and realized that for the first time, the endless self-deprecating chatter that had been going on in my head had ceased. For months we had been talking about making room for and encouraging the critical voice and I had rolled my eyes every time but participated and it finally worked. I remember being so happy and thinking on that bus ride about it and realizing I couldn’t remember the last time I had had that endless chatter. I remember exactly where I was standing, riding down that hill on a crowded bus, smiling like an idiot because I had finally stopped hating on myself constantly. 

That was an internal aha. I still have those although not as often, because I generally either have the inside situation under control with a really good understanding of my motivations and what makes me tick, or because I avoid certain topics.

But I still have external ‘aha’ moments. I imagine there may be a day where I realize I’ve become more patient, for example (as if!). And these moments almost exclusively happen first with my husband. I mean, he is my better half, now that we are married I’m no longer paranoid that he is leaving me at every turn (which is somewhat hilarious because every time we’ve separated in the last decade has been me pushing him away and leaving even though I had done things like throw laptops and lie incessantly, but I digress), and he will tell me like it is. Plus I spend the majority of my time with him. So it’s only natural I’m trying out all these therapy lessons on my closest relationships before moving outwards and (eventually, hopefully) applying them to my family. 

So, today, he woke up grumpy. And he was grumpy and cranky all day. And at some point in the grocery store when he was being super surly I told him “you’re grumpy, I understand why. You haven’t been feeling well. It’s okay that you’re grumpy.” And we kept shopping. And I’m pushing the cart (cause the crowd frustrates him) and I realize to myself that I haven’t internalized his grumpy all day. Not once. 

And I realize this there in the parking lot in the rain and I just stop moving, mouth agape, and he’s like “you okay?” Probably thinking ‘WTF is she doing it’s wet and I’m grumpy’, and I respond “yea, I’m good, let’s go”. In that moment I was marvelling at the fact that my husband has been grumpy all day and not once did I think it was my fault. 

One of the things I’ve been trying to learn is I’m not responsible for the feelings of others and how they feel is not something I need to fix. And I may not execute it perfectly, always, but something in me today (maybe those affirmations I’m repeating every morning and night no matter how reluctant I feel are part of this) felt strong enough to be like “this isn’t us. This isn’t about us.” And to not apologize and give him space and not ask constantly for reassurance.

And man, what a really refreshing sign that things are still going well and I’m still growing. I didn’t automatically assume something was my fault, and that’s huge for me. 

When was your last therapy ‘aha’? Congratulate yourself on your growth and remind yourself that just because you can’t always see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. It may surprise you on a bus or in a rainy parking lot sometime soon. 

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10 thoughts on “The Therapy ‘Aha’

  1. Yes! The therapy Aha that isn’t huge or earth shattering but sneaks up on you. I’m glad you are noticing them. I really noticed these things when I started writing a list for Bea– to show her the positive stuff since she always gets the icky sad awful stuff– of what was different now than the month before I started therapy. These things are so important to recognize. I think it might be time for me to write a new list. Xx

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  2. What a huge step! I’m so glad for you. My latest therapy aha is about therapy itself – that a great deal of the healing process comes from the relationship itself and the relationship between me and my therapist really *is* more important than their therapeutic approach. I never really believed that until now.

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  3. I love this post!! So happy for you! Well done. To get to these aha moments you’ve had to do some really hard work so you deserve the happiness they bring 👏 👏

    I’ve had a few aha moments, some huge and some smaller but the feeling is amazing isn’t it?? My last big aha moment I wanted to shout from the rooftops (but that would have been REALLY inappropriate) lol! 😂😂

    My latest aha has been that I’ve attracted a lot of narcissistic people into my friend group: mainly due to my mother being one herself. I’ve been subconsciously repeating the pattern and finding more people like her. It hasn’t occurred to me! I feel for my T, I reckon she’s probably spelt it out to me loads over the years, but it’s only just properly “clicked” enough for me to fully feel it and not just intellectualise it for an hour or a day…

    Anyway, amazing and lovely post to read on a miserable Monday morning as I am stuck on a broken down train!! Keep us updated on your lightbulb moments, they give us all hope!

    Nice work xx

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  4. Fabulous! This is so right and so healthy!

    I’m glad you wrote about this. I hadn’t thought about this, but I have experienced greatly reduced stress since I have realized it’s not my job to make everyone feel better. In particular, it is not my job to fix all the problems of my dear son with autism, who has a chaotic life. I want things to go better for him than they do, but it’s not in my power to make that happen. And I’ll accept that and accept him, with all his chaos (giving myself breaks when I need them).

    Isn’t it a relief to let others just have their own emotions?!?

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