It has been a hot summer here in Seattle. I sit through hour two of a training video, looking out the back window wondering how it would be like in the cool mountain breeze. The mountains are calling and I must stay. I am in school now and won’t be able to play. This is my life until March of 2020, when I plan to finish this program. A Masters in Couples and Family Therapy. Shortly thereafter I will experience the growing pains of finding enough clients to make this a career.
I didn’t really know how I felt about therapy before I started this program. My wife and I had been in couples counseling on and off for 10 years. I believed in that.
Therapy is a fascinating journey. There is nothing in modern life like it. Telling a stranger your problems. It is more acceptable in Seattle than most places but still a weird concept to grasp. We know therapy exists but when we ask if we should partake, we get squirrely. Therapy is for other people right? Those with “severe mental issues” or if you’re going through a divorce. But not for me. This feeling is strong in society. With men in particular.
As a man, I have never been so alone than in school to become a therapist. In most classes, I am the only man. I feel it acutely when my female classmates talk about all of the men who inspired them to become therapists. Those violent, abusive men. It is in these stories that I feel myself becoming an avatar. A representative for all men. Not Chris, but them.
I am in a room surrounded by women who distrust men and for good reason. I have heard the stories, over and over. We all want to be therapists for a reason. Our collective trauma drives us to want to help others with theirs. I am myself a victim of abuse and violence from men in positions of power. Dad.
In this environ, I am very aware of the power of my malehood. Of what we’ve done, as the male species. At times I feel tentative. In class discussions I self-censor or ask myself,”am I speaking too much? Am I asserting my male privilege, in this moment?”
There is a sense that I am an intruder. The single male witness as my female classmates share their painful stories with the group. Two opposing feelings come over me. I feel part of the group yet feel that I am on the outside of it.
Then just like a therapist, I ask myself what is going on with that? Tell me more Chris.