The Her

These steps, they are some of my favourite steps in Ottawa, because they lead me to her.

Do you have a family doctor? A dentist? An optometrist? A priest / rabbi?

Now how about a therapist?

If any of you just turned up your nose or automatically assumed that you don’t need help, then you need help more than anyone who takes their mental health and well-being seriously enough to form a relationship intended solely to help, heal, and redirect their heart.

My therapist, the ‘she’ at the top of these stairs, is someone with whom I have built one of my most important relationships. In case you’re wondering, I had to break-up with my first and only other therapist who, though really lovely, often had far less knowledge than me about psychology. Also, I wanted homework, and she didn’t really give me good homework.

This one, however, Chelsea directed me to her, and I have, since day one, been fully committed to her. First step of being a part of her family? Completing a five-page questionnaire. I mean, one, I was in homework heaven before I ever stepped into her office; and two, she studied me before she met me, so we didn’t waste any time when I sat down. The deep-dive began immediately, and it has been seamless since.

Finding a compatible therapist is as important as finding a compatible partner, if not more, in fact.

I remember once having to explain why I needed a therapist if I believed in God. Oof. Writing that out just hurt my Believing heart, because though I believe that God is my Sustainer, I still eat to make certain I don’t die. Why would anyone assume that belief would be sustenance enough for our mental health, if they wouldn’t believe that belief is sustenance enough for our physical one?

Here’s how I see things – I have taqwa and tawakul, two things I nightly ask He increase in my heart. These two, especially tawakul, help stave off a lot of the anxiety about the future (not all, but a lot); when I lose sight, when I am weaker in tawakul than I require, when I am confused, and need clarity, I tag in my therapist who steps in and clears a little bit of the fog that inevitably clouds our judgements, understandings, and perspectives when we are in a weaker, more vulnerable state.

Her and I have been together for just about two years now, and her approach was perfect for my needs. We had perhaps five or six sessions once a week to start, and then it became on an as needed basis for me. Therapy for her is like a dose of antibiotics; if you take one antibiotic every few months, it won’t help. However, if you take them closer together, they’ll heal you, and after that it becomes a sort of spot-treatment.

I see her once every couple of months to touch base and check-in. If something is erupting, I see her more often. Today was quite fun because we’ve not seen one another in eight months. I was excited bounding up these steps, and I have a little bit of homework and two minor but important areas I need to excavate with her the coming couple of sessions. Really? FUN!!!!

Admittedly, I wasn’t always like this. Culturally, Muslim Arabs aren’t down with therapy. I should have found a therapist in my twenties, especially while attempting to navigate being a Muslim / woman of colour / immigrant / daughter of divorce / feminist / often feeling very much out of place in Canada though nowhere else is my ‘home’. Having always been fascinated by psychology, and the Why of behaviour, I have always been a voracious reader of psychology texts, and am more up-to-date than most. It is one of my largest bookshelf genres. Psychology Today is the only magazine to which I had subscribed, along with National Geographic.

When I finally decided to allow someone else to step in and help, I was like a demented surveyor. I had a spreadsheet, with nine items (maybe it was 11, I can’t remember) which I needed to understand and address. I printed her a copy and hadn’t sat down before I said ‘I need to know the why, and then I want the fixes for each. I believe that a good therapist doesn’t want a client for life.’ The woman looked shocked. She’s the one that didn’t last, God bless her sweet gentle soul (and really gorgeous office).

The nine items are now only one, which will continue to hang out in my periphery for always, I believe, because it was the foundation for the other annoyances. Can you guess what it is? ABANDONMENT. I just snorted. Thanks, baba! I mean, whatever at this point. Like a good old friend, she will sometimes bring in a thick rolling fog clouding my judgement, because remember – there is cognitive awareness, and then there is emotional awareness, and sometimes, when we are losers, these to go to war and our better judgement falls victim. Now that I see and recognize it, I understand how it tries to mark my moves, and I am able to shut it down efficiently and without issue.

When the pain is so thick that I can’t see through it? I need her hand to reach in and pull me to clearer ground.

You don’t have a ‘her’? You should really get a ‘her’.

Today, I am grateful for:
1. Her.
2. rose-water syrup finally landing in mailboxes across the world. Since last week, I have been receiving so many messages and photos of folks with my book, and I am over the moon, alhamduliLah.
3. My ears. As promised to myself after the self-inflicted trauma, I have not once used a Q-tip (hurrah!), and my ears are taking care of themselves. DO I SOMETIMES MISS THE Q-TIPS? You betcha.

Ottawa | Day 222 | July 10, 2019

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