I’m socially phobic. This is not just some random label I’ve taken on myself. My therapist and probably even my professors can testify to it. So obviously, this is a problem in a woman who is studying to become a therapist. I’ve come a long way but I am still not comfortable enough to really effectively work with people. This may change even more before I graduate but still it is not a strength I have. My strengths come from research, reading, writing, analyzing, putting together new information and associations, and passion, oh yes, I have boat loads of passion for learning new things, psychology, Art Therapy, and the human condition. And I have such empathy for people; I want to help them. Over the past few days, since my last appointment with my therapist, I have been struggling with what we had discussed. She said that I can’t work with people in the same ways that my classmates can. I can’t work with people in the same way that she, my therapist, can. My therapist is a people person. I, she said, am not. I am an idea person. She equated me to someone like “Abby Sciuto” (Did I spell that right?) in the t.v. show NCIS. Brilliant but out in the field??? She said, Steve Jobs knew he needed people around him that were better than he was at relating to other people. Steve Jobs was the idea man. Anyway. I have been quite distressed about this. Why can’t I ever do what everyone else is doing?! Why am I never like anyone else? Why can’t I just fit in? Why can’t things ever be easy for me? Why can’t I do what is expected of me? I don’t care about having the knowledge half so much as being able to relate to people easily and comfortably. I so want that connection.
My heart has ached and continues to ache because I am unable to do what the women I have idolized have done.
Then this morning, as I was getting dressed, I spied the poster I’ve had hanging on my bedroom wall for quite a while. It is a poster I made for…I think it was my Issues in Art Therapy class. We were instructed to create our ideal therapeutic space based on the ethical guidelines laid out by the AATA (American Art Therapy Association). My classmates came in with some really spectacular drawings all more or less standard drawing paper size. Me? I came in with a poster collaged with images of a window fronted A framed building surrounded by other images of zen pools, long outdoor dining tables, wide open spaces, terrariums, drawing tables, books, terra-cotta tiles, intimate sitting areas and flashy bar chairs pulled up next to marble or granite counter tops… It was beyond the four walls and art supplies drawings of many of my classmates. I was kind of embarrassed to hang mine up next to everyone else’s. Then when it came time to discuss mine one of my classmates put her hand up and said, “Yes. To all of that.”
This morning I looked at this poster and thought, “I could do that.” I could put together this retreat based on the principles of Art Therapy, trauma-therapy, healing, hope, being one with nature and ourselves…I could host so many skilled and talented therapists and artists who can get in there and do the hard work in ways that I want to but can’t right now. I can create the ideal space in which to do this hard but oh so necessary work. And since the profession is struggling for its place and legitimacy right now I can include research space. The research space would help to develop the strength the profession needs and deserves. It would be a place of education, insight, and hope for practitioners or anyone else interested in the human condition. Most of all, this place of mine would be one of healing, retreat, and living soulfully.