New Therapist, New Goals

New Therapist, New Goals

brianna albers


I recently switched therapists. I’ve only seen her a few times, but I already have a good feeling about it. She’s survived two different types of cancer and has a wheelchair for when her chronic illness flares up. Her daughter also was misdiagnosed with muscular dystrophy (MD). 

My problems and my therapist’s problems are not identical, but we’re still able to empathize with each other. She understands what I’m going through. She doesn’t need me to explain everything because she’s experienced a lot of it herself, or she’s watched her daughter go through something similar.

I spent a lot of time talking with my old therapist. Looking back, I think that’s what I needed at the time. I needed someone to talk to. I needed someone to listen and to validate my experiences in the hopes of appeasing my trauma-ridden brain. That said, I’ve been thinking a lot about this quote from one of Haruki Murakami’s books: “We cannot simply sit and stare at our wounds forever.” I firmly believe in talking about one’s problems, in self-introspection, and the insight that comes from it. But talk without action is, in my opinion, ultimately meaningless.

My body and I haven’t been on the best of terms these past couple of years. As a result, I’ve been trying to take things slowly, giving myself the time and space to recuperate. Instead of taking a full load of classes this semester, I’m going part-time — something I’ve never done before, not even when I was depressed. Most days I stay at home, chipping away at my to-do list and playing Dungeons & Dragons. For the longest time, it felt like I’d never get better, like I’d always be burdened with a body that hates me. But I’m slowly coming back to myself, slowly remembering what it feels like to be … OK.

I’m at a point in my life in which I’m tired of standing still. It reminds me vaguely of a poem I read once: “When the boredom hits, / I hit the boredom / like a glass door.” The snow is starting to melt, and with it the icy sheet of my mind, desperate for something to do, anything at all. If I’m not moving toward something, what is the point of moving at all?

As part of the intake interview, my therapist asked me if I had any goals. I couldn’t think of a single one. Get my Master of Arts, of course. Finish my book, open up an online counseling practice. Things I’ve wanted to do for years, things I’ve been actively working toward. Yet, when I finally offered something up, it wasn’t any of these.

“I’ve been thinking of moving out,” I said, half-surprised by the admission. “Living on my own, with a PCA.”

It’s something I’ve been dreaming about for a while, but I never would’ve called it a goal. I’ve lived with my parents my entire life, and while I would certainly like to live on my own — in a white-walled apartment, the kind you see on Pinterest — it’s not really something I’ve ever considered plausible. I’d have to live with a patient care assistant. I’d need an accessible apartment, and enough money for rent, utilities, and food. I might be able to make it work, but the logistics of the thing are overwhelming. I wouldn’t even know where to start.

I don’t know where to start, but I can’t stop thinking about it. A place of my own, in the heart of my favorite city. I could buy a couch. I wouldn’t even be able to use it, but my roommate would. My guests. My parents, when they come to visit. I could buy lamps, and silverware, and throw blankets. A closet organizer. Adopt a plant … or seven.

I’m not saying it’ll happen. But now that my therapist got me thinking about it, I might start looking into my options. I’m just about ready for a new adventure.

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Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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