How Do I Know If I Need Professional Help?

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    The truth is I don’t know what to do. I understand everyone goes through periods of conflict, distress and such but how do I know if it’s time to see a professional about all the problems? I feel as if many of my unresolved issues today originate from the traumatic events I suffered as a child. I’ve spent many, many years suppressing these mental blocks, thinking “things will get better”. But now I’m not sure if it did?

    Before I get into it, I do want to mention that my parents split up when I was six. I grew up in a household filled with emotional abuse – my father would often emotionally blackmail my mother. My childhood is filled with memories of constantly being on edge, worrying about my mother. And I guess, for this reason, I became overly protective of her. As a kid, I’d steal her ID so she couldn’t get out of the house. I also developed a fear of going to school because of this, that I literally begged my family to let me stay home. And thinking it was just a child’s temper tantrums, my father would physically hit me. There’s no way I can ever forget those feelings of utter helplessness.

    It’s also worth mentioning that being the middle child, I had to suffer all the blows my siblings didn’t have to. I was never my father’s favorite and my sister was simply too young to understand anything. So yeah, you can probably guess, I’m incapable of forming close relationships with my siblings.

    My parents had never tried to talk to me about their divorce, not until when I was 14. By then, the damage was already done. I never got to learn how to deal with my feelings and how to confront my issues. And I guess I thought that if I avoided all of it, that somehow it’d become easier because sometimes we just don’t get closure, you just move on, right? And I’m beginning to realize that the consistent pattern of behavior such as not being able to hold on a job and not being able to form close relationships has something to do with this? I recently quit my job on the very first day. I’ve been trying to pull myself out the unemployment rut, but once I’m given the opportunity, I push it away. What the hell is wrong with me?

    I’m always thinking of leaving everything behind and start from scratch but if I don’t solve the root cause of all my problems, what good does it do? How do I stop failing?



    That fact that you are asking these important questions and not knowing or finding the answers, tells me that yes, you could greatly benefit from seeing someone. If you have a true and “wise” friend who is empathetic and compassionate, they can also help you sort through some of these things. But you really need a wise friend. Not a sympathetic friend to cry together with. That is also good, but what you need right now are answers. Real answers and possibly a new direction.

    Very briefly… I have come out of a very deep hole of extreme abandonment from my entire family. My past was filled with memories of deep family love and unity. But as circumstances went, that abruptly ended many years ago. I am making “my story” very short, to be able to get back to yours.

    I tried to put all of that intense pain in a drawer, tried to “forget” about it, as well as I could. I even moved to europe to distance myself. I am still here living in europe, and my family situation has not changed. It has been now over 30 years.

    I will say this: most, if not all of us have “a story”, our story, of some sort of pain and hurt from the past. Often times what we do is try to “deal with it”, tough it out, and so essentially “resist”. I have read over and over “what we resist, persists”. I didn’t quite understand that at first, until I read another lesson that is “lean into your problems”. I like using that word “lean”. I can picture a man walking against a strong wind with an overcoat and a hat, one hand holding the overcoat closed and the other hand holding his hat, and as he walks, he leans into the wind, and he slowly advances, step by step, with intense purpose. I can hear the howling wind as it whips by with strong occasional gusts.

    I have learned this lesson and am now applying it in my life. Just a few years ago, I took “my story” out of the drawer and began to lean into my pain. Expose it, feel it again. Dissect it. Try to understand it. I did not want to hide from the pain any more, I wanted to be free.

    Mostly what I have done is to resort to reading and studying. Many many books. Books written by various therapists, life-coaches, counselors, even scientists, etc etc. This has been an incredible help to me, and I still keep studying. Not just glimpsing through them, but reading them with purpose, intense purpose, then stopping, and reflecting on what was written and trying to get the real sense of it. See the validity of what is written, and try to adopt it into my life. Sometimes, literally, tears would fall as I sense the truth of what is written, and the knowledge that it has been there for me to read all along, and how I can apply what I am learning in my own personal life now, on a daily basis. We only have to make a <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>conscious</span> effort.

    You are living your life from only one very small perspective. Yours. And it is a painful perspective. Learn how to see life from another perspective. Do not hide from the pain. Face it head on. Slowly, intently and purposefully lean into it. Yes there will be gusts from time to time and so yes it will be especially difficult sometimes, but keep trudging on. If you need to, be angry. Use the power of anger to search for the answers and be free from the past. It does not mean you will ever forget the past, but the past will not have its hold on you any more. How can I forget my family? Impossible! And I don’t want to either. But I am finally at peace with it. I am calm with it.

    I <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>have</span> gone to see a therapist, on three occasions many years ago. That was also very helpful. It opened my eyes to the possibiliy of seeing things from another perspective, seeing life from another perspective. To give you one “quick” example. This happened on my very first visit to the therapist. I was telling her “my story”, and I noticed she was intently and purposefully observing me, as people do when you are telling them something very interesting. It was like she was “sitting on the edge of her seat”. But what I didn’t know was that she was watching me for anything that triggered even the slightest emotion in me. For me, once I felt the emotion coming up I would quickly go off into another direction to avoid the pain. In my case, I had developed a very sharp pain in my neck each time I got emotional, a physical pain, on the left side of my neck. It felt like when you have a very bad sore throat and hurts so much to swallow, so you try to avoid swallowing. So as I began to feel “emotional”, I would turn the conversation in another direction. But she would pull me back by asking “wait, let’s go back, what did you mean by that?” “Can you explain that a little better?” I was trying to avoid the deeper emotions, but that was exactly where she wanted to go. I didn’t understand all of this “process” until hours later. To make a long story longer, she kept making turns in the conversation, left here, right there, until we got to where she thought was an “emotional knot”. I was visually unsettled and my neck began to hurt. Then she asked “and how did you <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>feel</span> in that moment?” My hand quickly reached for my neck because of the sudden pain I felt there. And I heard/felt a gush of breath come out of my mouth from the depth of the emotion. And I fell apart.

    I am here to tell you that since that moment, that pain in my neck has never returned. Something was released. That was utterly amazing for me.

    That raised my curiosity, and so began my journey into finding new answers. Exposing myself to new ideas.

    At this point in time, with the wealth of information that I have studied, helping me to change my perspective about life in general, learning how to love myself, learning the important lesson to choose who you want to be, and then be that every single day, and many more things, I can honestly say that I feel great. I feel truly happy, and content with my life. Happy with who I am. What was really the first important step was to go “inside”. For true happiness can only be gotten when you are happy with yourself. You can not get true happiness from the outside or external world. That was a hard lesson to learn for me. We can get temporary happiness, yes, but not the deep true happiness, that no one can take away. That has given me a certain deep contentment in my life. A certain steadiness. I have comes to terms with the past.

    Don’t just move on by putting it into a box, or a drawer or even turning your back to it. Open the box. Open the drawer. Turn and face the wind and then lean into it, purposefully. That is the only way to get true closure.


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