Is it ok to call out your therapist on the Internet? For Day 3 of the co-authors of my mothering story I'm doing just that. Megan Fiore was the first therapist I had ever seen. I didn't know what to expect, but by the time I arrived in her office I had a three year old with whom I could not connect, a one year old with serious congenital heart disease and possible surgery on the horizon, and a father who had died suddenly within the past year. I think my back may have been horizontal with the ground from all of the weight on it as I walked into Megan's office.
Preparing for this post today I went back into my email to check dates, conversations and such. This is something I ask my students to do - get curious about your experience and do a little research on yourself. I remind them that while doing this is helpful in placing yourself back in the situation, it can also be painful. I was acutely reminded of this when I delved into my email today. What I read took my breath away and gave me a big achy pit in my stomach.
We had reached out to Megan in the early days of seeing her to ask about how to handle our toddler's habit of not telling the truth. The example we gave was a time when our daughter, Carly, was having a tantrum and arguing with me. She then went to her dad in the next room and told him that I had hit her and pushed her down.
I feel like I could write a book on how this type of behavior affected me and what I know it says now about the pain Carly was in. But, this is a post about Megan and her supreme therapy skills. Megan was able to walk a fine line between making me feel heard and also getting me to see that it would behoove me to start looking at my situation differently. If I wanted Carly to change, I would also need to change. Megan made me feel like I wasn't a failure of a mother who couldn't handle her kid. These were real issues and not just made up in my head like I sometimes questioned.
One tactic we employed for years after starting to see Megan was the concept of Special Time. If you read about my co-author from yesterday, this is also a technique endorsed by Hand in Hand. We did Special Time for years with Carly. Many days I counted down the time until the timer rang, signaling it was over, even when it was just five minutes. But we stuck to it, every single day of our lives. It's something tangible that I think really did have a positive impact on my relationship with Carly.
I don't see Megan anymore, but she will always play an extremely important role in my story. She also introduced me to the world of therapy and though I probably could have redone my kitchen by now with the money we've poured into it, I truly believe that nothing is more important than my family's mental health. I have Megan to thank for showing me that therapy can yield real results.