After another major mental meltdown, Husband finally agreed to see a counselor it attempts to work through some deep underlying issues that we had long felt contributed to his mental frustrations. This was a huge victory for me! The idea of going in front of a complete stranger and spilling inner most struggles and frustrations was terrifying. For years he had balked at the idea. This time, I gave him no choice and he was in no mental mood to argue my decision. We went together, for us.
Our first time on the sofa was nice. We were ushered into a warmly lit room and asked to take a seat. Husband was nervous. The room was inviting and safe and it felt like a place we could offer up our dirty little secrets, without being judged. We sat next to each other, holding hands, not entirely sure what to expect from this but either way, we were in it together. Looking at our counselor was like looking across at Santa Clause! A big fellow with rosy red cheeks and a tummy that shook like a bowel full of jelly, complete with tiny specs. I believe that counseling is a fantastic tool to help people with many an issue. I also believe that it’s of imperative importance to be matched with the right counselor. For us, somebody who understood our religious background was a crucial point. We felt this would give an addition dimension of understanding and direction to the healing process. The first session proved successful and we left armed with a greater understanding of the mental illness/disease we lived with. Odd as it may sound, it was reassuring for both of us to hear that as we healed, there would be setbacks. The goal was to progress forward, gaining ground and that each time there was a “setback”, each low would become increasingly higher each time. So that eventually our “low” would be higher than a previous “high”. This helped Husband realize that he wasn’t a failure and that setbacks were part of healing and that he was normal. I think it felt good for him to hear that he was normal. In addition, Santa helped set realistic expectations and outcomes/goals, for both of us.
Through our counseling sessions Husband was able to identify that 7th grade was the pivotal year of change for him. He noticed he felt different and that he didn’t want to initiate or enter into new social situations. He has shared that he subconsciously surrounded himself with friends that made up for where he felt he was lacking. He had friends, great friends…and they were all outgoing, friendly and more than happy to field the social situations that made him uncomfortable. Because of this he was able to get by, insecurities relatively undetected. Husband shared with me that he had wanted to take tennis lessons and that on one particular Christmas his parents gifted him a gift certificate for said lessons. The only catch was that he would need to investigate times and make the calls necessary to sign up. He never took the tennis lessons.
That day, Santa gave Husband the following excerpt from a talk given by Bruce R. McConkie, in an address given at the University of Utah (Jan. 10 1982, P.11). Husband has long struggled with feelings of low self worth and that despite his best efforts he would not “make it”. The following article helped us both immensely at that time.
“I’d like to append to them the fact–and this is true gospel verity–that everyone…who is on the straight and narrow path, who is striving and struggling and desiring to do what is right, though is far from perfect in this life; if he passes out of this life while he’s on the straight and narrow, he’s going to go on to eternal reward in his Father’s kingdom.
We don’t need to get a complex or get a feeling that you have to be perfect to be saved. You don’t. There’s only been one perfect person, and that’s the Lord Jesus, but in order to be saved in the Kingdom of God and in order to pass the test of mortality, what you have to do is get on the straight and narrow path–thus charting a course leading to eternal life–and then, being on that path, pass out of this life in full fellowship. I’m not saying that you don’t have to keep the commandments. I’m saying you don’t have to be perfect to be saved. If you did, no one would be saved. The way it operates is this you get on the path that’s named the “straight and narrow.” You do it by entering the gate of repentance and baptism. The straight and narrow path leads from the gate of repentance and baptism, a very great distance, to a reward that’s called eternal life. If you’re on that path and pressing forward, and you die, you’ll never get off the path. There is no such thing as falling off the straight and narrow path in the life to come, and the reason is that this life is the time that is given to men to prepare for eternity. Now is the time and the day of your salvation, so if you’re working zealously in this life–though you haven’t fully overcome the world and you haven’t done all you hoped you might do–you’re still going to be saved. You don’t have to do what Jacob said, “Go beyond the mark.” You don’t have to live a life that’s truer than true. You don’t have to have an excessive zeal that becomes fanatical and becomes unbalancing. What you have to do is stay in the mainstream… and live as upright and decent people live in the Church–keeping the commandments, paying your tithing, serving…, loving the Lord, staying on the straight and narrow path. If you’re on that path when death comes–because this is the time and the day appointed, this the probationary estate–you’ll never fall off from it, and, for all practical purposes, your calling and election is made sure.”
My heart swelled knowing that some of his deepest fears had been calmed within a short few sentences. The imaginary level of perfection he had set for himself was not where he needed to be.
Read prior posts 1-5 here. Future posts on this topic are featured on Thursdays of each week.
Photo credit: Chaise Longue by Amanda Alessandrine