I was a practicing and fully-dedicated Catholic until my Junior or Senior year of high school when I took my first steps into other Christian churches. For the next 10’ish years I would enter a lot of churches, I’d meet several Buddhists, I’d read a lot of books and I’d join a lot of bible studies. I even got full-on baptized in a pool in front of a large Southern Baptist congregation. All in a search for something I fell like I just couldn’t find. I kept doubting my religions selections no matter what they were.
And then, sometime in my late 20s I allowed myself to give up the search for a church or even for religion and I have not – for one second – doubted that decision. I spent the 10 years prior doubting every church I joined, “No…this is just not right for me…” but when I stopped joining churches? I stopped doubting. That was the exact right decision for me and I’ve never looked back. Kim without religion and church is a much better Kim for a ton of reasons that I’ve written about on this blog repeatedly.
I tell you all of this to make sure you believe me when I say: I do not need – or want – religion in my life.
And I tell you that so that you’ll understand why I’m already breaking up with my therapist after 2 sessions.
At the “evaluation” session (the first one, where I lied) there was one question I strongly answered with confidence and unwavering conviction:
“Do you actively belong to any religion or strongly hold religious beliefs?”
“No, except that I strongly believe in NO religion. At least not for me. I have no problem with religion for other people, but I very confidently subscribe to something I refer to as ‘secular humanism.'”
That was probably the ONLY question I answered confidently the whole day.
Fast-forward to session two when we’re talking about the challenges of some change related to food and I can’t even remember what it was exactly, but I remember I was fidgeting with my pen and notebook and I was fighting back tears as we were talking and then…BAM…
“Well, this is where a lot of people turn to faith…faith in whatever God or higher power you subscribe to. I’m not sure where you are now but I know you grew up Catholic so…”
I remembering that stopped the urge to cry DEAD in it’s tracks and I said, “Yeah…Nope. Not for me at all. I’m all for religion for other people but not at all for me.”
I allowed it to pass, thinking maybe she had forgotten the original interview. Although, for me, that’s a HUGE thing to forget. My anti-religion stance should stand out like one of those flags they put on my file at my OB/GYN that indicates: THIS GIRL HAS A SHIT-TON OF MISCARRIAGES. My flag at the therapist office should say, “NO RELIGION” to separate me from the masses.
I let it slide although suddenly I started noticing religions themed books on her shelf and I started feeling very uncomfortable.
Then we started talking about forgiveness v/s reconciliation and I REALLY enjoyed where this was going and I was getting teary again and then…BAM…
“This is where, for a lot of people and for me for sure, Grace comes in. I couldn’t forgive without the Grace of God to help me…”
And I was out. I mentally checked out for the last 10 minutes and found myself torn between being A) Super-angry that this therapist could not offer me any help outside of religion and B) Super-upset I was going to have to start looking again.
I went out to my car and cried a bit because – OH MY GOD – searching for a therapist was SO HARD. And I was hurt because I’m 100% certain there are ways to counsel someone through their grief and their sadness without God and yet, here I was, basically ONLY being given God as an option 2 days before the anniversary of my Dad’s death.
Here’s the thing. Had she talked about meditation or yoga or peaceful hikes in the woods I would have been ALL OVER THAT. I’m very much supportive of using the spiritual nature of the world to achieve peace from grief. Just don’t stick “God” in there and don’t make it sound like the only way I’ll be able to forgive is with the help of that God.
I – of course – let Twitter in on the drama and Twitter did not let me down in validating my anger/hurt. I was especially happy that several people were Christians and still did NOT want God as part of their therapy. And many were getting therapy actively where God was not even brought up and it is THEIR RELIGION. So, obviously I should be able to be counseled without God.
I don’t know. I like her. And if I made a friend who suffered like I do but also was Christian? I’d totally recommend them to her. She has valuable experience but when her first two proposals for solutions (and really, the ONLY proposals for solutions she made) required a belief in something I don’t believe in? Totally not going to work at all.
I’ve landed on that slide in Candyland that makes you go ALL THE WAY BACK to the beginning. Here’s to adding a new question to my screening process, “Will this therapist be able to help me if I don’t subscribe to a religion?”